Sunday, April 30, 2006
I signed up for a contemporary dance class a whole three months in advance.
I had been meaning to go there ever since the dance school opened er, three years ago. But as each term approached I tried to sign up in my usual spontaneous - one day before it starts manner, only to be told it was all booked up. Each time I was outraged, but secretly knew that I am a lazy, procrastinating, in denial slouch who really had no intention of going. I would drive past the dance centre - a beautiful, gleaming reflective box designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron (who designed Tate Modern).
Next time, I'd tell myself. Hence the uncharacteristic booking of anything in advance.
So I (and Z who I'd roped into the class as well,) had an entire three months for the panic to rise and for the fear and apprehension to fester. A whole three months in which to realise that unless pushed, I will choose to sit on my arse and do nothing. There was an upside to this.
Whilst lounging around eating cupcakes I could say to myself "it doesn't matter, I start my dance class soon."
By the time the week leading up to the start of the term arrived we engaged in frantic texting along the lines of "what are we supposed to wear?" "Will they hand us a long ribbon upon entering and make us interpret how it feels to be a tree?" and "What is contemporary dance anyway?" We hoped there would be no mirrors. We knew we would look stupid. We thought at least we can laugh at each other.
Outfit wise, I was dreaming of a kind of Lisa Bonet Cosby show era look, with a hint of Fame. Thankfully I decided to play it safe the first week and wear old tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt. So did everyone else.
The class was fun, there were no mirrors. The studio was beautiful, the atmosphere relaxed and friendly. Everyone was smirking shyly at each other when we had to do partner work, but it broke the ice.
The only thing was; as I sat on a bench in the hallway before the class began I was transfixed by the sight of the ballet class about to begin next door. It was obviously the advanced class, they were all teetering around on point. But the shoes, the pale pink tights - ok it was really the clothes I was transfixed by. But also the graceful way they moved, even when sprawled around by the lockers doing their shoes up. They looked like swans. And I was transported back to my five year old self who gave up ballet like she gave up The Brownies and Sunday School, and everything else. In my head a tiny voice said "I want to be a ballerina too."
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Was it so terribly naughty of me to buy the flutter top from the APC madras/Jessica Ogden collection? Even though I have two other white pieces of clothing hanging in my wardrobe as yet unworn?
How I justify this purchase:
Usually everything I want from APC is sold out.
If I don't get it now, it will be and I'll regret it.
I haven't ordered anything from the catalogue for years. I used to order a whole load of stuff each season. One piece? Very restrained.
I still wear most of my APC pieces. Timeless = good investment.
I didn't buy anything at APC - not even a notebook, the last time I went to Paris.
I wanted the ecru crochet neck dress but when I saw it in person it wasn't that great. (Block out that I did actually buy a perfect dress by Isi that is like the beautiful lovechild of the APC crochet dress and the Chloe babydoll dress).
I bought a white dress yesterday so I got the flutter top instead of the dress. Not the same thing at all.
It is just so exciting to receive a package from APC, it takes me back to my teenage years. Something to look forward to instead of bills.
It's only ONE thing. Very restrained. Very sensible.
And finally: I keep hearing that APC will show on the fashion week schedule next season and are otherwise expanding, making themselves more visible (and more mainstream?) as a brand.
For some reason this annoys me. Jean Touitou is entitled to do whatever he wants but I always think, if it ain't broke don't try to fix it.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
A while ago everything was half price at the Fresh counter in Selfridges.
I meant to tell you about it - really I did, but I was too busy stockpiling Soy Face Cleanser, Honey Face Scrub, Rose Face Mask, candles, Supernova mascara and basically anything I could get my mitts on in a frenzied attack. It's all gone now, and no more Fresh at Selfridges, one of my favourite beauty brands. Replaced by the evil Dr Sebagh, well the name sounds evil and the products are a bit too pseudo medical for my taste. So it seems that sadly Fresh is leaving the UK, or hopefully just their in store counters are and they will keep the Fresh boutique in Marylebone High Street.
Why am I telling you this now? To rub your noses in it that I got truckloads of now unavailable beauty bounty and you didn't?
No - because yesterday I saw that Peter Jones has 50% off all their Fresh stock as well and there's loads left. So go!
Browsing the archives of the 'Ask a shop clerk' section in New York Magazine is my favourite new game. It is ordered, not by shop, but by the name of the person and a quote. So the 'game' is to try and guess which shop the person works in by the quote. Some of my favourites are listed below.
"Kate does exist, though I've never met her."
"Say no to butt crack. It's not sexy."
"Sometimes I feel like I have a cure for a deadly disease."
"We get a lot of really weird and rude people. Some of them are out of it - maybe drunk."
I don't know why I am so obsessed by this: maybe it's because NYC is calling me - it's been 8 years, or maybe it's because I once was a not so lowly shop 'clerk'.
Check out Rae Nicoletti from Kate Spade - I want to be her friend.
Source: via just my cup of tea
I had a thoroughly lovely Easter. No really, I'm not even being sarcastic.
Sometimes in London it's easy to forget what's great about England and being English. Most of the time I live a life probably not that different to life in any other city, with it's mish mash of influences and cultures (but with better high street clothes). I've often listened to London based friends from other countries complain about the food and the lack of culture. I can't think how to explain that we do have culture, and good food, you just wont find it if your experience of England is limited to a 2 mile radius of Oxford Circus, and you refuse to associate with English people. I am apparently an exception, not being like a 'typical' English person. I used to take this as a compliment but really it now seems like another back handed way to slag off the English. I am not 'typical' because my diet isn't based on processed food, I don't dress like Jordan and I don't holiday in Ayia Napa. Well, neither does anyone else I know.
Anyway, veering away from the negativity and back to the loveliness...
What's great about England and being English? The Sunday papers, long country walks with the (cover your ears Lola) dogs, stopping for a pint and a bloody mary at the village pub, gorgeous home cooked meals, home made bread, amazing cheeses, having the correct alcoholic beverage to go with each and every thing you consume, aggressive CROQUET matches, waking up to the sound of birds tweeting and a view of green hills, people who say 'good morning' when you pass them on a path, the explosion of colour from daffodils, hyacinths and blossom everywhere. On our walk - more of a clamber up an extremely steep hill I was introduced to the ancient (apparently) tradition of egg rolling, where swarms of local kiddies roll brightly painted eggs(they might not be painted, I didn't actually see any eggs but that would make it even more fun, and easier to identify your egg, no?) down the hill.
Now home and posting to the dulcet tones of a police siren, I must remember to get out of the city more often.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
The weather has warmed up just enough here to actually wear them. Now, I know some of you feel quite strongly about leggings. I remember them the first time round too. (Oh, nostalgia for those white leggings with turquoise polka dots that helped me win the disco dancing competition in 1980 something!) It's just that, fast forward 20 years, one's legs are without a hope of ever wearing anything above the knee. The backs of my knees have actually been diagnosed as 'pre-varicosal' - thanks! Although my pins are quite shapely and I can't complain about my ankles and feet, from the calf up they should really never be seen without cover. Ever. So it was knee length all the way. Until, like a gift from the heavens, leggings came back.
The first time I actually thought they were a good idea was when Laura Bailey was pictured in ES magazine about six months ago wearing a pink strapless dress with mid calf leggings and heels. She looked superchic, a bit punky/edgy and the leggings saved the dress from looking too saccharine. So there.
I bought some black leggings (Wolford, £16 the style is called 'Velvet' but they are not, obviously made of velvet - that would be hideous. They are matt opaque footless tights basically.) But the English winter prevented me from wearing them until now. 'Cos, er socks and leggings are never a good look and boots kind of defeat the entire purpose. Unless you can do that leggings/socks/legwarmers/boots/ and pull it off thing, which I definitely can't. Too many items.
Now is the perfect time for leggings. It's still pretty cold but there's a glimmer of springiness which lends itself so well to layering. So I have been wearing my leggings, so far just in the evening with a dress or skirt and heels. I also have some grey ones and I'm looking for some in petrol blue or burgundy for day time. I have seen plenty of 13 year olds doing the whole ballet pump/leggings/cut off denim mini thing and it's cute for that age group but not for me. And haven't we DONE the cut off mini to death already?
I think the best way to wear leggings is to inject a bit of newness (did I just write 'newness?!') let's say freshness (although it seems like leggings have been around for ages) to an otherwise classic outfit or so that you can wear an otherwise out of bounds babydoll dress whilst still retaining some dignity. And PLEASE, (although I'm not usually one for rules) for the love of Kimberley Stewart and camel hooves, make sure your top/dress comes down to at least the top of your thighs.
Friday, April 07, 2006
Still in mourning for the loss of my bag I've spent most of this week searching for a replacement - I know, it's a hard life. But of course now that I actually want something specific, can I find it anywhere? I know this whole attachment to material things deal is supposed to be some kind of lesson. I'm sure if I leafed through one of my half read buddhist books it would tell me this is a great chance on my path to enlightenment or something. But come on, this is a lesson I've had many times before.
Oh yes, there was the time when I spent an entire evening having a conversation about art nouveau (we're pretty highbrow around here you know) and I was going on about how happy I was to have my grandmother's pewter art nouveau vase for about a million different reasons. That evening I went home, looked at the vase on the windowsill, and went to bed. During the night there was a wasp in my room so I picked up the closest thing to hand to shoo it out of the window and yep, dropped the vase out of the 2nd storey window. It just about survived, being pewter, and the dent was repaired. So I got the lesson then, like, DING! I've got it!
Then there was the time I snapped the heel of my beautiful burgundy T - bar shoes that I loved and treasured because I'd been wearing them when I met my (at the time) boyfriend. They had a really unusual 4 inch assymetric heel which was of course, irreplaceable.
So it seems that being a fairly careful sort of person, the kind that doesn't lose or break things generally it is my karma to lose the things I really love. Maybe it's a lesson about not being sentimental. Or maybe there are no lessons. Since the bag trauma on Monday, I have spilt mayonnaise on one of my pale grey boots, left my credit card in a shop (luckily it was returned), forgotten to pay an important bill, and been completely absent minded about who I'm supposed to meet/call and when. Senility setting in already? I do rely an awful lot on my lists, I have notebooks full of them, wishlists, things to do, random thoughts, reminders. Which leads me oh so smoothly into telling you about the Anna Piaggi 'Fashion-ology' exhibition I went to this week.
It's been on at the V&A for ages and finishes on the 23rd of April so I thought I'd better drag myself over to South Ken to have a look.
You have to admire Anna Piaggi. Anyone who can live in a staid, conservative city like Milan and dress as bonkers, crazy, fabulously eccentric as she does, must have some real inner creative resources to draw upon.
The part of the exhibition I liked the most, and the first thing you see on entering is the Anna lists. Anna list 1 is a kind of inventory which lists for example: 265 shoes (not that many really) 29 fans, 932 hats, 2865 dresses, 45 lipsticks, 6347 magazines and so on.
The exhibition also has contributions from those Anna has worked with such as Manolo Blahnik with his 'Adjectivisation of A.P' - communicator, writer, muse, poet, living legend, friend, institution, collaborator, genius. Jefferson Hack tells us 'thirteen things I thought you should know about Anna'.
I had always thought of Anna Piaggi as dressing in costume, rather than clothes, if you know what I mean.
But looking at the sketches of her through the years by Karl Lagerfeld, and outfits on display that she had worn I began to see that although the effect might be overwhelming, she always looks absolutely herself. You could look at a picture in a magazine and instantly say 'that's her' even if all you saw was the top of a hat and a rouged cheek, or a front row shot where they'd caught a glimpse of bloomered and legwarmered limb with a Manolo on the foot. If you really look closely at her clothing she has some incredibly beautiful pieces which is often overlooked when labelling her as 'eccentric'.
There was much in the exhibit about Anna being a fashion scientist, tirelessly documenting and dissecting. But what she has really created, as well as her 'doppie pagine' in Vogue Italia and all her other work through the years is that she herself is her art.
A.P says "When I dress with the perfect law of contrast, I'm in a trance".
Monday, April 03, 2006
You know when you have a favourite piece of clothing that you know you’ll treasure forever, that makes you so happy just to look at it and completes any outfit? That was how I felt about my favourite Marni bag. A butter soft kid leather clutch bag, in dusky rose/beige it was (can you see where this is going?) a vintage style frame bag with the perfect brushed bronze clasp that closed with the most satisfying clunk. The leather was ruched around the frame and fell in soft waves into an oval shape, just the right size. The strap was designed to wear around your wrist, so the bag would dangle in an alluring way leaving your hands free to say, drink Champagne or dance wildly. I even loved the lining, no glitzy evening-y tat, just unbleached cotton – so Marni, so ‘this is the best quality bag you will ever own’. Of course I bought it at a hefty discount, not being in the purchasing of £700 bags for occasional use bracket.
My beloved bag served me well for oh, three years. It managed to be perfect for any event, an important interview, first dates, weddings, parties. I knew I would have it always, would probably still be using it when I'm an old spinster, propping up the bar at Claridge's. But it was starting to look a little grubby, and having many exciting upcoming occasions to take it to, I thought I’d treat it to a professional clean. It wasn’t cheap and the price went up according to how much the item was worth. So I said £100. Kicking.self.hard. They sent my beauty away and I missed it in the two weeks I didn’t have it.
So I was very excited to get it back this morning.
When they handed me the ‘bag’ (I use the term loosely) even through the plastic wrapping the first thing I noticed was the holes. As if rats had been frenziedly gnawing at it after some rottweilers had dragged it repeatedly through a bramble patch. The cleaning process seems to have involved a hot wash in an acid bath, followed by a good scrubbing with a cheesegrater. The leather, now a sorry tie dyed mess had leaked on to the lining, turning it pink. And there is no longer a lovely band of leather covering the metal frame. In short my bag looks like it has been attacked, Texas Chainsaw Massacre style.
The bit I couldn’t believe is how they had the gall to put it on a hanger and pop it in a plastic bag ready for collection as if I might not notice it had been destroyed beyond all hope of repair.
The icing on the cake? A little note left inside which reads ‘we were unable to remove some of the stains from this item’. Even if I get compensation it will come nowhere near to covering the cost of a new bag – or a new anything from Marni.
The lady who works in the dry cleaners was very sympathetic – it is being ‘sent away’.
She asked if I wanted it back and I didn’t know what to say, I just stood, stunned, blinking back tears in a way more appropriate to someone who has just been told, ‘I really am sorry. There was nothing we could do to save your legs once the gangrene had set in’.
You may be reading this and thinking ‘it’s just a bag, you're so shallow’ and I am surprised at myself too. But in all honesty I am G.U.T.T.E.D. I want to cry and not a Fendi Spy, a Mulberry Elgin or a Chloe Betty bag can make it better.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Since my alcohol sozzled brain is having some diffculty composing sentences today, I give you some lists:
1. The L.I.B Hangover Damage Limitation Kit
Take a multivitamin before going to bed - that is, your own bed
Sleep and water - lots
A pot of Mariage Freres French Blue Earl Grey tea
A big bowl of Pertwood Farm fruit and seed muesli with yoghurt, fresh blueberries and maple syrup. Scrambled eggs with tabasco works a treat too
Fresh Rose Face Mask applied whilst wallowing in:
A hot bath with 10 drops lavender oil added
A good squirt of Bois Farine by L'Artisan Parfumeur to perfume away the shame
Bed bound blog reading so I can't think about the shame
*I would love to hear if amyone has any good tips to take the edge off a hangover.
(Ugh, please don't say 'hair of the dog')
2. How I know spring is finally sprung
I had the first (and second, third and fourth - agh) Campari and soda of the year
The cherry trees that line my street are all in blossom, 6 weeks later than usual
I sat out on my terrace for the first time since last September
When I got home at 6 this morning I heard the birds' dawn chorus
I believe the wearing of socks may not be necessary today