Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fashion Favourites of 2008

We’ve spent the last week eating turkey sandwiches, drinking wine, making small talk with people we went to primary school with and flicking through old Grazias. Gosh, I love Christmas. Between tales of plucky singletons and weirdly incongruous pieces on disadvantaged children is Grazia’s best dressed list for 2008. Top of the list is Gwyneth, praised for her short dresses, tuxedo jackets and incredibly high heels. Whilst I do sort of like some of Gwyneth’s 08 OFs, I find her whole transformation a tad try-hard and sterile. It’s too obviously the work of a stylist. Ditto Cheryl Cole who also makes an appearance on the list. Don’t get me wrong – I love Cheryl as much as the next person but I get the feeling that those cute little dresses might have something to do with Victoria Adcock, her new stylist.

Katie Holmes is also praised, mainly for her denim choices. Now this I don’t get at all. I know she wears a lot of different styles of jeans - baggy, skinny, boyfriend, rolled-up, etc - but blah. There are only so many photos of Katie wearing a beige t-shirt and a pair of jeans whilst on her way to All My Sons rehearsals that I can take. Instead it’s her little companion, Suri, who comes top of our list. I know she’s kind of a robot-child, but she’s a very cute and fashionable robot-child. I love her lady-like dresses and patent Mary Janes. Toddler Suri is actually the inspiration behind many of my own 2008 looks, including my brunette bob!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Carine & Co.

So, our award for the most stylish workforce of 2008 goes to Carine and the crew at Vogue Paris. I always thought my co-workers were semi-stylish, but compared to this lot, we are complete slobs. The VP gang are intimidatingly stylish with their uniform of leggings, biker jackets and shoes that can only be described using one of the most irritating and overused terms in fashion-speak, popularized by Tyra and now hijacked by Beyonce’s rubbish alter-ego: yeah, although it pains me to say it, I have to admit those heels are definitely fierce. No £6 Penney’s flats for these ladies, that's for sure.

Although she looks kinda mean, my favourite must be Carine’s right hand woman, fashion director Emmanuelle Alt. She looks like she was born to work at Vogue Paris. Alt and her army of clones - her mini-me assistant Geraldine Saglio as well as stylist Ludivine Poiblanc and accessories editor, former model Claire Dhelens, always look impeccable. They clearly must never get the Metro to work. Yeah, although The Sartorialist won't be overly concerned with capturing us on our way to the office any time soon, I am pretty happy that I don’t have to work with any former models – it's tough enough getting out of bed in the mornings without having to compete with that.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fashion Favourites of 2008

The end of 2008 is drawing near and I still can’t speak French, I still spend way too much money on lunches and I still can’t drive. In fact, I haven’t managed to keep a single New Year’s resolution. In my defence, I did try to learn how to drive but quickly aborted the idea when I wrote off my mother’s car by accelerating into a tree. I did go to French classes and you can’t blame me if the class’s progression was tortuously slow. And I did make a packed lunch. Once.

Along with ruminating over our failed resolutions, we’ve been thinking a lot about our favourite fashion people of 2008 recently. Over the next few days we will aim (I say aim because we’re very busy these days what with parties, present shopping and work) to bring you all of our '08 picks.

First up is our Favourite Fashion Moment 2008. And the winner is…..Carla Bruni Comes to London. Nobody had really mentioned Carla Bruni for a decade, save perhaps Barry Egan in the Sunday Independent, and then she marries Monsieur Sarkozy and she’s back on the front covers with a bang. Things reached a peak when the newly-wed couple visited London and Carla turned to John Galliano for some nice little outfits to wear on the trip. Out went her folk singer era jeans and bare feet and in came belted grey coats, little pillbox hats and boring chunky flats. It seems that Bruni thought that by dressing like a drabber Jackie O, she could detract from the nude photos and husband-stealing headlines that she is best known for.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rue the Day

Times are tight at The Portmanteau. First came the recession, then the pickpocketing incident and now Christmas. What little money we do have is being spent on presents and there is none left for party dresses or any other luxuries. We are still expert window shoppers though and did our fair share in Paris; ogling the wares at Colette, Lanvin and Chanel.

But even when window shopping, I like to aim for something that is semi-affordable, i.e. out of my reach now but attainable when there’s a sale on and I’ve just been paid. And so I hit three of my favourite streets in Paris – Rue des Martyrs in the 9th, Rue du Jour in the 1st and Rue Beaurepaire in the 10th.

Rue des Martyrs is primarily a street for food lovers and we most definitely fit into that category. There are lots of little cheesemongers and greengrocers at the bottom and as you walk up towards Montmartre, you will come across Rose Bakery, my favourite breakfast destination. Further up the street lies the No Good Store, a great shop that stocks both menswear and womenswear, vintage and new. The staff are really helpful and have been known to knock a few euro off vintage stuff if you ask nicely.

Le Mont St Michel is one of my favourite labels and Rue du Jour is home to their little flagship store. Big knits jostle for rail space with delicate silk dresses while simple leather boots and bags perch on shelves. A few doors down you’ll find the cutest haberdashery in the world – La Droguerie. It’s filled to capacity with spools of colourful yarn and jars of buttons and beads. Rue du Jour also boasts branches of agnès b., Zadig & Voltaire and Manoush. Oh and there’s an Irish pub called Quigley’s Point!

Rue Beaurepaire is a little street off Place de la Republique. There are several plumbing supplies stores but in amongst these, you will find a brilliant boutique called Renhsen. Renhsen stocks well-known labels Junk de Luxe for men and Sessun and Nümph for women and their own range of jeans. The Kooples is a new French label with 12 stores in Paris, one of which is located on Rue Beaurepaire. Based on the idea of couples and sharing clothes, The Kooples has lots of unisex cardigans and blazers but still stocks quite a few dresses. The Cobra Snake-style photos of ridiculously too-cool-for-school twosomes adorn the walls and the shop assistants are suitably stylish.

Friday, December 12, 2008

La Femme Rykiel

When we finally got over the trauma of the pickpocketing incident, we made our way to the Musee des Arts Decoratifs to check out the Sonia Rykiel retrospective. Rykiel is one of The Portmanteau's favourite designers so it was a real treat to see the lady's best work from the past 40 years. Her catwalk shows are some of the very few where the models seem to be enjoying themselves rather than looking like they're marching towards their death and there is lots of entertaining footage here. All of Rykiel's signatures are on display - the stripes, the marabou feathers, the sweaters and the not so chic velour tracksuits. The show ends with the hilarious - well, hilarious for the fashion world -  homages from renowned designers that appeared at Rykiel's anniversary show this autumn. For the finale of the event, 30 models came out wearing Rykiel-inspired looks and they can all be seen here including my two personal favourites - Martin Margiela's dress made of frizzy orange hair and Gaultier's stripy dress teamed with giant knitting needles.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Non, je ne regrette rien (well…)

The Portmanteau really try to avoid spending useless time regretting things that can’t be changed but we make an exception for our decision not to learn French in secondary school. Our twelve-year-old selves really messed up when we ticked the German and Spanish box on the subject options form. At least it helped contribute to the fact that we were in each other’s class almost every single year for the first 14 years of our education (senior infants being the only exception), but it’s still our number one regret. Evening classes undertaken in the last couple of years have proved a little fruitless, mainly because the really slow granddads-learning-it-in-preparation-for-their-holiday-to-Britanny have held us back. And we may have missed a class or two….. Nevertheless, we still like to try out our bad French and got the perfect opportunity when we decamped to Paris last weekend. People always responded in English so I don’t think we were fooling anybody but at least we made the effort.

Shopping was curtailed somewhat due to the fact that all my money was stolen by a gang of twelve year old girls and it took the best part of Saturday afternoon to fill in the Victime statements and attempt to pick out the perpetrators in an incredibly badly-organised identity parade. We did manage to fit in some window shopping, exhibitions and macaroon-eating so it wasn’t all bad. And the French policemen were kinda hot.

Pic pocketed from Roger

Monday, December 8, 2008

Vogue's Russian Dolls

I had promised to stop harping on about all things Russian, but I just have to give a quick mention to something I spotted in Russian Vogue while I was there. To celebrate the magazine's tenth anniversary, top designers were each asked to design a matrioshka doll which was then auctioned for charity. The results are too cute for words and a little more shapely than the stick insects that usually appear on the magazine's pages. My personal favourites are the mini-Miuccia in Prada lace and the YSL babe with her blunt bob. Needless to say, they are all infinitely chicer than the rubbish dollies I bought on a market stall in Moscow for 80 roubles.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Starry Starry Store

A Store is Born is a little treasure trove filled with vintage wares that has been opening its doors (well mechanical shutter type thing) on Clarendon Street every Saturday since the '70s. It's not cheap - vintage in Dublin rarely is - but the quality tends to be top-notch. There are lovely cashmere cardigans, amazing furs (both real and fake) and plenty of decadent evening dresses.

Whilst browsing last week, the very friendly proprietress told me that from Saturday 6th December, they are throwing their usual Saturday only opening hours out the window and are open every day to accommodate the throngs of Christmas shoppers who are on the look out for something a little more unique to wear to the annual Christmas party. Top of my wish list would be an amazing mink jacket if only I could only banish my sense of guilt at the thought of wearing a jacket that cost the lives of over 60 little minks. Eek.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Shopping Secrets of Mother Russia

I promise to stop boring everyone with my Russian exploits soon but before I do, I must give you my shopping recommendations. At first glance, shopping in Russia seems to be a choice between a) old Russian babooshkas selling kittens by the roadside b) depressing, abandoned Soviet-style department stores and c) Louis Vuitton for the oligarchs. However, there is actually more to shopping in Russia than this. First stop in Moscow has to be Cara & Co which is a little bit like Dover Street Market in London and stocks designer labels and vintage alongside books and magazines. Also worth a look is Magazin-Zing which showcases a great selection of labels like Whyred, Acne, Peter Jensen and A.P.C. Then in St. Petersburg, Maison Martin Margiela has to be on the itinerary - if not to purchase the gorgeous but expensive brogues, satchels and cashmere scarves, then to just ogle the hot shop assistants in their cute doctor's coats. For some shopping sustenance and to escape the cold, head to the Dostoevsky-inspired Idiot Cafe or La Borsch (11 Fontanka Emb.) for some modern, Russian cuisine and then pretend you're back in the nineties and knock back the cheap vodka at grungy basement bar Fish Fabrique (53 Ligovskiy Prospekt). 

                                                                                        Cara & Co


                                                  Maison Martin Margiela