Welcome to Mon-arch-o!

1

July 29, 2014

Can you say MONTE CAAAAAAARLOOOOOOOO?

u

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.

Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly at Engagement AnnouncementEngagement photo.

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.

1vThe drive to Monaco is filled with incredible views.

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.

wedding-outfit-2

The religious ceremony took place the following day, but we all know all about that don’t we?

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.

opgI felt like I was on a steamliner whilst sitting by the pool because the sea view was so unbroken.

We had a lovey meal and then headed on down to the casino.

r
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.

Then

Now

tObligatory awkward shot outside the casino

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.

aaaYou’re not allowed photos inside, but we snuck in a sneaky one. Spy skills innit.

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.

s

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.

nkicf2bbccdehlI really hope they have lectures about jellyfish and things in here.

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.

j

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.

mThe car Carry Grant and Grace Kelly drove in To Catch a Thief.

zqI just loved these steps, I wanted to see them populated by people wearing one piece swiming costumes and bathing caps.

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.


Nice is Nice

0

July 24, 2014

Who wants to see some holiday snaps?

french.riviera.poster

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.

bpl18

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.

ab

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.

ahhTrying unsuccessfully to re-create that Bardot bikini moment.

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.

StTropPanR4Par.jpg1.

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.

le-club-55-saint-tropez-ramatuelle-beachresort-posterClub 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.

baa

Macaroon face.

APretty cove we found after skipping over a sea path.

bbbBye bye St. Tropez. Next stop Monaco!

xxx


Heatwave Havens

0

July 19, 2014

A little public service announcement during this sticky old heatwave – carry a bottle of water and seek refuge in a nice cool gallery or museum.

It’s lovely being outside in the sunshine sometimes, especially when British weather is so changeable. A sunny day feels like a real gift and we should all make the most of it. But when the mercury is high, you’re trudging up Oxford Street with your eyeliner doing an Alice Copper and only a roasting tin of a train to look forward to, the cool, quiet marble of the National Gallery looks mighty tempting. Of course if this was New York in the 50s I’d be on a train upstate with the kids to sip lemonade by the lake for a month while T stays home to get that copy in to the ad men. But then Marilyn Monroe would move in next door and get her toe stuck up a tap, and errm, I can’t remember how it ends, something about a fishing rod I think. Anyway I’m not. I’m here in this city filled with air with the viscosity of marshmallow (I stole that of someone I follow on Twitter because it’s one of the most glorious phrases I’ve heard in a long time).

So with that all in mind, here’s an overview of some great exhibitions currently on in London which are well worth ducking out of the sun to see. Most are also continuing for a few months, so in approximately a week and a half when we have gale-force winds and sideways rain they will still be there to offer shelter of another kind.

The first is the V & As The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-1914. This ends on the 27th July so get hustling! I’d stake my cats that it’s going to be chock-full of incredible beauty, style and a whole lot of embellishment. Versace, Pucci and Dolce Dolce Dolce are sure to feature too.

Next is another V & A treasure, in the form of Wedding Dresses 1775- 2014. 200 years of frocks, personal history and a whole lot of lace. This one is running until March next year, so lots of time to take in the delights. (Lto R; Gwen, Ditta and Kate Moss).

Kensington Palace is showing its opulent Fashion Rules collection until summer 2015 and it’s surely worth a visit. It showcases the fashions of Royal women from 1950 to 1990. The British Royal family may be synonymous with pastel skirt suits and matching hat combos but this collection shows them generally after dark. There are multiple designer gowns encompassing varying degrees of glittery, tuelly and silky glamour.

The Imperial War Museum is back! Woohoo! After a multi-million pound re-fit the museum re-opened this week and boasts some very impressive sights, including the new WW1 galleries and their landmark exhibition, Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War. I can’t wait to go.

2815This isn’t really vintage related but seeing as I’m in the process of writing 15,000 words about colour symbolism in archaeology, I’m very excited to see this at the National. Making Colour explores, well exactly that really; how pigments are made and the nature of colour in art.

81For the futurist fans amongst you, the Estorick Collection is holding a display of Gerardo Dottori works until the 7th September.

The National Portrait Gallery recently opened Virginia Woolf, Art, Life and Vision. Virginia is just so fascinating to me and I’m soppily fond of her so I’m keen to see this collection of artworks and documents relating to her life. Not sure about the suicide note for some reason. Maybe I’m being over-sensitive and daft but it seems in rather bad taste to have that on display. Although I’m sure I’ve read it before somewhere, in a book perhaps so it must be in the public domain. And I’ve read her diaries. And letters. So yeah, I’m being over-sensitive. And a hypocrite.

horst_marleneFinally here’s one that’s not open yet but squirrel it away in your memory box for September. Horst: Photographer of Style is running until January 2015 and I’m sure will sell quick as a flash, so book early.

Right, now for a mojito.

xxx


Archaeologists Assemble!

0

July 17, 2014

As some of you will be aware I am currently completing my MA in Archaeology. Adorning my department walls is an ever changing carnival of posters for multiple and varied conferences, lectures and projects covering a broad spectrum of historical and archaeological research interests. I’m not going to lie, most are pretty darn niche. However today I spotted one that I thought looked really interesting and was thoroughly deserving of a bit of a shout out.

Home-Front-Legacy-624x308

As we all know this year marks the centenary of the start of the First World War. I have already mentioned the great ‘Letter to an Unknown Solider’ project that I took part in recently (and you can too!). However this year The Council for British Archaeology are also commemorating the War by launching a four year project (2014-2018) exploring the effects of the First World War in Britain through previously unrecorded sites. The Home Front Legacy Project is asking you to get involved by letting them know about sites in your area which are historically valuable to the story of the First World War in Britain. This is your chance to flex your archaeologist elbow. But don’t worry, you don’t need to be experienced in the field or even get muddy. Much of archaeological work, which isn’t for some reason documented in Indiana Jones, is recording evidence (like a detective I like to think, which is equally as cool). Archaeology is a destructive process and so we replace what we remove with accurate records to preserve the site for future study. This model of recording is what the CBA are asking us all to do. They provide all of the tools needed on their website (along with a much more thorough brief than I have sketched out). The website will also serve as a repository for the information and will develop a UK wide map plotting newly discovered sites. The data will also be shared across multiple archaeological agencies and submitted to local councils to ensure that First World War sites are considered in any future planning decisions. Very cool indeed.

The sites could be anything, from requisitioned buildings, military sites or even documentary evidence such as photographs and letters.

I think this is a fabulous opportunity to preserve our relatively recent local history in a synthesised way and to ensure it doesn’t disappear over time.

Also I just really love doing detective work.

Follow the project on Twitter too @homefrontlegacy


Holiday Twillight

0

July 11, 2014

So we got back from our much anticipated French holiday this morning. It was only been a short hop across the Channel but it may as well have been a different planet. The light, the air, the pace of life were all so far removed from busy and habitually murky London. I love the old girl don’t get me wrong, but it’s always nice to wake up to blue seas and white light.

i

So, back I am, in the fluffy bosom my cats and my own bed, but I’m not quite ready to return to reality just yet. That’s for tomorrow. I’m not one of these holiday-blues-getting types generally. I like my holiday, then I come home refreshed and ready to crack on with the next thing. However, this evening with the back door open and perhaps a little foggy from sleep deprivation, I still feel that I have a few toes floating on the surface of that bright blue sea.

kmm
So whilst I’m in this lazy twilight, I thought I’d post the first of several chapters about my time away. This first one is about Notebook basecamp, which was a beautiful apartment above Nice overlooking the marina. It could be best described architecturally as 80’s does deco, but in a fairly successful way which managed to avoid looking like Rodney and Cassandra’s flat in Only Fools and Horses in the later series when Rodders starts working for Caz’s dad and they go all young professional on us. This is my all round mental image whenever I hear the phrase ‘80s does 20s’. Even though I think that was actually in the 90s, but what the hey.

h

I didn’t want to stay in some super modern apartment with pristine white floors and glass everywhere. Glamourous they may be, but if I was going to France I wanted to feel I was in France and not just one of a billion holiday apartments in any country anywhere on Earth. This place ticked all the boxes. It wasn’t quite a bohemian garret apartment straight out the La Boheme that I might have plumped for (T put his foot down), but it was the perfect mix of luxury and character and I loved staying there.

ostderqI had always wanted to cook in one of those lovely Parisian kitchens you see in films with net curtains and lovely music playing. Tick!

cbAI loved this lift, it reminded me of a Wes Anderson film.

uAs did the entrance hall.

fpI wanted to steal this chair.

wAu revoir for now.

xxx


Au Revoir

0

July 8, 2014

You may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet this week here in Notebook-land.

That’s because I have been celebrating my birthday by swanning off to the Riviera for a bit. I’m currently in Nice, trying to look as chic as Brigitte whilst simultaneously stuffing my face with as many creme brulees as I can lay my sticky little fingers on.

Normal service will resume in a few days.

Au revoir mes petits cornichons.

xxx


Letter to an Unknown Soldier

Comments Off

June 27, 2014

In this year marking the centenary of the First World War there’s a great project that some of you may like to partake in.

slide3-1200x700

The Letter to an Unknown Soldier is an art project which invites the public to write a letter to an unknown solider. It can be about anything that you feel you would like to express – a familial story, an imagined letter from a sweetheart or a review of what we have learned about war since then. Then upload the letter to the website. The site will remain open until 11 p.m. on the night of 4 August 2014. This time marks the centenary of the moment when Prime Minister Asquith announced to the House of Commons that Britain had joined the First World War. After this the letters will be archived online by the British Library.

More info can be found here

I think this is a great idea and I’ve already submitted my letter. Which I’ve posted below for you all to read.

 

 

To an Unknown Solider,

I’m writing this on a train. I had meant to sit and write this peacefully at my dining room table, taking a few brief organised moments to reflect on you and your war and your sacrifice. But that didn’t happen because this world is busy. My world is busy, chaotically busy. But my world is peacefully chaotically busy. Sitting across from me is a lady with a cup of coffee in her hand. The steam raises and twirls in the rattling carriage. I think of your fingers, frozen and bent. Hunched in the winter night, roaring guns and shuddering bones. What relief a good cup of coffee would have been to you. It’s warmth as you held it, sipped and swallowed. Filling for a moment the hollow form in the uniform. Now I can smell it, so familiar to me – rich, nutty and transportive, to a world of soft sofas and Sunday morning newspaper reading. In my world we call a cup of coffee a ‘little luxury’. We buy overpriced cups topped with creamy foam and chocolate dust (sometimes in the form of a heart) because we’ve earned a little treat. We made it through that boring meeting, or our gym session, or its Friday and we all deserve extra love on a Friday.  This is my world – full of daily luxuries. It’s not like this for everyone. Somewhere in this world someone would still grasp a cup of coffee as you may have done, as if it were life itself. But my world, my world that I ride this train through is not that brutal. It is safe and warm and full of luxuries because of you. Thank you seems feeble, but it is sincere.

A very grateful woman on a train.


From Sidewalk to Catwalk

Comments Off

June 22, 2014

My earliest encounter with Jean Paul Gautier was the transparent peach toned form with perfect breasts and slim curving waist that stood in the bathroom of my childhood home. I don’t remember ever lifting the cap and squirting a sharp, pert gust from the neck of the headless lady, like a fragrant tracheotomy. Perhaps it never occurred to me that there might be more to the object than its perfect form. The bottle belonged to my mother, so it seemed apt that we visited the exhibition currently on display at the Barbican together – The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.


Perfume, corsets and stripes remain synonymous with Gaultier and they were the backbone of the exhibition. His signature stripes unashamedly assault you in the first space you enter, which for a stripeophile such as myself was a wee bit of a fetishistic experience. Gaultier is however more than Breton and cone bras, which if I’m honest is something I had slightly forgotten before attending the exhibition. Catholicism, punk, pop culture, Britannia, ethnicity and surrealism are all as much a part of the great man’s work as unwavering humour and kitsch French irony.

WP_20140605_10_40_12_ProWP_20140605_10_42_22_ProWP_20140605_10_41_34_Pro2011-06-23-jpg_004vOh this dress…

WP_20140605_10_42_45_ProWP_20140605_10_42_56_ProPerfection.

You are guided through the facets of Gaultier’s wonderland-esque aesthetic by talking mannequins, their hologram faces blinking beautifully if vacantly and speaking largely unintelligible snippets that I feel I should recognise or understand, but invariably don’t.
There is of course the man himself, Jean Paul, has any designer ever been more their own brand ambassador? Westwood perhaps, I think idly as I wander in to the punk themed section and am besieged by raggedy double denim and tartan kilts.

WP_20140605_10_43_47_Pro

p01x1z5l
It’s the connections that struck me I suppose. Gaultier seems tied to everything beautiful and fun, through his creations, collaborators and muses. His long partnership with the photographers I love, Pierre and Gilles and also David LaChappelle. His models become his best friends, there are even dreamy sketches of them along one wall; Naomi, Dita, Beth Ditto, Kylie, Erin O’ Connor, and of course a certain tiny lady beginning with M.

Seeing that Madonna corset in person was like seeing the Mona Lisa in the flesh. ‘But it’s so small’. It’s an icon of my life. I saw it before I even understood what it was. It used to look silly to me as a child, now I see it for what it is – power encapsulated in cloth. Has any garment ever been as powerful? Trousers, miniskirts, hijabs, yes all of these are iconic. Some may be divisive, offensive, bold or a statement, but one individual item of clothing, alone? I’m not so sure any has had the cultural impact. Tiny, shiny and softly crafted from 1930s lingerie, surely on paper it should be soft and malleable. But it’s not, it’s so bloody tough. And small, very small.

_74227992_74227989

7-jpg-madonna40ba0c7a-bc00-11e3-_562506c19.-Jean-Paul-Gaultier.-Dita-von-Teese-Flaunt.-Circe-ensemble-Buttons-collection-789x1024gaultier_kylie_minogue02

I know of course there was more than one cone corset, quite a few of them are on display. The oldest however features on Jean Paul’s childhood teddy. Threadbare and worn as he is now, he bears the unmistakable cone mounds on his chest, crafted lovingly by an infant Gaultier from newspaper. Heartbreakingly sweet.

Gaultier_2873223b

I spent most of the time walking around murmuring, ‘so much, so many clothes. He’s done so much’. The inventiveness, the joy, the celebration of this weird old world and the people in it. The bones and the lace. The feathers and the furs (which I can’t really condone but its a nice phrase). There’s so much life in this exhibition. Blood rubies, azure blue veins and black leather. The fabrics, textures, and senses of life. Beating and pulsing and dancing on our merry way draped in silk and falling head over our platform heels in love with beauty, however it presents itself.

WP_20140605_10_42_05_ProMarion’s Oscar dress in black.

WP_20140605_10_44_03_ProWP_20140605_10_44_19_ProWP_20140605_10_42_12_ProAu revoir


Summer Witch

Comments Off

June 9, 2014

I don’t do summer very well. I’ve bemoaned my issues with summer clothes often in the past. Essentially I don’t really like florals, or Hawaiian prints, or pastels (unless they are in the form of a 60s shift dress and matching coat). Needless to say I don’t like the above ON ME. I think other ladies rocking a hibiscus print dress look lovely, I just don’t feel like myself in them.

So with this spell of lovely warm weather I thought it was high time I invested in some summer clothes that made me feel happy. I read a thing a while back which said that style was easy, you just find the pieces that make you feel most like you and wear variations of them every day, well I very much feel like me in this. I will henceforth be wearing the below for the next month or two. I call this look ‘summer witch’.

Kimono, skirt and top all H & M. Hat from Denham Car Boot sale.

dcFNOR3721

And of course every witch needs a cat….

bHere’s mine watching me have my picture taken. Little pink tounge!

e


Paint it in Mint Ice Cream

Comments Off

May 31, 2014

The greatest gift my lovely little Frank ever gave me, apart from her friendship, was introducing me to Tori Amos. Tori had until that point just been that red haired woman who sang Cornflake Girl. She remains so to this day. She is also a whole lot more. Since she bounced out of my mid-nineties multi-cd combi tape and radio sound system with a jingly jangly ‘You bet your life eeeeeeeeeeeeet iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis!’ she has gone on to release fourteen studio albums, and unfailingly tour roughly every two years. Some people may not like Tori. They may not like her constant self-analysis,  the metaphorical lyrics so twisty turny no-one’s entirely sure what they mean and her impy mischievous style in interviews. Well I’ll say the same thing to those people that I say to those who don’t like Wes Anderson films, you’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re wrong.

Sitting in piles of books and ashtrays with Frank for three years and listening to Tori led me in to a world of magic and melodies. A world of women throughout time and myth; Guinevere and Jackie Kennedy, searching, talking and trying to connect with one another. There is cruelty in Tori’s lyrics, and yet wit and helplessness and strength. Every aspect of womanhood is picked over in her songs, from lipstick to the mother Goddess, and I feel so bloody thankful to be one when I listen to her music. It’s not just some exclusive self-righteous club of sisterhood though. Men, women, politics, war, food, murder and much more are all given a liberal dollop of Tori insight in her songs. These investigations somehow create links for me in this big, beautiful and confusing world. Illuminated yellow-brick roads in the night sky, guiding me to seek and understand and be as kind as I can be to those who are riding a different wave.

I went to see Tori play at the Albert Hall a few weeks ago and it was very special and poignant for many reasons, one of which was that I went with my Dad and she played Winter which was a lovely moment.

It was the third time I had seen Tori live and she never fails to bring a hint of otherworldliness to her shows. I drifted off in to willow trees and fireflies and then she cracked into a haunting rendition of Smells Like Teen Spirit and I was eight years old, sitting on a brown carpet hearing Kurt’s snarl for the first time and realising that my mind had shifted from its usual axis just a little.

Coming home I thought about how Tori has influenced me in another way which seems pale and shallow in comparison to the crashing pillars of human fragility and the unknowing enormity of the cosmos that she normally makes me consider.

She’s affected my fashion sense. Not in any hugely perceptibly way. I’ve never hennaed my hair and donned denim dungarees, but then Tori didn’t do much of that either really. She rocked those late nineties threads like the best of them but in the last fifteen years she has carved out a style which is truly impressive. It’s chic and flowing, luxe with a hint of the ethereal. Always perfectly tailored and usually with some statement leather or killer heels thrown in to the mix to toughen things up. All in all, it’s a good bloody look.


Tori teamed up with stylist Karen Binns early in her career. When Binns met her Tori apparently looked ‘like a teenage bag lady, completely out to lunch’. Over the course of their partnership the women have created some truly iconic looks. Tori tends to embrace a new persona (or several) for each new (usually concept) album. The women she presents are extensions of herself, Vivienne Westwood bedecked submersibles sent to explore the depths of Tori’s psyche and bring back pretty and disturbing creatures for us to study. This MO was most clearly played out with The American Doll Posse album of 2007 (stylistically my personal favourite). For this album Tori and Binns created five elemental characters, associated with Greek goddesses, separated for centuries by the autonomy of the patriarchy, now being united as one woman. Each had her own tracks and of course, wardrobes. Santa is sensual and dons appropriately tactile silks and satins. Pip is a warrior and wears her battle dress of black leather and a helmet of jet hair. Clyde is inward looking, trying to understand humanity for what it is, she wears autumnal tones, has touseled brunette hair and is, perhaps unsurprisingly, my favourite of the bunch.

(If anyone ever comes across this dress please buy it for me and I’ll pay you back, I promise, a Lannister always pays their debts. It’s Vivienne Westwood Anglophillia from I think A/W 2007).

As you can see, this stuff ain’t just cosmetic with Tori. The clothes are the story as much as the lyrics. Tori uses aesthetics exactly as the should be used, for whatever darn reason she pleases.

As such, I’ve complied a wee homage to Tori’s insurppressible sense of fun, expression and visual creativity.

chinaThe woman used a frickin’ Tholos tomb as a skirt. I mean come on! From the China single cover art, 1992.

winter‘I’ll put on my silver’. From Winter, 1992.

Spring onions as a necklace, ‘I always could accessorize’. Crucify single art, 1992.

Disco hot! Jackie’s Strength single shot. 1998.

The Jackie’s Strength wedding dress. I’ve always like how simple and unembellished it is. 1998.

936full-tori-amosScarlet’s Walk was all about America after September 11th. It was a journey across the US and the character of Scarlet was both woman and country. Her clothes were light, floral and full of mid-west nostalgia. 2002.

slgenjoislg-g6AtlanticSAM005341280-e71c6r4st3ktd6xy38rm3gnr86megtgmp6g2c8t85The Strange Little Girls album of 2001 was Tori and Binns at their Cindy Sherman inspired best. The concept album consisted entirely of songs by men re-visited by women, each of course played by Tori. The transformations were completed by the make-up artistry of the great Kevyn Aucoin.

toal1

Tori-Tales-of-a-Librarian-73pc-383x480btoal6Tales of a Librarian was all about the pink pop noir. I love this artwork. 2003.

22I think this is from the Beekeeper 2005. So gorgeous.

Tori Amos004American Doll posse period (ahahaha!) 2007.

I am obsessed with the styling of this album.

450almostroseyisabelPip_set2tori_amos_american_doll-posseSanta-tori-amos-279750_899_1000Clyde_set3Clyde_set2My girl Clyde.

Sticking with fashion forward high glamour, Tori’s next album was Abnornally Attracted to Sin.

189318901892189618971898189919001901

Night of Hunters, 2011

nightofhunters05

These are just a few more shots I quite like.

Here she is teaming up with Kevyn Aucoin again for his fabulous Face Forward book.

taninginamaryqueen

I really love her stage style too, it looks so comfortable and yet utterly glamourous. It usually consists of slinky tunics or kimono style gowns with statement leather or wet look leggings underneath.

4801705540_70023dccd8_b311899968

I also like this picture because I had this top/dress too about ten years ago. Topshop innit.

xxxx


About Me

A yesteryear throwback archaeologist in training writing about London, history and anything else that takes my fancy. I live in an old church and love all things Art Deco and Noir, with a touch of the gothic thrown in too. The 1930s is my era but I will always have a soft spot for Victoriana, the roaring twenties and cold war espionage. This is a place for pretty clothes, good books, and an unceasing love of basset hounds. I also wear a lot of berets.

Hello!

Recent Comments

Follow Me

  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed