it's fashion, jim, but not as we know it

Laura Weir, of the Sunday Times Style Section, has just said exactly what I've been saying, but - as always with this brilliant journalist - she's said it better. In the piece 'IS THIS FASHION' ('now that street style is more about attention-seeking than anything a sane person might wear, Style looks elsewhere for everyday inspiration') I saw people I know, have had lunch with, have photographed.. I saw the past four and a bit years of my life flash by, saw the trajectory from being a lone woman on the street with my dad's vintage Pentax (film, not digital), looking for normal people whose style I admired, which led to my to growth as a 'blogger', which led to being invited to fashion week, to.. this. Being a Papp for people whose career is built around going to fashion week to be shot by people like me. And no one's paying me to do it!

Which is not to disparage this sweet girl. Who I don't know. For me, it's still about portraiture, about that thing in the eyes, when one soul recognises another, for a brief flash, and moves on. It's about engaging with the subject, as they say, and then - one hopes - passing that on to you.

But it's not, for me, about what they're wearing - style is part of something, I feel, that is innate, and for me, far more low key. And the circus that's been swirling round fashion week these past few years.. okay, it's fashion, but not as we know it. Or wear it.

I had just walked out of the dark, almost spiritual quiet - that boisterous hush - of London Fashion Week, backstage after a show ('thirst', etc), when I was hit by this circus. Not to criticise this lovely girl. But it's so far removed from why I started my blog, started shooting streetstyle.. words fail me. Read hers, they're so much better. And more succinct.



At the Ritz Carlton, Key Biscayne, Florida. February 2013.


self portrait with wild crocuses

They're gone now, but they'll be back next year. The first signs of spring. Rebirth. Tiny drops of hope on my windowsill.


the bigger picture

Two images: above and below. They don't mean much on their own: just my favourite colours, and textures.

And then when you step away - and see the bigger picture - one is a glass ring, and one is a landscape.

I'm fascinated with the idea of scale. We were on a boat, off an Italian island called Ponza, and this teeny tiny dot was a man. It seemed - from out in the warm turquoise sea - that he was pulling something, from the angle of his body. But I guess we'll never know what. Or why.

Glass rings from a collection at the British Museum Shop. How Ponza ties in with the Pompeii exhibit? It's in my previous post, 'they walk amongst us.'

Life and Death: Herculaneum and Pompeii is on until the 29th September, but the Ice Age is only on til the 26th May. More details at the British Museum online.


cat's eyes

Still life with cat. Except the cat wouldn't stay still.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to do a photo shoot with a cat? He was trying to co-operate, he really was, but he didn't get the concept that he was meant to WEAR the sunglasses, not eat them.

Cat's eye sunglasses by GANT. They've launched a fabulous collection of sunglasses, for men and women. Really well made, good quality, something for everyone. Even cats.


vanilla sky

Ever since I can remember, I've been a vanilla girl.

I felt like I was the only one: everyone, every child at least, loved chocolate. I remember a photo of my kid sister, as a baby, naked on the kitchen floor, practically sitting inside a metal bowl of chocolate pudding. When I absolutely had to eat chocolate, I'd choose white chocolate, because it looked like vanilla.

I love vanilla.

Now, of course, I love chocolate, too - especially dark chocolate, and specifically, dark chocolate with salted caramel. But I'm going thru a kind of vanilla renaissance. In fashion: despite (or perhaps, because) it's been so wintry this spring, I've been defiantly wearing top to toe white and cream and shades of vanilla.

In baking, like my vanilla coconut lime baked ricotta cheesecakes (my recipe).

In film: I just saw Vanilla Sky recently - I hadn't liked it the first time, but I've ordered it to see again with my husband. And now the  The Body Shop is launching a line of Eau de Toilette fragrances, and I've just tried their vanilla scent. It's very good.

Vanilla is a tricky scent: it can come off as cheap, sugary, but this has a lovely kind of fresh, floral quality, and it wears well on my skin. After a bit, it settles down to almost pure vanilla. Not surprising, considering they're using good quality ingredients, and pure vanilla extract. I keep smelling my wrist and getting hungry.

Now I can't wait to try some of the other scents, like pink grapefruit (another obsession, especially when I'm in a tropical place), moringa, which is a floral, mango, and of course, my other favourite white food flavour, coconut. If only they come out with a lime version, and I'll be essentially wearing my cheesecake.


they walk amongst us

My husband and I had the privilege, yesterday morning, to attend a special press preview breakfast event: viewing the Pompeii exhibition on at the British Museum, on behalf of the British Museum shop, which is quite special, in that it's essentially non-profit: the main purpose of the shop is to raise funds for the Museum.

The exhibition itself has had such an impact on both of us. It was such a different experience from the Bowie show at the V&a, profoundly different, and it's made me realise what talent goes into putting together a show at a major museum. I urge anyone who hasn't already seen it to go, and definitely use the head phones.

You arrive and are basically walking through a large layout of a home in Pompei. One room was the most beautiful atrium like space - a kind of enclave, off the main atrium - and there were three giant frescos: beautiful paintings of birds and flowers. I think that might have been my favourite part. There's a sweet 'fresco tee shirt', which I could see wearing with printed trousers - print on print - a perfect look for spring. It's only £24.

And as you make your way around this house, you're drawn into this world, and realise these people, living in the time of Christ - yet probably, despite being Romans, blithely unaware that Christianity was about to dominate the Roman world. And despite a few technical differences - no indoor plumbing, for example - their lives, their natures, weren't all that different from our own. (And while we think mainly of Pompeii, the coastal city, Herculaneum, was even more devastated - and both cities are represented in the exhibition).

You get drawn in, and then - like watching the Titanic - you're surprised at the visceral shock you feel when it all ends so suddenly.

And yet.. people survived. A lot of people survived. Their descendants are walking amongst us. Possibly unaware that their ancestors survived.

So when I was thinking of how to illustrate my first post - and I do want to show you some of the stunning things they're selling, reproductions of the jewelry and sculptures, home items, from Pompei, as well as other areas of the museum - I thought of a trip I took, with my tribe of Italian friends, to a volcanic island called Ponza. While the Romans think of it as their Hamptons (technically, to me it's more like Fire Island, because you go there by boat), I was shocked to realise it's so close to Pompei and Herculaneum. And to think that the stunning volcanic sculptural elements that make this place such paradise, is the same force of nature that ended this world in the blink of an eye.

And then I thought of the donkey.

A few of us had hiked up and up, on an uninhabited island called Zannone, while the others stayed down on the boat, swimming. I had wished I was swimming - it was hot, and we were hiking so long in the white heat - when we reached the summit. An uninhabited ruin, on an uninhabited island.

And there was this donkey.

Luigi - our friend Guilia's husband, Eleanora's father, who went on to be the head of the EU in the Middle East - showed his diplomatic skills, by befriending the donkey.

There was something so spiritual about this living being, alone at the top of this mountain. He seemed so human. We didn't want to leave him, but we couldn't bring him with his. Perhaps he actually was God, manifest in the form of a simple donkey.

Life and Death Pompeii and Herculaneum is on at the British Museum until 29th September. Shown here - besides my photos of Ponza and Zannone - are items from the Museum Shop, like the statue of Hermes, God of Music and Travel - found at Pompeii. Made of hand-patinated bonded bronze, it is available online or of course, at the museum itself.


the boyfriend's back (redux)

I'm getting a weird kind of deja vu: I could swear I've done a post already titled 'the boyfriend's back' but that's probably only because, like any other good on/off love affair, the boyfriend has never really left us, has he?

I mean.. I think just about every year, they tell us 'the boyfriend jean is back' and we are all like, good. Because I'm just in the mood to wear my oldest, crappiest jeans, so thank you very much for giving me permission. This year, we're being told we can pair them with court shoes, bling up the top with blouses (I wish I remembered this lovely Italian photographer's name: she shoots for Grazia, among other publications, and was just so nice).

And that doesn't even count the 'Mom jeans.' Not mUM, but mOm - which, in the UK, it's been explained to us in magazines, is being ironic. They're like the boyfriend jean, but higher waisted - like the 80s. Like someone who was cool in the 80s, but is now, you know.. someone's mother.

It's almost nearly too late to post fur coat shots, but just before we enter spring good and proper here in London, I wanted to show you a juxtaposition: I shot these consecutively, minutes apart (possibly less than a minute), from the same spot. Both women facing the street, in front of the Albert Memorial, after the Burberry show. Having grown up with Pantone colours - in the pre-digital, print design world - I didn't even realise til after, and I looked closely at the shot, what these leggings were all about.

And here, for your listening pleasure, something to sing along to. Has anyone seen Baroness Thatcher's funeral? It was absolutely beautiful. Regardless of one's politics, I felt it was the most civilised, spiritual tribute to a human being, who paved the way for women. Whatever you're doing today, girls, whatever rights, career wise, you are entitled to, whatever opportunities are coming your way, chances are Margaret Thatcher busting through the glass ceiling back then.. it didn't hurt, let's put it that way.

three camels and a bit of tomato

The only time I like red is when it's tomato red, used ideally with some hot pink, and camel.

These are three of my favourite camel looks, all shot within minutes, after the Burberrys show this season. Which (if any) is your favourite?