Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Little Black Jacket at the Saatchi Gallery...

I continued my recent circuit of cultural pursuits with a visit to Chanel's 'The Little Black Jacket' exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. The gallery itself is a rather pleasant place to while away an hour or two - particularly as it is free! Although considering Mr & Mrs Nigella's combined fortune, the lack of a cover charge seemed only fitting...

I had never visited this site before, but remember the Saatchi's previous incarnation at the old GLC building on London's Southbank. Now situated in a corner of Duke of York Square, its current home is a light-infused and fairly clever architectural amalgam of the old and new. Straight off Sloane Square, it doesn't take a great deal of imagination to envisage the 'Chelsea Set' clientèle, but the braying wasn't too unbearable.    

Anna Wintour

Conceived as a celebration of Chanel's classic boucle jacket by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld, the exhibition features 113 prints of celebrities (and demi celebrities...) wearing identical tweed boxy numbers in diverse states of disarray and embellishment. I confess some of the (allegedly) famous faces were utterly lost me and the subject matter did start to wear as thin as a Primark pastiche after a while, but the exhibition was handsomely executed overall and I rather liked the irreverent contradiction of simply hanging these prints of 'the gilded & the good' sans frames and with dressmakers pins. 

They were rather generously gifting guests a large glossy poster, however unfortunately the choice was limited to home-grown clothes horses Lily Donaldson and Georgia May Jagger...

Might be good for target practice purposes though! 

Elisa Sednaoui 

Kanye West

Carine Roitfeld as Mademoiselle Chanel

Boat drinks Karl & Carine!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Autumn Around Town...

 Regent's Park

Riotous shades of Autumn are making even the most miserable corner of the metropolis look rather splendid just now. And London's parks and open spaces have never been more radiant. In fact I feel like frolicking in some leaves!  

 Regent's Park 

Clapham Common

Boat drinks and bonfires! 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Hollywood Costume at the V&A...

I was fortunate enough to attend a member's preview of Hollywood Costume at the venerable V&A last night. I am loath to use the phrase 'hottest ticket in town', but if the cliché fits...

Gathering iconic attire from over a century of cinema; the exhibition explores the pivotal role costume plays in silver screen storytelling, the wardrobe designer’s creative process and the connection between actor and attire. Plus there were some really gorgeous gowns...

Raging Bull

While at times it was truly awe-inspiring to be in such close proximity to these outfits (Seven Year Itch Marilyn, Breakfast at Tiffany's Audrey/Givenchy, Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, The Dude's bathrobe, Darth!!!), I couldn't help but feel that the layout was clumsy and cluttered. I foresee a pandemic of 'gallery rage', as people push with pointed elbows to get closer to the hems of their heroes.

A bewildering amount of space was devoted to Natalie Portman's trampy get-up in Mike Nichols instantly forgettable and mostly unnoticed 'Closer' and yet Charlie Chaplin's Tramp found himself unceremoniously wedged in between the imperial magnificence of The Last Emperor and the stunning Scarlett O’Hara (both fabulous in their own rights). The superheroes (Batman, Spiderman but particularly Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman) fared worst of all, as they appeared to have been shoved on any remaining dusty ledges and undignified nooks. I couldn’t help but wonder if they had run out of plinths.

The Dude, Big Lebowski

Some of the costume choices were also a tad baffling; the Jason Bourne character isn’t exactly know for his glamorous get-up (grey cotton was all I got). While to feature anything from John Carter, Disney’s $150m loss-making debacle, was almost cruel. And the inclusion of a dull dress from the equally dull 'How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days' was utterly inexplicable. Kate Hudson should NEVER make it into any sort of retrospective, unless someone is curating an expo on vapid actresses and Hollywood nepotism.

The lighting also didn't really do many of these masterpieces justice and was rather affected. As if controlled by some demented dimmer switch, it would suddenly plunge the exhibits into near darkness, just as you were trying to study the stunning peacock feathers of Hedy Lamarr's jaw-dropping dress from Samson & Delilah (1949).

However I would still highly recommend a trip to South Ken, as there is something so magical about being so close to these garments. Although how close you might actually get is quite another thing...

Boat drinks and hooray for Hollywood!

P.S Exit through the gift shop, as yet again the V&A buyers have excelled themselves.

P.P.S Couldn't take many snaps, as security was rather 'vigilant'.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Mean Times in Greenwich...

Seeking a change of scene, an excursion to Greenwich was undertaken and what a very grim experience it proved to be. I have always had extremely fond memories of this particular corner of town, but on my most recent venture to SE10 I found that all of its quaint character had been consumed by an influx of the usual (high street) suspects. Depressing in the extreme to see a strip of bland chains in the shadow of the great Cutty Sark – the last remaining tea clipper's closest neighbours are now a veritable trough of dire dining, featuring such lowlights as Frankie & Benny's, Zizi and Nandos. And the identikit onslaught continued into the old town, despite its world heritage status!

Reeling away from all the depressing defilement, we headed to The Greenwich Union, a Meantime pub that had enjoyed invariably positive write-ups. While the array of beers, ales and associated beverages was undeniably impressive, the décor had all the character of a Wetherspoon in Welwyn Garden City. The overpowering colour scheme of baby turd yellow was utterly baffling and more likely to induce a migraine than encourage you to buy another round. Delicious drinks though!

Even a trip to the quite brilliant Greenwich Park wasn't quite the balm I'd hoped for. The remains of the London 2012 games are still very much intact and taking up most of the green space; huge stands dwarf the stunning National Maritime Museum and the whole place is a construction site (or should that be deconstruction site...). I appreciate that all this is temporary and it will hopefully be returned to its former glory soon, but I couldn't escape the feeling that this was one of my less successful suggestions and that we were possibly a year too early. Or a couple of centuries too late…

Boat Drinks Sir Christopher Wren! 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

London Design Festival 2012 - Tom Dixon at The Dock...

I paid a trip to Tom Dixon’s LDF12 event at The Dock yesterday. Literally in the back of beyond, but still well worth a visit as it was an interesting mix up of pop-up shops and interactive art installations.

With his host hat firmly in place, it was more a case of 'enter' through the gift-shop, as first stop was Mr D's retail emporium which stocks a number of his classic designs as well as the new 'Eclectic' collection; smaller objets and gifting pieces such as a door-stop fashioned like a trad gents shoe or a miniature factory which is actually a moneybox. Quite kitsch and wee bit of a whiff of Jonathan Adler. There is also a range of highly scented candles. 

Be Open Space was the main focus of the site and basically involved a number of plywood sheds in the courtyard where different artists were exhibiting their wares/creating oddities.

My absolute favourite had to be the Traces ‘Junk’ Shop, which on first glance appeared to be stuffed with old tat from a car boot sale, but in fact every single piece had been specifically crafted by a number of designers for the installation and were really rather wonderful. This included an interactive game housed in a junk-shop bureau, where we had to answer questions and solve puzzles in order to make the next drawer open and reveal another clue. Just brilliant! 

Faye Toogood’s The Back Room project featured a studio and workshop next door to each other, creating indoor shoes out of felt (‘House Hightops’ – v.ugly). It was intended to be a celebration of the “post industrial” era.

Design on Chocolate featured the likes of Lee Broom, Faye Toogood and Tom Dixon collaborating with premium chocolate brands, such as Coco Maya and Rocco, to create weird and not that wonderful pieces sculptured from chocolate. 

Boat Drinks Mr Dixon!