Monday, June 28, 2010

G'Bye Folks

Sad/exciting news - I am going away for a month as of today. I am off on an adventure! This is obviously mostly exciting but also a little bit sad because it will be an internet and blogging free adventure. I might pop into the odd internet cafe but basically I am going to be off the grid.

I am heading to Sicily where I will be doing some travelling and some wwoofing. For the millionth time, this is nothing to do with dogging! It is the World Wide Organisation of Organic Farms or some such. I will be 'learning about organic farming' in exchange for bed and board. I expect this 'education' translates as unpaid manual/menial work but we shall see. Could be anything from fruit picking to loo cleaning... I will review it when I get back (if I survive).

I will be back at the end of July and hopefully blogging will resume then. I hope every has a fab month and love to all.

Chuck x

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Window Browsing

(I briefly considered doing some kind of joke/pun on shop windows and Windows operating system but then I realised that it would be sad and that I couldn't be bothered). Here are just a couple of things which have caught my eye recently which I felt (obsessively) compulsed to share:

Exhibit A: YSL Hortense wedges. I love me a nice wedge and these tick a lot of my boxes - they are black, they are suede, they are good and high, they are chunky-strappy. So what I already have a pair of wedges that meet these exact specifications? So what there have been not one but two pairs in Topshop in the last six months that also meet these delicious requirements? I resisted those and I am going to be forced to resist these but in a perfect world I would own them all! I particularly like the little cut-out in the sole, nice detail.

(£555, Matches)
Exhibit B: POP by PPQ skirt. I am kind of torn on this. I really like the weird colour. It reminds of condiments and libraries and baby poo and ChloĆ© all at the same time. I embrace this. However, it is not a summer colour, it is a delicious autumn/winter colour but those seasons are (hopefully) a long way away and I'm not really ready to start buying for them. Yes, it is in the sale (£19.50 from £39, quite the bargain) and my head is saying, 'be sensible, buy it for winter now, store it', but my heart is saying, 'put your head in the sand and deny any possibility that winter will come again, if you buy this skirt it is like admitting it and then it will happen tomorrow'. Tricky. I am mostly a heart shopper I expect, this is probably why my style is so schizophrenic and why I will never master the capsule wardrobe (they sound boring anyway). Also, I have worn an a-line skirt since I was 12, maybe 13, and I fear it would make me look ridiculous. I know they are very much back in but I do not trust them at all...
(£19.50, Littlewoods)
Exhibit C: Lime Crime lipsticks. How amazing are these colours? Lime Crime are supposed to do extra super high pigmenting so you get really good colour density. I don't really do sheer lip colour (or lipgloss or anything shimmery, glittery or sparkly on lips or nails), either I concentrate on my eyes and forget about my lips and stick to my ubiquitous Rosebud Salve or I want bad-ass colour. I have two Rimmel retro Lasting Finish or something, that are actually really good, in bright pin-up orangy red and dark dark burgundy that I use a lot. These look even better though and with a much more exciting colour range. The below are my favourites, clockwise from top left: Centrifuschsia, Cosmopop, Styletto and My Beautiful Rocket. Good names too. I have a particular craving to try the Prada orange but I suspect it is not one to order online, definite risk of making me look very ill. I know SpaceNK stock them so maybe I will try and pop in...

(£14, Lime Crime)

That is all.

Chuck x

Devil's Cub - Georgette Heyer

So it didn't occur to me at first to review this but then I noticed my fiction section was looking thin and clearly needed pimping out. Also, Georgette Heyer is a goddess and the love of my life. Also, no one needs to know that this was (approximately) the ninth time I have read it. Oops, there goes that one. It doesn't matter though because I am out and proud with my Georgette (we're on first name terms) addiction. This is why I didn't think of reviewing Devil's Cub, I read Georgettes continuously between other books. I have read all of them, I have re-read most of them, I have re-re-read my favourites to the power of n number of times. It is almost beyond reading - I inhale them (like cocaine), take them intravenously (like heroin), gobble them down (like a fat child with a chocolate cake, this is the most realistic if not the most trendy simile). Hence, I kind of don't register them on my reading scale.

This however is a great injustice! They are brilliant brilliant books and everyone should read them! Well, anyone with the slightest trace of an interest in Regency romances anyway. They are meticulously researched and rich in period detail. As such I know an unlikely amount about Regency England - if I read more than two in a row I accidentally start dropping in the slang, gets me some very strange looks... I don't think 'romance' really does them justice although that is undoubtedly what they are. Yet they are so much more than trashy chicklit or Mills & Boon (much as I admired that institution in the folly of youth). They are things of heart-melting glory.

I inherited my addiction from my mother. She has always kept all 40 or so of the Georgette's in her bedside cupboard and turns to them frequently in times of busyness or stress (they are an excellent way to relax). She reads them cyclically, working her way through them all and then start again. She dealt me my first Georgette when I must have been sixteen or seventeen, I haven't looked back. That book was Devil's Cub and it remains one of my favourites, possibly my top favourite. That is a very difficult call though so I am not going to decide it absolutely. Vying for key position is probably Cotillion although I have also have super soft spots for A Convenient Marriage (Heart Horry), Venetia and Sylvester. I'm sure I'll remember more in a moment and have to insert those too. It is a very tight race...

(Fab Pan cover copy -my personal fave - c/o Abe Books)

Anyhoo, Devil's Cub. It is the story of the Marquis of Vidal and the amazing Mary Challoner. Vidal is, of course, dark, suave, handsome and a bit dangerous. Fiery temper; used to getting his own way; attempting to clamber out of the shadow of his legendary father, the Duke of Avon who was quite the rakehell in his day (see These Old Shade, dammit, there is another favourite); tendency to shoot people, bandits to drunkards, an excellent shot. He is quite the rogue and rather going off the rails. Mary is the sturdy and intelligent heroine. She is gutsy (this word doesn't get out enough anymore, I think we should bring it back, it is an excellent word as well as an excellent quality). I have a major soft spot for the not-beautiful-but-smart/brave/kind/intelligent heroine. Say much about me?? Anyway, they fall into all sorts of scrapes, careering around France there are shootings and elopements and battles of will, and it is very exciting and VERY romantic. I don't want to ruin the ending for you but guess what, it is happy!

This is the joy of these books - you know there is going to be a happy ending, which is very reassuring, but you don't know how it is going to be achieved. Georgette writes wonderfully, I think, so you really enjoy the middle, it is not just bland filler before the ending (hello, Mills & Boon). The characters are charming and engaging and they totally welcome you back everytime! A Georgette is escapism at its very best. I know that there is actually a thriving community of under-40 Georgette enthusiasts (I'm doing my bit by slowly converting all my friends) but if you haven't tried her Devil's Cub is a perfect place to start. Do it now!

Chuck x

Saturday, June 26, 2010

1950s Porn

So I am feeling preeeetty lazy today. I reckon it is the glorious sunshine - it has made me all dozy and slightly sunburnt. As such, instead of writing something insightful (as I usually do, obvs) I am merely going to present these pictures of the Louis Vuitton fall campaign and bathe in their glory. They are shot by Steven Meisel and they are perfection, PER-FECTION. The FW10 collection was fab and it looks beautiful and extra 50s here. (On a fashion note that I'm not going to explore in any depth: how great do these skirt lengths look??). My only qualm is over the painful looking abuse of Christy Turlington's breasts in the first two pictures and Karen Elson's in the last one. Ouchy. Ignoring that I adore everything in these photos even, much to my surprise, an LV handbag. Its the taupe one in the middle photo and, yes, I like to use pretentious words for beige, is that a problem?
(As Seen On Fashion Gone Rogue)
Please do click on these to enlarge or go onto FGR to see them, they are worth it. They even nearly make up for Louis Vuitton's stupidly misjudged last campaign that was forcibly withdrawn by the British Council for Advertising and Shizzle (possibly not the official name but close enough). More of this please. *Drool*.
Chuck x

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mr. Potato Head Cake Pops!

Seriously, how could you eat these little guys?? They are genius. I don't understand how Bakerella consistently manages to outdo herself in terms of cake-art... Mr Potato Head cake pops. fo' real peeps.

Chuck x

Chorizo and Tomato Pasta

Mmm... cupboard food. Ok, the chorizo isn't necessarily cupboard food but we had some that needed finishing and the sausage types do last forever. Just made this up but it was yummy so I thought I would post it.
  1. Cut up chorizo into small pieces and fry.
  2. Remove chorizo from frying pan and simmer down one chopped onion in the oil with 4 cloves, a dash of cayenne pepper and a sprinkling of chilli flakes.
  3. Fish out cloves and add 8 quartered cherry tomatoes. Cook for 'a bit' (technical, right??).
  4. Bung in a tin of chopped tomatoes and most of the cooked chorizo. Edit: And lemon zest!
  5. Stew for an indeterminate amount of time, add water if necessary. I ended up putting in a tbsp of brown sugar to even it out.
  6. Add to pasta, farfalle (bows) holds sauce well, and top with the rest of the cooked chorizo, and lots of parmesan and basil. Eat!

This has quite a kick to it if you are enthusiastic with the spices as I inevitably am! Sometimes I decide I am above such things as measurements and just slug things in willy nilly. Measurements are for mere mortals! (Woohoo - alliteration). This sometimes works and I think it worked tonight even if it was spicy enough to make my nose run a bit... So ladylike.

Chuck x

Lightly Lightly

So I was browsing the Liberty website, as you do (well, a girl can dream...), and I stumbled across this lovely top. It is interesting and versatile looking, it is edgy - not quite the right word but still - but pretty, it is slouchy and wallowy (Def: good for wallowing in, obviously, a key activity of mine) and it would go with everything in my wardrobe! It would add interest to my outfit without being too attention grabbing. Seriously it would look so great with the many pairs of black skinny jeans that populate my wardrobe! Sadly though I had to suppress the desire to actually invest in the top for the sake of my bank balance so I shall just put it up here and blithely appostrophise it...
My top (yup, that is the pronoun I'm sticking with) is by newbies Draw in Light. They are lifelong friends Harry and Polly who both graduated from Brighton, where they studied 'Fashion, Textiles & Business', in 2008. Draw in Light was only established in December last year and has been stocked at Liberty since May. These pictures are from their current collection which, I think, is their first. I could do without the blue lips corpse chic but the clothes are 'cool' (no, bad word, feels like writing nice in a Year 6 essay - not the done thing) and wearable and I just thought I'd share...

NB. For anyone who is unaware, the Liberty sale is currently on now and the Trust Fun Glory scarf is 50% off here...
Chuck x

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Linkety Link

Ahahaha. Ahaha. Ah...

'Camelflage' - funny.

Such a mature sense of humour.

Chuck x

Leopard Cravings

Following up on my love of the Givenchy resort leopard print jacket (here) is this coat from Wren. Seen on Refinery29, I love it and I want it. Hadley Freeman wouldn't approve of the animal print but I can't help myself! Lush.


Chuck x

Food Reviewed - Zucca

R said that maybe my Jamie's Italian review was un peu harsh... I can take constructive criticism (ha!) so I am going to try and be more upbeat this time round. This should be easy though since Zucca was a pleasure! 10 minutes walk from London Bridge tube on Bermondsey Street it is an Italian that does actually does the cuisine proud. We went on the basis of a very positive newspaper review and too right they were.

To keep it brief, we had a lovely lunch. The small restaurant (15-20 tables? I don't really have estimating skillz) is in a modern, minimalist stylee - white tables, white chairs, token flash of concrete - but not aggressively so with its flowers and pumpkins. There is a suggestion of the open kitchen, which I can't help but find slightly unnerving, but not in such a way as to interrupt your meal (although I do get paranoid that the chefs are watching me and finding me wanting, this may be my problem not theirs though...). We got a table to ourselves - hurrah!

Food: yumz... We started with delicious - and free! - breads. I'm really very easy to please; free things make me feel coddled and special. There was heavenly focaccia, all spongy and chewy and sodden in olive oil and salt, and plenty of spicy olive oil. R then had grilled octopus, apparently lovely but not to my taste. I was a big pansy and couldn't even be prevailed upon to try it! Fatty, gristly, bouncy tentacles? No, ta. I had 'tomatoes, bread and pecorino' which sounds unexciting but was amazing! Who knew soggy bread could taste so good? I might even have to reconsider my opinions of panzanella. The bread was soft but crunchy and just so tomato-y. Accompanied with tomatoes, slivers of cheese and giant fragrant basil leaves it was fresh, clean and flavourtastic. I then had rabbit with pancetta and shallots (I think) on polenta. I love rabbit and it was tender and generous on the meat. My only disappointment of the whole meal was the polenta - the top layer was ok but there was a lot of it and the rest was soggy and bland, I ended up leaving most of it. R had veal with spinach and lemon. The waitress said it was quite big and hell yes it was! It was a giant veal T-bone steak and it was perfection (yes, I sampled quite a bit!). Wonderfully cooked and chargrilled and lemony. Even the spinach was delicious and normally I find it a bland necessity!

R had an espresso and we both had wine and the bill was still only about £5 more than Jamie's. The ingredients were great and varied and interestingly combined, the food was well cooked and beautifully flavoured and the prices were reasonable for a nice meal out - I felt like we got value for money and I really enjoyed myself. I would definitely recommend Zucca and I am feeling more optimistic about Italian restaurants! Huzzah!

Chuck x

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Spinal Taps

Holy Moly, will you look at those shoes! The mind boggles, at least mine does. Seen on Jak & Jil, they are Dsquared and they are... quite something. I'm torn between being quite afraid and a lot awed. I particularly appreciate the irony of a pair of high heels that go out of their way to demonstrate the kind of damage they're doing to your spine - wear these shoes, hire a chiropractor! I'm sure it is intentional...

(Photo from Jak & Jil)

Should you wish to invest you can find the boot version of the shoe at LuisaViaRoma for a bargainous £954.60 (not including cost of chiropractor)...


They are ridiculous but I kind of love them. On reflection that is probably why I love them...

Chuck x

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Delightful 50s Surprise

I saw this dress in one of the weekend supplements and I think it is just the thing. I love me a nice 50s dress but the real deal, in good condition and in my size, are hard to find. Modern '5os' dresses are often too... froufy is prob the right word, or they are covered in some garish print or are almost inevitably strapless. This shirt-dress from Joules is none of those things. It is instead fab and would presumably fit and not need to be stitched back together after every wear! I think it is wonderfully Mad Men-y without being costume-y. I love the brown and the belt and the ice cream skirt - chocolate, walls vanilla, strawberry, pistachio, blue... Ok, slightly ran out of ice cream options there. I can't decide whether I want to see it on Betty or Joan - it isn't quite sexy enough for Joan but maybe it isn't girly enough for Betty. Thoughts? I can't help but feel that it would look particularly good on a red-head such as *cough cough* yours truly.

I don't know/do Joules as a brand. I have always avoided them because of their jolly hockey-sticks image and because I have no interest in polo tops and rugby shirts. Maybe they are going for a slightly rebranding or maybe I have just never penetrated beyond the polo shirts but they have had a couple of cute dresses recently. A friend was looking for a dress for a wedding this summer and after months of fruitlessly searching Topshop, Urban Outfitters, Zara etc. (the standard high street shops) she came out with two sweet, flattering and appropriate dresses from Joules. Admittedly they went back and she ended up wearing a really beautiful dress from Hobbes, another surprise shop, but they were an insight nonetheless.


I doubt that I am going to start regularly popping into Joules but I will definitely start keeping half an eye on their internet offerings. Or at least I will if I can. If hayfever ever lets me. Damn you pollen! Damn you for not letting me breathe or see!


Chuck x

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fab Prints

I'm going through a phase at the moment (or possibly just growing up, we shall see) of wanting things in frames. I have perfected the art of postering a room so it feels comforting and interesting and lovely - to me, I know these things are subjective and some people might find my full wall collage style slightly claustrophobic, they'd be wrong of course but what can you do? - and so one's eyes are distracted from the inevitable scumminess of student accommadation. Of course, now I have truly nailed that look I want something else. It is difficult being contrary. I am moving into a new student house in the autumn and this time I want clusters of framed loveliness!

Conveniently my desire to frame things has coincided, not unconnected I suspect, with my discovery of a plethora of wonderful prints on tinternet. I have just bought my first print from etsy which I will write about when it arrives. I am also loving these Keep Calm Gallery prints. I have seen a couple of them before without really realising where they are from and it turns out there website is a print treasury! These are my favourites, I want them all although if I were to actually buy it would probably be a toss up between the first two...

(All prints from Keep Calm Gallery)

The last one is especially for R.
Now I just have to find attractive affordable frames which is, I suspect, going to be a bit trickier.
Chuck x

Cup Cup Cup Cup of of of of

I hope everyone is enjoying the My Fair Lady references in the post title. I just felt the need to share these cups. They are so sweet and effective. They are also only 11.50 AUD which is apparently £6.80. Sure that isn't that cheap if you view them as mere paper cups but they are so much more than that! You get 30 of them so that is *whip my calculator out since I never really mastered mental arithmetic - differential equations yes, dividing in my head noooo* only 23p per cute vase, 68p for an adorable declaration of love! Unfortunately postage to the UK is 13.50 AUD... £15 is probably more than I can legitimately spend on paper cups. Boo!

Until the dubiously named My Rocking Wardrobe get some UK stockists (do it - *mind waves*) I will just have to admire them from afar. Ah...

Cups of loveliness.
Chuck x

Link Linkety

The voyeuristic joy of other people's wedding photos:

So happy, so beautiful, so slightly weird that I don't know these people...


Chuck x

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Loft Design By

Loft Design By - stupid name, nice clothes. They do a fine line in the kind of A.P.C, relaxed, insouciant, French cool kid clothes that part of me dreams of wearing but the more realistic majority of my brain knows I will never pull off. It is too chic and single-minded for my own schizophrenic sense of style. Also, most of it doesn't work on those of us with female bits, specifically breasts but also bums, stomachs, hips, you name it. Ignoring that though, how cute is the girl in their SS10 lookbook?

What Gallic charm. What a devil-may-care attitude to how others perceive her. She doesn't worry about what she looks like for she has more important and interesting things to be doing. 'Oh, this old thing? I suppose it is cute enough, I just pulled it out of my wardrobe while I was considering where on the Left Bank to meet my handsome artist boyfriend for coffee intellectual debate'. What a nice thought. I don't have the dedication to pull off this kind of minimalism full time but I could happily cherry pick pieces to add bits of French chic to my own manic wardrobe. The perfect Breton top, slouchy t-shirt, soft button down shirt...

I also find myself irrationally drawn to this t-shirt. Irrational because of my general dislike for slogan t-shirts and because of the impossibility of my ever wearing this kind of high round-neck t-shirt. See, as per usual, The Inconvenience of Breasts. The neckline would make them look weirdly elongated and massive and the writing would warp across them in a most frightening way. That said, it is adorable and I want it anyway. A present maybe for a flat-chested friend.

(All from Loft Design By)

Chuck x

The Like - He's Not a Boy

Feel quite worn out after that last post. Here is some light refreshment, an amuse bouche, if you will. They are The Like. Are they not adorable? Their clothes, their hair, their make-up? Their light hearted '60s girl group sound? I almost want to say that they will be my 'sound of the summer' but that would make me sound silly, yes?

Chuck x

Food Reviewed - Jamie's Italian

I was going to call this 'Food Revood' but I decided that, sadly, this probably wouldn't translate very well outside of my brain... Anyhoo, R and I went to Bath this week for one of our (fairly) regular date nights and I thought I would review our chosen eatery.

We are a gloriously food-based couple and we had been eyeing up Jamie's Italian for a while because a) we both like Italian and b) we both like Jamie. And I do, I really like Jamie, he is in my 'Things Wot I Like' list and everything. Sure, some people find his cheeky chappy geezer act a bit wearing but I find it along with his enthusiasm for food endearing. I thought his latest series on la tellybox, 'Jamie Does...', was excellent and I think it is still on 4OD so go and watch it now if you haven't seen it (yes, that is an order). We made his souvlaki (pork kebabs) from 'Jamie Does Athens' on a disposable barbeque in the park and they were A-MAZ-ING. Unbelievably scrumptious and with their accompanying tzatziki and roasted sweet peppers they totally showed up our fellow park dwellers' picnics. Given this love of Jamie I had high hopes for his restaurant...

And it was fine. Which isn't brilliant. I quite liked the decor and the beautifully displayed, delicious looking produce near the entrance of the restaurant. I question the wisdom of open kitchens though; I can't say I found the sight of some poor minion scooping various substances out of freezer containers particularly appetising, only distracting. Similarly being placed on rustic wooden benches with another couple felt like we were on some kind of strange double date and it was a conscious effort not to eavesdrop. While I think this kind of canteen style setting works in places like Wagamama's it felt out of place somewhere that seemed to be marketing itself as more restaurant-y. The table was also really too big to talk that comfortably across so even when leaning right over it (and into our food, I might add) we had to use what my grandmother calls our 'outside voices'. This wasn't helped by the presence of generic pop music which I found rather grating. It all combined to undermine any chance of intimacy or feeling that you were 'going out for a meal'. That might sound abstract but given Jamie's Italian isn't particularly cheap I found its atmosphere lacking. That isn't to say that it is eye-wateringly expensive but my pasta main was £11 and R's steak was £13 and our bill, without alcohol (someone had the remnants of a dodgy gin hangover) or pudding, was still £40. Yes, we're students so we're biased but that is not a cheap meal out and I would have liked it to have felt a bit more special!

And to the food... This was obviously the main issue because I am a greedy piglet and I will put up with pretty much anything for delicious, appropriately priced food. I love you R but intimacy can wait if there is some really, really good food! (I know you agree hence crack team). I guess the danger with Italian is that, because it is something everyone cooks at home, we (or at least I) expect it to be sensational in a restaurant. The comparative achievability of Italian, as opposed to say Indian or Chinese, puts a lot of pressure on the ingredients and the flavours. I felt that often Jamie's Italian didn't even try and step up to the mark on that count. To be fair it started well - we shared a bread selection and wild boar salami that was was yumz, particularly the salami, and reasonably priced (£2-3 and £4-5 respectively). I could have done with a plate so that I didn't smear breadcrumbs and olive oil all over the table and thence all over my arms but maybe/probably I'm an unusually mucky customer. I was also horrified by the stinginess with the olive oil which is not something one expects in an Italian! We needed to get our thimble of oil refilled three times by the waitress - hello, give me the bottle already! Very strange. Besides that though, thumbs up.

Our mains fell flat though. I found the menu supremely unexciting, it included three steaks, chicken in tomato sauce and a burger. A burger! I tells ye! Italian, my arse. Richard went for 'Jamie's 'Flash Steak" while I stuck with a pasta - pappardelle with meatballs. It was enormous but unfortunately size seemed to have been prioritised over taste. Fine, that was about it. I make truly delicious, flavoursome meatballs (if I do say so myself) when I can be bothered to go through the hassle of making them, frying them, inevitably burning myself a bit, cooking them and I was looking forward to Jamie's sans burns. They were just bland and uninteresting and impossible to eat with the pappardelle, I was reduced to wearing my napkin as a bib to protect my dress. R's steak was quite nice but the salsa was nothing-y and the chips, which we had to order separately, were rubbish, dry and cardboard-y.

I have run out of enthusiasm for this review just as I ran out of enthusiasm for Jamie's Italian. It was ok and I still had a lovely date but the mediocrity of the food would put me off going back or recommending it to anyone. Why would you pay a premium for something you can cook so much better at home? Dunno, beats me...

Chuck x

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Emperor's New Clothes

Now, I am not planning to do general show reviews because I don't tend to find them interesting on other people's blogs so why would I inflict them on you? I am under no illusion that I am Sarah Mower, or Nicole Phelps in this case, and I have no insider knowledge to bring to bear on the situation... All that said, I luuuuurve Riccardo Tisci and I couldn't resist sharing some thoughts on the new Givenchy Resort collection.

First up, and non-Givenchy related, this is Resort 2011. 11! This is wack (wow, never said that in real life and it feels good, in a dirty way). It is June 2010, crazy fashion people, you are getting ridiculously ahead of yourselves. We should be looking back at the Spring-Summer 2010 collections and maybe getting a dash of inspiration from the Autumn-Winter 2010 collections but talking 2011 is just absurd. Loads of designers seem to be properly embracing Resort this year and it is mental. We already have 8 weeks of fashion weeks a year and they are great but they are enough. Think of poor Marc Jacobs! If he is going to have to do Resort, not to mention 'Pre-Fall' which lots of designers seem to be embracing, that will be 3-4 collections per year per line and then menswear. We could be talking 18 collections a year. 18! Are we trying to kill him??

Oops, strayed away from Tisci a bit there, will try and get back on track. To summarise - he creates exciting, beautiful, interesting to clothes that have captivated the fashion world and myself (a very important and worthy judge of these things as previously discussed). He is idolised by many who would slavishly follow his every whim. Looking at his Resort collection he clearly knows this and is having a bit of a laugh. It is reassuring to know that the great man has a sense of humour. At least, I assume he must given some of looks he has produced for us here...

Left to right: mad nun on the day of her marriage to the Lord, modelling the convent's tablecloth and some kind of chastity restraining harness; mad milk maid on her way to some formal convention where she might yet be required to milk some alpine cows, possibly an alpine cow milking convention where she is lead speaker; leopard print tights as trousers, 'nuff said.

This was possibly my favourite part of the show - the barefaced audacity! I laughed out loud when flicking through the slideshow on They are gloriously cheeky, in so many ways... The dress (top/skirt combo? who knows??) on the far right is the most amazing. The Emperor's New Clothes live and breathe again. I cannot WAIT to see the fashion world getting their pants out along with their wallets. Amazing, Mr. Tisci I applaud you.

For all the hilarity - and there was much, let me tell you - there were of course some gorgeous bits that I genuinely loved. The look on the left reminds of the Dolce & Gabbana Sicilian black widows, 90s influenced show that happened recently that I really enjoyed (I find myself strongly drawn to the occasional show of theirs and then I go back to forgetting them when they stray back onto their standard territory). The necklace reminds me of a giant anenome - good - and the dress makes me want to consider sheer as a way of going maxi. I haven't particularly embraced the maxi dress/skirt yet, not because I dislike it but because I can't summon the interest, and this might swing me. Tisci gives good red too and I find myself drawn to the very bold red that he has recently signaturised (yup, word, fact) and the way he uses it in such abundance. I want to go colour monochrome! I like the lace detailing on the jacket on the right but it is important not to look directly at the crotch on this picture because it will hypnotise you and then eat you (another fact for you there). Possibly my favourite thing in the whole show was the leopard print jacket it though. Besides the styling, which is great, I don't think it immediately shouts Givenchy and yet I LOVE it. It is just so perfect with the buttoned up white shirt and the awkward trousers and I want it so bad... Gorgeousness.

(All photos from
This got a bit verbose. Oops. Och well, c'est la vie et al.
Guten nacht.

Chuck x

Mark the Date

They're coming! The Mark Fast x Topshop collaboration I talked about a couple of weeks ago (here) is on its sweet sweet way. Apparently the two dresses below are set to drop on June 24th. I think, out of these two, I'm favouring the grey because a) I have big love for grey and b) I don't think I need a giant open crochet tummy panel in my life now or ever. Putting a reminder on my (old school) phone right now...
(News and photo c/o FashionToast)

Edit: Just found the other three pieces of the collection. And the prices... Tragedy has struck! It looks like Mark Fast will remain out of my sweaty little grasp. All the sleeved dresses are $310 (~£210!) and even the pink skirt, which I do not at all care for, is $170 (~£115!). Obviously I wasn't expecting them to be cheap but I think £200+ is a bit steep for Topshop... Sad times.

(Sad news & photos c/o The Cut)

Edit Edit: Fashionista says £85 for the skirt, £150 for the dresses. Who knows what is going on?

Chuck x

Behold the Fallen

How beautiful is this? It is by the photographer Toby Burrows from his latest series 'Fallen'.

He says - 'I was inspired by the style of the Pre-Raphaelite paintings. The ‘Fallen’ series explores both tragedy and celebration through form. We cast a talented dancer to create expressions through shape. We shot the series in the Southern Highlands. I had spent some time in that particular area prior to the shoot. There is something in that landscape that has a surreal quality and I wanted to bring that into this project'. (Speaking to Dazed Digital)

I say - strange and magical loveliness.

Chuck x

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Georgia Hardinge

Last week I was looking at Gabriella Marina Gonzalez' AW10 lookbook, shot by Sarah Piantadosi (post here). I thought the pictures were so fab that I followed up on the photographer who I had never heard of (I'm not great on photographers, learning, always learning...). Piantadosi has loads of amazing work on her website, which I will be working my way through, but the first that caught my attention were the photos below.

They are from a series Piantadosi has labelled 'Emilia' and feature the clothes of - some frenzied research later - Georgia Hardinge. I love the bleached brows and angel hair of the model and the clarity of the light and dark (pretentious, moi? never!). I think the profile is particularly striking with the play of volume; check out Titian's 'Man with a Quilted Sleeve' to see a natty early example of the same trick...

(Sarah Piantadosi)

I had never heard of Georgia Hardinge although she has apparently dressed such style icons as Alesha Dixon, Little Boots and the Saturdays. This might be why I have never heard of her... Don't let that put you off though (that, or the fact that she has released some decidedly dubious euro-electro-pop), she established her own label last year and exhibited with ON/OFF in September. Piantadosi's photos feature designs from Hardinge's SS10 collection which was apparently based on 'grids, ordinance maps and blue prints'. While out of date Ordinance Survey maps were the bane of my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh I like the way they are definitely visible in the print on the below dress and in a more abstract way on the defined contouring of the others.

(Georgia Hardinge, SS10)

Her AW10 has more and bigger structural pieces and I am sure many bloggers will be drawn to her cage dress (below). While I enjoy the cage on others (SusieB, Queen Michelle...) I don't have a burning to desire to wear one myself. My inability to be caged? My need to run free?? I'm loving instead this mesh dress which seems to be a perfect means of displaying the full length 50s style underwear I am mulling over in my mind...

(Georgia Hardinge, AW10)

What brings this collection to life though is a fantastic video from, again, Sarah Piantadosi. If it ain't broke... It is great to be presented with clothes in motion in a non catwalk context and the video adds a real layer of dark, brooding mysteriousness. It is brilliantly styled and put together and I think the model's hair is brilliant. Now, as long as Hardinge can stay away from The Saturdays I think she might be on to something!

"CAGE" Georgia Hardinge A/W 2010 from Sarah Piantadosi on Vimeo.

More, I'm sure (and a poet, don't I know it - aha, so clever), from Piantadosi in the future.
I wonder if I could pull off that hair...?

Chuck x

P.S. R, you are an idiot.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Austen Embroidery

(ASOFB - As Seen On Facebook - Source here ~)

I so wish I knew where this came from so that I could applaud its creator. I don't though so I will pass it on here and telepathically wish them well. I am filled with the desire to embroider things and re-read Sense & Sensibility (not necessarily my favourite, that is probably Emma, I'm just in an S & S kind of a mood)...

Chuck x

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mulan - I'll Make a Man Out of You


(On my 9th viewing today - obsessive, moi? never! - I realised that this song raises a lot of interesting gender questions such as are 'men' made? can they be made? is 'manliness' defined by characteristics like strength and mysteriousness? is there more pressure involved in being a 'real man' or a 'real woman'? is the film feminist in its portrayal of a strong woman or does it maintain traditional patriachal values by only allowing her to be strong and achieve things when dressed as a man? I decided not to think about these though and instead to revel in the glory of the song... BE A MAN!)

Chuck x

Almond and Cardamom Cake

I am quite sleepy but I decided I should post this Almond and Cardamom cake while its deliciousness was still in the forefront of my mind. I saw this recipe on The (wonderful) Spice Spoon and after my thoroughly positive experience with Orange and Cardamom cake (here) I knew that I had to make it. I fully intend to work my way through all Shayma's recipes at some point because they look and sound so good and always have lovely stories and photos attached but this was doubly irresistable because I coincidentally had all the ingredients to hand so it seemed foolish not to crack on!

Shayma's recipe can be found here but to quickly summarise (with my own tiny tweaks):
  1. Grease and line cake tin. This is a 2 egg cake so it is too big for a standard sandwich tin so I made it in our amazing heart shaped tin which is a bit bigger and doesn't get nearly enough use.
  2. Cream 120g salted butter (loathe unsalted butter on toast so never have it in the kitchen) and 120g golden caster sugar (I think everything tastes better with golden, it is just nicer than white).
  3. Add 2 egg yolks and whizz.
  4. Add 12-15 crushed cardamom pod seeds (Shayma uses 8 but I suspect her's are bigger and juicier than my baby supermarket ones), 1 tsp baking powder, salt, 100g ground almonds (instead of almond flour although these might be the same?), 75g sifted flour and some of 150ml of milk.
  5. Fold in 2 egg whites (stiff white peaks).
  6. Bake @ 180C/350F for 30 mins.
  7. Sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds and dust with icing sugar.
  8. Pile on raspberries and creme fraiche. Eat!
(I toasted the almonds before putting them on the cake because I think it brings out the flavour and makes them much delicious-er but be carefull not to blacken them to a crisp, they always need less time than you - read I - think).

(I was too lazy to make the coulis, which I'm sure would've been scrumptious, and we had some fresh raspberries so I just piled them on top of them walk cake. I love the way raspberries cut through sweetness and that the creme fraiche has that touch of almost sourness).

It was, and the credit must go to the Shayma (although kudos to me for not undercooking it too), completely and utterly delicious. Like really delicious. I love ground almond in cake, although not almond essence because it makes things taste of cheap marzipan, and the crunch of the toasted almonds were beautiful with the soft raspberries. It was so light! I guess that was adding the egg whites separately and whisked. I might try that trick on all my future cakes. SO light. And the cardamom gives this amazing fragrance and taste... I think cardamom might be new favourite spice, its love. My sister, who I should stress is 18 and should know better, made me very cross by only eating half of her piece of cake and then abandoning it because it was 'too confusing'. She apparently couldn't get her head around something that 'looks like a pudding but taste like curry'. Yes, she is under a lot of exam stress, but this is clearly moronic. Luckily it went down very well with the rest of the fam who pacified me about the soeur's rebuff.

Anyway, I thought it was perfect. Particularly perfect for a dinner party, I thought, because of the subtle, beautiful flavours which are vair sophis dahling.
I hope to make this again and again. LOVE.

Chuck x

P.S. Thanks computer/blogger for resuscitating this after me internet crashed and I thought this had disappeared for ever and ever. Would have been deeply frustrating. thxthxthx!

London Adventures

I have been in London the last couple of days, seeing some people, doing some stuff... Now that I am all blogged up I was mildly surprised to notice that there are periods of time when I don't have my own interwebz access. This is probably healthy but I had never really noticed it one way or the other. Anyway, while I was up in London I decided to check out some culcha (that would be culture, clearly)...

I went to the Enchanted Palace at Kensington Palace on the recommendation of many many blogs. It was fun and pretty and magical but why did no-one mention how expensive it is? My Tip coming atcha - book online for a £1 discount (not to be sniffed at). Even so, with a student discount and the online discount it was still £10. Maybe I'm wrong or maybe I'm just a stingy student but that seems like a lot to me! I can buy many things for £10 and I don't think you can really string the Enchanted Palace out for more than an hour or so... Still, price was my only complaint and I think it was a great thing to do with a space that is being renovated. I particularly liked the WildWorks actors wandering around in long gowns and head torches singing to themselves and playing with clocks and typewriters. Oh yeah, and the fact that my namesake Princess was the coolest by far. No surprise there though.

I also decided to check out the Wallace Collection because I had never been before. It is a private collection of art and antique furniture and porcelain. Also, very importantly, it is FREE. I love free things and it almost always inspires me to donate. They had lots of great Reynolds, Lawrence and Romney portraits and other general 18th century portraiture fabulousness. There was also, rather to my surprise, some very nice Velazquez (fave!) and some slightly mediocre Rembrandt (other fave, probably forming my top 3 with Titian, tricky though...) among other things. There were also some French, chocolate-box paintings (Fragonard, Boucher) that aren't normally to my taste, too saccharine see also, Tiepolo, but which worked really well with the setting and decor.

(Fragonard, The Swing. Source here)

These pictures were in my favourite room of the house, the Oval Drawing Room. The below picture doesn't really do it justice but it was the only one I could find. It was smaller and cosier than it looks here and the blue is rather more dusky. It also has great swooshy blinds on the other side. I had a chat with a (slightly weird but very knowledgeable) attendant about how it would make a great bedroom. I particularly like the idea of having panels of wall paper if you don't want to go the whole floor-to-ceiling hog. There was great silk and flock wallpaper throughout. I also clearly need more gold trim and chandeliers in my life...

(The Oval Drawing Room. Source here)

In conclusion:
Wallace Collection, thumbs up. The Enchanted Palace, thumbs maybe. Excessive high-Regency (my possibly incorrect terminology) interior decorating, thumbs definitely.

Chuck x

Dinosaur Cookies - Extinct

Noooo! The cruel irony of it all. I made amazing dinosaur cookies on Wednesday night to take up to London for a flatwarming present for a friend. Disappointment A) I couldn't fit them in my handbag so had to leave them in the-middle-of-nowhere. Disappointment B) I didn't take a picture of them because I was in a rush and thought I could do it when I got back from London. Disappointment C) I got home last night and my greedypants mother and sister have eaten them all!

They were beautiful too. I used my shiny new dinosaur cookie cutters from the Natural History Museum (bought at an epic cookery shop in Bristol) which come in four shapes - T. Rex, Diplodocus, Stegosaurus and Triceratops. I Heart Dinosaurs. My mother says that I really should be a nine year old boy. She may well be right. I am also very fond of mud.

Luckily I ate one before I left and they were delicious. I used my standard cookie recipe which is from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's Family Cookbook (a brilliant book with largely failproof recipes, don't be put off by the fact it is marketed at children, embrace the simplified instructions and useful tips like 'remember to put on oven gloves') and can also be found here. It makes perfect cookies - chewy and delicious, the dark chocolate stopping them being too sweet. I chose to make one single super cookie and then cut the dinosaurs out of there so they didn't lose their shape and retained maximum dinosauriness.

Clearly I am just going to have to make them again... *sigh*

Chuck x

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Meaning of Sunglasses - Hadley Freeman

So I had a totally productive day yesterday. In the morning my copy of The Meaning of Sunglasses, which I had been meaning to buy fo'eva, arrived via Amazon Market Place and then I read it. Cover to cover. Oops. Didn't really achieve anything else that day but there you go. It is events like this that lead me to suspect that I have at least a mildly addictive personality and is part of the reason I have always steered clear of cigarettes. I am not good at moderation.

As I was expecting, given my fondness of Hadley Freeman's column in The Guardian, I loved this. She is just a very funny and engaging writer and, oh yeah, this was about fashion. I don't think these three qualities coincide very often so it was a joy to binge on them here. I am not going to pretend that this is a book that is going to change the world, I don't think Hadley would want that, but it was genuinely enjoyable and I would definitely recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in fashion. And hey, maybe if you made someone who poopoo-ed fashion read this they would understand a bit better...


Anyway, I don't think there is a great deal that needs reviewing here so I shall just drop some Freeman flavoured wisdom pearls on you:

  • "As a wise sage once said, if everybody looked the same, we'd get tired of looking at each other, and some of us definitely do. So sod the black, and sod whatever the new one is, and get out ther and wear your magenta trousers with pride! Um, yeah!" - I am forever telling myself to wear less black maybe I should actually get round to doing it.
  • "Few things make a woman's breasts look more like a threatening, clifflike single mass than a thin blouse stretched out over them with an almost visible grimace, buttons pulling apart in palpable pain. So in this case, the A cups win, and don't begrudge them too much because they deserve to get their kicks where they can. I mean, would you rather have a blouse or a bust? Two words: consolation prize." - A good point well made. I frequently get cross with the way my not insubstantial breasts get in the way of some/most clothes, particularly 'fashion' items, but Hadley, in her infinite wisdom, is right - I wouldn't swap them for an empty bra.
  • "fashion on many levels magnifies female issues in popular culture, from the exaggerated body fascism in the industry to its interest in self-expression through physical appearance. So films' wholesale dismissal of women who work in fashion highlights the very outdated misogyny one still sees in pop culture not only toward successful women but also toward women doing something that has shockingly nothing to do with men."
  • On hair extensions: "as it certainly cannot give one any personal pleasure, surely there is little other reason to stick bits of hair onto one's scalp. Thus, we have yet another example of Women Doing Something They Think Men Will Like But Which Actually Makes Them Look Like Complete Freaks." - Extra marks for excellent use of capital letters.

She has many interesting things to say on advertising, the power of logos, the industry standard of beauty (skinniness), consumerism and the foolishness of high heels among other things which I am sure I will come back to. I will leave you with my favourite quote of the book which is a very sage piece of advice -

  • "be careful about metallics, because if you wear gold ballet pumps with black tights someone might mistake you for a grand piano, which would just be awkward for everyone."

So true. Please can I be Hadley Freeman when I grow up?

Chuck x

Mental Asylum Chic

In days of yore (a noted historical period, see also, yesteryear) a wise philosophiser might have pondered which came first, the chicken or the egg? In these modern times though he might instead question whether it was Gaga or mental asylum chic that first burst forth upon the world? He might not of course, he might think this question unworthy of philosophical discussion and tell you, in an affronted sort of way, that he has better things to do with his time. Given the boyf recently wrote a philosophy exam essay on whether his exam paper could have been made out of ice this seems unlikely though. We should also note that he might in fact be a she or even a ze, to use a gender neutral pronoun that is apparently flying about. Can't say I have heard it much in general circulation but it is always good to try and resist the gender binary system...

I seem to have strayed rather from the point which was that there is a lot of Gaga going down in contemporary culture, particularly her delightful brand of mental institute chic. I know that Bedlam predates Gagz and we, the Western world at least, have a long standing obsession with freak shows but I can't imagine there were quite as many unitards, cut-outs, head-pieces and heels back in the day. I was looking at Gabriella Marina Gonzalez' AW10 look book entitled 'Victorian Sci-Fi Surgery' and while all those elements are clearly present I find it impossible to avoid the Gagz references.

Not that I think this is a bad thing - I have a lot of love for Gaga and I think her on stage and on screen styling has upped the ante for popular music. She is frequently styled by Nicola Formichetti who, as creative director of Dazed and Confused, clearly knows a thing or two about fashion/style/whathaveyou. That said, I doubt Ms. Gonzalez is going to burst forth declaring Gagz her sole inspiration and muse for this collection. She probably wasn't after all. I can't help but find this kind of look a strange cultural phenomenom though...

Aside from all that pondering I think these photos are beautifully styled and beautifully taken [Sarah Piantadosi]. Those brave enough to embrace the Fleet Ilya way of life are going to enjoy all the harnesses and buckles and I am going to daydream about the shoes. They would keep your feet so dry - like Venetian courtesans you would glide gloriously and glamorously (got to love a bit of alliteration) above the puddles of the workaday world. I Heart Dry Feet.

Chuck x