Tuesday, June 30, 2009


It was very late on a Wednesday night in Paris.
Elisabeth had taken me along to a gorgeous party and I was walking home feeling a little elegantly wasted. Glad of the walk, but not sure of the area, I tensed up as I saw a couple of dodgy looking geezers approach. Here we go, they're going to ask me the time first, then start hassling me. They closed in and one of them said;

"Vous etes ravissante mademoiselle."

Apparently in some quarters this would be considered disrespectful. Perhaps the people in those quarters have never had someone say, "Oi, oi," (difficult to translate) or "I'davesummathat", or my favourite; "Oi, smile love, might never happen." Why would anyone ever respond to that last one with anything other than an icy glare.

I'm under no illusions; I'm quite sure that the last thing I looked at that moment was ravissante, more to the point I am clearly borderline past the point of being addressed as mademoiselle (perhaps in the dark). If this is the worst I can expect from lecherous blokes on late night boulevards, then I'm fairly impressed with their vocabulary. What, no making that strange call that sounds like you're trying to attract a squirrel, or the delightful "Bella Figa" I know so well from Italy?

In any case, I moved swiftly on, obviously; marveling at the quaintness of the phrase and dreading my return to London.

Monday, June 29, 2009


*When I realised my trip to Paris coincided with Les Soldes I was very happy. I love the Paris sales - everything is 50 or 40% off straight away and boutiques still function as places where you get service, rather than places where the staff bung all the stock on the shop floor, then run away and leave you to elbow your way through the dregs. It's all quite civilised and I don't know if it's a sign of the recession or not, but they seem more likely to have the thing you want in the size you need - rather than the usual situation where you end up buying something ridiculous in the wrong size just because it's in the sale.

*When I arrived at my friends' building in the 3rd where I usually stay, I was looking around the courtyard for the Gardien to give me the key. Then I couldn't help but notice the parade of beautiful young men exiting the door of the Ann Demeulemeester showroom (which is downstairs) putting their shirts back on. Casting. Mens' fashion week. Of course.

So events took an interesting turn - shopping wise and male model wise (though my days as a mens' fashion week modelizer are long gone - about 13 years long gone.)

Paris was hot, sunny and beautiful as always. It made me feel generally more enthused about life than I have been. My trip was too short and I'm still in shock at having to come back to London so soon, when I was having such a good time.

More later, and probably all this week about the shopping (success at Vanessa Bruno!) and the cute boys (fun!). But for now here's a picture of a cute dog: I don't seem to take the kind of photos I used to in Paris; no more gratuitous close ups of macarons and the like, though you can find plenty of those here...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


London, I'm leaving you. (For a few days anyway.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

CLEO DE 5 A 7...

I have wanted to see this film forever, and kicked myself for not buying the DVD when I had the chance at an Agnes Varda exhibition in Paris. But thanks to some kind soul we can all watch it.

It was really interesting but kind of boring - and that will be the title for my new book on French New Wave cinema! No, seriously, it was perhaps not a good idea to watch it when I was feeling restless, as it unfolds almost in real time. Visually it's the perfect snapshot of 1960s Paris. Watch it in bed on a rainy afternoon with a slight hangover.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I realised last night that the reason for going to see opera or ballet, for me at least, is the peak moment. I'm not so interested in technical accomplishment, the set design is not usually stimulating enough to hold my attention and the costumes shouldn't distract from the performance. I'm not thinking about any of those things. Just trying to lose myself to the point where I'm not distracted by the trombonist in my eye line looking bored when he doesn't have to play, or even aware of each composite part making up the whole. This state is not that easy to achieve but last night, during the all too short Le Spectre de la Rose segment of the Ballets Russes performed by the English National Ballet at Sadlers Wells, I was briefly lost in the moment. From then on, The Dying Swan, (tutu designed by Herr Lagerfeld, the incredible strength needed in the arms to perform it) Faune, (two male dancers and two grand pianos) and the bonkers crazy freakout of The Rite of Spring (which provoked riots at its first performance in 1913 by the original Ballets Russes in Paris) was just a seamless whirl of motion. Ah, to be transported. I sound like such a luvvie: Oh! Diaghilev, Stravinsky, Fokine, Balanchine, Bakst, Anna Pavlova...can't help it, it evokes so much. I wish I had been around to see the real Ballets Russes, or that there existed today a true modern equivalent of the creative collaboration between great artists in different fields, pushing a medium forward as they did.

Making the wings for the Karl Lagerfeld designed tutu at Lemarie.

Here's a video of KL's tutu in action at Chanel HQ in rue Cambon.

Here's a good article about the centenery of Ballets Russes.

the trailer for the Ballets Russes documentary.

Before I float away on a cloud of tulle, here's a quote from the increasingly quotable KL (Alzheimers?):
"I think every designer of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century has a touch of influence from the Ballets Russes. It is not something you can put into words. That would be kind of pretentious and not true. If you are good with words you can make hours about this kind of bullshit."
{image source}

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Playing nurse to Lola, who alternately face plants in her food, stares at the wall for hours or lies purring with her little head cupped in my hand. She doesn't seem to be aware of the huge bald patch below her collar. Heavy sedation prior to manhandling, an anaesthetic, 3 x-rays, numerous blood tests - and this very expensive (but excellent value!) animal is home with a course of painkillers and a report of no broken bones.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Thank God.

Phoebe Philo's first collection for Celine. See the rest here. Finally, something for, as Cathy Horyn coined it, the post Helmut Lang generation (i.e. me).

{photos from Style.com}

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Hello, hello. I have no excuses for my lack of posts in the last week, none at all. However, I have been getting very friendly with the postman, who either calls me "love" or "mate", and somehow coming from him I don't mind it at all. Maybe because he is delivering all kinds of goodies from the US of A via Internetland.

I was very lucky to actually kind of WIN something for the first time in my life. If you have not been following Erica's Laws of General Economy then may I ask why not? Do you not want a chance to help people with impeccable taste clear their wardrobes of barely worn unwanted Mayle, Isabel Marant, Marc Jacobs etc? Or maybe you want a much nicer way of clearing your gently worn, lovely things than ebay. Go there now (after you've finished reading this post of course) although if you're outside the US check listings to make sure international shipping is ok before commenting. I was very very happy to be picked out of the hat and receive this Steven Alan top, which I've been wearing all the time and kept meaning to take a photo of myself in and then post, but because I hate taking my photo I haven't got round to it yet. Anyway I caught Keira Knightley checking the top out when I walked past her in Marylebone (and yes she did that annoying pouty lip thing as soon as she clocked that I'd seen her. Funny girl - looks perfectly normal and lovely until she realises someone is looking at her, then she goes all snooty/pouty.)

I also caved in and ordered some Saltwater sandals - although the people that make them, rather quaintly don't appear to get the whole concept of "outside of the USA" and I couldn't find anywhere that would ship internationally without me handing over my first born. But I managed to persuade a kind friend in the US (thanks R!) to forward them to me. And do you know what? Every time I wear them in London people come rushing up to ask where they're from. At least five times a day. Friends, family, complete strangers (I would estimate 1% of those people who may or may not be acquaintances are trying to be snidey, but I have been used to that for most of my life and know that those are the self same people who've just bought their first pair of gladiators and will be desperately trying to get their hands on a a pair of Saltwater sandals next year, or maybe the year after.)

I love them so much - even though between those and my Chloe ones, which are basically a poshed up copy of Saltwaters, I don't really need another pair, I think I might put in another order for a few pairs in different colours and get some for friends as well. So if anyone in the UK wants some just comment and I'll add you to the order.

LASTLY, I succumbed as always to Wiksten mania. It had always frustrated me that I had never been able to get my hands on any of Jenny's wares. So when her last shop update happened I was there, clicky finger at the ready. I bypassed the Tova, knowing it would go within a fraction of a second. Somehow through my random clicking I bought a skirt, then realised it was a US size 10. I looked at the size chart and thought it looks like Wiksten comes up quite small, maybe I could wear it more on the hips anyway. The skirt arrived, beautifully packaged, beautifully made and...two sizes too big and very definitely wanting to be worn on the waist! I can take it in, though I also now realise that this is the same skirt that Jenny published the pattern of in Stitch magazine, so I may as well have made it myself in the first place! My only consolation is that I don't think you can get Stitch magazine here and the bamboo fabric and the way it's constructed is lovely. I will try and alter it very, very neatly, so as not to destroy Jenny's handiwork.

{photo: my Saltwaters on the beach - I wore them in the sea and they were fine}

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


"Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear."

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."

Oscar Wilde

"Florals are for middle-aged women with weight problems."

"Chanel is an institution, and you have to treat an institution like a whore – and then you get something out of her."

Karl Lagerfeld

Monday, June 01, 2009


I always get a little sentimental in Liberty's fabric department; actually it's possible that I get a little weepy and nostalgic and find myself holding onto shelves stroking fabric while trying to control a whoosh of emotion.

When I was a wee young thing my sweet Granny B would take me to Liberty to choose printed cotton for a dress or a skirt that she would then make me. (I'm having deja vu - I think I may have mentioned this before, must be the toxic fumes from the wet asphalt on the roof outside.) These weren't fancy clothes, they were everyday clothes; there was yarn buying for the cardigans she knitted too - always a solid colour with three same coloured buttons. It was all very specific.

Then we would go and have open faced prawn or smoked salmon sandwiches for high tea at Dickens & Jones (which used to be opposite Liberty).

There's a particular Liberty print that makes my pulse race and my heart jump. It is the strongest sense memory I have, more so than any scent or flavour. I know I had a dress made out of it when I was about five but what I did in that dress that causes me to have this reaction, I couldn't tell you. I can never be sure I've found the exact print in the exact colour either - maybe they don't make that colourway any more, pinks and purples, but if I see something similar I get the reaction.

The other day I went to Liberty to get some Tana Lawn fabric and I was creaking around on the wooden floorboards thinking of all this, how it affected me, how maybe those early visits were what made me love clothes. I was thinking, you did a good thing there Granny, you really did. Then I picked up a Liberty handkerchief and the name of the print was Mary Jane Hart. Mary, my Granny's name, Jane, my mum's name. H(e)art. I stared at it amazed, as if Granny B herself had cosmically guided me to pick up that particular one.

Then the guy cutting my fabric (which I just saw is called Claire something!) was super grumpy and kind of snapped me right out of my nostalgic reverie. Anyway, I love it when Liberty prints are everywhere as they are this summer, makes me feel five again!

Liberty Polyvore

edit: Ha! I just looked through some old photos and from birth to about age 6 I have a different Liberty print in every one. I'll try and scan some if I can get the scanner working...

{left: Mary Jane Hart, right: a bit of the Claire-Aude fabric I bought
collage: my first ever Polyvore set - baby steps}