leeds fashion initiative - the launch

Leeds is a very exciting place to be at the moment. Sat in Leeds City Museum tonight surrounded by industry professionals and proper dapper men & women, I couldn't help but feel the buzz of ambition, of creativity, of talent, of something special. 

We were all gathered to celebrate the launch of Leeds Fashion Initiative -- the brainchild of Lambert's Yard, with help from Regeneration Through the ArtsLeeds City Council, and London College of Fashion's Centre for Fashion Enterprise -- a project aimed to invigorate Leeds as a fashion destination, along with helping fledgling designers grow and fly through funding and business support. LFI also wants to re-establish our city as the hub of textiles manufacturing outside of London. 

After all, we are and have always been a place built on attire - just look at our cityscape, lined with historic mills. Cotton runs through our canal; fabric floods our streets. We have lost our way a little bit, but it looks like we're back on track. What a bloody clever, apt setting we were in, too.

The impressive array of designers featured in the fashion show included the likes of Anita Massarella, Christopher Raeburn, and Giles Deacon, alongside garments designed by Leeds College of Art graduates. We saw exquisite tailoring. We saw INSANE cheekbones. We saw coats, we saw colour, we saw incredible clothes.  

I recently read this thinkpiece by Mick McCann for Culture Vulture, in which he argues that Leeds as a city can only truly shine, and be recognised on a world stage, if it moves away from the sweet, green, all-encompassing label of Yorkshire. It needs to be ambitious; it needs to be bold; it needs to be Leeds, not defined by its location in West Yorkshire, which has potentially dulled a little of its vibrancy as a stand-alone metropolis. We are bigger than Manchester, and yet we have let Mister Manc run away with the press, the praise, and the progress of being heralded The Only City of The North for far too long. 

It's high time for Lady Leeds to take centre stage. Dressed impeccably, naturally. 

sundaze #5

Sunday is my favourite day of the week. A day to relax, to unwind, and to reflect. This week has been extremely hectic for me, in part because I've been running around madly catching as many Leeds International Film Festival showings as possible. I'll be posting my review of them all tomorrow! Aside from the sick flicks I've been lucky enough to view, there's a few other things I've been loving over the past seven days...

Here's a little run-down:

Pintura's Winter Blend gin - Leeds

On Tuesday evening I was fortunate enough to be invited to sample Leeds restaurant Pintura's brand new Winter Blend gin and festive food menu. The Basque country inspired kitchen and bar, who's name is Spanish for 'work of art,' opened in March 2015 and was recently awarded runner-up for best restaurant in the national Observer Food Monthly Awards 2015. Walking into the sleek glass building located behind the Trinity Centre, I was immediately impressed by the warm, festive feel of the place. Woo Christmas! (It's only five weeks away - not counting or anything). 

We headed down into the basement gin bar, and were greeted by a nice big glass of their Winter Blend gin and tonic. The seasonal bespoke gin, exclusive to Pintura, was created in the Ginstitute on London's Portobello Road by manager Matt Coates, who opted for a unique concoction of warm blend of spices, full of festive cinnamon and orange flavours. Before trying it, I was imagining Pumpkin Spice tones, so I was surprised by the subtle yet inherently Christmassy taste of the drink. I loved it.

The Christmas food menu, which is available from November 27th, is GLORIOUS. It includes parsnip croquettes with sage alioli, turkey escalope with romesco, festive meats and cheese with slow roast turkey fillet, iberico blot, and house smoked duck, as well as calamari, and pigs in Blanket chistorra sausages with bayonne ham and pickle ketchup. To satisfy a sweet tooth, there's baked Basque style cheesecake. Super dreamy. 

Patti Smith - M Train

On Monday, my friend and I boarded a train from Leeds to Hebden Bridge. The woolly green of West Yorkshire countryside floated past and then surrounded us. In a little independent bookshop I picked up a copy of Patti Smith's new book M Train. Over lunch, we flicked through the pages and read from a segment in which Patti makes the journey to our location to see Sylvia Plath's grave, which we had planned to do too. I'm a massive fan of Just Kids (as I mentioned in this post), and a huge fan of Patti's prose in general. She's the most beautiful wordsmith. Simply, she's had a life like no other. Yet in that moment, sipping pints and hopping on the Horse of Patti's memories, we felt a kind of kinship with our idol. It was magical.

Kalyan Presents x Beacons Metro

I've seen Kalyan a few times now. They're a collaborative Dub, Soul, Jazz and Rock infused Leeds music group, made up of eight musicians and two producers. They remind me a little of Fat Freddy's Drop, but sincerely they're one of the most unique bands I've seen in a long while. As well as lighting up the Leeds music scene with their own performances, they also curate their own Kalyan Presents nights at venues across the city, including Wharf Chambers and Belgrave Music Hall. Last night I caught their takeover of Headrow House as part of Beacons Metro, also featuring Portico and Boomerange Parlour, along with other bands, DJs and artists' installations. The atmosphere was electric, with devoted faces bopping their heads in a state of musical Nirvana. If you can, I'd highly recommend catching one of their shows. Listen to them here.

Rediscovered Photos of the 70s Hollywood Skate Scene

This i-D article featuring Hugh Holland's vivid photography brought a Lords of Dogtown kind of sunshine to my week. Boys and girls with their long hair, tube socks, and knee pads, soaking up the California rays with skateboards in place of cellphones. The ultimate homage to an Americana youth forgotten.  Check it out here.

Have a sweet week y'all x

#LIFF29 leeds international film festival - preview

On Thursday night Leeds International Film Festival blazed into Leeds Town Hall, beginning its 29th annual two-week takeover of our city with the film adaptation of Colm Tobin's novel Brooklyn. It was beautiful, emotionally stirring, and a vivid shade of technicolor. It was just a smidgeon of what's to come in the 15 days of LIFF29. Spread out over 16 venues - including Hyde Park Picture House, the Vue in the Light, the Trinity CentreLeft BankLeeds Town HallLeeds College of MusicEveryman Cinema, and Belgrave Music Hall - the festival will screen over 300 films.

With so many amazing flicks, both British and international of all genres and themes, however can you decide? I thought I'd try to help.

My top 10 picks: 

1)  Short Film City
Throughout the festival

Slaves of the Rave

According to the LIFF website, the world's first short film was made in Leeds in 1888 by Louis le Prince. This year the film festival features over 150 short films from 97 countries. There'll be competitions, themed screenings, and special events. If your time is limited, get yourself to one of the illustrious Leeds cinemas and watch a selection of these!

sneaky experience review: a nightmare on elm street


It's Halloween Eve eve. With tired eyes and rumbling bellies, my friends and I hop in the car and drive down to Kirkstall Abbey. I always find it a wonder that such a beautiful memento of history can co-exist so harmoniously with the nearby cinema complex, supermarket and streets and streets of terraced housing. We park across the street and stroll down into the darkness. Are we in for a trick or a treat? 

The reason we're gathered here, alongside witches and blood-drenched vampires in the cold, is for the opening night of Sneaky Experience's Halloween weekend - something I previewed previously in this post.

We turn the corner, further into the grand granite, and there out of the bleak blackness erupts an orange gleam of light.  Spooky songs play out of the hidden speakers. A bustling, buzzing  courtyard arises with food, drink, fire-breathers and so much more.

Because of being so starving, we stampede straight to the food stalls. There's an amazing array of places to grab grub. But we're won over by Artisan Toasties, essentially serving up posh grilled cheeses. Right up my street! I opt for the beef version - beef, caramelised onions, and cheese - with a side of Krueger fries. No, no razor blades in amongst the chips (thank god) just a whole lot of Cajun spice and Cajun Mayo. What an absolute treat. 

Once we've tucked in, it's time to be spooked! We follow the ghostly man who has been roaming around, a bell in one hand, inviting the masses to follow him into the interactive board game. I squeal instantly. Through the Abbey walls, using our phones as light, we find the first Gatekeeper. He stands proudly at the entrance, handing each team a dice to roll in order to proceed. He bids us farewell and off into the maze.

I won't reveal too much about our experience within the walls of the game, because to do so would eclipse a little of its magic, no? I will tell you though that we screamed at the top of our lungs, had to pretend to be zombies, had our hair stroked by a demon barber, and I had to tell a joke to Pennywise the clown. Bloody terrifying but exhilarating.

Also, this is the scariest face we could muster...

We make it out well and truly alive, yet with goopy hands (due to one of the challenges) we head back to the square, avoiding zombies en route like we're in some kind of Halloween themed video game. Then it's time to prepare for the film! As the firebreathers The SteelCats dance and blow flames around us, we wander over to the bar and buy a pumpkin full of Pimms. I'm not joking. Other beverages could be found inside blood plasmas. All the points for creativity! After buying our far-too-big pot of booze and fruit, we join the ever-increasing queue for the cinematic lair. 

It's funny how far special effects have come along, isn't it? Wes Craven's 1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street - the film getting the Sneaky treatment - is definitely more camp than chilling. Freddy Krueger loses some of his malice somewhat due to the hilariously dated sequences of him transporting through a window, or evilly licking his lips. He's super creepy, but more in a straight up perv kinda way. Either way, I wouldn't want to meet him on a dark night, or in a dark Abbey.

Though my nose grows a little chilly, our setting can only be summed up in two words (well, one hyphenated): breath-taking. My sole complaint of the whole evening would be that it would've been nice had our seats not been left out in the roofless ruins before the screening as a soggy, soggy bottom ensued because of this. Nevertheless, even with the very tall man in front of me, everything was amazing. 

An incredibly young Johnny Depp in a cropped jersey that was reminiscent of a female club get-up was probably my FAVOURITE part. Along with everyone laughing in unison.

If you get a chance to head to the adventurous pop-up cinema that is Sneaky Experience, seriously don't miss it! It was truly one of the best evenings I've had in a while (minus the resulting sniffles). 

Catch sing along versions of your favourite Christmas films over the festive period, and The Shawshank Redemption and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in March 2016.