Bubbling under…Cocktail coats

Ok, I made this up simply because I like the way it sounds but a cocktail coat if it existed, would be a dramatic evening coat to wear over your cocktail dress. Because I don’t know about you but it really bugs me when people get all zhuzhed up for a night out, putting hours of thought into their spectacular outfit, shoes and make-up and then, uh oh, out comes the old bog standard jacket. I mean, why? Surely it makes more sense to invest in a show-stopping cocktail coat that will turn heads the minute you make your entrance than yet another pair of patent party plat-heels and tacky clutch?

My own cocktail coat is a black fifties-style brocade one with bracelet sleeves from Portobello Arcade a good twelve years ago. It was sold to me by a young designer friend for £60 with the words ‘I only made two and someone from Chritian Lacroix has the other one.’ (A bit like my favourite quote from Deserately Seeking Susan where Madonna buys the green jacket with the pyramid which according to the salesman ‘used to belong to Jimi Hendrix’ – probably not true but sounds good all the same.) Cocktail coats are plentiful at Burberry, Bill Blass and Lacroix (!) but thin on the ground on the high street, however come October I’m sure they’ll be everywhere so start thinking about yours now.

UPDATE: Pfft, the new Elle has a whole two-pager on cocktail coats and I was so sure I’d made that up!

Pic: 3.1 Phillip Lim coat, Style.com

The Jeano™

No, it’s not a Grazia-ism like ‘treggings’ (aka leggings) or ‘shoot’ (aka shoe-boot), but a bonafide term coined by Dockers for their new chino-jeans. According to the Selfridges website, the Jeano™ is “a new pant that gives the attitude of jeans and the sophistication of chinos.” Don’t know if it merits its own name but the Jeano™ has a nice ring to it and as someone who loves both jeans and chinos, I say they’ll do rather well. Now if they can just produce some in girly sizes and lady-colours I’ll be very happy.

Saving the scraps

A quick flick through the new Lula reveals a wee article on scrapbooking including a sneak peak at Alison Mosshart’s cuttings and pastings. It reminded me of my own three whopping great scrapbooks that I fill in fits and starts. My passion started at art college when I studied fashion illustration and collage was the medium du jour. I loved the work of Ivan Chermayeff as it had that ‘I can do that’ quality that always appeals to me. Ditto Robert Rauschenburg and Peter Blake. (Yes, I probably could do that…if I could be bothered. It’s finding the time and inspiration that’s the problem.) 

These days, what tends to happen is I’m good at finding the scraps – torn typography, discarded labels, a deflated balloon – but they mount up in a pile and then get upgraded into an envelope or paper bag of some sort. The next stage, several weeks later, is coralling said envelopes and paper bags into a bigger bag or box file and then on that rare day when the mood strikes and the thought, ‘I know, I’ll do my scrapbook’ enters my head, having a mega sort-out. In fact, the sorting out seems to be the most fun bit where I remind myself of these fabulous treasures I’ve amassed over the years (‘ooh, look at these Fiorucci stickers!’ ‘Hang, on, where did this postcard come from?’ etc etc). Yet by the time the sorting’s done, all my energy’s spent! Hence I now have two groaning box files of scraps but my poor scrapbooks are no fuller than they were two years ago. Hmm, maybe I’ll start again this weekend….

[Double click pics to enlarge]

Nothing to worry about

Dear Disneyrollergirl,
In our drive to fleece you even further, provide excellent customer service, we are reviewing all our customer accounts for accurate gas meter readings. In doing so, we have noticed that there has not been a reading obtained from the gas meter at your property for some time. So it would be greatly appreciated if you could read your meter and complete and return the enclosed card to us.
London Energy

Little did I realise in doing so that I would find a newly revised bill plonked on my desk four days later. These people want their money and fast, and what’s this – EEK! – £247! £70 more than the last quarter and this is for the gas used during the summer when we didn’t even have the heating on (apart from the last week – yep, autumn’s here already in the DRG house). I’m not one of those people who dreads the arrival of their bills as money is one of the areas where I’m generally quite anal and organised, so I have a (usually accurate) budget all worked out and the funds sit patiently in their allocated ‘pots’ in my bank account awaiting their turn to be duly paid.

In fact, when I worked on a magazine, I actually secretly enjoyed processing the invoices and updating the spreadsheets. It gave me a quiet ten minutes to don my ‘Do Not Disturb’ hat*, get stuck into the figures and make sure everything tallied up, and I always got that satisfied feeling of everything being up to date and nicely balanced. The arrival of the Bill From Hell did throw me temporarily but as usual, I did some juggling and worked out that if I delayed the payment of another bill and borrowed some money from that ‘pot’, then things could easily right themselves. Looking out of the window and seeing D getting the breakfast ready in our sunny courtyard, I decided anyway that this bill brouhaha wasn’t going to spoil my day. As my mantra banner says so succinctly…Worry About It Later. So I’m doing exactly that.

*What’s a ‘Do Not Disturb’ hat? It’s a paper hat with Do Not Disturb scrawled on it with magic marker so people know not to bother me while I’m in concentration mode. Alas, my colleagues did not take it very seriously. Can’t think why.

Learning to love you more -Photograph a significant outfit

I’ve blogged about Miranda July’s art assignment website, Learning To Love You More before. When I made my encouraging banner I had no idea it would end up in an exhibition in Middlesborough, however that’s what happened. The fab Nicky Peacock curated a huge LTLYM exhibition using all different assignments from the website. You can see the pics here including my ‘Worry About It Later’ banner adorning the exit. 

There’s a chance there may be an opportunity to see the exhibition again, I’ll let you know when it’s confirmed. In the meantime, I love this assignment called ‘photograph a significant outfit’. The task is to “remember exactly what you were wearing during a recent significant moment (something that happened in the last six months). Lay out what you were wearing on the floor, as if you are dressing an invisible, flat person. Stand on a chair or table and photograph the clothes from directly above. Send in the photo, along with the importance of the day.”

The following photos are taken from the site. As some of you enjoyed the Photographer’s Gallery’s Can’t Live Without It exhibition, this is in a similar vein. The point isn’t what’s in the outfit, it’s more about the emotional significance of the event. The stories that accompany the pictures are well worth reading and some are absolutely heart rending. But the pictures are utterly charming as well. And an interesting way to photograph outfits. I love it!

A short conversation with Liz and Terry de Havilland

Shoemaker Terry de Havilland surely needs no introduction. From helping his father with the family cobbler business in the 1950s, to shodding London’s counter culture in the ’60s and Primrose Hill’s finest in the noughties, he’s still doing a roaring trade in sky-high wedges. Now he’s on a mission with his wife and sidekick Liz, to get his teeth into the mens footwear market.

DRG: How did we get to the point of 6 and 7 inch skyscraper heels?
TERRY: I think this has come about because fashion has declared that women are allowed to wear really high heels without being accused of looking like hookers. The fuss Gwyneth Paltrow caused when she uncharacteristically stepped out in all those high heels a couple of months back was pure genius in terms of publicity.

DRG: What’s the appeal of heels?
TERRY: Once you get used to wearing heels it’s very difficult to give up the height that comes with them. Being taller is very empowering. The Venetian courtesans back in the day used to wear chopines that were up to 24″ tall. They were a sign of wealth because the women couldn’t venture out in them unless they had two footmen to support them.

DRG: What’s your take on all these revivals – wedges, platforms, etc?
TERRY: I’ve been designing shoes for almost 50 years now and I’ve seen heel height fashions come and go. This era is very reminiscent of the 70s. I made some ridiculously high wedges back then which were about 9″ high with a 6″ platform. I put a government health warning label in them. I made them just because I could. I never expected anyone to buy them, but they did! At the moment the most popular shoes from my bespoke range have a 7″ heel with a 2″ platform. Now I’m on a mission to get the boys back into cuban heels.

DRG: Ah, the Archie Eyebrows line. That’s the mens boots I saw that you’re also scaling down to women’s sizes…?
LIZ: Yes, we’ve got two heel heights in them now. The ladies ones are nearly ready, I just wanted to make sure that the last was nice and comfortable before I made them.

DRG: Are you still doing my Alison Mosshart gold look-alikes then?
LIZ: Of course we’ll be doing the ladies cubans in gold. The beauty of it is that we’ll be getting the components in so that we can make the specials here in London. In other words, you’ll be able to come down to the studio and pick your style and your fabrics in much the same way as we make our custom made Terrys at the moment.

DRG: Where are you selling the Archies?
Liz: Archie Eyebrows is much more backstreet than high street. We’ve just set up a shop within a shop selling the line at Sir Tom Baker, 4 D’Arblay St, Soho . You’ll love the shop, Sir Tom Baker is a total nutter and a brilliant tailor. Check out his website. We also stock Stephen Jones hats. It’s a modern slant on a classic gentleman’s outfitters, or as our lawyer calls it “an out man’s gentle fitters”…

‘My granny’s died’

I’ve spent the last two days styling up-and-coming models and working with a new assistant who I shall call J. She’s not really an assistant as much as a trainee assistant but so far I’m quite impressed. She spent yesterday pre-empting my needs (the golden rule of being an A-plus fashion assistant student), ironing without burning and interviewing models. The project is a commentary on wannabe models and their aspirations. So far the models have included a girl whose favourite model is Tyra Banks (‘she’s nice and she looks nice’), another whose parents don’t mind her modelling ‘but would rather I’d played handball as a career’ and a third whose dream job is ‘a shoot with a horse’. But the majority of our time was spent hanging around waiting for the photographer to finish faffing with his lights and polyboards. So I was pleasantly surprised when J turned up on day 2. From past experience, when the job isn’t all fun and games it’s not uncommon for the assistant (read: work experience) to call in the next day claiming ‘my granny’s died so I won’t be coming back in’. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not unsympathetic when grandparents pass away but it’s surprising how common these granny deaths are when someone is on a less-than-exhilerating work placement. When I worked on a magazine, we had three of these ‘my granny’s died’ phone calls in three months. The point is, if the job isn’t shaping up to involve parties, free swag and interviewing celebs then by all means share your concerns, give us a chance to put things right or even make up some other excuse. But please, don’t trot out the old granny cliche. Believe me, we can see straight through it!

JFK Jnr and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy

While searching online for mens runway pics as research for an article, I came across this GQ editorial by Carter Smith. It celebrates the classic American style of JFK Jnr, funny because I was just talking about him and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy to D yesterday.

Considering they were such an It couple for their short time together, it’s remarkable that you rarely hear any reference to them any more. Now the 90s minimalist revival is peeking through is it time to channel CBK again? Here’s some eye candy to whet your appetite…

All pics are of JFK Jnr and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy except the second one which is by Carter Smith from GQ.

Catwalk Queen interview

Lovely Isabelle and the Catwalk Queen girls have quizzed me for this week’s Industry Interview! Read about my sensational fashion-filled life here. (And do leave lots of comments to make me look popular.)

[Pic: Catwalk Queen. Alas those aren’t my skates but I wish they were.]

Zara vs Gap

“If Gap wants to cater to a jeans and t-shirt customer, then do that, without mixing in Pierre Hardy shoes and ThreeAsFour dresses, but if they want to cater to a customer who cares about Philip Crangi and Rodarte, do that. They’ve overreached, leaving their customers, and apparently their own brand strategists, quite confused.”

Good analysis from Britt Aboutaleb over at Fashionista regarding the Gap vs Zara debate (Zara has overtaken Gap as the world’s largest fashion retailer). Poor old Gap.