Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Times Top 20 Fashion Twitterers

There's been much debate about Twitter with non-users writing users off as loony tunes. I'm not going to defend the nation of 'craven solipsists' that lurk on Twitter, but instead direct you to the utterly brilliant Tania Kindersley's* blog piece on the subject here. Oh and Miss Whistle nailed it here too

Anyway, that was by way of a justification intro to thank The Times fashion team for popping Liberty London Girl in at no 6 on their Top 20 Fashion Twitterers list today. Being included is pretty thrilling (Really? these people want to know what I am up to? Okay then), especially when I am rubbing shoulders with the likes of French Vogue, The New York Times & WWD. And when, frankly, I've gone off the boil a bit on the fashion front of late. (Too much eating, drinking, exploring & lunacy in California.)

But, best of all, discovering that the LLG Twitter feed received the most nominations from @Timesfashion followers on Twitter was most heart-warming. Thank you everyone.

If you haven't yet been sucked into the Twitter universe, my feed runs on the column to the right, and you can click through to the main Twitter site from there.

*Tania & Sarah Vine's book Backwards in High Heels is so good that I have bought it for all my girlfriends. Read India Knight's rave review here, and BUY it immediately here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lunching on the terrace at The Ivy

The Los Angeles restaurant scene is legendary. For a town whose population is presumed to be disinterested in eating, there sure are a lot of places to not eat in.

Hovering near the top in notoriety is The Ivy on Robertson. After chewing interminably at their House Salad which resembled nothing so much as a pile of grass clippings bathed in dressing, I came to the conclusion that probably no one ever noticed how off the food was. And, even if the meals served there were delicious, they would always be secondary to the outdoor theatre going on on the terrace at lunchtime.

The paparazzi started off unobtrusively hovering around the corner, snapping arrivals indiscriminately, but half way through lunch they gave up all pretence and went straight for the money shots.

They were wound up to fever pitch by Sheryl Crow glowering at the lenses that stalked her every mouthful, (although we noted that she was not so bothered that she moved tables into the empty Siberia indoors) and then by Marc Anthony (sans J-Lo & twins) at the table next door, who is so pocket sized that he surely has a second career as a flat jockey waiting for him if his salsa hips stop swinging.

Piers Morgan was in pole position at the long back table of the terrace, neatly placed so that everyone walking in could see him sitting next to Sarah Brown (wife of Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister). She had tweeted earlier in the day that Piers was hosting a ‘British women in LA’ lunch in her honour, and he had rounded up Sharon Osbourne, Katherine Jenkins & June Sarpong.

Disparate. But, of course, we were fascinated.

Piers was preening his way through it. He already knew that his coup wouldn't be missed: I heard later that he had rung the big LA picture agency the day before to let them know where & with whom he'd be lunching.

NB As you know, I never do celeb stuff on here, but this was so amusing and felt so clichéd LA that it begged to be blogged. And, of course, people in the public eye only eat at The Ivy so that they may remain there. Why else would they choose an open air restaurant with photographers outside?

And thank you to the Hotel Bel-Air for wangling such a great table

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thursday: Beatnik Jr in LA at (sshh) The Hard Rock Café

Because I like to be perverse, I’ve spent more time in Los Angeles going to gigs than I have immersing myself in film. This is because one of my oldest, and most talented friends, Julian Shah-Tayler lives here, and I have been staying in the large rambling clapboard house in Koreatown in which he and several equally talented & charming musicians hole up. (The only drawback is trying to sleep when they are jamming in their rehearsal room at 4am.)
On Thursday night I needed distracting, (I was missing my suite at the Hotel Bel-Air.) Julian’s idea of diversion was the Hard Rock Café. Yup. That would do it.

Frankly I would rather stick pins in my eyes than go to a Hard Rock Café, whether in Hollywood, Hyderabad or Hong Kong, but I was made to drive to Universal City under duress, with JST promising that Beatnik Jr ‘one of the best upcoming bands in LA’ were playing in the LA final of the Hard Rock's Battle of the Bands competition.

I can’t possibly judge them against other LA bands but I can judge them against New York and, maybe, London bands. And they were excellent, head & shoulders above the level of the majority of bands who thrash about idiotically at similar competitions.

They're a four piece, in the slightly experimental rock mould with, in John Maro, a lead singer who also plays keyboards and transforms from polite & personable face to face to gleeful, possibly manic, exuberance within seconds of hitting the stage.

The last time I saw an unsigned band I enjoyed so much were White Rabbits, who I wrote about here & who, incidentally, have their second album, It's Frightening, out on May 16th

Anyway, Beatnik Jr go onto the national round of video judging against 21 other US bands, before judging is thrown open to the public on-line. The winner gets to play at Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park. Or Hyde Park, London, as everyone calls it over here.

(I'm afraid my photos of the other members of Beatnik Jr, in the main, have very enthusiastic audience members covering just about every shot.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

How to make exercise pleasurable: Hiking followed by a Hotel Bel-Air picnic

A year ago if I had been told that a stay in a sybaritic hotel was to be interrupted by a two hour hike, however beautiful the surroundings, I'd have pleaded an imaginary knee injury, stayed in bed, and worked my way through room service.

I never used to be like this. I did the Duke of Edinburgh's Bronze & Gold Awards at high school, which involved camping, orienteering & pretty strenuous two or four day hikes over the North Downs & the North York Moors.

On my GAP year I powered up, through and down 12km of interior rainforest to cross Pulau Tioman in Malaysia in 90% humidity, finishing the hike an hour ahead of my super-sporty best friend. But, once I started university, I reverted to my natural state: prone in bed with a novel.

The first inkling I had that I did actually enjoy exercise in adult life was when I bought a bike in London maybe four years ago. Gradually my tentative 5 min outings became half day expeditions down the London Canal paths. Then I moved to Manhattan, bought another bicycle and became one of those boring cycling evangelists. (Yes - it's so much quicker, yes - you can bike in four inch stilettos).

Bicycling has taught me not to be scared of exercise, that I am actually naturally capable of not collapsing after five minutes of exertion. That it was just exercising in a group where people judged my inadequacies & mal co-ordination that I loathed. And that Gym and Games were the work of the devil.

So that brings me to California and to hiking. JK forced me up the Santa Lucia mountains and I loved every minute, so when the Hotel Bel-Air suggested a morning hike in the foothills of the Santa Monica mountains in Will Rogers State Park I jumped at the chance. (Not least because the hotel's transport to the park was in a Bentley Coupe.)

The trails are well marked, (and, incredibly, Jonathan & Jenny from the Bel-Air had previously hiked the paths to check their safety & suitability for guests), and the day was overcast, so powering up was strenuous but not too shattering. The scenery helped.
We carried on walking uphill.

Then, because obviously my brain was addled by an hour's uphill hike, I decided to run (I NEVER run, EVER) all the way back down the mountain along this path. I was so warmed up that it was immense fun, although if I had remembered to wear a sports bra, then I wouldn't have had to run with my arms wrapped around my chest to avoid two black eyes.

Of course, when you arrive back at the bottom in the flat part of the park to find Henry, the Hotel Bel-Air's magnificent banqueting manager standing sentinel over a row of Little Red Riding Hood picnic baskets, it all seems so worthwhile.


Henry also had a huge cooler of soda and an ipod speaker with soothing music for us to listen to whilst we collapsed on the rug he had so thoughtfully laid out. (We like Henry very much.)


Yes, those are hotel slippers, tucked into the side of the basket, so that tired toes can wiggle free. (We also had Evian spritzers.)


And, yes, that is a glass of Laurent-Perrier.


I went vegetarian so my utterly delicious lunch was a mozzarella & tomato salad, beetroot & goats cheese salad (or a shrimp version), a grilled vegetable sandwich (or turkey), an avocado, cucumber & cream cheese wrap (or with salmon), followed by a peach tart with streusel topping & cinnamon sauce. That little lot will have neatly balanced out any benefits of the exercise.


I am CRIPPLED today.

LLG was a guest of the Hotel Bel-Air

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fashion news: Peter Copping to Nina Ricci and more

The man set to step into Olivier Theyskens enormous shoes at Nina Ricci has finally been announced: Peter Copping, designer at Louis Vuitton. Label owners Puig are giving him until next March to launch his debut collection - or as the whisperers are suggesting, to give us all time to forget Theyskens' last triumphant collection for the house.

Copping wld appear to be a safe pair of hands: he's already announced plans to ramp up Nina Ricci's leather goods business - a sensible insurance policy as, however acclaimed Theyskens' work at Ricci was, it failed to reach commercial lift off. If Copping can capitalise on Theyskens' credibility and increase accessory sales, then Puig will be laughing all the way to the bank...of course, there is the small matter of the global credit crunch, but watch this space.

In other news, Alison Edmond has announced her resignation at British Harper's Bazaar after twelve years, in order to move to LA. She's as much a celeb stylist as a fashion editor, having done personal styling for Gwyneth Paltrow and Thandie Newton amongst others. She is also responsible for Leona Lewis's image, having worked on her image since her launch in 2006.

Rumour has it that she has signed a contract with 19 Management, a far more lucrative gig than working for NatMags, the British arm of Hearst, publishers of Harper's.

The Beauty of Italian Woman by Julie Adams

Julie Adams Photography  beauty Italian women

My friend Julie Adams is the perfect package: she is a supremely talented photographer with an eye for beauty in all its guises and a beautiful wife, mother and friend.

I've shot with her several times on fashion stories, but her most personal project recently culminated in a very successful exhibition in her native Australia.

The Beauty of Italian Women is an evocative and candid series of portraits of real women she shot over a series of solo trips to Italy, camera in hand. The images are warm, personal and, like all extraordinary portraiture, cut straight to the heart of the subjects.

Julie Adams Photography Italian beauty women

Elena and Fiora by Julie Adams

Click here to visit The Beauty of Italian Women

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Picture of the Day: The Beverly Hills Hotel in-room Fruit Plate

Coachella Festival street style 2009

I wasn't expecting Coachella to be the fashion wash-out that Lollapalooza was for me in 2007, see pics here), but I was surprised how few people wore much more than shorts and a T. There were a LOT of barely there bikinis and your usual selection of festival freaks, plus a huge trend for wearing Native American feather head dresses, but all in all, not much to write home about on the fashion front. ADDENDUM: And, now that I've just clocked's efforts on the Coachella front I'd say there was a fair amount of barrel scraping going on there.

Anyway, here is my edit of the most interesting style looks that I caught at Coachella 2009.

Coachella fashion street style

Coachella fashion street style

Coachella fashion street style

Coachella fashion street style

Coachella fashion street style

Coachella fashion street style

Coachella fashion street style vintage

Coachella fashion street style men

Coachella fashion street style

Monday: The Beverly Hills Hotel

I left New York for California on 31 March. I've driven over 2000 miles in my Toyota Corolla rental since then, stayed in hostels, up a tree, in a five star resort and in a couple of private homes and I'm now back in Los Angeles, after exploring the Central Coast, Venice & Santa Monica, San Francisco, Marin County, Palm Springs and the Coachella Festival.

Frankly, I'm exhausted.

But that doesn't seem to be a problem because I am now happily ensconced in the pink parallel universe of The Beverly Hills Hotel, surely the only hotel in the world where the city was named after the hotel and not vice versa.

This is a hotel that makes cossetting an art form. From the valet parking guys who don't wince at my desert dust covered Toyota filled with battered luggage to the receptionist who greets me by name before I even say hello, there's no moment of my stay that doesn't seem to have been anticipated. I may not be one of the famous faces that I recognise eating later in the iconic Polo Lounge and drifting onto the terrace of the chic, low-lit Nineteen 12 bar, but I may as well be.

I head outside and immediately recognise the cabanas & the pool, surrounded by lemon trees and their drifting scent, from countless photo shoots. I've only been here a few hours, but I'm fast coming to the conclusion that this isn't a hotel. It's a living legend.

LLG is a guest of The Beverly Hills Hotel

Monday, April 20, 2009

Coachella Sunday: Picture of the day

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's 100F at Coachella today

I am as English as they come: a natural blonde with pale, delicate skin which fries in the heat. I thank my mother every time I look in the mirror for keeping me in the shade and basted in sun block as a child. Not only did she teach me good habits but, as I continue through my thirties, my skin is barely lined & I have no crows feet at all. And I intend to stay that way.

It's looking to reach 105F here in the desert at the Coachella Festival, so I am more than slightly obsessed with sun protection today. I have a straw hat so large it acts as a sunshade, blocking sun from my shoulders and my neck, and Ray-Bans which have proper UV filter lenses.

As far as my body is concerned, current derm thinking is that we do not apply enough sunscreen: a bottle should last only a few days on holiday if we are applying it correctly. Out here in California every morning I apply a broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF50 like moisturiser over every inch of my body that could possible be exposed to sunlight (I'm using Coppertone Ultraguard right now, and I also like La Roche Posay & Neutrogena), & I pack a spray sunscreen in my bag for top ups during the day.

For my face I switch between two brilliant products that I was sent at my last job (for new readers, I was a fashion & beauty director on a national style magazine).

I can't bear wearing foundation in this heat, so on my face I am using Dr Denese SPF30 Defense Day Cream. It's also a broad spectrum UVA/UVB suncreen and it has a lovely creamy texture, as well as being naturally tinted with self-adjusting melanin technology. Unlike many zinc oxide creams, it doesn't feel chalky, and gives a really flawless finish.

For less intense heat, I like Oclipse Sunscreen & Primer SPF30 by Dr Zein Obagi, which works really well under make-up. (It is also tinted so can be work without make-up too.)

Neither of these creams are cheap:the Dr Denese is $75 and the Oclipse is $65, but they are a hell of a lot cheaper than medical intervention.

Coachella Saturday: Picture of the day

Coachella 2009 sunset

Audience at Fleet Foxes

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Coachella: There's more than just music folks!

With such a diverse & clever line-up (everyone from Fleet Foxes to The Killers by way of Leonard Cohen & The Tings-Tings), it's easy to forget that Coachella is an arts festival too. There are Siamese temples & fire breathing serpents, mobile pianos & pimped out golf carts.

For the first few hours it's difficult to stop swivelling your head, owl style as bikini clad trapeze artists or maybe a group of mermaids catches your eye. By day's end these will all appear completely normal.

Coachella: Morrissey

I hereby dedicate this post to Nicole Silander who learnt the lyrics to The Smiths' Ask with me when we were 15.

I remember very clearly exactly where I was when The Smiths split up in 1987 but it didn't stop my fervent teenage adoration of Morrissey whose image papered my dormitory walls. Nic & I used to carry around daffodils in homage and had Smiths lyrics written all over our pencil cases and ring binders. We wore sloppy cardis just like Morrissey too. (Click here for photographic evidence of us in prime late 80s Smiths-type clothing).

I've never managed to catch a Morrissey gig before, so opening night at Coachella was the realisation of all my teen adoration. I have to say that he is rather portly and very grumpy now, but I can forgive anything for a man who opens his set with This Charming Man, and follows it with First Of The Gang To Die.

The set was patchy tho: Although he belted out Ask and his more recent work, he seemed to forget the lyrics to Girlfriend in a Coma (oh God, the bliss of hearing that live), and had a vegetarian tantrum at the smell of barbecued sausages drifting over the stage during Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others which he failed to finish, stomping off into the wings to escape the flesh-fest and change his sweaty shirt. Which he then removed completely during Let Me Kiss You.

I do feel sorry for musicians whose solo careers are haunted by past group glories. His recent solo work may be perfectly good (altho shades of Billy Bragg-esque agit-prop rather than his usual nuanced, tongue in cheek references), but I'm afraid we were there for The Smiths songs and a good healthy dose of nostalgia.

Most of the audience didn't really get it, but the glorious crashing chords of a perfectly produced How Soon Is Now seemed to poke them into life and the crowd surged forward, seemingly finally engaging. Shame it was the last song. And I suspect the irony of the lyrics passed them by.

Anyway here he is in all his glory:

And here is the set list:
This Charming Man
First of the Gang to Die
Black Cloud
Girlfriend In A Coma
Irish Blood, English Heart
How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?
When Last I Spoke to Carol
Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others
I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Seaside, Yet Still Docked
The Loop
Sorry Doesn't Help
Let Me Kiss You
How Soon Is Now?

How Soon Is Now? by The Smiths

I am the son
And the heir
Of a shyness
that is criminally vulgar
I am the son and heir
Of nothing in particular

You shut your mouth
How can you say
I go about things the wrong way ?
I am human and i need to be loved
Just like everybody else does

I am the son
And the heir
Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar
I am the son and heir
Oh, of nothing in particular

You shut your mouth
How can you say
I go about things the wrong way ?
I am human and i need to be loved
Just like everybody else does

Oh ...
Oh ...

There's a club, if you'd like to go
You could meet somebody who really loves you
So you go, and you stand on your own
And you leave on your own
And you go home, and you cry
And you want to die

When you say it's gonna happen "now"
Well, when exactly do you mean ?
See, I've already waited too long
And all my hope is gone

Oh ...
Oh ...

You shut your mouth
How can you say
I go about things the wrong way ?
I am human and i need to be loved
Just like everybody else does

Ok ?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Coachella survival kit

I've been going to music festivals for longer than I care to admit. Reading, Glastonbury, The Big Chill, Lollapalooza, Fawsley Fayre: big & small, there's little that I enjoy more than dancing around in the open air to good music.

At American festivals there's always a list as long as my arm as to what you can & can't take on-site, so I thought I'd give you a sneak into my festival survival kit, honed to the essentials through years of lugging too much crap around, and taking into account the 90F heat. (The security here is more on a par with a standard rock concert. At Glastonbury I always have a hip flask, penknife and emergency snacks, none of which are allowed at Coachella.)

Fan (Brilliant Christmas present from my beloved B&T which goes everywhere with me.) Misters aren't allowed, so this is the next best thing.
Sportspack of suntan lotion & sunblock for eyes & for face
Empty water bottle - no filled containers allowed through security, but water fountains are situated on-site.
Wet wipes, anti-bacterial gel and loo paper - if you've ever used a festival portaloo then you'll know what I am talking about
Lots of cash: food & drink are cash only on-site
Blackberry & spare battery - I'm going to be Twittering so my cell will inevitably die.
Mints - for pretending I feel fresh
Red lipstick & Ray-Bans: So I look good, obviously.

I'm also going to be taking style photos for the blog (like I did for Lollapalooza), so a notebook & sparkly pen (thank you Christine) for subject's details & LLG business cards to give to them.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tuesday: Jesusita trail to Inspiration Point

I always think I am not an active person: bed, books and snacks being my trinity of bliss. But I did grow up in the country, and when I get dragged outdoors for Activities, I always end up thoroughly enjoying myself. JK hauled my ass off to Santa Barbara for some trail hiking whilst we were staying at the Ojai Valley Inn and, although I grumbled away, once I was all dressed up in my hiking boots, khaki shorts and Camelback I got into the spirit of the thing.

We walked the Jesusita trail up to Inspiration Point. It's a 1,834- foot perch below Cathedral Peak Mission Canyon and overlooks Santa Barbara, Goleta, the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands. I loved it so much that I ran back down the trail, in my best mountain goat fashion, literally jumping over rocks and bouncing off the walls of the canyon.

The most legal fun I've had in years.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sunday: Vintage brooch

silver brooch; vintage brooch; Pasadena Rose Bowl Vintage Fair
This is the brooch I picked out from a bucket of junky costume jewellery at the Rose Bowl Vintage Fair for just $3.

silver brooch; vintage brooch; Pasadena Rose Bowl Vintage Fair

Sunday: Pasadena Rose Bowl Vintage Fair

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Saturday: Santa Monica Farmers Market

There were friends booked in for supper at the Venice house, and Miss Whistle & So Lovely had recommended the Santa Monica Farmers Market for our grocery shopping so we sketched out a skeleton menu and headed off in my white chariot to see what was in season over here.

strawberries; Santa Monica farmers market
There’s great pleasure to be had from filling a hessian shopping bag with fresh produce: for the grilled vegetables I had planned, I chose a plump head of fennel with two feet of fronds, a fat bunch of young asparagus, each stalk the width of a pencil, spring onions (scallions), and big round red onions. JK found local honey for her chicken marinade, sweet smelling tomatoes, a great bunch of fragrant basil, unwaxed lemons and tiny crisp cucumbers, and we added three yielding avocados, bok choy and organic eggs to the haul.

lemons; Santa Monica farmers market
It was almost incomprehensibly cheap to New Yorkers used to paying at least $3 or $4 dollars at the Union Square Greenmarket for any vegetable. Here the fennel and bok choy were a dollar a throw, and so on.

lemons; Santa Monica farmers market
With a pit stop at the supermarket for essentials, our menu became grilled chicken with a ginger, garlic & honey marinade. I bashed up the basil & minced garlic with a glug of olive oil to baste the fennel, asparagus, scallions and red onions before grilling them.

Pudding was simply the three pints of strawberries I had bought from a farmer in the Santa Ynes valley on Friday afternoon. The avocados, tomatoes and lemons became handmade guacamole with aid of some of the red onion, minced, and a shot of chili sauce.

As we prepped the food in the vast, airy and light filled kitchen, we turned up the music and sang along to cheesy MTV hits. As I finished chopping and mashing the gauc ingredients, we started to scoop it up with plain tortilla chips, washing our mouthfuls down with swigs of Corona. A perfect evening, before the guests had even arrived.

guacamole; homemade guacamole; avocado; avocados