2015-2

 

If there was a defining point in 2014 where it seemed things were not quite going to plan it was probably a rainy weekend in Autumn. I was mourning the remains of my favourite silk shirt, ripped beyond repair by reaching over too enthusiastically at a breakfast buffet whilst simultaneously giving the evil stare to the ‘old faithful’ black skinny jeans that no longer fit. This particularly stellar afternoon came only a couple of days after being unceremoniously dumped in Green Park. So, not great. But that was one bad weekend. And whilst the jeans still require a pulley system of Roman ingenuity to get them on and the romantic situation remains relatively unchanged there were some absolutely amazing highlights that I definitely wouldn’t change. Apart from the jeans thing, probably.

There was Paris and its offering of fine baked goods in the winter sun, St. Ives doing its best impression of Barbados and an unforgettable meal in the plushy pink paradise that is Sketch. It saw my addiction to barbecued meat, candles and trainers explode tenfold and an already-strained book storage situation reach crisis point. In the wider world, the visionary that is Emily Weiss came and blew us all away with the launch of Glossier and one of the best, if not the best, essays on the internet this year. Us by David Nicholls made me cry tears of joy and ‘Horst: Photographer of Style’ at the V&A made for the best trip to a museum.

But perhaps the most amazing thing about 2014 was the wonderful women that I had the pleasure of speaking with and learning from; most notably Penny Martin at a Gentlewoman event Ella Woodward at one of her Deliciously Ella events. And of course, the dozens of WhatsApp messages and emails to Holly, Christina and Marzena.

It also introduced me to more of you, so THANK YOU for reading this thing and to all the endlessly fascinating individuals I have come to know over the last twelve months. You are the incredible women that inspire me every day to keep pushing forward.

With that positive thought in mind, perhaps we should all enter 2015 chanting the words of HRH Beyoncé from 7/11:

‘Smack that, clap, clap, clap like you don’t care’.

Happy New Year! xx

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Let it be said, I am generally not the sort of girl to get excited about volunteering herself for exercise. Five years of compulsory school sports days saw me assigned that-most attractive of events: shot put. An ordeal so ridiculous (and painful) it scared me off all sports for life. A civilised morning of yoga with a healthy brunch thrown in though? That’s an idea I can get on board with. The morning was hosted by Ella Woodward, babest of babes and the founder of healthy-eating super blog Deliciously Ella.

So, buoyed with an enthusiasm for yoga I have experienced frankly never, I strolled into the idyllic South Kensington mews where Evolve Yoga is situated, got into my yoga gear (last appearance: 2011) and supped on two cups of Pukka ‘Revitalise’ tea and a home-made energy ball before 75 minutes on the mat. Selda, our instructor, was really amazing  and even though I was the only one of twenty to crash to the ground during their downward dog I still ended up feeling as zen as Angela Lansbury in ‘Positive Moves’. Result! The brunch afterwards was where things got super delicious with 26grains providing the almond milk porridge with pomegranate and coconut yoghurt, apple with cacao-dusted nuts and seeds and roasted root vegetables and Mission bringing along a host of juices.

So, is a yoga-practicising me on the cards? If the subsequent two attempts at Yoga with Adriene on YouTube are anything to go by, then it looks likely. As for Ella, her book is out in January and I already have a few more of her recipes in the pipeline for this week. Who knows, maybe it’s tim to dust off that shot put…

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It seems absolutely ludicrous that I haven’t posted on House of Eliott before. I mean, it was an entire BBC series set in 1920s London that focused on a burgeoning fictional couture house. In the history of broadcasting has there been a better concept for any programme, EVER? It’s got everything you could hope for: love triangles, men in braces, casual references to Gazette du Bon Ton and, in the second series, a sojourn to Paris. Stick a fork in me, I’m done. The great news is that all three series are available to watch on YouTube so you can binge until you can binge no more. I strongly recommend you do as I did and take a week to watch the lot in one, glorious sitting. At the end of it you will almost certainly finish every phone call and text conversation with ‘good day’.

Some things I learnt by re-watching a few episodes this weekend: firstly, that my life is utterly substandard for not owning a selection of antique silk kimonos to merrily laze around the house in and secondly, that 1920s daywear was absolutely unbeatable. The images above are just a tiny selection of the incredible ensembles worn by the two Eliott sisters, Bea and Evie, on their journey towards becoming famed couturiers. My favourite outfits are generally those worn by Evie; the younger, slightly sportier sister with a killer taste in knitwear and a penchant for waistcoats and ties. It is the daywear of dreams.

 

[Images via the incredible House of Eliott tumblr]

 

 

 

 

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Behold, some recent favourites from Twitter that aren’t cat videos:

1. Behind the scenes of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s wardrobe in The Honourable Woman (Grazia)

2. ‘The Paying Guests’ by Sarah Waters. (The Guardian) The review doesn’t quite shower Waters’ sixth novel in glory, but it is set in 1920s London which you might have guessed is my thing.

3.  The Cut describes the late Lauren Bacall as ‘a casualwear enthusiast’. Hello, new Twitter bio!

4. Off-duty essentials from Net-a-Porter (see no.3). Those boots look particularly good, especially teamed with some grey cashmere and a leather jacket. Also, free shipping this week so maybe the right time to finally get my hands on some KORA Rosehip Body Oil…?

5. MAJOR: GARANCE AND SCOTT HAVE SPLIT UP. (The Telegraph)

6. Fashion books you should know about. (Fashion Historia) Not my words, but those of bonafide fashion historian. I’ve added them to my Amazon wish list, if you fancy a peruse…

 

[Images via Grazia, Net a Porter and The Cut]

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Edward Steichen, Marion Morehouse wearing fashion by Tappé ; masks by the Polish illustrator W. T. Benda, 1926 © 1926 Condé Nast

 

iPhones/Moleskines/Smythsons at the ready, it’s time to pencil in some very special events taking place over the next few months. Inevitably, I will be haunched in the corner making frenzied notes at all of the below. Apart from the SHOWstudio web interview, of course. That is most certainly a pyjamas, pot of tea and entire packet of bourbons in bed kinda deal:

 

Penny Martin in conversation with Lou Stoppard at SHOWstudio, 12.00 BST, www.SHOWstudio.com 

The lady at the helm of the best magazine on the planet talking about her career up to, and including, The Gentlewoman for a whole hour. Oh, to know what goes on at 1 Tavistock Chambers! Before landing one of the world’s best jobs, Penny researched a PhD thesis on 1980s fashion magazines and spent seven years at SHOWstudio. Fellow Martinite Holly from Luxe Pauvre has already told me she might transcribe the whole thing. I AM SO EXCITED.

 

Lunchtime lecture: Virginia Woolf: A Woman of Fashion?, National Portrait Gallery, London. 1.15pm, 4th September 2014.

The Bloomsbury group is having a moment this Autumn, from those hand painted Burberry totes to this new exhibition at the NPG. This free lunchtime talk is accompanying Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision that runs until 26th October and looks at Woolf’s ‘ambivalent relationship with clothes and fashion’. It sounds really excellent, actually, especially when you read that she once resorted to pinning together her underwear with a brooch. Haven’t we all been there, ladies? Keeping with the Bloomsbury theme I also hope to visit Charleston some time before November, likely on my own unless I can convince R that the cafe is worth the two-hour drive.

 

Inventing Elegance – Fashion Photography 1910-1945, V&A Museum, London, 12th December 2014

If a lunchtime talk just isn’t enough, you can book now for this day-long conference on Horst P. Horst, George Hoyningen-Huene, Man Ray and other contemporaries at the V&A in December. It is one of the events supporting ‘Horst: Photographer of Style’, and, I think, ‘Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Conde Nast Years 1923-1937′, which will open at the Photographer’s Gallery on 31st October.  I originally read about that here, but it’s not on the Photographer’s Gallery website yet, oddly. Is this the definition of being a bit too keen? That ringing noise you can hear is my 1920s nerd-out points hitting a gazillion.

 

[Image via FEP photo]

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Even back in 1999, when my taste in clothes was decidedly more colourful (awful) than it is now, I loved this scene in Notting Hill where Hugh was trying oh-so-hard to get over Julia with Emily Mortimer’s elegantly dressed ‘perfect girl’. That dress! That bob! Those earrings! It all looks incredibly Calvin and so right for now. Seeing as I am newly equipped with a brand new haircut it seems only right to wear something similar in the near-future. A little black dress edit coming right up…

 

[Images via Leave Me the White]

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This genius top from Whistles pretty much summing up my attitude to Summer. AMAZING. In fairness, I’d probably be feeling a bit more pumped for the next few months if any of the following were in the pipeline:

 

a) A Margaret Dabbs medical pedicure 

b) Full ownership of this ensemble from Whistles (ironically)

c) A stay at the Georges hotel in Istanbul.

 

Not to mention my favourite Zara sunglasses accidentally ended up in the oven. HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN?

 

[Image via Whistles]

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Readers of last year’s post, ‘Taking Care of Haute Couture: Part 1‘ might have noticed my infatuated with haute couture and its conservation. The post back then was inspired by a vintage clothing sale at Christie’s in London; the standout piece being a rare black silk blouse from Dior’s very first collection, ‘La Carolle’ (1947).

Here we are again, then. And again, it’s all about Dior. A visit to the Bond Street store a month or so ago proved to be a fitting precursor to this season’s show at the Musée Rodin. A wonderful sense of history permeates every fibre of the store, and connections between Simons’ designs and those of Monsieur Dior are evident in almost every piece – from the flat, wide round buttons on the newly-interpreted Bar jackets, to the flashes of colour visible under dresses and blouses. But as Tim Blanks rightly says in his review to S/S ’14 collection, ‘the future won’t wait’, and a future it seems, is what Raf Simons has secured for the codified house, with graphic cut outs and vivid-coloured slices of lace fusing seamlessly with the trademark Dior silhouette.

 

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The navy wool bustier jumpsuit Stephanie tried on from the 2014 RTW cruise collection (I cried in the street outside after this happened – smooooooth), was just one example of the synthesis between Mr Simons’, and Mr Dior’s craft. It was only after our visit, when I started looking at those founding collections of the late 1940s that I discovered this ‘Eventail’ gown from Autumn/Winter ’48, also made from wool. Excitement for next season is already sky-high.

 

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[Images via Tumblr and the Metroplitan Museum of Art]

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It’s almost worrying how little problem I have with slavishly copying Phoebe Philo’s haircut*. Not yet, but soon. Two years have passed since my last major re-style, a period of time that has seen an untold fortune spent on Philip Kingsley Elasticizer – I stopped short at Viviscal – to relatively little effect. Time for a new approach.

These last few years have not been an easy ride, hair-wise. It’s been red, blonde (ERROR) and every shade of brown.  There was the ill-advised fringe, layers, streaky highlights, feathering and even a John Frieda at home dye kit that caused it to start falling out. In my hands. In the shower. Not one, but two hairdressers, have actually reduced me to tears. Quite honestly? My poor hair has been screaming ”GIRL. GIVE. IT. UP” for years and I have steadfastly refused to listen.

True, a fresh start will start in earnest with the big cut, but I’m extending this hair turnaround to a self-imposed ban on hair dye and continuing to invest in high-quality haircare products (looking at you, Josh Wood). The scene of the big day is still to be decided, but Trevor Sorbie in Hampstead is looking like an odds-on favourite. I really hope there’s champagne to ease the pain, because God knows I can’t make it three in a row.

Funnily enough, Into The Gloss has recently posted some insanely great advice for getting a good mid-length cut and keeping it looking top notch. IT’S LIKE THEY KNOW. Just wait until you read the part about the curvature and heat from your shoulders turning your midi-cut into a flicked mum bob. Oh yes, that’s an actual thing. Wish me luck!

*not quite as worrying as the first time I saw this picture and immediately thought ‘they must be the antique diamond earrings she said her husband bought her in that interview a while back!’. The obsession has absolutely gone too far.

[Image via Keep it Chic]

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