thank kew

When Frida, on behalf of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, got in touch last June, the plan was to do a photo shoot there - you know, kind of self style etcetera. When we finally did it on this Bank Holiday Monday - nearly the end of August - one of the outfits I chose is what I also wore to my mom's birthday dinner this summer, on the North Fork.

Dress, designed by me, made to my specifications (high squarish arms, slightly boat neck, split up the back seam to make moving easier) from fabric I found at the Cloth House, in Soho. They had the best kinds of silky woven fabrics, with a bit of lycra for give. This dress was made by a lovely dressmaker named Gillian, in Herefordshire, in 1997: a year when I simply could not find anything I liked in the shops. Everything was cut on the bias, and long, and worn with thick clunky mid heeled shoes.. so not me. This is the look I tend to gravitate to, regardless of current trends. Call me old fashioned, I guess.

Shoes: an Italian brand I do not know, in silvery lizard, and zebra patterned possibly pony skin, which I got at Oxfam for £20 a few years ago. Pearls, gift from my husband, NYC, before we were married. That's about it, really, apart from the haircut, which I did myself that morning: I wash my hair, comb it to one side, take the scissor and one quick snip, on an angle. Oh and the gold 'scented' nails, by Revlon, which look slightly green in the bottle, but gold in sunlight. Been wearing them all summer: goes with everything.

I really love pale green with a little bit of pink, for accent. In this case, my hot pink Storm watch, but if not, nails.. something pink. Just a little bit.

Thank you to Frida, for arranging the tickets for us. If you're headed to Kew, check out the different worlds: more about that, coming up.


goodnight, irene

This song has been playing in my head, nonstop, for like the last five days, so I'm giving you just an assortment of my favourites, to illustrate this post:

It's scarier, sometimes, being where something ISN"T. Just as when we had left the cat alone in London during the riots this summer (with a wonderful girl from the vet coming in), were concerned for all our friends and felt so helpless, while staying at the beach house on Long Island. And then: that very same beach house, and my mom, were basically sitting ducks for Hurricane Irene. It was just such a scary weekend. Holding vigil. So many, many people that I love, friends and all my closest family, just sitting right there, in her path.

My brother, having taken the cat and his daughter to my mom's beach house had to take the decision: stay put (downside: it's on water, high up, all that glass), house on top of a mountain upstate (dirt road, guaranteed at best to lose electricity, even on a good day) so they opted for his apartment in the West Village, NYC. They basically did a reverse evacuation: having heard Mayor Bloomberg's instructions, they drove, Saturday morning, right into town. One block from the evacuation zone. Then stocked up on water, got lots of blue tape (I love that it wasn't red) and taped up the windows, then cheerfully, bravely, like millions of others on the Eastern coast, waited and hoped for the best.

It all went well, of course. There were real tragedies, loss of life, and it would be disrespectful to the families who have lost loved ones to belittle this, but this was nowhere near the tragedy it could have been.

And I've got to say: for a few days there, I couldn't care less about fashion, or posting, or blogs. It really hit me, what matters, and what was at stake, and what I could have lost, in a heartbeat.

My husband - being all English and 'pull up your socks', was on a rant yesterday at how 'irresponsible' the media and, basically, the United States government were, for 'overreacting'. I could tell it was one of those situations where it was pointless to argue with him, but he wasn't going to give up until I 'took responsibility'. For what, I asked. My fellow Americans? The City of New York? The Media, he said. So - because sometimes, in a marriage, it's better to be happy than right, I sighed and said 'Okay, honey, I apologise on behalf of the Media, and take full responsibility.'

So to celebrate, we finally - after holding onto these tickets since last July - headed to Kew yesterday. I have so many photos I want to show you, I don't even know where to begin, so this is a start. KEW GARDENS is simply amazing: it is probably my favourite destination in London (just outside, actually, but easily reachable by tube). HUGE thank you to Frida, for contacting me and sending the tickets, and for your patience (we meant to go before our holiday - it was never the right time - yesterday was the right, the perfect, day). We couldn't have been in a better place to celebrate life, and nature, and all that is good and beautiful in this world. Can't wait to return. More - better, perhaps - images to come. I'm well aware that these aren't the most flattering shots - this isn't even one of the many outfit changes I'd brought for my shoot - but who cares. It's just good to be alive, and know the many people I love are alive, and well.

Goodnight, Irene, goodnight, Irene, I'll see you in my dreams.

Shot entirely at the Royal Botanic Gardens, in Kew.


keeping calm and carrying on

An image from the beach in East Hampton with my friend, Sherri, just a few weeks ago. We're off for the day to the English coastline (Brighton, very different) and just sending this post off - once again, not on fashion (I don't know who this girl is - it feels like a self portrait of me, years ago) but just sending a kind of prayer for the safety of everyone on the Eastern coast of the USA.

My husband feels it's nothing to worry about. His logic being 'they always make a fuss and it's always nothing.' I quoted to him what my dad used to say:

If you can keep your head when those about you are losing theirs, you don't understand the situation.



You can't believe how many photos I took, on holiday, of my neck in this charming wishbone charm necklace from Vagabond Van. It was a weird little challenge I set myself: just holding the camera out, aiming in the general direction, and shooting my neck.

I don't like to wear necklaces - 'statement' necklaces drive me round the bend, they're like turtle necks to me: great in theory but in reality I'm pulling them off after 20 minutes. This is light as a feather: I had to check now to see that I'm still wearing it (I am). And - this never happens - my husband, Mr. Dot, keeps saying how much he loves it.

It feels like wearing the most delicate silver cross, but what I love is that it isn't denominational. And that when Lucie first contacted me, this is what she wrote: 'We've just started taking advance orders for the most darling handmade charm necklaces. I began noticing them nestled in bronzed collar bones around Cape Town about a month ago and have coveted them ever since. I've tracked down the designer and am making an order this week.' For all I know - it's too late to get one. She didn't ask me to promote it, which is another reason why I am. She doesn't even (yet) know I'm doing this post.

And most especially: when I'm wearing it, I feel like if I make a wish, it can come true. I wished, for example, that it would stop raining - and it did. I've wished for the Libyan people to be free.. come on, make a wish. Let's try it out: see if it works virtually.

Delicate charm necklaces available from Vagabond Van: there are hearts, too, and peace symbols, with your choice of colour thread. All at £16.90. Sourced in Africa, made by local crafts people. It's all good.



Pearly (Fashion Pearls of Wisdom) and I got into a little running banter about it. Then.. I think she found in Grazia, someone coined the term BLIRT (BLOUSE + SHIRT). Which, I guess, is better than SHLOUSE.

Which are you, shirt or blouse? I personally like clothing that is soft - I've been wearing a lot of tees this summer, either white skinny ribbed men's tees.. come to think of it, most are either my dad's, my brother's, or husband's. With lots of sparkly chains and necklaces (more about that coming up) but I'm really into comfort. So what I like are shirts - like this old white Brooks Brothers one that might have once been my husband's - which are worn and soft. Soft like a blouse, tailored/masculine like a shirt.



hot pink: julie's choice

Julie's feet, Tranquility, NJ.

I've noticed anything goes at the moment in the nail polish department. Maria was wearing neon orange today, her sister Lizzy, a kind of pewter (Lizzy will shortly be American Vogue's editor at large, so pay heed). I've got a kind of metallic gold/slightly green varnish on my toes, and most of my fingers, but my pinkie is a bright blue - from H&M last spring - so I might go in that direction. Actually, I tried the blue with the gold as a French Manicure tip.

What colours are your toenails today?


surf's up

I feel like such a princess saying this, but I really wish we were still at my mom's summer home on the end of Long Island. There seems to be a proportional rate of holiday happiness: high happiness level = great sadness when it ends. So I've made this post as a kind of consolation prize to myself - memories of two different summer events, in the hope that this one isn't quite over, just yet. Click here, as per usual, for your sound track:

I took the surf shots in the Dominican Republic, last summer, with one of my best friends, Annie, and her young boys (her husband was back home in Connecticut at the time). The restaurant shots are from the Surf Lodge, on the end of Long Island, Montauk, with another best friend, since childhood: Sherri. We were with HER two kids, Lana and Brandon - now grown - while Marc, also a childhood friend, worked in NY. (Confused yet? Try it with jet lag).

When we were teenagers, our parties were like secret clubs that moved around depending on whose parents were away. Since my parents tended to travel with us (except when they went to Russia and China - oh and Brazil, come to think of it).. well, I just didn't have parties when my parents were away. But the ones that did.. total chaos, total scene. Even without the use of cell phones, twitter, internet, no technology apart from landlines, somehow word would get out and you'd see tons of cars lined up alone one particular street.*
That's what the Surf Lodge was like. Quiet, chilled out Montauk - the beach town of my youth - was suddenly lined on a back road with expensive cars and this old motel, while the same architecturally, was transformed. And a big white clapboard building that wasn't anything special had the words 'the surf lodge' spaced out in san serif type... something was definitely up. And the music. And just the.. attitude.

*(I ONCE tried to have a party: my parents, bless them, went to see a film, and I ended up ditching the party - left it in the hands of my friends - and went for a bicycle ride with my friend Marc - bizarrely, now Sherri's husband - and came back to find that my parents had come home, and the party had fizzled out. The end of my party planning career: it's just not my thing).

I love what they did with the place, actually. Very much my taste. I couldn't get good shots at night without flash, so click here to get an idea. Since I don't follow American TV I've been oblivious to the story of a Sicilian-American chef from Charlotte, North Carolina named Sam Talbot, best known as a semi-finalist on Season 2 of Bravo's Top Chef.

Lana had gone to the place earlier in the summer, when she'd stayed in Montauk for the weekend and her friends had met a guy, also named Mark. He and his friend took them there - knew everyone - paid the $1000 tab - and while this place is booked up a month in advance, that night he had made the reservation for us.

Except, when we arrived, the girl at the door said no, go away. We went to the bar - I bought them drinks, $38 USD for three drinks in plastic cups - and Lana made a few calls. Next thing we know, the same girl was all over her new BFF Lana, and we had the best table: on the water, centre stage. The chef himself, Sam, came out to greet us (top right, above).

The food is good: tuna tartare on little crispy bits, with wasabi, and the freshest lobster roll - an expensive take on the old fast food of childhood summers - and fresh crab with popcorn and bluberries (all local produce, but a bit of an acquired taste for me). The crowd was.. I think I'm spoiled in London, frankly: I just think the style here is more individual, more confident, better. I saw lots of hats on girls, and yes there was the smell of money in the air (this place is not cheap) but apart from Sherri, Lana and Brandon - who sported a long sleeved aqua fitted tee and white jeans, (when I asked if he'd been there before and chose his outfit accordingly, he smiled and said yes)..

I know what it is: NY style - and that extends all the way to the end of the Island - is safer, I feel, than London. I'd forgotten what it's like - that hysteria to get into the latest exclusive place - in London, places are cool, but anyone can go there, if they know where to go. I know I'm generalising, but then again, I don't go to NY for street shooting - I go to swim, and hang out, and see friends.

Which is what I did, that night. And a year ago, with Annie and the boys and Norris, the wonderful nanny from the villa, who became a friend, on the beach. And now, enough chit chat, we're off to Hampstead. And we're dressing warm.


unbroken circle

Bags packed, car arrives at 18:30, so cold I don't even feel like swimming, just hanging out with my mom, sewing my beloved old white Brooks Brothers shirt that my husband discarded before he was my husband.

A little soundtrack to play along with this post:

Top shot is my cousin Adam and his wife Ann's daughter, Aili, who is five. I met her for the first time this summer - the last time we saw them, in London, Aili and Oliver weren't yet born - and now that they're back home on the West Coast, I miss them so much.

Family: it really matters. Meeting these charming, well behaved children - our cousins, our family - seeing myself, my mom, my uncle, (who died suddenly and tragically, years ago, shown above with my mom) in their eyes.. they make me wish we had children.

There was a moment, during my mom's birthday weekend, when she was telling the children - cousins who had met and bonded within minutes - about their great grandmother, her mom, who died two weeks after I was born. Then she told them about my Grandpa - their great grandfather. They were SPELLBOUND. (These are my parents, above, shortly after they were married. It is the only time I saw photos of my dad with a roll on his waist: he was always so fit, swam and played tennis and ran, but he said when they first got married, he was so blissed out he got 'fat').

A few days later, I was walking back from the pool on a glorious sunshiney day - you know the kind, when it feels like summer will last forever - and I had this sudden thought: one day, I won't be here. I wonder if one of them will tell some as yet unborn child about me. I hope so. I hope they will remember me, as I remember my family in my heart. I wish my father, and my grandparents, were there to celebrate with us, but they were. They so were.

I really hate to leave - one of my homes away from home - and as I do, I make my wish that I will come back. This was the most perfect holiday, ever. And oh, by the way, this is me.


swimming in the rain

Most of the days of our three week swimming holiday have been gloriously perfect beyond belief. But it's the times when it's rained - and one early evening, even really stormed - that are often the most magic for me. Because, unless there's thunder and lightening, I'm swimming. In the rain.

Click below, if you'd like, to illustrate these images with song. It's the song I sing while swimming, but I change some of the words.

These top three shots are, again, from Tranquility, NJ: I hadn't realised til later, that Maryann took some shots of me from the mill/house, while swimming in the river above the waterfall. The others are from the pool here, on the North Fork, Long Island. We leave tomorrow, and once we're back in the UK, I'm hoping we'll go to Cornwall, to swim some more. It's been a washout for my poor husband, who usually fishes - we don't know where the fish are this summer, but they're not in the Sound.

I love the different colours of blue, depending on the light. Bliss. As Alexandra Therese said: 'I think that swimming is the ultimate freedom - I feel so privileged that I can swim, I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't.' In fact, soon as I hit publish, I'm off to swim in the soft, English rain.* There's something so endlessly magical to me about rainy days in summer: the sunshine is for everyone, but the rainy days feel special, like they're mine alone.

*(Clarification: my mom, who is next to me ON Long Island, just read that part and thought it might be a bit confusing. I am still here. Here, being Long Island. We fly back tomorrow. I meant the rain is.. English-esque. Soft. Unlike say this morning, or yesterday when we were driving to see the Help: that was a Hard Rain. Driving Rain.)

If you want to see something absolutely charming, click here.

like dreaming

The world feels very quiet: I don't even hear a bird singing right now. We are on the North Fork, my husband and my mom, and we leave tomorrow, and it is raining. There are so many images I want to show you - and so little time.

These images are from Tranquility, NJ: the second and third are from last week, but the top shot is by my friend Maryann Kissane, of her daughter Julie and I believe her cousin Lia, whose graduation party from law school they went to last Sunday, the day we were leaving. Leaving places and people I love is hard for me, but I keep returning, again and again, in my dreams. And then, for real.


sea of tranquility

From last week, when we stayed with our friends in Tranquility, NJ. Jim, my dearest friend Maryann's husband (M & I met in Denmark on a college program, travelled thru Europe, Greece etc), is an architect, and he spent 10 years converting the giant mill into the most imaginative clapboard 'castle'. Maryann is constantly evolving the interior design. It is a labour of love.

Speaking of love, I was at their wedding: it was at Bear Mountain lodge, and it was perfect. Andy Warhol and his friend happened to be there, while they were doing the wedding photos, and he took some. I wonder where those shots are now.

Speaking of labour: soon as I get there, as I have since their grown children were toddlers, my favourite thing is to climb onto the waterfall and 'clean it up': sweeping away the green stuff that grows, then getting on my hands and knees and rubbing the old concrete, revealing the beautiful colours as the water rushes over it. Then going for a swim. Bliss.

Speaking of bliss: still on holiday, still sunny, off to the pool. So many photos, so little time. Enjoy yours, wherever you are.


hampton classic

Having checked in with some of my London & UK friends the other day, with the morning slipping away from me, I posted on hoodies then drove to East Hampton (getting lost along the way: my husband dubbed me 'Maps' our first summer together, but we work better as a team. When I'm both driver and navigator - and we don't use SatNav, I'm a real luddite and use paper maps.. anyway, I got there in the end).

One of my dearest childhood friends, Sherri, who is married to Marc, also a friend from high school, is in the loveliest house for August, with a great pool and lush gardens. It felt rather 'let them eat cake'esque, leaving my concern for the rioting behind, then toddling off to the beach and the pool and the swish cars. Woke early yesterday and wanted to swim while everyone was asleep, but was afraid Cooper, their fabulous French bull dog, would start barking and trying to save me from drowning. Sherri explained that the breed can't swim - apparently their heads and necks are too heavy for the back, and - I'm trying not to laugh as I type this - they'll basically topple forward, hind legs sticking up, and drown their poor selves. She even has a kind of floatation jacket for him.

'So they're bred for..' I said, trying to think of what possible 'profit', genetically, that shape would have. Rabbiting? Snapping little creatures necks quickly? 'They're bred to be companions to French royalty', said Sherri.

It's all so Marie Antionette.



Surreal to wake, still, in the beach house - not in London - birds chirping, (what is that same bird SAYING? I asked my husband. 'He's just being territorial, he said'. So now the song I hear over and over, in my head I translate as 'It's my TREE!! It's my TREE!!')

Haven't even had coffee yet, but reading some great tweets and articles, especially this one by Kevin Braddock in the Guardian: The Power of the Hoodie, which inspired my post. Definitely worth reading. We've long turned that garment into a political concept - just like that unfortunate yet delicious cereal, granola, has become associated with a type of person (a granola eating whatever). Or, Birkenstocks with sandals.

In defence of hoodies - the garment, not the morons out there stealing laptops - I've had my navy Gap one, worn here, for about 15 years, and I don't travel anywhere, even a weekend jaunt, without it. I just never wear the hood up, for obvious (stylistic) reasons - except in inclement weather.

But I also want to bring your attention to a BRILLIANT piece by Zoe Williams, also in the Guardian, called UK Riots: The Psychology of Looting.

"There seems to be another aspect to the impunity – that the people rioting aren't taking seriously the idea it could rebound on them. All the most dramatic shots are of young men in balaclavas or with scarves tied round their faces, because it is such a striking, threatening image. But actually, watching snatches of phone footage and even professional news footage, it was much more alarming how many people made no attempt at all to cover their faces. This could go back to the idea that.. people just don't believe they'll go to prison any more, at least not for something as petty as a pair of trainers. I feel for them; that may be true on a small scale, but when judges feel public confidence seriously to be at issue, they have it in themselves to be very harsh indeed (I'm thinking of Charlie Gilmour). But there is also a tang of surreality around it all, with the rioters calling the police "feds", as though they think they are in The Wire, and sending each other melodramatic texts saying: "So if you see a brother . . . SALUTE! If you see a fed . . . SHOOT!"

In keeping with my surreal morning, my husband - who has been actively following the events in the UK, as well - said to get off the laptop, let's go down to the beach. Thank you to Roz via Little Bird for tweeting these articles. And to the Gap, for selling me my beloved hoodie in the first place.



How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb?


Pretty surreal 24 hours: the annual local police summer bbq was held (as a thank you) at the pool in this tranquil summer resort community, a lovely mix of families, giant pink bouncy thingy, a fabulous spread (for the residents, too) and even a free ice cream truck. Swam and swam and went at twilight to the beach while he fished, met a charming older man who's been fishing 47 years, and then - while watching Bachelor Pad with my mom - clocked that there was rioting in London.

In the meantime, a lovely old friend from Berlin, Claudia, a stylist based in Miami, friended me on facebook and sent photos from, she thinks perhaps, Fire Island. I couldn't for the life of me remember when or where but then remembered - this was pre-husband days, a friend named Michael, an architect and artist. I still have the peachy beigey silk robe - I almost brought it here - but can't recall the sandals. Proof, however, that I didn't just start wearing sandals with socks this season because I saw it on the runway.

Drinking good strong vanilla scented coffee as I type this, we all didn't sleep well last night, and were individually on our laptops this morning, trying to figure out what the hell has been going on (we were in aptly named Tranquility for a long weekend and no one had even read a newspaper) but reading the twitter trending, just so touched at the clean up response. 'We're Londoners, we're resilient, we'll just get on with it', my husband read aloud.

Keeping Calm, and Carrying On.