Thursday, 29 May 2008

Reality Bites

It is almost June and as far as I am concerned almost officially summer time. That means lots of sporting activities like Wimbledon, The Olympics and Euro 2008 as well as another ordeal of Big Brother. Since it launched nine years ago, Big Brother has become an important part of our lives and the sometime controversial show changed the course of TV. Gone are the days when TV bosses aired lengthy shows and period dramas and instead they have been replaced by the reality genre. According to those guys at Wikipedia "Reality television is a genre of television programming which presents purportedly unscripted dramatic, unscripted situations, documents actual events, and features ordinary people instead of professional actors." We are talking about programmes like America's Next Top Model, I'm a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here!, Project Catwalk and The Apprentice which are competitive based. Also 'so called' talent shows like X Factor and the show that is currently tormenting the country; Britain's Got Talent. I say so called because we all know that they are shown so people have someone to laugh at. Then there are the fly on the wall shows where celebrities make the decision of taking us into their world. For some famous bods this calculating move can pay dividends; The Osbournes and Jessica Simpson for a start, but for others it can be the kiss of death. It is not just celebs who make amusing viewings thought, non entities such as Nicole Ritchie, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and The Hills posse are now household names. Although the contrived dialogue and convenient plots in The Hills have led some to wonder just how 'real' The Hills. Still real or not real, The Hills is now the number one show in the US and top show on MTV Europe.

This popularity has prompted other celebrities to sign up for a slice of the pie. Hence uber stylist to the stars, Rachel Zoe, who has a show coming out later this year. However more pending are the shows by former Bond girl, Denise Richards who is keen to prove to the public what a nice person she really is despite a nasty divorce from Charlie Sheen and a fling with Richie Sambora; Bon Jovi's guitarist and hubby to Heather Locklear who was also a close friend to Richards. Denise Richards: It's Complicated airs on E! (Entertainment Television) later this month. Joining her is Living Lohan which shows Dina Lohan - Mum to troubled actress, Lindsay Lohan. We see her juggling her role as parent and manager to younger sibling, Ali Lohan who attempts to follow in her older sister's foot step. All I can say is that I hope that young Ali does not go down the road that Lindsay has by drinking and clubbing in excess. Reading between the lines I think we can be assured that this documentary is all about Dina. TV critic, Mary McNamara sums it all up in her review in the LA Times.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The Devil Wears Primark

I love my fashion and I like good quality garments that are reasonably priced. Shops like Mango, Zara, Oasis, H&M and the divine are my cup of tea. I will put my hands up and say honestly that I have never been a fan of Primark. What with their cheap and dubious quality products. Last year I was very bemused and shocked when thousands of so called fashionistas or bargainistas hysterically descended upon Oxford Street to get their grubby mitts on items in the new store. The launch of what is now the flagship store of 'Primarni' became a pivitol of cheap and throw away fashion with chains such as TK Maxx and Peacocks following suit. However as we all know, with every success comes a backlash and boy did it sting when the eco tree huggers came out in full force demanding to know exactly how these shops could sell clothes at such cheapo prices and still make a profit. Accusations of child labour and sweat shops in Asia were bandied about around the same time as every Tom, Dick and Harry became very concerned about the plight of the Ozone layer. Pretty soon every council in the country had a green agenda that told us to recycle, recycle and recycle. Celebrities such as Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman and Gwyneth Paltrow attached their name to eco causes and books such as Green is the New Black by Tamsin Blanchard sold by the bucket loads. Pretty soon ethical fashion was cool and the bargain basement clothes were not. Channel 4 are hot on the heels of this amazing transition with a new show called The Devil Wears Primark, where they send the over exposed and over rated model cum presenter, Alexa Chung to investigate the goings on at Primark. They even go as far as to set up a fashion sweat shop in the West End that is staffed with volunteers to see how they cope under such conditions. I have only seen the adverts for this show but it looks like a corker.

The Devil Wears Primark airs this Sunday at 9.00pm on Channel 4.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Media in the City

They came, they saw and they conquered and then they were gone in 60 seconds. Who am I talking about? Four ladies called Sarah Jessica, Kim, Cynthia and Kristin who brought the West End to a stand still during the much awaited premiere of Sex and the City: The Movie. The media fascination with this film has grown over the last four years, Face it press coverage was never going to be an issue, every media outlet in the world wanted this film and in order to stand out, editors had to think out of the box in order to produce memorable stories. Some failed miserably like The Guardian who for some reason unknown to me commissioned Alice Wignall to ask the tedious question as to whether a feminist can really love the show. Yawn - boring!! However, a few mediums did an excellent job such as The London Paper who have treated us to a novelty guide to New York City in Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte style. Also Heart FM who have really taken the film's mantra to heart and renamed itself Sex and the City FM for this week only. They will also be airing promos from the film and running competitions all week. Now that is what I call entertainment.

So here is my list of the top five media coverage of Sex and the City: The Movie.

1. have published a fantastic piece on six ways of looking at Carrie. Six men and women from all walks of life discuss the show and our favourite gal about town.

2. Mandi Bierly from EW's quirky confession on when she connected with S&TC. Aided and abetted by comments from readers.

3. US Vogue's depiction of Carrie and Big on their honeymoon was delightful and sexy.

4. The New Yorker's fantastically insightful profile on SJP herself.

5. Missy Schwartz from Entertainment Weekly has written a brilliant piece on the long journey of this year's much anticipated movie release.

Have you been taking in the media stories for the Sex and the City film? Which one has impressed you the most?

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Art for art's sake

I am no good at art, in fact I cannot draw to save my life. I do have a great appreciation of the discipline though. Although the concept of throwing a chair in pile with lots of other junk that has been labelled Fine Art has always perplexed me, I have always loved illustrations, photographs and prints. I also adore the meshing of words and images in books, magazines, brochures, posters and other forms of texts. Scouring degree shows is a very pleasurable experience and I am always astounded by the talent that the colleges in this country produces.

After revealing that savoury bit of information you may or may not be surprised to hear that I am an avid fan and collector of prospectuses from art colleges. England have a number of art institutions that are highly respected throughout the world such as the newly rebranded University of Creative Arts as well as the University of Arts which consists of Chelsea School of Art and Design, Camberwell School of Arts, London College of Communications, Wimbledon College of Art, London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design which is the creme a la creme. Their prospectus(s) certainly deserves a lot of credit. Each college has it's own prospectus and although they have different colours and content with a funky spin, the format is the sane all round. As you would expect from an institution of such visual presence, the prospectus expresses it's message through images. Lots and lots of images, some abstract, some not, some dark and some light and all sorts of sizes and shapes.

Moving out of the big smoke and into the Home Counties, the 2008/09 prospectus for the University College of the Creative Arts is very innovative, they have employed a double sided, upside down version with the campus side on one end and the course information at the other. I tell you it works very well too. We are greeted with lots of edgy photographs of the campus, students and their work. However it is the use of typography that really sells this product as well as the fantastic use of white space. All I can say is that they are a work of art.

Picture taken from Love Creative

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Eco Chic Goes Glam

It is that time of the month that sends a magaholic like myself to seventh heaven. When all the new magazines are displayed on the shelves - bright, shiny and new, just the smell of the new paper is enough to get me high. Talking of paper, the new issue of Marie Claire has gone all eco hip on us. The June issue is delivered to us in a brown paper bag with a free Body Shop body butter to boot. Marie Claire has certainly pulled out the stops for this one; they have earth goddess, Cate Blanchett on the cover looking all serene and feature eco celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltrow and Leonardo Dicaprio.

While we are on the subject of magazines, I have heard on the grapevine that US Elle are in the middle of shooting a reality show about the ins and outs of the magazine. Titled, Fashionista (what else?) the programme will be produced by Tyra Banks and will follow the publications search for a fashion assistant. The show will air on The CW Network this summer.