“Money is like manure. You have to spread it around or it smells.” - Jean Paul Getty

After hearing about the myriad of stores that had opened on Mayfair's Mount Street I had to take a look...though only from a window shopping perspective...sadly my budget does not run to Lanvin's leopard print dresses or Balenciaga's iridescent jackets (and Marc by Marc Jacobs falls under the category of "there's a store across town from where I live, why would I cross an ocean to buy their wares?").


The thing that strikes you about Mount Street though isn't the fashion...it's the wealth...the not-so-discreet odor of money that oozes out of every pore. Lunchers dining al fresco at the restaurants or private clubs are coddled by heaters every couple of feet (the mega-rich obviously feel the cold more than lesser mortals)...Balenciaga was so discreet with their signage that I almost walked past it, and indeed wouldn't have missed much as you need to peer through the blinded windows to view the shimmering goods inside...and, though the sun was shining, the overall impression was oppressive. If this is what the mega rich really want it's depressing...not exclusivity as much as a frigid lack of emotion.

Thank God for the whimsicality of Lanvin's windows and Goyard's construction cover-up...



"...fill thy brain with...fashion and covetousness...wine and French coffee..."

"If thou fill thy brain with Boston and New York, with fashion and covetousness, and wilt stimulate thy jaded senses with wine and French coffee, thou shalt find no radiance of wisdom in the lonely waste of the pinewoods" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

For...well, quite a while now...there's been an vague image floating around in the back of my mind. A nagging, undefined urge for a pair of "French girl boots". This isn't the technical description you understand...but the style kept turning up on the feet of French femmes in streetstyle blogs...in collections from Isabel Marant...on the websites for French magazines...and, in my mind, they became "F.g.b".

They were ankle boots...they were chunky yet undeniably feminine...they appeared in leather and suede...and, invariably, they had a heel. Now, as you know, I don't "do" heels. Mainly, it's true, because I lack a sense of balance...I am the quintessential klutz. And so my "F.g.b" urge remained a dormant daydream.

Then, as I sat in Russell & Bromley...trying on what turned out to be two pairs of very uncomfortable flats...I spotted a pair of "F.g.b". They were, quite literally, the stuff that dreams are made of...if you dream in sandy hued nubuck that is. I had to try them on, if only so I could stand (quivering like an aspen) for a brief moment in front of the mirror. But then something odd happened...no quiver...not a shake. I could stand, I could walk, heck I might even have managed a run if the need had arisen.

Needless to say, it takes a stronger woman than I to deny destiny...



Joseph...without the dreamcoat

And now, for the disappointing part of the trip...

I was, I admit, fiendishly excited when I heard mutterings that Joseph was attempting to regain the cult shopping emporium status it held back in the 80's and 90's.

Now Joseph...or should I say 80's Joseph...holds a special place in my heart. It was my first love. It offered sophistication, wit, allure, and was (to an impressionable youngster) perfection. From the crisp black and white of the stores...to the ads featuring the photography of Pamela Hanson...to the "Joseph girls" (not mere sales assistants, more brand ambassadors who embodied everything that you could...and would...become once you'd been touched by the magic)...they created a vision of a lifestyle which (perhaps sadly) I still aspire to today.

The thought that all this could live again was enticing but, as they say, you can't go back. Joseph Mark II is...wrong. The sales assistants are just that...except without the "assistance" and with a hefty dose of "desperate salesmanship" (poor Mr. Hebden sauntered off into the men's department and was stalked like a zebra trying to cross the Serengeti). The clothes are...strangely uninteresting. The magic is, quite frankly, missing.

Thankfully I have a (rather large) collection of "original Joseph" sweaters, jewelry, and advertising ephemera to see me through the cold winter nights...



"Flash - a-ah - he'll save everyone of us" - Queen

It's been asked before...by me and by others...but, really, why is there such a vast difference between Urban Outfitters in the US and the UK? UO wasn't on my London "stores to visit" list because, well, I find it irritating to travel all that way and end up in shop that I could go into every day. Except...and here's the rub...it's not the same. Which is why, dear reader, I found myself guiltily walking into the Urban Outfitters on Oxford Street...climbing the stairs to the top floor...and gazing in rapture at the racks of Peter Jensen, Karen Walker, APC Madras, et al. Such an embarrassment of riches...surely a few could make their way across the ocean.

Of course, the men's floor needed to be checked to see if it offered the same temptations for Mr. Heb. It didn't. But...hidden behind a display near the cash register...we did find some bags from the limited edition collaboration between Eley Kishimoto and Eastpak. Now, I've been a fan of Eley Kishimoto's prints for years...the lure of a messenger bag in their signature flash print was too great for me...especially as I need something to lug my laptop round in and Mr. Heb (very generously) offered to buy it as an exceedingly early birthday gift.

As an added bonus, once you've bought the bag, you can log onto Eastpak's website and join the "Flash Association" using the unique number sewn into each bag. I'm not sure what benefits are obtained from membership (I'm guessing it will just mean a slew of new spam hitting my mailbox) but the enamel flash pin attached to the information card more than makes up for an enlarged mailbox.



Food glorious food!

I believe I mentioned that I viewed this trip as an extended pig-out session...you may have thought I was exaggerating...sadly, I wasn't. It had been too long since my last visit to the UK and I found myself yearning to roam through a Marks & Spencer's food hall...buy as many salted caramel macaroons from Ladurée as I could afford...and have a nice, boozy, pub lunch (preferably in a cozy, shady, pub overlooking a village green).

I'm happy to say I was successful on all counts...and that thanks to the many miles we walked each day I managed to escape this gluttony with a slight weight loss (as opposed to the massive gain that I assumed would take place). The pinnacle of all this excess came, as it so often does, courtesy of Harrods. Over the course of two picnic lunches I managed to transform into a modern-day Henry VIII...thanks to a baguette...smeared in truffle butter...stuffed with ham and fresh mozzarella...and drizzled with truffle oil...and some flatbread...layered with crayfish...Marie Rose sauce...bacon...lettuce...and tomato (and served in a lightweight wooden box).

Needless to say, after all this binging, my tastebuds now yearn for a break...




“It pays to plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.” - unknown

This trip I decided to approach shopping in a new way...with a pre-conceived plan. I realize this sounds horribly dull and lacking in joie de vie but it was something that I hoped would enable me to avoid my usual mistake of buying random items which caught my eye in the store (when I was in vacation mode) but were completely inappropriate for both me and my existing wardrobe once I got them home (yes, I'm looking at you lilac feather boa...though at least you amused the rather stern customs officer who searched my luggage).

The action plan was simple...a list of 7 stores whose selections I usually loved and, more importantly, whose concepts worked with pieces already lurking in my closet (an added proviso was anything I bought should be difficult or impossible to find in the US)...I allowed myself the option to add a couple of additional stores whose windows caught my eye as I walked by (after all, who knows what you might stumble across)...window shopping was unlimited, and actively encouraged as it permitted a brief respite from all that walking.

First on the list was COS. At some point I assume they'll open a few US stores but, in the meantime, I run into their stores like a camel who's spotted an oasis after a particularly long, dry, trek through the desert...except his thirst is quenched by water and mine by well-designed, reasonably priced, basics (it takes, as they say, all kinds to make a world).

This time COS yielded a dress bonanza. A navy dress which made me feel like a punk Hitchcock heroine...the classic three-quarter sleeves, fitted bust, and tulip skirt contrasting nicely with the sweatshirt fabric and bold zipper. Dress number two was a printed cotton number with a structured scoop neck. Both were fitted, yet loose...perfect for the summer, when I want comfort but want to avoid the unflattering shapeless sacks that seem to fill stores.



"You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London..."

Photobucket"...No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." - Samuel Johnson

Though the trip was wonderful it's nice to be back...as it was at once mentally relaxing and physically draining...probably due to the fact that Mr. Heb and I tend to eschew such conveniences as buses and trains and walk back and forth...from one end of London to the other...every single day...changing direction on a whim...and tacking another couple of miles onto our journey.

Still the weather was (in the main) perfect for schlepping around in...the air was full of the scents of Spring (masses of flowers, freshly mown grass, and pain au raisin from Pret A Manger)...and I finally, after years of zoo visits, managed to see what a meerkat pup looks like (not a huge feat I grant you but unexpected and pleasing).

Enough for now...expect more detailed posts on various London related topics...food...probably more food (I was a little glutinous so all that walking was, in a way, a necessity)...and...shopping...in the next few days. For the time being a few holiday snaps...mainly museum, zoo, or Kew Garden related...though a schmaltzy tourist shot did sneak in (you officially, and rather sickeningly, know you're homesick when you start taking pictures of Big Ben...especially moonlit ones).



Les vacances de Madame Hebden...and other things...

If guilt is, as Isabelle Holland said, "the price we pay willingly for doing what we are going to do anyway" I should be wallowing in my bout of self-imposed blogger's guilt. For I leave today on a week and a half jaunt to London and I have (uncharacteristically I might add) nothing pre-written to appear while I'm gone...my first blogging break in a couple of years and the guilt is immense.

This is on top of my angst over breaking my "carry on luggage only" pledge...try as I might the best I could manage was one large checked duffle bag shared by myself and Mr. Heb. Of course, the process wasn't helped by Mr. Heb asking if I'd packed anything that I would care about "if the airline lost the bag". Of course I'd care...why would I take clothes that I don't care about (and therefore wouldn't want to wear)?

As a palliative to all this fretfulness I'm focusing on the vast quantity of Twiglets, Revels, and Ladurée macaroons that I will consume within my first 24 hours on British soil...


“You cannot forget if you would those golden kisses all over the cheeks of the meadow, queerly called dandelions.” - Henry Ward Beecher

I know that it's completely unrealistic...and, even if I managed to put together a DIY version I'd probably end up looking more 50's femme than punk-dandelion-feather-head...BUT...that won't stop me drooling over this image from Oak's website and regarding it as hair/hat inspiration (oh, alright...let's just call it what it is...feather porn).


The added bonus with this image is that even though bachelor #1 is completely non-viable (and isn't that generally the case?) I can switch my attention to bachelor #2 (the God-it's-great-to-be-alive-so-I'm-going-to-thrash-around hair) and still feel bittersweet pangs of yearning...but this time over a slightly more reasonable dream.


“There are still parts of Wales where the only concession to gaiety is a striped shroud.” - Gwyn Thomas

The only problem with buying things from men's departments is the difficulty in getting into the changing rooms to try them on...

At least that was the case when I stumbled upon this striped top from Vivienne Westwood's men's line...okay, to be honest, Mr. Heb stumbled across it first but there was only one left and it was too small for him so he (begrudgingly and with assorted mumblings and imprecations) passed it on to me. Such was my longing for the combination of stripes, embroidery, and gorilla-length sleeves that I even managed to convince the sales assistants that I wouldn't leave "cooties" in their oh-so-manly changing rooms when I wanted to try it on...


T-shirt - Muji, striped top with embroidery on chest - Vivienne Westwood, jeans - Joe's, glitter flats - Me Too, jacket - Belstaff


"...a horse chestnut and a rabbit's foot in your right pocket..."

“For luck you carried a horse chestnut and a rabbit's foot in your right pocket. The fur had been worn off the rabbit's foot long ago and the bones and the sinews were polished by the wear. The claws scratched in the lining of your pocket and you knew your luck was still there.” - Ernest Hemingway

I feel slightly evil writing about a rabbit's foot keychain at Easter...when all rabbit-related thoughts should be fluffy...pastel colored...and preferably in close proximity to something chocolate (as opposed to rigid, golden, and disembodied). But, really, how could I resist a good luck charm in 14k gold over brass...especially as, hanging on a long chain, it would offer an interesting alternative to the talon pendants I mentioned a couple of weeks ago?Photobucket


“The faux pas is repartee which has become accidentally entangled with hara - kiri” - unknown

There's faux fur...the shaggy variety...and then there's faux fur...where the kind of fox fur stole than you would normally see slung around the neck of a lady of a certain age or sitting, moth-eaten and dejected, in the discount bin at the resale shop is re-imagined in cotton muslin.

While I'm partial to the former kind it's the latter which recently caught my eye...thanks to Slow and Steady Wins the Race...who I realize I bleat on about with alarming regularity but I can't help myself...I'm continuously drawn to their ideas...including this one (despite the fact that, facially, it looks slightly more porcine than it probably should).



“Whenever I feel like exercise I lie down until the feeling passes” - Robert Maynard Hutchins

Another day...another stupendously long walk, the purpose for which barely qualifies as "running errands"...or to be precise, a 9 mile round trip to pick up a Chelsea scarf for Mr. Heb.

As we walked (and walked...and walked) we were passed by the occasional jogger and I couldn't help but wonder who was going to cover more distance...the tortoise (aka the Hebs)...or the hare (aka the runners)...and, subsequently, to wonder if all those sweatpants...shorts...and other jogging ephemera are completely necessary...


Jacket - Belstaff, t-shirt - American Apparel, plaid shirt - customized men's Ralph Lauren, linen dress - Anthropologie, talon cuff - Pamela Love, scarf - Harald, moccasins - Minnetonka, bag - Balenciaga


“Childhood is short, maturity is forever” - unknown

I think I'm officially regressing...second childhood time...pass me the Play Doh...which I wasn't allowed the first time around as my mother was convinced I was allergic to it...not that I hold a grudge you understand...

Now, where was I? Ah, yes...regression. How else to explain my attraction to this colorful collection of rings made from that childhood staple...crayon? So much potential in one little box. Just think of the covert doodling that could take place during boring meetings...the surreptitious tags that could be left on grey concrete walls...even the snack potential for those whose childhood was spent wolfing down boxes of Crayolas...


“Ignorant people in preppy clothes are more dangerous to America than oil embargoes.” - V. S. Naipaul

These pants fall under the category of "things that I shouldn't like but do". Firstly because they're khakis...a piece of clothing which normally irks me beyond belief...partially because of its preppy connotations...but mainly due to the fact that every office I have worked in has included them on their HR department's list of "acceptable business casual wear" and nothing makes an item of clothing more off-putting and sterile than corporate approval. The second "should be negative but isn't" is the shape...peg-leg pants not being the most flattering style created.

Yet, as I say, the double negatives become a positive...to my mind at least...proof once again, if it were needed, that it's futile to adamantly say "I'll never wear such and such" because, when you do, fate will take it as a challenge to get said item into your wardrobe.

Plaid shirt - H&M, cardigan - Fred Perry, peg-leg pants - Junya Watanabe, talon cuff - Pamela Love, hi-tops - Converse


"...just well enough, just brave enough...to remain a sentient human being"

“The crucial task of old age is balance: keeping just well enough, just brave enough, just gay and interested and starkly honest enough to remain a sentient human being.” - unknown

At first glance this really doesn't bode well for my old age...

The "this" in question being the results of a study which show that an older woman who applies make-up each morning has better posture and (most importantly) falls over less often than one who doesn't. Now as someone who has already ended up in the emergency room twice thanks to loss-of-consciousness-induced-falls...and, moreover, wears barely any make-up...it would appear that I'm relegated to a future spent hurtling towards the ground unless I change my ways and start applying slap on a daily basis with the intensity of a bricklayer mixing cement.

Thankfully a second glance shows that the study was led by L'Oreal's research communications director. Now I realize that I can be a tad cynical at times but I can't help but feel they may be a little biased...


“They are looking for canceled checks, receipts - anything to show that this was not just something you dreamed up.” - Frederick Daily

Embarrassing as it is to admit, I'm completely and utterly hopeless when it comes to remembering dates. Especially the poignant, relationship-based ones that you're supposed to wrap in mental tissue paper and unpack every so often to get misty eyed over...namely first dates...first kisses...weddings. Yes, that's right...left to my own devices (i.e. no peeking at the marriage license) I even draw a blank on the day...month...and, um, year...that Mr. Heb and I tied the knot.

Which is why I love Camille Bidault Waddington's t-shirt..."designed by her French lover using the receipt of their first date"...at one and the same time it's charmingly sentimental and incredibly useful...especially if, like me, you'd like to be called a hopeless romantic in a good way and not because you have a memory like the proverbial sieve.


Image and t-shirt info from purple DIARY


"If you don't like someone, the way he holds his spoon will make you furious..."

“If you don't like someone, the way he holds his spoon will make you furious; if you do like him, he can turn his plate over in your lap and you won't mind.” - Irving Becker

We don't spend that much on tableware here in the Hebden household...mainly because Mr. Heb has an affliction whereby he manages to break at least one piece of glassware or crockery every six months...it's a skill, an art, a charming quirk...but not something that you want to unleash on the kind of place settings that people register for on their wedding day wish list.

Having said all that, I'd love to deck out my dining table with Lovegrove & Repucci's New York Delft...an interesting and un-stuffy take on the Dutch classic...but too rich for my blood and positively asking for trouble when you consider the number of mis-matched glasses and handle-less jugs lurking in our kitchen cabinets.



“It's a different matter with sheep. Once their wool is waterlogged, they drown.” - Keith Adams

When I said that I wanted to work more scarves into my outfits I was thinking about the silk variety...unfortunately as Mother Nature continues to bombard my home with sleet and snow I'm forced to keep wearing wool...though, to be fair, I did look beyond the "old faithful" knitted scarves that I've been wearing all winter and unearthed an infrequently worn boiled wool number from one of my storage bins.

Like they say...one small step for scarfs, one giant leap for scarfkind.

Denim jacket - Gap, striped sweater - J Crew, scarf - Vivienne Westwood, skirt - H&M, leggings - American Apparel, suede boots


Getting a leg up...

Cyclists in the city have a hard life...in addition to the daily concerns related to excessive traffic, potholes, and pedestrians who launch themselves off the sidewalk into their paths...they have the extra burden of wanting to look relatively decent when they reach their destination. This, of course, varies vastly from country cycling where you may encounter similar potholes and various small animals launching themselves under your wheels but, once you travel from Point A to Point B, the chances are there’ll only be a cow or a couple of sheep to notice any discrepancies in your usually high sartorial standards.

But now Stroke is offering a solution (at least for the lower portion of your legs) with their “Extra Leg”. The concept is simple, calf-covering sleeves in APC’s raw, black, or white denim that wrap around your lower limbs and close with Velcro fasteners. Slip them on before your journey and they will collect all of the mud and grime that would usually attach itself to your pants. Leaving you, at journey’s end, unblemished...at least from the knee down...because these mini-chaps will do absolutely nothing for that other cycling style nightmare, the twin hazards of red faces and windblown hair.



The old lady, the herring, and the block of ice

“No contact with savage Indian tribes has ever daunted me more than the morning I spent with an old lady swathed in woolies who compared herself to a rotten herring encased in a block of ice.” - Claude Levi-Strauss


There's so much going on with Luella's boucle coat...the lacing on the cuffs...the zips on the pockets...the tulle overlay on the collar...not to mention the punked up old lady check...that it could so easily veer into overkill (the roadkill of the catwalk). Yet, brilliantly, it doesn't.

Instead it makes me want to raid resale shops until I can find a tweed coat to sacrifice in homage...sadly my realistic little inner voice cautions me that although my DIY skills are up to the challenge of adding lacing to sleeves or zippers to pockets I lack the wherewithal to be able to recreate the over-sized-yet-fitted cut which I find completely mesmerizing.



“Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.” - the bible

Sometimes it seems like, if you're truly interested in fashion, you should abandon all sense of the practical...otherwise your common sense will continuously attempt to assert itself and will (sooner or later) drive you insane. Especially if you're faced with a $1,250 suede t-shirt. That's the moment that you question your sanity...because you know that summer is a time of sun tan lotion, salt water, and (I'm sorry, but I have to say it) sweat...and unless you're planning on spending the warmer months in an air-conditioned environment without food or beverages the chances of the shirt remaining in anything like pristine condition for longer than, say, five minutes are exceedingly slim.

Of course, despite all of the hazards my sensible Scottish soul can imagine, there's a good chunk of my mind filled with longing...but I'll rally round and attack any feelings of lust with the "imagine the damage a mis-managed ice cream cone could wreak" argument...


“An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while a pessimist sees only the red stoplight. . . The truly wise person is colorblind.”

I find that I have a distinct love/hate relationship with Anthropologie...they usually have quite a few pieces that I love...but any happy thoughts are usually swept away in a flood of ire when I see how expensive they are. A recent find is this glass beaded and balled necklace. In the 'love' category...it's a perfect infusion of summer color...and the fact that the beads are glass means that it's immune to salt water, sweat, sun tan lotion, and all those other warm weather stain-inducing meanies. Under 'hate' you can chalk down the $38 price tag...not horrendous but padded just enough to make you feel slightly bilked if you buy it for full price. Which means this is one more item to add to "sale watch '09" (I'm beginning to have an uneasy suspicion that I enjoy making lists a little too much...).


* Today's quote is courtesy of Albert Schweitzer...


“I was never much displeased with those harmless delusions that tend to make us more happy.” - Oliver Goldsmith

Instead of a bad practical joke on this April Fool's Day I'm going for an even worse pun...harmless...arm-less...(insert massive collective groan here).

I usually don't write anything political on here...it's not the right place...but I was horrified (and disgusted) to read the following in a report on the protests surrounding the G-20 summit in London..."Bolder financial workers leaned out their office windows Wednesday, taunting demonstrators and waving 10 pound notes at them". I guess that let's us know who the true fools are this April 1st...

T-shirt - street vendor in Paris, plaid shirt - customized men's Ralph Lauren, sleeveless jacket - Alexander Wang, jeans - Levis, talon cuff - Pamela Love, zip flats - Ash


“The lunatic fringe wags the underdog” - Henry Louis Mencken

Dear "Wish list for the sales",

It's been a while since I last wrote but I had to draw your attention to this fantastically fringed, ethnic-y...and sadly hideously over-priced...scarf from Bally.

Definitely not something that I'd break my piggy bank for...despite the number of outfits that would be made a little more interesting this summer by its presence...but definitely something to be filed away under the heading of "to keep an eye on in case of massive reductions".

Hope you and the rest of the wish list family are doing well.


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