Sunday, 26 December 2010

Chimney Chic and Reindeer Ready

Chimey Sweep Chic

Flat caps have bowled out other headwear. We saw a great hat just like this in the window of Issey Miyake on Conduit Street - ours for £400. "In your dreams!" said Santa. A stroll through Mayfair to Piccadilly Circus brought us out by our friends at the tourist tat shop. They had the SAME titfer with one nought less AND they threw in a toy London bus. Can't say nattier or fairer than that! Thank you dear shopkeepers for your Christmas kindness (find them next to the Pigalle Club).

On Dec 23rd, I popped into the Wolseley to see if I had left my orange suede sheepkin flying hat and was asked by Tom Stoppard as we waited shoulder by shoulder at the reception desk if I was Lady GaGa. "Er, no, I'm Lady Caroline!" I told him. In response he gallantly claimed, "I know you are." That was an early present and it will please me for years to come but for now, the EoB and I hope you have had a safe and succulent day and wish that we may all share in well-dressed success next year. Bottoms up!

Friday, 10 December 2010

A moment of calm - yeah right

The reindeer ate my blog-work, what can I say, I'm really sorry about the hiatus, we've had a nutty week. We've been busy moving into our new flat-what-lead-us-to-a-workshop-premises (read on), so much so that we even missed the British Fashion Awards. So without a second's delay more, may we offer our congratulations to Patrick Grant and the E. Tautz team - - for winning Menswear Designer of the Year. That team includes our dashing friend Alexander Lewis -  we saw him sprinting down Savile Row last week and I called from across the street but not terribly loudly, not wishing to desport like a fishwife. We crossed over but he had already bolted down the rabbit hole.

I like very much the quote another chum, Sebastian Shakespeare, got from Patrick for his Londoner's Dairy page in the Evening Standard -
The decline of British men in best dressed lists is due, then, to us having had a female monarch for so long. Come the next King, slouches, scruffbags (and possibly students after last night's distinctly un-debonair to-do in the city) will be first against the wall. And while we're toasting great achievement, hearty congratulations are due to Sebastian and Catherine on the arrival of baby Saskia Shakespeare. HURRAH!

We are lucky to know Alexander via the Earl's great buddy of the North, Brian Leitch. He checked into the seasonally apt damask and dark-wood Baron Willoughby suite at Hazlitt's Hotel last week and met us for lunch at the Bar du Marché. Brian is famous for many things, not least his time at W magazine as Paris correspondent, for authoring "Pret-a-Porter" (as directed by Robert Altman), and for changing the way we are wooed by merchandise with campaigns too numerous to mention here. After lunch we introduced him to the new second-hand shop, Reign Wear on Berwick Street. They had their press opening that morning but we had snuck in the night before and picked up a jade green veiled riding hat for me, and a black leather motor bike jacket for Mark (or was it the other way round??). Brian considered a floor length black leather coat but was off to Berlin the next morning and could probably pick up something authentically sinister in Germany, which is where, incidentally, Reign Wear source most of their stock. The prices are commendably low so - go. I'd like it on the record that I told him to get it as it was such a steal AND IT FIT and the reason that is funny can be found here:
Cole Nahal, our new friend via New York nights' legend, Gerry Visco, had just arrived from Berlin and he and Brian swapped acclaim for their favourite club in the world, Berghain. The surest way to get knocked back by the door men there is to dress up, be advised.

Mark, Mr Leitch and Cole Nahal - the fabulous biker boys

For our Piccadilly swan song, we attended the birthday party of Lady Sandra Bates. A very beautiful woman (photo evidence below), she was Hugh Heffner's London Bunny Girl of 1966 (WHAT a year that was if I say so myself). Sir Charles Clore, then owner of Selfridges, set her up in diamonds and furs, and a predilection for such she has maintained. The Earl did not wish to be ungentlemanly and dig for detail so I am little cloudy about whether they were carnal consorts or man and wife. Sandra was also George Best's best friend, and with him established Blondes nightclub on the very same Dover Street where we partied tonight. She was, too, VERY good friends with Frank Sinatra. As you may imagine, if you know the merest thing about me, that sent me into a sensual swoon of One Degree of Separation from which I am yet to recover. Nowadays, Sandra is a "Patron of the Arts" and the Earl would happily submit to be patronised by her and, indeed, hopes yet to be so. Paying court along with the rest of the party was Mighel Critten, a bespoke tailor who works for A Suit That Fits and it was apparent he and Mr Wesley share a fondness for a double breasted waistcoat (below).
Mighel and Mark

Lady Sandra Bates and Mr Wesley

When we left the party, to walk home all the way across the street, the snow was falling - real snow, not the Bond Street marketing magic from a machine in an upper window. The decorations have been up at the Ritz for a week now but it all did look especially lovely in the icy air of the midnight hour.

The next day Mark trudged deep into the snowy wastes of Sydenham, up hill and down dale, to collect the jumper Lesley had finished. He walked for many miles and many hours, returning with a hair-brained dreadlock of a wooly masterpiece. We were hoping to show it, and some other pieces, to our funny pen-pal Jay Bell, buyer at Barneys, the taste maker store of the USA. As it turned out, he was held hostage by Burberrys and we did not get to clink flutes with him. I can understand there are worse situations to be in. Well we shall have to take the mohair to Mohammad in January and there are worse Plan B's than having to go to New York City, to be sure.

So before we swapped SW1 for SW8 it was only right and fitting that we thanked Elisabeth, my godmother, for the cracker of accommodation she provided for us. We took her to dinner at the caff on the corner, The Wolseley. Jeremy King - along with co-owner Chris Corbin the "Rodgers and Hammerstein of relaxed eating"; "the Rolls and Royce of London gastronomy" - chatted first with Tom Parker Bowles at the table adjacent to ours before coming to greet Elisabeth. Taking our chances, we asked would he consider a fashion show in the restaurant, using the raised areas left and right to send models down the staircases and then around the room? "Absolutely" he answered most graciously "not. I'm so sorry, we do get asked a lot for events and always say no." Oh well. Gotta try. I told him we had posted a photo here of Frankie in his fine chauffeur's coat and he was kind enough to thank us and appear pleased. When I brought Antonio and Patrizia Marras here one evening we were placed on one of the platforms and I thought it showed exceptionally lovely manners that Christopher Bailey - talking of Burberrys - walked from his table across the room and up the stairs to come say hello. This evening, Mark was most energized by the proximity of Top Bloke Jeremy Clarkson and some football chappie called Alan something. News reader and professional fancy neck tie wearer Jon Snow was at the table on the other side of ours and, commendably heroic, he tried to help revive a lady who had fainted on those same stairs coming down from the platform. The paparazzi outside were energised by the rumour Cameron Diaz was within but we didn't see her. Who needs cinema when you have such theatre?

And so to the next Act, to be set at the Oval. We had not been stood more than one minute in our new drawing room with the creamy coloured carpet before drilling started on the other side of the wall, next door; the mantel mirror began to shake; and a ton of crap fell down the chimney (hey, at least it's clear for Santa). The apologetic Project Manager came dashing round with his Vax hoover and cleared it all up. 
"Don't suppose you know of any work units in the area?" enquired Mark, when the man asked if there was anything else he could help with.
"Well it just so happens I may have the very thing you need!" he replied.
Proving once again that the best gifts sometimes come in clouds of dust that may look not just unpromising but downright jolly troublesome then lo! they clear and all is promise and possibility. HURRAH!