Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
Monday, 29 November 2010
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Thursday, 11 November 2010
Monday, 8 November 2010
Thursday, 4 November 2010
Friday, 15 October 2010
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
Chanel spring/summer 2011. Photo by Giovanni Giannoni on wwd.com
For winter – and beyond into next spring, according to Chanel's (madly beautiful) s/s 2011 catwalk – the jersey dress gives way to the knitted dress. Yes, the classic 1980s jumper dress is well and truly back, bringing with it (for many of us) memories of burgundy Topshop numbers paired with matching suede pixie boots. Looking back at photos, you'd never guess that the rather frumpy, itchy, woolly dresses would become a fashion statement here in 2010. But these modern versions are somewhat more sophisticated, in fine cashmere blends to make them more elegant and easy to wear. Everywhere from Net-a-porter to Warehouse has stripey, chunky, ribbed or woolly jumper dresses on their rails right now. Get the length right and they look great with boots or pumps. Here's a round-up of some of the best:
At the top end, there's APC's cute navy and white striped version, Sonia Rykiel's school uniform-style jumper with skirt (£270) and Stella McCartney's stripey jumper dress in wool/cashmere (£475). Vanessa Bruno’s sweater dress is reduced at theoutnet.com (£138 down from £230); or you could wear a black jersey top underneath Bella Freud's Last Poets top, reduced from £215 to £88, for a jumper-dress effect. French brand American Vintage (stocked in Fenwick, Selfridges and online) does a great round-neck sweater dress, £85.
On the high street, Warehouse is doing knitted dresses in maxi, mini and midi lengths, from £45, in greys and black, while Topshop has a more jazzy cotton Love Heart sweater dress at £35. I also really like Hush’s Amy dress (£40), and Toast/Hush-inspired catalogue Wrap has an embroidered merino-wool version for £99 in elegant colours such as washed blue and – oh yes – deep burgundy.
Thursday, 30 September 2010
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Monday, 27 September 2010
You know you’re in a super-cool, on-the-ball boutique hotel when you find REN in the bathroom (the Boundary, for example: see post dated 13 May). If you haven't come across REN before, let me introduce you. REN launched in 2000, with a USP of producing beauty products that do not contain synthetics, parabens or petrochemicals, yet are still both beautiful to use and efficacious (an approach that has been adopted by a host of other companies in their wake). They are ‘clean’ products, but don’t have that ‘worthy’ feel to them – they look and smell great and they feel luxurious to use. No wonder its fans (including me) are ardent, bordering on obsessive.
REN’s rose products are their strongest line. The Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil is beautifully decadent and non-greasy, and is gorgeous used as a skin oil, too. There’s also Rose Otto Body Wash and a lusciously rich Body Cream (£24.50 and it lasts for ages) that leaves your skin petal-soft and scented. All of them make great gifts. The Rose Centrifolia Cleansing Gel is a cooling face wash that cleans and gently hydrates the skin, and the Rose Ultra-Moisture Serum (£40), worn under moisturiser, uses rice germ, jojoba, coconut, camellia and lemon oils along with rose damascene oil to really lock in moisture. Many people are wary of layering oil onto their face, thinking it will leave a greasy shine, but an oil containing high-quality ingredients like this actually sinks into the skin and gives it a radiance and hydration you just don’t get with a cream. The Rose Otto Body Scub has been much raved-about in magazines, and it does give your skin a buffed sheen, though I reckon the creams and oils are better investments – most of this ends up down the plughole.
I also recommend the Keep Young and Beautiful Serum (£45). Yes, it costs rather more than Protect & Perfect, the bargain Boots serum that everyone went mad over for a while – but for my money it’s way more effective, and genuinely feels like it makes your skin look better. And there aren’t many products, especially costing less than 50 quid, that truly make your skin look better (with the fine exception of Dr Hauschka’s Rose Cream). Also worth a try is Omega 3 Night Repair Serum; it takes takes longer to absorb into the skin so use only a small amount for the best effects.
REN’s website is as good-looking and effective as its products (and that's not always the case). You can search by product or, most usefully, by skin type. And there are some good offers too, including free trial sizes, plus a free £20 Mayday Rescue Balm when you spend over £30. Look out for their kits to try out five different trial sizes before you splash out on a full-size one.
Saturday, 11 September 2010
© Image from the Ladybird Archive. © Ladybird Books Ltd 2008. Licensed by Copyrights Group. www.ladybird.com
Sunday, 22 August 2010
Sorry for the delay in posting... it has proved inordinately tricky to set up broadband here in the new house – even getting a landline has taken a fortnight. But on all other fronts it is great, and really energising, to be in Dublin.
I’m glad to report that the coffee situation here is looking seriously good. The Cake Café, off Camden Street, lives up to its excellent reputation. Hidden away in an unpromising alleyway, about five minutes’ walk from St Stephen’s Green, it’s pretty small but – in a spirit of optimism – has plenty of seats outside, sheltered by bamboo. You reach it by walking to the back of a stationery shop, Daintree’s, and then out through a tunnel of bamboo, like something out of a grown-up Harry Potter. With its home-baked bread, mis-matched crockery, black-and-white-tiled floor and shelves stacked with packets of flour, the cafe has the laidback, effortlessly cool vibe of Jones Dairy in Columbia Road. There are pretty fairy cakes in silver cases, huge slabs of brownie, great (double shot) coffees and a small selection of things you really want to eat for lunch: the day’s soup, tart or salad, plus a host of chunky sandwiches and hearty platefuls of Portugese sardines on toast, and hotpot. Well worth searching out.
Smock boutique continues to stock a fabulous edit, from Veronique Branquinho to Acne. The latter's short Pistol boots are a great staple for autumn/winter (the Acne online store is offering free postage this week), and the Zorah black dress epitomises the label's much-hyped wearable chic. There's a rail-load of Acne at Brown Thomas too, Dublin's finest, most glamorous department store. For many seasons now BT has catered purely for the super-rich, it seems – Lanvin, Gucci, Balmain – but new additions such as L'Agence, Thakoon, Isobel Marant Etoile, T by Alexander Wang (such gorgeous fabrics, such easy style, at Whistles prices!) and Carven offer a new layer of edge and wearability. Wang's current bag, the Darcy slouch hobo, is the best he's done yet, I reckon ($850 at shopbop.com, or around £547).
The stand-out collection in store right now, for me, is Paul & Joe. This label goes from strength to strength. Now healthy enough to advertise even in the most glossy of glossies, Paul & Joe have a strong a/w 2010 collection featuring the perfect little black dress in jersey, accentuated with a silver leaf (£465), a chic wool/cashmere coat, eccentric swan-print tops and a beautiful kimono-sleeved black and white print silk mini dress that makes a striking statement. They have teamed up with Pierre Cardin for a few pieces too.
Back on cardigan/coats for autumn (see post 5 August), M&S have come up trumps with a Rick Owens-esque long cardi with alpaca for around £50, plus a long waterfall cashmere cardi in grey or a latte colour for around £150. As usual with M&S these won't be easy to track down; though they're in the Dublin store right now they don't feature on the website. Their cashmere section is always worth a look, though.
Elsewhere, H&M have been doing a simple navy and red-striped Breton top for less than a tenner that nods to Marc Jacobs' bold stripes this season; it's worth rifling their chaotic store for.
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
Last night I swam in the Irish sea in the rain. The sky was silver and the water was completely calm, with just a slight swell as raindrops smattered the surface. It was cold, still and utterly exhilarating.
Living by the sea is even more magical than I imagined. There is always something to look at, from the hardy early morning swimmers first thing in the morning and the kids hunting for crabs and periwinkles to the kite-surfers in the evening and tentative lines of young canoeists having lessons. And yesterday, there were dolphins out in the bay. When the tide’s out we take cups of tea onto the sand and the kids run around; it’s like being permanently on holiday.
The swimmers change and congregate by the Martello tower, and it’s a wonderfully eccentric sight – a bunch of all ages, all shapes, standing in their pants as they contemplate the icy waters. Locals stroll around the streets and squares in their dressing gowns as they head down to the water. It’s like having a giant open-air swimming pool. And boy, it beats paying an awful lot of cash per month to have water kicked in your face for 20 minutes by the Alpha Male doing messy crawl in front as you plough up and down the chlorinated, sweaty pool.
The feeling when you get out of the sea is fantastic – you feel energized, exhilarated, your skin glowing and tingling – and a cup of tea never tasted so good. Yep, I'm a convert – though ask me again come November....
Talking of the sea, there’s a book festival in Dun Laoghaire from 7-12 September and I’ve booked to see John Banville, Booker winner for the wonderfully evocative and moving The Sea. I'm also seeing Jonathan Coe and Ross Raisin (Raisin’s God’s Own Country is a brilliantly dark first novel set in the moors of Yorkshire).
So far, so very good – and I haven't even told you about the Cake Cafe yet... next time.