Thursday, 12 June 2008

Genius idea of the month

Women! Want to look like like an escaped jailbird on the run? Perhaps you reckon that tough, prison-hardened aesthetic is just the thing to combat this summer of fey florals and revolting ruffles. Maybe you want to look like everyone's favourite smackhead/crackhead/convict/generally distasteful and worrying tabloid hero/villain, Pete Doherty, mere minutes after replacing his Likely Lads suits for crim-wear on his latest visit to one of Her Madge's Pleasurable outposts.

Or maybe you just want to look like The Penguin.

Hurry on down to Topshop now! This superb . . . um . . . I'm not quite sure 'jumpsuit' covers its full glory . . can be yours for fifty of your British sterling.

Regular readers will know it's not often that I write posts of the 'buy this here!' nature, but this one was too good to miss.


Sunday, 8 June 2008

The perfect trousers

What are yours?

As well as my fixation with the perfect pair of skinny-fit tuxedo trousers, for years I have hankered after some dream wide trousers. But two things come to mind when I think of wide trousers:

- Katharine Hepburn, striding about in her trews with thunderous defiance, telling her studio bosses to stick it when they request that she clothe herself in ladylike skirts
- 'What Not To Wear' type shows, where middle-aged women are made to don characterless two-legged high street cotton sacking because they're supposedly too fat to show their legs

They can go very right, or very wrong. This is what I do NOT want:


Wide trousers are meant to make a woman look statuesque, nonchalant but powerful - the kind of woman that glides through life wreathed in odourless cigarette smoke and cinematic shadow, knocking down her peers and subjects with dry quips and gusts of air from the movement of her eyelashes. They're meant to make your legs look like they go on forever. If they make a catwalk model look like the average woman on the street, they'll do precisely nil for that average woman.

I've got some nice black high-waisted ones, very tight in the waist, but I want some cooler, mannish ones too. When my dress-form arrives, instead of finishing the dresses I have started, I suspect my next sewing project will be a pair of heavy wool pinstripe trousers. Heavy enough that they can be wide and show some movement but not flap stupidly in the wind as cheap trousers do. Wide on the leg, medium-rise on the waist, with just the right amount of insouciant slackness on the legs. I'm not thinking Annie Hall and her kooky granddad dressing, though this admittedly has a separate appeal.

Mainly I'm thinking Madonna in the Vogue video - these trousers have hovered in my imagination for years -

. . . and Irina Lazareanu in the current issue of Tank. The photo's not too clear, sadly, but these Paul Smith trousers are magnificent [pity I can't afford them]:

[Image: Stefano Galuzzi, Tank]

Pinstripe wool, some heavy machine needles and thread, and a couple of days of patience. How hard could it be?


Wednesday, 4 June 2008

A short tale

Once upon a time in a great big city there was a lady, and she had an unused sewing machine. It sat in a dark cupboard for five years, because it did not have a pedal, and without its pedal the lady could not use it. She sewed clothes by hand, but it took a very long time, and she did not make many. The sewing machine was very sad. It wanted to help the lady but it couldn't.

Then one day the lady went to a magical sewing machine shop in Camden. The man in the shop was very helpful, and kept the shop open for her because she couldn't get there until the evening. She bought a small black pedal and some scissors, and when she got home, she took out her sewing machine.

Her sewing machine was very happy with its new pedal, and its light glowed happily. It whirred and clicked, and its metal parts didn't even need oiling.

The lady took out all of her bobbins and threads and beads and sequins and needles and pins and tape measures and ribbons . . .

. . . and made a proper sewing box.

And then she settled down to work, and made a skirt. When she sewed clothes by hand, it would have taken her a week. The lady made a skirt in one evening.

It was made of beautiful pea-green tweed and it fit her perfectly.

The lady was very happy and the sewing machine was very proud.

The lady couldn't believe she had wasted bloody YEARS bloody well hand-sewing, and was secretly VERY cheesed off, but didn't say so to the sewing machine, because she didn't want to remind it of all the years it had sat in its cupboard in the dark, all alone with the dust and bookboxes and old shoes and occasional spiders. Instead, she patted her sewing machine kindly, and went off to bed.

The sewing machine wondered what it would make next.


Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The girl with the golden gun

I know many will find them ridiculous, objectionable, in poor taste, glamorising guncrime, etc. etc., but I cannot lie. I'm awfully charmed by these shoes.

Karl Lagerfeld had Laurence Decade make them for Chanel's 2009 Cruise collection. I love the surreality of them. I think Magritte would love them. The Bond afficionado in me longs for a pair. In each colour.


Monday, 2 June 2008

Six quirks

I was tagged by Kate at Make Do & Mend to list my six quirks. I'm not sure whether these are to be style-based or general, so let's go half and half.

1. Everyone who knows me knows this one - I'm besotted with umbrellas. Long, ornate, unusual ones with spectacular handles and exquisite fabrics. No travel-sized rubbish. I have different ones for every weather [there's different kinds of rain . . . ]
2. This obsessive nature extends to food. I have a narrow palate but get crushes on particular foods. Currently: tomatoes [raw as a garlicky salad], cous-cous, fine green beans.
3. I always wear a toy, properly loadable silver pistol around my neck. Extremely rare for me to take it off.
4. I really, really, REALLY enjoy Home & Away. I'm not much of a tv addict; H&A and Gossip Girl are the only two shows I really treasure.
5. I once owned 415 bottles of nail polish and 26 packs of cards [all different and beautiful]. I told you I fixate on things . . .
6. I love James Bond. Everything to do with it. The books, the films, the cars, the girls, the guns, the evening dress, the casinos, the exotic villains' lairs, the white cats, the diamond-encrusted and laser-equipped satellites, the destructive and desperate flights through Russia, China and Harlem. The only bad things about James Bond are the last Pierce Brosnan film, Madonna's cameo [the woman's an abomination], Chris Cornell & Garbage's respective theme tunes and Timothy Dalton, but these faults are balanced out by Basil Fawlty being the new Q.

I now tag the search for chic, Luxe Noir and Wish Wish Wish


Goodnight Yves St Laurent

Yves St Laurent just died, aged 71. I'm sure a lot of other people will write about this far more eloquently, so I'll just say: to the man who invented Le Smoking and defined feminine-masculine tailoring, carried the house torch after Christian Dior's death, was the first to use black models in his catwalk shows and, with his Rive Gauche label, put ready-to-wear fashion on the map: sir, we'll miss you.


Sunday, 1 June 2008

Black & white

Once, I was a girl who loved colour. Now I find myself gravitating towards monochrome. I guess in part it's down to the tuxedo obsession that, after a good year and a half, I still haven't gotten over.

I had almost given up on finding a white shirt to suit me. £30 shirts from Zara, or £100 twill shirts from Thomas Pink [one of my illest-advised purchases ever]. They sit wrong on me. The fabric's too stiff, or badly cut, or the white makes my pale skin look pallid.

But the Chloe sample sale the other week yielded the shirt of my dreams. While the other customers hovered over the handbags [sorry, Chloe fans - I can't get my head around paying £300 for a bag, let along their real shop price], I found something curious: the one item in the room without a label. No washing instructions, not even a size label. Nothing to say it was by Chloe, except that if you peer closely at the buttons, the name's engraved on each. And it was the only one. I briefly pondered whether some crafty customer had furtively swapped their own posh shirt for a posher one earlier in the day. It is the finest - nay, the only - white shirt I have ever enjoyed.

Excuse its rumpled-ness - took this photo at the end of a long day.
It sits just right. It feels just right. I think it's some kind of raw silk, or extremely fine cotton. The shoulders . . . oh, the shoulders! I love it. Mostly, I love it because it is unremarkable - it does what I have always wanted and never managed to get a white shirt to do - its job. There now follows a series of self-indulgent photos of it.

The sleeves . . . the collar . . . truly, I love it. And the slightly dulled off-white colour is much easier to wear than white.

With some Topshop khaki shorts I bought recently too. Nice with grey tights and black suede platform sandals.

Such was my joy that my white-shirt goggles then led me to buy this monstrosity:

It seemed like such a good idea. I daresay Kate Moss thought so too, when she approved its inclusion in her collection. [My first time succumbing to it.] I learned two things then: never buy cheap shirts, and never buy two shirts in one day. We will not dwell on the error: it went back the following day in disgrace.

. . . and I bought it in black instead. Curiously the black version is quite lovely. I learned a third thing: when in doubt, always get it in black.

Last, a sweet jersey minidress. Comfy, great with tights of any colour [black, coloured, or white with flat black ankle boots for super-cuteness], good over t-shirts or shirts, simply cut enough to be able to tuck it into a skirt and wear as a top. I won't hear a word against Topshop.

The white detailing is gorgeous - linen and netting, quilled [remember doing this at school with strips of curly paper?] into flowers. Très jolie.