Monday, 28 June 2010

Tom Ford, I think I love you even if you are a bit creepy...

Tom Ford is a bit creepy right, it's not just me? Don't get me wrong, I think he's brilliant and would be completely starstruck if I was ever lucky enough to meet him.
But he's just too smooth looking.
When a man is so focused on his veneer it's always a bit odd. I don't know why. It shouldn't be really. Especially for me, as JFK takes a lot of pride in the way he looks and is almost always dressed impeccably in a crisp white shirt, black jeans with turn ups, slicked back hair and shiny, shiny shoes. And he makes me go weak at the knees.
But Tom Ford takes it too far - he's too perfect, too glossy and too 'done'. Like those ladies who lunch who look amazing until they try to move their faces and you realise that they are physically incapable of movement above the neck and probably stay thin by eating baby food because they have no other choice as their jaw is too damaged by surgery to actually chew anything.
The difference is that when Tom Ford moves it doesn't look painful and we all follow instead of recoiling in disgust. This is possibly because he looks like sex and money, but that's not really enough otherwise we'd all be following oily men on yachts and frankly I can't be the only one who finds that idea a bit repulsive. No, I think it's actually because he appears to be as much of a perfectionist about everything he touches as he is about his own appearance, and we all want some of that perfection.
He's sort of like King Midas, but with style instead of gold.
His film, A Single Man, won over most audience members by being styled to perfection. When the characters emoted, moved (or ceased to), or just sat still, they did it so stylishly you cried.
His perfumes are equally well considered, although they are a bit heady for my taste and far too expensive to ever be within my reach unless I win the lottery, in which case I probably would still find better things to spend my millions on. Like a big country house I could fill with thousands of kittens. Or Alexander McQueen shoes.
They are also beautifully packaged. The only misstep is that the hyper-sexualised imagery he uses to sell them is beginning to feel a bit passe now. Gratuitous nudity is getting a bit dull. In fact at the moment every time I see a photo shoot or an exhibition with yet more pictures of private parts in it, I wince. We want to smell sexy, not have sex shoved in our faces on the tube when reading a magazine.
But the thing that has made me fall head over heels in love with this slightly creepy yet profoundly talented and oddly wonderful man is his lipsticks.
I know I'm a bit late to jump on this bandwagon, but even the thought of stepping inside Selfridges with my bank balance the way it was was just too depressing, let alone trying on a £35 lipstick. Yes, £35. Really. I'm not lying. I know, it is INSANE. But I was paid on Friday, and while I can't exactly afford any of the things I was hoping I would be able to, I did allow myself £40 to spend in Selfridges sale.
I managed to pick up an Alexander Wang racer back dress and vest for £20 each, so was feeling fairly pleased with myself. And then I went to the beauty hall, resolving to spend nothing, try as much as I could, and maybe scab some free samples of things. Instead I got to the bottom of the escalator and was immediately distracted by the Tom Ford lipstick stand where a woman was having the most perfect lipstick colour I have ever seen applied. I tried every single one of the Tom Ford lipsticks on the back of my hand, and he has not put even a hair on a toe wrong, let alone a whole foot. They look a bit bling and undeniably Tom Ford-ish - satisfyingly chunky rectangular cubes of white and gold with the legend TF imprinted into the lipstick inside. They are perfection in a lipstick.
I tried on True Coral, an intense orangey pink that would normally be terrifying. And it was, yes, perfect (are we bored of this word yet? I can't help using it here, sorry). It lasted through a shower and a private view at the Serpentine Gallery and even a bit of snogging.
Of course I didn't buy it - £35 is my food budget for an entire week and I'd just spent my fripperies allowance on Wang. But I think I probably will eventually. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to find a good match for the colour on every other beauty counter in Selfridges and in Boots, Liberty and Fenwicks. Nothing really comes close. I haven't tried any of the other colours on properly yet, I was too scared of what it might do to me. I don't think my brain can handle wanting that many lipsticks so intensley at one time.
I take it back, if I won the lottery I would buy all the Tom Ford lipsticks in multiples. I would give them to my closest friends. I would give them to my mum and all my cousins. Because you have to share this kind of love or else it will consume you.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Sales wish list entry number 5 - the Olivia Rubin dress

A good dress is a truly wonderful thing. I have a lot of dresses, but only around three them really classify as a good dress. A good dress is a rare jewel in the wardrobe - something you can put on with or without any other covering and know you look good without even looking in the mirror.
My Acne sack is one of those dresses. Short, black, low backed, sleeveless with small shoulder pads and cleverly cut to be super flattering, this dress and some red lipstick got me eyed up by Orlando Bloom. It's a bit dressy for day though. For that I have my mother's old 80's Joseph dress, which looks like it's actually from the 50's but is much less restrictive and more comfortable than an original 50's dress would be. I also have a nude pleated dress from H&M that fits the bill. All of these look good with heels and flats, cardigans and jackets, tights and bare legs, making them pretty much invaluable as far as I'm concerned.

Some designers know how to do good dresses, and some just think they know. Olivia Rubin actually does know, and she is really, really nice to boot.
You'll know her dresses if you read the weekly glossy magazines here in the UK, as they're often worn by those in the limelight who want to walk the line between accesible feminity and scary fashion.
But aside from generating a nice bit of publicity, most of those celebritys are doing those dresses a bit of a disservice really. They might wear them once or twice before relegating them to the back of the pile, but these are not dresses for relegation. They should be worn as often as physcially possible.

Rubin has marked down her current collection by 40% on her website, and the prices are actually quite reasonable for anyone who has been paid in the not too distant past (ie not me)...
I've been coveting the Matisse (above), reduced to £179.90 from £257, since I first saw it all those months ago now, so on to the wish list it goes.

Although, like the Acne, it's a bit too fancy for every day wear, to me it looks like the kind of dress you could wear for a dinner party, party party, cocktail party or for looking like a glamorous wastrel knocking back tequila with beer chasers with EDF at a certain soho bar... basically it's a good times good dress. As long as your good times don't involve red wine because that could be a disaster. Lots of black smudgy eye liner is the only other bit of styling that would be essential with the Matisse - otherwise hair up or down, heels or flats, fur coat or cagoul, it doesn't really matter. I think it'd even look ok with wellies.
Next month Rubin launches a new diffusion range of jersey t-shirts, oli rubi, including a loose fitting t with her trademark brickprint about which I am irrationally excited in a way that would disturb most of my family and friends.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Sales wish list entry number 2, 3 and 4 - net-a-porter shoe special

Today is the longest day of the year in the UK, and boy does it feel like it. It's been one of those days - the ones where you just about juggling everything and then someone tells you that your monthly pay form never reached the finance department and you want to go and cry in the toilet, but you can't. Anyway, all the deadlines were met. Well, most of them. And HR have promised that they've fast tracked my new pay forms and I'm at home sitting on my big comfy white bed and now it's time to relax... which is why I've been inflicting more pain on myself by looking at the shoes in the net-a-porter sale. I'll get onto the clothes when I'm feeling a bit stronger.
So here are the best, the worst and what's made it onto the wish list.
Let's start with the worst, and boy we're not spoilt for choice in that category this season. But these are truly, truly heinous - thigh high, slouch Uggs. I can't even think of anything else to say about them, they are so awful. My poor eyes.

Australia Luxe Collective slouch thigh high boots reduced from £280 to £168 (but surely no-one can be so blind as to spend that kind of money on something so awful, right? Please just agree with me or I may want to end it all).

Now let's move on to the most wanted. First we have these pleasingly chunky black suede platform sandals from Marni, a measly £322...
Marni suede platform sandals reduced to £322 from £460

Moving up the chain of desire, Donna Karan shares second place with Maison Martin Margiela, although the Margiela's are actually approaching affordability at £192.50, while the Donna Karan's are still way off in fantasy land at the rather random £312.50.
Donna Karan Linen-canvas platform sandal reduced to £312.50 from £625
Maison Martin Margiela Overlap leather pumps reduced to £192.50 from £385

But top of the list are these. I just want to stroke them and stare at my feet in them. I'd keep them in dust bags and clean them with a special brush and everything (that is probably a lie, but they would definitely be kept in their box).  
Thakoon strip-section suede sandals reduced to £385 from £770

Are there any that make your heart flutter? Do tell.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Sales wish list entry number 1 - the Mulberry bag

Today it is sunny, my phone bill is about to bounce from my regular bank account and my other bank have infomred me that they will be charging me £300 in overdraft charges this month.
I also have some new followers. Hello!
But let's get back to the serious business - the sales. We have already established fairly firmly, I think, that I will not be buying anything in the sales as I literally do not have the money. Not even a credit card of pretend money, which is probably a good thing. But then I don't get Christmas presents either and I still did a Christmas wish list, so what's to stop us from enjoying a bit of sales-related wishful thinking this month? Do let me know if you have your eye on something lovely, unless of course you're trying to keep it a secret in case it sells out before you lucky people with money can buy it yourselves.
First lets have a gander at Mulberry, still generally my favourite purveyor of bags despite their laptop-related sexism (no, I still haven't forgotten about that).

There are a few rather good things in the sale preview on Mulberry's rather unweildy website - mostly veering towards the less-girly, more utilitarian holdall as a lot of the prettier stuff they've marked down is touched with a tinge of the hideous or impractical.
First there's the Mabel holdall, reduced from £995 to £497. Then there's the putty smudged leopard print version of the Picadilly, basically a giant Bayswater, now £447, reduced from £895. Usually I hate prints on bags, but a grey-scale print on a bag this big and simple I will allow.

Both of these are still rather expensive, but this is a wish list and therefore doesn't have much to do with practicalities.
At the more affordable end of the spectrum there's the lovely Bayswater laptop holder, although this is still only available for 13" mac books so the less said about that the less angry I will be. The Ledbury, although a member of the Bayswater family, is a complete waste of time - it's tiny and frankly ridiculous.
But the one, and there can only be one, that makes the sales wish list is this;

A beautiful burnished antiqute gold Bayswater clutch, reduced to £385 from £550. It's a classic, will take a good battering in its stride and still look great and will go with pretty much everything, adding some relaxed structure to a slouchy outfit and adding a bit of edge to a more polished look. And it won't date, which is pretty important when it's still this expensive even with the mark down.

I also feel I should share with you the details of another event that I would love to be able to buy things at - the Elle MacPherson intimates and Stella McCartney lingerie sample sale. It starts today (16 June) and runs til tomorrow (17 June, obviously) and is at Bendon UK, Axtell House, 3rd Floor, 23-24 Warwick Street, W1B 5NQ. They're charging £2 to get in, which is pretty much all I have in my wallet right now. (If you're feeling generous I'm a 32d / size 10-12.)

In other news, I have now managed to draw on the sewing guides and pin together the pieces for my raw silk skirt. This took about two hours and was aided by a serious dose of 90's nostalgia with My So Called Life and Daria. Next, and most scary, stage - sewing it all together. I have a few misgivings about this, but will hopefully begin tonight. Stay tuned for the inevitable blood, sweat and swearing at the sewing machine.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Pain, pain and more pain

So the sales have started. I have had in my possession a card-holders preview voucher for the Liberty sale for over two weeks now. It sits in my wallet unused, staring at me forlornly as I fish around for the final 2p coin I need to add to the pile of shrapnel that is paying for my dinner.
In the past week, more that ten sales invites have popped into my inbox. They taunt me with their bright colours and pretty pictures. They talk to me. And they are mean. They say "har de har har, we've come to prod your financial bruises with the sharp stick of discounted fashion things that you have wanted for ages and could actually afford in the sales if you had been paid and weren't a financial failure." (What they lack in brevity they make up for in maliciousness.) 
And I haven't even begun to talk about the magazine and newspaper features about what to buy now to take you through autumn, or the best 20 dresses in the sales, or how to get the best sales bargain, or the myriad of other repetative and uninventive sales features that inevitably pop up both in print and online around now. I just can't. It's too painful.
On the plus side being poor has inspired a proper return to some of my more resourceful ways. I'm cooking more and taking packed lunches to work every single day, which is healthy. And even on my tiny budget I can still work on my never ending wardrobe evolution project.
I came back from the car boot sale with a brilliant pair of bright pink Topshop heels with a t-bar strap and a dove grey, buttery soft suede Nicole Farhi coat. On my way back, walking along the main road in Queen's Park with B, we spotted a piece of paper pinned on to a tree advertising a vintage sale in someone's hallway. Of course we had to go, and B, as is so often the way, knew the girl who was selling the clothes who allowed me to take away a black 1940's hat with the promise of paying her when I get paid. I have now given B an old display cabinet my mum was getting rid of and she will pay for the hat. I like this swapping of things, it feels useful.
I am also in the first stages of making a full skirt using some of the beautiful peachy-pink raw silk that I brought back from India and a 1950's pattern I bought off ebay aeons ago. I have cut all the pieces and retrieved my battered old sewing machine, a 16th birthday present, from my mum's house. Now I just need to draw the sewing guides onto the fabric (if I don't it will end up a very wonky skirt). But there are ten panels, a waistband and four tab pieces to do and I have hit a bit of a motivation wall. Hopefully this won't end up as just another project that ends up languishing in a corner reminding me that I never finish things...

Monday, 7 June 2010

One to watch: Kelly Bergin

It's miserably grey in London today, but the temperatures have been pretty impressive for the last few days. I am not do good at dressing for hot weather in the city. Especially at the moment as I am having a bit of an 'i-have-put-on-weight-and-now-hate-everything-in-my-wardrobe-that-is-strappy-and-isn't-black' crisis.
In LA they know how to dress for hot sticky weather (although they don't have to contend with even hotter and stickier London underground and therefore the floatiness of their attire seems a bit more practical). However, generally I remain faintly underwhelmed by LA fashion off the red carpet - it's too safe but scruffy, too 'trying hard not to look like I'm making an effort'. After all, this is a place where Juicy Couture and Crocs, the byword for everything awful in footwear, are acceptable clothes for off-duty millionaires.
And it's rare that I like an LA based designers work. But Kelly Bergin is an exception.
Bergin only graduated from LA's FIDM (like the London College of Fashion but less experimental) in 2007 and launched her sportswear* line in 2009.
On her website, Bergin says her clothes offer a "modern, paired-down sensibility" featuring "classic shapes imbued with modern details". But whatever. To me her spring/summer collection says "I'm an easy summer in the city wardrobe, gaze upon me longingly while silently preying for the man with the sweaty armpits pressed next to you on the tube to get off at the next stop".
There are a few things in her spring/summer collection that look either a little aging, too young for anyone who doesn't want to look like an extra from The Hills, or just not suitable for me - but an awful lot of it is rather good...

Visit her website to see the full spring/summer collection as well as her autumn/winter 2010 collection which featured a pleasing palette of black, black and more black. A designer after my own black heart.

*Sportswear is a ridiculous name for every day clothing that the fashion world adopted a long time ago for opaque reasons we are not going to go into here. Suffice to say these clothes are supposed to be of a more hanging out with your friends in the park and not worrying too much about the grass stains nature than most designer clothes, however they are still often dry clean only which kind of defeats the point.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

The Lunch Break

That rarest of things, a proper lunch break on a sunny day! Lovely. Of course, for someone with no money working in a grey, grey building of doom in Southwark, the logical thing was to go to the sadly diminished Borough Market to try things for free...

Hopefully after all the building work on London Bridge station is over Borough will be restored to something like its former glory, because it really is a joyful place to be. Aside from all the tourists who get in your way obviously. And all the idiots like me who only want to try things for free and take pictures of signs.

As an aside, what do we feel about the idea of tattooing stocking seams directly onto your legs? I am both repulsed and impressed - it's a real commitment to easy dressing but she might have wanted to find a tattooist with a steadier hand.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


Today in Sainsburys I had a very important life moment. One of those moments that tells you all about where your priorities in life lie.
As previously mentioned, I am having a small money crisis. June is not a stylish month for poverty. At least  Frugal February would have a nice ring to it. But no, summer is here, I have a special preview to the Liberty sale, I want dresses and sandals and, and, and... sigh.
Anyway, I am taking each day as it comes and trying to spend as little money as possible because I need to make the £100 I have left last til the end of the month and still somehow pay the bills too. Today was a good day because I had a whole £5 note, discovered at the bottom of an old bag. I had a packed lunch and spent 55p on a roll of Fruit Pastels so I still had plenty left to spend in Sainsburys.
But at some point in her life every woman - ok, maybe not every, but a small and important minority - faces a difficult question; Vogue or food?
If I was Carrie Bradshaw when she was only slightly awful (pre season five) I would choose Vogue. But I am not. Thankfully. God that would be dreadful, wouldn't it?
In fact if forced to pick my magazine of choice is more likely to be Elle or something more expensive and harder to find like The Gentlewoman or Lula or Bon or Pop.
However today I realised that my commitment to fashion is definitely secondary to my love of food and the need for toilet paper. So it's hello fresh peppers and tomatoes and other things to make my new best friend pasta taste half way decent and help me deal with the fact that having no money basically forces you to exist mainly on carbs which goes against everything I usually believe in.
Maybe next month when I finally get paid I'll make up for it with a magazine binge...

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Paying the rent, possibly only in wellies

So it's officail, until June 26th I am broke. And not broke in a mangeable, can pay the rent but might need to take packed lunches and no shopping kind of way, which I am usually pretty good at avoiding anyway. No, broke in a holy Mr Kipling what am I going to do aside from invoke the god of easy to find cake kind of way.
I am entirely blaming work and not my ridiculous spending habits and frivolous holidays to South Africa and Wales for this - they've changed the system by which they pay me so I essentially have to wait two months to get paid. I haven't been paid since mid April and on June 9th I have a £1000 bill to pay. There is currently £70 left of my overdraft and the bank card for my secret account for emegencies has stopped working all together due to lack of funds. Oh joy.

If anyone has any (preferably legal) ideas, please do send them my way.
In the meantime let us discuss something far more sartorially interesting - Wellington boots. I have a long-standing love for wellies. I love wellies so much I even went through a phase of wearing them to school when I was in sixth form and suddenly liberated from the strictures of school uniform and dyed my hair pilar box red.
Now, of course, I know that this is a bit odd. But every now and then it is actually appropriate to wear wellies.
No, not those god awful patterned bright pink things that they sell in the women's section of every supermarket these days. More the black or green kind that still have a light dusting of mud on them and are found in large groups in the back hallways of country houses.
Hunters are good, but new ones defeat the point really and if you team them with a white satin wedding dress and fur stole on a beach, as in the adverts on their website, you are possibly a bit wrong in the head - also if you buy Jimmy Choo for Hunter you are dead to me. 

Wellies actually look great with thick opaque tights and something very short combined with a big jumper, possibly one that belongs to your boyfriend (or someone else's if that's easier), and a Burberry mac.
Honestly they do.
This outfit also has the added bonus of making you look young enough to get ID'd while buying Welsh whisky (which burns in the best kind of way, but is really the only thing to drink when sitting next to the hearth of a roastingly hot fire). This weekend, spent in a glorious part of north Wales courtesy of B's grandpa who has the perfect ramshackle, floor-caving-in, open fire and lack of electric lighting, warren-like old cottage, was a fine opportunity to sport said look.
On people either skinnier or more confident about their inner thigh area than me, they also look good with a pair of skinny jeans tucked into them.
But reader, beware, wellies are not so good for climbing trees in, going to crowded places where stepping on someone's foot because you don't know where your shoe ends because you're wearing six pairs of socks, or teaming with the hideous 'new' trouser - the Hoolihan, which has the most unfortunate, yet surprisingly apt, name.

If I don't work out hwo to pay my rent fairly sharpish I may have to start selling off my beloved clothes. Buying new shoes is definitely a no-no, so it's a good thing wellies are long lasting as they may be the only thing I have left.