Saturday, 4 February 2017

A Love Letter to Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours'

Today, Fleetwood Mac's iconic album Rumours turns 40 years old. While the record is two decades my senior, I, like many millions of adoring fans across the world, still feel an unwavering affection towards one of the most successful records of all time (it's surpassed the 45 million sales mark - hot damn). A quick Wikipedia search tells me that Rumours is soft rock/pop rock/pop, but I think it's much more than that; 13 masterfully crafted tracks rife with personal turmoil, astonishingly constructed on the band's exacerbating state of disarray. It is, as the title suggests, a kind of collaborative diary lifting the lid on their individual and shared dilemmas.

Following their success with the eponymous Fleetwood Mac in 1975, (the record which birthed my namesake song, Rhiannon) the band, consisting of guitarist/vocalist Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood on the drummers, keyboardist/vocalist Christine McVie, John McVie bringing the bass, and voice of an angel Stevie Nicks, wanted to expand on their extensive exposure and produce something big. Like, huge. Legendary in fact. It should've been a breeze, but they'll be the first to admit keeping the peace in a band consisting of two couples was nigh on impossible, and when Nicks split with her high school sweetheart Buckingham, the McVie's were in the midst of a divorce and Fleetwood's marriage was also on the rocks, from which an affair with Nicks blossomed. There was also a shit ton of cocaine involved, the perfect remedy for hostility.

And yet, despite the breakups and affairs and pressure from the press and bubbling turbulence, the Mac still blessed us with such shoulder-bobbing funky rhythms as I Don't Want to Know, and harmonies perfect for a singalong round a campfire such as Second Hand NewsThe layered triad of vocals - Nicks, Buckingham and McVie - was unique for its time, when the voice of most bands relied on a single lead vocalist. 

But beneath the jangly strings and chirpy voices are lyrics riddled with the kind of painful intimacy Morrissey could only dream of. In the 2009 documentary Fleetwood Mac: Don't Stop, Nicks admits the line "packing up, shacking up's all you wanna do" in Go Your Own Way was a scathingly bitter jib from Buckingham that particularly struck a nerve. The sheer audacity shown by Christine McVie in writing You Make Loving Fun, which is literally about her lust for the band's lighting director she'd embarked on an affair with, is breathtaking. And if you don't shed a little tear to Songbird then you're emotional ineptitude turns my stomach.

Rumours is just as inspirational today as it was upon release 40 years ago, and it's influence on pop culture is indisputable. Their follow up albums (experimental odyssey Tusk, somewhat middle of the road Mirage and the sublime Tango in the Night) were drafted from much more mature material which reflected an improvement in the band's collective sanity, but could never match Rumours's master stroke. So thanks, each and every Mac member, for screwing around and emotionally draining one another - music wouldn't be the same without you.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Sheffield Botanical Gardens

The Sheffield Botanical Gardens were designed in 1834 by famed landscape designer Robert Marnock and established in 1836 by a group of residents concerned about the lack of open spaces in the city; an estimated 12,000 visited the Gardens in its opening year. Today, most of the site's original design has been preserved and the Gardens are a Grade II listed English Heritage site of special historic and architectural interest, most notably the glass pavilions situated at the brow of the Gardens and the bear pit.

Friday, 16 December 2016

The Edit: Updated Monochrome

Ever the forward-thinkers, Zara pull off a modern interpretation of the bell bottoms; cropped with extra frills. Offbeat silver boots add a futuristic twist.
Likewise, the frayed denim trend is here to stay, and funky socks are always a neat treat. Ok ok ok, these shoes are actually a baby pink - but what's life without whimsy?
An easy way to reinvent an otherwise uninspiring all-black outfit is to mix up the textures, like this longline leather jacket over a lacy slip dress at The Row Resort '17.
From the Rework capsule collection at Urban Outfitters - a beaten up white tee with a frayed satin cargo skirt and matching maxi coat.
Relaxed grunge vibes on the Saint Laurent spring/summer 2017 runway. A blue denim jacket isn't exactly a 'pop' of colour, but adds another dimension to an otherwise black and white/leather and cotton outfit. And I'm not telling you all to go bra-less and don a totally mad arm piece on your next night out, but playful details can transform an outfit from office professional to swanky bars and cocktails in an instant.
Sources: /
Source: yantops VILLOID
Take inspiration from icons of popular culture, like Bob Dylan and David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth. BD cemented his cool AF credentials early on in his career with his muted colour palette and smart/casual tailoring (with and without a cigarette in hand). DB as humanoid alien Thomas Newton balanced sharp masculine tailoring with feminine pieces like culottes, but pulling it off helps if you have Bowie's sex appeal and charisma.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The 2017 Pirelli Calendar is a Work of Art

The unveiling of the annual Pirelli calendar is the pivotal send-off to the year, and a pretty lavish one at that. Last year, acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz became the first woman to shoot the calendar in 25 years, and her subjects, which included icons such as Serena Williams and Amy Schumer, channeled an au naturel attitude to reinvent the typical pin-up style seen throughout the calendar's history.

This time round, the downright gorgeous black and white untouched photographs were shot by renowned fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, and feature 14 leading ladies and a university professor. Discussing the calendar in an interview for Pirelli's website, Lindbergh said:
"I wanted to use the 2017 Calendar to make a statement for a different kind of beauty. The current system promotes only one kind of beauty that is very connected to youth and perfection because it is a system based on consumption, whose idea of beauty doesn’t have anything to do with reality and with women. I think we need to take a step back and realize that this idea of beauty does not help women and on the contrary makes them unhappy. I want to use the Pirelli platform to send another message and the message is that beauty is much more than what we are used to seeing in commercials."
This is such an important but vastly underrepresented philosophy that seems so obvious in principle but is rarely, or ever, actualised beyond public criticism. Some of the actresses gracing the calendar this time round are:

Jessica Chastain
Source: @therealpeterlindbergh Instagram

Julianne Moore
Source: @therealpeterlindbergh Instagram
Uma Thurman

Others are: mega-babe Kate Winslet, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Dame Helen Mirren, Robin Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Swedish sweetheart Alicia Vikander, my obsession of the moment Rooney Mara, Charlotte Rampling, Zhang Ziyi, and Parisian idol Lea Seydoux, as well as Moscow State University professor Anastasia Ignatova.

More like this pls.