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London Collections: Lou Dalton A/W’13

A sombre affair at Lou Dalton on the first day of London Collections, Autumn 2013

A focus on traditional tailoring with a palette of black, charcoal grey and green gave the collection a grown-up feel. The devil was in the detail for this rapidly emerging designer. Double pockets and panelled chests invoke luxury and are a hint at the high-end sportswear Dalton has become renowned for.

The use of tweed, statement knitwear and a checked print all hark back to the English Heritage trend of Autumns past.

Trousers stopped at the ankle to show some socks – a trend that has been growing for some time. Over the next few days we expect to see this new shape of trouser at the majority of the shows.

Dalton has a strong relationship with Topman and has designed a capsule collection for the retailer. When asked about the current state of British menswear she sad:

‘The attention to detail: cut and finish make British menswear unique. With the wonderful support of Topman and the British Fashion Council, a small window of opportunity opened up, allowing much younger, less established brands to find their feet and bring a new dynamic and interesting approach to something that had previously gone off-the-boil or become quite repetitive.’

For the latest fashion news from London Collections: Men follow @SoSoGay_Fashion or our Fashion Editor @Andrew_Whitty on Twitter

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New app helps people with HIV access health information on the go

The UK’s most comprehensive online service for people with HIV, myHIV,  has marked its second anniversary with the launch of a new iPhone app.

The app, Life plus, has been launched by HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust to ensure the 5,000 members of myHIV are able to access information about their condition wherever they are. It is free to download, and contains tools for monitoring CD4 and viral load levels, storing health and treatment information, and setting medication and appointment reminders. All tools are fully linked to myHIV, so that changes made on the app will also appear on the website, and vice versa.

As well as this, Life plus also includes links to a library of information about living well with HIV, including specialised advice on employment, housing, travel, and disclosure.

Lisa Power, Policy Director for Terrence Higgins Trust, said, ‘Since we launched myHIV, we’ve found a significant proportion of people have been accessing their personal information via an iPhone. There are a number of situations in which people with HIV need a quick reminder of dates, times and information about medication, especially when they’re newly diagnosed. They might use the app to log their blood counts during clinic visits, or to keep track of questions to ask their HIV specialist at their next appointment. Life plus transforms the tools from myHIV into a trusted resource people can carry in their pockets.’

myHIV is funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and over 5,000 members have signed up to the website since its launch in January 2011, making it the largest community of people with HIV in the UK . It also brings Terrence Higgins Trust’s total membership to more than 10,000 people for the first time in the charity’s history.

The Life plus app can be downloaded from the Apple store.

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London Collections: Christopher Shannon A/W’13

We’re very clever at inventing new genres here at So So Gay Towers. The Christopher Shannon show this afternoon provided the perfect product for, what we’ve christened ‘Haute-Scally’; sportswear with a high end edge.

 

Christopher Shannon

Models paraded around London’s Old Sorting Office (we’re starting to feel at home here) in a mix of knitwear – a first for the designer – and what resembled the shell-suit bottoms of the Eighties.

The urban edge came from both the scowling models and the sharp lines and colour blocking used by Shannon, a graduate of London’s Central Saint Martin’s.

Colours included brown, blue, grey and slate. The latter two being presented in many of the collections we’ve already seen.The use of zips by the designer, added to the sports theme.

One interesting addition to garments were ‘gaffer taped jeans’. It was Christopher Kane who first showed the use of gaffer tape , in his most recent womenswear collection. We’re excited to see if this makes an appearance in his menswear show later this week.

Christopher Shannon recently collaborated with Topman on a diffusion range.

Get the latest from London Collections:Men by following @SoSoGay_fashion and @Andrew_Whitty on Twitter.

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Episode Review: Miranda Series 3 – The Dinner Party

Miranda and Co are back for another week of fun, mayhem, and good hearted dysfunction in this weeks episode of Miranda Hart’s self titled sitcom, Miranda.

The comedy this week came from a very recognisable quandary that we think many of our readers may well appreciate it, that is the fresh hell of the Dinner Party with friends and relatives. Considering Miranda’s proven track record with chaos and the sort of friends who would not look too out of place in an asylum, we were all geared up for a festival of foolery and the chance to finally meet the father of Miranda’s new man friend Michael. The pressure was heightened even further by the fact that Miranda has been trying very hard to maintain a more adult persona, so as not to drive her new beau away. Not surprisingly however this was not quite as easy for our dear Miranda as she would have hoped.

The episode as a whole was a solid package of comedy, which saw Miranda’s inner child and adult at war and trying as ever to fit in with the world around her, but always being a bit too awkwardly shaped to manage it. This led to our picture of grace and responsibility ending up at the top of a children’s play centre, caught in a tube and going commando down a slide into a ball pit. The laughs come thick and fast and they only got better as the episode wore on. Our girl was forced to try and navigate the nightmare of cooking for all her friends and extended family. We applauded ourselves when we saw her give in to temptation and bolt to her nearest M&S to pick up the remaining ingredients – if only because we would have done exactly the same thing.

In a rare shift however, we thought that Miranda may have been upstaged this week by her motley crew, particularly by her increasingly drunken mother Penny. Patricia Hodge has always been a hilarious addition to this strong cast, but this week saw her reach a new level of posh crassness, in a war of slurred words with Michaels father, the unfortunately named Valerie. Finally, as the night wore on to its more than satisfying conclusion, we were thrilled to see that power couple Miranda and Michael – or Miracle as we established last week – survived the night, and seem stronger than ever, even whilst having the mother of all foam fights in the kitchen. Such Fun!

The one downside we had with this episode, is the foreboding sense that once again things might be moving too fast for what is still a new couple. Let us be frank, they met in the first episode, dated and kissed in the second and now declared their love in episode three. We are not even half way through the series, and we are wondering if we might be seeing an early engagement, marriage and bitter divorce before the series concludes. On that subject as well, we got a small hint from long time friend/potential love interest Gary that he still has feelings for Miranda, and his look of sadness as they kissed was enough to make us all think the same thing … ‘Oh oh’.

Altogether it was a episode which was well done and executed with class as always. Was it as good as last week? Probably not, but the humour was still high quality and when we weren’t laughing, we were cheering, as once again Miranda puts out yet another fine episode. We just hope that they take their foot off the gas in this relationship a little more next week, it’s getting a bit silly now, and not in a very funny Miranda-esque way.

Miranda will next be on our screens at 9.00pm on Monday 14 January on BBC One

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After Extra Time: January 8 2013

So, after the excitement of the Christmas break, things seem to be getting back to normal and settling down. Well, unless you’re in Manchester it seems.

Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini

It was handbags at dawn between Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli as a training session overheated seeing the two Italians clash. Photos of the incident at City’s Carrington training ground, show both men having to be restrained by fellow players and staff. The bust-up occurred after Mancini deemed Balotelli made a wild tackle on team-mate Scott Sinclair and challenged him. It will be interesting to see if Balotelli is still at the club by the end of the season, or even by the time the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

The transfer window has been open now for over a week, and there has been a frenzy of activity with Chelsea scoring an absolute bargain in Demba Ba from Newcastle. Ba had a clause in his contract that allowed clubs to buy him after a certain date for only £7million. Ba has proven to be worth considerably more than that, and has been one of Newcastle’s best players this season so he will be sorely missed at St James’ Park.

Ba, who has already scored two goals for Chelsea since his arrival, replaces Daniel Sturridge who leaves Chelsea for a move to Liverpool. Newcastle have signed Mathieu Debuchy from Lille for an undisclosed sum. There is still no word on where David Beckham will end up, but the gossip is that he and Posh have been house hunting and finding schools.

The weirdest story of the week is that Victoria Azarenka ruled herself out of a semi final with Serena Williams in Brisbane because of a bad pedicure. Apparently the pedicure caused a foot infection, which she did not want to aggravate. Also she wanted to give it a chance to heal ahead of defending her Australian Open title at the end of the month. Alternatively, maybe Azarenka read last week’s AET and feels intimidated by Williams’ declaration of dominance for the season ahead.

Ross Hutchins

Ross Hutchins

Andy Murray had a more successful time than Azarenka in Brisbane, by defending his title at the Brisbane International with a straight sets win over Grigor Dimitrov. In an emotional speech during his victory presentation Murray said, ‘I’d like to dedicate this victory to one of my best friends. He’s back home watching – you’re going to get through it.’

Although Murray did not say who this was directed at, Davis Cup team mate Ross Hutchins announced he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Hutchins tweeted, ’Unfortunately I will be away from tennis for a while as I was recently diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma’. We at So So Gay would like to wish Hutchins a speedy recovery and hope to see him back on court soon.

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Opinion: Gay Marriage in 2013 – Why we should not be ‘quiet’ or ‘polite’ about the need for full equality

Whichever way things turn out, 2013 is likely to be a defining year in terms of LGBT rights in the United Kingdom. After much talk – not to mention countering opposition amongst his own party and ‘traditional’ supporters – it seems that David Cameron will finally push through full gay marriage equality. Either that, or the dissenting elements will conspire to make this too hot a political potato for him to grasp in order to make good on his pledge.

Whatever one’s opinion of Cameron, it is impossible not to admire him for his perseverance  What many of us may have cynically dismissed in 2010 as being part of an overall agenda to assert the ‘progressive’ or ‘reformed’ nature of his party appears to have some genuine conviction; indeed, it would arguably make more sense in the current political climate to court grass-root Conservative elements and turn his back on the issue. There is always some way in politics to justify (or seek to justify) a change in direction.

What is more interesting in this matter is the general perception by the opponents of gay marriage of how those of us agitating for full equality operate; or put simply, the vocal nature in which we fight for equal rights.

The crux of the issue is that, even in 2013, many people and groups are uncomfortable with LGBT visibility and voice. Religious institutions, for example, are very high up on this list. The myriad of issues here could all take up an article, nay a thesis, in their own right, but let us content ourselves with the Catholic Church’s recent offensive against LGBT people.

Whilst it finds itself good enough to deem LGBT people as worthy of some respect and (forgive me for the term) ‘toleration’, the Catholic Church is not prepared to give real ground in terms of full equality. Under Pope Benedict’s guidance, there were two directions that the church could take; either it could seek to reconnect with liberal-minded people by taking the bold step to embrace the change in social attitudes that pervade most civilised countries in today’s world regarding such issues, or it could seek to galvanise support with a ‘no surrender’, ‘no compromise’, approach. Benedict elected for the latter.

Hence, we have the rhetoric the like of which we endured at Christmas. Leading figures in both the Catholic and Anglican church took advantage of their position at a time when most people are celebrating the love and companionship of their families and friends, many of which will undoubtedly include LGBT people (even, surprise surprise, in Iran) to spread a message of intolerance and hate. They seek, whilst professing their general ‘tolerance’, to deem LGBT people either as disordered, or not worthy of equal rights such as marriage, because this threatens their own perception of how these institutions should function. In doing so, they casually ignore the real history of how said institutions have evolved; marriage existed before the Christian Church did.

This much, we all know. What is interesting, and worrying, is how leading religious figures and other opponents of marriage equality respond to the challenge that LGBT people pose to such arguments; one has only to take into account the contempt held for figures such as Peter Tatchell, often labelled a ‘troublemaker’. (Interesting when Tatchell is such an ardent supporter of free speech even when in direct contrast to his personal convictions.) What many of these religious leaders seek to do is to assume the position that because they are the representatives of a religion, they are entitled to express their views without challenge. This is not good enough.

Is it, therefore, intolerant of me to criticise the church because it seeks to deny me the rights that non-LGBT people were born with? I think not.

Indeed, it is more insidious than just that. What the opponents of equality are doing today is charging those who object to their warped sense of reality with the crime that they themselves are guilty of: intolerance. Is it, therefore, intolerant of me to criticise the church because it seeks to deny me the rights that non-LGBT people were born with? I think not.

Let us proceed to what is often the second argument used when someone does not like what you are saying – that it is ‘unseemly’, or ‘impolite’, to criticise those who spread their intolerant views. How very, depressingly British; and, may I say, ridiculous. Here, many LGBT people are also guilty. Why are many of us still bound by the notion, in 2013, that it is even acceptable for us to be hidden, or less vocal in who we are, or about the rights that we should have, because it is ‘unseemly’? Or that it is ‘disrespectful’ to criticise an institution just because it happens to be a church?

As LGBT people we are essentially conditioned to think that we should consider ourselves grateful if people are not openly spitting at us in the street.

This sense that LGBT people should be quiet pervades a wider issue; that of visibility. Consider exactly where you are safe to express affection towards a partner. In London, for example, this area is very small. For an area which has such a large concentration of LGBT people, it also has a high incidence of LGBT-related attacks. Nevertheless, we are told that generally we are ‘tolerated’ and that, despite lacking rights such as marriage, we have a pretty good deal. In other words, why are you complaining? As LGBT people we are essentially conditioned to think that we should consider ourselves grateful if people are not openly spitting at us in the street. If we are to continue to fight the existing prejudice that still pervades all levels of our society, we need to achieve full equality in all matters.

But this ‘put up and shut up’ attitude is exactly what the opponents of equality would like LGBT people to subscribe to; that they have been good enough to concede, or to compromise, some element of their bigoted views by allowing us a measure of equality through their ‘toleration’ and that we should be grateful for that. Gay marriage is firmly placed under these provisos by these people, and we should not complain, because they have been good enough to ‘tolerate’ us by giving us something second best. Well, ‘toleration’ is crass, and it is not enough. We are not entitled to ‘toleration’; we are entitled to equality because we are people, regardless of LGBT status, and why should anyone put a limit of ‘too far’ on our equality?

And we are entitled to be vocal about this. It is no more ‘unseemly’ of us to criticise those who deny others their equality than it is ‘unseemly’ for those who deny it to do so under a cloak of ‘religion’, or of ‘being entitled to an opinion’. In a free society, with freedom of expression, you open yourself to the scrutiny of others when you express an opinion, so get over it and stop being a coward.

Politicians are just as guilty of this cowardice, either in their reaction to bigotry, or in their opposition to equality. Consider the case of Conservative MP Gordon Henderson, who left Twitter last December because of the reaction to his anti-equal marriage tweets. His reason: that those arguing against him were demonstrating the very ‘intolerance’ that they were charging him with. One would think that someone who has decided to become a member of parliament might demonstrate more resilience.

Now, let’s be clear: it is indeed unacceptable, and unintelligent, to respond to views such as Mr Henderson’s with insults or offensive rhetoric. If that was the response that his views garnered, that is wrong; but, on the other hand, if you are a public figure using Twitter to spread your convictions, you should expect a response. To respond is not intolerant; it is holding an elected representative to account for views that seek to deny others their equality. Surely that’s part of democracy?

Similarly, politicians need to have more strength in their convictions against such opposition. When Nick Clegg was reportedly prepared to describe religious opponents of gay marriage as ‘bigots’ in September, he had to write a public letter of apology to the Archbishop Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster, hoping that ‘the serious error that occurred will not cause lasting offence’.

Why? We would have no problem in describing a public figure or institution expounding an anti-equality view based on a person’s race or religion as ‘bigoted’; why should Mr Clegg not have the right to describe a figure from a religious institution referring to LGBT people in similar terms? Hold on, we’ve just answered that one; apparently it’s acceptable if it’s LGBT people, and it’s the church talking, but not vice versa. Even our politicians are held captive by this notion.

So, yes, it is 2013, and no-one is denying the great strides that have been made in terms of equality. But no-one should be allowed to fool LGBT people that this is as much as they can expect to be ‘given’ , or that they should be quiet and polite about what they do not have. Where full equality on such issues as marriage is denied us, we should seek to take it, and we have the right to be visible and vocal about it without feeling the need to apologise. If others perceive that as being intolerant, they should not seek to promote their own intolerance.

Images: David Cameron MP courtesy of No. 10 Downing Street; Pope Benedict XVI courtesy of Giuseppi Ruggirello; Gordon Henderson MP courtesy of Pink News; Nick Clegg MP courtesy of David Spender.

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David Bowie releases new material

Today marks the 66th birthday of a true British legend, David Bowie, and he has celebrated by giving his fans a present of their own – brand new music. Bowie has released a video for the lead single ‘Where Are We Now’ and made the accompanying  album, The Next Day, available to pre-order. It will be his 24th studio album, and his first since 2003′s Reality.

It comes as a pleasant surprise for the music world and Bowie fans alike, who had long feared his silent retirement to New York meant the end of his career, given his lack of public appearances over the past decade. His absence was felt particularly this summer when British music royalty were paraded around for the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games, where Bowie was represented with tracks like ‘Heroes’ and ‘Fashion’ to the accompaniment of tribute videos.

We’ve been given a taste of what to expect by what’s already been revealed. The album artwork is a rather crude re-working of the cover for his classic 1977 album Heroes, and the track he’s released is an apparent reflection on his days in Berlin, with plenty of references to the German capital and its landscape. The video is a strange arty piece that again harks back to his work in the 1970s. Despite the forward looking title, The Next Day could prove to be something of a neo-Bowie reflection; a revisitation of a much examined life of work by the artist himself.

The Next Day is available to pre-order now on iTunes, with an immediate download of the single.

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London Collections: Christopher Shannon A/W’13

We’re very clever at inventing new genres here at So So Gay Towers. The Christopher Shannon show this afternoon provided the perfect product for, what we’ve christened ‘Haute-Scally’; sportswear with a high end edge.

 

Christopher Shannon

Models paraded around London’s Old Sorting Office (we’re starting to feel at home here) in a mix of knitwear – a first for the designer – and what resembled the shell-suit bottoms of the Eighties.

The urban edge came from both the scowling models and the sharp lines and colour blocking used by Shannon, a graduate of London’s Central Saint Martin’s.

Colours included brown, blue, grey and slate. The latter two being presented in many of the collections we’ve already seen.The use of zips by the designer, added to the sports theme.

One interesting addition to garments were ‘gaffer taped jeans’. It was Christopher Kane who first showed the use of gaffer tape , in his most recent womenswear collection. We’re excited to see if this makes an appearance in his menswear show later this week.

Christopher Shannon recently collaborated with Topman on a diffusion range.

Get the latest from London Collections:Men by following @SoSoGay_fashion and @Andrew_Whitty on Twitter.

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London Collections: Mohsin Ali A/W’13

So So Gay were lucky enough to be personally walked through the Autumn 2013 collection from Mohsin Ali by the designer himself.

The offering – a mix of grey, black, white and yellow – is made entirely in the UK and is the fifth season Ali has created clothing under his own name.

There have been collaborations with outerwear specialist Hancock, as well as a project with luggage brand Globetrotter.

The designer is incredibly down to earth for a talent with such an impressive CV. Graduating from The London College of Fashion in 1999 ‘Mo’, as he introduced himself, worked in both Paris and Milan before returning to London to launch his label.

Autumn 2013 is inspired by the martial art Taekwondo. The use of constructed shoulder and belt elements throughout are simple details with a large impact. Every shirt is white, to create a uniform effect throughout the looks.

Oversized t-shirts, creating a silhouette with volume, are dramatic but in a simple way. This is a look we’ve seen in many collections over the last two days. We predict a big trend here. We also fell in love with a light grey coat.

The upcoming Summer 2013 collection provides the same level of quality but with a bit of colour. Orange is the stand out hue, appearing in shorts, jackets and tees.

Mohsin Ali currently has no UK outlets, however, we think after this week that is set to change.

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You Should Know About… Race Car Hearts

After discovering Race Car Hearts due to being asked to review their début EP Tender/Violent, it became apparent that the band needed shouting about, because their music is brilliant and there is clearly something big here.

OK, so first of all, the EP itself. Tender/Violent is not the sort of title that inspires the greatest confidence, and EPs are generally used to see if an album is worth commissioning, and as a result aren’t generally heard of much. But if this is the kind of music that is being produced, then a direct appeal to the record label might be in order. The best track on it is ‘Mother Midnight’ (embedded below), strangely indie and twisted, yet hauntingly beautiful and powerful sounding, it’s like someone is appealing directly to a huge deity.

Committing the cardinal sin in rock, Race Car Hearts have covered ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, the legendary Nirvana track. However, if you have the music on in the background, you wouldn’t instantly know it was ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, not until the ‘hello’ lyrics, at least. It is that different – albeit the vocal line is approximately similar.

Now usually a huge groan is expressed when a new indie band tries to make themselves known, however because of the mix of classical and indie with electro and synth components, it is difficult to find comparable examples in popular music, and that is something quite extraordinary. Perhaps one could say that Race Car Hearts are like the Imogen Heap of the indie-rock world – impulsive and emotive music, that is also uniquely attractive.

 

As for the band themselves – though not really ‘a band’ according to their website – it is, ‘the creative guise for English singer/songwriter Chris Perrin’, but lists Ben Chisham, Rob Wilmshurst and Andy Sturges, amongst a list of eight other contributors, which sounds like a rather crowded recording session. The blog section is very Chris Perrin-heavy, but as the centre of the group that kind of makes sense, and gives the impression that he, along with producer Greg Haver (Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals, Lost Prophets), came up with a series of musical ideas and got different artists in to work on them, thus creating this maelstrom of music.

Funky, indie-genre music doesn’t usually come this good, and hasn’t for a long time. We can’t wait to see what is next for these guys.

Tender/Violent is available to buy from Amazon or iTunes.

Pictures taken from the band’s Facebook page