Monday, 28 July 2008

The Meeting Place

Now I am going to commit a blogger's cardinal sin by uttering those awful words. 'Cute sculpture!!' In case you do not know this sculpture takes centre stage at the newly revamped St Pancras International station where the Eurostar commences it's journey to the continent. It is a whooping 30 foot, sparkly bronze sculpture and I just love it. Designed by Brit artist, Paul Day, the concept is to show lovers embracing after being separate for some time. This fine work of art is aptly called The Meeting Place where travellers meet or say farewell to their loved ones. It is also on the same level of the champagne bar which is the longest in Europe. At prices of £10 a glass, I am sure it is one of the most expensive as well. For me the sculpture captures the romance, excitement and beauty of European travel as well as the trepidation. After all that is what new experiences are about - going into the unknown.

You can read an interview with Paul Day that was published in the Evening Standard here.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

90210 - New Generation

While we are on the topic of icons of pop culture in 1990 a fun TV series took us by storm. It was called Beverly Hills 90210 and was about the lives of the pampered and privileged school kids of West Beverly Hills High. So glam and slick were the production values of the show that you could have been forgiven for getting it mixed up with 80s soap, Dynasty. Beverly Hills 90210 was basically a teen version of Dallas and Dynasty and the first of it's kind. Around that time shows aimed at teens were either comedies or nitty gritty dramas so this was the first time that teenagers had a glossy programme that was just for them. The focus of the show were twins, Brandon and Brenda Walsh, played by Johnny Depp lookalike, Jason Priestley and Shannen Doherty, who had moved from small town Minnesota to the lushness of California. The show ran for 10 years making stars out of it's cast. However, in 2000 after a lot of addition and deletion of the characters as well as tackling issues such as date rape, alcoholism, domestic violence, gay rights, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, suicide and AIDS, it bowed out in style.

So you can imagine my delight when I heard that a spin off was being planned. I didn't take much notice at first as there was never any substantial evidence. Unbelievably, the rumours have turned into a reality and 90210 as it will be called will air on The CW Television Network in September. It is basically the same format; new family moves to the area from Kansas and tries to adapt to the new environment. Veterans from the original series, Jennie Garth who played Kelly, Tori Spelling who played Donna and Shannon Doherty are set to return to the show in recurring parts. This is so cool and judging by the trailer will be a show to challenge Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill.

You can catch 90210 on The CW Television Network on 2nd September.

The Brat Pack

I am a kid of the 80s and I totally love the era; the cool music, the wonderful films and ever so glam TV. Ok the fashion was a bit iffy, what with the over sized t-shirts, the leggings and shoulder pads but man those were some great times. One of major things that came out of that decade were coming of age movies such as The Breakfast Club, St Elmo's Fire, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The themes tended to be middle class teen or early twenties angst set against a backdrop of a large city. The stars in these films were Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson and Demi Moore who were dubbed The Brat Pack in reference in the 1950s Rat Pack. Last week I had an 80s movie marathon and watched Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club and St Elmo's Fire. Pretty in Pink stars Molly Ringwald, a beautiful boho who is from the wrong side of the tracks who falls for one of the rich guys at her school. The Breakfast Club is a story of five teenagers who represent a different clique from their school who are forced to spend Saturday in detention together. After telling stories, insulting each other, dancing and opening up, the group discover that they have a lot more in common then they originally thought. St Elmo's Fire is a slightly more sophisticated film, that features a group of friends who have just graduated from University.

While watching these films it became apparent to me how influential these movies were on the industry. The Breakfast Club is ranked number one on Entertainment Weekly's list as the 50 Best High School Movies and has had a huge impact on the teen film genre and popular culture. The theme song, 'Don't You Forget About Me' by Simple Minds was a massive hit and reached number one in the US. With no Pretty in Pink, there would be no Clueless, Legally Blonde and Mean Girls. Also the close knit friendships of the characters in St Elmo's Fire is akin to those in Friends and Sex in the City. The colourful characters and wonderful dialogue in all films appears as funny and fresh as ever and you have to pinch yourself to make sure that you are watching a film from 20 years ago.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Pop Babylon

Not very long ago I used to look at famous pop stars on TV and be envious of how rich they were what with their multi million album deals and super glam lifestyles. Little did I realise that things were not as perfect as they seemed. Musicians and singers were nothing more than commodities and the music industry is very little about talent and more about unit sales. Once the poor artists has signed on the dotted line they were fleeced by their managers and label mercifully. Hence the dynamic initiative by Hamfatter, a rock band who appeared on this week's business reality show, Dragon's Den pitching for investment. When asked why they did not go down the conventional route of record labels, they put it simply, "when you sign with a record label you are given an advance as you would have when buying a house, at the end when you have paid back that advance you own your home, however in the music industry, the record company would still own your material." A no brainer. Yet this is just the tip of the iceberg of the debauchery that goes on in the music business which is captured perfectly by Imogen Edwards-Jones in her new book, Pop Babylon. The 'Babylon' books go behind the scenes of a glamorous industry and exposes all the scandals and lies. Pop Babylon is no different and shows us exactly what it takes to create a top selling boy band and the huge engine that ticks behind them. Lots of juicy secrets are revealed and mark my words you close the book feeling very sorry for those pop tartlets.

Imogen Edwards-Jones's bestselling series, Hotel Babylon is now a popular TV series which she followed up with Air Babylon, Fashion Babylon and Beach Babylon. She works in conjunction with anonymous insiders to get these sensational stories which really bear their fruit in the scintillating Fashion Babylon. This is one of my favourite books of all time, it is told through the eyes of an established up and coming designer and teaches you all the tricks of the trade. Such as how many designers pay a visit to a certain vintage store in Notting Hill to get ideas, how they buy a white shirt from a high store, replace the label with theirs and send it down the runway and slap huge mark ups on their pieces. It is all here and if you love your fashion, you will adore this book.

Pop Babylon is out now!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Observer Woman Monthly

There was a time when The Observer was seen as a paper for fuddy duddies. However with a funky modern look, the paper that only OAPs used to read is now appealing to the young and trendies. A lot of this has a lot to do with the fantastic supplements that are produced and distributed with the Berliner designed paper. As well as colourful sections on travel, sport, money and business, almost every week there is an Observer magazine. It all started back in 2000 when the much acclaimed Observer Sport Monthly ie OSM was launched. Packed with features and interviews, this was a glossy mag that not only looked good but was also a damm good read. Being the sports buff I am, I loved it. OSM was soon followed by Observer Food Monthly, inevitable considering the nation’s new obsession with food, then we had the Observer Music Monthly and last but not least, the Observer Woman Monthly aka OWM. With a staple diet of sex, relationships, style, shopping, health and beauty, OWM made its debut in January 2006 fighting for attention with the likes of YOU, Stella and Style. I will admit that not every issue has hit the mark for me and some have very much been hit and miss. Although OWM contains hard hitting features it lacks the beauty and appeal of supplements such as YOU and co. However, this month’s issue really outclasses itself. Using the theme of coolness, OWM combines the new up and coming faces of Britannia with some pure heavyweights; there is a four page interview with Pop goddess, Katie Grand, a meaty profile on Mary Portas from Mary Queen of Shops, a revealing profile on Biba founder, Barbara Hulanicki as well as a narrative from Julie Burchill telling is about her coolest moment. This is an issue I will certainly treasure and if you missed it, never mind because you can catch it online.