Monday, March 30, 2009

Drop It Like It's Dot

While iblogfashion has been singing the praises of Pat Butcher, for me the style icon of Albert Square has always been Dot Cotton. She epitomises both London and granny chic like no other. Dot Cotton can be Cockney rhyming slang for rotten but when it comes to style, Dot is anything but. If we ignore the launderette pinny, she’s usually rocking a great floral dress and trench, accessorised with red lippie and a ciggie. Her house is also something to behold. No Cath Kidston florals here, this is the real deal.

The most interesting dressers I see on the street are usually, like Dot, well over 60 and there’s a lot we can learn from them. Finally there is a blog to document their sartorial triumphs - Advanced Style. One of my favourite chic grannies from home is simply referred to as "The Woman" by my sister and I. This just adds to her mystery and allure. Ok, she may talk to leaves on occasion, but damn, does she have a talent for accessorising - headscarf, parasol, little roll along suitcase. She also takes risks with colour– I’m sure she’s blissfully unaware that her combinations are v. Dries van Noten AW09- pink and orange, mustard and beige. In London, the best place to go for the Dot look is The East End Thrift Store – it’s a little out of the way, down a dodgy little alley in Stepney and way off the beaten track of Beyond Retro / Absolute etc but it’s worth the trek. Although “vintage” has come to mean "seriously over- priced" in many places, here almost everything is under £10. The stripped warehouse space is not the prettiest but all the stock is laid out neatly, with racks organised according to colour and style.

                                                       Advanced Style

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nokia Young Fashion Designer Awards 2009

Irish fashion peeps were out in full force last night for the Nokia Young Fashion Designer Award 2009. Brendan Courtney was compering while his Off The Rails co-host Sonya Lennon assumed the role of producer/stylist, adjusting models' OFs before they took to the catwalk. Considering the amount of people at the event – upwards of 400 – Sonya was enviably calm, never once barking orders into her headset or appearing stressed. I, on the other hand, nearly had a mini-panic attack because I was a so squished. The fashion scene in Dublin is remarkably democratic and seats (even the front row ones) were given out on a first-come-first-served basis, which meant those of us who had been too busy gossiping and eating canapes to get a seat were pushed into corners as the venue struggled to cope with the plethora of attendees. Brendan conducted events with pantomime lines such as, “I’m behind you!” and “Would anyone like a free mobile phone?”, but he kept schtum once the show got underway and 20 designers sent models down the runway in designs inspired by Nokia’s Supernova handset collection. Black and neon were the predominant hues and dresses with full skirts - bubble, lantern, etc - abounded. The judges, including a very gracious and polite Susie Bubble, awarded the top prize to Aoife Gallagher whilst Lynn Allen and Ciara Glynn were runner-ups.

Judge Susanna Lau of Stylebubble

NYFDA 2009 Finalists

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Model Behaviour

MTV's House of Style, one of my childhood TV faves, is back. It pains me to say it, but they really shouldn't have bothered. Including segments on jelly shoes and friendship bracelets is hardly the way to win a new generation of fans. Host Bar Rafaeli seems to find speaking difficult which makes for quite an uncomfortable viewing experience. And we thought Cindy Crawford was wooden. Jessica Stam demonstrates some revelatory recession busting tips like, um, actually wearing the clothes in your wardrobe and teaming a white t-shirt with a skirt (would never thought of that myself, thanks Stam).

There will be more supermodels hitting tv screens soon as Elle Macpherson has signed on to play Claudia, an 80s supermodel and owner of Focus Models, who "is still in great shape and runs her business with the efficiency and toughness of a dictator" in some new drama called Beautiful Life. If Elle's acting in this is as bad as it was in Friends, then we are in for an absolute treat. The show, produced by Ashton Kutcher, revolves around a group of models living together in New York. Sounds a lot like '90s Aaron Spelling classic Models Inc. so basically I can't wait to see it. Mischa Barton has also been linked to the project so maybe she's finally realized that it's time to start concentrating on getting her career back on track instead of just turning up at fashion weeks. 

Behind the scenes fashion programmes have never been more popular, and with the new 90210 and rumoured return of Melrose Place, surely it's only time before someone brings back the long-forgotten (but not by me) Aaron Spelling show Central Park West. Set around the scandal and shenanigans of fashion magazine Communique, this was so glossy it makes Gossip Girl look low-budget. It also boasted the most bizarre cast ever assembled for the small screen; a bunch of faded beauties - Mariel Hemingway, Lauren Hutton, Raquel Welch - and John Barrowman. Alas, it was tragically cancelled after 2 seasons but I'm thinking now is the perfect time for a CPW revival.

                                           Models Inc.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Getting Into Fashion By Degrees

I hadn’t been home (home as in where my mum and dad and dog live) since Christmas but Saturday saw me climb aboard a mini-bus and make the familiar journey down the dual carriageway towards Kildare. The 8th Fashion Bloggers’ Brunch was held in Kildare Village. Its Oh-God-is-that-outside-of-Dublin location may have accounted for the fewer than usual attendees but those of us who made the journey were pleasantly surprised by our day out in the sticks. There are lots of bargains to be bagged in your usual outlet centre haunts – Levi's, Nike, etc. - but also in high street stores Reiss and All Saints and it’s a great place to pick up home wear if you are so inclined.

Over brunch at L’Officina, talk turned to academic life and what people study or studied at college. Most of us had studied something completely different to the job that we are currently in and none of us fashion bloggers had specifically studied fashion. But then it doesn’t seem that studying fashion is necessarily the route to establishing a career in fashion. Only last week, we discussed how designer/gallery owner/POP’s editor-in-chief Dasha Zhukova actually studied homeopathy! Luella Bartley did attend Central Saint Martins but she studied fashion journalism instead of design. Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte have no formal fashion training; both opted to attend Berkeley instead. Laura studied English literature whilst Kate took art history. And even Vivienne Westwood had an alternative career before she revolutionised fashion in the ‘70s - the woman who turned up knickerless to collect her OBE used to be a primary school teacher.

Dame Viv

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cosby Cool

Zoe Kravitz is a regular fixture on NY party pages but I'm more of a fan of her mom, 80s babe Lisa Bonet. Bonet's Denise Huxtable was the coolest of all the Cosby kids. Old eps of the show are a masterclass in styling for SS09. Her key silhouette was a sharp tuxedo jacket paired with slouchy trousers, finished off by loading on the accessories - brooches, headscarves, sunglasses. When I attempt to pull off the same, I look a lot less like Denise and a lot more like 90210's Brandon Walsh a.k.a short and stumpy. But if you go easy on the Rifat Ozbek-style ethnic prints, Miss Huxtable is an ace muse for this season.

                                              Doo.Ri SS09

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Grass is Greener

My sister and I went to Paris for the weekend and after a couple of days of cocktails at Hotel Costes and macaroons at LadurĂ©e, we had become accustomed to our new luxurious and chic life. Our bubble was burst though as we arrived back in Dublin airport and harried Irish mammies scolded their sunburned children whilst drunken stags stumbled through passport control. As somebody who spends all of her money on mini-breaks to London and Paris, I’m all too familiar with that mix of dread and familiar fondness that accompanies a return to the motherland. The Irish accents at the baggage belt prompt the same sinking feeling that the first few bars of Glenroe’s theme tune did on a childhood Sunday night – it’s time for bed and there’s undone homework sitting at the bottom of your schoolbag. But at least we came home to St. Patrick’s Day, a day off in the middle of the week where one is expected, and actually encouraged, to do nothing but go to the pub and get drunk. It’s the perfect holiday – there are no presents to buy, no family lunches to attend, no relatives to visit. And whilst I’m not about to rush out to the nearest pound shop (or Eurosaver or whatever) to buy a green cowboy hat and a Kiss Me I’m Irish t-shirt, I do think it’s fun to incorporate suitably-hued elements into one’s wardrobe. I plan to get into the spirit by wearing my green patent Topshop shoes and an orange and cream Pepa Delight blouse, accessorised with a Shamrock shake in one hand and a glass of Guinness in the other. Wooh.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Heads Up

Hats are everywhere right now - Mary Poppins boaters at Marc Jacobs, couture fantasies at Dior, paper delights at Chanel. You can also pay homage to star milliner Stephen Jones at his spec-HAT-ular (oh no I zi'int) exhibition currently on at the V&A. In the show, Jones takes us on a magical tour of his craft, trawling through the museum's archives and choosing over 300 treasures for display including Audrey Hepburn's Cecil Beaton-designed hat from My Fair Lady, Camilla P-B's Philip Treacy wedding headdress and Carla B-S's Dior beret from her sojourn in London. The centrepiece of the show is an amazing recreation of a milliner's atelier with ribbons, feathers and beads covering every surface. I have dabbled in millinery myself: for the first wedding I ever attended, I cobbled together a headpiece out of a bit of cardboard, a scrap of veil and a couple of feathers. I thought I looked great but I'm sure everyone else was thinking "why is that girl wearing a Rice Krispies box on her head?" Oh well.

Christian Dior

Marc Jacobs


Images from / TFS

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One in the Oven?

I had the same hairstyle for my entire secondary school education. A bun. As I got older and my hair grew longer, the bun got bigger and it gradually crept up from the nape of my neck until in 6th year it sat proudly atop my head. I abandoned the look in college and haven't sported a bun in years, but guess what...? The bun is back. Over the past few months I've spotted the odd bun on street style blogs and only recently Observer Woman warned us that it was time to abandon the ponytail in favour of the bun, but if we were ever in any doubt that the bun was making a comeback then Paris Fashion Week put paid to that. At Christian Lacroix hair was piled into neat, glossy buns, whilst over at Marithe + Francois Girbaud models sported dos very reminiscent of my own look circa 2000. Even the little hats at Yves Saint Laurent had been styled to resemble buns. Yes, it's time to invest in some good quality hair bobbins and a packet of kirby grips - the essential tools for creating a good bun.

Christian Lacroix
Marithe + Francois Girbaud
Yves Saint Laurent

Images from

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fit For a First Lady

Michelle Obama has chosen to shine the spotlight on some hitherto under the radar designers by showcasing their clothes on inauguration day and on the campaign trail. Jason Wu, Thakoon Pachigul, Isabel Toledo  - all names plucked from New Names to Watch articles in fashion magazines. Now rumour has it that US Vogue's Andre Leon Talley wants to get his hands on the new first lady. Anyone who remembers Jennifer Hudson's panned appearance at the Oscars styled by Talley in a bolero jacket that looked like it was made of tin foil would advise Obama to proceed with caution. Now that the whole world is watching, she should trust her judgement and follow her own instincts that have served her well so far. 

One of her most feted pre-inauguration appearances was at a bash thrown by Vogue and Calvin Klein in her honour. That would be enough to make the most seasoned fashion pro feel a tad intimidated but Mrs O took it in her stride - teaming a black tunic by Isabel Toledo with a statement necklace by jewellery genius Tom Binns. This endorsement has propelled the Belfast- born designer into the spotlight. 

I first noticed his work years ago in an old copy of American Vogue  - beautiful ornate necklaces and cuffs, dripping with clusters of pearls - like buried treasure discovered years later. Totally versatile and utterly irreverent, he treats both precious stones and fake gems equally. Binns loves to turn a cliche on his head: diamonds are not his best friend and less is definitely not more. I especially love his take on pearls - twisting their association with being ladylike and mixing them up in a haphazard, punk-rock way. 2009 looks like it will be an exciting year for the designer - as well as his gems making it into the jewellery box of a First Lady, his first store - a year long pop-up shop in New York's West Village  - is scheduled to open this spring. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Toddler Style

2008 was Suri’s year – The Portmanteau hailed her as a style icon and fashionistas everywhere were influenced by her bob, Mary Janes and little dress and cardigan combos. It seems though that everybody’s favourite toddler could have a challenger in the shape of one Shiloh Pitt-Jolie. Shiloh had been keeping a low profile – perhaps as a result of Angelina’s blob comment – but was pictured in Washington DC recently working a tomboy look. Her long blonde hair and beautiful pout means that Shiloh can wear jeans and a hoodie without attracting those “And what's the little fella's name?” comments that dogged me as a toddler. One to watch!

Image from The Daily Mail

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pop Goes Dasha

So after months of speculation, it has been announced that Dasha Zhukova will replace Katie Grand as editor of Pop. The Portmanteau's first reaction to the news was something along the lines of "WTF?? – this must be a joke". Miss Zhukova is pretty and really rich but she has no experience of running a magazine. One minute she's designing latex leggings for Kova & T, the next she's Russia's answer to Jay Jopling, spending boyf Roman Abramovich's millions on Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud paintings and opening her own art gallery in Moscow. When asked in a Guardian interview which artists she likes, she replied: "I'm like, really bad at remembering names ...”. She seems equally confused about her career path. Note that none of the options involve homeopathy which she has actually studied.

At least she'll have some help at the office. The team linked to Pop's relaunch is v. impressive - Sam Taylor-Wood, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, Daphne Guinness. BFF Olympia Scarry will be lending a hand as artistic director, although Daphne didn't seem to know anything about her new role until she read about it on the internet which is a little worrying. Katie Grand used to complain about Pop's cramped offices and tight budget but luckily this lot won't have to suffer similar conditions with publishing house Bauer somehow finding the cash for a new London HQ and an installation space in Berlin. Much more suitable for a bunch of spoilt socialites.

But who am I kidding? I’m not so secretly rather entertained by Dasha and co. I even wandered for hours through the grey slums of Moscow to visit her art gallery. And then it was closed when I got there. It should have taught me a lesson but no, I’m still fascinated and can’t wait for Pop redux on Sept 1.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Geek Chic

It’s World Book Day today, which brings back memories of readathons and book fairs. Yes, I was one of those annoying children who preferred reading to Barbie and gave people book tokens for their birthday. I positively relished the prospect of those reading age tests and still boast about how I had the reading age of a sixteen-year-old in third class. It is pretty much the high point of my academic life.

Somebody else who seems to cling to academic achievements past is Alexa Chung, whose A Level results and decision to turn down a place at King’s College, seem to feature in every interview she gives. Perhaps I’m being unfair and it’s not Alexa, but the pushy journalists, who bring this up but she does seem quite keen to display her smartness, especially in interviews in the Guardian. This time last year she discussed poetry with Laura Barton, “Ted Hughes, he's really good. The one where he's staring at the sea and imaging the sea's his father. What a clever guy!" And when asked what she was reading in last Saturday’s Guardian magazine she replied, "I'm rereading The Great Gatsby, because I gave it to my boyfriend, then realised I can't remember the storyline, and I'm reading Franny And Zooey, and I was reading Confederacy Of Dunces and Love In A Cold Climate, but I lost them." Woah there, Alexa. And you can’t really list A Confederacy of Dunces and Love in a Cold Climate (two of my favourite books, by the way) if you’ve lost them. I do imagine however that having a journalist ask you what book you're reading is tricky - I bet it always happens when you're guiltily rereading Adrian Mole - and I think Alexa just wants us to know that she's more than just a TV presenter with a famous boyfriend. At least her choices are more interesting than boring Gwyneth who lists Jane Eyre and Crime and Punishment as her top two books in her really dull Goop post on reading.

Image from Weheartit

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tweet Tweet

Henry Holland not only shares our taste in music, but also our unrealistic fashion aspiration of appearing on The Sartorialist. According to a recent Twitter update he “wants to have his picture taken by scott schuman and i don't care if i sound like a twat.” I discovered this on Grazia, not Twitter. Despite the proliferation of articles about Twitter recently, I have yet to set up a Twitter account. In fact I am embarrassingly ignorant about the phenomenon. Is “Twitter update” even a phrase? Although I have a blog, I am something of a Luddite when it comes to the internet – I find it easier to negotiate Hotmail than Gmail and I have never uploaded a photo to Flickr – but with Henry Holland, Stephen Fry and Marc Jacobs all twittering away, I think it’s about time I acquainted myself with it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Call Her Red

One of the year's most hyped artists took to the stage at YoYo at the Notting Hill Art Club last week looking oh so 2009. Sure, the synth sounds and 80s styling of La Roux are very now, but it’s really all about lead singer Elly Jackson's fiery do. In the video for their debut single Quicksand (directed by sometimes redhead Kinga Burza) she perches on the rim of a giant margarita cocktail as her quiff of red hair blows in the breeze. After years of ginger minger insults, redheads are having a moment. Other redheads of note for 09: Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine; Taylor Tomasi, Teen Vogue's Accessories Director and Cate Blanchett in Benjamin Button. Redheads are also storming the catwalk: Coco Rocha unveiled her new red tresses for January's Vogue and Vlada Roslyakova made herself stand out from a sea of faceless runway newcomers at NY fashion week with her newly dyed locks. The gene is definitely in my family: my sister is a full on redser but I’m afraid it hasn’t been passed to me. I have that all too common Irish hair colour - born mousy brown with a hint of red, now completely obliterated by a mass of blonde highlights – yes, it could be time to pull a Coco. This wave of 09 scarlet fever continues at the Idea Generation Gallery where photographer Jenny Wicks captures redheads in all their blazing glory in her series of stunning portraits.

Coco / Cate / La Roux / Taylor

Portrait by Jenny Wicks

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Fashion Tea for Three

In amidst last weekend’s shows, parties and hangovers, I managed to squeeze in a quick little rendez-vous with my mother and sister, who were in London to see Gareth Gates play Joseph in the west end (my sister really likes crap English celebrities). The only time that we could agree on was 3pm on Saturday so we decided to go for afternoon tea. I suggested The Mandeville in Marylebone because I'd had a lovely, champagne-filled time when I brought my other The Portmanteau half there for her birthday last June and because I am a sucker for gimmicks like their fashion-themed tea. It’s exactly like a regular afternoon tea but the china is designed by Zandra Rhodes; little pink plates and delicate cups and saucers. They also do a Men’s afternoon tea – the sandwiches are slightly chunkier and the crockery is blue. At first, my mum and sister balked at the £22.50 per person price but they mellowed when the stand filled with tiny sandwiches and dainty cakes arrived at our table. Even my sister, who had declared that she wasn’t hungry and didn’t like the stupid plates, had to concede that the lemon tarts and pink meringues were among the best she had ever tasted.