The camera...the bag...and the vulnerable heart...

"Chim picked up his camera the way a doctor takes his stethoscope out of his bag, applying his diagnosis to the condition of the heart. His own was vulnerable." - Henri Cartier-Bresson

In an ideal world someone would make camera bags that looked something like Phillip Lim's Adin purse...because then I'd be able to actually enjoy toting my camera around...and not feel the need to cram its rather hideous nylon case into a larger handbag anytime I want to take it out for a stroll.


"I bleed black and gold" - Drew Williams

Taken in conjunction, the twin considerations of a) my manicure phobia (where I get decidedly uneasy at the thought of a stranger buffing my nails)...and b) the klutzy (and some would say slightly shoddy) way that I approach the job myself (i.e. the varnish does end up on the nails but it frequently appears on the surrounding skin...and well)...suggests that I should dismiss all thoughts from my mind of trying to recreate the navy and metallic digits from Ruffian's fall/winter runway.

At least that's what my practical side is telling me...the other little voice inside my head is suggest buying some drop cloths and letting the varnish fly...


Shake it like a Polaroid picture...

My personal theory, when it comes to kitchen appliances, is that unless you're investing in an Aga stove or a Smeg refrigerator...a double delight, you keep your milk in a work of art and you get to use a little British geek humor by referring to it as "the Smeging fridge" at every possible should disguise as much of the offending article as possible.

Which means that basically the only portion of my fridge currently visible to the human eye is the door handle...the remainder is covered with postcards, drawings, and other paper ephemera held in place by a varied collection of magnets. A collection that I think would benefit by the addition of these odes to the polaroid...


"...a very gallant lady, victimized by whoever it is who designs the tops of her uniforms..."

"I have nothing against the Queen of England. Even in my heart I never resented her for not being Jackie Kennedy. She is, to my mind, a very gallant lady, victimized by whoever it is who designs the tops of her uniforms." - Leonard Cohen

Some days you don't want to just want to fall back on your own particular uniform...

Flannel dress - Isabel Marant, plaid shirt - Zara, boots - Frye, pendant necklace - H&M


"It used to be a good hotel, but that proves nothing - I used to be a good boy" - Mark Twain

It's probably a warning sign when you wait half an hour in the rain for the hotel shuttle only to discover that said shuttle is actually a white limo...which you ride in for the next twenty minutes pondering two of life's eternal questions...

  1. What exactly is that stain on the leather seat to my left?
  2. Why are Christmas lights fun and quaint, yet the light show contained within the (unstocked) bar and ceiling creepy, sad, and depressing?

Cardigan - Fred Perry, striped top - Zara, skirt - H&M, boots - Frye


"I wore sunglasses so you couldn't tell if I'm telling the truth." - Mike Hargrove

There's no real reason why the sunglasses from Band Of Outsiders' Fall 2010 collection should immediately make me think of Donald Hamilton...though the fact that I've been reading way too many Matt Helm books recently could have something to do with it. The point is, they do...and have re-ignited a desire for something over-sized, and gold-rimmed, and tinted in the sunglass department...


On the Road Again - The Rockets

Well, it makes a change from Willie Nelson...and... combined with the fact that I'm escaping the snow and sleet for a few days in what assures me will be mild (if slightly rainy)'s enough to make me forget that I wasn't able to get either an aisle or a window seat (which means I'll be spending several hours fending off my neighbors' elbows as they come at me from both sides).

Tweed coat - Acne, striped top - H&M, jeans - Zara, boots - Frye, scarf - Harald


“Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy; For the apparel oft proclaims the man.” - William Shakespeare

While flipping through some street style photos from London fashion week I came across this...

...surely something so blindingly, over-the-top signals an upturn in the economy...or am I trying to find a silver lining inside a shockingly ugly bag?


"Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential." - Will Cuppy

Jasco Chan's comb USB drive (aka the "Barber") creates a modern etiquette problem worthy of Miss all likelihood you wouldn't groom yourself in public (well, unless you happen to be the gentleman that I used to sit near...back in my days of cubicle hell...who would clip his nails into his wastepaper basket each morning)...but would you use a grooming tool to hold your important data?


Aristotle's keys to success...

"To be successful, keep looking tanned, live in an elegant building (even if you're in the cellar), be seen in smart restaurants (even if you nurse one drink) and if you borrow, borrow big." - Aristotle

Corduroy dress - APC, turtleneck - Club Monaco, denim jeggings - Zara, boots - Russell & Bromley, cashmere and lace scarf - compiled by me


At whose trellis I wait...

"There's a little brown road winding over the hill
To a little white cot by the sea
There's a little green gate
At whose trellis I wait
While two eyes of blue
Come smiling through at me." - Arthur A. Penn

It's an annual ritual. Here I sit...yearning for Spring (which, it has to be faced is still some time away)...and heeled sandals (for which I have neither the sense of balance nor the enthusiasm to welcome all the flotsam and jetsam that would make its way off the sidewalk and between my toes).

Yet here I am...oggling Surface to Air's safari green suede trellis-y numbers...and dreaming of an end to all this snow and ice.


"Darling you gotta let me know, Should I stay or should I go?" - The Clash

This dual-messaged doormat could be thought of as either a helpful hint for those of use who are never quite sure whether we're coming or going...or a (marginally) tactful hint for unwelcome visitors...


"Prouder than rustling in unpaid-for silk" - William Shakespeare

Considering the number of silk scarves in my closet, the last thing I need is another one...even one with satisfyingly chunky lumps of brass attached to it. What I should do is add yet another line item to my ever-increasing list of craft projects and start hunting for some wooden...brass...or glass...chunks to add to it.


"Ave you 'eard o' the Widow at Windsor...With a hairy gold crown on 'er 'ead?" - Rudyard Kipling

Lace trimmed dress - Barneys, cashmere & cardigan - Fred Perry, lace scarf, metal flats - Zara


Shopping in the manner of a drunken beaver...

In Greek and Roman mythology, Castor and Pollux (in Greek, Kástōr and Polydeúkēs - Κάστωρ καὶ Πολυδεύκης) were the twin sons of Lēda and Zeus/Tyndareus, the brothers of Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra and the half-brothers of Timandra, Phoebe, Heracles and Philonoe. They are known collectively in Greek as the Dioskouroi or Dioscuri (Διόσκουροι), "sons of Zeus", and in Latin as the Gemini ("twins") or Castores.

Castor means "beaver" in both Greek and Latin, and polydeukes means "much sweet wine".

Back in the day my mother shopped like Castor and Pollux...or Noah stocking the wardrobe in the ark...things often entered the house in twos. The theory was that when a beloved item wore out its brand new twin would be waiting in the closet ready to be reality, however, the pieces that she bought were so well made that they never really needed to be replaced. Which is why...long after they were purchased by dear mama...I have two Mulberry mackintoshes...two marled Joseph sweaters...and two Mulberry duffle coats...packed away in storage.

It's also why I'm generally wary of buying multiples of the same piece...slightly variations on a theme are fine (as evinced by the numerous variations on the Breton top theme folded on my shelves)...but the same item, never. Well...almost never...Frye's black leather Chelsea boots have turned into such a wardrobe staple that I fell prey to the drunken beaver and bought their distressed suede brethren. As the DB himself might say, "Oh dam! Dam! Dam!"


"These images in vivid and violent tones have resulted from crystallization of memories of the circus, popular tales or travel." - Henri Matisse

Floral jacket - Les Prairies de Paris, striped top - Zara, silk-fronted sweater - Acne, skirt - H&M, boots - Frye


Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

I know it's been length...and generally by the folks who claim it "wasn't this way when they were a girl/boy"...but sometimes it does seem like new ideas are a little short on the ground.

Take French Connection's latest ad campaign...which I, for one, love...brooding men with excessive facial hair who look like they haven't slept for a week because they've stayed up reading poetry or killing chickens...and insouciant, disheveled, girls with bad posture...affecting me that way.

It's all very alluring...and makes me want to run to a FCUK store to see if (for once) there's anything in there that I want to buy...but...those cute phrases, in bold white font, against those images is very close to a late 80's campaign for Kookai.

An even greater contender in the "guess who's been leafing through twenty year old magazines" contest...the accompanying video. Take a look...

...and then let me know if you don't see a few similarities between it and the images from Joseph's 1988 spring/summer ad campaign. Girl in floral dress...check...reclining barefoot in a chair in an "I don't give a damn about being ladylike" manner...double check...and they both spend quite a bit of time in the bedroom (though 80's Joseph girl does seem to be having a better time than her modern day counterpart).


Topper Takes A Trip...

"There was Topper, and there was the Mediterranean. A magnificent spectacle, that - Topper and the Mediterranean. Kindred spirits well met, contemplating each other across an alluring girdle of sand." - Thorne Smith

One more vaguely Vegas-y post. Though, truth be told, the only thing Vegas-y about Balenciaga's raffia tote is that it happens to be where I first caught sight of it...the bag itself is pure "walking along a quiet little rue in the south of France...sun shining...air smelling of lavender and verbena...and a freshly baked baguette poking out of your bag". Which is probably why I'm so smitten by is least the summer that I had once before and want again...the fact that it doesn't fasten closed in any way (and is therefore hideously impractical for city life)...and that it is staggeringly overpriced (for what is essentially a straw bag) not making a whit of difference to my usually quite practical soul.


"Life is like a box of chocolates..." - The Cigarette Smoking Man

"Life is like a box of chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for. Unreturnable because all you get back is another box of chocolates. So you're stuck with this undefinable whipped mint crap that you mindlessly wolf down when there's nothing else left to eat. Sure, once in a while there's a peanut butter cup or an English toffee. But they're gone too fast and the taste is... fleeting. So, you end up with nothing but broken bits filled with hardened jelly and teeth-shattering nuts. And if you're desperate enough to eat those, all you got left is an empty box filled with useless brown paper wrappers."

I'm blaming V-day...first,, the most cloyingly saccharine sweater ever created...mid-80's Ralph children amidst over-sized snowflakes...I feel vaguely sorry for whoever had to knit this chocolate box monstrosity.

Sweater - vintage Ralph Lauren, cords - Nicole Farhi, hi-tops - Converse, mink bucket hat - Prada


"love thats fresh and still thats only slightly for sale" - Cole Porter

Oh cupid, you commercial little swine...the day isn't even half over and already a host of retailers have tried to convince me via email that I need to buy the name of love.

Urban Outfitters wins the prize though...both for brevity (clocking in at a mere 5 words)...and the sort of chocolate box romance (pink kittens anyone?) that makes you want to sit in a dark bar and read Bukowski.


To be Strange is to be Beautiful...

If the colors themselves weren't captivating enough it would be hard to resist their descriptions...because Jane Schub, Rhode Island School of Design grad and the designer behind the nail polish brand STRANGEBEAUTIFUL, doesn't believe in names. Instead she relies upon words, and the images they you can paint your nails "the dull red color of a lobster shell immediately after it has been removed from boiling water"..."the saturated rusty iron color of an Irish bog caused by the reaction between tannin, wood and iron"...or "the dreadfully wonderful dirty almond color used on kitchen appliances".

The colors come in three volumes...each containing eight of the heavily saturated shades. My problem is that I want a good portion of both volumes two and three. If only they were available to pick 'n mix (like a bag of cheap sweets from Woolworths)...I'd have "belly of a pigeon" nestling next to "Violette (Pansy Violet) ink from the venerable French ink company J. Herbin founded in 1670" before you could say "veins of green mold running through Roquefort"...


"Life is like an onion: you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep" - Carl Sandburg

The danger of traveling to climes even marginally warmer than the ones that your regularly reside in is the “dear God, it can’t still be this cold...can it?” sensation that you experience as soon as you touch down back home. I may not be a fan of searing heat but I’ve been getting a small thrill from be able to leave my temporary home (aka hotel room) without being weighed down by more layers than an onion.

On the upside the temperatures have to dip pretty low for me to be able to pull this particular behemoth of a scarf out of the closet...

Scarf - Hermes, plaid shirt - Old Navy, sweatshirt - Resistance RX, jeans - Joe's, hi-tops - Converse


"The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice" - Mark Twain

I seem to have spent quite a bit of time in airports recently...standing patiently in line...removing my shoes...coat...jacket...scarf...and placing them in a (generally rather grubby looking) bin...and yearning for the warmer weather to arrive solely so that I'll have fewer layers of clothing to remove to enable me to pass through security. Of course, it also means dragging my (increasingly ratty looking) clear plastic, zip top, cosmetics bag out of my duffel bag and placing it in a tray so that some stranger can confirm that all of my potions and lotions have, indeed, been corralled together and, more importantly, do not break the 3 fluid ounce rule.

It's a depressing way to start a trip...especially when the contents of the aforementioned clear plastic bag are an ill-assorted mix of drugstore miniatures, hotel samples, and goop that I've transferred from its original (normal size) bottle into a regulation size plastic RSPC that either has issues with its lid and therefore opens mid-flight...or which cheerfully allows goop to be inserted but requires a PhD to get it out again.

All of which is probably the reason for my excitement over new website with a plethora of products...all miniaturized in such a way as to make any TSA official happy...and broken down by both brand and area of concern (e.g. body, sun, face, hair). Even more appealingly (at least for someone like me who always seems to be running around at the last minute buying moisturizer) if your flight leaves within three days of when you place your order, 3floz will waive the overnight shipping fees.


"You're a little out of your league, aren't you sister?" - carnie to Tiffany Case

There are numerous reasons to travel...and plenty of people will espouse the virtues of seeing new places, immersing oneself in different cultures, and altogether having a very deep and meaningful experience. All perfectly valid...but when I knew that I was going to Vegas my first thought was "oh goody, now I can make a pilgrimage to Circus Circus and pay homage to one of the locations from Diamonds Are Forever (aka one of my favorite Bond films)".

Sadly the Circus has...well...deteriorated...a little since 1971. The inherent whimsy of the place has been subdued and it's difficult to not feel a little like a Miss Havisham who ran away to join the circus but was unable to escape the decay which surrounded her.

Regardless of which, I hasten to add, I got a nerdy "I watch too many old movies and definitely need to get a life" kind of thrill from visiting the place. We even made it to the midway...too early for the clowns...and the merry-go-round cocktail bar...but I didn't care...because, tucked in a corner, we found the clown water balloon stand (where Tiffany Case wins the prize thanks to a rigged system).

Mr. Heb and I aimed our weapons...and fired. Unlike Tiffany I lost...twice...but I still got the prize thanks to the chivalry (and generosity) of Mr. Heb. I've named him Mr. Kidd (after one of the henchmen in the movie and to celebrate the kid in all of us).


"In Vegas, I got into a long argument with the man at the roulette wheel over what I considered to be an odd number." - Stephen Wright

I have to admit that I hadn't realized how much damage could be done, from a shopping perspective, in Vegas. I'd anticipated the cheap tsotschkes...the craving for which was satisfied with fridge magnets, chip key chains, an Eiffel Tower cookie cutter, nail files, and Pina Colada lip gloss (the last two of which were particularly questionable purchases as I rarely take the time to file my nails nor quaff a PC).

But I hadn't fully comprehended the sheer volume of more expensive options...a Chanel on virtually every corner (obviously following Starbucks' game plan)...Balenciaga...Paul Smith...Chloe...Dior Homme...Fred Leighton vintage (the home of two particularly adorable jeweled lizard pins which would have been mine in the event of a massive amount of luck at Blackjack)...the list goes on.

Most of them, it's true, were set in the kind of Disneyland surroundings that lead to the sort of impulse shopping that instills regret once you set foot back this point I'm particularly thinking of the Louis Vuitton and Gucci stores (vying for attention with painted skies, marbled Gods sitting amidst raging fountains, and varnished cobblestones).

What I hadn't considered was the existence of something like Citycenter...the work of 12 artists, including Jenny Holzer and Antony Gormley...7 architects...and housing currently, in its highly stylized depths, Tom Ford, Paul Smith, and be joined in the near future by Miu Miu, Lanvin, and Balenciaga.

It was, in all honesty, a shopping nirvana...quiet, serene, and beautiful...and therefore much more deadly than its jazzier counterparts. My particular nemesis was Marni...having avoided the lure of a dark grey skirt with metallic gold tapestry (alright, by "avoided" I admit that I mean "it was on sale and the only size available was one size smaller than I desired/required")...I fell prey to "the necklace". The necklace in question being a compilation of vintage Paris Metro entrances, Swarovski crystal, Victoriana, metalwork, and all things close to my heart. Resistance was futile...even the storage bag is adorable, with its leather tabs and Marni tag...


"There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." - William Shakespeare

Back from Vegas...and feeling happy...though a little damp...thanks to the timing of our visit coinciding with that of a freak weather system which hurled enough water down on our small portion of the desert to initiate flash flood warnings...strand sightseers in doorways as they watched the rain bounce two feet back off the sidewalk into the air...and cause legions of maintenance men to take to the sidewalks surrounding some of the ritzier buildings, armed with giant squeegees, attempting to dry off portions of the pavement long enough for pedestrians to walk through the watery depths.

British though I may be, I had thought that it was safe to venture into the desert without an umbrella...I stand corrected. Thanks to Marc Jacobs I was able to rectify the situation in gloriously tacky style and set forth to do a little exploring...

After stumbling along miles of walkways and climbing a seemingly never-ending quantity of stairs (I avoid escalators at all costs) we managed to walk through a significant number of hotels along the strip. Having done so we broke them into two A, the luxury hotels with scented lobbies and security men guarding the guest elevators...and group B, a downward spiral into accommodation hell where any wandering drunk off the street could start knocking on your room door at 2am and the most penetrating odor was the smell of desperation mixed with 20 year old popcorn and a hint of vomit.

Our trip started with a few nights in group The Palazzo...with Art Deco hallways...a sunken banquette area in our suite...and a marble encased bathroom of such size and splendor that I could have lived in it for the duration of our trip.

Sadly, the decadence had to come to an end, and we schlepped our bags a couple of blocks down the Strip to Paris...a hotel which looked good from the outside (in a surreal, blindingly fake, way) but whose bedrooms made me think of a Days Inn in Iowa...

Such schizophrenic swings marked the rest of our trip. We went from burgers and frozen Margaritas to a dinner at Rao's that brought tears to my eyes...Mr. Heb and I having yearned to eat at Rao's in New York for years, but having accepted the inevitability of such an occurrence never happening thanks to a combination of good food, popularity, and there only being ten tables in the the words of a regular, "You got a better chance of getting hit in the ass by lightning" than ever getting a seat.

We chanced across their Las Vegas outpost in a little corner of Caesar's Palace (right across from Payard) that I am going to call food heaven. If you love Italian food...and plan to visit Vegas...I strongly suggest a visit...fresh mozzarella flown in from Italy (not listed on the menu, if they have it they'll let you know)...pasta in vodka sauce with little chunks of imported Prosciutto di Parma nestling alongside...and the sort of dark wooden booths lining the walls that encourage exceedingly long dinners and romance.

I have more but as this post is running on a little I'll save part two for tomorrow...


"Music played at weddings always reminds me of the music played for soldiers before they go into battle" - Heinrich Heine

Spring is the season of romance; at least that’s what the purveyors of Valentine’s Day ephemera try to convince us of, and who am I to argue with the hundredweight of heart shaped chocolates that stare up at me every time I visit the drug store to get a bottle of aspirin? The inevitable consequence of all this ‘love’ is that spring is also the season of weddings and the attendant miseries of overly chilled shrimp, bridesmaid’s dresses that manage to hide every part of your body that you’re happy with and highlight every flaw, and the question of what to wear as a guest.

The latter is causing me particular angst at the moment, as not one but two weddings have somehow appeared on my calendar. And despite protestations along the lines of “never again” last time I attended a set of nuptials both events are inescapable. Equally inescapable, and even more angst inducing, is the fact that my normal color palette of black, black, and associated murky hues is as welcome to a bride as Attila the Hun at a meditation retreat.

My desperation may push me, as it has so many others before, into placing a Lonely Hearts ad, “Wanted: One dress for reluctant wedding attendee. Wish to avoid looking like the mother of the bride or the Easter bunny.”


"A pat on the back is only a few inches from a kick in the pants" - unknown

I'm not sure why I'm quite so drawn to Tatty Devine's ruler would, after all, be easy to replicate...and all to simple, while wearing it, to fall prey to off-color humor (insert 6" joke here).

And does hold a certain childhood nostalgia...even for me, the product of a school that practiced corporal punishment and were therefore more likely to use a ruler as a method of correction rather than measurement.

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