Friday, 31 July 2015

An Apology

I recently posted a series of photos of myself wearing a Native American style headdress that I was sent to review. I jumped at the opportunity to review such an item because I really love the way they look. I'm afraid that is all the thought I gave to the issue. The idea of cultural misappropriation just didn't cross my mind at all. Sure, I'd cringed at the images of 'white girls' at coachella wearing such items but I think to be honest this was more about their attempts to be edgy than the fact they were misappropriating cultural items. I just didn't relate this, or in fact any offence, with my portrayal of a piece like this as I knew that I would be representing the piece artfully and in a cool way. 

I got my first comment from a reader and was a little shocked. I feel guilty for using ignorance as an excuse but I was ignorant of the amount of offence that could be caused here. I talked to a number of my friends about this issue and a number of us agreed that Native American culture just hasn't really permeated into the UK awareness. In fact I would argue (and this is just myself as I'm sure many Brits have sought to become a great deal more informed than I have) that the only things I learnt about the Native American culture was their aesthetics; I remember making these headdresses at school and so I had never registered them as something that could cause offence. 

In response to this comment I really considered my views on the topic. I will paste the comment below because I think it sums up what I really feel on the topic. 

Hi, 
I'm really sorry this post made you uncomfortable of course it wasn't my intention to do so. 

I read through those articles and found them really thought provoking. I agree with you (and the authors) that cultural misappropriation can be an incredibly uncomfortable thing when it is accompanied with a view of 'dressing up AS that culture'. 

Personally, though I firmly believe in anyone's right to disagree with this, I think that aesthetic items of culture can trickle into the fashion world without being accompanied by the entirety of the history and issues surrounding that culture. For instance I have a kimono and love it. I feel that I am allowed to love it as a piece of fashion rather than a cultural item and I don't feel any guilt in admiring it without knowing the particular area of Japan that this style is worn, or the atrocities or history of violence that this item could potentially represent. Although this might be an unpopular opinion I firmly believe that you are allowed to judge an item which may have a significant meaning to some, on purely aesthetic grounds. 
EDIT Marianne pointed out really well in the comments why this is an inaccurate analogy. I hope you'll read her comment because it's really well said. 

The focus of my blog is to celebrate the beauty of things in a positive and happy way. If I am representing a culture here, which was certainly not my intent, (I believe you can refer to an item by a country purely referentially so I think it is as acceptable to call this fashion item a Native American headdress as it is to call a hairstyle a French Braid) I do not believe I have done so negatively. My concern was only to represent an item I found beautiful, beautifully. 

I hope you can see from reading my blog that I am a respectful person who would not intend to cause offence in any way. I have really sat and considered my views on this topic and I feel comfortable with expressing my conclusions even if I know these may not be shared by others.

Ally

So. I do believe this. However on reflection I can only conclude that I believe this because of lack of understanding or proximity to the topic. I chose to take the post down. I truly want all my readers to know that I did this because I am hugely concerned about upsetting people. I hate the idea that people may be offended by my actions, that makes me feel awful and so I can only imagine how those who feel close to the topic may feel in response. 

To all those who felt hurt or offended by this post I am truly sorry. I would like to share a number of the articles shared by one of my readers in the previous post as I wouldn't like them to get lost in the process of deleting the post. I recommend them wholeheartedly and I can honestly say that they opened my eyes to a phenomena an view I wasn't aware existed. If anyone would like to share further articles on the topic please feel free to in the comments. 

http://nativeappropriations.com/2010/04/but-why-cant-i-wear-a-hipster-headdress.html
http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2014/jul/30/why-the-fashion-headdress-must-be-stopped
http://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/fashion/advice/a38218/native-american-headdress-music-festival/

Saturday, 25 July 2015

26/07/15 This Week


I need to address the elephant in the room. I really didn't intend to take a year off blogging. I guess it just kind of happened. I think it was down to two reasons. 

1. My new room had basically no natural light. I was really hard to get engaged with creating content in any way when I knew I wouldn't be able to look good. A couple of times I contemplated going out onto the pavement to photograph things but fear got the best of me. Luckily this coming year I'm in a new room with lots of amazing natural light. 

2. I'm really really happy! The year before last I was in a situation where I was just generally quite low and so blogging was something I did to escape and it felt really good to have a rigid schedule to stick to. However, because my living situation wasn't wonderful I wasn't doing too much extra curricular stuff and so I allowed (and welcomed) blogging taking up a huge amount of my time. Suddenly when I found myself in a great environment this year I realised that this was time I wanted to spend getting to know my new friends and doing really fun things. I completely loved this year but I have missed blogging now I'm more settled into a regular routine. So... I'm coming back to it. 

So basically expect lots more DIY, lifestyle and generally happy content. Yay!
Talking of happy content, I was talking to my Mum a while ago and she told me that she has started a new type of 'happiness meditation' which I just loved the sound of. At the end of every day you have to list three things that made you happy that day. Sometimes it's really easy and sometimes it's really hard but you always have to do it. The idea is that by getting into a habit of searching and recognising small details in the day retrospectively you will eventually train yourself to recognise the happy things at the time. I love this idea and I've been trying to do it a lot more. I thought I would share some every now and then. 

Anyway. I'M BACK, BABY!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

DIY PomPom Collar

One of things that really excites me about summer fashion is the way that different cultural styles get re-appropriated and mixed to create an amazing eclectic jumble. Look around any festival and you'll see Mexican, Native American and Asian influences all combining seamlessly to create fusion fashion. I love it! I wanted to create an accessory which would be easy to wear and add on but have the appearance of defining the outfit. Roll up, roll up for the amazing statement pompom collar!
You will need:
1 metre of thick white felt or another no fraying fabric
Colourful felt
Colourful wool
Pompom Trim
Pins
Scissors
Tape Measures
A sewing machine or a needle and thread
Fabric glue
1. Measure the length of your shoulder span and then cut out two circles from your felt with this length as your diagram. Cut out a small circle in the middle and check that your head fits through. 
2. Pin the two circles together.
3. Using the sewing machine sew your felt together to create a strong base. 
4. Trim the edges. 
5. Take your tape measure and lay it across the radius of your collar. You're going to want to divide you collar into rows so that your pattern will look regular. I decided on 1 inch increments. Put a pin at every inch.
6. Rotate your collar a little and do the same. Keep going until your entire collar is divided into rows and you have a marker on where to place your pattern. 
7. To create a triangle pattern, take a stripe of black felt and cut it diagonally into triangles. To make my pattern a little more interesting I divided some of my triangles in half or placed smaller triangles within them 
8. To create a line pattern, take a strip of black felt and cut it diagonally. I then mixed colourful lines in with the plain black. 
9.Start with your triangle patter in your middle row and place your felt square until you have the right spacing and colour mix. 
10. Once you are happy with your middle row move onto the outer rows. I think it looks good to have the lines pointing in opposing directions. 
11, Now glue down your shapes and remove your guide pins. 
12. Glue the pompom trim around the neck hole and wait to dry. 
13. Create pompoms out of your yarn. Make sure they have long tails as you will be tying them on. 
14. Position your pompoms around the edge to check for spacing and colour. 
15. Using some sharp scissors create a small hole where ever you want a pompom. 
16. Pass the tails of the pompom through the hole, tie off and trim down the excess. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

My button collection

 Ok....ok. Before you judge me as a completely insane old hoarder lady I have an excuse to why I have such a big button collection. Well, kind of. For some reason I love using buttons as the inspiration to my sewing, for example my skunk and toucan dresses were both inspired by their buttons. Often I will find a button I love and then build a dress around it which doesn't even include the button. Hmm... I just read that back and realised how insane that sounded. Ok permission to judge.
What ever it is that draws me to buttons I've given up resisting it. I now buy buttons freely under the guilt-free reasoning that they are enriching my life. 1) I find inspiration in them and 2) They are oh so calming to categorise. I purposely keep them all jumbled together just so I can pour them all out on a table and group them together when I'm feeling a little stressed. 
 When taking these photos I noticed that my collection is divided completely into animals and foods. I guess that makes sense. I do love things I can eat and things I can hug.
If you're interested in building up an equally insane button collection these are the shops I buy from. They are awesome sauce.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Midsummer Ball

If there's one thing that posh English universities do well, it's Balls. This year my boyf (centre, dashing, crown) is graduating and so we celebrated with true style with the Midsummer Ball.
I'm always a little intimidated by how well dressed these fabulous girls are, and so instead of blowing my budget on something I can't really afford I decided to make my dress. I made a copy of this dress and I'm really damn proud of myself. Anyway one with the amazingness...
We were wined and dined inside the most beautiful marquee.
Before taking many many many photos. Don't you just love group photos!? I love the amount of love per square inch.
Finally we passed the wee hours on fairground rides, eating candy floss and dancing to a Beyonce tribute act. UH-MAZING.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Some exciting projects

Lately I've been working on all sorts of exciting things. I think I'm going to make it official later this week. Can you guess what it is?