Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Other Side of the Coin

When people tell me that they’re taking a year off and decamping to Australia, I don’t feel envious. In fact, I usually feel sorry for them – they’re going to have to deal with the heat and the sand and the weight gain that is an inevitable result of the beer and barbies and then they’re going to have to wear a bikini, despite the weight gain, because of the heat and the sand. I think to myself how happy I am to reside in Ireland where it’s never too hot and I don’t have to worry about revealing all in a bikini. I also smugly presume that they don’t have much by way of culture or fashion over there in Oz and congratulate myself on my northern hemisphere superiority.

But in the last few weeks, I have begun to realise that maybe there is a side to Australia that I have hitherto ignored and perhaps there is more to the Antipodes than Alf Stewart and Irish expats. I have come across a few nice Aussie blogs, such as Capture the Castle, and I’ve noticed that I actually wear a lot of Australia-based or Australian designers. One of my favourite dresses is by Virginie Castaway, a French woman who liked Australia so much when she went there on a year out that she decided to set up shop there. And barely a week goes by when I don’t wear my Antipodium floral blouse. Granted Antipodium designer, Geoffrey J. Finch, lives and works in Shoreditch, but he cites his Queensland childhood as major influence on his work. Top that off with the beautiful photos that street style snapper couple, Garance Dore and The Sartorialist, have been taking on their trip to Australian Fashion Week, and you’ve got yourself a convert. Maybe I’m not quite ready for an entire year Down Under, but perhaps a little trip would be a nice place to start.

Images from The Sartorialist and Garance Dore

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Saved by Saba

Although I do my best to keep my head firmly stuck in the sand re: the recession, and indeed all financial matters, there comes a point when it is impossible to ignore the empty cupboards and my even emptier wallet. Luckily the 9th Fashion Bloggers' Brunch was on hand to ensure that I didn’t starve on the last weekend before pay day. On the contrary I was treated to a moreish meal at Saba, washed down with a couple of very good cocktails. I had the Raven, a combination of Vanilla vodka, Chambord, berries, lemon juice, sugar syrup and apple juice, which is so light and refreshing that one needn’t feel any guilt at all about drinking hard liquor at brunch. The generous peeps at Saba also supplied a goody bag full of noodles and soy sauce so that’s the dinners sorted for the week. There were also some Yes to Carrots treats in the bag, which unfortunately– despite the name – aren’t edible, but at least my skin will be lovely and soft thanks to the Deliciously Rich Body Butter.

Saba Stuff

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Casting Coco

Coco Avant Chanel opens in French cinemas today, which just gives me anther reason to wish I lived in Paris. I've long been a fan of Audrey Toutou although admittedly I have never actually liked any of her films - Amelie (too saccharine), The Da Vinci Code (I don't really have to explain this one) - but she is very pretty and French, ergo I am a fan. I am sure Coco herself would also approve - apparently she was a little peeved by the casting of Katherine Hepburn in the 60s Broadway musical, Coco - but I don't think that anybody could fail to be flattered by Audrey Tautou being cast in one's biopic. Whilst on the subject of casting biopics, why do journalists always ask that question of celebrities - who would play you in a movie of your life? Obviously the interviewee, even if they are some crap celebrity like Michelle Heaton, is going to say Natalie Portman. If they are older, they will say Meryl Streep. Only she could portray the intricate complexities of my multi-faceted personality, they think to themselves.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Behind the Seams

Other than a tray of canapés or Henry Holland on the decks, one of the most welcome sights at an LFW party is Alistair Guy with camera in hand – among a sea of cooler than cool fashion peeps who were all probably born in the nineties, it's always a delight to see his friendly face and great to check in and get all the party goss. But it's not all about the fash bashes, you know. Lots of these party people work very hard and with his new exhibition, everyone's favourite Guy is showing us what goes on “behind the seams”, capturing various fashion gals in their offices, studios and homes - subjects include designer Hannah Marshall, illustrator Daisy de Villeneuve and Vogue's Emma Elwick . The exhibition runs from 17 April to 30 April 09 at Tapestry Gallery.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Try This On For Size

The Portmanteau has been thoroughly neglected over the past week. Sorry about that. My excuse is that my other The Portmanteau half was home from London for the Easter break, which one may think would lead to heightened blog activity but actually only results in silly conversations on such topics as: “What do you think really motivates Joely Richardson?” or “Do you think we would be friends with Billie Piper if we knew her?” It also leads to alcohol poisoning. Or Easter Egg poisoning. I’m not sure. Either way, I’m only recovering now.

Anyway, if you’ve been on the internet at all today, you’ll have noticed that The Outnet, the cheaper, last season version of Net-A-Porter, launched to much fanfare this morning. I'm not really a bargain hunter – wasting money is a hobby of mine – and internet shopping is usually something I only do when looking for books or a very specific item, but I did stop by to check out the site. I’m not the biggest fan of the site design and layout; the clothes look a little flat and boring against the stark white backgrounds and I just can't imagine what they'd look like on me. I know that’s my problem and I should really get with the programme, but I find it difficult to fall in love with something that I haven’t tried on or even held up to my body in an ineffectual trying-something-on-without-having-to-queue way. There is also the slight problem of everything I like being sold out. I did spot a cute Alexander Wang playsuit (I was imagining it on the tanned Erin Wasson me, not the actual me) but it’s gone in my size. Ditto a See by Chloe dress I had my eye on. So obviously most people are way ahead of me and have gotten over the fact that you can’t try stuff on if you buy it on the internet.

See by Chloe dress

Alexander Wang playsuit

Friday, April 10, 2009

V Day

For the past 2 weeks, London has been taken over by press days with lots of lovely folk in town, showing off their even lovelier wares. Most of the time, actual work gets in the way of these little visits and makes it impossible to check out everything but I made sure to pop into the girls at Berlin-based showroom Agentur V who have some of the most directional European labels on their hands. It’s a great chance to see the clothes up close - at the shows I’m usually distracted by celeb spotting, craning my neck to see who's made the front row.

The first thing that caught my eye was the exquisite mesh jewellery by Arielle De Pinto, intricately created to look like delicate cobwebs. Next on the list were the geek chic frames by Mykita, making me curse my perfectly fine eyesight. The warm and dreamy lookbook shot by Mark Borthwick had a lot to do with the love - lots of heavy fringed hipsters making the specs looks even more desirable. Carin Wester's purple velvet dress was another standout and then to turn the man in your life into some sort of avant-garde Jordan Catalano, Henrik Vibskov is the man with the plaid.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Career Guidance

There is a beautiful Alexa spread in May’s Harper’s Bazaar. Styled by Alison Edmond and shot by Guy Aroch, the photos capture the frothiness of full-length Nina Ricci and Giambattista Valli gowns whilst combining them with harder pieces like a Charles Anastase leather jacket or a pair of All Saints boots. Accompanying the dreamy spread is an equally fanciful interview in which Alexa discusses, once again, her varied career ambitions. The decision to turn down a place at Kings College is obviously mentioned - I don’t think there has ever been an Alexa interview that didn’t refer to it – which begs the question “WTF is the big deal about turning down a place at Kings College?” I turned down a place to study English at Trinity but I rarely/never mention that because eight years later it isn’t in any way relevant to my life.

I suspect that perhaps one of the reasons Alexa brings it up so frequently is because she feels slightly intellectually inferior. Although one would think that hanging out at Bungalow 8 with Peaches and Pixie all the time would actually make you feel really smart. Comparatively, at least. Anyway Alexa plans to make up for it – when asked where she sees herself at 30 she answered, “I want to write columns and I want to have studied literature and just be really clever, have an excellent vocabulary and just be really eloquent.” She also discusses her dreams of holding an exhibition of her photography and becoming an actress. Not in plays or Casualty or anything but in “some really cool hip thing. Juno or something.”

As somebody who has earned a living as a waitress, actor, shop assistant, drama teacher, runner in a post-production company, TEFL teacher and most recently production assistant/researcher type person, I am really in no position to judge. In fact, I am just jealous. Jealous of somebody who has pretty much everything I want in life - a column in The Independent and an incredibly long pair of legs.

Harper's Bazaar May 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Q & A

OK so when Cillian of Male-Mode tagged us, we worried that perhaps nobody would want to read our dumb answers to inane questions and that maybe it was too self-indulgent. Then we remembered that we love rambling self-indulgently on inane subjects and so we duly filled out this questionnaire thingy.

What’s the last thing you read or are currently reading?
Niamh: Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld.
Lynn: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Do you nap a lot?
N: Not so much napping, although I’m obsessed with sleeping and am really good at it.
L: No, never. I am way too highly strung to just fall asleep willy nilly.

Who was the last person you hugged?
N: The latest occupier of the raft - Laura Golden.
L: A colleague who gave me a bottle of Veuve Clicquot as a Thank You.

What’s your current obsession/addiction?

N: Red velvet cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery; Simon Schama; Iris Palmer; Nastassja Kinski in Paris, Texas; Rufus Humphrey in Gossip Girl.
L: Chuck Bass; Hadley Freeman; Patricia Arquette in True Romance; Wikipedia-ing everything and everyone; those packets of sweets that have fruit gums, fruit pastilles and tooty fruities.

What are you wearing right now?

N: Woolly tights, a dress the exact wine colour of our school uniform (although slightly longer than our obscenely short school skirts, obvs), Sloaney scarf, broken shoes.
L: Grey Metalicus t-shirt, purple Topshop smock, grey M&S cardi, brown vintage belt, black tights, grey ankle boots from a cheapo Parisian shoe shop .

What was for dinner?
N: Cereal. Always cereal.
L: Pizza and Mild Curry Flavour Super Noodles.

What have you been listening to lately?

N: The Bangles, Paul Simon, Francoise Hardy, Elastica, Pet Shop Boys. As we’re being honest here, I have to add Hanson to the list.
L: The Darjeeling Limited soundtrack. Over and over again.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

N: Hmm – not sure about this one…mind-reading, perhaps.
L: Teleportation. I cannot stand travelling. I get car sick, boat sick, train sick, plane sick, etc.

What is your favorite weather, and why?

N: Grey, dull, chilly- the sun hates me.
L: Cold days with sunny skies.

What was the last thing you bought?
N: Cakes, French Vogue and the Sunday Independent. Apparently, an Irish Camelot has been created by the merging of some people called Superman and Huberman - good to know.
Quote "the future Mrs O'Driscoll embodies the ineffable glamour of the other two great Mrs Os, Jackie Onassis and Michelle Obama" - is Barry Egan for real?
L: My breakfast/lunch from Spar – Americano, Cully & Sully vegetable soup, carrot cake and a bottle of water. Blah.

Say something about the person who tagged you:
N&L: Incredibly dapper!

If you could have a house- totally paid for, fully furnished- anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be?

N: Townhouse in the West Village, NY/Georgian manor in the Kildare countryside/An actual mansion in Holland Park. Thanks.
L: Paris.

Favorite vacation spot?

N: NY/Paris/Berlin/Moscow or some uninhabited island off Ireland.
L: Paris/LA/London.

Favorite pair of shoes you keep going back to over and over, even though your closet is overflowing with a zillion others?

N: All my shoes are broken. After one wear, they fall apart.
L: Grey Topshop ankle boots.

Name one thing you cannot live without.

N: Loved ones. And magazines
L: Sugar. The doctor put me on a sugar-free diet once. It was a disaster. I was so sad.

If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
N: The Holland Park Mansion is fine for the moment.
L: In a fancy hotel. With a king size bed. And a huge TV. And a mini-bar.

P.s. The collage is courtesy of Fi because we are incapable of using Photoshop.
P.p.s. We tag Cat and Lil of Offshoot.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

No Love Lost

                                               Jonas Lofgren in Lula                   

At the day job, I get to see a lot of new illustrators' work and there is an overwhelming volume of work out there. It's hard to explain what I like but I usually know when I see it. Feminine but not too girly, youthful but not childish, homespun but not twee, nothing too digitally enhanced or overly polished. Work with thought, craft and technique behind it - illustrators like Lizzie Finn, Vanessa Da Silva, Jonas Lofgren. After years of photography completely dominating magazines, it's a delight to see art directors embracing illustration, seeing it as a real alternative to the photographic image. 

Two of illustration's big guns, Natasha Law and Daisy de Villeneuve have joined forces for a show at Eleven gallery that explores the dark side of friendship. They can be added to my list of favourites - and I swear it's not just because of the sister-of-Jude, daughter-of-Jan celebrity connections - I swear. There's an interesting concept behind the show. It's built around a fictional character with many unflattering qualities - I'm sure we all know someone like her  - a demanding, high-maintenance, self-obsessed diva who causes lots of drama in your life, who you will never be able to devote enough time to.

                                               Image by Natasha Law

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Feeling the Heat

Yay, it’s summer. Well, it’s spring. But a very summery spring. Either way, the sun is shining and the temperature has hit the 15 degree mark for the first time in about 2 years. As we’ve documented previously, Spring/Summer ‘09 is all about the 80s and reruns of the Cosby show should serve as a style reference. Gladiator sandals also seem to be as popular this year as they were last. Ditto denim cut-offs. OK so my ideal summer OF is a pair of pale denim cut-offs, an oversized white shirt and some flat gladiator sandals, all offset against my long bronzed limbs and flowing blonde hair. Yes, I don’t know why, but whenever I start to think about my summer wardrobe, I imagine myself as some sort of Erin Wasson lookalike. Reality – a five foot four brunette with the kind of skin that attracts pitying stares on the beach – goes out the window and I peruse look books with abandon, pointing out the various pairs of teeny stone-washed jeans and tiny hot pants that I’m going to wear once May hits.

I also forget that one is still actually expected to work in summer. Instead of the imagined spontaneous picnics and endless outdoor drinking sessions, one must contend with smellier-than-usual public transport and sweat patches. There is also the dreaded fake tan problem. OK obviously I hate fake tan - it smells, it ruins your sheets and towels and most importantly, it generally looks gross. But I can’t possibly be expected to bare my muscular calves (thanks for that Dad) in their current milky state, can I? Will I just have to continue wearing the 80 denier black tights right through the summer months or should I succumb to the L'Oreal NutriSummer? Ah it’s a conundrum.

Erin Wasson