As Time Goes By….

February 24, 2017

allandalecentreIt wasn’t Sam playing the nostalgic theme tune from Casablanca at Allandale Community Centre in Wimborne today. It was part of Kate Sheridan’s matinee performance. Next week I’ll be hearing her in rehearsal but lucky lunchers listening today caught the  premiere!

Game of Thrones?

February 19, 2017

THERE are people and there are fascinating people. I’m related to the second category! And as does everyone else I believe I have to tolerate the others!

Although my four children are modest and kind they are able to find friends and influence others by doing very little. My sister, Ann, thinks it’s something they’ve inherited from her ancestors. I know it’s a mixture of worldwide genes, Galt Toys and Maria Montessori!

Sally insisted on sitting for a place at an independent school but her time at the grammar/comprehensive meant she was able to spread her parents’ democratic educational aspirations to her college, school friends, partners and now her four sons.

Kate is inspiring to her musical, artistic, political friends and continues to teach piano, keep the books and entertain her numerous boys. Jo also couldn’t live without technology and art. He thought a snail had walked just a metre when we were still seeing yards and inches; described marzipan as ‘eating soap’ and hail stones as ‘ice balls.’

Eve taught herself to read, ride a bike, swim, speak French, fish, drive and generally has led a life chosen for herself. Currently she walks with a large dog twice a day in the Derbyshire hills, through a farm which takes her back to glorious times with her grandparents in Waley Bridge.

Tolerant and only a little self-obsessed she’s recently been watching her youngest nephew on Face Time. Suddenly she saw as clear as mud that the two year old’s behaviour was identical to her own. His personality – set to be clever, pragmatic, determined, confident, sociable and bold. She’d only been with him for about four or five hours in his two/three years. How could she be watching a doppelganger? Why should she argue nurture rather than nature when the answer could only be lying in the genes?

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Here they are walking the same walk and talking the same talk in Yorkshire Sculpture Park!

Le paradis des enfants

February 17, 2017

IN 1997 I read about a park in Paris donated by the Citroen foundation. Luckily I had a son and two grandsons who were exactly the ages to see such wonders. So we booked, sailed the channel and crossed the summer fields of la belle France by train.

Parc Citreon is pres le Tour Eiffel so we did both spectacular sites on our first day, only stopping for food and wine at the best restaurants we could find.

parccitreonParis is also the home to La Villette designed by Bernard Tschumi, a French architect of Swiss origin, who built it from 1984 to 1987 in partnership with Colin Fournier, on the site of the huge Parisian abattoirs (slaughterhouses) and the national wholesale meat market, as part of an urban redevelopment project. The slaughterhouses, built in 1867 on the instructions of Napoléon III, had been cleared away and relocated in 1974. Tschumi won a major design competition in 1982–83 for the park, and he sought the opinions of the deconstructionist philosopher Jacques Derrida in the preparation of his design proposal.

Since the creation of the park, museums, concert halls, and theatres have been designed by several noted contemporary architects, including Christian de Portzamparc, Adrien Fainsilber, Philippe Chaix, Jean-Paul Morel, Gérard Chamayou,on to Mr. Tschumi.  In the middle of the week we travelled on the Metro out to the sites of the former abbattoirs. Although it was all a bit scholarly it’s novelty enchanted us and later inspired my part in instigating Eureka! in Halifax, UK.

villetteAs Joe, Adam and Matthew were encouraged to take in Geography, History, Geometry I thought our weekend treat, Parc Asterix,  with its giant Obelix, golden goddesses and bronzed living statues  would be relaxed and low key enough to take the pressure off! It was and yet far away enough from the theme parks of Hollywood to feel like art. There were actual horses, actors, underwater swimmers  and as a treat from the gods – Delice de Zeus –  ice cream created to make Neapolitans seem dull!asterixJo, Adam and Matt now have projects of their own designed to amuse and entertain, and although I’m not employed by the Paris Tourist Board I’m open to offers!

Paris – City of flowers and lights!

February 16, 2017

‘I want to be there, NOW!’ to quote Axel Sheridan.cafe-de-flore

It might have been fun in 1954 with Barthes but in Summer 2015 I was on my way but I had to cry off.  I will make do with a Chanel presentation in London this July and maybe I can make Paris somehow, before 2018.

‘What was it about her face?” thought Roland Barthes sitting in Café Flore, Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris, after seeing Audrey Hepburn in the first French screening of ‘Roman Holiday’ on April 4th, 1954. Surrounded by Alain Robbe-Grillet, Michel Butor, Françoise Sagan, Nathalie Sarraute, Romain Gary, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Bergé, Marcel Rochas, Gunnar Larsen, Givenchy, Lagerfeld, Paco Rabanne, Guy Laroche, Tristan Tzara, Alberto Giacometti, Dali, Jacques Lacan, inspiration came thick and fast for Barthes.

Between 1954 and 1956 his stunningly provocative and most influential text, ‘Mythologies,’ observing cinema, advertising, fashion magazines, motor shows, began challenging ideas about Hollywood, striptease, steak, wrestling, wine, and film forever.

 Born in 1915, Barthes has become the ‘go-to’ guy for story angles and inspiration for 21st century art, media, advertising, fashion professionals and his reputation today rivals that of any of his Parisian contemporaries.

Of Fashion he wrote that it became an industrial synthesis between its making, and its selling. He recognised the contradiction, inherent in the industry, of Fashion being readily available for the many, without losing its ability to raise stakes or status for an individual.

Tomorrow I’ll write about Parc Citroen, Parc Asterix and the pack of peanut butter sandwiches!

The Saint Wears Black

February 14, 2017

THERE’S really only one stylish religious icon. It’s the image of Pope Joan wearing a tiara.  She appears on my blog with Amy’s hysterical outburst in ‘Big Bang Theory’ when Sheldon buys her the diamante encrusted headpiece as an apology gift.

Really this opening paragraph is just a way to get back in to my meanderings and connecting with today. St Valentine’s images are all too garish to collect and so I’m posting Fashion.

Sarah Pacini, the 20 year old high end, chicest street styles puts clothes you and I have in our wardrobes together twice a year and makes them look new. Here’s one for today which is inspiring me to layer up and walk.

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For ex convent girls there’s nothing as inspiring and intimidating than black, especially if spiked with white near the face. Sarah Pacini’s looks are much more friendly and relaxed. When the nuns layered up it was with thick pleated serge and heavy rosary beads.  Since ‘Roman Holiday’ when Audrey became everyone’s favourite gamine we are suckers for the sacred and everyday clashing together on our streets.

Saints should wear black. Then Rock chicks and Goth sweets can be doubly confused and no-0ne needs to do the embarrassing goody-goody Adele act, trying to disguise our passion for well-natured tarts and kindly villains.

So this brings me to my favourite, totally delightful destination, haunted by Hollywood stars,  gardens overflowing with exotic scented flowers, the sea pannning out from cliff tops over a never-ending sparkle of reflected sunlight, at 26 degrees on the breeze.  Yes we’re back to Normandy as this Oscar de la Renta number recalls the gardens Christian and his mother tended in Granville.

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A Suitable Case for Treatment

August 7, 2016
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, from Paramount Pictures and Red Granite Pictures.

I’m not a cougar but Christopher Breward’s latest book celebrating the glorious and everyday charms of ‘The Suit,’ makes me see how a predatory woman might feel!

On many of the pages I fall in love again and again!

Breward sets the suit in its commanding history as an important marker inspiring new ways of looking at the power-hungry, the lover, the elegant, through their lives at home, in trade, on travel and in the movies.

The suit has survived hardly modified over generations, worn by men and women, ‘politicians, estate agents, bankers, rabbis, courtroom defendants, wedding grooms’.

The author’s own wedding outfit, now in the V&A, was worn for a civil partnership ceremony  with James Brook on 18 August 2006.  Christopher’s from Kilgour on Saville Row with Jasper Conran shirt, while James’ tailored wool-blend pinstripe by Timothy Everest, for Marks and Spencer are included in the museum’s collections, reflecting the suit’s enduring appeal.

Taking his lead from Adolf Loos, the Modernist ‘suitophile’ who compared the garment to a classical temple, Breward considers its form, function and style across the decades. Thinking ‘the smart flashiness of the soldier’s get-up takes us only so far in understanding the evolution of the modern suit,’ he encourages us to consider the dinginess of English cities when ‘darkness inevitably rubbed off on the man’s suit and its status in everyday life.’

Romping through the centuries he notes how working men’s solid woollen jackets and trousers stood for stronger values than a nineteenth century clerk’s off-the-peg garb, although it it did represent technological advances.

Turning to advice given for successful dressing, he shows how pundits had often suggested conservative, appropriate, two pieces to make a statement, as  novel alternative modes of dress were appearing. In the midst of the flowery Hippies in the 70s and Punk-Goths in the 80s, the monochrome model survived in the service of industry and commerce.

When nepotism and old school ties were superseded by strategic and technological brilliance, as open routes to  lucrative City jobs, the suit became more valuable than ever as a leveller in the market place. Men’s retailers know that the price of a suit is geared to match exactly a week’s wage. So from the 80s on, from the high street to Savile Row, customers would be spending between £2,000 and £10,000 to be kitted out.

When the global crash came in 2008, it had been heralded by informal dress into the worlds of banking and high finance in the 90s and 2000s; seeming to reflect immorality and the rise of greed. Disgraced workers were seen leaving their offices uniformly wearing pastel sportswear on television news channels!

City slickers and bar bound lawyers insist the suit is a sign of distinction and power in the professions despite calls to dress down or man-up for our digital age.  Breward, now a tweeds and jeans-wearing academic, hopes the suit will persist for hundreds more years; for as long as the civilised values it represents are around.

No Blaming Mother

April 27, 2016

In an episode of the much loved American sit com, Frasier, his brother Dr Niles Crane takes over at the mic for a session in his, ‘I’m Listening’ spot.  Both men are cast in the drama as successful psychologists.

In his introduction Niles explains, “Let me tell you I’m a Jungian and Frasier is a Freudian, so there’ll be no blaming mother, today!’

Checking out the images of these two thought provoking 20th century geniuses I see they come with extra quotes, for our amusement.sigmund_freud_quote_3Jung

Glass coaches, diamond tiaras and blue jeans

December 25, 2015

The new black magic

Fashion’s power probably reached its zenith when Kate Middleton married the heir to the British dynastic throne of the United Kingdom in April 2011.  Prince William had fallen in love with her, it is said, as she paraded down the catwalk at a charity Fashion show in their shared university town of St. Andrew’s, near Edinburgh, in Scotland.  The signs of the harem had transmitted themselves to the virile young royal.

There is a Cinderella quality to this story and clothes played their part towards this happy ending.  Not that Kate Middleton had set many fires, or brushed many hearths, but she now  rides in glass coaches and wears diamond tiaras.

Her days at boarding school mixing with the Home Counties crowd, and Sloane Rangers set, put her on the right track. She’s an interesting mix of American preppy and English Burberry.  Her love of the outdoors means she is…

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Most Photographed

December 8, 2015

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It’s official! Audrey  Hepburn is the most photographed woman of her generation, BBC 2, yesterday and on iPlayer.

So it’s no wonder Anton Storey  and I had masses of scintillating images to inspire us when we collaborated to feature her in print  in 2009.

So lovely is she in her movies we have at least two wonderful reworked pieces to publish in each part of ‘IMAGES OF PASSION Audrey Heburn and Breakfast at Givenchy’s’

Last week we published part 1 PARIS  as a tribute to her greatest fan, Roland Barthes.  He described her face as an ‘event.’

http://tinyurl.com/zjb6ors

Gathering Moss…

July 5, 2015
A match made in Britain...

A match made in Britain…

A debate on Kate Moss stirs strange passions.  Young women either love or, a few conservative detractors, hate her.  British ‘Vogue’ in May is ecstatic over the continuing success of our British Fashion models, whether from the landed gentry or the street.

Moss, featured on the cover, is placed with other contemporary model successes and the long-running story of the Brits as a ‘punk nation!’

For Harrods and House of Fraser in 'Grazia'

For Harrods and House of Fraser in ‘Grazia’

Writer Chloe Fox says, “we’re constantly challenging notions of beauty. Kate Phelan, the stylist and ‘Vogue’ contributing editor believes, “Our cultural heritage is hugely influential. We constantly challenge the norm and the fashion industry wants to harness that spirit.”

Kate Moss has hit the zeitgeist over decades, a heroin waif in the eighties, the face of London in the 1990s, high street sensation Topshop, and currently for Kering’s wild boy, Alexander McQueen.

A Business of Fashion story which is really a best kept secret is how the international Fashion industry has come to rely on her neat body, outsider ID and perpendicular cheek bones.

She has been modelling for the rising Italian star Liu.Jo since 2011, from when its already stratospheric success has continued, doubling its number of employees worldwide each year.  With La Moss as their ‘face’ they sell across the classes, from city department stores and on-line, to Europe, the far and near East and Russia.

Celebrating the Italian Fashion show opening at the V&A, this week, Colin McDowell, making the important point that it’s really all about the fabrics and the clothes, puts Italian Fashion’s centuries long success down to its heritage and pride-in-making.

A curious anomaly could be that it’s a British teenage rebel performer who is now at the heart of its continuing fascino.

First published in ‘What Would Roland Barthes say?”