Category Archives: Science & Maths

The Illusion of Colour

How ‘real’ the things we perceive are has always been a big philosophical questions. How can we really know if what we see if truly there, and if what we see is the same as what others see? We can’t, really, but on a day-to-day basis most people end up going along with the idea that what they see must be real – it all gets a bit complicated otherwise.

One of the questions which often gets thrown in with this lot is the ‘Do other people see the same colours as me?’ question. Colour is something which is a matter of perception – it isn’t an exact quality of nature, it’s do to with the wavelengths of light that we perceive, and how we perceive them. Colour is a property of our brains, not the outside world.

Okay, but, you know, at the very least, we do have something that we can use to signify colour in a scientific way, right? Well, kind of. As I mentioned above, in science, if you’re talking about ‘red’ light, you’re talking about light with wavelength of about 650nm; ‘green’ light has a wavelength of about 510nm; and ‘blue’ light has a wavelength of about 475nm. All in all, the colours we all see range in wavelengths from about 400nm to 700nm, with red being the longest, and violet being the shortest, as can be seen on the spectrum below.

Colour Spectrum!

Have a good hard look at that spectrum. See anything strange? I doubt it, but if you looked good and hard, you might notice something. Pink is missing. Now, I’m talking about true pink, that deep magenta shade, not the baby pink you get from mixing together red and white. And no, it’s not hiding anywhere – it isn’t on the colour spectrum. There is no wavelength that corresponds to pink.

So, how do we see it?

Well, first let me fill you in on something. All the colour in the spectrum have a complimentary colour, an ‘opposite’, so to speak, which lies an equal (but opposite) distance from the center (or green bit) of the spectrum. If you look at a dot of colour for a while, then look at a white piece of paper, you should see that complementary colour. As green is in the middle, it doesn’t have a complimentary colour – both red and violet are an equal distance from it.

So, when your eye detect a mixture of ‘red’ and ‘violet’ wavelengths, it has two options as how to form a colour. It can either try and ‘average’ out the wavelengths, giving you green (which doesn’t really resemble red or violet at all), or it can create a ‘complementary’ colour to green, and mix the red and violet together. And tada, you have pink!

So, well, pink doesn’t exist. Or does it? In reality, pink isn’t the only colour not to appear in the spectrum (I mean, there’s no mauve or brown, for instance), and there’s even talk that it’s possible to see strange, bizarre colours such as reddish greens, and yellowish blues. At the end of the day, every single colour we see is a kind of optical illusion, as they only come into existence within our brains. Still, I think that pink has even less claim to validity that most colours, given it doesn’t have a representative wavelength on the light spectrum. So, the next time someone compliments you on the brilliant colour of your magenta suit, just tell them that it’s an optical illusion.


 

Well, it’s been an age since I last posted, and I’m truly sorry. Things got hectic, and I got caught up in other research (which I hope to post on here at some point) and general life. Back to normal soon I hope however. 

I was first informed about the invalidity of pink through a brilliant Cracked article (which now, somehow I can’t find), and found out a little more from the brilliant minds at Scientific America, and also worked out a lot of the bits and bobs through my own scientific education.

Bit of a shout out to my dad – his ridiculously colourful fashion sense has definitely influenced the way I think about pink and other colours. He can be found here (with a ridiculous amount of puns) on Twitter! 

“Linear visible spectrum” by Gringer – Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Linear_visible_spectrum.svg#mediaviewer/File:Linear_visible_spectrum.svg

Aromatic Identities

Our sense of smell is a truly astonishing thing. Although humans have fewer olfactory receptor genes (so, basically, genes which allow you to smell a greater range of scents) than most mammals, because of our higher brain power, we’re still damn good at smelling what is what. In fact, what makes scent amazing and interesting is how little it has to do with our nose, and how much about our brain. Of course, without noses we’d be unable to smell anything. But that’s just pure mechanics. Where things get really interesting is how those smells get processed by the brain. The signals from our noise when we smell stuff terminate right next to our amygdala, which has a large role in how we process our memories. This means that scent is very strongly linked to memories for us – with memories evoked by scent often being far more emotional and evocative than that of memories evoked by sight or sound. Even more interesting, the memories evoked by scent often come from the earliest years of our lives – so it really goes back all the way, bringing back experiences which are often unreachable through sight and sound.

Because of all this, it’s interesting to see how scent can define us. Can a personality profile tell us what scents we’d like; or vice versa , can the scents we like reflect our personalities? This is, in essence, what Fragrance Lab at Selfridges is attempting to do – find your perfume prescription based on primarily on a personality profile, and secondarily on your reactions to a kind of “scent adventure”, culminating in the ‘fragrance garden’, where you’re guided through a number of rooms filled with different fragrances. You’ll smell things you love, and never want to leave (I was so wrapped up in smelling books that I got completely lost for a few minutes!), and odors you’ll hate so much that you’ll wonder how anyone could like them. Yet some people still do – the fragrances you like can define you in a way your favourite colour or texture never could, because of their strong link  to memory.

I had the very lucky chance to go through the Fragrance Lab – the Immersive Experience, as they call it, when you do both the personality profile and get to go on a “scent adventure” (my own name for it, because that’s basically what it felt like!) which culminates in an amazing “fragrance garden” (theirs). From this, you get your own fragrance prescription (which you get a bottle of), which is built up mainly from your personality profile. The fragrance prescription even influences the kind of bottle your fragrance comes in – which it’s modern, or classic, or something else entirely!

I actually had two fragrance prescriptions, the first being simply from my personality profile. This was intensely modern, and unusual – something that would easily stand out of the crowd. However, my “scent adventure” revealed that however modern and unique I may think I am, I’ve got a massive soft stop for antiquity. My second (and final) perfume prescription – number 147 – was incorporated that as well.

Modern and outgoing, but with an immense sense of nostalgia for the old. Pretty much me – I’m forward thinking, and very much ‘out with the old and in with the new’ when it comes to pretty much everything, but then I’m a sucker for beautiful antiquity. Give me a massive wooden library with leather chairs and stacks of old books over a shiny new iPad or eBook anyday. To quote, the key fragrance notes are ‘antique wood, whiskey, and fern’,  seeming to have a hint of spice to it, and coming in a classic glass bottle – it’s a scent which brings me back to curling up in the corner and reading books, while my Mum burns frankincense in the next room, which just slowly makes its way towards me. It’s also very different from my other perfumes, my favourite of which is very clean cut, and fresh and androgynous. This is far more deep and dusky – a scent I’m very glad to be able to add to my shelf – something more comforting and which I can just relax into. I often use scent as a way of projecting elements of myself which are perhaps not as strong otherwise – this is a more rounded fragrance which I could say expressed all of me. It’s strong yet understated, confident get still slightly reserved, with a hint of the unusual.

To see yourself profiled through fragrance is a very unique and wonderful experience – I may have taken hundreds of online personality tests, but this really reveals something deeper, especially  on the “scent adventure”. The Fragrance Lab was a truly amazing experience, something I’m so pleased I was able to take part in, and something I’d recommend to others quickly. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get back to smelling my perfume (it’s addictive, but that might just be the high alcohol content!) and daydreaming about massive libraries and old books.  – oh Alexandria, how I mourn you!


First, I have to thank my sister Tiffany for getting me my spot in the Fragrance Lab – I’m so glad I had the opportunity to experience it! Also, thanks to everyone who worked on and built the Fragrance Lab, creating such a unique and interesting (and also revealing!) experience, and also Selfridges for hosting it. 

I never realised how much scent meant to me – how much I hated certain smells, and was comforted by others. Yes, I knew about the fact that it was the most evocative sense, but I had never really experienced it for myself up till now. Fragrance Lab really opened up my nose, so to speak. 

What does smell mean for you? Are there certain smells which disgust you, but others love? And what makes a fragrance beautiful, and makes you want to wear it – does it have to evokes memories, or maybe project an image? Or do you try and find scents that fully evoke yourself, and nothing else – not something to hide behind or blur the corners, but to fully outline yourself, and nothing else. 

The Chaotic Pendulum

Double pendulums are pretty awesome. Funnily enough, they’re pretty much what they sound like – a pendulum, with another one attached to the bottom. But the cool part is come from their twin nature, but the type of motion they exhibit – chaotic motion.

People often confuse chaotic behaviour with random behaviour; random behaviour has no deterministic qualities (so you can’t tell from previous physical conditions what is going to happen), whereas chaotic behaviour is actually deterministic, meaning it is possible to predict. The difference between chaotic deterministic behaviour and regular deterministic behaviour, however, is that tiny, tiny changes in initial conditions in a chaotic systems can bring about massive changes, unlike a normal deterministic system, where tiny changes in initial conditions will bring about tiny changes overall. You may have heard of something called “the butterfly effect” – where a butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the world can cause a hurricane on the other. This is a chaotic system, as even something as small as the miniscule breeze from a butterfly flapping its wings can cause massive changes in weather, which may at first appear random but actually do have a deterministic cause.

The fact that double pendulums are chaotic is that go can set two different pendulums up to be almost exactly the same, but not quite, and after a period of time they’ll be totally different from each other. It also makes the path a double pendulum traces out amazingly beautiful and crazy, almost like those geometric roses, or the drawings you made using spirographs as a kid.

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There are chaotic systems everywhere in nature, from geology to robotics, and biology to economics. Chaotic systems can be very difficult to detect, because they can appear so similar to random systems unless you measure them closely. Because of this, there are certain traits of dynamical systems that scientists will look for to see if a system is chaotic. These are things like the fact that there isn’t any periodic (repetitive) behaviour in time, but there  is in something called phase space, which is a bit like the variation of the speed of the pendulum with its displacement. Also, the fact that tiny initial differences between two pendulums will grow exponentially with time. There are other chaotic properties, like the fact it’s nonlinear, and that it must have at least three independent, first-order autonomous differential equations which describe it, but those are harder to explain within bringing up the ridiculously long and complicated equations of motion, which are what you use to describe how the pendulum moves (funny that, what with their name).

Chaos is such a wonderful thing, because at first it appears completely crazy, and random, and completely unordered. However, if you have the ability to actually look close enough, it’s perfectly deterministic, and not at all unpredictable. A bit like so many messy things in life, if you have the patience and the time to look for the source, and untangle the enigma, you’ll be able to to decode the whole thing, and know what’s actually going to happen.


 

Okay, so this week, I’ve been very busy with my summer project – building a simulation of a double pendulum. Double pendulums are pretty damn cool, exhibiting chaotic behaviour and being hypnotising to watch. So, I thought it’d be more interesting to write a quick thing about them (and a lot easier for me, given that I’ve got my final report deadline on Monday, so am spending most of my time thinking about them), and also show you guys some of the simulations I’ve built. It might be a little bit more mathsy that usual, but I’ve tried to keep it so that the majority of it is all understandable.

 This does mean that I don’t actually have a shoot to go with this piece, and given that I’ll be working on the project till the end of Monday, I probably won’t have time to do one. Don’t despair, though, I’ll still be giving you pretty pictures! You like that one gif up there? Well, on Wednesday you’ll get to see gifs of double pendulums on all the different planets and more – it’s pretty cool. My favourite one is the moon – it’s much slower than the pendulum on Earth, and really relaxing to watch. 

Also, I must give credit to my amazing project partner, Kiyam Lin, who pretty much did all the confusing code whilst i just sat there learning all about chaos. Everything would have been far more confusing without him. 

 

The Future Dimensions

From The Artistry of 3D, now we’ve got fashion with a futuristic edge. With graphic shapes and neon colours, we’re pushing forward to the era of science fiction, the kind of world which first spawned the idea of 3D printers.

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As soon as I knew I was going to write about 3D printers, I knew I wanted to put together a futuristic, scifi-inspired outfit. This immediately made me think of graphic, brightly coloured shapes and prints. My mum passed down this Claude Montana dress a while ago, but I’ve always been too terrified to wear it because of the fluorescent colour, but for this it was perfect, reminiscent of The Fifth Element almost. I accessorised with extremely shiny black nails and Office shoes, trying to bring an element of plasticity to the whole thing, being the material which is firstly one of the most commonly used in 3D printing, and also one of the most popular materials of modern times. The gold Accessorize  cuffs were added partially to stop it all looking like Halloween dress up, and partially for the graphic edge they added.

I wanted to play with the editing of the photos, partially inspired by Nick Knight’s iPhone editing, and so (after downloading about six different Glitch apps) I settled on using Glitch.Simply to bring a distorted post-modern edge to the whole thing, as it was ridiculously easy to use (hence the name), and also created a kind of ‘printer error’ effect that I thought fit very well with the theme. Especially as this look was put together and shot quite hastily due to my exams, I thought it’d be good to try and add something different to the look through the editing process.

I really like this outfit – I think however I’d maybe want to develop it slightly more before it would be a very good ‘night out’ outfit, possibly by experimenting with different shoes and nail colours, and looking at other accessories. Even so, I’m very glad I finally put the amazing dress to use!


This look was shot in South Kensington by my lovely friend Noor, who’s been an absolute star at helping me out (slightly easier as she lives in the same building as me!).

Even though I’ve finished exams, I’m still bogged down by project work at the moment, meaning that things are still a bit rough around the edges – but I now have time to actually do something, which is an improvement on last week! Hopefully in the next few weeks the quality of my posts will be improving massively, as I’ll have far more free time on my hands, so you can look forward to that. 

The Artistry of 3D

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3D printing has opened so many new doors in the scientific world. From everything from engineering to medicine, now scientists can create new parts for machines and people at the click of a button, drastically reducing manufacturing costs (once you’ve bought the ridiculously expensive 3D printer, of course). But now prices are dropping, and you can even find instructions online on how to build a basic 3D printer in your home, and of course, there’s always the concept of renting or borrowing a 3D printer and printing a 3D printer with it. Either way, this once elusive and science fiction object is become more and more of a reality day-by-day.

Of course, there have been a large amount of worries surrounding the fact that is becoming increasingly easy to download plans for anything off the internet, and print it yourself. Will people just stop buying things completely, and high street shops go into a downward economic spiral? It seems unlikely, although there’s sure to be a shift towards more personalised products as it becomes easier and cheaper for companies to produce one off items through 3D printing.

But what about people printing things they can’t find in high street stores – things like guns, and other weapons. Already there is a group based in America called Defense Distributed who have created a working, fully 3D printed plastic gun. It’s a worrying thought that nearly anyone could print out a working gun that would be undetectable to metal detectors (legally Defense Distributed have to insert a block to metal into all their guns so that they can be detected by metal detectors, but who’s to say that every person who 3D prints a gun will be so law abiding).

But whilst there’s been a lot of worry surrounding the danger of 3D printing, and excitements surrounding the technical and scientific breakthroughs it could bring, there’s been less focus on the amazing new format it gives to artists. For the first time in history you can create a picture-perfect sculpture – scan anything you like in, and print it exactly as it. What photography was for the visual arts, 3D printing is for sculpture. And just like photography did, it opens up new avenues; both by opening up sculpture to a whole new realm of artists, but also through the ability to edit sculpture. Instead of working for months to try and create a perfect representative of the real world, 3D printing allows artists to capture reality instantly, and then do with it what they will – destroy it completely and build it up even more. Whether it be digital customisation before you print the sculpture, or whether you print as is and edit after, it opens up a whole new world within sculpture that the other visual arts experienced at the dawn of photography. And look how many amazing artists of the past century were photographers – will the coming century spawn it’s own generation of 3D printing artists?

There are some who are already using this new material. Nick Knight and SHOWstudio have used 3D scanning in many of their projects, both 3D printing the final images, or purely using the scans themselves to create strange ‘more-than-2D, less-than-3D’ images, things which are almost fractal, but one dimension up. Iris van Herpen created the first 3D printed garments to grace the catwalk. There are so many artists from so many walks of life now using 3D printing as their medium, and their numbers will only grow as it becomes more accessible.

3D printing is literally something out of a science fiction novel, and although it brings with it so many opportunities, it also brings a large amount of responsibility. Like all exciting and new technologies, it is in the end not defined by the technology itself, but by the way people use it. Let’s try and make sure we use it well, and for the right reasons.


This blog post was inspired by the Science Museum’s ‘3D: Printing the Future‘ exhibition (hence the subtitle), which you should definitely go check out, but if you can’t they’ve got lots of very interesting information about the whole thing right here. It was also partially inspired by Nick’s use of 3D scanning and printing in his work – it really opened my eyes up to a whole new way of using the medium. Iris van Herpen’s 3D printed clothing also got me so excited, and I wish I could have seen the show it was all in! However, there are many many 3D artists out there, and I do not know all of them, and couldn’t talk about each and everyone one anyway. If there are any out there whose work you really admire and love, please leave a comment below about them, as I’d love to learn more!

On the more general things: I’m back! My exams are over! (Although I’ve still got a big project going on, which is why things may still be a little rushed and hasty at the moment). It’s all very exciting, and now I will be getting back to regular posting, and I’ll also hopefully be uploading some of my older work (essays, poems, etc) soon, so you have some new stuff to peruse. 

Exams and the Universe

So I was hoping that this week I’d be able to get a blog post written even with all the revision I have currently going on (I even did some stuff in advance). However, it looks like that’s not going to be the case – I have some notes and images, but I don’t have anything that I would feel comfortable or happy actually publishing on here. Sorry! Tis the hard life of a uni student.

However, I’m not going to leave you completely in the lurch! You’ll still get something to cool to read (or look at!), it just won’t be mine, and it won’t be on this blog. Since my mind is currently crumbling into pieces, I thought maybe I could give you some help getting yours into the same state, and blow your mind with the Universe and it’s scale!

This is The Scale of the Universe, and even as a physicist, it completely blew my mind when I first saw it. It’s one thing knowing the numbers, another completely trying to comprehend them.

Hope that gives you a bit of fun, and sorry for the temporary exam hiatus! Back to schedule next week, I promise.

P.S. Also, once exams are over I’ll be uploading some essays, and other written work of mine for you guys to read if you want – quite a bit longer, but I’m far better at essay writing than I am at blog writing, so probably far more interesting!

Urban Evolution

Moving on from from the psychological in Emotional Evolution last Sunday, we now have the physical (well, kinda – the fashionable!). Here, the fashion focuses on organic themes evolving into a urban emphasis (London, of course). Inspired by the urban, there’s more streets brands involved (in fact, this outfit is entirely my own wardrobe, unlike most of the previous looks, with the exception of Imperial Geek Chic which was also all me). It draws on both the natural, with earthy tones, but painting them in a new light, with modern styles and city skylines. 

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My first thought for this outfit was something exceedingly natural – all earthy tones, and I’d shoot in a park and all that. I even went as far to put pieces of the outfit together before I realised it wasn’t right. The outfit was fine, but it didn’t fit. This was about evolution, not simply ‘nature’.

With this in mind I changed the shoot and outfit almost entirely. I kept the earthy tones, but offset them with splashes of colour and modern patterns; the stripey D&G bra, the embroidery and gold belt on the Punkyfish combats, and the print on the Iron Fist shirt. I moved away from natural flowing shapes to ones more edgy and urban, and brought in some ferocity with my distressed denim Ash heels, which was also added to via my Una Burke leather cuff and Bamford leather bracelet. The set changed from a purely organic nature setting to that of an urban garden.

All in all, the final look was one I’m very proud of. It had the organic and natural edge, but evolved into an urban setting. I’m very much looking forward to finding an occasion to wear it!


I’m so happy with how this look turned out, especially given how unsure I was about the outfit and setting (I was making changes right up till the very last moment, and had hardly planned the makeup and hair at all). The pictures were taken by my awesome sis Tiffany, who resides on twitter and Instagram, and the set was my home (the front ‘garden’ and roof ‘garden’ although there’s no actual grass anywhere).

I also want to give a quick shout out to Rebel State (also on twitter and Instagram!), as that’s where I got the Iron Fist t-shirt, which I love to bits, and it’s also where I get the majority of the awesome stuff I wear day-to-day. I love them because they stock lots of different brands, but all in line with the type of stuff I like – street style with a dark edge. I’m sure you’ll see more stuff I got from them on here over time, as it’s pretty much where I go whenever I’m in Camden. 

Emotional Evolution

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Many would argue that it is our emotions that make us human – that the complex and entangled nature of our internal lives is what separates us from other animals. True, other animals seem to have some emotions – your pet greets you happily when you get home, dogs get excited about going on walks, animals seem to get angry, and can love their young. But so far, most animals don’t seem to display the complex internal struggles that we humans experience. And it is easy to see how this emotional nature separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Our emotions allow us to make art, not just for purely decorative purposes, or as some type of mating call (as seen in the lavishly decorated nests of bowerbirds for example), but as a way to try and express ourselves, a vehicle of passion. And passion is very important here, as that is definitely not usually seen in other species. This is especially clear when we look at some emotions that haven’t been recognised in other species.

One of these? Spite. Spite is a purely human emotion, a form of hatred which is hatred for hatred’s sake, where we derive pleasure from seeing other man is pain. It is not a practical emotion, and we gain no evolutionary advantage from it – it is not revenge to gain something new, like land or riches, but a way of seeing our fellow man suffer. And spite can create some of the greatest art, and drama of all time. Look at Shakespeare’s Othello, with the horrifically spiteful Iago. His destruction of Othello’s marriage, causing him to kill Desdemona, was as a form of revenge (for not being promoted when Cassio was), but it is not a revenge which brings him anything apart from pleasure at another man’s suffering. There were no real or practical rewards, only the resolution of his own jealousy. We see in Iago something that at once feels horrific and evil, and yet is at the same time all too familiar and human.

Humanity may be redeemed, however. Spite is not the only unique human emotion – gratitude is as well. Not the selfish gratitude, where you know someone has done something for you in return for something else (which we do observe in the animal kingdom), but gratitude that truly fulfils the old “it’s not the gift itself, but the feeling behind it” adage. Whilst we may be spiteful, we can also be kind for kindnesses sake – these are emotions whose only purpose is emotion itself, bringing us back to passion, for is that not in a sense what passion is? Large outpourings of emotion, without any real practical use, but that inspire creativity, and love, and our humanity.

These emotions are what make us human – they are both what make us fallible and strong. It is hard to imagine a world without them, and you would not want to – whilst some may argue we would be better off without spite, it would be a cruel world if we lost gratitude too. These emotions are the ones that can cause some of the worst conflicts in our lives, but also create some of the happiest moment. They are what make our lives real and human, and what make us, us.


This blog post was inspired by an amazing discussion panel/talk I went to at the Natural History Museum called ‘Emotional Evolution’ (where I stole the name from, funnily enough!). There were three speakers, who were all fantastic and very interesting – Dr Geoff Bird, Alastair Gill, and Dr Penny Spikins who I must pay special thanks to as she’s the one who talked about spite and gratitude being uniquely human (but they all said so many interesting things that I could probably write ten blog posts about all the different things they looked into!). The event was linked in with the ‘Britain: One million years of the human story’ exhibition, which I desperately need to go see myself, but recommend purely on the basis of the glimpse into it that the talk gave me, and was also part of the ‘After hours‘ late nights at the NHM, which (like the ones at the Science Museum) are so much fun, and I also recommend.  Thanks so much also to all the hosts of the ‘Emotional Evolution’ panel talk – I had so much fun, and learnt so much! 

Alchemical art

In Metamorphosis on Sunday we looked into the bizarre yet beautiful way iridescent blues are created in the Morpho butterfly, and how the complex form and style of nature could inspire modern artists and artisans such as Shaun Leane. Still keeping with Shaun Leane, with a look inspired by the bespoke gold beetle brooch he created for SHOWstudio, we move away from the cool blues to the fierce and fiery reds and golds, from something delicate and purely organic, to something strong and alchemical, more representative of the jewellery and metals themselves than the nature which inspires it. 

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When I first heard about the ‘SHOWcabinet: Shaun Leane’ exhibition it was being promoted with the image of a golden beetle. Because of this, my journey to find the perfect outfit initially centred purely around metallics, the hints of which can still be seen in the golden accents of the final look (and the slightly less visible golden eyeshadow and nails!).

However, although I rooted through my mum’s closet and tried on all the garish gold and other traditional metallic pieces, nothing seemed to quite fit with the mood I wanted to achieve – something with an animalistic ferocity yet elegance, but also a hint of modern urban chic –  and the only thing I was sure of were the KG black and gold heels, whose height (yet elegance) also gave me a kind of feminine ferocity which fit in perfectly to the look.

Because I was originally looking for only golden metallic tones I didn’t originally look at the red iridescent wrap-around top, because I was thinking of basing the outfit off a more vibrant/garish metallic piece. When I realised the kind of mood I wanted to portray, however (instead of simply basing my choices on colours) I realised it was the perfect fit, especially with the almost serpentine red-and-gold striped ties. The realisation of the theme also lead me towards gold accents, such as the Accessorize gold cuffs, to create a sleek darker shape which used the gold as a highlighter.

Although the look was in some ways inspired by the natural world and organic forms, it also had to have a modern elegance represented by Leane’s work. From the look, the slicked back hair and tailored Westwood mini skirt contributed to that, and the chic urban setting of Knightsbridge completed it. This is possibly one of my favourite outfits yet – I almost wore it to the opening itself, but the tininess of the miniskirt and the height of the heels changed my mind. Still, I’d love to wear this outfit out at some point, maybe with the additional accessories of Leane’s own work – I’m pretty sure it’d come in at the definition of a ‘manneater’!


I know I’ve just said it, but GOD I love this outfit/look! Now I just need a damn excuse to wear it somewhere (or I’ll end up going to Sainsbury’s dressed like this, which may be fun, but will just make bringing back the groceries very tricky).

The photos were taken by the amazing Biju, who is not only a damn great photographer, but also a kick-ass writer! Some people just have all the luck, hah.  You can find her on twitter and tumblr and keep up with all the awesome stuff she does. 

My exams are coming up now, so although I will still be posting, expect shorter and maybe shoddier posts over the next fortnight or so. However, once exams are over? It’ll be high fashion blogging time! (Probably.)

Metamorphosis

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For millennia nature has been a source of inspiration for humanity and the artists within it. From cave paintings depicting the birds and the beasts to fertility sculptures celebrating the human form, from the earliest of times we’ve received artistic inspiration from the organic forms and beings surrounding us, to a point that many early religions were based around the worship of the natural world. And really, who can blame them? Even now, with scientific explanations for so many of the wonders of the world so many people’s belief in a divine architect stems from the mindboggling creativity and complexity of the forms that surround us. Of course, whether or not you want to invoke the celestial, the science behind some of the beauty has it’s own elegance.

Take the colour of iridescent butterflies for instance, such as the Morpho butterfly.

The fabulous Morpho butterfly.

If you haven’t had the luck to see one of these in the flesh, then you’ve most definitely seen pictures of them before, or other creatures with the same iridescent colouring. It’s easy to wonder how the hell such brilliant blues can be created through pigment alone, and that’s because there is no pigment involved. In fact, the colour of the Morpho butterfly’s wings come from the physical structure – lots of overlapping scales with grooves in – as the wings themselves are actually colourless and transparent. How could transparent scales create such vivid colours without pigment is obviously the next question, and here the answer is physics! (Although technically, physics is the answer to everything.) To try and explain it simply, the grooves in the scales cause the light to reflect off the scales at slightly different distances, means the peaks and troughs of the waves (time to remember your GCSE physics!) start to add up, causing what is called constructive interference, which causes iridescence (as it makes the light brighter and therefore the butterfly wings shinier!). The reason the butterfly appears blue is because of the spacing on the groves of the butterfly scales, which correspond to the wavelength of blue light (or well, half the wavelength, but the spacing is equal to half the wavelength).

But I digress – but that’s kind of the point. The sights and science of the natural world are so inspiring it’s hard for me now not to go on another spiel about bioluminescence. Of course, it’s easy for everyone to get inspired by nature, but it takes a true artist to be able to communicate the beauty of the world without simply replicating it, and Shaun Leane is one of the few who can do it well. Not only is he inspired by organic forms, but as an artisan jeweller he also works with organic materials, which adds a whole new element to the elemental inspiration. The new SHOWcabinet exhibition demonstrates this all, not only showing bespoke pieces of his work, but also artwork, fashion pieces and natural specimens that inspired them. From emeralds in their natural forms, to feather Philip Treacy headdresses, an actual live snake, and a Damien Hirst butterfly painting, the sources of inspiration unlocks the story behind the showpieces. It’s an inspiring exhibition, and one that I would definitely recommend that you go see, whether your interest is purely aesthetic or deeper. Just be careful not to become broke from wanting to buy it all!


If you’re based in or around London you should totally go check out the SHOWcabinet: Shaun Leane exhibition, which is held at SHOWstudio (19 Motcombe, SW1X 8LB), which just in general has awesome stuff going on in it. Even if you can’t go there (if you’re not based in London, or whatever) you should check it out online. If you like Shaun Leane‘s work, or are interested in finding out more about his life and artistic process there’s a wonderful interview of him by the fabulous Lou Stoppard which I used as a primer to write this piece.  

Pretty much everything which goes on at SHOWstudio is awesome (although I may be slightly biased), so you should follow them on twitter/tumblr/facebook and also check out their website. I love seeing all the exhibitions and things which go on there – I haven’t been to a bad one yet, and everyone there is so lovely it’s ridiculous.