Friday, January 30, 2009

Love Me Do

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and our shops are soon going to be full of nauseatingly pink balloons and cards. I claim to not really care about Valentine’s Day but always act like a spoilt brat unless I receive a bouquet of flowers at the very least (carnations bought in Tesco do not count). It probably stems from the fact that I didn’t receive a Valentine’s card until I was 20. Other girls in my primary school spent the 14th counting their messages of adoration, whilst I comforted myself with the fact that I lived on a road that had very few boys and therefore the lack of male interest was not entirely my fault. If I had more access to boys, I reasoned, I would surely receive more cards. I still act a little competitive on the day, comparing my boyfriend’s gestures to the romantic gifts delivered to my colleagues.

Le Love - a blog that collates images of beautiful couples from online and print media - is destined to make anybody who’s feeling insecure about the lack of romance in their life feel about 10 times worse. If you’re single, you imagine that your life would look like that if only you could get somebody to go out with you. If you’re part of a couple, you know that your photos could never look that hot. Whenever the boyfriend and I are pictured, he’s squinting and I look mildly angry. It’s still a guilty pleasure though – perusing images of Irish stylist Celestine Cooney and her handsome beau, as featured on The Selby, or gazing at the adorably colourful Agyness and Albert shoot from February’s US Vogue.

Images from Le Love

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Home Sweet Home

On my list of magazine reading priorities, features on interiors come last together with the yawn-inducing beauty and accessories pages. Usually they feature glossy, over-styled and unattainably perfect rooms owned by boring people like Allegra Hicks. They just tend to make you feel bad about your own shabby not-so-chic shoebox.

However, one magazine that gets it right is Apartamento - now I should, of course, be totally against a magazine devoted to interiors alone but I love this one. It features interesting people and is a little bit like The Selby but a lot less pretentious. In fact, the style of Apartamento is informal and understated, with pages completely free of PR copy. The latest issue features Chris Bollen of Interview magazine who lives in a cottage in the West Village and photographer Felix Friedmann whose home is an old library in London - yes, still utterly unattainable but at least these homes have personality, are often cluttered and untidy and look like people might actually live in them. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One shop we're not so fond of.....

The Mirror is today reporting that Sienna Miller was “airbrushed to within an inch of her life” for American Vogue’s September ‘07 cover according to the documentary, The September Issue. Like, duh. Sienna’s camp has sensibly responded to the furore, stating that Sienna is always airbrushed for magazine covers. Anybody who has ever stepped inside a newsagent will know that it is not only Sienna who has undergone some photoshopping for American Vogue. Kate Moss was barely recognisable when she graced the cover of the Age issue last August, her skin a creepy orange colour and her eyes devoid of any kind of life. I fully understand magazines retouching pictures to remove the odd spot or obliterate some downy fluff but when the subjects cease to look like themselves, you have to wonder if photoshopping has gone too far. The King of the retouching tool is Pascal Dangin - in one issue of US Vogue (March 2008) alone he doctored 107 ads and 36 editorial images along with rendering Drew Barrymore virtually unrecognizable on the cover. Magazines are quick to defend the practice, claiming that people don’t expect reality when they buy a fashion magazine. Alexandra Shulman has been quoted as saying “We are not in the business of portraying reality all the time and people buy magazines like Vogue in order to look at a kind of perfection.”

Fair enough, but the thing is I don’t find thinned noses, sharpened jaw lines and strangely elongated legs perfect. The most beautiful portraits of Kate Moss or Sienna Miller are not those in which they look the least real. The photos of Sienna and Savannah Miller in August 2007's British Vogue didn’t prompt feelings of envy at their perfection or a desire to rush out and buy the Twenty8Twelve clothes they were modelling, but rather a bewildered curiosity at how the retouching team thought that anybody would believe that those were actually Savannah’s thighs. The delicate and natural portraits by Corinne Day - a photographer famed for her raw style - were merely diluted by the overuse of photoshop.

Kate on the cover of American Vogue

Savannah Miller in British Vogue

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lightening the Load

I have no money but how could I attempt to get through this dark month without cheering myself up with sales bargains? And although I may be cash poor, I am in possession of a credit card, which exists purely for the purpose of buying dresses and flights that I can’t afford. And so yesterday I hit two of my favourite boutiques in Dublin - Dolls and Potrero Hill - for some sales action. In Dolls, I knew exactly what I wanted - a floral print Antipodium blouse - and luckily for me they had it in my size and with a significant reduction. Easy. Shopping at Potrero Hill was different because I didn’t immediately fall in love with the muted cardigans and dresses, but instead I knew that those simple pieces would stand the test of time and become one of my wardrobe staples. And so I invested (it makes sense to use a credit card when it’s an investment, yes?) in a silk, mushroom-coloured, Ella Moss dress that is relieved of boring neutrality by orange bows.

I skipped home merrily, until I looked down and saw that the Potrero Hill bag was empty, the dress obviously having fallen out at some point of the 20-minute journey home. I started sprinting in the direction of Hibernian Way, scanning the ground for any sign of the dress. Since the Paris pickpocketing incident, I am a little more suspicious of people but my faith in man(woman)kind was restored as I spotted a very friendly-looking girl carrying a package wrapped in Potrero Hill’s signature purple paper. “That’s mine”, I snapped as I yanked it out of her hands, before realising that I was being really rude to the person who had saved me of an incredibly bad investment. She explained that she was going to leave it at Trinity's Science Gallery as she assumed that whoever owned the dress was en route to the Lightwave exhibition. I'm not sure what about the dress indicates an interest in optical effects - perhaps the bright orange bows - but I am eternally grateful to her for illuminating the darkness of January!

The dress that almost got away...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Let There Be (UV) Light

Just a quick note to say bravo to the talented Mr. Debusschere whose latest shoot appears in this month's Dazed. Ok, I may be a bit biased as Pierre is a friend but with this shoot he has achieved the seemingly impossible: using a combination of black light and UV makeup, he has made a DKNY collection almost intriguing and, dare I say it, cutting-edge. The pictures showcase Pierre's mesmerising way with light and are evidence of his major influences, the Northern Lights and Iceland. See the video he made to accompany the shoot at Dazed Digital and further images on his slick website

Thursday, January 22, 2009

From Hell

One of the joys of living in London is that there is always someone crashing on your couch and dragging you along to tourist attractions that you would never consider visiting under normal circumstances. For reasons I cannot fathom, some of my friends have a peculiar fascination with anything horror related so in the past couple of months, I have had the privilege of experiencing such delights as the Jack the Ripper walking tour and the London Dungeons. The latter in particular was a hellish day out - not in a scary sense, more so hellishly rubbish. I now have an in-depth knowledge of all the gory happenings that went down on the mean streets of Spitalfields hundreds of years ago. Lucky me.

All of my tour guides neglected to mention how Alexander McQueen is supposedly descended from Jack the Ripper himself. Now this piece of trivia would have made me slightly more interested in what they had to say. McQueen returned to his East End roots this week with his latest menswear collection in Milan. The show was brimming with 19th century horror, evoking demon barbers and murderous butchers. As always with McQueen, the staging was spectacular and the tailoring impeccable. The runway was lined with street-lamps and stalked by sinister dandies brandishing canes. The clothes themselves were both beautiful and wearable - lots of sharp suit jackets, fitted camel coats and tweed trousers. Let's gloss over the codpieces and breastplates, shall we?

                                       Images from

Monday, January 19, 2009

Making BFFs at the FBB

A portmanteau word is a new word formed by joining two others and combining their meanings, for example, 'frenemy' is a blend of 'friend' and 'enemy' and 'chortle' is a portmanteau word made by combining 'chuckle' and 'snort'. But The Portmanteau’s favourite portmanteau word of all is brunch and so it was with much giddiness that we skipped off to the Dylan hotel yesterday for the Fashion Bloggers’ Brunch. This was the 6th brunch organised by Annmarie O’Connor and attended by bloggers such as, Dublin Streets,, This is an Offshoot, Bluebirds are so Natural and many more but it was the very first for The Portmanteau. Over croque madames (surely the most cholesterol-laden sandwich in all the world) and bread and butter pudding, we swapped gossip, blogging tips and insider knowledge on various European cities. It was late afternoon by the time we rolled out of the Dylan, address books and waistlines bulging.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Good Charlotte: The Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous

I've developed a bit of a reputation as a celebrity spotter. From the good (Alexa Chung at the bus stop), to the bad (Johnny Logan on Portobello Road) to the completely bizaare (Heather Mills on my lunch break), I basically could compile the weekly Spotted pages in Heat single handedly. But the ultimate sighting for me came this weekend when I spied Charlotte Casiraghi aka of Monaco getting on down to early 90s hip-hop upstairs in a grimy East London pub. At first I thought I was hallucinating in my drunken state but when I saw her beau, brother of Alice/gallery owner Alex Dellal and BFF socialite Olympia Scarry, I knew it was the real deal. I can report back that Charl was as beautiful as you would have imagined with flawless skin, a glossy mane and lips to rival Angelina's. Such a pity that neither of her hot brothers, Pierre and Andrea, were in attendance. I do think that Charlotte can do a lot better than a social-climbing Dellal but if, with his gallery at 20hoxtonsquare, he's bringing her closer to my neck of the woods, I can't really complain.

This was a big deal for me. I have always had a thing for the Monagasque royal family - the Grace Kelly connection, the tragedy and Stephanie's unsuitable romances with bodyguards, elephant trainers and acrobats. It's all so Hola! magazine. And I don't think that I'm alone in my adoration. The team at Paris Vogue chose Stephanie to guest edit their December issue - ok so, after issues edited by John Galliano, Sofia Coppola and Charlotte Gainsbourg, it might have been a tad underwhelming to anyone other than me. I'm guessing Carine was tapping into the wave of late 80s fever currently sweeping the fashion world, and Stephanie can now add editor to her long list of failed careers along with pop star, swimwear designer and perfume creator.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Say Cheese

One of our favourite bloggers and street fashion chroniclers, Scott Schuman aka The Sartorialist, this week announced that he is to publish a book. He has just signed a contract with Penguin for the book which will be “around 500 pages of images with a little writing”. There are to be two versions – an affordable paperback and a fancy schmancy limited edition one. He promises to take in London, Dublin and Paris on his September 09 book tour. We are so there – being photographed by The Sartorialist is up there with other unrealistic fashion ambitions like receiving a compliment from Kate Moss or being talked about it in Vogue’s Miss V column! Now all we have to do is figure out what to wear.....

Scott Schuman in Fantastic Man

Monday, January 12, 2009

Who Sloanes Wins

I'm guilty of buying a Christmas present for my sister, and promptly robbing it back. And it's the ultimate guilty pleasure. The original Sloane Ranger's Handbook came out in 1981 and introduced the worlds of your typical Sloanes - Caroline and Henry - to anyone who cared and it's absolutely hilarious. A Princess Di fan from birth, I read the always entertaining Tatler every month and am partial to a bit of Sloane style myself. A pearl earring here, a silk scarf there - although the overall effect is usually more Princess Anne than Diana Spencer.

The Sloane look is conservative and reassuring - like Sloanes themselves. Never high fashion, thus never out of fashion. It was a major influence for this autumn/winter season. Everywhere you look are the trademarks - tweeds, velvet, high-neck blouses, navy blazers, headscarves - all quintessentially Sloane. Head to Church's for the definitive brogues - solid and long lasting - no high-street knock offs, please - they're against nature and totally gucky, as the Handbook would say. Although she's more likely to be found at Bungalow 8 rather than roaming the Kings Road, with her Barbour jackets and loafers, it seems even our beloved Alexa has succombed to all things Sloane.

My favourite new generation Sloane has to be Henry Conway. Henry claims he doesn't fit into any category in the Sloane Ranger Handbook but crowns himself Queen Sloane. He dresses as a Regency dandy, rocks up to parties in a horse-drawn carriage and wrote a book on the history of knitting. I mean, what's not to love? He's the ultimate Hooray Henry. I must say, I was rather shocked to spot Master Conway at Circus on Friday night looking more low-key than usual. I fret that his new year's resolution might be to tone the Sloane down - come on Conway, we depend on you to keep the Sloane style alive.

D & G A/W 08 - Image from

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Boy, it's cold...

Sitting in my drafty kitchen, I cling to the radiator, layer on cardigan after cardigan and peruse online look books for Spring/Summer 09. I need to distract myself from the fact that the circulation in my extremities has ceased and my hands have turned a strange shade of palest yellow. The polaroids and videos on the Boy by Band of Outsiders website are doing a very good job of diverting my attention from the frosty conditions and transport me to a place where one can go bare-legged without worrying about hypothermia. Last season Michelle Williams was Boy’s model and for S/S 09 Kirsten Dunst is doing the honours. The clothes are beautiful – perfectly insouciant and effortlessly cool. I want them all. I know that the khaki trousers would look terrible on me but they look so good on Raquel Zimmerman in January’s US Vogue that I want a pair anyway. Most of all though I want one of those stretchy, stripey pencil skirts. There are no stockists in Ireland and Boy doesn’t come cheap but next time I’m in London I’m going to have to swing by Dover Street Market to check out the line in person. Visit Boy by Band of Outsiders for lots of lovely pictures and a full list of stockists worldwide.

Images From Boy

US Vogue January 09

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Colouring-in the January Blues

It’s a depressing time of year. Obviously. Dealing with work-related emails that didn’t magically disappear over Christmas, facing up to the fact that the resolutions haven’t even lasted a week and battling the freezing cold weather all takes their toll on a person. Not to mention arguments over deposits with ex-landlords and rows with current landlords about having no running water. Early January is horrible and I plan to spend it tucked up in bed with the electric blanket turned up all the way (mainly because I squandered all of last month’s salary in a devil-may-care Christmas spending extravaganza and can no longer afford to venture outside).

At least I have my lovely Christmas presents to keep me company. I can pore over my beautiful Stylist The Interpreters of Fashion book, a present from the boyfriend. Or look forward to my mini-break at Bellinter House thanks to my mum. Most therapeutic of all though is my Colour Me Good colouring book that comes courtesy of my other The Portmanteau half. Colour Me Good – Kate is a lovely little colouring book full of pictures of Kate in various magazine poses that I can colour-in carefully, thereby forgetting about the larger problems in life. The terrifying bank statement is left unopened as I endeavour to not go outside the lines of Kate’s lovely hair or the fancy crown that she wore on the cover of December 2001's Vogue. Colour Me Good comes from the talented Mel Elliott, a London-based artist who is almost as obsessed with magazines and celebrities as we are. She has created colouring books and paper dolls based on all of our favorites – Kate, Aggy, Cheryl, Grazia, etc, etc. She is stocked in Artwords in London (there are more outlets in the pipeline) or you can buy from her directly through her blog.

Picture from Mel Elliott (because I am not nearly as good at colouring-in).

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cruel Summer

A new year and time to look to the future / back to the 80s. Let's begin with a quote from a Bananarama classic - very apt as they are one of the key inspirations for this season. "Strange voices are saying, (What did they say), things I can't understand". Those strange voices belong to Marc Jacobs, Christophe Decarnin, the Topshop team and many others. For Summer 2009, they're telling us to wear jumpsuits (Marc by Marc Jacobs), big shoulders (Balmain), stone-washed denim (Topshop Unique) and peg-leg trousers (everybody). It was full on Bananarama-orama at the Topshop show where Katie Grand looked to her own teenage years for styling ideas - the result: models bouncing down the catwalk with bouffant hair and headscarves. 

It could be a cruel summer indeed with horrific holiday snaps to document it if I attempt to carry off the trend from head to toe. As much as I love the Banana girls, I'm thinking I won't be able to carry off the complete Siobhan Fahey circa 1987 look but a couple of 80s elements will definitely be added to my summer wardrobe.  

                                       Topshop Unique - Images from Vogue. com