Denin Denim Denim. I've finally welcomed it back into my life after an extensive, self-induced break. The fabric took-over my wardrobe in my school years: denim jackets, gilets, skirts, jeans, handbags - you name it. I lived in the stuff. But then came high-school, then came the spiteful comments on clothes and appearances. When you abandon the things you love and follow the current style trends (one of which was knee high stripey socks - what a mistake that was) to be part of the 'cool' club. Argh. & I was one of the lucky ones.

What a joy it is to have found your true 'self' in your personal style. I may not be exactly where I want to be at, but I'm getting there. Trying on classic pieces that I wouldn't touch for so long, loving them for what they are, and not for what they represent: the trend. The current must-have. I'd be drained if I followed every season's new trend, and based my wardrobe on that.
& yet, this skirt was all the rage when it became super trendy in 2014-15. That's what first prompted me to try it on in Topshop. But I loved it. & I kept wearing it, every season, not throwing it aside when something new had come into fashion.

That's where I found my peace. When I began to value my clothes (trendy or not), to wear what I felt comfortable in, over and over until they fell apart or I fell out of love with them - When I began to dress for myself, not for other people, not to fit in to a crowd, or give off a certain image. But for me. My body, my preferences, my comfort.

That's when the blog took off. When we felt so at ease in our new found 'free' style. Clothes are empowering. They are part of your identity.

I recently read some articles by some of my favorite bloggers: Liv Purvis' Let's Talk Consumerism and Lizzy Hadfield's : the excess of blogging, two articles which I can really relate to, and which consequently reflect my outfit decision in this post - Wearing the denim skirt as a statement piece, a summer favorite for nearly 3 years - not feeling the need to constantly post new pieces (because that's just not me), but re-inventing the clothes I already have to suit my personal style.

Hope you enjoyed this post, we're getting back into the swing of things after a couple of busy weeks, looking forward to posting some more fashion content soon!

Holly x

Holly is wearing cruelty-free make-up only: 

Skincare: Neal's Yard
Foundation & Powder: Charlotte Tilbury SPF 15
Eyeshadow: Nars (though it has been announced that Nars will soon be selling in China, so unfortunately that will be disappearing from my make-up bag!)
Mascara: Smashbox
Lipstick: Nars
Eyebrows: Anastasia Beverly Hills dip brow

Holly is wearing:

Button down denim skirt: Topshop
Oversize blouse: Zara
Lace up heels: Zara
Faux-leather rucksack: Zara

Summer is here. The long days. The sunshine, the warmth. Leaving the house without a jacket, applying suncream at the bus stop. The freckles. The lighter hair. The uncontrollable ringlets. As I write this, the UK is experiencing a heat wave, with temperatures reaching up to 33°C. With this weather I can't help but be reminded of home, where these highs are the norm in the summer months. I would usually be walking around the garden barefoot, watering the plants. Wearing the same Levi's cut-offs every day. Make-up long neglected. Watching the sunset on the horizon, the landscape bathed in golden light for as far as the eye can see. 

I traded in this rural summer life for North London, going from one extreme to the other. I've found myself struggling to find outfits lately - with my entire summer wardrobe left at home (slow clap) I currently have but one dress in my wardrobe, which is this lovely piece from & Other Stories. The tea-dress fit is so light and airy, perfect for strolling around London streets.

I've been browsing high street stores online for weeks, Pinning so many lovely summer pieces on to my Wishlist board. I will have to invest in some new clothes soon, but until then, this dress will have to do.

Summer wears:

& Other Stores dress (similar available here)
Zara mary-jane heels
(similar pointy-toe &Other Stories ones here and Topshop red ones here)
Zara bag

In collaboration with the lovely bloggers for the monthly FashionKarussel, this outfit post focuses on statement shirts. I picked up this t-shirt from Topshop months ago, and I'm excited to finally be able to share these pictures!

You can read about what the 'Fashion Carousel' is here !

I'm loving the current slogan tee trend: so many brands have embraced it and released a variety of empowering shirts. I think some people find it cringey, but I think it's great. You're showing the world you value women. You value your mind, body, and success. What's cringey about that?

As for this specific slogan tee: ''What do you mean by female of the future? Why not of the present?
People can interpret the quote differently. Maybe it plays on the idea that I will be a female in a position of power in the future. In a world where females finally equal males in the work circuit, where females are given the same opportunities as men.

Although I do strive to be in a position of power (my own boss please?) My current interpretation is, a female who plays a role in shaping the years to come. Whether that be through work, or through my personal hobbies. Through independent activities or group projects. Through interactions with colleagues, friends, family members, strangers. What can I, your average 22 year old female, contribute?
How will my actions of today impact the future? Will my actions matter? Will I be remembered?

I have to keep reminding myself to celebrate the small things: smiling to a stranger, helping a lost tourist, complimenting someone's outfit. You can strive to get your degree, to get that promotion, or contract - and be proud of those successes. But to overlook the little things that can impact someones' day for the better is a big mistake. Those are the things I'm trying to focus on. The little everyday actions that can benefit not just yourself but those around you. I've come to realize that it's not the big things in life that will change the world - it's the small actions of every day people that are beneficial in the long-run (there's a film quote in there somewhere..). & it doesn't just go for women, but for everyone, whatever their gender. But, let's focus on what this female can do.

One of my fears is never accomplishing my goals, (more honestly, never figuring out what I want to achieve in my life). On top of those scary thoughts that creep up at night, we live in a society obsessed with appearances, a society that sexualises and objectifies women to the point where their personal achievements are barely recognized. How do we overcome that? How do we stay inspired to keep it up? Sure, wearing an empowering t-shirt helps, but let's not overlook the small things.

Luckily for me, I've been surrounded by supportive men and women my whole life, who have never told me that there's something I can't do. I have always admired real-life women, but my main source of inspiration has always been the cinematic realm. 
I've always found inspiration, (despite the small percentage of powerful non-objectified women we are given), in fictional characters. Eowyn. Elizabeth Swan. Buffy. Carter. Storm. More recently: freaking Wonder Woman. Those females from my childhood impacted my future. How wonderful has it been to experience this part of cinematic history? 

So that's why I love this tee so much. It symbolizes female power for me. It reminds me of all the people who have inspired me. Whatever becomes of me in the future, my small actions of today will somehow impact the world of tomorrow. It's quite a nice thought, isn't it?

Holly x

Holly wears:
Topshop white slogan tee: here
Zara structured culottes
Zara lace-up heels
Grey coat: Zara

All the make-up I'm wearing is from Cruelty-Free brands: 

Foundation: Charlotte Tilbury SPF15 here
Eyeshadow: Nars
Eyebrows: Anastasia Beverly Hills brow wiz
Mascara: Smashbox cosmetics
Lipstick: Kat Von D Liquid Lipstick

Go see how the other wonderful bloggers tackled this months' FashionKarussel theme! 

Jessika - Kleidermaedchen
Ally - Puppenzirkus
Sara - Missesviolet
Tina - Lieb was ist

*I do not own any of these images* Credit: The Old Vic

I heard about the new production of Woyzeck through John Boyega's social media platforms: the London born actor plays the lead in the play, written by Georg Bruchner and directed by Joe Murphy, with Jack Thorne bringing the new version to life.

John Boyega was unable to perform the night we saw the play - but I want to emphasize how good the entire production was, although Boyega's lead role was the reason I first bought my ticket, it's vital to recognize how much hard work each actor puts into their performance. A reminder to appreciate each performer, however popular they are. Unfortunately I didn't catch in the name of the wonderful under-study - but his acting is what you'd expect to see in a renowned London Theatre.

This review will briefly explore some of the play's main themes, before discussing the set design and artistic direction.

*This review includes minor spoilers!*

"It's 1980s Berlin. The Cold War rages, and the world sits at as crossroads between Capitalism and Communism. On the border between East and West, a young soldier (John Boyega) and the love of his life are desperately trying to build a better future for their child."

- The Old Vic (link here)

 I'd describe the play as a psychological drama, with brief pockets of comic relief. The presence of violence and war is established from the opening act, with two soldiers, their features shadowed by the back-light, marching silently towards the audience with large guns.

This first intimidating image already speaks of the characters' situation: soldiers used as pawns, their physical traits and personalities remaining unseen and unappreciated by the outside world, stripped of their identity. The guns inducing a feeling of worry and fear. The uncertainty of warfare, what could be, what could happen. A thought that plays on Woyzeck's mind: how can he provide a better life for his girlfriend and his child? How will their child grow up?

Woyzeck's difficult position leads him to test pharmaceutical drugs for extra money to support his family: a choice that backfires as he hallucinates, overthinks, and becomes aggressively overprotective towards his girlfriend and baby (we could even go so far as to say he emotionally abuses her).

Woyzeck's present circumstances and personal past traumas begin to intertwine, creating a nightmarish reality which gradually worsens as the play goes on.
The childhood trauma, emotional abuse, drug use and lack of a nice place to call home, the absence of any accessible help or support: all these factors build up towards a distressing, drawn out ending.

Throughout the play we explore Woyzeck's personal and professional life, the most interesting of which is his interactions with the other characters: little by little, his job and his personal life get tangled together. It gets to the point where there is no escape, from the War outside, the War at home and the War in his head: it has reached him on all fronts.

Set design and artistic direction 

 The set was fascinating: 30+ large mobile boards in perfect formation (like soldiers) - mimicking old, cheap wall insulation - would move and shift with each scene. When the boards were suspended, shadows would form on the ground, contrasting with the bright light shining directly from above, to create invisible borders.
The shapes on the uneven fabric of the boards resembled terrible, distorted faces, as if screaming in pain, no longer able to contain themselves. Whether this was an artistic choice or just my own interpretation I don't know, either way the effect was somewhat eerie. The shadows imitated prison bars, an image that sums up the play quite well: we'd wondered into Woyzeck's mental prison, made even worse by the physical prison of his life as a poor soldier.

As the play goes on the boards begin to fall apart: first by Woyzeck's direct physical actions, then suddenly rupturing in places to reveal blood and guts, struggling to remain contained in the small space. This again refers to the gruesome nature of War, as well as the inside of Woyzeck's mind, as though the boards were the border, between his rational and confusing thoughts, between reason and insanity: the overwhelming thoughts pushing against his skull, wanting to escape.

The audience seems to be drawn more and more into the character's mind with every scene. The set becomes bigger, more spacious, each new revelation breaking down a the metaphorical wall (aka board) to reveal the true reality of Woyzeck's mind: a vast emptiness, nothing to hold on to, any coherent structure torn away.

As for the acting: the characters were well established from the offset, the dialogue felt natural, believable. It was realistic. Some scenes were quite long, and not a huge amount happens in the play. The emphasis is placed on human interactions and the mind more than anything else: whether that be sexual, romantic or professional relationships - and how these experiences effect behavior and thinking.

The play isn't joyful, it doesn't leave you feeling ecstatic: it leaves you a little mentally drained and slightly shaken. I don't think one person wasn't shocked by the ending. But it was enjoyable: brilliant performances, a compelling story and amazing art direction.

As a Performing Arts graduate I definitely enjoyed it and would see it again: but I don't think it's for everyone. As long as you understand it's more of a reflective, personal play I think you'll like it. Either way you're guaranteed a good experience: the performances were brilliant.

Holly x

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