Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blame Chuck Bass

Usually I feel quite lucky to be a girl - we get to wear dresses, high heels and make-up - but recently I've been becoming increasingly obsessed with menswear. I suppose my fascination with menswear began around the same time as my love affair with GG's Chuck Bass. Never has the word dapper been so appropriate and I would choose his outfits over Serena's or Blair's any day. The boys here in LA are generally not quite as well-dressed as Chuck - there are a lot of flip-flops and Ed Hardy (don't get me started) accessories - but the menswear in Fred Segal and Opening Ceremony is absolutely beautiful. I haven't quite figured out who buys these amazing clothes (besides the shop assistants and maybe some out-of-towners) but I know if I had the money I would snap them up.

Thom Browne
is one of the menswear designers stocked at Fred Segal and I have completely fallen in love with his cardigans. They are made of beautiful grey cashmere and have a blue, white and red trim. At over $1800, they are three times the cost of my flight and therefore a little too expensive to bring home to the boy but maybe I could try to justify it by saying that we would both wear it! Browne's tiny blazers and ankle-skimming trousers are also on my if-I-were-a-boy wish list. Opening Ceremony has gorgeous Raf Simons for Fred Perry t-shirts and the Opening Ceremony own label jackets in hues of grey and beige are perfectly autumnal.

Luckily, both stores also stock Boy, Band of Outsiders' sister line. Boy is for girls who want to dress like dapper boys and I want everything in the autumn/winter collection. The shrunken blazers, the crisp shirts, the corduroy trousers, the lot!

Michelle Williams in Boy

Thom Browne

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Fashion Life of Ryan

If you are familiar with photographer Ryan McGinley, I'm sure images of naked, downtown NY hipsters spring to mind when you think of his work. McGinley, along with friends Dash Snow and Dan Colen, make up a threesome of media-friendly enfant terribles who have dominated the NY art scene for the past 4 years. However, more recently, McGinley's work has gone beyond downtown New York and is increasingly being seen in more mainstream areas - he provided the artwork for the last Sigur Ros album and also lensed the 2008 Oscar Portfolio in The New York Times Magazine, the current Wrangler "We Are Animals" campaign and will apparently be behind the camera for Stella McCartney's Spring 2009 campaign.

For me, his most beautiful work has appeared in fashion magazines - Kate Moss as McGinley's Dream Girl for a June 2007 W shoot, Agy Deyn falling from a Manhatten fire escape in this season's Pop and this month's road trip editorial in Paris Vogue with Raquel Zimmerman. I'm a big fan of the hazy, soft-focus fantasy worlds that he creates. Certain McGinley hallmarks appear again and again - besides the aforementioned nudity, there are often fireworks, figures floating through the air, faces half hidden by the branches of a tree - I don't really mind if he is getting lazy and reusing the same tricks - it results in some of the most beautiful fashion editorials I have seen in a long time

NY Times Magazine -Feb 2008

W - June 2007

Pop - Sept 2008

Paris Vogue - Nov 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm on Vacation

I've relocated to LA - it's only a holiday - but I like to pretend that I've moved here. It's something I do whenever I go abroad - I do so much nerdy research that people presume I'm making a permanent move - why else would she need to know the annual rainfall figures or the average rent, they ask themselves. I've been wandering around in a jet-lagged haze for the last two days so I have yet to really take things in but I like what I've seen already.

I love the sense of opportunity that is so present in LA. You get the feeling that there's a party waiting to happen, a deal waiting to be made, a celebrity waiting to be spotted around each corner. One thing that certainly is waiting for you around each and every corner is a newsstand heaving with goodies - magazines are so easy to come by in this town and not just the trashy weeklies but all the good ones too. Lula, W, Nylon and all the other favourites are readily available which is such a lovely change from Dublin. And of course, I adore the food. Portions are huge, sugar abounds and you can make all the special requests you want. Could I get that without the pumpkin seeds but with croûtons and instead of the Caesar dressing, could I get Ranch and could I get that on the side? Yes, of course and have a nice day! Wow. Loves it.

LA style seems to be just as you'd expect - there are lots of leggings, flip-flops and denim cut-offs. There are the usual shops that we know and love - Urban Outfitters and American Apparel - but I look forward to discovering the little boutiques and vintage stores where the real treasure is found. Getting around without a car is a little tricky but I'm getting used to the bus and my crazy friends, like the man with the twigs in his hat or the lady who keeps shouting "horrible bus driver" each time the bus stops.

Friday, October 24, 2008

NYLON Takes on Dublin

This month's NYLON takes a stroll through our fair city and declares that it's "cooler than we thought". I'm not sure what they thought of it before, but luckily on this particular visit, it's warm and sunny and everything is "bizarrely perfect". So what gets the NYLON seal of approval? Circus for clothes, Gruel for food and All-City Records for tunes. And the final verdict - "a forward -thinking, often sunny, extremely beautiful and festive city". I'm not sure if I would go that far but its nice to know that we're on their radar.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Polaroid Retrospective

For Polaroid lovers on this side of the sea, you can head to the AOP Gallery from Thursday to pay your respects to this dying art form. I think Jessops and Boots have enough Polaroid film in stock to keep me happily snapping away at parties for years to come but for professional photographers, the end of the Polaroid era is more of a tragedy. This show will highlight the many ways in which the AOP's members have used the film over the years.
Polaroid Retrospective - The AOP Gallery, 81 Leonard St, London EC2A 4QS
Exhibition continues until 14 November 2008

Wrapping Up

It’s late October, which means it’s time to wrap up warm and what better way to do that than with a nice cozy cardigan. But cardigans are useful not only as a means of keeping us warm in wintry weather, but also as a way of dressing down a Topshop tea dress or making an outfit less “obvious”. There is nothing I hate more than an ensemble derived from only one shop because even though it might look quite on-trend, it smacks of a lack of imagination and can appear embarrassingly new. A cardigan is a simple solution, its comforting, battered woolliness an ideal antidote to satins, polyesters and all the other man-made fabrics that our dresses are made of.

I usually buy my simple black or grey cardigans from Marks and Spencer and aim for the plainest knits I can find. I think that when teamed with more colourful and interesting pieces, they create a nice contrast, counteracting any hint of shiny high street-ness. Replacing the plain plastic buttons with brass, leather or wooden ones can brighten things up and also helps to ensure that you’re not wearing exactly the same cardigan as your granny.

There are lots of big chunky knits and colourful Fair Isle cardis around this winter and you have a couple of choices with these. You can team them with plainer partners, but that may mean that you end up looking a little like a German exchange student who’s picked up their cardigan in a craft shop. Instead, embrace their propensity to clash, layering them over check shirts, floral dresses and stripy t-shirts.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Transformation of Cheryl Cole

Cheryl Cole appears in today's Photos of the Day on are hardly the most discerning - Katie Holmes features about three times a week - but this does seem to cement Cheryl's standing as a style icon. Hardly a week goes by when Cheryl's perfect doll face isn't staring out at me from the covers of Look and Grazia and her stint on The X Factor has brought her even more fans. Although the website is praising her, Alexandra Shulman does seem to subtly undermine Cheryl's new-found national treasure status in November's Vogue. Writing on beauty, Shulman says that a certain strangeness is what sets true beauties apart from mere good looking girls like Cheryl Cole or Natalie Appleton. How dare Alexandra diss our beloved Cheryl and compare her to a combat trouser-wearing relic from the Met Bar era.

We love Cheryl because we have followed her on her journey from nightclub brawler to national treasure via a cheating husband. She's also the only reason to watch The X Factor. She empathises with the contestants - laughing and shedding tears in equal measure - because she has stood there herself. Next to Dannii's frozen smile and botoxed forehead, Cheryl seems even more real. But basically we love Cheryl because she's a babe with a pretty good stylist on the payroll who has left the tacky Wag rags firmly behind her. I must stop gushing now before I move on to my Nicola Roberts obsession. I love how she doesn't seem to mind looking like a red headed ghost next to her orange-skinned bandmates and she sometimes wears really cute outfits. But that's enough GA worship for one day - Nicola really deserves a post of her very own.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gobbledygoop from Gwyneth

Gwyneth Paltrow has joined us in cyberspace but I think we can safely say that The Portmanteau won't face much competition from her new lifestyle website Goop - - where the actress instructs us on how to achieve the perfect Paltrow existence. She is clearly under the impression that we all want to be bland and macrobiotic like herself but even if we did, the site is so underdeveloped that it leaves us with no clue about how to achieve this utopia. Click on the icon for Make and you get Gwynnie's mission statement - "Make your life good. Invest in what's real...Clean out your space...I love being in spaces that are clean and feel nice" . Um, okay - whatever you say, Gwyneth. Then click on the other icons for Go/Get/Do/Be/See and you get the same mantra. And what's with the disturbing name - did little Moses Martin come up with that one? I also signed up to the newsletter and next week, Gwyneth will be enticing me to make "some utterly delicious vegan pancakes" - can't wait. I think if Gwyneth wants Goop to be a success, she needs to stop appearing at premieres in thigh skimming hemlines and sky-high heels and get home to Belsize Park to update her site.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ode To The Polaroid

We love Polaroids at The Portmanteau. You can never really look bad in a Polaroid – you do look like you’ve stepped out of the 70s – but you don’t look bad. They are also an instant way to make yourself popular at parties. Just snap away and then hand out the little mementos to those you wish to befriend. It’s way easier than small talk (but admittedly more expensive). And in this digital age it’s nice to have something to stick on the walls or paste into photo albums.

Photographer Richard Gilligan is a man after own hearts. He panicked when he heard that Polaroid were to stop producing its analogue hardware products and instant film. The result is his ‘Bye Bye Polaroid’ exhibition at Monster Truck which opened yesterday and runs for a further 2 weeks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trick or Treat

It’s the 15th of October which gives me just over two weeks to plan one of the most important outfits of the year – my Halloween costume! I will be in LA for Halloween and that means the pressure is on. Halloween is huge over there – as big as Christmas – and I don’t intend to let the side down with a black sack and a few false fangs (my childhood costume of choice).

The biggest question when it comes to Halloween costumes is whether to go slutty or not and I think it’s pretty obvious that most girls go slutty – slutty nurse, slutty devil, slutty cat, slutty whatever. Halloween gives us the perfect excuse to unleash our inner slut and wear stockings, lots of makeup and cleavage enhancing underwear that we are usually too demure to even think about.

But for some reason, this year I keep coming back to the least slutty costume of them all – a nun. Nuns have become a fascination for me recently, one that was reinforced by the fabulous Autumn issue of Pop with the six different covers and the incredibly beautiful nun-themed shoot within. But these "nuns" were some of the most gorgeous women in the world and a few wimples isn’t enough to dampen that. I fear that, on me, the nun outfit might be overwhelmingly unsexy but then that could be fun too – being the only girl in Hollywood who isn’t showing leg.

I think I’ll wait and see. There will be a few parties to go to over Halloween so I might be a nun one night and give in to my secret desire to dress like a slut on the others.

Nun Natalia styled by Muiccia

Sister Audrey

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


It’s winter time so that means delving into my heaving tights drawer and in amongst my many pairs of black and grey tights I spot the odd flash of colour. The bright pinks, turquoises and reds that I bought early last winter but was never quite sure about and stopped wearing completely when coloured tights appeared on the going down list in The Guardian with the caption “Too Kate Nash for words”.

However, recent photos on Facehunter and glimpses of coloured legs in the street have made me realise that I may have been too hasty. The girls in the Facehunter pictures were wearing tomato red tights and they did seem to lose their embarrassing garishness when teamed with muted beige or grey. Tartan, patterned and white tights are another conundrum because although they often look good in photo shoots, they veer dangerously close to novelty fancy dress items in the cold harsh light of day.

I think it ultimately depends on personal style and anyway at around €9 a pop you can’t go too far wrong so you may as well give coloured or patterned tights a try and dump them sans guilt if things don’t work out.

Image from Facehunter

Gossip Girls do tights

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Alexa (Again)

I did not appreciate being stood up by Alexa on Friday night. I cut short a good night out just so I could watch Claudia Winkleman, Alexa’s replacement on Jonathan Ross, discuss the Strictly Come Dancing contestants. Claudia seems quite nice but I don’t watch Strictly.... so the references to the C-list celebrities and their garishly dressed professional dancer cohorts were somewhat lost on me. It was interesting to hear a sober Colin Farrell speaking eloquently and intelligently on the subject of addiction and mental health (Emma Forrest seems to be a very good influence) but I was really just tuning in to see what Alexa would wear.

Alexa did turn up for the second installment of Frock Me on Channel 4 this morning, the show she presents with Henry Holland. Frock Me is perfect Sunday morning viewing, with short snappy interviews and little street style challenges that do not demand much of our frazzled hungover brains. The customising section is embarrassingly Blue Peter-esque and Henry is a little wooden but it’s still a fun show and a welcome alternative to other Sunday TV favourites like Friends reruns or horse racing.

For more Alexa news, check out The Sunday Times magazine where Alexa chats about her perfect life in A Life in the Day. There’s lots of talk of how much she loves Alex Turner, how she loses weight really easily and how designers are forever sending her free clothes. Ugh. Unlike most A Life in a Day contributors, who claim to get up at sunrise before milking their own cows and going to the gym, Alexa seems a tad lazy. She mentions how tired she constantly is but then goes on to say that she goes to bed at 10pm and gets up at 9am. Come on Alexa, that’s eleven hours!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Night with Jonathan Ross

Make sure to get home from the pub early tonight because there’s a treat in store on BBC 1 at 10.35. Jonathan Ross does tend to polarise opinion (personally I kinda like him) but the guests are so good tonight that you have to watch it. Our own Colin Farrell appears as does Roger Moore and there’s music by The Kills but the real reason we’re so excited is that Alexa is appearing on the show. I’ve a feeling that Jonathan and Alexa are going to get on like a house on fire and I’m curious as to how she’s going to dress for the occasion. If I had legs like Alexa, I’d be rocking some oh-so-now trousers, either leather skinnies or some peg leg woollen ones, but she might play it safe and stick to what she knows best – little dresses that perfectly bridge the gap between dressy and casual. And will she wear brogues, penny loafers or heels? Only time will tell….

Another Celeb Clothing Line

Bryan Ferry is the latest celebrity to express an interest in launching a clothing line, claiming that if Diddy can do it, then so can he. I’ve long been a fan of Ferry – his cameo appearance as Mr. Silky String in Breakfast on Pluto was perfectly creepy and I heart his floppy hair. There was a little hiccup when he got dropped by Marks and Spencer for making some inappropriately enthusiastic comments about the Nazi aesthetic. And he did get so drunk at a recent awards ceremony that he had to be escorted offstage. And his son is currently embroiled in a perverting the course of justice scandal. But I can forget about all that because Byan Ferry has style. And I fancy him. I don’t know why I fancy him – he seems quite arrogant and I’m not the biggest Roxy Music fan – but I really do. I think it’s the way Jerry Hall left him so publicly for Mick Jagger, thereby exposing a more vulnerable side to Ferry. I know that was back in the ‘70s and he’s probably over it by now but it’s still endearing.

Anyway, if and when Bryan Ferry does launch a clothing line, I’ll be the first in line. My dad and boyfriend had better get used to the white shirts, skinny ties and sports jackets that are sure to appear in a Bryan Ferry collection, because that’s what they’ll be getting for every Christmas and birthday to come.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Sound of No Hands Clapping and Nobody Laughing

Last weekend I had the misfortune of going to see "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People" so let this be a warning to you all - don't make the same mistake I did. I recall being mildly amused by Toby Young's book when I read it in 2001 but this unfunny and unintelligent film bares no relation at all to its source material. The screenplay was clearly written by someone striving to portray an insider's view of celebrity journalism but the script is just full of cliches and stereotypes - the hacks and their hatchet jobs versus the PR bitch and her puff pieces - it's all so turn of the millennium and feels terribly dated. Since then, we have all become so much more celeb savvy then this film could ever hope to be. Desperate for laughs, the movie descends into farce pretty much from the beginning, relying on pigs, transvestite strippers and dead Chihuahuas to provide the "humour". The most amusing thing was pointing out the bizarre people popping up in bit parts - if you were wondering what Margo Stilley has been up to since baring all in 9 Songs - well, she's been showing up at every party she's invited to and appearing in rubbish like this. And there's posh arista Isabella Calthorpe helping Margo out in the fashion cupboard at "Sharps" magazine. And what's 90210' s Brian Austin Green doing hanging out with real-life fiancee Megan Fox in the pool scene? The movie fails completely - both as a satire on the modern obsession with celebrity and as a romantic comedy. Here's hoping Young's sequel "The Sound of No Hands Clapping" never makes it to the big screen.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Teen The Portmanteau

Grazia has crowned Emma Watson as winner of the Paris fash-off. Ok so I know I’m a little prejudiced because I hate all things Harry Potter, including Hermione, but come on. She dresses like a rich 50-year-old instead of the teenager she is. Her style is so obviously foisted upon her and her make-up is way too “perfect”. Being a famous teenager is, I would imagine, quite tough and there are various fashion pitfalls that privileged youngsters must try to avoid. Becoming a clone of Gossip Girl’s Lily van der Woodsen like Emma is a definite no-no as is dressing like a trailer park resident à la Miley Cyrus. Instead teenagers, famous and civilian, should take a leaf out of Georgia Jagger’s book. Georgia does dress like a sixteen-year-old, but like the prettiest, kookiest, cutest sixteen-year-old you could ever hope to meet. Her messy blonde hair, gap-toothed smile and slightly scruffy but very pretty ensembles combine to make her the most enviable teenager of them all. Check out this month’s Vogue for a photo shoot with the beautiful Georgia and some of my other favourite teenagers including, Nicholas Hoult and Hannah Murray (Tony and Cassie from Skins).

Monday, October 6, 2008

Just Peachy

I know we’re entering winter and that black is the new black or whatever but I’ve become obsessed with peach. Peach featured strongly in the Spring/Summer ’09 collections but I just can’t wait until then. Instead, I plan to team my floaty peach dresses and blouses with the dark greys and blacks that are peach’s best friends. Too much peach can be a little saccharine and summery so thick woollen tights and chunky cardigans are a great way to toughen things up, whilst keeping out the winter cold. The leather trousers and PVC leggings that are everywhere this season are also a great accompaniment to peach – a chiffon peach blouse over skinny black leather trousers with lots of gold jewellery and really high shoes is my perfect winter outfit.

Unfortunately there just isn’t that much peach in the shops right now so vintage is the way to go. Peach blouses, dresses and slips that can be worn as outerwear abound in vintage shops and there are lots of lovely finds on eBay. So get ahead of the Spring trend and get into peach.

Peach at Marc Jacobs

Peach at Lanvin

Peach at Chloe

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Reminder

Just in case I was in any doubt, Paris Fashion Week has reminded me of my love for the work of Olivier Theyskens. If I had to choose any designer in the world to create my ultimate dream dress, my answer would be Theyskens - and Theyskens during his reign at Rochas to be exact. For seven seasons at Rochas, he produced the most beautiful, romantic collections with a dark edge - the very essence of a gothic fairytale - using elements that I would definitely look for if I was spending thousands on a dress - Chantilly lace, Edwardian silhouettes, couture techniques - I could go on. I loved it all - every single collection. Since his move to Nina Ricci, my love affair has cooled somewhat - none of his collections have blown me away - too many slip dresses and wispy feathered details for my liking. I have been waiting for something really special and after his dance-inspired S/S 09 show in Paris, I think I'm still waiting - but there were definitely hints of the Theyskens trademarks of old that I so admired at Rochas - Edwardiana, dresses cut to reveal the structure underneath, muted colours - and the results were often beautiful. The love affair continues.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

High Street Update

The good people at Space NK have heard our prayers and are opening a branch in Harvey Nichols at Dundrum Town Centre in the coming weeks. And while I’m very happy to hear that Dublin is finally getting a Space NK, I’m a little disappointed that it’s in Dundrum. I guess it’s a convenient place to go shopping if you’re after something specific and just want to nip in and out quickly or if you have a hangover which necessitates that you are never more than 100 metres from a fast foot outlet and the toilets. And it is quite fancy what with the little Harvey Nichols and the fountain and the theatre. But it’s still a shopping centre and I don’t like shopping centres. They’re filled with teenagers and prams and harassed dads. And you can’t trick yourself into thinking that you’re popping into town to grab some lunch or meet a friend and then just happen to stumble across that pair of shoes in Topshop. Shopping centres tend to rob shopping of any spontaneity and Dundrum especially gives the impression that they’re trying to brainwash their customers (I think it’s the way they play that piece of Manu Chao music over and over again). But I guess I’ll just have to get over my shopping centre prejudices and jump aboard that Luas because I am not missing out on all the lovely beauty stuff that Space NK has to offer.

Cult brand By Terry available at
Space NK