How I failed as a young author

Incredible was the satisfaction I felt after I finished my first novel in polish. I was about, I don’t even know, 18? 19? I’ve always been overly dramatic, at the same time keen on social issues. Maybe these two characteristics don’t seem to be too connected at first sight, but they are. After my first boyfriend broke up with me over Skype after, well, two and a half years together, I knew it’s the time to let my emotions out like I’m Kelly Clarkson in Since U Been Gone. That was about the time I dropped out of school and started taking British tourists to bars and clubs for a living. All of these things together made me write this unusual… piece, that many wouldn’t even call a novel. I called it, in translation, The Hookup Culture. It was about being young and gay in Poland, dealing with a break-up by drinking five vodka sodas at once, and also making fun of Krakow’s tiny and little-townish gay scene.

The pride in me was indescribable. 19 year old me was sure he’s going to win some People’s Choice Award for that book, everyone will find it funny, exciting and groundbreaking. Unsurprisingly, that wasn’t a case.

Until that cold Autumn evening at my boyfriend’s flat in Tottenham of Krakow. He cooked dinner, I was being lazy as always. Then, the email notification popped up on my iPhone. This guy from Ha!Art, huge left-wing/gay/feminist/queer/millennial publishing company emailed me, praising my book. I didn’t manage to keep it cool and told literally everyone in the gay scene, and even some people from my family, that I’m going to become a professionally published author, have my work on the shelves of high street bookshops and god knows what else. And that almost happened. They published a chapter of my book on their website(HERE, polish) and invited me for a meeting to talk about the release.

And then they stopped sending me updates. Complete silence. People kept asking about the release date, which wasn’t even a thing anymore. That was such a disappointment. Year or two later, already in England, I knew that I want to keep on writing. (In English of course, since I decided to stay.) At least that experience, however embarrassing, taught me to write for myself, and if someone else likes it one day – great!

London was such a surreal time for me. It almost felt like a girl who used to milk cows all her life was invited to Elton John’s Oscar Party. Even crossing the street felt amazing. I saw normal people on the street wearing things, in Poland only celebrities could afford. And that Hot Dog in Harrods… 20 pounds for a Hot Dog!

One time on Oxford Street, me and my best friend had noticed a guy being chased by Selfridges’ security. He clearly stole something from the ground floor, like jewelry or perfume. My friend said then: “Look at his Eastern European outfit”. I started thinking about us from that perspective. How others see us, think of us. With our Frappucinos from Starbucks, Tom Ford sunglasses, McQueen shoes, trying to be someone we were clearly not. Or at least I was not.

That’s why I started this thing, this “novel”, with all the observations and experiences from London. Parties, sex, drugs, fashion, fake people… After I finished it, I sent it to agents and publishers. I got, like, two emails back from publishers, exchanged like ten emails with one of them, but then thought it’s all not worth the effort. It’s just some short collection of thoughts and events that happened to me at 21. That’s why I decided to put it up on Amazon, firstly as an ebook, now also as a paperback. It’s called Cheap Eastern European Boys and you can buy it by clicking HERE:ebook or HERE: paperback.

 

My most listened to albums of 2018

2018 didn’t do it for me with album premieres. Sweetener by Grande was too experimental, Liberation by Aguilera lacked direction and annoyed me with fillers… I spent the beginning of the year listening to Lorde’s Melodrama from the year before over and over again, which felt like trying to squeeze out the last bits of ketchup from an empty bottle – desperate. I like having my big album of the moment and talk about it to all my friends, like, exaggerating its artistic excellence. Most of my favourite artists did not release any new music this year, which led me on a journey of nostalgia and rediscovering. Yet again, I found comfort in things that sound familiar.

Random Access Memories by Daft Punk

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It feels like this album came out such a long time ago. Back in the day, I couldn’t care less about Daft Punk and their Grammy award-winning record, that is nothing but an amazing mixture of robotic electro sounds(lots of vocoder) with an iconic style of disco and funk. Back then, I only knew Get Lucky, which I fairly liked, but couldn’t see brilliant production, smart references, and craft behind it. Nile Rodgers, king of disco(le freak, c’est chic!), Pharrell, Giorgio Moroder, all of these legendary people without whom music wouldn’t be what it is today, participated in this project. The instrumentation on this record is everything you could dream of, synths, strings, juicy bass lines… Giorgio by Moroder, which includes a monologue by Giorgio Moroder himself is a tribute not only to the musician, but also many different music genres. 9-minute long masterpiece is a perfect track to listen to if you’re curious what to expect from this Grammy-winning piece of proper music. My other favourites include  The Game of Love, Within, Instant Crush, Doin’ it Right. 

Baby One More Time by Britney Spears

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I’ve been a massive Britney fan since, funny enough, her mental breakdown in 2007. I was 11 years old at the time and she was being talked about on every TV show and gossip website at the time. This year one of my dreams finally came true, as I managed to see her performing in Glasgow during her European tour. Despite the infamous playback (over)use and quite a modest production of the tour I still had an absolute blast watching Britney’s show. As Princess of Pop announces her new Vegas residency, her debut album filled with bangers turns 20. Everyone knows Baby One More Time, Crazy or Born to make you happy. I personally adore this album for its old-school production(times before EDM took over pop music production) and Britney’s vocal. This collection of songs includes the most of her natural vocals and effort you can get from any of her records.

No Shame by Lily Allen

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Lily Allen has been in the center of tabloid attention in the UK for over a decade now. She started her music career with a reggae and ska inspired pop album Alright, Still in 2006. Her most successful work to date is a brutally honest, lyrically savage album It’s not me, it’s you from 2009, including anthems like The Fear, Not Fair or Fuck You. It doesn’t matter if she sings about stereotypes, her boyfriend being shit in bed or dad who wasn’t there when she needed him, her delicate voice always does it for us! Personally, I could listen to her singing out Netflix’s terms of service and still pay money for it. No Shame is her newest record, that despite not slaying the charts includes some proper Lily Allen style bangers. My personal favourites are the album-opening Come On Then (Yeah, I’m a bad mother, I’m a bad wife, you saw it on the socials, you read it online…”), vulnerable Lost my mind, marriage inspired and Mark Ronson produced ballad Family Man and Apples, sampling the melody from a brilliant song “K” by the band called Cigarettes After Sex.

PS. Don’t forget to check out Lily’s new no.1 bestselling book “My Thoughts Exactly”. One of the best reads of the year for sure.

Bloom by Troye Sivan

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Troye is on fire right now. All the gays went crazy after he released the title track from this album, which unapologetically, is about bottoming. I personally think it’s one of the best artistically-directed clips of the last few years. With amazing fashion, Troye invites us to his garden, filled with true pop anthems. Taylor Swift invited him to perform on stage with her during Reputation Stadium Tour, where they performed his song My My My. Have we all gone Troye-crazy? I hope so! My favourite tracks are the title one, together with Seventeen and Postcard.

Back to Black by Amy Winehouse

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Back to Black is the best heartbreak record ever made. Period.

When you combine one of the most charismatic voices of our generation and jazz inspired melodies with smart songwriting and production from Mark Ronson himself, it’s hard not to get a brilliant thing out of it. The iconic album was inspired by Amy’s first break-up with husband Blake Filder-Civil. Til this day, there are books and documentaries being released almost every year, just to get a little bit from that gold mine that Back to Black has become over the years. As Amy would say herself: what kind of fuckery is this?

For you I was the flame
Love is a losing game
Five story fire as you came
Love is losing game
One I wished, I never played
Oh, what a mess we made
And now the final frame
Love is a losing game
Played out by the band
Love is a losing hand
More than I could stand
Love is a losing hand

WTF? Nike over Louis Vuitton? Top10 most searched brands…

…of the second quarter of 2018, of course. Lyst is a global fashion data platform that releases an index of most searched brands every three months. The research itself includes data from over 12 000 websites: department stores or popular online-shopping giants, such as ssense.com or farfetch. So yeah, Susan, the Gucci flip-flops you bought for your Instagram-famous trip to Ibiza count too!

I don’t really wait for these rankings with a glass of wine in my hand, refreshing the website at three o’clock in the morning. To be brutally honest I stopped giving a fcuk about what people buy a good few seasons ago, but it’s still hard not to see these indexes while daily-browsing through websites like Hypebeast or Business of Fashion.

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This time the list really surprised me. The fact that people stopped searching for huge and iconic brands like Saint LaurentValentino or, like I mentioned in the title, Louis Vuitton is clearly a sign. Sometimes designers just come out with weak ideas, release the product that doesn’t sell, simply because it’s nothing special. This time though, we’ve got Nike, which on this list seems like Courtney Love in Buckingham Palace. Something’s not right. Consumer’s choice tells us that either the chunky-ugly trend Balenciaga introduced a few seasons ago finally started boring people (yes, please…) or… the idea of sportswear in high fashion got the point so extreme, people who liked it moved into… real sportswear. Selfridges, which has always been a luxury shopping destination, sells more Nike AirMax 97 than Valentino open sneakers, Gucci ace sneaker in floral or Givenchy basic model trainers. Selecting “best selling” when sorting your list on Selfridges’ website will show you more Nike and Adidas than you could expect. Vicky Pollard look is the new Chanel.

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Prada opens the list at number ten, which is satisfactory. Miuccia’s brand makes clothes for true fashionistas who don’t tend to seek attention and hype on high streets of East London. Versace at number 7 is clearly the result of the popular(and very good!) TV series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story that apart from portraying the madness of self-obsessed serial killer Andrew Cunanan, also showed the passion and craft behind the Versace brand. And apparently, that worked in brand’s favour. It’s nice to see the iconic Italian brands still rocking the list, despite some other little monsters present there.

The Italian duo of Dolce & Gabbana is back. Unfortunately, they are back, I have to say. My queen of shade, Mariah Carey, once asked in the interview about Madonna said: “Really haven’t paid attention to Madonna since I was in the seventh or eighth grade when she used to be popular.”. Dolce&Gabbana, despite their undeniable skills, are like this awkward ghost of 2005 that keeps coming back with even more cringy, unsuitable for fashion industry ideas. I understand the need for rich, golden, baroque fashion, but honey, you gotta do it right(like previously mentioned Versace?). Selling white tees that say: “I’m the new D&G model” or “D&G millennial” is just pure cringe and some wicked version of fashion diarrhea. When other designers make their shows less or more artistic, often political or just appealing and interesting, those two Italian folks send drones or 5’8 popstars who can’t even walk down the runway properly, with, oh god, some David Guetta “that’s what I call music CD” kind of song playing in the background… Bring me that Nike, man…

A closer look at the style of Amy Winehouse

“I don’t think I’m going to be at all famous. I don’t think I could handle it. I’d probably go mad, d’you know I mean? I would go mad.”  Said Amy Winehouse in one of her early interviews. Yesterday would have been her 35th birthday.

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Music stars of numerous genres often appear in fashion magazines. Their outfits are analyzed from head to toe, with almost every single public appearance being a collaboration with a particular designer. The case of Amy Winehouse was different for several reasons. It’s obvious that the number of scandals, tabloid headlines, and digital trash that was thrown all over her was too big for anyone to care about anything else. The tragic day-by-day drama of a girl that loved too much overshadowed not only music but other aspects of that unique career as well.

Brought up in a simple household in North London, Amy remained humble til the end, despite the fortune that happened to credit her bank accounts later on. It didn’t really change her behaviour or style. Charmingly outspoken Jewish jazz princess always loved her dreamy vintage dresses, pencil skirts, big belts, polo shirts and… “fuck me pumps”, obviously.

“I just love beautiful girls” she once said, asked about her choices when it comes to personal style. Known for hair bigger than my future, often accompanied by a colorful hairband, and amount of black eyeliner and mascara that would last you a year without a problem. Her clothing style – most times described as “pin-up” or just “vintage”, without any deeper interpretation. It’s obvious Amy loved this whole Americana, pin-up girl game, but we need to remember – she was a British girl, oh yeah, she was! Winehouse loved her tacky animal prints from time to time, extra large golden earrings, cropped jackets. I can picture her outside some pub in Stoke Newington in a leopard jacket and red denim skirt. Smoking a Marlboro Red of course.

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Amy Winehouse performing at the Brit Awards, picture from Vogue.co.uk

She didn’t seem to care about the label, but the overall presentation and final effect. She was a perfect curator of her personal style. In 2010 Winehouse collaborated with Fred Perry and created her very own fashion line. Sometimes seen on stage in a gorgeous black Dolce and Gabbana retro dress, sometimes in just a cigarette fit jeans and a Fred Perry polo shirt – Amy created a style that later became an inspiration for other artists like Duffy or Lana Del Rey.

Few years after her death, The Jewish Museum of London organized an exhibition of Amy’s belongings – from books to clothes. The polka-dot chiffon dress from Back to Black album cover wasn’t there, as it got sold for over 40 grand on an auction… But other Amy-looking polka dot dresses were. Together with some gorgeous Fendi heels(pumps, as she would often say) and leopard print denim shorts.

Happy birthday Amy!

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Amy Winehouse wearing Dolce And Gabbana during her Grammy Awards 2008 performance in London. Picture from Vogue.co.uk

Burberry is facing the biggest transformation in its history

When one of the most respected, successful and just simply coolest designers in the world announced his departure from the house of Givenchy, the whole industry was in shock. Brilliant Italian couturier Riccardo Tisci left the iconic fashion house after twelve years.

During that time, he managed to redefine the way we look at modern couture, at the same time creating some of the most iconic fashion pieces of our generation. He is the one behind Bambi or Rottweiler sweatshirts – luxury streetwear pieces we can see people fighting for on eBay every day.

Florals, basketball print, leather kilts (yes), catholic iconography, shark print, Rottweiler, Antigona handbag, collaboration with Nike AirForce 1… I could go on for hours. Even though brilliant Clare Waight Keller has been doing very well as Tisci’s successor(she finally made Givenchy products available to buy via official website), undeniable talent of Riccardo hasn’t been forgotten even for a while. Straight after his departure from Givenchy, there were rumours of him joining the house of Versace as co-director, together with Donatella. If I’m being honest, it seemed like such a bunch of fake news from the beginning.

When Riccardo announced his appointment as Creative Chief Officer of Burberry, iconic English brand known for checked scarves and trench coats, I didn’t know how to feel about it. Unlike all other fashion giants, Burberry remained the same for a very long time. Despite having Christopher Bailey as a creative director for several years, historic house kept its branding untouched ever since the very beginning.

“I promised myself I will leave this house when it’s on top of the top” said Riccardo Tisci in his interview for Vogue few years ago. It’s fair to say that he achieved his goal completely.

In the United States and continental Europe Burberry is still associated with posh and successful Brits attending private media events(The Beckhams or Harry Styles) or Henley housewives wearing pearls and drinking lots of Cognac. That’s why it’s particularly interesting to see how the iconic English brand will develop under creative direction of the guy who stands behind some most wanted(by bloggers, fashionistas, but also posers and fuckboys) streetwear pieces.

Reports state that one cloudy day, Riccardo Tisci saw a ned wearing fake Burberry cap and was like, emmm, I totally have to reinvent this whole English stuff. Well, maybe not exactly with these particular words, but something must have been said, as the new, modern and minimalistic af logo has been introduced to the public, together with new monogram.

New brand logo together with the old one above it, for comparison.
img_1680New “Thomas Burberry” monogram.

I am honestly surprised how well this trend for minimal branding(at least when it comes to logos) is doing. There’s no chivalry around anymore. Soon even Ralph Lauren will change his style to Arial or Times New Roman. All the fancy iron letters reminding us of previously mentioned ladies in cashmere cardigans are now available to buy at reduced to clear.

The new monogram, however, seems like a great commercial outreach. People love being covered in monograms. Most of them would die for supreme x Louis Vuitton bomber jacket, just to act like they’re 22 years old and from Hampstead Heath…

Going minimal worked out perfect for Yves Saint Laurent, now known as Saint Laurent Paris. I don’t think it’s gonna work out as well here though. We’re talking about a fashion house most often associated with words British Heritage. Is Riccardo Tisci going to manage to combine fancy streetwear with tradition? We have to wait and see.

Donatella’s a tumblr girl at heart: Versace S/S 2019

House of Versace, kept on the top by the amazing Donatella, never disappoints me during their men’s fashion week presentations. The woman-powerhouse worked really hard over that past twenty years to keep the brand relevant, luxurious and interesting. Versace’s original codes has been kept authentic, appealing and surely stood the test of time, which wasn’t that easy to maintain, for sure. With this year’s MET Gala being a success, brand’s anniversary and a current menswear fashion week in Milan going on, Donatella Versace’s mind must be, just like her entire universe, dominated by work.

During this year’s men’s fashion week Donatella presented a collection filled with pieces we’d definitely expect from the house as well as Versace’s interpretations of current, ugly in my personal opinion, trends that should be avoided at all costs. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see Versace adapting the game’s rules to their own, Italian, golden, iconic Versace universe.

With the first model walking that grey marble floor, underneath beautiful pink flowers hanging from the ceiling, you could feel the Balenciaga’s trendsetting power, that should end as soon as possible – god, please. Opening walks were full of these, extremely popular nowadays, “my dad goes gardening” chunky trainers, baggy jeans and oversized suits and blazers that looked like taken from some Madonna/Blond Ambition cosmos of office porn.

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I loved the professionalism and quality of Versace’s shows. Casting is always on point, full of beautiful individuals, and this was no exception. Hip-hop kinda music in the background made me feel like I’m watching some Versace goes Wang thing, in a good way. After Demna Gvasalia’s wet dream of post soviet imagination, the next outfits – cool, funky, made me like the collection a lot.

As usually there’s a lot of branding going on. Versace’s logo on hip-hop influenced garments is presented in many of its forms. I liked the newspaper-inspired prints styled together with classic leather accessories. Leather coat with a clear snake skin on it(see above) is definitely my favourite piece from the collection.

Whilst fellow Italian designers, Dolce and Gabbana, constantly send their five foot seven “models” (irrelevant celebrities and awkward singers) down the runway to the sound of cheesy TOP40 tunes, superhouse Versace gives us yet another professional piece of high fashion to enjoy. She smokes Marlboro and drinks champagne!

Pictures: Vogue.com

We wore Balenciaga at 10

I remember doing some, so called, modelling in Warsaw in 2013 and ending up in Vitkac one gloomy afternoon. It’s Poland’s first real department store selling high end brands exclusively, opened for these few thousand polish citizens who can afford brands commonly worn in western countries. We didn’t want them(these businessmen, TV personalities and WAGs) to throw money away on flights to London, so we transformed one of depressing, marble buildings in central Warsaw into that, many would say, haunted house, where sad sale advisors on minimum wage hide behind poorly merchandised rails to yawn and check the time.

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So I walked in there with someone, I don’t remember the name, but probably one of my seventy four ex-husbands. After walking past Saint Laurent Paris, back then still known and displayed as Yves Saint Laurent, we took a luxurious escalator upstairs where I saw these unique blue trainers. Displayed in the centre of fucking everything, on some silky, shitty tissues… I moved my hand towards the shoe and felt the earth below my feet shaking, temperature going up, all eyes of sales advisors on me: “don’t touch the holy grail, you poor fuck”. But I did it. Whilst holding it in my hand I started studying it like Prince studied the Bible. Then I noticed the logo printed on the inside. BALENCIAGA. Back then I thought: that’s the real luxury.

A few years later I found myself in the middle of the London mess. Together with my friends fashionistas, we consumed Frappuccinos on hungover and spoke about this new guy who started changing the game. Demna Gvasalia, designer from Georgia, who worked at Maison Martin Margiela before, created extremely popular and expensive brand Vetements (read: vet-mo). Just like Amy Winehouse into the music mainstream, he brought nonchalant I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude and image into the pompous world of white shirts and colorful dresses. Gvasalia transformed things unfashionable and common into a luxury business.

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It all started with Vetements. The success of the brand he started, transformed him into the fashion power he is today. His brand became popular thanks to oversized jackets and death metal sweatshirts that were originally meant to imitate clothing worn by people who, well, don’t give a damn about fashion and changing trends. Oh no, pardon me, I think the ironic DHL t-shirts were first, and the irony is the most important word here, apparently.

“Irony is both about making you smile or laugh, but it can also be quite painful because it asks questions. With irony, you can ask questions that are delicate, but there’s a thin line between irony and sarcasm so I have to be careful not to overstep it. I made a bag for my first men’s show at Balenciaga, which was based on the classic Ikea bag. It was ironic but also authentic. I used the blue Ikea bag during my four years as a student in Antwerp, due to its size and its price. Fifty percent of all students had the same bag for the same reasons, When I did it at Balenciaga I recycled leather that the company had on stock from previous collections, and I finished it as a luxury product. I meant it as an ironic gesture in part, taking something really cheap and moving it into the luxury realm. But it’s authentic too, and that’s why it’s been all over the internet by now. People can relate.”

Demna Gvasalia in an interview with Business of Fashion.

Demna’s idea to appropriate clothing used in the late eighties and nineties by working classes of Europe isn’t anything particularly shocking. Designers tend to go through different moments in time, political environments or historic events whilst looking for inspiration. In the case of Balenciaga’s reinvention, the most surprising thing is Gvasalia’s consistency. It’s not like after one season of selling tired, high waisted jeans, he took an inspiration from the Olympics and sent models down the runway in swimming trunks. He fucking didn’t.

Post-soviet aesthetic became permanent for Balenciaga and remained a strong inspiration for Vetements. Designer himself is unlikely to name this inspiration in his interviews, or maybe I just wasn’t looking properly enough. But polish fashion journalist Michal Zaczynski in an article written for a London-based magazine said:

I dislike Vetements and Gosha Rubchinskiy. Same with that new Balenciaga under the direction of Demna Gvasalia. They remind me of everything that was the worst in the 90’s, and they’re unlikely to raise any nostalgic feelings in me.*

I guess you have to be from Eastern Europe to understand the “worst of the 90’s” part. Chunky trainers with ridiculously shaped soles made of many pieces of leather sewn together? Big ugly trainers like that? My teacher in primary school had a pair, worn with an almost square-shaped blue shirt, which looked like someone was making a computer game character that lacked most polygons. Men wearing casual blazers that were way too big? That was all they could get from second hand stores. You couldn’t just order your size online and wait for a DHL courier to deliver your parcel after 10 hours, like Amazon Prime.

I remember the popular Vetements sweatshirt my friend owned in 2016. Long, red with a slogan: May the Bridges I burn light the way. Everyone was obsessed with it. Dark, gothic, Tumblr-alternative vibe Demna Gvasalia created for Vetements is something I’d like to remember. Balenciaga reminds me of old furniture, drinking black coffee from transparent thin glasses, playing Pink Panther point and click adventure game on Windows 98 and wearing ugly grey sport sweaters because there was nothing else. And I’m not even from the eighties.

(*translated roughly from polish. The original English text not available at the time of writing this post, as the magazine’s website crashed)