Archive | January, 2015

My Inspirations for January 2015

31 Jan

This year couldn’t have possibly started in a better way. The month of January has been a real collage of inspirations. I’ve been streched between two different worlds; dark, Victorian style and macabre world of Tim Burton (Corpse Bride and things like The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Lemony’s Snickets: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Classic and Gothic Lolita), and the world of fairies and forests (The Lord of the Rings, W. Blake’s art). Lothlorien forest is enchanting, isn’t it?

I’ve also read Mirbeau’s masterpiece Diary of a Chambermaid. My other inspirations were films such as Zoolander, Midnight in Paris, Yes Man Movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Iggy the Eskimo and Syd Barrett, first album by The 13th Floor Elevators, Scrapbook ‘A Memorial of a Friendship‘ by Anne Wagner, Bronte Sisters, Gothic Interiors…

Film Alice in Wonderland (1966) has also been a great inspiration for me.

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Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing circa 1786 by William Blake 1757-1827

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yes man movie

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Memorial of Friendship scrapbook by Anne Wagner, a note from her niece Elizabeth Venables, in Abergale, July 29, 1803

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1846. The Three Robinson Sisters, George Theodore Berthon

Lord of the RIngs - Crayon drawing by J.R.R. Tolkien of the mallorn trees of Lothlorien classic lolita 257

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Classic Lolita Lifestyle

30 Jan

Drinking a nice warm cup of tea and reading a book on a rainy afternoon, or perhaps flipping through the pages of your herbarium; the epitome of a Classic Lolita lifestyle.

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Classic Lolita is considered the baseline of Lolita style, mainly for it features all the crucial Lolita elements; bell-shaped dresses, lace details, bow headbands, delicate white ruffly shirts etc. It is the basic style, and the wellspring of all the other Lolita styles. Though Classic Lolita style could be considered plain and too simple, often in the shadow of the more popular Lolita style such as Sweet Lolita and Gothic Lolita, it is very mature, refine, elegant and deeply rooted in Victorian Fashion. Perhaps that is the reason why I prefer Classic Lolita style over all the others; whenever I feel like dressing in Victorian style, I turn to Classic Lolita for it is the perfect reinterpretation of the Victorian era.

Classic Lolita dresses and head decorations capture the spirit of the Victorian era so splendidly. Classic Lolita dresses with their bell shaped skirts, high collars often decorated with ruffles, interesting sleeve styles, ribbons and cameos really evoke the Victorian spirit, for me at least. Colour pallette varies from sentimental floral prints, to elegant and sophisticated greys, lilacs, deep blues, muted reds, mauve purples and browns. Classic Lolita headdresses look as if they could with no trouble, belong to a 1840s lady, the same goes for the curly hairstyles. Movies such as Jane Eyre (2011) and Young Victoria (2009), and even Sense and Sensibility (1995) could all serve as fashion inspiration for Classic Lolitas.

Classic Lolita Lifestyle 1 a text aSource: all the pictures found on pardonmybloomers.tumblr.com

Classic Lolita dresses have the same silhouette as all Lolita dresses; bell shaped, however, baby doll style are also popular, and you can’t believe how baby doll cut fits nicely in the overall Victorian theme. Lots of ribbons, cameo necklaces, delicate pearl bracelets, subtle colours, interesting sleeve shapes, more often than not influenced by Victorian fashion, 1840s most popularly; these are all keywords when it comes to describing Classic Lolita fashion. It is subtler and simpler than Sweet Lolita, which probably comes first to your mind when you think of Lolita fashion, but this subtlety give a touch of mystery and richness in clothing.

All those prevailing Victorian and other historical influences, Regency era for example, make the Classic Lolita style so alluring to me, so indescribably tempting. It is however, the Classic Lolita lifestyle that appeals me the most, even though Gothic Lolita culture is quite interesting too. Classic Lolita lifestyle resembles the life of a Victorian lady, reinterpreted in a modern way while still capturing that spirit of the era.

While reading about classic Lolitas, I realised how my own daily activities match the Classic Lolita ones. Classic Lolitas are generally more withdrawn from society, they prefer spending time in solitude, reading or embroidering, quietly, or perhaps having a small gathering with friends, sipping tea and eating cupcakes. Elegance and modesty are two words that best describe the over all Classic Lolita lifestyle.

Classic Lolita Lifestyle 2 text aCredit: first (unknown) via Pinterest, other ones here

Other Classic Lolita activities may include reading classic literature, listening to or playing classical music, perhaps the great works of Chopin or Schubert, gazing at the rain falling down and daydreaming, sipping tea, a lot of tea, writing elegant letters with ink on antique papers, making a Victorian style scrapbook, collecting flowers and pressing them, later, in winter, cataloging pressed wildflowers, enjoying Victorian poetry in quiet evenings at home.

When it comes to literature, a typical Classic Lolita reading list would include works written between 1600-1900. in Europe or North America, novels that are now considered classics but were scandalous for their time. Works of Bronte sisters, such as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, works by Jane Austen, Frances Hodgson Burnette (The Secret Garden). If a Classic Lolita is in the mood for something more sentimental and romantic, she’d probably read Shakespeare’s or Lord Tennyson’s poetry, or Il Canzoniere (Song Book) by Petrarca. A Classic Lolita my also relish reading The Lord of the Rings for example, there are no limits as long as things stay refined.

Classic Lolita may also be interested in Pagan history, nature, tea culture, biographies of Victorian era women, art in general, calligraphy, a little bit of history, different cultures, dolls, scrapbooks, painting or writing stories, baking old fashioned dishes, collecting antiques and vivifying the atmosphere of Victorian era.

Classic Lolita Lifestyle 3 text aSource: first picture here, second (unknown) via tumblr, third via wikipedia.

Even in Classic Lolita home decor, one can feel the spirit of the Victorian era. Furniture is not however, as dark and massive as a typical Victorian furniture would be, it is lighter and sweeter, mixing the opulent Victorian style interiors with shabby chic and French country style. An isolated mansion or a snugg little cottage in a picturesque nature would be perfectly suitable for a Classic Lolita.

Still, when it comes to decorating, a Classic Lolita would probably be surrounded by things reminiscent of Victorian era such as nicely carved wooden jewellery box, antique tea cups and a tea pot, old dolls, doll’s house, Victorian style stationery with gorgeous floral printed notebooks and lots of old-fashioned paper with ink for writing letters, bookshelves and books with nice covers, lots of cushions, Victorian style wallpaper (William Morris print perhaps), fresh roses and wildflowers in spring and summer, and dried flowers in colder months. Classic Lolita may also have her diary or a scrapbook on hand.

Classic and Gothic Lolita Lifestyles are quite similar for they are both deeply rooted in Victorian tradition, and, as such, they often intermingle.

Ode to Tim Burton

24 Jan

Drawing is exercise for a restless imagination.‘ – Tim Burton

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The thing I love the most about Tim Burton is that he creates a whole new worlds in his movies. By watching any of them, you can simply dive into this new dimension, new aesthetic, new, crooked, vision of reality; Tim Burton’s reality. And his world is not dark and negative as one may think, quite the opposite, Tim Burton’s world is like a refuge for an outsider, magical and full of hope, dark and funny at the same time. As Burton had said himself ‘I am not a dark person and I don’t consider myself dark.‘ It’s the truth, Kafka’s work is dark and heavy, Burton’s is magical and inspirational.

I consider Tim Burton one of my greatest inspirations. He gave me the first vision of the Victorian era; a vision which has haunted me ever since. Although I’ve read a lot about Victorian era, and I know Burton’s version is not accurate, I prefer it above all. I like how he took the very essence of this time period and, combined with many other influences, created a new aesthetic. One can really say that something is in ‘Tim Burton’s style‘ for he created a world completely new, fresh and exciting which I think is hard to do in this modern world because everything has already been seen, and tried out. The modern man has dipped his finger in everything. There’s not a fresh well in art, music or literature, every one has by now been tainted by modern culture.

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The contrast between Classicism and Gothic Art, can be well translated onto the clash between the mainstream and Tim Burton. Where the Classicism was organised and proper, the Gothic was chaotic, where classic was pure and simple, the Gothic was crooked and ornate; the classics offered a world of clear rules and limits, whereas the Gothic represented something wild, exaggerated, dark and uncivilised. Classics represent the mainstream culture; unimaginative, worn-out ideas, conformity; a world created for mediocrity. On the other hand, Tim Burton’s world is a world of gothic fantasy, macabre, silly characters, with all the human flaws exposed in villains; it’s a world of outsiders, a world Burton had created for himself and that’s what makes it so genuine. His world is a reflection of who he is, and that’s how it should be with all the artists, directors, writers…

For me, Tim Burton epitomizes the very term of ‘modern Gothic‘ in a way that he perfectly captures the spirit of the Victorian era with obvious Gothic and Romantic elements, but all together, he succeeds in creating a magical, dreamy and spooky world of his own. He’s very good at reinterpreting the past, which is inevitable in art, and still managing to create something completely new and original.

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Burton was not only inspired by works of Edgar Allan Poe, Roald Dahl, and Edward Gorey, but also carried on with the style they had created, in Burton’s works enriched by the experience of living in an American suburb and being a loner. I already mentioned how I developed my first vision of the Victorian era as a result of watching Tim Burton’s movies, and although I’ll basically watch any movie that he directs, some are more dear to me than the others.

To tell it bluntly, I was reborn after seeing Sweeney Todd for the first time! This movie enchanted me, I knew all the songs by heart and sang them all they long, I drew the characters, I wrote many short stories based on that ‘Burton’s Victorian London‘. I can’t even put it in words how much it influenced me in everything that I’ve done, and how it affects my work now still. Other movies that I really loved would probably be Corpse Bride and Sleepy Hollow, not to mention Frankenweenie and Alice in Wonderland.

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Another thing that I find inspirational about Tim Burton are his drawings, for really, there lays the whole essence of his later projects. Everything begins on the paper, and it is clear from the style of his movies that they developed from his love of drawing. ‘Don’t worry about how you ‘should’ draw it. Just draw it the way you see it.‘ This Burton’s quote has inspired me to really draw what comes out of my mind, no matter what it is, and to be more focused on creating a new world for myself and fulfilling the needs of my imagination than on the final result.

Tim Burton’s style is very recognisable, full of figures with big sad eyes, whirlwinds, swirls, long dark hallways, winding staircases, weird monsters, candles, skeletons, graveyards, etc. He mostly uses dark, dreamy colours such as black, purple, blue, crimson red, white, but many vivid colours too, depending on the effect he’s trying to create. Time and the setting don’t even matter when it comes to Burton’s movies, his characters live in their own universe. What started as weird and unconventional childish drawings developed into a whole new imaginary world that draws people in with its appealing aesthetics and interesting characters.

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The word normal always scares me.‘ – Tim Burton

The Gashlycrumb Tinies – Edward Gorey

21 Jan

This illustrated alphabet book has been very inspirational to me lately and I wanted to share it with you because maybe you weren’t familiar with it, and if you were, perhaps you’d enjoy looking at this gorgeous, slightly morbid, Victorian style illustrations again.

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Effie Gray – Early Flower Power

18 Jan

Flower Power is a phrase usually connected to the 1960s. First things that come to one’s mind regarding this decade are probably the hippie movement, Psychedelia, Swinging London, Woodstock, etc. Hippies were famous for their liberal attitude towards life, their rejection of social norms, and their free, back-to-nature lifestyle, but they were not the first to have such ideas. Wearing flowers in your hair as a sign of protest is nothing new.

1851. Effie Gray

Effie Gray, a very fascinating and liberal woman, most famous for being John Everett Millais’ wife. Lady Millais left her first husband, art critic John Ruskin, without the marriage being consummated, and married the more charming and handsome Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and figures associated with it have always reminded me of the counter-culture of the 1960s. They were very liberal, decadent, open-minded and adventurous, especially if you place them in a time period – the Victorian era. Their art often shocked both critics and the audience, but nevertheless left them curious and begging for more. With their art, the Pre-Raphaelites influenced the social norms and fashion too, and Effie, with her liberal ideas and bohemian attitude, blended perfectly in this Victorian avant-garde. She was a woman ahead of her time.

1853. Sir John Everett Millais, 1853, Portrait of Effie Ruskin, later Lady Millais (neé Euphemia Chalmers Gray)

While still married to John Ruskin, Effie is said to have worn flowers in her hair, perhaps as a sign of her assertive nature. As the relationship between Effie and her husband was becoming more and more difficult, Effie used every chance to defy him and prove herself independent. On a trip to Scotland with Ruskin, who was still her husband, and Millais, Effie gathered beautiful little pink foxgloves to place in her hair. Effie showed defiance upon wearing flowers in her hair again for breakfast, despite being asked by Ruskin not to do so.

A week before this ‘incident‘, on Midsummer Day, Effie wore stephanotis flowers in her hair at an evening party in Northumberland. The hostess, Pauline Trevelyan, noted that Effie ‘looked lovely’. Stephanotis flowers are usually white and are popular for their rich scent; the combination which makes them common as wedding flowers. That’s not the of Effie ‘scandalous’ behavior, while in Venice, Effie had removed her bonnet in the public, most likely because of the heat.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, their art and lifestyles, the whole atmosphere connected to it, has foreshadowed the hippie movement in the 1960s and played an important part in creating the ’60s aesthetics.

My ‘Midnight in Paris’

15 Jan

Do you picture how drop dead gorgeous this city is in the rain? Imagine this town in the ’20s. Paris in the ’20s, in the rain. The artists and writers!

1889. The Starry Night - van gogh

This film delighted, fascinated and inspired me beyond belief! It seeded a hundred ideas in my head, fired my imagination and the already existing nostalgia for the times that passed away. Woody Allen is a brilliant director, my mother’s favourite, and Owen Wilson is a very natural actor with appealing face expressions, gestures and voice; is there a better combination? The very idea of the movie, coined in Allen’s head, is very alluring to me; traveling through time to the ‘golden era‘; an era one considers one would be happier living in. I can’t count the times I’ve been daydreaming about another era, another place, oh, the characters I’ve created, and the places, just to escape the reality, the sad present that always leaves you tired, gloomy, washed out and full of longings that cannot be fulfilled.

For Gil, a disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter who travels to Paris with his fiancee Inez and her posh parents, a ‘golden era’ of Paris are the 1920s. It’s a decade he dreams of; the bohemian atmosphere of Paris, strolls in the rain, warm light of street lamps, cafes, his literally idols… On the other hand, he’s living a life of bourgeois dulness, conflicted with financial success and self-fulfillment. Gil is a romantic and nostalgic soul, and the vivid Parisian night fires his wish to become a serious writer. Inez, his shallow, materialistic and posh bride-to-be, always turns eyes on his fantasies and dismisses his preference for bohemian lifestyle and pleasure over financial prosperity. She does not give him any support, she dismisses him being a serious artist in front of her pseudo-intellectual friend Paul, and in fact, I don’t see why are they even together. Gil is so idealistic, imaginative, ready to go and taste life, live for his writing and not his paycheck, whilst Inez is focused merely on their future house, expensive furniture and the biggest engagement ring.

1888. Cafe Terrace at Night -van Gogh

One night while strolling in Paris at midnight, Gil sees a mysterious antique vehicle. Dazed and confused, Gil jumps in and unknowingly travels back in time. The antique vehicle and his occupants, dazed from champagne and laughter, take him to the bohemian 1920s Paris where he meets Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, Ernest Hemingway and Cole Porter. Gil is amazed by this event, but Inez naturally isn’t impressed. Gil returns again only to meet Gertrude Stein, Picasso and his charming mistress Adriana, played by the beautiful Marion Cotillard, along with Dali, Man Ray and Luis Bunuel; all the prominent figures of the era he admires. Dali is extraordinary. Upon seeing him in the movie I realised that all those painting could have been painted only by a person who behaves like that. Still, Gil finds out that he’s not the only person struck by nostalgia; Adriana says how the past has always had a great charisma for her. Both share a mutual feeling they’re born too late; count me in.

For me, La Belle Epoque Paris would have been perfect‘, says Adriana, ‘The whole sensibility; the street lamps, kiosks – the horse and carriages. And Maxim’s then.‘ Her ideal Paris is the ‘Moulin Rouge, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Can-Can’ Paris of the 1890s. It seems unbelievable to Gil for he adores the ’20s Paris but this leads to a greater dilemma; were all those eras really that ‘golden‘ and exciting, or, is the dissatisfaction with the present and the idealisation of the past an inevitable part of the human nature?

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Upon arriving in the ‘La Belle Epoque‘ Paris, Gil and Adriana meet Toulouse-Lautrec in Moulin Rouge, and Degas and Gauguin who soon join them too. Degas and Gauguin were just talking about how that generation is empty and without imagination. They believe that living in the Renaissance would have been better. Gils and Adriana’s nostalgic natures are conflicted at that moment; to Gil, the 1920s Paris; Charleston, Hemingway, Dali is amazing; he adores it, but for Adriana, it’s just her present, as dull and boring as the present is.The two split up; Gil realises that the present is dissatisfying because life is dissatisfying, and decides to live in his own time, enjoying the advances of it, such as antibiotics.

On the other hand, Adriana’s flair and idealisation of the ‘Golden age‘ of Paris is much stronger and she decides to stay in the 1890s, at the beginning of the Belle Epoque. She was happy to escape the 1920s; a decade so romanticised and idealised by Gil. I think I would act the same way Adriana did; for me, the golden age were the 1960s; London, psychedelia, vividness of life, optimism, carefree atmosphere, living for the moment, and that sweet naivety long lost in today’s cynical and opportunistic society,  integrity was valued back then. That’s the reason I named this post ‘My Midnight in Paris‘; I deeply sympathise with Gil and I respect his final decision. I often wonder whether my visions of the past are idealised as well, but you know what, I don’t care; if I give up my romantic and naive daydreams, then what is left of life?

Gil returned to the present, and, on a midnight stroll across the Seine at midnight, he meets Gabrielle, an antiques dealer he had met earlier. The two walk in the rain, she doesn’t mind getting wet, for ‘Paris is the most beautiful in the rain.‘And what isn’t?

Rain is the most poetic thing in nature; it is the sky’s song of tranquility and serenity.

Iggy the Eskimo – The Girl Who Captured the Spirit of the ’60s

11 Jan

Iggy the Eskimo; a friend, a model and a possible love interest of Syd Barrett graced the Swinging London’s Scene in the 1960s. Yet, she vanished from the scene as abruptly as she arrived on it, and her figure remained engulfed in mystery…

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Iggy the Eskimo was a mysterious figure in the 1960s London Scene for she looked like nobody else at the time. With her long dark hair, lovely Asian features, button nose and baby face, this South-Londoner, whose real name is Evelyn, sprung from the mod scene at the Orchid Ballroom in Purley. Her unusual looks are due to her mother descent; she hailed from the Himalayas. Whiles her looks attracted attention, it was her personality that charmed the London Scene. Iggy was free-spirited, lively, adventurous, not a care in the world; incredible creature, no other word for her.

Iggy gained notoriety by appearing in a newsreel shot at Granny Takes a Trip and in Melody Maker, demonstrating a new dance. Iggy embodied the free spirit of the decade, a true flower power, she lived in the moment, for the moment. Dancing at the Cromwellian Club, shopping at groovy boutiques or walking around wearing an elegant gold lamè 1940s dress, but with no underwear and completely exposed, remembers Duggie Fields.

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Soon after meeting Antony Stern, Syd Barrett’s Cambridge friend and a film maker, at Henrix gig at The Speakeasy. Iggy enchanted Anthony and soon became his muse. Stern made a short film of Iggy pirouetting in a London Park. ‘Iggy was terrific fun to be with and to photograph‘, recalled Stern, ‘I remember walking through Battersea Park in the early mornings together. I made a short film of her dancing in Russell Square, the ultimate flower child.

Stern also said, ‘Iggy was my muse. I met her at Hendrix gig at the Speakeasy. She was a lovely inspiration andfree spirit. I never knew her real name. We used to hang out together, occasionally dropping acid, staying up all night, going for walks at dawn in Battersea Park. She entirely captures the spirit of the Sixties, living for the moment, completely careless.’

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Iggy met Jenny Spires, one of Syd Barrett’s girlfriends, in spring 1967. in fashion store Biba. Iggy admired the dress Jenny was wearing and invited her to a party that night. They went clubbing together. ‘A lovely, sweet, funny girl, always on the scene at gigs and events.‘, recalls Jenny.

Jenny was the one who introduced Iggy to Syd in January 1969, right before she traveled to America. Iggy was homeless at the time and Jenny also wanted Syd to have a companion, so Iggy moved in. Though Syd is now considered to be some kind of dark, mysterious, brooding and secretive poète maudit, this perception of Syd is exaggerated and does not do him justice. Syd was a cheerful character, always ready for a good laugh, not just at a shared joke but sometimes just for the hell of it. Mick Rock, the photographer who shoot the back cover photo for Syd’s debut album The Madcap Laughs, captured this lively and charming Syd while skylarking in Holland Park with Iggy and an unknown brunette. Syd can be seen scampering around in his psychedelic finery, laughing, climbing trees, living the hippie ideal while Iggy is seen playfully running around, wide-smiled as well.

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Iggy is perhaps the best memorable for posing on the back cover of The Madcap Laughs. Iggy is seen gracefully and artistically posing completely nude in the background, while Syd crouches in the foreground; an artist in isolation, living in a dark and illusive world of his own, in a world made of dreams and memories, turning his back on reality that is becoming more and more disappointing as days go by. While the cover photo was taken by Storm Thorgerson, the back cover photo was taken by Mick Rock, a friend of Syd who, having started taking pictures only months earlier, still wasn’t sure whether he wanted to be a lyricist or a musician. When Rock arrived that day, Iggy answered the door completely naked; not unusual thing for hippies and students at the time.

Now famous floor, painted in orange and mauve stripes, was painted by Syd and Iggy that morning; Iggy only helping him to finish it more quickly. Iggy was also the one who put kohl around his eyes for that elegantly wasted look. Iggy in the background, painted floorboards and the car outside were just elements that happened to be around; strange coincidences give this album cover a special allure, filled with sadness, nostalgia and a certain magic. But the most striking, most intriguing element of the photos is Iggy. Who was she, many have probably asked themselves, but the mysterious face was anonymous, well, it was until Iggy, or Evelyn, told her story once and for all, pleasing her fans and admirers.

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Iggy wasn’t even aware that Syd was a famous psychedelic rock star at the time. Nor did she know that her beautiful bottom graced the back cover art of Syd’s album. She was impressed by his guitar playing but never made a connection between Syd from Earls Court and the face she must have seen at UFO years before. Syd played a tape of the song ‘Terrapin‘ for her once and she considered it to be quite catchy. Iggy didn’t know who he was, Syd, nor anybody else, knew her real name, the wonderful ’60s; good time to be had, tripping on acid, exploring the depths of your mind, that’s what matters, not names, dates or reputation.

Nevertheless, Iggy had vanished from Syd’s life as quickly as she drifted in. There were stories of her marrying a rich banker from Chelsea or joining a religious cult. Nothing of the sort happened. Iggy has been married since 1978. The life she led in Swinging London when the culture, music and fashion were at their peak, is now behind her, but she was reached by The Croydon Guardian reporter after an ex-Cambridge mod Pete Brown sent the magazine a letter saying that he had spent some wild nights with Iggy in the 1970s.

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Turns out that Iggy is a daughter of a British army officer and a woman from the Himalayas. Her father had travelled to a remote village in the Himalayas where he met the woman that would become Iggy’s mother. Iggy was born in Pakistan and attended army schools in India and Aden, before the family moved to England. There, Iggy lived at the seaside and attended art school. She was a mod in Brighton and met many ’60s rockers; Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Brian Jones, Keith Moon, she saw Hendrix make his UK debut at the Bag O’ Nails in November ’66, joined the counter-culture throng in April ’67 in Alexandra Palace for the 14-Hour Tehnicolor Dream, before living with Syd Barrett in Wetherby Mansions and becoming a part of the myth about The Laughing Madcap.

P.S. This page focuses purely on Iggy the Eskimo and her life, so you might want to check it out!

http://iggy.atagong.com/