“Prada: Two’s company?”

The unprecedented creative partnership between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons is a huge talking point in the luxury fashion world. Following the Prada Autumn/Winter 21 menswear show on January 17, Rose Elizabeth Dodd reports on how it’s going.

The union between Italian fashion powerhouses Miuccia Prada, 72, and Belgian luxury menswear designer Raf Simons, 53, in the co-creative direction of Prada has taken the fashion world by storm. The partnership, announced at a press conference in Milan last February, is the first of its kind for both Prada and the industry. It’s the fashion equivalent of tech giants Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk joining forces.  

The duo debuted their first Spring/Summer 21 womenswear collection, “Dialogues”, in September, its name emphasising the importance of duality and conversation to both Prada and Simons. On Sunday, we saw their long-awaited Autumn/Winter 21 menswear collection, “Possible Feelings”. 

Until now, Miuccia Prada has not been one to collaborate. Prada’s output has ridden solely on the unique visions of Mrs Prada, whom has singlehandedly pioneered the brand’s success since she took the reins from family in the 70s. 

Sought from outside the Prada bloodline, Raf Simons of the eponymous brand and alum to Christian Dior, Jil Sander and Calvin Klein, was recruited in pursuit of Prada’s creative evolution. The partnership took place in a climate where “fashion business has stopped exploring its own possibilities”, as Simons put it after the announcement last February.

Much like Prada, Simons is a forward-thinker, making the duo the ultimate hybrid for anticipation, innovation and creative direction. “It’s a new wind,” Miuccia Prada said, when the news broke. 

“Possible Feelings” was tactile and comfortable, intimate and sensual, featuring elements of both Prada and Simons throughout, from fabrics and fits to the techno music. 

An absolute must-have for the colder seasons was the logo pocketed leather gloves in vibrant shades of colour, contrasting with the divine oversized waxy-looking bomber jackets that they were styled with. 

People in geometrically patterned long johns, danced intermittently as models walked alone through the indefinite space in practical tailored blazers with rolled up sleeves – isolated, protected, lonely – longing for the freedom to move with others once again. Digitally furry walls, thick carpets and undefined spaces created a cosy yet claustrophobic atmosphere, reminding us of our lockdown environments.

The show was a sophisticated multisensory response to the world’s digital shift, subtly encapsulating the mood of today. This is distinctive of Prada; often making delicate nuances about the socio-political state of the period a collection speaks for. Simons shares such skill. 

Prada and Simons have their similarities, but one wonders how two such independent, steely and omniscient fashion thinkers co-operate. In the post-show discussion, Central Saint Martins’ fashion journalist Rosie Davenport asked the duo how they resolve disagreements. “We don’t have so many, but if we really hate something, we don’t do it,” Prada said. Simons added: “We are both constantly discussing, communicating, having conversations about our ideas”. 

Miuccia Prada stressed her openness to new possibilities, giving the example of the collection’s heavily featured pinstripes, “All my life I hated pinstripe, and this show is full of pinstripe”. A mutual respect emanates between the powerful duo, as they redefine creative direction. 

Title courtesy of Roger Tredre, CSM MA FJ professor. This piece was written as a set assignment for CSM MAFJ course.

A reflection of the times

Maison Margiela SS21 perfectly encapsulates the unrelenting chaos the world faces today.

Amidst a global pandemic, in a world where wearing a mask in public is a legal requirement and public health services are drowning in the depths of mass sickness and mass responsibility, Margiela’s latest collection captures these horrors so exquisitely.

The SS21 collection includes blood red facial coverings, black and white doctor-like tailoring, and ghoulish dresses on zombie-like figures. The designs combined with the show are very much like something out of a horror film.

Galliano, collaborating with Nick Knight and ShowStudio for digital creative direction, created an eery, morbid and dark atmosphere for the season’s digital show, further fitting with today’s calamities.

Below are a number of images from the show taken from instagram:

Skincare loves

Following my last post on society’s elevating obsession with skincare products, I am sharing my go-to skin products. 

it has taken me a while to curate my perfect routine, but now I’ve found one which works for my skin type. The costs of my products vary from high to low. I would recommend anyone of these products, but of course, everyone’s skin is different and may react accordingly. 

My skin type is oily and acne-prone. My skin goal is hydration and firmness to slow down any ageing. I personally prioritise having younger-looking skin over a couple of spots. Despite being rather spot-prone, my routine seems to work and my breakouts are far less frequent, only coinciding with my menstrual cycle. I still get small black-head-like spots which are presumably due to excess oil. I think many people with oily skin avoid moisturisers or hydrating products with the goal of matte looking skin.

MORNING

In the mornings I use a foaming cleanser for normal/combination skin by Clarins. The wash is really gentle and purifying. Having trialled many face washes in my time, especially when I was younger and suffering from acne, I found that harsher washes can irritate the skin and inflame spots and redness. After rinsing with tepid water, I gently pat my skin dry. 

I then use a collagen-boosting serum by the Inkey list. Collagen is a highly abundant protein in the body, vital for keeping skin firm, elasticated and young. Collagen levels typically decrease with age, contributing to looser, wrinkling skin. There is conflicting evidence as to the value of using collagen serums or taking collagen supplements because it is difficult for serums to penetrate to the layer of the skin where they must reach for effect, or in the case of supplements, they are often broken down in the body faster than they are converted for use. Nonetheless, copious studies have shown that collagen treatments do improve skin firmness and youth, and I personally notice my skin feels firmer when I use it. 

Once the collagen-boosting serum has soaked into my skin, I use a regenerative anti-ageing lotion by the Algenist. This product contains alguronic acid which supposedly minimises the appearance of wrinkles and increases skin radiance. I haven’t got many wrinkles so I suppose I am unaware of the products potential, but so far so good. 

The final product I use in the mornings is the ultra facial cream with broad-spectrum SPF 30 by Kiehl’s. Using a product with SPF is essential to prevent wrinkles as sun damage is a big culprit contributing to premature ageing. I have only just begun using this product; it is well absorbed and nice to my skin, but I have noticed that if I moisturise over my lips (which I often do), it has a very strong taste of sun cream which really lingers! 

EVENING 

Tragically, I get really excited to do my evening routine. After a long day, having a clean, fresh face, stripped of the day’s stresses and impurities, is therapeutic. I start off with my Clarins foaming cleanser, patting my skin dry afterwards. I follow my wash using The Ordinary 0.5% Retinol in squalene. I have heard so many good things about this product, and I myself can vouch for its benefits. Retinol has been scientifically proven to improve the health of skin cells, with benefits for spot prone skin and ageing skin. The Ordinary’s products are available for charmingly low prices too. 

I then use Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair with synchronised recovery complex II, which is a really hydrating serum that promotes damage repair. I massage this into my face using my hands, followed by my Algenist anti-ageing lotion. Once the products have been absorbed by my skin, I use the hydra essential moisturiser by Clarins. This is so light and refreshing. I keep mine in the fridge so it’s cold on my face. Then… I’m ready for bed. 

AM 

  1. https://www.clarins.co.uk/gentle-foaming-cleanser-with-cottonseed-normal-combination-skin/C010104011.html 
  2. https://uk.theinkeylist.com/products/collagen-booster?_pos=1&_psq=collag&_ss=e&_v=1.0 
  3. https://www.algenist.com/products/regenerative-anti-aging-moisturizer 
  4. https://www.spacenk.com/uk/en_GB/sun-tan/suncare/face-suncream/ultra-facial-cream-spf-30-UK200027675.html?gclsrc=aw.ds&&gclid=Cj0KCQjwhIP6BRCMARIsALu9Lfl1e6gNqseFwfKG3tqXJb_YhJBpkgGHLzvRBz2Ic1k2WUXuSC-TW2oaApkUEALw_wcB

PM

  1. https://theordinary.deciem.com/product/rdn-retinol-05pct-in-squalane-30ml?region=GB&gclid=Cj0KCQjwhIP6BRCMARIsALu9LfmFa603gNOiQ9l76UKSMGt8pDCBk264ORYrL5fVq_1Zt7BYEmku7goaAhEXEALw_wcB 
  2. https://www.esteelauder.co.uk/product/27072/77491/product-catalog/skincare/coming-soon/new-advanced-night-repair/synchronized-multi-recovery-complex 
  3. https://www.clarins.co.uk/hydra-essentiel-rich-cream—very-dry-skin/80018820.html?istCompanyId=0d41bc9d-138e-4119-9ecb-ded6c0f4d794&istFeedId=f440f3f3-b32d-457e-ac02-d70493bcdc34&istItemId=itxtlapix&istBid=t&gclsrc=aw.ds&&&gclid=Cj0KCQjwhIP6BRCMARIsALu9Lfna5-SvpLDdOH9exoASo00TSK14D294Q5ee-tmA_OC2crgZIiLM2oMaAqO0EALw_wcB 

fundamentals of the SKINCARE obsession

Why now do we care for our skin more than ever?

I can’t quite put my finger on whether skincare is particularly popular at the moment, or if it has always been this popular and I’ve only just gotten on board with the skincare obsession. Skincare product usage is certainly more widespread than it was three decades ago; my mother said no one even owned moisturiser when she was in her twenties. So, why now do we care for our skin more than ever?

Our skincare obsession comes down to a few things really; sciencematerialism and boredom all being integral contributing factors.

The fundamentals of skincare stem from our craving for young skin and child-like beauty: no spots nor redness, and certainly no wrinkles. Science plays a significant role in people’s skincare regimes. Our understanding of the science behind skin types is ever advancing as scientists are becoming well researched on factors that fund ageing and choices that can be made to delay it. This ultimately aids the bettering of product quality, a consideration that naturally increases people’s desire to use skincare products.

Having a skincare routine and using numerous products is not a bad thing, in fact, copious clinical studies show that a number of products (specifically SPF moisturisers and retinol) have excellent anti-ageing actions. It is important to find a routine that works for one’s individual skin type. So trying things out is key, a little wasteful, but key.

The product hungry, materialistic attitude that echoes through modern-day society plays a big part in the growing obsession for skincare. There is an element of psychological reassurance in greed, in having lots of something, lots of skincare products; as though the more we have, the cleaner we are and the slower we will age. Whilst this is obviously not correct, I myself am not innocent and have materialist and moreish tendencies when it comes to skincare products. Industrialism and mass production have fed our material hunger, providing us with easy access to all sorts of products, for charmingly low prices.

Social media is another fuel for the skincare obsession. Whilst the development of social media has numerous pros, it can, unfortunately, be a rather toxic space in many aspects. Big names online with high followings, people such as Bella Hadid, Kylie Jenner, or Molly-Mae Hague, frequently promote skincare products to the masses for large sums of money. What we often forget is that, whilst these girls are also naturally beautiful, they have teams of professionals editing their photos, giving them faux flawless skin and us a distorted sense of perfect. As a result, it is easy to believe that through buying these promoted products, we will look as gorgeous as the models in these airbrushed images. After trialling such products, and figuring that perhaps they aren’t as magical as influencers were paid to say they are; when our skin doesn’t morph into that of a social media sensation, our self-confidence is nibbled at, a phenomenon that can seriously impact mental health. Nonetheless, social media has been critical to the success of many skincare brands and is a useful tool for finding out about new skincare providers. Regardless, it is essential that we have realistic expectations of a product’s capabilities, and as buyers; we must research a product before purchasing. 

Interestingly, skincare sales soared during lockdown. It’s logical really, whilst bored on furlough or zooming from 9 to 5, we spent much more time looking at ourselves, looking at our faces; noticing little lumps and bumps that we’re not that happy with. As a result, we turned to skincare for assistance, for relief, for reinforcement – as demonstrated through an immense elevation in Google searches for beauty categories and sales in skincare brands such as Estée Lauder and REN – according to the British Beauty Council. My skincare obsession was definitely exacerbated by lockdown boredom.

I suffered from acne during my teenage years and couldn’t find a product that worked for me. I eventually realised, my skin was so sensitive that the products I was using were not helping my acne-prone skin. When I ceased usage, my spots began to clear. I then avoided all products besides a gentle wash until fairly recently, when I noticed my first wrinkle, aged 22. I am now a sucker for skincare, and use an array of hydrating, anti-ageing, and repairing creams and serums, which I will list in a follow-up post.

SUMMER wish list

A couple of months after the official start date of summer, I bring you my ‘summer wish list’.

I suppose the start of summer is a subjective phenomenon, considering England’s bipolar weather. The summer came out of nowhere this year. It makes sense given that spring was cancelled due to COVID-19. Time flew by whilst we were sheltering from the new-age plague. When we began to emerge from our sombre shells (our places of lockdown and our mindsets), we surfaced with very little crescendo into 30-degree heats. The onset of summer certainly helped lighten the mood of the nation amidst the global pandemic, but its onset felt almost unforeseen, like we just forgot summer was a thing. I feel for those who didn’t have access to a garden during lockdown. It is no wonder that, although frowned upon, people fled to the parks as soon as the sun put its hat on. We were lucky to have a summer at all actually. Having read numerous articles and scientific journals regarding coronavirus, I thought 2020 might be cancelled altogether. I don’t want to jinx it, like spring, the later part of the year may also resign to the virus, but only time will tell.

After acknowledging that the period running up to summer was scrapped, it now seems more acceptable that my summer wish list is a little later than the 20th of June (summers official start date). Be that as it may, it also seems rather inappropriate. The virus has certainly helped us to evaluate what matters to us, and whilst shopping is enjoyable and therapeutic, worth in material things in a time like the present is much less. Continuing on, it is essential that we bare this in mind. 

COVID-19 has been a critical period for testing an industry’s adaptability. A large portion of the fashion industry has demonstrated its ability to adapt. Fashion publishing has momentarily reduced its glamorous motive, becoming a pivotal union for solidarity in raising awareness and showing appreciation for all the key workers fighting on the front line against COVID-19.

Without further ado, here are a couple of pieces that I am loving this summer…

Bethany Williams printed long sleeve.

https://www.24s.com/en-gb/printed-t-shirt-bethany-williams_BET438VK?defaultSku=BET438VKWHTWZZZM00&utm_source=rakuten&utm_medium=affiliation&utm_campaign=affiliation_rakuten_3601033_Culture+Whisper&utm_content=10&utm_term=UKNetwork&ranMID=42680&ranEAID=1DSKXhXvm94&ranSiteID=1DSKXhXvm94-swGeKKQFjbHOLCr9QW.pRw

LVMH prize winner Bethany Williams is a key name in fashion during COVID-19. Bethany, alongside several designers, founded the Emergency Designer Network, donating scrubs, masks and funds to aid in the battle against corona.

Jacquemus sunnies

https://www.farfetch.com/uk/shopping/women/jacquemus-les-lunettes-soleil-sunglasses-item-14991740.aspx?size=17&storeid=10155&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_keywordid=126432157&utm_shoppingproductid=14991740-791101013283105122101&pid=google_search&af_channel=Search&c=1603618029&af_c_id=1603618029&af_siteid=&af_keywords=aud-297012351339:pla-297368500014&af_adset_id=66294291532&af_ad_id=305209734653&af_sub1=126432157&af_sub5=14991740-791101013283105122101&is_retargeting=true&shopping=yes&gclid=Cj0KCQjwyJn5BRDrARIsADZ9ykECw9hBXt3sFut6S0L6yDAKgFjTdYEVghQYxRTza4MgUf1npUd8TbcaAhldEALw_wcB

Jacquemus Le Panier Soleil bag

https://www.farfetch.com/uk/shopping/women/jacquemus-le-panier-soleil-bag-item-14518875.aspx?size=17&storeid=9954&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_keywordid=126432350&utm_shoppingproductid=14518875-791101013283105122101&pid=google_search&af_channel=Search&c=1603618029&af_c_id=1603618029&af_siteid=&af_keywords=aud-297012351259:pla-385485196981&af_adset_id=66294291252&af_ad_id=305209734641&af_sub1=126432350&af_sub5=14518875-791101013283105122101&is_retargeting=true&shopping=yes&gclid=Cj0KCQjwyJn5BRDrARIsADZ9ykHY7HiegijM3G7EAKqO663inO0iF_pDpA_8snuaASI1ZzsPWUOVL7QaAgBaEALw_wcB

PRADA nylon garbadine shorts

https://www.prada.com/gb/en/women/ready_to_wear/trousers_and_shorts/products.nylon_gabardine_shorts.22S757_I18_F0002_S_192.html?utm_campaign=GoogleShopping_UK&utm_medium=CPC&utm_source=Google&utm_content=Shopping&s_kwcid=AL!8549!3!334889602680!!!g!883512956065!&gclid=Cj0KCQjwyJn5BRDrARIsADZ9ykFpkhdewFt3Za685GTcKRzovyRwO83imO2gwJ3BO1p716n7ZZbdOBYaAlTHEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

PRADA Nomad sandals

https://www.farfetch.com/uk/shopping/women/prada-nomad-flat-sandals-item-14843603.aspx?size=27&storeid=9981&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_keywordid=126432455&utm_shoppingproductid=14843603-5157&pid=google_search&af_channel=Search&c=1603618029&af_c_id=1603618029&af_siteid=&af_keywords=aud-297012351259:pla-387719487294&af_adset_id=66294292212&af_ad_id=305209734677&af_sub1=126432455&af_sub5=14843603-5157&is_retargeting=true&shopping=yes&gclid=Cj0KCQjwyJn5BRDrARIsADZ9ykFUDRDQl_nb8Y-wK0vNB1ciidWYmJAMRrXQhxTK5GiK3bjvaYP18fEaAmyNEALw_wcB

Jacquemus cotton & linen mini dress

https://www.luisaviaroma.com/en-us/p/jacquemus/women/dresses/72I-5KX024

Designing RED: Opulence Collection No.2

As a designer for the UCL MODO fashion society, I participated in the society’s second annual show, themed ‘Opulence’. Being in my final term of university, my schedule was jam packed, so I opted to make a smaller collection consisting of four pieces: two dresses and two headpieces.

RED LOOK 1 & 2, shot by Dibble Moments.

I began by mood boarding to define my interpretation of Opulence. My board was filled with an array of divine gowns, haute couture structures, extensive layering and frills, body contoured dresses, dark and lavish colours.

Opulence mood board by Rose Dodd

‘Opulence’ is defined as great wealth and luxuriousness.

I envisioned Opulence as a story, a woman in an unhappy marriage. Perhaps money and greed interfered with a love that was once there, and the marriage became dark, whilst the couple’s existence remained luxurious.

My designs were originally very structured and technical with lots of wiring, much like those in my mood board, however, they became a little more simple; slim fitting and elegant. I suppose this was in part due to my limited time and technical skill.

DESIGN 1: ‘Anastasia’ dress and headpiece

Design 1: Mid length satin dress, with mesh ribbon ties on the shoulders and down the side from beneath the armpit to the bottom. The dress has 3 pieces; the front and back breast and back sections which are tied together with mesh, and the skirt, sewn and cinched to the top sections. The mesh veil-like head piece is build upon a fascinator base, and designed to be clipped into the hair, featuring feathers, satin roses, and a mesh veil.
Design 1.

DESIGN 2: ‘Lakayya’ dress and headpiece

Design 2: Mid to long length, lose fitting, halter-neck, satin dress with a slit up to the waist and a low hanging front and back. The dress is build from 2 pieces, front and back. The head piece is a variation of that from the first look, featuring mesh, roses, and feathers.
Design 2: the dress has a very low and lose fitting back.

The key features of my designs include veil-like head pieces featuring mesh, satin roses (as featured in my last collection for the Sustainability show) and black feathers, long black evening gloves, and mid-to-long satin dresses.

Next I cut my patterns and began constructing the dresses.

Final pieces – shot by Adam Pietraszewski and Tom Dibble at the Opulence show in March.

LOOK 1: The Anastasia dress and headpiece

Shot by Adam Pietraszewski
Shot by Adam Pietraszewski
Shot by Adam Pietraszewski

LOOK 2: The Lakayya dress and head piece

Shot by Dibble Moments
Shot by Dibble Moments
Shot by Adam Pietraszewski
Shot by Dibble Moments

Some closet grails…

3 of my favourite vintage pieces, dug out from the depths of my style icon/mother dearest’s wardrobe

Shot by Rose Dodd, modelled by sister Fay Dodd

Whilst rummaging through the depths of my mother’s closet, I came across the most stunning Moschino blazer, lined with a fabulous lime green silk. The double breasted blazer, now mine, was bought to wear to a premier in the early 90s when my mum was working in LA (how glamorous).

The silk scarf is Dior, and very old Dior at that. My mother found it in a charity shop in LA in the late 80s/early 90’s. It’s floral design is built upon numerous shades of green, it looks stunning with the blazer’s lining.

Isn’t it funny how we frequently shadow our parents style? I suppose it provides us with insight into our heritage, into what our parents might have been like when they were younger. My fashion sense has matured over recent years, and my body has developed. Now, I fit perfectly into my mum’s 90s favourites. What a dream.

The Laine wool Chanel knitted top was an eBay find. eBay, like a flea market or even a charity shop, can be a rather daunting shopping experience when one lacks the skills required to sift through heaps of trite that may surround a hidden gem. Once the craft is mastered and one has developed the skill to sift, a new realm of shopping is unveiled – a realm of heritage, originality, and recycling – all at low costs! Secondhand shopping comes with practice, patience, and when using online platforms, playing with filter settings (‘lowest price’, ‘buy it now’, ‘ending soon’).

In light of everything going on in the world today; the climate crisis, inequality and injustice based on race and gender, and maltreatment of workers involved in larger corporations (to name a few), shopping or wearing secondhand cuts financial contributions to big names who contribute to global warming and use slave labour. Wearing secondhand is undoubtedly a first rate approach to reducing the weight of our presence on our precious planet.

Not a minute to spare…

Whilst studying for my final year exams and applying for masters, it saddens me that I have had little time for working on my blog. I can’t quite believe that my three years studying neuroscience is close to finished. What a time it has been. I have learnt so much, and have gained a deep understanding of things that come to play in our every day lives, from a neuropsychological perspective.

I look forward to moving back to London, but in the mean time, I am enjoying the comfort of home and spending time with my family, in these bizarre and unprecedented times.

I am putting in long days of study, and on the weekends I am enjoying my make-do home photography studio, set up in my kitchen.

I think of everyone during the crisis, and am thankful for our amazing NHS.

#stayhome

RED

A look from a lockdown project. Modelled by my sister. Wearing vintage Cerutti 1881 and Prada.

Fashion month: Top 5 looks

What a couple of weeks it has been. Incredible shows. Breathtaking design. Endless hard work. Fast pace coordination. Nightmare cancellations due to the virus.

Meanwhile, I’ve been sat at my desk struggling through my heap of coursework, indefinitely distracted by social media saturated with AW/20 content.

I’m struggling to keep on top of posting whilst writing my final year essays and dissertation, but I’ll be back in full force soon.

Nevertheless, here are my top 5 looks:

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood – image taken from instagram

I love the dark aesthetic to such a perfect gown designed by Andreas Kronthaler, and modelled by the striking Bella Hadid. This look represents a dark and different wedding, rather than flowers the bride holds a dagger. The shoot had a very Isabella Blow-esque feel to it. Vivienne Westwood never fails to amaze with such gorgeous daring designs. Westwood is one of my favourite designers, she is such a character.

Maison Margiela

Maison Margiela – taken from instagram

So many different stimuli for the eyes in this fit, which technically clash but it just works so well. John Galliano is a genius. The checked fabric with the accentuated sleeves and the head piece have a Victorian feel to them. The plastic on the bag – ‘protective in the weather’, a very creative but practical idea. Perhaps it goes deeper too – given the scale of plastic as an issue for the environment, maybe in some senses it is symbolic of this issue. Plastic surrounds us and engulfs perfection (littering/ ocean etcetera). I think this might be my favourite look.

Givenchy

Givenchy – taken from Instagram

Somehow my entire wardrobe is black. I love it. It’s simplicity, it’s mystery, it’s class. Black symbolises so much. This look is so traditional and elegant. My most recent collection for the Modo Opulence show had a similar aesthetic to this look.

Alexander McQueen

The volume! The crisp cotton – I can practically feel it on my skin. I’m usually quite impartial to a ‘mullet’ dress (short at the front and long at the back) – in fact they usually scare me, but not this one. For me, the dress is so pure, falling so perfectly, but combined with the leather chest rig and trousers – the look is almost becomes an oxymoron.

Off White

Off White – taken from Instagram

I feel like this ‘collaboration’ caused a little controversy within the arc’teryx community. Nonetheless, it’s so different to everything else I’ve seen during fashion month. It fuses high fashion (it’s almost a haute couture gown) and street style, it’s very interesting.

I was particularly impressed by the sustainable efforts that were made in most shows. The fashion industry is well known for lavish and luxurious. But this season they really captured style and sustainability, whilst maintaining brand integrity and luxury. Efforts are of course underway, and it’s definitely becoming noticeable.

RED x

Book of the month: January

I’ve been unable to post as much as I would have liked to have-been due to my heavy workload at university. Nonetheless, I thought I would give a short review of my January top 2 reads.

I admit with guilt that whilst studying I haven’t been able to read as many books as I’d like. As a neuroscience student, I’m constantly reading challenging scientific journals, which are condensed to maximise content potential in a limited word count. Disclosure: 20-odd pages of figures and data doesn’t seem like a ‘limited’ word count when struggling through it at snail’s pace. At the beginning of my final year back in September, reading a scientific paper would take me the best part of 2 days in the library, but with dissertation season coming around swiftly, my skim-reading skills have ripened. I can now get through a couple a day (not sure how much I’m taking in, or if I’m actually understanding it for that matter – maybe I’ve just admitted defeat on the journal front). Consequently, I come home from a day in the library with no desire to engage my frontal lobes (the brain region involved in processing language: written and spoken), and a craving for Netflix, leaving me little time to read books. Scientific articles certainly are academically stimulating and interesting nonetheless, but not as engaging as a good fiction book.

January’s Top 2 reads were however – able to bypass my Netflix needs (yes, they were this good).

1) Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman.

A book that everyone should read. A story of a woman’s struggles integrating socially, due to her traumatic upbringing. Eleanor becomes besotted by an arrogant singer who she believes is her soul mate. Unfortunately, her pursuit to make herself known to him doesn’t go to plan and Eleanor takes a turn for the worst. But with the help of her recently acquired friend, she blossoms, battling darkness, loneliness and self doubt, flourishing into a confident woman who knows her own worth.

The book has a storyline that tugs on your heart strings. It has you appreciate the value of friendship, and the importance of being kind to everyone, for you don’t know what they’re struggling with on the inside.

This book was recommended to me by a friend. I had said for months I would read it, but I kept putting it off due to my work load. As soon as I did – I couldn’t put it down. I was curious, and a tad skeptical primarily – as the first couple of chapters seemed a little too similar to Bridget Jones Diary. As I continued, Eleanor’s secrets unraveled. I suppose that was Honeymoon’s intention, to make her character out like an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. As the book progresses, one realises what a tough and unusually unlucky life Eleanor has lived. The book is a puzzle which can’t be solved until the end. There are clues and mere comments about her upbringing throughout but these aren’t put in context and explained until the final chapter.

The book is written in a first person narrative, so we experience all of Eleanor’s inner thoughts – some extraordinary and others far too relatable. By the end I was totally in love with Eleanors sweet, overly honest and familiar character.

The Lido – Libby Page.

An inspiring story in so many aspects. Based in Brixton, London – Kate, a young journalist working at the local newspaper is assigned her first real story investigating the closure of the local pool. Whilst researching she meets Rosemary, a elderly Brixton resident who has been swimming at the local Lido for most of her life. They form a strong bond and fight in unity with other local swimming pool users to prevent the closure of the lido. During her activist pursuits, Kate manages to get her dream writing job for the Guardian.

I had a lot in common with Kate. As an aspiring journalist myself and additionally having a soft spot for oldies, I could relate closely and almost saw myself in the story. As a result I really connected with the characters. The book highlights the forgotten and overlooked value of community. I was in tears during the last chapter, and wanted to read it from the start as soon as I’d finished. I have now started swimming in my local lido… and don’t regret it – despite Arctic temperatures.

My February books include:

The history of Bees – Maja Lunde. A fictional story of 3 beekeeper’s accounts over a century timescale, focusing on how the very possible extinction of bees changes the world. This book definitely makes you think about the direction in which our climate based actions have us headed in as of current.

Blow by Blow – Detmar Blow and Tom Sykes. The story of Isabella Blow, fashion editor, throughout her life until she committed suicide in her 40’s. A most inspiring and tragic story.

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