Posts tagged ‘fashion blogging’

November 9, 2013

Blog Chat: BEDN #9

Today’s blog post is about the subject of blogging itself. I’ve had a day off from #BEDN because yesterday was a bit of a crazy day. If I’d done a post on the prompted subject, which was ‘A Day in the Life’ you’d probably just have needed a lie down after living vicariously through my dashing around.

Anyway, after a day off it was time to get back in the ‘Blog Every Day in November‘ zone, and I did that by reading one of my favourite blogs, Espresso Coco. On there, Dave had written his post using questions from Janet (who writes a blog that I’ve just discovered because of #BEDN) and so I was cheeky and asked if I could use them too. And because they’re clearly both fabulous, they said yes.

So, here we go…

How and when did you decide to start blogging? Um. I have utterly no idea why I started blogging, if I’m honest. Other than for some misguided feeling that the world needed to know what was going on in my head, perhaps? Seriously, I think it was more that I wanted to write, and couldn’t get my head around the idea of being a ‘writer’ (still can’t) and so I thought that starting a blog would be a good way to have a go at writing about things that I was interested in, in a safe and accessible way.

I wrote a blog called ‘Daisy, Daisy’ on Typepad for a really brief period of time, which has now been mothballed because I lost heart with it. Then, after a while, I decided that I wanted to try again, and started ‘Margot and Barbara’ in May 2011. If you asked me now why I blog, it’s basically because I have to. I often go round in circles, loving and hating my blog with equal force. I’m always on the verge of quitting and always on the verge of self-hosting to make it more than a hobby; two completely opposing views about my blogging future. For now though, you’ll find me here, writing because I don’t know how to stop.

What’s the story behind your blog’s name? For those of you of a certain age, Margot and Barbara will be synonymous with The Good Life, and indeed, that’s where my blog name comes from. You can find out more about why I chose the name over on my About Me page. Really, it’s an odd name and I accept that. People often think that there are two people writing it, and if I ever get unsolicited spam emails about ‘working with your blog’ they’re always, but always, addressed to Margot.

On the plus side, many of my Leeds-based Twitter friends now call me ‘Babs’ and I love them for it.  For the record, my name is Elizabeth. You can call me Liz, if we’ve met and you’ve bought me a beer…

What’s the best post you’ve ever written? Dunno. You tell me? In terms of the number of hits it has received since it was published, it’s this post about equestrian influences in fashion. I’m clearly not a ‘fashion’ blogger though, despite my love of clothes, so it’s an unusual post for me. I might write more fashion posts, as I do love the subject. But I’d write from the perspective of a 37 year old woman with a strong belief in sustainability, small wardrobes of clothing, long sleeves and looking good on a budget, so not sure I’d have much of an audience! What do you think? The other things I’d quite like to write a bit more about (at least at the present time) are cycling and beauty. I appreciate that makes this blog a bit odd, but at least it’s honestly who I am. My favourite posts are those that feel true to me. When I feel as though I’ve been open with people, and it’s got a good response, then that’s a good post.

What are your favourite and least favourite things about blogging? Hmm. The worst things are probably trying to fit it into my life. With a full time job, two small kids, one very important lovely boyfriend (with a blog of his own!) family and friends to spend time with, an allotment, loads of hobbies and a to-do list as long as my arm, it’s always a juggling act to find the time for it. It’s partly why I sometimes struggle with blogging and decide to quit, only to return after a few days off, with yet another plan, post or series that I want to write. It’s like a bloody drug… I’m also trying to make more time for finding, reading and commenting on other blogs. Being part of the blogging community is important, yet because I don’t fit into an easy niche, I do sometimes feel a bit lonely.

The best thing about blogging, without question, is the people I’ve met. That, and finding a place where I can be just me. A place that I can talk about the myriad of different things that interest me, and generally find at least one other person on the whole planet who is interested too! I don’t have any great advice for would-be bloggers other than this: if you want to blog, then do. Find the things that you care about, write about them as often as you’d like, as well as you can. And above all, enjoy it…

September 26, 2012

Bill Cunningham New York

I finally managed to watch the ‘Bill Cunningham New York’ documentary this weekend. I’d been meaning to buy the DVD for a while, and then, joy of joys, I found it on Sky Anytime. I do sometimes think that on-demand TV has changed my life.

Anyway, onto Bill. What an incredible story and what an incredible man. I already knew of his legendary status as pretty much the world’s first street-style photographer but what I hadn’t appreciated was the utter single-minded way he approaches that life. Living in a tiny, bathroom-and-kitchen-free studio in the legendary Carnegie Hall (at the time of the documentary; all the artists have since been sadly evicted) his main furniture is rows of filing cabinets filled with the negative of every photo he has ever taken. And he’s taken a lot.

Working for decades on the streets of New York, photographing everyone from young hipsters to Lady Astor, Bill Cunningham has developed relationships with some of his subjects over many years. Even Anna Wintour says that people dress with Bill in mind. Although I firmly believe that every aspiring fashion blogger should be made to watch this documentary, we can all learn something from him, not just the people aiming to be the next Scott Schuman, aka The Sartorialist. Who is really emulating Bill Cunningham, it seems, anyway.

As someone who flits shamelessly from one interest to another, the completely blinkered approach he has to life is completely alien to me, and yet amazingly compelling. Even living in Manhattan, he has an ascetic, almost monastic life. Shunning other things such as fine food or music, or even interest in clothing for himself, (preferring to wear the same kind of blue jacket as the street cleaners) Cunningham rides his bike from one New York society event to another, photographing all evening. Then he’s up in the early hours of the next day, on the streets. In his own words, there are no short-cuts. Just many, many hours of graft.

Bill Cunningham. Photo from The New Yorker

That is something I can learn from. Putting in the hours, instead of expecting instant gratification, will be important as I think about what career moves I might want to make,

I was completely struck throughout the documentary by his decency. Parting company with  Women’s Wear Daily because he didn’t like the way they used his images to criticise people, he seems to be such a genuinely good person, believing that if you don’t take money from people, they cannot dictate to you – even if that means you have to walk away from work. He doesn’t use his images to mock or ridicule, but only to celebrate the joy that is fashion. In an industry that can be horribly bitchy, this is a wonderful truth.

I suppose he can be summed up by the words of the French Minister for Culture at the time he was presented with the Legion D’honneur in Paris. I’m paraphrasing, but the essence of his speech was that Bill really didn’t believe he deserved such awards, and that really summed up why he did deserve them. He credits his success to his subjects, rather than his own eye for style. Although on their own, his images are not considered iconic shots, as a chronicle of style, they cannot be bettered.

He is a very special character ( can you tell I’m half in love with him!) and I really do think, regardless of whether you’re interested in fashion or photography, you’d find something worth watching in this documentary.  It is heart-warming, funny, uplifting and poignant. I’d better get that DVD bought after all, I will be watching it again and again…