|The above quote comes courtesy of P.D. James...my frustration comes from Blogger's limit on the number of characters in a title...|
Dress - Mono, t-shirt - Muji, jeans - Zara, moccasins - Minnetonka, bracelet - Cost Plus
"It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,
Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human and all things super-human,
Of all true manifestations of the head,
Of the heart, of the soul,
That the life is recognizable in its expression,
That form ever follows function. This is the law." - Louis Sullivan
Every so often, you come across something that is so beautifully designed...so perfectly utilitarian...that you just have to stop and admire it...
Even if you don't own a pet...or your idea of "the great outdoors" is a walk in the park...and you therefore have absolutely no use for an oiled cotton collapsible dog bowl...
When I relegated my Converse lo-tops to the trash can recently I was assuming that replacing them would be a no-thought-click-and-buy kind of deal (Chuck Taylor fanatic that I am)...yet I find myself on the irritatingly uncomfortable horns of a dilemma. On the one hand (or should that be horn?)...the waif-ish charms of the Chuck Taylor All Star Slim...on the other...the more rugged, durable, and dare I say slightly more adult, distressed leather of Frye's Kira Low Tops.
Annoyingly, I'm vacillating between the two...between what I know...what is, after all these years, a part of "me"...and the thrill of the new. A battle (inside my head) between "skateboarder" and "wealthy Italian vacationer" (the classifications are of course, once again, inside my head)...and you know, just this once, I think that the "wIv" may be winning out...
"To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist -- the problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know exactly how much oil one must put with one's vinegar." - Oscar Wilde
Anyone who's been visiting here for a while will be aware that I have a slight fascination with the sheer volume of "stuff" that bears the name, or face, of Karl Lagerfeld. Though this ephemera appears with almost disturbing regularity it's not often enough to form the basis of a drinking game...at this point it's more like train spotting...I've got the Lagerfeld $140,000 champagne case in my notebook...and the limited edition Bûche de Noël...one more food and drink related item and I can indulge in an anorak wearing snort of nerd-dom.
And here we go..."heh, heh, snort"...my food-y trifecta has been accomplished thanks to the Insalata Karl Lagerfeld...available only at Paris’ La Gioia restaurant (or at its sister site in Saint Tropez)...and featuring Alaskan king crab, Sicilian olive oil, bread crusts, sea salt, black pepper, and lemon juice.
Of course, like any true collector I want to add to my set, my eyes are now on a main course...so if anyone hears about a Lagerfeld tv dinner, let me know...
My enthusiasm for US road trips is probably due to my British-ness...at least I'll use that as an excuse for the cries of joy which escape me when I catch sight of miniature railroads or 15 foot high prospectors digging for a chocolate nugget (outside a candy store log cabin, what more can I say?). Unfortunately my camera was operational for the purely scenic, desert and mountain, views of Nevada...mainly kitsch-free but still infinitely pleasing to my non-US soul...
Spring may have gone back into hiding...the cowardly swine...but that hasn't stopped certain Good Life-ish tendencies from making their presence felt. All of which means my green thumb is sprouting (as it generally does at this time of year)...succulents have been transplanted from plastic tub to metal planter...and I am anxiously hovering over peat pots waiting for tomatoes...or peas...or potentially both...to germinate.
Some days you just feel like using the 'Paint Daubs' filter in Photoshop...generally, I have to admit, the ones where you're tired or hungover or otherwise in need of a slightly altered reality...these are the days when it takes more than Prada-esque pigtails and red lip balm to raise you above the gloom...
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!" - Lewis Carroll
Except...it's not crocodile...it's stingray...and, it's not even real stingray...in fact, the only thing that created the correlation (in my mind, at least) between the two was the eau de nil (aka Nile water) coloring...and the fact that I'd welcome this little fish-e in with gently smiling jaws...if I thought there was even a vague chance that I could fit all of life's "necessities" into its rigidly unforgiving depths.
"It is a standing insult to sportsmen to have to play under a rule which assumes that players intend to trip, hack and push their opponents, and to behave like cads of the most unscrupulous kidney. The lines marking a penalty area are a disgrace to the playing fields of a public school." - Charles Burgess Fry
Until Barney's menswear catalog popped into our mailbox I had no idea that "the cad" was back for summer 2010. Yet there he was, on page 6, in all of his slicked-backed-hair, oh-did-somebody-just-drop-a-tenner prime. In case anyone is curious, when the weather gets warmer the cad will be wearing (amongst other things) a $995 cardigan and $370 suede boat shoes from Ermenegildo Zegna...which probably explains his enthusiasm over finding some money on the ground...
For every "Sunday driver" there is a "Sunday cyclist"...characterized by a lack of balance...speed...and knowledge of the rules of the road. I, my friends, am an enthusiastic Sunday cyclist. I may not put foot to pedal too often but, when I do, watch out world.
Of course, Sunday cycling is no fun without the right accessories, like...a wicker basket...vintage bike...or faux python trouser cuffs. Though, truth be told, that last entry hadn't really seemed like a necessity until I came across someone who made them on etsy...
It's unfortunate that from the angle the picture was taken this incredibly cute teddy bear gingham brooch becomes a little like one of those pop-ups that suddenly appear while you're wandering around the web...not the ones encouraging you to make millions of dollars working from your home office...I'm talking about the IQ/Rorschach test that asks what you see in a picture...because, from this viewpoint, the brooch could represent any manner of things. A squashed pastry comes to mind right now but that could be due to hunger...or the word association tricks that the mind plays (bear...gingham...picnic...squashed pastry).
None of which, oddly enough, deters me from imagining it on my lapel...
|Alright, so there's a severe lack of subtlety about wearing a cowboy scarf in the desert but...really...where else am I going to wear the darned thing?|
Grey top - COS, skirt - Isabel Marant, silk scarf - Ralph Lauren, glitter flats - Me Too
Which is why I find myself greeting the collaboration between Opening Ceremony and New York based artist Aurel Schmidt with a certain amount of trepidation. I know that, in the words of the Whitney Museum of American Art (which has chosen Schmit as one of the artists included in its 2010 Biennial), “She relates her interest in finding the beauty in ugliness to the idea of the human condition as a cyclical process of renewal and decay. By using the detritus of our lives as the building blocks for her subjects, Schmidt’s work becomes a sort of memento mori—a reminder of our own vulnerability and mortality.” Yes, I understand that but (and here’s the big question) will my fellow man? Or, when faced with an outfit that includes a frayed t-shirt featuring the letter G made out of bacon, blood and a feasting fly or the letter N formulated from bloody Band-Aids, will they merely think I’m a deranged bag lady? Only time will tell...
|Around this time of year, the mind (if it's anything like mine) turns to thoughts of summer jewelry...mainly bracelets...that fulfill the conditions of being cheap (and therefore not worth shedding a tear over when they inevitably become coated with sunscreen and destined for the trash) yet something that you actually want to wear. Like...this rope and rhinestone bracelet from Urban Outfitters...an $18 take on something that I've seen for much higher prices though, personally, I'd dye the rope blush pink...grass green...or that dark blue grey that the sea turns just before a storm.|
"...word-sniffing...is an addiction, like glue - or snow - sniffing in a somewhat less destructive way, physically if not economically. As an addict, I am almost guiltily interested in converts to my own illness..." - M.F.K. Fisher
Sign #324 that you may have an obsessive personality...listening to the same song, on a loop, until requested to "shut the hell up!"
Damn you Barney's! There I was with a vague-yet-easily-suppressed urge for a turban...a piece of headgear which, when I'm thinking rationally and honestly, I know that I lack the profile for...when I flipped over your latest catalog (which the postman delivered a while ago but was soon buried, unread, under a pile of magazines)...and see this...
The perfect "spot of color" so beloved by fashion mags...and an inspired accompaniment to the muted perfection of the rest of the ensemble...damn you! (Shakes fist as catalog and laptop simultaneously)
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die." - John Donne
I don't generally post about death...it's such an unavoidable, inevitable, part of life...that there's little to be said (or, at least, to be said better than others have said before)...but when I read that Joseph Ettedgui, founder of Joseph, died a couple of days ago I had to say something.
For me, Joseph...the store, the advertising, the oh-so-beautiful-and-worldy sales assistants, not to mention the clothes themselves (both from Joseph's own label and from the likes of Azzedine Alaia and Katherine Hamnett)...encapsulated the point in my young adulthood where I realized I didn't have to conform to others views on my looks, intelligence, or destiny and could go my own way. It was...for reasons I'm not expressing at all lucidly...a place that provided me great amounts of happiness even if all I did was walk in and bask in the store's serenity for a few minutes.
As such I had to say goodbye...and thank you...dear Mr. Ettedgui...
"People named John and Mary never divorce. For better or for worse, in madness and in saneness, they seem bound together for eternity by their rudimentary nomenclature. They may loathe and despise one another, quarrel, weep, and commit mayhem, but they are not free to divorce. Tom, Dick, and Harry can go to Reno on a whim, but nothing short of death can separate John and Mary." - John Cheever
|In one of those quirks of fate (and timing) that happen every so often, the main events on my calendar this weekend are a wedding (on Saturday) and a flight to Reno (on Sunday)...they're not connected but I'm still not going to mention it to the blushing bride or groom lest they think it's unlucky.|
I mentioned a while ago that I rarely attend weddings...and, because of this, never know what to wear. I suppose that, technically, I should be in pastels...looking like a refugee from the Easter bunny parade...but I didn't want to buy something new (that I'd never wear again) for a few hours wear amidst the chilled shrimp and sugared almonds...which means that I'm counting on the one bright jacket in my wardrobe to blind people sufficiently so that they fail to notice the grey and black beneath. We'll see if the master plan works...
Whenever I hear people rationalizing expensive purchases with the words "ah, but it’ll last forever...and I can hand it down to my son/daughter/fashion conscious cocker spaniel" I feel the need to protest. That I never do says more about my inherent British-ness than any lack of vehemence in my feelings. For I am an example of that particular subset of the population, a child to whom mother’s wardrobe was handed; and, truth be told, more often than not I’m not very happy about it.
Because, and here’s the point that the rationalizers never consider, my tastes differ from those of my parental unit. And while a closet full of vintage Moschino, Ralph Lauren, and the like may stir some girl’s passions they are, to me, a continual nuisance to be stored, moved, and protected from moths.
I’m unable to get rid of them; even if I was able to move past the guilt factor, I have a fair idea of how much they cost and wouldn’t want to sell them for a mere sliver of their former value. Regardless of stylistic differences, I can’t wear them; for, whatever else I inherited, it was not the same body type as dear mama. And they haunt my current acquisitions; a coat can never just be a coat...it's the addition of another coat...even if a good portion of the closet is taken up with such things as Ralph Lauren ski jackets whose only virtue...hidden deep among the red, blue, fur, gold frogging, and other ephemera...is warmth. It would be a waste of money, or so my guilt-ridden mind tells me, to buy something that I essentially already own.
And so it goes on; like the ghost of Christmas past they’re always around, yet rarely a tangible (i.e. wearable) part of my wardrobe. Therefore, I entreat you, make that luxury purchase because it’s something that you love and you will enjoy...not something to foist on future generations.
And lady-smocks all silver-white,
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
Do paint the meadows with delight,
The cuckoo then on every tree,
Mocks married men, for thus sings he,
Cuckoo!" - William Shakespeare
I realize that tomorrow is, technically, the first day of Spring...but I also know that the temperature is supposedly to plummet from the balmy 60s of today to a more depressing 30-degrees-with-the-chance-of-snow...so I'm getting all of the spring-i-ness out of my system now, while I have the chance. To wit, the first crocus foolhardy enough to bloom has been admired...legs have been bared to the sun...and a packet of chocolate Easter eggs is waiting to be consumed...
Familiarity may, indeed, breed contempt...though personally, when faced with the barrage of discount coupons from Gap which hit my inbox with disturbing regularity, the feeling was more that of lethargic inertia. I knew, you see, that I was going to be offered 10-30% off on an almost weekly basis...in much the same way as I knew that there wasn’t really anything that I wanted to buy.
And that’s how things stood...until yesterday...when I wandered into the Gap and found this denim shirtdress, drop-waisted and exuding an almost Isabel Marant-ish French girl vibe. Already on sale (unsurprising considering the dress was knee length on my 5’11” frame) its appeal was further assisted by the 30% off coupon I’d received earlier in the day.
Sold...to the lowest bidder. Of course...you know how it is...once you've grabbed a bargain the floodgates are opened to other potential purchases. In this case, a python printed chiffon scarf from Club Monaco...yet another bit of beige to slither its way into my wardrobe.
Improve each shining Hour,
And gather Honey all the day
From every opening Flower!
In Works of Labour or of Skill
I would be busy too:
For Satan finds some Mischief still
For idle Hands to do.
Jacket - Les Prairies des Paris, dress - Anthropologie, bee necklace - Wright & Teague, boots - Frye, bag - Mayle
There are various times in your life when you feel like an adult...when you buy a house...when you get a "real" job...and, I can now say with some certainty, when you buy a suede brush...because that one little piece of plastic takes you out of the realm of feckless youth and places you firmly in the land of "adults who take proper care of their clothing".
Which is why...close on the heels of the realization that Mr. Heb and I both had suede footwear in our closets...we went out and bought the brush...got it home...and realized, rather pathetically, that neither of us actually knew the correct way to brush suede. In a haze of memory I recalled my mother owning a suede brush...but had no recollections of her actually using it. Thankfully, any facts of life that your parents neglected to catch you up on can be Googled...three minutes and thirty one seconds of remarkably in-depth video later and I felt equipped to brush with the best of them.
Sadly, I couldn't imbed the how to video here so I'll leave you with Black Sabbath's rendition of Blue Suede Shoes...
Another entry in the quest for nude...which really should be the title of a 1950's pulp fiction detective novel...but which is really a variance on my current fixation with all things beige. This time it's nail polish...a (God help me for saying this as it's sounding chav-tastic in my head) rather spiffy peachy-beige-with-a-hint-of-shimmer from Sally Hansen.
Go figure, Chanel's Particulière made me look like I had a disease...while the $4.99 random drugstore pick-up works...which probably says less about Chanel than the vagaries of my corpse-like skin tones.
The only downside...possibly because this is "Insta-dri", and they were going for speed of application, is the brush...which is massive...and better suited to house painting than trying to maneuver round one's pinkie.
Considering the amount that’s been written in the past week or so proclaiming that the day of the skinny model is over...and more womanly figures (and even, gasp, older models) are now in vogue...it’s a little surprising that very little has been said about a subject on the other end of the (pardon the expression) scale.
Yet shouldn’t we be equally, if not more, concerned about the allegations surrounding Prada’s Japanese stores; that a senior retail manager was asked to “eliminate” some 15 or so managerial staff because they were “old, fat, ugly, disgusting or not having the Prada look”? And that the manager herself, despite 18 years experience in the industry, was requested to change her hairstyle and lose weight in order to “fit in”.
If the catwalk is the shimmering dream, this is the stark reality; that knowledge and experience mean nothing without the ‘right’ look to go with them. As a woman, I’m enraged; more so that this could happen at a place that has a female designer at its helm. Despite all those words, we’re not more mature; we’re back in the playground, trying to be one of the popular girls and picking on those who aren’t.
The full story can be found here.
Actually, that's unfair...for the images on French designer Philippe Roucou's silk scarves come from polaroids that were found, not thrown away. They do, however, fall firmly into the treasure category...especially the Dreary Nightclub scarf.
"Today there are no fairy tales for us to believe in, and this is possibly a reason for the universal prevalence of mental crack-up. Yes, if we were childish in the past, I wish we could be children once again." - Anita Loos
Have you heard the one about the cowboy and the dinosaur princess...?
In one of those twists that some people call "fate"...but which really means I spend way too much time surfing around online...I happened across this video featuring Jason Schwartzman and Kirsten Dunst, with a cameo appearance from the skirt I mentioned earlier today (not entirely a surprise as the whole shebang was created for Opening Ceremony and features their Spring/Summer collection).
Directed by Gia Coppola and Tracy Antonopoulos..."Is This Sound Okay?"
You know, that is, you finally admit the potential to yourself...that maybe...possibly...there exists the merest chance...that you may, indeed, have one too many items in your closet (thereby breaking one of the basic laws of a successful marriage and proving your other half correct in his assertions that "you have so many clothes you don't know what you own")...when, whilst admiring a navajo blanket skirt on Opening Ceremony's website you realize that the pattern looks vaguely familiar. Not the generic familiarity that comes from having seen one too many spaghetti westerns...no, it's the guilty familiarity of the "that looks like a Ralph Lauren skirt that Mama Heb bought many years ago and which, if my memory serves me correctly now that it’s been given a rather hard kick in the pants, is somewhere in the deepest, darkest recesses of my storage closet" variety.
And sure enough (after a search that would have been worthy of some great, Victorian explorer) I found it...in desperate need of an iron...and in an unflattering, mid-calf, wrap style...but, from a fabric standpoint, the kissing cousin of the OC version. Now I just need to spend some quality time with a needle and thread and see if I can enhance the similarity a little further...
"The room was too warm, with the sort of cat-barf-beige carpet that has been standard for meeting rooms for a millennium because it hides coffee stains." - John Barnes
Ever since I attached camel cashmere to black lace (and saved myself $1,000 in the process) I've been yearning to add a little more beige to my closet (a phrase which, I can honestly say, I never thought I'd hear myself type).
However, marginally depressing though it may be, I find my mind straying towards the beige-r things of life...like camel's humps...oatmeal...and this (vintage, but unworn) dress which is winging its way to me as I place my beige-lust-guilt in written form.
I was a little dubious about using the 'S' word yesterday...but, it's here...just in time for the clocks to be put back...and in all its "not one, not two, but three seasons in one day folks!" glory. All of which causes me, yet again, to sing the praises of Louis Vuitton's Speedy...just the right size for all of life's necessities (including the tri-season triumvirate of an umbrella, sunglasses, and a scarf)...and able to withstand the sort of rainfall that would make Noah throw up his hands and go inside for a nice cup of tea...
When I flick through a magazine I generally anticipate that that full-page advertisements taking up the initial third of it will be inspirational rather than practical. By which I mean that I’ll obtain a massive dose of the designer, stylist, and photographer’s "concept" for the season but very little idea of how the clothes will sit on a regular human being.
All well and good; but now that the same "terribly fatigued woman slouching on a sofa/chair/bed" and "well dressed contortionist" syndromes have started to infiltrate websites that are actually attempting to sell me things I’m starting to get a little worried. Because, as much as this may label me a fuddy duddy, I do actually like to have a vague idea of...say....the length of a skirt, before I hand over my hard earned cash for it. A photograph of a model...either sitting, reclining, or doing aesthetically pleasing calisthenics...just isn't much use to me (the number of times that I worry about how a skirt will look while seated or doing yoga being severely limited)...
Yet, disturbingly, I've been coming across it more and more. Perhaps online retailers need to come to terms with the fact that they are trying to push merchandise (in a frustrated economy) and leave the artsy, but essentially useless, marketing shots for more lackadaisical times.
No guest shall stay
in one place for ever.
Love will be lost
if you sit too long
at a friend's fire.
- The Havamal (Book of Viking Wisdom)
The running joke, between Mr. Heb and I, is that we should get a divorce...every now and then...purely so that we can romantically remarry (a la Taylor/Burton). The fact that we've never gone through with the plan probably says more about our inherent laziness that anything else...though Meredith Kahn's Viking bridal band could be the added incentive that I, for one, require...
|I'm not going to go all out and say that Spring has sprung...but the showers of rain intermittently falling...and slightly milder temperatures...are definitely a step in the right direction...|
A step that demands to be taken in pointy-toed, red rubber, shoes...
Trench - Built by Wendy, striped top - Vivienne Westwood, skirt - See by Chloe, chain scarf - Benetton, rubber shoes - Sigerson Morrison
"Playwrights are like men who have been dining for a month in an Indian restaurant. After eating curry night after night, they deny the existence of asparagus." - Peter Ustinov
I know that I've raved about Cost Plus before...generally after I've bulk bought either British chocolate or an alarming quantity of cheap and cheerful cotton napkins...but where else can you pop in for a jar of Patak's Korma sauce (just add chicken, rice, and a couple of garlic naan for that authentic "Indian takeaway" experience)...and come away with a leather and brass bracelet that makes you ache for a warm summer-y day on which to wear it?
"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon-instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today." - Dale Carnegie
Someday I'll have the type of outdoor space that will allow me to spend time pondering the benefits of Provence garden (with weathered zinc lanterns and $600 plant containers)...
...over the painful classical English garden (beautiful, though firm, Lutyens benches and lion wall plaques attached, somewhat disturbingly, to hedges).
At the moment, however, my main concern is whether lettuce can be grown in the wooden trough that I'll be placing on my radiator once spring arrives...
You know you're tired...and have been traveling a little too much when...
- You finally spend a night in your own bed and sleep for thirteen hours
- You have no idea what day of the week it is
- As a result of point 2 you neglect to post anything (apologies, as an "I'm off to Starbucks to try and wake up" outfit is all that I can manage for today...)