Saturday, May 31, 2008


I went to the Tim Walker exhibition at the Design Museum yesterday (I keep typing Time Walker - which seems apt for Mr Nostalgia). While I enjoyed seeing large scale prints of the colour saturated pictures we know so well from Vogue etc up close; I was more intrigued by the images that didn't feature lilac horses, pastel dyed cats or grand panelled rooms full of plants or tents or boats. Not that I don't like that stuff, quite the opposite, but perhaps because I am also English and it's a very concentrated distillation of hyper Englishness (apparently that's not a word) that I find interest in something else. I did love the quote though, from the owner of Eglingham Hall in Northumberland, where Tim's English Country House on acid world is often set. He happily grumbled that he can't get on with the work of running the estate because he's always too busy trying to suspend Lily Cole over a river or something. Getting back to the less colourful, lesser known, this one struck me particularly:

Iris Palmer and her suitcases (What happened to Iris Palmer by the way? Off to Google it.)

I've had this picture on my wall for years - torn out of Italian Vogue if I remember rightly. It's called Shona's Tree and leads me on to mentioning the importance of Shona Heath's work in creating the amazing sets that Tim Walker's camera records.

There was no sign in the exhibition about not taking photos and no one seemed to be enforcing the rule if there was one. Even so, I felt a little cheeky snapping away. You can see most of the photos here anyway - but I took a few snaps of his sketchbooks displayed under glass. I love looking at people's sketchbooks - there's something about them that's like a window into their mind, but then, at a glance every sketchbook is much the same - except Tim's are littered with callsheets for Vogue shoots in India:

The exhibition is on until 7 September 2008.

{All photos (c)Tim Walker (obviously).}

Thursday, May 29, 2008


*No spoilers*

We went, we saw, we drank Cosmos, we sat in a packed out cinema full of well dressed women and one man. I know the film isn't released until tomorrow worldwide so I won't spoil it for everyone by going on about the actual film too much (everyone and their Manolos will be doing that soon enough anyway.)

I went to meet my friend in the bar adjacent to the cinema. We thought, of course that they'd put on a special cocktail for the occasion. When I opened the door I saw: a sea of young women, dressed with more thought and care than usual on a Wednesday evening. No crazy get ups, just a heel here, an armful of bangles there, a slash of lipstick. The bar was busier than on a Saturday night and it was as if all the men on the planet had suddenly disappeared and all the women were having a party to celebrate. The staff, however, was a different matter. Having hugely underestimated the power of the opening night of the Sex and the City movie, they were running around perspiring and flushed, trying to keep up with the demand for cocktails. I didn't even know they had a cocktail menu. I don't think most of them knew they had a cocktail menu until someone dug it out of a box somewhere. But there weren't any Cosmos on it. I made do with some kind of champagne cocktail until I saw a waiter carrying (ha!) a suspiciously pink looking drink in a martini glass. I beckoned him over. He looked scared. Emboldened by the return of Carrie and co I said; "Did I just see you with a Cosmopolitan?" He flinched and weakly muttered, "Yes." "We'll have two of those then." And I tell you: Before I went out I felt a little ridiculous choosing to wear heels to the cinema and I was thinking I'd feel silly ordering a Cosmo but - those things are delicious! As they say in the film; (I think this part has been shown all over the place so it's not really a spoiler) why did we ever stop drinking these? Yeah, why did it feel so deliciously indulgent to think about what you're wearing and order a cocktail on a Wednesday night? And rare? I couldn't remember the last time I'd done that. Probably about four years ago. I got to an annoying Carrie style voiceover. Hee, Carrie thankfully only says that once in the film and Samantha never says, "Honey, lemme tell you..." at all as far as I can remember.

So the film: Well, I had bought tickets three weeks ago in a fit of organized dorkdom and just two days later the entire thing was sold out - every performance. It's so rare that a film opens in England before the US - amazing actually. Any people (or actors) who felt annoyed by this quirk of scheduling: just let us have this one, okay? Usually we have to wait up to two years for films to come out here. It was a great atmosphere that I don't think any Ironman or Batman or whatever could compete with. It was funny and sad, a real story sugar coated in Givenchy and sprinkled with Proenza Schouler. My favourite outfit of Carrie's was this one:

And that's all I'm going to say for now.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


I've always thought of Reiss as being a bit too office-y for me. But the other day, on the never ending search for the perfect striped navy t-shirt (not too loose, not too tight, very thin jersey, thinnish stripes, very slight scoop neck) I popped in and found myself cooing over all the lovely ruffly goodness within. It seems, while I was writing Reiss off as a bit safe, it went and upped its game. Fierce shapes, completely fierce shoes (the ones I really liked aren't on the website) and a colour palette of turquoise, coral and lemon yellow (again, nothing on the website in yellow took my fancy) chiffon mixed with basics like paper bag trousers in a sheeny stone coloured linen that looked really "fresh" together - as they say in magazine speak. I really like how the skirts have a structure and quite thoughtfully designed ruffles instead of what everyone has been calling ruffly or flippy skirts; but are in fact the exact same ra-ra skirts I had in 1986. It all made me think of Carrie Bradshaw, of having fun with clothes again like girls started to back in the Sex and the City heyday. I wouldn't be surprised if I saw plenty of Reiss action at the cinema (squeeeee!) next Wednesday night (because you can't go and see the film improperly dressed without decent heels and a clutch bag can you?)

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Going to bed too late and waking up too early. Too tired to sleep. Yesterday morning walking in hot sun on the beach in Dorset, looking out to sea; the promise of a perfect day. But I had to go to the dentist so I hacked it back up the motorway to London in four hours (the petrol cost more than my flight to Italy) listening to this. I was five minutes late for the dentist - shoving my way past dawdling Sloanes - shells collected on the beach that morning still in my pocket. The dentist showed his contempt for my lateness and let my teeth pay for it. Ow. A posh cyclist shouted at me for crossing the road and by reflex I told him to fuck off. The Friday before a bank holiday, the city buzzing with pent up aggression waiting to be released pint by pint. Wandering around like a zombie, wanting to sit down but not wanting to sit down anywhere there. At home, still not unpacked from Italy, washing waiting to be done, a to-do list too long to write, cats to be reassured I'm not leaving again. Siiiggggghhhhhhh...

p.s. I know some of you had bookmarked some of my Gridskipper posts (and those of its many other talented and good looking contributors around the world.) But now that Gridskipper has been turned into a travel guide about The Hamptons by its new owners, those bookmarks will probably get you an error message or a blank page. I meant to say save the posts to your computers/scribble the info on a piece of paper earlier but I didn't quite know how to phrase it; hence my previous cryptic post (rainbow's end / rainbows end. It all hinged on the apostrophe you see.) If you've lost Gridskipper posts of mine that you were hoping to use as a guide when visiting London, feel free to email me and I'll send you the info. Also feel free to email me if you happen to be in charge of hiring writers for a gig as cool as Gskip was. (Unlikely but worth a try.)

*EDIT* the maps are back!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008



I took so many photos in Italy. I'll slowly be adding more to my flickr here. I wish I had been able to record the smells too. In the garden of the Villa Bardini up above Florence (Costa San Giorgio 2 - near Forte Belvedere) it was a mixture of lemon, roses, herbs, wisteria and all the plants combined. I wish I could have bottled that scent. I suppose that's why it's called Florence, duh.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I know, I know, I said I'd post loads from Italy but the time went so quickly I didn't get much of a chance. Now I'm home with loads of pictures on my memory card and lots of things to tell you but my internet connection at home is buggered. I'll be back once I get that sorted and have tidied up a bit (Lola also thoughtfully re-upholstered our entire flat with her fur while I was away. It was sweet of her but could cause problems for our asthmatic friends.)

Talking of maison Lola, there's a house tour of my flat over on Apartment Therapy. I was not at all convinced it was house tour worthy - and it feels a little like I'm inviting everyone round to examine my underwear drawer. Luckily for you I didn't take a photo of that, but the rest are here.

*p.s. Even more photos than anyone could possibly care about seeing of my flat here.

Friday, May 16, 2008


I wanted to check out some vintage stores here because when I lived here over a decade ago the concept really didn't exist. Okay, there were a couple of places you could buy pre-worn stone washed Levi's for the same price as new ones - and you could go to the Cascine market and buy a bag of old ladies' polyester housecoats for about a pound but that was about it.

A while ago I started to hear that there was great vintage shopping to be found in Florence. Even that English vintage shop owners were coming here to buy up mint condition stock and sell it at a huge mark up back in London. So of course I had to investigate. It's true that there are a lot of vintage shops here now and that the condition of the clothes is incredible. But as for buying cheap and laughing all the way back to London? I think not.

My first stop was Elio Ferraro - invariably described as "expensive, but the best" and I'd have to agree with that description.

Touted as more of a one of a kind gallery, they had delicate chiffon dresses from the 1930s that looked like they'd never been worn, clutch bags with lucite handles, the linings of which were as perfect as the outside. There was a big pile of vintage Gucci luggage that I didn't dare to go near, having already clocked the prices of everything else. Think an average of 300 euros for a shirt - not exactly the place to strike a bargain; but a beautiful shop with friendly staff who obviously love their vintage calling.

I went on to Pitti Vintage, in a little street called Sdrucciolo dei Pitti - Sdrucciolo apparently means slippery slope and I could see how that could work if you spent too long browsing in the shop.

I really liked this one. They had a few of the requisite labels: Hermes, Valentino etc; but it was really the unlabelled pieces that were a great representation of their eras in terms of cut, fabric and colour that did it for me. Oh, and the cute dog...

There was also a large men's section which is quite rare. Still, I balked at the prices. I think also I'm used to thinking of Italy as being really cheap and since the euro was introduced it's really not. It seems to have been a case of doubling the prices and adding a bit more for good luck when they had the changeover from lire.

Near to Pitti Vintage at via dei Serragli 26/r is Ceri Vintage, which was much cheaper but not notable for much except bolts of vintage fabric for 10 euros a meter and some buttons and trimmings.

They also had a dog but I didn't take a picture of it. It seemed pretty popular though (the shop, not the dog) so maybe I wasn't in enough of a rummaging mood, but the clothes I saw looked more "old" than "vintage".

More to come, much more. I ran my camera battery out yesterday - mostly taking photos of old Fiat 500s and those little tuc tuc trucks. It's lovely to be here and strange too, but also in a good way. I am a different person to who I was when I lived here; no doubt about that. You just don't get to notice that very often. Last night: fireworks over the river outside the Palazzo Corsini felt like they were for us. Florence is still magical. I'm so happy to be here and catch up with friends. But I must say ciao for now (harhar) and get out and about again. Venice tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


(That is me, but alas, it wasn't my Fiat Cinquecento. Maybe I could fit one in my suitcase?)

This is one of those new fangled scheduled posts, so right about now I should be eating an overpriced sandwich on an orange plane. But all I can think about is being able to sit at a restaurant terrace, eating a plate of thinly sliced tomatoes with a few leaves of basil scattered on and a bit of olive oil.

p.s. I'm going to try and post as much as possible while I'm in Italy...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I've had a spray tan. It's not like me to do such a thing but I'm going to Italy tomorrow. When I heard that for some of the time we would be at the seaside I panicked and booked the tan. If I was going to be the only out of shape, slightly flabby, not wearing a matching Roberto Cavalli bikini, chiffon kaftan and bejewelled gold high heeled mules English person on the beach then I at least wasn't going to add pale to the list of misdemeanors. Going to the seaside in England is a cinch. No one gives a shit what you look like, everyone displays their beer bellies without a care in the world and after drinking too much booze with lunch you fall asleep in the sun - turning your pallid skin the colour of lobsters before the day is out. The beach I'm talking about in Italy is where people arrive in Lamborghinis and there's an Armani shop right by the beach, where in England there'd be a chip shop or somewhere selling fake Crocs and fishing nets. I haven't been to Forte dei Marmi for about ten years, so the last time I went was before the influx of Russian oligarchs.

If before it was like something out of a Fellini film, now it seems it's like something out of a Fellini re-make with costumes by Cavalli. Anyway, the last time I went to my friend's house there it was Easter weekend. It was wonderfully hot but when we got to the beach there were people, I swear to god, wearing fur coats and enormous sunglasses, or full on black Prada or Gucci suits with high heels (this was the nineties!) sitting in deckchairs sunning themselves. To say I stuck out like a sore thumb with my shorts and sunburn would be something of an understatement.

It is really beautiful there though. The beach is huge and you have the mountains behind you - even the beach huts and parasols are chic. With the tan as a disguise I'd really got into the idea of going. I don't think we're going there now though, so my standing naked for half an hour in front of the woman who spray tans Kate Moss, striking a variety of ridiculous poses and finding my body image issues pulled into sharp focus was perhaps slightly unnecessary.

Monday, May 12, 2008


A while ago someone left me a voicemail message saying, "Oh, you're probably in Paris or jet setting somewhere having a really fabulous time, I'm so jealous." I was, in fact, unable to answer the phone because I was buying cat litter. In Deptford.

A lot of people have asked through this blog recently how I manage to travel so much. I seem to have this reputation but I actually haven't been anywhere since Christmas. For me, five months without a trip is a really long time and I'm so hopping up and down excited that I'm going to Italy on Wednesday - and you're coming with me, internet connection willing.

I come from a big family of travellers, by which I don't mean they traverse the world in brightly painted caravans or put a hex on you if you don't buy a posie of heather from them. I just mean that most of them are at any point either about to get on a plane, are on a plane, are visiting some far flung destination, are living in some far flung destination or have just been on a trip somewhere. My travelling, mostly within Europe, is relatively minor compared to theirs.

These five months staying put in London have been good actually. As I was here, I was more able to commit to stuff, but there's no denying my life felt at least 73% more glamorous and exciting when I was popping off to Paris every other month. The only reason I was able to do that for two years was because I looked after the poorly geriatric Parisian cat (sadly no longer with us) of some friends in exchange for staying at their place. I never thought of all my times in Paris as me "going on holiday;" I was just living in a different place. Getting the train from London to Paris is cheaper than getting the train from London to most places in England if you book in advance - and once you're in Paris, the cost of living is cheaper too. But yeah, mooching about in Paris vs mooching about in London = no contest.

I really, really love to travel and I make it a priority. I didn't mind going without a working washing machine for six months as it meant I could spend the money I'd have spent on a new one on travel instead. I'd rather go away somewhere than have a new computer even though my laptop may die any day now. Lots of my friends and family live in other countries - I want to see them and they seem to like seeing me so sometimes that involves getting on a plane. And me getting on a plane means a cheapo midweek flight, usually leaving home at a ridiculously unsociable hour. You know I (ahem) like the finer things in life, but I assure you it's glamour on a shoestring all the way. I wouldn't want anyone to think that I'm gadding about on private jets and staying in five star hotels or anything.


*Some espadrilles. Not wedgey or stripey or with lace up your ankle bits or cut outs or doodads or anything. Just plain espadrilles. But what colour???

*A new Panama hat. I had a really good one I bought at the seaside but I left it in the boot of my car over the winter and it went mouldy. And before that I had a really cool beaten up one that eventually disintegrated.

*Some colourful vintage skirt slips (maybe with quite obnoxious 1970s prints on) to wear under summer dresses that blow around/up in the wind. Either that or bigger pants.

*A new deckchair sling.

*A paddling pool.

*A cure for hayfever.

Friday, May 09, 2008


*updated below*

Hello Internet, sorry I have been neglecting you this week. It's just all this summery sunshine malarkey is so novel. Will you forgive me? No?

What about if I gave you some shoes?

I thought I saw an eyebrow raise just a glimmer then. Now, Internet you are a
UK shoe size 4
European size 37
US size 5 and a half
aren't you? Excellent.

I wish I could skip about in these cute Peter Jensen rubber soled pumps but they're too small for me. So if anyone wants them, I'd be more than happy for you to skip about in them instead. They say 38 on them but they aren't. I know this because I have little narrow dainty feet and take a size 37 or 37 and a half at most. While I can put these shoes on my feet, I can get roughly ten minutes of wear out of them before I can't walk anymore and have to take them off again. I don't want to be responsible for anyone else's pain so only enter if you're a straight up size (eur)37, (US)5.5, (UK)4. I've only worn them a couple of times and they're so perfect for spring...and it does seem that amazingly it is spring. SPRING GIVEAWAY...YAAAAAYYYYY.

Oh and that smudgy bit on one of them isn't dirt or foot mould or anything. It's where I took the shoe off in the park in Paris and put it back on again so you're even getting a little bit of the Jardin du Luxembourg thrown in. How generous am I. Also they do have laces, I just prefer them without so I'll put those in as well.

I'm not going to do a competition or anything like that - that would be a bit discriminatory against other shoe sizes, non? So just tell me in the comments if you're a size 37 and you want them to skip around in, then Lola will pick a name out of a hat soon-ish. And remember to leave an email address with your comment so I can contact you.

All I ask is that if you get them, you take a photo of yourself wearing them (it can be just of your feet if you like) and email it to me or post it on your blog (if you have one) and let me know.

Happy spring!

*EDIT* Oh fuckit. My moleskine says a euro 37/UK 4 is a US 5.5 but other conversion charts I've looked at disagree. They all seem to differ so if possible go by your UK or European size as I know those are correct...

Monday, May 05, 2008


Pretty spring days and two bags. I'm trying to pre-empt the day when my massive Anna Corinna tote falls apart (and I cry) by having a back up. The stripy one is from Gap and the clutch is an Ally Capellino one that I'd seen in a local shop. Remember my beloved clutch bag that the dry cleaners destroyed about five million years ago? This, finally, is its replacement - and it was half price because of a teeny, weeny mark on it.

I'm making it sound like I had such a neat and tidy perfect little weekend. But there was also way.too.much.of.this:

Always say never again. Those glasses are all mine. Even a small amount of white or rose wine really, really doesn't agree with me. I know this and yet...Oh and the joys of day time drinking where your hangover kicks in at 7pm. Blaerrgh.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


this, this, this and indeed this.

Me? I know nothing.


The enigmatic Louise at Hyères.
As photographed by:

The Sartorialist
Cafe Mode
Punky B
I suddenly have an inexplicable desire to pack a suitcase with Liberty print dresses and go to the South of France.