Sunday, January 31, 2010

Buzzword Bingo: The Fashion Lexicon

Fashion buzzword bingo

Fed up with hackneyed phrases creeping into the fashion copy you read? Then play Buzzword Bingo. Any line of five words diagonal or straight wins you the 'I can spot a cliché at a hundred paces' prize.

With grateful thanks to the inimitable Sister Wolf
who created, & allowed me to lift, this original Buzzword Bingo from her blog Godammit I'm Mad If you want to create your own, head here

New Year’s Travel Resolutions: LLG on the road

(Ha! A very rare LLG outfit pic. Does this count?!)

I don't think of myself as someone with a travel addiction. It's just that my magazine career has always involved a ludicrous amount of travel, so I don't think twice about hopping on planes, or living & working abroad for any amount of time. It also has a lot to do with being single, relinquishing my lease & putting all my junk into storage. Wireless internet helps too.

Living in America, with so many extraordinary places just a short flight away, has impressed on me the need to do some more exploring. I know I spent most of last year living out of a suitcase, but I only really got to know California and New Jersey well. Granted, California is the size of about six European countries stuck together, but I do feel a need to branch out…

Washington D.C. (Okay, I was there for the Inauguration but that doesn’t count. All I saw was the White House, POTUS’ motorcade and the AMTRAK station), Boston, The Hamptons, Philadelphia & upstate New York.
Why? Because I will hate myself if I find myself ever needing to move back to the UK having never visited any of these places which are practically on my Manhattan doorstep. And because C has threatened to lock her infants under the stairs in London and fly over to Boston for a long weekend of badness with me.

There will definitely be a Vancouver/Seattle/Portland road trip at some point. Probably on my own. I am quite anti-social.

Also: more Canada. Quebec seems like a good place to start. At least I speak their language. Which is often more than I can say for American English. And I can think of one good reason to visit Toronto. (You know who you are!)

Niagara Falls. I Greyhound-ed around and across America when I was 19. I’ve seen some extraordinary places, but I missed visiting Niagara when my travelling partner Caz & I split to see our respective sets of US relatives. Time to play catch up.

Marfa, Texas. Maybe with dearest Emily, who will probably need some serene art contemplation before or after wrangling musicians & their egos at SXSW.

Then there’s work travel. Ex the Americas there is vague talk of Shanghai & of the Dominican Republic for reviews & interviews. Where the Milan & Paris Collections are concerned, I’m in two minds. Last season I turned down one of those blogger front row seats at Dolce that Scott, Bryan & Garance enjoyed, as anonymity & front rows don’t go. This season: who knows? It wld feel weird being there as a blogger not as an editor, but I’m now not so averse…

As far as wishful thinking (because I'm fiscally challenged as per normal)) goes, I’m also contemplating Australian Fashion Week in Sydney in May, since I discovered my amazing antipodean readership, plus there is Caz’s new baby to prod…

And Cartagena in Columbia. And while I’m thinking below North America, I want to lie on a beach in the Caribbean, explore Chichen Itza, gaze at penguins in Chile, experience Mexico City and go hiking in Costa Rica.

Hurumph. It’s all pipe dreams right now. I’m still stuck in England. Sigh. I need proper Mexican food STAT.

Photograph by Judy, taken on the Jesusita Trail above Santa Barbara, CA. April 2009

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Is Liberty London Girl a Fashion Blog? Discuss.

LLG’s nomination for Best Fashion Blog at the 2010 Bloggies has led to some discussion as to whether LLG IS a fashion blog or something else entirely…

Granted, my being a fashion editor in the real word or slapping that job title across the blog header doesn’t automatically make this a fashion blog.

I hadn’t read any other blogs, let alone fashion ones, when I started writing LLG back in the autumn of 2006. Back then there was no list of famous bloggers to emulate, no template for what a fashion blog should be.

But I had read about Belle du Jour in the newspapers, and liked the idea of an anonymous place where I could write about the things in which I was interested, and for which I didn’t always have an outlet as a print and broadcast journalist.

That’s why you don’t see endless images from runway shows lifted from, pictures of me in my daily outfits or commentaries on celebrity fashion on here. And, if you think those things are vital to a fashion blog then no, that’s not what this is.

I have loved fashion, clothes & costume since I was about two years old, if my earliest memory is correct. (Admiring my plastic sandals with large daisies on the toes). My primary school exercise books are filled with drawings of wonderful outfits, (I bet King John signing the Magna Carta didn’t wear anything half as glorious as the outfit I designed for him in my history notes aged 7), and that passionate interest in my wardrobe & in what everyone has worn or is wearing has stayed with me all these years, matched equally by my interest in food, interiors, technology, travel, museums, architecture, lipstick, dachshunds, books, cars, countryside, art, gardening and well, everything that surrounds me.

So, the wide ranging content of this blog is a reflection of that voracious curiosity about the world, which daily influences my work as a fashion editor and writer.

And that’s why I believe that I can call this a fashion blog. Because fashion doesn’t exist in a vacuum. And neither do I.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Jaeger jacket from 1986


I found this last week: a mint condition beige linen Jaeger jacket of my mother's that she bought in 1986. That's the year Out of Africa inspired every retailer to bring out a safari-inspired collection and every rail had soft beige linen separates.

This has all the classic mid 80s riffs: double breasted boxy shape, slouchy cut, rolled up sleeves, and light shoulder pads. The thing I like about it is the direct stylistic connection to the 1920s, the period in which the movie was shot. Late 20s jackets had this slouchy feel too, but would have been worn with long slim skirts.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Video blog. Hotel review: Malmaison Oxford

A few weeks ago my parents were scheduled to meet in court in Oxford at 10am on a Monday morning for round God knows what in their protracted divorce battle. As I was designated mother-calmer-downer I wanted to make sure she arrived in court as cool as a cucumber. No car hassles, rush hour traffic, dog wrangling, misplaced keys...

So I booked us in at the local jail the night beforehand.

Watch this video and all will be revealed.

Mamaison Oxford
Oxford Castle
01865 268 400

LLG, her mother & Posetta Baddog were guests of Malmaison Oxford

Barbara Daly Nail Polish. Suncoat Polish Remover


Make-up artist Barbara Daly is a legend. She did the wedding make-up for Lady Diana Spencer, developed The Body Shop's wildly successful Colourings make-up range and has worked with everyone from Grace Coddington to Cindy Crawford. She even has an OBE for services to the cosmetic industry. Her current venture, launched in 1998, is Barbara Daly Make-Up for Tesco, the British supermarket giant. US readers: think Walmart.

It's been successful way beyond Tesco's original plans, and that's because the quality is exceptional at the (extremely) inexpensive price point. I've even heard rumours via Sharon Dowsett that much of it is produced in the same factory as Chanel's color cosmetics.


These varnishes are just £2.99 each. For that price and with these bright neon colours, I'd expect them to need at least two coats to get a non-streaky depth of colour. But! Look! No, not at my hideous stumpy fingers & the crappy attempt at painting my nails in manner of a hyperactive tween, but at the smooth, shiny, non-streaky colour from just one coat. Very impressive.

Because I didn't want to look like the afore-mentioned tween (pink varnish: yes, green: er no), I then wiped off the colour using Polish Remover from natural brand Suncoat. Which, for an odour-free, biodegradable, corn & soya based product, is actually just as effective as acetone, and has the benefit of adding moisture, not leaching it as normal removers tend to.

Suncoat Nail Polish Remover £12.95;
Barbara Daly Make-Up for Tesco Nail Varnishes £2.99
Tesco branches which stock Barbara Daly cosmetics here

Narrow Boats on London's Regent's Canal


I am not being a good friend right now. With print & book deadines, blogging, website design, attic clearing, Posetta Baddog wrangling, sister prodding, 250 emails & comments on a gd day, and all the fallout from my parent's re-enactment of The War of the Roses (the movie not the battle), I am all over the place. (But mainly in the depths of the country, which does not aid a social life.) I have so many unanswered emails & Facebook messages, and missed invitations that I am surprised anyone still talks to me.

Last Saturday I was determined to see people who were falling through the net. I started with an early breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien in South End Green with B, a lovely friend I met in the early days of the blog, who runs her own successful fashion empirewith grace and style.

Then I had some maternity clothes I found in the attic to drop off for one of my oldest London friends, fabulous Flora, newly married, pregnant with her first child, and living ( & blogging) on a narrow boat on the Regent's Canal in Islington. (I went through a stage of buying Topshop Maternity empire line frocks as they were the only things into which I could shovel my bosom.)


A talented actress & musician, she has an album out at the moment, but the thing I really admire her for is living on the canal in the winter, with just a wood-burning stove and hugs to keep her warm. But the trade off for having to wee in a bucket (chemical loos fill up too quickly otherwise) and shower in a shoebox is having ducks swimming under your bedroom window, herons perching on the stern and the knowledge that you are successfully combining country & town. (They are just minutes from the vast King's Cross railway station.)


*The Regent's Canal runs from the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal, just north-west of the Paddington Basin, in West London, to the Limehouse Basin and the River Thames right over in the East End. I used to bike along the towpath from Camden Lock to Miss P's old flat in Shoreditch, one of my favourite things to do in the summer in London.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Posetta Baddog on the stump

P1110980a - Copy (3)

Thank you lil'sis for this!

Vote for the winners of the 2010 Bloggies here

20th Century Fashion: Wedding guests in 1939


My maternal grandparents married in July 1939, just before the start of Churchill's Phoney War, at the Collegiate Church of St Mary in Warwick. They had three children, two boys and my mother who was born days before VJ Day in 1945. The marriage didn't last much beyond the production of their three children; they both remarried, granny twice more.

These photographs are from the official wedding album. What I love about them isn't just the minx-y expression on granny's face and her perfect pose for the cameras, (and goodness she loved the camera), it's the photographs of the guests in their dressing up clothes. My familiarity with authentic clothes from that era is limited to sketches from the Paris shows, pieces in museums and photographs of actresses or celebrities, so it's wonderful to see normal people caught in time.








The rest of the photographs are on the LLG Flickr archive here

Hero product: Philip Kingsley Moisture Balancing Conditioner

My mother is going to throttle me when she finds out that each time I've washed my hair in her bathroom I've been using her Philip Kingsley Moisture Balancing Conditioner. It was the first bottle I pulled out from the cupboard: how was I to know it was her special occasion conditioner? Thing is I haven't been able to resist slathering it on: it's quite simply the best conditioner I've used in years.

Philip Kingsley Moisture Balancing Conditioner

My hair is silky soft, super shiny and light as a feather without feeling like I've been pouring silicone all over it. Even without using a hairdryer, it's the nearest I've come to feeling like I've just left a salon. Although I've always been a bit cynical about expensive shampoos & conditioners, I think this is worth every single penny.

Philip Kingsley Moisture Balancing Conditioner is available in the UK here & in the US here

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dachshund vs. Dr Hauschka Translucent Bronze Concentrate.

I spent most of yesterday perched on a chair at a public relations agency, as a continuous stream of charming account directors came by to tell me about developments in their various sectors for the upcoming year.

At the end of the session, I airily refused a bike drop off as the beauty department loaded me up with bags of samples like a little donkey, and I wandered off towards home, rather regretting my insouciant refusal as my legs started to buckle under the weight of assorted glass jars.

Once home, I tipped it all out on the sofa and started planning my testing regimen for the next few weeks. Then I made an amateur's mistake: I forgot about the dachshund love of cardboard and the questing nose that always, always hunts it out.

Within seconds Posetta Baddog had cottoned onto the vast pile of discarded packaging, and was staking a claim.


I'm not sure the Dr Hauschka box ever stood a chance against those teeth.


They clamp in the manner of a vice.


Unfortunately I then realised that the box still contained a bottle of Translucent Bronze Concentrate. Notice the braced paws below as we played tug of war.


Fortunately Posetta Baddog is more interested in the destruction of cosmetic boxes than in creating the perfect bronzed complexion and I managed to reclaim my precious bottle with nothing more than a few teeth marks.

Finalist: Best Fashion Blog in the 2010 Weblog Awards!

2010 Bloggies
I'm not going to be your typical fashion editor, pretending to be unmoved by the news that I have been shortlisted for an award. In this case, Best Fashion Blog at the 2010 Bloggies.


Anyway, blasé is so last year dahling....

It turns out that I am keeping rather rarified company, for amongst the five finalists are The Sartorialist and New York Magazine's The Cut blog. For an indie like LLG, supported only by hot air & elbow grease, to be up there with the famous pro-bloggers is both unexpected and exciting.

God I love you all, my lovely readers. Thank you so very, very much for coming along every day to read & engage with the blog, and for bothering to nominate LLG. If you can, I'd be extremely grateful if some of you would hop along to the Bloggies site to vote for me in the finals. And, of course, for the wonderful finalists in the other categories.


(I'm particularly pleased to see an industry compatriot, British Beauty Blogger, up for Best Topical Blog - and thank you love for tweeting your support for LLG too!)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Next Directory: lingerie models

It wasn't just the fashion in the 1988 Next Directory that I wanted to write about: to a 21st century eye these underwear spreads from 1988 look more like real people stories than fashion layouts shot on models.


That's because many models back then were bigger. And especially the girls who modelled lingerie: it was accepted that lingerie models should be a different shape to the editorial & runway girls.

Then two things happened. Firstly the 90s when Kate Moss and the xylophone-ribbed eastern European show ponies started to make an impact on the modelling industry as a whole and models across the board started to shrink, and secondly, lingerie started to become a fashion led business as brands like Myla & Agent Provocateur entered the market and started to shoot their campaigns on fashion models.

When's the last time you saw an underwear model who looked like this? The basque on this girl from the 1988 Next Directory is actually cinching her in, as opposed to hanging off her.


I'm not convinced that photographing bras & knickers on models who have no curves is the best way to flog underwear. It certainly doesn't make me hotfoot it to the nearest knicker purveyor.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if underwear retailers showed us their collections on a combination of slender AND curvy women?

The Past Week in LLG: a blog digest

Vintage kid gloves: granny's 1950s lilac elbow gloves
The Simon Community:Donate unwanted household linens
Having my photograph taken: an LLG portrait shoot
Original recipe: Apple & hazelnut cake
New trend:The cream tuxedo jacket
The Next Directory in 1988: How mail order changed
Giveaway results:Catherine Colebrook homewares
Vintage tea set: Pansies
Reader Question: Recommending books set in London

Reader Question: Recommendations for books set in London

I love reading, and I love travelling to far-off places. Ergo I love reading about far-off places, especially places where I've been. (I live in Salt Lake City.) I love reading stories set in England, and I'm wondering if you have any recommendations for favorite books by current (or, more current than the Brontes and Austen) British authors. They don't have to be books *about* any specific place, just wondering if there are any books that come to mind that *feel* like England to you? (Edited for space reasons)

I was born in London and moved straight back here after I graduated. I know the city extremely well, so I'm going to make my reply about books based in London. So, off the top of my head:

One of my favourite books is the Pulitzer winning Foreign Affairsby Alison Lurie. It follows a hesitant American academic who blossoms as she explores London on a study trip. She also happens to fall in love.

I have a vast collection of crime fiction, much of which uses London almost as a character in its own right. In particular, I'm thinking of Ruth Rendell's The Keys to the Street, which is set in and around Regents Park, and PD James' poet detective Adam Dalgliesh who lives on the river in Rotherhithe. In Original Sinhe investigates a murder in a publishing house on the banks of the Thames, and in The Murder Room the crime takes place in a museum on Hampstead Heath.

My absolute favourite piece of period crime fiction is Margery Allingham's The Tiger in the Smokeset in a pea-souper fog in 1930's London. It is chilling, evocative and wonderful.

The make-up of the population of London changed dramatically through the 20th century to the present day. Two books that look at the fabulously diverse nature of our city are Brick Lane by Monica Ali, and White Teeth by Zadie Smith.

I don't think you can understand London without reading about the Second World War which changed the city in such a physical and emotional manner. RF Delderfield's cracking good reads, following the fortunes of the Carver family and their neighbours, are a good start. The Dreaming Suburb is set between 1919-1940 and looks at the extension of London out into the suburbs. Its sequel The Avenue Goes to War looks at the years 1940-1948.

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters is also set during the Second World War.

I'm sure my erudite readers have many more suggestions: do leave them in the comments box below, as I know we'd all like some additions to our reading lists.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Vintage tea set: pansies


I have loved this bone china tea set, which my mother inherited from her grandmother, since I was a little girl. My mother gave it to me last weekend when we were clearing out the china cupboards. There are twelve cups & saucers, twelve tea plates and a slops bowl. The tea pot & jug are long gone, but I'm perfectly happy with these.


I love having people over for proper afternoon tea. In London at weekends we would go for long walks on Hampstead Heath, and then head back to my flat for tea & crumpets. I'm looking forward to doing lots of baking & forcing delicious carbs upon my American friends when they come over for tea in Manhattan.

Thing is, I can't really transport this set myself: it's both too delicate and too big to go in my suitcase, and the anti-terror restrictions won't let me carry it in the cabin. (Even though I have the carbon footprint of a yeti, my airmiles aren't going to get me a Virgin Atlantic upgrade any time soon.)


So, it's going to have to wait until I ship my stuff over the Atlantic in a large container. Oh well, it's yet another incentive to finish all my outstanding projects so I can afford to ship everything...

Friday, January 22, 2010

RESULTS: Catherine Colebrook giveaway


Thank you so much to everyone that entered the Catherine Colebrook giveaway on LLG.

Any one of their framed prints, a tea towel in each of the colour ways, a set of four mugs (Cake is for Life, Keep Calm, Make Hay and When in Doubt) and a Keep Calm and Carry on Shopping canvas bag, worth a grand total of £102.

I asked you to leave a comment to tell us what object in your house is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. I loved all your entries which made me smile, cry and, in some cases, snort with laughter: you readers are just bloomin' brilliant. Using we have picked someone to receive the enormous pile of gifts that Catherine has so generously donated.

So: it all goes to Lindsey.dear who said:

On my bedside table is a small pewter figure of a horse. The style is called 'folk horse' - my parents bought it for me when I was a child, on a visit to Norway. He was nicknamed Little Hoss, and has always been a favourite possession.

However, what makes me smile everytime I glance at Little Hoss is not childhood memories, but more recent events . .

Last year, my little sister headed off to travel the world, and decided to take Little Hoss with her as a reminder of home (never having being able to maintain a clear distinction between my stuff and hers, in true younger sibling style!). We were sad to see her go, but knew she needed to get the wanderlust out of her system, so with a promise to stay in touch, she flew away.

The first photograph arrived on e-mail just a couple of days later, and they came in a steady stream for the next ten months. Little Hoss amidst cherry blossom in a Tokyo park; Little Hoss at Ankor Watt; Little Hoss relaxing on a sunlounger somewhere on a remote Thai island; Little Hoss on the back of a baby elephant in Sri Lanka - for every photo of my sister and her newfound friends, there was a photo of Little Hoss having just as much fun.

Little Hoss has returned to my bedside table now, and my sister is back in her north London flat, but both of them are different for their adventures. Little Hoss might have a few dints and scratches, but my sister is braver, more confident, probably happier - and everytime I see Little Hoss he makes me smile.

Please email me at to claim your gifts.

ALSO: Because of the weight, it was not possible to open this up to international readers (but I promise we'll have some competitions for you too soon). However Catherine Colebrook have arranged a 10% discount for both UK and overseas customers who would like to do some shopping. Simply enter LLG10 in the code box at check out.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Next Directory in 1988: the catalogue that changed mail order


I've been ferreting about in the attics again. After finding the Kate Moss issue of The Face from 1990 up there, I did some more excavating and came up with this launch copy of the Next Directory from 1988.

To those of you who are in your twenties, the very idea that a mail order catalogue was able to change our expectations of retail & the way we shop could possibly seem hyperbolic. And if I said that that catalogue was produced by High Street behemoth (& third biggest retail chain in the UK) Next, you'd probably snort with laughter. But back in the pre-on-line retail, pre-democratisation of style 1980s, catalogue shopping was a very different beast.

Downmarket, dull, printed on flimsy paper & based around the installment payment method, mail order catalogue shopping had little connection with style or even customer service: it wasn't unusual to be given a window of 28 days for delivery.

And then along came retail genius George Davis and his Next Empire which launched in 1982. Next was known for everyday price points, a focus on excellent design, decent fabrics and very good tailoring, previously impossible to find on the High Street.

In 1988 he decided to address the moribund mail order world. He decided that the Next Directory cost would £3, the price of a book back then. It was an investment, a clear pitch at a quality audience, with its hardback covers, ribbon bookmarks and thick glossy paper stock.

There were real fabric swatches:


And a vast team of photographers, stylists and hair & make-up, many of whom would go on to become some of the most respected names in the industry:


Then there were the models:


And hello Yasmin le Bon:


I remember being so excited to receive my copy that I haunted the mail pigeonholes at my boarding school for a week. When it arrived I bunked class to sit and leaf through it, carefully marking out everything I wanted.


And if that sounds strange, remember fashion wasn't accessible then. There was no internet, so we relied on magazines and newspapers to bring us fashion news. The High Street was a wasteland and I relied on charity shops & vintage to try to copy what I saw in British W (then a short lived newspaper) and Vogue. There was no Grazia interpreting fashion or Topshop setting trends back then. So a glossy fashion catalogue was really, really big news.


Not that I could afford any of it. Clothes were still expensive, relatively. The idea of fast, cheap fashion hadn't happened yet and if you check the prices in the Directory they aren't far off what we pay now twenty years later.

Flicking through the Directory in 2010, on the tail end of the eighties fashion revival, it's refreshing to be reminded what 80s fashion actually looked like for normal people, rather than the filtered version served up these days.

There's classic aerobics workout gear:


I remember very clearly wanting this striped dress with a deep & desperate longing:


The obligatory 80s pinstriped power suits:


There were mens suits, all boxy shouders and double breasted,


and a look which epitomises the 80s for me: monochrome, riffing on the 1950s:


Ah my youth.

I've put a whole load of images up on my LLG archive flickr account here