I haven't bought a bottle of shampoo in years, using whatever is lying around in my sample bucket. My hair doesn't present any problems: it's not coloured or permed, greasy or curly. It just hangs there.
Then I started torturing it with curling tongs and the ends went all frizzy as they do when you apply hot metal to them. So when I forgot to bring my pot of Mizani miracle worker with me to Manhattan, I was not enthused at the idea of having to buy something to deal with the frizz. Rooting around in my storage container, I came up with this unopened bottle of goodness.
I don't know why it works. It just does. My hair is soft & shiny again, and it seems to have miraculously straightened out the frizz.
Hurrah for L'Oréal Serie Expert Absolut Repair Shampoo For Very Damaged Hair. I bow down before you in homage.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Roman Polanski's detention on a long-standing extradition warrant has dominated on-line chatter this week and much of it has left me perplexed.
How does Roman Polanski's tragic personal history or his being a famous film director excuse his behaviour? Is there a different rule of law for the talented?
Whilst I understand that the victim would like to see the case dropped, that thirty-two years may have passed, & that the original judge may have committed a miscarriage of justice in his proposed sentencing, the fact remains that Polanski blatantly broke the law and, most importantly of all, pleaded guilty.
I am at a loss, a total loss to understand the apologists for his actions. Lest anyone be laboring under the misbelief that he had consensual sexual relations with a thirteen year old girl, that there was some kind of Lolita-esque action that led poor Mr Polanski astray, let me set you straight.
Her sworn Grand Jury testimony recounts that he drugged, raped & sodomised her. Polanski pleaded guilty to this chain of behaviour.
Time does not diminish his crime. Surely the fact that he has remained in exile for so long points to the fact that he understands that, even if there were judicial errors and the sentencing is challenged, he still remains culpable, that his crime demands punishment?
Now do you think he deserves a get out of jail free card?
And here is A C Grayling's reasoned look at the morality of the story in The Times. And Kate Harding in Salon who is just as angry as I am now.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I wandered up to the Upper West Side this afternoon to drink jasmine tea from Mariages Freres with Lovely Lola, and admire her new infant.
As I have been absent from New York for a few months, and Lola has been in Spain for much of the summer, today was the first time I met little Max. He's six months old now and it seems a long time since I wrote about the baby shower held in his honour back in February.
He is, of course, adorable, and at that perfect age where he can be dandled on a knee and amused with Aunty LLG's jewellery. (He's managing to stuff the DVD remote and two necklaces in his teething mouth in the photograph above.)
We scooped up the dog, popped Max in his buggy, and headed off to Barney's by way of Central Park. I was dog wrangler which, in a park full of saucy squirrels, is no sinecure.
It's been a perfect autumn day, with crispy orange leaves underfoot, and weak sunshine filtering through the trees. I don't make it up to Central Park very often, but every time I'm there I get pole-axed with homesick-ness and a wave of longing for Hampstead Heath & Posetta Baddog.
Still, having a lovely dog in tow helped ameliorate the sadness, and I can't think of a nicer way to spend two hours than with a girlfriend, her infant and a hound strolling through the Park and the Upper East Side.
When lil'sis & I were small, our father travelled frequently to America on business. He always asked us what we would like for a present. I remember very clearly the year that she and I requested presents that would stump any normal father.
Lil'sis asked for a flying elephant and I wanted a pink suitcase. I think we may have been four & five years old.
What he came back with was a blue plush Dumbo elephant on elastics that could be hung from the ceiling and a pink plastic ballet box, for carrying around my leotard, illustrated with dancers, and with a special compartment for my ballet shoes in the bottom. Genius.
When I went home in August, we went through some bags of stuff from one of the attics and in one of them was Dumbo. Too knackered to be given away, when Posetta Baddog expressed an interest we gave it to her.
In for the kill:
Monday, September 28, 2009
I've had a relatively quiet time here in Manhattan over the past fortnight. I've seen few of my friends, and have concentrated on writing, working & meetings.
That's not to say I haven't ventured out of my
bed high classing working environment. My second night here coincided with the visit from London of dearest L, an old friend & roommate, literary agent & author who was here for the book launch uptown of one of her authors.
Evie Wyld is one of Granta’s New Voices of 2008 and the book, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, is her debut. Set in Eastern Australia, it's the more remarkable for being a story written about men, their behaviour and the emotions they can't express. Dealing with the mental inheritance of war through three generations, her voice is quietly confident, compassionate and wholly convincing, transporting the reader into an uncomfortable, edgy world that holds one rapt. I highly recommend it.
Available from US Amazon & UK Amazon
Look: I know I don't do outfit posts but I need some help here. I'm in two minds. On one hand I can hear my mother & lil'sis in my ear telling me I am too old to wear such short skirts. On the other, I am ALL about the short skirt, and can't really imagine not wearing them any more.
I'm wearing an LBD and a black tux here, with black patent & suede Kurt Geiger ankle boots. I'm throwing this open for your opinion internets. Can I get away with this?
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Today was to be the perfect Manhattan Sunday: L & I were going to hit the Brooklyn Flea market in DUMBO, after which I planned to walk around Park Slope & Prospect Park to research a piece before walking my bags over to the apartment I'm moving to for the next few days.
I have woken up at the ludicrous time of 6am to leaden skies and drizzle. It's been raining all night, and I think it's fair to say that autumn is now officially here and, with it, the cancellation of all my carefully laid plans. Open air flea markets, whether or not they have a Rain or Shine policy are not much fun in the rain, and dragging my wheelie suitcase through the puddles is a no-no.
So it looks like this will be a writing Sunday instead which is no bad thing, as yesterday was a non-starter owing to a slightly too enthusiastic Friday night out.
We had thought to start off with drinks & snacks at the lovely bar at Bobo in the West Village but there was standing room only, so we re-directed to the distinctly less glamorous sports bar opposite to catch the end of the Yankees vs Red Socks game (them not me), and eat some stomach lining fried food.
I also may have drunk two frozen raspberry margaritas. Like most English people in New York, I am endlessly fascinated by these icy Slush Puppies, which my Americans friends think are the height of naff.
Then we sloped off to Soho House. I was all for the squishy sofas inside but Z, fresh from London, was seduced by the fresh air and twinkly lights of the Manhattan panorama up on the Roof. So fresh that the shivering staff brought us fleecey blankets to curl up in on the sofas. More margaritas, these ones spiked with coriander (cilantro) & chili went a long way to keeping out the cold.
Some hours later, we ended up at Happy Ending on the Lower East Side where, in this former massage parlour turned club, we bounced around and drank beers.
And yesterday, well, yesterday I napped, ate, napped and ate.
Note to self: three margaritas good. Five margaritas bad.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Lil'sis has been testing this for me: she Skyped me today, practically dribbling with excitement, to tell me that the seemingly ineradicable rhino skin on her elbows which has defeated every other moisturiser she has tried, disappeared in 24hrs after using this cream. She waved her new silky soft elbows at the webcam in proof, but it was difficult to see as there was a small dachshund trying to get in on the action.
I was already enormously impressed by the efficacy of the Yes to Carrots line, and I had used the Hand & Elbow Moisturising Cream before to great effect. So, when their publicist offered to send me it to try again, I suggested they send it to my sister in London so that she could pass it on.
Of course I hadn't counted on lil'sis thinking 'oooh fab, LLG won't mind if I just get stuck in', and smearing it all over. But, as it turned out, I'm glad the evil little bugger helped herself because it just reinforced my opinion that this is a hero product.
It's no wonder that Yes to Carrots C A Softer You Hand & Elbow Moisturising Cream is so effective: the ingredients are a roll call of some of nature's most effective moisturisers. The range is promoted on its use of beta-carotene, (in this case derived from organic carrots), and Dead Sea minerals, but there's also aloe vera and avocado oil, sesame & olive oils amongst others. Just as importantly, it contains urea, the most effective ingredient for promoting skin rehydration.
I've been a big fan of Yes to Carrots' products for a while now. I wrote about their night cream last year after I came across it in Walgreens and it remains a product I actually buy (as opposed to dug out of a brimming beauty sample box under my desk).
Their products are effective, cheap - this 200ml tube of hand cream is just £6.95 here or $9.99 here, free of parabens & phthalates and, maybe best of all, support the Yes To Carrots Seed Fund, a U.S. non-profit.
Its mission is to make a difference in people's lives by providing under-served communities with the resources to develop and sustain an organic food source and access to healthy nutrition, by providing donations to help with seeds, plants, equipment, irrigation support and technical know-how.
How nice to know when you are slathering on body cream to know that your purchase helps this cause.
Ingredients List: because this is impressive. No nasties here.
Water (Aqua), Daucus Carota (Carrot) Juice, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Stearic Acid, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Gel, Cycloheptasiloxane, Chamomila Recutita Oil, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil , Calendula Officinalis Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Oil), Daucus Carota (Carrot) Seed Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil, Dead Sea Water (Maris Aqua), Magnesium Chloride, Propolis Extract, Vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate), Algae Extracts (Rhodella, Dunaliella, Spirulina), Triethanolamine, Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Juice, Ipomoera Batatas (Sweet Potato) Extract,Cucumis Melo (Melon) Extract,Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Honey (Mel) Extract, Silt (Maris Limus), Stearyl Alcohol, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Niacin, Glyceryl Triisostearate, Tocopherol, Fragrance (Parfum), Potassium Lactate, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Peel Extract.
This post was re-written to reflect my sister's opinion.
Friday, September 25, 2009
I do not like bags that don't fit the essentials: Blackberry, digital camera, cards, keys, lipstick. During the day, I usually carry around a water bottle, flats & book too, but have taken to toting those in one of the seemingly endless supply of cotton bags I've accumulated from eco-aware press offices who like to use them for goodie bags & press materials.
I quite like this hessian one I dug out of a suitcase of my clothes back in London. I think it was handed out at the opening of the Fendi store during the Cannes Film Festival. (Ooh get me.)
I do seem to have accumulated a lot of bags over the years (you get given them as a fashion editor), but this season I am all about the capsule wardrobe. So this is the edit that came out of my storage container for fall/winter (because I certainly do not intend to buy any more bags):
1.Comptoir de Cotonniers Taupe leather bag. I love Comptoir's bags. This is the perfect everyday running around town number. Fits the survival kit plus a Flip camera. Goes with everything. A much appreciated press gift.
2. Mulberry Oak Anthony leather satchel with canvas strap A brilliant Christmas present from my mother two years ago. My go-to bag for weekends. (I have the mens version because I can fit more in it.)
3.Janet Collin Vivienne handbag I've raved about this bag on here before. This is my grown up, 'I've got a meeting' bag. Lots of lovely pockets for Metro & business cards, a strap big enough to fit over my shoulder, lightweight so I don't pull a muscle carrying it around and blessedly logo free. The perfect investment purchase: not cheap but not overpriced either.
4. Prada Tessuto & Saffiano black nylon & leather bag. A present from my mother, who bought this in the Prada Outlet near Florence. I wear it slung across my body for cycling, at weekends when it's raining so my leather bags don't get ruined, and on location shoots for toting the essentials of my stylist's prop kit in it.
5. All Saints Black patent & twisted leather pouch bag. I do not wear All Saints clothes (they design for minimally breasted women & I don't fit their pants), so I had £100 of gift vouchers from the press day kicking around for eighteen months before I found something I wanted to buy. This bag is brilliant. It's like the Tardis: I shove things in there and even when I think it's full up, it fits more stuff. The patent makes it great for evenings, and the strap means I don't misplace it. Fantastic design.
6. Matt Murphy Distressed silver lambskin envelope purse. The perfect evening bag for me. Fits the survival kit, and there's even room for a slim paperback in case my date is late.
7. Givenchy Black grommet studded purse. Believe it or not, I was given this neat purse at the launch of Givenchy's Phenomen`eyes mascara. It originally contained a make-up palette that I prised out. It fits a Blackberry, cards, keys & lipstick & loops around my wrist. Perfect for a night out dancing.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
There was some light relief during my recent trip to London. Darling C locked the infants under the stairs and booked us in one Saturday for mani pedis at her local place in Highgate as her birthday present to me. (My birthday is in December. And that's why I love her.)
The nail salon culture that is everywhere in New York & Los Angeles still hasn't really taken off in London. Whilst there are more salons now than there were when I left in 2007, the price list will come as a shock to anyone used to paying $10 for their nails back in America.
I've been having my nails done for years, so I've tried plenty of London places, from Nails Inc to the anarchy that is Top Nail on Camden Parkway. C's salon is on a particularly unprepossessing part of Archway Road, just opposite Highgate Station, but the family who run it are fun & friendly & dole out lovely cups of Chinese tea (you don't get THAT in NYC).
Oh and they do a mean pedi. It's a month since I was in there and this is the state of my feet:
My big toes are completely unchipped, with just a little flaking on two nails that don't show in sandals. Impressive, huh? Please excuse the photography. Have you any idea how tricky it is to photograph your own feet? And what's with my toes looking all wide-spaced? I suspect I was about to fall over. Figures.
The Nail Bar, 315 Archway Road, Highgate, London, N6 5AA
Tel: 020 8341 0293
Could this be the best news stand cover of the year? Stylish without being camp, retro without being a cliché. Above all, interesting. I've never read mens' magazines, (it's hard enough to keep up with the womens market), but since the glamorous Mrs Trefusis sent me the Star Trek issue last spring (okay, so I'm a geek in fashion editor clothing), and my brain didn't go into stasis (no chance here of being a pushmepullyou between good features & bloke stuff, it's all excellent) I've been a convert to British Esquire.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I am bad: look at my lovely Michael Teperson bag in its lilac dustcover just flung on top of Godknowswhat, my Pierre Hardy gladiators just peeking out, squished beneath a Liberty shoe bag. This, I must admit, is the condition of the New York storage container I had back in March, just before I left for California.
The container was too small to allow me to pull cases out to repack them each time I dropped by, so I just lobbed stuff in there as I moved out of my apartment. When I got back, I hauled it all out and moved to a unit with shelves so I could at least get stuff in and out.
I braved the storage facility yesterday and, after a four hour forage, I managed to retrieve a capsule winter wardrobe. I also managed not to drop anything on me this time, which is A Good Thing, as I am still nursing an unhealed hairline fracture above my ankle from the beginning of August when a crate came crashing down from on high
I do feel daunted when I go in there: it's a small sized room with a shelving unit, and it's at least three quarters full. Where did all this stuff come from? I lived in my own home in London for eight years and have those contents in storage over there. How can I have so much here?
Most importantly, over the course of a year will I have paid more than the contents are worth to store them?
But then I started rationally examining everything and it's not quite as bad as it seems. I've avoided buying any big ticket furniture over here, and much of the stuff has come from England gradually over the past 2.5yrs, so it's not as though it's all duplicates of things I already owned.
And, once you discount the huge case & garbage bag that contain towels, linen, duvet & pillows, the very large box of kitchen equipment, wellies, the floor length evening gown hanging from the ceiling, the two boxes of beauty stuff via work, approx a hundred coathangers, a stack of Vogues, the printer, my wine, a crate of cables & wiring, books, and a few large lamps, mirrors & fans, very little of what is left is what I would class as miscellaneous crap. Of which I usually have a lot. In fact, this time, I only seem to have one small box of it.
Pleasingly, I have also filled an enormous case with clothes, books & shoes for The Salvation Army, and a trashbag with knackered old shoes. The former because no one needs to keep airport novels or clothes they are too old or fat for, & the latter because it occurred to me that I really am too old to wear shoes once the heels have broken down, or the toes become scuffed beyond repair, just because they are comfy, designer or gorgeous. Or a combination of all three.
Maybe I am finally shedding my squirrel tendencies.
Y made this delicious courgette/zucchini soup for dinner a few weeks ago from a recipe he had torn out of an Italian food magazine. It's perfect for late summer/early fall when there is still a glut of summer squashes. It's creamy, fresh, takes about 20 minutes and feels way more sophisticated to eat than the the recipe suggests. Of course GG & Y's lovely table settings help.
It's incredibly simple, barely requiring even a recipe. Serves four.
You'll need: courgettes, medium onion, garlic, stock, milk or cream, oregano, mozzarella (optional)
Prepare a pint of hot vegetable or chicken stock. Slice four or five medium courgettes. Dice a small onion & chop a clove of garlic.
Sweat the onion & garlic in a tablespoonful of olive oil in a medium saucepan over a low-medium heat till golden & translucent. Turn the heat down if they start to brown.
Add the courgettes & a tablespoon chopped oregano. Gently fry until soft, but not browned. Add the hot stock & simmer for ten minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, dump contents into a blender or food processor.
Blend 'till smooth.
Add 1/2 cup or 4 fl oz of cream or milk. Blend again.
Add more stock or milk a splash at a time until you reach a consistency you like for the soup: some people like it thicker, others very light.
Season with black pepper & sea salt to taste.
Ladle soup into four warmed bowls. Chop up a small ball of mozzarella and divide between the bowls. Garnish with oregano.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Sunday afternoons are for The Met. Ambling around The Temple of Dendur, peering at the models from the Tomb of Meketre, admiring the Robert Adam Dining Room from Lansdowne House and, especially, checking out the installations up on the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden.
Each year, under the unwavering stare of Rodin's Les Trois Ombres, a different sculptor's work is showcased up there: in 2007 an installation of recent work by Frank Stella, in 08 three pieces of previously unseen work by Jeff Koons, including Balloon Dog (Yellow) which reflected my distorted image back at me like a fairground sideshow.
This year it's Maelstrom by Roxy Paine, a site specific piece from his Dendroid series, which explore systems such as vascular networks, tree roots, industrial piping, and fungal mycelia.
I first saw his work in Madison Square Park in 2007, when Conjoined, two oversized silver trees, reached branches towards the skies, fingering their way through the real trees.
Image: Madison Square Park
This year he has gone a whole lot bigger: Maelstrom is a site specific 130-foot-long by 45-foot-wide stainless-steel sculpture. Intended to give the feeling of being caught in a cataclysmic force of nature, against the background of Central Park and the New York skyline, it succeeds in both being alien and natural.
The tree limbs were made elsewhere, and craned over the roof of The Met to be welded together on site. Do watch this fascinating video of its construction:
There are great flashes of humour up there too:
Due to end on October 25th, the installation's public viewing schedule has been extended through November 29th.
Roxy Paine on the Roof: Maelstrom
April 28, 2009–November 29, 2009 (weather permitting)
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden
ps Can you spot where I shot my blog header now?!
I'm not allowed to spend any money at the moment, as I am saving up for a rent deposit, (spent my last one on a hire car for six weeks in California). So I thought I would instigate an occasional virtual shopping list series where I pick an item I intend to buy when my finances allow.
They aren't going to be big ticket items, just everyday purchases that will fill in gaps in my wardrobe. After all, I'm old enough now that I have previously bought investment pieces that last from season to season - the perfect cashmere sweater or LBD for example.
Or else, I've used my fashion editor mojo to pick out statement pieces a few seasons ahead, (for example the black cape & over the knee boots I bought in Paris a year ago), so that I get a couple of year's use out of them before they either die from overwear - this is mainly shoes - or go into storage for the next go round several years hence.
London-based Lil'sis has MS, so battling the crowds on Oxford Street or in Westfield really isn't her favourite activity. She's become the queen of on-line shopping and, much to my astonishment, keeps producing wonderful pieces she's bought from M&S online. Of course I buy all my undies from M&S when I go back to England, (for some reason well-priced bras in large sizes, 32G in my case, do not exist in America), but if I find one clothing piece a season in there I'm doing well.
So, consider me astonished to find lots I like in there for this winter, including today's piece for my virtual shopping list.
Marks & Spencer Long Sleeve Shirt Dress £39.50. Particularly liking the 5 button cuff & full sleeves.
Monday, September 21, 2009
I've been in Manhattan for five nights now and I still don't feel entirely back at home yet. This year has seen me all over the place, from California to London, Geneva to New Jersey, and the only constant has been my big black Tumi suitcase.
Last week I worked out that this year I have only spent 78 days in New York, the city which is ostensibly my home. I've seen little of my friends here, and can count on my fingers how many times I've had a night out in Manhattan since March.
Yet New York is incontrovertibly my home. I feel torn: one one hand there is the constant pulling feeling that I should be exploring America whilst I can, on the other the suspicion that my restlessness is caused by a fear of settling down, of making a commitment, and that I should just stay put for a while.
My time in New Jersey with my wonderful hosts must necessarily end soon: there is a limit to how long they can be expected to put up with me, and I need to decide what to do next. I had hoped to be in Los Angeles by now, but circumstances have conspired against that move so far.
If I can fiscally support it, I am starting to think that maybe the best plan is to find an apartment in New York, move my possessions here from London, NY, Chelsea and where ever else, and then sublet it for weeks/months at a time when I want to be in LA.
Meanwhile I am in New York until around the 28th. Hopefully I will have come to a conclusion by then.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Recently my father has very kindly been driving me the hour trip to Heathrow to catch my return flights to New York. He's pretty laissez-faire: I tell him when we are leaving and off we go. He's not one of those irritating dads who micromanage journeys, altho this time, he might have warned me it was a Bank Holiday Friday. Virgin had ballsed up my booking and I was flying a day later than planned, so I hadn't even registered that we would hit the M25 at 4pm: peak traffic jam time.
We pretty much screeched into Terminal 3 on two wheels, and I bolted towards the entrance, barely having time to hug Pops goodbye. Then horror! The auto check-in spat out a 'go to desk' card, instead of my precious boarding pass. With five mins before check-in closed, I & my over loaded trolley skidded to a halt at the end of a very long line of very loud ladies.
Managing to inveigle myself to the front of the line, trailing a fellow traveller in my wake, he & I took the forceful but extremely polite route, waiting patiently for the vociferous ladies and their ten tons of luggage to be processed, but making sure they knew our check in time had passed.
And lo and behold when we were finally processed, they told us our plane had been swapped for a smaller one owing to mechanical failures, and handed us lovely Upper Class boarding passes.
For all the flying I do, I have never, ever been upgraded. Sure, I've flown business for work, but an upgrade on my own dime? Nope. Then again I've never had the balls to ask for one. I think I might start doing so given the blissful experience that awaited us.
A two hour delay on the apron in a seat with my knees up under my chin is normally enough to make me want to stick pins in my eyes back in Goat Class. Up front where the oxygen is headier, my new travelling companion & I were reclining full length under crisp cotton duvets, propped up by downy pillows, glasses of Champagne in hand as we gently perused the day's papers.
I had forgotten my moisturiser, but no problem! Our charming cabin crew came around with a basket of delectable Cowshed loveliness, lipbalm & moisturiser included. I slipped off my ballerines into the shoe bag so thoughtfully provided, snuggled down under my duvet and contemplated supper.
I have no problem with airline food. I love the orderly little plastic trays and dinky glasses, plus flying makes me ravenously hungry. In addition to my gallons of Evian, I went through a phase of taking delicate sushi meals on ‘planes in the manner of a fussy starlet and eschewing the hot meals, but I just ended up eating them as well as the sushi.
So to be presented with a mahajor four course menu and wine list, the contents of which could be consumed on demand is a sure way to my heart. My little table had a linen table cloth thrown over it, then a tray with more linen appeared, in addition to the linen napkin on my lap.
First up was a glass of Malumbres Tinto 2005 from the Navarre. Then I swung into action with a pea, mint & fennel soup, whilst watching some high class entertainment (Fired Up! - nothing wrong with a cheerleader movie.) Look: proper cutlery & glass because, of course, terrorists only travel in economy during a recession.
Then came an asparagus risotto with rocket & parmesan: ideal plane food. Pretty well cooked and creamily comforting. More wine.
Then a strawberry & cream roulade with wild berry coulis. Photographed terribly, tasted delicious. Like proper earthbound food.
Ah the cheese course. Photographic evidence would suggest that I had moved onto the Port by now. Perfectly conditioned Oxford Blue, Lancashire & Cornish Brie with oatcakes & grapes.
And so to bed. The long suffering crew made up my flat bed, and I hunkered down for the rest of the trip. I was a little disappointed that sleeping would mean missing the promised afternoon tea (Victoria sponge, sarnies, scones & clotted cream).
Cowshed & Port supplies to hand:
Oh and with Clive Owen in front of me. On the screen in Duplicity unfortunately, rather than in my cabin.
Thank you Virgin: I had a ball. And I met a charming man in the check-in queue who kept me amused before & during the flight. So, maybe arriving late at the airport has its advantages after all.
*Sound of my father groaning*
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Hello & welcome to my visitors who have been following jewellery designer Fannie Schiavoni's new collection as it is revealed sequentially through simultaneous blog posts on six global fashion blogs at 5pm GMT today. (See here for more information)
This is the final image in our blog lookbook.
Photographer: Charli Ljung
Model: Ashleigh Chase
I first heard about the wonderful UK based jewellery designer Fannie Schiavoni through blog posts on Kingdom of Style, so it's apt that Fannie has decided to launch her SS10 collection on-line by gathering together six fashion bloggers worldwide and asking them to simultaneously post an image from the collection. Each blog will have a link to the next on the list, allowing blog readers to 'flick' through the lookbook.
We believe this is the first time that a group of fashion bloggers have banded together simultaneously to use their collective readership to support a young designer. It makes complete sense: our blogs collectively and individually celebrate fashion. Why not use them to bring talented young designers as much attention as we can muster?
So, head to Fashion Flash today (Saturday) at 1700hrs GMT, midday US East Coast to see the first image in our celebration of Fanny's delicate & beautiful jewellery, and then keep on clicking through until you get to me for the final image.
You won't be disappointed.
England: Style Bubble
Sweden: Fashion Flash
US LA: Because I'm Addicted
Scotland: Queen Michelle from Kingdom of Style
US NY: Liberty London Girl
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I have a hangover today, and all I can think about eating are these meringues I made the other week. I used this recipe, but instead of bashing them up as I did for Eton Mess, I just left them in the oven overnight to dry out a little more, and kept them whole.
With way too much whipped heavy (double) cream flopped on top, chopped walnuts on one, & raspberries on the other, plus some sifted icing sugar they were summer incarnate.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The last remaining Parisian haute couture flower maker, Maison Legeron, sells very few items to the public. This handmade velvet & pure silk floral brooch in black is £280/€300/$392 from Couture Lab
Previous objects of desire here
"So often, we — dogs and humans — just need to be near each other. We need the presence of another heartbeat, the inhale and exhale of another soul. Dogs understand the healing power of having your skull kneaded, and constantly raise their heads toward our hands, the way plants turn toward the sun."
From My Life as a Dog by Dana Jennings. The New York Times, September 15, 2009.
Picture: Posetta Baddog, Northamptonshire, August 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
T gave me this genius notebook when I was in London last. She knows me so well. I' m a headless chicken today: tidying, cleaning, ironing, making lunch, curling bloody hair, slapping on the make-up, packing...
God I hate packing. I'm leaving this afternoon for ten days or so in New York...it's only an hour away on the train, but I haven't been in the city for five weeks, owing to an unscheduled trip back to London for a funeral, which was extended for another one. I've been given the use of some friend's apartments whilst they are both out of town, so I thought it might be a good idea to shake the hayseeds out of my hair, see some editors & drink some cocktails.
I'm extremely excited to see my friends, but equally shall miss the boys and the Hounds. I'd hate for them to think that I am hot-footing it back to NY at the first opportunity - but I do think they need a break from me from time to time.
I normally travel with a small shoulder bag and my laptop, but this time I am dragging my huge Tumi with me. I moved out to Jersey at a couple of day's notice at the beginning of July, so brought only summer clothes & shoes with me. Although it's still in the seventies here, the mercury is going to drop later this week, and I am thoroughly bored with all my floaty frocks and sandals. So, I've washed & ironed my summer clothes to put back into storage until next Spring or Los Angeles, whichever comes sooner, and am going for a forage in my Chelsea storage container for my winter wardrobe.
Notebook made by The Cooper Family
Monday, September 14, 2009
My new found love of the curling tong is not doing a lot for the condition of my hair. I'm lucky to have had shiny, soft hair in my thirties precisely because I've never really coloured it, used much product or even used a hairdryer regularly. But this year of using curling tongs has meant that the ends get fried pretty quickly in between trims.
I usually use Frederic Fekkai shampoo & conditioner, having been given a supply by the publicist. It makes my hair incredibly soft & shiny, but recently the conditioner hasn't been working at all, and it wasn't just the ends that felt dry and out of sorts. I was resorting to a cheapo bottle of silicone fuelled Herbal Essences in an attempt to regain that silky, conditioned feel.
Digging through my beauty box of editorial samples in the bowels of my storage container for some facial moisturiser, I pulled out this tub of goodness, Mizani's H20 Intense Night Time Treat:
I don't normally bother with hair masques and the such like. They're a pain to use in the shower, & I'm not much of a lolling in the bath type of girl. But my hair was calling out for some deep moisturiser and when I read on the side that it was an overnight treatment I was so there.
It's pretty thick and slimey, so this was a moment when I was glad to be single. I slathered it on & went to bed, making a mental note to wash my pillowcases in the morning.
After washing it out in the shower next day, I shampooed and conditioned my hair as normal and could feel, even under the water, that my hair was back to its usual silky feel. After letting it air dry I was astonished by the change in condition: truly a Top Ten product for me.
Mizani is a brand I've not come across before and, once I tracked it down on the interweb, I discovered it's part of a salon range owned by L'Oreal, " targeted to the African American salon/stylist and their clientele." However, given its stellar results on my hair, & the enthusiastic forum comments on the interweb, it seems clear that it's one of those rare products that works effectively on both Afro and Caucasian hair.
This makes me very happy, as one of the abiding problems of beauty writing is the feeling that you are excluding half the marketplace when reviewing products that have been formulated with Caucasian needs in mind first.
You can find Mizani H20 Intense Night Time Treat here
I am confused. The Wall Street Journal (on Friday) and The New York Times (Sunday) ran stories on fashion bloggers, both of which made glaring factual errors. Both newspapers are known to have rigorous fact checking policies. So how could such basic mistakes have been made?
The errors were as follows: The New York Times piece by Alice Pfeiffer said that Susanna Lau of Style Bubble was designing for Urban Outfitters. Ms Lau confirmed that this was untrue on her Twitter feed this evening. (Maybe they were confusing her with Jane Aldridge of Sea of Shoes who has designed for UO?)
In addition her blog was misnamed at first mention: it was called Susie Bubble instead of the correct Style Bubble, although later on in the piece it was called by the correct title.
The journalist also seemed unable to make up her mind about the location of the blogger The Cherry Blossom Girl. In one paragraph, she call her, "a blogger and designer from London", and in a succeeding paragraph she becomes,"the Paris-based creator of the Cherry Blossom Girl blog". If the writer couldn't be bothered to check with her personally, a simple wiki search would elicit the information that she is French, and based in Paris.
So, piss-poor copy editing (failing to weed out repetition, errors, incoherency & structure problems) throughout the piece in addition to the lack of fact-checking.
The Wall Street Journal's piece by Katherine Rosman asserted that Jane Aldridge had, "decided not to return for her senior year of high school." On her blog today Ms Aldridge issued a rebuttal: “This is untrue...I am currently finishing up my English credit and will graduate with the rest of my class in 2010...I didn't drop out of school."
It’s common for the print media to bash the blog world. Common criticisms & mutterings run along well-worn tracks: bloggers are amateurs, they don’t fact check, they peddle rumour for truth, they are loose cannons in the news world, they shouldn't be allowed to play with the grown-ups.
So how can two of the most famous, venerable newspapers in the world run copy that has basic mistakes of exactly the type for which bloggers are lambasted? There is a certain irony in the knowledge that when the so-called bastions of proper journalism attempt to cover the blog world rigorous fact checking flies out of the window.
As a print journalist, I‘m unusual in the fashion blogosphere: most independent bloggers aren't hacks. And, in this case, my print experience makes me particularly well placed to comment on this story, as I’ve worked on one of the newspapers that ran the inaccurate stories. I know just how much they pride themselves on their fact checking. Certainly, when I was in my old position, anyone mentioned in an article I wrote had to be rung up to get the facts about them verified. So God knows what went wrong here. Surely they don't believe that the blog world should be treated to lower standards of journalism?
It's also worth noting that The Wall Street Journal piece, whilst mentioning the bloggers' real names, failed to mention the names of their blogs, (bloggers are usually identified by their blog names; even regular readers would be hard put to identify a blogger's real name), thereby rubbing in the fact that they just don't get it.
Would it be too hard to commission journalists who comprehend their subject matter?
Saturday, September 12, 2009
My hair is long, naturally blonde and poker straight. It needs no product or clever cutting. It just hangs there, and so I've worn it in exactly the same style, that is no style, ever since I can remember. Bar the Christmas holiday of my final year at uni when I went to Harvey Nichols' hair salon, (for reasons I no longer remember), and had it all cut off in one of those sleek chin length at the front, shorn up to the crown at the back bobs.
I spent two years growing it out.
No one had told me that short hair was a royal pain in the neck. It needs styling. It requires product. And hairdryers. And God knows what else for it not to look like crappy bedhead. And I am really, really lazy when it comes to things like hairstyling. I just cannot be bothered. As I soon discovered, tousled Brigitte Bardot bedhead with long-ish hair is sexy. Bedhead on a 1960s Vidal Sassoon style crop is not.
So it's a shame that I hate my easy to manage flat straight hair. It was bearable in the days when everyone was obsessed with ghds, maybe five, six years ago. I was Little Miss Smug then, rolling out of bed and, after a couple of strokes with a Mason Pearson brush, looking like I'd been straightening it for hours. But I rarely want what everyone else wants. And in this case I wanted waves. Not so much Farrah Fawcett as Rita Hayworth.
For two years, whilst everyone else was sporting sleek curtains, I religiously went to my local granny salon in North London before parties to get my hair set in rollers, before being shoved for an hour to bake under a dryer hood with the rest of the purple rinse brigade. Thing is once the rollers came out, I only had a couple of hours before the curls drooped, leaving me with something nearer to a shaggy perm than sleek movie star waves.
I gave up when I moved to America 2,5yrs ago, making do with blowing out my hair with a round ceramic hairbrush, so it at least had bounce in a shampoo advert kind of way. I had a few pro blow drys from session stylists, hoping they could give me waves, but the artful lightly tonged loose curls they added looked wonderful for just about as long it took me to get home.
Then came the epiphany. I had to have my official portrait taken last summer for work. The Selby was commissioned to shoot it which was all well & good, (thanks Todd), but the real highlight of the shoot (sorry Todd), was the hair stylist, the venerable & lovely Francois Ilnseher, who asked me how I liked to wear my hair. Wavy, I replied, whilst thinking, my hair is dry, ramrod straight, silky just washed ; we've got barely 30 minutes to effect a hair & make-up transformation from sleep-deprived, over-worked office monkey to polished fashion editor. Good luck with that.
Unfazed, he proceeded to almost produce a silk purse out of this sow's ear. First he gave me the best smokey eyed make-up job I've ever had. Then he produced a pair of curling tongs, things I - and other stylists - had used before but never to any lasting success.
I raised an internal eyebrow but, not being one to make a fuss, let him get on with it. Soon there were bouncy tight Victorian ringlets hanging around my face. I looked like the girl off the old Quality Street chocolates tin. My internal horror meter was close to screeching point, as he produced a cushion hair brush. I squeezed my eyes shut as he brushed through the corkscrew curls. Upon opening my eyes I was gobsmacked. Instead of the frizz I was expecting, I saw the hairstyle of my dreams: beautiful deep waves in a Rita Hayworth kind of way. As the day continued, the waves just morphed into gentle volume with a little curl at the end of each lock.
What a revelation. The secret was to take the curls tight with direct heat so that there was no danger of them dropping. Next day I hotfooted it to the hairdressers supply store down on Fifth, bought a ceramic curling iron and sure enough, I got similar results.
It had never, ever occurred to me that you could just brush out hideous, tight ringlets to achieve waves. A good spritz with Elnett Extra Hold Hairspray and the waves stay in for a good while too. I invested in a Braun Cordless Hair Styler ,(a small portable curling iron), for my handbag, and became an adept at curling my hair in the back of Town Cars, on trains, buses and in the loos at restaurants. In fact I'm usually better at it now than a hairdresser, which has saved me hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours in the styling chair.
Finally, I have a hairstyle that takes maybe twenty minutes, looks grown up and makes me feel sexy. A win, win.
Thank you Francois. You are a gentleman & a superstar.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Last year I worked next door to Ground Zero. Each morning I biked down muddy, wet, gravelly Liberty Street from Broadway, past the orange clad construction workers, the new Fire House, and through the mass of spectators who were gathered there at all hours, every day.
I would chain my bike to the scaffolding of the temporary walkways that ran alongside the site and over the West Side Highway, and watch the diggers & cranes through the wire fencing as they carved out the foundations of new buildings where the towers had stood.
Late, late at night when I worked alone in the half dark office, I would look down into the void of the floodlit construction site, and try to imagine what had been there. And fail. Such a geographically precise square cut from Manhattan’s grid system. Such a small space for so many lives.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
F.Tape, the London-based industry directory, asked me to participate in this Blogger Vision feature – Q&As with, ahem, leading fashion bloggers, amongst whom were my long time blog friends Kingdom of Style, Disney Roller Girl, Jeanine Tam of The Coveted and Rebekah Roy of Stylist Stuff.
I've been given an I Love Your Blog award by sweet Westendmum, who writes an enchanting blog about living in Central London. Very kindly she has absolved me of any need to pass it on, but I shall give it to So Lovely, in the hope that she blogs more. Her thoughts are always engaging and I love her style.
Liberty London Girl now has a Facebook page! If you don't Twitter or use an RSS feed, it can a useful way to keep up with new posts, as well as LLG news. There's a Facebook click through box on the sidebar to the right which will take you there.
Speaking of which, if you put your email address in the little box to the right hand side, once a day you will receive all that day's LLG posts straight to your inbox.
A kind commentator thought that my email address had disappeared. It hasn't: it's on my Blogger profile. For future reference, it's email@example.com
I do try to keep on top of all my blog email, but I do get a huge volume in my inbox. To make life simpler, please could you give emails a subject so I can find them easily?
Blogroll requests: please can you email these, with 'Blogroll' in the subject line? I know I've had a lot recently through comments, but I just haven't been able to keep up, and am no longer able to accept requests through comments.
I'm sitting quietly writing on the sofa (I'm not a desk person) when Max intimates he wishes to join me, so up he jumps. Five minutes later I hear a squeaky whining from somewhere down to my right. Finch is too small to get up so he is demanding to be picked up and included in the Basset love fest.
Then Finchley decides to drape himself over my leg:
How am I supposed to get any work done when I have those silky ears begging to be caressed?
Four years ago I had the perfect pair of black calf leather boots custom made for me by Munich based bespoke shoemakers Selve (US), or (UK). I had been looking for a replacement for my perfect pair of Sigerson Morrison black boots for two years, but had found nothing. (The main problem was my skinny calves - the SM shop girls had told me that no one else had been able to do up the zips on the boots I bought. Their loss, my gain - at the time.)
It also isn't helpful that I have absurdly narrow heels, high insteps and one foot half a size bigger than the other, and very precise, anally retentive fashion editor requirements as to heel height & shape, toe shape, and height of leg. Selve managed to accommodate all these, in addition to lining the boots with gold leather.
I thought I had died & gone to heaven when my boots finally arrived.
Noodling around their website today, I was struck first by this teaser for the new winter collection:
The Saffron black boots, the St James brogue & the Venus Overknee are all lust worthy - and I love love that Selve can make these in any colour - or leather- of your choice.
I see also that they have added a small selection of bag shapes since I last looked. These aren't truly bespoke, but you can choose the colour of the bag and the strap. They don't come cheap, but they are beautiful.
I usually carry two bags in the winter, something for my laptop & papers, and a small one for lunches & cocktails.
This is my Selve favourite. The Sorbonne in Black Leather, perfect for laptop toting. £495/$650
But I also rather love the slightly smaller Montmartre in Brown Suede for weekends. £375/$550
And am completely beguiled by the Montmartre in Red Suede with a magenta strap but, like What Possessed Me, would find it hard to justify investing in a bright bag for everyday. £375/$550