October 12, 2014

Technology Tries Fashion on for Size

findSimilar software is revolutionizing the way that we shop for fashion items, photo courtesy of Cortexica 
             Madonna said it best when she sang, “You know that we are living in a material world, and I am a material girl.” Never has this phrase been more true than today, but now the material world has joined forces with the technological realm. It doesn’t look as though this power couple is about to break up any time soon either.

             Polyvore and Pinterest are both websites that allow us to find inspiration from sources all over the web to compile and compartmentalize our favorite trends, looks, and wish lists. Each user is able to customize the visuals to their own specified tastes, which is perhaps why these websites, and those similar, have become so popular.

An example of a set on Polyvore entitled "how to wear whites during the cooler months," photo courtesy of Polyvore
An example of a Pinterest board, photo courtesy of Pinterest
             With London Fashion Week last month, the swell of bloggers seen live Tweeting and simultaneously writing posts from the front row has now become the norm. Online live streaming of the catwalk shows was all the rage, allowing anyone to get in on the action with just the click of a button.

             Ralph Lauren’s runway show at New York Fashion Week was a 4-D spectacle, incorporating a wall of water shooting into the sky alongside holographic effects. This allowed models to strut their stuff with a backdrop of New York City attractions, such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the High Line.

The 4-D Ralph Lauren runway show at New York Fashion Week, photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times
             Technology is a salient force in our lives and it really is about joining the bandwagon or being left behind. This brings me to talk about the emergence of new software that is helping to shape the way we view fashion as we know it. Created by computer science engineers at Imperial College London, findSimilar software allows you to take a photo of any fashion item, and then as the name suggests, find similar items.

Caught in the act!
My friend Florian very kindly let me "steal his style." Not just for women, findSimilar software caters to men as well!
             Fashion technology company, Cortexica, is getting ready to launch its findSimilar software within the mobile apps of some of the United Kingdom’s largest retailers. The software has already been sold to apps such as Style Thief, which is free to download from the App Store here.

 After snapping this jumpsuit from The Kooples, the results provided me with various other jumpsuit options and even showed me where to shop for them! 
             We have all had those moments where we spot someone in a crowd who is impeccably dressed. We admire their style, but usually are too timid to ask where they bought their hat, coat, cardigan, jacket, dress etc. As a woman, I also appreciate the art of a well-dressed man. Who wouldn’t fall for a sharply tailored suit? I’ll be the first to admit that I have inconspicuously snapped photos of various people’s shoes in the hopes of discovering a pair similar for myself. I usually scour various stores to no avail, but that’s where findSimilar software comes into its own.

             I tested the software out for myself to show you just how simple (and incredibly convenient!) it is to use. Whether you want to find an exact match, an equivalent with a designer price tag, or a cheaper alternative, findSimilar does all of the work for you. Women (and men!) the world over will be singing the praises of the Imperial College London team!

My outfit of the day; I'm currently loving the neon trend! Recreating my look just became easier than ever before.
             Street style is becoming an increasingly popular trend and an increasingly popular interest. Humans of New York, and the lesser-known Humans of London, both work on the principle of taking photos of people in general, not just their style. We are also shown a snippet of their personalities with the included interview exchange between photographer and subject. Everyday people can become celebrities in their own right. They welcome their fifteen minutes of fame and they have every right to! Everybody subconsciously wants to be noticed. London Fashion Week is a prime example of this. It comes with the territory that photographers will have their fingers hovering above their camera shutter, lying in wait to pounce on their next fashion prey.  

 A feel-good portrait captured by Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York, photo courtesy of Humans of New York
             I am constantly inspired by street style and by the photos I see in magazines. As a fashion blogger myself, it wouldn’t even be possible for me to post my outfits of the day without a camera, let alone a computer. My fashion blog and this blog are both forums where I can reach out to others in an online environment and connect in ways that would have been impossible before. Bloggers Love is a community that sets up events in London so that bloggers can meet face to face. They are launching the Bloggers Love Hub in November, which will be a space where bloggers can network, blog, and share advice and tips about blogging.

The Anya Hindmarch Spring/Summer 2015 collection was my favorite during London Fashion Week, photo courtesy of Anya Hindmarch
Now it's possible to shop the look and I found a French Connection replica for a very reasonable price!

             The common denominator that makes all of the things in this blog post possible? Technology. Who knows, perhaps one day you’ll end up as someone’s style inspiration. Take it as a compliment, because most likely they’re just trying to emulate your style. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and findSimilar have just made the imitating part a whole lot easier.

             Get snapping and be inspired!

I used a photograph from my style blog, A Stitch in Time, and was then matched with more luscious maroon outerwear
             Check out Cortexica’s website here to learn more about findSimilar technology. View my style blog, A Stitch in Time, here.

October 05, 2014

Greenwich Acting Navigator

             Little did I know as I made my trek to the National Maritime Museum that I would soon become acquainted with very possibly my new favorite location in London. In accordance with a history course I am taking for my philosophy minor, my intended visiting purpose was the Ships, Clocks & Stars exhibition.

             I ended up in a place called Maze Hill, which required three changes on the Underground and one on the Overground to reach. However, I quickly became enraptured with what I saw of the London skyline, just peeping above the trees in Greenwich Park. As soon as I spied the familiar silhouettes of the Shard and the Gherkin, I knew that the view had immense potential if I could perch myself somewhere with higher elevation. First, I had to attend to the matter at hand.

             The National Maritime Museum is essentially situated inside the outermost edges of Greenwich Park. I had a beautiful day for exploring, most uncharacteristic of October weather. The sun was beating down gloriously over the vast greenery that surrounded me, ideal for bouncy dogs, lazy strolls, lovers’ trysts, and makeshift picnics alike.

             Just as an explorer sets sail in search of land, I found my equivalent. The museum was landmarked with a gigantic ship in a bottle. I was sad to substitute the sun with the cooler indoors, but the museum’s main foyer was quaint all the same. To my right were numerous tables and chairs, with an inviting sign: “Enjoy your packed lunch here! And why not take in the lovely view while you are at it.” The museum seemed to share my sentiments in regards to the view and tapped into my childhood reverie of school trips consisting of clipboard questions and ham sandwiches.

             To commemorate the 300th anniversary of the passing of the Longitude Act in 1714, the Ships, Clocks & Stars exhibition details how we eventually arrived at a solution to solve the age-old problem of navigating by longitude (distance east and west). The Longitude Act offered rewards to those who could propose such a solution, with the methods of clocks and stars emerging victorious in the end. All of John Harrison’s five timekeepers were truly a marvel to be seen together, their intricacies amplified and their inner workings fascinating to behold.

John Harrison's H1 timekeeper, photo courtesy of the National Maritime Museum
             The National Maritime Museum would not normally be my cup of tea, but as far as I’m concerned, I am always ready and raring to explore new areas of London. I once set myself a mental goal to alight at every tube station in London, but perhaps that was a little overambitious on my part. Nonetheless, I did find the exhibition interesting. I particularly enjoyed the wall-sized map pinpointing over a dozen of London’s coffee houses during the 1700s and the accompanying coffee cups on display.

This statue outside of the museum honors King William IV, who was known as the "Sailor King"
             It was and still is dangerous to travel at sea, which is why discovering better ways of navigating had been a vexing problem since the late 1400s. Advances in navigation might not have made the seas any less treacherous, but they certainly made them safer and more manageable. I found it surprising that the quest for longitude was mocked or seen as a “get rich quick” scheme. William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress (Plate 8) was particularly jarring, depicting a link between the search for longitude and madness.

William Hogarth's A Rake's Progress (Plate 8), 1735, shows an inmate of Bethlem Royal Hospital (Bedlam) sketching Humphrey Ditton and William Whiston's signalling proposal and other longitude ideas on the hospital wall, photo courtesy of Tate 
             After my tour of the exhibition, I was pleased to learn that the sun had not yet retreated behind a cloud. A group of people, looking miniscule from a distance, had already congregated at the top of a hill. Working up a sweat, I climbed that hill with fervor in anticipation of what I would see. The view overlooking the River Thames was truly breathtaking, a view to die for in every sense of the phrase. To my left, the Shard and the Gherkin proudly stood out amidst the rest of the skyscrapers, while to my right, the O2 Arena nestled itself in comfortably, looking like the back of an enormous tortoise shell.

 With the Royal Observatory seen on the right, this was my view from below after leaving my prime spot at the top of the hill with the others (left)
             This is the view that I wanted to share with you all, because let’s be honest, it’s too good not to:

I spy with my little eye...

             Not only is a fantastic view awaiting you, but at the top of the hill, you will also find The Royal Observatory, which was commissioned in 1675 by King Charles II. The Royal Observatory in Greenwich is the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and the Prime Meridian of the world. You can snap a photo standing on the Meridian Line and visit London’s only planetarium.

             Even after two years in London (wow, how time flies!), I still experience “pinch me” moments all the time, and this was certainly one of them. Although Greenwich is quite far away from Central London, the trip is more than worth it, and I guarantee you’ll be pinching yourself all the way home. To plan your visit, view the Royal Museums Greenwich homepage here. The Ships, Clocks & Stars exhibition runs until January 4, 2015.