Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New York recuperation

One of the most blissful things about living in Manhattan is the extreme cheapness of beauty treatments here. It's pretty difficult to find a pedicure for less than £20/$40 in Zones 1 & 2 in London, & I didn't start getting pedis in London until I was given a 50% off card by the (oh the irony) New York Nail Company. Now I can get a mani & pedi for £11/$22 a throw plus tip. Mind you they don't last for ever, but given the amount of travelling, typing & cooking I do, even the poshest job in the world isn't going to last long.

But, most blissful of all, (apart from the $10/£5 minute back rubs they give you whilst your nails dry) are the Chinese Tui Na manipulative massages on offer in little stores on every block for about $25/£13 for half an hour. There's one next door to my brownstone, and I've just been to try to get rid of the crick in my neck from flying. The large room is split into cubicles in the manner of an English A&E (ER Room), using just cotton sheets. Each cubicle has a massage bed, a towel and a price list. If you want a pampering experience I'd give these places a miss, but all I really care about is how hard someone can stick their fingers into the knots in my neck.

It's pointless arriving in anything more than a braless sundress and a pair of knickers and, frankly, I don't know why I ever bother with picking out a presentable pair of lace ones, as the moment I lie down, she grabs the waistband and yanks them down to below my buttocks. Today she then proceeded to attack my stressed out neck & back, at one stage jamming her elbows into one particularly hard knot, and then climbing onto the table, kneeling between my legs and doing what felt like ironing my spine with her hands. My gluteus maximus haven't seen so much attention since I last got laid.

I feel fabulous, if a little dozy (I've been awake & up since 5.30am because of the Ny-Lon time difference, hence all the blog postings). God only knows how I will get through dinner tonight. I'll be face down in my supper by 9pm, I suspect.

Lipstick Queen

In the mid-1990's boutique make-up brands were all the range. When I first started at Vogue House as a very junior, junior, the hip girls were all wearing nail varnish that looked like pastel Tippex from Urban Decay, and every month it seemed like another cool brand with a must-have product was launched. Inevitably nearly all of them ended up being bought by the big luxury conglomerates that recognised that the new niche brands were stealing their thunder.

One of my favourites was always Poppy, a capsule collection of the perfect red lipsticks for any complexion, formulated by a twenty something Australian called Poppy King, stocked by SpaceNK, & which I shot for my beauty pages at every available opportunity.

Eventually she too got snapped up, and went off to Estée Lauder to work in development there. But now she’s back with Lipstick Queen, which launches exclusively in UK Space NK stores and online in the UK from August 3. (It's already available in Barneys in the US). The range was designed to offer rich lipsticks reminiscent of the 1940s and includes two formulations: Saints, a sheer formula with a hint of colour, and Sinners, an opaque formula with a creamy, matte finish.

It’s perfect timing as the strong lip is key for AW, and already this summer a bright colour looks perfect. I can’t wear red lipstick, so I’ve been wearing an almost neon pink, Revlon’s Love That Pink - a last-minute drugstore buy before a date with S. Before that I religiously wore Red Earth’s Lip Lacquer in Fuchsia which is fabulous, one of the best lip products in the best colours ever, but unfortunately no longer sold in Europe or America.

Oh for goodness sake....

Vanity Fair has put Victoria Beckham on its best-dressed list. ARE THEY INSANE? She has absolutely no imagination or style, and dresses like a German fashion editor most of the time (that is she obviously points to a complete runway look and then wears it head to toe). And what about the fact that many designers refuse point blank to dress her, for fear of devaluing their brand? ( Obviously Chanel is the notable exception but, as I have noted before, Karl Lagerfeld would dress Princess Fiona if he thought she would get him some media exposure.)


WGSN reports today that Stella McCartney is set to design a line of high end lingerie for Bendon, the company that licenses Elle Macpherson Intimates.

"Lingerie is an obsession of mine," McCartney said. "I've been inspired by it for years, and ever since my degree collection at [London fashion college] St Martins, I've used it in my work. This is a natural progression for me."

The lingerie collection will have an emphasis on "naturally sexy, confident and modern designs," the company said. It will come in silk, organic cottons and georgette silk chiffons in a signature Stella McCartney palette of soft shades of vintage pink, cream, blue and pearl grey.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Hello East Village

Back in Manhattan after a tortuous journey. I may have had the aggravating know-it-all world traveller on the way to London, but he was trumped by the 250lb sweating, nervous flyer wedged in the centre seat next to me on the way back. My bag was almost last off the carousel, cabs were in short supply and, oof, I'm just glad to be home. And I'm embracing the heat. Frankly, after wet, chilly, dull London, hot & humid is A Good Thing.

Feeling more than a little embarrassed about my emotional flip out on Saturday. I suspect that my ex-bofriend's snake-like behaviour last year affected me more deeply than I had realised. It's chastening to realise that there is more of my mother in me than I had suspected: her emotional upsets are usually triggered by behaviour that connects to something bad that happened a good while ago, regardless if there is a valid reason in the present for flipping or no.

And there I was thinking I was relatively uncomplicated because I very, very rarely flip. Tantrums are so boring. I have no idea how men put up with girls who throw paddys all the times. Oh well. Regardless, my self-esteem is still bruised & battered from the weekend's revelations. Perhaps I'll feel better after a good night's sleep.

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows isn't half bad

I read the latest Harry Potter installment last weekend in-between writing emails, travelling to Bristol & attending a wedding and thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes, I am happy to admit that I am an adult & I read the Harry Potter novels.

Because what’s there not to like about escapist literature, especially when it grips the reader so successfully? Neatly plotted, the narrative curve has maintained momentum through all seven novels, flagging only slightly in the over-long sixth Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince. In Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Rowling ties up all the loose ends from the previous novels, often going back to characters mentioned only briefly in preceding volumes to drive the narrative forward, and notching up an impressive death count amongst all inhabitants, human & otherwise of her magical world.

Moving away from the familiar boarding school year format, The Deathly Hallows takes the format of a grail quest outside the confines of Hogwarts school for wizards, revealing Rowling’s thorough knowledge of the mythology of the ancient civilisations, from the Viking sagas to Greek tragedy. Although the themes of The Deathly Hallows revolve around death, despair and depression, the novel moves at a cracking pace & it’s impossible to read this, the seventh and final story, without being moved by the fates of characters whose progress we have followed through the six previous novels. Rowling’s light, unencumbered style and easy dialogue has made of all her Harry Potter novels blinding good reads, although her sloppy grammar and over use of adverbs tends to rankle on subsequent readings.

Memory tricks

I've been at my London flat clearing out my desk so that my tenants can use it (I've decided to stay in New York for the foreseeable future, apt & dating fuck-ups not withstanding). I found a huge pile of computer CDs, and T's 2003 wedding album was amongst them. I was absolutely astonished to find that, in the only picture of me, I am waving a cigarette about. In my memory I only smoked occasionally, usually in bars & clubs, certainly never outside, and certainly not in wedding pictures. Strange how your memory can play tricks on you. (I do love my Vanessa Bruno dress, Manolos & grandmother's vintage necklace tho).

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Facebook is great

I love my lovely friends. One tiny mention that I am being profoundly miserable on Facebook, and my inbox is swamped with cheering messages, drinking suggestions & offers of blind dates. I feel I shld point out that I am declining all offers of cheering me up dates for the near, and quite possibly distant, future. Being essentially unable to flit from man to man, I can't think of anything I want to do less for quite some time (but thank you anyway, I'm sure your colleagues/cousins/friends are charming).

If however, anyone has a) a handy flatshare, or a two bed sublet in the East Village available from September 01, or b) would like to give me lots of chocolate, then that is quite another matter: do, please, point me in its direction.

Sunday blues

I'm home alone today. My sister is in Cambridge with the rat dog, (bliss to have an uninterrupted night's sleep with no dog jumping on my head at 6am). Can't say I feel particularly chirpy, not exactly ecstatic that instead of seeing S tonight, I'll be eating leftovers in London.

However I've managed to lose 4lbs this week from running around appointments like a mad thing, not eating anything yesterday & biking everywhere. It did make me realise properly tho that for all my walking everywhere in Manhattan, I am not taking enough proper exercise. I need to buy a new bike too.

There is a pool in Brooklyn, floating on the East River like the ones on the Seine in Paris, and in Berlin, so I think I shall try to swim there from now on. After all I need to christen the heavenly bespoke swimsuit that Industry PR arranged recently for me to have made by the fab people atGingers Island. More to the point, it actually contains my, um, generous, bosom, and doesn't make me look like my cup spilleth over.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

ho hum

Today was a total wash-out. I've been feeling pretty down since Wednesday when I discovered that I needed another operation under a general anaesthetic back in London in the Autumn for a chronic problem, rather than acute, but very painful, invasive and, frankly, inconvenient seeing as how I live in New York now.

Added to which were my Manhattan housing woes, and a very distressing email correspondence with S today, who took great exception to my blog entry about our not-really-a-relationship. But as he has not engaged with or replied to any of my thoughts on the matter, either in my first email to him or in the blog entry, satisfying himself merely by telling me I was presenting a false view of the situation, filled with erroneous deductions & claiming (wrongly) that I continually dated other people for the duration of our relationship, I cannot pretend that I am presenting anything other than my own thoughts. I have changed the entry slightly on re-reading to present a more balanced view, something I am loathe to do as a rule, but being venomous never helps anyone...

I've changed my flight back to Manhattan as I obviously won't be having supper with him tomorrow evening now, and I need to complete all the admin that I should have been doing today instead of which I was snuffling into a damp hankie. Fucking hell. Why does everything have to go wrong at the same time?

It never rains...

Just when I was super excited to return to Manhattan tomorrow, to my East Village home and to see the very nice American guy with whom I've been involved, my world over there comes crashing down around my feet. I woke this morning, turned on my PC before hopping to the bathroom, and when I came back saw a raft of emails. (Thank you Blog commentators: it's lovely when you engage with what I write).

My New York landlord had written, giving me a scant month's notice on my splendid East Village apartment, so I am homeless as of 26 August. And, even, better on the
feeling sorry for myself front, the American thought he'd better to write to tell me that he was still not over his ex-girlfriend. But that, if it was all right, he'd like to continue seeing me as, "I've been having a wonderful time with you". Mmm. I just love a good poisoned chalice.

But if my last, hideous relationship taught me anything at all, it was to have some self-respect. When someone says quite bluntly after a short time together that they will only be able to offer you so much, even though they love being with you, because they are not over their previous relationship it changes everything. I don't want to be second-best, the consolation prize keeping him on an even keel whilst he's dealing with the fallout of his last relationship. .

I do appreciate that he has told me this now, before I got too involved but I think it would have been easier if he had just said he wanted to stop seeing me, rather than offering me half a relationship. (Although, to be fair, he did point out that he had no idea what I wanted, that is perhaps I didn't want much more). Thing is, even in a short term thing, frankly one wants all the other's attention. Knowing that your lover's mind is on a previous relationship is harder to deal with than, say, mere incompatibility.

And I just can't escape the nagging feeling that, if I had said I wanted to carry on seeing him, by making his admission about his ex he'd played the perfect Get Out of Jail Free card, neatly abrogating any responsibilty for any future lack of emotional connectedness towards me because he had been 'honest' in the past about still not being over someone else. This whilst enjoying all the plus points of being in what is, to all extents & purposes, a grown-up relationship: regular sex, commitment, empathy, an on-call therapist, company, adventures, the feeling of being wanted etc etc etc.

I don't think it is fair to take and to enjoy all those things that go to make a great relationship if you aren't able to give them all yourself, regardless of the projected duration of said relationship.

And now my eyes & nose are still all pink like a bunny's and I still don't know what to do with myself at all. I've run out of tissues too. Gah.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Peter Som appointed at Bill Blass

Wonderful Peter Som had been appointed Creative Director, Women's Division at Bill Blass. I'm a huge fan of him & his fab team as readers of this blog will already know. But whilst I am thrilled for him, Blass is only stocked in the US, and so the shows don't really receive coverage in the European press. So, he'll gain valuable experience, and a nice pay packet to help his House along, but it won't do much to raise his international profile outside of the industry.

Schedule published for London Fashion Week SS08

Blimey. The BFC (British Fashion Council)has really pulled its finger out for once. A schedule in July? Bimey wonders will never cease. Notables include a tribute to Isabella Blow on Tueasday 18th, and the BFC actually looking at the venues and arranging them (almost) in a geographically sensible order for the first time in the 20 seasons or so that I have been covering the shows.

Provisional Show Schedule as at 26th July 2007
Saturday 15th September
9.30 Paul Costelloe BFC Tent
10.30 Gavin Douglas SW3
11.45 Caroline CharlesBFC Tent
14.00 Ben de Lisi BFC Tent
15.45 Bora Aksu BFC Tent
17.00 Ashley Isham WC2
19.30 Issa SW3
Sunday 16th September
9.30 PPQ BFC Tent
10.45 Armand Basi W2
12.00 Louise Goldin* TS/ SE1
12.00 Danielle Scutt* TS/ SE1
13.15 Amanda Wakeley BFC Tent
18.15 Unconditional BFC Tent
14.30 Peter Jensen TS/ SE1
15.45 Gareth Pugh* BFC
17.00 Todd Lynn* TS/ SE1
18.15 Eley Kishimoto BFC Te
19.30 Julien Macdonald W1

Monday 17th September
9.30 Marios Schwab* TS/ SE1
10.45 Luella W1
12.00 Jasper Conran BFC Tent
13.15 Margaret Howell W1
14.30 Christopher Kane* TS/ SE1
15.45 John Rocha BFC Tent
17.00 Basso & Brooke W11
18.15 Jonathan Saunders venue tbc
19.30 Ann-Sofie Back TS/ SE1

Tuesday 18th September
9.30 Duro Olowu* W2
10.30 Paul Smith Women SW1
12.00 Isabella Blow tribute SW1
13.30 Nicole Farhi WC21
14.45 Jens Laugesen** BFC Tent
16.00 Sinha Stanic** venue tbc
17.15 Erdem W11
18.30 Clare Tough BFC Tent

Wednesday 19th September
9.30 Betty Jackson BFC Tent
10.30 Roksanda Ilincic W1
11.45 Matthew Williamson SW1
12.45 Ashish BFC Tent
13.45 Aquascutum SW7
15.00 Rodnik EC1
16.15 Richard Nicoll**WC1
17.30 Fashion East E1
18.30 Nathan Jenden E1
19.30 Giles E1

Thursday 20th September
9.30 Osman Yousefzada TBC
10.30 Asprey W1
14.45 Modernist BFC Tent
11.45 Antoni & Alison venue tbc
13.00 Fashion Fringe SW3/WC2
14.45 Modernist BFC Tent
16.00 MAN WC2
17.15 Biba W1
18.30 Allegra Hicks W1
19.45 adidas by Stella McCartney W11

The BFC Tent is situated at the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7
"TS venue = Topshop New Gen venue, location SE1"
Mulberry will be doing presentations on: Wed 19th and Thurs 20th

* New Generation sponsored by Topshop
"Fashion East show includes: House of Holland, Louise Gray, Noki"
** Fashion Forward in association with Westfield London
MAN includes KJ by Kim Jones, Aitor Throup, Cassette Playa"

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Random stuff

1) The last time I bought anything from Oasis was in Summer 1999, when lots of us girls in Vogue House bought these cool stretch shirtdresses in forest green and in black. And all my girlfriends and my sister bought one too once I'd marched them down to Oxford Street. I haven't seen anything in the intervening 7 years that I'd bother with but, having seen their AW07 collection, I can safely say that Oasis is back on form. The coats! The dresses!

2)There is nothing like walking into the chippie and saying "Bag a chips, open please." Yum. Now I don't have to do it for another year.

3)The dachshund now has its own Facebook page, courtesy of my sister.

4)According to The Evening Standard, TopShop has been ordered to pay £12 000 compensation for copying a Chloé yellow dungaree dress. It has also had to shred all the copies. About bloody time too. I am getting a bit sick of rifling through the High Street rails, saying to myself, "Temperley" (Principles), "Marc"(Hennes), etc etc etc. 'Inspired by' is one thing. Blatant rip-off quite another.

5) Taxis in London: £15 to the Angel from Bond Street! Bloody Hell. Tea at Claridges: £11.55 for a pot of Earl Grey for two! Thank Christ for an expense account.

6) Clare Waight Kellor: possibly the most intelligent, switched on fashion designer I've had the pleasure of interviewing.

7) Indian takeaways in London are spectacularly good. New York ones are fit for the bin and nothing else. (Although I'm desperate to be persuaded otherwise).

8) Men in New York are much sexier.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Finalists announced for CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund 2007

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has announced the 10 finalists of its CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund 2007:
Phillip Lim for 3.1 Phillip Lim
Scott Sternberg for Band of Outsiders
Erin Fetherston for Fetherston Design Group
Nunthirat Koi Suwannagate for Koi
Michael Bastian for Michael Bastian
Philip Crangi for Philip Crangi Jewellery
Rogan Gregory for Rogan
Gabriel AsFour, Angela Donhauser and Adi Gil for Threeasfour
Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai for Vena Cava
Victoria Bartlett for VPL.

Image: Anouck Lepere in AW07 3.1 Phillip Lim. style.com

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

European Gap vs US Gap

After two appointments yesterday morning wearing a pair of grey skinny jeans unearthed from my emergency clothes store in my garage in an attempt to find something warm to wear, I couldn't stand seeing my ham shaped thighs reflected back at me one more time. Desperate for a solution, I ran into Gap - and emerged in the till queue in a royal blue, V neck, quasi-fitted sweater dress. Bang on trend for next season, and supremely flattering to most body shapes, none of the PRs I met during the rest of the day could believe that it was Gap, even given its better reputation over here in London.

It's no secret that European Gap has a completely separate design team to cater for the more fashion forward UK & French mass market, but it's not until I popped into the Oxford Street flagship store yesterday for a quick catch up that the difference was really hammered in.

The London stores are filled with loose, wide leg jeans, interesting knitwear pieces, and trend-led dresses and tops. Gap in New York is full of bland, everyday pieces: chinos - including that odd boy fit cut that Claire Danes wears in the US TV ads, jeans, T-shirts, frumpy dresses and fleeces. Gap Body just about passes muster with some pretty nightdresses, but the only remotely interesting fashion offer is the white shirt collection backed by American Vogue from several upcoming US designers including Doo-Ri and Thakoon.

Unfortunately, whilst the designs are intrinsically interesting, and it's always great to see a multi-national supporting young designers, the shirts themselves are practically unwearable by anyone with breasts or a rounded body shape. Which would account for the fact that every Manhattan branch of Gap has racks & racks of the shirts on sale for $6.99 each.

Whizzing around

Thirteen appointments at press offices yesterday together with my fabulous assistant P, to see a few of the AW (fall) collections, whilst trying to work out how on earth we are going to shoot 66 pages & four covers in six days at the end of August. Then a wedding dress trying-on session with Miss P. (For her, not me, obviously). Today was biking to Highbury for lunch with little god-daughter day (I find being called Aunty Ssshh rather endearing) & now it's filing my tax return time. The joy! I am going to be somewhat incommunicado this week, owing to having filled every sliver of every day with an appointment, meeting, lunch or dinner in order to get back to Manhattan as quickly as possible. (There is a limit to how long one can cope with sleeping on a sofa with a Dachshund nicking all the space each night.)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bristol wedding

To Bristol through the rain (more on this later)to the extraordinary 19thC SS Great Britain for A's wedding. One of the really good ones, where you really felt that they were both blissfully happy. She looked preternaturally chic, and alternately laughed & cried her way through the ceremony. I particularly admired her savoir faire when her veil fell off backwards as she walked down the aisle.

My lovely ex-boyfriend and now great friend, R, gave A away, and made a truly great speech – only slightly trammelled by A banning him from mentioning any of the genius stories which we had volunteered on the subjects of: fags (she smokes 60 a day and had Nicorette patches hidden under her dress), booze (she does like a glass or three) or past men (this was her third marriage). He did manage to mention the words "Amazon.com Number One", and "New York Times Bestseller" which was the most important thing.

Sheer bliss to see my girlfriends and catch up, but L and I are such party animals that we sloped off from the celebrations at, wait for it, 2230hrs. She was hungover from a night out with her boyfriend, and I was just jet lagged. I think L and I were the only unmarried people there (bar T, another ex, who I spent the evening avoiding. He's very sweet, but I finished it, & just cldn't face talking to him). I think at a wedding the unmarried want to be able to flirt harmlessly, but there was no flirting material. And experience tells me that married women do NOT like their husbands dancing with the single girls at a wedding. (What do they think we are going to do exactly? Jump their spouses on the dancefloor?)

There were also a LOT of pregnant people, children and a baby. This was attached firmly to the breast of the friend sitting opposite me at dinner. Weddings. Sigh. Being surrounded by so much marital action meant that we spent breakfast the next day working through our Full English & ranting on our favourite theme. The "We have fabulous lives, why does everyone think we envy them their smug marriages?" one. Very cathartic if slightly psychotic.

England is breaking down

...apparently three times the average monthly rainfall for the whole of July fell in 24hrs on Friday. Large swathes of the country are still without drinking water, there are eight severe flood warnings in place today and the RAF has seen the largest emergency helicopter mobilisation since the War. London however is largely unaffected, apart from pockets by the Thames. It is 17 degrees tho and I have no warm clothes, well,not ones I wld choose to be seen in by my peers, having left Manhattan in 28 degree heat with a suitcase full of sundresses.

So, it only took seven hours to get to Bristol. (Parts of the track had been washed away, & embankments were crumbling). Which was better than the twelve hours it took A&A on the flooded M4 on Friday to drive the 2.5hrs journey. No swimming, but a lot of puddle hopping. (Fuck knows where my wellies are - I have some splendid purple Hunters, they wld have come in handy). There was one train an hour from London Paddington to Bristol(usually they run every 20 mins) and a queue (every other person seemed to be reading Harry Potter) for the Bristol train that snaked from the platform barrier all through the concourse, back through & round the Food Court, and then back into the concourse – which is where we joined it – and then stayed for the next 2.5hrs, with occasional forays to M&S for sustenance, the newsagents for papers, and Starfucks for hot drinks.

We eventually made the 1330hrs by sprinting down the platform, elbows out, pushing down any small children and grannies that were stupid enough to block our path. Highlight of the journey: the guard announcing that if we looked to our right (and could we please not all move to that side of the train simultaneously as it wld tip over), we wld see a completely black sky, and a tornado. As you do.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Back in London.... finally

I had the perfect journey this morning - until I actually got onto the Heathrow-bound 'plane at Newark. I could have done without the know-it-all world traveller who first tried to nick my window seat and who then spent the flight giving me handy tips along the lines of, "Ooh you don't want to sleep now, it'll mess up your circadian rhythms". By the end of the journey I was close to telling him exactly what he could do with his circadian rhythms.

We landed thirty minutes early, & were then stranded on the apron at Heathrow for an hour as a result of torrential rain and thunderstorms (ah, England!), and then my driver couldn't find me for thirty minutes in the melée at arrivals. Finally arrived at my sister's gaff at 10pm to find a frenzied dachshund spraying fountains of wee in the air as it rolled on its back in ecstatic welcome. Crawled under duvet on sofa with now exhausted & snoring dachshund, popped some lovely Solpadeine Max (terrible cramps) & ate doggy bag pad thai from supper with my attractive American friend in Manhattan last night. Quite odd to be eating NY leftovers in London.

To Bristol tomorrow for A & D's marriage & reception on the SS Great Britain. I expect your typical wedding scenario: loads of smug couples, a previously devoted (& charming) ex to avoid, and doubtless lots of Champagne. I am wearing a plunging brown print silk jersey Diane von Furstenberg number (NOT a bloody wrap dress), a cream piqué Princess collared 1950's cotton flared skirt coat and burgundy patent platform Mary Janes. No hats, thank goodness, as the ceremony is not 'till 5pm.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Fratellis play Manhattan

I am feeling a little guilty that I keep going to see British bands over here: Kaiser Chiefs, The Kooks, Arctic Monkeys, and tonight, The Fratellis. But how could I not? These are all bands who I listen to on a daily basis, so the chance of seeing them live, and in New York, has been far too good to give up. I just regret that I haven't been doing more gig going in London over the past ten years - it does help that it's often less than half the price in the UK to see bands here.

The Fratellis at the Roseland tonight were excellent. They're here in the States supporting The Police on their stadium tour, and tonight's date was a last minute schedule addition, I suspect, because they are cresting a wave of popularity on the back of the tour. I know that some elements of the music press deride them for all their la la la choruses and general perkiness, but the lead singer has an astonishing voice, and I'm a big fan of a catchy, danceable tune. And, surprisingly for a New York audience, there was a lot of dancing going on. Altho I do suspect that there was a very healthy British contingent in the audience - I spotted at last two Saltires being waved from the balconies, and some super-nutty pogo-ing that definitely looked authentically lager-fuelledly English.

(I wonder if UK bands playing New York realise just how many British people there are in the audience. Last month The Kooks played the tiny Fillmore, and Luke Pritchard screamed out "I can't believe you fuckers know all the words" and I really wanted to shout back, "That's cos 75% of the audience is British mate".

Splendid gig-going moment: Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline blasting out over the PA as we all left the venue. Immediately the entire British contingent started roaring out the words and doing little shimmying dances in the aisles. A proper Guilty Pleasure.

A/|X Armani Exchange Announces The Opening of London & Tokyo Flagship Stores

London's Regent Street continues it's upmarket makeover with the announcement today that a flagship A|X Armani Exchange store will open in September. The store, at 240 Regent Street, will be the world’s largest A/X Armani Exchange store to date covering 11,700 square feet over two levels. This will be the brand's fifth store in the United Kingdom following the opening of stores in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and at Bluewater.

A second flagship store will also in September in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. These two openings are part of A/X's ongoing international retail expansion programme bringing its worldwide network to a total 119 stores.

Filene's Basement does Basso & Sinha-Stanic

Before I forget, my most random find in an outlet store here in Manhattan has been the discovery of a delivery from Aeffe in Filene's Basement in Union Square. I was a little surprised to find, between the racks of easy fit slacks, Calvin Klein underwear, and Nolan Miller-style party frocks, three rails of rather lovely Sinha-Stanic pieces and, best of all, a whole load of Basso & Brooke's penis print pieces. This gave me much amusement as I am sure Filene's had absolutely no idea what they were carrying, and the thought of a Jersey girl popping into Filene's and going out on the town in what she thought was a merely pretty & colourful print made me chuckle for quite some time.

BFC announces Fashion Forward sponsorship

It's all go at the British Fashion Council this week. They have just announced that Sinha-Stanic, Jens Laugesen and Richard Nicoll have been selected to receive Fashion Forward sponsorship to show their Spring/Summer 2008 collections at London Fashion Week this September.

The release follows.(Sorry, I'm on deadline, so no time to rewrite with acerbic comments. Yet)

The Fashion Forward sponsorship, in association with Westfield London is in its third season. The scheme gives support to British designers who have already established a profile at London Fashion Week through the New Generation programme or who are at an equivalent stage in their business. The sponsorship consists of substantial funding towards a catwalk show at London Fashion Week.

Sinha-Stanic will be receiving Fashion Forward sponsorship for the second time in September, showcasing their contemporary designs for the modern woman. Fiona Sinha and Aleksandar Stanic, who have gained much acclaim since their catwalk debut in 2004, produce garments that are beautifully cut with an easy sophistication that is entirely modern and relaxed. Their stockist line-up is already impressive and is growing gratifyingly fast. Fiona and Aleksandar said "Showing at London Fashion Week has always been a very exciting prospect for our brand, as we believe it to be the most interesting and creative of all fashion weeks. The Fashion Forward award from the BFC and Westfield London is enabling us to do just that, whilst developing our business on both creative and commercial levels. It is initiatives like this that are making London an extremely strong competitor to the likes of NY, Paris and Milan."

Richard Nicoll, who will be receiving Fashion Forward sponsorship for the first time this season, was spotted by the fashion world soon after he graduated from Central Saint Martins MA Course in 2002. He had a promising start to his career when his final year collection was bought by Dolce and Gabbana. Richard, who was named ‘King of shirts’ by Suzy Menkes of The International Herald Tribune, combines menswear fabrics with corsetry and couture detailing, creating strong sculptured garments that are young and fresh with an idiosyncratic accessible style. Richard’s collections are now stocked in more than 30 high-profile stores worldwide.

Richard said: “I am delighted to receive the Fashion Forward award, which has come at a pivotal time for me and the business. The BFC and Westfield London have offered me a life line and are great supporters of strong London based talent. This award will allow me to strengthen our client base and to indulge my ideas for Spring/Summer 08, it’s really exciting.”

Jens Laugesen, who will also be receiving Fashion Forward sponsorship for the first time, has a design philosophy of ‘Hybrid reconstruction’ of generic garments. Jens is currently teaching in Fashion on the MA Course at Central Saint Martins and since 2003, has been designing a capsule collection for Topshop. “I am really honoured to receive the Fashion Forward award from the British Fashion Council and Westfield London because it will enable me to stay and maintain my high profile presence during the coming London Fashion Week. It is great to receive such recognition from the high profile industry panel behind the British Fashion Council, and this coming show will be crucial for the future expansion strategy of my brand. I am very proud to be part of London Fashion Week, and think it is great that a generous award like this exists.’’ Said Jens.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

British Fashion Council announces new on-schedule designers for London Fashion Week

The British Fashion Council have announced the new additions to the official catwalk shedule at London Fashion week this September. I just cannot get that excited by Adidas by Stella McCartney appearing on the schedule as the closing show (in the same place that Marc by Marc Jacobs occupied last season) as designer sportswear from a multinational has absolutely no place on the catwalk. Adidas are playing their cards close to their chest on this one: the collection is said to be a new concept for Adidas and different from Stella’s current sportswear offer, but no more information is available at the moment.

Markus Lupfer's own-name collection for Spanish house Armand Basi is showing for the first time in London. Although it's hard to believe, it's actually five years since Lupfer last showed, under his own name, in London. Since then he's been consulting for Cacharel, Ruffo, Kangol, Mulberry and Topshop.

Charles Anastase, the hotly tipped Parisian fashion illustrator & fashion designer shows for the first time in London. He showed his début collection in Paris for Spring 05, but hasn't showed anywhere for the past couple of seasons. Given the British media's over-reaching obsession with the size zero debate, I'd love to see his current muse, Beth Ditto, working it down the London catwalk.

Rodnik is owned & fronted by two good-looking, posh boys, Philip Colbert and Richard Ascott, who have gone from selling scarves made from Russian goats beards door to door in 2004 at boutiques like Browns to developing a full ready to wear collection that is stocked by Barneys, Jeffrey, Maxfield, Corso Como, Browns, and Selfridges. From their ever-present parasols, to playing miniature instruments in their up and coming “We are not a rock b®and-world tour", they certainly have an eye - and ear - for self-promotion. Already beloved by American fash mag mavens, this will certainly be an amusing show. Whether they can cut it on their first Official outing remains to be seen.

As mentioned before, Luella is returning to the catwalk, in a rumoured very lucrative deal with the BFC. Matthew Williamson also will be showing in London.

Image: Rodnik AW 06/07 collection

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream

Hanging out with my attractive American friend has its bonuses: he makes home made ice cream too. I am beyond impressed by this. And, even better than just making ice cream, he invents new flavours too. Altho the texture was a little strange, (due, I am assured to overbeating, rather than any inherent fault in the recipe), pressed apple juice, brown sugar, and rye macerated cranberry flavour, which sounded off-putting in the extreme, was actually delicious in the eating. And I do not favour the cranberry, as a general rule.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Speaking in tongues

It's rare that I read anything on the old intraweb that makes me hoot out loud with laughter, but Chris Rae's English to American dictionary is absolutely priceless. He's got a cracking sense of humour, meanwhile maintaining a useful web resource. Go on: buy him a pint for his efforts.

I also hadn't quite realised how much English-English-specific slang I used myself on a day-to-day basis. It's no wonder no one seems to understand a word I say over here.

Things that never occur to me. Part One

Sitting in Soho House last night sucking up a raspberry puree martini (I always like to have a few vitamins along for the ride), the Fox entertainment reporter (I know, don't ask) opposite looked wistfully at my drink and then at hers and then said to me, "I can't look at that drink without thinking about the calories".

(Thing is, I don't actually think she was switched on enough to realise that that could have been construed as an insult. As it was, I think she was having difficulty processing that I actually appear in front of a camera, seeing as I am about 30lbs heavier than her, and don't plaster my face with Estée Lauder's finest.)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

My quest for the perfect omelette (Bonne Fête Nationale)

It's Bastille Day today, so a blog entry on a French theme seems appropriate, and my quest for a proper omelette in this city seems to fit. This may sounds trivial but when you are vegetarian, often an omelette frites is all you're getting (& should be grateful for), given the proliferation of cod French bistros over here.

Pastis served an omelette aux fines herbes which is on a par with the offering at an English motorway service station cafeteria: a rubbery, three inch high, pallid oval lump of dry solidified scrambled egg, which had clearly never been near a frying pan. It was revolting, akin to one of those microwaveable omelettes in the freezer section. And, worse still, when I called the waitress over to complain that this was not an omelette, all she could come up with was that she wouldn't know as she had never been to France. The manager was rude, implied I didn't know what I was talking about and only very grudgingly bought me a replacement fridge-cold pile of over-dressed salad. It's very, very tempting to send Keith McNally the entry on omelettes from Larousse.

Diners here tend to serve variations on the above theme for breakfast, made on a griddle, rather than a semi-circular, frying pan-made, flipped over omelette, but they are at least edible, and you know what to expect when ordering. I'm just offended by supposedly 'French' restaurants that try to pass off execrable cooking as authentically French. ("Omelette aux fines herbes" does rather suggest one will be getting an authentic omelette experience.) (Felix in Soho is another shocker).

Then today L & I crawled out of our respective beds and to Casimir on B and 6th for brunch, where I had an absolutely perfect omelette: an inch or so high, light, golden, slightly tanned around the sides, obviously cooked & flipped in a frying pan, wet in the middle and tasting of fresh eggs. Finally, a New York/French restaurant that didn't ram its Frenchness down your throat and actually had someone in the kitchen who could cook. Result.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Yet another muse for Karl Lagerfeld....

Rumour has it that the latest addition to the Chanel stable is 17 yr old Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame. This wouldn't be enormously surprising as she has been sporting Chanel at most of her public appearances, and has just signed with Storm.

I'm starting to get just a little bit bored of Karl Legerfeld's increasingly desperate attempts to appear relevant, and it's not as if Chanel is a sinking brand in desperate need of rejuvenation. Honestly the man changes muse more often then New Yorkers change bottled water brands, and it's becoming hard to keep up. Seems like a young woman only has to appear in a moderately successful film or release a catchy pop song and Karl is beating down her door. Kate Moss, Vanessa Paradis, Nicole Kidman, Selma Blair, Anna Mouglalis, Fergie, Rinko Kiuchi, Diane Kruger, even flippin Kimora Lee have all flown the flag for Karl, and it only seems like days since Lindsay Lohan was flavour of the month, although at least Emma has been vocal about her dislike of booze & drugs so hopefully no chance of embarrassing links to Chanel a la Lohan. And whatever happened to Lily Allen?

It all makes me long for the days of the good old workhorse supermodel that is Claudia Schiffer.

I'm not homesick, really, just feeling a wee bit displaced

I fly back to London a week today. I nearly wrote that I was flying home but, since I have rented out my apartment it’s not really true. I did consider keeping a bedroom in my flat just for me, but paying two sets of rent would mean no money for shoes & eating out and, I think, would make me feel like I hadn’t really committed to my new, shiny Manhattan life.

I really am in two minds about this trip. It’s much, much easier for me to feel like New York is where I live when I don’t keep jumping on ‘planes to London. Because there are things that I miss, mainly those that are bound up in a feeling of comfortable familiarity, and they make me ache for the semblance of home.

I hate, hate, hate not having my books, my fabulous bicycle, my kitchen stuff, my beautiful piles of laundered linen, my Riedel wine glasses, my Aeron chair, ALL my clothes around me. At present my possessions are in scattered between a locked cupboard in my flat, my garage, my sister’s hall cupboard and my parent’s loft. And I have absolutely no idea what is where, as I didn’t pack up twelve years of London living in a particularly scientific manner. It also doesn’t help that I keep sending visitors back to London with bags of books and unwanted clothes and God knows where they stash them.

Trying to fit in seeing all my friends(I have 25 people on the list so far) in just five days, interspersed with going to Bristol for a wedding, painting my flat (it’s like the bloody Forth Bridge), meeting my accountant, interviewing Claire Waight Kellor (the reason I am returning), scheduling planning meetings and doing High St press office appointments to see the new season collections for the three big commercial shoots I am styling in August is making my head ache already. It wld be sensible to go back for two weeks and address all this calmly.

But thing is, I don’t want to be in London at the moment. I really, really don’t. I don’t ache for my old life one little bit. I felt like I was a hamster on a treadmill doing same old, same old. I wanted new experiences, new challenges and a new city. And this city happens to suit me just fine.

Dating & eating: Minefield number one

Eating out on dates can be a minefield. I’ve already occurred enough raised eyebrows in this city because I expect to eat, yes, eat, and eat like a normal person too, you know, French fries, butter on my bread, pizza, that kind of thing. And, of course, sloppy table manners, chewing with mouth open, tipping badly (practically a crime in this city), and rudeness to waiters can all be huge turn offs too.

But the one thing that I didn’t think would be a huge problem here was being a vegetarian: there are enough food fads going on in this city that most restaurants cater for much more awkward eaters than cheese/egg eating vegetarians. Granted those grating faux French bistros that populate London are much in evidence here in Manhattan too with their vehemently pro-carnivore cartes but, so long as they are avoided, it’s pretty simple to eat and to eat well in every quarter of New York.

What I hadn’t bargained on was dating a carnivore whose idea of a good vege-friendly restaurant was Chat n Chew, an American soul food & BBQ café, his third suggestion after I turned down a Belgian bistro on the wholly reasonable grounds that there wasn’t a single thing I cld eat on the entrée list, and a café that only served one vegetarian thing on the entire menu. After all, it’s pretty dull having to eat something, rather than having the luxury of choosing your supper.

Thing is, when you spend all day at home working, going outside is exciting, let alone going out for supper. It’s not just an opportunity to re-fuel. I don’t expect Nobu, but I do ask is that my dates actually engage with the idea of places where we could both have an interesting meal, instead of inadvertently making me feel awkward for rejecting their suggestions. (I always used to smile sweetly, but after a date took me to Ditch Plains where all I could eat was a bowl of French fries and fried mozzarella sticks for my supper, the worm turned.) After all, it’s not like I intend to inflict Angelica’s Kitchen (a notorious vegan haunt) on a poor carnivore when it’s my turn to choose.

How to get the pregnant Britney/Jordan look: Head for TopShop

One of the things that influenced my flight to Manhattan from London was the endless stream of girlfriends getting knocked up. Don't get me wrong, I rather like small children - so long as they are a) clean b) at arms length, and c) nowhere near my cream sofas but, for the time being, I've no desire to have my social life tramelled on a daily basis by the demands of other people's offspring.

However one of the things that I enjoy most right now is torturing Miss P with inappropriate sartorial suggestions for her bump. She'll be seven months gone when she gets married in September, so it's been joyous looking for staggeringly ridiculous garb for her wedding and for her honeymoon. TopShop Maternity, in particular, comes up trumps in this arena:

I PARTICULARLY like the way they've named the denim skirt 'Pelmet'.

Pictures from topshop.com

When the spark has gone...

Was bought lunch in the East Village yesterday at Yaffa Café (note to self must not go to same place all the time) by an English man I dated briefly at the end of last year. Perfectly pleasant company, lots of industry gossip, but I kept getting distracted as I stared at him across the café table. Sure he’s sporting a rather, um, directional, hairstyle at present, and a pair of oversized Ray Bans weren’t helping matters any, but I was completely & utterly gobsmacked that I had ever fancied him. Funny how tastes change.

Harry Potter and the never ending saga...

I'm so used to films opening on a Friday in England that I managed to completely miss that Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix opened here in New York on Wednesday. Anyway, seeing as it has broken all box office records so far, I thought I'd hop down tonight for a dose of English nostalgia. It was very pleasant, kind of like the visual equivalent of a nice long warm bath. Absolutely true to the novel, packed full of the Royal Shakespeare Company's finest hamming it up in true panto fashion, and lots of cute teens gurning for the camera. Whatever reason most of those kids were cast for, it wasn't for their acting skills. Emma Watson, I am afraid, is set to be the Kiera Knightley of her generation: ravishing on screen, not an acting bone in her body.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A coda to my last dating post

My fabulous friend A (American, lives in London) has emailed me the following comment regarding dating in London, in response to my post below on the subject of dating in Manhattan.

"Look on the bright side, at least in the States men LOOK at you and TALK to you....over here you have to twat them with a brick in order for them to notice you've got tits!"

Succinct, pithy even, I thought.

Valentino invests in Proenza Schouler

WGSN reports today that Valentino Fashion Group has bought a 45% stake, via a capital increase of $3.7m, in women's fashion label Proenza Schouler in a move designed to support its international expansion. They plan to work with existing management, and reconfirmed Shirley Cook as Proenza Schouler chief executive.

Industry movements

Tommy Hilfiger continues to attempt to ramp up its UK presence with the appointment of Carmen Haid, previously at Céline, as their in-house Director of Communications. It's a huge client loss for The Communications Store, (not that I'm weeping on their behalf).

Hilfiger have tried on several occasions to break the UK, but their UK flagship store on New Bond Street which opened to great fanfare in 1998, was forced to shut after high costs & disappointing sales proved insurmountable. The brand is perceived as just that: a brand without any real fashion credibility, so UK fashion magazines tend to only run Hilfiger pieces as bait/reward for a piece of Hilfiger's HUGE ad budget.

Since the brand's takeover in the first half of 2006, Hilfiger have opened anchor stores in Paris, Prague, Florence and, in December 06, on London's Regent Street.

It'll be interesting to see if Carmen can make this work.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What not to wear: Sienna demonstrates the concept with élan

Now I generally try not to get stuck into the whole bash a celebrity's frock routine as a) the Fug girls do it better than I can and b) there's generally more exciting things to talk about, like, well, men and pretty summer frocks, and, um, cookies.

But oh my goodness gracious me, look what Sienna got up to in Rome. She's been in town to shoot a Vogue story with Mario Testino, and to attend the 45th anniversary celebration of the House. But none of that was reason to choose this asthma sufferer's worst nightmare, especially when she had access to the entire Valentino archive. Granted, she's been looking pretty ropey since the youth of today stole her boho style and left her sartorially naked, but that is NO excuse for sporting Big Bird's cousin's prom outfit. And I'm not even going to get started on the make-up. I can only assume she had kept on the photographic make up from shooting earlier in the day in a misguided attemt to save time in the stylist's chair.

Here & there

I’ve already spent too much time on Skype this week talking to my friends back in London. They ask if I’m homesick and I can honestly say I’m not. But I wonder what would have happened in the days before Skype, before email, before Facebook. These wonders of the technological age sate the longing for familiarity, for the feeling that I belong somewhere else.

But I do love the ritual of the long ‘phone calls from England in the mid-afternoon when my London friends have settled in for the evening with a glass of wine, and are ready to gossip. They call and I perch myself on the fire escape balcony, under the directed breeze of a huge floor fan, sweating slightly and drinking iced water through a straw whilst they tell me about rain and pubs and babies and work.

Still, being English, pretty much the first question anyone, male or female, asks is Boys? Action? So I tell them I’ve been dating, tell them that of late I’ve been attempting to further Anglo-American relations with a vengeance, tell the single girls that if they are experiencing a drought to get their arses over to Manhattan tout suite because New York men are like buses after dating in London: nothing for ages over there and then they all come along at once over here. The married friends are keen for a bit of vicarious action. I hate to disappoint but, frankly, I’m too old for the hackneyed run through, so I heavy breathe down the ‘phone and they laugh and know that that’s the best they’re getting from me.

Monday, July 09, 2007


US Condé Nast have decided to fold their flagship magazine for twenty-something women. Founded in September 1997 by the eponymous Jane Pratt, the current editor in chief is Brandon Holley, formerly e-i-c of Ellegirl, and who will now be leaving the company, along with the magazine's publisher

Media pundits are suggesting that the competition posed by on-line media has contributed to Jane's demise. But I suspect that Condé Nast has lost faith in the brand: Jane's mixture of fashion & feistiness didn't necessarily sit well with the Condé Nast ethos. This theory is supported by the simultaneous announcement of the closure of the Jane website. (Two recent closures, ElleGirl & Teen People still exist in on-line form).

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Pierre Hardy: I'm in love

I went out for dinner tonight in my new silk frock, but just cldn't find the right shoes to wear. Heels just do not feel right this summer, but $5 Uniqlo flip flops do not a chic outfit make. (When someone else is kind enough to take me to a lovely restaurant, the least I can do is dress for the occasion.)

I'm seriously regretting not putting in a private order at the beginning of the season for these gorgeous shoes by my beloved Pierre Hardy. (I was trying to be fiscally responsible.)
Pierre Hardy, leather sandals
Or for these:
Pierre Hardy
Still, Barneys carry his shoes, so I am considering a recce tomorrow to see if there are any in the sale, altho finding an 8.5 by any designer will no doubt be almost impossible.

Pictures from: www.pierrehardy.com

The dying art of paying compliments

British men have become too worried about political correctness to pay compliments to the opposite sex, according to a recent survey conducted in England. All I can say is, lucky me, living in Manhattan. I’ve never felt as appreciated as I do in this city. Not only are the men I meet on dates so kind as to pay me compliments (albeit not always welcome ones), but it’s entirely normal to be the beneficiary of laudatory comments when walking down the street. And I don’t even need to be prancing along in my heels, my bright blue sundress and sandals work just as well on that front. Altho my new American friend S tells me that this is not the case for men – being rather attractive he’s a pretty good test case, so I have to assume that this is the case for the majority of men over here. I’d start redressing the balance but suspect that the reason women don’t bother with the paying of gratuitous compliments is because who knows what kind of pickle women would end up in if they started throwing out admiring phrases to random cute guys.

Calatrava: An architect for the 21st Century

I’ve written already about the National Design Triennial at the Cooper Hewitt in Manhattan, which brings together the experimental designs and emerging ideas—including animation, new media, fashion, robotics, architecture, product, medical, and graphic design—at the centre of American culture from 2003 to 2006.

The plentiful exhibits run the gamut from computer games: The Sims, and SnowWorld. a three-dimensional virtual-reality game designed for to lessen pain in severely wounded burn victims through to fashion: Thom Browne’s new vision for menswear and Mara Cornejo/Zero’s experiments with clothing the female form, passing by, for example, a Ron Arad lamp and an James Bond-esque underwater motorcycle.

But, easy as it is to spend an entire day working through the two floors of exhibits, the installation that holds me transfixed each time I visit (& I’ve been four times already) is the 3D video rendering of bridge architect Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub.

It would be easy to write this off as yet another self indulgent architectural carbuncle, especially when one considers that, although Calatrava visualised the structure as a bird being released from a child's hand, safety concerns have limited the initial scope, it looks more like the offspring between a dinosaur and an enraged porcupine from the exterior. Costing $2 billion it’s due to finally open in 2009.

There is a widespread belief that the rebuilding of the Ground Zero site must aspire to include a spiritual dimension, and it could be argued that a structure that resembles a stegosaurus wouldn’t necessarily fulfil this idea, yet Calatrava has conceived an interior beautiful in its clarity and in its towering vision, which transcends its exterior, with a roof span which opens to the sky both in good weather and every year on September 11th.

The soaring spaces in subway stations are the cathedral-like spaces of the Nineties and the Noughties: Norman Foster’s cavernous spaces in his system for Bilbao, and his Canary Wharf vast ticket hall filled with refracted light for the Jubilee Line extension in London represent the Nineties; Calavatra’s WTC Subway the Noughties. The essential difference: Foster’s spaces are underground, Calatrava’s station concourse is flooded with natural light.

But, unlike Foster, Calatrava is both an architect & an engineer, who started primarily as a bridge and train station designer. With the WTC hub he marries both disciplines in a purity of design that combines both the banally functional and the quietly beautiful in a building that is an ambitious, and ultimately successful, memorial to the events of September 2001.

Design Life Now: National Design Triennial 2006
On view December 8, 2006–July 29, 2007

Insomnia Cookies: Taking home delivery to a new high

Insomnia Cookies NYC sums up much of what I love about living in Manhattan. Delivering between 8pm and 4am, for a mere $6 plus tip, they will bring to your front door a box of six, warm from the oven, huge chocolate-chip cookies. Efficient, clever, delicious, it requires a sweet-toothed, high density population in a concentrated geographical area to work, so I can’t imagine this idea ever starting up, let alone succeeding in London. Yet another reason to remain in New York.

Life goes on...

I’ve been driven out of the apartment by the heat. L continues his air-con experiments driven, I suspect, by his continued auditioning for a new girlfriend. But I don’t like working in an icy chill, so we have brokered an agreement: no air-con in the day unless the temperature tops 40C. (It’s due to be 37C/97F on Monday, so it’s not inconceivable.) So now I’m sitting in the garden of Yaffa Café on St Marks & 1st in the East Village with a Stella and my laptop.

It’s strange having another person living in the apartment. JD and I had our own particular rhythm, and adding a man to the mix, albeit one who is best described as a Labrador puppy, changes the dynamic. Still, his mild OCD makes him great on the clean and tidy front, so I’m sure we’ll get on just fine.

Last night we headed to Lil’Frankies in the East Village, always JD’s favourite, and now mine too. Seven of us dumped the cutlery in favour of fingers to better chew our way through fried courgettes and wheel-sized pizzas, topped with mozzarella di bufala and garlic butter laced mushrooms, washed down by four bottles of Dolcetta d’Alba. I am always happy when I am left in charge of the wine list, so I ordered this delicious red in honour of Miss P, who sells it in copious amounts to Mrs Mad back in England.

I turned down karaoke with the gorgeous T and K (my singing voice makes grown men weep and babies wail), and plumped for pay per view extreme fighting or some such with L & C (who I like more each tme I see him) – it seemed the lesser of the two evils. Fortunately, nowhere was showing the fight (SUCH a shame), so the three of us ended up slumped over the wide wooden bar at the Horseshoe (also known as 7B from its street location), a proper dive in the village, drinking Summer Ale and playing American/English: Compare & Contrast, as all good expats do when hanging out together.

Horsehoe bar pic New York magazine /nymag.com

Friday, July 06, 2007

Does size matter?

I KNEW it. Apparently British women have the largest breasts in Europe.

Freecycle: How to dump your unwanted possessions

Isn’t Freecycle the dog’s bollocks? My sister in London alerted me to its extreme usefulness last year when she managed to offload her old kitchen sink & a year’s worth of inherited-from-me fashion magazines onto various people who all appreciated the value of free stuff.

She & I are both squirrels, hoarding anything and everything, just in case. A habit picked up over childhood when there wasn’t a load of spare cash around. But now that I am running two households over two continents I cannot keep every thing I want any more. I am paranoid that when the time comes to move on from Manhattan I will need the modern day equivalent of a Thirties Hollywood star’s steamer trunks to transport my stuff to wherever it is I wish to live next.

Which is why online forums like Freecycle are so clever. They work by providing a message board for people to give away unwanted items that have an intrinsic worth but little retail value. The beauty of it is that everyone wins: when I wanted to dispose of some stonkingly heavy pieces of MDF from a chimney I dismantled last year I just posted them on Freecycle. The guy who took them saved fifty quid on MDF for his new kitchen, and I didn’t have to knacker my back dragging them down the stairs from my first floor flat to hide them in someone else’s skip (dumpster for my US readers) in the dead of night. Result all round. You can also post goods wanted ads: I managed to get hold of all the brackets I needed for my garage shelves with a Wanted ad on Freecycle, and I repaid the favour with a bag of beauty samples from work

Sure there are people who sit beadily by their PCs waiting for new Freecycle posts to grab anything of value for eBay-ing but I figure that, so long as my stuff doesn’t end up in landfill, I really do not care a monkey’s who takes it. That being said, I do sift through the replies to find people who sound genuine. Today in Manhattan I’ve managed to give away a huge pile of fashion magazines and all SS07’s lookbooks to a fashion student from Parson’s. So I feel stunningly altruistic, environmentally smug and extremely pleased that I didn't have to lug them all dowstairs to the recycling.

(I recommend the Freecycle route to any fashion writers/stylists/PRs dumping last season’s lookbooks/magazines: there is always a fashion student somewhere reading Freecycle posts who will take them off your hands.)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dating dinosaurs

I am so thoroughly fed up with going on dates with American men who, with one notable exception so far, talk complete cobblers and then try to jump you. Which is why I have returned home, & am feeling rather miffed. Although, if truth be told, I am knackered and just couldn’t face SE’s party in the West Village, even though I have a sexy new dress and some splendid dancing shoes.

I am just at a complete loss to understand why it is thought acceptable to get boorishly drunk, and then start trying to cop a feel. It’s almost as though these men have some kind of perception shield which a) stops them realising how unacceptable their behaviour is, & b) makes them think that my monosyllabic replies are grunts of appreciation at their macho behaviour. BAH.

Ps I am ORANGE. Radioactively so.

bloody hell

I just so hadn't engaged with the concept of Independence Day being an actual day off work. And now I discover that everywhere is closed tomorrow. BAH. Although I did chuckle when my Manhattan-based English friend L told me that her (US) boss was banning a day off for all UK employees. What shall I do with myself? Answers on a postcard, please.

Hey ho, hey ho, it's off to work we go...

Chuffed as just been commissioned to write another main fashion feature for Elle. Yay.

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

This is the latest model for Frank Gehry's proposed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, part of the new Saadiyat Island Cultural District in Abu Dhabi. When looked at in context with Guggenheim Bilbao it looks extraordinarily ambitious. I guess this is what happens when you have Middle Eastern oil money behind an arts project.

And, if that building didn't smack you right in the face, there is also a performing arts centre by Zaha Hadid (above) which should be vulgar but is strangely beautiful, Jean Nouvel's Classical Museum, and Tadao Ando's Maritime Museum. All are scheduled to open in 2012.

The models & plans for the project are currently on display at The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.

Top image: Guggenheim by Frank Gehry, Abu Dhabi
Bottom image: Performing Arts Centre by Zaha Hadid, Abu Dhabi

Feeding my inner geek

Am especially pleased right now that, as I am missing JSL who has moved on in preparation for visiting the set of his movie in Spain, I have finally met a charming American man with whom I can have a conversation about more than the weather. The fact that our conversations range from etymology to geology and other areas sometimes considered to be a little dull or esoteric has made me wonder about the definition of a geek

After all I love computers & electronic gadgets, can explain the Borg and theory of collective consciousness on Star Trek, religiously watch the current series of Doctor Who on-line, collect maps, like transport museums, and am endlessly fascinated by the minutiae of life in Manhattan: from the workings of the Subway to the evolution of the different racial areas. These things might traditionally be considered the traditional province of the geek.

Yet, I certainly don’t consider myself one. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a geek as boring and having no interest in fashion. Boring is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, but I work in fashion, and generally know what’s what.

Perhaps it’s time to redefine the modern geek?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Let me count the ways in which I hate department stores

(specifically utterly bloody Macy’s)

1) Too big. Way, way too big. This does not equal choice, this equals confusion.

2) Lack of service. Has commission been done away with here? Very, very short-sighted, especially when it’s my mother doing the shopping.

3) No signage. I may be a practiced shopper but I am not psychic, so don’t look at me like I am stupid when I can’t find the blooming knicker section. (I can’t believe the signs have been removed for security reasons. Surely Al Qaeda aren’t planning an attack on the underwear department in Macy’s?)

4) Trying to be all things to all people. History tells us you can’t please all of the people all the time. So don’t try. Aim for excellence not over-abundance.

5) Tourists. Specifically the ones that move in lemming like packs.

6) Assistants Who Know Best. If I have chosen to take 22 dresses into the fitting room, it’s because I have spent 30 minutes raking the floor for things I like. Please do not bring me dresses that bear no relation either to the pieces I have already picked, or to the clothes I was wearing when I was arrived. This is not imaginative. It is bloody annoying. Surely any fool, let alone someone who works on a fashion floor, can see that a girl with a large bust can’t possibly wear a plunging to the waist neckline without looking like she is solicting for custom?

7) Apart from the fact that Intimate Apparel sounds like a department in a porn shop, I am at a loss to understand how, in a nation with so many obese people, they only seem to sell a selection of thongs in rainbow colours, and bras up to a Double D cup. Not even vaguely in my ball park.

Facebook. Ok - I caved in to peer pressure....

I've always dismissed Facebook as a networking site pour les enfants. That's not to say that I eschew all such sites: I'm a MySpace veteran, I use aSmallWorld regularly and, under duress, joined LinkedIn, which is wholly useless. But Facebook always seemed to be the province of teenagers and twenty-somethings, a theory borne out by the active presence on there of my 23 yr old flatmate AC. MySpace doesn't seem to be so age specific, but it attracts a very certain type of person: those of my contemporaries (that is people in the early 30s) who have something to promote: freelancers like myself, DJs, models, musicians, actors, small businesses. Very, very few of my real friends have a presence there for anything other than networking.

After initially refusing point blank to join Facebook, I did sign up to see what all the fuss was about, (excusing my actions as journalistic research), but shut down my account almost immediately. However, Facebook is not stupid: even though I terminated my account, they kept my email active so anyone using their email search engine would find me as a member. From somewhere around the beginning of June there was some kind of tipping point in Facebook membership. I started to receive five or six emails a week notifying me that I had been added as a friend. By last week, the trickle had become a flood, and many requests were friends who I hadn't even realised could turn a computer on, so I caved, created a profile and flicked a few friend requests.

In ten days I have accumulated 88 friends - all of whom I know, unlike MySpace where most of your 'friends' are bands you've never met or even heard of - but many of whom I haven't seen for five, ten , even fifteen years. It's curiously addictive as it relies less on personality and more on email, posting photographs, writing on friend's walls, and throwing sheep at each other. I like it as it is both intensely private, and very public. Profiles are private unless you are a friend, and if you don't know someone's email address it can be difficult to find them if they have a common name. The public side comes from your personal home page digest which is continually updated with your friends' actions.

As an ex-pat I love being able to see what my friends in London are up to, although ironically it makes me less eager to return to London, as I can still feel connected to my social network without actuallyhaving to be there in person. Still, I'm sure I'll be lurking around on Facebook for a few more months until the next on-line fad reaches its own tipping point....