Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Drowning not waving

Please forgive the lack of posts. I have two features commissions, one due imminently, two project outlines to deliver like yesterday, plus all my visa paperwork to complete and all the other thousand and one things that I've had eight years of freelance life to complete, and now have two weeks to sort out. I am categorically not complaining, just wish my body hadn't chosen Monday & Tuesday for being sick as a parrot.

Squawk

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Recommendation

I came across this blog today. I think she writes beautifully. Her copy seems effortless, although I suspect, like all good writers', it probably isn't.

oops

I am busier than a bee with ADD. And then I got sick. Fainted yesterday, and knocked myself out. Clever. So please forgive the lack of posting yesterday & today. I promise to be back up to speed by tomorrow. Tonight I plan to self-medicate with guacamole & a massage. No, not together. And then write like the furies are behind me.

Oh & I got the job.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Blonde = stupid. OBVIOUSLY

There are two ill thought out stereotypes that annoy me greatly. The first is that women with blonde hair are ditzy idiots and the second that people involved in the fashion industry are morons too dumb to work in a 'proper' field.

As a natural blonde who frequently works as a fashion editor & writer, the usual assumption by strangers is that I am as thick as two short planks. I have become quite exercised by this crass conclusion, but try not to rise to provocation. (I spent my twenties being rather earnest at parties to try to prove there I was more than the sum of my physical parts before realising that I wasn't doing myself any favours. Now I just chuckle quietly to myself.)

Fashion is a multi-millon dollar industry and, although clothing more advanced than a toga or a sarong may be perceived as unnecessary, it's no more unnecessary than any product that is 'designed' to be attractive beyond its essential usage, be it a car, door knob, book or house, so why people persist in thinking of fashion as self-indulgent nonsense is beyond me.

If intelligence can be measured by academic attainment then I didn't do so badly. I read theology & religious studies at university, won the Sixth Form (Junior & Senior years) History Essay Prize, and picked up a GCSE prize for Classical Civilisation (for reasons now obscure I was obsessed with Mithraism, even down to building my own model temple). I haven't lost my passion for these subjects, (although my latin is sadly rusty), & why my brain is considered to have atrophied since I trotted happily down the fashion path will always be a mystery to me.

As this is a rather specific blog, I am always rather thilled when people in fields I admire hugely (& which are unconnected with fashion) give props to my blog, & to be included in a Cambridge Don's list of ten excellent blogs today was, to be frank, bloody marvellous. Classics professor Mary Beard's brilliant (London) Sunday Times blog has been on my blogroll since I started, representing my fascination with the classical world. She is a fantastic writer & observer of the world at large: acerbic, droll, sharp, wry, erudite. I can't recommend her blog highly enough.

In return, I am supposed to name ten more Excellent Blogs. Unfortunately I have recently done a blogosphere round up & continued another meme, so have rather exhausted my blogosphere recommendations for the moment. (Although for newbies to this blog, I've always loved Excellent Blogs Le Style Sauvage & Mode et Utopie for their intellectual spin on fashion.)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mantra

Love is possible. Anything is possible. This is New York.

Friday, April 25, 2008

If you ever need a florist in Australia...

I love sending people flowers. I love receiving them too, so I've always figured if sending them gives even half the joy I get from an unsolicited bunch of flowers, then it's money well spent. My mother is an extremely talented amateur gardener & professional floral designer, (she does lots of super stylish weddings and sweeps the board at the local garden show with her flowers too), so I grew up learning to appreciate the glory of a good florist.

One of my best friends from school lives in Sydney now with her new husband. When they married last year I couldn't attend as I had already been asked to read at A's wedding in London over the same weekend and, lacking a tardis, would have been hard set to get from New York to Australia to London and back to New York in the space of five days.

So back to flowers. I spent hours on the old interweb looking for a florist in Australia that could do a bunch of flowers gorgeous enough for my beautiful friend. She also happens to work at Pacific Magazines, so a certain standard of chic was required too.

I drew a complete & utter blank. Maybe the hip Oz florists fear the interweb, because they certainly aren't lurking on Google. Oh God the horrors. It took me back fifteen years to the good old days of Teleflora: yellow, purple and white mixed sheaths of maidenhair fern, chrysanths, freesias, carnations & gypsophila (baby's breath), all tied up with that shiny plastic-y ribbon.

Then, after many hours of fruitless searching, I came across Prickly Pear, and wept for joy. Finally: an Australian floral designer with some balls. They describe themselves as 'Australia's best on-line florist' and, if one hadn't checked out the truly dismal competition, one might think that they were guilty of hubris. But no.

I chose these for her 'Sorry A grabbed me for her wedding first' bunch:And these for her 'Happy housewarming my darling girl' bunchI can't recommend them highly enough: ravishing arrangements, great communication, prompt delivery. Shiny gold stars all round.

Boeing Boeing

Funny how things can change. I was in the slough of despond yesterday, and today things seem much perkier. (Thank you all for your kind comments & emails). Prescient Dressed & Pressed is so right: cake is always the answer. Or, in my case, a roll of pre-made Tollhouse cookie dough.

I managed to sleep before 3am, and consequently am awake bright & early today without feeling that my half my day has been wasted. It’s a beautiful day, not as hot as yesterday (knocking 80F) but clear & fresh. I’m revelling in the humidity-free sunshine. It won’t be many weeks before what equates now to a perfect English summer’s day turns in to an urban sweat bath.

Just when I was at my grumpiest yesterday afternoon, wonderful, uplifting O rang to get a number and then,, on the spur of the moment invited me to take the place of her husband (away on business) at the theatre that night.

We convened at Joe Allen with her two urbane & beyond charming GBFs at 7 for pre-theatre supper. I love going out with O: she’s by far my most fashionable and chic friend (two things that don’t always go together), and so together we tip-tapped our way to the compact Longacre Theatre round the corner, she in her strappy & very complicated lizard Louboutins and me in my vertiginous brown suede Michael Kors sandals.

My first Broadway experience! And one much like the West End, to be honest, all gilt proscenium arch, boxes and velvet curtains, although no usherettes with ice cream trays around their necks in the interval (boo) and a standing ovation at the end, something that rarely, if ever, happens with restrained English audiences.

We were to see a preview of Boeing Boeing, directed by Matthew Warchus who transfers the production from London’s Comedy theatre. The play is a 1960’s French farce, made immediately obvious by a wonderful modernist standing set (Barcelona chairs, glass desk & pendant lamps)) with seven doors. (All farces need lots of doors so that people can hide, misunderstandings can be created, and characters can appear at precisely the wrong moment).

A truly stellar cast got the audience on-side from the off. Glorious Englishman Mark Rylance, (the only original cast member), Gina Gershon, Kathryn Hahn & Mary McCormack star alongside multi-award winners Christine Baranski (Cybil) & Bradley Whitford (The West Wing).

I found the actors’ projection somewhat screechy to start with, Hahn's overly mannered American air hostess sounds like an aural cheese grater & Baranski's housekeeper's faux French accent is less than authentic, but the sheer exuberance & physicality with which the compact cast throws itself into the script can’t help but engage an audience ready to clap each famous actor’s first entrance.

We were swept along on a rising crest of hilarity that threatened but never broke into hysteria. The cast knows just when to milk the script, which is very much a period piece (minxy air stewardesses, TWA & PAN-AM, telegrams), but the concept of a confirmed bachelor juggling three air hostess fiancées as they fly in & out or Paris - & his apartment - on carefully calibrated airline timetables has stood the test of time and makes for a thoroughly amusing evening.

All's well that ends well...

The big freelance contract that I was worried would slip through my fingers with all the job dithering has turned out well. They rang this morning to say they want me to continue consulting and if I have to stop when the other job kicks off then so be it. Otherwise I will continue to consult for them. Genius. Until it was resolved this morning, I hadn’t realised just how much it was worrying me.

And, most importantly, the babydog is on the road to recovery, and apparently wriggling about in ecstasy in London.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gah

God I’m in a staggeringly bad mood today. I wasn’t going to bother blogging, but then I thought, I know some people think I live a charmed life: New York, fashion, etc, etc and they would be right to a certain extent that my life here is pretty damn good, but that doesn’t mean everything works out all of the time, & maybe I should blog when I am hot, cross & bothered.

I KNOW, and count my blessings every day, that I lead a life that is not what many people consider to be the norm. Most of all, my life and my work are interchangeable. I don’t work to live.

But that doesn’t mean that I am Pollyanna, all hoppity, skippity, beaming rays of sunshine. I’ve got PMS, my dog is still ill, & my new job is still so caught up in a mire of paperwork and other people’s schedules that I am starting to despair of it ever actually happening.

I’ve been hanging in limbo for nearly a month now, waiting for it all to kick off, and if I wait much longer other, not quite so exciting, but definitely interesting & well paid, freelance opportunities are going to slip out of my grasp. I’m running the risk that I will have no work at all, and that scares the beejesus out or me. Being freelance means that you are always balanced on the knife edge of feast or famine , & if I have to keep waiting I’m going to start lurching towards famine. And that’s what’s making me so appallingly grumpy right now.

It’s like someone is holding the most beautiful couture frock in the world, made precisely to my measurements, just in front of my nose & swinging it there on a hanger but not letting me wear the bloody thing.

Dating option number three. Round two

I’ve complained before that online dating in America is a minefield. America may be the land of the free, but it’s also the land of the free to lie about your height, weight, looks, career. Most people I meet, with just one exception so far, are fatter, older, shorter, less shiny, less sparkly versions of their on-line personas. I never had this problem in London. I mainly used a site called loveandfriends.com, and every person I met was exactly what I expecting. I made some great friends and always enjoyed the experiences.

My theory is that it's much, much easier to meet people in person when you're out & about in New York than it is in London, where asking random people out is still not the norm. Therefore the people on-line dating in London are more normal, whereas the ones on-line here in Manhattan are often the ones who really find it a challenge to meet dates in the real world. (Plus, of course, out of towners, and shy people.)

The only person I’ve met in New York who didn’t enhance their profile was S, the guy I dated last summer, who didn’t actually write a profile. He just filled his on-line form with non-sequitors and bonkers-ness, his theory being you’d either get it. Or you wouldn’t. And he was exactly what I was expected: sexy, intelligent, amusing, leftfield.

So to dating option number three. So, recap, we never made it on our first date as my friend X ended up in hospital. He then went on holiday for two weeks. Monday afternoon we emailed & he suggesting meeting that evening on his way home from work. That gave me precisely twenty minutes to get ready and to the subway to meet him.

I’ve never, ever gone out in the evening wearing jeans (well not for since pointy high heels, boot cut jeans, & sparkly tops were the last word in hip, and & that’s a looooong while back), but twenty minutes? Not a lot of time for putting together a hot date outfit. So laundry day meant jeans, loose navy cotton dobby top, gold chains, beige suede wedge platforms were just going to have to do.

I saw him from across the street and just thought, yup, another one. Short, plump, geeky. He was kind and sweet, a perfectly pleasant guy with whom to have an early evening drink, but dynamism wasn’t his outstanding characteristic. If we hadn’t had our professions in common, there would have been little to talk about.

He chose a bar round the corner, which is where the evening became more memorable. The guy sitting just inside the door turned out to be a guy from a magazine called ooh, let’s call it Bonfire, with whom I went on a blind date last spring. Of all the bars in Manhattan…

Two days before my date with Bonfire guy, I had been invited to a Bonfire party at Barney’s. I hadn’t wanted to mention it to Bonfire guy in case he hadn’t been invited (magazines don’t always invite all their editors to see & be seen dos) & I didn’t want to embarrass him or be seen to be showing off

Turns out I needn't have been so thoughtful of his feelings as he was all about the showing off, as he was exceptionally pleased with himself for working at Bonfire. (He'd mentioned it in his very first email to me. I never tell people my name or who I work for.) Anyway he was there at the party, & we both recognized each other. The first question he asked me was why I was there. Because I was invited, I replied.

Fast forward to our date. Two minutes in he started heavily interrogating me as to why I was at the party, & who I knew to get invited. This really, really pissed me off. I really didn’t see why I had to play that game. Friendship or relationships should be based on chemistry & compatibility not social usefulness. Anyway, eventually I just cut it off with a raised eyebrow and an ironic ‘because I’m just very, very important’. He let it drop. We sat & chatted and went our separate ways.

We’ve had no contact since but what made me chuckle was that he was obviously on a blind date too. And whenever he thought I was looking over at him, he started leaning into to her across the table, and then relaxing back when he thought our attention had strayed. I’m afraid I ignored him. Very mature, LLG.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Target needs to re-think its eco strategy

More Earth Day thoughts.

Eco bandwagon-jumping makes me all hot, cross & bothered. Either do it properly or don’t do it all. I’d like Target to explain, please, why they think that ordering a job lot of oil by-product nylon shopping bags is helping to create a greener planet?My own bag arrived folded in a thick cardboard envelope marked ‘A gift for you and the environment’ in my subscriber copy of Vanity Fair. When I opened it there was a stink of chemicals from the bag itself. The sleeve asks shoppers to carry it for’ an easy way to reduce waste in your community’.

Are they on crack? Not only has the bag been shipped from China, it's made from extremely dubious chemicals that I don’t want my fruit & veg kicking around in, & they’ve just created a wholly unrecyclable shopping bag, and cardboard envelope which will be thrown out. (And it’s irrelevant that the envelope is made from 100% post-consumer waste.)

I am extremely unimpressed.

Francoise Olivas designs: A way to mark Earth Day

Ethical clothing is now a serious option for those who love fashion. I suggest celebrating Earth Day by checking out the beautiful collection from new designer Francoise Olivas who, as she puts it, strives for ethical beauty. I particularly love her Stravinsky's Stripe Dress (look no 12/13 & Three of Cups (look 16/17).

I'm going to lift straight from her copy as she describes her motivation better than I could:

It's hard to feel beautiful in an exquisite dress knowing that people halfway across the globe toiled long hours for mere pennies a day to create it. The richness of Francoise Olivas designs comes from our fair trade practices and alliances with traditional artisans from around the world. We rely on our global partners not only to assist us with producing our garments, but to inspire and collaborate in the design of our pieces as well.

Additionally, we respect and marvel at the grace and charm of the environment. We aim to use only environmentally friendly fabrics and yarns, and to restore natural dye practices. Simply put, we endeavor to create a line of products that are gentle on the world in order to be gentle on your mind.

The Francoise Olivas brand is a harmonious blend of form and fit, emotion and color, excellence of artistry and inspired originality. Our collection gives a nod of respect and appreciation to the diversity of cultures in our world, while extending a social, economic, and environmental handshake.

Monday, April 21, 2008

My London to-do list

I’ve been making a list of the things I’m going to do when I get back to London. Leaving aside the issue of my carbon footprint, I’m thrilled at the prospect of a couple of months in both cities.

Eating Vietnamese on the Kingsland Road with Miss P is at the top of the list. I think about the food there more than is good for me. I once briefly dated an older banker who lived in Chelsea. When he asked my favourite places to eat in London and I said the Hackney Vietnamese restaurants, he thought I was joking. (He had expected a Hakkasan or Wolseley type of answer). He found it inexplicable that I could choose a genre of restaurant whose dining accoutrements included plastic chairs & paper napkins. But it’s all about the food, I tried to explain. We didn’t last.

That’s not to say an indulgent power breakfast at The Wolseley or Cecconi's won’t be on my list. I am sure one of the kindly London fashion PRs will oblige.

There will be some light shopping. COS for sure and maybe a trawl through the High Street fast fashion retailers to pick up the kind of inexpensive & easy summer pieces that it’s impossible to find in New York. I’m thinking somewhere hideous like Brent Cross where I can get it all done in the most efficient manner possible.

Daunts, the best independent bookshop in London has four branches, two of which are within walking distance of my London place. The babydog & I shall certainly be dropping in on the way to the Heath for a spot of advanced ball throwing. (If she's feeling better by then. Sigh.)

A leisurely bike ride down the canal from Camden to Haggerston Lock, through Islington and Shoreditch on a sunny day is a blissful experience. It’s a true green oasis in the heart of London, bordered by railway lines, factories, and warehouses, some converted into chi-chi lofts, others still very much in working order, where ducks & herons, moorhens & kingfishers exist equitably.

And, speaking of birds, when the weather is warm I am so going swimming in both the Parliament Hill Lido, & in the Ladies Pond on Hampstead Heath. Unless you are an aficionado, the latter can be a hard sell. A proper pond, with ducks, & weed and, sometimes, rather cross looking swans, it has a thrust out pontoon (continually manned by lithe female lifeguards) with a ladder, so you can either climb or dive into the murky water. It’s so cold that you catch your breath, but after a few strokes you acclimatize and the temperature is perfect. I used to swim from May to September, and in August it was actually sometimes too warm. The water, although a funny brown colour, is kept fresh by the underground River Fleet which rises from a apring at Kenwood at the top of the Heath, & runs beneath the ponds.

It’s just simply one of the best outdoor experiences in London. Swimming the length of the water, sometimes in the rain, pausing at each moored lifebelt to look around at the encircling trees and blue sky, it’s easy to imagine oneself many miles from civilization. Until, of course, a plane on the Heathrow flight path zooms overhead.

Bicycles & bookshops, dachshunds & The Heath, food & restaurants, swimming & fashion. Pretty much sums me up then.

My version of a quiet week...

After my rampant socialising of the past two weeks, I took it down a whole octave this past week. I wrote a lot, had some great work-related things going on (the Grazia mention, two big fat commissions and an excellent protracted conversation with the lawyers regarding my work visa) and confined my socialising to a couple of strawberry vodka lemonades on the roof at Soho House in the wonderful 25C sunshine, a brief foray into the Diesel party with Sexy S & Ginger on Friday (full of twenty-something children in hipster outfits), & some quiet meals with girlfriends.

Mexican at Rosa Mexicano on Monday with lovely L & her son, in town for a long weekend to vist his dad who is shooting a movie with Kirsten Dunst in the city, and then an early supper, blood orange margaritas & more guacamole at Mexican Mama on Tuesday with BA & N for a catch up & wedding dress consult. (I am going to turn green if I eat any more avocados.)

We ate burgers & fries & drank cheap red wine at the counter at Florent in the Meatpacking on Friday and, most memorably, mezze on Thursday at Pylos, a modern Greek restaurant on East 7th with a tiny street front that opens into a sophisticated and grown-up minimal eating space. (I love the East Village for its constant architectural surprises like this.)We ordered lots of appetizers mezze style, amongst which were an artichoke moussaka that practically had me licking the dish, a plate of sensational deep fried haloumi with grapes and a sweet reduction, and a Greek salad that was so much more than the sum of its parts.

Although we've drunk excellent Greek wine here before (retsina remains a distant memory), a bottle of Champagne was drunk to toast BA's engagement and I tried to forget that in the one block walk from my apartment to the restaurant with BA I had managed to buy a pair of aubergine patent, hidden platform Mary Janes with a four inch heel by Pour La Victoire from Coco & Deliah, a brilliant little boutique (with a very good on-line offer) just past my front door.

They were half price in the sale & bought to replace my burgundy ToSho versions which I have worn into the ground since I bought them with JD's dissie card in Sept 06. Even if I don't wear them until next season, I know I'll get loads of use out of them. Have I done enough justification now? I don't know what's got into me of late. I've bought more stuff in the past week than I have in the past two months put together.

In London, I rarely get led astray by retail. Even in the relatively posh bit of North London in which I have a flat, the nearest shops to me are a Londis, a dodgy offie, a granny salon and the local*. It's just not quite the same somehow.

Oh, & now I have something else I want to save up for: this beautiful necklace that Queen Marie dedicated to me over at Kingdom of Style.

*translation for my American friendsLondis: Chain of bodega type corner stores (without the deli counter)
Offie: Off-licence liquor store (meaning you can't drink on the premises)
Granny salon: Hairdressers catering to the Senior Citizen market with £10 specials on perms and weekly wash & sets
Local: The pub

Images: nymag.com

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My new hat

Speaking of vintage hats (see below), this is my latest find:It was $24 at the Brooklyn Flea and is in absolutely mint condition. I bought it from a stand of excellently sourced vintage accessories, run by Marie & Ian, the charming couple who run this vintage site. I am flying back in July for a wedding on an estate in Scotland, and I think this may fit the bill perfectly.

Although goodness knows what I'll be wearing then. I'm on a be healthy regimen right now (I refuse to use the word 'diet') as my summer clothes are somewhat tight. It also doesn't help that my new job is looming and I really do not want to have to invest in a whole new working wardrobe when I have so many beautiful pieces stashed away both here & in the attics at my parents' place in England.

So, healthy regimen it is then. Certainly no take aways - & that's not as easy as it sounds. Every restaurant in Manhattan from the dodgy Chinese round the corner to Le Bernadin will package you up supper if you ask nicely and, as mentioned before, there are eleven restaurants on my pretty East Village street alone.

I've developed my own skinny version of Nachos, (my abiding vice), which involves half a cup of brown rice, black eyes beans stewed with an onion & stock, grated vegan soy cheese (it's so wrong, I know), fat-free sour cream, and home made pretend guacamole made with half an avocado, cherry tomatoes and a lot of chili sauce bashed up with the pestle & mortar, with a handful of coriander on top and maybe some cubed marinated tofu in with the rice for some more protein. The dish is surprisingly delicious, with lots of umami taste, & filling too.

I just wish there was a healthy alternative to bloody Creme Eggs.

Meme-tastic

We haven't had a blogosphere meme on here for a while, (my all time favourite was this one) so thank you my friend The Glam Guide who has tagged me to name six unimportant things about myself:

1) My first cat was called Sylvie Pilchard Jubilee
2) I’m often mistaken for a man on the telephone
3) I’m addicted to Crème Eggs
4) I collect vintage hats
5) I won the school General Knowledge Prize three years in a row at Junior School
6) I can’t wink my right eye

I tag: Wee Birdy, Stylist Stuff, Nonsense on Stilettos, Tales From The Runway, Suzanna at Le Style Sauvage and Jenny at Slaves to Fashion

Nuptial dressing

I thought finding the perfect dress for BA was going to be a long haul. We've been surfing bridal websites all week, (Amanda Wakeley was looking good), and had next weekend pencilled in for some preliminary trying on sessions at Bergdorfs & various salons uptown.

The wedding date isn't fixed yet (maybe October) but, given that BA is returning to England in the near future and her bridesmaids are in NYC, and the long lead times for ordering bridal dresses and the length of time it usually takes to make appointments and try on frocks, we thought there was no harm in getting started.

Then on Wednesday, as I barrelled along East 9th on my bike on my way to Soho House for drinks on the roof, I caught sight of a dress that looked similar to the shapes BA likes in the window of a store. I pulled a drastic braking manouevre (not so easy in four inch wedges I'll have you know), and pressed my nose up against what turned out to be the window of Selia Yang, a tiny one room bridal salon in the heart of the East Village.

I persuaded BA up there after closing time on Thursday for a squint through the security shutters and, we later made an appointment for this afternoon.

Turns out that although the East Village location may be a one room wonder, Selia Yang is a very highly regarded New York wedding dress designer with anoher showroom in Tribeca. And about to be in the public eye too, as one frock in the current collection is the wedding dress featured in the upcoming Patrick Dempsey & Michelle Monaghan vehicle Made of Honour.

So, to this afternoon. Susan, the salon manager, picked out five or so frocks. The dress from the window was second in. And bingo. Dress search over. She looks utterly ravishing. The dress is pure distilled essence of BA. She couldn't look more beautiful. Now we've just got to find three bridesmaid's frocks for three girls with different bodies & colouring that work with the dress. Piece of cake.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I am not radioactive, just lightly tanned

Well I am now furnished & burnished by EzeTan’s sun. Spray tans can be somewhat disconcerting if you haven’t had one before. The spray contains an immediate bronzer so you walk out looking all California golden then, during the course of the evening, you become progressively more tanned as the colour underneath develops.

By morning you look like Cat Deeley.

Of course the bronzer washes off in the shower leaving a lovely golden base. (Although I would never leave the apartment in my mahogany state, I do love it as my eyes go a piercing bright blue and my hair looks incredibly blonde in contrast. I’ve never had a tan that deep in the real world so I rather like the fantasy aspect of it all.)

It doesn’t leave your sheets orange, but I do bleach them in the summer as some colour definitely rubs off. I also keep a separate towelling dressing gown for when I am tanned. And I certainly wouldn’t advise sharing your bed with a boy the night you have a spray. You will smell odd and your tan will rub off rather too quickly.

There’s been some debate in the comments as to whether looking tanned is good or not. I certainly embrace the milky white nature of my natural colouring in the winter, enjoying the contrast with the winter palette, but the bright blues, pinks & yellows, & fuchsia lipstick I love wearing in the summer (& remember NYC is HOT) look appalling against my pale skin. And, if I'm going to be getting my legs out without the protection of 120 denier Wolfords,(& I wear pretty short sundresses as a matter of course), then they are going to need a little perking up.

Part of me thinks it’s irresponsible to promote tanning in any way when a real sun tan can kill. But the other part knows that, as a natural blonde, I just look better, plain & simple, in the summer with a very light golden colour.

I just wish that women didn’t still think it a good idea to bake themselves in UVA & UVB to achieve that effect.

It’s important to note that spray tans give you no protection whatsoever from the sun. I wear a dermatologist recommended SPF15 moisturiser containing the most upto date sunscreen by La Roche Posay on a daily basis throughout the year, even in the depths of winter, and always, always carry sunscreen & SPF lip balm from spring through to autumn, whether I am in the city or on the beach.

Nivea sent me their new DNAge Cell Protection Anti-Aging Face Sun Cream SPF50 spray a couple of weeks ago. It's been developed especially for the backs of hands, the face & décolletés: the areas which show sun damage the quickest.

Although it smells absolutely hideous ('fresh, subtle fragrance' my arse), it’s a convenient size to carry around for spraying on the hoof.(Although I'm somewhat dubious about a few of Nivea's claims. Best to treat it as a sunscreen not a miracle anti-ager.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Give me sunshine

There are an awful lot of helicopters buzzing around, so I presume they must be Secret Service and news crews getting ready to cover the hoo ha of the Pope’s visit. I can’t say it’s making much of a material or spiritual difference to my life right now, apart from ensuring I stay below 14th Street as I reckon it’ll be chocka in the skyscraper-y part of town tomorrow.

I hate to rub it in, as I know London is grey, but it’s progressively getting warmer here: 21C today, with a scorching 25 planned for tomorrow. Altho, given the utterly schizophrenic nature of NYC weather, no doubt it’ll be freezing and pouring with rain by Sunday when I’ll want to be by the pool on the roof deck at Soho House.

I’m off for my first spray tan of the season this afternoon. I bought a mega package at EZ-Tanning on Fifth last summer, so they worked out at $10 a throw, a steal compared to £20 a pop in London, & I still have some left. Several girlfriends have been trying to convince me that my English Rose-ish complexion and skin look lovely as they are, but I just can’t be doing with looking like a bottle of blue-tinged skimmed milk.

Of course, I haven’t actually exposed my skin to the sun since, well never, as I had eczema as a child and was incredibly fair so beaches were anathema & I burnt to a crisp within about 30 seconds. I’ve always worn high factor SPF, hats and covered my shoulders and décolleté when outside and it’s paid off as I don’t have any wrinkles or crow’s feet yet.

To be honest tho, it wasn’t so much from vanity as from a combined fear of skin cancer (I’m in the highest risk group – Northern European blonde with moles & freckles), and the fact that I get sunstroke & keel over pretty rapidly without a hat. Also I am sure that I can hear my cellulite sizzling in the sun like bacon on a griddle.

Still, there is an element of idiocy in my decision to spray tan: dunking myself in all those chemicals when I eat organic and will choose paraben free moisturizers. I guess that’s the essentially dichotomous nature of the 21stC female.

Posetta Babydog

The absolutely worst thing about being away from England is when there is a crisis back home. When I woke very early this morning and saw that there was a voicemail from my mother I knew something waa wrong.

My sister & I are besotted with Posy, our miniature wire-haired dachshund. She looks like someone did a scribble on a page and added stumpy legs. She's contrary & naughty and came from Dachsie Rescue so she's always a little unpredictable. Lots of my friends referred to her as Kujo when she arrived, as she was a very damaged little dog and used to fly at strangers in a frankly terrifying manner, especially for something so little. (She'd already been re-homed as uncontrollable three times, & we were her absolute last chance.)

We've bombarded her with love & affection over the last three years and she is a different dog now, although we never allow her around children as we suspect she was tortured by toddlers in her formative years, given her reaction to small people. She also hates tall men in big shoes, which also says something. Altho I guess when you are only eight inches off the ground, 6'4" is going to look like a horrid mutant hairy giraffe.

Of course she is ridiculously spoilt, but we love her dearly for her energy, enthusiasm and balls. She thinks nothing of taking on rottweilers and retrievers on the Heath. Who, needless to say, just stand there looking bemused, as if to say, "You're a midget. Why would I be scared? Go and bark somewhere else".

She also sleeps upside down along my side with her head on my shoulder when I come back to London. I'm not mad keen on this but, frankly, it's easier to acquiesce as she'll spend the night jumping on my head if I turn her away. And God she looks adorable. (She doesn't usually sport a mohawk BTW, that was just for the photo.)

Anyway, many dachshunds have problems with their spines eventually, and Posydog is confined to her bed with a swollen disc for a month. My sister tells me she whimpered all night with pain, so the vet gave her codeine this morning and she is better now.

We have a pact that we will not be those indulgent dog owners who subject their animals to huge amounts of pain, surgery & distress just to assuage their grief at the idea of losing their companion, but goodness it's hard. H is home all day (she doesn't go out to work) with the babydog* and I can't imagine her life without her companion. The vet says that if Posy stayd in her bed for a month, then she should be fine, and back to her normal boisterous self. Here's hoping.

*She's known as the babydog because she is ridiculously tiny for a dachsie, especially when compared to Maudie the Jack Russell, and ASBO & Violet the gormless whippets, who live with my parents in the country.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

APC bag

I really, really want this APC bag. It's not horrifically expensive, although more than I usually pay for a bag. It fits my criteria of not being an It bag, and will not be instantly recognisable when I wear it. I'm planning on wearing a lot of navy blue & grey this summer and it would look perfect as a "color accent" as my American chums would have it. iT'S $345, about £180.

Topshop New York

American fashionistas have October 10th inked and highlighted in their diaries: Why? That’s the day that Topshop will open on Broadway in SoHo. That means that the New York fashion editors who usually spend most of London Fashion Week in September shopping in ToSho Oxford Circus have only a scant month in Europe to wear their bargains.

After all, the show season ends in Paris on October 6th, so they’ve got four days to wear their new purchases in New York, before consigning them to their assistants.

It’s one thing wearing Topshop when you can only buy it in Europe, but which fashion maven wants to be seen in the same dress as the bridge & tunnel crowd, darling?

Leaving on a jet plane...

It's looking increasingly likely that I am about to be spending waaayyy too much time commuting across the Atlantic. Which is why I bought myself this glorious necklace in gold by Erica Weiner at the Brooklyn Flea on Sunday. It seems kind of appropriate for a new stage in my life. It comes in brass $35, silver or gold plated ($75).

My grandfather was an aircraft designer at De Havilland's both during and after the War, where he was awarded an OBE for his work as part of the small crack team that designed the Mosquito, which played a vital role in winning the War, and the Comet, the first jet airliner. I don't really remember him much as he died when I was a child, but my mother has the gold Comet suspended on a chain that the wives of the designers were given in commemoration. I rather like the idea that I can wear a 'plane too in honour of my grandfather.

For a fashion editor, I'm not very good at spending money on my wardrobe. As I complained before, I don't have a fashionable figure so designer clothes don't really fit me. I don't buy it bags (God forbid) or expensive shoes, preferring to rely on vintage (as you know), sample sales and judicious High Street picks. In an ideal world, I like things that last: beautiful, well-made proper luxury rather than mass-tige products. Most of all, I jhave worked from home for seven years, so haven't needed a huge wardrobe.

Of course now that full time employment is looming, I'm starting to shop more. And it's fun to be able to justify buying things that I normally consider indulgences on a freelancer's unpredictable income: like pretty necklaces on a whim!

Grazia: I love you

Well goodness gracious me. I've been so utterly gobsmacked by the news from London yesterday that Grazia have written about my blog in this week's issue. I was woken up super early by the trash trucks on St Marks, so I extracted my Blackberry from under my pillow (in the manner of a fully functioning addict) to find that Susie Bubble had emailed to tell me that LLG was in the What's Up section. (That girl is seriously quick off the mark - thanks love!)The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me: I had emails all day from people who thought I may have missed it, & then a lovely girl just emailed me out of the blue with these scans, which saves me from scouring Manhattan for a copy. And thank you Grazia: you didn't just make my day, but my mother's too!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Celia Birtwell for Express

As it looks increasingly likely that I may be returning to the world of full-time work in the next month or so, I am taking advantage of the beautiful spring weather (same temp as London, but strong sunshine), to ping around Manhattan on my bike, shopping during the day and being a lady who lunches.

Composing an outfit of sundress, tights & sunglasses (I hate this inter-seasonal hot/cold dressing nightmare), I whizzed over to Meatpacking from the East Village (I do not recommend cycling over cobblestones) to meet super stylish ex-Voguette O and adorable baby Oscar at Zampa for lunch.

Afterwards, as we were across the road, I gave O a guided tour of Soho House - I'm proposing her for membership - & we looked longingly at the pool and roof deck in the bright sunshine. I walked her home, and she gave me a pair of her Alaia boots that she's no longer wearing in her baby looking after mode. Very welcome.Then off to Express to check out the Celia Birtwell line. I'm a bit slow off the mark, as it launched a week ago, so I fully expected it to have sold out.

But no, there were racks of it in all sizes, and the dresses have been reduced by 25%. Such a shame that it hasn't had much press, as the designs & finishings are far more detailed than anything boring old Topshop has done with Birtwell to date, & the silk chiffon is beautiful. There are rows of tiny self covered buttons on the cuffs and down the backs of the dresses, giving a very 70's feel. The sleeves and pussybow ties are generously cut too. It's great to see too that she is using her archive prints, so you really feel that you are getting something very Celia Birtwell, rather than the usual High Street dilution of the designers' ethos.

My criticisms? Somewhat stingily cut across the bosom in the medium & large, I was busting out all over which means I am going to have to wear my dress in the evenings rather than as a sundress, as planned. The price point, although a bargain for this Englishwoman who is paid in pounds, but gets to spend in dollars, is quite high for Express and, I suspect, is responsible for the slow sales. (Birtwell is not nearly so well known over here as she is in the UK.)

This is what I bought (please excuse dodgy cameraphone in changing room pics):Lapis Lazuli print pussycat bow blouse. There is some elasticated shirring under the bust, so I fear I will never be wearing this shirt without the cardi - way too alarming on the bust front otherwise. $79.50/£40Beautiful lilac Mini Posh Dot print dress - rather a lot of cleavage going on, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. $128 reduced to $96.Okay - these having nothing whatsoever to do with Celia Birtwell, but navy anything is hard to find, & I love their nautical styling, & they were on the way to the checkout. $44/£22

Beacon's Closet is addictive

I seriously need to stay away from Beacon's Closet. As you may have read I bought three pairs of shoes & a dress there with J last Monday.

This Sunday, after visiting the bloody brilliant Brooklyn Flea (post to come) with CA, we girls brunched at Juliette in Williamsburg (not very good, to be honest, but then brunch so rarely is), & I took CA beforehand & BA after to check it out.

I bought a 1950's mint condition black silk chiffon cocktail dress with a ruched bodice, pencil skirt & accordion pleated tail for $19.99. And these rather fab unworn Michael Kors mainline (not the Kors line) brown suede platform sanadals for $34 (should be $500)

Blogs du Jour

I haven’t done a ‘blogs I read' round up for some time. Regular visitors to the blogosphere will know that there is a hardcore of fashion bloggers who all know & support each other. I’ve tagged and mentioned these essential reads of the on-line world frequently, so I’m moving out of the style world today.

First up: Cityboy. Intelligent, obnoxious, acerbic, hilarious. Anonymous Cityboy lifts the lid on the City of London and what those finance boys really get up to. The blog is linked to his weekly column in thelondonpaper, and he has the Holy Grail of bloggers, a book coming out on 26th June.

Lurking in the leftfield are The Avocado Papers. He likes talking and knowing about stuff. Pretty random stuff, but interesting stuff all the same.

London Foodie in NY because she is as obsessed about food as I have always been, (but has actually put her money where her mouth is by cooking for a living) and thinks Americans eat some pretty wierd stuff for breakfast too.

Woody's Dog Blog makes me hoot with laughter. And not just because I know Woody's mummies. (One of whom mentioned to my sis the other day that it was so funny how my blog makes me sound so glamorous, when she & my sister know the truth about my appalling messiness and slothful ways. Thank you very much my darling!)

Addendum: Bugger. I know I've mentioned her recently, but I should have added Definitely Stopping At Two this morning as I think her most recent post beyond genius. And that's not just because she's my friend.

Monday, April 14, 2008

MS Awareness 2008

Today marks the start of MS Awareness 2008. Not only has an old school friend been diagnosed, & several friends’ relatives, but I have a very, very close family member who has had Multiple Sclerosis for almost ten years now. Through this I have come to realise that awareness & education can be as important as raising money for research and support.

So I always try to support MS in a creative way that provokes interest: one year I made chocolate cakes & sold them by the slice in the Vogue House boardroom to Condé Nast girls in aid of the MS Cake Bake (doubly joyful: feeding cake to Voguettes & raising money/awareness), and I helped the MyShoes for MS campaign celebrity shoe auction by leveraging my address book to solicit shoes from celebs (Andrea Corr gave us her YSL heels which made £2800!) & from the best shoe designers in the world. Divine Mr. Louboutin even signed his pair. (Altho I haven’t ever forgiven the Gina PR for not even bothering to reply to a single email. What goes around comes around, I always say.)

Today I am using my fluffy blog to do a little education so, in return for reading my blog each day, I’d be grateful if you’d bear with me for a couple of paragraphs whilst I inform &, I hope, engage you.

Multiple Sclerosis means multiple scarring and refers to the process where the body’s nerve response conductor to the brain, the myelin sheath around the nerve endings, becomes irredeemably scarred and damaged by the body’s auto-immune response system.

This in turn means that the body’s signals to the brain are slowed down, or rerouted, causing no end of problems & responses, which can be different in every single MS patient, hence the reason why no one person experiences MS in the same way or severity. Symptoms can come & go (relapsing remitting MS), or get worse over time, (progressive MS).

Problems can include neuropathic pain (like awful sunburn and/or tingling permanent pins & needles, bladder infections & loss of bladder control, optic neuritis (pain, loss of or fuzzy vision), loss of sensation (which can mean you can’t walk as you can’t feel your feet), lack of co-ordination, balance & spatial awareness, over-whelming fatigue, cognitive slow down & dissonance (where you can recognise things but not recall their names) and pain. Patients may experience one, some, all or none of these symptoms.

But, just because MS patients often have no visible symptoms, it doesn’t mean they are feeling well. Of course, not every person with MS will experience fatigue, but the majority do and for many it is their single most disabling symptom, battling it on a daily basis

We always use the following analogy to explain the unique nature of MS fatigue, (which is why many people with MS can’t just go down the pub at a moment’s notice, or why they often feel comprehensively exhausted all the time.)

Imagine that any activity has an energy point value. You and I, as healthy people, start each day with an unlimited number of energy points, so we can do whatever we like, when we like.

On a not great day, an MS patient may only have twenty energy points. It takes two points just to get out of bed, one to go to the loo, another one to feed the dog, another to brush your teeth, a couple to make & eat a bowl of cereal and a couple more to get dressed.

That’s nearly half your day’s energy allocation gone and you haven’t actually started your working day yet. If you want to see your friends, go shopping, eat a meal out, you need to conserve your points during the week, so you have enough saved up to get you through the journey & socialising. Even having someone over for a couple of hour’s conversation, let alone staying with you, takes up precious points. That’s why work can be impossible, spontaneity can be a bad idea, and many MS patients give up going out.

Comments like, “Oh I would just work through it”, “Well, I get tired too”, or “I’m ill & tired too: I have a thyroid problem”, show a basic incomprehension of what MS fatigue actually is.

MS fatigue isn’t caused by tiredness, it’s caused by the body fighting to reroute the nervous system, & the best thing a patient can do is to stop and let the body concentrate on fighting through. An MS patient snoozing in bed in the middle of the day isn't being a lazy so and so, or just giving up: they are helping their body by concentrating their physical & mental resources.

If you’d like more information on how MS affects patients, carers, health professionals and relations, then the utterly brilliant MS Trust website relaunched today.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Nina Garcia out at US Elle

The gossip mill is buzzing in Manhattan over the rumour that the fashion director of US Elle, Nina Garcia, has been given her marching orders. WWD was first with the reports late Friday, followed by a Saturday update from New York magazine. Insiders are mulling over the possibility that Garcia’s Project Runway judging role, just-filmed Ugly Betty cameo, ubiquitous Blackberry ads and book deals were overshadowing the magazine and, most importantly, the editor in chief Robbie Myers and new creative director, Joe Zee.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What LLG did next...

So I've finally drawn breath, and it feels good. Right now I'm supposed to hanging out on the roof of Soho House with Sexy S & J (who I bumped into last night & who seems to have forgiven me for immortalising him in my blog last week) in the early Saturday evening sunshine, but I lost momentum at about 4pm and went for a pedicure before going home to watch last week's series launch of Doctor Who (I'm obsessed) on the net.

I think I can be forgiven though: I was up at 8am and by 1.30pm had been to The Guggenheim (Cai Guo-Quiang installations), and to The Met (The Jasper Johns & Courbet shows) and walked from 90th right down to 56th. At that point, H & I gave up, & fell into a cab, heading to Soho & Spring Street Natural for an organic, healthy late lunch. He's got jet lag, & I'm just generally exhausted.Bobo; Bobo New YorkThursday night was a girls' night out to celebrate BA's engagement. The four of us started at the classic & very grown up King Cole bar at the St Regis, before heading down to our favourite restaurant Bobo in the West Village for supper. Bobo always feels like an exquisitely shabby chic private townhouse that just happens to be hosting a few tables for supper filled with beautiful people (most often fashion industry and, on Thursday, Demi Moore & Ashton Kutcher)*

Lovely Andy, the most charming restaurant manager in Manhattan, had kept us a fabulous table on the terrace, and we worked our way through the menu, from mushroom risotto (with morels) followed by transcendental light, fluffy ricotta ravioli with parmesan & broad (fava) beans. The chef also sweetly sent out a freebie of cod with chanterelles, on perfect leeks with a green puree which disappeared pretty quickly. Pud was a rhubarb galette, perfectly in season, with great pastry.

Friday saw yet more eating. One of the things I miss most about London are my male friends, so it was blissful to have three lovely boys to take me to supper at Public in Nolita. We met at the bar at the Soho Grand, as I'm particularly fond of their passion fruit martinis in glasses the size of a goldfish bowl.

Public is buzzy, busy and very New York, & perfect for out of town visitors. The food is Pacific rim, (Peter Gordon of London's Providores and the former Sugar Club is a partner) and the wine list, in the main, Antipodean. We drank a stunning Pinot Noir and I, to my eternal restaurant reporting shame, ordered the simplest, healthiest dishes on the menu: an excellent mushroom ceviche with yuzu, followed by a green bean, pecan, lentil & avocado salad dressed with the sweet sharpness of pomegranate molasses balanced with avocado oil. I just couldn't face complex food after ten days of restaurant eating.

*We can report that Demi was stunning in Missoni, absolutely tiny, looked about twenty in candlelight and that we all fancied Ashton.

Photo: Dining room at Bobo

How my life has changed

Sometimes I look back on my life in London, and think that I have morphed into a different person. If I went out once a week, I was doing well. I was all about the dinner parties in my kitchen, and the boozy Sunday lunches and walks on Hampstead Heath with the babydog, & hanging out with my adored little sister.

If I went to one fashion party a month I was pushing myself. Hip restaurants: if a PR lunched me, or my parents were in town but otherwise…

Here I ping around the city at a pace that leaves me breathless. I go out so much I can barely keep up with my dry cleaning let alone blogging about it. Manhattan is such an overt world: where so much of London life happens behind closed doors at dinner parties & in private members’ club, here in New York it’s all about the overt: the hot restaurant, and the great cocktail bar, seeing & being seen. Plus it's actually cheaper to eat out than cook for people.

It’s so expensive to eat in London that the idea of a bar in a restaurant is completely alien: when a main course in a good restaurant is at least $35 no one drops in to eat at the bar or grab an appetizer with drinks. London dining is an event, and an almost unaffordable expense. (And that's after you've dropped the cost of an entree on just getting there.)

Here in New York I eat out at least five times a week and, this week alone, I’ve been out for dinner every night since last Friday. (And am starting to have the avoirdupois to show for it too.)

The compact nature of the city, both in geography & in apartment size, means that going out becomes incredibly appealing. There are fifteen restaurants on my block alone, one of which is open 24hrs. After a year of living in the East Village the novelty of walking outside & grabbing a meal any hour of the day hasn’t worn off yet. Let alone knowing that even going uptown will cost me just $10 in a cab if I am running late. (As opposed to $40 in London for an equivalent journey.)

And, best of all, I don't need to stay at parties for ages, or schedule two or three things in an evening because it's taken me over an hour to get there. In London, the travelling time to get anywhere is the main reason I rarely went out: after a day of work I just couldn't face it.

Here I can be home in fifteen minutes from most places I hang out in this city if I take a $10 cab. Most times, tho, I can walk or use my bike. And that is the biggest freedom of all.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Lucky me

My mother, although a little highly strung, is astonishingly generous and very kind. I had some good news yesterday, and this morning these ravishing flowers arrived from her & my father.

My favourite flowers are pink roses, and there were a dozen stems, mixed with scented white stocks and green guelder roses in a glass vase, wrapped in tissue from Arte de Fiori in Manhattan.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spring dressing

Spring has finally sprung: it's 24C/74F here in Manhattan. There's a little nip in the air tho, so it's not quite a balmy summer-ish day. BA's bridesmaids to be are taking her out for a celebratory supper tonight & I have no idea what I can wear.

As I haven't yet started my fake tan regimen, my legs are a startling shade of corpse white, & they have the not so appealing blue tinge of skimmmed milk in bright light. I'm cheatng by wearing jeans today, as it's too warm for tights (although I suspect it'll be cool this evening), so I guess that means either a floor length maxi dress for tonight, or I guess I can just sod it and wear tights for the last time before hopping off to the spray tan place first thing.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Les grandes bouffes

I really don't feel particularly splendid today. I'm known for my dormouse habits, (head in teapot, tail wrapped around face) yet I just don't seem to be sleeping soundly right now, and I awake early too. I also feel somewhat bilious. This is not good. I had an Americano on Monday and, as I never drink coffee, I'm wondering if that has buggered up my system.

Then again, I have been living the life of Riley since last week. Friday my beautiful friend F was back in town (almost recovered after being precipitated down the stairs at The Mercer Kitchen), so six of us convened at Waverly for Champagne in the tiny, noisy bar before walking down to Bar Blanc for an exceptionally good meal. My risotto primavera was probably the best I have eaten anywhere. Certainly on a par with Neil Ferguson's at Allen & Delancey. The addition of a bright green spinach and cream puree made every mouthful taste like spring. I drank too much of a fantastic Pomerol, & we ended the evening drinking cocktails in Soho House until 2.30am

Saturday I headed to Beauty Bar on 14th to meet two old friends from the Condé Nast magazine I laboured on for five years back in London. I do like Beauty Bar, but a drinking spot whose USP is manicures whilst you drink and drying hoods above the seats was an odd choice for a Saturday night with boys in tow. Wonderful to see my friends though, although I had to leave to go to a party at a loft in Nolita, followed by bar hopping with sexy S in Soho. I walked home singing to myself from West Broadway in four inch heel black patent ankle boots. Christ, my feet hurt the next day.

Sunday has already been discussed, and last night I hopped on my bike down to Nolita to meet Sexy S at 24 Prince for a party to celebrate the restaurant's second birthday.

The restaurant is in the public eye right now as chef Nikki Cascone is competing on Bravo's Top Chef at the moment. I never, ever watch reality TV in the UK, but Top Chef has changed my viewing habits: talented & interesting chefs cooking amazing food. What's not to like? I was introduced to the absolutely charming Nikki (very pretty, tiny, wee in the flesh) and ate an outstanding salad of grapes & grated ricotta.

Then it was back on my bike to the West Village to Waverly again for supper with a recovered X, her sister & L&J. Lovely round table in the corner of the main room so we could people watch, and a close encounter on the way to the loos (so small they should be counted as a triumph of optimism over reality) with Salman Rushdie. On the way back to our table I spotted two plates of the off menu $90 mac and cheese being showered with grated truffle for a couple of over-entitled Euro types.

Not being in the market for $90 plates myself, I really wish they'd change the standard menu: there is only one vegetarian main course, a creamy curried quinoa risotto. It was very good first time around a year or so ago, but I can't face eating it over & over. Our lovely waiter took pity on me and produced some delicious off menu fat grilled porcini on spring onions with sea salt for my first course, so I could have the grilled vegetable salad for my main dish. All excellent and very healthy. Pud was a glass bowl of immaculate berries with a little porcelain jug of rosemary infused simple syrup. Clever.

We drank French Bulldogs at the bar, and then a bottle of Rioja with the meal, which meant I was sober enough by the end of the meal to bike home again. A vain attempt to ameliorate the fat-making effects of the meals I keep eating.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Comme des Garcons ENERGY C

Spring is just around the corner, & these Comme fragrances make me think of sunshine, Ibiza and the outdoors. They're also way more up my street than Rei's H&M collaboration. £29/$43 from Dover Street Market in London from May.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Feeling the vintage love

This has been the weekend of English visitors and I am exhausted. (Three different sets on consecutive days!) My last date was with J, who was over for meetings, so last night we met for supper at Soho House and, supposedly, an acoustic gig by David Ford under the Artists' Den banner.

I arrived first and was seriously unimpressed, an opinion shared by J, a music industry maven, when she arrived, so we left the Drawing Room to perch at the main bar and feed our communal hangover with fries, sliders and cosmos whilst trying not to listen to Ford murder The Smiths' There is a Light That Never Goes Out".

We met up again today for an expedition to Williamsburg to rootle through the vintage stores. There is great vintage on Manhattan - but only if you want to pay $75up for a cotton frock. When new deliveries come into the East Village stores they are snapped up immediately by researchers & buyers for the likes of Ralph Lauren and so pieces are priced accordingly.

So between industry pricing and higher rents, a simple two stop, ten minute subway trip across the East River, from the East Village to Williamsburg, Brooklyn can result in a fifty dollar price drop.

That's not to say that every vintage store in Williamsburg is full of bargains - some are staggeringly over-priced: a white cotton lab coat, marked 'European Vintage' was $75 in one store.

We headed straight to Beacon's Closet. It's no secret store (at weekends it's rammed and even on a quiet Monday afternoon we spotted several people walking down Bedford Avenue swinging Beacon's distinctive pink plastic carriers), but the owners haven't succumbed to vintage madness and everything is reasonably priced, with dresses ranging from $9.99 to an average of $25. Altho, like most vintage stores now, there's more second hand modern clothing (H&M, BCBG etc) than pieces dating from the 60's or earlier.

Their pricing is whack tho: I spotted a beautiful size 6 black silk crepe & lace Diane von Furstenberg slip dress for just $24.95, and J picked up a pretty green & white jersey Topshop dress for the same price.

I was eCstatic with my bargains: a navy blue, heavy silk faille A line, cap sleeve 1960's mini dress in mint condition for $19.99 and three pairs of practically unworn designer shoes that were so startlingly cheap I can only presume the store staff didn't recognise the labels.
Joseph AzaguryClassic, timeless, black suedeJoseph Azagury$21.95 - worn once, if at all. (Worth $700)Calypso shoes, Jacqueline Schnabel Brown leather ankle strap wedges by Jacqueline Schnabel for Calypso $24.95 (worth $200) Shop worn. No marks.Sportmax, Sportmax heelsCream nubuck & gold leather Mary Janes by Sportmax $24.95 (worth $450)Worn once, if at all.
Still waiting for my insurance digital camera. Cameraphone pictures just aren't ideal

Google searches

Statcounter lets bloggers see which Google searches bring surfers to their sites. Usually they are fairly normal: "handbag designers" or "gladiator sandals", but today brought up two crackers: "Prostitution in Hackney" & "How much do fashion editors get paid?"

I'm afraid the searcher was doomed to disappointment with the first on this blog, but I can help with the second. The answer is not nearly enough; most employers presume the perks of the job - discounts/freebies/beauty products - make up for the hovering around senior PA salary levels.

Believe you me, one does not become a fashion editor for the pay: it definitely falls under the category of lifestyle choice. If you adore fashion & love travel, late nights, and being away from home a lot, then it's the perfect job. You also need tenacity, humour, the skin of a rhino and a high tolerance for tantrums & over-entitled, diva-like behaviour.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Not all women are ticking clocks...

My three year old godson Oliver just told me he loved me down the 'phone. There is something very beguiling about holding that place in a child's heart.

I stayed with him, his little sister and his parents when I was recuperating from my dull op in December. His, & Lulu's, greatest joy was to run up to my attic room every morning and jump on my bed, using me and the iron bedstead as a jungle gym. (Ouch.)

I think the thing I miss most about London, bar my family & the dog, is seeing my friend's children grow up. In addition to my clutch of glorious, glorious godchildren, there are quite a few other adorable cherubs kicking around North London & this week I've been requesting photographs of them all so that I can catch up. It's quite frightening how the little babies I left behind in London are all now little people, who all seem to exactly resemble their parents.

I don't feel that I am at the mercy of my biological clock: for me I've always seen children as the product of a relationship, so if I don't meet someone I want to have children with, then I won't have any. I do wish though that men wouldn't presume that all women in their thirties are chomping at the bit to procreate. It's just not the case.

I'm very happy with my role as Aunty LLG. I love my friends' children and if that is the way it's going to be, then so be it.

Easter card by my god-daughter Amelia

Friday, April 04, 2008

Who IS Liberty London Girl?

Anonymity on the web is a curious thing. Most anony-bloggers are living on borrowed time. I know full well that we will all get our identities outed sooner or later, as some journalists & bloggers just can’t resist trying to be clever by working it out.

I got outed this morning to a whole group of people I’ve only just met when a random friend of a friend followed a link to here, read a couple of posts and worked out the identities of S & J. God only knows how.

I’m just relieved that, although I may be trenchant in my views, I am never gratuitously rude or nasty about anyone so I don’t think there’s anything for them to be offended by in my descriptions of our various shenanigans. In fact S appears to be pretty chuffed that his blog moniker is ‘Sexy S’, which is actually how he is known by all my girlfriends (There you have it S – the truth!)

Anyway, I’m not fussed if people know who I am. All my friends know I write a blog, (two actually, as I get paid to write one elsewhere) & I’ve never made an enormous secret of my identity: I’m too lazy for all that surreptitiousness. Several other fashion bloggers know who I am & I’ve told the odd PR here or there. In fact the only reason I stay an anony-blogger, as I explained in an earlier post, is that I dislike the idea of my life being on display for anyone who cares to put my name in a search engine.

This post was triggered by several things. Firstly, my mate S who writes the truly excellent Down By The Hipster blog about NYC nightlife got rather spitefully outed by a semi-rival blog a couple of weeks ago (altho it’s got them lots of traffic & some advertising, so not all bad there). Secondly, it’s been brought to my attention by more than a few bloggers that there that people are searching their blogs with the question, ‘Who is LibertyLondonGirl?’

Get a grip, people. It’s just not that big a secret. Ask me, and if I know or like you, I’ll tell you.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Collette Dinnigan launches a diffusion lingerie line at Target

Collette Dinnigan's Wild Hearts lingerie line is coming to a Target near you in two weeks, with pieces selling for as little as $20. It will be continually updated and replenished until at least the end of the year.

Dinnigan started her career as a lingerie designer before becoming one of Australia's most famous womenswear designers, launching her own label in 1990. It's quintessentially feminine, usually pastel with a vintage feel.

Chain store diffusion lines, especially Target's, tend to use extremely cheap fabrics. The silk & lace that Dinnegan uses for her main line lingerie has always been a major part of her USP, so it's hard to imagine whow this line will work out. I'm not enormously hopeful. (That'll be because I'm still recovering from the fabric horror of Temperley & Jojovich-Hawk for Target.)

A little bit of unsolicited praise goes a very, very long way...

I've been feelng a slightly pale shade of blue of late, what with BA's eventual move back to London, hideous visa wranglings around my new job (been offered it but not formally precisely because of the wrangling) and the dawning realisation that Manhattan is ramma with willowy, beautiful, intelligent women and very few attractive men. (Why do they all think money is an adequate substitute for intelligence, height, wit and looks?)

So it was immensely cheering to read an encomium by JSL, lauding me (and my, erm, bosom) to the heavens, on his wonderfully erudite & witty blog The Main Point.

It's always good to have a little cheerleading in one's life. Thanks sweetheart xx

An unexpected evening: St Vincent's & the Beatrice Inn

Last night didn’t go quite as planned: my Blackberry hummed at 17:30 with a message from a friend who was in hospital as an emergency admission. The silly moo had been there since 9am but was too embarrassed/worried about disturbing me.

Cancelling my evening plans immediately, I hopped on my bike to St Vincent’s in the West Village where a rather pale & worried X was lying in Fast Track with a canula in her arm and a serious case of tummy rumbles. I nipped off pronto to buy her some supper, lots of mags and to fetch her a case of essentials from her apartment, mulling over the fact that that makes twice in six weeks I’ve had a close friend end up in St Vincent’s .

Anyway I stayed until ten-ish when X looked like she’d pop off to sleep. And then Sexy S buzzed me to say my name was on the door at Beatrice, for the Cry Wolf (more of this later) party just a few streets away. So off I went for some naughty shenanigans with S & with J, who has a proper case of the roving paws. Not that I minded especially: I don’t mind attention from cute boys, & he is more affectionate than lecherous.

I biked home at 1am in a record eight minutes from West Village to East. (I hadn’t been drinking so it was fine). There’s little better than whizzing through a deserted Manhattan: the streets are wide, one way and it's easier to avoid the myriad potholes. I could see the Chrysler & Empire State buildings to my left as I barrelled along Eighth, & thanked goodness for the thousandth time that I live in New York. (Yes, Muv – if you are reading this I did have my lights on).

Party pics at Guest of a Guest

Comme des Garcons for H&M

I'm stunned, betwattled & befuddled like a duck in a rainstorm.

What IS Rei Kawakubo thinking? WGSN reports that H&M's next designer collaboration this autumn will be with one of fashion's foremost conceptualists. She is reported to be creating womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, plus accessories and an exclusive unisex fragrance.

"I have always been interested in the balance between creation and business. It is a dilemma, although for me creation has always been the first priority. It is a fascinating challenge to work with H&M since it is a chance to take the dilemma to its extreme, and try to solve it," said Kawakubo.

H&M is expanding massively in Japan, so I can understand what's in it for Hennes, but for Rei? As you know I wasn't exactly a fan of Cavalli's collection - or of the static sshocks all those artificial fibres gave me. Let's hope Comme have some quality control over this collection.

How much do we think they paid her? Got to be a million up. Answers on a postcard please.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Dating Option Number Three

DN3 has invited me to play Connect Four tomorrow, so I've picked a bar Downtown. I'm slightly regretting arranging to meet him as I looked at his profile again today and I'm pretty sure I don't fancy him. But he wrote me a brilliant (ie blush makingly complimentary) email, and made me laugh so I over ruled my inner voice and agreed to a date, thinking I should give him - and me - a chance. And maybe I'll make a friend, if not a boyfriend.

Which is more than I'm going to do with the film director who asked me for a drink after a few emails. I replied back suggesting a day & time, and never heard back. Bloody rude. He got back in touch a week later saying could I do the next Friday instead. Obviously I ignored it: we're all busy but courtesy doesn't take much time, & if he can't even be bothered to email to reschedule because he's busy it doesn't bode well. The penny has obviously dropped as he emailed again to finally apologise for virtually standing me up, asked me out a third time and then started talking about interviews I'd done recently.

Except I've never told him my surname or who I write for, bar that I broadcast for the BBC. He's obviously done a comprehensive Google & Lexus Nexus search on me. Creepy.

If someone provides their full name then I think they are fair game for a spot of Googling, but I don't tell people my surname on purpose as I want to preserve some anonymity, and neither do I want people meeting me because they want to network. (It's happened before). Whatever, he's a flake and he's invaded my privacy. Game over mate.

Orzo with mushrooms, feta, edamame & parsley

It’s been a beautiful day here in Manhattan, and I walked home from the subway after a cocktail at The Four Seasons uptown with just my tux over my silk Geren Ford dress. Twenty minutes later, whilst I was watching Dancing with the Stars (guilty pleasure), a tornado warning flashed across the screen, and rain started pelting against the windows and the wind blew the curtains in.

And goodness I suddenly felt hungry. I made the most delicious & super healthy supper in just fifteen minutes. I measured out a cup of orzo. Whilst it was cooking, I fried mushrooms & spring onions (scallions) in a little olive oil, and defrosted some edamame in a bowl of boiling water. As the mushrooms cooked, I added a teaspoon of butter and a generous pinch of Maldon salt and a lot of black pepper. The salt leached out some of the juices from the mushrooms to give a fabulous buttery sauce. Then I threw in the drained orzo with a couple of ounces of crumbled feta and lots of chiffonaded flat parsley. Bingo. And then I ate it all.

And chased it with a Crème Egg. Hey I can’t be healthy all the time.I’m waiting for the insurance company to send my new camera, so please excuse my terrible cameraphone pics

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Bridesmaid duties

I've been asked what I'm going to wear as a bridesmaid, and the answer is, no idea, never done it before. I've been an official non-bridesmaid twice, & I've put in some serious non-bridesmaid hours at other weddings over the years: taking the official photographs, reading in church, flower arranging, even baking a wedding cake, but I've skipped the dress-wearing part up until now.

For M's wedding in the Vienne, L & I did a major road trip from London across France with the wedding dress and spent a week doing helping get everything ready at her father's wonderful farmhouse in the August sunshine.I think I got the better side of the bargain: I got to read a beautiful poem during Mass, and L wore the fuchsia satin strapless fishtail dress. (She looked fabulous but so not my thing, and I'm four inches taller than both M & L.)

I went to my first American wedding when I was 19 and visiting friends in St Louis, MO. I was gobsmacked at how different it was. Ten grown-up bridesmaids wearing black (a definite no at home) & matching groomsmen was so different from an English wedding.

I saw that truly abysmal Katherine Heigl flick '27 Dresses' the other day. The scenario of being in 27 different weddings just wldn't happen in the UK where a) traditionally you can only be a bridesmaid if you are unmarried, (although a married friend can act as matron of honour), & b) it's pretty normal to have just one or two grown up bridesmaids, if any, with the rest little ones in sweet ballet frocks or shorts & shirts.

The wedding party is actually quite small. There is a best man, but the rest of the groom's mates are called ushers. They seat people in church & hand out the orders of service, generally helping out, but that's it. They will usually wear button holes but it's considered pretty naff for them to all wear the same outfits as the groom and best man.

BA is something very important at a major American fashion house, and says she wants her wedding to be small & sophisticated. Her fiancé is French but American educated so I guess the wedding will be a mélange of different traditions. I trust her implicitly to choose something beautiful for each of us. (She's already decided we won't be matchy-matchy, thank goodness, as all three of us bridesmaids look completely different in hair, figures, height.) I can guarantee that none of us will be wearing lemon yellow frills, but I'm certainly going to continue torturing her with ghastly wedding dress suggestions.

Photo: Outbuildings at M's father's farmhouse in the Vienne, France

Wedding bliss

I'm simultaneously over the moon and rather depressed. BA, my partner in crime over here, has just become engaged to be married to the man she loves. And she's asked her three best friends in New York to be her bridesmaids, me along with F & J, at the wedding in the south of France later this year.

But it will inevitably mean she moves back to London at some point. The nature of New York - no one seems to be from here - means that one has to get used to a rather high turnover of friends. M & L have already returned to the UK & I do miss them enormously but hopefully my other wonderful friends are staying put for the time being. I certainly don't think there's much likelihood of me returning to live in London for some years. Although paradoxically, as the negotiations for my new job continue & it's looking like a runner, it means I am likely to be in Europe more as I will be covering the collections.

And I am amusing myself by sending BA pictures of wedding dresses. I can't think why she didn't like this one:

Celia Birtwell launches iconic fashion prints for the home

Her designs for Topshop whisk off the shelves on arrival but now there’s a much lovelier way to show your love for Celia Birtwell’s beautiful fashion textiles: she’s hand-picked four of her most popular fashion textile designs, Candy Flower, Mystic Daisy, Pop Check and Posh Dot, for a brand new linen furnishing collection entitled “Pop Story”, printed on oyster and natural linens.www.celiabirtwell.com