Thursday, May 31, 2007


Sorry for the break in blogging. I had to do that thing called work. And blimey it's HOT. Hot, hot, hotter than hot. SO hot that I had to hotfoot it down to Old Navy today and buy myself three pairs of short shorts, a new denim mini and an easy breezy sundress before I put myself in danger of expiring from heat exhaustion in my denim pedal pushers. At $20 a pop, it was hardly breaking the bank and at least now I won't flash my knickers when riding my bike.

Right got to go lie down in front of a fan now.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

How to attract the boys this summer: wear blue

I used to think that wearing anything other than black marked me out as a fashion naïf. I spent my twenties shuffling around Vogue House looking like Morticia’s younger sister in a series of black shift dresses, black pencil skirts, black twin sets, LBD’s – well, you get the picture. Then as age began to take its toll, I had an epiphany: black really only suits the very young and the very old. Next to the face it drains and, frankly, given my cocktail intake, I need all the help that I can get.

Apparently black clothes make up 41% of the British woman’s wardrobe and that doesn’t surprise me: black slims, refines, hones the silhouette and it doesn’t show the dirt. (I feel for the members of the American Navy currently in Manhattan for Fleet Week. Even off duty, they have to wear their dress uniforms. I overheard an officer yesterday complaining that sitting on the subway is an activity best not indulged in white trousers)

Until a couple of years ago colour felt wrong, suburban and cheap, but then designers started playing around with florals, and brighter colours, until fast forward to this season when strong colour seemed absolutely right on the runway. The bright Yves Klein blue that Stella McCartney used looked modern and deeply covetable. And she wasn’t the only one who saw the future as blue: Osman Yousefzada, DKNY, Lanvin and Christopher Kane used a bright blue to great effect too.

Apart from my obsession with black clothing, I’ve always hated bright blue. My school summer uniform consisted of an electric blue nylon skirt and matching jumper. It was beyond hideous with my pale skin, and I swore never to wear the colour after I passed my GCSEs. Which makes it all the more astonishing that my summer wardrobe staple is a cobalt blue cotton dress (£25) from COS. Apart from being immensely flattering in colour and in cut, it acts like a veritable man magnet. I’ve never been a flicky hair, pout over the shoulder kind of girl, so men rarely throw me compliments in the street but, combined with a fake tan, this dress is like catnip for boys. I’m kicking myself for not discovering this years ago.

Top to bottom: Stella McCartney, Osman Yousefzada, DKNY

Friday, May 25, 2007

Summer shoes

I've never been a Steve Madden type of girl. The shoes always seem well, a little cheap, a little tacky. Just an inch too high, or the heel just off. Until yesterday, that is. I am obsessed by finding summer sandals that don't rub my feet: I find that the toe post in most leather flip flops rubs unbearably, and the lovely Roman style Calvin Klein sandals I had my eye on were like wearing sandpaper when I eventually tried them on. And Birkenstocks are the work of the anti-style devil. I had seen a quite sweet pair of Steve Madden ballet flats in American Vague (I'm sure they were in the mag as a sop to the executive fashion editor), so thought I might as well pop in - no stone unturned and all that. And I found these

On seeing the gold pair my first thought was ooh Marbella and the second was ah ha Essex meets Manhattan. But then I slipped a foot in and changed my mind. They actually look ok...flips flips can be very flimsy looking, too bare for the city, but these seem a little less naked. The (invisible) padded upper sole is the real selling point though - these are so stupidly comfortable that I bought the gold to wear with black, and the brown for everything else. And the real plus point? $29.99 each - a whole 15 squid each. Genius.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Soho: The Kartell Mademoiselle chair exhibition

I have been rather social of late. D & H flew in on Friday for The International Contemporary Furniture Fair ,(the NYC version of 100% Design & Salone), so we caught up over fiendishly good gin cocktails at the ludicrous bar at The Hudson Hotel, after which lovely L & I headed to The Gramercy to check out the new private rooftop bar (more of this later).

After a weekend spent at ICFF meeting designers, I dedicated Monday night to design party hopping down Greene Street in Soho with JSL, from Boffi up to B&B Italia. Of most note (that is items noted before I drank too much delicious Prosecco and my camera battery died) was the clever reworking of Philippe Starck's 2004 classic, the Mademoiselle chair for Kartell, by several Italian fashion houses including Burberry, Moschino, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino and Etro, turning a simple upholstered Perspex piece into a covetable collector's item.

We ended the evening over som tam & curry at Tai Thai on Bedford in Williamsburg in Brooklyn after drinking some lethal vodka at a busy party (filled with people dressed in the kind of hmm, ironic clothing that style commentators admire on Chloe Sevigny but actually just makes you look like your house burnt down & you had to get a last minute outfit from Cancer Research whilst your eyes were still blinded by the smoke) thrown by ID & LLadro at design store The Future Perfect,& its neighbour A&G Merch a shop filled with covetable modernist pieces at silly prices. One more cocktail & I would have been walking home over the Williamsburg Bridge with a floor light under my arm.

Chairs (Top to bottom) by Burberry, Moschino & Valentino.
Pictures by me - can't you tell?

Catching up: My life in the East Village

I’ve been a bit hit and miss on the blogging front of late. Either you get four entries in as many hours or nothing but a picture of my dog (admittedly very adorable) for days. I’ve also realised that it is a bit unfocussed: I use it as a clearing house for my industry rants, as a way of avoiding writing 25 identical emails a week to my friends & family back in London, and as a record of my life in Manhattan and elsewhere. Still, the most important thing is that it means I am writing on a regular basis which, as a freelance hack isn’t always a given. I’ve also just found my camera cable so I am adding photographs to all my old entries where the pics are relevant.

I still can’t believe I’ve been back for twenty days. I was so busy in London that I just flopped when I got back here, which is why I am now procrastinating by writing this rather than dealing with the huge pile of filing in front of me. JD is still in London and, as I can be properly lazy about leaving the apartment, I’ve also been busy trying to establish my life here, & meet as many people as possible.

Anyway, the picture above is of my building in the East Village. I have the whole of the second floor, complete with a precarious white painted, iron fire escape which acts as a balcony and has pots of chives gently blowing in the wind, It’s a perfect place to write. I just have to be careful what I wear as passers by can look straight up my skirt from the street.

Camileon adjustable heels: What will they think of next?

I was woken by a call from the BBC in London first thing this morning asking if I would go on air to talk about these shoes. (The Beeb's radio researchers are obsessed by shoes.) Made by a company called CAMiLEON (sic), their USP is a foldable heel which allows the wearer to adjust the heel height from 3 to 1 inches.

At a price point approaching $300 they are putting themselves in the firmly in the designer shoe bracket, albeit at the lower end. That's a lot of money for a hideous shoe. I'm presuming the pricing covers the R & D, rather than a good designer judging by the styles available so far. And, with the heel folded away, they all look staggeringly ugly anyway. They do seem utterly pointless: three inches is barely a heel in my or any other fashion loving woman's book - the kind of woman who would drop $300 on a pair of shoes. It's low enough to walk blocks in or run screaming into the street for a cab. It is not high enough to require a pair of flats in your bag for emergencies, therefore it's not high enough to require a patented folding heel arrangement.

If you do wish to gaze at more of these fashion freaks, they are to be found at Zappos

Lordy, better buy some sunscreen & a very large hat

The weather oracle that is the BBC weather page tells me that temperatures will reach 96F/36C on Saturday in Manhattan. Monday is Memorial Day here, one of the very few public holidays in America and the people I know are disappearing out of town for the long weekend or heading out to the Hamptons for the start of the season there. (I'm still in two minds about the whole Hamptons thing. Mostly it makes me feel tired, the thought of all that partying & social climbing. Although some proper country/beach action wouldn't go astray.)

As for me, I'll be in New York, sweltering. However TC & I have a cunning plan for Saturday. And it involves that delicious looking swimming pool & roof deck above. I don't care one little bit if some arbiter has raised an eyebrow to declare Soho House SO over. It has a pool on the roof for chrissakes. And cocktails. And the English papers. What is there not to like about this? (Hopefully most of the members will be in the Hamptons and the rest (the hipsters) will be far too busy cutting off their noses to spite their contorted-with-worry-as-they-work-out-which-new-edgy-place-they-should-be-seen-in faces to hang out there.) Now I just need to work out how to scrub off the freckly remains of my last disastrous spray tan, and find a miracle swimsuit that holds in my Chinese food baby.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Soho House to open in Los Angeles

The Soho House American invasion continues apace: in addition to the opening in June this year of Soho House Miami, it's been announced that they will be taking over the lease of Morton's in West Hollywood, home of the annual Vanity Fair Oscar party. A $5m (£2.5m) refurbishment will start at the beginning of 2008, with the club expected to open by the end of the year. Soho House have been dipping a toe in the water of the Los Angeles scene by setting up shop for the Oscars for the past couple of years and, with the recent influx of big investment money into the company, LA is the obvious next step for the film industry orientated club. Like all Soho House locations, it will doubtless be a raging success from the get go. Whether a year or so later it maintains its momentum remains to be seen - NYC hipsters moan that the New York one is so over. Although that doesn't explain why the club is packed out in the evenings, and Friday night dinner reservations are almost impossible to come by.

Nothing is quite what it seems...

Hmm. TO those of you who have commented on the butter wouldn't melt in the mouth looks of this miniature wire hired dachshund, may I please direct your attention to this picture of it willfully destroying my £20 ostrich feather duster from Labour & Wait? (She threw herself up a wall to grab it from its hook.)

Things I Miss About London. Part Two: The dog

Friday, May 18, 2007

Lily Allen looks just fine

Given the fact that I work in fashion, I try to stay away from the subject of weight. I learnt my lesson during London Fashion Week when I appeared on BBC network radio to talk about the never-ending media debate about size zero models. The BBC then quoted me on their news website, which is syndicated to thousands of other websites worldwide. Unfortunately, someone took a vital word out, which meant I was seriously misquoted globally. I still get email vilifying me for my supposed belief that overly thin models aren’t a problem.

But when musician Lily Allen posted this cri de coeur on her MySpace blog on Sunday night, it resonated.

"im on my own in america again . I used to pride myself on being strong minded and not being some stupid girl obsessed with the way I look . I felt like it didnt matter if I was a bit chubby cause , im not a model , I'm a singer . Im afraid I am not strong and have fallen victim to the evil machine . I write to you in a sea of tears from my hotel bed in Seattle , I have spent the past hour researching gastric bypass surgery , and laser lipo suction."

We all like to have opinions about people in the public eye (I was going to say celebrity, but that is a much over used word), and Lily Allen has received a lot of stick both in the press and from the public about her gobby, ballsy persona, being British actor Keith Allen’s daughter and being a normal sized woman.

Unfortunately, it would seem that it’s not just sticks and stones that break a person’s bones. I always thought that Lily’s feisty attitude would protect her from the raging sexism in the music industry that dictates that unless you are a folk singer or KD Lang, your success as a female singer will include skinniness, trowelled on make up, short skirts and provocative videos. So far, she seems to have escaped that pressure admirably, creating a strong look (normal figure, prom dresses & trainers) that suits her.

However, it’s naïve to think her image and looks wouldn’t inevitably be the subject of public scrutiny: certainly those that sup with the devil need a long spoon. The NME voted her Worst Dressed last year, an award that seems anachronistic at best, staggeringly irrelevant & sexist at worst.

This makes it even more admirable that she went ahead with the (not bad at all) Lily Loves collection at British fast fashion retailer New Look. Unfortunately, it means that she has left herself wide open to buckets of criticism of her style, rather than of her music, outside of the music press.

What kind of society do we inhabit where a girl who is a perfectly normal & average size 12 (a US8) is considered to be ‘chubby’ Of course, I work in an industry where weight is an issue. It drives me insane that since I started out buried in a fashion cupboard sorting returns ten years ago that samples have shrunk by at least two sizes. But this girl isn’t a model, (which is a whole different can of worms), she is a musician. And neither is she a Beth Ditto, making a statement about women’s weight issues. I cannot imagine what it must be like for a young woman to be the subject of such relentless pressure in the media about her image. It’s not surprising that she broke down. I hope that the thousands of messages of support on her blog help to convince her that she looks just fine the way she is.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pete Firman - The Worlds Biggest Card Trick

The charming Mr Firman dazzles again...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

London Fashion Week dates just confirmed

Finally, London Fashion Week dates for September 2007.

The confirmed dates of the forthcoming London Fashion Week, sponsored by Canon, are 15th – 20th September 2007.

The dates of The Exhibition @ London Fashion Week are 16th – 19th September 2007 which will take place at The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7.
Opening times will be 10am–6pm on the 16th – 18th and 10am–5pm on the 19th.

The Big Smoke vs The Big Apple. Part two

There’s been a helicopter circling above the East Village for the past hour or so. A guy sitting on my stoop when I got back from The Arctic Monkeys gig told me that a man had been shot three times in the stomach over on Avenue D. That’s just four blocks east of here in Alphabet City.

I’d just been thinking as I walked back from the subway about things I missed from home. The list is surprisingly short. People: my sister & the hound, my parents and my life-enhancing, fabulous friends. Food: decent butter, M&S houmus & raspberry meringues, and authentic Indian cooking. Then a few random things: Green spaces in the city, Hampstead Heath, cycle lanes that people respect, stylish & inexpensive clothes shops and a regular, wide ranging bus system I understand.

I didn’t think to add less gun crime to the list.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dorothy Perkins: Not nearly as bad as one thinks

I bought these from good old Dorothy Perkins in the sale for the grand sum of £15. Although, as I ordered them on-line, they arrived today at my sister's flat in London, and I won't get them until the end of June. That sucks. Although my wardrobe has its fair share of red soled beauties, Manolos, some lovely Rupert Sandersons and all the rest, it's fun to fill in the gaps with a few cheapies - especially when they are as chic as these. Looking through the blog, I haven't bought any shoes since the beginning of March - very restrained of me.

I've become fan of Dottie P's since last summer when I bought the same sundress in two colour ways, and then bought it again for my two best friends. Fantastic quality, really high end finish, pretty print: it would have been great value at four times the price. You do have to hunt through the rails, but there are some good pieces lurking in there. Although interestingly, the dresses we all bought were remaindered & remaindered again. Goes to show that sometimes stylish quality just doesn't sell in chain stores, however much we like to posit that Britain is in the grip of a universal taste revolution

US Harpers Bizarre

As a long term fash mag slag, I'm perfectly aware that in our populist, multi media society that the net result of running picture of (non-celeb) models on the cover of fashion magazines is a downturn in newstand sales. Apparently the reader wants a cover star they can identify with, someone whose life speaks to them. This is why Jennifer Aniston (ubiquitous, not too pretty girl next door) covers fly off the shelf, Naomi Campbell's (ex-drug taking, bolshie diva) always, always tank.

BUT WHAT THE FUCK IS US HARPERS PLAYING AT? IT'S A FASHION MAGAZINE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. I understand that magazines exist to provide a kind of social commentary, and that these girls are part of our society, like it or not. But when, when did Paris Hilton ever dress in any style other than hooker on street corner crossed with Barbie crossed with Olivia Newton John? Why should we be aspiring to the look & lifestyle of a girl with the fashion nous of a tween and a do-anything-for-money-even-though-I'm-an-heiress, venal, amoral, laws-don't-apply-to-me mentality?

Let us not forget that this is the magazine which positions itself as the magazine for "the well-dressed woman and the well-dressed mind", whose staff have included legendary fashion editors Carmel Snow, Carrie Donovan, Diana Vreeland, Anna Wintour, Liz Tilberis, art directors Fabien Baron and Alexey Brodovich, and which has commissioned photography from Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Man Ray & Richard Avedon amongst many, many other luminaries.

To it's sister publication in England, Virginia Woolf, Rose Macaulay, and Elizabeth Bowen contributed fiction; Gertrude Stein wrote about Alice B Toklas, Vita Sackville West wrote on gardening, Seigfried Sassoon contributed poetry and Evelyn Waugh extolled the pleasures of ocean cruising. And now we have Paris Hilton & Nicole Ritchie.

I despair, I really do.

Eurovision Heaven: Borat writers' next project

Oh My God. Variety has announced that the team behind Borat are making a...wait for it... EUROVISION SONG CONTEST movie.

The genius of this is so enormous that it's difficult to know where to start. Christ, the costumes alone.... Eurovision has something like 600 million people watching worldwide. This movie will be HUGE. Sod America: this is a film for the Euros. And, lest we forget musical giants including ABBA, Céline Dion and Buck's Fizz, the guiding lights of my childhood have won Eurovision. (I could do their entire dance routine with nifty skirt ripping off movement - not bad for a 9yr old)

Perhaps the script could rotate around England, France & Spain rebelling against the political block voting of the ex Eastern Bloc countries, thus righting a HUGE wrong. Ok, I know Jemini weren't really that good, but this year's entry wasn't THAT bad. (Hey, I may be in New York, but that doesn't mean I am giving up on my cultural heritage).

And, of course, there would have to be a major, major role for Terry Wogan. And his bottle of the hard stuff. ( For the Americans who are so kind as to read this blog, he is the septuagenarian Irish housewife's choice presenter who always gets progressively drunkerer as the live transmission continues.)


‘A golden age seemed to have come again’. Christian Dior, 1948
The V&A’s autumn exhibition, The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957, is set to be one of the most beautiful exhibitions in London this year. It will also host London's answer to The Met's Costume Institute Gala. It's always been surprising that the V&A didn't exploit for fundraising its truly world class fashion and costume archive in the same manner that The Met has for years.

The London Gala, chaired by Alex Shulman, editor of British Vogue, has a commitee derived from the usual fashion world suspects: magazine editors: Anna Wintour, Carine Roitfeld; designers: Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino, Donatella Versace, Comte Hubert de Givenchy; socialites: Lady Helen Taylor, Jemima Khan; entertainment: Kylie Minogue & Sienna Miller, and a few wild cards including Becca Cason Thrash, the Texan oil billionaire’s wife, whose support has no doubt been elicited to attract international fiscal support.

The exhibition itself will explore one of the most glamorous and remarkable decades in fashion history. Starting with the impact of Christian Dior’s New Look after the Second World War, it will look at the work of Dior and his contemporaries during the period when haute couture was at its height.

Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the launch of the New Look in 1947, it will examine the world of couture, highlighting the work of Dior, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Balmain in Paris and their London counterparts Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies. Other successful designers of the time - such as Fath, Griffe, Stiebel, and Michael of London - will feature in a broad survey of the decade.

More than 100 dresses will be on display alongside photographs by Cecil Beaton and Richard Avedon and original Hollywood and documentary film. More than 95 per cent of the dresses are from the V&A’s own fashion collections. A section will focus on handcraft and techniques, with undergarments and the insides of dresses on display.

The exhibition will finish with a small selection of pieces of contemporary haute couture taken from the Autumn/Winter 2005/06 collection of designer John Galliano for Christian Dior in Paris.

The exhibition runs from 22 September 2007 – 6 January 2008

Dress by Balenciaga. Dress by Givenchy.
Both dresses from the V&A archive. Images reproduced from the V&A.

Monday, May 14, 2007

More nuptial bliss

Arctic Monkeys arrive in Manhattan

Off to see The Arctic Monkeys tomorrow at the Hammerstein Ballroom. It's completely sold out and there's a lot of buzz about them in Manhattan. Altho, like The Kaiser Chiefs, I suspect that it will be ramma with the English.

You read it here first!!

Just a little bit of personal flag waving: The Sunday Times and then WGSN today ran a piece on Sir Philip Green confirming TopShop's move to the US.... which I ran early last week.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Casa Mono: A perfect take on modern tapas in New York

After a pah! at the Gordon Matta-Clark retrospective at the Whitney, H & I trundled over to Gramercy to find a place to eat before The Kooks. Having rejected Pete's Tavern and its serving platter size plates of fried food, we took a cancelled reservation at Casa Mono, owned by Mario Batali, & billed as a modern tapas restaurant. The tiny space, with tables & chairs rammed up against each other speaks of an operation which care more about revenue than an eater's comfort.

Still pleasant, rapid service always helps, and the menu reads well. H ordered fried sardines, & we shared utterly scrumptious steamed asparagus with fried shitake & a truffle butter reduction, a new take on patatas bravas with chilli spiked oil and spring onions, very good bread and olives, and clever tiny croquetas of pumpkin with a melted goats cheese centre, which could have done with a shot of chilli, tomato or perhaps something citrus-y.

The wine list is comprehensive & wholly Spanish, but seems designed, like the space, to squeeze the diner. There are no wines available by the glass, bar cava & sherry, although a few wines can be ordered in cuartos, baby carafes which are about a couple of glasses. Was also somewhat surprised to discover bottles of Manzanilla & Amontillado on the list. Who in their right mind orders an entire bottle of sherry?

My current theory is that tapas are wholly unsuited to the American belief that restaurant food must be served in ginormous portions. Casa Mono gets around this problem by calling the dishes tapas, but actually serving raciones, the larger plates of food desgned to be shared by a group of people, and priced accordingly.

In a way, it's a shame, because the combination of portion size and high pricing restricts a thorough roam around the menu. Still, as I generally want to eat my way through most menus, I applaud any restaurant where I can eat more than two dishes in any one sitting without doing a Mr Creosote. Jason Atherton at Maze and Gordon Ramsey's The London Bar at The London Hotel in Manhattan (spot the connection) are speaheading this grazing approach to fine dining, and I wholly approve.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Met's Costume Institute Benefit Gala - Christopher Kane & Givenchy

I've avoided commenting on The Met's Costume Ball as I am sure any fashion minded person is thoroughly sick of the pics by now. However, whilst I was on the 'phone last night, I did scroll through the 156, yes you read that right, 156 pics on to see what all the non A list were wearing too, and the two following pics struck me as worthy of comment.

First up: Christopher Kane's work partner & sister Tammy, looking utterly splendid in Christopher Kane AW07. And proving that you don't need to be a teeny tiny stick to wear his designs, just sexy, grown up and glamorous.

And then this:

I've been thinking hard how best to describe this. A classic case of the dress wearing her, rather than the other way around. It's reminiscent of my grandmother's old loo roll cover, but then there's also a hint of those ruched curtains that everyone had back in the '80's. Most of all it reminds me of those balls of fur around a shaved French poodle's legs.

The woman wearing this Givenchy Haute Couture frock is a celebutard* called Fabiola Beracasa who is known here in NY for being rich and social. Beyond that I have failed to discover a reason for her existence. I am at a loss as to why Givenchy could have possibly thought putting this dress on a woman who is not the shape for which it was designed was a good idea. I am sure she could have looked charming in something a little less frou frou. Bottom line: this is a runway look, designed to show off the talent of both the designer & les petits mains, not a real life look. It was borderline ludicrous on Natasha Poly (see below), it does not work on Fabiola who, bless her, will not be gracing a runway any time soon (unless at some celebutard benefit).

* Celebutard: Celebrity/debutante=celebritante. Celebrity/debutante/very stupid person = celebutard

Photos via

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Radioactive me

Goodness gracious me. I am orange. Furnished & burnished by EZ Tan's sun. I bloody well hope the bronzer part of my spray tan washes off tomorrow else I'll be glowing like Cat Deeley. I am off to see The Kooks in the evening with H. Am jumping up & down and emitting small squeaks of excitement in anticipation. About The Kooks, that is, not lovely H. Altho it's always extremely nice to see him too. I shall be bereft when he returns to London on Saturday morning. It's difficult to find male kindred spirits, especially in a strange city where one never really knows whether men are trying to get into your knickers, or just being nice....

A question about dating etiquette in New York

If, when pottering around the food porn merchant that is my local Whole Foods emporium on Houston, happily plugged into my iPod and dancing a little bit to The Jesus & Mary Chain when I get carried away by the bass line, a rather attractive man comes up to me and initiates conversation, does this mean he is trying to pick me up? Or is it because he really WAS offended that I was surreptitiously sampling my way through the 50 or so salads on offer? I was so embarrassed that my surreptitiousness wasn't surreptitious at all that I mumbled something & legged it. Honestly I do think that it would be so much easier if men just asked you for your number instead of, I think, trying to be all cute about it.

Target signs Temperley for new line

Is it just me or does this seem like a somewhat bizarre pairing? I know it's not exactly a secret that Alice Temperley's husband and CEO Lars von Bennigsen will be satisfied with nothing less than world domination for the brand, but is Target really the way to go? For a label whose reputation is built on textiles, beading and intricate embroidery rather than cut or tailoring - whether or not Alice likes that reputation, how can they produce mass market pieces without compromising the inherent Temperley ethos?

Of course it’s easy to argue against Temperley, a brand that causes much sniffiness in fashion circles, with Colin McDowell being famously dismissive of it as not being fashion, but perhaps Middle America will appreciate pretty dresses and tops more than the directional vision of Proenza Schouler, Target’s last designer signing.

Still from a world domination point of view, it feels like the brand is trying to run before it can walk in America. Proenza Schouler may be a younger label than Temperley but they already have a strong media presence in the US, and it certainly helps being protégés of La Wintour. Temperley, although they had high hopes of some stellar names on the red carpets during awards season, didn't live up to expectation in that arena, and it could be argued that they need a higher profile to build upon before they attempt collaboration with a behemoth like Target.

The departure, after not much more than a year, of Elaine Sullivan, previously at Gucci and brought in as a star signing to guide the global expansion of Temperley, to head up the new London offices of Roger Vivier and Tods raised eyebrows in the industry, and suggests that there is not total agreement as to the direction in which the brand should move.

TopShop - Sir Philip Green confirms permanent presence in US

“We are one hundred percent coming to America. It’s not if but when,” Sir Phillip Green told me Tuesday night. Rumour has been rife concerning a possible TopShop opening in the US, with some commentators speculating that the Kate Moss collection collaboration with upscale department store Barneys signalled the end of parent company Arcadia’s independent US expansion plans. Not so, said Sir Phillip, when I asked him, “In fact we were looking at sites today.”

It has always been presumed by business commentators that TopShop would be unlikely to open first in New York, as the city is not thought to be reflective of retail trends in America as a whole. This would make it difficult for a Manhattan TopShop store to provide a reliable barometer for the success of the brand elsewhere in the country. Prior to the launch with Barneys, the only places to buy TopShop in America have been at Opening Ceremony in Downtown Manhattan & in LA, which stocks a very small range in its upstairs gallery.

And that is my very last word on TopShop for quite some time.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Rant du jour - The TopShop Press Office

Up their own arses beyond belief. It’s TopShop for Christ’s sake, not Balenciaga. I emailed different people at the office four times, and called seven times over two days to get ONE lousy press release, which never appeared. And this problem is not germane to the Kate Moss collection, it's always been like this.

I suppose one could grudgingly admire their across-the-board incompetence crossed with a certain fuck off insouciance (ignoring both the poor interns toiling at the coal face of the fashion cupboard AND editors), but personallyI do expect a little help to enable me to do my job accurately & professionally. (When I'm speaking on the BBC World Service to over 25 million people, I want to know that I've got my facts right.)

Needless to say I was invited by the lovely people at Barneys to the Kate Moss party last night. I doubt the UK Topshop press office even note which journalists file to the UK from abroad. That would be FAR too intelligent a concept for their tiny little minds to process.*

It really gets my goat that the British fashion press are so scared of losing their TopShop 250 cards (40% press discount) that they hardly ever criticise ToSho in print. Sure, TopShop can be good, brilliant even, but it’s not consistently so, as the Kate Moss collection neatly encapsulates, so the press office might like to consider keeping the press onside by being efficient rather than by bribing them.

* Nov 07 ADDENDUM: Unlike the UK Banana Republic Press Office who do exactly that, for example.

Chickpea, red onion, chili & avocado salad - A delicious summer lunch

I am obsessed with this salad that I made yesterday from the contents of my fridge, & inspired by something similar that Miss P made me on my trip to London. I think it's the perfect summer lunch: the parsley makes it smell as good as it tastes, & the Tabasco adds a hefty kick to the metabolism. It's also good with some goat's cheese crumbled through it.

Put the following ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands - it feels so much more satisfying.
Half a can of organic unsalted chickpeas.
(Soak dried ones 24hrs ahead by all means but I'm a fan of the here & now)
large handful cherry tomatoes, halved, make sure the juices don't escape
handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
half a red onion minced
Juice of one lime
glug of olive oil - I like Greek, for its peppery green-ness
very good shake of Tabasco
Maldon salt & fresh ground black pepper

Eat (it all) with pitta.

Kate Moss TopShop collection launch party at Barneys New York. Yawn

To Barneys last night for the launch of Kate Moss' thoroughly unexciting TopShop collection in the US. The pocket sized model turned up - on time - looking decidedly low key in a city where grooming is a given not an option. After the blonde 30's vamp of the Oxford Circus store, this time we got a scraped back knot (they aren't called Croydon face lifts for nothing), a blousy off the shoulder print smock dress cinched with a black belt, accessorized with a yellow clutch and rather unappealing zebra print ankle strap heels. If she was trying to convince New Yorkers that she was stylish, this so wasn’t the way to go.

Even though Mairead and Tabitha from the Queens of Noize did their best to get the room moving (their fave track of the evening: the Headman remix of Virginia Plain by Roxy Music), the party, to be honest, was less of a knees up, and more of a press feeding frenzy. The list had been kept super tight, which in reality always means a half empty room. La Moss and Sir Philip (with a protective arm twined around her waist), circled the room for 45 minutes chatting with reporters & TV crews, whilst everyone stood, gawped & snaffled the truffle, caviar and smoked salmon canapés.

Interestingly, bugger all A list turned up. Suzy Menkes told me that in her opinion the Yanks see Kate as a latter day Marianne Faithful, a rock chick rather than as the cultural & style icon that she is perceived to be in England. I bumped into Naomi Campbell getting into the lift on the way out in some truly bizarre ballerina get up; her habits haven't changed with age - she was arriving as everyone else was leaving, Kate having left the main room 40 minutes before. Christopher Kane was on excellent form, especially after having spotted the excellent forms of the extremely hot waiters. Sister Tammy wore his designs as normal and looked ineffably chic, whilst Agnyess Deyn jumped around in a Kane frock in a corner with the Queens of Noize (looking they were having their own private party).

Apart from that I spotted Jonathan Newhouse lurking on his own looking saturnine, Hilary Alexander looking more and more like Mrs Tiggywinkle each day and um, well, that was about it. Oh and Harvey Weinstein & girlfriend Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman. Yawn.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Death of a fashion maverick: Isabella Blow


A friend in London has written to tell me that the influential stylist Isabella Blow died this morning. A spokesman says it was cancer. One of London’s true fashion eccentrics, she was part of a select crew of fashion’s grande dames: Anna Piaggi, Suzy Menkes and Hilary Alexander. Issy had her own unique style which caused heads to turn whether she was entering a tent for the shows, attending a product launch or just going through the revolving doors at Vogue House.

Frequently captured in the press wearing truly extraordinary Philip Treacy hats: a face covering mantilla, a Spanish galleon with full rigging & a lobster were amongst the most notable. With her hats perched upon her severe black Louise Brooks bob, along with a kabuki white face, and a slash of red lipstick her beauty was jolie laide, never pretty.

Most recently fashion director of Tatler, she had resigned following a series of depressive episodes in the wake of her separation from and reconciliation with her husband, art dealer Detmar Blow, and a serious accident resulting in damage to her legs, which had meant she could never wear heels again. She was a contributing fashion editor to the title at the time of her death.

Born Isabella Delves-Broughton in 1958, her first major job in fashion came about when she was introduced to Anna Wintour by Bryan Ferry in 1981. Becoming Anna’s assistant, and working with Andre Leon Talley on fashion shoots, she went onto assist Michael Roberts at Tatler in London where she eventually become Style Editor. After four years as Fashion Director of The Sunday Times, she returned to Tatler.

Her two defining relationships in the industry were with Alexander McQueen, who she discovered, and with Philip Treacy. Upon attending McQueen’s graduation show St Martin’s in London, she approached him to buy his entire graduate collection, which he sold to her for £5000, and which she paid off in monthly instalments for years. Probably the best advertisement for Phillip Treacy’s glorious hats, their fruitful collaboration resulted in an exhibition at the Design Museum in 2002, When Phillip Met Isabella, and an accompanying coffee table book.

She was responsible for discovering the models Sophie Dahl, Honor Fraser and her cousin Stella Tennant: all of whom were posh, beautiful, quintessentially English girls, not unlike Isabella herself.

Impossible to miss, sometimes impossible to work with, Issy’s was a throwback to an era where fashion in the twentieth century was guided by maverick aristocratic Englishwomen.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Met's Costume Institute Benefit Gala

Oh my goodness. Take your sunglasses if you are one of the lucky few to have stumped up £100k for a table or are a designer/model/actress in La Wintour's pocket. The American wing of The Met is closed whilst they decorate the large hall for Monday's party. We peeked through the windows to see the most horrific neon/black/primary splashy/squiggly hangings being prepped: kind of like the bastard art love children of African/Tribal & Keith Haring. Added to which the centre of the hall has what looks like raised squares edged with troughs of pale pink rose bushes. Nice combo. A colour blind interior designer perchance?

The gala may be celebrating the opening of the Paul Poiret exhibit and, as any fule kno, Poiret was known for introducing the vivid colors of the Fauvists and the exotic references of the Ballets Russes to the haute couture but, really, these hangings are VILE. Less of an homage and more of an insult, I'd say.

A perfect day

Today I shall mostly be eating & sleeping. Since I left for London on the 17th April I haven't had a moment of downtime, bar sitting in Heathrow waiting for my delayed flight. (I don't count flying as downtime, because sitting in goat with my knees around my ears for seven hours is not a relaxing experience, especially when you have a fat man hogging the arm rest, and letting his blubber encroach on my seat.)

J the ebullient actor is staying here in JD's room 'till Monday evening, so I've scrubbed the apt, bought flowers (all the flower stands are full of fresh lilac for $6 a bunch) and generally tried not to scatter my possessions around the place.

H & I had a quintessential NY day yesterday in the 22C sunshine: a stroll through the East Village, brunch & Bloody Marys at Life Café in Alphabet City, a spot of bike shopping in the flea market on East 11th, and then up to the UES for culture. The Cooper Hewitt, again for me, then three hours in the Met, roaming through four millennia. Plus a detour to see the Frank Stella scupltures perched on the Met's Roof Garden. One of my new favourite places: 360 views over Central Park and Manhattan, plus the acme of civilisation - a daytime martini bar. Genius.

Cocktails at The Bowery Hotel (not as hip as it would like to be) and yakitori & Japanese tapas at Village Yokocho on Stuyvesant St in the East Village just about finished me off. Poor H: I was so thoroughly tired by this point that I clung onto his arm for support as he walked me home. Hopefully I will have revived and be able to function by the time we meet for supper at The Lovely Day this evening.

Picture: The view over Central Park from the Metropolitan Museum's Rooftop bar

Saturday, May 05, 2007

To the Soho Grand for cocktails with H. The bartender makes a mean passionfruit Cosmo in a glass big enough to hold a couple of goldfish. H was in fine form, especially after a very large Manhattan. We meandered over to the Lower East Side to drink beer in The Magician and then to Schiller's for red wine, frites and the rest.

This morning my right elbow is causing me considerable pain - I can't lift my arm high enough to brush my hair. Tomorrow I am buying a new bike with better brakes and possibly some gears too. As for today, I think I might museum hop with H, altho I am knackered with jet lag, having awoken at 6am, and starving hungry. I need to find a proper diner ratehr than just legging it to The Bean on 1st (think Central Perk without the wankers).

Friday, May 04, 2007

Ouch! &*@#*£$

I fell off my bike on E13th, just past Strand Books. Fuck. My elbow hurts. Potholes - four in a row, unavoidable - I swerved all over the place before finally keeling over and falling with my dress rucked up around my waist. My purple lace knickers must have been quite a sight to the six (very) cute construction workers who rushed over to rescue me. Don't tell my mother.

Meanwhile, back in the East Village...

I'm home! And it really feels like home. London is my place, my mother ship, but Manhattan is where I live for now. It's 22c outside, my friend H is flying in tonight & taking me out for dinner, & I'm off on my bike to get my nails painted and my skin spray tanned.

J is staying in JD's room in the apt all week, so it's not too lonely without her - she's stayed in London as she is flying off to LA tomorrow to shoot a famous model/singer/designer for the cover of an English mag. In fact, she's away all month, so if anyone knows anyone else who'd like to keep me company over here for May let me know....

I found an invitation to the Kate Moss party at Barney's on Tuesday in my mail box last night, which should be...interesting....

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

!!!!Breaking fashion news!!! Luella to show in London

Ok - I know that this means absolutely bugger all to the 99.9% of you who don't work in fashion but, to those of us who have a vested interest in London's waning position on the world fashion map, it can only be a good thing when one of London's fashion diaspora returns to the mother ship.

Luella started showing in London: her debut fashion week show ‘Daddy, Who Were the Clash?’ was part of LFW February 2000. The next year, in September 01, she moved the show to New York Fashion Week and has continued to showe there.

Of course Club 21 (her London-based distributor, owned by Mrs Ong) isn't just showing the Luella spring/summer 2008 collection at London Fashion Week for purely philanthropic reasons. Oh no, it's because Luella will open the world’s first standalone Luella store at 25 Brook Street, London W1 this winter, a la Marc.

It would also explain why the lovely Miss Diane Crook recently upsticked from Miu Miu to head up the Luella London press office - after all, Luella has hardly been big on the editorial radar of late.