Sketch and skates

Last week I had tea at Sketch with Sketchbook magazine – how apt. During the course of the chat, we discussed my obsession with rollerskates and tried to unravel its origins. I’ve never really thought about it but as we’d earlier been discussing my favorite novel, The Catcher in the Rye, I made the connection with a reference to rollerskates in the book*. And then – spooky – I stumbled upon these old-school skates on the Liberty’s menswear floor that evening. Very Holden-does-rollerdisco, no?

*On the other hand, it could simply have been this ‘seminal’ video

Notes on nostalgia

Looking at pictures of Filofaxes in the Kate Spade ‘Contents’ book made me a wee bit misty-eyed for the pre-technology days (excuse me while I adjust my rocking chair). What is it about those luxe leather ring-bound pages that’s so appealing? Filofax has tapped into the nostalgia and is giving its personal organisers a big push for Christmas. They told me this at a special bloggers’ preview. I thought it was ironic that a traditional stationery company was courting bloggers but they explained that their customers like to use paper products alongside technology, not instead of. Good point. Apparently Filofax sells more products to women now than men when the reverse was true in the ’80s. Who knew?

For Christmas it has a natty beauty gift package comprising a choice of three styles of Filofax with hidden mirror, a pen-cum-perfume-atomiser and (here comes the biggie) a voucher for a free beauty treatment or photo shoot – all for £40. Personally, I’d be happy with just the organiser but that’s not a bad little deal. I actually have a huge old silver Mulberry organiser that sits unused on my desk (still with 2007’s diary therein) – it’s such a beautiful object, I’m happy for it to stay there but I think I want to start using it again.
On Friday’s trip to Bicester Village, I couldn’t resist the pull of posh stationers Smythson, despite my attempts to steer myself away and in the direction of Phaidon Books instead. Nothing doing. Before I knew what had happened I was walking out of the shop swinging a blue beribboned carrier bag from my wrist. Inside was a postcard-sized camel zip-around organiser encasing a slimline diary/notebook/address book and a handsome propelling pencil. Once I have had it monogrammed, this will replace my Moleskine diary and travel everywhere with me. No really, it will.

Books etc: Kate Spade Contents

Kate Spade Contents book
This is turning out to be quite the month for books. I have just opened my Ebay copy of Kate Spade’s ‘Contents’, a book I’ve wanted for years but is now out of print. The concept is simple; photos of the contents of people’s handbags follwed by the identity of the owner and a list of said contents at the back of the book. A voyeurs’s dream. Aside from the lovely unstyled quality of Dan Bibbs’ photos, it’s a telling historical study. These snaps were taken in the days before everyone had iPhones and BlackBerrys. Oh how things change – just look how many leather organsisers there are!

Writer/cultural critic


Another visual treat is Audrey Hepburn, International Cover Girl. This was a review copy that I was sent on spec. Now I like Audrey as much as the next person but I’m not obsessed so I expected a pretty nice coffee table book of the ten-a-penny variety. But actually no, the book is stuffed full of cover shoots from 1951-1993, most I’ve not seen before. Not only is it a great insight into Audrey and her many styles of eyebrow (count ’em) but it’s also a good opportunity to study magazine covers through the ages.

Perfectly suited

Two loosely complementary trends emerged at September’s LFW which used African style as a jumping off point. Paul Smith (above) was inspired by the Congolese ‘sapeurs’, (well turned out gents of the Society for the Advancement of People of Elegance) who have recently been documented in a rather lovely photography book for which Sir Paul himself has written the preface. As luck would have it, an invitation has come my way to the exhibition preview next week. Gentlemen of Bacongo is on for two days only from 27-29 November (12-8pm) at Londonewcastle Project Space, 28 Redchurch Street, E2 or you can buy the book here.

Also on the African fashion tip, Aquascutum’s Michael Herz told me he was channelling Malick Sibidé’s legendary portrait photographs of Malian youth when dreaming up the SS10 collection, deliberately clashing it with the utilitarian Britishness of Aquascutum’s heritage. As a lover of a certain type of energy in photography, whether that’s from searing colour as in the Bacongo book or a general upbeat mood as in Sidibé’s monochromes, these images are always an absolute pleasure to behold.