Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Before I bombard you with about a week's worth of Paris related posts, here are some bits and bobs of interest from before I went:

Book: Keith Richards: Life. I would never have picked this book up if I hadn't happened to read an excerpt from it in the Times and been surprised at how engaging it was. It's so riveting that I can't put the bloody thing down now - I even took it to Paris, though its size and weight took up about half of my luggage. Although it has been written "with" a writer (James Fox), the unmistakable voice of Keef slurs wittily through the pages: taking us from his childhood in Dartford, his love for the blues, through to the bust at Redlands, time spent in the South of France and Morocco - and all the details in between, which yes, it's surprising he remembers really! In the part I'm reading at the moment, it's all about Anita Pallenberg; his respect for her as a person really comes through. That's about where I've got to so far. The other thing is that he devotes pages and pages to describing the way he plays music and how other people play, in great detail. It's interesting enough for me who never got past grade one clarinet and playing Chopsticks on the piano, but I imagine for a musician it would be fascinating to be told how Keef gets certain sounds out of his guitar, or how the Stones construct songs. It's also very amusing in places - I would recommend it to anyone. Previously if I ever saw Keith Richards out and about I might do a vague double take and go on about my business, but after reading this I might have to shake the man's hand. Here are a few pics of Anita, back in the day. Funny how responsible she was for the Stones look in the '60s and '70s (and hi Kate Moss, you're so original), but the word stylist was never bandied around then.

Film: Biutiful.

Monday, November 29, 2010


{Update 21/06/13: Merce & the Muse seems to be permanently closed now}.
As much as I'd like to think that if I lived in Paris full time I'd totally assimilate into French culture - and I would try - I also know from past experience of living in a foreign country that in reality you suddenly become obsessed with Marmite and Cadbury's Dairy Milk; you bribe people to stuff hundreds of PG Tips pyramid teabags in their suitcases when they visit. That's why I'm glad there's a cafe in Paris like Merce & The Muse. It is just exactly like a cafe in London or Brooklyn (it's owned by an American girl who is actually called Merce Muse - amazing name!).

There are salads, great cakes and good coffee - they even offer hand dripped coffee. The cafe is in rue Dupuis - in one of my favourite areas, just behind the Carreau du Temple, near the Ofr bookshop. That whole area is very international - which is probably why my French never improves. But it's comforting to have a place like that around - a taste of home without being obviously so - it's more in the atmosphere than anything.

{my photos}

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Sorry for the radio silence. I'm back in London after the most amazing, wonderful, interesting time in Paris; even more so than usual. Stories to come...

{photos: Tom Palumbo, Paris 1962. I never tire of these pictures.}

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Ah, Parisian winter skies. See you on the other side of that beloved tunnel. (I assure you it is possible to love a tunnel, especially when it leads to France.)

{my photos}

Monday, November 22, 2010


Today would have been my mum's sixty sixth birthday. If she were here she would probably laugh at me for moping around being maudlin and suggest a cup of tea.


Shh, don't tell Jean Touitou, but I've been having a secret affair with COS. (AKA Celine On Sale).  It's unusual for a high street brand, albeit an upmarket one, to have me exhibiting those classic symptoms: taking weird inconvenient detours that lead me to its doors, then hey, since I just happen to be passing I may as well take a look. Followed by sighing and stroking of garments that I can actually afford to buy. The problem is that I want one of everything they've done this season, which again, I can't afford. I'm not averse to plundering the men's section for cable knit and fishermen sweaters - or duffel bags. Or scarves.

For women, there's a tiny collared shirt and some underwear, and a velvet dress, and a black leather clutch bag on my mental wishlist, but I couldn't find pictures of them on the COS website, which resists my attempts to navigate it smoothly for some reason. The photos above don't really represent my absolute faves - except the big grey sweater, which I have. Maybe I need to get a bit of secret camera action on next time I'm in there.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Last Saturday I visited an incredible house, belonging to the artist Stephen Wright. Both a private home and a museum, the House of Dreams, which hides behind a high wall in East Dulwich, is an artwork in itself. The house was given a huge feature in World of Interiors magazine last year and Stephen's ten foot figures recently stood in the windows of Joseph. The museum is a life project and is backed by the National Trust.

The front garden and the entire downstairs of the Victorian house are a riot of colour and interest. Stephen uses mosaic with every day objects inset to make art expressing personal events in his life; much in the way that Mexican folk art and culture celebrates both life and death. This covers the walls, the ceilings, the doors and is ongoing...It's like being transported to Mexico, though it feels very familiar, as the discarded objects Stephen uses in his work are often those that you recognise from your own memory and childhood. If you ever see a man at an auction bidding on 176 dolls without heads, that will probably be Stephen. Wandering around the house you're able to see the beauty and exuberance of the whole and then to zone in on specific items. I had a great time chatting to Stephen about his work and about life in general. His is a very pure and unpretentious expression of his life and I found it all fascinating.

I'm so pleased that for once, I'm posting about something amazing that you can go along to as well. Although the house is not usually open to the public (except by appointment), if you can get yourself down to East Dulwich this Saturday (20th November) the House of Dreams Museum will be open to the public from 10.30am - 4.30pm. Entry fee is £10 which includes an artist talk (well worth it) and a cup of tea and a mince pie (lovely).

The House of Dreams Museum, 45 Melbourne Grove, East Dulwich, London SE22 8RG.

Monday, November 15, 2010


First of all, apologies for taking so long to get back to you. D.V. was on an extended sojourn at the Paris Crillon; something to do with The Collections, or Fittings, or Appointments with her vendeuse at Chanel. Something terribly important anyway. But she’s here now, rouged to the hilt and weighted with jewels, ready to answer some questions.

Has anyone seen the newly published re-edition of Allure? (The only book related to D.V. I do not yet possess - I've been holding out for a first edition.) It’s much smaller than the original book, with a foreword by Marc Jacobs. I thought M.J. was a very strange choice to write the foreword, though I suppose they were looking at it from the ‘Andy Warhol of our time’ angle. I only flipped through the book in the Claire de Rouen shop in Charing Cross Road the other day, but I found myself agreeing with what M.J. was saying - that what he and D.V. share is a love of unconventional beauty and character; of feeling that something is more interesting and maybe even more beautiful for that. I think that’s why I like D.V. so much too.

So, ready? For anyone not familiar, the Ask D.V. feature is where I use Diana Vreeland’s memoirs to answer readers’ questions.

Mia's sister said...
Dear D.V., I'm getting tired of following new fashions, as most of them are already a dejà vu to me, I saw them already and now I think they do nothing at all for me. As I am not getting any younger, can I just stick to what I really like and ignore fashion?

 Mia's sister

Funny you should say that Mia’s sister, as D.V. herself says (about the thirties and revival of), “It’s always dejà vu to me, but then a lot of things are. The point is that it was dejà vu to me then.”
D.V. herself dressed in a kind of uniform during the Vogue years when she was older.: very minimalist, the same pieces in beige or black, and her Verdura cuffs.

D.V. also said, “The only real elegance is in the mind. If you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it.”

Saturday, November 13, 2010


How many seconds does it take to buy a locket? I've been on a non-consumerism kick for so long I had forgotten what it felt like. Surely the only time you should purchase something you don't really need is when you get that feeling; the thrilling combination of elation and fear where you're scared that someone else will buy it before you complete your payment and it's sold out. The virtual equivalent of furtively glancing around and quickly snatching something so that it's safe in your clutches.
I love Alyson Fox.

There are other designs here.
{via Vain & Vapid}

Friday, November 12, 2010


Honestly, you'd think I'd be more committed to preparing my tax return than to dreaming of Sweden today. The pictures are from last winter when I went to Stockholm and the island of Sandhamn in the outer archipelago. I loved how every window had a light in it to protect against the darkness of the long winter, and candles were never skimped on. I think it's time to put up my fairy lights from Granit.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Miss Woo from Cheapskate Chic gave me the "I love your blog" prize. Thank you! Cor, it feels as if I haven't done a tag since the olden days of blogging, when there were only two streetstyle blogs and people still bought newspapers every day.

I have to answer the 10 questions and pass it onto 10 of my favourite blogs.

1. Why did you create the blog?

It was so long ago I can't remember...no, ok, I may be an ancient grandma of blogging but I do remember not really knowing exactly what a blog was about 6 years ago and being curious. I had been writing daily for years, but mostly in journals that no one ever saw and a few articles here and there. One day before a trip to Paris I Googled the words Paris, fashion and blog and Elisabeth's blog La Coquette came up first. As soon as I started reading it I remember thinking, "Oh my god, this is amazing/perfect for me/I have got to start one of these blog things immediately!" So I did - and a whole new world opened up for me, (including meeting my now dear friend Elisabeth).

Monday, November 08, 2010


One blog that has really intrigued me in the past few months is Via.  I love delving into artist Liivia Sirola's every day life. Her photographs are beautiful - soft and mysterious - the writing even more mysterious to me because I can't read a word of Finnish. It took me ages to work out that "Vanhemmat Tekstit" means "Older Posts"! Google Translate seems to have a fair amount of difficulty with Finnish as well, but some of the translations can lead to oddly heightened poetic phrases, which I'm sure were even more so in the original. This sense of mystery coupled with Liivia's ability to capture the ephemeral in her photography (light, steam, frost) makes me feel like I'm visiting another world each time I click over there; one that is filled with nature, steaming cups of coffee, baking, walks through fallen leaves and knitting things to keep warm throughout the winter.

{All photos: Liivia Sirola. Used with permission.}


Photos from last night at the Master Shipwright's House. I take every opportunity to visit this place (I'd buy it in a second if I had £5,000,000 to spare) and last night - a convergence of various folk bands, jugglers, Morris dancers, bonfires, acapella sea shanty groups, the burning of pirates, hot cider and fireworks flying up from the River Thames at the end of the garden - was magical.

Ack, I know, more iPhone photos. Since I got my fancyarse Nikon I seem to have completely fallen out of love with taking photos, which wasn't exactly the desired effect. Crisply perfect digital images just don't do it for me, so until I sort out what to do about that, the phone it is.

Friday, November 05, 2010


A few recent photos from my phone. NB: none of these were taken on or have anything to do with Halloween, although most of them look spooky. You may have seen some of them and many other juicy things I don't post here already if you're one of the rare and beloved flowers that follows me on ☞Twitter☜.