Miley Cyrus: Parental Advisory

Miley Cyrus Bangerz tour

This week I went to Miley Cyrus at the O2 and do you know what? It was hands down one of the best things I’ve seen in a very long time. Full disclosure, I’m a big Miley fan so had her performance been less than fantastic I would still have had a ball. But it was… oh it was. Miley emerged, sliding down a vast model of her own tongue – a witty response to the global reaction to her favourite facial expression – and proceeded to treat us to an immaculately executed display of vocal and physical gymnastics, endless extravagant costume changes, ingenious graphics and inevitable shock tactics. Yes she swore, a lot. And yes, there was crotch grabbing, gyrating, costumes so skimpy they no doubt had half the audience wondering who the hell does the girl’s waxing and of course, a whole lotta twerking. But, in my opinion, none of that detracted from the fact that ultimately, Miley Cyrus is an incredibly skilled and dedicated performer. The discipline, talent and drive that goes into perfecting a show like that, not to mention the imagination and attention to detail involved in perfecting everything else that goes along with it (I have it on good authority Miley is involved in E-V-E-R-Y aspect) is seriously bloody impressive. In short, it blew my mind and I had bloody brilliant evening.

miley cyrus bangerz

When I saw the Daily Mail’s unsurprisingly damning piece on the concert I was disappointed and actually a bit angry, albeit entirely unsurprised. They slated her “lewdness” (seriously, people still say “lewd”!?), her skimpy outfits, her references to sex and drugs which I admit, were about as veiled as your average Instagram humble brag. While they weren’t lying on most of those fronts and I didn’t exactly expect much else from the Mail, there were still a few things about the articles I read that particularly peeved me. Firstly, the fact that none of their pieces – and there are a few, although they all say much the same thing – even mention how good her performance was. Slate Miley Cyrus all you like, and I agree she’s a love or hate kinda popstar. But totally ignoring the fact that this 21 year old girl got up on stage in front of thousands and kept them spellbound for hours with a level of spectacle you’d expect from the likes of Beyonce, fresh from hospital no less, is some pretty unbalanced journalism to say the least.

Secondly, the idea that the endless array of shocked parents who had brought their nine year olds along had somehow been hoodwinked into letting Miley Cyrus corrupt their children is ridiculous. Miley’s every crotch grab has been grabbing umpteen times as many headlines for a fair while now, you’d have to be living under a rock sans WiFi to think that she’d be putting on any more Hannah Montana style hoe – no pun intended – downs.  I don’t think it’s so much Miley’s judgement we should question here but that of anyone who, having seen that VMA’s performance and read up on anything about her Bangerz tour so far seriously thought it was a good idea to take a nine year old to the show. Would you take a nine year old to a Snoop Dogg concert and expect him not to encourage “smok[ing] weed every day?” No, of course not. Admittedly the big D-O-double-G didn’t start his career with Disney but should taking a particular role as a pre teen mean that Miley has to either continue playing that role for the rest of her days or give up showbiz entirely? Miley Cyrus not a dinky Disney princess anymore and, as far as I can see, it’s her decision whether or not she wants to be – I’ve written before about the expectation on any female in the public eye to be a role model, you can read it here – From Britney to Bieber, we’ve all seen many a Mouseketeer go through similar – if infinitely less polished – processes of changing their image so why would anyone expect Miley to continue to conform to the Disney stereotype? Let alone when we’ve spend the past year watching her do the exact opposite. The notion that her current success is somehow riding on the back of the Hannah Montana days also seems pretty far fetched to me. Whether you find it impressive or abhorrent, I don’t think you can deny that Miley Cyrus has masterfully rebranded herself, taking full advantage of modern celebrity culture, the pervasive nature of social media and and the world’s fixation with scandal to become a money making, ticket selling, global phenomenon that appeals to a vast audience in a way that her Disney Channel fame never could.

I think what actually p*ssed me off the most about the coverage I read over a cup of coffee, by the end of which there was more steam coming out of my ears than off my latte, were their endless, openly disapproving references to Cyrus’ encouragement of “same sex kissing”. This was actually a part of the show I found quite moving. To recap, during a particular song Miley encouraged couples to kiss (N.B “same sex” was never specified) to get on camera. Fairly standard procedure at Baseball games where no one bats an eyelid. A few snogs in, a male couple appeared on the cam. The cheering erupted, more same sex couples joined in and Miley got on the mic to say what a beautiful thing it was that those two first brave guys took the plunge and then that others felt comfortable enough to do the same. I found it especially sad that the Daily Mail picked up on this particular aspect of the concert and presented, in several different pieces, as an example of Miley perpetuating depravity. Throughout the week Miley has praised the UK for being so much more open about sexuality than the States, perhaps that’s less true than many of us hope it is.

To quote Miley herself, it’s her life and she’ll do what she want to. Yes, her Bangerz tour has been one long twerking, flesh flashing, parental advisory bonanza that’s not to everyone’s tastes and I certainly wouldn’t recommend taking a child to. But we all knew full well it was going to be. Everyone has the right to their own opinion and to lampoon Miley Cyrus if they so wish but I don’t think you can simply ignore the fact that she’s smart as hell, a seriously talented performer and clearly has a level of commitment most 21 year olds don’t. And call me crazy if you will but when she talked about her love and gratitude for her fans and how much she adores being on stage, I found I really did believe her. It’s perhaps also worth noting that the very same day the Daily Mail laid into the “cynicism” of Miley’s London show, they published another piece encouraging readers to get the “fashion forward 21 year old’s” look by buying a camouflage tote bag.

These are just my opinions and I’m sure a lot of you won’t agree! Tell me what you think in the comments, we all love a good debate…

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 2 Comments

Introducing: Karen Mabon

This “Introducing” post is unbelievably overdue. I actually learned of the talented Karen Mabon when I judged Mulberry’s Brilliant Britain competition way back in 2012! Mabon’s brand was a fledgling dream at that point but, as you’re about to find out or perhaps already know, a lot has changed since then.

karen mabon

Bull in a China Shop Silk Scarf

Originally hailing from Black Isle in Scotland, Karen Mabon, studied at Edinburgh College of Art before heading down south to complete her education in the hallowed halls of London’s Royal College of Art. After graduating she cut her industry teeth working for the likes of Margaret Howell and Fred Butler until 2012 when Mabon decided to go it alone and launching her eponymous line of silk scarves and handmade jewellery. I doubt I need to tell you that independent accessories labels are ten a penny these days. Some demand prices that would make an Olsen twin blanche, others come in more at the pocket change end of the scale. Some supply wares so gorgeous you’d flog your grandmother to own them, others are essentially market stall tat. Basically, there are a LOT of accessory start ups around with more starting up by the minute. You have to be offering something pretty special to stand out from the crowd. Karen Mabon is doing just that.

karen mabon

Beverly Hills Hotel Silk Scarf

Calling on a smörgåsbord of references, from pop culture and the artists that inspire her, to quintessential English pastimes and subjects so unbelievably ordinary their existence probably never even crosses your mind; Mabon’s work is a delicious fusion of eclecticism, detail and wit. One scarf might see Tippi Hendren fleeing from a flock of seagulls, another a vegetable patch being ransacked by rabbits, another a traditional British seaside holiday scene. When depicted on accessories (or any garments for that matter) poetic and traditional scenes run the risk of looking overdone or dowdy, while tongue-in-cheek designs can easily slip into novelty territory. If this was the case with Karen Mabon’s work, I wouldn’t be writing this post. Between the all encompassing array of influences she employs, and their playful yet intricately constructed depiction, Mabon toes the line between nostalgia and modernity just perfectly. These accessories are fun – who’s not going to crack a smile with Panthers at a party parading around their neck? – but not naff, not by a long shot. This is no doubt helped by the design process involved in the creation of each piece, a feat as impressive as the fact Karen Mabon’s managed to carve a niche for herself within the overcrowded accessories market. Each motif is constructed from layers of hand drawn images. Rather than using a repeated print, each design is a complete and individual composition, holding a distinct narrative and realised on the finest Italian silks and cashmeres. The jewellery pieces feature individual motifs from Mabon’s painstakingly created scarves, offering the kind of mix and/or match potential I’m an absolute sucker for.

karen mabon

Midnight Feast Silk Scarf

Karen Mabon set out create pieces that captured the “romance of the everyday” and her quirky play on the mundanities of life does so beautifully. And judging from the fact her wares are now stocked everywhere from Liberty of London to the National Maritime Museum to Strumpet in New York and The Beauty Candy Apothecary in Singapore, I’m not the only person who thinks that! I’m currently coveting the Beverley Hills Hotel scarf like mad but frankly, they’re all must haves. Oh and not stupidly expensive either (think £85 to £110) yay!

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 1 Comment

Happy Easter!


Happy Easter everyone! Few things make me happier than swapping the fabulous but frenetic pace of London life for a few days of eating, drinking and generally chillaxing en famille in the countryside. I hope you all have an absolutely wonderful long weekend and apologise in advance for the barrage of Instagram shots of Spring flowers, chocolate and sheep that will be coming your way.

Love Ella. X

Ps) Not the most traditional Happy Easter card I know but let’s face it, Miss Moss is far chicer than any four legged, floppy eared bunny!

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 1 Comment

Women Who Eat On Tubes

women who eat on tubes

Before we go any further with this post I’m going to state my opinion on this right now, Women Who Eat On Tubes is abhorrent. On the whole, I think it’s great to start a debate (rhyme unintentional) regardless of whether it’s over the Kimye Vogue cover, Miley’s twerking antics or the ongoing hubbub about peacocking at fashion week. All totally unnecessary occurrences that spur some pretty strong opinions. Whatever side of the fence you fall on, you’ve got to admit that things, be they fashion, music or pop culture related, are that bit more interesting when get people conversing, discussing and arguing. Hell, even angry, most likely misspelled tweeting is infinitely less dull than a nonchalant “meh”. But no matter how many people hold forth about Women Who Eat On Tubes, I refuse to even entertain the notion that, as the site’s founder Tony Burke claims, it’s any form of art, observational or otherwise. It has not “thrown up a number of little tributaries of discussion”, it had caused understandable offence and anger.

I take two main issues with the site. Firstly, that it’s purely women. I’m not saying that it would be all fine and dandy if it was People That Eat On Tubes (although I suspect that site might be rather less popular) but the fact that its focused solely on catching women in the act of snacking makes the whole thing particularly unpleasant. Many, if not most, women’s relationships with food are complicated things involving a fair amount of guilt and dress size anxiety. Again, I’m not saying men are immune to this by any means. But the fact that the guilt/food association is both so widespread and so openly discussed among women – ever opened a women’s mag without at least three features in some way relating to the subject? – highlights the fact that whether the individual in question is mostly healthy person who endures the odd fat day/regretted pack of peanuts, or suffering from something more serious altogether, it’s a loaded and often painful issue. With this in mind, how could taking and publishing surreptitious snaps of women eating not have the potential to make them feel like complete shit? Especially when you factor in the inevitably vile barrage of comments that will follow. And, call me old fashioned, but isn’t knowingly inflicting shitty feelings on an absolute stranger for no reason other than your own amusement and validation as a harbinger of LOLS a bit, well, wrong? I also can’t help but feel that Women Who Eat On Tubes rather ventures into women not being allowed to eat in public territory which harks back to an age of “her indoors” that none of us want to go near. Poorna Bell wrote a far better piece on all this than I ever could for the Huffington Post, you can read it here.

My second major issue with the site is the extent to which it seems to believe that social media makes us all fair game. This is something that particularly gets me as a) I heart social media and b) I know that this has a hefty element of truth to it. If we’re constantly uploading images of ourselves to the World Wide Web, how can we take issue when someone else decides to do it on our behalf? Doesn’t that just reflect an innate vanity? i.e if a snap’s not taken at the most flattering angle known to man and sexified with an X Pro II filter it’s not going anywhere. I suspect this isn’t an entirely baseless argument, but that’t not really the point here. Being mocked, critiqued and generally not treated like a human being online is one thing – and still a bad thing – if you’ve willingly uploaded selfies and belfies and art directed breakfast trays to your social media pages. But if you haven’t, it’s infinitely worse. There are some people, I’m told, that actively dislike the idea of social media. Hard to believe in their existence, much like unicorns or the Loch Ness monster but they’re out there and effectively forcing them to participate, against their will and their knowledge is a massive violation of the basic human right not to have your face plastered all over the Internet while you’re simply making your oblivious way to work. Even if you’re as much of an Instagram addict as I, that just doesn’t make it ok for people you don’t know to do this in order to publicly ridicule. How is that not the most obvious thing in the world?

That’s not, however, to say that the rest of us our blameless. I’ve lolled harder than anyone at Jeanz and Scheuxsss. I know several other sites where men are snapped unawares on the daily commute for us gals to ogle, rate and pick over like T.M. Lewin clad pieces of meat. Perhaps the real reason Women Who Eat On Tubes gets us so riled up is that it hits a little too close to home and makes the Internet population (i.e. everyone ever) feel a little uneasy about their own online ROFLS. In an age of paparazzi insanity and street style celebrity coupled with our almost universal compulsion to share every second of our day with thousands of complete randoms, the lines are admittedly rather blurred. But ultimately, if you’re playing the fame game or getting your gladrags on to parade around Somerset House you have, to some degree, given your consent to have unapproved pictures of yourself published online. If you’re simply on your way to work, you really haven’t.

Maybe the moral of this story is really just about not taking and publishing photographs of strangers without their consent, something that should perhaps be more of a given than it is. Women Who Eat On Tubes is the tip of the iceberg, not the entire problem. Nonetheless, I still think it’s appalling. There’s something about the idea of capturing women-only on camera at a moment of potential vulnerability to post online for laddish idiots to leave sexual and/or abusive comments that is both distasteful and cruel. It just can’t be validated with the argument that we should all get a bloody sense of humour. Does anyone really believe that a woman who discovers a snap of herself eating breakfast wraps alongside her fellow commuters, captioned “three little piggies” and followed by a barrage of body related commentary, would simply chuckle and get on with her morning? Maybe some would, personally I’d struggle. And as for Burke’s pathetic assertions that his cheap gag site “cherishes its subjects in the way a wildlife photographer cherishes a kingfisher in a river”… pull the other one, luv.

That’s about enough from me! What do you lot think?

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 13 Comments

Spring Style Rules

spring style rules

A couple of weeks ago Sunday Times Style dubbed me a “controversial blogger”. Obviously my first thought was: controversial, moi? Seriously?! I’m about as controversial as green juice pics on instagram. Then I realised they meant that I wasn’t wearing Carven to a Carven party, which I totes was but that’s not really the point of this post. The point is that I may in fact actually be about to blog something semi controversial because in this day and age, the idea of style rules seems completely ridiculous. Ordinarily I’m not a fan of them, my view is more throw it all together – prints, patterns, sparkles – with reckless aplomb and then add knee socks and novelty sunglasses for good measure. Prescribed good taste is a ridiculous notion and would make the world a very boring, and rather oppressive place. However, since the sun tentatively peeked it’s head out I’ve spotted a number of sartorial crimes so heinous I reckon a few guidelines wouldn’t hurt anyone. Plus, writing them was pretty fun.

1) Too short shorts: thank you topshop for ensuring that as soon as temperatures are no longer sub zero, buttocks will be flying free from London to Aberdeen. Arse cheeks are just not an appropriate city accessory. Vaguely acceptable when sported by a Brazilian Gisele alike on the beaches of Rio de Janiero. NEVER ok for a pasty teenager on the platform at East Croydon station. I spent years breaking this rule myself so I do speak from experience.

2) Ugg boots: in April, WTF on so many levels. Especially so when paired with too short shorts.

3) Swimwear as underwear: totally A-OK and deliciously liberating on holiday but if you’re more than 5 miles from the beach it’s just wrong. Same applies to board shorts, confusing on so many levels.

4) Clear bra straps: you’re not fooling anyone… On that subject I kind of feel boob tubes (note: differed to bandeau’s and bralets both of which are très on trend) should also be banned. Aside from anything else that might discourage clear bra strap wearing.

5) Flip flops in the city: This is especially the case on the underground/metro/subway. The dirt, the sweaty foot smells, the potential broken toes, the fact they might flip flop right off and trip up a fellow commuter… There are so many ways this can go horribly wrong! Strangely the same doesn’t apply to a fancy pair of sandals, weird that.

6) Extreme Outerwear: Ok, I admit, unless you hail from certain climatically blessed places it may still be bloody cold. But seriously, it’s April people! Therefore in fashion terms, Spring started two months ago. So pack those parkas away and invest in some pastel shades. Top tip: if you really can’t deal with the chill factor don’t stress get Uniqlo thermals and wear them under your biker jacket/floral shirt combos, you’ll be toasty and no one will know you’re secretly wearing a lycra onesie!

7) Unintentional open toes n’ tights: I’m using the term “tights” to mean socks here too, hope ya don’t mind. As you’ve probably spotted, this season the fash pack have taken to wearing sports socks with their peep toe stilettos. While I can’t entirely bring myself to do this (yet) I am planning on digging out the Juicy Couture knee high pink trimmed “sports” socks I bought aged around 14. I’ll wear them with some form of high heeled footwear for an attempted Prada-meets-Clueless vibe. This is ok, it’s deliberate. What’s not ok is trying to sneakily get away with a pair of nude tights under peep toes which gives the unsightly illusion of webbed toes.

8) Christmas jumpers: Wearing your ironic Rudolf knit beyond January (February at a push) is strictly verboten, even if you possess a banging beard and live on Hoxton Square. In fact, especially if that’s the case.

9) Preemptive semi nudity: I think this is very much a British thing. The sun comes out, we all get over excited. That’s understandable, it only happens about once a year. But while wearing Winter fare in April is a bit rubbish, forgetting the basic laws of common decency and getting your kit off will just traumatise your fellow man. I swear to God I saw a man on the tube with his shirt off the other day. You just don’t get over something like that.

10) Self doubt: Somewhat paradoxically, the final style commandment I’d like to impart is to wear what makes you feel good! Not a fan of logos or sports luxe? Don’t force yourself into high fash track pants and Wang inspired boxy tops. Outraged by Phoebe Philo swapping minimalism for painterly prints? Why not try Altuzarra esque shirting instead. Or just keep rocking the clean lines you snapped up at Zara last summer, if it suits you we won’t judge! Whatever anyone says, fashion is meant to be enjoyable after all. Self doubt is out so indulge in whatever sartorial treats leave you feeling most fabulous. Y’know, unless they’re any of the above.

What style crimes do YOU wish would be made illegal?

Love Ella x

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 2 Comments