I took a day trip to Brighton yesterday to spend time with some of my favourite people. We ate hearty pub food, hid from the rain and mooched around the Pavillion. It was a really lovely day. Here are a few snaps I click whist out and about arouund town.
So much colour on a rainy day!
The post-box pixies sent us our photographs back from Secret Cinema’s Back to the Future screening! It was quite exciting to sit down and actually open a packet of photographs for once. As amazing as digital cameras are in many respects, you can’t deny that certain nostalgia of not knowing how your photographs will appear and the inevitable shock and horror when faced with a really dodgy one.
I actually thought twice before posting these pictures because we are so used to seeing beautifully crisp and well lit images on blogs that I thought these would look out of place. I admit, not all the photographs presented on this blog are of professional quality. I try to limit it as much as possible but some are simple camera phone snaps, which is generally because I can’t carry the big fancy shmancey camera about with me all of the time.
But I actually quite like the grainy quality of these shots. They are the style of pictures I remember from my youth and I think they add a distinctly authentic touch to the events of the night. I like the imperfection they capture, unsanitised and honest, like here…
A few more dates have been added to the run so in the interests of anyone planning to go I won’t give a blow by blow account of the events of the night. Also I think the ‘secret’ part of the ‘Secret Cinema’ is quite a nice thing to keep intact.
I will say however that the scale and standard of the show exceeded all of my expectations. I can see why there were some teething problems with the opening nights, which I’ve heard were down to health and safety certificates.
There must have been a cast of at least a hundred extras running around, acting out small vignettes from the film and interacting with the audience. Before we had even got inside the gates I had been nominated for prom queen and T had received a scoop (he was dressed as a pressman) from a passing band of rowdy youths. Policemen in American cop uniforms guided the queue and kept us all in check from J-walking in the wrong areas. Inside was a huge reconstruction the Hill Valley’s central square, resplendent with boutique stores and of course the famous Social Services building clock tower. I initially thought that they really had run out of time and not finished painting the details of the facade of the building before realising that it did in fact double as the stage and screen for the night’s show.
We spent some time wandering though the parade of shops which included some ingenious creations, such as the hardware store where you could purchase folding cardboard seats to use whilst watching the show and Lou’s diner which served Pepsi Free and ‘milk, chocolate’, along with burgers and apple pie. There was an awful lot of apple pie on sale everywhere, and I have to say that the warm slice I picked up from the pulled pork stand was hands down one of the best I’ve ever tasted, it was heavenly and dripping with sugary caramel syrup. Because my sweet tooth is insaitiable I also picked up two bags of homemade marshmallow in rocky road and Banoffee Pie flavours. I sadly forgot to take any pictures of them and of course snorked the lot during the show.
After feeding time T and I went to the prom in the reconstructed high school. It was decorated, as you would hope, in green and blue streamers ready for the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. We checked out the lockers which were bedecked with graffiti and postcards, poor George McFly had some very rude things adorning his locker. The band was in full swing in the school hall and we arrived just in time to hear them blast out Johnny B. Goode. We stomped and boogied about so that’s that awesome experience ticked off the bucket list.
We also took a stroll down Riverside Drive and nosed about in some people’s homes, which were ostensibly sheds bedecked with period furnishings but had the effect of those charming prefab post-war houses which became ubiquitous across the US and parts of the UK; small, neat and with everything a little start up family would need.
We also took a trip to Doc Brown’s house which was true to the film in most respects but sadly there was no Einstein :(. (Some people are never happy are they?)
After some more character interactions and a quick dip into the the town cinema which was screening Cattle Queen of Montana with Ronald Regan (the actor!?), the show started.
A suitability heartfelt homage to Robin Williams was played and then the opening credit rolled and I basically didn’t’ stop smiling for an hour and a half. Key moments in the film were enhanced by live action and the whole thing was just joyous. I hadn’t seen the film for a few years and watching it again I was amazed by the level of detail that the organisers had crammed into the venue; the gang of mechanics who only appear in the film for a split second where running about all over the place, the Mayor was there as was the Hill Valley postman. It reminded me a lot of the Drowned Man, I loved being able to explore at my own pace and creating my own experience by choosing who to interact with.
Altogether it was a fabulous show and utterly worth the entrance fee. I really hope they do a Back to the Future II screening, I mean, I want to find out what happens to Marty’s kids!
When I was over at the Imperial War Museum the other day I took a nosey around the gift shop, because there are many things in life I can resist but a museum shop is not one of them. There are lots of goodies in the shop that aren’t available online and one range that really caught my eye was a fabulous assemblage of men’s knitwear.
I realise that I’ve been woefully neglectful of men’s clothing on this site and seek to write (ha!) that wrong now.
The knitwear in question is made by Realm and Empire, a brand determined in their aim to combat what they refer to as the ‘questionable heritage styles’ which have become prevalent in menswear in recent years.
I’m not sure how they have swung it but before they start to develop each new season, those folks at Realm and Empire take an access all areas visit of the Imperial War Museum archives and use original documentary materials as the basis for their collections.
As such their clothes have a distinctly utilitarian and subtle appeal. This season’s looks include the Officer collection, complete with excellent cable knit jumpers in green, charcoal and navy and some very nice overcoats indeed.
Being British made (the knitwear is produced in the Midlands) is a key component of the range and clearly ties in perfectly with the overall branding.
For the more discerning vintage gent I think a few key items like the forest green wool scarf or Duxford cardigan would be welcome additions to any wardrobe. For those chaps who are more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, like my very own mess officer, I don’t think they will find the range too niche for their tastes.
On Monday I went to the newly re-opened Imperial War Museum on a top secret spy mission (well if you insist upon living in reality – a job interview). Afterwards I decided to take a look around some of the fabulous new galleries and exhibits. I was on quite a tight schedule and the queue for the First World War galleries was rather long, so I took a look in the A Family in Wartime section. The domestic aspects of the Second World War are something that I have always found fascinating and humbling. The changes on the Home Front that emerged as a result of war created a mesh across the country which conected everyone. I love the organisations that were proactive at this time such as the WVS and local community groups. However, I know it wasn’t all tea dances and victory rolls. I remember asking my grandmother if she ever went to any dances during the war and she just said, ‘no, we were all too tired’. I think this speaks volumes about the realities of war for some, beyond those aspects which are largely popularised by American representations of the 1940s.
So, A Family in Wartime was right up my street (excuse the pun). The exhibit is centred on the Allpress family who lived in Stockwell during the war. There were ten children in the family, most of whom were adults by 1939, with some living away from the family home. All had different experiences of the war and these stories form the narrative of the exhibit. The centrepiece however is a beautiful model replica of their house, complete with furniture and soft furnishings and even an Anderson shelter in the back garden. This is a wonderful exhibition that really (again excuse the pun) brings home the realities of war for families in Britain at this time. There are several mock rooms displaying the paraphernalia of domestic life and the obviously labour intensive procedures many of them required. I overheard an older man describing to a boy, who I presume to be his grandson, what the mangle was and how he had one in his kitchen as a child.
There’s also an Anderson shelter that you can sit in and experience what would have assuredly have been the claustrophobia-inducing space.
There’s much more to be discovered at the new IWM and I’ll certainly have to take a few trips down to take it all in. Then again if I get that job I’ll have all the time in the world, when I’m not doing my top secret spy stuff obviously.
I saw the above photograph online for the first time in years and it threw me back in to the past. This picture hung at the top of the stairs of my childhood home for years. Truth be told I never really questioned it and for a long time thought it was a photo of my mum from one of our summer holidays.
As much as the satin and cheekbones are the same, my mother is in fact not Faye Dunaway and this picture was certainly not snapped by my Dad in the Algarve. It was taken by Terry O’Neil, Dunaway’s long-time partner and husband and as I’m sure we all know is evocatively titled ‘Best Actress: the Morning After the Awards’. Dunaway is snapped in a moment of reflection alone with her little golden man, the morning after her academy award win for Network in 1977.
Seeing it again recently I think I love it more than ever. You can just smell that fresh yet damp 6am air. I love walking around hotels at weird times when no-one is about. Deserted early morning swimming pools are always so calm and peaceful. Then after a few moments reflections, skipping on inside to snuffle down sweet croissants and coffee. Of course Dunaway already has her breakfast, but then she’s a Oscar winner dammit.
On Sunday night my own Marty McFly and I took a trip to Hill Valley (well east London) to take in a screening of Secret Cinema’s Back to the Future. A fair amount has been written about the, ahem, challenges facing the early dates of the run, however we’re not going to get in to all that. In fact we’re not going to get in to aspects of the show at all. Basically the guys at Hill Valley were in every sense keeping it old school and cameras weren’t permitted bar the (£6) disposable cameras that were on sale at the venue. So while the camera is off with the magical developing pixies that live in the post box (who knew they still had those!?) here’s a few quick pics of wot I wore.
Coat – Tara Starlet
Shoes – Primark
Dress Clips – Vintage
The September issues are on the shelves so it’s about time I published my own fashion special too! Welcome to the September instalment of the Vogue Notebook. Now I’ve never pretended to be a fashion blogger, or any type of blogger for that matter. I’m just a gal who likes writing about the things she likes. I don’t enjoy fashion in order to be fashionable. I like looking at catwalk pictures because to me they are examples of creativity and art. Fashion design is transformative. It creates new worlds allowing fairy tales, architecture and Mae West to happily sit within one dress. Who doesn’t think that’s a good thing? Anyone who has been following here for a while will also be aware of my feelings about Autumn/Winter clothes, basically they rock. I’m so ready for jumpers and tweed I can’t even tell you. If you follow me on Pinterest (buttons on the bottom right folks!) you may have spotted an inordinate number of pumpkin related pins in the last week or two.
One little caveat, which some may feel is unnecessary but I kinda wanna mention. Before I do so let it be understood that this is resolutely my own emotional response to something and not a manifesto.
Some of the below pictures contain fur products. I don’t like the wearing of fur. If I were to wear it I would feel vain and cruel. ‘What even vintage fur?’ is often the response to that statement. Yes, even vintage fur. I don’t care if the animal was killed yesterday or one hundred years ago, it was still bred, housed and killed in order to be worn and if I wore a vintage stole or coat I feel I would supporting that ideology by extension. ‘But it’s a waste’ is also often the comeback. It’s already a waste as far as I’m concerned and the article being worn until it falls to prices ain’t gonna’ change that. I do wear faux fur. No I don’t feel this is hypocritical. I’m not ignorant to the aesthetic beauty of fur. The contrasting textures of a satin gown with a mink wrap are very beautiful. However I draw the line at allowing that beauty to take precedence over the life of an animal in order to exhibit it. I think the faux fur I wear is pretty obviously faux (some of it’s green for starters), I wear it because it’s camp and theatrical. I don’t feel that I am contributing to a wider philosophy or exhibiting support for the fur industry when I do so.
As I said, this is my emotional response and personal thought process. I don’t seek to admonish others. I don’t stand beside my friends who wear fur and secretly think they are monsters and wish I could rip it from their backs. I love my friends to pieces and the decisions they make over their own personal identity and style are theirs and theirs alone and will never sway my feelings towards them.
That all being said, for some reason the fashion industry has gone fur mad recently. It’s on every Autumn/Winter catwalk like it’s going out of style (boom ching!). I’m sure a few years ago it was seen as a bit taboo but for some reason there appears to have been a wind change. There were very few shows that didn’t have fur somewhere. I could have boycotted all designers who used it but then there would have been no post at all. So below there is some fur, but in my imaginary world I pretend it’s faux, and pink, with sequins on.
Anyway, maybe a bit of a heavy debate to get in to, but I wanted to address it quickly before we got going.
So on with the show.
Firstly Anna Sui. I always love her shows. It’s normally the first one I check out. This time around she served up Anna May Wong meets Vannessa Bell, which is obviously excellent.
Badgley Miscka. Beautiful autumnal colours!
Bora Aksu. I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for Bora Aksu for a while. A few years ago T did some work for one of his collections and we got some tickets to his London show. It was fab and ever since I’ve always kept an eye on what he produces. This time out it was Heidi meets streetwear.
Dior, nuff said.
Ellie Saab. I die. Courture goth realness. Have you ever seen such buttery velvet?
Emporio Armani. Again, gorgeous velvet, this time with just a hint of Wednesday.
Givenchy. Monarch butterflies like stained glass widows. So clever, so beautiful.
Prada. Check out those deco inspired prints!
Zac Posen. Boy does that boy know how to make a dress.
Now, how’s about some couture?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, humans are awesome. I was recently given this fabulous book by a very kind soul and it really blew me away. Thank you!
In the spirit of passing it forward I thought I would share some of the incredible images in this book.
Art Deco by Norbert Wolf is a compendium of the Art Deco aesthetic from its emergence through to its manifestation in artistic styles, architecture, fashion and wider political and cultural trends.
The book contains some wonderful images, most of which aren’t found in the in other Deco books I own. For a large coffee table book it also isn’t overwhelmed with text. What there is is broken down in to manageable and well defined sections. I have many large synthesised volumes on art, fashion and film that I want to read from cover to cover but know in my heart of hearts that it’s unlikely to happen because they are just so darn dense, and I will never have a spare three days or enough coffee. I think this one is different however, give me a spare afternoon and I think this slow little reader might just do it. In the meantime, lets look at those pretty pictures.
Ain’t it pretty? I’m all inspired so I’m off to skulk around the Hoover Building sipping gin slings for a while.
Can you say MONTE CAAAAAAARLOOOOOOOO?
So the final leg of our trip was a brief drive across the hills to that tiny principality synonymous with all things glamourous. I could wax lyrical about the fabulous history of Monaco, but I think three words sum it up adequately, Grace frickin Kelly.
We all know the story, golden Grace went to Cannes in 1955, met Prince Rainier, a year later he came to America (on a wife-hunt so it is said) and proposed to America’s sweetheart. They married in ‘the wedding of the century’ in 1956 when Grace was just twenty-seven. She became Princess Grace of Monaco and for the next thirty years was the epitome of class, beauty and elegance.
She died tragically early at just fifty-two after crashing her car whilst driving home from her country house in France. It was impossible not to think of her as we made the same journey.
Grace is everywhere in Monaco. Just as St. Tropez has Bardot, so Monaco’s guardian angel is Grace.
Grace and Rainier married in a civil ceremony the day before the one we all remember. She wore this beautiful pink and cream lace dress designed by Helen Rose, MGM costume designer who also created that wedding dress.
I thought we were merely spending one day in Monaco however unbeknownst to me my Dad and T had been in cahoots and we were booked in to a fabulous hotel for the night. Such a wonderful treat. The hotel reminded me of a Bond villain’s lair as it was built into the side of a cliff-face overlooking the ocean There was a great glass elevator on the outside of the building which took us from our room to the pool.
We had a lovey meal and then headed on down to the casino.
The Monte Carlo casino was initially conceived as a means to alleviate persistent Grimaldi financial woes. It has since become the hallmark of money, glamour, cocktails, men in tuxedos and women in floor-length gowns.
I gotta say, the place was a bit of a let-down. It was quiet with a capital Q. No shady characters, no waiters with gold platters of champagne and most importantly no bloody Bond! Just about twenty men standing around watching the world cup on four giant screens in each corner, which made it all feel a bit like a Weatherspoons.
In fairness the fruit machines were all off-line and I suspect had they been working they would have added a cacophony of pings and dings. We promptly lost all of our money at the slightly cheaper than expected looking Roulette tables and hot footed it back to our beautiful hotel and panoramic view.
The next day we took in the sights, starting at the brilliant Oceanographic Museum. It was opened in 1910 by Prince Albert I, a keen marine biologist who headed multiple oceanographic explorations. The museum’s director from 1957-1988 was the legendary Jacques Cousteau. It’s a fabulous museum, with the lower levels housing a vast aquarium, complete with stroke-able and very friendly string ray. The top floor showcases the work of Albert in wonderfully antiquarian fashion. Glass display cases hold starfish and very impractical looking diving equipment. Shark skins and skeletons hang around everywhere and in one room an enormous fake blue whale hangs suspended from the ceiling, one lazy eye peering down at the visitors. It’s like a museum from a children’s book.
Next we headed up through the gardens to Monaco Cathedral, home of that wedding in ’56 and fittingly now the resting place of Rainier and Grace. It’s small and pretty with an inordinate number of paintings of Pope John-Paul II everywhere.
Next stop was the Prince’s Palace, home of the Grimaldi’s for centuries.
We plugged in the audio tour, voiced by a very proper sounding gentleman (‘Welcome to Mon-arch-o, home of the Grimaaaaldi’s). The palace is like a mini Versailles in many respects. But pink. And up on a big rock. You can clearly see why the location was chosen by settlers in the twelfth-century, a more defendable position it’s hard to imagine. Over the subsequent centuries additions have been made to the fort and now the various wings represent the epitome of their period’s aesthetic style. The rooms too are each decorated to different tastes, from French Rococo to the austere dark wood panelling of the seventeenth century. The rooms are small, and crammed with things like ‘marble side table with garnet and ivory inlay and gold gilded oak feet, presented to Prince Rainier upon the occasion of his marriage’. They are rooms full of resources, both material and historical. I couldn’t help but think how Grace would have found all of it; so heavy with tradition, thick with duty and history. I wondered if the French country house was a little lighter, cooler and with a little more air.
After we left the Palace we took a trip to see Prince Albert’s collection of classic cars. I’m not the biggest car nut on earth, but even for a novice I was bowled over by the array, from carriages to F1 cars. And it was air conditioned which helped. Prince Albert II is a big car fan, and despite selling off part of his collection in 2012 he still retains a plethora of inventive, beautiful and just plain opulent engineering. I’m a F1 follower so it was amazing to see some of those bad boys up close, and to see the changes in size from the 80s to today. There was a darling little Fiat with a cloth roof and wicker seats that T said looked like a picnic basket but I thought was adorable. There were giant winged Cadillac’s, curvy, bulbous 1940s gangster cars, and sleek oblong Jaguars circa 1960, that frankly I expected Sean Connery to come bounding out of at any moment. It’s a wonderful collection and one to be visited should you ever happen to be in town.
We walked around the marina, took in some more sights and decided that out of everywhere we had visited, yes I suppose at a push we could live here – I mean if you’re going to hold a gun to my head and everything. Finally it was home time and I bought a huge pistachio ice cream for the short trip. It was hands down some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted, smooth, thick and very, very rich. Of course you get the best ice cream here I thought, it’s f-ing Monaco.
Who wants to see some holiday snaps?
A few weeks ago T and I spent a wonderful week on the French Riviera, in part to celebrate my 30th birthday and in part because we haven’t had a holiday together in I don’t know how many years.
I have always wanted to visit the Rivera, scene of some many Poirot novels. I have spent many a cold drizzly day cuddled up reading about the hotels, the cars and the parties of that stretch of coast. It’s were the Fitzgerald’s flew too when they ran from reality. Hollywood played and Bardot spent much of the 50s to 70s skipping around like a khol-smerared Bambi, high on nicotine, sex and hairspray. I can’t think of that part of the world without diaphanous bias cut gowns, finger waves, motorcars, Breton stripes and ballet pumps flittering about in my mind. Through too many disappointing and underwhelming experiences I know full well that the 21st century has a habit of bursting certain bubbles. Paris isn’t inhabited by Man Ray and New York doesn’t look like an Edward Hopper painting. Something out of place and jarring will inevitabley career into my line of vision and ruin my visit to the past, like a Ladbrooks shop or Barry Scott. But I still wanted to go. I was prepared for it not to be as I had spent so long envisioning, I knew David Niven was gone as was Grace Kelly, but it was somewhere that had to be seen.
And see it we did. We did a fair amount of travelling around. Nice itself is beautiful and full of delights. It’s yellow and pink hues emanate from back streets and everywhere you turn raspberry filled biscuits and lavender soaps are before you. One of the main things I wanted to do on this holiday was cook. I enjoy cooking but I rarely have time to spend more than half an hour on anything, so I wanted to take this opportunity to buy lots of lovely fresh produce and cook tasty food in our little French kitchen while Sinatra played and the sun went down. I’m pleased to say this scenario happened on a few occasions.
We took a visit along to coast to visit Cannes and St Tropez and as we did one face couldn’t help but permeate our travels. Bardot seems to have been claimed by both towns equally, like a couple arguing for equal rights over the cat after things have turned sour and the party is most definitely over. Bardot is synonymous with the Cannes after her famous 1953 bikini photoshoot on the beach during that year’s film festival. Yet at the same time St. Tropez was transformed from a sleepy fishing village to a playground for the beautiful and eternally vacationing lovelies of the late 50s when Bardot shot And God Created Woman there and never left.
Posters and murals of those famous bee-stung lips are everywhere in the towns and a cursory google search will tell you why. You can see Bardot with a flock of adoring fans sweeping through the narrow streets behind her. Bardot on the beach in that oh so well orchestrated, if a little creepy, photo opportunity at Cannes in ’53. Bardot the woman, on speed boats, head thrown back, laughing, beehive amazingly intact. Cannes when we visited was however quiet, weirdly quiet. As if we had accidentally arrived on Christmas day rather than a fairly non-descript weekday. We trotted up and down lanes for a while, and then gave up and headed to the beach.
After a few hours we made the drive down to St. Tropez which for about fifteen kilometres involves snaking down a sweeping, elegantly curving road as it cuts through acres of hillscapes. It felt like a conveyor belt into a Narnia, strange and suspended in luxury like flies in golden amber. Everything was golden, the sun, the tans and the clothes. St. Tropez is however smaller than I had imagined. Whilst the marina spreads for some way along the seafront the inlet bay itself is tiny, about the size of Leicester square.
Bars are nestled elbow to elbow around the perimeter, some of which have been there for decades, including the famous Sénéquier. I couldn’t help but wonder how so many icons could have fitted in such a tiny place. Jagger got married here for goodness sake. It’s no place of seclusion when the cameras roll in town, it’s a tiny goldfish bowl filled with pearls.
Club 55 started as the set canteen for And God Created Woman and has since morphed in to one of the most exlcusive (yet masquerading as laid-back) venues in town. Needless to say we didn’t make the trip down there. Instead we did what should always be done when in France; bought macaroons from Laduree and ate them greedily whilst wandering the streets in the sunshine.