Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Heard a Rumour..

Quite the revelation at work today. Rumours were swirling that Katie Grand, one of our favourite fashion people, was parting company with her baby, Pop magazine.
This is big. And it gets better. Apparently Grand is to join Conde Nast and set up a new fashion mag there. So who cares if the rumours are true or not - it gives us lots of important issues to ponder. Katie Grand is Pop/Pop is Katie Grand - could they really go on without each other? And what about a new Grand mag at Conde - what would that be like? Maybe Grand would give the Conde Nast brigade a much needed jolt and shake things up, with Vogue having to raise their game in response. Or maybe its just idle office chatter. We shall see.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Gossip Girl

Not having ITV2 has meant missing out on one of the biggest TV phenomena of the year – Gossip Girl. Magazines are inundated with pictures of Blake Lively and Leighton Meester, hailing them as the new best-dressed (personally I can’t see it – they just seem like two pretty-ish girls with ok stylists). And hardly a day goes by when Perez doesn’t pay homage to the sparkly-eyed Chace Crawford. So feeling left out and worried that I was no longer keeping up (even Drew Barrymore is on the act – she was spotted kissing actor Ed Westwick recently), I went out and bought the box set in an attempt to see what all the fuss is about.

Gossip Girl is set amongst the privileged kids of the upper-East side (think Cruel Intentions) and the characters are so rich that they make the OC gang look like they’re from the wrong side of the tracks. I think they’re supposed to be about sixteen or seventeen but everybody knows that TV teenagers are unlike real teenagers in pretty much every way so we won’t gripe about how they’re played by twenty-somethings, seem really self-aware, etc. Blake Lively and Leighton Meester as Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf are the queen bees of their posh school and the rest of the show’s relationships revolve around these two spoilt brats. Lively and Meester have an onscreen charisma that is lacking in the paparazzi shots that appear on Vogue.com incessantly, but the style icon status still seems undeserved. Blair is the primmer of the two and there are lots of pearls, updos and classy dresses. Serena meanwhile favours a more bohemian look – so Sienna circa 2004.

By far the best dressed is Chuck Bass, played by Drew’s buddy Ed Westwick. Chuck wears spiffing suits with cheeky bow ties and high top sneakers and is rarely seen without his trademark silk scarf. He is the bad boy of the show, which actually means that he is a total pervert. I’m all for bad boys but Chuck goes slightly too far when he tries to date rape 14-year-old Jenny but I must admit that I still fancy him. I also sort of fancy Rufus Humphrey, the faded rock star dad of Dan and Jenny. Everybody looks down on poor old Rufus because he’s kind of arty and used to be in a band but where I come from that’s really cool. This upper-East side bunch is way too harsh and the gallivanting Mrs. Humphrey just doesn’t deserve him. He used to have a thing with Serena’s mom and now Serena is dating his son so there are lots of parallels at play. I hate it when TV shows do that – it would be really creepy to think of some big van der Woodsen/Humphrey step family.

Anyway, I am way too old for all of this and I know that I should be watching Gemma Arterton in Tess of the D’Urbervilles or something but Gossip Girl is a guilty pleasure and here’s hoping that RTE will have the good sense to eventually pick it up.

Bad Boy Chuck Bass

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fashion TV: The Golden Age

Off the Rails returned on Wednesday night but with two new presenters - Sonya Lennon, a well-known stylist and long-time contributor to OTR, and Brendan Courtney, a man credited with bringing back The Clothes Show. The new duo is clearly more knowledgeable than their predecessors so it’s a pity then that a lot of the programme consisted of voiceover and stilted reading from an autocue. Brendan especially gives the impression that there is a lot of fun and mischief lurking beneath the rehearsed pieces to camera and hopefully as the season progresses, we will see a little more of this. Sonya was responsible for the makeover of geochemist Bernadette and while she lacked the more extreme bullying tactics of Trinny and Susannah, there was some prodding of flesh and of course mention of magic knickers, which have become a big, reinforced cliché. There is a lot crammed into this half hour slot so the emotional punch that accompanies some other makeover shows is lacking but instead you get a fun, glossy and very Irish take on fashion, from the Parisian catwalks to Naas high street.

All of this got me thinking of fashion tv shows in general and how they really don't make them like they used to. The golden age of fashion tv was undoubtedly the late 80s/ early 90s. My ultimate favourite was Fashion TV with Jeanne Becker although I always found it slightly strange that it was based in Toronto, not exactly known as one of the world's major fashion capitals. Some might say it wasn't completely appropriate viewing for a 6 year old but when your after school ritual included watching Knots Landing, Fashion TV was par for the course. Oh the joys of having a working mother. FTV was obsessed with supermodels as was I and fittingly its theme tune was Obsession by Animotion.

Another must see was BBC's The Clothes Show - presented by that ultra 80s triumvirate of Caryn Franklin, Selina Scott and Jeff Banks - Caryn actually knew her stuff, Selina was really posh and Jeff claimed to be a designer but everyone just knew him as that guy from the Daz ads. The show opened to a remix of In the Night from the Pet Shop Boys - (whats with fashion TV shows having excellent theme tunes?) Ah - the simple days when you would dream of attending The Clothes Show Live - if only you lived near Birmingham.

RTE had its own take on The Clothes Show - Head 2 Toe - with another strange threesome to rival theirs : classy Barbara McMahon (now "fashion consultant" to Dunnes Stores), kooky Jennifer Keegan (now a yoga teacher), and, um , Pat O'Mahoney (hmmm...anyone?)

And no trip down fashion tv memory lane would be complete without a mention of MTV's House of Style. It was at its apex when fronted by my favourite super, Cindy Crawford, but it was downhill all the way when it brought on the Cindy wannabes in her wake - Niki Taylor, Daisy Feuntes et al - don't even try, ladies - you could never compete with Cindy, the supreme queen of wooden tv presenting.

So will there ever be a return to the glory days of fashion tv? - well, there are a couple of treats in store this autumn - BBC2 has a 5 part series called British Style Genius and Alexa returns with Henry Holland, and not Gok Wan, by her side for Channel 4's Frock Me - she's no Jeanne Becker thats for sure, but for now, she'll just have to do.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The High Street

So American Apparel is apparently coming to Dublin. The store is set to open on Grafton Street some time before Christmas, which is a huge relief to those that have been buying their lamé leggings online or stocking up whenever they go abroad. Shopping for basics like well cut t-shirts and nice vests can be difficult in Dublin, so American Apparel is a very welcome addition to our retail landscape.

And while we are against globalisation and the homogenisation of our high streets there are a few more shops that our fair city could do with.

Krispy Kreme Donuts – Yes, it means that due to weight gain we would look a bit obscene in our lamé leggings but they are just so deliciously sweet and soft and moist and amazing.

Space NK – Belfast has one so why don’t we? Ok, we couldn’t afford to shop there on a regular basis but it would still be nice to know that there is somewhere to buy Dr. Hauschka rose day cream and Kiehls blue astringent and lots of other lovely stuff for those days when Boots own brand just doesn’t cut the mustard.

Whole Foods – Yes, we are obsessed with food but at least Whole Foods is kind of healthy. Whole Foods is way posher than Marks and Spencer could ever hope to be with little rooms dedicated to cheese and the best salad bars ever. It’s an American chain but there’s one in London now. When will it be our turn?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

LFW Party Roundup Part Deux

Mary McCartney: British Style Observed

The Natural History Museum provided an elegant and grown-up backdrop to this rather elegant and grown-up bash. Six of Mary McCartney's beautiful portraits were being auctioned for Macmillan Cancer Support. McCartney's famous subjects Tracy Emin and Sam Taylor Wood turned up as did Sir Paul with girlfriend Nancy Shevell, the ubiquitous Margo Stilley and a hand-in-hand Kate Hudson and Stella. Kate had been dressed in a grey playsuit for the occasion and accessorised with a toddler-like pout. Our favourite teenager, Georgia Jagger, chatted to Nicolas Hoult as Vanessa Feltz rubbed shoulders with Jamelia. It truly was an electic bunch! The canapes were amazing as were the goody bags - huge canvas Boots bags heaving with serious loot. Elle McPherson gave some speech extolling the virtues of her new range of beauty products and tens of thousands were raised for charity. All in all, a very successful evening for everyone concerned.

Valentino: The Red Thread.

This Samsung-sponsored evening was supposedly an exhibition of Valentino's designs but was actually just a video of one show playing on loop on several TV screens. Celebrity guests were a little thin on the ground with highlights including Margo Stilley and Sanjay from Eastenders! Our spirits were lifted by the late arrival of Mischa Barton who got a little tour of the venue before posing for endless photos with Samsung managers. Evidently it all got a little too much for Mischa because she collapsed into a foot-stamping tantrum when flinging her arm back aimlessly, she couldn't locate the sleeve of her own coat.

House of Holland After- Party

Henry Holland took over the Bloomsbury Ballroom for his after-party and filled it full of really skinny and very pretty hot young things. Alexa and Agy made a quick getaway at about 11 pm but plenty more stayed on, dancing to Madonna, Annie Lennox and other 80s classics until late. Black eyeliner, oversized glasses and check shirts abounded with lots of the boys taking their inspiration from Holland himself, sporting little quiffs and tight denim shorts. Whatever you may say about Holland's designs, one thing is for sure - this boy knows how to throw a fun party.

All good things must come to an end.....the fashion juggernaut rolled on to the MAN / Colette party at the amazing 33 Portland Place on Friday night - London's finest running riot through a five story Georgian townhouse, sending LFW off in style. All the pretty faces were looking slightly haggard after a week of partying, but Roisin Murphy was still there, dancing away. See you in February, darlings!

LFW Party Roundup

PPQ Apres Soiree at Vendome.

The soulless venue was matched by the soulless dance music played at this shindig. Things only began to look up when they turned on the 70s disco classics and Queen Jodie Harsh entered the club with he/she/its courtiers including chief jester, Henry Conway. Other Z list celebs of note: Lady Vicky Hervey in a Pucci-esque Elvis jumpsuit, Good Blake/Blake 2 aka Blake Wood who was keeping Wino company back in February, and Tim Burgess working the Playmobil man look and ruining our 90s indie boy fantasies with one pudding bowl hairdo. And of course, no party is complete without Henry Holland and a couple of Klaxons. Queen of the night was our homegirl Roisin Murphy giving it socks on the dancefloor - what a doll. Highlight for me - getting on down to Bryan Ferry's "Let's Stick Together" and leaving before I could hear the horrors spun by guest DJs Faris Badwan and co on the decks.

Monday, September 15, 2008

London Fashion Week

So London Fashion Week kicked off yesterday with shows from Charles Anastase, Peter Jensen and Topshop Unique among others. There were nods to the ‘80s from all three so we’re in for pastels and stone-washed denim apparently, which sounds horrible, but really looks rather nice. It just means that we’re going to have to lose some weight – pale denim is totally unforgiving.
Charles Anastase sent models down the catwalk with long wavy hair, big glasses and incredibly high shoes that perfectly juxtaposed the floaty pretty dresses and delicate cardigans. (Note to self – cancel all hairdressers’ appointments so as to grow long girlish locks and make a date with the optician.)
Peter Jensen and Topshop Unique offered some alternatives to the patterned headscarf that has threatened to become the accessory du jour but seems to be going down the route of the turban. Jensen’s models sported black chiffon headscarves which added mystery and intrigue to otherwise simple ensembles while over at Topshop Unique there were lots of jaunty bows set atop scraped-back ponytails.

Charles Anastase

Peter Jensen

Topshop Unique

Sunday, September 14, 2008

In The Selby Style

Website of the moment - besides The Portmanteau, of course: The Selby - www.theselby.com

Strangely fascinating, photographer Todd Selby takes pics of designers and creative folk in their homes and studios. It's a bit like Through The Keyhole except with stylish interiors, people we might actually be interested in and no annoying commentary from Lloyd Grossman. I know we shouldn't really care what Isabelle (daughter-of-Keith-owner-of-Pastis) McNally's apartment looks like but the images are so beautiful that, yes, sadly, we do.

Erin Wasson

Isabelle McNally

Saturday, September 13, 2008

People whose lives we covet

Ok so I know that our mothers would warn us not to wish for anybody else’s life because we don’t know what is truly going on for these people, blah, blah, which actually is a very valid point Mum, but we can’t help but be totally jealous of some people’s seemingly perfect lives.

So this is an obvious one. She has really long legs, perfect skin, great style, a famous boyfriend and a successful presenting career. Ugh.

Sally Singer
Singer is a fashion editor at American Vogue who still manages to look kind of messy and bohemian. Totally smart (she is a Yale graduate) and yet absolutely devoted to fashion, she embodies the kind of glamorous New Yorker we aspire to be. And her husband’s book is really good. And her children are pretty cute.

Bay Garnett
There are loads of reasons to be jealous of Bay Garnett. She has made a living out of doing what she loves - thrifting. She is at the centre of fashion but still eschews the consumerist mainstream. She sometimes collaborates with her talented photographer husband Tom Craig and their baby tags along too. Her mum seems really nice.

Phoebe Philo
Another person that makes us jalouse is Phoebe Philo. Along with Stella McCartney, she turned Chloe’s fortunes around and we’re sure that Celine is in for the same ride. But she’s not just some crazy career woman. She resigned her post at Chloe so that she could concentrate on being there for her small children. Yeah, we’re obsessed with stylish people who have babies.

Valentine Fillol-Cordier
We know that it’s really stupid to envy models because you can never compete. They’re obviously going to be way prettier and thinner than you. That’s their job. But Valentine is more than just a model. She has amazing style and is something of a muse for designers such as Charles Anastase. How does one become a muse? We want to go to muse school.

Letter from The Editors

Welcome to The Portmanteau, home of opinions, musings and general ramblings on style, celebrity and whatever else takes our fancy.

We aim to bring you regular updates on a variety of subjects, ranging from Mary-Kate's latest O.F. to the boys we swoon over to the best places to buy cake.

Living between London and Dublin, we'll keep you informed of what's going on in both cities, as well as what's happening further afield.