Fall cannot come soon enough...cool weather...old man cardigans...and antique animal brooches glittering in the autumn sun...
|There's been some decidedly unseasonal nest-feathering going on in the Hebden hacienda recently. I say unseasonal because I generally regard n.f.-ing in the same way that Cole Porter thought of pitching the woo...not a summertime pastime...when it is, it has to be said, too darn hot.|
Yet my leg incarceration is stoking the flames...I want fluffy pillows...comforting blankets (the very thought of which induces heatstroke)...and, slightly perversely, "proper" shower curtains. None of that printed vinyl...I want ticking-striped cotton duck...
|I don't know whether it's because I've been transplanted (as the begonia said to the radish)...or if it's a national trait...but stick a Union Jack on something...embellish it a little...and I'm ready to sing "God Save the Queen" before you can say toad-in-the-hole. Especially if the item in question combines something quintessentially British with the flag...like this shopping bag from Liberty of London...|
Minimalism...the new minimalism...and it's accompanying shades of taupe, and brown, and grey...can be a thing of beauty (I'm specifically thinking of Céline as I type this). It can also...it has to be said...end up a little too close to drab for complete comfort...which is when you need to add a little upbeat graffiti into the mix...something that Stella McCartney has done for her Fall/Winter ad campaign.
Shot by Mert & Marcus and enlivened by the work of Kaws the juxtaposition between the somber and the frivolous is probably something to keep in mind as the new season's clothes hit the stores...
|No matter how heavy my baggage, I always take (at least one) book with me when I travel. This trip I picked a lightweight tome with a heavyweight theme...Norman Mailer's 'The Fight'...at once a sporting book (discussing, as it does, the 1975 World Heavyweight Boxing Championship which took place in Kinshasa, Zaire between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman)...and something deeper...as much a look at Mailer's psyche than those of Ali and Foreman. Beautifully written...it's so easy to become caught up within its pages that I managed to ignore the small child kicking the back of my seat for a few hundred miles.|
"Bantu philosophy, he soon learned, saw humans as forces, not beings. Without putting into words, he had always believed that. It gave a powerful shift to his thoughts. By such logic, men or women were more than the parts of themselves, which is to say more than the result of their heredity and experience. A man was not only what he contained, not only his desires, his memory, and his personality, but also the forces that came to inhabit him at any moment from all things living and dead...
In the presence of a woman who is finely dressed, an African might do more than salute the increase of power that accrues to the woman with her elaborate gown. To his eye, she would also have taken on the force that lives in the gown itself, the kuntu of the gown. That has its own existence. It, too, is a force in the universe of forces. The gown is like the increment in power an actor feels when he enters his role, when he senses the separate existence of the role as it comes up to him, much as if it had been out there waiting for him in the dark. Then, it is as if he takes on some marrow of the forgotten caves. It is why certain actors must act or go mad - they can hardly live without the clarity of that moment when the role returns."
In the general run of things I think of hotel room service as manna in the wilderness...generally edible sustenance...delivered to me when I am in one of the no-man's-land of hotels that are near to absolutely nothing...after a long trek from points A to B (usually with a detour to C...which I didn't know existed until the plane touched down). But, every so often...after a particularly bad day...when I've dragged two heavy bags (and a walking cast)...to the furthest gate in two airports...and been watched by three cabs drivers as I hauled the selfsame bags (and cast) towards their waiting cabs...and met not one, single, solitary ounce of chivalry...something more is required. If, that is, I'm lucky enough to be within limping distance of a decent grocery store.
Then, my friends, the world is suddenly a brighter place...thanks to...black truffle and white cheddar popcorn...rosemary olive oil bread...garlic and herb soft cheese...applewood smoked prosciutto...and miniature blueberry frangipane tarts.
Combine the above with an evening of NCIS reruns...and free internet access...and this could be as good as it gets...
You rarely get much in the way of entertainment value from clothing care labels...unless, that is, you find cold wash cycle information to be particularly riveting...yet, I read them...in much the same freakishly odd way that I peruse the ingredient list of fast food restaurant ketchup packages...and the small print in the back of airplane magazines.
There's the undying (though slightly fading) hope that something interesting or amusing may be hidden away amidst the morass of bumph. Up till now that hasn't proved to be the case but, as they say, hope lingers on...and is occasionally rewarded. Witness the humor contained on the inch or so of care guidance attached to my new travel companion...
|At times like these, there's one thing a girl needs...namely, a 2 kilo gummy bear...the world's largest and, for those trying to do the math, the equivalent of 1,400 regular sized gummy bears. Of course, in the same way that the jumbo lollipops of our youth turned into a menace that was impossible to dispose of after 100 licks (lay it down and it sticks to everything...throw it out and spend hours listening to parental cries of "I told you it was a waste of money and that you wouldn't eat the whole thing")...it does raise the questions, "How much gummy can be consumed at one sitting?"...and "How long it is possible to store a dismembered gummy bear before things turn nasty?"|
"And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den."
In the general run of things new footwear will generally endow me with the warm glow of well-being and...even though I'm more of a bag girl...the perfect Chelsea boot...or ballet flat...can elicit a modest squeak of joy.
|You of hear about the charm of shoes...but you rarely hear about the "charm" of shoes...Sigerson Morrison...on sale...but only available to be shipped within Europe...|
"A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
And no one can talk to a horse of course
That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister Ed.
Go right to the source and ask the horse
He'll give you the answer that you'll endorse.
He's always on a steady course.
Talk to Mister Ed."
|I can honestly say that there haven't been too many times when I have been jealous of a horse...sartorially, I mean...|
Yet the Liberty-lined quilted jackets from Lavenham (purveyor of clothing to man and horse since 1969) are enough to strike envy into the heart of this woman...but what do you think, are they a "yay" or a "neigh"?
"Put a bridle on thy tongue; set a guard before thy lips, lest the words of thine own mouth destroy thy peace... on much speaking cometh repentance, but in silence is safety." - William Drummond
|For those of us who yearn for a little peace and quiet, non-verbal communication is the way to go. Societal hermits with dexterous digits can indulge in a little sign language...klutzes, like myself...who would probably sign something insulting when all they wanted to do was ask for a sandwich...need a little extra assistance.|
Like one of LA-based designer Steven Shein's text rings. Though, I suppose, some care would need to be taken with its use...silence may not be quite as safe if the answer to a question looks like you're flipping someone off...
In a way this is a continuation from last Monday's post...in the sense that looking for clothes that feature quality construction and materials tends to be regarded as quaintly old-fashioned. Which is fine...if you're pondering an almost-disposable little something from H&M (whose quality I have to add can, on occasion, be surprisingly good)...but has to be a major consideration once the price tag rises.
Take this, rather lovely, t-shirt dress from Cacharel...made of that well known semi-synthetic fiber, rayon...you could safely suppose it to be on the expensive side of affordable.
Which is why I was blown away by the $695 price tag.
It is, I'll admit, the kind of not-so-basic basic that generally becomes a wardrobe staple which gets worn into the ground...and if it were made of a cashmere blend...or fine linen...or any other fabric that denotes a certain quality and longevity...I could vaguely justify (in my mind, though not my check book) the cost. But, for rayon...that staple of the world of low-price-buy-me-now-wear-me-a-few-times-and-throw-me-away fashion...it almost seems like a practical joke. Or maybe I'm just being horribly old-fashioned...
A year or so ago I was lucky enough to visit the Turner/Mark Rothko exhibition at The Tate Britain in London...The Telegraph thought the same exhibit "specious" and "disingenuous" but, what can I say...I enjoyed it.
'Petworth Morning Light' - Turner
'Black on Maroon' - Mark Rothko
I, for one, could stand hours of wordless contemplation of Rothko's works...as a slightly more portable...and, let's face it, affordable...option...I'm considering one of these Rothko scarves...
I can't help but feel that Tomato Neely sounds more like the heroine of a 60's spy-girl movie...someone who'd go for long brunches with Modesty Blaise, Fathom, and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E and spend the time discussing trenchcoats, hotels in Bulgaria, and the latest in poison lipsticks...than a handbag...even if the bag in question meshes functionality with good looks (and utilitarian brown leather with dashing red patent).
Of course, a spy girl needs something to carry her poison lipstick and cosh around in...
Her infinite variety: other women cloy
The appetites they feed: but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies; for vilest things
Become themselves in her: that the holy priests
Bless her when she is riggish."
Antony and Cleopatra - Act II. Scene II.
Even if I hadn't already given my heart and soul to the clothes...bags...and overall vibe...of Phoebe Philo's Céline...this image from their Fall/Winter ad campaign would have done it. Australian model Emma Balfour...who, in her late thirties, could only be considered 'old' in a land of prepubescent models...looking...spectacularly weary. Jaded, knowledgeable, and beautifully dressed...
After posting a couple of days ago...regarding vintage style manuals for advice versus modern magazines for the inspirational ensembles contained within...I decided to try and add a little order to the piles of magazines scattered hither and thither around the apartment. They are now (for the most part) corralled into three locations...and stacked by title...for one horribly nerdy moment I was going to arrange them by year and issue...until I realized that it would be far more practical (and less of a pain in the neck down the road) if I just put my favorite issues at the top of each pile. Like the September 2005 issue of L'Officiel...Claudia Schiffer looking kittenish on the cover...and inside...hideously expensive jewelery on thoroughly unconcerned infants...suits and sweaters worthy of a Hitchcock heroine...some very simple, yet thoroughly grown-up little black dresses...and L'Allure Parisienne, an editorial whose pages I find myself coming back to over-and-over again simply because they so perfectly encapsulate that kind of casual-yet-not-casual-running-around-town vibe that, personally, I find so addictive.
On a side note, Jalou (publisher of L'Officiel, Jalouse, muteen, et al) has an online archive featuring all back issues...going back, in the case of L'Officiel, to 1921...which you can browse to your heart's content...for free. Just the thing for those really hot days when you just want to sit beside the air conditioner...
* - today's (very long) quote is by Everette E. Dennis
Reasons not to love Hope's plaid pants...
- They veer dangerously close to 'middle aged male golfer on vacation in Scotland' territory
- They're quirky from the front...but from the back they're going to be downright unflattering
- After a few wearings you're destined to be greeted by "oh, you're wearing those pants again" when you enter a room
- The folded waistband detail
- The simple fact that they're not yet another pair of black or khaki pants...and, as such, would enliven all of those plain sweaters and jackets lurking in my closet
- They look so darned comfortable...
In general, when I let the moths out of my wallet and hand over the requisite amount for a magazine, it tends to be because of the editorials...articles tend to all too frequently fall under the categories of a) actress X opening up...as she probably did on numerous previous occasions...in an attempt to convince the general public to hand over an additional chunk of change to see her latest movie...or b) helpful hints that are not altogether helpful or require a level of dexterity with make-up or hairbrush that would tend to suggest that you don't need the advice in the first place.
I've found it much more entertaining...and useful too...to collect vintage tomes on style. For, while the fashions themselves may have changed, the advice is generally rather sound. Take, if you will, The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Good Taste which was published in 1958.
Recently...with summer in full-swing and a few plane trips in my near future...I found myself re-reading the travel section (I've scanned the entire chapter and have linked to larger, readable, images for those of you who are either bored at work or share my enthusiasm for vintage books)...
...and I kept coming back to the line "Many of the heavier all-wool jersey weaves make tailored suits and top-coats which do not crease, yet are as easy to lounge or sleep in as a shawl." Riveting stuff (as I'm sure you'll agree) and...while I may not be in the market for a tailored suit...I could recognize that I was lacking something in the easy-to-lounge-or-sleep-in-yet-not-completely-hideous-and-able-at-a-pinch-to-be-worn-to-work department. A deficit that I'm hoping will be rectified courtesy of Rogan's draped sweatshirt wrap cardigan...
Definitely not for the un-ostentatious wench...and definitely not for those who lose sunglasses with alarming regularity...24K gold plated sunglasses from Linda Farrow's Luxe range. They're the sort of thing that you mentally chastise yourself for liking...while, at one and the same time, cursing the gods that you lack the necessary funds to make them your own.
Even more irritating...at least for those of us who lack the courage (or manual dexterity) to insert contact lenses and are therefore at the mercy of spectacle designers whims...Farrow's Luxe Optical range. Were I feeling rich...or stupid...the two not being mutually exclusive...these taupe acetate/bamboo/gold beauties would be mine...
The leap from house furnishings to jewelry is, somewhat disconcertingly, less of a leap and more of a short hop...for now that the agate coasters are resting on various tables (looking lovely though, as Mr. Heb pointed out, not fulfilling their role in the practical sense...as condensation tends to collect on the outside of a glass...pool on the surface of the coaster...and then flow onto the tabletop) the beauty of the stone has encouraged me to look for some wearable options.
Like...one of Brook&Lyn's one-of-a-kind, agate and rope necklaces...
...or a pair of raw crystal studs from Urban Outfitters...
Though the most fiscally responsible option would be to take one of the malfunctioning coasters...and introduce it to a glue gun and a length of rope...in an attempt to recreate Brook&Lyn's neckpiece...
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.
Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me?"
I think I've mentioned my klutz-y tendencies before...they're the reason for the random cuts and bruises that appear on my flesh with disturbing regularity...a severe paranoia when confronted with sharp objects...and at least one visit to the emergency room. They're also the main reason that I find myself drawn to Help Remedies (oh, alright, the cute packaging is a draw as well). The idea...solutions for basic, everyday, health problems...all wrapped up in the aforementioned streamlined, biodegradable, futuristic (in a Kubrick-2001 sort of way) packaging.
As an added bonus...if your current malady happens to be a little more mental than physical...you can visit the help I'm bored section of their site to obtain assistance with some of life's imponderables...like I don't know how to use stripes...I am afraid of clowns...or to listen to Alessandro Moreschi, the last Castrato.
We're all...especially at the moment...familiar with the concept of saving our pennies...but wouldn't it be much more fun to save your pennies in a penny? Especially when the penny in question is hand made...the leather embossed using bespoke metal plates that were designed with permission from the Royal Mint...and based on three British coins that are no longer actually in circulation (namely the Half Penny, Half Crown, and the pre-decimal One Penny). Coins that, though not the stuff of fairy tales, fall firmly into the realm of old movies, nursery rhymes, and rather lengthy stories from aged relatives that start with the words "Back in the day, when I was a boy/girl..."
Please to put a penny in the old man's hat;
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha'penny then God bless you!
- old English rhyme
I've been a bad, lazy, DIY-er recently...whose sole forays into the land of needle and thread have either been related to mending pieces that were begging for a little TLC or turning men's shirts into cushion covers...both thoroughly useful endeavors but lacking the excitement and instant gratification that only a good fashion-related DIY project can provide.
Which is probably why I was so excited when I came across this rather snazzy scarf from Maison Martin Margiela. Well...to be exact...I was excited by the scarf itself...and the combination of tourist-shop plaid scarf with chain-link fringe...and rather less excited by the four hundred dollar price tag (a yelp of dismayed incredulity may actually have escaped me).
As a prospective DIY project though it's perfect, given that it's a) something I would get a lot of wear out of...b) something that I am too cheap/sensible to actually buy...and c) something whose composite parts should be ridiculously easy to find (did I mention what a lazy little DIY-er I am?)
One more house related post I'm afraid...though this one could at least be (somewhat tortuously) described as 'seasonal'...in that it's hard to look at nautical knots without thinking of striped sailor shirts, beach houses, and the sort of summer daydreams that center around a yacht, glistening wavelets, and self reclining upon the deck with a cocktail close at hand (thereby ignoring all common sense...potential sea sickness...and the manual labor needed to get said yacht to sea in the first place). It's altogether much easier to get a whiff of the tangy tidal air by investing in a knotted rope doorstop...much needed, given that any attempt on my part to throw open a few windows and establish a cross-breeze creates a powerful wind whose one goal seems to be to slam as many doors as possible with a vigor that means that I not only fear for the hinges but my sanity as well...
Traditionally, the whole nest-feathering thing takes place in the colder months...probably because it's easier to spend money on house-related items when the mere thought of setting foot outside gives you frostbite. When it's warm you (theoretically) want to venture beyond the bounds of your air-conditioned realm...run barefoot through the grass...feel the sun on your skin...and wonder about how many ants you ingested along with your picnic lunch. Yet, here we are in July, and I find myself indulging in a little n-f...pillows are being sewn...furniture being rearranged...and, for the simple reason that I find myself unable to live one second longer with the frat party worthy cork "Drink" coasters that I bought from Urban Outfitters almost a decade ago, beverage coasters are being bought...
Proper, adult, coasters...made from rough-edged slices of polished agate. Of course...one thing leads to another...I'm sure that in a couple of days I'll start going through my cabinets reevaluating my glassware...
This...I'll admit somewhat vaguely...ties in with my Dolly-Parton-9-to-5 post from the other day. A band called Tame Impala...which unfortunately makes me think 'questionable Chevy' instead of 'African antelope'...decides that the best video to go along with their particular brand of psychedelic hypno-groove melodic rock music is Patrick McGoohan as The Prisoner (think 1960's countercultural, psychological, spy fiction teledrama).
I sincerely hope that Mr. McGoohan's estate is making some money from this because, if not, this is a travesty with no meaning whatsoever...
There are all manner of Elvis impersonators out there...young Elvis...old Elvis...fat Elvis...and thin. There's Elvis after one too many Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches...and Elvis gyrating his hips like he hasn't a care in the world and only has to worry about the occasional bout of cliff diving or dancing with Ann Margret.
And then there's MacElvis. Not, as you might imagine, a slightly dodgy Scottish cabaret act...rather, one of a collection of coifs and facial follicles designed to give your Apple laptop a little something extra. Potential hairstyles include 'The Designer'...'The Creepy Uncle'...and 'The I Just Slept With Your Girl"...while the area which would be designated as upper lip, were we not discussing a glowing cutout apple, can be embellished with 'El Conquistador'...'The Wise Tentacles of Dr Mooch'...or 'The Badge of Honour'.
As you've probably guessed by now, I went with the classic...'The Big King'.
|An article on dinosaur, palm tree, and sea horse rubber band bracelets on the New York Times' website (not a sentence you ever imagine yourself writing) yielded the following quote..."It’s depressing to sit in a cubicle for nine hours a day...If you have on a silly rubber band that glows in the dark, it makes everything a little better."|
Though I am (thankfully) no longer one of the 9-5 (though Dolly Parton never realized she had it so good...now it's 8-6...6-6...did you really want a social life?) drones the words rang a bell. For when faced with the desk/cubicle/2-drawer filing cabinet...that are exactly the same as fifty or sixty others on the same floor...which of us doesn't yearn for something (anything) that marks us as an individual?