The Street Where I Live

British by birth, New Yorker by nature.

Fashion & Beauty

An Open Letter to Bella Freud's "Ginsberg is God" Jumper

Fashion & BeautyAlexandra king3 Comments
ginsberg is god sweater

Dear Ginsberg is God jumper,

I still remember the first time I saw you. It was 2003. Vogue magazine. You were stuck, strong, sensual, to Kate Moss's chest- barreling through St John's Wood on London's most desirable woman, and you knew it. What was it about you then? Your perfect monochrome? The kitten-kitsch cursive of your iconoclastic pronouncement?


I didn't know who Ginsberg was, obviously. I was a boring girl in a boring place. An English schoolgirl raised on Keats and Chaucer and Philip Larkin, the latter whom might have written a deeply purvey, deliciously gloomy poem about you. To me, then, a beat was a thing that dropped in a dim club, with a dim crowd. I'd never been to America, I'd never read the canon you evangelize. Ignorant, though, I howled for you.


I saw you in real life once. It was years later. You were on a mannequin in Liberty's, arms folded, hands curved, the folds of your merino promising softness, warmth. You looked right at me. Right at me. I couldn't believe it. I came back the next day, because my student loan had come in and I briefly contemplated buying you and returning you, regretfully, within the week, just so I could have you for a while, because god knows you bring out all the wrong in me, Ginsberg Is God jumper, you really do, but it feels so right. I barreled back to Carnaby Street, Natwest SOLO card in hand, the next morning. But you were gone. Hopping away with my heart again like Godard did with his girls. Oh how I wish I could quit you, Ginsberg Is God jumper, my sartorial spirit animal, the fashion phantom still shocking me, on the daily, from the pages of the Sunday Times Style mag.

You weren't available then and you're not available now. Your'e never around, my love, apart from an occasional lone counterpart knocking about on a forgotten corner of Net A Porter (size L). That's because you are 270 POUNDS- the same price as a tired but workable fifth-hand Renault Clio. 100 of you would have bought my entire university education. One of you bought my heart.
 
 I wanted you when I was 15. I wanted you when I was 25. I was too poor each time. By 40 I'll probably have the cash but I'll be too fat or too responsible or a deeply unsatisfying mixture of both. Why do you haunt me Ginsberg Is God jumper? Why do French ingenues on Instagram born in 1995 own you? Do they not understand our history? Our yearning to be together? The destiny that was for you to be rolled down my waist every morning until we eventually came undone, together?

Someone probably put you in the washing machine once. I want you to know I would never to do that to you.

Yours,

 
Alex
 

TSWIL Wardrobe Sale!

Fashion & BeautyAlexandra kingComment

Guys, I've had a little clear out and am selling some designer stuff from my wardrobe, including the Lanvin silk dress you see above, at shut the front door prices over on the Instagram account tswil_wardrobe. Silk scarves, vintage gowns and rad tribal crop tops all included. First person to comment gets it. International shipping totally cool with me.

P.S

You'd be mad to miss these python skin Terry De Havilland wedges



Everlane Goes Global

Fashion & BeautyAlexandra kingComment
everlane stripe box shirt

A special post and ardent heads-up for my non Amurrica-dwelling girls- one of my fave US brands, Everlane, is doing 15 dollar flat rate shipping internationally for this week only!


For those who haven't read the many posts and link lists I've posted so far in which Everlane items appear, this amazing online brand is a San Francisco based clothing company devoted to sustainable ethical fashion. They make a point of cutting out the middle man, working directly with vetted, family-run factories to make truly beautiful, high quality clothes with a conscience. And at an amazing price point.


Their perfect white t-shirt, black muscle tank, poplin vest and  breton stripe sweatshirts are easily the most-worn things in my wardrobe, and I have them in multiples. And on my wishlist? These rad loafers and this cosy cardy.

Run to ye olde interweb now, mes dames. They do cute stuff for guys too (FYI for difficult to-buy-for dudes this Christmas, you can't go wrong with a cashmere hoodie)
 

A Clothing Brand I Love

Fashion & BeautyAlexandra king1 Comment

I found the Israeli clothing label Naftul entirely by chance on Etsy a couple of years back. I was immediately blown away by the brand's at once contemporary and hippy-love aesthetic, not to mention the quality of the clothes, and have been a devoted fan ever since.

Naftul really gets what modern girls need from their outerwear-the kind of go-getter garments that work for every occasion, dressed up or down and all-weather adaptable- be it Palm Springs or Portobello Road. Every Naftul dress I've owned so far has immediately become a wardrobe stalwart- from the summer evening dress, which I donned for everything from art openings to weddings this summer, to this comfy yet sexy date night babe. Oh, and everything is sustainably made with love in Tel Aviv- oh hi, TopShop, is that you? Sorry, I'm busy. Being cuter. And better for the world.

I could go on, but anyway, the charming Nataly Elian, the rad creator of Naftul, sent along a few images from her latest Holiday Collection, and I immediately wanted everything/ had to share with you.

Embroidered Love Dress

Embroidered Love Dress

Happy news for TSWIL readers- run run run your cute selves to Naftul now and enjoy a 30 per cent off flash sale across the store. In addition, Nataly is offering a 10 per cent discount on your first item, 15 per cent on two and 20 per cent on three or more. And shipping is available worldwide. Sustainable fashion at sustainable prices. What are you waiting for?

 

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes at Fashion Week with Anna Lyles

Careers and Working, Fashion & BeautyAlexandra kingComment
Anna Lyles TSWIL

I've mentioned my sister-in-law Anna Lyles a couple of times on the blog (she did my hair for my wedding, obvs, also I love her x a million) but I wanted you guys to get to grips with what she's really known for, which is being one of the US's top fashion hairstylists. Anna lives in LA, but spends seemingly unfathomable amounts of time jet-setting around the world each year for fashion weeks, working on teams with top artists and influencers at some of the biggest shows in the world. From Alexander McQueen to Dior to Valentino to Marc Jacobs, this babe has racked up an impressive amount of notches on her hairbrush- over 100 shows and counting, in fact. So with the season over (for now) and Anna safely back in LA and therefore able to have long and hilarious phone chats with me again (yay) I asked her if she would fill you in on what it's really like backstage at fashion week (spoiler: the models do eat).

Louis Vuitton Menswear F/W 2015

Louis Vuitton Menswear F/W 2015

How does the hair styling work for a runway show?
  
It all starts with the hair test, which is done by the key hair and makeup artist anywhere from a week or two in advance to the night before the show. This is where the designer, hair, and makeup teams get on the same page aesthetically.  A model will be there for a day in the hair and makeup chair- then the head artist will create a look and it goes to the designer to be evaluated. Either it's approved right away, tweaks need to be made (volume/ shape/ texture/ up/ down etc) or a whole different look needs to be created on the fly. Then pictures of the look are taken and printed to be put up backstage the day of the show!

On the day itself, there's usually 3-4 hours of time until the show is live, and there are 20-80 models. Rehearsal is called one hour before the show so that the models get to see the runway path and go for a test walk with the music. This is also where they are coached to know how fast to walk and what attitude to have (sexy? Strong? Sweet?).

Then there's only 30 minutes until first looks, meaning almost no time at all to get every girl to 100%!  So this is crunch time, and also the moment that photographers are allowed backstage. You often turn your model's chair to face the middle of the room so that makeup artists and manicurists can work on him or her with you at the same time. Multitasking to the max!

Suddenly it's show-time, the model's names are called, they get in single file and the music starts. That's when the whole room goes completely silent. It's an amazingly calm moment after a hectic few hours. Everyone falls totally silent, you could hear a pin drop. Then, as soon as the show is finished, the whole room erupts into cheers and whoops and hollers. It's so celebratory and emotional. I always feel an amazing sense of accomplishment to have been part of such an incredible team in that moment. It's really so thrilling. 

Dolce & Gabbana S/S 2015

Dolce & Gabbana S/S 2015

What does backstage look like?


Firstly, "backstage" almost feels like a misleading word in itself, because it's usually in a place that was not built for backstage at all! The location for the show is chosen for aesthetic, so it often gets hidden somewhere strange where the people attending the show won't see. Maybe stuck in a back room, or behind a makeshift wall or in a tent! There are always six-foot folding tables and portable lights on foot stands scattered through the space for hair and makeup. Because it's a makeshift work area, space is often very tight and illogically set up- like a makeup table set up four feet behind your table, which means everyone is bumping elbows or stepping on toes the whole time. This season I worked for a runway show hosted at a very fancy NYC restaurant, and the entire "backstage" consisted of a narrow hallway for wardrobe and a small room underground for all hair, makeup and models. Half of my station was on top of a pile of giant wires. Needless to say, not the most ergonomic salon situation. But we made it work!

 Working the Burberry Show with supermodel Jourdan Dunn

 Working the Burberry Show with supermodel Jourdan Dunn

What do you wear for shows?

Something with pockets! Usually pants. A lot of hair assistants wear an apron, which is basically a tool belt filled with lots of different combs and brushes. I find the apron a little cumbersome though, so I just use the pockets in my jeans. I always have hair spray in my back pocket, clips on my shirt and pins in the front. As for colour? Usually fashion black, darlings. When you're backstage, you want to make sure you look practical but reasonably chic. There are photographers everywhere! This Kenzo button-up and these 3x1 jeans are my fave go-to show outfit right now. Also, I'm obsessed with this fantastic sanitizing gel which is antibacterial and makes my hands smell amazing! I have it with me at every show.

Paris Fashion Week F/W 2015

Paris Fashion Week F/W 2015

What do you think are the misconceptions vs the realities of fashion week?
 

It's not super glamorous!!! Backstage, models are annoyed a lot of the time because they're overworked and tired of having their hair pulled and cuticles nipped. It's often too hot or too cold, there's a total lack of space and a lot of on-edge producers yelling while trying to run the show.

Monique Lhuillier S/S 2015

Monique Lhuillier S/S 2015

What does it smell like?

Hairspray and hot hair! 

Anna with hair guru Garren at Anna Sui

Anna with hair guru Garren at Anna Sui


What's the energy like?

Beautiful chaos, everyone is excited to be a part of it, most people don't work for shows unless they enjoy the high energy. It's a creative process on speed- you've got to enjoy the pressure and be flexible, because people will be in your way! Backstage photographers will sneak up in your space and you may accidentally poke their lens with a pin tail comb... everyone's got to be understanding of all the working parts of the machine and have a good sense of humour about it.

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 3.36.35 PM.png


Do the models really eat?

Yes! There is usually some kind of catering table- It can range from a full spread of fresh fruit, fancy pastries, Nespresso, fresh sandwiches etc to a box of bagels, coffee and no toaster. The models absolutely do eat, just not carbs for the most part. A lot of fruit, quinoa, hummus type salady things. They get upset, rightfully, when there aren't healthy options available- if it's just the cold bagel scenario most models would probably forgo. That's why I always travel with a backpack full of energy bars.

Anna Lyles TSWIL


How do you stay calm and focused in such a frenetic atmosphere? 

I breathe deeply and make a concerted effort to move calmly- there is a process the hair has to go through whatever the look, so choosing your tools and techniques wisely rather than being spazzy and losing your focus is much more time effective.

Backstage at Lanvin at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris

Backstage at Lanvin at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris


What do you pack in your bag for shows? 

A phone charger with my name colored all over it. Also snacks!  Those bars I mentioned. I love KIND bars, Lara bars, Chia bars, it goes on. Either way I have eaten at least a thousand protein bars in my lifetime and I would probably be dead by now without them.
 

Some of Anna's favourite looks that she's worked on this year

Some of Anna's favourite looks that she's worked on this year

What's your favourite show you've ever done?
 

I'd say the Dior Haute Couture SS15 with Guido Palau. The hair was really complicated and avant-garde as hairstyles go, a super sleek silhouette with a disconnected foot long (!) ponytail attached by a human hair loop. The clothes were a fusion of 70's David Bowie and romantic 50's couture. Thigh-high orange vinyl boots! Ball gowns! Sequined pant suits! It took place at the Rodin sculpture museum in Paris. The runway was a two-story, round room (constructed for the show) with pink carpet and mirrors on all the walls and ceilings. It was like a carnival fun room.  
 

Dolce & Gabbana Ready To Wear S/S 2015

Dolce & Gabbana Ready To Wear S/S 2015

And what about the strangest?


A giant cold warehouse in the outskirts of Paris for Raf Simons. It took an hour to get there by car, it was FREEZING and the power kept blowing from the blowdryers. Even the Parisians among us were slightly lost after- we barely made our way home on the Metro.

Once I very embarrassingly didn't recognize a really well-respected makeup artist- the key artist nonetheless, and asked him "are you with makeup?". He was amazingly forgiving, gave me a disapproving look and said "yes.. why?" (thank you for not embarrassing me, sir!).

Then there was the time Hanne Gaby sat in my chair and promptly popped a bottle of champagne and poured me a glass (she then Snapchatted the whole thing to her fans). Also when Tom Ford walked up and said "thank you guys for being here, you're doing a great job". Oh, and the thousand other times show producers have yelled at me for "not having my number on" or asked if I'd had my makeup or nails done yet. I'm tall and thin, so I do get mistaken for a model quite a lot. The producers are like, why is she wearing ripped jeans and carrying ten hairbrushes? Hahahaha!

Anna Lyles

 

Thank you darling Anna. I love you, and if my future babies don't inherit those Lyles limbs I'll be very cross indeed. If you want to keep up to date with Anna and why wouldn't you, make sure to follow her on Instagram here

Five Great Sales Today!

Fashion & Beauty, New York CityAlexandra kingComment
The summer evening dress, by Naftul

The summer evening dress, by Naftul

It's Labour Day in the US of A, which means a day off for most (and officially the last day of summer-public pools and summer attractions all close today- weeps!). Anyway, what better way to celebrate this mixed bag of tidings than to cruise the olde interweb for some hot bargains. Below I've listed five of my favourite places to shop online, all offering some sweet deals in time for the holiday. Happy shopping!

Poketo

30 per cent off at this amazing online store, which I first discovered in the lobby of super-rad Line Hotel in LA. Their selection somehow manages to seduce minimalists into blowing their pay checks on arm loads of pretty things, and that's an achievement and a half. I'm swooning for this, this and these! Just use the code: ENDLESS

Lykke Wolf

Another cool LA-based store, selling original clothing and home wear. I LOVE these mud cloth pillows

And this feels like Stevie Nicks plus a Grecian statue. Yep that equals amazing.

Abramey

Behold! The cutest flats on the internet! And 40 per cent off at this beautiful Etsy shop where everything is made with love in Tel Aviv. I've been longing for these all summer long. Also rather partial to these guys. And these! Basically I want them all. Done.

Nasty Gal

While I can't say the overall aesthetic of NG necessarily always sings sweet to me (so fun! So tight! So colourful! I'm just a little too grumpy and like being cosy, what a bore) there are some gems to be found. Today there's an extra 30 per cent off existing sale items, and I'm coveting this sexy set and this beautiful bra and  this  wicked cute jumpsuit (so transitional! And I love the samurai bun styling). Also this (ignore the styling in this case- envision top knot, black tights, boots, a cat eye. People will think it's Helmut Lang)

Naftul

Another Etsy shop I'm crazy loyal to, also in Tel Aviv (I think I'm clearly drawn to the aesthetic of that city's style- am desperate to go). I have a couple of dresses from here and they're incredible quality and totally unique. The shop currently has a 30 per cent summer sale. My faves include this stunning evening dress, this for upcoming winter work days and this straight-to-vacation babe which also comes in black . Naftul how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Happy shopping you babes! And happy Labour Day to my Americans. Take it light and slow. Ice cream would probably be a wise move xo

 




TGIF- 04/09/15

TGIF, Food and Drink, Fashion & Beauty, Books & Words, Love and Marriage, New York City, TravelAlexandra kingComment
Alexandra King-Lyles
alexandra king-lyles TSWIL

TGIF and happy September! Isn't it such a thrill to feel the seasons changing? Though it remains hot as Hades in NYC right now, there's no doubt that the tendrils of Autumn are sneaking their way through the air on the breeze- there's a clarity in those whispers of wind that promises change. Though I often nurture dreams of packing it all in and heading to California (usually in the depths of a New York January) I know that were I to ever leave my beloved NYC, I'd miss that. We all need markers don't we? And when life is too busy to journal or photograph or commemorate properly, when all the hectic days combine fast and close and linear, it's so nice to have the signpost of a season. Bring on the scarves, jackets and blankets of fallen leaves, say I. I'm ready.

My weekly best of the net below.


Summer may be almost officially over. But it's still hot here. And I'll be sunbathing in the park to this song just one last time this weekend


Taylor Swift vs Socrates
 

This chick gives zero shits. Applause. 


I love Mindy


Emerson Fry goodness making the coming colder weather seem oh so appetising


And this Autumn, I'm totally forcing Isaac to drive us upstate so we can admire some of that beautiful fall foliage


How to really help the world's new refugees 


YUM! 
 

What a cool idea. An app that adjusts the brightness of your computer screen to the time of day. Totally trying it out

A chic ceiling clothes rack


Excited to watch this

A sweet and interesting perspective on travel