A taste of Marc Jacobs – An ode to Soda

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I have a confession.

Diet Coke is my downfall. If I have a deadline due, I will always need to dash to the shop first to get some of this elixir in order to ensure that I keep my cool (literally – sorry for the bad pun). If I’m in a restaurant and I order a Diet Coke with my meal, I will experience a few seconds of mild outrage if my drink turns out to be Pepsi masquerading as Diet Coke, often to the bafflement of the people I’m with. You know those annoying people who claim to know the difference between brands of Cola, and whether sugars or sweeteners are used? Yeah. I’m one of THEM. (I worked at a music festival once where the sponsor was Pepsi. No Coke products were available, and buying a Pepsi was cheaper than water. It was a sad time)

When I’m at home in Guernsey, Diet Coke is a drink that I keep for special occasions. Tapping into this concept of keeping soft drinks/soda as a treat or experience, Diet Coke have been releasing beautiful artistic cans and bottles across Europe in the past few years. When I lived in France last year, I noticed that the supermarket chain Monoprix was selling eyecatching limited edition bottles of Diet Coke designed by Karl Lagerfeld, the current mastermind behind Chanel… Thus began my collection of unusual Coca Cola vessels.

Since Lagerfeld’s bottles, I have seen numerous other limited editions come and go, including lacy nautical designs by Jean Paul Gaultier, who did a collaboration with Diet Coke last year. Last summer, whilst on the road from Germany to France, I bought a lacy JPG can from a motorway stop in Belgium, pleased by the glamour of the design. Daft Punk, David Guetta and James Bond have all since made an appearance on Coke Zero bottles. As an aside, it is interesting how Coke Zero appears to be marketed towards men, whereas Diet Coke is clearly marketed towards women. I think that the marketing concept for Diet Coke collaborations is genius – with the purchase of a can, women can claim to be drinking something designer – not only making high end designers accessible to the masses, but also tapping into the psyche of women obsessed with fashion. It has paid dividends with regards to their sales growth.

With the arrival of Spring 2013, comes a new creative director for Diet Coke, the designer Marc Jacobs. I have yet to see any designs for bottles, but the latest incarnations of limited edition Diet Coke cans are inspired by the 30 years anniversary of the brand, with three Marc Jacobs designs each referencing a decade (80s, 90s, 00s) from the past thirty years. So far I have only purchased the above design, but I think it looks quite chic. I don’t drink the limited edition bottles, but I do drink the cans, afterwards using them as cheap yet elegant design features/vases for dried flowers in my student bedroom!

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“Men say it’s criminal what women will do…

…What they’re forgetting is,  this is 1922!”

Somewhere in the archives, there is a photograph of me aged 15 in a flapper outfit and bob wig performing songs from “Thoroughly Modern Millie”. Well, you may not feast your eyes on that old treat but here for your eyes only is a 22 year old toned down version of a 1920s moi. This outfit was pulled together in about ten minutes for a 1920s evening that was held in my college.

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I’ve even thrown in a pout, pearls and a feather collar! I also had a feather boa which I lent to a friend visiting from Guernsey … there were feathers all over my room for days!

PS. Watch “Thoroughly Modern Millie” if you get a chance. It stars a young Julie Andrews and the hilarious Carol Channing, who originated the role of ‘Dolly’ in ‘Hello, Dolly!’ on Broadway.

Starry Night Nails

The colours of the Durham sky fading from day into night have been really beautiful recently – a mix of navy blue shades. As a student, it is sometimes easy to forget your surroundings and take them for granted. However, a week ago I was walking home to college down Kingsgate Bridge when I paused to look over my shoulder and saw the cathedral bathed in golden lamplight against an ethereal blue sky. I had to stop and take a photo. Durham Cathedral was voted the nation’s best loved building in 2001 and has since been used as a backdrop for scenes from the Harry Potter films. It is not difficult to see why it is such a convincing setting for a story of magic and wizardry.

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The colours of the sky reminded me of one of my favourite paintings – Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’. It is a painting that I studied during my art lessons in school , I remember being entranced by the rich use of colour and swirling brushstrokes. In October 2011, my Aunt and Uncle took me to visit the Auberge in Auvers-sur-Oise where Van Gogh spent the last of his days – it proved to be an extremely interesting visit and certainly rejuvenated my love for the brilliant paintings of the troubled Van Gogh.

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It was with this colour scheme in mind that I repainted my chipped nail varnish with swirls of blue and purple glitter and flecks of gold. Here’s to you, Van Gogh!

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Growing up Guernsey

‘Sarnia Cherie. Gem of the sea.
Home of my childhood, my heart longs for thee.
Thy voice calls me ever, forget thee I’ll never,
Island of beauty. Sarnia Cherie.’

 As a little girl, growing up in the Channel Islands, I always used to gaze out to sea and daydream of places that I had visited and other lands yet to be discovered. I caught the travel bug at a young age – having family that lived abroad meant that my first ever flight was at the age of three months old, and now at the age of 22, I find comfort in travelling – comfort in the routine of waiting in airport departure lounges and harbours and in the thrill of embarking on a new journey.

My late grandfather was an aircraft engineer, who lived a stone’s throw away from the airfield in Guernsey, and I remember always feeling secure in the knowledge that I would be able to catch a glimpse of my grandparents waving ‘goodbye’ (or ‘hello’ on the return voyage) when I was in a tiny tin can of an airplane. Voyaging is something I savour. I am always going to want to travel, yet I also love the feeling of ‘coming home’. Gliding over the sea in a plane and having the whole of Guernsey suddenly come into sight is always something that makes me catch my breath.

At 16, I started working a weekend job in the tourism industry as a museum assistant – this became a summer job and is something that was a part of my life for six years. Through this student job, I met many tourists from different corners of the world and it led me to appreciate the island from a touristic point of view. For those curious as to what Island living is like, I will include a selection of photos that I took during the past summer in Guernsey in my next post… for now, here is a taster – a photo of Fermain Bay.


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‘Les Mis’ with a Guernsey Miss

For those of you that don’t know, I am a BIG FAN of Victor Hugo, a French author who penned many novels and poems, the most famous works being “Notre Dame de Paris” (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and “Les Misérables”. Hugo lived in exile on Guernsey, my home island, from 1855-1870 and it was during this time in Guernsey that ‘Les Misérables’ was published – a book that would later become a renowned musical, often referred to by theatregoers as “Les Mis”.

Below, is a picture of one of the many beautiful views that Guernsey has to offer…

Smoke from the Red Arrows appearing as the French flag
Smoke from the Red Arrows appearing as the French flag

It will probably not have escaped your attention that this musical has recently adapted into a film, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, amongst other big names. It was with unbridled excitement that I scampered off to the ODEON at the Metro centre this weekend, to watch the must see film of the year… in IMAX, no less.

During my time at school in Guernsey, I did a lot of musical theatre and also sang in several school choirs – now I can’t recall the exact amount of times I was forced to sing songs from “Les Mis”, but let’s just say that when I was sat in my plush seat at the ODEON this weekend watching the plot of the film unravel, I was lip syncing along. Yeah, that’s right, growing up in Guernsey means that you have quite an intimate relationship with this particular work, whether you like it or not… Luckily, I love everything to do with Victor Hugo, and this film adaptation was no different!

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If I had to sum up the film in one word, I would have to simply say… GLORIOUS.

It really was.

I didn’t notice the time passing. Hugh Jackman was awesome and Anne Hathaway was haunting in the role of Fantine (finally managing to convince critics that she is ‘Mia Thermapolis’ no more*) I particularly adored Isabelle Allen in the role of ‘Cosette’ (you can see from the above poster just how ethereal, vulnerable and credible she looks in the role). The whole film was a sumptuous feast for the eyes and for the senses – at the end I heard the men around me sniffling as they clapped when the credits started to roll. If you enjoyed the film ‘Warhorse’ and the emotions that it stirred up inside you, then please go see ‘Les Mis’… and bring an industrial size box of tissues. At the end, I had to be walked around the Metro centre a few times and shown happy sparkly things until I managed to perk up.

Would I go see it again?

YES, in a heartbeat.

I’m sure that Victor Hugo would have loved to see his novel make it to Hollywood. If you enjoyed the film and ever find yourself in Guernsey, then make sure that you visit Hugo’s old residence, Hauteville House, which has been kept as a monument to him by the City of Paris. if you’re interested in literature, stunning views or wacky interior design, his house really is a must see.

Knock on the door, make an appointment to visit, and you will find yourself stepping out of the hustle and bustle of St Peter Port into a sombre French hallway. You will be led on a visit into Hugo’s world by a guide who will explain how the objects in the house are not what they seem… Mirrors, ornate carvings and the repeated initials V and H alongside other symbols and motifs will reveal themselves to you and remain in your mind long after your visit. The stunning view of the Archipelago of the Channel Islands from the top of the house is worth the trip alone!

 *Although, in my opinion, ‘The Princess Diaries’ is a great film and I will hear no bad word of it!!!

PS. For those interested in reading ‘Les Misérables’, it is available for free on Kindle in both English and French – below is the link for the English version

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Les-Misérables-English-language-ebook/dp/B004GHNIRK/ref=pd_ts_zgc_kinc_341689031-f_3?ie=UTF8&s=digital-text&pf_rd_p=285525267&pf_rd_s=right-6&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_i=341677031&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_r=1K7FY04R3W9VABBR7M2K