Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Friday, October 2, 2009

Martine's Mistress

This week Marina Hyde broke the news that the first chapter of Martine McCutcheon’s book, The Mistress, is available to read online. Instead of trying to explain it myself I will direct you to her wonderful Lost in Showbiz column. Oh and here are some extracts from the book:

She grabbed her slightly sodden copy of Grazia again and headed out of her heavy black door, pulling it shut by its knocker. She fumbled with her umbrella: ‘Oh bloody hell, it never works, why do I bother?’ She ran and jumped into the taxi.

‘Ready, darlin’?’ said the cabby with a twinkle in his eye – he clearly found Mandy attractive.


The lovely Irish doorman, Callum, helped her to the main doors of the restaurant. Mandy swept through the doors of the Wolseley, shook the raindrops off her umbrella, and gasped at the beauty and opulence that filled the room. Everyone looked so beautiful, polished and stylish. This wasn’t just a restaurant, this was like the perfect scene in a film.

And a video from Martine:

So this has thrown up two worrying problems for me. I sometimes buy Grazia (this week was amazing – so much reading and all for a £1) and sometimes I like to drink cocktails in fancy hotel bars (I love the peanuts and the attentive waiters, okay) so now I am worried that I resemble Mandy, the mistress of the title. I fear I am going to have to eschew silly drinks like the cocktails Mandy favours and give up Grazia because I just have to distance myself from this twenty-something London girl that Martine has created. The product placement has backfired big time.

The second troubling development was that when I mentioned the book to my other The Portmanteau half, she casually said, “Oh I think I have her autobiography." Em, excuse me. “Yeah I got it in a charity shop. It’s really funny.” So now when I go to bed each night and settle down to my proper respectable book (Rabbit, Run by John Updike) all I can think of is how Martine’s amazing biography is just begging to be read. It’s taunting me from the cupboard that is reserved especially for the embarrassing books we own. And yes, that includes all the Piers Morgan ones. I’m not going to be able to concentrate on Rabbit’s depressing crisis until I have devoured Martine’s triumph-over-tragedy tale. LE

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Girl Guides

Just back from a mini sojourn in Paris. The city was as perfect as ever apart from one traumatic incident on the bumper cars in the Tuileries Gardens with overly aggressive kiddies getting carried away with the bumping aspect of this usually quite staid attraction. When travelling, I claim to like going with the flow but the nerd in me still likes to read up in advance with a good guide book. But which one to choose? Lonely Planet –practical but not pretty, DK Eyewitness – beautiful and informative but do we really need all the 3-D drawings of historical buildings?, Wallpaper Guides – gorgeous but sometimes we need more info that simply which boutique hotels are best. A good alternative to these is Ofr’s Guide Paris which I picked up at the bookshop at the Pompidou Centre. It’s beautifully designed with Sartorialist-chic pics of pretty young Parisians on bikes and smoking cigs by the Seine as well as lots of insider tips. The only drawback is the kinda nonsensical commentary – “Paris is an aphrodisiac bath that will welcome and carry your desires. It feels like life in the countryside, or by the Libyan sea, it's the Corsican freedom..”. Um, whatever you say. Also worth checking out is Ofr’s HQ in Le Marais. As well as being a gallery space, it’s one of the best art/design bookshops in Paris and a great place to get fashion magazines. I think it’s time to plan The Portmanteau’s next mini-break–maybe in October, just in time to catch Rodarte at Colette and the Kate exhib at the Musée des arts Décoratifs. NOK

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

When Fashion Peeps Eat

A couple of weeks ago a mouse ran over my foot in the kitchen. It was really scary so I did what any sensible person would do and bought blue poisonous stuff in the hardware shop, left it in the corner beside the fridge and sealed the door from the kitchen to the living room with masking tape. And I haven't gone in since. Well maybe once or twice, just to get a corkscrew, but mainly the mouse has had the place to himself. The sit down bit in Waitrose is my new kitchen and I just eat food that doesn't need cooking, e.g. crisps, when I'm too lazy to go there.

But now cooking is totally in and I'm going to have to be brave and deal with the mouse because I need my kitchen back. Cooking has been in for ages actually - look how famous Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver are - but recently celebs not really known for cooking (or eating) have begun to get in on the act. Gwyneth is making roast chicken on Goop, Sophie Dahl has written Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights and Donna Air is the editor-in-chief of the Grown in Britain Cookbook.

Gwyneth's video reminds me why I liked her back in the late 90s. She actually seems nice and the annoying know-it-all tone that she adopts in her Goop newsletters is mainly absent. The recipe is pretty straightforward though - plain roast chicken with salad - and you really don't need an eight minute video to tell you how to do it but I suppose the appeal is the little autobiographical details ("My dad was very into adding maple syrup into salad dressing")! Sophie Dahl also dishes up autobiographical nuggets - tucking into sushi with Isabella Blow, gorging on curries with Tim Walker - alongside the recipes in her book. Her honesty about dieting and the little insights into her relationships with her famous boyfriends and relatives combined with basic but interesting recipes is a format that works really well. Donna Air has left the recipes to the professionals in her book and I'm not really sure what her editor-in-chief role entailed, besides a 500 word foreward and a promotional trip to GMTV, but the book, with its illustrations and explanations, is good in a healthy and educational way. LE

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Show & Tell

I was quite intrigued by the concept of the Showstudio shop , just opened off Bruton St. Nick Knight and his team have curated a selection of one-of-a-kind pieces used in seminal fashion shoots and catwalk shows, all for sale. There is also a live studio space for fashion designers to create pieces onsite for the shop, all filmed by the Showstudio webcams. Showing the creative process behind the final, retouched fashion image is what Showstudio has always been about and this is an extension of that.

I would be totally up for redesigning the flat to resemble the pages of a Paris Vogue editorial. I mean, who wouldn’t want a giant bunch of cherries hanging on their sitting room wall? Walking in, I had visions of a Shona Heath / Tim Walker-created fantasy prop extravaganza, brimming with whimsical wonders, everything there up for grabs. Not really the case. The gallery itself is extremely small with only a selection of the available works on show and having the pieces stand alone against the white walls mean they lose some of their magic. The website provides more choice and context and it is nice to know that the life of these amazing pieces doesn’t have to end when a shoot or show is over. Although the prices mean that it won’t be competing with Argos and charity shops as my main sources of furnishings for the flat.

Slightly more affordable are the books and mags on sale at Idea at St. Martins Lane hotel, a pop-up outpost of Angela Hill’s concession at Dover Street Market. Yet another address to add to the list of great fash mag suppliers in London town. NOK

Friday, July 24, 2009

An Education

The trailer for An Education was released this week and has made us quite eager for the end of October to roll around. The film seems to posses pretty much everything we love in a movie - beautiful clothes, trips to Paris, allusions to Oxford and Rosamund Pike. But best of all, it is based on a journalist's autobiography - Lynn Barbers' An Education. We are obsessed with non-fiction books by journos. A quick glance at the bookshelf in the living room reveals The Meaning of Sunglasses by Hadley Freeman, Tabloid Love by Bridget Harrison, The Worst Date Ever by Jane Bussmann, The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant, The Celeb Diaries by Mark Frith and pretty much everything that Piers Morgan has ever written. We only bought the Piers Morgan books because we fancy him and even we - his most adoring fans - were a little bit bored by the third installment but we must admit that they do make good, if slightly embarrassing, tube reading. LE

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

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