cambridge mint vs oxford blue: what a row

We're having such an English Sunday: an AMAZING Easter Service at our beautiful St. Marys in the Boltons church, then we thought we'd do what other people do. Make a roast lunch. But Sainsbury's was closed for Easter, so was Waitrose, so we got two skinless chicken breasts at Tescos and a ton of potatoes (sweet and regular) onions, carrots, bacon, created the most magic lunch.

Then the Oxford Cambridge (or is it Cambridge Oxford) boat race on TV.

And while both teams are Blue teams (I love blue teams), Oxford is the dark blue, Cambridge light. But I noticed, the light blue (as in the caps) has over the years morphed into what Brit-Stitch call grayed jade, or Celedon, or mint. And I've just spent half an hour trying to find images of the Wellies they wore. After a lot of searching to find you a photo, I found that Hunter does make a colour they call mint, but it looks totally aqua on their site.

And then I found a shot of the boots they wore. And something more (scroll to the bottom).

Thank you to the HuffPost for these shots -and for putting together such a great piece on today's race. It was moving, personally, to watch it: my good friend, Major Bobby Collins, who died 31st January 2012, rowed for Oxford, and was in the Olympics. As well as many wars. He was in his late 80s, and I wondered how he felt last year, when there was all that drama: the swimmer, and then, because of the swimmer, the conditions meant one of the team mates nearly died. But this year, they won.

I'm sorry Cambridge lost - Cambridge is where our other dear friend, Dr. Dennis McMullan, who co-invented the electron microscope, studied and worked, and the lovely Barbara Clapham, who created our garden square, is in hospital, aged 98. She's also from Cambridge and has had the most incredible life. Thinking of all these three dear friends and neighbours, one not with us, but very much in spirit. What a laugh.

He'd be the first to say, it's definitely not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.


looking back to the street: periwinkle

Even though I haven't been shooting streetstyle - not on the street, 24/7, the way I did when I started this blog in early 2009 - it doesn't stop me noticing what people are wearing. That's really hard to shut off. I'm sure if I started carrying my camera again, I'd be shooting.

While I still have a ton I want to show you from fashion week, this morning, on a whim, I felt like seeing what I posted exactly four years ago today.

And it was periwinkle! My other favourite colour, next to jaded gray (or celadon). Looking at the post now ('the blue reiss skirt') I'm trying to imagine how this same girl would style that skirt today. On a cold day. My guess is she'd ditch that jacket for a chunky jumper - maybe like the Danish jumpers Lund wore in seasons one & two of The Killing - but especially, it's the footwear that ages this look.

Today, on the street, she'd dress a skirt like this down, maybe with something thick and chunky like the Doc Martens 3989 shoe. Or if she wore boots, they wouldn't be quite this.. Uggish. They'd be more ankle length, more like Chelsea boots (which, ironically, my husband was searching for THE DAY I SHOT THIS: we were IN Chelsea, on the King's Road, and we tried every friggin' shop and couldn't find them anywhere). Or the Chloé Susanna studded leather boots - in any of the colours, black, red, tan or python - as long as it clashed with the skirt. She wouldn't go all matchy-matchy, like she did with the boots and bag. Or, I hope not.

And nice as that bag is, I'd love to see her with something cute, pastel. Something Brit-Stitch, like the Milkman or Half Pint, in pale yellow or jaded grey.

How would you wear this skirt today? Would you wear it at all?


specs appeal: the glamour of the geek

I'm trying to think of the first style icon who started wearing big old fashioned nerdy spectacles like these.

Does anyone know? I'm thinking Alexa Chung.. when I google her, it seems she's now selling a line of them? Is that possible? Or is someone trying to cash in on Alexa Chung Geek style? All I know is, I'm finding articles like 'geek up your glam: it's cool to wear glasses' but where did it start? And who started it?

And at what point did girls who didn't even NEED glasses start wearing them?

Speaking as someone who's been wearing contacts most of my adult life - the last pair of prescription eyeglasses I bought was in 1997, when we moved to London - I've always been wired to love sunglasses - I'll wear them on a rainy day, I love sunglasses - but I've always believed that regular glasses aren't for me.

And then I started seeing these really beautiful, stylish women wearing them, and I still felt.. here's the thing. How can I say this. These kind of 'geek glasses' bring anyone's beauty quota down a notch. Sorry, they just do.

So it means you have to be extra pretty to start with.

But when a girl representing Specsavers contacted me to ask if I wanted to get a free eye exam, be gifted a pair of glasses, and talk honestly about my experience, the first thought that popped into my head was, wow, I can get me some geek glasses!

So after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with the plans, (best not to dwell on that), I popped on over to the Specsavers branch on 149 Queensway, where, despite not having been properly briefed by the girl at the social media agency, they fit me in for an eye exam on the spot, with the sweetest girl named Sidra.

And that was a lovely experience. She was kind, professional, and the exam didn't hurt a bit.

Meanwhile my husband had parked the car, and as he said after, was so impressed: Javed, the manager, had, for the first time, brought his four kids into the branch for a little while. Without their mum. Four kids, and as my husband said, you'd not have known they were there. I was photographing them - not for this blog, but for the family's private use - and they were just delightful. On a cold, dark day, this was such a breath of sunshine.

Then on my second trip, to choose the frames (all part of the mix up with the social media company) - Sidra and Javed had managed to get in every style I had asked for. I mean, I was looking at the geekiest options I could find from Armani, Missoni, Gok Wan (I had a great experience with him and Specsavers: see 'the gok and eye'), Jasper Conran, Karen Millen.. they'd got them all in for me.

But for some reason, when I arrived, I pulled out two styles from Tommy Hilfiger. I hadn't seen those styles online. And this is the part that impressed me the most: Sidra was straight up with me. It was like what you'd most want from a best friend, shopping together. I'd try on a pair and she'd be like, 'no.' But the two Tommys.. we both kept going back to them. I liked them the best on me, and so did she. They're not totally black: they're actually a very dark tortoise, which I love. I just love them.

So I got a pair for distance - I'm nearsighted - and a pair for reading, while I'm wearing my contacts. And you know what? It's like with wearing my husband's old navy knitted bobble hat: there's something very empowering about walking around with these glasses. I can't explain: I just feel like.. it's like I don't wear makeup most of the time. And I walk around in flats. There's something quite courageous about not trying too hard. Does that make ANY SENSE?

Or maybe it's simply that it's a trend. And I'm a trend follower, on the Geek Glasses Train.

Either way, I'm very glad I went to Specsavers.

With all my thanks to the lovely, lovely staff at the Specsavers Queensway Branch, especially Hammayon Javed, the nicest manager (and, clearly, a great dad), and Sidra. She's the kind of girl you'd want as a friend: wise and kind, but also honest. In the best possible way.


muze: raising arizona

Luminescent blues and Arizona Muze, at Matthew Williamson. Covent Garden, great venue.

being outrageous

My musical accompaniment for this post. Talking about Monroe and walking on snow white, New York's a go go and everything tastes nice. He's outrageous.

More from the Bowie show at the V&a.. yes, I'm being a bit obsessed, but there are still so many images I want to share with you.  And I keep thinking.. I've been speaking with so many people, friends who weren't even BORN when he was doing this stuff. And yet they connect with him. And, well, fair enough: after all, I think Shakespeare (or Marlowe, depending on your point of view) was a genius, and yet he was before my time.

I mean, even in his MUG shot, David Bowie still managed to turn it into a photo shoot.

So - at the risk of sounding very, very old, I"m going to put it out there. Who, today, is pushing the boundaries? I know Lady Gaga - maybe she's peaked, but even with the sheer numbers of fans, she always struck me as the next generation's Madonna.

Madonna, wearing meat.

But when I look at Bieber fans.. I'm not judging, but call me cynical: it feels like the whole X Factor, Pop Idol star-marker machinery has created drones, creations being managed by older men, it's about money and numbers (which equals money) and not about creativity. Being an artist.

All the images here were from that one press day at the show. I'm having fun with collaging the things I shot. I'm sure you're all bored to tears with Bowie by now, have moved on, and for all I know, no one's even reading this. That's okay: I'm having fun.

Now off to write my screenplay! Stay warm, kittens, and have a lovely day. xoxo


brit-stitch: the milkman

It's rare I get excited about a handbag.

But I've been going thru a phase for months now, where I'm just not happy with my bags.

So when, the Saturday before last, I happened to be on facebook, and saw my friend Laura ('a daisy chain dream') posting about her new Brit-Stitch 'half pint' bag arriving in the post, I became.. okay, I became obsessed. Hers was pale pink, called 'chinz rose' - a pale English rose colour just perfect for her nearly white skin and henna red hair - she knows her own style, does Laura - but it's such early days for Brit-Stitch that their website isn't even up yet! Well, it is, but they're not yet selling bags on it.

I did learn some things about the brand - the back story with the milkman's bag, and the fact that the bags, all leather, are handstitched IN THE UK, and it's a family run business that goes back a few generations.. everything about this captivated my imagination.

And while choosing one style, one colour, was agony - I was up at night, torn between the leather shopper in warm sand & oil green,  or the leather laptop bag in caramel - I kept coming back to the Milkman. In 'grayed jade'.

Because as you might have noticed: it's a colour that makes me happy. Calmly happy. I've been looking all over for a brilliant book I've got, on colour - written also by an English girl, who travelled the world and told an incredible story about an emperor, and this soft, grayed jade coloured pottery, this Celadon glaze.. it was such a beautiful story, about how this emperor had everything, all the bling, but this one simple, humble bowl, with that colour glaze, embodied all that is good, and humble, and was worth more to him than all the dazzling other stuff.

All the bling in the kingdom. All the crazy expensive It bags.

I've also been playing around with this colour, and images from the Bowie V&a exhibition.. they're probably not letting the public take photos, so this is a real treat, to bring out my toys from the show. Like this image from a video, married with a sketch that Bowie did.

And in case you're not a grayed jade girl, there are lots of other great colours. AND they'll make anything, in any colour, if you can't find something you like. They even have - for those so inclined - a great tomato red. Which has already sold out: they can't seem to make these babies fast enough!

You can buy Brit-Stitch bags online thru The Hut. Or keep an eye on them thru their Brit-Stitch facebook page. Their prices are crazy cheap, for hand stitched real leather, and they're only just a baby, as a brand, so it might not stay this way forever. But there's something about the people behind the brand that is just so genuine, so heartfelt, that I predict they're going to be hugely successful. Like they said on the (unfinished) site: these bags are made with love.


denim blues


Funny old thing, denim is: I go thru stages - in the winter, for some reason - where I don't feel like wearing denim. It makes me feel sad, long for warmth and sun. But then, when I'm tan.. I love worn, soft, faded denim, with tan skin.

The darker the skin, the better faded denim looks.  Which is why, I'm sure, Ashish chose Leomie Anderson (as before, 'little leomie, all grown up'), for this look. Which isn't an easy look to pull off, but it's just gorgeous against her mahogany skin, don't you think?

And while they're saying that it's all about flats this season (I've always been all about flats), let's face it: when you're wearing denim overalls, nothing else, no jewelry, nothing, pretty white kitten pumps, not too high a heel, are just the ticket.

Grey's the same, for me. I don't like grey when it's grey outside, but in sun, with a tan.. and flashes of white, and fun thick gold jewelry, like a gold choker chain I'm on a roll with.. anyway, I was putting together this post, playing around with music - wanted to find some kind of blues song to go with it, and found a nice one, Eric Clapton live playing Rob Johnson's Kind Hearted Woman Blues, which led me to thinking about Cat Stevens for some reason, Hard Headed Woman. That's a nice combination to strive for: Kind Hearted, Hard Headed.

But God knows why this showed up on youtube, on the right hand column, along with suggestions for other Blues songs: a video for making and cutting black raspberry Alaska Soap Cake. It's twelve minutes long, and the colours are the opposite of denim, or grey, nothing to do with the Blues, but so inspiring for spring. I could eat this soap cake, it's so yummy looking.

Rainy snowy spring morning, husband's back from an indoor swim - I just couldn't do it, couldn't get up and out by 8:00 a.m., go out in the cold, the thought of going into cold water, no matter how much it's heated.. just felt like hanging at home, being lazy. Wishing you all a lovely lazy day, wherever you are, and if you're singing the blues, hope it's something good.


miami blues

Okay: it's snowing, in London, in Spring.

Taking a break from posting about Bowie, and while crowds queue a short walk from home to see the show at the V&a (first day open to the public), I'm tucked up with a nice strong cup of coffee from the ancient Italian metal espresso maker my friend BK gave me in NY, ages ago, playing the blues.

I'm reading Keith Richard's brilliantly written autobiography, Life, reading about the music that influenced the Stones the most, esp. Muddy Waters. And thinking of a car trip down to Miami, when we were really young. My dad driving our cherished '64 Ford Fairlane station wagon - powder baby blue, the colour of sky. I named him Max. Wrote a book about him. Anyway, my mom had this game going, a variation of 'I'm going on a picnic', where you say your favourite thing about the trip so far, in initials. My kid sister, hair so blonde it was white, couldn't have been more than five, six, stumped us all with the initials MTWT.

She won. We spent forever, couldn't get it. It was Mutty Water.

So I'm getting all these press releases from the PR girls, excitedly telling me that It's all about Green! It's all about Blue! It's all about Prints! this spring. Thanks, girls, but I wear what I want, and I trust anyone reading this does, too. As you might know, if you've been here before, it's been All About Blue, Green, Aqua, crisp white, for me, for years & years. But especially since this last trip to Miami/Palm Beach, where I shot the top shots from the car - I came back tan, of course, trim from swimming, hair bleached blonde, esp. the bottom, from chlorine and salt water and sun, and defiantly wearing white jeans, baby blue jumpers, aqua and lime green.. you can see me a mile away, in this dingy grey gloomy London town.

And then there's the jellyfish blues. But that's for another post.


take bow. don't move.

Sifting through all these images - meticulous diagrams, lyrics to songs I know by heart (and, I'm learning, know all wrong), things I couldn't possibly catch when it was all happening at once on the opening press day of 'David Bowie is' (V&a, as before) - and while my husband quietly snores next to me in bed, the soft rain outside - it's SNOWING, in spring, in England and Scotland and Wales - and it hit me.

Just a few words from notes on Suffragette City. 'Take bow. don't move.'

It's Gatsby.

That little notebook, at the end, that his father carried.. whatever it is that took the boy in the top shot, born seemingly fully formed, born a star, to the creature in the bottom shot, lies a dedication, a self awareness.. to know when all the children should boogie, and when it's better to simply stand still.


don't let the milk floats ride your mind

I can remember, being a student at the University of Copehnagen, passing a cafe, and that song went flooding in: you walk past a cafe, but you don't eat, when you've lived this long. 19 years old and I felt invincible, eternal, a wise old soul, an alien in a foreign land, but David Bowie knew exactly how I felt.

Saw somewhere, an interview with Bowie, he laughed when asked something about always changing, and said he if you look at his work, the themes haven't changed all these years. It's always about isolation. And yet, this is a person who's connected with so many people. Literally, male and female - admittedly, unapologetically so - and also emotionally, psychically. A loner, a private person, and yet by all accounts warm, generous, affable. And Iman, his wife - his perfect soul mate - also an intensely private, public person.

So it was such a treat to come across - amongst all the treasures in this show - pages torn from notebooks, scribbles and sketches and words to songs. Like Rock and Roll suicide, in its entirety. I'll be putting sections together, for you, in collage. This is my first.

Such a treat to see his thought process. To see how many lines I've got wrong all these years. I still don't know what a 'chev break' is, or why it's snarling. I hear 'ship breaks are snarling' when I sing it. To see him add 'naturally' between 'so.. religiously unkind' and think, of course, the pace is better. But 'don't let the milk floats ride your mind': that one must have come to him in its entirety. I wish I knew what it means.

I don't want to spoil the impact for you, and I'm sure it won't, but making my way thru the exhibition, to come to the climax of this huge, vast, tall space - I don't know how they got the V&a to be that tall- and there's Bowie, live, in 3D, performing this song for the last time, and the shock of the impact on the crowd at the time, at Hammersmith. It hit me, knocked me over, like a wave.

I found myself, in the darkness, in floods of tears.

Yes, I'm old: younger than Bowie, true, but older than a lot of people. And while that's been freaking me out, at times - how quickly life goes by, just the blink of an eye - I've also realised, hey, had I not been this old, I'd not have had a chance to see him play live. As he was, then. But I'll save that story for another post.

from ibiza to the norfolk broads

When I was shooting Bowie's eyes from a screen yesterday, at the V&a show 'David Bowie is', I kept thinking, where have I seen this before? And then I remembered.. a flight to Miami, I was watching the brilliant film, 'I am Love', with Tilda Swinton, and I had shot her eyes. On the plane, with my little phone camera. I kept starting and stopping the film, to get this image - almost as tricky as catching the right shot from the front row - not the end, but the side view - at catwalk shows. (Okay, yes, granted, it was a long flight). But still.

At the time, I didn't know that Bowie would be collaborating with Tilda for his video, the Stars are Out Tonight, because he hadn't made it yet. (I've got another shot in this post, a few actually, of Tilda from I am Love. It's a great film - set in Milan - I loved it.)

I didn't even think so much that he reminded me of Tilda Swinton at the time. He's always reminded me of my Soviet Georgian boyfriend, Victor, who was 23 when I was 33, who looked - uncannily, naturally, bizarrely - like David Bowie in the Man Who Fell to Earth. Which I also captured, in a room at the exhibition yesterday, where you can sit on benches and see clips from various films he was in.

But I can't describe the exhibit without the music. So here, for your listening pleasure, the song that went with the video with the eyes, Life on Mars. All these years, I've been happily singing along, thinking the line was 'run my people to the North Abroads'. Hence the title: the real line. But I bet you, in the shower, I'll stick with my version.

My friend JJ said she heard Tilda was at the event yesterday, dressed as Bowie. If so, I didn't see her. But it was rather crowded.

What would be brilliant would be - and I'm half expecting to hear this - that it turns out, Bowie WAS there. But he was disguised as just, you know, a normal Human Being.