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IS ANYONE ELSE FED UP OF BUYING SHOES?

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Today I bought ANOTHER pair of shoes, and I was totally NOT feeling very Blair Waldorf about it.

I always expect a bit of maintenance, heel and sole repairs, etc. but my beloved oxblood loafers just burst at the right toe, ugh. So I bought some more shoes today. But I feel like, as someone who walks a lot, I spend a lot of my time either going to the cobblers, or buying MORE shoes to replace broken ones. Even the expensive ones don’t last with my lifestyle.

What can a girl do? Where sells near-indestructible holy grail shoes which will be able to endure the my daily habits? What’s the point of shoes if they can’t survive being walked in? ARE FUNCTIONAL ITEMS THAT FULFILL THEIR PURPOSE SO MUCH TO ASK?

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ALL EYES ON US

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So it’s really interesting how differently men treat me when I’m with my dad, vs. when I’m alone. Apparently the lack of chaperoning makes some people think they have a free pass to do what they want. The amount of wolf-whistling, cat-calling, lewd noises and unwelcome touching I’ve witnessed in the past couple of weeks has been fascinating, to say the least. Two particularly terrifying moments have been a) someone I thought of as a friend who I had to fight off from grabbing me, after a whole night of him bothering the girl I was out with, and b) waking up from a nap on the beach to find that some guy I’d never met before had lain down beside me to watch me sleep. Gross.

It’s not the most pressing issue in the world, and men are actually more likely to be victims of violent street crime, but it’s an issue that’s often brushed under the rug. It’s a compliment, they say, as though a complete stranger’s opinion of my arse is in some way consequential to me. Do you know why it’s not a compliment? Because it’s not intended as one. It’s about some weird complex that people have that revolves around belittling women as if in order to prove themselves dominant. They’re not expecting me to run after their car as they yell something out the window, their entire modus operandi hinges on the victim not being able to fight back, either because the harasser has now gone or because the victim is shit-scared that if they respond negatively, the situation will escalate.

Sure, there are far worse forms of sexual assault, but it’s the persistence that exhausts me. It demonstrates the complete lack of respect that certain people have for others’ sense of security. I’m not some miserable bitch who’ll cry rape as soon as a stranger shows and romantic interest, but I, and a lot of women, have learnt from a young age to be wary and to be able to differentiate between someone who genuinely cares to get to know us and someone who only gives a shit about looking good in front of his friends. We know because this attention pretty much starts from puberty.

The take-home? Don’t yell shit at strangers, and don’t me any differently when I’m alone than you would when I’m with family, you disrespectful prick.

– Niko

PS: How to Talk to a Woman Who is Wearing Headphones? You don’t. That’s why she’s wearing headphones.

CH-CH-CHANGES

So. When I started this blog I was getting great feedback from friends and readers, then I guess I just got really busy and it stopped being a priority and the thought of writing posts AND taking photos AND publishing links all over social media just wasn’t appetising to me in between a degree and a job and squeezing in a social life, too.

After this time I also realise that the content I was creating just wasn’t ‘me’ enough. I don’t want to be selling products, but I still love fashion and beauty and want to be talking about it in a more creative way.

From now on, I want to be writing more posts, but my own tastes are for short, easy-to-digest posts, and the occasional essay so that will be reflected in future content. I know that in the autumn I’m going to be 10x more busy than I was last year, so I want to be able to manage the workload I’m committing to.

I hope you enjoy the changes!

-Niko

Copying: Fashion’s Lifeblood

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Business of Fashion’s topic this Monday was the question of copying in the fashion industry. Some valid points are raised, such as the difficulty that smaller brands face when trying to gain recognition as fast fashion companies produce replicas at a fraction of the time and cost, but I’m not convinced that we should be clamping down on these copyists, be that to protect designers or save consumers from themselves.

Copying is what keeps the fashion industry moving, and it’s also what allows people to create the persona that they present to the world, regardless of their budget. As Miranda Priestly has already explained to us, trends start on the runways*, and trickles down into lower priced stores, until everyone’s sick of that trend and we start looking for the next one. Do we really want to take that away from people? Shall we leave fashion for only the super rich while the rest of us peasants save our Sunday best to church? Brown linen tunics for the plebs… I like knowing that even though I can only afford real Dolce & Gabbana once in a while, they’ll inspire next season’s high street collections and I can get the look at my own budget.

Secondly, I don’t really have much respect for intellectual property, and I don’t think you can claim ideas so that nobody else can use them, in the same way you can claim physical objects. As far as I’m concerned, if you pay a factory to churn out 10,000 dresses that look almost exactly like a Valentino one, then sell them at a twentieth of the original price, you’re well within your rights to do so. You can’t own that kind of thing, and it’s (IMHO) morally wrong to prevent the consensual exchange of goods and services in this way, just because you want to be recognised for your good idea. Bad things happen when we mess with the free market.

Of course, this brings up the problem of counterfeit products. Selling a pair of fake Louboutins at a three digit price to an unsuspecting is simply dishonest and there’s no place for that, but knowingly buying a fake Louis Vuitton bag? Tom Ford dicusses this (around 28:00, but the whole video’s worth watching). Counterfeit buyers are not lost customers, they would have never bought the authentic piece in the first place, and the customer who can afford the real LV values the quality and exclusivity enough to justify the pricetag. Sure, there can be the issue of damaging a brand image, as we saw with the proliferation of fake Burberry around 10-15 years ago, but  with enough creativity and innovation, a fashion house can survive this and retain (or regain) their prestigious reputation. Besides, nobody who bought a monogrammed purse from a guy who bundles his wares up in a sheet whenever a police officer approaches ever thought they were buyng genuine goods, if someone so desperately wants a crappy fake handbag to keep up appearances, it’s their problem when it falls apart after three uses.

High-end fashion occupies a special place in the market, and big high street brands need them to survive. Although it might feel like emerging designers are stuggling to gain recognition for their creative efforts, there will always be demand for the innovators, and this competition should be seen as the opportunity to remain relevant and cutting edge. Carving out one’s own little niche in the market, and then staying there, is simply a case of survival of the fittest.

-Niko

 

*kind of, fashion designers don’t exist in a cultural vaccuum.

Do we need critical fashion journalism?

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Last week, I was pretty surprised to come across Business of Fashion’s article, Take Me To Church, which describes some of Alexander Wang’s choices as ‘obvious’ and ‘self-conscious’. It was totally right, and something I think every time I see that totally overdone punks-in-church trope. But what struck me was that for all the blogs I follow, I very rarely see anything that openly critcises designers.

I suppose most of this is down the fact that a lot of media is really advertising dressed up as journalism, so there’s a lot of tip-toeing going on. I guess anything truly horrible would just be ignored.

In a way that’s good; why dwell on things you don’t like when you can celebrate the things that you do? There’s a time and a place for criticism, though, and the lack of it is probably what sets the fashion world apart from other commercial industries like cinema and fine art. It’s a given that films need to pull in audiences to create profit, but it isn’t dismissed as vapid the way fashion is, and this is in part due to the fact that most media outlets do little more than praise whatever they’re being paid to promote.

The is fine to an extent- magazines don’t really exist to ask these questions, which is why we need sources like Business of Fashion, where writers can take a step back and look at collections more objectively. This benefits all of us; the industry’s legitimacy is reinforced, a forum for discussion is created, and sometimes you just need to call a spade a spade, especially when it’s a sweatshirt tucked into sweatpants, because what the fuck even is that?

-Niko

 

Fashion notes #1

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I started typing ‘blogspot’ into the search bar, blogging so sporadically I forgot which platform I use.

Remember Miranda Priestly’s *cerulean* rant in The Devil Wears Prada? I totally get it now. Like, I got it before, but now I extra get it.

Cast your mind back to around a year ago. Valentino’s pre-fall 15 collection was released, memorable for its Primavera-inspired prints and embroidery, designed by Celia Birtwell. I spent a lot of time stood outside the boutique in Florence, lusting over a pair of boots. I could have stared at them for days. Not long afterwards, Zara, in all its fast-fashion glory, had clear rip-offs on its shop floors. Props to you, Zara. Always on the beat.

I’d more or less forgotten about this until a couple of weeks ago, when I saw this dress in H&M:

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Then this bag last week, in the window of Accessorize:

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I’m sure if I ever deign to step foot in Primark, there’ll be something similar printed onto some shapeless piece of viscose. Anyway, my point isn’t to make fun of that shop. Mostly, I just want to explore the fascinating way in which catwalk trends filter their way down into the mass markets, until we’re all so completely sick of them that we have to fall in love with something else (but I will love you forever, Sandro.)

I propose we all choose one key catwalk motif, and keep an eye on it as we watch it go through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin, then compare notes in a year’s time, yes?

-Niko

January Review

wp-1454439809432.jpgIt’s good to keep check on my goals, isn’t it? That way I can track my progress.

I’m doing well, I think. I haven’t quite curtailed my spending, but my savings account is slowly growing with each payday, and I’m way ahead of schedule with that. I want to have enough for a few months’ rent by the time I’ve graduated, so I don’t have to worry as soon as I arrive back in Florence. Also I read about fuck-off funds a couple of weeks ago and I think it’s something that every young person needs to aim for.

Academically, I’ve improved massively on time management, and I’m not overwhelmed trying to balance work, a social life, and my studies. I still need to improve here, in fact, I’m procrastinating a little bit by writing this because I have two presentations this week and I haven’t even finished all my reading. Heh. That’s something I can work on. I haven’t been using my notebook much as an organisation tool, but that’s fine as long as I’m not being a total scatterbrain.

Personally, I feel good. Great, even. I don’t know what subconscious weight has been lifted from my chest, but whatever it was, it isn’t dragging me down anymore. I feel really optimistic about the future, because I know there’s so much to look forward to, even though some things are a long way away. I suppose then that I’m getting better at being patient, because I can deal with that wait.

Blog-wise… yeah I know. Soz. :))) Also I haven’t been running for a while so I’ll go tonight.

– Niko

 

 

Medieval torture devices of beauty

wp-1453239301190.jpgI’m not one to go to extremes for vanity’s sake, but the weirdest part of my skincare routine is definitely the the microneedling, or if you’re feeling fancy, collagen induction therapy.

WHAT IS IT?
CIT is a cosmetic medical procedure used to treat scars such as stretch marks or acne scarring, or to treat wrinkles, by pricking the skin with hundreds of tiny needles, which stimulates collagen production and repairs damage.

As dermarollers are inexpensive on Amazon and the reviews seem pretty good, I figured at best, I’d have wonderful skin, and at worst, I’d have wasted a couple of pounds and would have red skin for a couple of days, so not much to lose. Despite looking like a miniature medieval torture device, the results so far have been impressive, and honestly, the pain is minimal – comparable to a rough exfoliant.

HOW TO:
I remove my makeup and cleanse my skin with micellar water, then start to work while my skin is still damp. Taking the clean (v. important, unless you want a breakout) roller, I start rolling it back and forth over my skin, focusing on places where wrinkles develop, such as around the mouth and forehead. I work first by going four or five times up and down, then left to right, then diagonally both ways in small patches, until I have done my entire face.

Afterwards, my skin is red but not bleeding, and I immediately apply a layer of moisturiser. After that has soaked in, I’ll apply a second layer. I do this process on a night so my skin has time to recover before I want to put on makeup again.

The next day, I resume my usual skincare routine (removing old product with micellar water, and reapplying moisturiser before moving on to makeup) as normal. My skin always looks refreshed and glowing afterwards, and feels super smooth and baby soft. Totally worth the ten minute’s effort every week or so. Will it keep my skin looking youthful as I age? Only time will tell. But I’d like to think that future me will be thanking present me for the preventative efforts I’ve been making.

I should definitely point out that this treatment is definitely not for you if you have any active skin problems, such as healing wounds or an acne breakout, obviously. That would just be asking to spreading more germs around your face, but it’s worth looking into if you’ve got scarring from issues that you’ve now recovered from

I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to improve the appearance of mild scarring, take preventative action against future aging, or simply wants soft and refreshed skin! Affordable, time-efficient, and with instant, and long-term results? Totally worth a try.

– Niko

 

The art of being a little bit weird

Oh, hey… heh. What was that about being more active here wp-1453152794544.jpgin 2016?

Maman bought me a book for my birthday called The Art of Being Normal. It was probably just because she thought that the title was funny,  transgender teenagers are definitely at the bottom of my ‘fiction plotlines that I would find vaguely interesting’ list, but it had me thinking about being ‘normal’ in general.

Weird people know we’re weird, and we don’t feel the need to announce it (looking at you, omg i like books and tea i’m so quirky ahahaha girls), in fact, we’ve often put a lot of energy into striving to be whatever we thought regular people are like.

I know there’s not really any such thing as ‘normal’, but you know that there are people that never quite fit in, and growing up, that was always me. I never had a large group of friends, and especially in secondary school, I mostly drifted between groups of people who were nice enough, but weren’t really close friends. I was a bit paranoid, mentioning anything slightly unusual to a bunch of equally self-conscious teenagers was met with looks of disgust and second-hand embarrassment, which would just push me back into my shell.

Looking back, I’m glad that I was, and still am, a bit weird. This isn’t going to be a blog post about how I’m better than those other people, and it’s not something I’mm particularly proud of, any more than I am of having brown hair. What I want really to say is that our experiences in childhood shape who we are as adults, and I’m pleased that my younger self, for all of her cringey tastes in music and clothing, terrible DIY haircuts, and loneliness, has helped me become me.

The things I was insecure about before, I think, have become my strengths. All the time I spent alone has taught me how to become independent, I don’t care if I look like my date stood me up at a restaurant, I’m perfectly happy eating by myself. My odd dress sense is probably still odd, but I know what I like, and I’ll happily take risks that others wouldn’t dream of. I don’t think of myself as particularly intelligent, and if I weren’t myself I’d probably tell me to shut the fuck up, but people do me the compliment of letting me ramble on for hours on just about anything, so I suppose I’m doing something right there, too.

I’m not 100% where I want to be yet, it takes me a while to really open up around new people, and there are always parts of myself that I’ll be working on, but I know that self-improvement is a lifelong process, and that I’m on the right track.

– Niko

 

Sunday links /// 03/01/16

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Hello all and welcome to the first Sunday links post of 2016, incredibly late in the day of course, as I like to stay true to form.

  • I decided recently that I don’t want to get married in a white dress (as you do when you’re single, and have explicitly decided not to be in a relationship for a certain period.) Here’s some gorgeous wedding inspiration with a blue dress.
  • What would Sunday links be without me fawning over Chriselle Lim? Here she is, wearing the wrap skirt and heels that dreams are made of.

  • Luxury malls are thriving. Anyone wanna take me shopping?
  • How to be a great host. I feel like this is knowledge that I just need to have for throwing fabulous dinner parties one day.
  • Elephant-repelling bee fences that protect crops. Genius.
  • Photo restorations reveal even more details of the doomed 1915 voyage to the Antarctic. The first has always been a favourite because the ship looks like a tiny toy.
  • Goldfish resolutions. I guess this is what I was trying to say earlier? No pressure, just gradual efforts in the right direction.
  • Fairytale maiden dress-up game. A WHOLE NEW WOOORLD (of procrastination).
  • Posh Broke & Bored’s bedroom makeover looks great. Busy spaces make me anxious, so a good de-clutter is really satisfying to see.
  • Angela Clayton makes a pair of shoes! You will probably remember that I linked to her red renaissance style dress before. She is so talented.

May the remaining minutes of your Sunday be sufficiently distracted.

– Niko