When I was little, I loved annuals. I really liked the ones with exercises; filling in pop quizzes, writing snippets of information about myself and listing my ‘top fives.’ I liked to imagine being interviewed (my desert island essentials, favourite albums, ideal role as an actor, favourite book etc.) and I was very partial to list-making. I suppose you could say I was self-aware. I distinctly remember a particular fondness for a Mickey Mouse annual; on page one was that ever-changing question when one is young, what do you want to be when you grow up? There were four spaces and I liked everything to be filled in (I was one of those people who always asked for extra paper in exams). I was also big into alliteration and word play so I decided that everything had to begin with an ‘a’. I really wanted to be an actor or an artist but I thought if that didn’t work out, I might become an astronaut. It was not beyond the realm of possibility. I was a pretty smart child. I was also five. The last space was probably the most difficult as I had never contemplated the aforementioned three careers not working out. After several worrying minutes of procrastination, (I hated committing anything to the written word if there was a possibility it might not hold true forever) I decided on analytical scientist. I had no idea what that meant but my eldest sister Jean was one and I knew it involved chemicals, a white coat and a hell of a lot of respect from my parents. Fast forward 27 years later and the only one of those things I ever really pursued was being an actor. Although I have now left acting as a career behind, I think it informs everything I do. From the ridiculous voices that I employ in my everyday interactions with unsuspecting individuals to the costume(y) driven outfits I wear and my excessive use of the third person when talking about myself. When I discussed this outfit with the photographer Malcolm McGettigan, I told him I wanted to channel a ringmaster-meets-military Americana kind of vibe. Luckily, he got it. And while I ran away from home several times to join the circus, my lack of gross motor skills meant that it never really worked out.
The American Dream, re-imagined by Marc Jacobs
A lot of hearts were broken when it was announced that Marc by Marc Jacobs would no longer trade as a label and instead, the designer would focus on his eponymous label, Marc Jacobs. Not mine. While I adored Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier, I always felt that they were lost at the Marc Jacobs diffusion line. And man, was I right. Hillier Barley, the dynamic duo’s new label’s Wes Anderson-driven aesthetic is sheer perfection. Be still, my hipster loving heart. Not to mention, how Marc Jacobs’ pared-back utilitarian look for the spring/summer 16 mainline has upped his fash-game tenfold. It was only at his New York Fashion Week outing that I really became a fan. Incorporating some of the quirk that was so overdone at Marc by Marc Jacobs while simultaneously injecting some serious screen-siren references made for a coherent collection that seemed to embody the best of the two lines.
All American spice bag
Having lived in Iowa, the theme of Americana fascinates me. That corn-wielding mid-western state was the true American experience. I ate meat on a stick. I watched the Doobie brothers and the Counting Crows at the State fair and I wore an XL USA t-shirt at the 4th of July parade in a town called Logan where most of the residents had never heard of Ireland. I met a woman who was on Extreme Makeover. And I hung out with a US marine who had nine guns. My housemates were twins and one had a penchant for voodoo dolls. It was a surreal experience made of up weird and wonderful people like a man called Asa who loved to play a game called Pigs, a girl called Erika, one of the original hipsters who was never short of engaging me in the best philosophical conversations, dancing Pete, a boy called Chris who invited me to the fair not realising that I too, couldn’t drive and my still-best friend Alana. When, 10 years later, I went back to visit Alana, there was a lot less meat-on-a-stick and a lot more drag races, burlesque clubs and an extensive tour of the best of the gay scene in Des Moines. That’s what I love about America. It’s such a mixed bag. Kind of like the best spice bag you ever got. It’s a smorgasbord of humanity.
State Primaries – Caucus of Quirk
I want to hark back to Marc Jacobs spring summer show for a minute. Though the link may seem tenuous, I assure you, it is not. The setting? Ziegfeld’s Theatre. The details? Western fringe, feathers, cowboy boots, varsity sweaters and rhinestone cowboy boots. Beth Ditto baring her clavicle in a Bardot-style off the shoulder dress, thigh-high split, proudly showing her thigh tat, clutching a caribou feather stole. And Marc Jacobs’ embracing of women of all ages, genders and styles for his new campaign. It’s just all so….American. It’s the new all-American. If you can find Mr. Leather Iowa competitions in Des Moines five nights a week and a burlesque school then the death knell has finally tolled for the wholesome Marcia Bradys we’ve been fed as the all-American pin-up (I’m so sorry Marcia, you will always be one of my ultimate style icons). The brave and beautiful film director Lana Wachowski, the perennial icon Cher, everyone’s favourite cool-girl Sofia Coppola and nine year old model Betty Lowe. Jacobs’ new family as captured by the inimitable David Sims included Winona Ryder, Milk from Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Sandra Bernhard and Christina Ricci (I die) is America through his eyes. And I like it. This is the new Americana. It’s red, white and blue with a massive serving of individuality. I’ll take fries with that please.
Hat: Anthony Peto, South Anne Street.
Jacket: Ralph Lauren at TK Maxx.
Boots: Public Desire at Siopaella.
Ring: Cocoa Pod green lago at Juvi Designs.
Thanks to Malcolm, Emma and Lisa. May your days be American and filled with meat on sticks and helium baloons. xxx