hatwalk: patriotic colours

As before. From yesterday. Hatwalk.  Absolutely brilliant concept, which allegedly Boris himself cooked up (I love that man! I was trying to think of a NY mayor that's anywhere near him - Mayor Lindsey had class, and was cute, but he didn't have Boris's humour and overall cuddliness) and the thing about Hatwalk that makes it so special is - like butterflies - its brief life span: it's only out on the streets til this Friday.

I'm going to see and shoot as many as I can. Although showing you the impact of what the hat on Nelson's head looks like - on top of that column - isn't easy. I can't imagine how they got it up there, at night. To surprise us in the morning.

And the best thing about it is, you don't have to buy tickets. The buzz around town is simply amazing, and I've been spending half the morning trying to navigate the London Olympic website.  Suddenly we, and everyone I know, want to go to the Olympics. And those that are at work, are watching it on the BBC site (one friend - who works in the government - said everyone's got it on their screens. So who's running the country??)

What I'm wondering is: where were we for the past eight years? Where we were when being so cool, too cool to apply for thousands of pounds of tickets? While all round the world, everyone was planning to come here, and we were planning to get out of town? Kicking self as we speak. While pinching self that we don't happen to go on holiday til the 7th.

More info on  Grazia (Hatwalk) or the Mayor of London site for the map. Easy peasy, and no queuing. But it's only out til Friday, so don't dilly dally!


hatwalk: look up

What a wonderful way to start the morning. To start off my week.

Up with the roosters, husband bringing me my cup of tea and saying 'get up, Jill, you've got that thing, remember?' The thing was an invitation from the Mayor of London's people to a surprise. Photo call, 7:00, Trafalgar Square. Be there or be.. so I get there, the Square is empty, I see a lovely girl in a purple shirt who is an 'Ambassadress' (gotta love that word) for London 2012 Olympics. 'I'm here for the surprise' I say, smiling. She smiles back. 'What surprise?' 'At, you know, the Trafalgar Cafe... it's for Grazia..' No recognition. She wants to help, she really wants to help. She starts looking up Trafalgar Cafe on her phone. Meanwhile I call the PR company - a cell phone for someone named Rachel, listed on the invitation. Rachel answers and is cheerfully trying to explain where they are ('It's across from the National Gallery'.. which is where I was..) and two bobbies, in hats, get into the act. They're directing me to the same place Rachel is on the phone.. a little cafe in the Square.. it was hilarious, cinematic: everyone trying to help. 

And next thing I know, I'm alone in a small room, being offered coffee and yummy pastries, when who should walk in but Paula Reed, Style Director of Grazia. (And, as of last month, she'll be taking up a new position as Style Director for Harvey Nichols: how ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS is that).

She is now my favourite style editor: more than Carine Roitfeld, who I've got to admit was really cool to meet. More than the enigmatic Kate Lamphear, who barely speaks but radiates calm. More than eternally effervescent Anna Della Russo, who bizarrely, I dreamt about recently: we were good friends, apparently. Paula just exudes such warmth, is delightfully accessible. And meeting her, I was just so buzzed the rest of the day.

And THEN I went outside, and they explained the Hatwalk concept. In two words: Look Up.

There it was: on the very top of Nelson's column: Nelson himself, wearing a hat. A newly made British Flag hat, with gold feather. The original, iconic hat he wore was made by Lock & Co, so it only stands to reason that they got to design this one, by Sylvia Fletcher.

It's brilliant, and it's everything that I love about London, about the delicious Boris Johnson, about art and fashion mixing in the most whimsically English way. Twenty iconic sculptures, around London, being decorated with... hats. Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy are behind it, of course, but each of the twenty sculptures are designed by different artists and designers: such a rich, rich collaboration of talent, tied in with the Olympic games.

I've got more shots from this morning in posts coming up - the light was amazing, it felt very Norman Parkinson, American in Paris - but also, I am personally making a vow: I've got the map. I'm going to try to see, and photograph, as many of the sculptures as I possibly can. Life is so what you make of it, and frankly, I'm so glad I got out of bed early, for a change.

Read more about it on Grazia Daily, of course, but I also think the Telegraph did a pretty good job of explaining it ('The Hatwalk Comes to Town'). And if you get there first, please take some photos: I'm planning to make a whole series from this, so let's collaborate. For the map,  go to Mayor of London: Hatwalk.


passing on the torch

So yesterday was the day the London 2012 Torch Relay reached London. A fact that I wasn't actually aware of until the day before, because I hadn't been really following events. I had realised I was double booked on Tuesday, and Maralee was able to switch to Thursday - which was one of those crazy days when it seemed all these unrelated friends wanted to meet at the same time in different places for different reasons, but I was seeing Maralee. And then in the morning she and a friend were going to try to catch the relay around Wandsworth, then we were going to meet in Battersea Park.. but they switched back to Wandsworth, and we decided to meet next week. 

And I realised at 12:30 that a) I was on my own and b) I could just pop on over - by foot - to the King's Road, and try to catch the Torch passing.

Life is so random, you know? Beautiful hot day, camera in tow, on the phone with my mom, get to King's Road, turn left. If I had left a few minutes earlier, and turned down the street I had planned to, I'd have had the Ab Fab girls passing me. But instead, just before 'my' torch bearer, I saw, in an open truck, a young boy, holding a torch. Looking ahead, with the most intense seriousness. It was just a moment passing  - I was shooting people, cars, cyclists - whatever caught my eye - but that moment I didn't capture on film. (Okay, not film: on digital). But it was a moment that will stay with me always. This little boy, like a buddha or a prince (the buddha, actually, was both). Everything good seemed encapsulated in that boy.

And as I heard others say: it really was kind of quick. A lot of fuss - a LOT of fuss - trucks and people and sound and anticipation (and I can show you those shots, too, another time) and then, my man. Whizzing by, with a smile. And the crowd cheering. It really was quite exciting!

His name, it turns out, is Robert Groves, and I didn't know if he was an athlete, or a normal person, so when I googled him, this is what I found: click here. And I was so moved by his application, I am printing it here, verbatim:

'Bob spreads happiness and hope. Bob was an addict but now teatotal fit and healthy. An inspiration to all that know and meet him.I want to Run a Marathon under 3 hours 15 mins so that i can achieve a good for age in the London Marathon i come from a very overweight and unhealthy background and have already run a marathon in 3 hours 30 mins. I believe that if i can do it i will help others to see that they can do it to.'

Funny timing, too: I've been using the phrase 'passing on the torch' for over a year now, whenever - which happens all the time - people contact me about street shooting. 'I'm passing on the torch to the next generation of street style photographers', I say, when I decline to go to fashion week or do street style. But then a lovely young woman I haven't yet met, named Natasha Lee, pulled me out of retirement last week, for an affilliate of Elle called glo.com. And my first piece for them went live yesterday. You can see it here, and I'll be doing posts on those shots, and more, over the days and weeks to come. In the meantime, though, shown here is a girl I saw near me on the King's Road as the torch went by - you can see her in the BBC footage, we were around 13:45 - she got my vote for 'best street style look' of the day. I love floaty dresses and tough guy boots. Classic summer yin yang look.

This is such a jumble of a post - the more I fuss with it, the longer and more jumbled it's getting - but my husband is talking, and I want to get it up before the Opening Ceremony begins. My husband thinks he's too cool for that stuff but - who knows - maybe he'll grace the cat and I with his presence in front of the telly.

Lovely weekend, all! xoxo


save the surprise

Ever since last autumn, when I was meeting and texting and texting and arranging with Danny Boyle's production manager, who, by the way, is nothing like Kevin Thingy on Twenty Twelve - he is SO NICE and SO COOL - for a film shoot they were doing on our garden square (I'm the secretary, and this went on for a few weeks - see 'gorgeous george'), I've known that timing was tight because Danny was also 'doing the Olympics'. At the time, that meant nothing to me - I can't bear crowds, and knew that, come summer, I'd be getting out of Dodge.

But it didn't occur to us when we moved our annual late July to mid August Long Island beach holiday to later in August, that we'd be here. And - why am I always surprised when this happens? - I never thought I'd go from all blase to truly buzzed, before it's even begun.

Especially because I LOVE a good surprise.

I used to think - when I was a girl, a teen - that the world was divided between those that are 'deep' and those that are 'shallow'. Somewhere in my twenties, I changed that to people that have a sense of humour, who can get a joke and more importantly, laugh at themselves, and those who not only can't, but create drama. And while that division holds, I have in recent years realised that Trust Trumps All.

My latest World Division is between those who love a good bit of gossip, and those who can keep a secret.

So when my husband woke me with the news that 10,000 invited guests (the number is actually 60,000 - the 10,000 is the number of performers) are still managing to keep a secret about the secret of the opening ceremony that Danny's got up his sleeve for tomorrow night (see Telegraph), I discovered #savethesurprise. Note to self: twitter isn't always about @humblebragging: it's really incredibly moving to read this hash tag. It's heartening to know, for example, that one woman LOST A FRIEND ON FACEBOOK rather than reveal the surprise.

I can't imagine what it is, but my imagination is now running wild.  And while I'd love to quote tweets for you here, this post is long enough. And while my friends are watching the torch pass in various parts of Great London, I'm catching up on the brilliant Twenty Twelve and kicking myself that I've missed so many episodes on series two. And pinching myself that we live so close to Hyde Park.

Photo - as before - by me, backstage at Holly Fulton, LFW. It was a staged surprise, posed by another photographer in the 'first view' scrum. But I prefer the real kind of surprise, and am blown away that so many people are honouring one man's wishes, and keeping this one. God Bless the British spirit: it's so.. Dunkirk.

This song, by the way, still gives me goose bumps. After all these years.


Getting really teary following this live: I think it's the music that's killing me. To watch: click here.


two women

This is a tale of two women.

They both liked to wear fun hats.

(Although, to my surprise, the one I most associated with her hats was rarely photographed wearing one, considering that women always wore hats in her time. The other wore the most astonishing assortment of hats: men's caps, tophats.. even though no one wore hats in the late sixties and seventies).

They both were foreigners to England. Outsiders, always. And while they both had great influence on the British public, neither actually lived in England for long. And ultimately, they were, in a sense, in exile.

Neither woman could be considered beautiful by any culture or time period's standards of beauty. In fact, they were often called ugly by most of the public. And worse names than that. And yet, each had a certain.. allure.

The men they married were absolutely smitten with them.

And they kept their men entertained: according to the gossipers, in more ways than one.

But the similarities go on.. both women were only children. Both women were divorced not just once, but twice, before going on to marry the men they would be known for. Both their first marriages were brief: so brief that the public wasn't aware they existed.

Both women were.. let's face it, they were hated by the public: globally, and especially, the British public.

One thing that surprised me: I always assumed both women were much older than their husbands. But while Yoko Ono was seven years older than John Lennon, Wallis Simpson was actually born in 1896, two years after Prince Edward, the Duke of Windsor. The King who abdicated the throne for the woman he loved.

Both women out lived their husbands by many years.

And while one woman, through her marriage, altered the course of the British Monarchy - we wouldn't have the Queen, or Prince Charles, or the story of Princess Di, or Will and Kate, or Harry or anything, if it weren't for W.E., the other woman, one can argue, altered the course of British Music Royalty forever: she is credited, rightly or wrongly, with splitting up the Beatles.

I was thinking all this, a few weeks back, when on the day I didn't go to Italy, we went to see the Yoko Ono show currently on at the Serpentine (very good show, too: definitely go, if you're in town, and if the Olympic crowds don't demolish Hyde Park). I can't believe the Olympics are starting tomorrow - we never thought we'd be here for them, but we're not going on holiday til August. I'm actually getting excited about it, too.

And the reason I'm posting this today is something my father in law said, this weekend in Herefordshire, at his big annual birthday BBQ. He was talking about a woman he knew, years ago. Her husband was perfect: successful, tall, dark and handsome. He said this woman was plain as can be. But there was something, he said, about her. When she walked into a room, it was as if she glowed. Even the dogs, he told me, would stop barking and go sit by her side.

Have any of you seen Madonna's film, W.E.? I did, and I while I didn't expect to like it, I did. The film was the seed that started my compassion for these two women that I haven't met (although I did have a friend in the Dakota, years ago, and I remember seeing a package arrive addressed to Yoko, as we went up in the lift). I just can't imagine how it must feel: to be this loved by one man, and yet hated by so many. Women, especially. People they've never met, and never will.

None of these photos are by me, btw: I've only edited this together. Apart from the collage at the top. That's all mine.



FINALLY: Merry Old England has woken up, smelled the coffee, and realised it's summer.

I've come out from my streetstyle retirement - doing a little project for a collaboration with Elle people in LA - but I was shooting mostly under wintry conditions. Until this weekend!

Shot these at the V&A - the fountain pump was clogged, and some lovely men spent most of the day in the heat, sorting it out. As it started to fill, you could practically hear this song playing, in your head:

My only question is, what are you doing inside? Soon as I hit 'publish', I'm out of here!

Have a lovely lovely day, dear people, wherever you are. xoxo



Typing in haste: we're off to deepest Herefordshire, Birthday BBQ for my father-in-law.

A year or so back, I had loved a private catwalk show at Vogue stylist Charlotte Stockdale's AMAZING house - a competition hosted by the French lingerie company, Triumph - this is the winning design. So when one of their people asked me yesterday to spread the word that the first hundred women and girls to go for a fitting at their new Westfield Stratford store will get a beautiful pair of black lace knickers, free, I thought, why not. Life's too short not to get a pair of knickers with a twist. For free.

But now my husband is calling 'Jill. Jill. Hurry up.'

Ah, Marriage. The Fulfillment. The Hopes. The Ambition. The Clothes. The Shoes. The Flirting. The Seduction.

The Grace.


be yourself

Suggested post viewing: click above. All set? Good.

So the other night while my husband was sleeping, I watched the excellent Up in the Air, with George Clooney. At the end credits, this song burst on - so raw, so recent, so inspiring and it brought me back to my formative years, as they say. (I saw once, while watching a brilliant documentary with my dad, on the development of jazz, that our musical tastes are formed in our teens. We looked at each other and realised, it's true. And then he started talking to me about Benny Goodman, and Artie Shaw, and the era of the Big Bands, and Swing.)

I wonder if I only feel this way because of my age, and the age I was when I first heard it? I mean, if anyone out there is young - do you feel the same way? Is it me, or are these just the best friggin' lyrics? It's such a simple message, but it hit me:

We have never been in an age in history with more choice. And yet: I am so sick of, so bored to tears, with the endless PR flood of junk I get each day in my inbox. Follow the trend. Follow the celebrity. Follow the celebrity following the trend. Buy this dress because Kate Middleton wore it, and then.. what? You'll wake up and be a princess? Follow me on facebook, follow me on twitter. Do not lead: follow. And then in a few weeks the trend will change, so throw it all out and buy into to the next new trend. Tell your followers to follow us, and buy our stuff.

Change your body. Change your home. At whatever cost, alter your appearance, surgically, chemically, so you will look like someone else. So you'll no longer be you.

When I think that this song was written in the SEVENTIES, when not one person, not even celebrities, owned a laptop, and tweeting was something that only birds did (and there WERE birds back then - I swear, it's true!).. I mean, look at these lyrics:

We needed a tutor so built a computer, and we programmed ourselves not to see. The truth and the lying the dead and the dying, a silent majority. Don't theorize look in their eyes. Are they telling lies? The ones that they learn on T.V What a way to be free.

And then I think of Cara Delevingne. She was only Poppy's kid sister when I met her a season or so back, at fashion week. Posing like a clown for what I assumed were her friends or sisters, but one was her very cool mom, Pandora. I guess I later gave her the shots, or something, because we're now facebook friends. Not REAL friends - we don't hang out. And it's not the official Cara Delevingne celebrity facebook page, it's under a pseudonym. And no, I'm not going to plaster it on my post!

The thing is, Cara is herself. Purely herself. As wiki says Sarah Doukas of Storm said, "The most beautiful face in the most engaging personality, like her older sister Poppy. She is adorable and very talented. She also has the ability to shake up the energy in a room full of stuffy people and make people ask "who is that girl".

But most of all, she's simply being herself. She's not even terribly TALL, for goodness sake, and yet she's the new face of Burberry. (They say she's 5'9": maybe she's shot up in the last year, because she seemed pretty darn petite to me.) Because height is the one thing we can't change about our appearance. Yet.

I might sound cynical, or bitter, but I'm actually in a pretty good mood, making the best of this weather (it's the PITTS, says my sweet Southern friend Margaret) - having a grand old time, pickling my living room floor. Oh, gosh oh darn, if the sun didn't actually come out there, for a minute! Gotta go.


girl reading

Having just finished reading Girl Reading, by Katie Ward, I am feeling a combination of inspired, altered, and - rare for me - speechless. I was drawn to the cover, drawn to the title, intrigued by the concept on the back of the book (seven girls reading, caught by artists, real and imagined, starting with 14th Century Sienna, through to a photographer in Shoreditch, 2008 - with the eighth segment taking place in the year 2060), and then, the little bio on the book, that the author lives in Suffolk with her husband and cat, and this is her first novel.

Having just finished writing my first novel, as yet unpublished, living in London with my husband and cat, I was intrigued.

Because the thing is, from the moment I started reading it, I was already telling everyone, including strangers on the street, that 'this is the best f*****g book, EVER' - so loudly, so emphatically at times I could see I was scaring people - before I had even finished it. I didn't want to finish it. Like savouring some really good chocolate that you hide from your husband because he'll eat it all (okay - maybe that's just something I'm forced to do), I kept reading slower and slower until finally, today, coming home from a little date night in the rain with my husband, I felt I was ready: bubble bath, with almond oil and sea salt (turns out, that's another of the author's favourite things - bubble baths - but I didn't know it until I read her online bio).. I can't write. She's too good a writer. I am in awe. Her writing voice is so unique, I find myself THINKING like she writers - like a ghost of an image, that lingers on.

And now, having finished it, I just have to wait until she writes her second novel.

I'm inspired now, to do a series of girls reading. This is the first in my Girl Reading series. Forget Fifty Trashy Shades of Bogstandard Pornographic Grey: this is the real deal. THIS is the book I'd take to a desert island, if I was only allowed one. But don't just take my word for it.


flora & fauna

flo·ra  (flôr, flr)
n. pl. flo·ras or flo·rae (flôr, flr)
1. Plants considered as a group, especially the plants of a particular country, region, or time.
2. A treatise describing the plants of a region or time.
3. The bacteria and other microorganisms that normally inhabit a bodily organ or part: intestinal flora.

fau·na  (fôn)
n. pl. fau·nas or fau·nae (-n)
1. (used with a sing. or pl. verb) Animals, especially the animals of a particular region or period, considered as a group.
2. A catalog of the animals of a specific region or period.

Funnily: it seems the more determined I am to give blogging a break - give street shooting a break - I just can't seem to shut my blogging brain off. Not bringing my camera with me when I'm out is no use: I've still got a camera on my phone. And while my part of London ('leafy South Kensington') is pretty much a dead zone right now - everyone, literally, is away, or if they're here, they're hiding inside so no one knows what a loser they are for not being away on holiday, or rather, for not owning a holiday home somewhere warm.

However, the few people I do see, I can't help noticing one particular trend right now: floral jeans. So while I'm not showing you any here, I'm letting you use your imagination. Jeans plus florals equals, etc.

I have a few theories why this trend is catching on. First: it's new. Which means, if you're seen wearing floral print jeans, it means they're not vintage, and you haven't shopped your closet. And everyone likes something new. The other thing is, if you're sporting floral print jeans, chances are, they're not your only pair. They're not your 'go to' jeans, the way I am with my current favourite, my ankle length slightly cropped wonderfully comfortable white DL1961 pair, from the Raw Denim Bar. Floral print - or, say, the Fauna version, i.e. snakeskin - shows you can be a bit frivolous. Bit impractical. It's an extravagance, I feel, buying print jeans. They won't go with everything.

But that, I guess, is kind of the point.

Where do you stand? Are you a pattern person, jeans wise? Or a purist. A minimalist. And if you go print, are you a Flora, or a Fauna?

Photos by me, shot on my phone. And since I don't have instagram (does anyone know: can we get it if we don't have an iPhone?) I take the longer route and make things in photoshop. The fauna reference is a tiny detail that I didn't notice when I was leaving the cinema: a dog print. Or so it seems. But it must have been a whopping big old dog.