Twin meets one half of New York-based brand 1.61, to discover how to make the perfect pair of trousers.
For Resort 2017, Chanel staged a sartorial carnival on the streets of Cuba, which was both heart and home to Ernest Hemingway for many years. So it seems only fitting that the writer’s great-granddaughter, Dree, takes the collection out for a spin on the open road.
For Issue 15 it’s all about the pursuit of the personal, and deconstructing the concept of perfection. Photographer Thomas Giddings turns his lens on the kids of Amsterdam in homage to the Dutch Masters, while fearless artist Rachel Maclean presents the unashamed power of pink. We see Dree Hemingway cavorting with Chanel’s Cruise 2017 collection in Upstate New York, and explore the fluidity of gender in modern-day Tel Aviv. Yves Saint Laurent presents a study in beauty through the ages, artfully reworked to be the very definition of now, and we meet LA-based model-turned-musician Kacy Hill, who has recently caught the eye of Kanye West. In addition to this, Francesca Gavin takes us on a visceral MDMA trip with artist Geoffrey Farmer, and we sit down with Jane Moseley, the sex-boot wearing model who piqued Demna Gvasalia’s interest.
Spanning the realms of music, art, film, literature and fashion – Issue 14 is an exploration of the female perspective: From Alexa Chung’s personal musings on the pull and perversity of astrology, to director Elizabeth Wood’s controversial position of power within new Hollywood. We also see girl-of-the-moment Heather Kemesky shot by Maciek Kobielski while swathed in every day detritus, meet actress on the rise Anya Taylor-Joy, discover Louis Vuitton’s cosmic universe through the lens of Juergen Teller and dismantle ‘black sheep feminism’ with the work of artists Betty Tompkins, Joan Semmel, Anita Steckel, and Cosey Fanni Tutti. Ben Rayner also photographs some of the most exciting musicians to be following right now.
Recognised by the art world, Micallef, who draws inspiration from the old masters has been called “this generations Francis Bacon” by Sotheby’s. This is evident through his latest evocative series of work, ‘Raw Intent’ which focuses on the movement of paint, and explores its relationship between the artist, the brush and the canvas.
“Raw Intent is a body of work that uses the mechanics of paint to unearth and excavate emotion using myself as a vehicle. I want the medium to evoke something visceral and emotive without illustrating it. The figures are distorted, pushed and pulled until they start to ‘breathe’ on their own. The object of the work is to instill and convey a sense of energy and life. Emotions are projected onto and tested on these found figures, and the form is stretched to its limit, like subjects in a science lab. I’m interested in that space where the figure almost disintegrates but somehow stays intact, leaving a sense of friction and raw distortion. The medium is celebrated and used in full force in many different ways with many different tools to render life that echoes traces of our emotional field.” – Antony Micallef
The exhibition is on now, and runs until 30th June 2016 at Pearl Lam Galleries, 601 – 605 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Hong Kong.
For Issue 13 it’s personal, it’s political. Explore the work of Israeli-born artist Tal R, who explains why awkwardness and the colour pink are key to his practice. Hear from Perfect Pussy singer Meredith Graves, who discusses her influences and the importance of taking drastic rebellious action. See Bella Hadid turn punk in front of Scott Trindle’s lens, and photographer Cass Bird transform Andreea Diaconu into an all-American girl. The artist behind fashion’s favorite Instagram account talks luxury, violence and image making, while up-and-coming actress Elisa Lasowski gives a tour of London home and pulls no punches on the frustrations and pleasures of her craft.
There’s no doubt that transgendered issues have been brought into the greater cultural conversation over the past year. While fashion has long toyed with gender fluidity and featured androgynous and trans models like Andreija Pejic in campaign imagery, no major brand has seemingly addressed gender non-conformity as much as H&M’s little sister, & Other Stories. Their new campaign not only stars trans models, Hari Nef and Valentijn De Hingh, but was produced by a predominantly trans crew, celebrating their artistry in front and behind the camera.
Representation and increased visibility is undoubtedly a good thing – it broadens perspectives and offers more opportunities for minorities to be included in a wider narrative. But there are only so much a few magazine covers and documentary specials can do, and in an industry that’s obsessed with newness – both falsely inviting and cruelly fickle – how do we make sure this isn’t another seasonal trend that disappears in six months. And in a time when the trans community still struggles with unemployment, discrimination and lack of opportunity, how much are we doing if the same creative teams get rehired to produce campaigns.
By hiring an all transgendered below-the-line talent including photographer Amos Mac (founder of Original Plumbing), stylist Love Bailey and makeup artist Nina Poon, & Other Stories empowers everyone involved to control the means of their own representation. The behind the scenes video is quick to highlight how the team bonded on set, which comes across in the campaign itself, showing the power of shared experiences. When talking to Dazed, Nef noted that prior collaborations in fashion hadn’t always entailed empathy and understanding but, “With a trans team however, it’s all there.” The campaign also raises an important question about ‘the gaze’, long associated with fashion imagery, & Other Stories asks whether, in this case, the cisgender gaze could change if a trans team produced the imagery.
Fashion dictates who does and does not get to participate in the world of luxury and beauty, but as Nef notes in the video, campaigns like this – and on a greater level, the Internet – have expanded and diversified fashion’s audience, who demand to be both represented and included. In the past year alone, Selfridges experimented with the Agender Project while a new online, unisex-only fashion platform, You Do You, launched this month promoting designers like Eckhaus Latta, Vejas and Timo Weiland, all of whom produce collections not tied to a gender binary. In the US, Target has promised to remove gender-based labels on toys, which hopefully signifies the industry is finally noticing the importance of empowering a diverse set of consumers – let’s just hope it doesn’t disappear in six months time.
Words by Alex LeRose
When it comes to column inches and tabloid notoriety the Kardashians have got nothing on the Mitford sisters. These charismatic socialites dominated the headlines of the ’20s and ’30s with their exploits, and perhaps the most controversial and complex of the siblings was Diana, hailed, incredibly, as both the most beautiful and the most hated woman of her day. After a spectacular launch into society as the teenage debutante who bagged the dashing and fabulously wealthy Bryan Guinness, she scandalised her set by becoming the mistress of Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists. It’s a story that has been told countless times from every possible angle, including in Diana’s own memoir, The Pursuit of Laughter, but the story can stand another retelling because the woman at the heart of it remains an enigma, her actions impossible to fathom.
In Mrs Guinness: The Rise and Fall of Diana Mitford, the Thirties Socialite (The History Press, £17.99), Lyndsy Spence paints a compelling portrait of a woman with the capacity for passionate love and loyalty, but who was equally capable of closing her mind to the nastier implications of such deep devotion. Through unpublished letters and diaries she goes back through Diana’s childhood, teenage years and first marriage in an effort to understand how she became the woman she did. The composite portrait that she has pieced together may be as close as we will ever get to understanding the mystery that is Diana Mitford.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – And Other Lessons from the Crematorium (Canongate, £12.99) is a highly unusual memoir by mortician Caitlin Doughty who’s passionate about demystifying death. She is a twentysomething woman with an impeccable fringe who has got funeral ash under her nails and doesn’t mind explaining how it got there. Smoke is her manifesto for how to live – and die – better, a memoir of her own coming-to-terms-with mortality and a deconstruction of the mostly quite appalling death industry. Caitlin, with her no-nonsense style and absolute single-mindedness plus a healthy dose of goth sensibility, bravely shows that death is nothing to be afraid of.
The Green Road (Jonathan Cape, £16.99) is a return to form for 2007 Booker winner Anne Enright who was named Ireland’s first fiction laureate in January. Set in pre-recession Ireland where there’s abundant optimism and bundles of euros, Enright is free to explore the idea of family without having to negotiate the country’s current economic doldrums.
Rosaleen Madigan wants to sell up her homestead and split the money between her grown-up children: two sons, two daughters. The road of the title leads the characters back home for Christmas to hear about their mother’s plans. It’s also a reference to how they have each escaped, whether to Toronto, or Timbuktu, or just up the road to Dublin. This is a familiar Irish narrative where siblings have fled the homeland for better lives and opportunities, but each of their homecomings will chime with readers. Familial disappointments, anxieties, failures, rivalries and questions around belonging are all delicately handled and Enright’s writing has an easy poetry, ‘Beauty, in glimpses and flashes, that is what the soul required. That was the drop of water on the tongue.’
Glossy book of the month: In Icons of Women’s Style (Laurence King, £19.95), Josh Sims introduces the essential pieces that make up the clothing canon. An essay accompanied by some fine fashion photography explains why each those perennial classics – including capri pants, A-line dresses, Breton tops – are always in style.
Images from Icons of Women’s Style
It’s time for a bed-in: barely-there slips in gingham, star and bouquet prints call for a lackadaisical style stance that’s best shown off in bed. Photographer Nick Dorey’s shoot featuring Vanessa Axente, filmed by Natalie Spitzer.
Twin’s 12th edition is all about attitude. Edie Campbell talks to fellow model Saskia de Brauw about finding friendship and surviving the fashion game. Photographer Liz Collins explores the new rules of beauty (the good news is, there are none). Skinny Girl Diet, the London band with big ideas and a brilliantly bad attitude, let out a rebel yell. We get up close with talented multi-hyphenate Miranda July as she shares her singular views on middle age and motherhood. Then step inside the Milan studio of Nathalie du Pasquier, the French-born painter of Memphis fame, who extols the freedom of later life. Then another inspirational image-maker, Roberta Bayley, recalls Manhattan’s Seventies punk scene—the perfect accompaniment to 74 pages of scintillating summer fashion.
Filmaker Shimmy Amed goes behind the scenes on Matteo Montanari’s dreamy 70’s fashion shoot in this short film.
Much has been said about the Teddy Boy subculture that emerged in 1950s Britain, defined by their unlikely sartorial combination of Edwardian dandy and American rock and roll. However, their female counterpart—the Teddy Girl—was all but forgotten until the recent discovery of a box of negatives from late filmmaker Ken Russell. His striking photo series, Last of the Teddy Girls, offers a rare glimpse into the lives, style and attitude of this retro girl gang—one of the first known female subcultures. Preceding feminism’s second wave, the Teddy Girl was a product of post-war Britain when young working class women took up more positions in the workforce, giving them a greater amount of disposable income than ever before. What money they earned went into their iconic looks—tailored jackets, rolled-up jeans, and flat shoes playfully paired with boater hats, brooches and clutch bags. Rejecting the social expectations for women of that era, Teddy Girls roamed in gangs; attending concerts and dances with boys in tow, and collecting rock and roll records and magazines.
Inspired by their rebellious spirit, photographer Boo George, stylist Caroline Newell and model Edie Campbell teamed up to create ‘Fine and Dandy’ for Twin issue 12—an ode to the swagger and style of original Teddy Girls.
Words by Alex LeRose
Twin issue 12 is out on 21 May.
China is a rising economic force in the world, but little is known about the social and emotional lives of its young people. In Little Emperors and Material Girls (I.B. Tauris, £14.99) Jemimah Steinfeld gives a fascinating insight into a generation that has grown up in a post-Communist society and is the product of the one child policy. Attitudes towards love, sex, careers, family, money and politics are revealed through a series of amazingly candid conversations with Steinfeld – a journalist who lived and worked in China – and backed up by powerful statistics. This is a country with a population of 1.4 billion, with 300 million under the age of 30. In clubs, coffee houses and restaurants she meets ‘leftovers’ (unmarried women over 26), ‘bare branches’ (men without children) and China’s cash-flashing rich kids, known as fu’erdai. They talk about internet dating, parental pressure (especially on gay kids whose parents expect them to marry and continue the family line), financial struggles (turns out it’s as hard to pay the rent in Beijing as in London), sexism and punk rock. They describe feelings of loneliness and alienation, frustration and anger, but also hope and ambition. If you want to know what the future of China looks like, read this book.
Fashion + women + social history: Julie Summers’ Fashion on the Ration (Profile Books, £16.99) ticks ALL our boxes. A detailed account of the crucial role fashion played during WW2, this book brings rationing, clothing coupons and that familiar phrase, ‘make do and mend’ to life through personal testimonies, photographs and Summers’ evocative prose. The tenacity of the men and women on the home front is revealed through anecdotes; Vogue’s staff finishing an issue in the basement after their offices were bombed in the Blitz, Barbara Cartland buying wedding dresses for women in the services to borrow from a ‘wedding dress pool’. Fashion mags acted as tools for disseminating important information from the government, but also as morale-boosters – urging women to make the best of their restricted wardrobes and promoting the idea of ‘beauty as duty’, for their own sakes and for the pride of the nation. Summers analyses the roles of the top designers including Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell in designing utility clothing (essentially the first designer/high street collaborations). Perhaps inevitably alongside this, the female silhouette changed and fussy frills were out, clean lines and simplicity were in. In a fascinating fact from social history, Summers reveals that for many poor people, the quality of their wardrobes improved thanks to the introduction of coupons and utility clothing which raised the standards of production and distribution. The influence of these seismic changes to the fashion industry, both in terms of aesthetics and manufacturing, can still be felt today.
Our glossy book of the month is Improbable Libraries by Alex Johnson (Thames and Hudson, £14.95 hardback). As public libraries all over the world are shutting down or shrinking, Improbable Libraries is a timely celebration of book-shrines in all their guises. Library-lover (and proud son of two librarians) Alex Johnson is not remotely nostalgic in this collection and instead shows what book recommending, lending and displaying can mean today. He mixes up images and essays on everything library, surveying mobile units, tiny bibliothèques and grand academic institutions. He uncovers some surprising book depositories in repurposed spaces (old phone boxes for example) and somewhat less surprising literature exchanges tucked away in corners of pubs and cafes. Whether personal or public, what a library is or can be is changing and it’s all optimistically documented here. These valuable community spaces, private sanctuaries, luxurious garden book dens and educational lifelines (like the incredible travelling camel library in the Gobi Desert) aren’t going anywhere. Browsing through these dreamy book-nooks made me think that the rather conventional alcove shelving project I’m currently working on could probably benefit from a little bit of these Improbable Librarians’ imaginations.
It sometimes feels as if London lags a little behind other great cities like New York and Paris when it comes to the way it’s depicted in pop culture – somehow the gritty glamour of our beloved capital doesn’t necessarily translate well to page or screen. But Jason Brooks’ beautiful London Sketchbook (Laurence King, £19.95) is a fitting tribute, something to treasure and leaf through on bleak January afternoons. You will recognise Brooks’ distinctive fashion illustrations from posters and the pages of Vogue and Elle, but with London as his muse he has really let his imagination and talent run riot, creating thoughtful, elegant drawings that truly capture the spirit of the city.
The book is divided into themed chapters such as ‘the street’, ‘London by night’ and ‘fashion’ so you can flip straight to your subject of choice. Brooks mixes collage, speedy, sparse pen and ink sketches, crisp, precise architectural drawings, quotations from the likes of Virginia Woolf and Disraeli and facts and anecdotes to evoke a very personal vision of his city which is by turns moving, witty and educational. If you’re tired of London, this ravishing visual feast will inspire you to put up your brolly and hit the rainy pavements to fall in love with the city all over again.
Josa Young’s second novel, Sail Upon the Land (Keyes Ink, £8.99) is a moving, richly told story about motherhood in all its forms and how this role can encompass earth-shattering love and terrifying ambivalence. Spanning several generations and jumping between the English countryside, London and India, the narrative is complex but satisfying, weaving together different strands from a cast of well-observed characters.
The life of a deb in swinging ‘60s London is vividly brought to life with humour and a sharp eye for detail, but it’s the descriptions of mothers – both biological and otherwise – that are almost painful in their realism. The complicated relationship between daughter and mother is depicted with brutal honesty and from multiple perspectives, as each woman moves from one role to the next. The heroine, Damson, is a sympathetic, complex character who you will find yourself thinking about long after finishing this thoughtful, thought-provoking novel.
Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography by Meryle Secrest (Fig Tree, £25) this new biography tells the story of one of fashion’s true originals whose costumes now hang in galleries rather than wardrobes. In her 1920s and 1930s haute couture heyday, Italian-born French designer Schiap (1890-1973) dressed film stars and socialites and enjoyed a personal life that was almost as dramatic as her impact on the fashions of the time.
Secrest’s biography is wonderfully gossipy and the best sections are where she explains how and why Schiap’s style was so unique and the genius behind her approach to fashion business as well as design. She excelled at creating and perpetuating her own myths, living in gloriously eccentric apartments, appearing at all the most-talked-about parties and surrounding herself with a talented team. She conjured up a kind of magic around her creations and her persona and built up this mystique with the help of a series of dazzling collaborators, including (most famously) Dalí. But although she took her work very seriously, she didn’t mind that her clothes were enthusiastically copied by dressmakers at home – she liked being popular.
And who could resist her madcap style (she even sold a hat called the Mad Cap)? This personal myth-making means that many facts that a biographer might need to tell the full story have been obscured by Schiap’s own efforts over the years, but what is clear is her timeless style legacy. The ‘nonchalant chic’ of her early years – technically impressive sporty garments, wrap dresses, bloomers – inspired by the leisure habits of her fabulous and wealthy milieu continues to influence designers today.
There aren’t many bloggers who have successfully made the transition from pixels to print – too often something gets lost in translation – but Sasha Wilkins aka Liberty London Girl has more than pulled it off with her first book, Friends, Food, Family (Quadrille Books, £18.99). Ostensibly a recipe book, it’s also an elegant and insightful guide to living well packed with lists of the best foodie spots and flower markets around the world, tips for throwing a stress-free cocktail party and the ultimate dinner party playlist.
But first, the food: there are simple recipes for kitchen beginners which require a handful of ingredients and the most basic culinary skills, then for more confident cooks there are some serious showstoppers, such as a spectacular triple-layer lemon cake. Each recipe has a highly personal flavour – these are dishes Sasha has cooked countless times for her nearest and dearest in kitchens all over the world, so she knows they work on every level.
Through her witty, wise prose, the Delia of the digital age delivers the message of good food – it nourishes the soul as much as the stomach and should give joy to the creator as well as the consumer. Whether you’re a fan of the Liberty London Girl blog and want to explore the LLG world further or are simply looking for a reliable cookbook packed with foolproof recipes that will comfort and impress in equal measure, Friends, Food, Family will fast become a kitchen shelf stalwart.
Lily King’s Euphoria (Picador, £13.99) is a compelling novel inspired by the life of the anthropologist Margaret Mead, her husband and a colleague during their time studying the tribes in New Guinea. The three main characters have complicated, intense relationships which are skilfully rendered against a beautiful, dangerous landscape that is as powerful a presence as the people living in it. The story of an all-too-typical love triangle in an extraordinary setting unfolds through often contradictory accounts from the characters’ different perspectives, building up a multi-layered narrative that reveals much about these intelligent, egotistical personalities. But the most tantalising aspect of this story is wondering just how much was drawn from fact and how much was the inspiration of the author’s imagination.
Not that Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned has been one of the most anticipated books of 2014 and it was worth the wait. Wrapped in a seventies-throwback dust jacket and finished with dreamy endpapers which look pretty from far away and reveal a mosaic of tacky girl-stuff close up, here is Lena Dunham, let loose.
If you’ve already seen Girls, Tiny Furniture and the rest, this book of lists and essays is testament to how consistently Lena has mined her own experiences for her screen fictions. That blurred interexchange between memoir and storytelling is what makes her work so authentic and resonant – and the content of these essays so familiar. There’s not much here to surprise the fan, including the fact that she’s just as amusing on the page as on TV. However, this goes much further than the average confessional narrative. Indeed, ‘I live in a world that is almost compulsively free of secrets’ she states at one point, comparing her relaxed attitude towards privacy to others’ reticence.
Our heroine might not feel very glamourous most of the time, but for the English kind-of-girl reader, her world is ridiculously fabulous. She grew up in SoHo, NYC, vacationed in idyllic summer camps and holiday homes and hung out with artists and wannabes. In that glamorous world Lena might have been the weird girl, the outcast, the morbidly obsessive teen but that otherness has made her an open-minded, fair and funny observer.
The most tantalising and entertaining chapters of Not that Kind of Girl are where Lena takes a break from her mostly polite, professional persona and unleashes her inner anger. In one she addresses (names have been changed) her many detractors in a series of unsent emails and in another she reveals that she hopes she’ll live to 80 so that she can legally expose all the sexist ‘sunshine stealers’ who’ve treated her badly in Hollywood (they’ll all be dead by then).
Furies: A Poetry Anthology of Women Warriors (For Books’ Sake, £10) edited by Eve Lacey (all profits from the collection will go to Rape Crisis England & Wales) is a brilliant anthology of verse inspired by women warriors from the internet’s finest lady books journal For Books’ Sake. Featuring contributions on Betty Draper, Sylvia Plath and more, this is a vital and powerful outpouring of page-rage.
Twin’s 11th edition is a celebration of creative brilliance. We begin with photographer Petra Collins who shares an exclusive image diary revealing the riotous beauty of adolescence. Elsewhere, model Eliza Cummings hits the highway in an epic road story shot by Scott Trindle. We debate with the philosopher and essayist Susan Neiman as she makes a case for embracing growing up. While musician Eliot Sumner tells us what it means to step back into the spotlight after a four-year hiatus. There’s insight into another enigmatic performer, Kate Bush, via a collection of childhood photographs by her big brother, John Carder Bush. To complete the musical triumvirate, the inimitable Neneh Cherry reflects on music and motherhood; while her daughters offer their own unique take on life in the Cherry clan.
The new season starts with two nostalgic style-story anthologies from Sheila Heti, Emily Shivack and friends in Pamflet’s September reading roundup.
Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton (Particular Books, £24) includes contributions from 639 women and feels like a companion American volume to one of our favourite books of all time, Luella’s Guide to English Style. Like Luella’s book, it’s a beautiful object, which is apt given the subject matter. Naturally I skipped straight to the famous names’ contributions first – friend-of-Pamflet Tavi Gevinson and voice of her/a generation Lena Dunham.
Tavi gives her thoughts on colours and their meanings and confirms what I always said of navy blue “it’s the best color for a peacoat”, while Lena Dunham solemnly pronounces “I just won’t go there with a gaucho pant…it feels like a rejection of everything great about having lady legs.” Amen sister. Zosia Mamet recreates authentic fashion mag poses from every decade in a black unitard which is brilliant. And Kim Gordon talks about her stage style and modelling for Saint Laurent Paris – this book is basically like eavesdropping on the cool girls’ table at the world’s most awesome party.
Despite the plush paper and sharp finish, Women in Clothes has an endearingly zine-y feel. There are whimsical illustrations, photocopied hands wearing rings, beautiful photographs of deconstructed garments, changing room selfies, anecdotes, essays, poems and transcriptions from Skype chats.
There’s a sweet repeated feature throughout the book called ‘compliments’ which is just that – transcriptions of overheard conversations between women where one is paying the other a compliment!
It’s immediately inclusive, like being a part of a loud, drunken conversation among close friends where everyone’s shouting over each other but you all understand exactly what you’re talking about because it’s shared and true and good.
I LOVE how all the amazing intelligent stylish women in this book, plus the likes of Mindy Kaling are claiming fashion as their own and proudly defending it and celebrating it – refusing to be intimidated either by the dictatorial glossy mags who want to shame you into feeling you can’t participate in brittle beautiful Planet Fashion, or the puritan killjoys who seem to think we should just slouch around in sackcloth because anything more pleasurable or pretty is superficial and stupid.
If anyone ever bleats on at you about how fashion and clothes don’t matter (not that this tends to happen in real life, just in the Guardian comments section) just wordlessly hand them this book and walk away.
Worn Stories is the result of a four-year project by New Yorker Emily Spivack (Princeton Architectural Press, £15.99), a teacher and a blogger who’s been collecting first person accounts of clothes from their owners. From the starting point of a visit to a garment factory in her introduction, she contrasts the mass-production mechanisms behind contemporary clothing manufacture with our personal experiences of choosing outfits and the context we ourselves give our wearables.
We all have a favourite item with a ton of memories woven into its history like a pattern. Here some famous and not-so-famous personalities share their own stories alongside photographs of their items hanging lonely and unworn. These are objects invested with much special significance and whether they’ve been worn once or worn-out, patched together these mini sartorial memoirs make a fitting tribute to the contributors’ wardrobe favourites. Hearing about LCD Soundsystem’s Pat Mahoney’s stage costume, Simon Doonan’s cycling shorts, Piper Kerman’s court suit, Greta Gerwig’s crush’s old shirt will have you searching through your cupboards for your own worn stories.
Print: Fashion, Interiors, Art by Simon Clarke (Laurence King, £30) is our glossy book of the month. Lushly coated in a wraparound jacket of hazy florals, this is an up-to-date guide to current print trends and a cutting edge sourcebook for eye-catching and innovative design and digital patterns.
Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangoul are the co-editors and co-founders of the London grrrl-zine and literary salon Pamflet. Here they discuss the releases, trends and going’s on in the literary world worth knowing about. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @Pamflet.
Pamflet stay close to home with summer reads set around London, Cambridgeshire and Bristol…
Low Expectations by Elizabeth Aaron (Quercus, £6.99) is proper summer froth to enjoy while supping on a plastic tumbler of home-prepped sangria in Victoria Park. Loosely plotted around the final year of university student Georgie’s fashion degree, we join her as she marauds around east London with her two best friends Rose and Sarah never quite knowing where she’s going. Low Expectations is full of observational comedy and cameos from some familiar locations and is cutely illustrated by Aaron who has a background in fashion design.
Anna Freeman’s debut novel The Fair Fight (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, £12.99 hardback) is about to join that sparse canon of women writing on boxing – and the even sparser canon within it of women writing about women boxing. There’s some rich material around girls throwing punches for sport and Freeman mines it beautifully, vividly inventing Bristol’s 18th century underworld and colouring it with some with historical humour and lots of local vernacular. Her tale of unlikely pugilist Ruth who grows up in a brothel before taking to the ring is reminiscent of early Sarah Waters (who’s already a fan).
On the non-fiction shelf the just-released Unspeakable Things (Bloomsbury, £12.99 paperback) is a fierce polemic against all kinds of gender-pigeonholing and an exposé on the perils of online living for outspoken women by feminist journalist and campaigner Laurie Penny. Here, as in her previous work, Penny manages to combine theory with intense personal commentary and is never less than fearlessly honest. She was as articulate as ever in conversation with Mary Beard last month in London and will be missed when she heads off to Harvard this autumn.
When Cambridge academic Helen Macdonald‘s father dies suddenly, she seeks solace in her lifelong passion for falconry and H is for Hawk (Jonathan Cape, £14.99 hardback) is her memoir of the post-traumatic experience. Distraught and flailing, she buys a baby goshawk she names Mabel to train and finds comfort and routine in the all-consuming nature of the bird/mistress relationship. Descriptions of the psychic despairs of her grief are tempered with some exquisite wildlife writing as she contemplates the lines and connections between (wo)man and beast and traces the archaic, masculine and mysterious history of hawk-training. In Macdonald’s perfectly considered words as she’s getting to know Mabel, her feathers make her look like a ‘cappuccino samurai’ and soon ‘it was hard to distinguish between my heart and the hawk at all’. Unusual and incredibly moving.
Glossy book of the summer: Why Fashion Matters (Thames and Hudson, £9.99 hardback) is a list of 101 reasons why clothes, the industry and style make a difference by Frances Corner, the director of LCF. A cool manifesto for flicking through that it’s rather hard to disagree with.
French gallerist Almine Rech-Picasso has opened her London gallery in the heart of Mayfair’s prestigious Savile Row.
Rech’s latest group exhibition entitled “Pittura Oggetto,” running now till the 27th July, presents work produced by prominent Italian artists during the 1960s and 1970s, including Agostino Bonalumi, Enrico Castellani, Dadamaino and Turi Simeti. Natacha Carron has focussed on the repetitive, serial, and monochromatic aspect of works produced during the period, gravitating towards structures, which engage with notions of time and space.
The Almine Rech gallery represents leading contemporary artists including Francesco Vezzoli, Philip-Lorca Dicorcia, Jeff Koons, Gavin Turk, Jannis Kounellis, Ugo Rondinone, James Turrell, Syvie Fleurie and Hedi Slimane.
Almine Rech, 11 Savile Row, Mayfair, W1S 3PG, London
Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm
Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangoul are the co-editors and co-founders of the London grrrl-zine and literary salon Pamflet. Here they discuss the releases, trends and going’s on in the literary world worth knowing about. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @Pamflet.
Happy birthday John Lewis and three provocative holiday reads in this month’s Pamflet x Twin books roundup…
Sally Heathcote: Suffragette by Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot
Graphic novels are just such good value – great writing AND beautiful visuals to add another dimension to the reading experience – what’s not to like? Sally Heathcote: Suffragette (£ 16.99, Jonathan Cape) by Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot tells the story of a young working class woman who becomes part of the suffrage movement and rubs shoulders with its biggest personalities – the Pankhursts and Emily Davison – and some others I hadn’t heard of before.
Much is made of the often bitter infighting between the various factions of fourth wave feminists, in particular the undignified way it can play out on social media, so in a funny way it’s quite reassuring to discover, on reading Sally Heathcote: Suffragette, ‘twas ever thus. Personality clashes and petty jealousies existed between the leading proponents of the suffragette movement, but in no way does that take away from their astonishing achievements – in fact a bit of healthy dissent amongst the troops probably helped strengthen their cause – a lesson that should give fourth wavers heart.
Alongside Sally’s story, there’s a parallel narrative that traces the developing suffrage movement, from the early days of pamphleteering and disrupting public meetings, to the more hardcore acts of civil disobedience. The power and passion of the campaign is vividly brought to life by the dynamic illustrations, nowhere more effectively than in a particularly brutal series of drawings that drive home the horror and humiliation of the force-feeding that the suffragettes endured in prison. There’s a twist in this tale that’ll hopefully leave anyone who ‘didn’t get round’ to voting in the recent elections feeling suitably ashamed.
A Very British Revolution: 150 Years of John Lewis by Jonathan Glancey
Anyone who’s stepped into the hallowed halls of John Lewis and given themselves up to its comforting, mum-like embrace will appreciate that 2014 is a significant year for this national treasure. JL is celebrating its 150th birthday with special edition products, by opening up the roof terrace on the Oxford Street building to the public (it’s previously been an oasis for JL partners) and with the publication of A Very British Revolution: 150 Years of John Lewis (Laurence King, £20).
While this is pretty much a bible for JL obsessives, tracing as it does the evolution of the brand from its birth in 1864, it’s much more than that – it’s a social history, a study in Englishness. For we are, after all, a nation of shopkeepers and no one fits that description more accurately than John Lewis himself, the archetypal self-made man. We learn how the orphaned John was apprenticed to a draper, found his way to London and built up his own business slowly but surely (in contrast to the flashier William Whiteley down the road). He had a sad romance (his beloved’s family considered him too lowly a prospect), before eventually marrying Eliza Mills, one of the first female undergrads at Cambridge and he ruled his kingdom with a stern, firm hand.
John Lewis’ personal and professional story is told against a fascinating backdrop of British history, from the Victorian era’s energy and confidence, though the suffrage movement, the general strike, two world wars, the post-war rebuilding period and the social revolution of the sixties to the London 2012 Olympics. Art, architecture, fashion, technology and politics play their part in this story and it’s beautifully told through illustrations, photographs and Jonathan Glancey’s crisp, insightful prose.
The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison
Iowa Writers’ Workshop was immortalised in Girls series two and The Empathy Exams (Granta, £12.99) is an example of how it’s reached cult-TV-reference-status. Course alumnus Leslie Jamison writes essays in the way (it seems) that mostly only American writers have the space to do and in her first collection she proves herself a mistress of the form. She meditates on her subjects – the wounded, the wrongly accused, the heartbroken, and the downright wild – with intense curiosity and wonder. Universal themes emerge from the pieces, but her experiences and writing style are exclusively those of a twenty-something woman and she might confidently reference The Lost Boys in one breath and a classical philosopher in the next. This mix of low and high cultures, contemporary and ancient, intimate and public makes her writing and subjects shockingly fresh and new. Think Sloane Crosley in a deep and contemplative email exchange with Susan Sontag.