DISCLAIMER- blog: standard student behaviour. woops. please humour me, by forgiving me for occasionally projecting the (generally inane/mundane) ponderings from my brain into a pretty font. it's just that blogging's quite relaxing. like sudoku, but with letters.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The X Factor- the style stakes are high...

They’re going to make you famous. To prove it, they’ll dress you up as a caricature of yourself, surround you with scantily clad backing dancers and announce your name in a comically booming voice. On the nations favourite talent show, contestants are poked and prodded, groomed and glossed until their mentors decide they’re larger than life enough to stand up to the spotlights. Then it’s time to face the music…but how many of the contestants are ready?

One of the first casualties of the season was a Miss Amelia Lily- only sixteen, but rocking the crowds in short, tight leather and her blonde-turned-bubblegum hair. Sent home after the first live show, Amelia must return to her pre-X Factor life, with little more than fading pink locks and slight Miami sunburn.

Gary’s new favourite toy, Frankie Cocozza, has had no expense spared (except a haircut. And a wash.) in marketing him to the country’s teenage girls, not that he needs any help. As Mr Barlow relives his youth through the tattooed charmer, Frankie knows fame will bring him even more attention from the ladies. With over 60 conquests under his belt no-one could call him shy, but is he prepared for the scrutiny and criticism that comes alongside showbiz? Upon recently returning to his hometown Brighton, Frankie was greeted by crowds screaming “Everybody hates you”. Beneath his trademark tousled mop, his confidence must be shaken.

Finally, the shyest member of the finalists, Janet Devlin. She might have what it takes to succeed vocally, but with all the pressure and paparazzi, what’s to stop the Irish wallflower from drowning in the floodlights?

They've got their serious faces on and there's fire in the background- so you know they mean business.
But it’s not all doom, gloom and rehab predictions- this year’s new judges are a welcome change. Gary may be a little smug like Simon, but seems sincerely interested in his group of competitors. Seeing dollar signs light up Mr Cowell’s eyes when he spotted a potentially lucrative act confirmed his reputation as cold and calculating. Kelly Rowland has replaced Cheryl as the women of Britain’s dream best friend, and it’s easy to imagine Tulisa making a night out one to remember- getting the drinks in, dancing on tables, and perhaps getting a bit cheeky with the bouncers. Louis remains, seemingly bumbling but undeniably successful, to keep light-hearted comedy in the competition.

Like many career choices, becoming a pop star requires hard work, commitment and determination. However, not so many jobs include sexing yourself up into a media-savvy brand, and potentially completely transforming yourself and the way you look. But then how many accountants get to have thousands of fans screaming their name? It’s not without its glamour, but the fame game is a dangerous one, and I’m not sure all of the contestants are ready to play.

It'll take more than a cuppa to prepare Janet for the pressure to come...
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All photos sourced from Google Images. This was published today in my university newspaper, and I posted it up here for those of you not around to pick one up :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Icing on the cake

How are the latest LV collection and cupcakes linked? Read on to find out... 
Doing filing while the excitable world outside my window is off to do shots is somewhat deflating. All work and no play makes this club-lover just a little bit mardy. But with library books and reading lists building a barrier impossible to break without extensive guilt and awkward seminar silences, I'm going to have to embrace the sensible side of fun. Let's get back to basics, and into the kitchen cupboard. Although, much as I love getting my bake on, a cookbooks place is more 11.30am, not 11.30pm. I should be squabbling with a taxi driver over the fare to Broad Street in a little dress and big heels round about now, but if anything can solve my growing-up predicament, and take me back to the land before deadlines, it's cupcakes.

Little-girly, pastel, fairy princess tea-party cupcakes.

This is what I came up with.

Marshmallow Vanilla Cupcakes- Hummingbird Bakery cookbook

Made for the birthday party of a glamorous housemate, I hope she enjoyed nibbling them in the rented hot tub as much as I enjoyed baking them...

Just in case the oven was too hot...
The party was Hawaiian themed, so I felt it was only fair that the cupcakes got into the holiday mood with some teeny tiny beach parasols...can't have the pudding feeling left out now, can we.

My sweet-tooth tendencies didn't stop at the obvious. Oh yes, I kept on tracking the sugar trail until I was sure I had my fix, or who knows what could happen; found by a concerned friend, leaning listlessly against any speaker with a vague baseline, or unconsciously buying out every last elasticated thread of body-con on Asos- I had to be sure I had found a true alternative to the dancefloor I so craved. So you can imagine my hand-clapping delight when I found Mr Marc over at Louis Vuitton had just the thing to keep me at a safe distance from my killer heels...

Louis Vuitton Spring 2012 Collection 

Marc Jacobs has brought a happily-ever-after to fashion that looks good enough to eat...the colours, the feathery-light textures- even the odd tiara- make this crucial for dissertation motivation. Regressing back to my five-year-old self's love of the carousel pony to reign myself in from the Sambuca- why didn't I think of this before?

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Friday, October 7, 2011

What's the hold-up with the chowdown?

(This article is currently in my University paper, but for those of you that can't see it, I thought I'd pop it up here...)
One of many...Carbonara pizza in Sicily

How can a nation be famous for both indulgent food and world-class catwalks? Pizza, pasta, pastry and ice-cream- they’re the kind of tasty treats that the fashion industry doesn’t always appreciate as much as the rest of us. I know the Mediterranean lifestyle is meant to keep you spritely and bafflingly energetic well into retirement, but with that much dough involved, I simply couldn’t see the logic. So when I arrived in Padova, Italy, for my year abroad, I was suspicious of how the local ladies managed to live in streets lined with bakeries and still look slinky in their skinny jeans. But after a few weeks of careful observation, I discovered their secret.

I admit I arrived in the sunny boot of Europe with plenty of pre-conceptions of our European neighbours- I was sure there would be lots of passionate hand gesturing (true), impassioned accordion players providing the soundtrack to bustling street cafĂ©’s (true), and was on my guard for slick-haired Casanova’s prowling the piazzas (pleasingly not true). What took me by surprise was one particular mentality, woven as deftly and naturally through the culture as a Vespa through cobbled side-streets: moderation.

Just one won't hurt...Cream and Raspberry Tart, Sicily
Alright, so it isn’t the most dramatic revelation, but it’s a concept that sets the bar classily high for many other countries- particularly for Britain, often depicted as a country of excess. As many statistics remind us, we love a good takeaway (recent surveys show that 45% of Brits enjoy indulging in fast food too much to give it up, followed closely by 44% of Americans), we love a drink, or three, even more and, when it comes to letting off steam, it goes without saying that Saturday night indulgence shouldn’t end until it’s well into Sunday morning- in the UK, binge drinking accounts for 40% of all drinking occasions by men, and 22% for women. When it comes to food and drink, we can’t seem to get enough of a good thing.

All the while, it seems Italians are almost supernaturally resistant to the chocolate-to-face-shovelling and wine swigging that some of us (or, at least, me and a few of my friends) are powerless to resist. For example, whilst in Italy one of my two housemates carefully cut a doughnut into four pieces, kindly offered me a segment, and when each girl had savoured her piece, the last quarter was wrapped in foil and left in the fridge. For three days. This, apparently, was normal. Alien as this concept of...wait, what's it called again..."saving chocolate for later" was to me, I have to say I respected it. I’m quite sure that even if I tried adopting such a sensible attitude towards confectionary, it’s likely that I would end up cheating outrageously by finding loopholes, such as alleged "sleep eating", or similar excuses.

Sugar-coated... Treats at the Chocolate Market, Padova
The Italian powers of self-control also apply into alcohol- it’s one of the few places where people claim they’re just going out for one drink, and actually mean it. That’s not to say Italians don’t know how to enjoy themselves- they throw a mean carnival, and their food markets never fail to excite and delight. Perhaps it’s just that “fun” doesn’t translate directly between our two nations- each with our different ways of using eating and drinking to make ourselves feel good.

Has the Italian influence affected me? Well, next time I find myself with a family-size bag of Maltesers and some spare time on my hands, I suppose I’ll find out…

Goodies- Out for hot chocolate with Tiger in Padova
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