Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! at Somerset House

January 26, 2014

I was expecting hats, hats and more hats and Somerset House’s Isabella Blow retrospective did not disappoint. As well as some of her own designs, visitors were invited to feast their eyes on the mad and magnificent outfits Blow pulled together from her protégés’ collections. Because, above being a great milliner, a fantastically mad dresser, and a fashion editor who pushed the boundaries of many established magazines and newspapers, she was a sparkling talent spotter and developer.

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The exhibition starts with aristocratic family albums and an incredible hat featuring several taxidermied crows as well as a shoe, swiftly followed by some lace pieces by Alexander McQueen (discovered by Blow). Not the best presented room but it got better…much better.

Upstairs, hats Blow wore (her own designs and Philip Treacy’s), a collection of personal objects such as her favourite shade of lipstick, her fantastic shoes (including the mismatched ones Andy Warhol noticed her for)…

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My highlight was a (typed) letter she received from a friend after a party, which described entrance and her outfit, and really captures that when Isabella was in the room, no matter how mad her outfit, or casual her approach, she attracted people like moths to a flame.

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Two further rooms showed off further outfits worn by Blow. Because not only did she find new talent and hone it, she launched it by wearing it, wearing the designs by McQueen, Treacy, McDonald and Chalayan… What better endorsement for a designer than having the Fashion Director of The Sunday Times Style wear your clothes, accessories, shoes…! From an aristocratic background, she was very interested in armour and the hunt, wearing pieces by McQueen featuring feathers and antlers.

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Another room presents a striking black and white photoshoot she styled, and helped discover the models for. A magazine article displayed nearby tells the story of how she discovered Sophie Dahl, a completely random encounter.

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The final room downstairs presents key pieces and a viewing from the show McQueen and Treacy put together as an homage after her untimely death. Because although she was very good at putting others forward, and despite her outrageous, attention grabbing clohtes, hats and shoes, Blow was actually always hiding behind these costumes, deflecting attention onto others.

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All in all, a very interesting look at the boundary-breaking style of an elusive woman, who honed so much British talent, transforming UK fashion forever. Lady Gaga eat your heart out.

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! ends on 2 March 2014 at Somerset House.

[Tip: no bags bigger than A4 size are allowed in and have to be checked into the (paying) cloakroom]

Dinner at Johanssons, Camberwell

October 20, 2013

Camberwell is full of dining surprises. Obviously you can’t miss the Nando’s on the corner as you go up Denmark Hill, or the McDonald’s as you go into the Butterfly Walk shopping centre. But Camberwell’s dining scene is much more varied, independent and exciting than that.

We went to Johanssons last night. A small scandi-cuisine restaurant at night, a deli by day, tucked behind the bustling Camberwell Church Street.

It looked closed when we approached, though the lights were on. A friendly young lady greeted us and led us past the deli counter, up a small flight of steps, through a big square room with wooden floors and high ceilings, empty apart from a chair or two, and finally, into the small dining room (it only seats about 20 from my count…). Again, a high ceilinged, white wall room with wooden floor, wood tables and chairs and lit by flickering candles and a happy fire (the first of this year).

We were alone, but soon a bunch of eight friends came through the door for dinner, so it turned into a dinner party atmosphere. It was really like eating in someone’s living room… I expect it gets busy in the summer as there is a garden attached to the back of the house.

Anyway, onto the food! A simple menu with two sharing platters, a few good looking mains and a drinks list.

We went for the Scandi platter to share, which was a generous spread presented on a slate. An earthy reindeer terrine with loganberry sauce and tomato chutney, thick homemade ham slices with proper Dijon mustard and sauerkraut, and a two generous slices of salmon terrine with a sour cream and dill sauce. Toasted crusty bread slices to pile it on. Delicious!

We thought we might need a main but the platter was more than enough for three hungry ladies!

A great discovery, and perfect venue for an intimate gathering with friends or family. Must try the brunch!

Wishbone Brixton

April 7, 2013

Finally sampled Wishbones much-hyped free range fried chicken.

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Located in Market Row, behind Brixton tube, Wishbone is tucked next to mexican Casa Mojita and opposite excellent pizza place Franco Manca (i recommend both!)

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Very low lighting at night, diner style stools, exciting menu!

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The drinks were tasty!

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And the food??? Succulent…

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Amazing chicken and you must try the deep fried macaroni cheese!!

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Happy customers!!!

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Victoria sponge with fresh fruit

April 7, 2013

Sunday baking…

My mums homemade apricot and vanilla jam, sour cream, fresh strawberries and blackberries

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Singin’ in the Rain at the Palace Theatre

January 29, 2013

‘Singing in the Rain’ is one of my favourite musicals. A simple plot peppered with great tap and feel-good singing numbers!

 

So when the opportunity arose to see the stage musical, I jumped at the chance! I got tickets through lastminute.com (£22.50 for dress circle seats!) and took my friend Emily along on a Tuesday night.

The stage production was excellent. I don’t really want to describe it too much as it has its surprises, but also sticks to the film really well. Just go and see it!!! It makes you realise you… “Gotta dance!”

Citron Citron Miller Harris Perfume

January 27, 2013

One of my best friends, and blogger of The Fashion Memo, Lou, gave me a delightfully fresh scent for Christmas: Citron Citron (aka Lemon Lemon) Eau de Parfum from Miller Harris.

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It actually reminds me of my mum as she wears a similar citrussy scent. This one evolves into more warm flowery tones after a few hours of wear but still delicious!

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The kind of scent that makes you feel dressed! Thanks Lou!!

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January 27, 2013

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Valentino:Master of Couture at Somerset House

January 24, 2013

For Christmas this year, I offered by friend Lou, the person behind the great blog The Fashion Memo, a ticket to the Valentino: Master of Couture retrospective at Somerset House.

 

 

The show focused around 50 years of Valentino’s couture pieces, arranged in different periods such as ‘Mint’, ‘Smoke’ and ‘Ice’.

The room is set up like a catwalk, where you are the star. Each piece is numbered and makes you walk up and down quite a few times. The Louis XIV style chairs have names of famous women who have attended Valentino shows, from Liza Minelli to Jackie O’, Sarah Jessica Parker to Julia Roberts. Informative and makes you feel like you are in good company!

I admit I have never  really been able to recognise a Valentino piece – the structure of his dresses change a lot, although I now realise it is more the couture techniques applied, the intricate beading, the stitching of chiffon, the folding of the tulle…

 

 

The beauty of Valentino couture is in the detail.

Great exhibition!

My beautifully stylish friend Lou…

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And me…

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Sucker Punch

January 22, 2013

What a film! Combining action, thriller and fantasy, it also has a real video game feel about it, and the girls kick ass!

A quick plot summary for those who haven’t seen it (although you should! NOW!!) – a girl is put into an asylum by her evil stepfather as she accidently killed her sister in self-defence against him. She imagines the asylum is a club, where the girls are all clients.

Each time Babydoll dances, the girls are transported into an alternate reality, where they need to complete a mission to gain an object. Hence the video game feel.

The visuals are breathtaking, with 3 different levels of reality presented.

The Asylum:

The Club:

The Game Levels:

Great characters, great costume design and visuals!

I love the fact that the girls are empowered by using their sexyness and are amazingly skilled, strong warriors!

The soundtrack is excellent combining Bjork’s ‘Army of Me’ and re-makes of ‘Sweet Dreams are made of these’, sung by Emily Browning (the lead character). The music is strong, wistful, sexy and energetic, progressing the plot as much as the action.

As the Wiseman said: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

The amazing Hollywood Costumes exhibition at the V&A

January 20, 2013

This exhibition at the V&A really exceeded my expectations. Often when you go to costume exhibitions, they involve, if you’re lucky, 20 film costumes (most of which you have never even heard of!). Not the case at the V&A though, one of my favourite museums in London.

The exhibition is split into 3 huge rooms, each showcasing about 50 costumes, from the Addams Family to Indiana Jones, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz to Neo from the Matrix…and explores the way costume designers choose specific materials, textures and colours to create a character. The show also looks at how actors, directors and costume designers collaborate to create characters, such as Meryl Streep to create Donna from Mamma Mia or Johnny Depp portraying Jack Sparrow (based on Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards).

The costumes were really well staged, with quotes from costume designers, directors and actors putting them in context. And the whole thing was accompanied by epic movie music.

Here are a few highlights, although you have to see it to believe it!

Below (left to right): Viola D’Alessops wedding dress and Shakespeare from Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth costumes, a costume from Les Liaisons Dangereuses and (this brought a tear to my eye) two of the beautiful dresses from the Marie Antoinette film by Sofia Coppola.

The Addams Family:

Below: The green dress from Atonement, Rose’s outfit when she boards the Titanic (at the back), Satine from the Moulin Rouge (on the swing), Audrey Hepburn’s opening outfit from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady (sitting).

Below: Borat, Legally Blonde, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, John Travolta’s famous Saturday Night Fever white suit, the Blues Brothers and Austin Powers

Below: The Bride from Kill Bill, Jack Sparrow, Braveheart, James Bond and Superman above.

One of Elizabeth Taylor’s many Cleopatra costumes…

Fight Club…

Charlie Chaplin…


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