I was wandering around Manchester Trafford Centre the other evening, catching the last bargains of the summer sales (more on this soon) when, behind the rails and rails (and rails) of mustard coloured chinos in TOPMAN, I found a hardback photo book called CBGB and OMFUG.

I know, WTF? Well, apparently CBGB and OMFUG was a music club playing Country, Blue Grass, Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers. Geddit? It was founded in ’70s Manhattan by Hilly Kristal and, despite not being alive in the 70s (sad times) and having never been to the club, I can quite honestly and confidently say that it is NOT the kind of place I would EVER frequent.

I’m just to snobby.

I like cocktails, hand sanitizer, perhaps even a nice foreign person to squirt Dolce & Gabbana fragrance on me as I leave the bathroom. Not cocks, hands and foreign people squirting god knows what as I run out of the door.

However, thanks to this £3 find in the TOPMAN sale (sub-culture lovingly mass produced) I can gork at the insanity that was CBGB and OMFUG from the safety of my own home. Bonus.

Another thing that attracted me to this book was (it was £3) that it was a hardback coffee table book about a sub-culture/underground music establishment that wasn’t the Hacienda. Living within the M60 in Manchester means that at every turn the Hacienda is rammed down your throat. The legend won’t die, they even knocked it down and it still churns out books, Ellesse collaboration t-shirts exclusive to Harvey Nichols Manchester, revival gigs, spin off clubs, an endless slew of money grabbing initiatives that step further and further away from it’s original intention. It’s like a one-hit wonder pop-star (Leo Sayer) who, after releasing that one good song (Thunder in my Heart), couldn’t bow off gracefully and say good night (Celebrity Big Brother)  – OK maybe my metaphor isn’t airtight but the meaning still stands. And yes, I get the irony that CBGB and OMFUG’s book on sale in TOPMAN is guilty of all the same capitalist crimes but I’m a complicated fellow, ya dig?

So, yes, I bought the (£3) book and thought I’d have a flick through. Hilly Kristal (who totally looks like this Norwegian actor in a shit remake of The Thing that I watched last night) writes a nostalgic introduction whereby he praises the club’s legacy and the legacy of the artists that played there.

Hilly Kristal and Kristofer Hivju of The Thing (2011)

He comments about the club’s location, “the rents were cheap, but the streets were strewn with the bodies of alcoholics who you had to step over to get in the door,” furthermore confirming my aforementioned conclusion that this is not a fashion Rambler kinda venue. Still, I flicked on… 

The black and white images of underground urban frivolity, drugs, drink and dancing is mesmerising. It’s depicts a night scene not unlike any other night scene but one (seemingly) littered with icons of a musical past, captured mid-set or eyeballing the camera in a drug induced haze. Debbie Harry plays pin-ball, Sting, shirtless, plays to the crowd, Iggy Pop slumps on a bar stool and even Shakira makes an appearance (still not sure why)! The smell of raw sweat and cigarette smoke seems to wafts off the pages and you can’t help but feel a little bit sticky and dirty when you’ve finished (or is that just my newly applied St. Tropez tan?)

I’ll now hand over to some of my favourite pictures from the book…

Ramones, 1977
Photo: Danny Fields

Ripped jeans, one of my favourite things about this book and, coincidentally, one of my favourite things about Clarissa Explains It All!

Willy Deville of Mink Deville, 1977
Photo: Ebet Roberts
Not even sure who he is but black tees, pale skin and that heroine-chic thing really pushes my buttons.

Debbie Harry, 1977
Photo: Bob Gruen/Star File

A work blazer never looked so anti-establishment.

Debbie Harry, 1978
Photo: Stephanie Chernikowski

Courtney Love, 1991
Photo: Bob Gruen/Star File

Ray Cappo of Youth of Today, 1987
Photo: Michael Lavine

Look at the dudes flying in the air!


DKNY on The Avenue, Spinningfields /Series Events

The DKNY Mens SS12 mini fashion show, at their store on The Avenue in Manchester last week, summed up this season: dismal, wet and discounted.

A little late for a SS12 show, don’t you think? Well, instead of taking the opportunity to showcase a snippet of the coming season, DKNY Mens used their turn at hosting the weekly /Series events to showcase clothes we seen before and that are now on sale. Still, not that much of a wasted opportunity, the store was nearly empty because of the savage downpour.

Still, I had a couple of drinkies with the lovely Sarah of Fashion Dotty and my partner in fashion-crime, Christopher, who also got my birthday present from the DKNY rails! So, not all was lost!

Shirt, TM Lewin
Cufflinks, Tiffany&Co
Trousers, DKNY
Absence of shoes, inspired by models in pictures below
Cat, Ragdoll called Noah

Christopher bought me these gorgeous cobalt blue trousers, as seen in the show. 

They fit like a dream and, in Christopher’s words, make my arse look “crackin'” – bonus!

I’ve been looking for a pair of trousers in this colour for, and I’m not exaggerating, years. I’ve never found a pair that fit right, looked right or that I could afford. Whilst these only tick two of the three boxes, I wasn’t the one forking out – another bonus!

Now for some shots without cats in them…

Not a bad bag…

Kind of what DKNY does best…


Is Pinterest the place for product?

I am rather knackered, I’ve been a spinning-top of activity these past few weeks. Work, home, friends and preparing for a trip to France with the family: so all good and all exciting. Still, in the midst of all this crazy crazy I’ve found the time to get better acquainted with Pinterest.

Pinterest has been in the back of my mind for a while, sat alongside the likes of Google+, FourSquare and Flickr, social networks that some are on and many have no idea about. It wasn’t until I was hosting an evening with Navaz Batliwalla, AKA DisneyRollerGirl, for The Fashion Network in Manchester that Pinterest pricked my interest (PUNS!)

Navaz is an avid pinner and trumps the new network as a way for people to step into the bloggersphere without the need to ramble, as I do. Check out Navas’ pin boards here

So, for those that aren’t familiar with the platform, Pinterest is a relatively new social network based on not words, like Twitter, not friendships, like Facebook but images, a bit like Tumblr. Whilst scanning the web, reading blogs, articles and magazines online you can constantly tap into your Pinterest networks…

Say I’m reading something thrilling about the incoming Dior collection for AW12 on vogue.co.uk. Perhaps I come across a gorgeous image of something I like, by clicking the ‘pin it’ button I’ve already installed onto my web browser, I am given a contact sheet of all the images on the webpage I am currently viewing. 

I can then select the image I was lusting over and am given a drop-down menu of all the pin boards I have set up on my Pinterest network. On my personal Pinterest account I have one for my personal style shots called My Style, one for images of interiors I like called Home and one called Manchester Fashion will all images relating to the Northern fashion sector from this very blog. 

However, my new vogue.com image doesn’t fit any of these criteria so I am going to select, create new board, and make a board called AW12 Lust List. I then have that image pinned to my pin board for later reference. Other pinners can scan my boards, like my selections and even re-pin my chosen images to their own boards.

Rather nifty, isn’t it?

Now. Whilst I have been getting into Pinterest on a personal level, so too have companies been wading in on the action. But, surely there is room for everyone on Pinterest? Right?

I have been nosey-ing at some luxury fashion sites and their approach to Pinterest and found so many different angles, but none of which have captured the interest of pinners en masse. I feel the fashion business has a lot to learn from Pinterest before it wades in.

For example: mywardrobe.com have reams of Pinterest pin boards filled with product shots from their website. Fabulous search engine optimisation, but is this really the most effective use of the network? Whilst I firmly believe in a balance between genuine social networking and SEO link-building for any ecommerce business stepping into the social realm, I don’t think retailers can afford to be so bold as to use a highly visual network purely as a root to Google ranking or even to market.

Selfridges seem to have lessened on the product shots and instead used the site as a scrapbook of their major PR stunts. This is slightly more interesting as the images are more engaging but, still, who cares about Project Ocean once it’s over?

For a retailer to truly engage with pinners, they have to be using their language. pinning images relevant to the conversation: not just images that build on a site’s SEO credentials. Injecting product where relevant and not limiting a board’s growth potential by making it specific to a season, trend or other fickle and limited topic. 

Is there even a place for product on Pinterest? I’m not so sure, I don’t think the average pinner wishes to scan endless product cut-out shots on a network which is about inspiring and exciting images. I believe pinners that are willing to engage with businesses on Pinterest are expecting a more nuanced approach to image selection; not reiterations of the What’s New page from the retailer’s site.

Having said all this, I’m a new pinner, anyone care to share their opinion? 


I popped to a fashion event today, however, it wasn’t the kind of fashion event that I usually attend. Firstly, there was no Champagne, just an urn of coffee. Secondly, there were were no models, just MPs. There were no clothes, ambient electronic music or ‘mixologists’, just a Power-point projector. 
Where on earth was I? I was at Band On The Wall in Manchester’s Northern Quarter for the High Street Revival Conference. Paul Turner-Mitchel, of Rochdale’s young fashion independent boutique 25Ten, hosted the discussion alongside Dan Thompson, the orchestrator of #riotcleanup in London and the other cities affected by the #riots. 
The panel also included Joe Barratt, the 19-year-old entrepreneur behind Stockport’s successful Portas Pilot bid and Rochdale’s Simon Danczuk MP who lead an independent response to the Portas Review earlier this year.
The talk was truly inspiring for so many reasons. Firstly, Thompson’s attitude and approach to the British high street is refreshing and without a doubt the way of the future. He successfully mixes anarchism with aspiration, admits to being a Tesco shopper whilst openly supportive of community projects working out of empty shop units. This is revolutionary-ism I can get on board with. (I’m such a stinking capitalist aren’t I?)
Thompson spoke of his travels throughout the UK and abroad and the many uses for empty shop units that enrich the high street whilst tackling the rising vacancy percentages nation-wide. No, he isn’t advocating community centres, he isn’t trumping ‘arts ‘n craft’ bollocks, he’s championing real, creative use of empty retail space that is either exciting and temporary or sustainable and enriching. Think dodgem cars in Allied Carpet units. Think markets in shopping malls. Think small, grow big. 
Dan’s top tips for anyone and everyone wanting to change the course of retail history by utilising #emptyshops are:
  • Don’t build community centres
  • Do close down shops
  • Don’t think big, think small
  • Don’t organise, just do it
Thompson isn’t against failure, he isn’t against closing shops which no longer serve a purpose, he isn’t about the big picture, he’s about the right here and the right know and this is where we all need to be about our high streets. We can’t continue with depletion, with multiple dominance, with centres lacking choice, vitality, inspiring, a reason to be there.
Other talks and discussions came from Joe Barratt to introduced the Teenage Market initiative in Stockport and the new 7 Miles Out Festival on July 29th in Stockport town centre which have all contributed to the town’s successful Portas Pilot bid.Turner-Mitchell spoke of his experience on the Rochdale town team and the need for committed support from government and local authorities with community lead redevelopment initiatives. 
A hot topic of discussion was Mary Portas and whether or not she is… well… good. The Marmite allegory was batted around whilst people praised her ability to shine a light on the issue of fashion business whilst others criticized her policies. I am personally always supportive of a women who understands the importance of big sunglasses.
PS. There was SO much to blog about that I’m going to post again soon on the Pop Up People Report that I’ve yet to read in full.

END (again)

BBC Radio Manchester’s Retail Therapy – Listen Again 9/6/12

Sorry for the delay my pretties, I’ve been a rather busy pea. If you saw the news alerts on Diary Directory or Fashion Monitor you’ll know exactly why… but more on that in a post very soon!

For know, you’ll have to be content with a little ditty from my latest stint on BBC Radio Manchester’s Retail Therapy show with Becky Want. Today we talked about hats for Royal Ascot but before that, I was brought into a conversation, live on air, for some impromptu styling advice. A lovely gent was looking for some jeans and Becky (literally) dragged me into microphone-shot to help ease the gent’s dilemma.

LISTEN AGAIN HERE! Styling advice comes in at approximately 09:50 mins in.

Now, the main event. Royal Ascot and the new style guidelines for attendees! The big wigs at Ascot have decided enough is enough with fascinators and exposed midriffs and proposed for stricter guidelines on dressing. They make for interesting reading. The main points are:

No fascinators (unless under 10 and a girl)

No strapless, halter-neck, off the shoulder dresses. Straps must me at least 2.5cm in width.

Headpieces must have at least a 10cm base to pass guidelines. (despite bases being invisible when headpieces are worn)

Dresses must come to below the knee. (Or you’ll be called a slut)

Ladies’ trouser suits must be full length and jackets must totally match trousers.

Gent’s are not to customise top hats. (especially with sequins)


I talked Becky through the guidelines and used some fabulous bespoke pieces from Jen Scott-Russell’s collection at H’Atelier in Manchester’s Northern Quarter

Both headpieces are bespoke. 
The black, £275, the red £260. 
Time from consultation to completion, four weeks.

The Manchester based Milliner is a headwear extraordinaire and I adore her beautiful show room. (images below).

I interviewed Jen earlier in the year for manchesterfashion.com when the Royal Ascot guides were announced, the interview makes for interesting reading.


I also featured these hats from Linea at House of Fraser and one from Philip Treacy!

Dish headpiece, £85.00, silver hat, £55.00

Listen to my segment on Royal Ascot hats on BBC Radio Manchester here (until 16th June 2012) Hats comes in from 19:30 mins in.