Design

Much ado about M&S



Being something of an outsider, I have a tendency to defend the underdog in most situations and when it comes to fashion, M&S is the underdog du jour. While recent figures show they have suffered their worst sales for three years with shares dropping by almost 25%, I say, give them another chance. (more…)



Swayed by suede, a cautionary tale





Thinking of buying a suede bag? Perhaps YSL‘s mock-croc print number or 3.1 Phillip Lim‘s reversible tote? Well take my advice, don’t do it. Unless you have a full-time driver or live somewhere with extremely agreeable weather. I lusted after Baleciaga’s cherry-red suede slouch bag for, oh months, before I finally came face to face with it in a boutique and did the classic ‘if I don’t buy it now it won’t be here next time’ panic splurge. It first gave me come-hither glances from the back page of US Vogue which I subsequently tore out and carried around with me. I fantasised about what I’d wear it with – a bit Frankie Rayder I fancied, in gently faded Levis and a just-fitted-enough white tee – and what it would smell like (I have an unhealthy obsession with sniffing leather and suede). When you see something like that in the flesh after investing so much time and energy in the fantasy, your real-life logic doesn’t stand a chance. I gave it a cursory try-on in the shop before the adrenalin got the better of me and seconds later it was in the carrier bag and in my hand.

A few years down the line and I can count the number of times I’ve used it on three fingers. The simple fact is a suede bag and unpredictable London weather do not a good combination make. Time after time I’ve rediscovered it, tenderly unpacked it from its dustbag, given it a gentle stroke and a sniff and vowed to use it the very next day. Come the next morning, sensing a hint of darkness in the sky and the threat of a downpour it’s back to the PVC Marc shopper and boring reliability.

We all know that the fashion industry is based on fantasy and this example goes to prove it. Every time I see the poor bag it’s an expensive reminder of that seductive back-page-of-Vogue photo and the promise that it would change my life. Sucker! So what now? The bag has been unpacked for the very last time and tomorrow it makes its way to Rellik, the queen bee of vintage stores. It’s not an It bag and it’s not strictly vintage but it’s Balenciaga so Stephen Rellik has hinted he might be up for a swapsies consultation. We can but wait and see.



Coffee and cones



fortnum & Mason coffee and mini ice cream cone

When I first happened upon the revamped Fortnum & Mason store in Piccadilly, I practically recoiled in shock. What had they done? In their effort to modernise, all the character had been sapped out of the poor shop. A few months on and I decided to give it a second chance. To my surprise I discovered a gem. Parlour Restaurant on the first floor is a darling little ice-cream parlour, designed by David Collins (Madonna’s decorator no less) and decked out American diner style with a 50s Italian twist.

The pistachio-green chairs work beautifully with the fondant-coloured china and floor-tiles, while neopolitan-hued lampshades coordinate very nicely indeed. But it’s not just about the decor. There’s a choice of fabulous ice-cream sundaes including a few alcoholic ones and great attention is paid to presentation. My favourite touch? The mini-sized ice-cream cones served with the capuccinos in their own little holder! Absolutely adorable.



Trendwatch – Pop Luxe



Kanye West Alexis Phifer Harpers Bazaar

As much as I adore fashion and popular culture, I have to admit I have no clue about contemporary music. Pardon me but I’m still catching up on all the old 60s soul, 70s disco and 80s punk music I haven’t yet listened to.

So even though I’ve heard of Kanye West I wouldn’t actually recognise his music if I was to ever come across it. All this mattered not one whit when I witnessed his apartment in US Harper’s Bazaar recently. Oh. My. God. This gaff is stuffed to the rafters with pop-tastic furniture, fashion and ‘objets’.

A stack of Louis Vuitton luggage may not sound that original to you but this guy has like, a tower of ten multicoloured monogrammed LV cases piled several feet high and the effect is totally museum-worthy. Then there’s the neon-green outsized Marc Newson Dom Perignon bottle grazing next to a Maurice Calka white fibreglass Boomerang desk.

Did I mention the super-sized Takashi Murakami flower-shaped pillows? This is my fantasy apartment and it all looks totally authentic. Even if it’s been interior-decorated you can absolutely believe the ideas have come from West when you see his collection of sci-fi-style sunglasses and OTT-print Bathing Ape sweats. West describes this look as Pop Luxe and I think he’s onto something.

Next in the pipeline is his clothing range, Pastelle – if it’s anything like his apartment I await it with baited breath.

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