I won’t beat about the proverbial bush… SKYFALL is probably going to go down in Bond film history as one of the best, if not THE best of the 23-films to date. I am not a film buff so will spare my reader an incompetent review, there are plenty out there to stimulate the debate. But I went into this film hoping that it would be good. And it really, really is.
The production of a Bond film must be a double-edged sword for any Director who gets the call from Eon Productions… following the codes of Bond, the books and films past, must be as excruciating a process as Hedi Slimane faces at YSL or Raf Simons at Dior – bringing a much loved and understood language into the current moment, recognisable and familiar but new and challenging. Sam Mendes has achieved this without question… and in doing so has set up the next 50 years of Bond films for future fans to enjoy. The first half of the film is not I will confess as accomplished as the second half, which is pure unadulterated Bond. The title song is the best since Shirley Bassey belted out Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever.
My regular reader knows me as a Bond fan – more so now than ever.
It was a huge treat this week to attend a breakfast private view of the astoundingly brilliant Hollywood Costume exhibition at the V&A.
The charismatic Senior Curator Deborah Nadoolman Landis told the assembled group that the exhibition comprised 130 costumes, on loan to the museum from 60 different lenders, which is a huge number and presents a logistical nightmare for the team to pull off. But pull it off they have, and with great style.
Ms. Nadoolman Landis is a charming and warmly steely person who invited guests to “come up and bother me” with questions as they walked the exhibition space, and true to her word she could not have been more generous with her time. I can well imagine lenders being both inspired to contribute their prized possessions to the show, and utterly in fear of saying no to this formidable and engaging lady.
Visually this exhibition is one of the best produced I’ve ever seen. Projection screens bring the old two dimensional captions to life, and video interviews with such luminaries as Merryl Streep and Robert De Niro bring the costume and its context within the movies to the fore. The exhibition explores the relationship between costume and character as well as the technical skill and unbelievable attention to detail of the costume designer.
The objects themselves will resonate profoundly with all-comers, whether they adore Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy Little Black Dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Darth Vader’s terrifying polished black armour from Star Wars or more currently a Tom Ford dinner suit made for Daniel Craig’s Bond in Casino Royale. One can scarcely believe how tiny Natalie Portman’s tutu from Black Swan is, and the final exhibit in the show, several million dollars worth of dress worn by Marilyn Monroe, is an absolutely perfect high note to end on, appearing as it does alongside the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
For the V&A, this is an absolute triumph. I urge you to book tickets whilst you still can as the show has broken all the pre-sale ticket records and is sure to be an enormous hit.
This past week London became the bright star around which many an arts patron fell into orbit for the festivals that are Frieze (London and Masters) and PAD, the Pavilion of Art & Design in Berkeley Square. I was fortunate to enjoy both, and in doing so clean overlooked the fact that the past week was also London Cocktail Week, which I missed to my great sorrow. Next year the dates will be etched into my agenda.
Many a tempting object came onto the radar, not least two astonishing Lalanne consoles at PAD, the cost of which I dread to think. The Lalannes’ studio was patronized by the obsessively chic master of taste Yves Saint Laurent, who decorated an entire room in his famous Paris apartment with bespoke Lalanne mirrors . I know not if he owned any of the bronze alligator furnishings, but whether or not he did these are without doubt my favourite objects in the fair. They reminded me of Saint Laurent’s apartment and the huge sale of his collection not so long ago.
Seeing these consoles at the show reminded me that I really must order the beautiful book of photographs of Yves Saint Laurent’s Paris home. He was in every sense a maximalist, but arranged the multitude of objects in each room is such an extraordinary way as to create a harmonious ambience filled with interest. The image below is of a sitting room in the apartment, showing two gorgeous Leger works hung above a sofa. I also love the chairs in the foreground for their Art Deco lines. Extraordinary in every sense, this interior is so inspiring.
A friend of mine completed the Royal Parks Half Marathon today and what an enormously proud achievement that is, when one considers the hours of training, the discipline and the sacrifice that it takes to get in sufficiently good shape to make it round the course in a respectable fashion without potentially causing yourself serious harm.
With charity fundraising thus in mind, it has come to my attention that the time of year when men around the world put to one side their daily grooming regimen in favour of the moustache (or Mo’) has arrived… Movember is just a few weeks away and I for one am signing up to raise funds for research into men’s cancers, which receive an astonishingly tiny proportion of research funds.
I have done Movember before, back in 2008, and what a jolly jape it all was. I am going to try and recruit some “Mo Bros” and “Mo Sistas” to use the official parlance… and see if I can’t muster a better effort on the top-lip front than I managed four years ago. Back then the results of my efforts on November 30th were deemed to be, and I quote not unlike a “dashing World War II Fighter Pilot”, “Matinee Idol” “Cary Grant” and, rather unkindly “effeminate peasant”.
Let’s see what Movember 2o12 has in store…
Having moved residences in the last few months, and given appropriate time for the dust to settle, the moment has come to start thinking about decorating. There are few things, frankly, I would rather think about, and many a waking hour has been lost to the imaginings of a perfectly harmonious and beautiful interior which evokes gasps of (slightly jealous) pleasure from any and all who might pop by for a visit. Or even the Ocado man when he’s dropping off the groceries. For an interior, I firmly believe, says much about those who reside therein.
Fortunately for me, the home I occupy with my better half is on the small side, necessitating a ruthless editing habit which prevents me from going crazy in the homewares departments of London’s better department stores. For such is my compulsion that given sufficient storage space I should possess as many different sets of crockery, table linens, glassware etc as I could possibly acquire I just love them so much.
But first things first… my thoughts are currently occupied with floor coverings. We have a very tired and scratchy coir matting not of our choosing to contend with, and it is my intention to do away with this discomforting texture in favour of something warm and soft under foot…. something not unlike the rug in the photo, which is a steal at £250 from Rockett St. George. I may as a result need to spend more on pedicures without the skin-stripping effects of the coir on my feet, but this is a sacrifice I am willing to make.
I am very much looking forward to re-hanging the Vitsoe shelving system that we brought with us from a former residence… the beauty of Vitsoe being that it is easy to reconfigure the system to a new space in a new home and it couldn’t be simpler to install. Aside from this, a fabulous gilt framed mirror I was given a few years ago has already been put up and looks magnifique. For inspiration I shall reach for the usual sources and of course my friends at Heart Home Magazine, which is always filled with fantastic inspirations and ideas from real homes (where budgets do not always run in to the tens of thousands.)
Oh the complete joy of a new home… this will keep me busy for months.
What else other than a pop-up / collaboration would prompt me to put pen to paper (metaphorically speaking) and re-engage with my beloved follower of whom I have been so neglectful of late. Having a day job is such a tremendous distraction from the important business of writing, and once again I find myself remiss.
Despite being very slow off the mark, (this isn’t a newsworthy post by any means) I have to say how much I absolutely LOVE the Kusama / Louis Vuitton collaboration. YES I know it’s a huge corporation doing a hugely corporate thing but when as charming and fun as this, I say enjoy. Selfridges, which I pass now almost daily, has given over (er… sold) ALL their windows to this project, and very jolly they look too, featuring the repetitive almost alarming polka-dot motif the respected and now rather elderly artist is renowned for. Inside, the space formerly known as the Wonder Room has been invaded by a white metal cocoon in which these products proliferate in their dotty colourful glory.
Along with an entire ready to wear and accessories line for women, Vuitton has created a small line of male-friendly accessories which I really do like as they have overlaid the pumpkin-inspired waves and dots of Kusama onto their house monogram canvas… Much like the Hermes x Liberty collaboration of many a moon ago where the Ex Libris Hermes print was overlaid onto vintage Liberty print fabric, they have taken the old and inventively played with it to create something new. The resulting products are the perfect antidote to the now ubiquitous monogram canvas that, being a rather acquisitive sort, I couldn’t resist treating myself to a little something. Isn’t that what the marketeers want us to do…?
Louis Vuitton x Kusama Pop Up at Selfridges, London.
Online at www.louisvuittonkusama.com
Very few brands could pull off such an engaging and creative marketing coup. Hermes, the French luxury house known the world over for its exquisite goods nestled in orange boxes has curated a fabulous exhibition behind the Royal Academy in Piccadilly.
Ascending the staircase, past a customised Citroen CV motor car, one’s eye is drawn up to a classical Greek marble statue with a white Kelly bag hung cheekily and irreverently over her arm. Once inside, the House takes you on a journey through its long history, with vintage pieces from their archive lending weight and provenance to the assertion which is clearly being made; we are so successful because our products are the very best. The noteworthy clientele is highlighted by such items as a sporran and a document case commissioned and owned by Edward VIII, and a driving hat worn by his consort Wallis Simpson. Early in the exhibition one enters a room in which two master craftspeople from the factory sit and make the individual elements of one of the iconic house bags, working leather with heated tools and making the difficult task look like simplicity itself.
The absolute highlight for me is a light installation, created around a desk, upon which sit items familiar to all…. a diary, clock, photograph frame, pencil case. The light plays upon the desk, projecting writing onto the diary as if written by an invisible hand, drawing swirls and motifs and dancing. The light highlights individual objects in turn, bringing them to life and reminding the viewer that there is beauty in everyday objects and magic in those of such exceptional and exquisite quality. This really highlights for me the idea of buying little but buying well – the diary that lasts for decades of daily use, or the pencil case you could use for a lifetime and then gift to an artistic child to be used for another lifetime.
Hermes is powerful proof if such were needed of the value of craftsmanship and quality. Christies for example is holding a sale entitled Elegance; Handbags on 30th May in South Kensington, a sale almost exclusively of Hermes bags from the 1950s to the present day. Hermes is notoriously expensive, but how many luxury items can be resold in this way after a lifetime of enjoyment and use? That is surely the very definition of value for money.
After visiting the exhibition I made a beeline for the bar at Cecconi’s just across the street from Burlington House, where one can take in the buzz of Mayfair’s dealmakers, fashion shoppers and ladies-who-lunch over a glass of prosecco. The spring salad of quails’ eggs, artichokes and salmon with some braised octopus on the side was the perfect accompaniment to a relaxed perusal of the latest Hermes house magazine and a luxury daydream. The bread should come with a warning; the selection of three different types is so delicious I ate the entire basket and dish of olive oil without shame. Heaven.