Thursday, February 26, 2009

London Fashion Week Party Roundup

On Sunday night, pepped up on Red Bull and Nurofen (Daphne Guinness's party essentials), we headed to the Mac party in honour of makeup artists Charlotte Tilbury and Sharon Dowsett at The Hospital Club. Laura Bailey, Jasmine Guinness, Liberty Ross, Nicholas Hoult and Tamsin Egerton were all in attendance as were Fashion Week perennials, Jo Wood and Ben Grimes. There were generous supplies of both champagne and canapés - mini shepherds pies, smoked trout on blinis and teeny-tiny toad in the holes. It is safe to say that Laura Bailey didn't eat the canapés - I came face to clavicle with her at one point (I'm that small) and it was one of the boniest chests I've ever laid eyes on. Disappointingly there were no goody bags. We had been greedily and somewhat prematurely guessing what Mac treats we were going to get, so I suppose it serves us right that we walked away with diddly-squat.

We continued Sunday night with a trip to the Christopher Kane/10 Magazine party at Jalouse on Hanover Square. We didn't spot any familiar faces, probably due to the fact that the venue was very dark and we were very drunk. Yes, the champagne from the Mac party combined with the amazing cocktails on offer at Jalouse meant that things got a little hazy from then on. We tried to sober up by guzzling canapés but the waiters started to avoid our table in an effort to make sure that some other party goers got a shot at the food. From there, we drunkenly progressed to the Todd Lynn party at Bureau in Kingly Court and then on to Cafe de Paris for the remnants of the PPQ bash. We topped things off with a late night Big Mac and strawberry milkshake before hopping aboard the night bus.

Four parties in one night kind of killed me so I was a bit more selective on Monday. First stop was the rather lacklustre International Party hosted by the British Fashion Council. An Anna Piaggi sighting was the only highlight so it was on to the Mulberry soiree at their store on Bond St. Lots of the usual suspects here again: Poppy Delevigne, Jodie Harsh, Jacquetta Wheeler et al but the biggest scene stealers were a bunch of mad hatters fresh from the Stephen Jones opening at the V&A.

We wrapped up the week with the House of Holland shindig at Quaglino's. Peaches and Blake Wood (who only seems to exist during fashion week) were just leaving as we arrived - a good or bad sign, I wasn't sure. The venue resembled a cruise ship and the bright lighting was not very welcome after a week of fash bashes. I feared that it wouldn't be a patch on the HOH after party last September. In the end though it was hooray for Henry as the boy pulled it out of the bag with a little help from his friends. Corey Kennedy and Leigh Lezark made the trip across the pond for the bash and Kanye gave an impromptu performance, rapping along to American Boy. Then it was time for Henry to hit the decks with Agy providing support. I may not share the boy's taste in clothes but musically, we are completely in sync. All my faves were on the setlist - M.I.A., Vampire Weekend, Kim Wilde and my personal theme tune, George Harrison's I Got My Mind Set On You. I mean, who cares about Kanye in the house when you're dancing to GA's Sexy! No No No - although for attending more shows and parties than anyone else, the inaugural Roisin Murphy award for indefatigable fashion week spirit must go to Mr. West.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Late Registration

The best thing about attending the Vivienne Westwood Red Label show is that you don't have to take it very seriously. It's just not serious fashion - so that means no pretentious press release on your chair explaining the deeper meaning behind the clothes, no earnest fashion journos scribbling furiously front row. It's just a bit of a laugh really. LFW can make you a tad blase about celeb sightings and we were a bit underwhelmed by the turnout here - Lily Cole, Erin O'Connor, David Walliams - and the venue - the draughty and cavernous National Hall at Olympia, possibly the least glamourous place you could ever hold a fashion show. But then we saw the flashbulbs and heard the shouts from the paps, "Oh my God, it's KANYE!!" That definitely perked us up and made us forget that the show was starting over an hour late.  It's always good to see a fellow fashion blogger in attendance. 

The invitation was a school report card which hinted at what we could expect. Indeed, when the show finally got underway, it was clear Dame Viv had gone all St. Trinians on us with a roll call of naughty BrIT schoolgirls (Daisy Lowe, Alice Dellal, Eliza Cummings) and wronged wife Jo Wood leading the pack as a saucy headmistress, showing Ronnie what he's missing. Take that, Ekat! As for the clothes: most looks were a twist on the school uniform - blazers emblazoned with crests, ties, stripy scarves. Otherwise, it was a mix of Westwood signatures: tailoring, tartan, pirates and corsetry. For her bow, Viv was joined by her gang of girls, dancing and celebrating like it was the last day of school.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Day Out at LFW!

We've spent the last few days in a flurry of shows and parties, peppered with trips to the McDonalds on Leicester square and the occasional jaunt to Tesco Holland Park to pick up some necessities like wine and Krispy Kremes. I had never actually been to a show before Saturday but I quickly threw my newbie status out the window, attending four in one day. First up was John Rocha where there were some familiar Irish faces in the audience - fellow blogger Annmarie O'Connor was present as were Deirdre McQuillan and stylist Celestine Cooney. Things got off to a sober start as models dressed all in black took to the catwalk, but in amongst these sombre offerings were playful details like sparkling detachable collars and capes and exaggerated shoulders which lent the dresses both a Victorian and futuristic feeling at the same time. The introduction of colour - peaches and bright reds - along with the abundance of luxurious furs made sure that the initial austerity was soon forgotten.

Over at Armand Basi, bright colours were a rarity with various shades of grey making up the palette. Models stomped down the catwalk in oversized wool coats and harem pants that took things that bit further, i.e. below the knee, than we've previously seen. Roisin Murphy who wore Armand Basi to the Elle style awards last week was there to lend support to designer Markus Lupfer. After Armand Basi, I headed to a warehouse in Marylebone for the Peter Jensen show. Huge, unusually shaped bags, which I had seen at both John Rocha and Armand Basi appeared again, but this time they were bright orange and purple in keeping with Jensen's colourful and playful theme. Things got a little spooky when straight afterwards Ann-Sofie Back sent pale little waifs down the catwalk to the kind of soundtrack that usually accompanies the paranormal shows my sister watches on Living. The ghostly models walked deliberately and creepily slowly, giving us ample time to admire the witchy pointy-toed boots, the feather accessories and sweatshirts with slogans like Boo and God Bless!

My other The Portmanteau half was lucky enough to score a ticket to the Vivienne Westwood show on Saturday evening so I'm sure she'll fill you in on that once the hangover has subsided (a result of a night of hard partying - more deets to follow).

John Rocha

Peter Jensen

Ann-Sofie Back

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Packing Up

I am frantically trying to cram all my outfits into a carry-on case in preparation for my trip to London tomorrow. Why on earth did I think that carry-on was a good idea? Yes, I am only going for three days but one needs a lot of options for London Fashion Week - there is nothing like parties filled to the brim with skinny London hipsters to make a person feel insecure about her OF choices. And all this decanting shampoo into mini-bottles and stuffing knickers into shoes is not for me. And how I am going to fit my goody bag loot into the suitcase on the way home?

Actually, who am I kidding? I probably won’t go to any London hipster parties and the chances of me scoring goody bags are pretty slim. Most likely I’ll just spend the weekend glued to my other The Portmanteau half’s TV (an uncommon luxury for a television-less moi) and blow all my sterling at Whole Foods on Kensington High Street. But I promise that we will try our best to blag our way into the shows, the parties and the presentations so that we can report back on A/W 09 fashion and celebrity sightings.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tatler Tales

With all the anticipation surrounding the launch of Katie Grand's Love this week, you could be forgiven for forgetting the drama going on at two of my other favourite titles. Over at Tatler, editor Geordie Greig is leaving to take the reigns at the Evening Standard while ES Magazine's Catherine Ostler is heading to Hanover Square to take his place. Ok, so maybe no one cares about this except me. I have admitted to my love of Tatler here before but have yet to wax  (or should that be blog?) lyrical about ES Magazine. It comes free with the Evening Standard every Friday and is like a weekly, mini-Tatler. I know it should be filed in that section of my magazine archive marked Guilty Pleasures but when the newspaper costs 50p and the mag is this good, I refuse to feel bad. I hope the new editor doesn't mess around too much with the formula - pretty girl / foppish actor with something to promote on the cover and (the best bit) an insider's guide to London by someone in the know on the back. In between, you'll find excellent party pages and lots of articles on Russian oligarchs, art world scandals etc. Basically, it's the best 50p you can spend in London town. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Best Blogs

Today’s Sunday Times Culture has a feature on the top 100 blogs in the world, chosen from the 200 million that are currently in existence. There are six listings in the Style category, including one of my favourite blogs out there, The Sartorialist. Go Fug Yourself also makes the cut. I can never make up my mind about Go Fug Yourself because whilst their observations are very funny, I think that it’s blogs like these with their insistent criticism that are responsible for the boring and safe dress code our modern celebrities have adopted. Two of the six Style blogs deal with men’s tailoring, reiterating the suspicion that men are turning to the internet for fashion advice/commentary because it is a subject neglected in the mainstream media. is written by a Savile Row tailor and documents (a little too seriously for my liking) the process of creating bespoke suits, whilst ponders important matters like should your socks match your trousers. Notably absent from the list is Susie Bubble, who is surely one of the most successful fashion bloggers out there, both in terms of the number of visitors she gets and the press attention she receives.

Gwyneth’s Goop gets a mention in the Cult section, alongside Paul Daniels and Jeffrey Archer’s blogs. I think Cult must be some sort of code word for crap blog by a celebrity. Meanwhile, the Irish blog community is looking forward to the Blog Awards, which take place in Cork next weekend. We’re on the longlist for the Best Fashion Blog, alongside many other lovely offerings.

Update: Congratulations to all those who were shortlisted and to the winners on the night.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Barbie Does Fashion Week

Growing up, my other The Portmanteau half was only allowed play with toys that came from the Early Learning Centre. Meanwhile, I was the ultimate Barbie girl - the town house with its own lift and patio area, a salon for my hairdresser Barbie in her Elvis-style jumpsuit and the huge pink van that opened up to reveal extremely stylish living quarters - I had it all.

So you can imagine my excitement when I heard the news that Barbie and her makers Mattel are to sponsor the Danielle Scutt and Roksanda Ilincic shows at London Fashion Week. Both designers will also dress 50 limited-edition dolls in looks inspired by their collections. Now, if I get one of those in my goody bag next week, I can die happy. Scutt is a lot more cutting edge than the designers Babs usually goes for. I can recall Barbie rocking the fantasy looks of Cher favourite Bob Mackie back in the 80s. Ilincic could be a better match: her grown-up clothes would look amazing on a 50 year old, 11.5 inch beauty. I may also get the chance to spot my very first style icon in all her plastic glory: the pop star/doctor/hairdresser/business woman/whatever will be making front row appearances at both shows. 

                                    Roksanda Ilinicic SS08

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Show us some ankle, love....

Right, so it’s the big V day this Saturday and time to start wracking your brains for present ideas for the man in your life. Or not – I never buy my Valentine anything despite expecting a generous gift, but for those of you who do and providing your boyfriend is capable of carrying off a fashion-forward trend, then ankle skimming trousers are the only way to go. I first wrote about them when I discovered menswear designer, Thom Browne, in LA last November, and since then these beauties have been cropping up everywhere. I even spied a pair in H & M recently. There are lots of dapper Italians working the look over at The Sartorialist at the moment, but a word of warning: do not attempt to give a pair to those men who wear novelty socks or bad shoes as the look depends on footwear. Then again, if your significant other is a fan of novelty socks, you probably shouldn’t reward him with any presents at all.

Images from The Sartorialist

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Getting a Dressing Down for Dressing Up

I’m pinning all my Oscar dress hopes on M.I.A. and Tilda Swinton. These are the only two people that can be trusted to not turn up in a blah, boring, safely-picked-by-a-stylist ensemble. And I don’t even know if they’re going to the Oscars. M.I.A.’s Paper Planes is on the nominated Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack but I’m not sure if that means she’ll get an invite and anyway, she’ll surely have had the baby by then. Tilda won Best Supporting Actress last year so I suppose she might be there to present an award (I have no idea how she escaped nomination this year when she was the best thing in the not very good but 13-times nominated Benjamin Button). If those two don't turn up, then I could settle for Marion Cotillard who seems to be able to find pretty yet interesting pieces to wear to award ceremonies. Last year's mermaid dress is a case in point.

Much has been made by bloggers and journalists of other actresses' safe (i.e. horribly dull) choices this awards season, but we only have ourselves to blame. We howled with laughter when Celine Dion wore that backwards jacket. We placed Gwyneth on all the worst dressed lists when she turned up in the Ralph Lauren meringue. And we berated Cher year after year. So now we must all take responsibility for the “classy” dresses that Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet and Angelina Jolie are sure to parade down the red carpet in. Grazia is getting very excited about Freida Pinto’s awards look but I really can’t see what all the fuss is about – she just looks like a pretty girl going to a debs (albeit wearing couture).

Don’t get me wrong – I hated Celine, Gwyneth and Cher’s OFs like everybody else but right now I’m desperate for a bit of personality on the red carpet.

A nine-months pregnant M.I.A wearing House of Holland

Marion Cotillard in Jean Paul Gaultier

Monday, February 9, 2009

All Hail Hussein

Some cultural dos and don'ts for the week: Don't go and see He's Just Not That Into You, a film, like the equally depressing Bride Wars, where women are portrayed as whiny, men/wedding obsessed idiots and that makes you despise your own sex. In my defence,  I just went to see it for some light relief after all the worthy but exhausting Oscar fare I have seen lately like Doubt and Rachel Getting Married. Ok, I'm sorry  - there is simply no excuse for going to see these turkeys.

So, bypassing HJNTIY, do try and make it to the Design Museum to see the Hussein Chalayan retrospective. Don't let the hordes of fashion students taking pictures on their camera phones put you off - this is definitely worth seeing. There is nothing in my wardrobe that could ever be described as conceptual but I can appreciate clothes that have some deeper idea behind them rather than existing merely to make the wearer look pretty or sexy. Chalayan is undoubtedly the most intellectual figure in British fashion. His interests range across so many disciplines  - science, technology, architecture - not the sort of themes that translate easily into wearable, pretty frocks. He is more of a performance artist than fashion designer so his work fits perfectly into a museum environment. 

With his genius, a chair becomes a dress, a coffee table transforms into a skirt. That seminal Afterwords collection (A/W 2000) is showcased here, along with paper clothes that can be sent through the post. Very convenient. My favourite Chalayan show is also displayed - the magical One Hundred and Eleven (S/S 2007) where the outfits morph through the decades and become the defining looks of each era - a Victorian gown turns into a 1920s flapper dress before your eyes, another dress is New Look Dior one minute and a 60s metallic shift the next. All this mechanical wizadry is combined with a series of really beautiful organza dresses - no special effects necessary here. Wooden skirts may never catch on but with this collection, Chalayan showed he was not just fashion's mad scientist  - he can do beauty as well as brains. 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dressing Appropriately

I'm off to the Ireland v France game in Croke Park later and am desperately trying to find a suitable outfit. It's going to be cold so that means thermal vests and long johns (yes, I actually own a pair of thermal long johns) but I must bear in mind that there is a slim chance I'll bump into Sebastian Chabal aka The Caveman, with whom I am in love, and so I don't want to look too frumpy. I'm thinking furry snow boots are in order but I have an invitation to an after-game soiree and the invite says smart casual dress is required. I know I should wear a hat to keep warm but the only one I can find is a red beret and maybe that would be unpatriotic. Aagh, it's a sartorial minefield.

Dressing for this morning's Fashion Bloggers' Brunch posed its own problems because I was turning up to a room full of people in the fashion know, but at least the luxurious surroundings of The Clarence ensured that I didn't have to worry about the elements. All the wooden steps do mean that very high heels should be avoided - I came to that conclusion after the second stumble. I'm also coming to learn that smock dresses are a good idea at the FBB given the amount of food one consumes - pastries, eggs, salmon, roast beef, fancy cheeses and champagne all featured in today's spread. One thing I don't have to worry about is buying any make-up for the forseeable future. Clarins very kindly provided a generous goody bag stuffed full of fancy products like a lipgloss that "magically creates instant colour on application" and a blusher that assures "your face instantly lights up with a flawless, natural, healthy-looking glow". If I do bump into Chabal, he's sure to fall for my magical lips and flawless complexion.

Fancy Clarins Loot

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Just Greedy

Gwyneth’s collaboration with her personal trainer, Tracy Anderson, is the last straw. If I had an Oscar, 2 small children, a famous musician husband, properties in London and New York, a website, a cookery show and a few films in the pipeline, I would not bother producing a fitness DVD. What is it with modern celebrities selling out? I can understand selling out that includes posing for Juergen Teller in a Marc Jacobs campaign. That kind of selling out makes sense but bed linen, cheap perfume and fitness DVDs are for ex-Big Brother participants and not Kylie, Kate and Gwyneth respectively. I guess it comes down to keeping up with the Joneses when the Joneses happen to be the Beckhams or the Pitt-Jolies or whoever else celebrities measure themselves against.

There are however a few movie stars out there who manage to maintain a high profile whilst retaining their dignity. Natalie Portman is a good example; she expertly combines appearances in both mainstream and art house movies and her line of vegan shoes seems to demonstrate a desire to do good rather than a desire to get rich(er). One of her latest projects is a kind of fake ad for a fictional perfume called Greed. Directed by Roman Polanski and starring Natalie and my other favourite actress, Michelle Williams, the fake ad is part of an exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery in Rome by Italian artist, Francesco Vezzoli, which examines the strategy behind a perfume launch. You can view a trailer for the ad on Dazed Digital or the gallery's website and you will be able to watch the piece in its entirety after the exhibition opens on the 6th February. Finally, a celebrity perfume launch that we can get behind.

Images from the Gagosian Gallery website

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fashion's Game of Musical Chairs

As we know, four seasons just aren't enough in the fashion world and for pre-fall, Hannah McGibbon's Chloe girl is looking a little drab and depressed. Did she have to trudge through 7 inches of snow this morning to get to her poorly paid job as a media slave like us here at The Portmanteau? - I don't think so. Cheer up, love - you have a wardrobe of Chloe clothes at your disposal. With this collection, the colourful Marni-esque designs of McGibbon's predecessor, Paolo Melim Andersson, seem very far away indeed. I know it's a tad uninspired and the colours aren't the most appealing (what would you even call some of them - mushroom?, sludge?) - but I kind of like the depressing vibe and I love the trousers.

The jury is definitely still out on Hannah McGibbon. I wasn't really feeling the salmon scalloped-edged looks for S/S 09 but I think fashion's powers that be should give her the breathing room to find her footing and establish herself. But I do fear for Hannah. I know this is toned down pre-fall, but I'm not sure if these are the looks to reinstate that innate It-girl-ness of Chloe under Stella and Phoebe, and will Hannah be allowed to wait around to find out?

Lately, the revolving door of fashion has been turning faster than ever, with designers in one moment and out the next. Take poor Allessandra Facchinetti - she was informed of her sacking, after only two seasons as head designer at Valentino, when it was reported in the press during Paris Fashion Week. In the words of Cher Horowitz, that was way harsh, Tai. Before that, she had another two season stint as head of design at Gucci. Paolo at Chloe lasted only three seasons. Lars Nilsson - five months at Gianfranco Ferre and now there are rumours that my beloved Olivier Theyskens might be out at Nina Ricci. Constant changes at the reins of fashion houses result in confused collections that prevent the establishment of a coherent brand identity. Translation: this game of musical chairs is no fun at all.

Images from