Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Will Zaggora, work for ya...?

Zaggora is an iconic brand specializing in developing technology enabled clothing. They are committed to delivering a natural and efficient way for women to achieve more out of their workouts. Their products enhance the workouts creating quicker and longer lasting results.
But the cynical out there may ponder whether Zaggora are just another money hungry brand looking to take advantage of women’s insecurities and quest for physical perfection. But the company was in fact founded by Dessi Bell, a former panic stricken bride-to-be, who had been on a desperate hunt to find a product or treatment capable of helping her lose weight and significantly diminish the appearance of cellulite in time for the big day. Being all too aware of the plight us girlies and our bumpy wobbly bits, she was determined to find something that worked.
I have tried out an cellulite reducing legging before and I was pleased with the results, so I am confident that effective technology has been found in the hunt for smooth thighs. In the case of the Zaggora though I feel you are getting more for your money than other alternatives. Admittedly when they arrived I got a surprise when I lifted them out of their packet. They were thick and of a substantial wet-suit like material which didn’t necessarily scream comfort. It did however feel far more worth the money than the slimline leggings I had worn before. 

I am now writing this review fresh from a 30 minute jog round Weybridge. Despite my previous imagination that I would look like some sort of Eastern European weightlifter in the thick black capris they actually were extremely flattering once pulled on. I say pulled on, it is a bit more of a hearty maneuver than a simple slip on given the robust and tight nature of the material. I would imagine that is exactly same as when putting on a wet-suit, but with my lack of water sport experience I can only hazard a guess! It’s always a bit daunting going for a run round my way, their is a high probability you will bump or get beeped by someone you know or have to pass a troop of intimidating lecherous builders who will heckle and holla... or even worse, completely ignore your sweaty self!  I was inevitable that taking part in some sort of exercise would equal me looking rather unappealing, with my slicked back hairs, naturally rouging skin and lack of make up, but at least my legs looked pretty good. The capris fit tightly to give you the sense of support,  but without you feeling restricted or conscious that they are showing too many details of your nether regions ( if you know what I mean!)

So aesthetically there were ticking boxes, but would they do what the press release said they would?
Well......when I took them off ahead of my post run body, the heat and sweat that came from my legs was like never before... clearly something had been going on there, which made me confident that they had been going to work on my cellulite thighs...
Of course I won’t notice the positive smoothing results straight away... but I am definitely going to wear them with every work out from this point onwards. Now this sounds like a positive end to my review but their is a minor detail that potentially puts a major spanner in the work.... Will I continue to work out?? With my workload and generally hectic lifestyle it’s very hard to find a spare half hour in the day and if I do it is very hard to persuade myself that going for a run is the way I want to spend it.. particularly when Friends is on the Comedy Channel and there’s some choccie biscuits in the cupboard....
Zaggora have thought of that too, with nude versions of their hot pants for variety if you wish to wear underneath your day garments.They launched the Hotpants in July 2011 – selling a pair every minute in their first 10 weeks, over 275,000 pairs within the first five months. Thriving on social proof from over 130,000 women on Facebook. In November last year, the brand commissioned the physiology department at a leading UK University in the field of sports science to conduct a series of tests to research the thermal and metabolic changes that occur when exercising in Hotpants compared to a standard pair of gym shorts. Their findings are quite astonishing.

Tested on nine females with an average BMI of 23.3, they found that, compared to a standard garment in 30 minutes of exercise:

    •    Weight loss is around FOUR TIMES GREATER in Hotpants
    •    Hotpants increased the energy expenditure during exercise by 6%
    •    Hotpants increase energy expenditure in the resting stage after exercise by 16%
    •    The core temperature in Hotpants increased by an average of 18% compared to the control
    •    Thermal sensation was significantly greater but safe in Hotpants

Here are some more science stuff for the geeks who like facts...
The trousers/hot pants uses really cool, super enhanced bio ceramic technology which uses your natural body heat to target the areas women care about the most.
Specially designed with our Celu‐Lite™ technology, they work to reduce body fat and the visible appearance of cellulite by using your natural body heat to warm your muscles by increasing your perspiration.
Celu‐Lite™ technology reflects back the heat naturally generated by the body to promote deeper warming of your tissue leading to higher levels of perspiration and therefore breaking down fat and toxins that contribute to the appearance of cellulite.
Zaggora products promote good circulation and aid lymphatic drainage, providing a detox for the body.
By increasing your body temperature, your heart works harder to boost circulation, thus improving your cardiovascular system.
Studies have shown that for every gram of perspiration, your body also burns half a calorie. So, 100 grams of perspiration nets you almost 50 calorie

So, If famed leg goddesses Fearne Cotton, Tess Daly and The Saturdays are using them, then I am most definitely converted to the Zaggora ways....

CAPRI FLARES are our three quarter length Flares, targeting your knees, thighs and bottom. Shorter but still just as effective, CAPRI FLARES can be worn indoors or outdoors. Super comfortable and made to fit into your lifestyle, whilst still targeting those problem areas we all care about. To maximise the effect and increase your perspiration, wear your CAPRI FLARES whilst you workout.

Zaggora recognises that not everyone has the time to workout regularly, introducing our best selling product in NUDE. Wear underneath your clothes to experience the same amazing effect. Thinner, yet not compromising on result, NUDE HOTPANTS can we worn anywhere and fit into every lifestyle. Giving you more for your time and effort. £44.99


Sunday, 26 February 2012

My Interview with The Brute Chorus

Describe the average day of a The Brute Chorus member.....

That question used to be a lot easier to answer when we all lived together! We all have pretty separate lives now.

Completing the band line up with bassist Dave was quite a weird coincidence.Are you people that believe in 'meant to be', destiny, fate etc....

A lot of the songs on our album How The Caged Bird Sings deal with the idea of fate. It’s very easy to say stuff was meant to be or more often not meant to be. When I was writing those songs I definitely believed in fate and destiny but since then I’ve learned that I can have more control over my own destiny than I thought, and also to remember how amazing chance and coincidences such as finding Dave can work to one’s advantage.

Some of you were in a band together before the realization of The Brute Chorus. Was the new sound that was made from playing and writing together surprising - or was it outlined to a degree in discussions about intent for the band?

We’d been playing in the band Low Sparks for a while and we just grew out of it in terms of the sound and what we were writing about. It was time for a change. We didn’t really sit down and draw up a manifesto but our attitude was certainly different.  We were more focused musically. The Brute’s sound has evolved too and that’s great. Sometimes it makes it hard for people to pigeonhole us or pin us down but I think we have a distinctive style that’s discernible in everything we do. When you hear a Brute Chorus song you definitely know it’s us!

It has been said that you are all into ‘roots’ music. Are there any current bands you are enjoying or that you even see informing your work inadvertently?

We were all raised on folk music and that informs a lot of what we do but we’ve all got such eclectic taste in music it would be a lie to say we only listened to folk or blues music. We think the music we make is very contemporary albeit built out of some quite old fashioned influences. It’s a tricky thing to start listing bands who are influences. Everything you listen to influences you in some way. In terms of bands we’d plug; we’re always happy to recommend John & Jehn, Kirsty McGee, Anna Calvi, Mary Epworth, Underground Railroad, John J Presley, The Fabulous Penetrators,  La Shark and a host of others we’ve worked with and consider ‘friends’.

Victor Van Vugt has produced some of your work. He has worked with artists you greatly admire. You have mentioned that you like having control over what you do, so what attributes do the people you work with have to have to allow you to relinquish control happily?

With people like Victor it’s easier because we’ve heard and admired the work he’s done in the past. In fact when he first arrived we were probably too in awe of him and it took a while to break the ice! So much of what we do is done by us and this is a real part of who we are as a band. We have a close-knit group of friends we work with regularly and these relationships are born out of mutual respect for each other. When we started making videos with David Fishel, he’d worked with The Drums and Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip before us. He and I had long Skype chats before we agreed to work together. The things that convinced me were that he clearly loved the songs and also he had such strong ideas for the videos, not to mention his production values are clearly very high! It was a really rewarding working with him and we’ll probably do more too!

What sort of relationship did you have with Victor. Was he accepting of everyones opinions , was he taskmaster/laidback etc. Did you manage to squeeze out any good stories about previous artists he’s worked with?

Ha! Victor’s an awesome raconteur, bon viveur and drinking buddy. Sadly, due to the way we made that record with him we didn’t have much time in his company. He came and oversaw the recording which was done as a live show but then he took the tapes back to his studio in New York. We then had to mix the album by correspondence. We were on tour and he would send us the day’s mixes and we’d bounce back our comments. The process took over two weeks. He worked really hard on it and we were really pleased with the results. We’ve stayed in touch and are looking forward to hooking up again when we get to America.

You have been invited to play SXSW but you are going to make the most of your Visas and squeeze in a tour kicking off in New York - a city known for its particular music scenes. How do you predict you will be received?  

You can never predict these things. We just hope that people will come to see us! We’ve got a lot of confidence in ourselves. We know we can put on a good show anywhere. If New York provides the crowd, we’ll take care of the rest!

Apart from being a great life experience, what do you hope the band will gain from the trip ideally?

We’re looking to build relationships while we’re over there. We’d like to come over and play more and get our music heard by a new audience in the States. It’s the land of opportunity after all, right?

You are raising money to fund the trip yourself. Bands with impressive fan-bases seem to be struggling financially these days. How do you think music industry needs to change to support bands?

Change is happening… it’s just really slow. That’s the frustrating thing. It’s taken too long for labels etc to adapt to how people want to consume/listen to music. Too much is invested into rereleasing back catalogues are revamping old bands… comeback tours etc. There’s not enough invested in new music! This is an attitude that needs adjusting. Instead of paying millions for Stone Roses or whoever to reform and fill the big festival slots they should be investing in developing new talent to fill those spaces. New bands should be given more opportunities to rise to the occasion. New bands are expected to do more for themselves these days. This is a good thing. The punk ethos has a lot to offer but there comes a point now where bands need to be endorsed by those who still hold sway over the industry. Labels/promoters need to give more acts their vote of confidence before the wider public will take notice.

It is not unusual for American bands to move to London when they realize there is more demand for their particular sound here and vice versa. Would you be willing to up sticks to another country?

If it looked like it was worth doing I don’t think any of us would hesitate to try a change of scene! We love living here in London but who wouldn’t like a spell in New York or somewhere else equally as glamorous?!

Although many initially pigeon hole you as one particular genre you actually incorporate many sounds, including punk and rock n roll. Essentially your music is generally high energy. Do you always manage to win over audiences and get them to dance? If you have a less receptive crowd how does it affect you during and post show?

I think when we choose our set before a show we usually go for the more high energy stuff, especially if it’s a short set in a long bill of other acts. That’s when we really want to grab people’s attention. With longer sets it’s nice to relax a bit and play with the dynamics more. It would be a lie to say we’ve never had a bad gig or that we’ve won over every audience we’ve played before. It’s never nice to leave a gig feeling like it could’ve gone better or we could’ve played better but it does make us more determined to get it right the next time.

You have played  Camden Crawl a few times, and the likes of The Great Escape. Do prefer/think you are best suited to the more intimate, city based festivals or would you ideally play or the larger festivals?

We’ve done both now. We’ve done a lot of those urban festivals and they’re really fun but we’ve done Glastonbury too. I think our favourites are the smaller ones like Secret Garden Party or Standon Calling as they’re the sort of festivals we like to attend as punters. We usually play in clubs and tents and that seems to suit our show quite well but we’d never turn down the opportunity to play larger venues.

You have spoken of the sacrifices and tough times that have occurred during your career. Has there ever been a moment where any of you have considered leaving it all behind. What keeps you all going?

We’ve all had those moments. Usually when one of us wants to throw in the towel it’s the others that keep them at it. We’re all so close as friends that to leave would be a very hard thing indeed. When our drummer Matt quit last year it was heart breaking. Finding Mark to take his place was great but he had an uphill struggle to begin with finding his place personally and musically with us. You have to be prepared to make sacrifices for the things you love and being in this band can be a frequent reminder of that fact! Somehow we all still get so much out of it that we’re still going.

In an interview I watched you spoke of working other jobs and mentioned a particularly lovely memory from working in a pub involving a urinating man. Are you still having to juggle band life with other jobs? How does that affect he musical output?

Yeah, it’s difficult finding time to rehearse and do all the stuff that being in this band involves. Today, for example, I’ve taken a day out of work to finish T-shirt designs, compose the latest mailshot, answer these questions etc. Keeping body and soul together and being a Brute requires a high level of commitment to both! Sure there are times when musical progress seems to grind to a halt. Of course life would be a lot easier if we had a record advance or sold a bunch of albums and didn’t need to work so hard at other things. Our sole aim since starting the band has been to make a living from our music. That’s still a way off but we’ll never stop trying.

Your single, ‘My Testament’ is released in March, it has foundations from another song. Can you elaborate how it came about?

I became obsessed with a song I’d been playing as part of my DJ set. It’s by Big Brown and the Gamblers. It says what should be done with the singer’s earthly remains: If I die… send me to my ma; if my ma don’t want me… send me to my pa; if my pa don’t want me throw me in the sea; if the fish don’t want me… and so on. I’d just split with my fiancĂ© and spent nearly 8 months crashing on people’s floors because I was broke due to some bad money issues connected with the band blah blah... Suddenly this song had a lot of relevance to me just when I had no money and what felt like no one to care for me. We’ve never done many covers as a group but I persuaded the guys to give it a new twist and wrote some extra lines and we really made it our own.

It has been self produced, was this a financial decision or because you wanted it to be a result made up solely of your input?

In this instance it was partly because we were broke, but also we knew we wanted a really garage rock sound for it. We recorded it live in our rehearsal room and then built a mix-down station in our sound engineer’s living room. We wanted to get it down quick and with minimum fuss so that’s what we did. I’d like us to make a really glossy, lush record one day but I also really love the sound we got on this recording. Finding a half way point will be an interesting challenge!

As well as Camden’s Freedm studios and The Strongrooms you have recorded in a lofty, echoey hall in the Lake district. What sort of location creates the sounds you like the most and what setting/environment is best in terms of your creative flow?

The hall in the lake district was amazing. It was an ordeal to record there but the sound the room made became almost the most important instrument on the record! We prefer to have our songs written in advance of going in to record. Because of the way we write some songs can be very quick and others can literally take months. Trying to write and record simultaneously would add a pressure that wouldn’t be enjoyable for me.

Looking over your music so far, how would you say it has evolved over the years?

It’s darker and heavier now.  We’ve lost most of that jaunty skiffly sound now. There’s been no massive shift in the songwriting but our musical palette is broader now and we incorporate other instruments. My thing recently has been buying vintage organs and synthesizers (which Nick then fixes/doctors) so expect these sounds on future recordings!

You have done the very gutsy thing of recording a live album. Do you think this is something every band should dare to do?

No. It felt like the right thing for us to do at the time, but it’s certainly not for everyone and I dunno if we’d go through it again!

What event in The Brute Chorus career would/has really mark/ed that 'we've really made it' moment for you?

There’ve been many. We’ve never actually ‘made it’ but land marks have been our first radio plays, Glastonbury, our first TV appearance, sound tracking the Adidas ad, our first European tour and now SXSW!

What is on your recently played list?

I’ve been listening to the new albums by The Black Lips, Timber Timbre and The Do as well as some old Nino Ferrer. Last night I got pissed and downloaded loads of gospel music. My current favourite is Marion Williams – The Day Is Past And Gone.

Guilty pleasure?

Pilchards in tomato sauce. Cold from the can.

Person/Band you’d most like to collaborate with?

Lee Hazlewood

Goals for 2012?

America conquered.  A new album recorded.


I'm so used to getting the hump when looking at the overly busy inbox these days that receiving an email from the team at Vauxhall Fashion Scout on the weekend was a particularly welcome treat. Despite the fact that one of my most important new years resolutions has been to try and get my work/life balance better this year, I have still been working my ass off , albeit a tighter version than 2011's- I have managed to stick to my new fitness regime thus far. I knew that I would have to do a watered down version of LFW this season or I would land myself in a tired heap and be scarily behind on other work commitments, so I didn't make the usual effort in applying for show tickets. But when I got an email inviting me to the Pam Hogg show there was no way I was going to miss it...there's a reason it is one of the busiest shows each fashion week.


I arrived a bit early at Freemason Hall, the venue for many of the most exciting shows during the fashionable week. I am one of those people that always get the train before the one I need to, just in case any unforeseen events occur that should affect the speed of my journey. Being a stickler for time should be a positive trait, but essentially it means I have probably spent the majority of my life waiting and getting huffy, largely because the majority of my friends are creative/music types who are renowned for their less than punctual nature. As I said before there was no way I would allow TFL to ruin my plans yet again, so I got to the venue with time to spare. As instructed on in my email I called the lovely girls from Vauxhall Fashion Scout who located me amongst the mass bustle of people queuing outside, thanks largely to my polarizing neon statement jumper. The lovely Kate and Laura took me the back way through to the catwalk and sat me down in the front row. I always feel rather unworthy of that situation, but I wasn't going to argue my premier seating position... I'm a plonker at times, but I'm not completely stupid!

I was due to meet a friend in Chelsea for a fashion party/catwalk show afterwards so was feeling a bit stressed as the clock ticker progressed considerably past the scheduled start time. To be honest it is rare for shows to start on time though, and in this case at least the staff were calm and polite, and less like the rough cattle herders I'd experienced at other shows desperately attempting to seat all the wannabe attendees. While more stylish but sweaty bodies were attempted to be slotted into the small gaps, some of the celebrities took advantage of the extended waiting time, positioning themselves in the centre of the catwalk for superior viewing potential, giving ample opportunity for the paps to get as many shots of them as possible. X Factor singer Alexandra Burke took particularly pleasure in lapping up the attention. Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes opted for the cooler, 'I don't need press' approach, sitting calmly in the front row naturally emanating pure X factor. Other celebrities in attendance included the 'worlds first supermodel' Janice Dickinson and Tolula Adeyemi, as well as the colourful fashion faces you see pop up at every show and party.
Finally the chaos died down and the room looked in some sort of order... the lights dimmed. After a brief pause a twangy guitar sound filled the room to introduce a model with a red, black and white graphic latex dress, with a full swishing skirt,  a strong look completed by a coned head piece. After a similar skirted look which is by now accompanied by a country violin/fiddle and an 'unusual' vocal, Pam Hogg's trademark jumpsuits are now on display - all with incredible statement head gear. Just under three minutes in we see a model of a short stature sporting a blackened uni-brow contrasted against a platinum quiff which popped out from her over sized monochrome bonnet. It is none other than diminutive actress Jaime Winstone, who despite her less than model stats looked great on the catwalk, with just the right amount of attitude and rebellion to sport Hogg's style with aplomb.


Okay, so admittedly the nude/sheer bodysuits are not every day wear for us normal folk - unless you wish to cause traffic accidents, run the risk of getting arrested, catch a cold, give your parents a heart attack.... and potentially cause people to vomit if your body is not in the nick required for such daring attire, like myself. However, they should be looked at with wonder. The way they show everything, but nothing at the same time is a major design feat. On many of the body stockings the modesty stripes, strips and opaque blocks are situated just so that everything is exposed apart from the naughty bits, the clever shapes and lines also enhancing or streamlining the body. But of course it wouldn't feel right not to see a few boobs and bottom cheeks in one of the weeks notoriously risque shows.



There was also a mass of metallics used during the show, as well as some striking full skirted dresses, we saw some catsuits which transformed the models into some sort of sci- fi warriors albeit slightly confused about what era they had found themselves in during time travel, sporting the contrasting old fashioned bonnets.

pam hogg metallic

pam hogg metallic catsuits

The garment which appeared to receive the most coos was a heavily embellished rose gold dress, which had stunning blush chiffon detailing on the sleeves matching a skirt which trailed off the back romantically. Despite the glamorous and slightly ethereal nature it was still given a glam rock edge by the block gold platform shoes. Another statement look which seemed to be a odds with the majority of the collection was an absolutely stunning cream dress, which whispered virginal bride, with an empire line recalling Jane Austen era, the sheer back adding a bit of 'the naughty' with the collar giving it a majestic, regal edge.

pam hogg a/w - SEQUINS


From the images displayed in this post  you don't need me to tell you that a Pam Hogg show is fun, but particular humour was instilled via her use of fur - more than a few smiles were raised when a model strutted sporting fur on her pubic area - merkin style. I am such a safe dresser that I react to shows of this manner as theatre and entertainment and almost as a voyeur... admiring those daredevils willing to go where I never could. Despite the out- there, gutsy, sexy, rebellious looks,  the craftsmanship and skill of the designer and her makers should not be ignored . The fit and construction of the pieces warrants applause just as much as the spectacle of the show... and applause is what it got in abundance, as well as some enthusiastic woops from behind me - a gaggle of people clearly their to show support for the strutting Ms Winstone.

For me fashion week should be about variation and contrast. Yes I want to see the pieces that I can translate from the catwalk and purchase through the high street versions and interpretations, but I also want to get swept away to extravagant and even silly destinations, where the clothes are incredible but completely unimaginable in an every day scenario...  merely acting as means of showcasing the designers flair and extreme imagination.  I would normally say that the Pam Hogg show fell into 'the look, but not wear' category ... but since my recent trip to Atsuko Kudo, I would dare to say that I night be rather partial to one of Ms Hoggs latex numbers...Let's just say if I was a Jessie J, Paloma Faith, Nick Minaj type I would be getting my stylist to ring studio Hogg immediately!


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