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The venue of Sunday night’s Fashion Showcase Wales was the quietly tucked away Coal Exchange, which narrowly missed out on being the home of the Welsh Assembly Government in the seventies. The building is almost lost in the new developments of Cardiff Bay and the shadow of the Wales Millenium Centre, but its understated grandeur perfectly suited the show’s eclectic and dramatic concepts.   

The event raised money for local homeless charity, Llamau, which works with socially excluded and vulnerable young people. The section called Fluorescent Adolescent was designed and created by some of the young people that Llamau has worked with.  Their models walked to Florence and the Machine’s  ‘Dog Days are Over’ in neon tutus, oversized bows in mis-match fabrics, and a pair of wet-look leggins bearing the big silver words ‘give me a freakin chance’. The show was as bold as the clothes, and the designs were customised on stage before the runway was flooded with dancers in neon suits. 

I spoke to Leah Davis from the Off the Cuff fashion agency, who said that the designs were all about self expression.

 Jasmine Mann is one of the top stylists at Vanilla Rooms salon, and helped create the Fluorescent Adolescent section with the young people through Llamau. She said,

“The first job was to put together mood boards, to see what they like and each outfit had to have a message from them, from their past, from where they saw their future going. We rummaged around charity shops and then it was just cutting them up and creating some outfits from there.

Initially the young people can be a little bit distant, it can be a bit difficult to break down their boundaries – they’re no different to any other teenagers you might come into contact with. The difference is they’ve just had a different start in life from the rest of us. But I think that gives them an edge – they’re witty and resilient. Creatively, I think they’re far superior to most other teenagers because you only get creativity through life experience.”

 

The show included a market place, with local companies selling vintage clothes and accessories and original printed t-shirts. Every corner of the hall had another fashionable curiosity for audience members to get as close as possible to the clothes.

See below for some suggestions of where you can go in Cardiff to get your hands on things like this…

The tone of the show was set by the first section, themed ‘Rock’. All the clothes were sourced from local charity shops, girl after girl wearing sleek monochromes and stilettos, their stomps accompanied on stage by local band The New 1920. Every element of the show had a thoughtful, homegrown twist.  

   

The other stands around the room respresented the other sections of the show – ‘Penny For Your Thoughts’, ‘Love is a Battlefield’ and ‘Spacebook’, with designs based around hopes and dreams, 1940s style and outer space. The clothes were created by young designers from across South Wales, and the styles were topped off by theatrical make-up students from Coleg Gwent.

The designers, who were (or still are) fashion students at Newport, Cardiff and Swansea universities cited inspirations like Banksy for his experimental approach in their unique designs.

     

The show involved more than 300 models, designers and stylists. Even with so many contributors , the show was effortlessly consistent with high fashion styling punctuated by dancing and live music.

Here’s the word cloud  I made from the Fashion Showcase Wales website.

 

Cardiff Clothes

There is clearly plenty of inspiration Cardiff fashion world, and this was just a taster. So if this is your kind of thing, here are some other places in Cardiff you might like…

Northcote Lane Market – On the 1st Sunday of every month, Milgi on City Road holds a market including vintage and handmade clothes and jewellery, clothes from local designers. There’s also local, ethical and organic food on offer from Milgi’s kitchen.

Blind Lemon Vintage Fair – The next one is on Sunday 28th February 2010 at 10 o’clock in City Hall.

Buffalo Boutique – Keep an eye on upcoming events on the Buffalo Boutique. Facebook group

Forever Vintage – This Penarth boutique is famed for its vintage treasures.

Spiral Craft – Local handmade jewellery to buy online.

Oyster Shop  – Castle Arcade

One man, one minute.

This is our first attempt at shooting and editing television footage.

Many thanks to Alex for starring!

Better Together?

Rory Cellan-Jones is the BBC Technology Correspondent, and dot.life is the technology blog by him and Maggie Shiels. Rory came to talk to us about his work, which was especially interesting as technology is not a topic not always covered by the mainstream news, and might easily be thought of as inaccessible.

In the past couple of months I have embarked on a shaky ascent as a fledgeling blogger, and with my own interests being built on by week after week of high-flying media lecturer. As a newbie to the world of blogging, Rory showed us that you don’t have to be the most knowledgeable person in the world to blog on a niche subject. This has been a clear message over the last few months, about blogging, and also about journalism in general. There have been many references to Jeff Jarvis’s  famous mantra ‘Cover what you do best. Link to the rest’ and Joanna Geary, Web Development Editor for the Times, also said that when she doesn’t know something she asks someone who knows more than she does.

But as Rory pointed out, there is always someone who knows more than you, so it’s a fine balance of objectivity and expertise to be struck in your commentary on a niche topic. A quick glance at the comments on Rory’s blog will show you how online writing is different to any other medium –

 

The audience are visibly present. Knowledgeable, participating, critical.  This may be a challenge, but it’s not a bad thing  – What seems to be emerging is that good journalism is often about good collaboration, and the internet is the perfect place to start.

Taken For Granted

Some time back now, we were given a lecture by Daniel Meadows. Starting with a big red bus and a camera, Daniel’s story – or rather his storytelling – began. After watching videos from Capture Wales, a BBC project that he lead, I began to think more about how anyone can tell a story.

I had never worked in television, or with filming of any kind, before I came to the Cardiff Journalism School, but this kind of digital storytelling seems even more accessible… and even something we might be doing already.

So rather than babbling away in an analytical blog post, I took a look at my photos, and what I’ve been doing already.

 

Today we attended a lecture by Rodney Pinder, Director of the International News Safety Institute. Far from the petty and irksome health and safety bureaucracy nagged about every day, taking a look at this organisation and its work makes you realise how much journalism is really at the centre of freedom and life-threatening events. Series like Unreported World shed occasional spotlights on parts of the world that we don’t see in the news every day, and often there is a good reason why.

I am beginning to realise that freedom is really at the centre of journalism – the freedom to share and relate, to observe and debate.  After seeing Salman Rushdie talk in London last year, I have been following English PEN, a charity which protects the human rights of writers all over the world, promoting translation and freedom of speech. The high profile case of Salman Rushdie demonstrates how even a writer publishing in the UK is not exempt from threats of censorship. We may take for granted that fiction and creative writing exists with a kind of privilege but the reality is that any kind of writing or voice carries a risk.

For those who take on these dangers of reporting at first hand, families must be left behind, and sometimes even put at risk themselves. Freedom is something that we can openly aspire to, where egotism or political allegiences have no bearing. Writing – even fiction, which may seem to exist with some kind of privilege – is well and truly in the world. Attempts by governments or organisations to silence journalism, sometimes in brutal ways, just shows what power writing is deemed to have.

There is a particular line of a Seamus Heaney poem called ‘Digging‘ that has stuck in my mind since school – ‘Between my finger and my thumb/ The squat pen rests snug as a gun’. The voice of the poem assesses his own resources as a writer compared to his family legacy of physical work and responsibilities, characterised by digging. ‘Between my finger and my thumb/ The squat pen rests/ I’ll dig with it’, he concludes.

After last week’s Trafigura case I have been thinking about the voice of the audience (or… as is now standard, ‘the people formerly known as the audience’) in news stories. It was the digital world that circulated the Minton report, and the voices of the social network sites who formed the first reactions to the story. All the reasons that the internet is seen as transient and disingenuous as a medium, are the same reasons that it is an absolutely invaluable journalistic tool. Secrets and lies are all there in the tangled, polyphonic world of the internet.

ONE of the media stories that has got everyone talking and tweeting this week is the decision to feature the BNP’s Nick Griffin on BBC’s Question Time on Thursday night. I know broadcast is seen as more influential medium than print, for example, but I do not concur with people who fear that his appearance is going turn into a racist rally. The issue is with the legality of the BNP, not BBC’s decision to broadcast Griffin. Theoretically, terrifyingly, the BNP would be allowed to run the country – making the party illegal is not something that we, as voters, can achieve. I can understand those who want to deny him the right to a democratic debate, but how can someone simultaneously be allowed to represent us as an MEP and not be invited to public scrutiny?

I noticed a tweet from Guardian Books today that said ‘Maurice Sendak tells parents worried by Wild Things to ‘go to hell’. The author describes the Wild Things in the book recently made into a film as ‘foreigners, lost in America, without a language’. An allegorical reading of the book is a clear, powerful message resonating with preconceptions about the ‘other’. But in many ways the point Sendak is making about the film is even more powerful – have faith in us (the people formerly known as the audience) to make our own minds up.

When I think about what a manifesto represents, it is frequently the product of a political or artistic group, whose mission is for their policies and ideas to be applied to universally. In the case of the avant-garde Modernist writers of the 1920s, there were a whole range of different artistic movements – Futurism, Surrealism, Vorticism… who each published their manifesto – a  strand of thinking in a sea of innovation, and which often formed part of the artistic portfolio itself.

The Internet Manifesto, put online last week by a group of German journalists, represents the view of this niche group – a single page of non-‘hyper’ text describing the journalistic plight of today. It describes the internet as a new haven of information – a new forum of journalism that will be necessary for media giants to survive.

This world is one that strips back to what is true – there is no place to hide. What this might mean for the journalist and his credibility is one thing, however – what this means for the audience is another. A move towards the paperless world, where we gradually eliminate the time between having a thought and posting it on our faceblogtwit is all very well if everyone has the internet. Prince Charles has been in the news in the last week for his writing in the Daily Telegraph highlighting the problems for rural communities in ‘broadband deserts’.

Alison Gow ‘s response to the manifesto on her blog, she suggests that multimedia journalism is its own art and that professionals should come face to face with their audience. Digital journalism seems to have endless possibilities – breaking down linear news and opening up the voices of popular opinion, expertise and the reporter. For those who want to engage, this is invaluable, but I think we are not quite there yet.

The challenge for now, is for journalists – we can be checked, cross-referenced, be commented on in public. Journalists will be dragged, kicking and screaming into the public domain – which is no bad thing, even though it is hard.

Interestingly, this is exactly what the Modernist manifestos did to the artistic world – rejecting Victorian structures and breaking off into previously unimaginable strands. One accepted style was lost to many ‘isms’, but where something ‘traditional’ was lost, much was also gained.

The challenge to journalism now is to engage with these strands, as well as in the traditional forms, and to listen. It forces journalists to swallow what they have dished up themselves, and to become people who are not just firing over the wall of a brand. Ironically though, the Internet Manifesto serves up its finite, digestible 17 points, when finite is exactly what the internet is not.