Smoke & Mirrorcles

Well m’dears after a not so great week with a big cup of anxietea I got the absolute pleasure of witnessing one of the greatest performances I’ll see for years to come!

Sasha Velour is truly one of a kind when it comes to performance and the art of drag.

Her theatrical masterpiece Smoke and Mirrors is filled to the brim with innovative lip-syncs, inspirational conversations – where you feel as though she is talking directly to you and only you and wondrous storytelling that truly does take your breath away.

Like so many others from all over the stratosphere Sasha has been positively my favourite queen since her rise to fame from winning season 9 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. The way she expressed herself through her costumes and uncanny portrayal of Marlene Dietrich on the shows Snatch Game challenge – I knew (again like so many others) she was not only going to win… But she was going to walk sashay away a star!

And that she most certainly is!

Her first lip-sync for Smoke and Mirrors really set the tone for the entire show and my goodness! After one performance I was already floored, not actually on the floor because that’d be gross. She created a performance around one of my all-time favourite Sia songs Cellophane. A song which isn’t released, so it well and truly caught me by surprise! A combination of screens and cleverly timed projections allows her to turn a one-woman show into almost a five women show starring just her. Can you say genius? If not, I can. GENIUS!!

Sasha made it no secret that she’s a dab hand when it comes to photoshop, but seeing someone create an entire show around what they can do with an adobe product. It just shows that the limits are endless! Especially when it comes to creating a show!

Watching her as she bared her heart and soul on stage filled me with elation! Performing a magic trick by sawing a version herself in half, to then appear in the costume that the other version of herself was wearing and seeing the joy in her face as she gathers her thoughts before performing one of the most iconic songs in herstory Come Rain or Come Shine by the immortal Judy Garland; in the same theatre where she once performed that very song. She not only did this with such style but she reminds us that she has exceptional comic timing too, all this whilst accompanied by perfectly timed puddles and storm clouds!

I think it’s safe to say that Judy Garland would have been immensely proud.  

I myself felt spoiled rotten! I was treated to an evening of Barbra, Bassey and that iconic Whitney Houston performance! Yes, it was emotional thank you for asking! (if you know, you know)

Yet amidst all this splendour she takes to the microphone to connect with us. Talking about battling with her own demons, struggling with depression and anxiety and how she found strength through her identity and performance (if you think this all really hit home with me, you betcha’ it did). Opening up about her wonderful mother the extraordinary Mama Velour, a woman who taught Sasha that “life is better when you express your gender with a little fluidity” and her beautiful bald head is homage to her. Mama Velour may sadly not be with us anymore, but her presence was definitely in the room with Sasha!  

The whole experience is therapeutic and stirs within your soul. I’m surprised that my partner hasn’t asked me to stop talking about it yet, to say it left a lasting impression on me is an understatement.  

She graciously thanked each and every one of us for being there and for supporting queer arts and the community, but it’s us who should be thanking you Sasha!

Drag is art and I’m so glad it’s bigger than ever before.    

Sadly due to the corona virus her tour has had to be postponed, however when she returns to conquer Europe please buy tickets! Go; support her, her wonderful show and more importantly queer arts!

As she said, “this is drag. All you need is a little drama.”  

Sasha Velour Image: Photography Copyright Jeff Eason (Source: Billboard)

If you Quant it, Flaunt it!

Her clothes appealed to both ‘duchesses and typists’.

Her fashion was described as kooky, mad and way out.

Mary Quant – role model for the working woman.

If you’ve read my first ever blog on here, then you’ll know it was all about this lady! To those that haven’t (not to worry), in a nutshell I managed to visit a scaled down Mary Quant exhibition last year at the Fashion and Textiles museum; it featured not only Quant but Terence Conran (the man behind the store Habitat).

The recent exhibition at the V&A museum however was all about Quant and her legacy. What made this exhibition unlike any other I’d visited was that the majority of the collection was on loan to the museum from owners of original Mary Quant pieces. They were displayed beautifully alongside a placard detailing whom the item had come from, where/when they may have purchased it and how much for (honestly it was such a sweet idea!) They then proceeded to display how much the item in question would be worth now and heed my advice when I say this, if you have an original Mary Quant garment lingering about in your loft or your Grandmama’s wardrobe then for heaven’s sake hold on to it!

Or you know, sell it to me so I can at least wear it…

I guess you could say Mary Quant has always inspired my look, from the clothes I wore growing up to the hair on my head. Her whole ethos on why she designed clothes to look a certain way and how she wanted women to feel wearing her pieces, it definitely had an impact on my own wardrobe when forming my own personal style.

She’s quite simply put a revolutionary and a rebel! Apart from celebrating her 90th birthday the day before I visited this exhibition, I might add. Her belief in her own designs extended its way onto the red carpet when visiting Buckingham Palace to collect her OBE. She decided to rock up in front of the world press wearing her own brand from head to toe! This included makeup, tights and even underwear (apparently), all of which could be purchased directly from her store- the ultimate business lady and a badass! See, isn’t she amazing? Not to mention you have her to thank for the mini skirt and waterproof mascara, things you could say we take for granted.

Although her clothes were still expensive, above all she wanted them to be affordable. So she wasn’t quite Primark, but she wasn’t Chanel either!

Walking around the exhibition I see an array of clothes I would still wear to this day. They’re classic and even now they’re edgy! Every pinafore, collared dress and monochrome pattern I see my mind screamed “I simply must have this in my possession!” and if you thought this happened upon viewing the entire collection, then yes you’d be right…

I find the exhibitions at the V&A are always well thought-out and presented beautifully and this one was no exception. I spent a good 2 hours here and if it was a little less crowded I could have easily ogled for a bit longer. Instead after the exhibition (and raiding the store for any goodies I could get my hands on…) I decided to have a jaunt to Kings Road in Chelsea to have a peek at where Mary Quant’s store Bazaar would have stood back in 1955.

Mary Quant. Thank you for sitting in your bedsit designing and creating quirky dresses, tackling the class system and being unconventional!  

As you put it best, “We knew we had to do it ourselves, or nothing would happen at all”      

I A-Dior You!

“In the world of today, haute couture is one of the last repositories of the marvellous” Christian Dior, 1957

This can be read on the wall as you make your exit from visiting Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, which currently resides at the V&A until September. It’s an exhibition that celebrates the life and career of the man that started it all and the 6 key creative directors that have followed in his footsteps. It’s exquisite, stunning and breathtakingly beautiful. For anyone who loves fashion and artistry, this is both an education and a history lesson. But not one that will put you to sleep! No no, quite the opposite.

With more than 200 dresses on show this entire exhibition basically became a shopping list of everything I can’t have, but would hyperventilate uncontrollably if I did.

From Dior himself to his successors; when seeing all the pieces displayed so perfectly together I felt there was one common theme that the Dior brand has stayed true too.

The essence of femininity.  

Christian Dior’s iconic ‘Bar Suit’ which he called ‘La Ligne Corolle’

This was first demonstrated with Christian’s ‘Bar Suit’ (designed in 1947 and made in 1955). This ground-breaking outfit embraced ladies curves (and believe me, from seeing this in person if you didn’t have curves back then you were guaranteed them just by slipping on this fantastic tailored jacket). Upon his first fashion show in 1947 where he debuted this design it was immediately dubbed the New Look. Fast forward to creative director John Galliano (1996 – 2011) bringing extravagance and theatricality to the runway and now to the present day with Maria Grazia Chiuri (Dior’s first ever women creative director, can I get an amen?) Chiuri stands for female empowerment and says with her way of femininity “the message, really, is that there is not one kind of women” (quote from Vogue.com).

Quite simply, whether we’re talking 1955 or 2019 – Dior know women and they know how to dress us.

All of us.  

Walking into the exhibition- from the first moment it felt as though it was lifted straight from the pages of a fairy-tale, almost like Disney’s Cinderella and Dior is your fantastical Fairy Godmother. As you turn each corner; almost holding your breath to see what might await you in the next room, the experience made you feel as though you were permanently in a dreamlike state. Honestly, it’s magical! Although not as emotional as Mcqueen’s Savage Beauty (V&A, 2015), It gave me a lot of the same feelings in terms of the thought and care that has clearly gone into each room.

I’ll be honest, there were so many garments in that exhibition I never ever thought I’d have the opportunity to see… that wasn’t just on the pages of a magazine that is (basically a lot of John Galliano- see the photos above for sheer perfection); and clearly from the literal “oohs” and “ahhs” that emerged from everyone else’s mouths around me I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. It was at a moment like that I realised we were all there for the same reason.

WE J’ADORE DIOR.

At £20 a ticket, honestly it was worth every single penny and more (and if you’re wondering, yes you could take photos!) If you are contemplating a visit, unfortunately lovelies the run is currently sold out however (like the Savage Beauty exhibition) they do release a limited number of tickets at the V&A itself. Also, do keep your eyes peeled online as I’ve noticed they have been releasing more tickets for museum lates!

Mary Mary Quant Contrary

If you know me you’ll know I’m obsessed (LITERALLY OBSESSED) with fashion. More specifically fashion from the 1950’s and 60’s. Flowing skirts aplenty, gorgeous tailoring, pinafores and polka dots. Oh my goodness. I’m going to have to stop right there and have a sit down. The ‘Mad Men’ fangirl within me can’t cope right now thinking about all these clothes.

So you can imagine my excitement when I got to visit the beautiful Swinging London exhibition this week. It’s currently on display at the Fashion and Textiles Museum, (a short walk from London Bridge station) and will be on display until June 2nd. It’s an exhibition that celebrates the British high street revolutionaries Mary Quant and Terence Conran.

Sir Terence Conran and Dame Mary Quant
Source: Fashion and Textiles Museum website

Wait… I’m sorry. But did I just hear some of you just ask me, “But dear Quinn, who are this glorious people you speak of?!” Well fear not lovelies I will explain in a mere sentence (or two) that will save you scouring google.

Fashion designer and legend Dame Mary Quant (apart from having one of the most iconic bob haircuts ever) is the fantastic human you have to thank for the MINI SKIRT (I know. Right?) One of her favourite statement pieces that she’s ever designed is the ‘Banana Split’ mini dress; which I will show you later. But she basically revolutionised the British high street! – We have a lot to thank her for (THANK YOU MARY!)

Designer and restaurateur Sir Terence Conran is the man behind the beautiful home furnishing store we know as Habitat. He made stylish home decor available to the masses! His ethos was to make designs that would “grow old gracefully and slip seamlessly into peoples lives and give them years of pleasure”. (Side note: you may also think “Conran, now that rings a bell!” you may know his son’s work as one of the many designers at Debenhams- Mum I’m looking at you here!) 

Now we’ve all had a history lesson, I shall move on. I bought my tickets beforehand, but there were plenty of walk-ups so if you wanted to head midweek I’m sure you wouldn’t have a problem waltzing straight in! However if you’d like to be super organised and buy your tickets beforehand, check if the 241 offer through Timeout London is still available as it’s an utter bargain!!

Tickets purchased and dressed in all my retro glory, off we went for a jaunt!

It’s a rather condensed exhibition, nothing as vast as what you may see at the V&A; whom are also choosing to honour Mary Quant with an exhibition this year (Starting April 6th, if you’re dying to know). However it was super quaint and displayed with a lot of thought and care for the pieces.

My favourite ensembles in the exhibition.
I’ll take them both in all colours. Thank you muchly.

The downstairs floor in particular is filled with some of Quant’s most iconic work including the banana split dress, which to this day still looks like a masterpiece. This dress will always be in fashion because of its shape and its simplistic nature and as Mary herself once said “you can make it as exciting as you want”. Pair it with some brightly coloured tights- as the lady herself would have done and you’re good to go my friend!

Apologies for the horrendous quality!
Photos are allowed but do remember to turn off the flash
(you don’t want to ruin the fabric)

I would say if anything there could have been a few more pieces for the Terence Conran sections of the exhibition. As although there was a lot to see and was well integrated with the clothing almost into little scenes, my eyes were definitely more fixated on Mary Quant’s striking fashions.

However if you’re a fan of 60’s London, fashion history, furnishings, Mary Quant or you just simply want a lovely afternoon exploring whilst listening to fantastic soundtrack, then this exhibition is definitely a must-see!