'A ball gown is your dream, and it must make you a dream... I think it is just as necessary in a woman's wardrobe as a suit. And it is wonderful for morale...' Christian Dior

Monday, 20 December 2010

Pretty Woman

It’s that time of year again and I’m getting déjà vu because I seem to remember moaning about it twelve months ago. How it becomes the norm to eat lots because it’s cold, stop exercising because it’s cold. And drink. All the time. When mulled wine becomes acceptable, because it’s cold, when really it’s pretty rank. So in the week before the 25th I’ve already put on a few pounds, my insides feel like road kill and my outsides, well, you get the picture. And because ‘it’s Christmas’ we have to get dressed up and go to parties. When you think about it, it doesn’t really make sense.

I think I’ve established I was as reluctant as ever to get into my glad rags this year. That was until the (in)decent proposal. A very good friend of my sisters (and friend of mine, it’s just I never normally see him without my sister if that makes sense) who works in the city asked me for a favour. Would I be his date for his work Christmas ball)?… (Quickly followed by) if you don’t have anything suitable, I’ll buy you an outfit. Ordinarily, I would have thought ‘free booze and free food – I’m sold’, but in this case, the theme really threw me. I needed something full length and black, preferably with diamonds.

I’m almost cringing as I write this, but I let him take me shopping. The ball would be full of corporate twats talking crap, seriously, I was doing him a favour! But shopping with someone else’s credit card, not as easy as I thought… We only had the night before to dash around Selfridges and it happened to be the night after my work Christmas do (a modest underground members club in comparison) so I was literally hanging. I floated around the designer floor (just to get a sense of erm, the variety out there) and found myself ambushed by this pushy sales assistant who started lining up £1,000 dresses in the changing room as soon as I mumbled something about a long black dress. Big mistake, HUGE!

Needless to say, couldn’t cope, started having hot flushes… and that was just my friend.  Ended up on the high street floor and found the gown I had been picturing in my head… In Ted Baker of all places. In the sale! The irony…

Black floor length dress, Ted Baker, white 1950s clutch, vintage, 
black and white diamante earrings, vintage

I still feel a bit weird about the fact he bought it for me, and I still feel slightly broken after the big night. But I’m a single girl, he’s a genuinely lovely guy and I didn’t stop giggling all night. It was full of corporate twats as predicted and after five glasses of pre-dinner champagne I was practicing my best ‘I’m not his girlfriend, I’m a hooker’, but I restrained. All in all I was the perfect date. Until the carriage turned into a pumpkin. Well, the taxi got infested with wine we’d stolen from the ball and we drove to a house party in Hackney and I crawled home at 7.30am in the snow, tripping over my ball gown with every step.


Monday, 29 November 2010

Girl crush de jour

When you think back to your teenage years you remember which male rock/pop stars you had on your wall (the acceptable ones, like Jarvis Cocker and Kurt Cobain). You conveniently forget who was on your wall before that (for obvious reasons). Mine are embarrassing. They're also surprisingly female. (My first love was Debbie Gibson when I was about seven). Now I feel like I'm reverting back to my formative years. I'm not excited about a single male front-man (and Pulp are reforming!) I love Cathy from Fanfarlo (see earlier post devoted to her), I want to be in Warpaint and last week, I was just as mesmerised by Twin Sister's lead singer, Andrea Estella during their first-ever London gig, as I was by their is-it-folk-or-is-it-disco-who-cares melodies...

Twin Sister are a new signing to Domino Records and have the stage presence of Dirty Projectors, ie, you need to see them live. Don't be fooled by the Anne Hathaway locks in this rather sedate PR pic – Andrea was wearing a long flowing green wig that made her look like one of the smurfs and one of the guys' guitars had feathers wrapped around the neck. They were so much fun. I loved their look, precisely because they didn't have one. In each picture I've seen of them, they look like an entirely different band. 

But I'm not collecting these pictures and putting them on my wall, I'm not reverting back that much, honest. I'm merely recalling how much strength and inspiration you can get from front-women. Having finally emerged from six months of post break-up hell to realise I'm so much better off without him, for the first time in my life I don't want a man, because I don't need one. Now I sound like I'm turning lesbian. I'm not, quite. But I do want to form a band, and I will buy a green wig.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Nightmare on Cardozo Road

Name: Ghostbuster
Costume: A child's jumpsuit from a fancy dress shop in Camden.
Effort: 9/10. Liz queued for half an hour outside the most popular shop in London on Halloween. Then ripped the crotch open with a pair of scissors and sewed it back up because the legs were too short. And still found time to cook dinner for us all. Gold star.
Fear Factor: 8/10. Back combed hair and an inflatable backpack that kicked a lot of ass.

Name: Morticia Addams
Costume: Long black dress and structured black jacket. Face paled with powder. Morticia wig.
Effort: 7/10. Helen was going for long flowing goth locks. The wig was dishevelled so it went under the iron. Being presumably made of acrylic, it melted on the iron bringing back painful memories of a home economics class with a particularly witch-like teacher in secondary school, which seems appropriate for Halloween in hindsight but distressing all the same. Helen wasn't too chuffed with the missing clumps of her new hair either.
Fear Factor: 7/10. The wig is bloody scary.

Name: Wayne's World
Costume: Ripped jeans circa 1992, band t-shirts, checked shirts and attention to detail from the drum sticks (do they look like wooden spoons?) to the fetching white blonde wig
Effort: 8/10. Julie Tipp-Exed Wayne's World onto the black cap with such precision it looked better than the original. Sort of. And marvelled at how far Tipp-Ex has advanced since, well, 1992.
Fear Factor: 6/10. Not nearly as scary as they were worried they would look. Which is like a couple of teenage boys. I thought they looked cute.

Name: Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby
Costume: White M&S slip, vintage lace dressing gown, plastic dagger
Effort: 4/10. I already had the hair so this was an easy one. What I didn't have was the white nightie. Despite my sister's efforts to post one to me (it didn't arrive on time) I ended up running around M&S after work on Friday in a mad panic with a facial expression a bit like the one above.
Fear Factor: 4/10. The facial expression I had down to a tea. The dagger caused some damage. It's just no one knew who I was meant to be...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Dead Man's Shoes

If this season really is the one that boyfriends won't get - the time that sex forgot - and I think from the number of snowflake/Mark Darcy reindeer jumpers I saw seemingly uniting for a convention at a Chalk Farm cafe last weekend, it must be... then I am unusually on trend. I'll draw the line at chewbaccas (sorry, Chanel) but I have invested in some new winter footwear.

Nothing unusual about a pair of brogues, or so I thought, until I paid for them. I was in Paper Dress Vintage in Curtain Road, Shoreditch when I innocently asked if they were mens. I'm a size seven so stumbling across vintage shoes, especially women's flats is annoyingly rare. So it turns out they are, which is fine (it merely makes me a bit paranoid that they look kinda clumpy, which is silly but that's just me). Only in order to reassure me, Hannah the owner starts telling me about the other five pairs of brogues she had in that were also snapped up by girls. That she acquired from a lady whose husband had died.

Was he wearing these when he snuffed it? Cue more paranoia. And bad jokes from my friends that my new shoes are possessed and will start 'walking' me to places I'd not normally be seen dead in (scuse the pun), like Tiger Tiger in Piccadilly Circus.

It dawned on me that in all the years I've been wearing vintage, I've never once thought about wearing a dead person's clothes. I'm not sure why, because it's so bloody obvious. Possibly because of my irrational fear of death I've instead focused on the various people who could have worn that item. Seen it as a journey from person to person who loved it in equal measures and passed it on. Well it's a brighter way to look at things in this so very dark and dreary season, she says, listening to Smog.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Here we go round again

The blog's been a bit neglected recently, but starting a new job is as good an excuse as any. You put in more hours, emotionally stress yourself out worrying, not to mention knacker yourself out physically skipping around the office like an eager beaver. Then, if you're like me, you agree to work at the weekend too. I'm like frigging Danny Wallace in The Yes Man at the moment. Not that many people I know would turn down going backstage at London Fashion Week. My 13-year-old self would have been squealing in her pop socks. My (much) older self... actually came to an important realisation.

Just going behind-the-scenes with a photographer and then watching the Topshop Unique show was an experience. It was eye-opening, fun, and slightly bemusing at times (watching models preparing for the runway is like watching a herd of gazelles trying to form an orderly queue), but the reason I could enjoy it was because I was on the outside peering in.

I've always wondered whether not pursuing fashion journalism per se was a mistake but consoled myself that I don't have to be a part of a world to appreciate its creativity, berate its bullshit and still write about it. That was what this blog was for. Fashion baffles me because so little changes, it just evolves, and sometimes not very much at all. Jumpsuits, prints and metallics are all back in for Spring/Summer 11. Just like, (ba boom) Spring/Summer 10. When did they go away exactly?

Of course I love the idea of new designers (and old ones) showcasing their collections, but what is fashion week really about? Who hangs out backstage (Olivia Palermo) and who sits on the front row (usual suspects Lily Allen and Pixie Geldof)? When I arrived into the TopShop show space I was practically knocked over by paparazzi trying to get a shot of Lily, who was walking behind me. Me in my old faithful Oxfam wool cape, she in her YSL...

I'm somewhere in the background making a sharp exit... Before the show started, I had to leg it (in four inch heels) from the backstage area all the way around to the front entrance with my ticket. I was stopped by four photographers (FOUR!) who instead of taking pity on a not-very-fashionable-girl-in-a-rush made me stop and pose awkwardly while they disected my outfit with their cameras. Their favourite part? My 1970s 'man' bag I carry with me everywhere. Yep, I was carrying it last season, the season before, and the season before that. So now I'm fashionable? I gather there must be a trend for over-sized bags. Yawn. Just like last season. And probably the season before that.


Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Diamonds are a girl's best friend

So they're not exactly Swarovski but they'll do for now. I've spent the last few Saturdays wandering around Bang Bang with gift vouchers that have been burning a hole in my purse for months. I'm skint at the moment and wanted to reward myself for getting through a challenging first week in my new job (with no boss!). As much as I love Bang Bang for its Aladdin's cave of vintage designer/high street pieces, the trouble with it, I've discovered (and this applies to both the Goodge Street and Berwick Street branches) is it's very hit or miss. If you set out looking for something, it's almost guaranteed you'll never find it. Yes, I'm still talking about clothes. I've tried on a pink 1950s gingham skirt (too twee), a beige cotton full-length jumpsuit (too 1980s), a (on the slightly brassy side) gold bolero (I don't need another), I even considered a fitted red mini Peaches for PPQ dress (yeugh)... So jewellery it was.

Not finding a single compatible item of clothing in the dressing rooms of the Berwick store gave me plenty to time to stare into space. But I might never have noticed what a pretty space that was.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Shoes. Shoes. Oh my god. Shoes!

I was considering entitling this post, 'Shoes for everyone!' but a) why quote from a film I hated (Sex & The City 2) and b) why give Carrie Bradshaw any more credit for getting us excited about Jimmy Choos? No, when I think of shoes, I think of Liam Kyle Sullivan's stroppy teenage alter-ego Kelly and her 'these shoes rule, these shoes suck... those shoes are mine, beeetch'. If you've never seen that video, I insist you click here.

Ahead of the launch of Shoe Galleries in Selfridges next month, they're running a competition to win a year's supply of shoes. All you have to do is tell your 'shoe story' on the website, by clicking here. Just write a few sentences and submit a picture if possible, but if not, they have illustrated placeholders.

The shoe galleries have been long in the making, after being envisaged by architect Jamie Fobert to house 4,000 different pairs of shoes and over 150 different brands. It's going to be the biggest shoe department in the world and everyone from Christian Dior to that wretched little Mr Ugg has been invited.

'Imagine you are in a gallery. From the entrance you see a succession of doorways and at the end a huge window flooding the space with daylight,' says Selfridges' Director of Accessories Sebastian Manes. 'Your journey begins at the front, with shoes from the best of the high street. Slowly you begin to travel through different galleries until you reach the end – the couture designer gallery, flanked by Chanel and Louboutin, and a vision of Eden – the new suspended garden at Selfridges. Shoe heaven.'

Speaking of which, my first pair of shoes (ie, ones I had a say in) felt a lot like heaven. Magic Steps by Clarks, with the little silver key... and the advert where the girl puts them on and is then transported into a forest and has to climb a wall and defeat the big bad witch... relying on the power of her magic shoes. I always was a sucker for fashion advertising...

I'm still undecided on my shoe story but my first pair did feel very special. And then there's the vintage leather cream (almost) knee high boots which sound pretty horrendous written down, but I loved them, especially with a sixties mini and thick black tights. Unfortunately they died on the way to an unmentionable night club in Clapham. I was stepping out of a taxi when the heel completely snapped in half, never to be reincarnated again. In hindsight, I think they were desperately telling me that they wouldn't be seen dead in there (which they weren't, as I went home to change). They deserved more respect. And I definitely learnt my lesson.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Biba my baby

Repetitive, generic so-called maxi dresses today don't know the meaning of the word, maxi. Take this picture of Twiggy in 1960s Biba. A free flowing, print-tastic, don't give a f*ck maxi. Anticipating House of Fraser's September relaunch of the brand, I'm not sure they'll do justice to the long towering gowns (not to mention micro minis) that made Biba the most iconic store of the decade, but I'm hopeful that they will.

I've loved Biba since long before making my first purchase (a black and white crocheted cardigan from Dapper Boutique in Camden) and think its founder Barbara Hulanicki, sounds like an amazing woman. I'm currently reading her autobiography, From A To Biba (almost as snappy as the title of this post) which chronicles her journey from growing up in Jerusalem to founding her first boutique in Kensington, London then watching the brand being taken over in the 1970s. She writes beautifully with passion in abundance and emotion where appropriate (her opening paragraph reads: 'My childhood was so secure that I remember wishing one of my parents would die so I could feel some emotion, even misery. I was twelve years old when my wish came true.')

I remember interviewing Twiggy a couple of years ago for something TV related and (naturally) we got onto the Biba subject and she painted the most enviable picture of running down Abingdon Road in her lunch hour (when she used to wash people's hair on a Saturday morning) to buy a dress.

She told me: 'I think Barbara changed high street shopping forever. There were no boutiques before Barbara did Biba. There was no teenage clothing at a cost that kids could afford. She started that. And we wouldn’t have Topshop now probably if she hadn’t done that.'

Twiggy didn't keep many of the clothes that are so synonymous with her image, (and I suppose brand) in the 1960s, but she kept her Biba. Course she did. It feels like such a shame that someone of Barbara's skill lost the rights to what started out as her own baby. Of course her talent lives on (I loved her Biba-esque line for Topshop last year). But it will be interesting to see what House of Fraser and 'muse' Daisy Lowe do with the ethos Barbara put her heart and soul into. And if it worked for Halston...

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Fashion rocks

If ever you needed more proof than Alexa in her Barbour trench, Sienna in her boho skirts and Kate in her teeny tiny hot pants that festivals are a fashion fest, then look no further than last weekend's Latitude .  Because if, like me, you're bored with boho and think Barbour should be left to the boys, you would have been very pleasantly surprised when Central St Martins and Chelsea College of Art showcased their graduate fashion shows on a floating catwalk on the lake.

Despite head scarves, bold jewellery and jump suits making festival dressing more fun and inventive than ever, it's hard to feel that, how should I put it, well turned out when you know you haven't showered for days and your nails look like the kind of tools you would take to an abstract art class. Watching a runway of porcelain-faced picture-perfect models ought to make you feel pretty crap. But the collections from the colleges that have given us everyone from Alexander McQueen to Christopher Kane were, like the offerings from the fashion forces that came before them, utterly inspiring.

My favourite was Shawana Grosvenor whose 'White Set' is described as 'an exploration into the relationship between two pure forms; shape and colour. Focusing on white and circles; inspired by space and "white" by Kenya Har.'

Here's more from a designer I didn't catch the name of, but that I loved. And yes I call myself a journalist... But maybe I've found my calling in fashion photography?

Secretary meets volume. There was a definite structured lady-like thing going on which was echoed throughout many of the collections...

And seemed, at the risk of sounding unimpressed, almost too wearable. I was expecting more radical. This is more like it...

And stilts, what about models on stilts? Enough said.

Monday, 5 July 2010

I wanna be on top

As I begin to write this, you should be watching the new series of Britain's Next Top Model. And if, at 9pm on Monday 5th July, you're not, why the hell are you sat here reading this when you could be? Step away from the laptop and switch on Living TV! I have no vested interest in publicising the programme by the way, I merely, from my reluctant erm, TV critic stance, think the new series, hosted by Elle 'The Body' Macpherson, is hilarious.

Note the word 'hilarious' instead of 'brilliant.' Of course it is brilliant in its own way but brilliant is a dangerous word, I'm not going to get into a debate about brilliance. Brilliance suggests a masterpiece. Brilliance suggests uniqueness. There's nothing unique about this series of BNTM, because it is so obviously modelled ('scuse the pun) on the American counterpart. Before Elle came along, the UK version was flat, it had no big name hosts or judges (sorry, Lisa Snowdon), it paled in comparison. The whole point of the Top Model franchise is that it is as funny, over-the-top and fabulous as possible. In short, it's so bad, it's (and there's that word again) brilliant.

Anyway, I'm digressing - this will be dress related if it kills me! - one addition to the new series that guarantees the show hilarity is designer Julien Macdonald. He's so welsh, so dry, and so bitchy, you'll love him. I interviewed him for TVT a few weeks back and he had something to say about everything – short models, fat models, ugly models... It was one of those interviews where I knew he was trying to be provocative so by the end I wouldn't have flinched if he had told me I was fat and ugly.

Instead, when I asked him who he'd love to dress, he replied: 'Well, I haven't dressed you yet, you can be top of the list!' If anything was going to melt away my steely journalist facade (not that I have one but I like to pretend I do). Sigh.

Respect to Julien for bringing high end to the high street all those years ago with his 'Star' collection for Debenhams, and respect to him for believing we should all have a little bit of glamour in our lives.
'I think that old kind of glamour is coming back into fashion. Now women can be whatever they want,' he told me. 'You see more realistic women on the runway, more real women, more real clothes, much more dresses, the trouser suit has gone, thank God.'

Erm, Julien, the trouser suit is alive and well! Well, it is in my book. As my relentless pursuit of the perfect Ossie Clark two-piece continues...

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Somebody call a stylist

Sangria, sunburn, STDs... *shiver*... you can pick up a lot of things on holiday in Spain. Course, there was nothing of the sort in Cadaques, Northern Spain, where I was just content with a new sun dress. And, if we're keeping to an 'S' theme, my stylist, too. Kate and I had gone away to the little fishing village to sort out my post-break-up head, and as it turned out, my wardrobe too. I set her the challenge of choosing a dress from her Liverpool-based vintage shop, Little Red, that would both fit me and suit me, that I had to wear. I think she did pretty well. But then I don't call her my stylist for nothing... 

pale blue cotton sun dress with ruffles, nipped in by matching 
waist belt covered in cream satin flowers

An understated look for shopping at dusk, but also one that could carry you through til dawn (if like us, souvenir shopping leads to sea bass, which leads to a locals' lock-in and a very wobbly walk back up the mountain to the hotel at 4am.)

We were positively gawped at everywhere we went. This often happens on holidays: the locals wear plain t-shirts and flat tan sandals to saunter down the side streets, while, ahem, 'tourists' like Kate and I don our highest heels to strut our stuff. But heels weren't an option in such a hilly town as Cadaques, so maybe we over-compensated with our outfits...

Royal blue jumpsuit, TopShop. Gold bolero, Portabello Market, 
butterfly belt, Portabello Market, Flower, Mikey.

It was as if the more we were gawped at (and this was literally every single person who walked past us) the more fun we had with our outfits.

Considering Cadaques was home to Salvador Dali until his wife died in the early 1980s, you'd think the village people would be used to some surreal sights. Such as, the highest point of his house....

And the little friend we made in his garden...

Yet, we were gawped at everywhere we went! Kate's been talking about opening another branch of Little Red for some time. Forget Brighton, I think Cadaques is crying out for a vintage boutique. And if that means losing my stylist, then at least I'll get some holidays out of it.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Granny chic

Accuse me of living in the dark ages, but I stand by my (old-fashioned) word: they just don't make clothes like they used to.  I know I'm at risk of looking like a granny: my glasses are from the 1950s, my capes are from the 1960s and my blouses are 1930s silk (when I can find them). But I don't care. Which is probably why being paid a compliment by Julia McKenzie today was so much nicer than anything any  tanorexic little tart off t'telly could have said. And now I do sound old.

Julia and I were discussing the outfits she wears as Miss Marple (her next film is due out later in the summer) at which point she was admiring my black and white Biba blouse and my Mary Quant cape (one I bargained for at Hammersmith Vintage Fair for 30 quid). She said she'd quite like to steal it for the character. Ahh! She's so lovely, I probably should have let her. The cape she wears in the next film was one she picked up in Gray's Antique Fair . So thanks for the shopping tip, Ms McKenzie, or should I say Miss Marple. Might have known nothing would get past you...

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Hope springs

When you're going through a really tough time, when food doesn't taste the same, music doesn't sound the same, and fashion doesn't feel the same, it's hard to get excited about anything. I'm not going to use my blog as a journal (despite how cathartic it can be) but I will just say one thing on the matter: there's no cure for heartbreak, but shopping can really help. 

It's not for everyone, obviously, but I just think throwing yourself into doing something you love can make the world of difference. I had my light at the end of the tunnel moment at the weekend, pottering around the vintage shops on Stoke Newington's Church Street followed by Brick Lane. 

I found this baby blue lace blouse/cardie/jacket (my favourite items of clothing are the ones that are difficult to define) in Rokit where I also picked up some new white peep toes (with a carved pattern in the heels). The lace perfectly complements the floral 1960s mini dress with ruffled sleeves from Little Red.  

This was the first time I had properly got dressed up and wore makeup in two weeks, for my friend's erm, World Cup BBQ. Because it's not easy doing that when you don't even feel like getting out of bed, (there's certainly nothing beautiful enough in the game to lift my head off a pillow) but now, after Saturday's Eureka moment, I'm going to do that every day. The perfect antidote to football. Give it a go.

Monday, 7 June 2010

BAFTA, you beauty

One journalist commented that the TV BAFTA Awards dresses were like a human chess board. Yes, there was a lot of black, white and on-trend nudes, but I don't think there's anything wrong with taking 'Black Tie' literally for an occasion like this. Not when you look this hot...

Ruth Wilson, undoubtedly one of my favourite young actresses on t'telly opted for Armani. While you could argue that such a starlet could have her pick of any up-and-coming designers (Erdem can do no wrong in my eyes right now) and her look is a smudge too gothic for a June awards do, I just think the ruffles, waist band and asymmetrical cut piss all over what you'd normally call an LBD (little boring dress). Yes, she's played it safe with a classic designer, but there's a subtle edginess to the gown and coupled with her tousled hair, she looks comfortable in her own skin.

So a thumbs up to Ruth, and an even bigger thumbs up to (at the risk of sounding like Gok Wan) my girl Vicky! My lovely house mate wore a beautiful royal blue dress that belonged to her mum in the 1970s and doesn't she look stunning, amazing and gorgeous... I'm hoping the more flattering adjectives I use, the more likely it is she'll let me borrow it one day.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

In New York...

I never intended this to be one of those blogs that rips celebrities to shreds because of what they wear, but today I'm making an exception. I'm unashamedly looking forward to Sex & The City 2 despite its bad press (mentioning no names, Hadley Freeman ). I'm not getting into a debate about it's superficiality and shallowness and the fact that in the films the characters go against everything they set out to achieve in the series (I am definitely with Hadley on that), I'm talking clothes. Because I still get excited about what Carrie and co are wearing (even though, as Hadley rightly points out in The Mail they're mainly clad in Halston Heritage thanks to SJP's chief creative officer role...) and equally excited at what the actresses choose to wear when the film premieres, as it did last night in New York.

Except, I was distracted away from SJP's sherbet yellow Valentino dress, barely glanced at Kristin Davis' vintage candy pink Jean Desses gown - for all the wrong reasons, I couldn't take my eyes off this...

If you were a rising Brit star with a cameo in one of the most anticipated movies of the year, why would you choose a matron-style dress that looks so stiff it might cut off your circulation, on the red carpet?? I know Alice Eve plays a nanny, but she doesn't have to dress like one. There's nothing wrong with the design, by L'Wren Scott and there's certainly nothing wrong with Alice Eve, she's gorgeous, I just think if I was 28 and about to potentially break Hollywood, I would wear something uber glamorous to make SJP quiver in her Halston boots (or at least trip over her Valentino). Hang about, I am 28. I don't have a burgeoning film career and now I just sound like a green eyed monster. Damn.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

There's something about Mary


Ignore the enormous 'Living & Giving' sign above the first rail of clothes you're drawn to on entering and Mary's Living & Giving Shop for Save the Children (catchy title, Ms Portas) could be any other exclusive high fashion boutique on London's effortlessly stylish Westbourne Grove.  Only it's not. And precisely because it's the latest charity-chic shop in the retail guru's drive to get everyone (yep, even you, sloane ranger) erm, living and giving, there's nothing, thankfully, snootily exclusive about it. At its launch on Saturday, the place was awash with people who had heard about it and those who just stumbled across it. The volunteers were friendly and welcoming and the stock, largely donated from designers and fashion magazines like Grazia, was plentiful, making high-end labels accessible to the masses. There was something for everyone. And if all proceeds go to a charity like Save The Children, then all that's left to say is, why hasn't this been done before?

It follows the success of Mary's pop-up shop in Westfield last year and she's also launched one in Edinburgh. I've not checked out that one (it was hard enough going all the way from North to West London in the sweltering heat) but had been looking forward to this opening for some time. Especially after enduring my boyfriend's moans that it was 'just another shop for rich f**ks to spend more of their f**king money.' I was determined to prove him wrong. I didn't get to see Mary at the launch but I interviewed her a few weeks ago for TV Times. 'They’re the most profitable of the Save The Children shops,' she said. 'The one in Orpington is looking fabulous (the one featured in BBC2's Mary Queen of Charity Shops) they’re taking from £900 a week sometimes up to £4000!’ I hope I've proved him wrong. 

As someone whose only hope of owning designer clothes is to buy them cut-price from a vintage shop, or better still a charity shop, the pieces on offer didn't disappoint. Among the rails, I spied sparkling new Chloe, Acne, Betsey Johnson, Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood, among high street brands like Coast and French Connection. Shoes ranged from Miu Miu to erm, Red Herring as did handbags, save for the emaculate cabinet filled with vintage Chanel handbags (sigh), many still in their original boxes. Oh and this Burberry trench, that failed to be snapped up. I blame the aforementioned weather...

My favourite sighting of the day though had to be the jumpsuit in the window. Mannequin look familiar? It's Erin O'Connor. Well if she came alive a la Kim Cattrall in the 1980s movie, it would be. She was brought in especially for the launch, and when the volunteers told me that the printed maxi jumpsuit (in my size) wasn't actually for sale today (so as not to ruin the window display, duh) I was quite relieved. Not because I didn't think it was beautiful - Mauvette Philips designed it exclusively for the shop - but because it was ever-so-slightly over my budget. So I'll leave that one to the sloane rangers. I just hope, in some way, I haven't just proved my boyfriend right...

Monday, 17 May 2010

Not-so-great escape

I'm all for escapism but The Great Escape, naeeeeh, not so great. And I will put on my best ever cynical/never impressed Larry David voice, because this year, it was shocking. Admittedly I only had a ticket for the Friday and arrived late, but I only wanted to see Fiery Furnaces followed by Wild Beasts who weren't on until 10.30pm. Is that too much to ask? Well, yes, since we didn't get in. We didn't see a single band. I think that's a record. I had hoped to blog some pictures of Eleanor Friedberger on stage at the Brighton Pavillion. Instead, I give you Sunday Girl (in the toilets at The Coalition)...

Real name, Jade Williams, 21, and certainly one of the best dressed on Friday night. I want to say that isn't hard in Brighton, but I'm convinced there's more sartorial prowess in that town yet to be uncovered. And, well, Jade, sorry, Sunday Girl, is a good start.  Except she's not from Brighton, she's from Hertfordshire. Anyway. Didn't realise she'd been performing at the festival when I approached her, not that I would have got into the venue to see her...

Here's the fashion bit: jacket, French Connection; trousers, Zara; shirt, her mum's; over-sized pendant, charity shop.

Having done my research post-encounter (maybe that's the way forward), I see she's been likened to Alison Goldfrapp and Bat for Lashes. She's already done press for The Observer, where she described her style as 'scruffy Chanel' and already has a Dazed shoot in the bag. Nice. I detect another little fashion icon in the making. Just don't start selling lipbalms at your gigs, not a good look. Yes, Bat, I'm referring to you.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

A New Look

Prada did it for A/W09. John Galliano for Dior followed suit in S/S10. From Land Girls to Film Noir, 1940s style never seems to go out of fashion – which is why you don’t need the excuse of a Blitz Party to set your hair in rollers or paint your lips pillar-box red. Although it doesn’t do any harm… 

Ahead of this weekend’s monthly East End Blitz Party, UKTV threw a Blitz Party to launch their Yesterday channel’s ‘Spirit of 1940’ season. The dresses. The diamonds. The coiffure. The pork pies. It’s not very often that fashion and TV collide, and when you spy an enormous hog roast being carved into a white bun with lashings of stuffing and apple sauce for a long line of hungry journos (with platters of ‘wartime’ doorstop sandwiches and scotch eggs if you’re still hungry) you can kind of see why. Rationing? We’ll leave that to the catwalk.   

In the foyer of the Shoreditch studios there was a dressing box full of pearls and costume jewellery, an assortment of hats, dainty gloves, military jackets, scarves and erm, novelty moustaches.

The crowd was a real mixture of people who had turned up kitted out and those who created an outfit on arrival... Lucy (top left) fished her five-year-old Primark skirt out of the bin for the occasion, having recently chucked it. You'd never believe Sarah (above right) was wearing jeans and a t-shirt minutes before this picture was taken. Or maybe you would.

I gambled on wearing my navy dress, t-bars and fur coat that could easily pass for 1940s but picking up the first hat I could find when I got there. As more than one person observed through the evening, ‘but you’re just wearing what you always do!’

But that was before I realised that UKTV had employed The Powderpuff Girls for the evening, at which I hastily threw off the hat, as hastily as I had put it on...

Et voila. 

The End. 

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Like you've just stepped out of a salon...

If there’s anything that gives me a bigger kick than buying a new dress, it’s getting a new hair cut. I’m probably a nightmare for my hairdresser. Not because I have unrealistic ideas of how I want my hair styled or awkwardly wave about torn out pictures of celebrities from a magazine which is usually the case, but because I like him to experiment. He (Steven at Dapper) knows I love the sixties and works with that. Even when it’s 6.30pm on a Friday evening (or worse, 9am on a Saturday morning) - he’s a keeper!

Many of the styles he’s emulated are reminiscent of the work of the great Vidal Sassoon, seen here working his geometric magic on Mary Quant. 

Vidal Sassoon: The Movie has just previewed at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival, and yesterday there was a really nice interview with Vidal, now 82 (and currently writing his autobiography) published on Dazed Digital.

The film was made by Michael Gordon, founder of the Bumble and Bumble salon, and alongside interviews with Vidal and his family and friends which chronicle his journey from the Israeli army in 1948 to fashion forward hair cutting techniques in the 1960s, is an interview with Mary Quant. Apparently she’d just had a hip operation and it was touch and go whether she’d be able to talk. After agreeing to ten minutes, it lasted an hour and a half. From one visionary to another. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall.

‘I hope such projects will not only inspire but also help a lot of young people thinking about their lives,’ Vidal told Dazed. ‘And realising when they feel down that the possibility of rising again and doing something truly worthwhile with their life is in their power.’

For the full article, click here.  

Can’t wait for the film now. If you can’t wait, try going to your hairdressers and asking them to experiment. You might end up with a dodgy perm, but you could encounter the work of the next visionary. I’ve just booked another appointment.