Thursday, April 30, 2009


People are so clever.


{*But click the links and I'll try to add some photos later...}

Believe it or not, there are a few things I dislike shopping for. Most electrical goods for one; really anything where function exists without any thought to form. If I have to buy stuff, the criteria is always style and substance. There must be both or I get very grumpy at having to shell out the cash.

I've only ever had crappy luggage: a black nylon holdall from Herve Chapelier that had lasted me oh god, probably 15 years or so. (I actually bought it at the very first Space NK shop in Covent Garden that sold clothes! And had a cafe!) I also had a black Ikea wheelie suitcase which was fine. You can feel my enthusiasm can't you. It's just that all luggage except Globetrotter is so insanely boring and bufugly that I really couldn't be bothered with it, even though I travel quite a bit. And I don't have the muscle bound menservants that travelling with Globetrotter luggage requires. In fact, I do have a Globetrotter suitcase that was my granny's and I love it dearly even though it is completely knackered and smells of mould inside. Globetrotter are going to re-line it for me though because they are amazing like that and then I will store stuff and things in it.

So when I found myself having to throw out every single piece of luggage I owned because of - well you can probably work out why if you're a regular reader and if not, sorry you'll have to scroll a bit because I'm so bored of myself typing those words over and over again; when I found myself needing to buy new luggage I thought I am only going to do this once. I am going to buy something so durable that I won't ever have to traipse around Selfridges luggage department forlornly searching for something that isn't completely mediocre, or have to scour the internet forever and ever and ever.

My starting point was a friend's Tusting holdall, which I had admired, but I don't like to get the same as friends - it feels weird. I reckoned I needed something that would hold my stuff for 5-7 days as I rarely go away for longer, and my big Anna Corinna bag is big enough for an overnight stay. So unfortunately although I of course had a spare £2,200 lying around, the SC 4 LV bag would not suit my requirements on this occasion as it's not big enough.

I wanted canvas with leather trim, not nylon. I started haunting the mens' department at Liberty. Here, there were a few that came close, but not quite. This one from Ally Capellino is nice but not sturdy enough, this Paul Smith one is nice but too small, this Mulberry one is beautiful but too expensive etc etc etc.

I then began to hang around gentlemens' outfitters in Piccadilly but all I found were some Japanese tourists wearing tweed plus fours. Nothing! But that was when I realised: I had been trying to find something traditionally English, whereas of course, the people doing that traditional English heritage thing really well are of course: American.

All along I had been thinking of this holdall featured in Blueprint. When I dug the issue out I saw that it was made by Billykirk - who have no stockists in the UK. Grr. Then A Continuous Lean posted about Filson's collaboration with Urban Outfitters. That was it - my bag. I emailed UO in the UK to find out if they would be carried here, which I knew was unlikely as Filson is a US brand and not much heard of here. After a lot of Googling I found myself on a British fly fishing forum that was discussing Filson; with people saying things like, and I quote:

"Filson clothing is extremely durable and lasts forever, which is crucial for my survival in the wild."

What's that mate, been attacked by a giant salmon have you? I do love that men geek out over practical clothing, but if you had switched out the words *fly fishing* for *mascara wand* from that forum, it would have sounded just like a load of teenage girls discussing Diorshow on Make Up Alley. But thanks to those brave fly fishers I found out about Ptarmigan which is the only stockist of Filson in the UK. They also stock other foreign outdoorsy hunting/fishing brands. I ordered the medium bag in tan and about half an hour later I got a phone call from a lovely man to say it was out of stock but the green one was really very nice. I won't bore you with the details as this is getting long enough, but I was so bowled over to get an actual human phoning me up and discussing a product knowledgeably that I agreed to have it in green to see what I thought. And I love it.

A week later I got an email from Urban Outfitters in response to my query about the Filson collaboration that said: Sometimes things that are on our US website aren't on our UK website. Thanks.

No, no, thank you for your exemplary customer service. Anyway I am totally thrilled with my Filson holdall and I love their slogan:

"Might as well have the best."

I'm going away for the weekend so we'll see how my bag holds up *in the wild.*

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


The answer is that without the beauty in the picture there would be no Lola Is Beauty. Without Celia Hammond there would be no Lola - well there might be a Lola but she would have a different name and would probably not be allowed to sunbathe on her owner's sofa. She might even be dead.

For it was, one not very warm August day seven years ago that I entered the Celia Hammond Animal Trust with a brand new cat carrying case. I had been visited by the cat social worker to judge my suitability as a cat mama of course; plying her with cups of tea and tales of my many years of responsible cat ownership. Sweetly, they try to match you with the right cat, much like in any other adoption process. I said I didn't mind an adult cat, or one with issues. (Time to bring out the violins.)

The cat she was thinking of had a long list of previous and had been at the rescue centre for four months - about the cut off point for caged up insanity. She had been brought in by her owners because they hadn't had her neutered, she was pregnant and they didn't want the kittens. The Celia Hammond Animal Trust took her in, she had the kittens, they were all re-homed as everyone wants kittens, she was neutered (all free of charge) and they phoned her owners to say she was ready to be collected.
They didn't want her anymore.

This cat was displaying all the signs of psychological disturbance and they were pretty pissed off as had they known her owners wouldn't take her back they would have kept at least one of her kittens with her. This would have made her much easier to re-home and might have avoided the trauma of her trying to search, in a 2 foot cage, for her suddenly disappeared babies. She had been re-homed once and was brought swiftly back after attacking a child. They said I could come and see her and if I didn't want that one there were others I could look at.

Our eyes met across a crowded room - quite literally the small room was stacked floor to ceiling with cat cages, with some grouped in the middle. They do an amazing job there, but especially in the summer that place gets seriously overcrowded with unwanted cats. But I knew it was her straight away and she was looking at me wide eyed as if to say please, please take me away from here. I was only allowed to stroke her with a wooden spoon in case she bit me. I had tears in my eyes and was only able to look at the lady and nod. As we went off to do the paperwork the cat gave this plaintive miaow as if not again, how could I leave her?

Ten minutes later I was the owner of a very large, very psychotic tabby cat. After I'd struggled to lift the carrying case into the car I got in and looked at the cat I was going to call Matilda. She looked back at me with her mischievous look and right then I said no, you're a Lola.

So that's the story and it's all thanks to Celia Hammond, legendary sixties supermodel. It's always bloody Twiggy this, Twiggy that, not that I've anything against her and it's probably because she's still in the public eye that we selectively remember only her. But Celia Hammond was just as much of a big deal - if you look at Vogue covers from that era it's always her. And Jean Shrimpton was so, so amazing and was a sixties icon two or three years before Twiggy popped up with her every move and thought controlled by Justin de Villeneuve. Celia Hammond was protesting against the use of fur as early as 1967 and went on to set up her animal rescue centres. Jean Shrimpton left the limelight behind and now runs a hotel and restaurant in Cornwall.

{photos: Celia Hammond - Terence Donovan, Jean Shrimpton left - unknown, Jean Shrimpton right - David Bailey}

Monday, April 27, 2009


Brayne note warkeing toaday. Tomorrow better promise.

In the meantime, can anyone guess in what very important way the girl in the photo is connected with this blog?

{photo Terence Donovan}

Saturday, April 25, 2009


There just aren't enough pictures of Mad et Len's gorgeous bath products online so I decided to rectify that with a hasty poladroid or two. At a local shop I fell in love with their packaging and then succumbed to a swooning fit over the Gardenia candle. But it was so expensive - like £27 for a small candle or £47 for a bath oil. The next time I went back the whole display had been removed and I assumed they hadn't been able to sell the range because of the price. Then the next time I was there it was back at half the price, though not on sale. So I think someone must have made a little pricing error initially. I was so elated that I greedily bought both the Gardenia candle, which is amazing, and the bath oil without smelling it first. (There are lots of different fragrances but the Gardenia had me at first waft.)

Unfortunately, though it is made of high quality natural ingredients it smells exactly like the scented disinfectant my mum used to use. Every time I take a whiff of it all I can think of is the loo in the house where I grew up. Oops. Ah well, it's only the most expensive bath oil I've ever bought for myself.

But away from dubious olfactory memories and back to Mad et Len. (The name is a reference to Proust's madeleine.) All the products are in these swish apothecary style black glass bottles with rubber pipettes - they're just about the chicest thing you could ever have in your bathroom. Mad et Len are based in a village in France and make everything by hand to order. They don't seem to have a website, but I managed to glean that they are a husband and wife team. They gave up their jobs as lawyers to get back to the land and make natural products. (Here's hoping my disinfectant remark isn't libelous then!) That aside, I would definitely urge you to have a sniff of all the scents should you see their distinctive packaging on your travels. It just might conjure up a more exotic scent memory than the one I had.

{In London I've also seen it at Bluebird on Kings Road and at Petersham Nurseries.}

Friday, April 24, 2009


How did we ever live before you could wake up in the morning with a song stuck in your head and immediately watch the video on youtube? I really don't remember.

This morning my song was Word Up by Cameo. (That's quite a codpiece first thing in the a.m.)

I took my new shoes for a spin this morning and so far, so comfy. I'm always schlepping about on foot and after years of pounding the streets in summer wearing ballet flats or flimsy sandals with paper thin soles, I finally worked out why my feet and knees are so fucked up. So these shoes are actually quite sensible - supportive and all that. I'm trying to be restrained with the post moth-alyptic wardrobe rehabilitation programme (POMOWARPRO) and not just go out and buy a whole bunch of stuff I don't love. I hope to wear these all summer long - and you might as well look cute while you're schlepping, right?

I think the colour goes quite well with my deathly pallor. I'm so glad I didn't get black as I now realise they would have looked too *snazzy*. I never end up with black shoes, which doesn't seem to have harmed me too much.

Anyway, continuing on my morning walk I started feeling a little horse.
*I have been dying to use that phrase.*

This is Thomas. He's a very placid gelding and he's quite small, which is good, as I'm fairly terrified of big horses after an *incident* a few years ago. He grazes in this totally incongruous paddock near my house. Yes, a random paddock, in a very urban area of London.

He belongs to some guys who have stables, (STABLES!) in the mews that runs along the back of the gardens in my street (where the coach houses would have once been - now mostly garages.) You can walk along the mews and they all connect up without you ever having to go on the street. I only found out about the horses the other day when my neighbour took me to visit their BABY SHETLAND PONY.

And now I'm all excited because I could walk Billy, who is the size of a dog, (I keep calling him Dave for some reason) up the mews and into my garden, which currently looks like this:

I could have a baby Shetland pony grazing in my garden! I'd never have to mow again! As if all that wasn't nearly too much, on the way back up the mews, almost opposite my garage we came upon this woman in full beekeeping gear (my neighbour took the pic, I was too shy.)

It was quite surreal to see her standing there in a swarm of bees. I must get some honey from her.

*Uh -oh, I can feel a blogging roll coming on. I have so many things swirling around in my head it feels like they'll all tumble out at once so check back; as I'll probably be posting more often than usual and over the weekend...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Dear See by Chloe,
I would like to purchase these See by Chloe sandals. Not in red (Browns), not in yellow (Net-A-Porter), not in purple or beige (Poste Mistress), but in black. In size 37.5. Please. Don't tell me to try Harvey Nichols; I couldn't get a word of sense out of their shoe department. The only place that has them in black is FarFetch, where the price fluctuates daily with the exchange rate, but it's always about 20 quid higher than the price of all the other colours I don't want here in London. Add on £23 shipping and it turns out I don't care about shoes as much as I thought I did.


{photo: farfetch}


Apparently Deptford isn't the new Hoxton anymore, but the new Paris.

Hahaha. I love Deptford, but...
Deptford Deli however, and the charming allée it sits in, is quite lovely.

{photo by me - taken at Deptford Deli}

Thursday, April 16, 2009


*updated below*

Just Birkin as usual.

*I have more to say about Jane Birkin. A few months ago I read some interviews with her (which of course I can't find now to link to) where she says everything she did when she was younger was to please the men in her life and she also said (not perhaps in the same interview) that Serge sometimes pressured her into doing things she didn't want to (a cursory Google search will unearth the slightly dodgy nude photos of her chained to an iron bedstead). It struck me then how, as with many supposedly liberated young women of the sixties, she wasn't really that liberated at all. Her hair was long, her dresses short - her legs were liberated, but she wasn't. I can still look at a photo of her at 20 years old and appreciate her beauty and style, but there's a chink there. The woman she has become is far more interesting, and therefore far more beautiful to me now.

*I just had to get that out*

{photo credits unknown}

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


How was your Easter? I went on a bit of an eating rampage over the long Easter weekend. I mean, you're supposed to aren't you. From Thursday night through until Monday night's grand finale roast chicken, everything I ate was delicious - and I ate everything. By Sunday my mantra was: I'm going to stop on Tuesday.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who went away for the Easter weekend - London without many people in it is lovely.
On Monday we sped through empty roads to Petersham Nurseries and I gorged myself some more - then gorged on flowers and I took about eight billion photos.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


It's been a very long time since I loved a film this much.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I've been taking things in, rather than expressing them lately; hence the current sparseness here. I could fill up the space with any old content every day when I don't have much to say, but I think you'd tire of it fairly soon and I don't want to clog the blog, as it were.

I've been inspired by a lot that I've been reading online recently and I'm really excited by the thought that (let's call it) The Current Global Situation (in lieu of using the R word) could be helping people reassess how they live and bringing new ideas and creative projects to life. I'm especially excited that the Internet might even be helping us to communicate and define new common ideals instead of going straight back to a world of mindless consumption. Sounds a little rose tinted? Maybe. I suppose if you get your information from the Internet, as opposed to the one track feed of mainstream media, you can always find something that fits in with whatever you want to believe. But I can't help but pick up on the amount of buzz I'm hearing on this subject, and it wasn't something I set out to look for at all.

Scout - Holiday just posted about Merci and I can't wait to go there the next time I'm in Paris. It's such a good idea - and a win/win for the people behind it. I can't imagine a huge concept store where the stock is donated by the makers, and the profits go to charity really flying in Paris even a year ago. There's more information about it here.

Pia linked to this post by the editor of Dumbo Feather. Instead of hunkering down, I propose we band together, support each other, buy local, and most of all, use the adversity as a challenge to come up with new ideas and ways to use resources more efficiently.

Also, I've been loving Jason Martin's clear and thoughtful guest posts on designsponge this week, in particular Who Is Your Home? (Worth reading even if you know exactly who your home is.)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


The premiere has happened, it's being released in France on the 22 April, no official UK release date as yet. I hadn't realised it was adapted from the Edmonde Charles Roux biography of Chanel, which is the best biography - of anyone - I've ever read. Sigh, those pyjamas are fantastic, sigh.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Lola is still confused about why I have taken away her favourite place to sunbathe: the goatskin rug (location of many a Lola photoshoot) - I have tried to explain where it's gone but the words "infestation" and "landfill" aren't in her vocabulary. Still, she's been trying out a few new spots.


For someone who categorically hates fitted kitchens, I am feeling quite potent lust for this one, seen on The Selby. I just want to rip my kitchen out and make it like that. Somehow, I've got back into cooking again and I am now fully hooked on the Tamra Davis Cooking Show. I may not have little kids in tow (or be married to Mike D) but these coconut macaroons took me 12 MINUTES to prepare and cook (then about two seconds to eat six) Oh, I left them undecorated as I'm supposed to be a grown up. It's mostly easy and fast stuff, using healthy ingredients, which I'm into. My only complaint is she uses a lot of Seitan, which as far as I'm concerned is Satan.

I made a pompom! See, I am Martha. The instructions are here. The only thing was, it was so perfect it didn't look right. Then I suddenly thought of that bit in the Marc Jacobs/LV documentary where their flower corsages arrive and they have to fuck them up to make them perfect. So I set to it, crumpled it up and attacked it with pinking shears. Now it looks much better.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


Tiny Maj miniscule! Everyone keeps going on about engraved IPods and whether Michelle touching her back broke protocol; or that Prince Philip made a gaffe (hardly a newsflash). But nowhere is it mentioned that Her Maj has shrunk. I know Michelle is 6 foot 3 or something, but ER barely grazes the mantelpiece, she's only just taller than a table lamp. Sorry but that's news.

{photo: Photo Pool/Anwar Hussein Collection/}

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


This morning I was looking forward to a day of playing hooky, which is one of my favourite things to do. I find almost all experiences are that much sweeter when you're supposed to be doing something else. (Also known as le grand procrastination.) I had plans, big plans, to drive all the way to Charleston in East Sussex, which I told myself was "research" for something which with a little (a lot of) imagination I could consider the "precursor" to what I'm actually supposed to be working on, which is to do with 1960s mod fashion, so obviously it is vitally important that I thoroughly investigate the 1920s artwork of the Bloomsbury Group. I was supposed to be going to Charleston with a friend who lives down that way, when she can get her hubby to babysit her wee ones, but I am very impatient. This is how I always end up watching films twice at the cinema, because I cannot wait for the person I promised I'd watch a certain film with to become available. Schedules: boo, spontaneity: oui. Charleston kept calling to me, knowing that today is the first day of the year it opens to the public. Everywhere I looked this morning I saw Bloomsbury influenced things. I thought how nice it would be on an actual rare sunny day to drive out of London, away from the unrest and into the countryside. Ahhhhhh....


Like an old, responsible person I check the oil, screenwash etc levels of my car. I bring a jacket in case it gets cold. I drive approximately half a mile and become aware of someone whistling and clappping. Bloody pervs, I think. The boy at the bus stop catches my attention and shouts, "You've got a flat tyre mate." Long story short: I make it to a nearby garage (since I have been driving on the flat tyre unaware, I assume it's ok to continue a bit further) where they inform me that both my rear tyres are f**ked and if I'd gone on the motorway they both would have blown. They fit my little comedy spare tyre, which is only temporary and not allowed near a motorway or over 50 mph and I am not sure if I'm really unlucky, as everything I try to do lately gets thwarted somehow*, or incredibly lucky that the boy at the bus stop saw it and told me.

*First my entire inventory of stock for the online vintage shop I had been planning for over a year was destroyed in the mothalypse and had to be thrown away, along with most of my own clothes; then I got really excited about experimenting with my dad's 1970s Canon SLR (for which I have a huge box of lenses and filters) and the winding on mechanism broke halfway through the first roll of film. It's just like that at the moment and I know it will pass. But I don't want to get too excited about anything, or even state "I'm going to do this or that" because, well, a spanner always seems to get lodged firmly in the works.

But I know that today I was really lucky.

{photo: Louise Dahl-Wolfe/Harper's Bazaar}