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ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, THE ADOLESCENT SALVATION

“I immersed myself in books and rock ‘n’ roll, the adolescent salvation …”
― Patti Smith

Hey Rude Boys, Beatniks, Radicals, Mods, Rockers, Bikers, Punks, Hippies, Skinheads, Goths, New Romantics, Ravers and Rockabillies…..

In a world of tweets, retweets, selfies, hashtags and #tbt, have we lost our zeitgeist? Our gusto? Our gathered artistry? Do we need a kick in the sub-culture backside? A shot of nostalgia? a hint of attitude? a hip place to hang out or even a hip replacement? We all need some insight as to what’s going on within the realms of art, music, fashion and social affairs.

I present to you VEF MAG! Not just a magazine for fucked up kids.

One year ago three feisty females formed a kick ass girl gang, not to be mistaken for Charlie’s Angels, The Fox Force Five, The Lizzies or The Powerpuff Girls. The Velvet Elvis Foundation formed through a mutual respect of feminism, creativity and cultural and spiritual improvement. The only crime they sought to fight was the drone and grey abyss that defined our generation and the cultural decline of any form of unity that was seen in our pasts. A unity that can drum up a sense of power to the people and create an exciting awareness amongst our community and beyond. Gaining momentum through photography, writing and art the three have organised and involved themselves in local events generating a buzz through their creativity. The young ladies have developed a unique following, bringing their personalities and ideas into different walks of lives.

Now you can follow The Velvet Elvis Foundation in a daily dose of insightful inspiration and find out what’s making them tick or getting them excited. Creator and main contributor Titi Finlay takes the reigns of this online magazine. Whilst finding her feet within her recent move to Putney, SW London, established artist Titi documents her fleeting finds and interesting exhibitions through the medium of VEF MAG’s tumblr page. Her witty way with words and the soft, playful way she views the world has kept me entertained most mornings and she has already persuaded guest writers into sharing personal tales. Polaroid pictures of feminine freedom, memories of encounters with Sonny and Cher, pirate radio and a review of the Chris Stein x Blondie exhibition makes this online publication the first stop when hunting for what’s rad.

So quit Candy Crush, stop scouring your news feed, turn off the telly and start googling VEFMAG for your quick cultural fix, in 2015 it’s the only place to be seen.

Long live the VEF and wee Titi Finlay the online magazine Queen

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LIFE ENDS AT 29 RIGHT?

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January 1985 was a cold, wintry month with frequent frost, the first ever mobile phone calls were made in the UK and the fifteenth day of the month saw Foreigner reach number one with ‘I want to know what love is’. A young, presumably happy couple gave birth to their second child named Holly just a week later. Tuesday’s child is full of grace may have just been the perfect verse for this petite, quaint baby, but unfortunately this seemed untrue as soon as they got their bundle of joy home. The pair hadn’t quite prepared for the life of turmoil Little Holly would bring but the fact she would not consider sleep in her first few months unless being chauffeured around in her father’s Mini should have been a foolproof indication.

Described as a wee shite from the start there was little Holly could do to impress her tired parents. Her squeaky, high pitched tone seemed to send them into sheer despair and the misery of her whinging persona made her mother’s hair straight and her teeth curl. Her ability to manipulate her doting father and wind up her sensitive mother only caused a poor start for this wee lass. Her growing years saw love, laughter yet disarray. The years that followed saw Holly grow along with her sisters in a happy environment encouraged by the strong female influence of her mother and supergran but her feisty, go getter attitude always shone through which made her learn that little is impossible and no one would stand in her way. Furious in dreams and furious in might, only time would unfold the tale of this presumptuous female…

I dreamed my 30-year-old self to be glamorous, living in a plush pad with a handsome husband. He had tumbling black curls and a broken English accent, he may have been French or Italian or even Greek, but either way he was good looking, intelligent, fiery and challenging. I had a great job, presumably in fashion or at a magazine house and I pictured my days hailing cabs and rushing to meetings in ridiculously high Louboutins with a cashmere coat hanging off my shoulder.

Reality check.

Instead, today is the last day of my 20s. I’m sitting in my small flat alone, drinking black coffee whilst attaching myself to the radiator trying to combat the over exaggerated ripples of coldness penetrating my entire body due to the freezing temperatures outside. I’m feeling slightly tender and just a smidgen depressed as this morning I woke around 7am just imagining the aeroplane I was supposed to catch to London today circling above my flat with a huge plume of smoke exuding from the tail reading FUCK YOU HOLLY in an acme style, cartoon-like gesture. I’d planned to spend my celebrations with close friends, watching West End shows, eating sophisticated meals in grand hotels and drinking myself into a stupor, drowning in exotic cocktails and fine wine. I now have a week off work with approximately £7 in my current account and I tragically lost my tooth whilst partying last weekend with a crowd ten years my junior, to my further dismay diminishing any smiling on my birthday selfies.

On the plus side things aren’t as bad as they seem (apparently) and my last minute mood swing on my birthday celebrations has distracted me into the realisation that I am now spending my prolific festivities in the company of the people who mean the most, my daughter, my family and my best friends. My birthday eve will consist of a ‘girly night’ spent with Ruby, painting our nails and applying face masks whilst watching Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, Clueless and Mean Girls back-to-back. My amazing parents have organised a family meal and a karaoke party with friends and I will spend Sunday night in Malmaison Glasgow indulging in champagne cocktails, white robes and fluffy slippers with my one and only Sir Dandy Pike.

As we grow and mature our expectations and dreams change. What was once important to me then may not be so important to me now. I reach my third decade dreaming more about personal growth and development, health in my body and my delicate mind, happiness, sustainability and spiritual guidance. Keeping my feisty and irritable nature. Here is to wonderment as to what my next thirty years will bring. Hopefully peace, gratefulness and realisation.

Long live the VEF and fuck the Queen, she’s much AULDER than me.

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Fashion! Turn to the left, Fashion! Turn to the right, Oooooh fashion!

I arrived at Liverpool Street Station around an hour from my call time, the heavens opened and my fur coat fast became reminiscent of a wet dog, my case had a temperamental wheel and my furry neon clutch bag kept slipping from under my arm. I wrestled with a cheap umbrella as I marched towards The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. I arrived at the Rory Parnell Mooney test show with butterflies racing around my stomach. I was wet, nervous but extremely excited. Gary Gill arrived a few minutes later.

Gary is a regular on prestigious teams such as Louis Vuitton at Paris and London fashion week and has headed several of his own shows for designers such as Loewe, Richard Nicoll and Christopher Raeburn. He also has a vast list of actors on his client list and is the first choice hairdresser and groomer for a number of iconic musicians including Mark Ronson, The Killers and Amy Winehouse.

Whilst Gary had pre show discussions with the designer and stylist, I got to work setting up his kit. Everything was precisely stored, right down the the last grip and I took a few images to reference when the time came to pack up. The test model arrived and we quickly got to work gluing wefts into his hair. Gary came up with a concept, we used the wefts to form a long frayed fringe and played with different wet and dry textures to create an edgy, unique look, the finish was to be reminiscent of taking your beanie hat off after being caught in the rain, dry and flat through the sides and back then messy, wet and stuck to your face through the front. We used Wella System Proffesionals Men’s and Wella Care and Style products to create the look. Gary made me feel comfortable and involved so my nerves subsided respectively. After a busy morning working closely with designer, stylist and make up artist we made our way to Ridley Road Market to stock up on supplies. With his gruelling schedule to uphold Gary had to dash off for another shoot and he left me in charge of preparing the hair for tomorrow’s show.

Concentrating on the task in hand I met Hayley and Darren and roped them into helping me out. After a small mishap which I have fondly named ‘scalpel-gate’, we all sat happily in a Shoreditch bar having a sprightly drink and splitting hair wefts. Joining us for our night of frivolities was Ryan Malloy, Ryan is undoubtedly one of the biggest west end stars and best known for playing Frankie Valli in both London’s West End and New York’s Broadway production of The Jersey Boys, his repertoire also includes Jerry Springer-The Musical, Taboo, Tonight’s the Night and he has written and performed songs with stars including Frankie goes to Hollywood, The Eurythmics and Christina Aguilera. Ryan’s hilarious charm and wit made him reassuringly easy to get along with and the four of us sat in fits of affectionate laughter. Once my job was complete we made our way to club night ‘Ex Lovers’ hosted by my friends Barry Linnen and John Booth at The George and the Dragon on Hackney Road. A fashionable affair with plenty of bold shirts, air kisses and men with daffodils not as much in their pockets but strewn across their hair. Good music and old friends made it memorable but my early show call time made me cut the night short. I sensibly headed back to the hotel looking for a good night sleep in preparation for the big day. My slumber rudely awakened by Hayley around 4.30am when she came clambering in the room singing Katy Perry ‘California Girls’ and eating what she affectionately named ‘a breakfast in bed buffet’, merely consisting of a packet of salt and vinegar crisps and a share size bag of malteasers.

I met with Gary and Tom at the Wella World Studio at 10am to discuss tactics and prepare for the day ahead. The atmosphere was calm and organised and not even my lack of sleep could bestow negative energy on my focused mind. The Old Sorting Office on New Oxford Street was our destination and we headed there to join the rest of the team. The talented bunch consisted of Gary Gill for SP men with Tom Wright (Soul Hair), Holly Scanlan (McIntyres), Josh Goldsworthy (Goldsworthys Hairdressing), Simon Tuckwell (Zullo & Holland), Amelia Evans (Russell Eaton), Liv Holst, Ray Bolton (Emotive Hair), and the Wella Professionals Generation NOW team – Paul Paterson (Ishi Salon), Rob Czlapka (RCNQ) and Callum Standen (The Egg). Whilst Gary briefed the others of the task in hand, I set to work organising the wefts and products, trying to prevent any unwanted complications on our busy schedule. A union to be reckoned with it felt as though we had worked together for years, pairing up to get things finished double quick, we all worked exceptionally laborious and both the designer and the stylist were elated with the looks we achieved.

Adrenaline high with blissful feelings of pride I made my way to Crouch End to enjoy and evening of Thai food and prosecco with Karlene and Rennie who kindly put me up at their cosy flat. I slept like a baby, eager for the next chapter of my fashion tale. I woke early and made my way to Oxford Circus, Hayley had been invited to her yankee friend Shaun Samson’s show at Fashion East and I was her plus one. It was incredible to be on the other side of the catwalk, rubbing shoulders with fashion elite and taking in my creative surroundings. California Dreaming by The Mamas and The Papas blaring as each model sulked down the catwalk moodily, faux fur scarves with muted tones and oversized plaid shirts opened to reveal buff chests, it’s fair to say the collection was desirable and the shy designer took a timid bow after the strong line up left the catwalk and the fashionable crowd cheered in delight.

Arriving at The Topman Showspace, the venue for tonight’s Christopher Raeburn Show, I was greeted by Michael Francos (D&J Ambrose) and the rest of the Wella SP Men’s Team. Spirits were high and concentration was bestowed, a huge event that needed everyone at the top of their game. The British fashion designer Christopher Raeburn has a unique and innovative approach to creating menswear, womenswear and accessories, a graduate of London’s prestigious royal College of art, he has won many accolades for his design work and is seen as influential within the fashion industry, his show was to bring in a fierce crowd including celebrities and industry experts. The look for the show was to be masculine and strong with inspiration taken from 1980’s magazine The Face. We used Wella SP Men’s and Wella Care and Style products to create sleek, tight sides and a voluptuous square quiff to give strength to the style. Once the models were complete I had the opportunity to watch the show and soak up the animated atmosphere, grinning from ear to ear and a feeling of overwhelming accomplishment after being involved in such a creative and challenging event.

Grabbing Darren en route we walked excitedly to The Sanderson hotel, trailing our kit bags and looking slightly worse for wear due to our prolific yet hard working day. The grandeur of the 1950’s building, which had seen regeneration by Philippe Starck into a surreal Cocteau-like dream world was the perfect venue for a fashionista party which was sponsored by Men’s Health Magazine. To my sheer delight, the complimentary drinks flowed and Espresso Martinis, G & T’s and bottled beer were carried amongst revellers by handsome bar staff, making the event the perfect place to relax after a hectic day. Eight free drinks in and the flow of espresso Martinis trickling away, I thought best to say my polite thank you’s and goodbyes. Darren, Paul and I caught an uber across town to meet The Scottish Mad Squad in a pub which can reassuringly be described as The Queen Anne away from home. We were welcomed by Rennie chanting on the karaoke whilst the girls jumped across the dance floor, making up routines and pulling up regulars to the dance with them. The party continued well into the early hours at Anna and Josh’s pad and I left regrettably with only one hour to catch my flight home.

Disastrously I missed the plane but my new found positive attitude has led me to believe that all things happen for a reason, that night resulted in me gate-crashing Liam Gallagher’s party in my pyjamas, but that’s another tale to tell…..

Stay tuned.

Long live the VEF and walk, walk FASHIIIIN Baby, I’m a QUEEEEEN BABY!!!

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So, so, so scandalous

Goin’ to the chapel
And we’re gonna get married
Gee, I really love you
And we’re gonna get married
Goin’ to the chapel of love

I enter my third decade in just over two weeks time. This is incoherently to blame for making me suffer not only a regular hangover but an excruciating ache in between my shoulder blades, neck and Gluteus Maximus. Of course this can’t possibly be down to the fact that I may have caused such horrific injuries whilst artfully working the dance floor like Cha Cha DiGregorio or sneakily stealing the chambermaid’s trolley and whizzing around the corridors of the Old Course Hotel singing ‘We got Annie’…

I don’t think I’ve ever been to such a well thought out, elegant affair and I was over the moon to not only be invited to such a giddy soirée but also to craft and create, along with my talented sister Beth, the hair for the entire bridal party.

We arrived at the opulent venue around 9.30am and set out to work straight away. I’ve learned from much experience that no dilly dallying shall be prohibited whilst working under such a tight schedule. Tonging, setting, back combing and pinning, we were pruning efficiently to the very last minute. I’m extremely anal with my work, everything has to be strategically thought out and organised. I play games with myself to see how neat I can section or how perfect I can curl, I am also highly governed by time and hate to be rushed or moved quicker than my designated time space. Beth works artistically with few restrictions, I’ve seen her create a masterpiece within a few minutes with one or two kirby grips. These components make us the ultimate team and a force to be reckoned with. I work well with structure so I set out to lay the foundation of each style, masterfully prepping the hair on point and neatly ready for Beth to elegantly mould the beautiful shape. Such skill can’t be rushed and we both forgave our ‘getting ready’ time to make sure everyone was entirely happy with their finished looks. Our faces were saved by friend and make up artist Jill Sime who thankfully managed to spruce Beth and I up just before the service.

Set in the conservatory of the grand hotel, guests looked dapper in their finest cloth. Balloons and expensive decor placed around the beautiful sunlit room to personalise an intimate and unique service, Christmas trees and twinkling fairy lights giving a festive feel, it was hard not to get emotional throughout tales of the couple’s 12-year relationship. Fireworks surrounded the room as the groom kissed his bride and the couple triumphantly waltzed back down the aisle to ‘We go together’ from the hit musical Grease. Guests were served prosecco and canapés with views across the famous golf course and North Sea to be admired. The hilarious yet heart warming speeches introduced the four-course meal and an awe-inspiring magician moved around the tables entertaining with unreal tricks.

Shortly before the evening guests arrived I accompanied the bride back to her suite to redo her hair and help her change into her cocktail bridal gown. The ballroom had been transformed to suit the evening’s jazz theme complete with illuminated dance floor, chocolate fountain and photo booth. The first dance was again personalised with a recording of the bride singing Songbird by Fleetwood Mac and the wedding party were encouraged to join in. A five-piece Jazz and Swing band kept the dance floor full and the night seemed to disappear in a flash! It turn out to be a wonderful event with no stone unturned and no expense spared, it was obvious to all the couple relished in the whole day and the company of their closest friends.

I feel honoured and grateful to have such a warm and caring family like The Webster’s in my life and I thank them for letting Ruby and I join in their celebrations. I’m also grateful to be surrounded by great creativity within my own family and I think Beth and I make a pretty awesome partnership. This Thursday I travel back down to London where I will work alongside great session stylists at London Fashion Week, an accolade I’ve always dreamed of. I’ll be sure to name drop Beth Scanlan and hopefully we can go together next time round.

Long live the VEF and all the best to Sandy and Kim, we all had a scream QUEEN.

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