Friday, 18 November 2011
The Autumn Queen
If autumn were a fabric, it would be yellow taffeta. Or perhaps orange velvet mixed with brown tweed. Okay, maybe the analogy would be better suited to a whole basket of material scraps in marinated colours.
It’s a tricky season to write about without resorting to clichés or endless tropes. How to sum up the mists, the leaves, the wood-smoke, without parroting what others have already said? I could quote Keats or Elizabeth Jennings – make some poetic reference. But maybe for once I shall just accept the experience of autumn without articulating every little detail. I love it, and shall leave it at that.
However, as with any time of year, it brings its own sartorial challenges. The temperature fluctuates between balmy crispness and downright freezing. The latter is experienced while slowly icing over at the station in the morning, waiting for a train half an hour late. Thus my attitude to outfits resembles an onion – endless layers. Cardigans, long socks and faux-fur hats are all utilities rather than style statements. Bulky coats can be taken off when I am red-faced from my trek up the hill to college, while scarves are stowed in bags.
However, in my head at least, I would always dress like these photos once the birds start migrating, taking the warmth of summer with them. I'd wrap myself in gold pleats and khaki silks, adding seventies shoes (though in an ideal world the soles would not disintegrate on contact with the outside world, as these ones do – a worthy sacrifice nonetheless). The jackets would always remind me of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox, and I could even artfully arrange leaves in my hair – assuming the persona of an ‘Autumn Queen’ who spends her days drinking home pressed apple juice and jumping in piles of leaves. Hmmm... Maybe. But for now I'll stick to my velvet miniskirts and cable knit jumpers for sixth form.
Just to go back to that Roald Dahl reference for a minute though, the other ‘branch’ to this outfit’s inspiration was the Mulberry AW11 collection. Put ‘British’ and ‘iconic’ in any description and my interest is more than piqued; especially when this is combined with a campaign by Tim Walker (who is still unbeaten in his role as my favourite current fashion photographer) and delectable looking clothes that are one part English aristocrat, one part Owen Sheer’s novel ‘Resistance’ and one part childhood rural fantasy. Famous Five meets Wuthering Heights. (Talking of which – I am really looking forward to seeing the new British adaptation of this Bronte novel in the next couple of weeks. I think it will be worth watching for the cinematography alone).
The two ‘Berries’ of the London/British fashion scene, Burberry and Mulberry, have experienced huge success in recent years. Perhaps I should create a brand called ‘Blueberry’ or ‘Raspberry’ to make it a trinity of labels? A lack of technical skill and general clothes-making ability would be a hindrance though. As would the lack of expertise in fashion design. So, I’ll leave that to the experts and stick to writing and photography and wandering through fields in hazy light...
Finally, if you haven't already then please take a moment to look at According to Annika. In the last few months I have been honoured to talk to and get to know this extraordinary woman who is stunning inside and out. Annika is immensely encouraging, compassionate and all-round wonderful as well as being an amazing writer. She has already had way more than any fair share of trauma, and so I was devastated to hear that she was very recently diagnosed with cancer. Her situation utterly demonstrates the arbitrary unfairness of our world, and I cannot pretend in any way that I recognize what she will be going through right now. What I do know is that she thoroughly deserves the deluge of love and support pouring from her many, many readers.