Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Turn Up the Heat!

Yes, it's freezing outside but if you fancy looking ahead to the Summer, might I recommend Missoni's new video.  When I heard the buzz about Pedro Almodóvar being involved in this, naturally Ia ssumed he was directing, but oh no! Instead we see the Bad Education screenwriter taking a cameo role.
"Pedro had told me for years that he was keen to make something with us" explains Missoni creative director Angela Missoni.
"So I asked him this time and he offered to model in the campaign…It is a homage to the Spanish lifestyle with women and girls who love to party and dance into the night. It has been a great experience for all of us"

The Spanish women she is refers to include top model Mariacarla Boscono, Flamenco dancer Eva Yerbabuena and actresses Rossy de Plama and Blanca Martínez Suárez, all modelling the ruffled designs from Missoni's spring/summer 2012 collection, which are perfect for dancing in and the music..interuppted by some rather heavy breathing and moans.. (be warned..turn the volume down if you're watching this at work) !
Almodóvar and company appeared in front of the lens of director Marco Maccapani for the humorous and conceptual video, which sees stills taken by fashion photographer Juergen Teller interspersed in the style of a beautiful pop-up book.
Naturally the film wouldn't be complete without the Missoni's themselves making an appearance. Look for a trio of Italian brunettes all sporting side partings and you'll discover creative director Angela Missoni (centre), and accessories designer and model Margherita (bottom).
Two of my favourite parts of the video has to be the Parma ham-playing gentleman who pops up for a couple of seconds at around 1.13 minutes in and a model who appears to pluck a long-stememd rose from her nether regions! Enjoy!x

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spotty (but not the fashionable kind)

Yes..I have considered hiding.

My posting, as regular readers will notice, has been absent for a couple of weeks.  The reason for this is that I have been struck down. Admittedly that does sound rather dramatic but when one is feeling rubbish, one is allowed to wallow!  My poor followers on the tweet-sphere have been regaled with an almost blow by blow account of the progression of the spots.

It started, once upon a time on a Thursday, with a small patch of a rash on my tummy, red, raised little spots that were a bit itchy but not cripplingly so. I assumed it was a wool rash as I've suffered with these on and off for years and had been wearing a Cos wool dress that day.  I hadn't changed my washing powder, cosmetics or anything like that..so I slapped a bit of hydro-cortisone on it and life went on as normal.

The rash spread.  The spots got bigger and more itchy, eventually they were all the way up to my chin and down to my knees, front and back.  On Saturday I sat down on the sofa and fell asleep for nearly three hours. On Sunday I was not only red and itchy but exhausted. I didn't have a temperature or any other symptoms though.  Monday came and I decided to whizz to the doctor. I'm from a family of doctors but an external opinion is always good and Daddy was in an Indian jungle with no email access.

After the interminable wait in the waiting room....where I tried not to scratch my boobs..I eventually made it to my doctor.  He took a cursory look at me and said, "I think it's pityriasis rosea, there's nothing we can really do about that. Try a hydro cortisone if the itching gets really bad."
"It is really bad.  Seriously. My entire body is covered in angry red welts and I want to scratch my skin off and you're telling me there's nothing I can do about it? What causes it?"
"The causes are unknown but don't worry, it's not contagious and usually doesn't spread to the face."
"Wow..ok so my face MIGHT not get covered in horrific rash and I don't have to make the Boy sleep on the sofa. How long does it last for?"
"6 to 12 weeks. Did I mention that the side effects are chronic fatigue and nausea? It tends to get worse before it gets better so expect more spots."
(collapses to floor in despair)

I left the doctors feeling VERY despondent..and still itching. The tiredness was almost as bad as the itch. I could barely get out of bed in the mornings and by three pm was ready to climb under my desk and snooze.  In despair, I decided to Google it.  Now usually this is the quick path to Crazy Town with a subway through Paranoia Alley but because this virus/ skin condition is so odd and so little has been known about it, people have been doing their own thing. The British Association of Dermatologists was helpful in terms of background but not in terms of relief.  It was on line patient forums, particularly one called Healthy Pages that proved to provide some helpful advice..although of course read them with a good dollop of common sense.

One of the suggestions was washing in Head and Shoulders all over, twice a day.  I can't remember what the active ingredient was..but people had reported good effects. By Thursday, I was utterly miserable and went back to the Shire for some TLC. My dear family, who could see the rash in all it's glory, were hugely sympathetic. Hot water made it flare up even worse so relaxing baths were out! We bought the Head and Shoulders and fortunately had a giant vat of a skin cream called Dermol to hand.  This cream is used as a moisturiser or cleanser for those suffering with severe eczema.  Mummy ( a nurse) suggested taking a Benadryl once-a-day allergy pill every morning and so the regime started. I'd wash in the morning, all over with the H&S, then cover everything in Dermol and take my Benadryl as well as milk thistle and vitamin C supplements. If patches got particularly bad, I would apply H45 (like E45 but hydro cortisone). I also had a sunbed for 5 minutes on the Saturday. I would never ever normally advocate the use of sunbeds but exposure to UV light is apparently helpful to this skin condition and it certainly helped me.  Only for a very short period though..not enough to get a tan or certainly not burn! This intensive treatment we kept up over the whole weekend.  I also ended up sleeping for 12 hours every night and during the afternoon.

Back to London on the Sunday and with work approaching on the Monday, the rash seemed to be calmer than it had been.  I have kept up my routine (Head and Shoulders, full body coating in Dermol, Benadryl tablet and supplements) and have been going to bed at 10pm every evening. The patches do seem to be getting drier and darker in colour.  I am continuing to wear all natural fabrics and have also been alcohol free for about 5 days..just as an added health benefit!

I'm still cream-crackered and no-one would want to see me in a bikini yet (SERIOUSLY) but I'm praying that I'm over the worst of it.  Keep your fingers crossed for me and if you see someone with rash patches up to their chin and sitting on their hands on the tube, give them a friendly smile, it might be me.

Slightly more fashionable spots at Louise Gray, LFW 11

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Prada Parade

Garrett Hedlund, Emile Hirsch, Adrien Brody, Tim Roth, and Jamie Bell

Everyone needs a little pick-me-up at this point in the week and I'd be lying if I said this didn't make me slightly gooey.  Men's fashion can pass me by, but occasionally something comes along which gets me excited and the Prada Autumn/ Winter Show was one of those moments.  It described by Count..sorry, Gary Oldman as "two-minute theatre - a short blast of performance."

One of the many things I love about this (as a Victorian specialist) is that these clothes wouldn't have looked out of place a hundred years ago.  And it wasn't just the clothes that were of a certain vintage. Adrien Brody, Gary Oldman, Tim Roth and Willem Dafoe were among the actors cast by the company to stalk charismatically across an enormous, scarlet shagpile carpet in sober suits and double-breasted, high-revered overcoats - borderline frock-coats - that would not have been out of place circa 1890.

Gary Oldman reckoned his outfit - dominating magisterial black overcoat with insignia at the chest - was "a little bit count Dracula".  Adrien Brody's coat was a richly patterned scarlet number, with a two-toned furry collar. In it, he said, he acted the role of "an evil ruler - a dictator. I felt like there was a bit of 'off with your head about him'." He din't even crack a smile at the end unlike William Defoe who had looked quite scary until then and Garrett Hedlunch (Achilles/Brad Pitt's nephew who gets killed in Troy!!) who was clearly enjoying himself the entire time.  Jamie Bell - who confessed that (not quite) rubbing shoulders with professional models made him realise quite how short he is - bless him!

Across the geometrical scarlet shagpile strode models (real ones at first) wearing expressions that were variously shifty, haughty or sly in trench coats, grey suits, shoes with galoshes-style rubber attachments and shirts from which sprouted up-to-the-chin polo necks. It was a tailoring show, although I did feel a bit sorry for the two chaps who appeared to be in tennis shorts with an overcoat..always a tricky look for the Modern man.

It was also, said Prada afterwards, "about elegance and powerful dressing. I was working on man power. So this was a palazzo of power... we started with this idea of a mis-en-scene of the people in the palace. Spies, any kind of people who are living in the palace of power." And before you conclude that Prada is advocating dictator-dress next winter (which I'm on board with by the way), she added: "Also for me it was a parody of man power. It was not ironic - it was nasty."

These chaps can walk over my carpet any day

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Driving a Wedge

Miranda Kerr and Julianne Moore in the Marant Beekket high-tops

Do you ever have those moments when you feel you've lost the plot ever so slightly? That is the feeling I get when I start thinking about wedge trainers.  Are they fugly or are they fine? How often would I actually wear them? Then what on earth would I wear them with?  I saw a very chic lady wearing the Isabel Marant ones at Paris Art Fair last September..OF COURSE it was in Paris and she was wearing them with skinny jeans and a fitted coat and look effortless and...well.. Parisian...but could I carry them off? (If anyone would like to donate a pair of Marant trainers to me so I can try this out, then do please email.)

Thanks to Marant, the hi-top is back. And this time it's got a wedge.  The high street has jumped head first into the act and the 'ultimate sports luxe shoe' is set to continue in popularity.  The reason I think it's popular is because it appeals to lazy people like me who find proper heels too much of a trial.  I've already embraced the high-top and am a fan of the wedge..so why not the wedge trainer?  Elle tells us that the wedge trainer is "perfect for adding edge to a pair of skinnies or a leather skirt teamed with opaque's right now, they'll be just as covetable with a denim mini-dress come Spring."  Well Elle, I think this is true if you have legs like Bambi for for mere mortals you might end up looking like the lesser known eighth dwarf, Stumpy.  Anything that cuts you off at the ankle can be dangerous. Apparently my black Yarra desert boots can fall into the wedge-trainer category and I've banged on ALOT about how wonderful they are but to me..they ain't trainers.

Here is a selection I've pulled...thoughts?x

Navy leather and rubber from Topshop
Nude leather from See by Chloe
Tan suede from Aldo..I'm kind of leaning towards these..if any
Navy suede from Ash

And finally, a selection from Isabel Marant..I can't deny that I do have a penchant for the black ones. Donations welcome.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Five of the Best

How dreadfully lazy I have been, 8th of December was the last post..three weeks and a day ago. The work wind down, running away to the Shire, family, eating, Christmas, then Christmas recovery, it all takes time!  Now it is New Year's Eve Eve and I'm curled up writing this and listening to the Possession omnibus on iplayer (one of my favourite novels of all time).  Santa Claus has been wonderful to me and I still have a few days left of holiday, so what better time than to look back at the favourite bits of 2011, so I thought I'd do five 'top fives'.  Snooze..EVERYONE looks back at the best and worst around this time I know, but it is a good opportunity to do so, so why buck a trend?!

Thank you to every single one of you who has read me this year, it means the absolute world to me.  Every single time I get a comment and it's not from a member of my direct family, it brightens my entire week.  I skimmed over the first year anniversary of the blog back in February because..truthfully..I forgot.  It's so enjoyable writing it that I've rarely paid attention to dates except now when I've just had a wee skim through the old posts so thank you, thank you, thank you all again. I hope you've had a superb Christmas and a happy New Year is just around the corner.....x

Five Best Fashion Purchases - not in order, that would be far too hard.

1.  Black leather shorts from Topshop - they've taken me from day to night and Summer to evening, they are also the ideal not too slutty length

2.  Black suede Yarra Desert boots from Clarks - the perfect wedge heel and so comfy, it's like wearing slippers..still haven't got round to suede-proofing them though.

3.  Grey mid length coat from Zara, first mentioned in my Autumn purchases post.
4.  Cotton sundress from Cos (actually in black and mint with large white polka dots, I know that's two really but this is my list so there!) These were fantastic for both work and play and SO hard-wearing and stylish at the same time.
5.  Over sized Mulberry Alexa in Oak - my wonder bag, since it arrived in my life in February, it hasn't left my arm.

Alexa..and the Alexa

Five Best Beauty Purchases (these are not my handbag staples, but new ones I've discovered!)

1.  Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser - yes, I'm late to the party but I couldn't live without it now.
2.  Lucas' Paw Paw Ointment - awesome for pretty much everything, including the odd spot!
3.  MaxFactor Falsh Lash Effect Mascara - I still love my DiorShow but for a budget substitute this cannot be beaten.
4.  Floris Night Scented Jasmine - I love this fragrance, it hasn't replaced my Jo Malone Orange Blossom or Acqua di Palma Iris but it is an incredible bath foam and moisturiser.  The scent is unlike anything I have ever smelt before and transforms your bathroom.
5.  Temple Spa - pretty much every product I've tried so far but special mention going to the Palm Balm hand lotion, Quietitude mist (amazing on long haul flights) and Peace Be Still, a wonderful body balm.  All available from Victoria Health and Harrods.

Five Best Reads

Terribly difficult to pick five out, fortunately I keep a record of everything I read and see at the theatre or cinema or I'm sure I'd start losing track.  I know a few of these are cheating as they are whole series but it was almost the first book that hooked me!

1. The Beekeeper's Apprentice, Laurie R King
A Sherlock Holmes spin off but much much more. Mary Russell, his young apprentice will draw you in and seduce you with her spunk and good humour, plus a constant stream of damn good mysteries!

2.  Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
Needs no introduction after the film version this year. A book I didn't really get when I first tried to read it a few years ago but when I tried again, I couldn't put it down.

3.  Gone With the Windsors, Laurie Graham

This brilliant novel is the fictional diary of Maybell Brumby, a wealthy American widow who arrives in London in 1932 and discovers that an old school friend is in town: Bessie Wallis Warfield, now Mrs Ernest Simpson. A corking read and an absolute delight to those intrigued by the enigma that is Mrs Simpson.

4.  The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
I cannot wait for the film of this to come out! After scoffing at all the people reading this and dismissing it as trashy teen fiction, I ate my words after reading it in desperation why I ran out of books on holiday.  Edge of the seat stuff, make your life easier and buy the entire trilogy together so you don't have to leave your armchair between books.

5.  Must You Go? My Life With Harold Pinter, Antonia Fraser

A wonderful peek into the life of one of the most famous literary couples of our time and a heart wrenching love story. A book I shall definitely be re-reading as it is so chocca full of details, I know I will discover new ones each time.

Five Favourite Films - I adore going to the cinema and again, these couldn't possibly in order.

1.  The Kings Speech - not a particularly original choice but I make no apologies for that.

2.  Hanna - It blew me away, Saoirse Ronan's performance, the Chemical Brothers soundtrack, the weird fairytale elements of the story. Awesome.

3.  We Need to Talk About Kevin - Loved the book and was worried about the film despite the wonderful pedigree of Lynne Ramsey and Tilda Swinton

4.  Midnight in Paris - a beautiful bubble of a picture that I randomly saw in New York with the Boy on a romantic night out. Allen back on form but also fab for anyone who adores fiction, the Left Bank and well..Woody Allen.

5.  Shame - It's not a 'favourite' as such but it has haunted me and compelled me to tell everyone to see it. I was fortunate enough to see it before it was released at a BAFTA screening. Seriously..I'm still thinking about it, but be warned, it isn't an easy watch.

Five London Moments

1.  Moving into my new flat, not something you can all share perhaps but definitely a highlight!
2.  Hanging out with deer in Richmond Park with two dogs and one best friend on a beautiful sunny day.
3.  Various suppers at Moro, Hix, The Wolseley, The Duke of Cambridge and Les Trois Garcons.
4.  Watching Madame Butterfly on a giant screen in Leicester Square whilst it's playing live from the Opera House with a plastic bucket of Pimms.
5.  Again, not a 'favourite' but certainly one of the most memorable moments of the year was attending a memorial service for the incredible Josephine Hart at Westminster Abbey. A service and a lady that I will never forget.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Watch Your Wallets - Sample Sale alert

You’re going to need a schedule to hit all of these goodies today: pick up some sculptured shoes, fluoro dresses, sexy under-garms, ready-to-wear Erdem, and a Lee Broom statement lighting piece all in a day’s work. For maximum benefit it would be good to have a stringent timetable and a willing chauffeur…also a ma-hoo-sive wad of cash.

  • Nicholas Kirkwood, 10am-8pm (and Fri 8am-8pm), The Music Room, 26 South Molton Lane, W1K 5AB 
  • Christopher Kane, 11am-9pm, Mercer Street Studio, 16 Mercer St, WC2H 9QE 
  • La Perla, 10am-6.30pm, Hornvale Ltd, 22 Newman St, W1T 1PH 
  • Erdem, 1-8pm (and Fri 10am-6pm), The Future Gallery, 5 Great Newport St, WC2H 7HY 
  • Lee Broom, 3-9pm, 93 Rivington St, EC2A 3AY

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Flat Pack

Kristen Stewart's trainer clad foot at the premiere of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One. PHOTO: REX

I've never disguised the fact that I am a flat shoes girl.  I like the fact that I can skip and potentially run away from ninja attackers should they pounce. I also think that heels are not a prerequisite for a smart evening do.  That's not to say I'm anti giving myself a bit of a lift and yes, they do make my legs more Bambi like but I'm always happier in something that I'm comfortable in. The problem is that the majority of my shoes are French Soles. "Spolit cow!" you cry, "why are you whinging about having piles of expensive shoes in pretty colours?!"  I am NOT moaning, I love them dearly and have collected them and cared for them for many years but, although smart and great for that day to evening switch..newsflash...they aren't great in the Winter and London has suddenly got chilly.

I'm not a huge fan of knee high boots (a bit Sloaney pony for my taste), my Westwood pirate boots are perfection but tan leather (not practical) and my mannish brogues are all in suede!  Now I do like a wedge shoe boot and my Clarks Yarra deserts in black are great to take you from day to evening but again they're suede too and what to do when it's freezing, wet and/ or snowing and you still have to go to work or head out for the night?

You could do a K-Stew, as I'm calling it.  By the time the credits rolled on the London premiere of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 , the latest offering from her fanged-up franchise, Stewart had made herself an Everywoman. How? By swapping her staggeringly high Jimmy Choo heels for a pair of well-worn Nikes halfway through proceedings, an act of comfort-comes-first rebellion which many women, including me, would applaud. But, why not wear flats in the first place Kristen? Save yourself the drama and your bunions buy opting for the smart flat like these ladies..

I have to admit that if the weather gets really bad, my navy Hunters are my absolute standby but for smart and practical I love my Melissa by Vivienne Westwood Chelsea boots. Made of plastic which gives them a patent sheen, they go with pretty much everything.  When I wear my Hunters, I'll put a pair of pretty flats in my bag for when I get to work but with these, I don't have to!  Another good investment are a decent pair of woolly tights..I have pairs in black, grey, plum and cable knit...all from Marks and Spencer's!  If you're under 5' 5" like me (although I claim to be absolutely on the nose of 5'5" WHICH I AM) you can still shop in the school uniform section and save yourself a few pounds!

Finally, the lovely Ms Stewart also did a quick change at the Los Angeles premiere of her movie, swapping what look to be the same pair of black Choos for..yup..trainers again.  Give the girl a pair of French Soles for goodness sake! Who says you have to wear heels to be smart? Join the Flat Pack.