Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Shoes and handbags?

I’m not a shoes and handbags kinda woman at all, in spite of having a bit of a fetish for nice boots (as posted earlier), but I was going through my old portfolio again and came across these pictures I’d drawn in 1981 which reminded me of just what kind of shoes and handbags I possessed at the time.  So I’m just going to indulge that memory for a moment. 

The shoes were unearthed in a charity shop (naturally) and were possibly ‘60s.  Very uncomfortable of course (probably the wrong size to be honest but how we suffer for our art…)  And the handbag I remember well for being fabulously tacky with its silky leopard-print panel and the rest in shiny black patent  (clearly something of a penchant for shiny black patent has stayed with me since.)  Note the cigarette box poking out – Silk Cut by the look of it – I didn’t smoke for long but it was one of those things that so many students in my year seemed to do.  We even had a pet name for them:-  ‘oolies’ (not ‘oilies’ as in ‘oily rags: fags’ but definitely ‘oolies’ for some reason).  The college stairwells and lobbies used to stink of our Silk Cut and Rothmans, and occasionally something stronger too. (In the studios themselves, the smell of fixative spray and cow gum was enough to give you more than any nicotine or herbal high.)

Fashion-wise this was a great era for an impoverished student (though I was fortunate to be undertaking further education at a time when grants were the norm. Yes, we were actually given money to study and we didn't have to pay it back...)  I’d moved on from being predominantly punk by that time (and the patience it takes to put egg-white in your hair every day runs out eventually) - enjoying a wider range of music and clothes, the latter mostly being hunted out from charity shops which at that time were a fantastic and exceptionally cheap source of unusual old items, because so few people were interested in anything vaguely vintage or anti-fashion, it seemed.  And they didn’t have that overpowering smell of industrial-strength washing powder then, either…  I remember finding a black and pink dress with a  scenes of Paris print on it (oh, how I’d love that now) and with hair up in a Pebbles-type top-knot, (minus the bone – although chicken bones did feature a short while later during the tribal/goth/Southern Death Cult years, to be expanded on another time perhaps), lacy tights, the snakeskin slingbacks, plenty of black eye make-up, a plastic ring from a Christmas cracker and an old man’s cardigan to top it all off, the overall look must have been not unlike one of Diane Arbus’ photographic subjects or an extra from 'Summer Holiday' who'd got dressed in the dark.   Great escapism in a year remembered for (amongst many other unsavoury things) Peter Sutcliffe, the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, and Bucks Fizz winning the Eurovision Song Contest…

I was probably listening to this at the time too…

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