Tuesday 21 April 2015

Deconstructing Summer Style: A Gentleman's Guide

As Summer suddenly seems to be right around the corner, I am thrilled that I have been asked to write a second guest post for Amanda and Jane over on their classy, inspirational blog The Women's Room and this time I am deconstructing Summer Style for the gentlemen in our lives.

Jane Fonda & Alain Delon Photo:

Speaking from experience I have found that a gentle nudge in the right sartorial direction can only be a good thing, so drawing inspiration from some of the male style icons of the 50's and 60's and their different takes on European seaside attire, I've highlighted how to keep the gents cool in the heat and avoid that last minute pre-holiday panic.

Jean Seberg and David Niven. Photo: Everett Pictures/Rex Features

I am also introducing a small company in Norfolk called Carrier Company that sells beautiful locally made traditional clothing for men, women and children with a maritime feel - the kind of clothes that are effortlessly stylish and only get better with age. More on this brand soon.


So grab yourselves a coffee and have a browse over on The Women's Room - there's so much to read across such a variety of topics - enjoy!

Monday 20 April 2015

Denim Days Part 1

Do you remember your first pair of jeans?  After too many crimes against fashion of the Crimplene variety in the early 70's, I first hit denim gold aged about 12 with a dark wash, straight legged pair that I wore with some (I thought) very cool cowboy boots. Photographic evidence unfortunately proves that I was never going to give Brooke Shields a run for her money, but no matter - I was hooked.

Brooke Shields for Calvin Klein

That's the thing about jeans, when they work, boy do they work, and you will go on wearing them until the day they fall apart, and parting is indeed sweet sorrow when they do. By the early 80's it was all about Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, the tighter the better, which meant having to lie down on the floor to zip them up - remember the days before lycra?

French Jeans Store New York, 1977. Photo: WWD

Farrah Fawcett for Gloria Vanderbilt

Back then there was really only one style per season and if you wanted to keep your fashion kudos intact you had to keep up with the times. Now, from 'normcore' to designer denim, there is a style for everyone (though please don't ask me the difference between The Girlfriend and the Mom Jean - it's a step too far) but for Summer 2015 I'm afraid it's all about the flare (again) and for me, this means the wide-legged flare à la Farrah Fawcett above, and 70's jean queen Jane Birkin, below.

Jane Birkin Photo: Rex Images

The other version is the floor-skimming kick flare as seen here on Geraldine Saglio, Emanuelle Alt's Editor and right hand at French Vogue.  It helps if you are tall and willowy and of course she looks great in them, but somehow this just seems a bit dated and try hard to me, and whilst it works for Paris Fashion Week, I'm not teetering around on the school run in 3" heels with my hems dragging along the ground, non merci.

Geraldine Saglio - Photo: Pinterest

So it's flares 'n flats for me, and it was this pair of wide leg jeans in dark denim from Whistles that really swayed me:



I like the frayed hem, the colour and the slightly more structured feel.  Ditto, the Eva high-rise wide-leg jeans from J Brand at Matches Fashion:


And when I fell over this pair in that old 1970's haunt Etam we still have out here in France - bingo:


I'm wearing mine with my Stan Smith's and yes, you guessed it a striped Breton top - perfect Spring attire. Plus, they are super-comfy, the high waist hides a multitude of post-Easter sins, and the dark wash is just that bit less then and more now. Job done. What are your thoughts - been there done that, or do you dare to flare 2015 style?

Thursday 26 March 2015

Chic of the Week: LKB X LB

So whilst I'm sitting here in my Breton top (obvs) dreaming of the Riviera (see my guest post on French Style over on The Women's Room blog),  model, British Fashion Ambassador and Vogue writer Laura Bailey has been dreaming of Capri and the Amalfi coast for her new collaboration with London footwear label LK Bennett.

LK Bennett London by Laura Bailey Photo:

For her capsule collection and the chance to create the perfect Summer shoe, Bailey has taken inspiration from the colours of the Amalfi coast, 1960's geometric print swimsuits and the iconic Italian actresses Sophia Loren, Anna Magnani and Monica Vitti.

Laura Bailey Photo:

Sophia Loren

Monica Vitti

She told Vogue UK "I'm attracted to the clash of print and solids, brights and neutrals, matt and shine, and I wanted the designs to be as chic and brave as the iconic actresses and landscapes I was inspired by, and to reflect the Mediterranean palette and spirit that cheers me on my darkest days."

LK Bennett London by Laura Bailey Photo:

So there are sharp geometric patterns, jazzy zigzags, bold stripes in Mediterranean colours and the shoes are spot on for S/S 2015 with their pointy toes and ankle straps. There are both heels and flats and a selection of bags - perfect for your Summer holiday 'passegiata' - the ritual evening stroll the Italians take at sundown, a chance to see and be seen and show off your new shoes.

LK Bennett by Laura Bailey Photo:

I have long admired Bailey's ability to mix and match her looks - she describes her style as "English eclectic/tomboy princess" which I love and it sums her up perfectly. For her, style "ideally defies labels and simply reflects the personality/moment".

LK Bennett by Laura Bailey Photo:

 Her shoe collection is offbeat enough to do just that and with shoes that are "made to dance on London pavements or Capri sands" she has added another string to her already impressive bow. The collection is in store now and available here.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

The Women's Room and Me

I am delighted that after a while away, my first post for this Spring is a guest post for the wonderful The Womens Room blog - a daily slice of style and inspiration and they have asked me to write about 'Deconstructing French Style' which I was thrilled to do!

Ines de la Fressange Photo: Lisa Roze for Madame Figaro

Amanda and Jane at TWR have been the best way for me to keep in touch with London life whilst living in my field in France and I always look forward to their thoughts, their new finds and above all their humour. I feel privileged to be up on their blog.

Jane Birkin Photo: Pinterest

Please go on over and have a look, Amanda has included some lovely Breton tops, in case you feel inspired, as we all know, they never go out of style.

Coco Chanel Photo;

Wednesday 13 August 2014

A Sky full of Stars, and a Whistle

Two Hollywood greats gone in two days - one a comic genius, the other a legend. I felt truly sad to hear that the 'black dog' of depression had claimed Robin Williams yesterday at the age of 63. He had been fighting his demons for years, and finally, tragically, they won.

Photo: Mark Mann from Series 'Esquire Life of Man'

 As a stand-up comedian he was unparalleled - his speed of delivery was as quick as lightning, his impressions spot-on, his jokes - often against himself - side-splittingly funny. In interviews he was frenetic, whacky and unpredictable but he could make you laugh until you cried. And as if that wasn't talent enough, his acting skills, both in comedy and straight roles were bountiful.  I was an avid "Mork and Mindy" fan back in the late 70's - the sheer zaniness and joy of the show made it must-watch TV, and as I re-watched "Awakenings" last night I was reminded just what a great straight actor he was. I now feel compelled to re-visit "Good Will Hunting" and "Dead Poets' Society" just to enjoy the sheer power of those stand-out performances.  Luckily I can always enjoy "Aladdin" and "Mrs Doubtfire" with my boys and we still have "Night at the Museum 3" to look forward to - they love his Teddy Roosevelt in the first two films, as do I.

Photo: Peggy Sirota for Parade

Wiliams' daughter Zelda quoted from Antoine de Saint Exupery's "Le Petit Prince" when she paid tribute to him yesterday: “You — you alone will have the stars as no one else has them…In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…You — only you — will have stars that can laugh.” She said she would try to keep looking up... To that I can only add "O Captain, my Captain" - your genius will live on.

Photo: Dan Steinberg

And then today, Lauren Bacall. A true star and fashion icon who is as much referenced now for her elegant style and trademark curls as she was back in her heyday, Bacall was always her own woman - sassy, forthright and independent. As a couple with husband Humphrey Bogart - they met on the set of "To Have and Have Not" when she was 19 and he was 44 - she was Hollywood royalty, and their films together crackle with the chemistry of their romance.

Bacall in the 1940's

Photo: Rex

On the set of "To Have and Have Not" 1944 - Photo: Corbis Archive

Bacall dressed in a pared down, simple way and she described her style as 'studied carelessness". I particularly love her Summer off-duty wardrobe which remains timeless and modern:

Photo: Rex

Photo: Rex

Photo: Rex

Photo: Rex

Though she easily held her own against Marilyn on the red carpet:

Bacall and Monroe at the 1953 premiere of "How to Marry a Millionaire"

One of the other things I admired so much about her was her attitude to ageing: she did so gracefully and never lost her love for sequins:

Bacall in 1972

 Bacall at the Oscars in 1975 with Costume Designer Theoni V. Aldredge - Photo: AP

Bacall at the White House 1980 - Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage

Bacall with David Lynch - Photo: Andre Rau

Bacall in 2010 - Photo AFP/Getty Images Rich Schmitt

Starring together in the classic "To Have and Have Not" in 1944, Bacall utters the famous lines: "You know how to whistle don't you Steve?  You just put your lips together... and blow." When Bogart died in 1957, Bacall put a whistle in his coffin. I hope her family put one in hers...