Trying to navigate the mass of festivals in the UK is completely mind blowing. More than ever the little island on which Topshop was born (yes that’s Great Britain) has so many incredible festivals popping up across its shores that it’s hard to see which ones we should be considering for our precious weekends away. Foodie? Raver? Poetry-lover? Regardless of your festival preference we’ve done a little research (with the help of some festival-fans around the office) and picked some of the most exciting events happening this summer. So get ready and start booking those tickets!
THE OMG-EVERYONE-AWESOME-IS-PLAYING ONE: FIELD DAY
25 May @ Victoria Park, London
Solange. Animal Collective. Daughter. Kurt Vile. Basically everyone achingly hip in music right now (bar Frank Ocean) is playing. Plus it’s a mere £50 and a short walk from Bethnal Green tube station. London hipsters unite for this might be the most exciting line up that has yet to grace Victoria Park. Make sure not to miss a good dance out to Egyptian Hip Hop and the cooler than cool, King Krule. As for style, watch out for some serious fashion lovers here with kimonos and wide brim hats galore and more high tops than you can shake a stick at. Also, there really is a beauty to a festival in which you can probably get the last tube home!
30 August – 1 September
Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset
We won’t lie to you but here at Topshop HQ most of our Monday morning blues are washed away by a few plays of Talking Heads’s Take Me To The River so we were naturally overcome with excitement when it was announced David Byrne himself would be playing this year’s End of the Road festival. Our obsession with this musical-champion aside, End of the Road festival is worth a look. It’s less about raving it up and more about chilling it out with some glorious bands on the roster. The lovely Belle and Sebastian take a headline spot alongside Sigur Ros and there’s a little bit of new in the form of California cool kids Warpaint who are back with a vengeance. Set in the lovely Larmer Tree Gardens of Dorset we’re thinking maxi skirts and embellished gilets will be the style must-haves for this set of festival goers and we’ve already looked into a camper van for our journey south!
THE SOMETHING FOR ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE ONE: LATITUDE
18th – 21st July
Henham Park, Suffolk
Mad about German electro? Adore the ballet? Enjoy a bit of spoken word? Interested in cabaret? That’s right, you can rave it up with Kraftwerk, be mesmerized by the Ballet Boyz, hear Carol Ann Duffy get all poetic as well as rocking out to some naughty dance skills from Soho’s finest burlesque dancers all in one festival. (I know, our minds are blown too). Suffolk’s Henham Park is probably the most unique combination of artists in one spot, Latitude festival really covers all the bases. There’s glam camping for those who need a shower and something a little more substantial than a yoga mat to sleep on and there’s even a gourmet restaurant on site from the folks at Giant Robot. Oh, and did we mention there’s multi-coloured sheep?
Well, we couldn’t not mention it right? As usual their line-up is comprehensive to say the least. See into the early hours with Crystal Castles and Hurts, throw your hands up and sway into summer with Haim and Laura Mvula or get right into the front for a serious throwback with legends The Rolling Stones. Everyone says you have to do it once and with a relentlessly amazing line-up year after year there’s no way of regretting nabbing a ticket. Yes, walking from field to field may be a bit of a schlep and yes, there’s probably very little chance you’ll get a good view of the The Rolling Stones but it’s Glastonbury! And that means seriously good times.
Okay, so it’s not just food but Wilderness Festival has a special place in our hearts for it’s amazing roster of chefs and restaurateurs that offer talks and tasters dedicated to their lives in eating. Think Ottolenghi and his rose water specialities; Russel Norman waxing lyrical on the beauty of Polpo; Mark Hix on his fascination with oysters – our mouths are watering as we write – The Wilderness Festival has filled a gap in the festival market that we didn’t even know was there. It’s our festival wild card! Taste buds aside there’ll be blissed out tunes from Empire of the Sun and Martha Wainwright as well as performances from the talented bunch at Shakespeare’s Globe and talks from the mind-expanding folk at Intelligence Squared. Culturalistas, take a breath, this is the festival your dreams are made of.
Yes we know, the dates brutally co-incide with London Fashion Week so there’s no chance we’re getting any time off work (weep!) but if we did we’d be signing up to this beautiful little festival in a flash. Set in the gorgeous surroundings of Portmerion in North Wales which it’s pretty much a fairy tale village come true. There’s even a castle to stay in for accommodation. (YES, a castle!) This is a festival for those of you wanting to completely escape the real world and head somewhere far away from anything “ordinary”. And with a musical and arts program that would make any festival-goer overjoyed, what’s not to love? There’s the haunting vocals of James Blake, the renaissance of Chic ft. Nile Rodgers (is that a Daft Punk Get Lucky inspired comeback we see?) and some of our favourite songstresses of the moment taking the stage… hello Laura Mvula and Lianne La Havas! This one is definitely worth the journey.
There’s a place where dinosaurs rule at night, where swan-shaped paddleboats lay stranded and overgrown plants wrap their leaves around anything and everything! It goes by the name Spreepark and is one of the coolest abandoned venues in Berlin. So it was no surprise to hear that one of our all-time favourite bands, The XX, had chosen it for their Day + Nightfestival taking place this weekend.
The electro-indie-pop heroes are planning to bring this disused funfair back to life with a line-up that had us booking tickets the minute they were released. This Saturday, The XX and their friends will be strutting their musical stuff for Berlin’s coolest kids. Set to take to the stage are Jessie Ware, Chromatics, Mount Kimbie, Kindness and Mykki Blanco who are we know will fill this out of this world space with a new lease of life.
Here’s what the band the whole of Topshop HQ is obsessed with had to say about their new musical endeavour: “Night + Day is a series of events, curated by us, to start in the summer of 2013. We searched high and low for unique and beautiful locations to stage these shows and picked the artists that we most respect and admire to join us. The events will run from early afternoon, with some of our favourite music and food to take you from day into night.”
With such an amazing aim, it’s no shock that a crowd of around 10 000 kids are expected at the Spreepark this weekend. Just imagine raving in-between a vintage Ferris wheel and some giant dinosaur statues! Sounds like the perfect festival right?
If you can’t make it, there’s no need to be sad! The XXs next stop is a country house in Hertfordshire.
Got a few minutes to procrastinate? Jean Francois Lepage’s fashion photography exhibition is a dream that you could easily loose yourself in for hours. It stunned us Topshop girls and had us thinking about his images for days!
Summed up as surrealism meets mystery, the French photographer uses extreme light and standout colors and as we stepped into the stoned arched room where this exhibition took place, we realised that the historical space built in the ‘20s perfectly complemented the motionless frozen atmosphere of Lepage’s work.
At Topshop, we are lovers of extreme fashion and adored his bare photographic composition. From motionless models in a moon like landscape to frozen doll-like faces with pale complexions and bright wigs, we’ve not been able to stop thinking about Lepage’s flawless looking creatures since we laid eyes on them.
Everything is done so carefully in order to create the impression that the subjects of Lepage’s images are both static and breathing and that’s precisely their beauty. You know that the model is posing but you soon forget that! You see, Lepage’s vision is far from glamorous, his style uncanny, almost eerie but it is this, his perception of beauty that makes his work so breathtaking.
If you’ve never come across the work of Lepage within the fashion world (working for brands like Nina Ricci, Comme des Garçons and Dior over a 20 year career), try and head to the Villa of Noailles in this pretty French town before his exhibition ends at the end of May.
There are some bands that hold a special place in our heart and for a few of us here at Topshop HQ, Cold War Kids do just that. The band became an iPod, iTunes and general stereo regular for us when – to the joys of many an indie kid – they launched their debut album Robbers and Cowards in 2007. NME declared them the best new band in America and the rest of the presses heralded their sound as something completely new (which is pretty special in these days of mass music and shared sounds via the ever growing music blogosphere). Our personal penchant for dancing around our bedrooms to Hang Me Up To Dry aside, we’ve been keeping track of Cold War Kids’ movements since their early days. It’s been a bit of a ride for the band – founding member Jonnie Russell left to pursue his own projects and their second album was met with mixed reviews – but we’ve got a feeling 2013 can surely be all about their second coming. The foursome are back with the new album Dear Miss Lonelyhearts and once again embracing their melodious, blues-inspired, indie rock with the same sensitive lyrics and gorgeous vocals from Nathan Willett. This time around there’s just a little more energy, it’s vibrant and varied with Miracle Miles keeping us dancing at our desks and Louder Than Ever sending us back to 2007 with big smiles.
We chatted to the face behind the bass Matt Maust about their latest album, favourite gigs and Nick Cave.
How does this new album differ from your earlier stuff?
Oh, it’s got a great mixture of songs that were kind of “built in the studio”, and then songs like we had on our first record that are very much 4 people playing live in a room, and then a few songs that are kind of a mixture of both.
Did anything specifically inspire this new album?
Nathan read a book called Dear Miss Lonelyhearts, but I haven’t read it yet. I know some of the lyrics were kind of inspired by the book. I think our new guitar player Dann, (who also produced the record) inspired us some. Gaining a new member always makes you rethink your band and style. He brought ideas to the table that were new and refreshing.
How does your creation process begin?
Very organic. For lack of a better word, I think we sometimes “jam” and ideas come that way usually. It’s a healthy mixture of spontaneity, and zeroing in on things with a microscope.
What’s the best gig you’ve ever played?
At La Cigale in Paris. We’ve played a few times there and it’s the best crowd and room that I’ve ever been to.
As the temperature creeps up us Topshop girls go on the hunt for for juicy, un-put-downable books to pore over and be swept away with whilst basking in the sun in our newest bikini. There’s a few that have peaked our interest this year – the much debated Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, the teenie-loving Hunger Games series– but it’s a very different sort of novel that has had us voraciously turning the pages this spring. Enter Laura Lamont: the country-bumpkin turned glamorous silent film star whose life unfolds amidst fame, fortune and the inevitable upsets on the way. It’s definitely not a fairy tale but it isn’t exactly tragedy either. (Our favourite character Ginger is as about as cheeky and goofy as they come!)
Emma Straub is the creator and pen behind Lamont and has proved herself a dab hand at spot-on, richly detailed storytelling. Carefully spanning decades of Lamont’s life, Straub muses on the complexities of fame through the eyes of someone who doesn’t feel quite worthy. There may be plenty of Fitzgerald style decadent misery here and a hint of quirky The Artist style fun but the novel and story still feels new. Whether you’re a fan of the Golden Age of Film or of really great new writing, we’re guessing you won’t regret picking up a copy.
We spoke to the Brooklyn based author, Emma Straub, about research, her favourite characters and not giving up on writing.
Where did you get the inspiration for Laura Lamont?
Not to sound too terribly morbid, but in the obituaries! I was working on something else at the time, and stumbled across an obit for the 1940s actress Jennifer Jones. It was a novel–it was that clear to me immediately. Dramatic, romantic, epic. I knew I wanted to write a book about a movie star starting right then.
Have you always been interested in Hollywood and it’s golden age?
I have always loved the movies, and was never prejudiced against black and white films in the way some children are. My parents and I once had a Hitchcock festival in our living room. So, yes! But I didn’t really know much about the studio system until I began to write Laura Lamont.
Where did you go to research and what resources did you use?
Why, to Hollywood, of course! I took a few short trips to Los Angeles and went on some studio tours, taking notes furiously, and then my husband and I did a a house-swap (itself a very cinematic idea!) for a whole month. That’s when I did the bulk of my research at the Margaret Herrick Library, which is run by the Academy of Motion Pictures, the body that gives out the Oscars.
Do you ever use real life people as inspiration for characters?
Yes, sometimes, when I truly couldn’t help myself. I was very careful not to read about Jennifer Jones in my research, because I didn’t want my main character to be modelled on a real person, but some of the ancillary characters are, absolutely. It was irresistible! Hollywood was full of very colorful people at the time.
We have a soft spot for the comedy actress Ginger in the book – do you have a favourite character in the book and why?
Oh, I have a soft spot for Ginger, too. Thank you for saying that. I’m also very partial to Irving. What can I say? I’m a bit smooshy about real love.
How long did the book take from start to finish?
I’m pretty quick, once I get rolling–it was about two years from idea to publication. Fast!
What tips would you give to young wannabe-writers?
Don’t give up. I wrote four novels that didn’t get published before this one. Don’t ever give up.
What’s next for Emma Straub?
Two things are happening in quick succession–I’m trying to finish my new novel before this summer, because I’m due to have a baby in August. So, sleepless nights?