Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


When I first saw the autumn/winter '11 Family Affairs collection back in February before I wrote the press release for it, I got that witch vibes feeling and felt really, really excited. To me it's a new direction that I love and can't wait to wear. (SS12 continues the direction and is on fire - but that's top secret for now). I mean, I loved every collection before, but this one has rocket boosters - fittingly - as the collection is called Meteorite Dream. Below are some images from the lookbook, which was fantastically shot by Turned Out's Maya Villiger - and the press text, written by me...

Meteorite Dream, the Fall/Winter 11 collection from Toujours Toi – Family Affairs is about the wearer. In many respects it is a breakthrough in the evolution of Family Affairs; reflecting an internal shift towards a new kind of youthful maturity. The designer Nina Egli started by thinking of what she wanted to wear and live in and what her friends would want to wear and treasure. Stripped bare and minimal, all the inspirations and poetry are still there, but abstracted and pushed forward into something new. Every piece is true to this idea of living your life in the clothes.

Runaway Jacket
London is a strong inspiration: Misty mornings, the paper cut shapes of winter tree branches at dawn, walking home in the Thames jacket looking forward to a hot cup of English breakfast tea and biscuits. Walks on ice cold beaches in Scotland, wrapped up in the heavy navy wool Raphael coat clutching a book of Celtic fairytales, inspired by the depth and devotion of Raphael’s paintings. On moonless nights, curled up in a cosy nook on a velvet couch wearing the blue checked Normandie skirt, dreaming of the dry grasses of Normandy: horse riding, roasting chestnuts on the fire. Reading Baudelaire and William Blake in the Golden Letter skirt with a cat curled up beside you, antique persian rugs layered underfoot. Thinking about the Brontë sisters writing poetry in a distant house in the silk velvet Brontë dress. Returning to faraway childhood dreams with the lurex striped Million Miles dresses and the Finding Nemo blue of the Dreamland jacket.

Claire Shirt - oh yeah that was the other really exciting thing! Thank you Nina, that was the best thing that happened to me all year...
The shapes are elegant and minimal, without need of much adornment. Colors are strong, not muted, but elegant. The fabrics have been chosen to give texture and character to each piece: lurex stripes, tiny white stars printed on navy voile, the depth of navy wool, blue wool checks, black silk velvet, red and green cotton tartan, tobacco wool, red and blue wool checks, navy satin, deep blue chenille, simple gold buttons.

Raphael Coat
{Family Affairs is available online where there's a list of stores that carry it. It's also now stocked at Opening Ceremony in NY and LA.}


Sara, who recommended reading Jose Saramago, without even knowing I'd just been to Portugal! Saramago's name has cropped up a few times in the past few months, so that's where I'm headed first.

But it's a shame I only have one book to give away because I'm sure I'll take up many of your recommendations, thank you so much for sharing them. And it's interesting to note how many of us have read the same books - must be on the same wavelength yes?

Friday, September 23, 2011


End of the roses
Bonus amusing vintage 80s Japanese shirt label
Cats in the hood - suspect behaviour

{p..s. You can still enter the giveaway until Tuesday}

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


© Chanel
Ha, got your attention there. While I'd love to give you a 2:55 bag or a couture jacket, this is a book giveaway, and a good one at that. You might remember when I reviewed Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie when it was published this time last year, and I was lucky to be invited to Claridges to meet the author and learn more about the book. The paperback edition was published recently and I was sent a copy, which I have to admit I've been sitting on for a while (not literally). The paperback version of anything is supposed to be the lesser version, no? But this has new sketches of Coco Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld on the front and back covers and throughout the book, which weren't in the hardback. I secretly like this edition better and was tempted to keep it so I could look at the cover all day; but obviously I've already read it and I can't have two of the same book can I? That would simply be greedy, although I'm sure it would count as but a tiny drop in the ocean of blogger swag shenanigans.

To enter to win the book, comment on this post to tell me about one book you really, really love that you'd recommend. You know, the one you always tell people about, then you lend it to them and never get it back, so you have to keep re-buying it. I'm having a serious and extended reading drought - I've started about six books recently and haven't managed to get further than page twenty of any of them, which is making me sad. I'm hoping it's not that my attention span is well and truly busted (thanks internet), but just that I haven't found the right book. Feel free to include classics, in which I am unevenly read. The winner will not be picked at random, but undemocratically will be the person whose book recommendation I decide to read.

Bonne chance mes cheres - I'll pick a winner in a week's time.

{Don't forget to leave a way for me to contact you with your entry!}

p.s. There is a small flaw in my plan! So if you recommend something I've already read, I'll let you know and you'll get another chance to enter.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011



Cabo Espichel
I'll just keep posting pictures of Portugal here forever shall I? OK, good. No, these will probably be the  last, though I'm sure I could keep going for another 5 posts or so. The Portuguese don't seem to be given to shameless self-promotion, so I'll do it for them. I would like to return to Portugal asap and I encourage everyone to go to Lisbon who hasn't been.  Things I remember fondly are: the food - bolinhos de bacalhau (salted cod fishcakes), allll the different little cakes and pastries, the wine, the cheese - who knew Portugal has amazing cheese? Export that cheese, people! Being able to go out to a reasonably fancy restaurant for a good meal with wine and dessert, without getting indigestion from fear of the bill was... refreshing! I loved the dignity and faded grandeur of Lisbon, the Fado music wafting out of windows and down steep wobbly streets. We had a pitstop in Peniche to walk along the beach, watching the surfers. Driving through the countryside every last piece of land was carefully cultivated farmland, on the way to Obidos where we drank ginja (much nicer than in Lisbon where it tasted like out of date Benylin). Having dinner at the brass band HQ in Tomar, our charming B&B there which cost us €16 each including a beautiful home made breakfast. (There was some kind of lemon fromage frais type thing that I wish I'd at least asked for the name of, so I might have had a chance of ever having it again.) Also in Tomar, the sleek art deco Cafe Paraiso and visiting the Convent of the Order of Christ, which is a World Heritage site and I think it costs €3.50 to visit - the souvenir hawkers outside were two ladies selling beautifully displayed fresh fruit and bunches of herbs by the exit.

Portugal, don't you ever change (well, maybe put your prices up a bit for visitors and export more of your bounteous goods.)

Thursday, September 08, 2011


This summer was nicknamed the summer of exploratory boozing - in which - against buffeting rain and wind, last minute calculations of unpredictable bursts of sunshine and frantic weather forecast checking we managed to beat the elements (or just go with them and wear coats) to meet up every so often and have a very convivial time. There was always a drink, and each time it was different: red wine, Aperol spritz, Lillet (both white and red), champagne, tea, (perhaps the weirdest) Fernet Branca, red wine and... we're not finished yet!

Charlotte takes incredible photographs and has become so accomplished at capturing those tiny fleeting moments you want to remember without you even realising. My claw like hands were honoured to play a walk-on part in some of her photos this summer - always clutching a glass of something (some might say a little desperately.)
Where summer started: clinging onto red wine at the Other People's Houses opening.      © Charlotte Bland
Aperol Spritz at Brunswick House - on an almost balmy evening.      © Charlotte Bland
Tea and a little bun at St. John on a rainy day - champagne not pictured.      © Charlotte Bland
Fernet Branca in hand, onset of mild hypothermia at Frank's Argentinean dinner in July.      © Charlotte Bland

And it's not over until we say it is! We'll see the summer off right - my claws are ready, and I'm more than ready for another drink, some good food and good company, somewhere that's not weather dependent.

{All photos © Charlotte Bland - thanks C!}

Monday, September 05, 2011


September always feels like the real beginning of the year to me. Who wants to make resolutions, stride forward and make things happen in darkest January? I never do, but September does that for me. You won't find me bemoaning the end of summer because - we don't have one here, though I was lucky to feel a little bit of sun in Portugal and I'll bet they still have some over there. But August always seems to me like a flat month - nothing changes, the flowers and greenery start to look stale, the rest of Europe is on holiday - it's that sort of in-betweeny stagnant feeling that suddenly lifts with the beginning of September. I LOVE AUTUMN. It makes me want to get on with it, bring in new things for the coming season, let go of the old, prepare for the coming winter. (I also really struggle with the last months of winter - again, over it - get some leaves on those trees would you.) Of course September gives you all those back to school feelings, which was never fun, but was much alleviated by choosing back to school shoes and bags.

This September I'm allowing myself to buy some new clothes - something I haven't really done for three years due to er, being completely skint all the time! I feel quite excited about it because it's been so long. Time for a major wardrobe overhaul - hence the shop to let go of things I don't wear - not because I don't like them but because boringly maybe, I know what suits me. One of the reasons I never post about what I wear is because it would quickly become oh, extremely repetitive. I generally wear the same things over and over until I change to a new thing. Winter is basically cropped trousers and a cashmere jumper. Though my aim is always to buy good quality clothes that last, I've been wearing things until they literally wear out, which started to make me feel a bit downtrodden and glum. I bought a couple of new things over the summer, but nothing that really changes my wardrobe.

Colenimo Amelia jumper
The elbow of my beloved, much worn APC cashmere jumper finally wore through the other day (elbow patches forthcoming) and then as fate would have it Colenimo opened its webshop at the weekend so I was able to snap up the dreamy Amelia jumper I'd had my eye on. I was their first customer, haha! That made both me and them happy I think... So that's my replacement for the cashmere jumper - now I need a much better upgrade for the crappy navy cropped trousers I've been wearing for ages - I swear I'm going to throw them in the bin, really I am, just really soon, I will. And after wading through literally thousands of polyester vintage polka dot blouses on etsy, I finally found some that weren't highly flammable, so I'll show you those when they arrive.

Emerson Made black and cream ribbons blouse
The amount of times in the past year that I've placed a huge order from Emerson Made in the cart then got worried about customs charges and fees and bailed I cannot tell you; it's too embarrassing. If I could just have one of everything they make I'd be all set for winter - no, for life! The woman is a genius, but then you already know that. OK, I'd start with this, this, these and this. But yeah, I really like their little black pant and I already own a few cummerbunds, though it seems a shame juuusst to get those and nothing else. *Cogitation.*

Onwards with the winter wardrobe reinvention. First stop: my shoe guy to get rubber soles put on my APC Mary Janes.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


There is no filter on this photo. That is the actual colour of the sky in Lisbon. Also if someone had told me Lisbon had such a thing as a neo gothic lift with original wood interior designed by an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel that looks like it stepped out of 1900s Paris (Elevador de Santa Justa) I might have booked my ticket there sooner.

I had always thought that Pasteis de Belem (or Nata) were kind of a niche thing, that only me and a few other bloggers people knew about. This assumption was blown out of the water upon arrival at the Pastelaria de Belem - swarming with tourists and extended to at least six times its original capacity, with a flippin' branch of Starbucks next door (the only Starbucks I saw in Portugal actually *edit* oh yeah, and the massive one dominating the beautiful Rossio train station building - I must have blanked it out - thanks for reminding me A). Luckily the pasteis didn't disappoint: served warm, with flaky, crisp pastry and extra cinnamon. It was well worth the pilgrimage and being shoe horned into a tourist annexe. Our waiter was also amusing.

I just basically need these wall lamps with the brass arrows - not that I have any wall light fixings to attach them to. They're at the Confeitaria Nacional where we sat and had tea after a day of walking. Lisbon has these beautiful old mosaic pavements that - being old - are all uneven and bumpy; add to that the steep hills and we discovered new muscle groups in our legs. We had a nice rest here: tea, freshly squeezed juice and one or three of the many varieties of little cake Lisbon excels at. (This was the day of The Fifth Pastel de Belem Of The Day Defeat.)

Here are pictures for comparison's sake of hotel rooms in Lisbon and Tomar. Yes! Because we didn't just go to Lisbon! No. We went to Sintra, Cabo Espichel, Obidos, Peniche and Tomar. I think that's it. Up next.

The room in Tomar was charmingly old fashioned but I really sort of loved our hotel in Lisbon if for nothing else than its total contrast from the rest of Lisbon, with its sliding electronic doors and modern design. It was the Gat Rossio - with cat as patron (gat means cat in Catalan - the hotel chain started in Barcelona where there are two branches.) It also has hotels in Paris and Berlin. It was really affordable (I paid €50 per night including breakfast) and was in a newly renovated building. Apparently all I need to be happy is a clean white box with a bed, a functioning shower and wi-fi, as that's what my room was. I'm not that bothered about bed linen thread count or room service. I could complain about the lime green accent colours but I won't. It had everything I needed plus a terrace to hang out on and this great buffet breakfast that set you up for the day. Also - it was worth it for the virgin cat mary statue in the lobby alone (see posts below).

The Gulbenkian quietly became our favourite place in Lisbon I think. I had never heard of it or of him actually, but I think Calouste and I would have got along just marvellously. I'm so glad we went there.