Tag Archives: fashion

Ageism: the last taboo?

Grace Jones, Kate Bush, Deborah Harry, Madonna, Patti Smith, Annie Lennox. Undeniably all iconic musicians, yet before any talk of their craft, their artistry, the principal thing mentioned is their AGE!

Thankfully, these ladies with an attitude will not be restrained by the hypocrisies of society. One that celebrates the older male but shuns the older female. It is no different to the way in past ages an old lady who lived alone was known as the crone or the witch. I found this strikingly apparent in Prague, particularly visiting the puppet stores. The sole representations of the female were one of two things, the angelic to the vamp, the tramp to the crone.

It seems perfectly alright for old rockers to keep on rocking, the Stones, Bob Dylan and the like.For male artists age seems to add another layer, a respectable wisdom, yet this is never applied to female artists, especially those who have dared to articulate their sexuality. Take Madonna for example, the media are insistent on always mentioning how she should behave more appropriately.


Who sets this moral standard anyway, really? She is completely ridiculed for sleeping with twenty-something hunks of perfection. But if an older man takes a younger girl, this is celebrated and is heralded as some sort of trophy, a sign of his vitality. Even if the guy is completely showing the signs of excess, it is not commented on what a mess he looks. He is, after all, a wolf or a rogue. The songstress claims that the younger men are the only ones who can really keep up with her. I am all on side with the Material Girl, as what is the alternative? To sleep with some sourpuss thrice-married man with not just physical baggage, but also emotional baggage too. If I spent several hours a day training to maintain an Olympian-like physique, as she does, I would not be happy to make whoopee with an out-of-shape octogenarian who was unfit and needed to take a pill of Viagra to even begin to have tepid sexual relations.

As a friend of mine put it,

It’s OK for Nick Cave to sing No Pussy Blues in Grinderman yet it’s abhorrent for Madonna to express female sexual desire now she’s over 30. What a bizarre and misogynist world we live in.

Age is a state of mind. In the same way that people who bang on about how bad their day is going to be or how they always have misfortune, consistently uttering a mantra of ‘just my luck’ attracts negativity, I think those people who start to set boundaries about their age will age quicker.

Oh a nightclub, I am too old for that kind of thing now.

Really? I danced to the pop track Anaconda with a 71-year old Liverpudlian lady who has more energy than the majority of students I speak to. It’s a mindset!

You start to say, ‘I am too old for this and that,’ well then that’s it, go and buy the coffin, because you are going to age. Be careful what you wish for! The Universe has a mischievous sense of humour. Thankfully, the female artists that I admire are following in the heels of past icons that created their own rules, like Frida Kahlo, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Tallulah Bankhead, Marlene Dietrich, Katherine Hepburn, and Mae West.


There is still a glass ceiling for the female musicians but the Graces and the old girls, coupled with the current tribe of bohemian and intelligent examples of the female species, are taking off their stilettos, smashing the glass ceiling and dancing all over the broken glass.

Madonna Image


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Everybody’s looking for something

At a recent re-union with my two close friends, I went through my archive to find photographs from our collective past, remember photographs? Actual hard copies, actual physical images? I had a suitcase-full from the University days in Aberystwyth: theatre projects, pantomime and holidays, all shared histories. At the time we looked so fresh, yet were stacked with insecurities. It was striking how visually we had changed, faces, bodies, the core of the physical.

One of the funniest – yet lamest at the same time – cracker jokes I had this year was about Santa having to discipline his staff, as productivity on toy production was down in his factories. This was due to the Elves taking Elfies. Indeed, if you think about it, 2014 was the year of the selfie.

Nowadays, everybody airbrushes, changes, edits, deletes! We all do it, we all modify our digital life experiences promoting the fun times and the happy memories. We are all self-aware to a degree, but only projecting what we want the world to see. We are all Public Relations agents. Some admittedly are better than others.

It made me extremely happy to see a musician I have admired, Ms. Annie Lennox in a portrait that did not iron out her life lines or laughter marks. An image that did not tone and gloss her face to resemble an alabaster porcelain doll. To be raw, to be unaltered, to be authentic.

annie lennox

It reminded me of an anecdote I heard about Audrey Hepburn, who was appearing on the front of Vogue. One assistant, when showing her copy from the shoot, told her not to worry about the wrinkles as they would airbrush them out of the picture. To which this dignified actress said,

Don’t you dare! Leave them all in. I have earned every single one of them.

The recent picture of the Eurythmic legend was accompanied by a telling quote about our society on the Purple Clover Facebook page,

There’s this youth culture that is really, really powerful and really, really strong, but what it does is it really discards other people once they reach a certain age.

I actually think that people are so powerful and interesting – women especially – when they reach my age. We’ve got so much to say, but popular culture is so reductive that we just talk about whether we’ve got wrinkles, or whether we’ve put weight on, or lost weight, or whether we’ve changed our hair style. I just find that so shallow.

Perhaps we all should be made to read Oscar Wilde’s, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Perhaps we all could do with a reminder of what happens when you try and remain youthful for eternity. Perhaps it’s time to delete that picture in the attic or re-examine the profile image of our digital selves?

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On trend


From the Pre-Spring 2013 edition of i-D magazine, courtesy of Givenchy comes word of the latest trend in high fashion: babies. Forget handbags, watches and bangles – the only thing to have hanging from your arm this Spring is a small person.

Luckily I put in my order for this highly sought-after item last year, so my son made his debut in time for me to be on trend. He has been as delightful, entertaining and – on occasion – as bewildering as everyone tells you children are. That said, a late night reading of some Sherlock Holmes stories from the Kindle app on my phone apart, we haven’t been doing much reading together yet.

I am mindful of Cyril Connelly’s often quoted words:

There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall.

But also of mothers who haven’t let the small person stop them writing when they can, perhaps J. K. Rowling and Monica Ali being the most notable recent examples.

I was in hospital when I found out that my last post ‘A desk of one’s own‘ was being selected for the Freshly Pressed site. Reading the many comments left there by readers, to which I am determined to reply before too long, made for a brief holiday back to life before motherhood. This new role means that updates to ten minutes hate might be infrequent, might not always be written by me, but will be forthcoming. Even if they are tapped out on a mobile during naptime, like this one.

Thanks for reading!

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Street Portraitist

Spent an afternoon in the park taking pictures with the Street Portraitist and this was the happy result.  It is always interesting to watch someone learn by doing it, figuring out what works and what they like as they go.  I was also lucky he is really patient as it was one of the first times I have been in front of a camera like this and so it could have been nerve-wracking!  Instead it was a really good day, at least until the chill winter air killed all enthusiasm for standing in a freezing park and we decided to go and occupy the nearest Thai restaurant.  Their bold yellow wall inspired this final shot, which is one of my favourites – after all, if you’re going to take something over, it is vital to make sure there is a good food supply handy:

Check out the Street Portraitist website here.


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T-Shirt Party

Now, being a girl and all, you could probably guess that your pal Julia is as much in love with all things fashion as any Fake Bake-ed WAG-wannabe.  And although you would be right, it is also true that having grown up as a total tomboy, forever climbing trees and skinning knees, means there are not many pretty dresses which will do quite as much as the perfect combination of skinny jeans + white shoes + a crisp white t-shirt.

I have written before about my love of all things Katherine Hamnett and her slogan shirts.  In a similar vein, here is one of my all-time favourites, a cracking little eBay number:

It never fails to raise a smile – even from notoriously hard-to-please New Yorkers.  Sadly, it is also true, I have never been to NY, but – hey! – I’m working on it…

Recently the NY t-shirt and I have been straying into ‘wearing that to death’ territory so it was time to start looking for a suitable addition to the ménage.  I was lucky enough to find, via Dazed Digital, the masterminds behind T-Shirt Party.

On a mission to design the ‘ultimate London t-shirt’, to compete with the ‘I love NY’ itself, they plan to release a new shirt each week, with accompanying video exploring the inspiration behind the design.  The shirts will only be available for a year and are sold at a very pocket-friendly price.  Founder Stan Still explained to Dazed:

T-Shirt Party reps London town, our hometown. No boutiques, no marketing campaigns, no hyped up nonsense, just T-shirts for the people. It’s simple: after all it’s only white tees – the people’s apparel

So, here I am wearing what seems to me, in light of this post, to be on course to become my new favourite thing:

This is a slightly better photo, from T-Shirt Party:

Looking good, as I am sure you will agree.  With 13 styles released so far and more to follow, there is something for everyone to fall in love with and you are also unlikely to see everyone you know rocking the same one, an added bonus.

If I was purchasing them for blogging friends, I would buy this one for Mark of The Mortal Bath, as he is soon to leave the Metropolis behind for northern climes:

While this one would be good for Phil of Truth, Reason & Liberty:

And I can see Bonesy rocking this one fresh:

I can confirm that the t-shirts themselves are high quality, wash well and make you feel like a million bucks quid.  Get them before they’re gone!  And make sure you tell me about any of your favourites tees below in the comments…
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Save the Silas!

And that is as much politics as I can handle this weekend.  Have a story instead…

Back in the day, when I was a yoot (that is eight or so years ago) I was an avid collector of Silas.  I think I was going all out to be able to dress head-to-toe in it, every day of the week.  I had jeans, a skirt, jumpers, hoodies, blouses, vests, jewellery and two handbags, a coat, a jacket and an anorak.  Had I ever left the house wearing it all and had I bumped into label founders Sophia Prantera and Russell Waterman that day, they would have laughed their asses off at me.  And they would have been right to, except it would have been a slight bit nasty, given that I must have been one of their best customers.

How I managed it on a student/first job budget only the bank manager knows, but it was definitely a fun game to play, trying to sneak a bit of Silas into an otherwise boring working wardrobe.  It was easier with some things than with others.

This used to go well with a suit and white shirt for work.  I was dead proud of the ensemble too, until a well-meaning but ultimately deluded co-worker asked me if I had bought the jumper in Gap and I nearly chinned her with a wail of ‘That’s prime grade premium skate wear!‘ before I reasoned that I had better let it go.  As P Diddy says, there are two types of people in the world: players and player haters.  She wasn’t to know the error of her ways.

Next up, we have some lovely camisole-style vests.  They look ever so cute and butter-wouldn’t-melt from a distance and are great with old cardies and jeans.  Close up the patterns are a little more devilish as Silas is all about the essential details (you can click on all thumbnails to enlarge).

They also never lose that, if I can just get all fashion writer-y on you for a moment, essential rock aesthetic, especially with the accessories.

These leather cuffs in dark brown and white are suitably chunky, embossed with studs and the Silas logos.  They have the feel of something you might have nicked off a now long-dead roadie in a back-room poker game, somewhere near a highway in Alabama, sometime in 1973.  See how just wearing them makes me clench my fist in a RAWK-like manner?  Grrrrrrrrr.

For all the different influences they have embraced over the years, the Silas designers never lost sight of their origins providing quality, hard-wearing skate clothing.  This jacket is one of the best things in the world ever, comfortable, light-weight and shower proof, even though the closest I ever got to really needing skate wear was playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater:

Best of the lot has to be this bag.  Nearly ten years old and it still looks amazing, garnering compliments wherever it goes:

Again, it is the details which make the bag a joy to use for transporting possessions about the town, from the plaited leather strap, to the wooden fastener (I’ve been asked more than once if it’s a pencil.  If only.  That would be the only thing that could make this bag better.  Built-in stationery) and the studs all over everything.  It is truly lovely.

Since 2006, Silas has been concentrating its efforts on Asia, which is frustrating but comes as no surprise as there were always items in every collection which, it was whispered, could only be bought in Japan. So, since the Silas won’t come to me, it is my best reasoning that I will have to go to it.  I can’t wait to get out to Tokyo this summer, check out all the exclusives that were never produced in the UK and start building up my collection again.  And I am sure I will be able to resist the temptation to wear it all at once.

Another thing that Silas is known for is its collaborations with designers in the creation of clever and inventive marketing campaigns.  Stay tuned for more on those tomorrow…

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All that scratchin’ is makin’ me itch

I get a continued kick out of the fact that one of the most popular posts on this here ten minutes hate of mine continues to be the one called ‘stop being a sap!’  which features Joe Strummer’s words about taking control of your life and creating something for yourself.

Malcolm McLaren, whose funeral took place today, was another of that ilk.  As one of the better obituaries, written by McLaren collaborator Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls, tells it:

When I remember Malcolm, I think that he taught me the idea that if you don’t like something, you’re the only one that can change it. That’s the mentality people need to make things happen. It takes a spark to build a fire, and Malcolm was definitely that spark.

I worry for us though, because we are losing them.  The towers of controlled rage and puncturers of excess and stupidity who saw the year of my birth as less of an excuse to pat the Queen on the back for a job well done but more of an opportunity to create merry hell and up the blood pressure of the clueless as they railed against England’s lack of promise.

And here we are again, up to our necks in it… except all we have to throw at the problem are Scouting for Girls and a million poor Kate Bush knock-offs.

So if you are tired of sitting in the pub wondering what it all means, it’s time to start making it happen.  Stop chasing the dreams they sell you and make your own, let them come to you, just as McLaren did.  In his own words:

I was taught that to create anything you had to believe in failure, simply because you had to be prepared to go through an idea without any fear. Failure, you learned, as I did in art school, to be a wonderful thing. It allowed you to get up in the morning and take the pillow off your head.

He’s right of course.  Make some noise, piss people off, do it your own way.  Don’t follow anyone else’s idea of a well-defined career path.  Your life’s worth much more than eat, shit, work, consume, sleep.  Make it count.


Filed under The Golden Country