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Suede leather jacket – All Saints. Jeans – Levi’s 501. Heels – Malone Souliers. Rings – Monica Vinader

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Behind scenes & interview, click to watch

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McArthurGlen Denim Icons campaign, shot by photographer Nick Haddow

Chuffed – That’s probably not the most sophisticated word I could’ve dished out and certainly not a word that describes the amazing opportunity that’s being photographed by Nick Haddow, but that’s the word I’ll stand by when it comes to this McArthurGlen global campaign that I can finally share with you today.

I would never label myself an icon or a model (model what – model citizen? I pick up after my neighbour’s puppy, if that’s what they mean) of any sort, I was invited to be one of McArthurGlen’s Denim Icons, which at first I hesitated to accept. But the hero of the campaign was to be Denim, and the iconic versatility of it – so I accepted. Figured I owed a lifetime worth of uniform anyway – skinny, ripped, bleached or cut-off at any given junction in life…. and if it meant a few hours with Nick, then heck, let’s call meself an Icon. McArthurGlen Outlets so happen to have ridiculous discounts on designer/high-street denim too so happy to front that intelligent shopping game at the same time.

In collaboration with McArthurGlen; thoughts and opinions are my own as usual.

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Stop terrorizing the playground, make your own indoor swing

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Step 1
An upcycle mission

You may have seen these colours on the high-street, lining the windows in technicolour lattice of one much-adored brand of the people… Uniqlo! (Although I’d have taken McDonalds for an answer too – McCheese-strings can totally be a thing.) Celebrating their 100% Extra-fine Merino Wool collection, Uniqlo had their windows bedecked in an installation that involved meters and meters of elastic strings – seven boxes of which ended up in my cave of a flat early last week for a rather exciting upcycling collaboration.

Now, don’t let the breezy number ‘seven’ fool you, because the boxes held over four hundred rolls in 65 different shades, which is naturally 64 more than my hamster brain can compute. Mind-boggled, I called Gyu (a CSM knitwear graduate, who, for long-time followers should be familiar from previous posts) for advice. ‘Oh jeez we can build an Oompa Loompa village with all this‘ was her greeting when she stepped into my apartment blanketed with a layer of awkward-shaped rolls of rainbow strings… We flirted with ideas like tents, trampolines and canopies, and tested the strings with various tension swatches (double-crochet, knitting, weaving, braiding…). Finally deciding on building a hammock, she left me after a few lessons on macramé techniques (promptly forgotten the moment she was out the door…)

Turns out one needs a company of veteran knitters to accomplish anything as big as your body. Well, I should’ve known, I have troubles applying body lotion.

So that’s the story of the swing.

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Gyu testing single-crochet in a swatch

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Step 2
What you’ll need

Extra-strength yarn (I used three colours – 1 skein of the main colour and a bit of the other two) · knitting needles (appropriate for the choice of yarn, I used 6mm) · crochet hook or yarn needle · 7 meters sturdy rope (before purchasing, make sure to determine length by measuring height to ceiling) · 2 x stripwood (cut to 25cm long. Make sure they’re wide enough to fit the rope with enough room around) · 2 x D-rings · Optional and depending on method: Sandpaper · drill · 2 x ceiling hooks.

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Now, I really do recommend testing elastic tension for the swing seat by knitting up a square swatch before starting the project, and putting your entire weight on it. You might find that your yarn, or even knitting tension calls for some mini problem-solving/improvisation. Alternatively, this project can be done with cotton fabric, which can easily be sewn around the stripwood.

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Start by knitting the swing seat – cast on 30 stitches and knit in moss stitch (Mine shows garter stitch) until work measures the width of ONE thigh – the seat will expand when sat on. Cast off. (If adventurous, try the herringbone stitch and knit until work measures about 30cm)

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1. Drill two holes big enough for the ropes at each end of the stripwood, leaving at least 1.5cm space around the hole. 2. Bind the knitted work to the stripwood using the Crocet hook or knitting needle. 3. Insert one end of the rope through the hole, and make a knot. 4. Loop the rope into the D-ring and hang onto ceiling, then repeat step 3 once the length is determined. Repeat on the other side.

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Step 4
Swing & tips

The best way to determine how high the swing should hang is to measure it about an arm’s length higher than your normal dining-room chair. That way, the swing seat will extend to a natural hanging-length. Adjust the rope knots for length if too long. Depending on the type of rope, you will need to secure the edge with duct-tape or seal with a flame. For mine, I wrapped a bit of yarn in a different colour over the duct tape for visual effect. Consider adding tassels or wooden beads to your swing if that’s how you roll.

I personally live in a flat with a mezzanine so I hooked the D-rings to the upstairs bars and let it hang it that way, but do purchase a strong ceiling hook if you wish to hang on the ceiling. Alternatively, skip the D-rings and simply loop the rope around the hook or bar.

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In collaboration with Uniqlo; Photography – Park & Cube aka tripod

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A happening in Pittsburgh, PA (I know right?)

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Photo by Cup of Couple

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Mike & Gabi of Cup of Couple

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Gala of Amlul

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Wearing: Cardigan – ATEA. Leather trousers – Raquel Allegra. heels – Alexander Wang. Full outfit coming SOooosooon.

Yonks ago – September last year to be exact – I woke up in a truly irregular setting: Pittsburgh, USA. Kidneys, did I have them? Both fine. I ordered up some breakfast room service, and got dressed to join the rest of the equally puzzled crew down in the lobby. We were going to see a train – one inhabited by artists, musicians and their various instruments – that had arrived at Penn Union Station the night before. Brought together by Levi’s, curated by artist Doug Aitkin, this train (an assortment of vintage carriages dating back to 1914) had originated from New York and over the course of 3 weeks was to travel through the country to the West coast, dropping off and picking up creatives on its way, putting on festivals in celebration of art, street culture, music and food in ten cities between New York and Oakland, California. Much like going West for gold, in fact, especially in how the journey itself transpires to be the more valuable reward. It was essentially a kinetic, modern art installation championed by one of America’s oldest, and most identified brands – an ad campaign, of course, but only technically. I must admit, much of the art was lost on yours truly, to whom the world of contemporary art is a dizzying mystery… I did although enjoy myself all the same as the world of food, is in fact a sanctuary (especially when ghost chili cucumbers are involved). All-in-all, given the similarly dizzyingly mysterious nature of waking up in Pittsburgh one September morning – like some kind of abstract performance art- I remember it all as though I had some kind of an official part in the expedition… Alas, I was no artist, and we – the motley crew (international press of all shapes and sizes) – travelled by air. My only regret is having spent too long checking if my kidneys were there and then gobbling down scrambled eggs that I didn’t allocate enough time to explore the city at all. Classic.

Huge thanks to Levi’s for allowing me to experience a small part of the Station to Station adventure.

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Bag – L.K. Bennett Rosamund

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Gabi and Mike of Cup of Couple, new-found soulmates.

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Hello from NYC! Just a quickie before grabbing some breakfast and diving head-first into the city. I know I kept piping on about ‘going to #NYFW’ on Twitter, but in truth I’m here with Levi’s to celebrate their Station to Station campaign launch and really keen on seeing Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs properly. Because let’s be honest, fashion week is pretty much the same everywhere, but you can’t download a walk in Central Park from style.com. I know you don’t subscribe to this blog to check the latest and hottest, although seeing how much I seem to be affected by this jetlag I can really only deliver week-late and lukewarm… but I have a feeling you don’t really mind, do you. For anything warmer may I suggest following on Instagram? 2-minutes-in-the-microwave warm, but hey, still better than nothing.

Anyway, we spent most of our time in Williamsburg on the first day, and if not for this crippling jetlag I’d have spent more time exploring but all I remember doing that day was half-reclined in a bench in the Wythe hotel garden tracing clouds in between interviews with Levi’s execs. I’m going back next week for a proper sweep through, and please do let me know if you could spare some NYC recommendations, especially good grub spots!


Topshop
Banana-print denim biker

American Apparel
Sunflower-print shorts

DIY Denim painting: gathering inspiration…

All photos with tripod

I was asked by eBay to customize my own pair of jeans in support of a charity campaign involving the pop group B*Witched, who will be auctioning their favourite denim show pieces in aid of the UK charity Jeans for Genes Day. This obviously led me to Googling for ideas, and eventually took me straight back in year 1999. What is it about the internet and painting on denim material that MUST involve a brooding cat/wolf/unicorn or really awkward grafitti? Google Images suggests a mountain of things that either look like the wardrobe for Sister Act II detonated, or Robin Sparkles* is actually a Canadian fashion blogger (oh, is that why we all need to go to the mall) littering the intranets with ‘coul grafitti coat‘ how-to’s. The fact of the matter is, other than the popular two that are bleaching and ripping, there’s seems only so many other modern ways to customize denim without crossing over to the 90’s again. So heck, I decided to give painting a go, if all fails I figured I’ll wear it with roller-blades + scrunchie and do the Locomotion… aaand get braces again, why not.

* The alias of Robin Sherbatsky, a fictional character on the series How I Met Your Mother

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What you’ll need
Victim jeans (mine are secondhand from eBay), a range of fabric paint (For this particular project you’ll need black, blue, green, red, white and yellow), medium & small brushes, a piece of thin cotton fabric (i.e t-shirt), iron, masking tape (optional).

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Sketch the outline of the pattern lightly using the pencil

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Start with the lightest shade. For this particular pattern, I mixed mainly green and white, and added a dabbed yellow to warm up the green, then a bit of red to to desaturate it overall. For the darker leaves, try not to use too much black – instead, add a hint of blue and to deepen the green.

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Tip: Use masking tape to block out the areas you don’t want to paint (i.e the insides of the pocket)
Slide your hands in the shorts for more control while painting.

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Use a skinnier brush to add details.
Leave to dry for an hour or so.

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To fix – iron the denim from the front through a thin cloth at cotton heat setting for 3 minutes. Et voila! The paint should be waterproof and even machine-washable. (Try not to touch the paint-job with the iron!)

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Wearing: Jersey tee – ASOS. Denim shorts – DIY on Levi’s (via eBay). Nail polish – American Apparel.

A couple of tips:

  • I usually source most of my DIY equipment and victims on eBay, but it’s especially good for denim. You can score a pair of previously-worn white denim Levi’s shorts like these for under £5, or choose from a range of new products from certified sellers. Same with materials and equipment – sometimes I purchase a job-lot of random broken jewellery to play with, or buy very specific colours of rhinestones.
  • Fabric paint is surprisingly opaque, almost identical to the texture of acrylic paint. If you find that the paint is too thick while painting, just dip your brush in water to thin the paint out for those tricky corners.
  • It IS actually possible to paint on denim with acrylic paint – but I’d personally recommend doing that only to garments you wouldn’t necessarily wash as often: like jackets, vests or denim rucksacks.
  • Masking tape is perfect for geometric patterns – simply cut strips and lay them out in zig-zag pattern for a easy-peasy paint-job.
  • Last but not least, if all this painting scares you, there’s so many other simpler things you can do with fabric paint and denim – polkadots, stripes, shapes… you can even draw bananas all over your jeans, which would also be very effective in hiding your boner. Yes I have bananas on my pocket and I may or may not be happy to see you.

Please do help Jeans for Genes Day by selling your own denim on eBay (or bidding for one) and donating between 10-100% of your final sale value to the charity.