LOLCat: Teh Exhibishun

Located at the heart of London’s Fitzrovia, The Framer’s Gallery introduces “LOLCat: Teh Exhibishun”, a charitable group art show devoted to the internet phenomenon of cats doing funny things. Whether comical internet memes can be accepted into the world of ‘serious’ contemporary art is however, a matter of personal taste. If you’ve ever indulged in the online guilty pleasure of watching piano-playing kitties or laughing at humorously captioned feline photographs then this is purrfect for you.

Showcased in the surroundings of a converted framing shop, the exhibit is spread across three small rooms. Despite this, the space feels very engaging, with moderate sized artworks which draw you into the close-knit community of the ‘lolcat’ spectacle. Plenty of natural lighting and overhead spotlights replicate the light-hearted nature of this gallery display. Laughter echoes through the exhibition, creating a whole different art-viewing experience. As opposed to feeling somewhat like a naughty, giggling school child hovering around a historic nude sculpture, here, you’re encouraged to snigger.

Rather than regurgitate the largely amateur works which already exist online, the group of over 40 artists contributing to this exhibition seek only to react to the craze with unique and professionally crafted works. Several mediums fill the white blank walls, ranging from photography, illustration, graphic design, paintings, video animation and screen print. In crafting their works, the artists have clearly researched their subject well, using familiar feline faces such as Sylvester the cat, lime cat and inbred (inbread) cat. Many pieces also incorporate the online community’s humorous ‘lolcat speak’, a language based on an approximation of how cats may sound if they spoke.

The oddity of these furry friends being classed as ‘art’ may not be as strange as you think. The artworks offer a natural reflection and progression of society’s current tastes and trends. Take the strikingly controversial “Murdoch Kitteh says SHHHH” watercolour piece by Lizzie Mary Cullen, depicting Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks in feline form. The pair involved in the notorious phone hacking scandal are brought together in a satirical manner. Brooks’ red hair is painted in humorous abundance whilst Murdoch looks down upon her through his oversized spectacles telling her to ‘SSHHHHH!!!!!’. The misspelling of the surrounding text ‘I found sumfinc secrut’ not only accompanies the ‘lolcat speak’ in other works but also hints at the potential stupidity of the duo for conducting such a crime. The faint watercolours also exemplify the transparency of the pair’s wrongdoing which is now displayed for all to see.

All artwork is available for purchase with 50% of proceeds kindly donated to Battersea Cats and Dogs Home. You can pick up Victoria Koshowski’s silk scarf in a kitty meme collage for £130; other artworks range from Laura Som’s “Teh Kat Detektiv” £2 postcard to Manuel Archain’s ‘The smallest cat in the world’ £2100 original framed giclée print.

So can a feline internet sensation successfully translate into material suitable for an art gallery? With its charitable cause, sell out original artworks and hilarity factor, frankly who cares? If you love a cute moggy and you’re open to a completely different, comical art experience then look no further than ‘teh kittehz’ at this one-off exhibit.

Getting there: The Framers Gallery, 36 Windmill St. London W1T 2JT; nearest tube: Goodge Street. Open Mon-Fri 10am-5.30pm, Sat 11am – 5pm until 15th February 2013. www.lolcattehexhibishun.com/. Free admission.

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Bourjois’ Magic Nail Polish Remover


Dip and twist your talons into this magic pink pot for instant nail colour switch ups. Its foam-like interior is soaked in a nourishing formula which takes only a second to remove most nail polish (more generously coated nails may take a few more seconds).

I’ve heard a lot of positive buzz surrounding this launch, from beauty bloggers to editors. Although the concept isn’t new, this pot of gold promises to be the best, with its sweet, fruity scent and affordable price tag.

I wonder whether it will work on toes too!

Available mid April, retailing at £3.99

London’s top 10 fashion stores

Discover what makes London one of the world’s most fashionable capitals with a trip to any of these top 10 shops. From designer department stores to East-end boutiques, each has something special to offer this season.

10.   Zara W1 –   an au naturel indulgence

This shop captures the purist trend perfectly this season from window to in-store. Silver glittering palm trees remind you that summer is on its way, where mannequins dressed in a fresh, clean, minimalistic theme makes it a classy one.

Sheer white blouses, peach and monochrome trouser suits and off-white peplum shift dresses form part of the sharp silhouettes for their spring/summer selection.

The brand has also made a new adaptation to their hit A/W shopper bag, with the latest design at half the price and large enough to fit all those summer essentials.

If you want sophisticated chic, then this is the place to go.

9.       Religion E1-  rock the urban vibe

A monochrome exterior prepares you for the general colour palette of Religion’s designs, but not the edginess and creativity inside. The industrial style fittings and large Union Jack flags surround the rails of clothing, fuelling inspiration from British heritage, rock and roll and individual style.

Oversized statement tees, tie dye leggings, distressed denim and fringed leather jackets are the norm here, mirroring the young, urban lifestyle of an audience it is attracting.

The brand provides for both sexes and has recently launched unique fragrances for him and her.

8.       Rokit E1 – immerse in vintage devotion

If cropped tie-front shirts, recycled Levi’s 501 jean shorts, 50’s tea dresses and silk scarves are just a taste of what you love, then this vintage store is perfect for you.  The brand boasts a wide collection of fabulously sourced, one-off pieces dating back to the 40’s.

The window displays are stunning and are changed regularly, taking a vintage twist on current season trends. Vintage props such as telephones and typewriters are also used around the store to define the brand’s quirky character.

The store’s layout can sometimes feel rather cramped, with bags and shoes stacked high on the walls surrounding the rails of vintage treasures. Prices are often on par with high street brands, which is acceptable when the chances of finding any of these gems in your local charity shop is highly unlikely.

7.       Tatty Devine E2–  the queen of kitsch

Delve into the heart of East London with Tatty Devine who specialise in handmade, Perspex designer jewellery. The brand is popular with the likes of Katy Perry, Claudia Schiffer and Helena Bonham Carter.

A classic black exterior leads you into a world of creativity, with large glass cabinets showcasing the many designs on offer. The store also has a quirky pink piano floor and oversized Perspex designs suspended from the ceiling. Originally known for their heart plectrum, anchor and name designs the brand has expanded, with more inventive jewellery ranging from £6-£300. The dinosaur necklace is the latest design, based on the skeleton at London’s Natural History Museum. Their designs are thoughtful and unique, no wonder then that so many have tried, and failed to copy the plastic fantastic styles.

The boutique also stocks extra trinkets by like-minded designers, including tote bags, greetings cards, books and magazines.

6.       H&M W1 – top-notch fashion at affordable prices

Recovering from Versace’s collaboration of explosive colourful print, H&M have opted for spring’s picnic chic, with pastel and neutral tones. Worn denim, paisley print playsuits, beige floppy hats and peach ballerina shoes are a must whilst soaking up the sun this season.

H&M hasn’t totally neutralised its palette however, pops of colour can be found in a handful of pink blazers, orange jeans, purple satin tops and jewel-toned accessories.

The menswear floor boasts a towering David Beckham silver statue surrounded by the star’s bodywear collection. Homeware and childrens clothing is also available.

Catch the sensual Italian Marni for H&M line in selected stores from 8th March.

5.       The Kooples E20–  couples bond over effortless Parisian style

Derived from the classic trend of ladies stealing their boyfriend’s blazers and shirts, the French label focuses on sourcing couples to unite for fashion.

The Kooples’ male and female collections complement each other, with strong tailoring for men, and androgynous yet elegant styling for women.

The boutique has a minimalistic setting, with only one long rail either side of the space. Where only one size of each item is displayed, the store reflects the grace in their designs.

The label refuses to follow trends or even make them. Instead, they rely on the simplicity in reviving vintage cuts and classic silhouettes which resist the tests of time. The pricing of the label shows that they present investment pieces rather than one season wonders.

4.       ASOS.com – fashion at your fingertips

At the heart of online fashion retail, this season, the brand’s ‘pick n mix’ collection looks at Louis Vuitton and Prada for inspiration. Awash your pins with sugar rush shades this season with an array of candy coloured denim.  Fizzy sherbet lemon, pale pinks and sky blues are regulars, so if you adore pastels then this is your store. ASOS has a large advantage over others like it, with an extensive list of designer and high street brands all under one roof.  The store is also great for discount offers; including free next day delivery every Thursday to grab your garms before the weekend starts. Try out ASOS Marketplace too, a world of users selling and buying vintage clothes, new designs and pre-loved items.

3.       River Island E20– an emporium of prints

A crowd of brightly coloured, tropical prints mirroring those seen at Versace greet you at River Island. Bicycles with silk scarves floating from the handlebars surround mannequins clad in the brand’s Miami trend, waiting to be peddled along a sunny beach strip.

Beyond this, the first floor showcases a range of candy coloured skinnies and purist 1950’s dresses.

Chelsea Girl, the name the shop once traded under, has become a permanent label with reinvented vintage designs from the 70’s.

Moving upstairs is the menswear range and the ladies’ accessories boutique.

The brand has seen a total revamp, rolling out a new logo, in-store design and digital shopping technology first seen at Stratford. This includes an impressive Tweet Mirror where you can pose in your favourite outfit and upload a photo instantly to Twitter.

2.       Selfridges  W1A – the fashion kingdom

A clothes horse for the Bond Street luxury boutiques, if you’re looking for international high-end labels all in one place then Selfridges is where it’s at.

Always taking pride in their window displays, this month the fashion hub has taken on the creative genius of 15 ‘Bright Young Things’, each with their own window of inspiration. The windows promote the concepts behind each collection which can be found in-store.

Designer accessories greet you at the ground floor’s main entrance. Pop-up shops, women’s street fashion, beauty and fragrance are also available on this floor.

Selfridges’ ‘Words Words Words’ concept convert’s the lower ground floor’s ultra lounge into a library, with helpful presentations and workshops held too.

The second floor plays homage to women’s designer galleries. This transformed space features fabulous installations alongside classic, marbled architecture which curates the latest exciting designs from fashion houses worldwide. More womenswear travels to the third floor with the guilty pleasures of the shoe gallery and salons. Childrenswear is also available on this floor with menswear and homeware on the first and fourth.

1.       Topshop W1A – spellbinding creations when designer meets high street

This season Topshop Oxford Circus is promoting NEWGEN in its windows and in-store. The brand has partnered up with designers they have supported in the past ten years, from Christopher Kane to Meadham Kirchhoff, to create a collection of 20 tees and jumpers.

Meanwhile the store, ever famous for their designer collaborations, is a-buzz with Mary Katrantzou floral mania.

Topshop boasts many floors, the first producing an eclectic mix of accessories. The ground floor presents the spring collection, from petite and tall, to the brand’s Boutique and Unique ranges. Make sure you visit the lower ground floor too, not only for the to-die-for heels and vintage concession brands, but treat your tresses to a designer blow dry or polished manicure. The brand’s Edgware outlet store is a hidden gem, where last season’s items are heavily discounted and buy one get one free.

 

 

 

An intimate study of a catwalk phenomenon

The fashion catwalk, a world of exclusivity and a somewhat far cry from the ordinary you and I, is unveiled in the latest exhibition from London’s Fashion and Textile Museum. ‘Catwalk to Cover’ presents a captivating collection of insider photography and designer garments, illustrating the transition from 19th century Paris fashion parades into front row celebrity catwalk culture.

Take a step inside and you are greeted by the famous faces on the front row. Back-lit portraits of celebrities and editors taken by Kirstin Sinclair (curator of the exhibition) cause a sea of reflections across the ground floor, imitating their power and influence as ambassadors for designer collections.

Nearby, a collection of translucent digital images of iconic fashion shows and models are suspended from the twinkling ceiling. Looking through these will take you from show to show, backstage to front row seat faster than any catwalk outfit change.

Walking through an open seam of draped white chiffon brings you to a stage of fully clad mannequins stolen from the catwalk. White and turquoise walls add a cool vibe to an otherwise hectic business. Backstage photographs shot by top talents Chris Moore, Matthew Lever and Philip Meech surround the stage, capturing last minute touches which can make or break a look.

On the upper level Alison McCann, a curator at the museum, describes how, “This is a niche way of looking at the catwalk. We’ve expanded from the 1970s where the only focus was the garment on the runway.” Behind her, a range of backstage beauty shots, highlighting the makeup trends taking homage in magazine beauty pages. Prada’s interesting post production outlets and street style photography brings an end to the tour.

The exhibition is an exciting and flattering celebration of the fashion catwalk industry. It brings aspects of the past together with the present using insightful photography dating back to the 1990s to create an innovative and exclusive must-see show.

Getting there: Fashion and Textiles Museum; nearest tube: London Bridge. Open Tue-Sat 11am-6pm until 25th Feb 2012. Tel: 020 7407 8664; www.ftmlondon.org