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This time last year, I was packing my bags. I’d received a grant, a month of free food and lodging upstate and permission to do nothing but go for long walks and write, my two favorite occupations. I sublet my place, bought a new pair of sneakers, and took off for the country. It rained all month, basically, and so I didn’t do as much walking as I’d planned; neither did I write as much as I hoped, though I wrote quite a bit. But it was nice to get out of town for a while, and into some relative seclusion; my sojourn upstate punctuated what I already sensed as a time of transition for me. I was leaving behind my life of fashion, and magazines articles, and concerts, and gossip, and retreating into my art. When I returned to the City, I shot my first film. I’m only finishing it, now.

Saturday Trend

This week BurdaStyle gets Stockholm syndrome. CLOG POST

Hippie chic is roaring back into style this summer. Forget the bag lady boho of Rachel Zoe starlets and the Olsen Twins, however. The new thing is to steal tricks from the flower children: Maxi dresses, moccasins, wide-leg denim, and that Swedish staple, the clog. The best pair you can by is from Sven, and the good news is that this is one footwear trend your feet will thank you for. Sven clogs are the Volvo of shoes – solid, functional, comfy. The bad news is that Sven clogs are the Volvo of shoes – solid, functional, comfy. It takes some doing to make them modern. The trick is irreverence. Summer of love literalism will make you look like your in costume, anyway, so keep the peasant dresses and batik-print wraparound skirts in the closet. Pair your clogs instead with urbane streetwear, the skinniest jeans you’ve got and a neon top, a slinky draped dress or baggy mannish suit. Get a pair of Sven’s high-heeled clogs, and you can even vamp a skintight pencil skirt or make a new proportion for your mod mini shifts; over-the-knee socks add a Harujiku girl twist. Clogs may be the Volvo of shoes, but they can take the curves, too.

Friday Playlist

This week BurdaStyle gets Stockholm syndrome. A BAND APART

My obsession with Sweden began with The Knife. Somehow, I managed to miss last year’s hype about the Stockholm band’s third album, Silent Shout, the first Knife release to make it Stateside and king of many critics’ year-end lists. But the hype unearthed The Knife’s earlier records, the eponymous debut and sophomore effort Deep Cuts, and from the moment I heard the latter’s opening track, “Heartbeats,” I was hooked. Deep Cuts is a uniquely odd album: Techno-pop propulsive and sexy invites you in, and then the record progressively deforms, creeping you out with surreal applications of vocal effects and steel drum. I would say that I’d never heard an album so simultaneously poptastic and alienating, except that I have – The Sugarcubes’ Life’s Too Good. The two albums don’t sound alike, but like The Sugarcubes’ debut, Deep Cuts establishes something entirely new in sound, and it doesn’t wear out; the record is one of those rare ones that reveals something new every time you press play. It’s taken nearly 20 years, but Scandinavia has finally managed to cough up Bjork’s true heirs, The Knife’s Dreijer siblings, and whatever small hesitation I might have had about making so large a claim was entirely laid to rest when I finally came around to Silent Shout.

Thursday Fashion

This week BurdaStyle gets Stockholm syndrome. GEAR DU NORD

H&M may be the 800 lb, gorilla of Swedish fashion, conquering the world with its aim high-sell low retail strategy, and coercing the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Madonna into producing sell-out collections for the store. Everyone knows that story. But if you really want to take the pulse of style in Sweden, you’ve got to start with the jeans.

Wednesday Beauty

This week BurdaStyle gets Stockholm syndrome. NORTHERN LIGHTS

“Scandinavian” and “blond” are nearly inseparable ideas in the pop culture. I’ve met swarthy Swedes, and unprepossessing Stockholm exiles with mops of unruly brown hair, but think Sweden and still I conjure a mental nation of flaxen-haired, alabaster-skinned, enviably cheekboned natives, all of them ruddy with good health after a day on the slopes, all of them preparing to retire to the sauna and then onto the lodge for a smorgasbord meal. It’s all very Swedish bikini team and fun-loving stewardess, if you know what I mean, and I can’t help envying my imagined Swedes, even if I know the picture in my head is mostly pap culled from beer commercials. Such are the rewards of growing up American.

Tuesday Icon

This week BurdaStyle gets Stockholm syndrome. KONICHIWA, ROBYN

Sweden has long been a major exporter of music. Until recently, however, it would be fair to say that most of the music Sweden exported wasn’t very, well, very good. Glossy and catchy, sure, but the specialty of the Swedish music houses was a peculiarly empty kind of pop, made by artists that have mostly been forgotten: Roxette, Ace of Base, Robyn. Remember Robyn? She had that R&B-lite hit back in ’97, “Show Me Love?” Show me love, show me life; baby show me what it’s all about… Ring any bells? The chorus was sticky as hell at the time but once it came unstuck, the song was gone. And so was Robyn.

Tuesday Icon

This week BurdaStyle gets Stockholm syndrome. KONICHIWA, ROBYN

Sweden has long been a major exporter of music. Until recently, however, it would be fair to say that most of the music Sweden exported wasn’t very, well, very good. Glossy and catchy, sure, but the specialty of the Swedish music houses was a peculiarly empty kind of pop, made by artists that have mostly been forgotten: Roxette, Ace of Base, Robyn. Remember Robyn? She had that R&B-lite hit back in ’97, “Show Me Love?” Show me love, show me life; baby show me what it’s all about… Ring any bells? The chorus was sticky as hell at the time but once it came unstuck, the song was gone. And so was Robyn.



There’s a new bar opening in my neighborhood. Normally, I wouldn’t consider this news. I live on New York City’s Lower East Side, which is tantamount to saying that I live in a theme park for drinking. On my block alone, there’s a wine bar, a speakeasy, and a dubious lounge with red leather banquettes. Just across the avenue, there’s the old standby, a seedy dive no one ever really wants to go to, but where everyone always winds up. Go east, and it’s a sea of hookah bars. The hookah bars are a fairly recent development, but they don’t worry me. This new bar is different. The dudes from Fall Out Boy own it.

Saturday Trend

This week BurdaStyle goes to the dark side. CHAIN OF GHOULS

A diamond is forever, but jewelry designers seem to have another kind of eternity on their minds these days: Eternal rest. Skulls made a style comeback a few years ago now, and at this point the motif is so mainstreamed it’s lost all sting. Then there were the dagger pendants, still a favorite in certain circles, mean little stilettos of metal meant, I think, to give wearers a campy sense of gangland danger. The campiness exists, too, in jewelry such as Alex + Chloe’s plastic “dead Chanel” necklaces, which sees the infamous double-C logo stabbed through its heart or shot to pieces, in either case spurting blood. It’s a good joke, but it’s not really morbid. More elegant, and more tenderly dark, is Alex + Chloe’s antler pendant, especially poignant in its oxidized silver incarnation. The designers are one of a few working a taxidermy theme these days, alongside, for example, Thorn, which makes an oxidized mouse skull pendant and a ring cast out of tooth, and goldsmith Gerard Tully, whose miniature buzzard and bunny heads have a disturbingly lifelike quality. None of these pieces seem inspired by irony, and they don’t wear “cute,” at least not yet. Maybe it’s just one of those things in the water, a result of Lower East Side and Brooklyn designers all having brunch at the same couple spots where antelope heads are mounted on the wall. But you can’t look at Alex + Chloe’s antlers, for example, and not see the lovely, accidental geometry of nature, or consider, at least fleetingly, all living nature’s inevitable decay. Many times I’ve seen a trend and thought it passing; rare is the trend that makes think: This too shall pass.

Finding recycled fabrics


I’ve become obsessed with looking for fabrics to recycle and use in my sewing projects recently. With my increasing awareness of being eco friendly I’ve become more aware of the materials I use. How were they made? From what were they made? Who made them? Where were they made? How did they get to me? What impact on the environment will they have? What will happen to them in the future? Because of these questions I ask I’m now taking more time and effort to find fabrics to reuse. Where do I find them? Well, mainly thrift stores, but this is probably no surprise to you and I also accept clothes from others that are clearing out their closets. When I go to the thrift store I head straight for the fabric, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find. For instance, last week at my local thrift store I found a heap of great fabrics in 2 metre lengths, how do they get there? Who knows? I’m thinking that some sewer has cleared out her stash or a family has donated their Mother’s/Grandmother’s/Aunt’s stash after she has passed away. You will also find heaps of notions such as buttons and zips for next to nothing and ribbons and trims. In the heap of great fabrics that I found last week was some pink wool which you will find I have used for my project this week, Zoe 8123 B. It cost me all of $6 for the 2 metre piece and I had a zip at home that matched although it was an inch shorter than required, not a problem though just a slight alteration needed. The zip by the way came from one of 6 archive boxes given to me by a friends mother who was having a stash clear out, lucky me huh?! In those boxes were dozens of zips and other notions and endless amounts of fabric a lot of which has been used already.

Other ways of finding fabrics are to check out the bedding sections of the thrift stores. I’ve made tops from sheets that feel wonderfully soft against my skin as they are so worn from their previous life. I’ve also made nappies for my youngest child from old flannel sheets, they usually cost me around $4 and I can make 4-6 nappies depending on the size of the sheet, what a bargain! And, like I mentioned in my last post you can use clothing as fabric, either by refashioning the item to fit or by cutting it up and making something entirely different from it just like my Franzi vest. I’ve recently been eyeing up the curtain rack, it’s coming into Winter here and I need a new coat!

I spend very little on fabrics by recycling although I do cave in now and again and buy from my fabulous local fabric store. I now usually buy only for my quilt project or my heart skips a beat when I see a beautiful pattern and I just HAVE to have some, but that’s ok, I figure I’m doing a pretty good job recycling so I’m allowed a little splurge now and again, aren’t I? Please say yes! Maybe my next quilt will be made entirely from recycled fabrics? Hmm, I’m liking that idea, I wonder what it would look like.

The BurdaStyle team is happy about Nichola’s second column ! Please check out her new creation Zoe 8123 B.

We also really like Nichola’s own blog nikkishell.typepad.com as well as the Wardrobe Refashion blog

Friday Playlist

This week BurdaStyle goes to the dark side. SHEENA IS A PARASITE

Of all the music videos I’ve watched in my life, the only ones ever to give me nightmares were directed by Chris Cunningham. Cunningham is probably most famous for the video about robot romance he made for Bjork’s “All is Full of Love,” the sweetest-tempered thing Chris Cunningham has ever committed to film. The ones that give me nightmares are my favorites, though, and most Cunningham videos are nightmares, already, perverse and magnificent, and proceeding according to their own rigorous illogic. The video-cum-short he made for Aphex Twin’s “Windowlicker,” for example, is a troubled night’s sleep mapped out for you in advance; it’s also a jaw-droppingly irreverent send-up of hip-hop vids, and any Freudian analyst’s wet dream. Cunningham’s been off the radar for a while, but he returned, recently, with a scabrous addition to his oeuvre, the video for The Horrors track “Sheena is a Parasite.” As best I can make out, The Horrors are a better-than-good glam-punk band getting a lot of traction in the U.K. on the back of their catchy guitar hooks and crazy haircuts; the song “Sheena is a Parasite” boils down the Ramones reference of its title into about a minute and a half of pure sneer. But that’s almost beside the point, when acting goddess Samantha Morton is in the shot and Cunningham is directing her in the world’s most abbreviated exploration of vagina dentata. The video is revolting and hypnotic, and goes by so fast you barely have time to notice the punch it’s landed to your subconscious. Welcome back, Chris. We’ll see you in our dreams.

Thursday Fashion

This week BurdaStyle goes to the dark side. NUDE AS THE NEW

Now that the dust has settled, and after a month of letting the fashions jangle around my head, a sense of the seasonal mood for fall has begun to take shape. Mood, in fashion, is a different thing from its trends; it’s the quality of clothes that’s most difficult to piece out into “buy this, skip that” tips or notes on silhouette or styling. The distinction is similar, in some ways, to the difference between a hit single you can’t get enough of for a month, and an album that doesn’t make sense at first, but to which you keep returning; the analogy breaks down, however, when you consider that, unlike a record, which is made to abide, every fashion collection is designed for eventual obsolescence. And consider too, a premise of fashion so obvious, it almost doesn’t bear writing: Fashion exists to be worn. Clothes are functional in a way music isn’t, and thus extracting the meaning of a dress is complicated by one’s judgments of its dress-ness, e.g., if I wore that, would it make me look fat?

Wednesday Beauty

This week BurdaStyle goes to the dark side. WITH NAIL AND I

Two of my more visceral fears relate to fingernails. For your sake, and for mine, I’ll spare the background on how I came by my terror of having a fingernail displaced. Let’s just say that blood was involved, the terror exists, and leave it at that. The other fingernail fear predates the first, and goes so far back with me, I can’t remember where it came from and couldn’t background it even if I cared to: Acrylic nails give me the heebie-jeebies. They gave me the deep creeps well before they sent shudders down my spine as a matter of style. I hate them.

Tuesday Icon

This week BurdaStyle goes to the dark side. LOVE LABOURS LOST

Once upon a time, before MySpace, people I knew started sending me these curious email messages, which I routinely ignored. The subject headings read: “So-and-so wants to be your friend!” Invariably, the people from whom I received these messages already were my friends, and so I assumed I’d been caught up in a weirdly flirtatious go-round of spam. Then I’d run into one of my friends at a party, or I’d call some other friend to make a plan, and these friends of mine would ask: “How come you won’t be my friend?” The whole thing began to take on the aspect of a “Twilight Zone” episode. Eventually, I figured out what was up: Friendster. This was my introduction to the brave new world of social networking.



Here, in no particular order, is a list of my fears:

Random violence. Rodent infestation. Flying. Getting a fingernail ripped off. Rejection. Hard drive crash. Al Qaeda. Running into a particular ex-boyfriend on my way home from the gym. Identity theft. Death in the family. Mayonnaise.


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