Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Achey brain syndrome means I have few words of my own for you. But! Due to insomnia induced voracious pre recycling re-reading and tearing out pages of old U.S Vogues, I give you (from November 1999) the words of David Bailey, talking about the swinging '60s. Hooray.
On working with Diana Vreeland:
Once, I handed her a set of pictures I'd worked incredibly hard on, and she looked at them and said, "Bailey, these pictures are wonderful, divine!" And I said, "Great." Then she said, "But darling I can't use them." I said, "Why not? You just said they were wonderful, divine!" And she said "Look at the lips, Bailey.
There's no languor in the lips."
And here's a different slant on the Chanel couture show last week, from Jean Touitou - our saviour of clothes you lust after, then actually buy and wear.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Do you live in the city but daydream of herding sheep in a Welsh valley dressed in casual, beautifully made, slightly bohemian style? Do you like Toast? And not just the kind I had this morning with peanut butter and sliced banana? Good, then get over to the Toast (online) archive sale as quick as you can. They are crazy I tell you. Up to 85% off lots of things - I really hope this doesn't mean they're going out of business. The sale actually started a couple of days ago which I would have known if I had opened any of this week's post before today, and things are selling out fast. The winter '06 collection is also on 85% off so be quick! I don't want to point out anything specific because it'll probably be gone by the time you look at it.
Toast are not in the habit of producing in one season, out the next collections or doing anything that could be called wacky or unwearable. So the pieces on sale with the biggest discounts look to me just like the ones that were a little too expensive for most people's budgets at full price. Well obviously, but sometimes you pick something up by Toast and it's insanely expensive, probably because it was made by hand by a tribeswoman in the desert from tufts of goat hair collected from tree branches, or by the only person left in Andalucia who has had the craft of making riding boots handed down through the generations and they didn't have any children, and now they're ninety four and their hands are seizing up. Which is all very lovely.

I give you the riding boots reduced from £225 to £79 but, er don't even look at them unless you have size 42 feet because they're all sold out. And if you do have size 42 feet I'm very happy for you. No really, congratulations, enjoy MY boots.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007



Secondly, because I am at home I have all the time in the world to get on with the unpacking of boxes from the family home that seem to be wedged all around me wherever I sit and try to ignore them. The best way of ignoring them is in fact to bury one's head in a book and read like there's no tomorrow.

Which is what I just did with The Beautiful Fall. I hadn't even heard of this book until Susie mentioned it. (Read her review, it's comprehensive and balanced - much more so than what I have to say about it!) I was intrigued by Karl Lagerfeld taking the author to court because the book claims he's a tad older than he says he is. Oh and he exaggerated a teensy bit about his grand, actually pretty ordinary middle class upbringing. He lost the case and less than 50 copies of the book have been sold in France anyway. It probably would have sunk without trace if it weren't for Karl trying to get it banned and therefore doing the best PR job ever on it by drawing attention to the existence of the book. We'll get back to Karl in a minute.

The Beautiful Fall traces the world of Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, their respective cliques and supposed bitter rivalry, focusing mainly on the decadent world of Paris fashion in the 1970s.

From the very start of the book I felt that I was being manipulated to think a certain way; as if the author had reached her conclusion and every paragraph was drawing you in to making the same one. That was something that drove me crazy throughout the first two thirds of the book. We are supposed to think that Yves is the tortured genius createur, surrounded by people desperate for a crumb of his love; Karl is the gun for hire styliste whose coterie make fun of him behind his back, though he pays all the bills. Maybe it's true, or maybe it was in the '70s when YSL was at the height of his creative powers and KL was freelancing all over the place and hadn't yet made the house of Chanel his own. We can't really know, since although the book is backed up by notes detailing the research, neither Karl or Yves were interviewed. The story is told through the recollections of an assortment of friends, acquaintances and hangers on, some of whose memories of the drug and booze fuelled '70s must be a tad unreliable.

Although at times I was thinking, 'Why am I even reading this, do I care at all about some guy who used to be KL's number one 'boy'?,' I found I couldn't put the bloody thing down. I wouldn't say it was an enjoyable or comfortable read and perhaps not even that interesting unless you happen to be one of the people who were hanging around the Paris fashion scene in the '70s. In evoking that period, and the casual cruelty of a peer group where surface and appearance are everything, it drew attention to the more unpleasant side of fashion, one that I try hard to avoid.
It's probably why I pounced so lovingly upon that article about Alber Elbaz, who is seemingly cut from a different and much kinder cloth.

At first I was surprised that KL's great creative friendship with Anna Piaggi was glossed over, she was mentioned only a couple of times and not in any great detail, but perhaps it was to keep the negative emphasis on KL.
By contrast YSL's close friend and muse Loulou de la Falaise (whose recollections I could listen to all day long) is quoted throughout the book as is YSL's partner Pierre Berge. Pierre doesn't exactly come up smelling of roses either, but apparently he has no problem with the book. It also details Yves' many breakdowns and mental problems, but they are dealt with in a sympathetic way, whilst Karl is absolutely not. I can see why he would be angry or feel hurt by the way he is portrayed but really, it's not so bad Karl. After all, Gabrielle Chanel herself went to great lengths to reinvent herself, obliterating her humble, illegitimate past. Now that is a juicy story. But do we even mind about that. She may have reinvented her life story, but she also reinvented the way women dressed.

Perhaps Karl's best response to The Beautiful Fall would have been simply to zip it and let this do the talking.

Friday, January 19, 2007


1. Having the holy grail Del Forte jeans which stretched by four inches around the waist after one wash tailored to your exact measurements, removing the "incontinence pants" look and making your bum look about ten times more pert than it usually does. How they do that?

2. Purchasing the lusted after Kyo Hashimoto Dolly Pendant direct from the maker a) for 60% less than the U.K retail price, b) because it was super lovely and mutually beneficial to deal with them and c) gives one a reason to get excited about the impending arrival of the postman.

3. Seeing the most glamtastic seven foot tall transvestite in Selfridges with licorice stick thin legs, patent platforms, ridiculously coiffed hair, lashings of lipgloss and an electric blue cocoon coat. Sticking around a few more seconds to see his face and realising it was Tranny, I mean Trinny Woodall.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


As careful (slightly compulsively so) as I am, my favourite clothes always get destroyed. I feel like saying "yes, I already got the lesson, I understand, karma gods or whoever". It's the only way I can explain it. I have a pair of shoes I love, someone spills red wine on them; I wear my new Miu Miu trousers to a party, my boyfriend at the time decides it would be hilarious to push me into a hedge (true, I swear) and they're ripped to pieces. (Along with my dignity and relationship obviously.) I fork out to get my beloved Marni bag specialist cleaned, it gets destroyed. And now: I no longer have the archive of clothes and shoes I had been storing for over ten years, mostly stuff designers gave me in lieu of payment in the days when I'd happily answer the phone/pick up pins/mail show invitations in return for bus fare and an outfit from the new collection. It was, I thought, my pension fund. Or if I ever felt like completing the 53 life steps necessary to end up having daughters I could pass some of it on to them. Hey, I could even give it to a museum, I thought grandly.

I opened what used to be my wardrobe at what used to be my parents' house and started to take things out. Where exactly they were going to live from now on I wasn't sure yet, but I'd been told. Nothing of mine could remain. Unlike the wardrobe in Narnia it did not smell of mothballs. Upon further investigation it became apparent that the door of the room and wardrobe had been closed, as well as the windows and the heating switched off. For five years. That environment provides the perfect growing conditions for MOULD.
Every piece of clothing and all the shoes were covered inside and out with white, furry mould. Strangely it wiped off most of the clothes leaving only a faint mark that will hopefully come out with dry cleaning. All the shoes, I'll say that again, ALL THE SHOES had to be thrown in the dustbin. Mould loves leather; especially Prada apparently.

I ended up with about twenty pieces saved and a dry cleaning bill for sixty quid. I still don't know where these pieces will live, but since I don't collect stamps, or porcelain figurines, or African masks I will store them somewhere ventilated until I have a non shoebox sized (the irony!) flat with a spare room where they can live. At the moment my living room looks like I just moved in again and I'm in the process of throwing out more stuff from here, actually stuff I like and wanted to keep, to make room for the stuff from there, which I never imagined I would be expected to house at this stage of my life. Like my mother's wedding dress and/or every single thing related to either me, my mother or my mother's side of the family. I know you're thinking STORAGE FACILITY but people have offered to help, and it's amazing who rallies round when they see you need it.

Monday, January 15, 2007


"Thank God I don't have to look like a model to promote my work, because that would be a catastrophe. Nobody would buy anything!"

"I think the fact that I never feel perfect and I never feel beautiful and I never feel skinny makes me search for lightness and beauty, because these are what I feel I am missing."

"If I wasn't a designer I would love to be a doctor. That is my fantasy, my dream. A doctor will give you a tablet if you have a headache and I will give you a dress and we both make you feel good."

"By changing your name, you might change your life and by taking that letter out, (t at the end of Albert) my life did change."

"I have things I have worn again and again, but over the years, I alter them, I make them longer, shorter, I change the armhole, I change the shoulder. One of my biggest fears is arriving to the airport and checking in my suitcase because I never know if I will get it back."

"I think this is a fascinating time in design. Vintage is over. This is going to be a very important moment in fashion because we cannot just reproduce.......Instead we have to think. We have to start inventing again."

From Observer Woman, 'How I Get Dressed', 14 January 2007. Read the entire interview here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


So this week in London every female under the age of 35 is apparently wearing, only and exclusively:

baggy short shorts over leggings/tights,
the flat '80s boots everyone's been wearing for three years,
a peacoat,
shaggy long hair.

What happened? Did I miss the time Kate Moss wore exactly this? Why is everyone dressed the same? Did everyone get caught out by those leggings that are really just footless tights so when you wear them with a short dress or skirt everyone else (who may or may not also be wearing them) gets an occasional eyeful of your knickers or lack thereof. Did the Britney Spears photos strike so much fear into the hearts of young women everywhere that they're just being really cautious and protective of that area now and double layering?

Am most perplexed. Please advise.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Yesterday I saw a little girl in the supermarket standing in front of a display of plastic sparkly kids jewellery. She was transfixed, had that hungry look on her face, oblivious to anyone or anything else. I must admit I had a look at a sequinned headband myself, but I put it back!

I've been clearing out stuff, mostly clothes, for months now and still I'm taking bin bags to the charity shop at least once a week. I look at some of my possessions and think "is this really mine?" I can't be bothered with the hassle of ebay anymore, it brings me more to be rid of something I don't need or love than waiting for a bit of cash from it. Then the wrapping, the posting, ugh just get it out. I'd rather give it away. Since I visited the Oxfam depot a couple of months ago and saw teams of people sifting through donations, 70% of which were unsuitable to be sold because they were damaged or dirty, I'm also making use of my local textiles recycling bank.

Reading this post over at Keri Smith brings a bit of clarity. There are great links in that post too, although I'm not sure I'd go to the extreme of not buying anything new at all like The Compactors. Used pillowcases? Ick.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Well that was a bit of an unexpected blog holiday wasn't it.

No excuse really, only that my attention has been on a couple of other projects.
The year began with no firm plans or resolutions then ping! Somehow I now have four trips away in the next two months or so to look forward to. And not just to Paris, either - although I will be visiting my beloved soon. I will say more when it's all definite but I'm very excited to be getting out and about in the big wide world again.

Ooh, just gotta ease back into this whole writing posts lark slowly.....I feel like I have stabilisers on.
Cake and tea will help.