Friday, 27 March 2009

STOP singing? no

O god. i really must stop singing. i can't, basically (sing well that is), but i also can't seem to stop. There i was, totally happy at the opening of the new Lalique Haviland shop on Conduit street on Wednesday night with the delectable Edwina and Amy, the former looking like a fashion forward and super sexy wicked witch of the west (minus the hat), the latter like a fabulously sleazed-up red riding hood; we were sipping champagne, nibbling Tuscan antipasti, ogling highbrow slebs like Henry Conway and Emma Noble, admiring the OTT twinkling jewels and art deco inspired china whilst being jostled by sloanes and still we couldn't resist the lure of Lucky Voice's new pop up shop just off Carnaby Street. isn't freeloading from one organisation enough in one night i ask you? apparently not. set up to promote the above home karaoke kit the pop up shop is like stepping into LV world with the LV screensavers on the shopfront's windows and the site's graphics made into a hanging mobile suspended from the ceiling. There's free karaoke there (29 Foubert's place, W1) till april 5th, so for god's sake go and stop me returning. no, i will never be in Banarama, no matter how much i want to be. the end.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Annette Messager

I walked into the groundfloor exhibition at the Hayward and one of the first things i read in the introductory note was... "I like working on the grotesque, on buffoonery, on the flip side, the nonsense of our life (does it have any sense, for that matter?), everything that runs counter to heroism." And so, right there and then, i began to fall in love with Annette Messager. even before i saw the wall filled with framed pieces of paper each with her signature on, signed in a different way, like the myriad versions of herself and how she both is and wants to be seen (and becomes disassociated from). even before i saw the fairytale princess dresses laid out in open caskets, like the morbidly entrancing deaths of favourite incarnations. even before i saw the stuffed cockerels, ferrets, and birds standing on mirrors suspended from the ceiling with their heads replaced with the heads of stuffed cartoon toys - a light diversion for popes in papal palaces, apparently. it's true, i do have a penchant for fairytale Gothic, but this was more than i could have hoped for; enchanted Gothic fairytale porn with a fabulously passionate feminist agenda... as she says, "I like to tell stories. i like cliches. children's stories are monstrous. psychoanalytically, our entire society if encapsulated in fairytales. i've always been interested in them and they are often one of my points of departure". Amen to that, i say. she goes on to say "for me it's a 'natural' gesture to rip bodies apart, cut them up... i always perceive the body in fragments". and so you have a whole room filled with giant body parts made from parachute-like material - cocks and kidneys and tongues and syphilitic diseases, which have air pumped into them and which inflate and collapse - almost breathing in a sinister, hypnotic way. next door a half-human, half bird hangs from the rafters. its remote body parts are attached by string and manipulated by an invisible puppeteer and made to dance terrifyingly. upstairs old clothes are used to create half cow-half half-child like forms that are penned in an insane asylum, their movements controlled by a machine that sets them on permanent repeat in a sickening, unbearable, claustrophobic mental cage. they are nightmarish, theatrical, monstrous and frightening, but completely mesmeric and incredibly powerful and often funny. they physically and mentally take you over and stop your breath. they shock, appall, but at the same time amaze. a grande dame of the french art world Messager was the first woman to represent France at the Venice Biennale, and the first woman to be awarded the Lion d'or. the feminine and feminism of the pieces come through strongly... roles as mother, lover etc play a huge part in the retrospective - shifting with politics from the 1960s through to today, but it all seems relevant. Catholicism, pornography, fantasty, torture, humour, death, disease, love are all woven together with the rough stitches of Frankenstein's monster, but it's a gloriously Gothic monster that i loved.


I think i've unwittingly found a place to unleash my obsession with all things Babushka. oh dear. The notecards are by Smythson and the mug by LSA. i think i want the notecards more than anything else in the world right now.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

The New V&A Bookshop

I am obsessed with the shop at the V&A. The postcards, the knick-knacks, the jewellery, the scarves... well, just about everything, especially the books. The V&A's in-house publications are amazing - by my bed i have Shocking Life, Elsa Schiaparelli's autobiography, From A to Biba, Barbara Hulaniki's autobiography and The Surreal Body: Fetish and Fashion, by GhislaineWood; all published by the V&A. So i was v excited to hear that they've extracted the books dotted around the museum shop and consolidated their collection in one, big, shiny, ubersleek Bookshop, thus also leaving more room for glorious exhibition ephemera on the mainshopfloor (BTW the Stephen Jones curated Hats exhibition at the mo means there some fabulous hats on sale). The bookshop's opening was on friday, and i went along to kick start my night of generally careering around town trying to do too much in one evening. It rocks: it's cool and bright and airy with a design minimalism that lets the books speak for themselves. I mainlined the books posters on sale... coming away with Vanessa Bell's illustration for the cover of Mrs Dalloway - which i've had my eye on ever since i featured it in my Christmas gift guide last year for work. actually, i subsequently worked out that even with my discount it would have worked out cheaper if i'd bought it online, but anyway, i really enjoyed carrying it into the various parties i went on to. not. especially as one was a birthday and there was an awkward moment when the birthday girl might have thought it was meant for her. that was fun. still all worth it in the end, now it's safely home and waiting for a good seeing to by the framers.

Friday, 20 March 2009


I h.e.a.r.t this. It's by Kate Garey and basically fuels my RUSSIAN DOLL OBSESSION. i like to think it is me returning to my Babushka roots. My Grandmother, Eva Tartakoff, would have been proud. Other things i have got my eye on are... cards by Gwendolen, this solid perfume by Estee Lauder (a snip at £250!) and cushions by Andrea Williamson, plus a necklace charm by Les Nereides from Labour of Love on Upper Street.

a turquoise make do and mend

I was visiting my parents last night and decided to strip down to my tights and underwear and model the swimsuit i nabbed from work. not quite sure whether it was what they expected after dinner, but still. anyway, in the process of jamming my oversize breasts into the fifties-esque costume, i broke the seam stitches on the halterneck. with a flourish my Ma produced myriad green to blue via turquoise threads. how fantastic are they? all sewn up i returned home only to try it on again and repeat the saga. there's nothing like learning a lesson and living out a deja vu.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

My Best Friend's Girl

I watched the film My Best Friend's Girl at a screening about 9 months ago and was so outraged, offended and aghast by it i haven't stopped talking about it since then, mostly slack jawed and incandescently, stutteringly appalled. my post viewing email to the PR included phrases like "unbelievably crude and shamelessly misogynistic". the story is about a guy (Tank, played by the strangely attractive in a sort of sexy ugly sort of way Dane Cook - hmm even i surprised myself), who is hired by shitty boyfriends-who-have-been-dumped to take their freshly ex-girlfriends out on such a horrific date that they go running back to them. you see him in action (10 steps of hell for any girl) but then he's hired by his best friend and falls for the girl he's supposed to be offending/insulting/generally being grim to (Alexis, played by Kate Hudson). she also weirdly likes his shallow offensive misogyny for various reasons... cue rom com situ. in an anti rom com sort of way. My main problem was i couldn't imagine who the fuck it was aimed at - was it a girls' rom com or a lads' film? both and neither it seemed. It's got Kate Hudson in it, but it has lines like "treat her like a bowling ball (licking of three middle fingers and then sticking them up)... Strike" and scenes when the male lead's father (a sweaty, wheezing Alec Baldwin, who usually i LOVE in 30 Rock, but is repellent here) talks, in a male bonding fatherly sort of way about his Dirty Houdini filled night with a student. that's their level of connection. he's a women's studies lecturer BTW, so delivers this speech of 'sexual prowess' having left a classroom full of girls who thinks he respects them. this from a man who grades women not just 1-10 but a-z. anyway, it came out at the cinema with little fanfare in November, and is out on DVD nowish, so i was sent a copy in the post. i took it on holiday last week to share the ghastliness. but my outrage-primed audience fricking loved it. and er, so did i. whaaat? serious about turn. i mean it's grim, but also funny. Tank takes one religious girl on a date to Chesus Crust, and orders a Pizza of Nazareth for fuck's sake. what's happened to me??????? how could i have had such a crazy change of heart? was i a sense-of-humourless prude who has come round, or have i lost my moral, political and feminist compass? who the fuck knows.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Yoko and The Miners

My TV doesn't work when it rains which is a real fucker. when do you want to watch TV more than when it's pissing with rain outside? so, although i really longed to see my friend Alastair make his debut on The Culture Show a few wednesday evenings ago, the watery fates conspired against me, and i ended up watching it on BBC iplayer as i did my makeup the following morning. He was talking about Yoko Ono's bonkers show Between The Sky and My Head at Baltic in Gateshead and was TOTALLY FAB - clearly slightly bewildered by her complete insanity, while left a bit cold by the dated and pretentious audacity of her art. v insightful and funny. i L.O.V.E.D him. The rest of the programme, meanwhile, looked at the blossoming of Newcastle as a cultural epicentre, of which Baltic is obviously key. As it turned out it was the perfect opening bookend to the day as that evening i went to see The Pitman Painters at the National Theatre, a play about the true story of the Ashington miners who, in the spirit of 1930s self improvement, took art appreciation classes only to become nationally critically acclaimed (for a time) artists. The play is by Lee 'Billy Elliot' Hall, so definitely has a slightly saccharine edge to its humour, but still manages to make brilliantly strong points about culture and class. the first half of the play, which sees the miners introduced first to their hired university teacher, then a glamourous patron of the arts, and then the art world at large, is full of misunderstandings, cock ups and faux pas due to pronunciation, and clunky class differences, prejudices and points of view played for laughs. but the second half really gets its teeth into the meat of the issues at play: the gimmicky vs genuine nature of the sensation - the fact that the men were a phenomenon, working class artists, men in fact who continued to go to the coal face every day even while they painted as oppose to bourgeois artists afforded the luxury of choice, beholden to patrons; the value of their work both as art in its own right outside of its class differentiation, and independently of one another's pieces - in isolation from being a Pitman Painting; the emerging importance of the men's class and jobs to their identity and art, their refusal to be stripped of that identity; their reluctance and resistance to be swept up by the critical maelstrom, and their humorous attitude to the furore; the fickle pretentiousness of the art world; the impact of war on aesthetic sensibilities - all things that strike you during key scenes and make you at once uncomfortable, think, and laugh. i'm not sure if i've made it sound as easy, enjoyable and funny to watch as it was, the points raised are far less issuey than they seem on paper. probably something that Yoko could take note on.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Lucky Voice?

Despite having lost my voice, diagnosed by the doctor as having laryngitis and being prescribed some gargantuan inhaler contraption that sings if i suck too hard (seriously, i know - i wish every reaction was that effusive), i MORE THAN happily skipped along to Amy's studio on Monday night for the making of the video for the Lucky Voice Home karaoke site and party box. do you really think it takes a little think like having LOST MY VOICE for me to sack off a karaoke party? clearly not. especially when the dress code is glam. i wore my trade mark polka dots (dress form - black with white dots), serious fuck me shoes and accessorised with a neon pink beret and my Sonia Rykiel belt with the neon pink apple (with a bite out of the side): to better compliment the website theme colour and the insanely cool, seriously covetable pink microphone. you can never accuse me of not trying. being in a room with some of my most favourite people, not least of all Eddie and Dan (above, aaah), and being directed in a generally dominatrix fashion by Amy to move, dance, sing and quaff champagne while being filmed is my idea of heaven. too much fun had all round. verdict: voice never likely to recover. oh well, i never used it that much anyway... errr, right.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Root Ginger

It was quite by chance that Atalanta and I stumbled across the exhibition Root Ginger at The Idea Generation Gallery... firstly, it's on Chance Street, E2. secondly about two streets to its west we were asked where it was, and in a massive saving face/ignoramus cock-up, sent the poor, beautiful Spanish girl asking us in completely the wrong direction. to curtain road in fact, which is very embarrassing and stupid as i spend lots of time mooching round that area and Atalanta lives two streets away from the gallery. still, it did mean that when i spotted Chance Street when we inevitably wandered past 3 seconds later, i inwardly cringed but was inspired to go into the gallery (where i later saw the Spanish girl and apologised for sending her on a wild goose chase). anyway the exhibition showing there, Root Ginger, turned out to be jolly weird - supposedly a celebration of red hair inspired by the of the waves of derision, ridicule, passion, love and jealousy it provokes. Jesus it was disappointing. Atalanta is currently sporting fiery orange hair and when i was a child NEVER did i want blonde hair instead of my chocolate locks, no siree - always always to have the long fiery red tresses and pure white skin of the three ballet dancers in a painting that hung in my grandparent's flat (now in my younger sister's bedroom - arrgh). testimony to my obsession are the henna hair dye stained patches dotted round various bathrooms of my parents house. so, photographer Jenny Wicks was pretty much preaching to the converted and still failed to impress us. instead of images capturing the passionate spirit and vision of these red-headed characters, we were treated to a lot of pallid skinned, mournful looking men, women and children - not that they were like that, but that was how they were captured - on white backgrounds generally looking pathetically contemplative - their skin clammy looking, their hair all too frequently inadequately as vibrant, incendiary, glossy or intense as it most probably was in real life. I think there were maybe a handful of smiles throughout the whole exhibition - instead plenty of broody, tumultuous stares off to the side and freaky looking kids with glassy eyes and deadened spirits. Some images were great - i'd say the four on the upper level opposite the main wall - where some vivacity and passion had been caught on camera. but overall we left feeling a bit creeped out - like we'd been to Madame Tussaud's or something and seen a bunch of soulless waxworks devoid, or even raped, of the defining characteristics for which they are celebrated. retail therapy proved the only recovery option. happily we were but a stone's throw from Brick lane... and two cropped jackets (one leather, one flying) proved just the restorative remedy for our dampened spirits. thank fuck for shopping.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Shoes Shoes Shoes

Sunday chez Atalanta has involved much trying on and cooing over the shoes she designed for Henry Holland's latest catwalk show for A/W 09, which took place last tuesday in Quaglino's. Apparently Kanye West was in the front row, and when Estelle's American Boy came on, he started rapping along. Insane. Anyway, back to the shoes... they manage to be smooth, curvy and feminine, but also kick ass and sexy. Daringly mid calf, in bold, block colours, the leather goes up the back of the calf, but loops round the front, in several rings. The wedge platforms sweep in from the heel of the foot, narrowing until the sole, with the line from the foot edge to the ground angled inwards slightly, which means when you turn the shoe upside down and look at the sole, it's kind of a spade shape, but with the spirit of a heart - a spade but somehow more sultry and alluring. they make you want to walk in wet sand wearing them or traipse though mud and then through the house - just so you can see the seductive line of the footprint. and of course they make you want to strut with serious attitude. with their soft leather, straps, fuck off height, punchy colour and great curves they (and the shoe versions) have the chutspah of a catsuit (for feet) and channel Zena Warrior Princess and Emma Peel. so fucking cool.