Thursday, 30 September 2010

Spray on clothing

No, really.

This is frankly quite amazing, but there's a long way to go before I'm likely to embrace something that is so clingy and unforgiving. When you can get a kick-pleated pencil skirt, a button-up shirt, circle skirt or a-line shift from an aerosol, then I'll be sold.
The spray has been developed by Dr Manel Torres and Professor Paul Luckhamof Imperial College here in London and is apparantly going to be commercially available, although I'm not sure who's going to buy it realistically. It's a nice gimmick but not the most practical way to get dressed in the morning. 
Also, the demonstrations suggest that you can't wear any underwear underneath (I love how incredibly bored that man at the end looks, chewing on gum like he's too cool for school) - presumably the spray-on fibres would bond with your existing clothes and ruin them. I don't really fancy dipping my bra in solvent to dissolve my clothes off it every time I want to get changed.
That said I wouldn't mind trying it, even if the model says it is a little cold.

Quote of the week - Karl Lagerfeld (again)

I'm sorry but I couldn't resist this gem I found in a review of a new exhibition of work by the minimalist British architect John Pawson.
Pawson has worked for all kinds of people, including Kaiser Karl. Some of his correspondance with those clients has now gone on display at the Design Museum in London.
So in this letter, Lagerfeld is responding to Pawson's suggestion that a circual bower would be quite nice around Karl's tennis courts. Suffice to say Karl nixes the proposal pretty quickly with the cutting line; "I hate eveything 'round'."

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Mildly weird weekend

Oh Margaret Howell, how do I love thee? I'll not count the ways, but they are many.
Her A/W collection is basically my wardrobe only better (and less cluttered). So undertsandably I was looking forward ot her sample sale last week. Sadly though I was too busy to post the invite to the sale on this blog, let alone actually go to the damn thing.
And then on Saturday evening I got scammed at a cash machine with the result that I am down £210 and therefore do not have a single spare penny to fritter away at any sort of sample sale - it's strictly car boot sales and charity shops only.
Saturday night turned out to be fairly dramatic actually, although it didn't feel like it at the time. Mostly I just felt upset and rather stupid.The evening began pleasantly enough - JFK had to work late so I scooped up his ticket to descend into the bowels of Aldwych station, one of London's many disused tube stations. The station was opened to a limited number of members of the public for three evenings as part of the London Trasnport Museums Blitz anniversary exhibition. The idea was to simulate an air raid, take us all down to the platform and then get re-enactment folk to give us a flavour of war time London on a stock tube carriage from the 1930s. It was great fun, although far too short. Funnily enough though, I had actually been to Aldwych Station before - when it was still working. The station only closed in 1994. It's funny that there are so many bits of everyday London that I walked around when I was little that are now shut or gone and I don't even remeber what they looked like.
After that we picked up JFK from work and headed off to Bodean's in Soho for a meat feast and then on to my favourite bar. I took a detour to a cash machine just off Soho Square while everyone else went ahead. There were lots of people around so I was a little distracted when I stepped up to the cash machine. Then an Eastern European man tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the ground where there was a five pound note. I stooped down to pick it up but he carried on pointing at receipts on the floor so I looked again. By the time I looked back my cash card was gone, alhtough my money ahd been left in the mouth of the machine to make it look like the machine had swallowed my card. It only took a couple of seconds to work out what had happened though. So then I chased this group of four scary Eastern European men through Soho. I even spotted them using my card at another cash machine around the corner. God knows what I would have done if I had caught up to them. Me versus four quite organised men of varying sizes is not exactly a recipe for success.
Anyway, they scarpered and I ended up in Charing Cross police station, minus my cash card and, it later transpired, £210. Thankfully there is a cap on daily cash withdrawals on my card. I was a bit shaken, but generally what happens to me in these situations is I get upset briefly and then become very practical and philosophical about it.
JFK was brilliant - worried and furious on my behalf - talking about smashing people's hands with hammers and generally being very protective, which was unnecessary yet also hugely appreciated. And then we went home.
Ever since I have been feeling like a complete idiot for being so easily duped. It's not like I haven't warned plenty of visitors to London to be careful about such things. I was sober and in a good mood. But what do you do when someone taps you on the shoulder? It's hard to ignore physical contact like that. I suppose you really don't know how easy it is to be distracted like this until it's already happened. The police said they get around 10 cases like this every day in Soho.
Now, until my new card comes through, I have to limit my spending as I have to actually go into the bank whenever I want more cash. No unexpected splurges for me which is actually a very good thing as hopefully I'll be able to save a bit. Silver lining to every cloud and all that...

Friday, 24 September 2010

Oh my, Mr Ford...

Ok, you're not exactly spoiling us because this lipstick costs an obscene amount of money. It's more like you're giving us the ultimate excuse to spoil ourselves by spaffing away on our weekly food budget on something completely pointless and also completely lustworthy. By making it more expensive you've made us want it more. Bet you feel pleased with yourself, don't you? I would.

This is the first full priced new frippery I have bought in quite some time now. Don't worry, normal service will resume shortly and I will be back at the jumble sales and charity shops ferreting around for bargains. But I have been working non stop recently, with a full time job and freelancing in every spare moment, and I felt like giving myself a proper reward, just one, before I give all the rest of my money to the bank to pay off my debts. So this is it. All £35 of it. It doesn't seem like much of a thing for £35 I know, but it feels like a very big treat indeed. Especially because I got the nice salesman in Selfridges to give it to me in a special Tom Ford bag. I know falling for the shiny packaging is stupid and shallow, but we can't all be Ghandi.

The only problem is that I'm scared to actually use it because I don't want to mess up its pristine-ness. Now that really is stupid. Who spends £35 on a really amazing lipstick they're scared to use?

Tom Ford lip colour in True Coral - Selfridges - £35

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The official end of Jasmine di Milo

I know the clothes were insanely expensive. I know the designer had a ridiculous advantage over most. But I still loved the clothes. And now is pretty much the last time to get my grubby mitts on them because Jasmine di Milo is having a final clearance sale, flogging off all the old samples and unsold stock from its archive. There's no word on what the pricing is going to be like, but it might be worth going along just in case...

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The £10 challenge - nautical

So last wednesday EDF came to visit our lovely home in Queen's Park to raid my wardrobe and find outfits for the ridiculous number of weddings she is due to attend in the next month or so.
In return she agreed to take some pictures of me for the £10 challenge in one of my favourite new finds - a super soft oversized denim shirt.
She also convinced me that my very fine limp hair was now long enough to put in a top knot and did my hair. I have wanted a try the now ubiquitous top knot for a very long time, but frankly, I think it's just not me. I'm never going to be 'edgy' enough to pull it off. The final straw was JFK saying that in Ireland the kind of scraggly top knot that my hair makes is referred to as a 'Stella bump' and is generally sported by pregnant teenagers in jogging bottoms.
I'm also not very good at having my photo taken by other people, so it's back to the tripod and the self portrait button on the Canon dslr for me.
However EDF also brought with her a present. A very lovely wearable present - a knee length pale yellow vintage high waisted Jaeger pencil skirt that features in today's £10 challenge post.
It's the perfect compliment for a much-loved but rarely worn Marc Jacobs t-shirt squirreled out from the bargain rail at the clothing exchange in Notting Hill two years ago for £7. I actually paid for it in vouchers acquired from the exchange of some old bits and pieces, so in a way it was kind of free, which is always nice.
So I'll reshoot the denim shirt challenge shortly, but for now let us turn our attentions to nautical fashion.
Trying to work out why nautical has been such a huge trend on the high street for so long is tricky. You may not have seen many anchor prints recently, but the breton stripe is still going strong. Coco Chanel is usually given the credit for transforming the attire of the rough and ready sailor into high fashion. We can thank the rich and famous and their penchant for expensive yatchs for ensuring that the look has hung around, fading in and out of favour but never quite disappearing. Jean Paul Gaultier has done his bit too with a far sexier take on the look than Chanel's elegant but boyish approach.
But the most recent revival of everything nautical is really thanks not to canonical fashion designers but to the rockabilly and burlesque scenes and the revival of forties and fifites pin-up fashion. The momentum behind it was building for most of the noughties, filtering up from the vintage purists, the rockabilly scene and tattoo parlours. Its appeal mounted as we tired of the hippy floatiness of boho, the scruffiness of rock chic or the lycra infused bling look, and wanted something nostalgic that required a bit of effort but was still a little rough around the edges and adaptable.
The nautical frenzy peaked a couple of years ago and has died down a bit now to make way for a more lady-like Mad Men inspired look as seen on the catwalks of Prada and Louis Vuitton, but it's still there hovering in the background waiting for another moment.
A lot of the iconography associated with the rockabilly and pin-up revival now looks a little tired, which means anchors are consigned to the Primark bargain rail for the moment.
I still love a good breton stripe, but the thought of yet another article about what is, basically, just a really good t shirt that's been around for ages just fills me with fatigue.
But it's still possible, I think, to be a little pin-up and a little nautical and keep it fresh. Especially when the sun is shining and you crave something jaunty. There may be a chill in the air but I'm not quite ready to sacrifice the last touch of summer just yet.

£10 challenge outfit;
Skirt - Jaeger - gift - £0
Top - Marc by Marc Jacobs - Notting Hill Clothing Exchange - £7
Belt - no label - car boot sale - £0.50
Denim jacket - Gap - car boot sale - £2
Brooch - Swarovski - car boot sale - £1

Total - £10.50


Office - car boot sale - £3

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Blitz Spirit

I'm feeling a bit emotional today. Partly this is due to being very, very tired, both mentally and phsycially, and desperately in need of a few days off with no work hanging over my head. This situation has not exactly been made better by the tube strike this morning, or a minor family emergency last night or the fact that I am seriously behind with my work or the migraine that has been lingering since Sunday evening.
But it's also because this morning the streets of London are peppered with elderly ladies and gentlemen in crisply presented navy blue jackets and hats with rows of shiny silver medals on their breast headed towards a service at St Pauls to mark the 70th anniversary of the Blitz.
I think I've mentioned before that as a young teenager I was a little obsessed with the Home Front and the stories of World War II. 'What did you do in the war?' is still one of my favourite questions, although every year there are fewer and fewer people to ask.
But seeing the remaining war survivors today I can't help thinking about my much missed and loved grandparents. I especially miss hearing my paternal Grandma's stories of servicing as a fire fighter in Maidenhead and getting locked outside her bedroom window in her nightie.
Although my maternal Grandpa  never felt able to tell me the full version of his own war story of escape and loss - he escaped from what was then Czecheslovakia and lost almost his entire family - it too has had a big influence on my life and cast a shadow of sadness over our family that is dissipating down the generations but remains terribly important. I miss them all very, very much today.
In London, thanks to terrorism, we still seem to be expecting the next attack. It is really not that hard to imagine how terrifying the sound of a bomber flying overhead would be, especially as the Imperial War Museum has done its best to replicate the experience for generations of London school children. It's a strange a strange and particularly scary kind of war when there are no obvious enemies to fight on the streets. But in this city we just get on with things regardless - the Blitz spirit has become something of which we are immensley proud
And the thing about the Blitz is that along with the terribly sad stories of loss there are incredible tales of heroism, joy and a strange kind of freedom. It is amazing what an extreme situation can do to a normal person. Which makes me feel more than a little guilty for complaining about my life.

In the rush to work, battling through the swarm of commuters around waterloo station, I spotted a group of war front heroes waiting for their transport to St Pauls. Sadly I forgot to take down their names and didn't have time to hear their stories, but they were gracious enough to allow me to take a very quick photograph. Frankly, I want their hats. But I also want to say the kind of big thank you that you never really know how to express.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

A safe addiction - Liberty scarves

Is it scarves or scarfs? No matter, the important thing is that we all agree that scarves are wonderful, wonderful inventions. Is there anything as good when it's cold and raining and miserable outside than wrapping yourself in a giant knitted cashemre scarf of amazingness? Well, probably, yes, but still it's up there with some of the better things in life.
But despite the cold edge to the air, it's not quite the time for giant cashmere scarves that would make you faint from heat exhaustion on the tube. No, it's still just about the right time for floaty strips of chiffon, squares of silk and triangles of bightly coloured cotton.
An no-where offers a better selection than Liberty's scarf room which has just relaunched in the hallowed dark wood panelled central hall of one of the UK's best shops.
I had a sneak peak on Thursday and it's rather glorious, with styling stations to teach us lesser mortals how to stop a stupidly expensive square of silk sticking to your lipstick or flying off in the wind. After all  these scarves, although spectacularly beautiful, do tend to be tricky to wear.
They have a nasty tendency to fall off at innappropriate times, which means you are constantly tugging at them. You knot one around your neck to stop it flying away and it suddenly tightens and now you're being strangled, which really is too much suffering even for fashion.
Which is why it seems especially magnanimous of Liberty to take its expertise, or rather those of its chief scarf tier Lauranne, to the masses via the very modern medium of youtube with these rather charming videos.

The scarf is definitely having a moment. Hermes launched a useful resource a few weeks ago now in the shape of its own scarf campaign site called Jaime Mon Carre, or I Love My Scarf. It also has a number of tutorials organised to reflect the styles of women living in some of the worlds most stylish cities - London, New York, Paris and Tokyo (hah Milan, you are too boring for us). Those damn French do still manage to outshine the rest of us though.

Image via Living Dolls because I can't get the site to work on my laptop to take a screen grab for some reason
Neither the Liberty videos or the Hermes site are especially new, but they've both merited repeated viewings from me over the last three weeks or so.
The result is that I want even more scarves than the suitcase full I already own (in my defense it's a very, very small vintage vanity case) and will be wiling away a number of hours stroking hideously expensive ones that I could never in a million years afford in the new Liberty scarf room just in case you were wondering where you could find me.

Lipstick love - Jemma Kidd makeup school ultimate duo in Scarlett

Although my heart is still set on owning Tom Ford's True Coral, I have found something to fill the bright lipstick shaped gap in my dull grey life.
I have to admit that Jemma Kidd's make-up range didn't instantly appeal. And if I'm honest it's mostly due to a bit of inverse snobbery about leggy blonde posh ex-models with impossibly successful lives. It's not exactly jealousy - I'm quite happy to never be known as an ex-model and JFK has a hold on my heart that no suave mutli-millionaire potential husband could challenge (although they are very welcome to try if it involves expensive gifts). And it's not a personal vendetta -  Jemma is probably lovely and I've never heard anyone who knows her say otherwise - but there's an off-putting aura of horsey smugness around the Kidds.
But I wish I'd been less prejudiced and looked past this a bit earlier, because it turns out that Jemma Kidd might actually know a thing or two about make up if her ultimate lipstick duo in scarlett is anything to go by. (Yes, having a hugely successful business running a make up school and producing an extensive range of products probably might be a pretty strong hint, but shhh.)
I bought it in an emergency - I forgot to take a good red lipstick to Vintage at Goodwood where Kidd's Make Up School range was on sale. I didn't expect it to be a new love, I just thought it would fill a gap for a weekend and then be resigned to the back of my makeup bag along with about seven other not-quite-right reds until the next clear out.
But I put it on and it was glorious. Not only that but it stayed. And the balm in the other end (hence the duo in its name) kept my lips soft and made the colour gentler although the colour does wear off a little faster if you use the balm. The red is very bright and slightly orangey so it won't be for everyone. But don't write it off without trying it.

You get a better idea of the colour in the shot with the flash on, but I apologise for the state of my hands which is far more visible - it's a combination of no money for manicures, anxious biting of the nails and surrounding skin due to stress and also a skin problem on my hands. You may also notice that the tube is looking less than pristine - it's been knocking around in my bag as I've been carrying it with me everywhere even when I leave the rest of my essentials at home or on non-make up days when the balm is very useful. 

Jemma Kidd Make Up School Ultimate Duo Lipstick in Scarlett is £13 and is available from her website, Space.NK and ASOS.