Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Girl Guides

Just back from a mini sojourn in Paris. The city was as perfect as ever apart from one traumatic incident on the bumper cars in the Tuileries Gardens with overly aggressive kiddies getting carried away with the bumping aspect of this usually quite staid attraction. When travelling, I claim to like going with the flow but the nerd in me still likes to read up in advance with a good guide book. But which one to choose? Lonely Planet –practical but not pretty, DK Eyewitness – beautiful and informative but do we really need all the 3-D drawings of historical buildings?, Wallpaper Guides – gorgeous but sometimes we need more info that simply which boutique hotels are best. A good alternative to these is Ofr’s Guide Paris which I picked up at the bookshop at the Pompidou Centre. It’s beautifully designed with Sartorialist-chic pics of pretty young Parisians on bikes and smoking cigs by the Seine as well as lots of insider tips. The only drawback is the kinda nonsensical commentary – “Paris is an aphrodisiac bath that will welcome and carry your desires. It feels like life in the countryside, or by the Libyan sea, it's the Corsican freedom..”. Um, whatever you say. Also worth checking out is Ofr’s HQ in Le Marais. As well as being a gallery space, it’s one of the best art/design bookshops in Paris and a great place to get fashion magazines. I think it’s time to plan The Portmanteau’s next mini-break–maybe in October, just in time to catch Rodarte at Colette and the Kate exhib at the Musée des arts Décoratifs. NOK

Friday, August 21, 2009

The News

The September Issue premiere dominated fashion news this week. Anna Wintour wore Prada, Alexa went for a mid-calf vintage gown and Sienna chose a pale blue Thakoon number that didn't quite match up to the amazing outfits she sported on the GI Joe publicity tour, but still made the most of her long legs and glowing golden skin. The Cut has the skinny on what went down at the premiere.

Hannah Pool interviewed Victoria Aitken - daughter of Jonathan, cousin of Jodie Kidd - in the Guardian this week and coined the wonderful phrase, Sloane disco, to describe Aitken's new single I'll Be Your Bitch. I know I should probably hate Victoria A but I find her weirdly endearing. She just seems so proud to have escaped her Sloaney destiny, eschewing a degree at Georgetown and marriage to a hedge funder in favour of her new career as a (according to her website) songwriter/actress/writer.

ES magazine has an article on the troubled Hippie Hippie Shake, the biopic based on Richard Neville's memoirs. The film is on its fourth writer, and director Beeban Kidron, wife of Lee Hall who previously walked away as writer, is now keen to distance herself from the project having encountered 'creative differences' during the edit. When Sienna Miller was questioned about the project in this month's Nylon she said, "I don't think I'd make that film now." LE

As a Bat

It's been gradually getting worse for ages but now it's reached the point where I have to squint as I approach bars or Tube stations or other meeting points in an attempt to recognise my friends. I'm totally going blind. Well not blind, but I'm totally going short-sighted. I had to get my eyes tested for my provisional driving license and the optician did recommend getting glasses. I heeded his advice (unfortunately it didn't stop me writing my mum's car off on a driving lesson and subsequently abandoning the idea of ever being able to drive) and got myself a little pair with tortoiseshell frames. I could still see quite well without them and so I didn't bother with them much. But now, five years on, I can't see properly even with them on. I need new glasses but I haven't been able to bring myself to actually do anything about it. I've half-heartedly perused the Specsavers website and when I pass an opticians I look in the window, but that's really not good enough when I am at the stage where I have to sit at the very front of the cinema.

The problem for me is that I can't find a pair of glasses that I like. I don't even know where to begin. Today I took the first tentative steps towards getting new glasses by actually entering my local Vision Express. There are lots of expensive designer frames in Vision Express and boy do the designers want you to know that the frames are, in fact, designer. 'That's a cute pair of plain black frames', I think to myself but, as I remove them from the display stand, I notice that there is diamante logo taking up most of the arm. Obviously I could go for some hipster frames but then I worry that when I go to the movies on a Sunday morning, my hip faux-nerdy glasses won't really fit with the rest of my outfit, which will probably just be an extension of my pajamas, and I don't want to spend lots of money on pair that are going to look pretty lame in a few months. Plus I have a really small face, which makes it even trickier. Maybe I should just get laser eye surgery. Or I guess I could get contact lenses but they seem kind of tedious and I'd still have to get a pair of glasses for the times when I'm not wearing the contact lenses. Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill and I should stop squinting and just go buy a pair of glasses. After all, according to this Simon Chilvers article, they're totally hot. LE

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Then We Came to The End

The September issues have hit the shelves, my traditional signifier that summer is officially O.V.E.R. And I can breathe a little easier. There was one dodgy period when the forecasters were frightening me with their talk of heatwaves, but thankfully that didn’t last for much more than a week. Yes, summer is over and I survived with my opaque tights still intact. I just don’t do summer – much more of an autumn / winter girl and there are so many treats to look forward to this season - The September Issue, scarves, The Sartorialist goes from blog to book, velvet, fashion week, Coco on the cover of Love, our first look at Dasha's Pop, autumn leaves on Holland Park Avenue, even woollier tights. I kinda knew it was all going to be fine when I saw the cover of July’s Vogue, usually the sunniest and therefore, for me, the worst issue of the year. But there were no scary cover lines proclaiming the Summer of Love, no swimsuits. Just Julianne Moore photographed by Alasdair McLellan in all her fiery, autumnal glory. But how did Alex and Co. capture the mood and sense that summer would be such a washout? If life at Vogue House ever gets too much, a career at the Met Office could be on the cards. NOK

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Boys We Fancy

OK so our choices may not always be popular - apparently nobody else sees the Gordon Brown thing - but we won't allow your disparaging comments cloud our lusty vision.

Jean Jacques de Gucht
His name might mean nothing to you, but trust me on this one. On my last visit to Antwerp, I was watching some Flemish version of Newsnight when the sight of this Michael Pitt / Taylor Hanson hybrid (that’s a good thing, I can assure you) made me sit up and take notice even though I didn’t understand a word he was saying. It turns out he was some politician’s son, running in some election…and before you know it, I had become his fan on Facebook. I have always had a thing for scions of political dynasties, starting as a child with my JFK Jnr phase so this particular obsession makes perfect sense. N

Dominic West
I don't watch The Wire. Sorry, sorry, I hear it's amazing and I'll buy the box set soon, I promise. Actually I don't think I have ever seen Dominic West in anything, save those virals where he tries to convince me to buy instant coffee by reading aloud a relatively boring passage from Lady Chatterley's Lover, but I really fancy him. He's totally gorgeous (and probably the most mainstream crush I've ever had) but one of my main reasons for lusting after him is his interview technique. He says silly stuff that he doesn't really mean and then his spokesperson has to issue statements reassuring us that his remarks were taken out of context and it's just all such a lovely relief from bland Hollywood interviews. He lives in Shepherds Bush so I've taken to hanging round the green and adjacent pound shops in the hopes of bumping into him but no luck so far. L

Moss from the IT Crowd is the chicest of geeks - he wears too short trousers worn too high, clip-on ties, check shirts and is socially inept. He still lives with his mum and we have her to thank for his signature look as she dresses him and styles his amazing hair. He struggles to communicate with anything other than his computer but that doesn’t make him anything less than insanely attractive to me. Once I spotted actor Richard Ayoade outside Liberty and I got very over-excited but alas, he wasn’t in Moss mode so I could restrain myself from adopting full-on stalker behaviour. Forget about Kate, it’s this Moss who is the true style icon. N

Michael Schoeffling
Michael Schoeffling is the man of my childhood dreams. He played Jake in the John Hughes classic Sixteen Candles and popped up opposite Gabrielle Anwar in some Disney movie about a horse but the role that really secured him a place in my heart is that of Joe in Mermaids. He's actually quite wooden in the movie and even comes across as a little stupid but I still totally understand why Winona's character Charlotte fancied him so much. His boring fond-of -fishing personality is the perfect foil to the neurotic Charlotte who dreams of becoming a Catholic saint in much the same way as I fantasised about converting to Judaism in secondary school. He probably shouldn't have slept with her because she's fifteen and he's twenty-something but maybe things were different in the sixties. Michael Schoeffling himself seems to have realised that acting wasn't his strong point and abandoned it in 1991 in favour of a career in carpentry, following in the footsteps of other manly and trustworthy types: Aidan from Sex and the City and Joseph of Nazareth. L

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

When Fashion Peeps Eat

A couple of weeks ago a mouse ran over my foot in the kitchen. It was really scary so I did what any sensible person would do and bought blue poisonous stuff in the hardware shop, left it in the corner beside the fridge and sealed the door from the kitchen to the living room with masking tape. And I haven't gone in since. Well maybe once or twice, just to get a corkscrew, but mainly the mouse has had the place to himself. The sit down bit in Waitrose is my new kitchen and I just eat food that doesn't need cooking, e.g. crisps, when I'm too lazy to go there.

But now cooking is totally in and I'm going to have to be brave and deal with the mouse because I need my kitchen back. Cooking has been in for ages actually - look how famous Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver are - but recently celebs not really known for cooking (or eating) have begun to get in on the act. Gwyneth is making roast chicken on Goop, Sophie Dahl has written Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights and Donna Air is the editor-in-chief of the Grown in Britain Cookbook.

Gwyneth's video reminds me why I liked her back in the late 90s. She actually seems nice and the annoying know-it-all tone that she adopts in her Goop newsletters is mainly absent. The recipe is pretty straightforward though - plain roast chicken with salad - and you really don't need an eight minute video to tell you how to do it but I suppose the appeal is the little autobiographical details ("My dad was very into adding maple syrup into salad dressing")! Sophie Dahl also dishes up autobiographical nuggets - tucking into sushi with Isabella Blow, gorging on curries with Tim Walker - alongside the recipes in her book. Her honesty about dieting and the little insights into her relationships with her famous boyfriends and relatives combined with basic but interesting recipes is a format that works really well. Donna Air has left the recipes to the professionals in her book and I'm not really sure what her editor-in-chief role entailed, besides a 500 word foreward and a promotional trip to GMTV, but the book, with its illustrations and explanations, is good in a healthy and educational way. LE