Thursday, 10 July 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Amber Atherton of My Flash Trash Interview

Find the original post HERE

My FlashTrash is the jewellery destination for girls in the know. You’ll find My Flash Trash stocked in select locations or you can browse the treasure trove of carefully curated pieces from their online boutique. My Flash Trash caters for both girls who are looking for an impulsive budget buy and those considering investing in statement pieces. Whether you want to show off some attention grabbing faux bling or keep it understated with an item from the designer that everyone else is yet to catch on to, My Flash Trash has you covered.

Founded in 2008 by Amber Atherton, enthusiastic entrepreneur, model and former Made In Chelsea star, My Flash Trash and it’s handpicked merchandise has drawn attention from British fashion institutions ranging from Topshop to Kate Middleton.

We met up with 23-year-old Amber to talk accessories, royalty and inspiring career advice.

What’s a typical day like for you as the owner of your own business?

I get up early to go swimming or do pilates. I walk everywhere so I’ll go to my office where I’ll stay until the early afternoon. Then it could be off to a photo shoot, an event or to see a stylist – something like that. Once I get home I can be on Tumblr until 2am!

Do you enjoy being your own boss?

Having the freedom to dictate how want to run your schedule is the most enjoyable thing about being your own boss. Managing your time is a skill though and you do learn to get better at it. I’m currently working from a colour-coordinated timetable.

Since My Flash Trash started in 2008 it’s undergone some changes. Your stock has varying price points. You also have your own design imprint called Flash Trash Girl.

In the beginning it was exclusively market place but now I design my own ranges alongside continuing to support up and coming designers. So it changed from being a market place to being a brand. I like to say it’s for champagne girls on a lemonade budget. It’s both inspirational and aspirational. We have pieces that range from £12 to the hundreds.

Your latest Flash Trash Girldesigns were stocked in Topshop’s flag ship London store. How did that come about?

Our brand is quite limited in terms of distribution in that we don’t want to be stocked in every store. So there are very few suitable channels but when Topshop approached us it was a no-brainer. They came to us and we designed the collection specifically for Topshop.

Where are you hoping to pop up next?

America is our biggest growing market so we’re having discussions with American retailers and concept stores about the best way for us to progress.

Do you enjoy deigning your own pieces?

I do it enjoy it. I’ll work with a designer to refine my ideas. There’s a pair of hoop earrings with palm trees on them, and that’s from a design I drew in the early hours one morning. I get just as much fulfilment from the creative side as I do in the analytics and financial forecasting!

The main focus of My Flash Trash is the platform it gives to new designers. How do you go about curating the collections you stock online?

It’s a combination of designers sending applications to us and us scouting out designers from trend blogs or Instagram. All the pieces we stock are a mix of being tasteful and dreamy, girly and romantic or others are quite tongue-in-cheek. The items have to be conversation starters. We often have quirky pieces too. There’s this armour ring that seems to attract so much male attention. I don’t know why because it looks quite threatening. Overall what we curate has to be individual but trend reactive.

What are your current favourite pieces?

We havethis necklace that says “internet” on it and I am just obsessed with it. I love all of the new Flash Trash Girl pieces because we put so much into making them. The inspiration for them came from watching The O.C. and Spring Breakers. I also really like a designer from Israel that we’re about to launch who makes rings. There’s also a London designer who makes incredible skull rings with gems in them, they have this rock and roll romance about them.

Your first collaboration was with the girls behind the fashion movement Funkyoffish. Do you have any others in the works?

We have Wah Nails coming up. The Wah collection isn’t particularly ring or finger focussed, it’s more about [founder] Sharmadean Reid’s aesthetic. It has real attitude. We’ve also in talks with other designers and celebrities… Watch this space!

Plenty of celebrities have been seen wearing My Flash Trash purchases. BeyoncĂ©, Rita Ora, Alexa Chung, Cara Delevingne… But Kate Middleton wearing your Double Leaf Earrings by Catherine Zoraida has to be the ultimate in celebrity clientele. How did her patronage affect your business?

It caused the website to crash. We were selling a pair of those earrings every four minutes. It boosted our American sales a lot. She’s worn them more than once and each time she’s seen in them we’ll get an influx of orders from America especially. I don’t think a lot of people would associate our brand with Kate Middleton so it was interesting. It emphasised that My Flash Trash does have this girly, princess side.

Your background in fashion is more high end. How have you adapted to being the figurehead of such an accessible brand?

A few years into Flash Trash and we started selling really expensive jewellery, like £600 - £1000. We started as a very small brand and we were featured in the likes of Love and Vogue magazine. But when I was on Made In Chelsea suddenly the entire teenage population of England was following me on Twitter, visiting the website, seeing the prices and quickly logging off again. I realised it had to become more commercial.

You were involved with Made In Chelsea from very early on, way before it premiered on TV. Was it a difficult decision to leave after three series?

It took a long time for me to finally decide to go. It was a lot of fun and I am very grateful for the experience and the way it introduced so many girls to My Flash Trash, but ultimately I don't think it reflected who I really am. I was probably the worst reality start to ever exist! Plus I was bringing my laptop to all the filming and would be doing work or having conference calls in between shooting and I just had a moment when I was drinking champagne listening to Spencer or whoever chat about something or other that I was like, ‘Okay, I've had enough now!’

You’ve done modelling, TV work, now you’re a successful entrepreneur… What aspect of your career makes brings you the most happiness?

I am really passionate about motivating other people. I love meeting up and coming designers and encouraging them to make everything bigger than what they think it can be. So many people have limited boundaries on what they can achieve. I feel very passionate about enterprise and career motivation. I also love the challenge of creating products and a brand that people believe in.

A great piece of advice you espouse is “Don’t be afraid of rejection”. It’s not just applicable to the business world. How do you put it into practice?

This comes from when I was modelling and I was far too young for it. I was 13 when I did an early shoot and from the age of 16 to 19 I was going out to castings a lot and being rejected. You develop a tough skin from that and you have to realise that it doesn’t matter. I just don’t process rejection or the word “No”. Even if something doesn’t work out you have to keep a spirit of positivity and self-belief. If something doesn’t work out you just have to seek out new opportunities. I’m not massively spiritual but sometimes you have to think “That wasn’t the right timing” or “That wasn’t meant to be”.

Finally, what should we be accessorising with for the rest of 2014? How can we be ahead of the trend?

Chokers. They are back. We’ve got so many coming. 

Written for GALORE

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

DIGITAL WORDS/ The Libertines At Hyde Park Live Review

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Picture by Steve Cook 

Don’t look back into the sun...

Sheer joy was my reaction to The Libertines’ announcement of their biggest ever live show earlier this year. A band I had loved so dearly during their oh so brief time together and was so thrilled by when they had their first reunion live at Reading and Leeds festivals four years ago. The chance to see the boys in the band do it all over again was a tantalising prospect shaped by my unshakeably fond memories not of their heyday, but that triumphant display at Reading in 2010.

Is it cruel or kind not to speak my mind/And to lie to you, rather than hurt you?

But, alas, the show The Libertines put in before a 65,000 capacity audience at Hyde Park last weekend was the stuff of nightmares.

There’s no denying it, I am a Libertines fan girl – I couldn’t sleep the night before the gig such was my anticipation (I know how lame that makes me sound, but please appreciate my honesty – which shall continue throughout this review). And yet I’m not a sycophant. I was not expecting a polished performance from The Libertines. They are The Libertines after all, and mild chaos is what they do. But for the £65, plus ever infernal “admin” charges, I paid to see them, I was expecting much more than the strained display that greeted my eager eyes and ears on Saturday night.

Prior to appearing on stage, a clearly inebriated and already dangerously swollen crowd were treated to the shrewd marketing move of an announcement of further live Libertines shows later this year at Alexandra Palace. Great, clearly the tickets will be more fairly priced than this joke of a day festival being sponsored by Barclaycard, where other acts on the depressing bill ranged from the dribbling, human pickle Shane MacGowan and The Pogues at one end to The Twang – THE TWANG! – at the other.

A montage of classic Roger Sargent portraits of The Libertines flashing across the screens proved to be an unwise move when compared to the men that paced onto the stage. Both Pete Doherty and Carl Barat looked filthy, covered in general dust, dirt and debris, with the former providing a reality check of just how much time has passed since we all first fell for this unlikely, shambling group. That is, of course, if you could even see them. An utterly obtrusive observation tower had been erected slap bang in front of the middle of the stage. So a view of Pete and Carl sharing a microphone once again was permitted to those either in the hallowed VIP section or those willing to risk their lives right in the thick of it down at the front. And risk their lives they did...

It’s a horrorshow come on down...

After the opening ‘Vertigo’ and a minute or so of ‘Boys In The Band’ the sound was cut and security made an extended attempt to help the hundreds of fans being crushed and trampled on. The band themselves also pleaded with the crowd to calm down and take a few steps back. But how long was it going to last? The barbed guitars and turbulent tempos that constitute The Libertines’ bursts of songs are designed to instigate frenzy. Though they manage to make it through ‘The Delaney’ and ‘Campaign Of Hate’ without any significant injuries further crowd surges hold up ‘Time For Heroes’. Later on in the night Carl’s solo acoustic spot ‘France’ is abandoned when members of the audience start scaling the sound delay towers.
None of this, of course, is the band’s fault. They did what little they could to quell the clear dangers within the crowd. The event organisers knew what kind of music the band play and how many tickets had been sold. More security should have been employed and more areas of the audience sectioned rather than just the “VIP package experience” ticket holders and guests...

None of this should have mattered. No one was expecting the gig to go off without a hitch. I mean, I’ve even experienced Pete Doherty playing a solo acoustic show at the Royal Albert Hall that ended in an en masse stage invasion and numerous police vehicles seeing the audience out of the Kensington area. But if the band had played anywhere near as well as they did that fateful night at Reading I would have left as a satisfied fan. And, quite simply, they didn’t.

There was no enthusiasm or excitement to the four of them revisiting their shoulda-been hits once again. Carl Barat looked extremely tense. The guitars were far too soft and lost in the sound mix. Gary Powell’s drumming, ever the back bone of the group, was unquestionably solid but the guitars just fell apart around him. Pete Doherty seemed lucid and engaged but was just getting the job done. The permanent frown fixed on bassist John Hassall’s face said it all.

Aside from the curious choice of playing ‘Radio America’ – the blight that tarnished Up The Bracket’s otherwise perfect running order – they air may of their greatest numbers; ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’, ‘What A Waster’, ‘What Katie Did’. But there was just no spark, no zing, no whatever-you-want-to-call-it that previously elevated The Libertines as a captivating spectacle. Even Pete and Carl pulling out their old shared recitation of Siegfried Sassoon’s ‘Suicide In The Trenches’ did little to help matters. If anything, it just made things worse.

Watery pinned eyes/My soul has gone a little cold

I left Hyde Park nigh on heartbroken. That was not the band I had seen shine previously. Would it be the same band that goes on to tour Europe throughout the summer before taking a triple victory lap at London’s Alexandra Palace in September? Will I even be there to see it for myself?

For me, The Libertines at Hyde Park was a write-off but I’m in denial that this should serve as the closing chapter to my experience of the band. My loyalty to them is strong but not blind. I sincerely don’t want to end this review with a highly predictable line from ‘The Good Old Days’ but it seems only fitting: “If you’ve lost your faith in love and music/Oh the end won’t be long...” 

Written for DISORDER

I Like... Morrissey's new album / "World Peace Is None Of Your Business"

Everyone has babies
Babies full of rabies
Rabies full of scabies
Scarlet has a fever
Ringers full of ringworm
Angel of disdain
Poor little fella has got rubella
Liver full of fungus
Junior full of gangrene
Mine is melanoma
Tikes full of gripe
Whippersnapper’s scurvy
Urchin made of acne
Get that thing away from me

- Lyrics taken from 'Neal Cassady Drops Dead'

Listen to World Peace Is None Of Your Business in full HERE

Monday, 30 June 2014

PRINTED WORDS / Iconic Magazine #15 OUT NOW

The latest issue of Iconic Magazine is available now.

The theme of the issue is Michael Jackson and the movies. 

Oh, and what's that on the cover? A never before seen image? If that's what's on the front page, just imagine how good the content inside of the magazine is...

Inside this edition a number of people who worked on Jackson's big screen projects, Moonwalker and Captain EO, as well as looking at his silver screen debut, The Wiz. Meanwhile, I take on the subject of Michael's near-misses of working with Tim Burton...

Order your copy HERE

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Conway Interview

I conducted a quick Q&A with Conway.

She also recorded a couple of exclusive sessions for Disorder.

Read the interview and watch Conway live HERE

Thursday, 19 June 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Lana Del Rey 'Ultraviolence' Album Review

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The title of Lana Del Rey’s debut album – 2012’s Born To Die – was apt. Dear Lana was the sacrificial lamb of online “tastemakers” and music press alike. Whilst Vogue were happy to plaster her face on their cover and H&M willing to make her their spokesmodel, music communities were tearing her apart as fervently as they once extolled the virtues of mega underground hit ‘Video Games’.

Against the odds Lana Del Rey overcame the instant backlash that greeted her rebellious prom queen persona (please, let’s put that “gangster Nancy Sinatra” quote to bed – she probably regrets saying it as much as I hate repeating it). Not only did she survive the widespread obsession with her authenticity, she’s come out of it with an unanticipated aura of intrigue. For a star willing to contribute to Hollywood soundtracks and sing at the most celeb of celebrity wedding events, she has kept her autonomy and privacy admirably intact.

Could any of Lana’s contemporaries have met their chosen album producer (Black Keys’ Dan Auberbach) in a strip club and kept it to themselves? No, of course not – TMZ would have been alerted and Instagram furnished with a “check out how edgy I am” snapshot. Whilst Lana Del Rey holds as much sway as pop’s most A-list of lady artistes, she is in fact in a wholly different league. She adds so much more to pop culture’s conversation than, say, a Rihanna, Lorde, Beyonce or even a Lady Gaga. Her subversion is, well, more subversive. She quietly yet proudly poeticises darkness, seediness and self-destruction. She tells interviewers she wishes she was “dead already” and has opted out of music’s current obsession with forcing women into the feminist debate ring. “For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept...” she told Fader. At last! Someone had the guts to say it! Her aversion to fame seems to arise from her singular consciousness of how ridiculous it is. It’s this mix of reluctance and self-awareness that makes Lana Del Rey queen. 
As a whole, Ultraviolence does indeed live up to the Lana’s cultivated level of intrigue even if its individual songs do not. Much of what she established about herself as an artist on Born To Die carries over onto Ultraviolence – she’s still captivated by beauty queens with death wishes and daddy issues, and she still manages to sound dead of eye and pouted of lip – yet opener ‘Cruel World’ establishes it is a very different record. The hip hop beats and capsule hooks have been replaced by heavy washes of guitar and wandering vocal lines. The overall pace is more measured, the attitude more resigned and personality more distinct. The gloss remains but there’s a definite level of refinement

As Lana works her way through her litany of doomed damsels and bad boy love interests, she luxuriates in this comfort zone without becoming complacent. She persists with her tropes and articulates her visions fearlessly. What Lana Del Rey does, she does so very, very well – the sweetest of vocals, the sourest of lyrics, making nightmares sound like fantasies and tragedies like romances.

Written for DISORDER

Monday, 16 June 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Which Celebs Are Wearing The Blonds? ALL OF THE

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Pretty much all of pop’s reigning princesses are on the tour or the promotional trail right now. And their stage wear is killing it. You’ll notice similarities in the most eye-popping costumes of Katy, Miley, Iggy et al – skin-tight, high-legged, sumptuous-coloured, glittering one pieces… That’s because many of their outfits are coming from one design team – The Blonds.

Founded in 2007 by Phillipe and David Blond, The Blonds collections are instantly identifiable thanks to their commitment to ostentation, glamour and glitz. It’s no wonder so many pop babes are choosing to wear The Blonds right now… Check out some of our favourites…

BeyoncĂ©’s Crystallised Boobs
Bey kicked off her ‘Mrs Carter’ world tour wearing a press-coverage-grabbing leotard that featured a sparkly rendering of the ‘Flawless’ singer’s breasts. Phillipe Blond explained that the outfit was inspired by Tamara de Lempicka’s paintings of the female body and was designed to “give the illusion of being covered in crystallized honey”. The finished outfit featured 30,000 Swarovski crystals that took in excess of 600 hours to apply.

Britney Spears Turns Disco Show Girl
Britney has rocked so many Blonds creations that it’s tricky to pick a favourite… The black spangled corset in her ‘Scream and Shout’ video? The star-spangled silver dress she wore in promotional images for her ‘Circus’ album? No, the crowning  Britney x Blonds hook up was the low-cut, feather-shouldered number she modelled for her ‘Work Bitch’ single cover art.

Jennifer Lopez’s Red Hot Number
Another Blonds devotee who has worn their designs on more than a dozen occasions, Jennifer Lopez has the ultra-feminine shape Philip and David seem to design for. Whilst ‘Live It Up’ – yet another yawnsome duet with Pitbull – hardly set the Billboard Awards alight last year, J.Lo’s Blonds devil-red leotard with feathered sleeves and paired with some thigh-high Christin Louboutin boots certainly did the trick.

Bejewelled Iggy Azalea
For her debut Billboard cover, I-G-G-Y wrote her name in bold with a high-necked, long-sleeved crop top from The Blonds’ Fall 2014 collection featuring an intricate jewel print. So popular is this print that J.Lo wore the bodysuit version of this design with added garter belt and stockings for a homecoming Bronx show in the same week.  

Sex Kitten Katy Perry
Many a dazzling Blonds corset has adorned the body of Katy Perry and she’s stayed true to both the design duo and her Katy Kats on her current ‘Prismatic’ world tour in the form of a head-to-toe pink catsuit (literally). On a tour that also features an inflatable dress, a plethora of rainbow wigs and giant emojis, it’s impressive that The Blonds’ work still stands out.

Princess Nicki Minaj
Whilst Nicki Minaj is currently into a more modest look than the garish, cartoon style she became known for, let’s not forget the moment she mixed class with girly colour in her ‘Moment 4 Life’ video. For her fairy tale wedding to Drake, Nicki wore a flowing, crystal accented blue dress from The Blonds’ Spring 2011 line.

Miley Cyrus Bangz One Out
The Blonds’ outrageous outfits have played a huge part in making Miley Cyrus and her ‘Bangerz’ tour the talk of the tabloids. The ultra-high-legged bodysuit is revised numerous times throughout the ‘Bangerz’ show thanks to the adornments of a pair of giant lips with a wagging tongue (obviously), dollar bills manipulated into clothing and glazed cannabis leaf prints. The only get up we wouldn’t mind trying out for ourselves has to be the cowl-hooded white number topped off with a Big Bird-yellow furry coat. 

Written for GALORE

Friday, 30 May 2014

PRINTED WORDS / The Orwells Interview

Sorry (but not really) to repeat - pick up the newly relaunched issue of Disorder to read my interview with The Orwells and more quotes from Mario Cuomo like this one...

Photo by Samuel Bradley