Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Feeling Festive

It’s ALWAYS Christmas as The Portmanteau loves to say and yes, it does seem to come around quicker each year. Instead of freaking out about how little we’ve achieved this year, let's just keep downing the mulled wine and embrace it. Highlights of the season for me thus far have been the release of Mariah Carey’s second Christmas album. Her first, Merry Christmas, was definitely album of the year for me back in 1994. Part deux features an “extra-festive” remix of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” - basically the same song with some pointless jingle bells added at the start. Not much of a surprise there. As anyone who has seen her amazing Crib on MTV can attest, our dear Mimi loves to describe everything in her universe, from her “ensembles” to her Moroccan room, as “festive”.

My recommendation for some genuine festive cheer this season is a visit to Columbia Road Wednesdays where over forty independent shops will be opening for late-night shopping on Wednesday evenings right up until the big day. There’s mulled wine, carol singers and all the shops are decked out in lights. One visit is guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit. Mimi would be in heaven. NOK

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's a Boy Girl Thing

After aeons away from the blogosphere while I lived in the office planning this , I finally made my first tentative steps back onto Planet Fashion at the opening of concept store LN-CC housed in a former boxing gym on Shacklewell Lane. It's filled with things that I would probably never buy and definitely could never afford but the industrial interior dreamed up by set designer Gary Card is worth checking out as is the selection of books curated by book dealer Conor Donlon. All super groovy so The Portmanteau promptly headed to Nando's next door to take it all in. The strongest idea behind the project is how they mix menswear and womenswear. The whole concept is based on menswear but has been altered to work for girls too. JW Anderson is stocked at LN-CC and his boy/girl thing was one of my highlights of LFW, all those months ago. Overall, the 70s desert island tropicalia mood of the shows didnt grab me but J-Dubs did good with the select pieces from his womenswear collection that he mixed in at his menswear presentation. It didn't exactly hurt that the show also had the best soundtrack of the season – my song of the year, Arcade Fire’s "Sprawl II", followed by one of my all time classics, Pulp's "Do You Remember the First Time?". My favourite look was this layered, gawky schoolgirl OF that echoed Prada’s autumn/winter collection. Typical that my highlight of the spring collections is a woolly jumper and skirt combo –never been the biggest fan of summer clothes. Give me wool and layers every time. NOK

Pics:LN-CC; JW Anderson SS11; Prada in Pop AW10

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Retail Therapy

I don't have time to write a lengthy post, concerned as I am with chasing up leads and attending council meetings - it's all part of being a student reporter on a news website, don't you know. But I have two blogs I would like to share with you.

Both are concerned with one of my favourite aspects of London life - the independent shop. Coming from Ireland, with its countless Spars and Centras, it was a joy to come across the little independent stores that make up London's retail landscape. I remember being agog at the sight of fruit in bowls and night shops that sell alcohol all night long (in Ireland it is illegal for shops to sell alcohol after 10pm!) when I first moved here 18 months ago. My Portmanteau other half and I would spend hours in our local grocers when we lived in Holland Park, intrigued by the dusty ornaments and delighted by the out-of-date Immac depilatory cream.
does what it says on the tin - photograph London shop fronts, duh - but the results are often beautiful, and always representative of the vast array of shops that populate the city.

Photographs: Emily Webber for London Shop Fronts

is a blog that accompanies an exhibition currently on at Chats Palace, the Hackney-based art centre. Photographer Colin O'Brien and travel writer Jane Egginton have captured Clapton shopkeepers in their natural habitat - the shops, cafes, mechanics suppliers and launderettes that operate on Chatsworth Road in Hackney. The street's landscape is changing and gentrification may be afoot (read an article I wrote on the subject here) but this exhibition manages - through arresting images and engaging text - to capture the various businesspeople that make a living on this diverse street in 2010.

Photographs: Colin O'Brien for ChatsE5/Last of the Real High Streets

Lynn Enright

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Trailer Alert

As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, we love a good trailer here at The Portmanteau. I watched the Bounty Hunter trailer around 50 times, squealing with delight as Gerard Butler mangled vowel sounds in a bid to sound American and Jennifer Aniston tried to endear us by pulling I’m-tough-yet-funny-yet-sexy-yet-not-desperate faces. Well now there’s another classic on YouTube. The trailer for upcoming “romantic comedy” No Strings Attached has recently become available for viewing. And laughing at (in a mean way). So yes Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher play really good-looking friends who have sex with each other but are not going out. You know, it’s that oft-talked about (in 90s TV programmes) concept: the “fuck buddy”. Blah, aren’t we over talking about this? Well, apparently not because the trailer asks “Can you have sex without love getting in the way?” Well yes, obviously, but probably not with somebody you really like over a prolonged time. Duh. And why would love be “getting in the way”? Pretty much everybody likes falling in love, even really attractive, busy people like those portrayed by Natlaie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. It’s disappointing to see Greta Gerwig is involved with this project because she was in the excellent Greenberg, a film that sort of looks at the same concept (well hooking up and complicated relationships) but in an original and funny way. I suppose I can sort of see why she and Natalie Portman would do it (Ashton K would obviously do anything – he was in Valentine’s Day): they want to be in a mainstream funny film that examines the complexities of relationships. And those are films that I love watching too. The only problem is that there hasn’t been a Hollywood movie that’s done that since When Harry Met Sally in 1989. And I should know. This year alone, I’ve sat through The Rebound, Leap Year, SATC 2 and Valentine’s Day in a quest to find a good rom-com. To no avail. Obvs.

Luckily for Natalie Portman, she also has another film out early next year and this one looks really good – Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan with costumes designed by Rodarte, and a supporting role from Mila Kunis. Oh, and in a trailer twist, Mila Kunis stars alongside Justin Timberlake in the upcoming Friends With Benefits, which is basically the same movie as No Strings Attached. Except for it looks funnier. Watch the trailer here. And just to hammer home the point that this is not an original concept, I would like to point out that there is another film trailer called Friends With Benefits on YouTube. And, yes, it is about friends who have sex with each other but aren't in love. Get it together, Hollywood.

Natalie Portman in Black Swan

Lynn Enright

Friday, October 22, 2010

The News

There has been a three-week break in blogging because I have started studying for a masters and my other The Portmanteau half has been busy with the day job. Never mind that we’ve been spotted in the pub, squeezed in trips to Dublin and managed to keep abreast of what was going down on The X Factor – we’ve been really busy, OK?

As part of my MA in journalism, I’ve been studying what news actually is and it seems that I may have been getting it wrong when I wrote about stuff like Rachel Zoe saying ‘literally’ all the time. Yeah, apparently that doesn’t actually constitute as news. Hmm. Well, anyway, I have other news I want to share with you now. Yeah okay not proper news but The Portmanteau-style news.

First up: Christa D’Souza has the same taste in men as me. Yeah, she wrote an article in this month’s Vogue on the subject of lust and mentioned her top three lust objects: “At the top of my list, in descending order, are the actor Michael Fassbender (see the sex scenes in Fish Tank), Nicholas ‘Skins’ Hoult and John Terry.”

I mean has she been reading The Portmanteau? Or my mind? OK so yeah MF is quite straightforwardly hot but admitting to fancying him in Fish Tank – well we thought we were the only ones when we wrote about that a year ago. And John Terry. I thought nobody fancied John Terry. Whenever I mention my crush on John Terry, people look at me with disdain. Well now I know that I’m not alone. As I’ve said before, he is quite simply, incredibly handsome. And Nicholas Hoult – yeah that’s very understandable. He’s got a lovely smile and always seems like a nice guy when I spy on him at parties.

For me this article just reinforces the point that Christa and I should be BFFs. And it seems like it struck a chord with more than just me as an extract was printed in last Saturday’s Times and the Daily Mail did a little piece on the article too.

Another girl who I should be BFFs with is actor/muse/girlfriend of Mark Ronson/generally cool French person Josephine De La Baume. I’ve often see her around at parties and shows and looked on jealously as she smiled and chatted to all her really stylish French acquaintances. I’ve stayed in the corner of the room munching on canapés as she’s glided about in clothes I can’t afford. But recently I came to notice her in a different light. I happened to be in a hotel she was checking out of, and I watched on (in true stalkery fashion) as she realised that she – or the hotel – had mislaid some very expensive clothes she’d borrowed. There was lots of checking and re-checking bags and desperate phone calls were made to staff who may have seen the dresses last. And in all of this, she remained calm. I mean I would have lost my temper. Well, actually, no I wouldn’t – I, like most people, only unleash my screaming temper tantrums on those who I love most in the world. Not random concierge staff. But I would have gotten tetchy. She, on the other hand, remained remarkably calm even though she was obviously concerned with how she’s just lost thousands of pounds worth of stuff. Celebrities are always nice in interviews but it was lovely to see somebody being so polite and easy-going when there was nobody watching. Well, nobody besides me. Incidentally, it all ended happily as the dresses turned up in the end. LE

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Boys We Fancy

Obviously we’ve been fascinated by the Battle of the Milibands here at Portmanteau Towers. (Yes, Portmanteau Towers. I know we don’t have an office – like we barely manage a blog a week, hardly enough to warrant an office – but we do live together. In a kind of high-rise building. Well high-rise for somebody from Co. Kildare.) Anyway, yes we’ve been fascinated by the Milibands because, as we’ve mentioned in a previous Boys We Fancy post, we really fancy them. I mean the story is obviously intriguing even if you don’t have a crush on Ed and David but fancying them certainly does bring an extra dimension to our interest. We’re dead jealous of Gillian Duffy, aka The Rochester Bigot, who got to sit in on Ed Miliband’s speech today and is, according to the press association (via the Guardian), going for tea with him later in the week. But we have also been busy developing other, more mainstream, crushes recently.

Michael Buble

OK so everybody fancies Michael Buble. This was illustrated by the fact that 100,000 people went to see him play in Dublin’s Aviva stadium over the weekend. 100,000 people. Ireland’s tiny so that really is a massive proportion of Irish mammies. I like to think that I am drawn to “The Bubble” – that’s what we call him here at Portmanteau Towers (I should really drop this Portmanteau Towers thing) – for sophisticated reasons. Reasons that mark me as different from all the other screaming fans. But, yeah, basically I am the same as the rest of them. I think that ‘Haven’t Met you Yet’ is an incredibly catchy song and I like his smile. I am also strangely endeared by the fact that he seems to be a yo-yo dieter. One week he’s looking svelte on X Factor, the next (like literally the next) he’s looking porky on Graham Norton. But I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to feed him pickle sandwiches (his favourite).

Jon Hamm

I actually fancy Don Draper but obviously that relationship could only ever end in tears so I have decided to fancy Jon Hamm instead. Don Draper is a lying, deceitful cad with a drink problem, whereas Jon Hamm is a sensitive, committed guy who, according to an interview in the Observer, would have been a teacher if the acting hadn’t worked out. Cute. I mean obviously I still fancy Don Draper a bit more (who doesn’t love a lying alcoholic?) but Jon Hamm looks exactly like him and would be less likely to deceive you with a fake background and various affairs. Also – Jon Hamm is funny. Don Draper isn’t actually that funny. Jon Hamm’s funniness can be witnessed in an SNL skit he made with my other boyfriend Michael Buble. They run a restaurant called the Hamm and Buble Restaurant that only serves pork and champagne. You can't view the video over here but check it out if you're ever in America.

Tim Dowling

Tim Dowling is the perfect man. I know this because he writes a column about his life and his family and it all sounds perfect. Yes he could be lying but I don’t think he is. I think that his relationship with his wife really is that nice and that he actually does get into those very minor, easily solved and hilarious scrapes. He is also very handsome. Or at least his byline picture portrays a handsome, tanned man. And he’s American so his family get to go on amazing holidays and they could all get green cards if they ever tire of Shepherd’s Bush. OK so I know I’m coming across as a bit of a stalker now but he happily volunteers this information every Saturday so I feel that I am entitled to know. Here at Portmanteau Towers (last time I promise) we particularly like Tim Dowling’s take on Pop, the Swedish child whose sex hasn’t been disclosed. Having discussed how Pop’s parents never use personal pronouns, he goes on to explain how “Pop has a wardrobe that includes trousers and dresses, and Pop popself mostly decides what Pop is going to wear each morning.” And I just think that’s one of the cutest, funniest sentences ever. Pop popself. I would never have thought of that. LE

Friday, September 24, 2010

LFW Round Up

First stop this LFW was the PPQ show on Friday night. Last time around, even if you didn’t rate the clothes on the runway, at least the crowd was sufficiently sozzled to enjoy it all. This time, there were no free drinks which made for a slightly less merry time. Making up the front row were Paloma Faith, Little Boots, Eliza Doolittle and The Like ( I still remain completely baffled by their reinvention as a Sixties-inspired girl band.. not a good look). Half the audience seemed to be chanelling Issie Blow with bunny and Mickey Mouse ears, boaters, veils and bows all blocking the view. On the catwalk were lots of eighties combinations of tropical colours mixed with animal and mosaic prints, awkwardly accessorised with fez hats.

The fash pack went off the beaten track for the Matthew Williamson show at Battersea Power Station, the first ever designer to host a presentation at the derelict building. I could see the fashion crowd looking slightly panicked as they travelled further away from the centre of the city to this empty shell on the edge of town. A glass ceiling and white catwalk were set in the heart of this empty shell for the show, with the iconic towers an impressive backdrop. Unfortunately, the underwhelming collection failed to match the glorious setting. Matthew’s muse for this season was a girl marooned on a fantasy desert island – who just happens to have a suitcase, filled with cargo pants, safari blouses, and wide trousers and shorts with parachute-like billowing gowns her. Handy, that. Spotted front row: Sienna Miller (finally! – she’s gorgeous and glowing and tiny) Valentine Fillol Cordier, Olivia Palermo and my LFW crush for this season, Josephine de la Baume.NOK

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Queen Isabella

I took a trip to Antwerp this weekend ostensibly to dj at a party - this basically translated as blaring a load of Britpop, Girls Aloud, and Mel & Kim and dancing around like a freak. “Blow by Blow” by Detmar Blow with Tom Sykes made for perfect Eurostar reading and after swotting up on all things Issie, I headed straight to Haunch of Venison for the launch of Martina Rink’ s beautiful book on the celebrated stylist. A mixed bag of celebs were in the house, many wearing Philip Treacy hats - Boy George, Meg Matthews, Rupert Everett and the famed milliner himself. I also took the chance to sneak upstairs to check out Joana Vasconcelos stunning fibre optic floral maze and Polly Morgan’s creepy / pretty taxidermy. With all this Issie action, it was definitely time to dig out my old copy of Vogue from December 1992 to revisit the seminal Anglo- Saxon Attitude shoot photographed by Steven Meisel , my all time-favourite Isabella editorial. These days, the Cool Britannia- themed photo shoot is an overdone concept but this was truly inventive starring Honor Fraser, Bella Freud, Stella Tennant and Lady Louise Campbell as the “London Babes”. It even managed to make Blow’s then assistant Plum Sykes look cool rather her usual Park Avenue perfect self. Sykes recounts how impressed Isabella was with her administrative skills, introducing her by saying “This is my assistant Plum. She is so clever. She went to Oxford and can send faxes really fast”. All the behind the image drams that "Blow by Blow" provides is perfectly complemented by Rink’s book, filled with personal reminiscences from Anna Wintour, Bryan Ferry, Sophie Dahl and many others and stunning portraits. ( I love the picture above of Isabella laughing with Philip Treacy). Get both for the most complete overview of a true fashion original. NOK

Monday, September 13, 2010

The News

Usually the day after a big bash, when all the best celebs have been trussed up by whichever designer whose store opening or show they’re attending, my other The Portmanteau half and I spend the morning sending emails about just how “crap”, “ridiculous” and “overdone” everybody looked. Not so last Thursday after the Chanel boutique opening in NY. Hosted by Karl Lagerfeld, obvs, the event attracted Alexa, Diane Kruger, Rachel Bilson, the Gossip Girls - basically all the peeps you’d expect. And everybody looked amazing. Blake Lively had, thankfully, put away her cleavage for the night and opted for a sparkly lilac and silver dress that was so different – and so much better – than the poor man’s Sienna/slightly slutty looks she usually goes for. Alexa actually smiled in a photo and reminded me of just how beautiful she is. But Diane Kruger – Lagerfeld’s muse – must take the prize for best dressed of the evening. The ruffles, the little boots, the hair (hairband included) – I loved it all. The only dud was Claire Danes who looked like a typical WASP in her mumsy jeans and jacket combo and her too-perfect honey-coloured hairdid. But I guess the weird thing about Danes is that she is, by her own admission, a WASP. She was born to affluent yet creative parents and attended the Dalton School so it sort of makes sense that there she is, turning up to Manhattan openings in Chanel jackets. It’s just strange to think of Angela Chase – who Danes portrayed beautifully in the best TV show ever (well besides Mad Men, Come Dine With Me and Sex and the City) My So-Called Life – heading off to the manicurist and booking bi-monthly touch-ups at the hair salon at Bergdorfs. Angela Chase’s dyed red hair, pale skin and oversized plaid shirts continue to be a style influence sixteen years on and is perhaps a look that the über-groomed Danes could do with channelling.

New York grooming is the subject of an article in this month’s Vogue. Vicky Ward writes about how, after moving to New York from London, she abandoned the opaque tights she was so reliant on and opted for all-year-round waxing and fake tanning so as to show off her legs in cocktail dresses, even when Central Park was enveloped in snow or the rain was pouring down on City Hall. And, yeah, I get it. I mean I love the easiness of tights; I love how your skirt can be indecently short and it doesn’t matter because you have two pairs of 80 denier on. I love tights for their cosiness, their forgiving nature as they bundle and pack up your flesh. But I also think New Yorkers are right: tanned, toned, bare legs are infinitely sexier and compliment most dresses far better than their covered up counterpart. As Ward points out, “many of autumn’s trends just don’t work with tights.”

Alexa – who divides her time between New York and London – has obviously picked up on the NY attitude to tights because I can’t remember the last time she was spotted in a pair. Carey Mulligan – US Vogue’s October cover girl – highlighted the differing attitude that Londoners have to tights when she turned up the Met Ball in a pair. Nobody turns up the Met Ball in tights - well actually Winona Ryder did two years ago and looked terrible – but nobody else. The Met Ball is a place for glamour and unachievable muscle tone and silly LED dresses; it is not an event for dull types who have boring concerns like feeling the cold or inadvertently showing their knickers. And by wearing tights, the usually beautiful Mulligan managed to look kind of dowdy. Think of it this way: have you ever seen Carrie Bradshaw – the apotheosis of New York style – in a pair of tights? No, you haven’t.

Carey Mulligan at May's Met Ball

In the newspapers, there are lots of nice stories about the Mitfords as Deborah Mitford (or Debo or the Duchess of Devonshire or whatever) is publishing her memoirs. Now, I already know most of it but it’s always fun to read about the Mitfords. The Guardian had an especially nice interview today. Camille Paglia took issue with Gaga in yesterday’s Sunday Times, as I’m sure you have been made aware of. I liked Alex Needham’s response on the Guardian website because a) he pointed out that Gaga isn’t trying to be sexy (duh!), and b) he brought my attention to this amazing fax spat that existed between Camille Paglia and Julie Burchill. I was a child living in a small town in Ireland when the row occurred, so this was my first reading but wow! I have never seen such bitchy letters, besides perhaps those exchanged between a particularly loathsome letting agent and myself. LE

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Parlez vous Gossip?

Oh mon Dieu! Here is something to get excited about - the teaser for the 4th series of Gossip Girl – Sacre Blair! Boys du jour! Dan au pair! Vive le Chuck! Girls à la carte! Loves it. This is such a fun trailer. And just to make it even more thrilling, Clémence Poésy is joining the cast as a love interest for Chuck who is looking hotter than ever with the addition of a cane to his look.

I think Clémence and a cane are exactly what I need to get excited about GG again. For me, the series started to go seriously off the rails midway through Season 3 with the whole Chuck’s mother and the necklace confusion. Adding to the fallout were Little J’s nasty rat's tails hair extensions and the increasingly ridiculous “let's get everyone together in the end” scenarios. Things only began to look up when Serena's dodgy doctor daddy Billy Baldwin appeared on the scene towards the end of the series. As well as all the Paris drams, we can also look forward to a couple of eps filmed around Vogue's Fashion's Night Out with editors Hamish Bowles and Lauren Santo Domingo making appearances. Oh you know we still love you GG xoxo. NOK

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Watson, Schmatson; Haircut, Schmaircut

Emma Watson got a haircut. Now – as you might recall – we’re not the biggest Emma Watson fans here at The Portmanteau. It’s not that we have anything against the Harry Potter star per se; it’s just that we don’t get it. She’s a pretty-ish actor who stars in some films about witchcraft or something. Why all the hoopla and lucrative advertising contracts? OK yeah Harry Potter is apparently very popular (my attempt to engage with the movie franchise ended in a 3 hour snooze at the cinema) but this weird obsession with Emma Watson goes way beyond the normal attention paid to a young actor who has been in some high-grossing movies. Watson is feted as a style icon. I can accept that my views on Harry Potter are unpopular and I readily admit that I know very little about JK Rowling’s creations but fashion – fashion I know. And Emma Watson’s style icon status is wholly undeserved. She seems to have acquired the tag after doing nothing but turning up to premieres and parties in boring, blah, way-too-old-for-her ensembles. Or even if the dress isn’t too old for her, like this Rodarte number for example, she somehow manages to make it dull. A lot of it is down to the make-up and posing. She’s kind of mousy – sorry – so she should really learn to brighten things up with orangey red or bright pink lipsticks. Also forget about mumsy brown eye shadow – you were born in 1990 for crying out loud! I doubt she cares what I think though as she garners huge praise every time she goes anywhere. Even The Daily Mail has never said anything vaguely mean about EW and they don’t hold back when it comes to red carpet criticism.

Anyway, she got her hair cut. It’s really short. And everybody is saying it’s nice. Except it’s not really. I completely recognise the impulse to cut off all your hair; I hate too-long, Amish-style hair. I think those girls who are proud that they can sit on their hair are creepy, especially when their hair is straight and mousy brown. I want to run after them with highlighting kits and scissors. “At least cut a fringe into it,” I long to scream. But short hair – properly short like Emma Watson’s – is really hard to pull off. Vogue put together this slideshow of the best of the short haircuts and while some people do carry it off – Audrey Hepburn, Jean Seberg, Halle Berry, Ginnifer Goodwin – others, like Kate Moss, Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller, look way better with longer locks. And those people are really pretty and don’t have to worry about double chins and the like; things that prohibit the rest of us from cutting all our hair off. So yeah Emma Watson even though you actually took a sartorial or trichotological or whatever risk for once, you have still failed to win me over. LE

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The News

So calling this post The News is entirely inaccurate. Nothing about this post is newsworthy or even current and up-to-date, rather it is a little collection of stuff from the internet that I have enjoyed recently.

First up is the Jezebel video that features Rachael Zoe saying “literally” about 500 times. Literally. Well not actually literally, but you know what I mean. Yeah, I sympathise. I say “literally” all the time too. When I hear it pop out of my mouth I acknowledge it and say, “Oh I just said literally – sorry,” thus adding about 6 extra words to my sentence and ensuring that people stop listening. But it’s a word I find hard to eradicate. Like “like”. And “whatevs”. There is hope though: when I was in school my friends and I got into the habit of saying “physically” out of context. “I am physically freezing.” “I physically really don’t want to go.” “I think I’ll just like physically ignore him until he actually gets the message.” Yeah, we were really annoying. Anyway, I never say “physically” anymore. Not even when it would be appropriate. So there you have it: it is possible to rid yourself of an annoying verbal tic. Behold the Zoe on Jezebel.

Fashion blogs tend to be sexless. Often bloggers post images of themselves enjoying their perfect day, which usually includes a cup of tea, a wander around some vintage shops and a perusal of a particularly nice coffee table book. It’s all very pleasant, which is fine, but you do sort of wonder if that really is anybody’s actual, like physical, idea of a perfect day. Like literally. Surely these people’s lives are more interesting than that. I mean I think they are; they just aren’t willing to blog about it. Understandably. But now – thanks to Miss V from Men I Wish I Hadn’t Slept With – we have a fashion insider who is willing to share all. I was alerted to this blog a couple of months ago by Harriet Walker from The Independent and in the intervening time, Miss V has begun to get some nice media attention. She’s been featured in the Indy and in Time Out. Miss V doesn’t really focus on fashion at all but she does raise important points that must be considered by those working in the fashion industry, the pros and cons of having sex with a male model, for example. As an overall read, it’s entertaining in the same way Bridget Jones was funny before she became the ultimate loser thanks to the movie: embarrassingly honest and easy to identify with whilst providing a little peek into the London media/fashion scene.

My favourite Mad Men-related story comes from No Good For Me, who played Fuck, Marry, Murder with the Sterling Cooper office. Laura Jane got to the heart of the matter when she said she would fuck, marry and murder Don Draper. Which makes sense. But then I also wouldn’t mind a bit of Roger Sterling or Ken Cosgrove. Hmm. Anyway, it’s a good game. LE

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Listen Up

It’s not the clothes that stop me from shopping on the high street – in fact my little River Island sundress that cost 25 quid garners as much praise as any of my more expensive pieces – but rather it’s the squish. The sweaty messiness of people trampling over me to get the last pair of size 7 espadrilles, the interminable wait at the fitting rooms and the tropical climate that means I have to take off all my clothes just to have a quick look around. But I could actually deal with all of this; I could grin and bear it if it weren’t for the music. The banging, tuneless so-called dance or techno that H & M and Mango pump out. Nope, sorry, that’s where I draw the line. I immediately retreat from the humid swamp of a high street store when aggressive trance blares from the speakers. Yes, I know that Urban Outfitters is overpriced but I can browse to the strains of Lady B. And over at Liberty what’s that I hear: ah yes a remix of Noah and the Whale’s Blue Skies. Perfect for trying stuff on to.

It’s not that I’m a snob though – just last week I was in my local Poundland (Quick aside: Poundland is amazing. Everything is a pound. Toffifee, kitchen paper, pregnancy tests, Pride and Prejudice on DVD. A POUND!) when I heard a song that sounded like a happier version of Vampire Weekend’s Oxford Comma. “What’s this amazing song?” I asked the checkout girl. “Dunno,” she shrugged. You don’t get great customer service when everything is a pound. But anyway my point is that if Poundland can manage to play decent music that makes me want to dance around the aisles then surely H & M can work on their playlist.

The peeps at Urban Outfitters are slightly more helpful than the Poundland staff and have put together a LSTN feature on their website where you can listen to the tunes they’ve been playing recently. And a girl who worked at Topshop lovingly collated a blog that featured the store’s playlists. She left Topshop last month and the blog is now defunct but it’s still worth having a quick look through. LE

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Old School

We take models very seriously at The Portmanteau. My other The Portmanteau half did the best project on models in second year – I don't recall what the relevance was to our Civics class but it was A-MAY-ZING. Anyway, we have our all-time favourites and it’s always good to see one of them coming back. Back in the Carmen /Gisele / Frankie days at the turn of the millennium, there was an alternative to the bombshell brigade. All these bronzed babes were balanced out by the Belgian intellectual guard - Elise Crombez, Hannelore Knuts, Anouck Lepere, An Oost, Ann Catherine Lacroix. My favourite of this lot was Delfine Bafort. From 2000 to 2002, there was no escaping her – she could do punky and androgynous or goddess glamour. Here’s how we remember her - beautiful in Corrine Day’s 2002 Hidden Treasures’s shoot for British Vogue and on the catwalk for Marc Jacobs Spring 2002 – incidentally one of Joanna Newsom’s fave collections ever. Delfine seemed to fall out of favour for the rest of the decade but she’s back on the radar big time right now– she opened Mark Fast’s Autumn / Winter show and was photographed by Laurie Bartley in swimsuits for Harper’s Bazaar’s July issue.
So who would we like to see next in line for a comeback? – I say bring back Iris Palmer. NOK

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Boys We Fancy World Cup Special

Apologies are due. We have been off the radar for a really long time but in our defence, it has been really, really hot and the world Cup has been on. How we are supposed to concentrate on fashion when we are busy cultivating crushes on various World Cup participants?

Paul the Octopus
OK so Paul may not be the most traditionally handsome but what he lacks in good lucks, he makes up for in sybilline talent. How amazing would it be to have a boyfriend who could actually predict the future? A normal boyfriend, when drafted in to advise on a conundrum, suggests doing logical stuff like writing a boring list that “weighs up the pros and cons.” But I don’t know if the pros outweigh the cons. I can’t figure out if it’s best to stay or go. The lists just confuse me further and end up in angry, little crumpled piles. Paul could actually tell me what the right thing to do is. And anyway, I think he’s kind of cute. For an octopus. L

John Terry
John Terry is hot. It’s as simple as that. His many detractors claim that he “looks like a hedgehog” and is a “crap defender” but his lean body and crumpled face mean that he was one of the most handsome players taking part in the World Cup. OK he has a knackery hair-did but hello – makeovers are what being a girlfriend is all about. His pirate costume on recent trip to Disneyworld highlighted the fact that he has the potential to be devastatingly attractive when you take away the strip and the spitting. Alright, there is that “affair” with Vanessa Perroncel but she has told Grazia and FHM that “nothing happened” so I’m willing to overlook it. And yes, his parents have been in trouble with the police – dad Ted for dealing cocaine, mum Sue for shoplifting – but you can’t pick your family, eh? He's gorgeous. L

Joachim Löw
We were devastated to see Germany knocked out on Wednesday as this means no more drooling over manager Joachim Löw. For the entire tournament, he kept us swooning with his well-cut suits, retro mop and v-neck blue jumper. The trademark jumper was as much a star of the World Cup as the vuvuzela with German fans begging him to wear it believing it was a lucky charm for the team. I don’t know much about the jumpers’ talismanic qualities - all I know is Mr. Lurve looked damn good in it. The jumpers have flown off the shelves of Strenesse in Deutschland with everyone clamoring for the Löw look. But the ultimate Löw style follower is assistant Hansi Blick (best name ever) who mirrored his boss’s OF for every match. Aprés the World Cup, I can see Jogi ‘n Hans getting their own show on Living, a Deutsch version of Trinny and Susannah for men. N

Diego Maradona
If Löw brings the style to the touchline, then Maradona brings the crazy. From coke addict to tax dodger to almost dying six years ago, he staged a remarkable comeback at this World Cup. His campaign was endlessly entertaining, providing many moments and quotes to cherish. It began with him running over a photographer’s foot on the way to the Argentinian FA HQ to announce his team ("What an arsehole you are!How can you put your leg there where it can get run over?”). "When asked about his new beard he said "I grew it because my dog almost ate my mouth and left me a big scar."And who could forget his affectionate embraces for his players although The Portmanteau was relieved when he insisted "No! I like women! .. so people, don't think I've turned over." Such a pity Argentina won’t get to lift the Jules Rimet trophy– Maradona had promised to run naked through Buenos Aires if they had won. N

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mr. Guy at Mr. Start

If you haven’t done so already, make sure to stop by Mr Start before the end of the month to check out Shot From Above, the latest exhibition from Alistair Guy. Is there more to planet fashion than guest lists and free drinks? Apparently so and Alistair is trying to educate us by continuing his look behind the scenes to show the party peeps in their everyday fashion environments. Following on from last year’s Behind the Seams, which put the spotlight on fashion gals, now it’s time for the boys. This exhibition of dapper gents includes portraits of designers Charlie Casely-Hayford and William Tempest (above), Robin Derrick, creative director of Vogue, LFW CEO Harold Tillman and milliner Stephen Jones. The next project for this busy Guy will be a set of portraits for the British Fashion Council of menswear designers during London Fashion Week at Somerset House. And now it’s official: Alistair is one of most exciting and influential people in the creative industries! -click here to vote for him in the Emerging section as one of the Hospital Club /The Independent’s top 100 creatives. NOK

Monday, June 14, 2010

We Need To Talk

On Thursday night a panel including psychoanalyst Susie Orbach, Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry and Grazia style director Paula Reed will debate the notion ‘Fashion Maketh Woman: Woman is born free but cannot escape the shackles of fashion.’ I wish that I were in town for this talk as it promises to be interesting, enlightening and engaging but alas, I’m in the motherland. This works out well for you though as I am now in the position to raffle off three tickets. Send an email to the to be in with a chance of winning the tickets. If you don’t happen to be the random name I choose when blindfolded but are lucky enough to be in London that evening, you can buy tickets here. LE

Grayson Perry

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Extra, Extra - Read All About It.

Fashion adverts are often as beautiful, eye-catching and talked about as fashion editorials. Madonna for Dolce & Gabanna, the Man and Woman French Connection campaign, Lara Stone for Calvin Klein. But other ads, well I try not to pay attention to them. I don’t go around laughing at the little Simples chipmunk or whatever he is and I don’t even care about the eyebrow-wriggling Cadbury kids. Sometimes an ad is so blatantly untrue, though, that I do take notice. The Peugeot campaign that featured Marina Fogle’s so-called diary is a case in point and something I felt compelled to bring to your attention. And now another bafflingly odd one has appeared in all my favourite Sunday Supplements and I have been forced to sit up and discuss the matter with my other The Portmanteau half.

“Eh by any chance have you seen the Extra ads?”

“Oh my God, Oh my God, thank you. What the eff?”

“Why is Alan Hansen pictured mid-conversation at the golf club?”

“Why is Kirstie Allsop sitting at country pub with a Smythson ‘Yummy Mummy’ notebook in front of her?”

“Why is the copy so weird?”

“Why are the photos so bad?”

And on and on we go. Talking about the new Worth Chewing Over Extra campaign. OK I get it – some copywriter thought that the line ‘Worth Chewing Over’ was a clever little play on the fact that chewing gum should be the subject of frank and honest discussion. Except for – and this is where he or she got it so wrong – it shouldn’t. The BP oil spill is worth chewing over, the cuts in public spending are worth chewing over, even Big Brother 11 is worth chewing over. I mean I chew over everything but I can honestly say that I have never talked about the “stigma” surrounding gum chewing. Yes, stigma. That’s the word Louise Redknapp uses in her ad. She says: “There is a bit of a stigma around it, definitely.” But no, no there’s not. It’s not like having an STD. There is so little stigma surrounding chewing gum that I offer it to friends – acquaintances even – with an easy smile.

And then the ads do that creepy thing that ad campaigns so often do: they equate the product with “confidence.” Alan Hansen counsels: “Look, to speak with any kind of conviction you need to feel confident.” Um thanks Al but I’m not really sure how Extra will boost my self-esteem and public speaking abilities. It’s like when Veet or Always try to make you feel really insecure about “hygiene.”

Now the problem with talking about ads is that there is always that person, i.e. my dad, who says “Aha but you’re talking about it now. That’s what they want.” OK I see your point but I am not talking about it fondly, it’s not like I’m being taken in. In fact, if anything could put me off buying Extra – and I’ve always bought Extra – it’s this campaign. LE

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Olivier at Liberty

Last Thursday saw my favourite designer making an appearance at my favourite department store. Olivier Theyskens was in town to sign copies of his beautiful book, The Other Side of The Picture. Not really a Leona Lewis style book signing complete with punch ups, this was a more sophisticated soiree, hosted by Sarah Mower and attended by fashion names Roland Mouret, Lara Bohinc, Richard Nicoll and Nicholas Kirkwood. Oh and George Lamb. I haven’t been this excited for a celeb encounter since The Portmanteau cornered Mick Jagger at the Brown Thomas Fashion show when we were 14. I was the ultimate geeky fan but OT didn’t seem too freaked out by my enthusiasm. At least, he very kindly pretended not to be. He made sure to spell my name correctly (“ Pour Niamh, Love Olivier”) –you see, he loves me too - and going off to find photog Julien Claessens so he could also sign my book.

It seems the fashion world gets themselves into quite a state regarding the fate of this über talented designer, with rumours constantly swirling around him concerning his next move. But at Liberty, he was the calm at the centre of the intrigue, talking easily about his upcoming capsule collection for Theory out in September. When I first thought Theyskens + Theory, I was a bit worried. Gothic romance meets boring office wear? Hmmm, not sure about that. But he promised me it would be “very Olivier” and was looking forward to bringing his designs to the masses. For someone criticised in the past for not being in sync with economic pressures, he seemed very aware now of making his vision more attainable. And Theyskens genius at affordable prices? – sounds good to me. NOK

Friday, May 28, 2010

Excuse My Beauty

I’m not much of a beauty or make-up fanatic. Like I said a few posts ago, I’m a one man woman when it comes to cosmetics. I stick to my favourites for important stuff like foundation, liquid eyeliner and lipstick and then I rely on freebies for everything else (blusher, mascara, etc). Annoyingly, the free stuff is sometimes so good that I feel compelled to buy it after the sample has run out. How can I go back to Herbal Essences when I have discovered Aveda’s Shampure range? My hair smells so nice and it's really shiny. The lurid Herbal Essences bottles just look cheap and tawdry in the shower now. And that Dior mascara that I got in a goody bag makes my eyelashes look so long. Word of warning, though: Dior mascara is very effective at making your lashes look longer but it is not tear-proof. For somebody who cries twice daily (the circle line is delayed again, somebody said something vaguely mean to me at work, the news was really depressing, etc, etc) it is not always practical.

Anyway, the main point that I am trying to make is that there are several beauty products that I remain loyal to and I would like to share those with you now.

Mac Lady Danger Lipstick
This is my favourite red lipstick – matte and brash with orange-y undertones. It is not a ladylike red, rather a brazen, childish hue that messes up wineglasses with reckless abandon. A friend gave me the more grown-up Chanel Gabrielle as a birthday present recently so I will break her out when I am going for a posh dinner or to the theatre. For parties, though, I remain devoted to Lady Danger.

L’oreal Nutri Summer
I am very pale and I know that fellow pale people might decry me as a traitor for using fake tan but climb down from your oh-so-ivory tower and slap on some fake tan. Legs look better, arms appear thinner, short skirts are sexier. That’s the truth of the matter. And the thing with L'oreal Nutri Summer is that it is very subtle and you might not even guess that you have fake tan on at all. I swear. Other pale people say “No, no it always looks orange on me!” but honestly, if I can get away with it, anybody can.

Number 17 Lasting Fix Nail Polish (Mint Choc Chip)
OK so this is actually a relatively new addition to my make-up bag but I love it so far. Two layers and you’ve got beautiful blue chip-free nails for a week. I hadn’t really bought into the whole manicure trend but if my nails look this good with £2.50 Number 17 polish on them, perhaps I should go the whole hog and get flags or interlocking Cs or whatever it is that people do emblazoned across them.

Clinique Super Defence
I am currently sans Clinique Super Defence moisturiser and it’s obvious. My skin just isn’t as nice. It’s redder and blotchier and there are more open pores and spots. I can’t tell you why Clinique works and I usually do agree with people who say “ There’s no point spending big money on over-priced beauty products” but you can’t argue with a reddish complexion and 5 extra spots, now can you? LE

Monday, May 24, 2010

Me and You - Just Us 2

So the Sex and the City media coverage is reaching its frenzied peak. The posters are everywhere, you can’t open a mag without being assaulted by Halston Heritage dresses and SJP is staring out at me from all my Sunday supplements. Obviously Hadley Freeman’s piece in today’s G2 is the definitive read on the subject. It’s like she’s inside my mind. We’re soul mates or long lost sisters or something. Except for I’m the sister who drunkenly makes the point to a few friends over a boozy picnic and Hadley is the one who publishes her views in one of Britain’s best newspapers. But, basically, we’re the same.

So she’s seen the extended clips that appeared on the internet last week and she’s worried. Eh, yeah, moi aussi. It looks like a cartoon. Or worse – a play. A really bad play. The stilted dialogue, the colourful costumes, the caricatures that have taken the place of the characters we used to love. I mean obviously this comes as no surprise as the first movie made it clear that Carrie et al were no longer interested in careers or sex but were now only concerned with – and I know I made this point three blog posts ago, but come on! – “love and labels.”

Hadley seems to be referring to a feature in last week’s Stylist that asked four male journalists to analyse each of the four characters when she says: “One writer of a recent piece cited that achievement [not having watched the TV series] as a point of pride before then listing his reasons for hating the show, reasons he presumably pulled out of his ass.” Yes, Chris Bell opened his article with: “Let me begin by stating that – of course – I have never watched Sex and the City.” He then goes on to say that “for men, this [Charlotte] is perfect wife material – formal and reserved in public; a ‘goer’ in private.” Oh God.

But that’s not even the most offensive thing that was written in the feature. No, that was left to Toby Young (obvs). I’m paraphrasing but he is thankful to Samantha for persuading a generation of women that it’s cool to be slutty and sleep with men like him. Which, okay, is a funny take on things, but then he says: “The truly incredible thing about Samantha is that she doesn’t make the connection between her promiscuity and her inability to find a decent man… Duh! .... Since time immemorial, the way women have enticed men to make a commitment to them is by refusing to have sex until the man gets down on one knee. But if you’re willing to trade your body for a Cosmopolitan, why would a man bother to buy a ring?” SHE DOESN'T WANT TO GET MARRIED OR BE BOUGHT A RING. THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT. DUH! And, btw, she’s not “trading her body” because she’s not a prostitute, but engaging in a consensual, (hopefully) mutually beneficial relationship.

But anyway the point that Hadley Freeman makes in her piece is that now we don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes defending our once beloved SATC characters. Young and Bell and the rest of the misogynists will go along to the movie and have all their views confirmed as Carrie – a professional writer – presents Big with a watch inscribed with ‘Me and you – just us 2’ and Miranda – a high-flying career woman – leaves her job to look after her husband and child. LE

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On Board

I can’t say that I normally see much in the line of beauty when I’m passing the billboards on Shepherd’s Bush or Old Street roundabouts. But over the past couple of months, two campaigns in particular have stopped me in my tracks. First up, that French Connection campaign, devised by ad agency Fallon and shot by photog duo Damien & Leila De Blinkk. You know, the one with THE MAN – the hot, brutish, bearded guy and THE WOMAN - very Margaret Howell-esque. I love the kinda weird slogans and the simple font. I know – French Connection – who would have thought they had it in them. Completely irrelevent to me before but they so got it right for this season. Another beauty is the poster for Laura Marling’s I Speak Because I Can that features a striking portrait by artist Sophie Milner. Moments of beauty to brighten up even the greyest of bus journeys. NOK

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sock it to me!

For a couple of weeks there, it was summer. I skipped around town wearing sundresses and drank Hoegaarden out of plastic cups in pub gardens. I pranced around in light t-shirts and skinny jeans and pumps and I walked to appointments instead of taking the tube. But then it started raining again and the wind brought a chill from the north and I had to layer shirts and cardigans over my dresses and wear socks with my pumps. Except that I couldn’t find any socks. Well I could find odd sports socks or pink socks that had been left in my Christmas stocking about a decade go but I couldn’t find any nice normal socks that would be acceptable to wear with a ballet pump. And that’s what I miss about living with my dad. Well I also miss being able to ask for a quick summary of any political situation or war that I might not be as knowledgeable about as I should be. But mainly I miss the socks. Dads have whole drawers devoted to socks. I have a drawer for underwear and a drawer for bills and bank statements and a drawer for tights even, but I don’t have a drawer for socks. I need to buy some socks first.

When it comes to buying socks, I think it’s important to remember that black is bad. Black fades to a horrible light black and those hard crusty socks that you eventually find at the bottom of your wardrobe are always black. No, grey is better or a light brown perhaps. Patterns are out too unless they are very faint. Pop socks are also verboten (take note Lindsay Lohan). Obviously cashmere socks are the nicest but socks are easily lost or eaten by a dog so it doesn’t really make sense to splurge on them. And anyway, nobody wants really hot feet; that’s almost as uncomfortable as having really cold ones. People like Alexa Chung – that is to say people with very long, very skinny legs – are able to get away with skirts and socks and when the Alexa Chung for Madewell collection was launched there was plenty of socks-with-sandal action going on. I tend to stick to the skinny jeans/socks/ballet pumps combination myself but perhaps I’ll give socks with bare legs a try when the sun eventually comes back out. LE