something blue

I never cared about the dress.

I never cared about walking down the isle, or the ring.. I wonder if there was every a time, as a young girl, where I dreamed of my wedding day.. nope, not really. My friends and I played Barbie dolls, of course, and had our Kens, and the Kens were the Beatles, and we'd choose which Beatles we'd marry, but we were just as happy to be their girlfriends. If my sister wanted to play, she'd usually get Ringo, even tho she really wanted George.

When I did finally get married - not that I was a lonely spinster til then, mind you - it was a quick affair in the Palm Beach registry, and I wore a nice light navy and white flower print shift, from Barney's, because it rolled up small in my bag, and we were flying off to London shortly after, and wanted to see my parents first.

And now, whenever I have something special - or something I'm a bit nervous about - when I fly, for example, I check my person. Am I wearing something old? Check? New? Check. Borrowed? Usually: I figure either a gift, or something thrifted, or a hand me down, constitutes borrowed, as well as old. And blue? Almost always.

I just love the colour blue. Especially pale blue. The colour of our childhood car, Max - the star of my first children's story. The colour of sky.

Shot at the V&A, as before. Blue skies out in London town today! Off to the outdoor pool, in Surrey, with the man I married.

Hope every one of you reading this is living happily ever after. 


the definition of glamour

1: a magic spell (the girls appeared to be under a glamour — Llewelyn Powys)

2: an exciting and often illusory and romantic attractiveness (the glamour of Hollywood); especially: alluring or fascinating attraction —often used attributively (glamour stock) (glamour girls) (whooping cranes and … other glamour birds — R. T. Peterson)

It's hard to describe, you'll have to see for yourself. But whatever that indescribable definition of 'glamour' is to you, it's there, at this exhibit, at the extraordinarily renovated V&A Fashion Galleries, and their new exhibit, Ballgowns: British Glamour since 1950

You come in downstairs, where the permanent - yet new - exhibit resides. And that alone feels pretty darn glamorous. And you think, great. But then.. there are these stairs.. and you're up in what feels like heaven, the dome of the V&A. The gowns for the ball, and these giant balls. And I'm not sure who the woman in the top shot is - in this season's leopard print, lizard - but I'm guessing she was one of the curators, either Oriole Curren or Sonnet Stanfill - both absolutely glamorous names. Whoever she is,   she was simply glowing with glamour.


blown away @ the v&A

I was not prepared for yesterday's press event at the V&A, Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950.

Or rather, I was not prepared to be as blown away by it as I was.

I knew - because I'd seen in the Times Style section, and on the BBC News, and in the invitation itself, that this show would coincide with the launch of the redesigned fashion gallery. And I knew I'd love it. But still, I wasn't prepared for the impact, architecturally or emotionally. I was so blown away, in fact, that I got a bit... snap happy. I even started shooting other people shooting the mannequins. A brief return to my streetstyle roots. And I know that rather than try to get all complicated and try to encapsulate my experience into one perfectly cohesive post, I'm going to do it in stages.

Maybe not quite one glamorous gown at a time, or maybe I will.

The weirdly serendipitous thing about this, my first choice, is that when I researched further into it (see description, below), I found that the woman in the photo - the owner and wearer of the dress, by a designer named Yuki, is an American actress named Gayle Hunnicutt. Further investigation revealed that while she had only the briefest of Hollywood careers, she was married to the late actor David Hemmings (see Blow Up: Bad Boys). During his cutest bad boy years, from 1968-1975. Which couldn't have been easy: an American wife, in London in the swingingest years, married to the baddest boy. I tip my cap to her.

And then she married Sir David Jenkins, the journalist, but they separated in 2008. I would so love to go for a coffee with this woman, and hear the story of her life.

I never used to get it, all the fuss about a dress. But this one was worn by Lady Jenkins, to a ball at Windsor Castle, by a girl from Fort Worth, Texas, the daughter of an American Colonel. This kaftan must have caused quite a stir at the time. I wonder what the Queen made of it - or her. I'd love to hear how this particular Cinderella felt, in this gown, at the ball.

There is so much - so very much - woven within a dress. Memories of moments, 'thrilling and exciting.' Of love: at once eternal, and yet, ultimately, fleeting. I think of the Beatles song, 'In My Life.'

All our lives are so rich, so full. We all have so many stories yet to tell.

The new space - which will blow you away, I promise - and the new show, Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950, will open to the public this Saturday at the V&A. Thank you to the lovely Charlotte, and more to come.


the weight of water

Another juxtaposition, this one in Gloucestershire.

I must be living in England too long, because I'm starting to really like this weather. It's so cosy. And I'm loving wearing big old classic Burberry trenches over pastel jumpers and boots and occasional flashes of neon.  And drinking gallons of PG Tips.

Took these photos at my friend's house in the countryside a few weeks ago. Off to the V&A this morning to see a special talk and preview of the gowns, then Richmond Park to see the fabulous Prince Phillip and his wife, the Queen. Maybe.

My friend's daughter's school is doing some kind of performance for them, but it's all rather mysterious. We only know little bits and pieces of information.
I can only assume it's for security reasons: this way, if they capture any of us, no matter how much they torture us, we can't give away the whole plan.


mad about mad men

When Mad Men first aired in the UK, it was an obscure, not publicised non-entity that I was absolutely obsessed with, but no one was watching. Even my friends back in the States - they'd never heard of it.

Today - home with a cold ('this weather is the PITS', to quote my American friend Margaret, here in London) I'm trawling YouTube because I've already seen the latest episode (illegally downloaded, I might add: we can't get Sky, long story)and I want MORE. Most of what I'd like to share with you can't be embedded, like the 100 Greatest Quotes Season One, or a wonderful but obscure interview with Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss, and this, a particularly evocative clip, but I found a great little interview with 'Sally', Betty and Don's daughter, aka Kiernan Shipka:

It's like my childhood fantasies: I didn't want, particularly, to be famous. I just wanted to be the child of famous people, so I'd be interviewed on my deep thoughts. My parents were pretty glamorous in their own right, so it was easy to switch them to, say, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. I'd write the magazine interviews in my head: 'Samantha (or whatever my fantasy name was that week) was sitting in her hot pink and lime green bedroom, telling us her thoughts about blah blah blah.'
But I must say, Kieran holds her own with these condescending adults in a way I don't know if I could quite pull off.

These are my parents, and this is my family. And I couldn't have asked for a better one, or a happier childhood.


all hands on deck

You know those stories about disgruntled wives chopping up their husbands' Saville Row suits and leaving them scattered on the lawn? While I haven't done that - yet - I must confess I've had fantasies of chopping up some of his vast collection of vile ties. Especially the wide ones. I actually love his Saville Row suits. (I remember, before we were married, helping my future husband choose his first Saville Row suits: Huntsmen, made bespoke for him at Barney's, NY. One, a tweed in pale shades of the forest, with the tiniest hint of blue sky woven through.. but I digress).

The thing - the four things, actually - that I've most longed to remove from our lives in recent months are his two pair of very old Sperry Topsiders.

They're so old, in fact, that when I dug up these photos of a particularly fabulous sailing trip to St. Barts with our friends the Kissanes - which was nearly seven years ago now - I'm pretty sure he already had the deck shoes. And I've spent most of the winter - during which time he's been wearing said shoes - trying to cajole him into, you know, perhaps replacing them with something bright and shiny and new.

Something like the Fred Perry 'Kent', in Havana brown:

But whenever I tried dragging him into shops to find a replacement for the deck shoes, he was always finding fault with them. And then I showed him the Fred Perry options, and it was love at first sight. The brand's been around for 50 years now, and people like Ewan McGregor are fans (see HERITAGE), and I feel about them the way I used to feel about J Crew, which I feel has very much lost its way. I could weep on the few occasions when I look at the J Crew site: their print catalogues used to be so cool, they set the bar for telling a kind of editorial story, and now.. you couldn't even identify any item of clothing as belonging to the brand.

But Fred Perry.. they've got that classic American prep with a twist thing down in spades. With irony. Like these canvas shoes - the 'Byron' - a kind of desert boot in blue canvas, with a little 'collar' at the heel that's like a Polo neck.. and have you seen the Amy Winehouse collection? It's all in aid of the Amy Winehouse foundation, wonderfully 50s, Miami, beehives and eyeliner, and - as different as my style is to hers - I could see wearing it. Ballet pink, black.. anyway, I digress.

My point is, this story has a happy ending. Yes, Reader: he's wearing them. Two pair of new Fred Perrys. The Kent, above, and the Cole, below. (He wanted the Goldhawk, in the same ginger suede, but they were instantly sold out). And I didn't even have to throw out his old shoes!

They say the eyes are the window of the soul, and I believe Them. But I also feel our feet are the soles of our souls, and if you want to know a man, walk a mile in his shoes.

I don't want to chop up my husband's beloved bespoke Huntsmen suits and throw them on the lawn, and I don't want to toss out his Topsiders. But thank you, Fred, because now they have some very lovely younger brothers. And his closet is one big happy footwear family. The only problem, now, is, he wants more. Jumpers and polo shirts and things. I might have to toss out his suits after all, to make space in his closet.

Holiday snaps by me, in and around St. Barts. Apart from photo of me, by my lovely friend Maryann Kissane. (That's Jim and Maryann's son Ben, in the top shot. He and my husband spent that summer quoting from Pirates of the Carribean: 'Take all you want! Give nothing back!' Happy memories on this cold wet wintry London day in May.)


published in

Zeit: by Lizzy Von Thurn Und Taxis, of Vogue

IFB: Independent Fashion Bloggers:

Oxfam: the Yohji Yamamoto show.

Glo.com: 31 July 2012 (Elle LA)

Brand Alley: 24.02.13

LooknBe, ( this version is English).

Vogue Australia: print.

recipient: Company Style Blogger awards, & Glamour

For more places, just get in touch. Thanks.


etched in one's memory

The year was 1987.

I don't know who she was, or why she chose that moment to etch those words in ancient glass. I discovered the message last weekend, when staying at my friend's magic house in the English countryside. My bedroom was in the part of the house that was once a monastery (back before Henry VIII destroyed most of them). I was photographing the invisible road, lined with trees, that seemed to head straight for my bedroom window, where a large plexiglass chair hung from the ceiling (it really is a remarkable house).

It was the first morning waking in this magical place, where I had been awake much of the night, inspired by images of the monks, and the pixies and fairies and King Arthur legends. And then - because I didn't see the words right away - I tried to figure out who this person was - this Genuivere di Gist, who was a cad.

Why was he a cad? Who was the girl who wrote this? Whose advances had been rebuffed by this cool bad boy, a slender devastatingly handsome youth who had carelessly tread on her heart, having declared undying love, then gone and snogged her best friend. The glass of the windowpanes was ancient. What sharp object can etch glass? Only diamonds, far as I know.

I wonder what she used, to carve this message. Perhaps it was the ring that he gave her, before he broke her heart.

Later, in the adjoining bathroom, I saw another message. But this one was totally indecipherable, blurred as if by the fog from my bubble bath, the rain, and her tears. 


that bling bling sound

'Why people think I'm fashion icon. I'm really fashion victim.' - Anna Dello Russo.

 And now she's designed an accessory line for H&M! Fabulous accessories: OTT and cheap and bling. Watch the video (thank you, Grazia): she KILLS me.

 'Ah, somebody ring-a...'

 I love her voice. Her joy for life. The way she genuinely LOVES fashion. The way she dangles her fabulously oversized charm bracelet (I could SO wear that, with everything) and reveres its tinkling sound.'They make a sound, this BLING BLING'.. Anna's zest for life, her enthusiasm, her exhibitionism balanced with such a genuinely humble sense of self depreciating humour.. while I can't say that I live for fashion - I live for people - I can tell that she is also very much a people person. Her friendships - like with the Dolce & Gabanna boys - seem very warm, very generous.

But I can relate to how she feels about living for fashion fashion. Because I also live for ART. For the sheer life force of creativity. After all: isn't God the ultimate Creator? So when we create, in a sense, we are in touch with our concept of a god. Or, goddess. And in that sweet little 2:44 minute video, what is conveyed, for me (besides an urge to write, and think, with an Italian accent), is that enthusiasm, that reverence, for the creative process. Whether it's a painting or a film or book, or a piece of furniture that inspires us, or a clutch, or a piece of jewellry.

So when H&M asked her to design something, she chose accessories. Of course. Gold over the top sandals, and big chains, and fabulous 'swimming pool aqua' and gold clutches. Any of which - being cheap and cheerful - would so work as a foil, a visual counterpoint, to my simple Virgo style.

And I love the way she genuinely loves, and takes care of, her fashion collection. And, having just been in H&M yesterday, and wanting everything I saw, you can bet your bottom dollar I am so going to check out Anna Dello Russo's wares.

 'That is my mission: I am like the guardian of fashion.'

 Photo, by me, at Somerset House, last September. Read more about ADR at H&M at GRAZIA.


suite for piano and flute

While working on my art - my collages of pixies and fairies, inspired by the most magical visit to my friend Pia's house in the wet English spring countryside - I had a memory of an album I loved, in my college days. It was Jean-Pierre Rampal & Claude Bolling: Suite for Piano and Flute. I remembered the cover so vividly: the most perfect fine san serif typeface, and a painting of a piano and flute in bed, the flute smoking a cigarette.. someone has posted the most classy video on youtube: just the original cover, and the record playing, in real time.

A gift from an unknown being, somewhere else in the world - which I pass on to you.

Photos by me, of Estelle and Georgie shot in Regent's Park, and landscape in Green Cay, Florida. Swan is Jenny, the Foolish Aesthete.