Art and commerce

Is it just me or is there really a Keith Haring trend bubbling under? These menswear outfits from the McQ by Alexander McQueen SS08 collection remind me of my interview at St Martins for the art foundation course many years (or even decades) ago. Asked who my favourite artist was I stumbled “Um, Keith Haring… for his use of colour” before tailing off unconvincingly. I didn’t get in.

Five new fashiony things I learnt this week

1) Balenciaga opens its first London store at 12 Mount Street, W1 in Feb 2008.

2) The new online-zine-slash-blog is now live. The result of a collaboration between bloggers Madelene Lindqvist ( and Asta Hiippala (, it promises to update with new articles several times a week. I enjoyed reading Out of Season, a commentary on how almost every week is a ‘fashion week’ of some kind or other.

3) Who’s keeping up with news on the Mulberry-go-round? Stuart Vevers has departed Mulberry for Loewe. Katie Grand (super-scruffy stylist who consults for Prada and edits Pop magazine) was due to take over as creative director but resigned before she’d even started. (Anyone know the goss?) Newly appointed as creative director is Emma Hill, the wonderkid who zhuzhed up Gap the first time it ‘got good’ a few years ago (I’m still rocking my washed-cotton barrel bag from the summer of 03) and has spent the last couple of seasons heading up accessories at Chloe. I have high hopes for Ms Hill so let’s see what she comes up with.

4) New hot book alert! Modern Menswear is written by journalist Hywel Davies and profiles 36 menswear designers including such modern visionaries as Raf Simons, Hedi Slimane and Kim Jones. Menswear is interesting me more than womenswear at the mo, so I’m looking forward to this one. Published Feb 2008 by Laurence King.

5) Gossip Girl is coming to ITV2 this month! Nuff said.

Passage to India, part I

Only six days til I leave the security and predictability of London and head to the madness of Mumbai. Of course, now the reality check has kicked in and the sleepless nights have started. I have been emailing my boss-to-be in India to ask for the names of photographers’ agents, model agencies and production companies so I can do some research ahead of my arrival. It turns out that ‘they do things slightly differently here to the way you will be used to doing things’. Gulp. What does that mean? It transpires that photographers in Mumbai have a lot more control than they have here. Not only do they pick their teams but they also want to have a say in the layout of the pages. Uh oh, now they tell me. And they name their rates and we then negotiate. Oh joy. I am someone who has very clear ideas and likes to work with photographers who have the same vision as me but who are ultimately under my control. I want to choose the story, location, models, clothes. Yes, I’m a control freak! And much as I would like to use Indian photographers, having seen some of the work of the photographers she has recommended, I’m not sure they will ‘get’ what I want to do.

All is not lost however. I’m going to keep an open mind until I arrive and as a backup I have spoken to the UK-based agent of a US-based photographer who does get what I want to do and it might be possible for him to shoot for us. The magazine doesn’t have a budget to fly photographers out there but apparently he is willing to pay his own way. And then we will have the hurdle of model agencies and production companies to overcome. Let the learning curve commence…

How to be a sensible sale shopper

In only seven days time I will be hauling my ass to Heathrow along with my paltry baggage allowance to head off to Mumbai for eight weeks. I am working on a new magazine launch and need to pack enough clothes to make a professional impression (not easy for a jeans-and-Converse girl) as well as my files, notebooks, laptop and the obligatory bits and pieces that my mum has requested I take over for her (er, six Mum roll-on deodorants??!!!). This is what brought me to the Oxford Street sales. In the last year or so I have overcome my urge to consume, consume, consume. I think it’s because I buy so many magazines. Looking at merchandise in magazines gives me the same buzz as buying the stuff itself, so even though I spend a bundle on glossies, it actually works out as a saving. For this reason I haven’t had the urge to hit the sales although I will of-course browse a sale rail if I’m passing one, I’m not a total freak.

I must be one of the lucky few who has a boyfriend who actually likes shopping. And D knows what he’s doing as it was he who told me that Fenwick has an extra 10% off on the first day of the sale*. So after I gave him a head start at Skandium in the hope that its Florence Knoll sofa would be heavily reduced (it wasn’t even in the sale), we met for a quick butchers in Selfridges before snaffling some half-price Charbonnel & Walker champagne truffles in Fenwick. Up to Kurt Geiger on the first floor where I fell upon some Repetto ankle-tie ballet pumps. This was a true bargain as I had already seen and rejected them a couple of weeks ago at Kurt Geiger in South Molton Street (£130! For ballet pumps!). I’m hoping these will work to zhuzh up jeans for day as I can’t see myself wearing Converse to appointments with the Gucci PR. I’m slightly concerned that the dusty pot-holed streets might eat them alive but I’ve been promised a car and driver so hopefully that will take care of that. After a cursory look at the lingerie (no decent Fifi Chachnil and the Hanro basics were not on sale) we were outta there.

On the way to lunch at DKNY – now wouldn’t it be nice if restaurants had sales? – we passed huge queues at Miu Miu and Prada. I mean, really, who queues for a sale? Don’t even get me started on the ladies who were treated for hypothermia after queuing at 4am for the Next sale. Next?! I just don’t get it. These people clearly have more time than money but even so, don’t they know they can shop online? Post-lunch we took ourselves home with our modest sale buys – chocolates and Repettos for me, shoe trees and a new pair of gloves for him.

Disneyrollergirl’s Dos and Don’t for sensible sale shopping

1. DO make a plan. Don’t aimlessly wander from one end of the high street to another, you’ll give up at the first hurdle. Pinpoint five destination shops then factor in a coffee break to recharge.

2. DO go with the flow. There’s no point being in a hurry if you decide to hit the busiest shopping street in town. Slow down to the same pace as the dawdlers and bring a copy of Grazia to read while you queue for changing rooms and tills.

3. DON’T shop with friends, they’ll give you sale fatigue. If you shop alone you can get more done.

4. DON’T pay and queue in the obvious places. Go to the mens department where it’s less busy or somewhere off-radar like the flower department which is usually quiet.

5. DON’T go to the nearest loos. The ones further away will have shorter queues. Try Mamas & Papas in Regent Street, Selfridges 3rd floor in Oxford Street and Fenwick in New Bond street for the nicest, cleanest and quietest toilets in the West End. Fortnum & Mason has luxurious toilets with an attendant who wipes the seat before you use it and you get fancy soap and your own towel but it’s a tourist attraction in itself so be prepared for a queue. Harrods charges £1 to use its loos unless you go to the one in the basement accessed via the bread department. Avoid TopShop, Oxford Circus and Borders, Oxford Street toilets – nasty, nasty, nasty.

6. DO shop for gaps. It’s more satisfying to come home with something you actually needed than yet another stripy T-shirt.

7. DO be decisive. If you’re not sure, leave it. Don’t get caught up in the sales hype, once you’ve typed in your PIN you know you’ll never take it back.

8. DO go for quality over quantity. Aim for two or three quality bargains instead of ten bags of tat. Believe me, the buzz will be the same.

*until 1pm only!