Archive for the ‘Emigre London photographed by Iain Bailey’ Category

Émigré London, photographed by Iain Bailey – and also, a happy Christmas from Picnic . . .

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Emigre London - Gold DressGreetings again everyone – you may recall my EMIGRE LONDON posts at the end of October before I gave way to Rick Schmidt book BLACK PRESIDENT in view of the recent news.

In any case, all at Picnic asked me to hold on to my last EMIGRE LONDON post to play us out over the holidays and into the new year. Through street fashion, the book describes life in a London suburb from the 1960s to the turn of the century and the mix of traditional English cultures with people of worldwide multicultural origins or backgrounds/race/creed and so on, through migrations, growing up abroad or living as an expat.

I am no stranger to this diversity as I was lucky to grow up in Africa. I used to walk around with a black snake in my shirt’s front pocket. This gave me protection against bigger boys, until my brother’s girlfriend took a dislike to my pet. She stopped visiting the house because of the snake. One day the snake disappeared and my brother finally got married!

We had plenty of open space so from an early age I had 3 dogs to knock around with. We grew up together and had loads of adventure and mischief. Jock was a black Labrador, Spike was a feisty black and white fox terrier with pointed ears, Bomber was a giant brown Bull-Mastive-cross-Boar-Bull and also the youngest. The 4 of us were inseparable. The dogs enjoyed a huge garden, covered with ripe avocadoes. They would feast on them and this would give them the shiniest coat. They also had the freedom to escape for a wander (all 3 dogs still had their male’s attributes!).

3 dogs in Africa

At meal times, an odd pantomime would repeat itself time and time again: Bomber would finish his basin of a meal in a few mouthfuls. Jock would finish his meal second, As for Spike, he would carefully pick the best bits and then guard the rest of his food fiercely. Despite his tiny size he was able to block giant Bomber from accessing the food.

From this point on, Bomber’s only aim would be to engineer a diversion to lap up Spike’s remaining meal. Here we go: Bomber would start running towards the garden fence, barking excitedly, pretending there was some major action outside, Jock and Spike would follow running up & barking, not wanting to miss on the action. Then once every one was well involved, Bomber would swiftly run back to the dishes to swallow Spike’s meal. Spike would come back at full speed but always a little too late… This was hilarious to watch. I miss them dearly since I left Africa. But I was lucky to leave them in good care as the family that took them on had a sofa for each dog!! Most probably a sizable upgrade in a dog’s life!

I am still puzzled why Picnic wanted to end its inaugural author blogging year with me and my pets but I guess it may have something to do with happy memories of sometimes difficult times. The book EMIGRE LONDON is pretty much about happy memories from sometimes difficult days too. I guess the message is that eventually difficulties, including the ones so many are in today, lift. A very merry Christmas to you all from wherever in the world you may be reading this and a may the new year bring peace.

best wishes


Émigré London photographed by Iain Bailey

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Emigre London - Vintage DressesHere are some of the dresses I photographed for Émigré London. It was interesting to follow the evolution of fashion as well as the rules at the time: for instance it would not have been suitable for a married woman or a woman of a certain age to wear something too joyful or to revealing (today this rule has somewhat shifted . . .). As a consolation, a range of colourful scarves could be used to customise and brighten up an every day plain black dress.  During the photo shoots, I couldn’t help noticing how some of the dresses and accessories clearly looked vintage while others could almost have been in today’s high street.

My girlfriend Caroline, the illustrator of Picnic’s THE SLEEPY LADYBIRD, pointed out how fashion keeps coming back in strange waves.  I’m usually blind to these trends as, like many guys, I can’t stand clothes-shopping.  But after paying attention to the crowds, I realised there was something really odd going on with people’s clothing, a mix of 80’s come back with leggings, skinny jeans, belts over stripy tops (making some girls look like bees!), and, at the same time, some really ancient styles (only formerly seen in black and white photography – 1920) are also making a comeback in women’s jackets, shirts and shoes.

Here are some photographs of the 1920’s coming back this year:–1920s-flapper-fashion-2008-trend-954.html

Man fashion 1823This mix goes even further back with the newly popular ‘empire waistline’ until recently only found in maternity shops!

Luckily these trends are not so drastic for us guys. I am grateful for this or I would have to walk around in a period outfit looking like this! tell me, can this guy breathe?


Émigré London photographed by Iain Bailey

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

British Garden Birds photographed by Iain BaileyDo you have a bird feeder in your garden? I have a couple and one thing leading to another, my interest in photography grew. From close ups of insects on flowers, to British garden birds, observing their behaviour and catching a good shot is always a great experience. Once you take an interest, there are plenty of details to discover which are invisible to most. For instance, try to guess the social order of a group of sparrows by watching in which order they are feeding: spot the ones on watch and witness the panic when a sparrow hawk is at bay.

I once took a nice picture of a blue tit hanging upside down from the peanut feeder. They are so swift one has to be quick before they disappear with their prize - a single peanut. Similarly, I once observed the dunnock, also known as the ‘hedge sparrow’ courting his reflection in a mirror. This lasted for several weeks . . .  Have you ever watched a starling having his bath and shining his feathers in the sun? This can all be quite fascinating and with a pocket identification book you can start to identify the juveniles, males and females, as well as rank from visual features – for tits the bigger the bib the older the male. But as I said, photographing birds, and planes (!), fed my keen interest in photography.

However, little did I know I was about to photograph dresses and haute-coutures frocks . . . and 100s of them!!!



Emigre London - Photographs of Vintage Hats

It all started when a friend’s house in SW London, full of memories, original features and decor, was being packed up, ready for sale. Everything had been left untouched as if time had frozen in the early 60’s, from the old vinyl record player to the matching bathroom fittings. But it did not stop there: hidden away and meticulously wrapped in paper and cardboard boxes were 100s of outfits, dresses and accessories.

The next thing I know, my friend is writing a book about it all - and Caroline and I are buying a headless mannequin off Ebay, as well as a polistirene head, and setting up photo-shoots of the whole wardrobe, from frilly knickers to smoking jacket and collapsible hats. This is how /Émigré London/ all started: friends getting together and, not realising the amount of time everything would take, nor where all was heading, we ended up with a book about a house, a London suburb & some old clothes.

Its nearly done and is about amour, 1960’s fashion, escape from conflict and the world in a neighbourhood . . .