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In Famous people on April 24, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Whenever I see this…

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It makes me think of this

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Not in a judgemental way – I love curvy women – but it just makes me think: they reckon the Willendorf Venus was made in about 28,000 BCE. So it’s a dizzying 30,000 years old.

We’ve been to the moon. Einstein, Pasteur, Curie, Turing, Mozart, Leonardo, Shakespeare, Mrs Pankhurst, Picasso and the Rolling Stones all did their bit, but we haven’t moved on much really, have we?

We’re all going on a summer holiday…

In Celebrities, Famous people on April 13, 2013 at 1:44 pm

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I was listening to Oliver Stone being interviewed on the radio last night and thought: ‘I don’t think I’d like to go on a caravan holiday with him…’

Can you imagine? The confined space, the rain (inevitable on the caravan holidays in Wales of my childhood) – and the endless conspiracy theories.

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You’d get out Monopoly or Risk, to pass a wet afternoon and he’d be off.

Obviously I’m unlikely ever to be in a caravan with Mr Stone (who I do deeply respect for his commitment to Big Serious Things), but this is one scale on the measure I generally use for assessing how I feel about people I’ve never met.

Another is: Would I go on a villa holiday with them?

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Jeremy Clarkson is a definite no on that one. He’d just grab the biggest room and would order all the wine at dinner without consulting anyone else. From the pointy end of the wine list. Hugh Grant, on the other hand, would be terrific fun in a villa.

I’m sure he’d be up for all manner of after dinner games, moving on to the full demolition disco (when you take it in turns to DJ and everyone dances wildly round the pool…) and would be perfectly happy to drink the house wine – or would offer to pay for all the drinks. Proper villa holiday etiquette.

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He’d also understand, without taking offence, that not everyone in the party of ten would want to do everything together. The natural ebb and flow of different groupings setting off for the local market, visits to ancient rubble, or a nearby spa for a massage, would happen without tension, with everyone happily regrouping for pre-dinner drinks.

(I’ve never been on a group holiday where this was the case, but I’d like to think it would be possible.)

On an even more elite list are the people I would love to go on a camping holiday with. David Sedaris features on this one, partly because I think he’d hate every minute and would be so funny about it. I would also enjoy his commentaries on other campers nearby.

David Walliams, while hilarious and adorable, I think could be a bit me, me, me and exhausting in the close confines of the canvas getaway.

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I’d jump at the chance to go camping with Kate Moss though. While it might be a bit hard to deal with how good she’d look climbing out of her sleeping bag in the morning, I know (from first hand experience and general reports) that she’d be a good laugh and I have the feeling she’d be cool about not being able to wash much for a few days. Essentials for a camping partner.

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Although I would have to ask her not to smoke in the tent, so she might not like to go camping with me.

So that’s my scale for how I’d get on with people. Now tell me: who would you go camping with – and not?

Rule: flatter shoes can be as chic as towering torture chambers

In Celebrities, Famous people, High heels, Shoes on January 26, 2012 at 1:58 pm

BLOGGER’S NOTE:  this post pissed a lot of people off, so I’ve amended parts of it – on the specific advice of the people who got in touch and told me what they didn’t like and why. I’m very grateful to them. I stand by my opinions, but I would never knowingly use offensive terms about particular groups of people.

I’ve also nipped and tucked it in a few other places, because if so many different groups of people got the wrong idea, then that means I didn’t write it well enough in the first place. I think it’s clearer now.

I’ve never thought of Dita von Teese as a bastion of women’s rights. In fact I’m proudly old school feminist about the whole ‘burlesque’ revival. It makes me really uncomfortable. It’s just a fancy name for striptease, which encourages the acceptance of looking at women as objects. I don’t accept it as ‘stylish’.

In fact I’m convinced the whole thing is part of a New World Order global conspiracy of Stepford Wives fundamentalists (a word which, I now realise, spookily contains the sub words ‘men’ and ‘mental’…), who are also behind the current trend for very young women to wear the style celebrated in TOWIE, Desperate Scousewives etc – more make up and hairspray than a young Priscilla Presley (below) and higher heels than the most outrageous drag queen.

Well, obviously not, but I do wonder why we have casually allowed these repressive looks back into the lexicon of style. I really worry about the human Barbie dolls currently being held up to my little girl as the ideal of female aspiration. And not just for looks – for life.

All up, I’m really looking forward to the backlash to the false lash, when we’ll all be challenging 1970s Lauren Hutton again, rather than 1960s Danny La Rue.

Phew, glad I got all that out, now back to Dita. While her choice of career confuses me, I have always admired her style. She’s one of the most elegant and immaculately turned out women in the world. But my respect for her chic ranked up a whole new notch, when I saw the picture at the top – and others – of her wearing her signature groomed style, but with shoes you could drive a bus in, let alone run for one. And not in a caught coming out of the gym way (although I believe she was fresh from pilates in some of these…), but as part of a gorgeous planned outfit. Hurray!

Not because I don’t love high heels – I have a large collection myself – but I can’t wear them all day every day and I feel intimidated by the pressure to do so. At the Paris and Milan fashion shows (which I covered for many years as a magazine editor-in-chief and later as a newspaper fashion writer) it’s almost like a gladitorial contest, who can wear the highest shoes for the totter from the limo into the venue and out again.

So to see Dita wearing flats with all the elegance she wears her heels is a real inspiration.

And she gets another big gold star for the bag she’s carrying in the top photo here.

It’s the Saigon style by venerable Paris luggage brand Goyard, (older than Louis Vuitton and much more discreet), which is a great choice in itself and she’s had it amusingly emblazoned with her monogram. So that’s all good, but what I really love is that there are loads of pictures on the internet of her carrying this particular bag with different outfits.

She’s using it as an investment piece, her go-to bag, that she carries every day, just like a real person – rather than yet another cashed-up meta-consumer showing off yet another of her box fresh Birkins. (Bernie Ecclestone’s daughter, Tamara, has a special room for hers…)

Flat shoes and cost-per-wear? Dita, you’ve won me over.

The brute power of young men

In Famous people, Men, Youth on August 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

 

On Tuesday morning it seemed as though everyone in Britain had an emotional hangover from the trauma of the night before.

After staying up until 2 am glued to Twitter and the news, I felt so shaken I couldn’t face going into my office, and cocooned myself at home, to work in bed, eating biscuits.

When I did eventually have to venture out I found my elderly neighbour standing outside her house sobbing. She just couldn’t contain how upset she felt.

Later, as I drove around the seaside town where I live, I felt very nervous. It’s quaint and elegant in different parts, becoming increasingly cool and fashionable, with lovely independent shops and cafes springing up as they do in such places.

But it also has some pockets of severe urban poverty, where for several decades seriously deprived people have lived reproducing very young, bringing into the world generation after generation of a chain-smoking, hard-drinking, drug-taking, benefit dependent, illiterate underclass.

Vicky Pollard territory. Just the kind of place looting could kick off.

As I drove I was also very aware of there being a lot of young men out and about and I felt oddly threatened by them.

I’m a healthy woman, I normally look at young men in a similar spirit to the way I gaze in at the windows of Graff in Bond Street. I don’t want to buy it, but I like to check out the merch.

Give me a shirtless scaffolder to perve on, or the bare-chested love god who cleaned my windows the other week and I’m happy. It’s a passing comfort, like hearing your favourite pop song on the radio. But on Tuesday I saw them in a different light, not sexual – but powerful.

It was seventeen, or eighteen year olds I really noticed. Those hard bodies, all lean muscle and sinew, like perfectly oiled machines. It made me think about what it must be like to suddenly grow a physique like that.

I have a number of gorgeous little boys in my life, children of friends, who are the same age as my daughter. I remember them as cuddly little three year olds, who would sit on my lap for a story.

Now they are nine and have turned into gristly little packets with scabby knees. They’ll turn any stick into a gun and wrestle you for it, but they’re still little boys. I look at them and try to imagine what they’ll be like as men.

It’s really hard to make the mental leap and I have a friend with grown up sons who told me it’s the weirdest thing, the first time you go into their room and see a big hairy leg sticking out of the bed, where the scabby-kneed one used to be.

But while it’s strange enough to observe, what must it be like to experience such changes in your own body?

 

Of course I can remember my own frame suddenly sprouting new bits and changing shape, but I didn’t feel powerful from it. The opposite. It made me feel vulnerable because ghastly men started look and leer at me, shout things out, or even try to feel me up.

It was horrendous and I took to wearing voluminous smocks until I grew into myself and felt brave enough to face them down.

So how amazing it must be, without any conscious effort on your part, to suddenly morph into being the animal at the top of the food chain. It must be like being a Fiat 500 and then just turning into a Formula One car.

You may not have any money, a car, a girlfriend, or even the vote, but suddenly you’re the fastest, the strongest, the toughest. The top predator. Everyone is scared of you. What a power surge that must be.

It’s why a lot of cultures have initiation rites and ceremonies to mark it. They acknowledge a transition, a shift in the power structure, that affects the whole community and instill a sense of responsibility in the young men who have grown into their new power.

I think we have abandoned all that, to our peril. Initiation for an increasing number of young men in the UK comes via being accepted into criminal gangs. Even in less extreme cases, it’s through binge drinking.

And that’s what made the events on this week in London, Birmingham and Manchester  so terrifying to me. Those mobs of young guys had suddenly and collectively understood the power they hold just by growing up and being fit.

The sooner the rule of law is shown to be more powerful than sheer brute force and numbers, the better.

I’m still feeling shaken. And I’ve posted this shameless perve fest of pictures of Zac Efron to console myself…

Rule: It really can be this easy

In Celebrities, Famous people, Mothers, Supermodels on June 28, 2011 at 9:15 pm

How hard does life need to be? Not that hard at all, as shown here by Claudia Schiffer on the school run on a wet day in London.

Very scarily for the other mothers, Claudia’s kids go to the same Notting Hill school as Elle McPherson’s, Trinny Woodall’s, and Stella McCartney’s. Just a bit of school gate fashion pressure, then.

The best accessory I can think of for that ordeal would be Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility, but those girls have to do it under full fire of eyes from all the other celebri-mums – and the paparazzi. And then people like us ha ha ha.

Elle gave in to the fish tank pressure a few weeks ago, when we featured those pics of her school running in sprayed-on jeans and skyscraper Louboutin heels so torturous she was papped shortly after taking them off and rubbing her sore tootsies. She doesn’t normally go that far, but boy, does she look amazing. Imagine this sight greeting you in the morning. I’d never leave the house again.

 

Top marks to Claudia, though, for this object lesson in how to look mama chic in a completely relaxed way. She looks great, but she doesn’t look like she’s trying. Double win and all the more impressive as she doesn’t have a track record as one of the more instinctively stylish celebs.

She’s not a Kate, or a Sienna, with a natural born instinct how to throw together an outfit that’s original and inspirational. In all truth, Claudia generally tends to get by on the strength of having one of the world’s more perfect bodies – even after three children.

But that’s not the deal with this look. Of course, it’s always a sartorial advantage to have the physique of a semi-retired supermodel (rice sacks would look good, food wrap a daywear option…), but any of us could wear this with pride. Really.

The foundation of the outfit is that most classic item of outerwear, the trench coat, currently riding high as both timeless and totally on trend, something that really doesn’t happen very often.

And while we’re talking about the trench, please note how Claudia’s belt is tied, not buckled. I know I keep going on about it, but that detail is crucial to the throwaway chic of this ensemble.

But the real secret of this look is the overall simplicity of it. With all those flaps and buttons, the trench coat is a busy garment in itself and needs little more than a nice bag and a decent pair of jeans to look fabulous. The shades in the rain add a nice shot of glamour too.

It was clearly one of those warmish wet days, so familiar to the Aussie reader, where an open shoe is the best recourse and Claudia scores for choosing a pair in the same neutral palette as the coat and bag, but this outfit would look just as good for a cooler day with boots. It would even work with full-on wellies, on a seriously wet day.

(Pause for another gratuitous pic of Elle McPherson…)

Of course, as well as the supermodel genetic advantage Claudia has going on here (and also, obviously Elle, but this is about Claudia…), there is the noble ancestry of the individual items. The trench coat looks very much like an actual Burberry and the gorgeous suede bag is definitely Ferragamo, but the added glory of this outfit is that one just like it could be put together so easily anywhere down the fashion price scale.

So we can all afford a version of it – and it would look good on everybody. It’s a veritable fashion miracle. Could it be improved? A bright vintage silk scarf, Hermès or other, knotted at the neck and well tucked in would be a nice touch, and a bit of a comfort if it’s windy. And personally, I always wear the collar of a trench coat flipped up, more keenly to seek that elusive Parisienne insouciance.

But really, I think Ms Schiffer has nailed this look with her rational German practical chic. See you at the school gate.

And just for the record, here’s how Elle deals with extreme weather, in this case, snow. All together now: sigh…

 

Rule: all white is tricky

In Actors, Celebrities, Famous people, Fashion shows, FIlms, Weddings on June 23, 2011 at 9:52 am

The white dress is a big fashion trend right now. In particular the white lace dress, which made the Dolce and Gabbana runway for this fashion season look like a cross between a convention of oversized girls taking their First Communion and a granma underwear parade.

But I can see the appeal. It’s a fresh idea and a welcome and witty change from the Little Black Dress to the Little White Dress and lady slebs have embraced it keenly (left to right: Kate Bosworth, Anne Hathaway, Blake Lively, Diane Kruger, LeAnn Rimes).

But there are very good reasons the LBD has become one of the all-time fashion classics. It suits everyone, is very forgiving, doesn’t show where you’ve accidentally dripped your dinner down the front and is generally hard to get wrong.

The only way you can really stuff up an LBD is to overaccessorise it. Or drop a lot of yogurty dip down the front.

But a white dress, which is the equivalent of carrying around a bill board saying ‘Hey! Look at me!’, takes a lot of chutzpah to carry off. Also a lot of dry cleaning. And a lot of control underwear, because any kind of white fabric is completely relentless about showcasing the tiniest boofle of flab. As you’ll know if you’ve ever spent time on a treadmill behind someone working out in white gym leggings.

The other risk with the white dress is of looking like you’ve lost your way on the way to the wedding reception. You may be surprised to hear that Elizabeth Olsen (sister of the more famous twins…), seen above, is not leaving the ceremony after just marrying the dude in the sand shoes.

He’s Sean Durkin, the director of her new film ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ and this is the two of them at its Cannes showing. (The film, a thriller about a girl getting out of a religious cult, sounds interesting and he won Best Director for it at Sundance.)

This bridal appearance becomes a risk when, as Ms Olsen shows here, you opt for a demure, full-length floaty version of the white lace dress. All that’s lacking from this picture is the lily of the valley bouquet. She’s even got veily things going on in her hair.

The other way to wear the white lace dress, to shift it from Here Comes The Bride, to The Girl Can’t Help It, is showcased here by Uma Thurman, also at Cannes, with fellow jury members, Jude Law and Robert de Niro.

Ms Thurman’s Versace frock is crisp Broderie Anglaise, rather than Olsen’s much more bridal soft lace and its fierce cut is worthy of Mad Men’s Joan Holloway.

Look at how she’s standing – caramba! – but it would be impossible not to sashay in a dress like that. It would also be impossible for most normal human beings to pull it off.

So that’s the challenge of the white lace dress. If you want to make sure you don’t look like a 21st century Miss Havisham, or a prissy 1960s bride (Rachel McAdams below, left), you’ll have to be up to looking like Uma Thurman.

I think even Uma looks a bit bridal in her all-white Chanel couture and Versace red carpet numbers, also at Cannes, below.

And I’ve put these pics in just because I love the body language between Uma and Robert de Niro. They so obviously had the best time judging together.

Iggy Pop

In Celebrities, Famous people, Men, Rock 'n' roll on June 13, 2011 at 9:52 am


Thanks so much to my Twitter pal @oneplanetmikey who sent me this video link, after I tweeted a reference to Iggy Pop last night – and now also Regina Pritchard and Naomi Lee for putting me on to the other version now at the bottom of the post – Iggy live on Countdown. One of the funniest things I have ever seen. Where are those children now? It would have changed your life forever…

On a very dreary, rainy Sunday night, with my husband glued to some ghastly Grand Prix, I posted: ‘I’m the Chairperson of the Bored’, as in Mr Pop’s genius song ‘I’m Bored’.

I’m sick of all the stiffs
I’m sick of all the dips
I’m bored.
I bore myself to sleep at night.
I bore myself in broad daylight.
I’m boooooored.
I’m the Chairman of the Bored.

It’s youthful angst distilled into one perfect three minute pop song.

Watching this clip reminded me of why I was fairly obsessed with the Igster from about 1977 on. And I needed reminding because I have been very very cross with him these past few years for doing those terrible insurance ads.

How could he sell out like that? The Ig?

I can’t bear the thought of those advertising wonks even listening to his music, let alone appropriating the anthems of my rebellion to advertise one of the more evil institutions of the SYSTEM.

I might have to put my Seditionaries anarchy shirt on to express how it makes me feel. Shame I sold it in a broke moment in 1980. (And it wouldn’t fit over my head if I did still have it.)

I wasn’t remotely surprised when John Lydon AKA Rotten, started advertising butter a few years ago. While I was a massive fan of the Sex Pistols back in the day, John was never cool. It was one of the things that made him so great.


He really didn’t give a shit what anyone thought about him – and watching him on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here a few years ago, he still doesn’t. I love him for it.

Iggy, however, was on a level of cool all his own. He didn’t have to try, he didn’t aspire to cool and work at it, he was born that way. He didn’t become cool, he defined how we now understand it.

I’ve been reading the very interesting oral history of punk recently, Please Kill Me, which is a collection of quotes from a very disparate range of people who were there, collated into a historic narrative.

Iggy and the Stooges feature right from the earliest late 1960s genesis of what we came to call Punk Rock and it’s fascinating to read about the young James Osterberg (his real name). He didn’t adopt an on-the-edge persona, or lifestyle, he lived it. It’s just who he was.

I’ve also read about his later LA years in Danny Zuckerman’s gripping drug memoir Wonderland Avenue (which I am eternally grateful to Mia Freedman for putting me on to years ago).

Although I must say here, that Iggy’s drug abuse and dependency was always the least interesting thing about him. That was never what made him interesting to me – he was amazing despite the drugs, not because of them. And for surviving the stupid things he did to himself.

That aside, reading about the early years confirms that what you see when Iggy is leaping around isn’t some kind of stage persona, it’s the direct expression of the his life force. He was born with that body (and allegedy the biggest donger in rock and roll…) and he was born with that style.

And you just have to look at the blokes in his band in the live clips, to be reminded that was what even rock ‘n’ roll dudes looked like in the late 70s – so dorky – and to appreciate just how radical Iggy was by comparison.

So watching those clips has reminded me why I hitchhiked round Britain following him on his 1979 tour, to be right at the front watching him roll around in broken glass.

And I’ve forgiven him for the insurance ads. Just.

PS Note the non-sock action with the lace up shoes and suit in the top video clip. Guys doing that now think they’re radical…

Now here’s that famous Countdown appearance. I’d love to hear from any of you who saw it when it was on TV and hear the effect it had on you. I think this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. He’s like an insane labrador on coke, then the total lack of pretending to sing live, with the microphone down the pants. Heaven. His body reminds me of Nureyev. He could have been an amazing dancer, all that natural strength and bendiness.

Rule: Your choice of outfit can be a lovely compliment to your hosts

In Celebrities, Famous people, Hats, Older women, Royalty on June 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm

I’m very grateful to Arjie for her comment on here, telling me to loosen up and not feel I have to do set things on set days… 

It’s just all those years of deadlines and production schedules bearing down, but here we go, caution to the wind with a Rule from a while back. It’s been a while since the historic state visit to Ireland, but these pics still make me smile.

Plus, I just love Her Maj. She’s been the Queen all my life and her style which used to seem so fusty, has become iconic. She’s living proof that by choosing a look and sticking to it, over time you come to own it.

Putting aside, for a moment, personal opinions about the role of Her Maj in relation to Australia (which should be a Republic, oops, I said it) and just looking at her as a random head of state: didn’t Queen Elizabeth totally nail it in the clothes department on her recent trip to Ireland?

When I saw the footage of her in the St Patrick’s Day special pictured above, visiting a market in Cork, I whooped with delight.

Not only is she wearing Kelly green, her hat has more than a nod to leprechaun couture. No wonder she got such a great reception. She got off the plane wearing green from head to toe and back on it four days later in an outfit that wouldn’t have been out of place in The Gnome Mobile.

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Good on her for seeing an opportunity to make a grand sartorial gesture and grasping it. I’ve been entertaining myself ever since imagining the pre-trip conversations with her dresser, Angela Kelly.

Ms Kelly: ‘I’ve starting laying out some outfits for the tour of Ireland, ma’am, and wondered if you had any preferences?’

Her Maj: ‘Well, one thought it would be rather fun if one were to give a go to the wearing of the green…’

Then off to the Royal couturier Stewart Parvin to order a wardrobe of bright green coats and to Rachel Trevor-Morgan for one’s Kermit-coloured hats. Stellar stuff.

As well as a master class in colour blocking – a trend we’re all just getting the hang of, Her Maj has been working it for years – it was a reminder of just how powerful a gesture the choice of clothes can be.

Way beyond referencing the latest looks from the Paris catwalks and celebrity styling, or showing your financial status, these very deliberately chosen outfits show how a few metres of fabric can instantly broadcast a message of intention.

And when you’re one of the most recognised people in the world and know that images of the outfits you’ve chosen for the occasion will be beamed all around it – it becomes seriously powerful stuff.

In this case: “I’m really thrilled you’re giving me the opportunity to visit your lovely country and try in even the smallest way to make amends for all the years of cacky cacky mine visited upon you.”

That’s a much bigger statement than any of us normal citizens will ever be in a position to make (which is a relief…), but it’s an object lesson in how our choice of clothes are telling the host of any event about our attitude to them, from the moment we arrive. Even before we’ve even opened our mouths to say, Hello, how are you, where’s the bar?

It’s something to bear in mind on the days when it seems like a massive effort, if not a gross imposition to have to get changed at all, let along comb the hair and scrub the food stains off the front of your t shirt.

So when someone makes the effort to invite us to an event, be it a morning tea, or a historic reconciliation between two sovereign states, it’s worth remembering that we can pay them a lovely compliment simply by turning up in something that shows we appreciate being asked.

I miss the Royal wedding

In Famous people, Men, Style icons on May 27, 2011 at 10:03 pm

 

I was just thinking today how much I miss the Royal wedding. Oh what a glorious couple of weeks that was.The anticipation, preparing things for the street party, putting up the bunting, starting my collection of Royal wedding newspaper specials and souvenir editons of Hello! magazine…

Then the amazing perfectness of the actual day.Our wonderful street party, with 78s playing on Don’s wind up gramaphone and the works. Talking to everyone you met about it for days after, even strangers at bus stops. Going down the Mall the day after just to sniff the atmosphere and finding it was still there. Middleton fever. Prince Harry crush. Adding to my collection of Royal wedding newspaper specials and souvenir editions of Hello! magazine…

Now I’ve got it down to two magazines and two newspapers. All the biscuits in the McVities celebratory tin are gone. The only thing that’s still up is my Wills ‘n’ Kate shopper, hanging on a hook on the back door, where I think it might stay forever.

At the start of the week I was feeling a bit flat and after a while I realised that was what it was. The after the party blues. Normal service resumed. The only thing that’s given me a bit of lift since has been the massive amount of publicity Rob Lowe has been doing for his autobiography.

Hubba McHubba.

I’d forgotten how utterly gorgeous he is. And I have to say the mature man is even an improvement on the youth (see below).

Have you seen the Vanity Fair cover? (well, you have now…). And there was another almost as good on the Sunday Times mag last week.

 

I do admit that I dreamed about him all last night. Not like that – sadly – but he was very much there for the whole thing and it was like watching a rom com with me and him in the starring roles.

Bring it on. When do we start shooting?

Then today I had another filip. I turned on Radio 4 (the UK’s famous talk radio station) while I made my cup of tea before starting work after my morning yoga class, to hear the unmistakeable strains of one of my favourite Velvet Underground tracks: White Light White Heat.

This isn’t a track you hear very often on Radio 4…

Now Friday morning is Desert Island Discs day – a legendary programme that has been going on the BBC since 1942, where celebrities come and explain their choice of the eight ‘discs’ they would take with them to a Desert Island (plus one book, they’re given the Bible and the entire works of Shakespeare), telling their life story through the music.

The minute I heard that track I remembered that this week’s ‘castaway’ (as they are traditionally called…) was non other than the wonderful Debbie Harry.

 

She chose two other tracks that move me profoundly: Strange Fruit by Nina Simone and the 4th movement of Mahler’s 5th Symphony in B Sharp Minor, which we all know as the amazing music from Death in Venice.

Then she chose my favourite book: War and Peace.

Then she chose exactly the same ‘luxury’ that I have always said I would choose if I was ever on the programme: a never ending supply of paper and writing implements. She chose colours, I wouldn’t care as I long as I could write and draw. She is my soul sister.

If you missed it, here’s a link, although I’m not sure you can do play again outside the UK. You can see her full set list anyway.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/desert-island-discs/castaway/0bddfe9c

So between spending the night with Rob Lowe and having my morning tea with Debbie Harry, what started as a dull week ended on a high note. Which reminded me you don’t need constant high days and holidays to be happy. There’s always something uplifting out there if you keep your radar open to it.

And I don’t miss the Royal wedding any more.

Rule: some trends become new classsics

In Accessories, Celebrities, Famous people, Scarves on May 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm

The long soft scarf, worn loosely looped around the neck, is not a hot new look – but it’s not a tragic démodé one either. In fact it’s right in the middle of making a rare transition from key trend to wardrobe staple.

It all started a few years ago when the black and white keffiyah scarf, came back as a youth fashion. These traditional Arab scarves – as worn most famously by one Yasser Arafat – first became trendy among the young and radical in the 1970s, when they were taken up as a sign of solidarity with the Palestinian uprising.

This political message quickly became submerged as the scarves were taken up as generic youth cool signifier and I’m embarrassed to admit I got about in one for months in my late teens with no idea what it was broadcasting. Until a man in Paris took issue with me and explained.

I’d just thought it was a nice scarf which looked great worn tied loosely round the neck with the point in the front. I was mortified when I found out the rest – not because I had committed views on either side of the Middle East situation, but because I hadn’t known my scarf did.

But there were clearly plenty of other people who had no idea about the semiotic message of these comfortable pieces of loosely woven cotton – or didn’t care – and keffiyahs were still very much the go into the early 1980s (Bananarama were big fans).

They disappeared mid-decade and weren’t seen again – outside news bulletins from the Gaza Strip – until their recent re-emergence around the necks of young people clearly as ignorant of their implications as I had been.

This time, though, the message seemed to get round more quickly (the internet?), but while you rarely see that very particular black and white weave now, the softly draped big scarf has remained a key look.

The Alexander McQueen skull print scarf was the next stage, an instant cult hit, worn in the point-front keffiyah manner.

But it was the Stephen Sprouse-archive leopard spot number by Louis Vuitton (as modelled at the top by la Moss), which heralded the arrival of the long looped scarf as a new fashion staple.

These lightweight stole-length scarves were snapped looped loosely around all the key one-name celebrity necks – Kate, Sienna, Kylie, Nicole, Liv, Coleen, Ashley, Kiera and so on (and not forgetting SJP, who is one set of initials…) and suddenly no outfit felt right without something similar.

Anyone who adopted the look soon discovered this trend had a lot more going for it than your average celebrity style steal. It’s astonishingly flattering. Softening necklines and the harder lines of tailoring. Skirting over inconvenient body issues like muffin tops and PMS bloating. Generally softening down and loosening up any outfit, adding instant confidence. Looking equally good with jeans, tailored pant suits and summer dresses.

What’s more they’re incredibly practical, providing the perfect trans-seasonal layer for the days when there is just that uncomfortable nip in the air – but instantly removable when it heats up. Take it off, stuff it in your tote.

For warmer weather, they’re great in loose cotton and linen weaves, but come the colder winter days, bring out the wool and cashmere and you won’t need a coat.

And here’s a wizard wheeze. Worn looped around the neck in this way, you’ll find a whole new lease of life for those 90s pashminas you never thought you’d wear again.

Fragrant Cloud

I think in perfume

Style Notes

Style Notes

Maggie Alderson

author, journalist, fashionist, motherist

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