Monday, October 30, 2006


I've noticed lately just how well, spiffy everyone looks in London at the moment. In spite of the fact that I've developed an irrational fear of asking well dressed folk if I can take their picture, there's just too damn many of them to capture each and every one.
I think there are a few reasons for this. The weather for one. After a warm September it's now damp, humid, a bit cold - the perfect conditions for us Brits whose wardrobes are filled with trans seasonal clothes for dank, moody seasons. (Ie: autumn, winter, spring and two thirds of summer.)
It could also be down to the fact that apparently the U.K has more credit card debt than the rest of Europe combined. Add to this a high street churning out directional fast fashion and it's not surprising everyone looks so tippety top. Although the people I'm noticing don't look like they've been kitted out at Primark. I do believe I have a keenly tuned eye for such things and the young man I saw on the tube wearing the most beautiful navy suit with the buttonholes picked out subtly in pale blue stitching did not get it at Zara.

English people are usually known for looking a bit dishevelled but - and again with the statistics (I've been watching too much London local news), if more than 50% of London schoolchildren don't speak English then I suppose all these people walking round in perfectly co-ordinated tweed, cashmere and sheepskin ensembles - not a bobbly jumper or scuffed shoe in sight, may not in fact be English. Actually when I walk down Jermyn Street or Savile Row all it reminds me of is "Lo Stile Inglese" that Italian men pull off so perfectly.
Whoever these sartorial sharp shooters are, I don't care. It's nice to walk around your own city and see style on a par with Paris or Florence - and I do mean style, not fashion. Maybe it's not so important in the scheme of things, but seeing others so well put together puts a much needed spring in my step too. And reminds me I need to get my shoes re heeled and my coat dry cleaned. Both things I would usually do before going to Paris but wouldn't worry too much about here. Raising the bar fellow Londoners, me likes it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Thanks to Miss Julia you can finally read (I hope!) my Paris piece for Bust magazine here.

A whole host of handy excuses for why "I haven't posted in awhile" can be found here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I'm sorry you have to see this.

You might be eating breakfast or something.
I feel a bit sick actually.
But in times of disaster we must all pull together and share the anguish.

I suppose you think this is funny do you, Carine?
Is nothing sacred?
UNFORGIVABLE! (Until next month)


Monday, October 23, 2006


4.30am: Get up.

5.00am: Drive to C's marvelling at sliver of moon in still pitch dark sky.

6.00am: Load people carrier with clothes until there's only enough room for two passengers to squish onto a seat.

6.30am: Arrive at location somewhere and tuck into bacon sarnie, still in pitch black darkness.

6.45am: Set up 'our room' for flurry of fittings, ironing, pinning, faffing and important decision making such as "which neckline is less friendly?"

9.30am - 12: Stand around in rain watching model on tractor wearing silky negligee and Fendi wellies (which you've proclaimed fantastically tacky) on monitor, periodically restick negligee to model's cleavage.

12 - 12.30: Sit on cold, wet step to eat thankfully edible lunch.

12.30: Meet band. Obligatory banter and chit chat. Iron stuff without ironing board. Approve of band's ability to dress selves and stay reasonably clean and uncreased.

2.13pm: Hear radio crackle with "Urgent de fluff" and run weilding lint roller.
Hang around in case needed. Meet cat named Simon.

4.00pm - 8pm: Hang out with band, re iron one shirt three times which is then not worn at all, babysit superstar chihuauha and kitten in training for stardom, watch monitor, hang out with actor, search for piece of vital missing equipment that's holding everything up. Give up search. Another sent at great expense which is then not used. Develop mild crush on guy on set (Ha!), eat slice of gross pizza standing up for dinner, procure kit kat from somewhere, take headache pill.

8pm - 10pm: Frantic behind schedule stress permeates entire crew, evening hysteria sets in. Make note to self that everything have not put in kit today because never need to use have needed. To own surprise switch object of mild crush. Hang out (hide from being shouted at for no discernable reason) with C in room, leaving only when strictly necessary, sit down or lean on something at every opportunity.

11.00pm: Watch last few shots with zombie like glazed expression. Finally wrap.
Load up people carrier, back to C's. Unload, get in car and drive home clutching new Fendi wellies which you have now decided are just fantastic.

2.00am: Home. Lola. Bed.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


So, anyway.....The book I'd been hoping the Marie Antoinette one would be more like (see previous post) was this book: The Audrey Hepburn Treasures. Amazing. I'm not even particularly Audrey Hepburn's greatest fan. I mean I like her and I happened to see Breakfast at Tiffany's when I was about eleven which became my most watched and loved film for many years. But I would recommend this book to anyone, even just to go and have a flick through because it's so beautifully, lovingly done. I have never seen anything like it. Juicy it is.

It's basically a big hardback whopper of a book, recording her life from beginning to end, with lots of pictures I'd never seen before. The very, very special thing about it is that in each chapter there is a transparent sleeve filled with reproductions of Audrey's personal papers such as two pages from the script of Breakfast at Tiffany's with notes in pen, handwritten notes, her Oscar receipt, official documents, her son's birth announcement. They are all reproduced on the right weight of paper, in every little detail to look just like the original. You really do feel that you're sifting through treasures.

It actually brought a tear to my eye the first time I looked at it. It was written by Ellen Erwin, the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund executive director (to which a portion of the proceeds from the book go) and Jessica Diamond, the Audrey Hepburn Estate's archivist/photo curator, and obviously there has been a huge amount of input from her sons. Every page reinforces that it's been produced by people who knew and loved her.
Audrey and son Sean on location in St. Tropez, 1966. That is exactly how I would like to be dressed on holiday in 2006.

At a grocery store in California, 1958.

On the set of Sabrina, 1953. Oh Audrey!

Oh my, I am buried under printed matter, and I haven't even told you about all the magazines I bought last week. Strangely, Blueprint (the Martha Stewart one, not the British one) I absolutely loved and adored, the third issue of Lula - not so impressed as with the first two.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I have had no internet connection since Sunday so I turned to ye olde printed matter. The Marie-Antoinette book I ordered months ago turned up, prior to the U.K and U.S release of the film it accompanies this Friday (I saw the film in Paris last June). So the book, hmm. I'm loath to criticise anything Sofia related because I find her so inspirational. Honestly. Think about it. I actually can't think of ANYONE else of my generation who I find as creatively inspiring. So I'll blame Rizzoli who published it. Maybe there's no one to blame except me with my expectations. The film is so sumptuous and the book that accompanies it is so sparse, actually very Sofia. I'd built it up in my mind to be a behind the scenes look at the making of the film, with maybe handwritten notes, inspiration collages, on set shots of cast members in full Versailles costume smoking, wearing Chuck T's and talking on their mobiles in between takes. And plenty of shoes and macarons. In fact it's stills from the film, with excerpts from the script, which interestingly in the book has a different ending than the one they went with. I really loved the film but the book just wasn't juicy enough. Better to get the soundtrack which really does.fully.rock. (To the ear of a child of the '80s.) Actually it's a lovely book, just not the book I was hoping for. The book I was hoping for is more like.......
....Grr. To be continued. Blogger is being an arse at uploading pictures so I will leave you with the first part of this post until it starts behaving itself.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


This past week we have gone into nesting mode. (That wasn't a royal we, it was a Lola and I we.) I have my new magical toe warming winter duvet which makes it very hard to leave my lovely bed, and which Lola gingerly picks her way across as if through deep snow. It's THAT fluffy.

Duckie is with Uncle Stevie for her yearly M.O.T, a new roof, new chrome bumper, and oh God all the things I've been putting off for about two years. I'm so glad I have my new duvet to hide under when I find out how much this is all going to cost. I miss Duckie though, even when she's away for two days. I walk down the street thinking, "Why isn't everyone smiling and waving at me?" At least she gets to visit her other Figaro friends. We (that's a we as in Duckie and I) were very impressed by this resprayed black one (the work of clever Uncle Stevie) Duckie's nuzzling up to here.
Actually if we moved to another country we would have to factor in the cost of flying Uncle Stevie over for Duckie related maintenance because no one else, ESPECIALLY NOT THOSE IDIOTS AT NISSAN can be trusted with her.

I don't mind staying at home when the view from the window looks like this.

I could look at that red tree all day. It really is extraordinary, I can't remember the name of it.
Yup, we have hunkered down, I am very excited by the prospect of Jane Eyre on BBC one this evening and wish I had a patchwork quilt on the go or perhaps some knitting to do while watching it. I am not going to make a quilt because I will never, ever finish it. It will be my life's work, I imagine finishing the last square just before I die, then some house clearance person will come along and use it to wrap all my valuables in, then throw it away. What a lovely thought?! Maybe I'll make a patchwork cushion to start off with.

I was going to make Lola a sock monkey to replace her icky catnip filled sock which was covered in drool and looked frankly, highly distasteful. I ended up buying one and performed a simple surgical procedure to insert the catnip into his stomach.
Lola shows her love for Monkey by sitting on him.

I've sewn on lost buttons, re-upholstered my dining chairs, and cleared out all the cupboards. It's as if I'm getting everything spic and span in preparation for something, though I don't yet know what that something is. I'm pleased to say my consumerism turnaround seems to be more than a passing phase. I seem to want fewer things, but I want the things I do buy to be lasting treasures. My new obsession is with (discreet!) monogramming, headed paper and ooh, the one that really gets me excited: personalised rubber stamps. There's just something about it. My grandparents, and in the past my parents had initials inside everything, and I remember the regular Saturday trips to the stationers to pick up a new box of our headed paper and envelopes. So maybe it's just nostalgia, I'm hankering for something real, in ink, stamped I dunno, on something, anything(!) as a reaction to this life of emails, downloads, text messages and impermanence.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


It's funny when what you consider to be your style is everywhere. Like not funny haha, funny WEIRD. At the moment it's as if a retail spy has infiltrated my wardrobe and used it to stock the British High Street. I walked into Gap and the first thing I saw was my Comptoir de Cotonniers winter coat from last year. It was exactly the same except the collar wasn't as nicely rounded. Fuckity fuck. I wore my Maje short trench jacket and my friend said "Oh yeah, I've seen that, you got it in Topshop recently didn't you?" "No actually I got it in Paris about six months ago," I replied stiffly. Again, they're exactly the same except in slightly thicker fabric. Oh, how I miss the days when people said "Ooh is that Marc Jacobs?" and I smugly quipped "Nah, twenty quid from Topshop." The other way round is so much less fun.

Every dress in Topshop at the moment seems somehow related to my wool button down Vanessa Bruno dress which I was kind of hoping to wear again this year. And I'm not saying I invented plaid checked tops. Just, you know lovingly accumulated them over the years with much searching and rejecting of those not quite perfect enough. My beloved absolutely favourite Rutzou top, coveted in Copenhagen but above my budget, then snapped up in Selfridges sale for £22. And my perfect vintage plaid cowboy shirt. And my authentic real Canadian shirt which I actually really did buy in Canada (I bought a kids size so it's not baggy). Now - a sea of plaid in Urban Outfitters and Topshop, everywhere, and, and, but they're cute, but it's too easy, but they're cute, but you don't need any more, but you might as well, too many commas, etc etc.

Oh, and how could I complain that both Topshop and Faith have rip offs of the Chloe T strap ballet shoes I wanted from last season? For £20. But I don't want them now I can have them easily in pleather. I like the hunt. All the pseudo vintage stuff is quite good, but it sort of makes you feel less original wearing real vintage stuff. Today I consoled myself by buying a charcoal grey wool pinafore dress because I really need another charcoal grey dress which invites the question "When's it due love?" It's only men who ever say that anyway. Men! Why not pick up a Sunday newspaper style supplement and acquaint yourselves with the volume trend? You can ogle models at the same time.
Anyhoo we really might as well make the most of Topshop while we can. Do not underestimate how much Jane Shepherdson, design director of Topshop who resigned last week, was the driving force behind the Topshop we all know and love today. Would you have been seen dead in there ten years ago? It was grim.

At heart, Topshop is an old school, hierarchical, corporate, rag trade monolith where you have to get clearance from twelve different departments before going to the loo, let alone implementing a new idea. For sure there are a few other forward thinkers around there, but it takes a certain kind of person to cut through all that. Her departure even warranted a slot on the national evening news; okay possibly that was just as an excuse to show footage of Kate Moss at Fashion Week with (Topshop/Arcadia boss) Phillip Green - and I'm really not so sure it's true (as the 'papers keep saying) that Jane Shepherdson gave up her position because she felt sidelined by Kate doing a capsule collection for the brand. Weirdly I'm not overly excited about the Kate thing happening. It'll be interesting to see how it all turns out. But there is a silver lining (polyester mix?) which is that Jane must be going somewhere, hopefully not the far east or retiring to an island...

Monday, October 09, 2006


I finally made the sleevies that I mentioned er, ages ago. Honestly, it must be so thrilling for people to read about one of my bright ideas and then see the results when they've forgotten all about it, if ever! To recap, they are kind of like a cross between fingerless gloves and leggings, to wear layered under all my 3/4 length sleeved clothes before we get into elbow length glove weather. I'm definitely so much more of a dreamer than a doer.

The bag I'm "going to make" has been in my head for ooh, I don't know how many years. (Also not so good at pinpointing exact timelines.) Recently I got the final part of the jigsaw puzzle about how to complete the bag which I haven't even started on yet. Oh but I've even got an etsy shop to sell them in thought out if the first one's a success, though this one's been brewing so long it can't possibly be as good as in my imagination. When the final piece fell into place in my mind I was like "A ha!" So what did I do? Did I rush home and start making the pattern? No, I took the two lambskin hides I'll use to make it out of the trunk where I'd stored them and draped them over a chair, where they still are. Hopefully soon I'll get started on making the bloody thing before I get the urge to tidy away the hides. Part of the problem is having a multitasking living room/dining room/studio/office space. I don't like to mess it up with sewing stuff because then I have to tidy it all away again. But I have to actually do all these projects so that new ideas can come through. I'm all backed up.

Back to the sleevies. Yesterday was the first time this autumn it's been cold enough to need a jacket, and as mentioned, mine all have 3/4 length sleeves; so that's what spurred me into action. Here are the instructions for making sleevies:

1. Take really old unwearable shrunken cashmere jumper out of wardrobe (no need to felt it, this has already been achieved by over washing).

2. Place jumper upon table.

3. Remove dressmaking shears from sewing box.

4. Cut arms off jumper (coincidentally leaving you with a cashmere T shirt).

5. Place sleeves on own arms and admire handywork.

Time spent procrastinating: months
Time spent completing project: twenty seconds

You see this is why I'm secretly addicted to craft blogs. Yes, I'm the lurker everyone! I'm so not in that world but I love to read about all these productive, self motivated people making beautiful things in their studios, with their inspiration walls, letterpresses, kilns, crochet hooks, spools of wool, piles of vintage fabrics and paints. I kid myself that if only I had a huge daylight filled attic studio with vintage dressers full of fabric, paints and papers and a big table to make a mess on and not have to tidy it up, I'd be making things all day too.

Friday, October 06, 2006


*Right, so all I need for next spring/summer are the legs of an adolescent Russian/Eastern European model. OK. I'm sure someone's selling them on the internet...

*I hear on the grapevine that Sofia Coppola hasn't been resting on her pregnant laurels. She's been meeting with Charlotte Rampling. For what reason I don't know, but that's a collaboration I'd love to see happen...

*Apologies for the delay in posting my Bust Magazine Paris article. I don't have a scan of it but I have the pdf, I just don't know where to put it so you can link to it. Some kind of hosting fandangle? If anyone knows, let me know...

*I saw plenty of thigh high flat boots on skinny Parisian girls this time last year. They actually looked quite chic, usually toning down the Tina Turner connotations by pairing them with a chunky cardigan and jeans. Now I keep seeing them on chunky thighed British girls, often worn with inadvisable puffball skirts. I thought London was supposed to be the trendsetting city...

*I've forgotten the last time it stopped raining in London. The ground is so waterlogged now that the rain just slides around on the surface. Sometimes it seems to stop but water still leaks out of the sky and drips off the trees.

*Is it just me or wasn't the whole sporty vibe present in many of the collections so far hugely reminiscent of a certain late 90s Prada collection? Some used the shiny fabric, mesh and strips of vinyl as a starting point, which they then made their own. Others...

...referenced it more literally.
I'm onto you Ennio Capasa!
(Costume National ss/07)

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Oh, internet how I've missed you. You probably haven't even noticed I was gone, I know. But I haven't been able to read any blogs or anything online, much less compose a post on this one because the ow, ow, ow, agony of scrolling, how it burned my eyes and frazzled my brain. That's the punishment you get for ignoring for two weeks the fact that the entire left side of your body has seized up and your joints click loudly every time you move. You get a mo'fo of a migraine. I mean really, how old/drunk do you have to be to need a craniosacral osteopathy treatment to deal with the effects of going to a party two weeks ago? 30, and very, apparently. Ah, but I slept last night. Do you know how wonderful it is to sleep in a position that does not involve having to lie on your stomach and prop up your left hip?

Here is the post I kept eking out in dribs and drabs this week and to me it reads so very, very strangely. Perhaps because I was dosed up on various painkillers at various times and didn't bash it out in one draft like I usually do. But it's all I got for yous today. I'm off to catch up on Sarto.

I always get the feeling that half the people in my life think I am too frivolous and decadent, and the other half think I am not frivolous or decadent enough. The same conflict goes on inside me - I'm drawn to all things that enhance quality of life, then I feel guilty when I enjoy them. Somehow linked to this inner wrangling is that this week I re employed Granny Dragon's leopard print coat. (That was actually what our entire family called her; non family members addressed her simply as The Dragon.) Granny Dragon's arch manner would have had Anna Wintour cowering in a corner, but she did have a shit hot wardrobe. I've had this fifties A line black and white leopard print raincoat that was hers for years, but always felt a bit "look at me!" wearing it. Now at the ripe old age of 30 I've grown into it. Not literally but in the sense that I now wear the coat, it does not wear me. And frankly if you don't like it I metaphorically raise my middle finger in salute to you. See what the coat does to me? Soon I'll be quaffing G&Ts and referring to the window cleaner as "that dreadful little man". Anyway it's all in the attitude. And this coat does change me. Like a shield it allows me to ignore the frugal voices in my head. And do you know what I discovered, that I'm sure my Granny knew all along? Decadent frugality is the antidote to false economy.
I shall explain.
Wearing The Coat I went to the Post Office in Borough High Street. It was lunchtime and the queue stretched out of the door and along the street. Normally I would have waited, becoming increasingly agitated with each passing minute. So I left the queue and wandered down to the market to grab a bite to eat. I could have gone to Pret a Manger and paid about £7 for a sandwich and a drink. I could even have bought a very posh and delicious take away drink and sandwich to eat sitting on the kerb, costing about £10 from Konditor & Cook. (Who were single-handedly responsible for my gaining 12 pounds in two months when I worked near their bakery) But somehow due to the coat, I ended up seated at The Wright Brothers Oyster House with half a dozen oysters and a glass of white wine in front of me. I felt so guilty until looking around, the place was busy. No one else was simultaneously beating themselves up whilst slurping down oysters. Then I realised that my super fabulous lunch wasn't much more expensive than either of the other options. I must go there on a Saturday when they open at 10am for 'The Breakfast of Champions'. Apparently oysters are a great hangover cure.

Still sporting my coat I headed to Piccadilly and Jermyn Street where I had an appointment. I felt peckish - again, and my knee was about to fall off. Again I had choices - Starbucks, Caffe Nero, all the usuals. But hello one of my favourite places, The Wolseley. So again I chose the decadent option. The Wolseley does look a bit imposing from the outside, but inside it's just lovely. If you're ever visiting London I insist you go there for afternoon tea. You can sit in the main cavernous bit, but I like to sit in the salon to the left of the door as you enter. I ask you, how, just how is it preferable in any way to get a £4 slopped over the rim, gloopy caramel macchiato from Starbucks and drink it at a dirty table, than to be seated by a nice waiter at a corner table in the Viennese style grandeur of The Wolseley, peruse the menu, then order a hot chocolate made to your specifications? Pure melted chocolate in the base of the glass, topped up with milk (soya for me - cows' milk = pus = no thanks) and its own little whisk to blend the two together. You can sit there in the black and gold lacquered salon watching the clientele eat precision cut sandwiches and scones from tiered silver cake stands and the umbrellas bobbing along in the rain outside for hours. The only time the staff will bother you is for a friendly chat and to make sure you're ok. This costs THREE pounds. That's what I call good value, the other option is false economy.

At this point half the people reading this who know me in real life should be thinking “that’s SO the kind of thing you would do/say”. The other half, and the ones much more likely to actually be reading this will be thinking “why didn’t you have afternoon tea, then go for a manicure as well?” I love you all, but I would really prefer to go for a drink with the manicure encouragers.

My new inner mantra is "At the end, nobody will thank you for not living your life." I can adapt this to the situation, for example "nobody will thank you for choosing to drink a £4 caramel macchiato in Starbucks when you could have had a £3 hot chocolate at The Wolseley."

*Post painkiller update: I also remembered that the last time I wore that coat was years ago when I still lived with my parents. To get to the station I had to run the gauntlet of funny stares from the narrow minded inhabitants of our suburban commuter village, so I could hop on a train to London and civilisation. It was when the Eurostar first started running and I'd watch forlornly as it zoomed past wishing I was on it going to Paris. Who knew? I always look out for that station when I'm on the Eurostar and every time we pass it by without my noticing.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


1: Why does that big spider only have six and a half legs left?

2: Who has hidden my sock?

3: Why have I woken up with blood dripping tooth marks on my arm and a vague memory of being attacked during the night?

4: Who doesn't understand the concept of rain, and still insists on running out, then coming back four minutes later to be dried with a fluffy towel?

5: Who is going to have to start seeing a psychiatrist if they don't stop with the biting?