Sunday, 28 February 2010

Save Plastic People, London's best underground club.


As you may notice up there in my profile, I used to be a bit of a party girl. And my church was a London club called Plastic People. I'd define it as an underground club: there is only a doorway with a broken sign, it's hard to find, the owners don't seem to feel the need to promote the place. Because it's a club that's all about good music for people who love music, not about playing to the lowest common denominator to getting passing trade through the door.

As such, it has a very peaceable, relaxed atmosphere. You don't get dressed up in your best heels to go there, because it's too dark to pose. It really is all about the music. The kind of club where at midnight on New Year's Eve you'll hear Let's Stay Together by Al Green. And have a few other spiritual moments where you'll put your hands in the air and clink (plastic) glasses with everyone around you. It's definitely NOT the kind of club where you get people whispering in your ear, 'Want any drugs?' It just doesn't attract that kind of element.

Which makes it puzzling and bizarre that the authorities are trying to close the club down on the grounds of preventing public nuisance, crime and disorder.

This is a club that is all about music. The most innovative music in the world is championed here. There are nights such as CDR where everybody is invited to create their own music to bring in to play. Nights such as Co-Op fostered the best of London's own new music. But global innovators also play at Plastic People. If this venue is lost, an invaluable part of London's musical culture and heritage is lost.

Please help prevent this potentially devastating loss by signing the petition to Hackney Council. Join the Facebook page here. It's even reached the LA Times - read this interview with Four Tet discussing the importance of Plastic People. If Plastic People is lost, London's most valuable music space is lost. Let's not let that happen.

[Photos borrowed from Zi Wang and Vent Fury with thanks.]

Thursday, 25 February 2010

CA4LA: Japanese hats, London style.


CA4LA is a gem of a hat shop, hidden down a side street  in East London. Japanese owned, the shop itself is stripped back to the bare bricks with old wooden shop fittings, chandeliers, shabby antique display cases and shelves made out of ancient doors.


The hats are all designed in Japan. From cossack-style fur to fascinators and the crazy inbetween: silver straw hats with dotted veils and tiny top hats with coloured feathers. (Click to see details on picture above.) Oh, and a stuffed boar wearing a leather top hat embroidered with the face of a Japanese dude wearing shades.



But there are everyday felt porkpies and trilbies for those feeling less adventurous. The perfectly hatted and seemingly straight out of Shinjuku staff are as helpful as can be, padding out bands or stretching, to get you the best fit.


To counter the February weather (drizzle, grey, sleet, drizzle) and with a fringe to protect, I decided to invest. LOVING my new hat. I don't CARE if it keeps raining, now.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Diana Vreeland and the Mitford sisters: It girls gone by.

I remembered I have a copy of DV by Diana Vreeland on my shelf, bought for me by my mother for Christmas years ago and still unread, thanks to Sneaky Magpie who commented on my post yesterday. Along with a copy of The Mitford Girls, a biography of the Mitford sisters also bought for me by my mother and unread, I think I have my reading for the rest of February sorted out. Eccentric New York magazine editor and aristocratic sisters of dubious politics? Check. Don't these two look so stylish and slightly batty in this picture?

Right, just nipping to the shop for some amaretto to put in my hot chocolate and then another February day has been successfully warded off.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Funk you, February! (A good month for self-help.)

February is absolutely kicking my butt. A combination of dark, depressing weather (it bloody snowed again today!), everyone having colds, plus working out my notice period (37 working days left!) is making it very hard for me to get up in the morning.

So it's timely that I appear to be reading my first ever self-help book. If You Have to Cry Go Outside is written by Kelly Cutrone, fashion publicist power bitch. Her PR company People's Revolution runs fashion shows, which she oversees in a very-cool-but-with-a-heart power bitch kind of way.

It's actually really refreshing to read a completely kick-arse woman's journey, especially relating to such a fickle field as fashion. I've not finished it yet – she's just given birth as a single mum and appears to be rocking at it, having the cash and wherewithal to hire help instead of worrying about having a man around – but it's seriously brightening up my day. Here she is, on 'urban single power-girl pregnancy.'

'I could not wear maternity clothes. Ugh, yuck, no way, no thanks, never! Pea in the Pod made me want to kill myself. What were these fabrics? Floral prints? I was sure I'd rather clean toilets than be seen in them.'

Right, who else's inspiring story can I read until this dreary month passes?

[Kelly Cutrone pictured above left, in House of Holland FFS shirt.]

Monday, 22 February 2010

Red and blue? What a to-do.

I've really enjoyed leisurely watching the shows streaming live from London Fashion Week. My favourite so far has to be Charles Anastase. (Shown above and below.) The colours were an inspired mix of mustard, turquoise, salmon, burnt orange and blood red.

The loosely layered coats made me think of what an actress in 1930s Berlin might throw on to escape out of the stage door after an evening's performance. And the pyjama suit shapes and ruffled hats reminded me of something Otti Berger might have worn to class at the Bauhaus.


(Otti Berger, from an exhibition at the Bauhaus Archiv, earlier this year.)

Friday, 19 February 2010

Duvet day. (And in favour of the 21hr working week.)

I took a duvet day today. I have a cold and was already feeling the effects of a long week so didn't fancy ten hours out of the house, an hour spent cycling to and from work, then chores still to do when I got home.

Despite my foggy shuffling around, I have achieved SO much today. The flat is sparkling, I've been in constant contact with a client and a designer regarding a project, I've picked up a prescription and done laundry. During my normal working week of being away from the home from 9am to 6pm some of these small chores seem completely inachievable. When will I get a chance to go to a chemist? The cats are out of food, but the pet shop is only open whilst I'm at work?

The recent report suggesting that a 21 hour working week would be a beneficial to a lot of people makes real sense to me. So many of us overwork, then over consume because we're time poor. Distributing the working hours means that more people get a chance to work and we all have increased spare time to try to live in a more balanced and sustainable way.

In the meantime, roll on April 16th. My last day at my office job! Have a great weekend, dudes. (The quilt in the picture was handmade by Made By White's mother and sister. I can't tell you how much I want one!)

Thursday, 18 February 2010

The Shop. (My favourite vintage shop in London.)


A while back, in my reader comments, someone asked if I could recommend the best vintage shops in East London. I am an expert in this field, I cannot be modest, so I thought I should tell you about The Shop on Cheshire Street, which is definitely my favourite vintage shop in the area.


A veritable veteran of the area at fifteen years in business, it is run by a mother and son team. The Shop always has marvellous and plentiful stock: vintage dresses in wonderful prints and fabrics, quality cashmeres and woollens, piles of silk scarves and fabrics neatly folded into every possible drawer and cabinet, eminently wearable hats, and a huge cabinet of costume jewellery, hair combs and beaded evening bags. There are also cabinets full of folded and pressed vintage fabrics.


The biggest plus point to me is that everything is in great condition and very reasonably priced. There is absolutely no mass-bought vintage filler, the stock is pure quality throughout. And I can let you in on a tip: Thursdays are when they bring in the new goodies.


I escaped with only a vintage cream silk blouse today, in perfect condition and a bargain at £15. I can't get enough of silk at the moment: hurry up Spring!

The Shop is at number 3, Cheshire Street, and is open every day.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Lanterns, bunting and umbrellas.

I love that in London you can find any crazy thing your heart desires at a couple of hours notice. Yesterday I needed a boomerang and an Atlanta sports cap for a photoshoot. I found the hat in Soho and the boomerang in Covent Garden and my journey between the two took me through Chinatown, where it was all about lanterns, banners and umbrellas.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Happy Birthday Cazzy G.

It's my friend Cazzy's birthday today. Reading the John Hughes article in Vanity Fair really reminded me of her. We spent entire summer holidays watching films in her mum's living room. She lived right next to Maple Video and we'd spend hours reading the backs of cases, looking at posters and taking home stacks of videos and junk food before hunkering down with our pals Leigh and Marie for a video watching sesh. Cazzy fancied Corey Feldman and I fancied Corey Haim.

Cazzy is an all round genius. She's travelled the world, written a novel and a script, made a film, takes amazing photographs and can draw REALLY WELL. Happy Birthday Cazzy G!

Monday, 15 February 2010

And the Oscar goes to...

Ever a fan of the quixotic project, I have decided to watch all of the films nominated for Best Motion Picture at the Oscars this year.

Accordingly, we had a very film-focused weekend. We watched five of the nominations, even cancelling Valentine's dinner to stay on schedule, favouring instead hotdogs and chocolate chip cookies in bed. (Sorry Nuraghe.)

I ended up seeing several films I would never ordinarily consider watching, two of which were brilliant. (I mention no names yet, as I will be announcing our household Oscar predictions on completion of the project. James knows more about film then anyone else I know, and I'm loving our little committee discussions at the end of each viewing.)

We're also planning to take the morning after the ceremony off work, so that we can stay up all night to watch them. I'm usually gutted to have to go to bed whilst it's all going on. Although I did watch them a couple of years ago at a bar in Brooklyn, and saw local boy Martin Scorsese collecting his Academy Honorary Award, which was ace.

I also really enjoyed reading the Vanity Fair Hollywood Portfolio issue over the weekend. The John Hughes article is a must read for those, like me, who grew up on his films.

(PS: I'm dreading having to go and see Avatar. It's not my cup of tea at all. Ugh.)

Friday, 12 February 2010

Each day is Valentine's Day.

I know that the popular modern opinion is that we're supposed to make time for our relationships as a matter of course and that Valentine's Day is silly, a day created for the sole purpose of selling heart shaped balloons and raising prices in restaurants.

But I celebrate Saint Valentine's Day. I see no problem with having a day dedicated to being shmoopy. Plus it was my grandparents' wedding day, back in 1942. Do you celebrate it?

Have a fabulous weekend, peeps!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Denim on denim.



I was planning to do a post about denim on denim today because a) it's totally fash at the moment and b) I love it. Researching online I came upon Mademoiselle Robot's lovely blog and thought OH WELL. She's got it covered, never mind, I'll give up.

But in the jazz tradition of call and response, I thought I'd do a response post. Not that I'm trying to start some kind of blog beef or anything but we tweeted about it and I thought it would be funny. Anyway, I tried to take the photos this morning in my garden and here is the pitiful result. (Everything has gone wrong today and frankly I want to sit under my desk and weep. And go on a diet. And sleep for 48 hours. And kill several coworkers.) Just go and read Mademoiselle R's post, and leave me here feeling sorry for myself, OK?

(I personally love the look of denim on denim because it's so intrinsically American. And because the denim suit has been forbidden for so long, it seems totally fresh. Anyway. Blah.)

(I also look totally hipsters have to pee in these pictures, too. Hmf.)

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Plaits with panache.

I'm glad that plaits are still popular for spring. I'm definitely going to try a side plait. I've only just had a fringe cut back in; without the fringe they made my face look really long. (I'm sure my chin has grown, recently. It's really pointy!)

Maegan (top left) gives instructions on her awesome blog on how to plait with panache. The Vogue blogs also give instructions on how to plait as per below. I love the fishtail style, bottom right.


[Picture top right: Face Hunter.]

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Starstruck.

I bowled into my local tiny Italian coffee and sandwich shop yesterday (the awesome Ruby's) looking all scruffy and rained on, and asked a scruffy looking geezer in a beanie hat whether he'd been served. Then I realised it was Rupert Friend and that Keira Knightley was standing next to him. He kind've squeaked, 'Yes' and so I had to push past them both to order my lunch. (Broad bean soup. It was lovely. Although it was kind of embarrassing hanging around waiting for my order with Keira Knightley and Rupert Friend and pretending not to recognise them.)

I've got a bit of a crush on Rupert Friend, y'see, ever since seeing The Young Victoria. Have you seen it? It has been nominated for three Oscars this year (Costume Design, Art Direction and Makeup). I saw it on a plane and liked it so much I immediately bought it and sent it to my Mum. I don't normally like period dramas but Emily Blunt was so luminous as Victoria and Mr Friend actually quite hot as Prince Albert: I rewound the scene where he marches into the palace with his hounds to save her from her evil courtiers about three times.

(Did I just admit that in public? I was on a plane. I was bored, OK?)

Monday, 8 February 2010

Monday morning jazz-out.

It's dank, dark and very February in London this morning. Perfect for some jazz. I'm loving this picture of Sir Johnny Dankworth, who passed away on Friday, playing with his Big Band in 1960. Spot Dudley Moore on the piano. Read his obituary in The Guardian here, check out some of his jazzings here.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Jealous.

Sorry, it's so tedious to continually link to the content of other blogs, but I just had to post this picture by The Sartorialist. Dude is delivering like the mailman at the moment.

Don't these women look radiant? Second from left, Garance Doré (I'm going to have to start referring to her as Garance Boré the amount I waffle on about her); second from right, Anna Dello Russo fashion director at Vogue Nippon; and Anna's assistants, Aurora and Viviana.

Mini grey quilted Chanel + blood red Sofia Coppola by Vuitton + gold studded black clutch (I think Marc Jacobs) = WANT. Plus I really need to get on with choosing my over-the-knee boots, because if these fashion goddesses are wearing them now, they will be EVERYWHERE by next winter. Along with leopard print. Love.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Boutique experience, bargain bounty.

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of TK Maxx's work. So I was thrilled to get an invitation to preview their Putney store, which they've reworked to have a more boutique-y feel, with little touches like chandeliers and huge red leather banquettes to perch on whilst trying on shoes.

The place was STUFFED full of bargains: I spied Luella bags, seriously covetable macs in all colours – wardrobe essential for the next couple of months – Burts Bees and TIGI products and my favourite, these awesome Converse with tiny gold anchors, above, totally in tune with the nautical look that's everywhere for Spring.

Really interesting was a chat with their Women's Outerwear buyer, Shelly Fellows, who explained how they source their stock, working discreetly with big name designers. (Oh, and she appears to have the world's best ever job. Goes into the office on Monday, then decides where to go IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD for the rest of the week, to source stock. Jealous!)

The Putney store is reopening on Saturday with manicures and makeovers, champagne and nibbles, so get down there and snaffle up the bargains! (I might actually need to go and get the Converse. They'd look so great with a little dress and a denim shirt unbuttoned over the top... Why didn't I pick them up? Wah.)

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Whistles. Extreme dress lust alert.

Whistles are continuing to knock it out of the park with their beautiful prints for Spring. As well as the stunning prints, their dresses are exquisitely cut from delicious fabrics. Completely lustworthy. I'd happily sign over my entire wardrobe for one of everything in their store at the moment!

For an insight into their design process, check out this studio tour with their CEO, and high street fashion guru, Jane Shepherdson.  Love the whistle bags!

(Prints from left: Swallow (one for Wee Birdy!), Stateside, Tine, Palm. Click to enlarge image.)

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Unexpected Vampire Weekend rock-out.

My beloved and treasured other half, James, got unexpected last minute tickets to see Vampire Weekend tonight, at a small local venue. (The Relentless Garage.) And they rocked!

They've played a couple of small shows already in London this year and have a big gig later this month, so it was a bit of an unexpected, low key event. I wondered if their band dynamic is off or something; Ezra (lead vocals and guitar, doleful eyes) made a comment about the tour having been 'like the plague diaries so far' and Rostam (far left on the picture) seemed to be so bored he was almost passing out.  It was a strange industry / competition winners kind of gig and seemed a bit flat at first but by the last song, Walcott, the place was jumping.

Italians do it better. (Coffee, I mean.)


I am a big coffee drinker. I go to sleep at night looking forward to the coffee I'm going to have in the morning. So I was particularly up for getting involved with some proper Italian coffee on our trip to Rome.

After a night of trying different wines by the glass at Il Goccetto, we decided we wanted to go somewhere for dessert and coffee. And happened to stumble across Sant'Eustachio Il Caffè.


Still busy at nearly midnight, it seemed like a safe bet. You place your order and pay a bow-tied cashier then go to the bar with your receipt, where it is snaffled by a bow-tied barrista, saucers placed on the counter, a quick check whether we want sugar and moments later perfect cups of coffee placed onto the saucers.


The yellow sign on the side of the machine above says, 'Let us know in advance if you don't want sugar.' They automatically add sugar to the coffee, which I was surprised by as coffee snobs generally shun sugar. I don't take sugar but don't mind it, especially after trying delicious super sweet Cuban coffee, which is a tiny thimble of rocketfuel, with added sugar.


It was so good we had to go back before we left for another hit and to buy their signature yellow moka pots to take home. Here is our triptych of coffee drinking portraits. (Top is me, middle is Janine, bottom is Rushell.)

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

My mini Roman holiday.

Thank you for your lovely comments about my Rome trip. It was a fantastic long weekend. Three of us went to visit our friend Alex who now lives in a stone cottage on a hillside outside Rome with her man, their tiny daughter, and the bump that is her second daughter coming along.

I've never been to Rome before and I loved it. I didn't see any men quite as hot as the ones below, and nowhere near as hot as the firemen Alex found for us last time I visited her there. (That's a whole 'nother post, and a photograph that I have to find for your enjoyment.)


We were stunned by the dome of the Pantheon. It's 2000 years old but looks completely modern. It reminded me of Sir Norman Foster's Reichstag dome. Except he built that 10 years ago.


We had breakfast in the square overlooking the Pantheon on the last morning. A very nice view to admire over your cappuccino. And great views of passing Romans in their heavy camel wool coats and furs.


There were so many lush rooftop gardens peeking down at us. They made me think of the scene at the beginning of La Dolce Vita, with the sunbathing beauties on the roof being catcalled by Paparazzo and Marcello.


And of course, the Trevi Fountain. It was hard trying to imagine Sylvia and Marcello splashing around in the fountain with the rain, cold and HORDES of tourists. I dread to think what it is like in summer if it's so busy in January!


There were green parrots in the trees over the Tiber.


And a more traditional view of the river.

The clouded blue skies mirrored the frescoed basilicas.


I loved Circus Maximus. It's where the chariot races took place and is now an eerie, unused space right in the centre of town, the shape of the track still marked out with the pines and cypress trees. We walked along it, with a few lone joggers, imagining the racket of the ancient races.



The Colosseum was a marvel. It was very easy to imagine the games, gladiators and the noise.


Trastavere was a charming district, home to Santa Maria, one of the oldest churches in Rome and winding medieval streets of trattorias, perfumeries, cats on cars and shopkeepers brushing the rain at your feet.


We had some fantastic meals (Saltimbocca alla Romana followed by pistachio gelato with a caramel and grappa sauce anyone?) but my favourite place was Sant'Eustachio Il Caffè, a typical bustling Roman coffee shop that we found. We found it by accident, but it is apparently rated as one of Rome's two best coffee shops. More about that tomorrow.


(Psst: Alice at Quaint Living happened to be in Rome at the same time as me! Check out her blog over the next few days if you'd like to see more photographs of Rome, she is a brilliant photographer.)