Saturday, June 27, 2009

Chelsea Girl

I get it. What a completely unoriginal title for a blog post, one that has been used countless times before in Edie and Andy themed editorials and articles. But this week, I really was a Chelsea girl – for my first couple of days in NYC, I literally did not go anywhere else in the city. I woke up in my hotel at one end of West 22nd St. and went to do some “work” at the Chelsea Art Museum at the other end. So after traipsing up and down for 3 days, and to continue our street-themed posts, I can now give you an insiders guide to West 22nd St.

This street is fashion meets art central. When you are done sampling the drug store delights of Rite Aid and Duane Reade, there are two designer shops on the street worth checking out, for the buildings as much as the clothes. Enter Commes des Garçons down the steel funnel-like entrance and into an amazing, minimalist space divided into little rooms and sections that perfectly showcase the designs. The interior of the Balenciaga flagship a few doors down is also art gallery-esque, with some trippy paisley carpet thrown into the mix but my God, Nicolas's designs are achingly gorgeous. For your art fix, there's Matthew Marks gallery, currently showing Gary Hume: Yardwork and the Chelsea outpost of PaceWildenstein. Another must visit is the the pop-up art book store Artbook @ X. On the corner of 10th Ave is the Empire Diner where you can gorge on burgers and milkshakes by candlelight around the clock at this Art Deco gem. Stop by Billy's Bakery for exquisite baked goods that beat the offerings of the Magnolia any day and for supplies of Hershey and Oh Henry! at 4am, it's got to be the semi amusingly titled Ha.Ha.Fresh - a name I found Ha.Ha. Hilarious and endlessly entertaining in my drunken state. NOK

Gary Hume @ Matthew Marks

Commes des Garcons

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Cheshire Cat

As a lady of leisure a.k.a. an unemployed person, I get to swan around day in day out, going for solitary walks interspersed with some magazine-reading, cupcake-eating or window shopping and so I am in a perfect position to bring you my expert guide to nice streets in London.

First up is Cheshire Street, a little street off Brick Lane. I went to Cheshire Street to check out the Comfort Station shop and I was not disappointed. The jewellery is beautiful but the shop itself is even prettier. A huge white owl is suspended over the window display, its impressive wingspan taking up most of the window. He’s for sale too but I’m not really sure how I’d feel about taxidermy in our little flat – a big dead animal calls for a proper space, not some table shoved up against a radiator strewn with drying underwear.

We could buy stuff for our house in Labour and Wait though, a gorgeous little shop just up the street, which somehow makes boring things like roasting trays and thermometers objects of beauty.

Across the road is the new Louis de Gama shop, a Portuguese-born London-based designer who has been supplying to boutiques (including the Irish Dolls and Kalu) for many years but just opened his own shop this March. His clothes are intricate creations of chiffon and leather, which are sexy and feminine but tough too. He also seems as obsessed with magazines as we are, especially those featuring early Kate Moss shoots. The shop walls are adorned with pictures of Kate torn from The Face, W and Vogue.

And at the end of Cheshire Street you’ll find famed vintage emporium Beyond Retro. LE

Louis de Gama Shop

Louis de Gama

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Models & Monet

After spotting Helena Christensen strolling through the West Village and then Lauren Hutton on the Lower East Side, I was definitely in model mode so off I went to see the Model as Muse show at the Met. Yes - we laughed at Kate's turban and Madonna's horns so it was time to see what all the fuss was about. The exhibition focuses on the iconic models of the twentieth century and features haute couture, fashion photography, video footage and magazines interspersed with clips from Funny Face, Blow-Up and George Michael's Freedom vid. I admit that it's a pretty slight concept for such a large-scale show but for model mad me, it's a dream. Highlights for me were portraits from the masterful Irving Penn, Twiggy by Melvin Sokolsky, Peter Lindbergh's pics of the '90s supers and my beloved Christy in Jil Sander, shot by Ellen von Unwerth. Another standout was the tableau of Charles James gowns and Louis XV furniture used to recreate Beaton's 1947 Vogue photograph. What shines through it all is the importance of the relationship between model and photographer - Irving Penn and wife / muse Lisa Fonssagrives, David Bailey and Jean Shimpton, Linda Evangelista and Steven Meisel.

The show struggles to provide justification for taking over such a huge space and basically filling it with pretty faces and gorgeous clothes. It also doesn't give much insight into the modeling experience and much of the content will be familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in fashion although as some frothy light relief from Eqyptian artifacts and Monets, it more than delivers. NOK

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cropping Up

Crop Tops

My BFF has deserted me. No, not my other The Portmanteau half, although she has jetted off to New York and left me home alone. But far more importantly, I have been abandoned by the Internet. Countless calls to Talk Talk and highfalutin tests like plugging the modem out and then back in again have led to the conclusion that the router is broken. It will be 5 days before a replacement is dispatched. What am I supposed to in the interim? Go to the corner shop and actually buy newspapers? Watch TV, mindlessly switching from one station to another in the hope that something good comes on? Call people on the telephone? I have discovered that if I crouch under the dressing table in my bedroom I can pick up somebody else’s wireless. It’s frustratingly temperamental and tends to drop out at the most crucial moments (for example, just as I enter my credit card details on Ryanair’s site) but it’s a far better solution than the alternatives listed above.

All of this crouching has rendered me cranky and so today I have decided to throw light on the most ridiculous trend of ’09 – the crop top. The crop top has been threatening a little comeback since the start of the year but I had decided to pay no attention to the issue because I thought it would go away if we all just ignored it. Six months later and I can’t step foot in Westfield (yes, I know I hate shopping centres but it’s really near my house and it has an excellent Waitrose) without a gaggle of crop topped teenagers getting in my way. I’m not sure what annoys me more about this trend – the fact that it looks pretty stupid or the fact that I’m too fat to pull it off. Last time crop tops were in, I had a flat tummy to rival Cheryl Cole but then everybody decided that showing your midriff was totally vulgar and I stopped skipping meals as only a fifteen-year-old can do. It’s really easy to go hungry when the hardest thing you have to do is watch MTV, but when you have to do adult things like deal with Talk Talk, it’s important to eat three square meals a day.

My biggest worry about the crop top revival isn’t that I will be forced into a bra top like that seen on Alexa in June’s Jalouse. Don’t fret, I’m not going to inflict that on anybody, but rather, I am concerned about what this means for tops in general, not just those specifically labelled crop. Cast your minds back to the year 2000 and remember where your average t-shirt ended. Yup, just right at your waistband. In recent years the hemlines of t-shirts and pretty much all tops have been lowered, meaning that you didn’t have to think about rolls of fat or greying knickers escaping from your jeans. It didn’t really matter if you put on a few pounds because your handy smock just covered everything up. But now with the rise of crop tops and shorter t-shirts in general, we are going to have to start paying attention to that area all over again. Hideous terms like muffin top and whale tail will re-enter our vocabulary and I'll have to try manage a few sit-ups. Great. LE

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Alexa Takes Manhattan

I arrived in New York yesterday and by happy coincidence, our beloved Alexa started her show on MTV on the same day. I am actually here for work and not just to stalk AC - I swear - it's just very good timing.

Alexa has everything we have ever wanted in life and now to top it all off, she has her own MTV show. This was my other The Portmanteau half's dream when we were 15. She wanted to be Donna Air and both of us had a deep obsession with the MTV Europe Music Awards. Sadly, the closest we got to the awards when they were held in Dublin was a terrible after-party hosted by Donna and Richard Blackwood. The good news is that Alexa makes a much better host than Donna who always seemed half-asleep / half-stoned on Select. I'm not such a fan of the overload of texting / twittering interactivity - viewers tweeting photos of themselves watching the show with stuff on their heads etc. It reminds me of Lily Allen's chat show, trying a bit desperately to be hip and now and down with the kids. Alexa still lacks the ability to move a show on seamlessly ("Moving on....") and surprisingly, hasn't toned down her usual mocking, slightly awkward presenting style for an American audience who are used to more high octane TV presenters. But no doubt about it -this is a huge break for our girl Alexa. The days of Frock Me with Henry Holland and its Blue Peter-esque segments on customising denim seem very far away. NOK

Thursday, June 11, 2009

On Yer Bike

Boris Johnson and various cycling committees urged people to cycle to work today and yesterday in an effort to reduce the transport chaos that was a result of the two day tube strike. That’s all very well and good, but I don’t have a bike in London. Granted I don’t have a job either, but I still have important places to go, like, you know, lunch dates and shops and stuff and so today my thoughts have turned to bicycles. I know the strike is over but wouldn’t it be nicer to explore the city by bike rather than join the London Lite-reading brigade underground, especially as summer hits. Again I am imagining the fake me on the bicycle, you know the tanned long-legged really-into-yoga one, rather than the actual small pale one who has been known to lock a bicycle up and then completely forget where she left it, only to stumble upon the vandalised frame a couple of weeks later.

The street style snappers are obviously in agreement as girls with bicycles have been featured on both The Sartorialist and Facehunter recently. LE

Image from The Sartorialist

Images from Facehunter

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Boys That We Fancy

The Grey Gardens meets Ab Fab mess that we predicted is now our reality. We live together in a tiny flat with shoddy carpentry, surrounded by discarded newspaper supplements and empty sparkling wine bottles. We spend our evenings compiling lists of boys we fancy and eating biscuits.

Piers Morgan
We only watched one episode of Britain’s Got Talent but that was all it took for us to develop huge crushes on Piers Morgan. It took us about a week to finally admit it (first to ourselves and then to each other) but we are now so proud of our paramour that we bought three of his books on Amazon the other night. Problem is he seems really into his perfect girlfriend Celia Walden and even if we got by her, we’d have SuBo to contend with.

Gordon Brown
OK he's the most unpopular person in Britain at the moment but our embarrassing crush on this particular PM just won't go away. Where other people see incompetent and crumbling, we just see an aloof brooding Heathcliff-type. Women ministers are abandoning him in droves but that just means there's less competition for his affections. Let's just say we won't be joining the WAGs (women against Gordon) anytime soon.

Chuck Bass
OK so Chuck has appeared on our previous Boys That We Fancy list but it would be unfair to exclude him from this one on those grounds. Maybe his Gossip Girl storylines have become a little fantastical but the news that he is to play Heathcliff more than makes up for that. As has previously been noted, The Portmanteau does not fancy Ed Westwick. Just Chuck Bass.

Tom Guinness
The new Burberry campaign for AW 09 was launched today fronted by Emma Watson. We have always found the Harry Potter actress a tad bland and underwhelming and can't really fathom the fashion world's interest in her. But the campaign is saved by the presence of yummy aristo Tom Guinness and his amazing cheekbones.

Andy Samberg
Andy is hot and hilarious, which is the ultimate combination. The only problem is that his girlfriend is harpist babe Joanna Newsom and we can't really compete with her as we love her too much. The Portmanteau was shocked when it first learned of their relationship - we thought she lived in a tower in a medieval town, drank mead and NEVER spoke to boys. How wrong we were.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

I'm seeing double, triple, quadruple.......

Although I am now officially a Londoner, I still have to keep up-to-date with all that is going down in the motherland. The elections, the leaving cert screw up and Amy Huberman’s wardrobe. In today’s Irish Times Amy talks to Deirdre McQuillan about her style and is pictured wearing a Barbara Hulanicki for Topshop dress. You know, the orange one with the shoulders. The really nice one that’s unfortunately been ruined by its ubiquity. Peaches and Alexa have worn it, it’s been blogged about endlessly, even my other The Portmanteau half owns it. And that for me is the problem with high street/designer collaborations. Even before Matthew Williamson for H & M hit the shops, Mischa Barton had been pictured wearing every piece in the collection, thus rendering it completely unwearable. When I was a teenager, I used to get a thrill out of celebrities wearing the same clothes as me. Oh look, Natalie Appleton has my Warehouse top. But now I think that they just ruin them, robbing that Topshop dress of any sense of originality and exclusivity.

Perhaps it’s something that has been compounded by the Internet, its democratic nature means that everybody knows where you get your clothes and even your style references. It’s not a problem that is confined to the high street. I feel pretty much the same about Balmain jackets. I mean I could never afford one, but even if I could I’m not sure I’d want a jacket that’s been pictured so often. I’d feel that every time I’d wear it, people would be thinking, “Oh there goes that girl who wants to be Emmanuelle Alt”. And while that’s true, I do want to be Emmanuelle Alt, I don’t everybody to guess that by looking at my £3,000 denim jacket.

That said, how hot does Alexa look in the dress? Maybe I want one after all...... LE

Amy Huberman in the dress

Peaches in the dress

Alexa in the dress

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Liberty Belle

I love Liberty. Shopping there is like wandering around a Tudor manor owned by someone with the most exquisite taste. The stock is the best edited of all the London department stores and it's the only one that doesn't make me hot and bothered. No harsh lighting - just a calm shopping atmosphere and lots of wood panelling. Much nicer. The ground floor is the best - gorgeous coffee table books, afternoon tea and Cire Trudon candles. Heaven, basically. This season, there is another welcome addition - a Frederic Malle concession. Oh dear God, where do I begin? All their fragrances are phenomenal but French Lover is the ultimate. I swear, this stuff is unbelievable . One completely unattractive guy + one spray of French Lover = insanely hot. It could make even Ant "nice forehead" Mc Partlin seem attractive. (Sorry. I’m in a bit of a Britain’s Got Talent zone today, but soooo many points - how cute are 2 Grand? / why is Amanda Holden taking style advice from Katherine Jenkins? / how do Ant + Dec still have a career when they have no discernible talent?) And one more reason to visit Liberty at the moment - to see A.P.C's take on their iconic floral print. NOK