Friday, July 20, 2007

Keeping Dry Feet During A British Summer

Photograph copyright Louisa McKenzie.
Clearly, to say that the weather in the UK has not been very good so far this summer is to do a disservice to those parts of the country which have been submerged. The weather has been awful. The news is full of reports of an upturn in wellie and umbrella sales. These days there are quite a few types of wellies on the market, from the expensive (Hunter) to the cheap and cheerful (Office). However, if you like to wear something a little more unusual on your feet, I suggest you try wellies by Ana Designs limited, a small UK based company. These wellies are feminine, yet practical, and come in three colours/designs: burgundy meadow flower print, baby blue dash print and hot pink daisy print. The designs, inspired by summer scenes, are delicately abstract. Each pair of wellies comes with a handy free bootbag.

Wellington boots £49 with free bootbag.
See for details.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Paris Special: The Restaurants Of Thiou

Paris offers many wonderful restaurants. Sometimes it is interesting to take a tip from the Parisians themselves. They have been flocking to the three restaurants run by Thai chef Thiou: Thiou and Le Petit Thiou on the Left Bank and Comptoir de Thiou on the Right. Indeed, President Sarkozy is said to have taken Tony Blair to dinner at Thiou. The cuisine is Thai and Thai-fusion. Meals are delicious and light, which can prove to be a refreshing change. The decor is different in each restaurant but shares a restrained and chic ethos throughout. The ambiance is relaxed and the staff are exceptionally friendly and welcoming. Comptoir de Thiou especially is an oasis of calm for a relaxed yet chic meal.
Thiou 49, quai d'Orsay Tel: 0140629650 Le Petit Thiou 3, rue surcouf Tel:0140629670 Comptoir de Thiou 12, avenue George V Tel: 0147208956

Paris Special: Spotlight on.....Reciproque

Nestled on a quiet street in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, far from the main tourist thoroughfares, is a shop called Reciproque. I say "a shop" but in reality, it totals about six different storefronts dotted from 88 to 101 rue de la Pompe. Each little shop deals with a different genre of items i.e. womenswear, menswear, gifts, handbags and accessories. Reciproque is a "vintage" shop. All the stock is second-hand, but some items have only been worn once or twice in fashion shows or magazine shoots. Reciproque is a veritable treasure-trove, an Aladdin's cave stocked to the brim with rails, racks and bins. Items are divided by either designer or size. The presentation can seem a little chaotic, but digging around for a bargain is part of the fun. I found a Loro Piana handbag under a pile of other bags on the floor. It was slashed in price and seemingly forgotten. Some of the clothing can seem a little dated but there is a magnificent selection of furs. The handbag and accessories shop is wonderful and has a rail of vintage Hermes scarves. The revolving stock and lower prices make Reciproque a gem of a shop. However, be prepared to take a discerning eye and sharp elbows.
Reciproque, 88-101 rue de la Pompe, Paris 16eme. Metro Rue de la Pompe, line 9.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy 60th Birthday Dior!

Well, it isn't quite a birthday: after all, Christian Dior himself was born in 1905. However, this year marks the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the fashion house which bears his name. To celebrate this milestone, current designer John Galliano produced a 60th anniversary collection to remember during this season's Paris couture week. Held in the magnificent setting of L'Orangerie at Versailles, it certainly was an event to remember. Not only did the show reunite some of the most iconic models of the last couple of decades (Linda Evangelista, Shalom Harlow, Helena Christensen alongside the likes of Lily Cole and Doutzen Kroes)it served as a kind of visual memorial of the work of Christian Dior himself and of the late Steven Robinson, Galliano's right-hand man. However, as always, it was the clothes themselves that were the stars of the show. Following on from his triumphant Japanese inspired Spring collection, Galliano has once more produced a formidable, breath-taking display of his mastery of cut, tailoring and style.
This collection was seemingly inspired by both the signature "New Look" of early Dior and by the works of painters and other visual artists. Cinched waists and "Noir-ish" details (small hats, vertiginous heels, jet-black beading) abounded in reference to the former. The influence of the latter was present in the spectacular array of evening gowns. References to artists such as Renoir and Goya, and even Cecil Beaton, were obvious. However, there were also less direct allusions: a white dress whose front is wound into a slash of red, recalling a smear of pigment on the palette, combined with a hat in the shape of a palette. As with his previous couture collection, Galliano's strength here lies in his ability to transform inspirations which might seem easy to spot or well-known, into something new and unusual. Use of bold colour, unusual mixes of fabrics and adventurous surface details plays a huge part in this. For me, stand-out items include: this wonderful eggshell blue gown and jacket (below),

a form-fitting black dress and white evening coat with over-sized sleeves and graphic detailing

a wonderfully tailored, exquisitely detailed emerald green gown

and this killer outfit.

The stuff that dreams are made of!