Sunday, 27 February 2011

A Child to the Jago show, London Fashion Week A/W 2011/12

Something of a torrent of postings this week, as I attempt to clear the blog backlog. A lot has happened in the past few weeks. Slept not a wink on the night flight back to London, never good for nerves nor temper, to find that the refurb we were expecting to be completed had not actually been started. Our antiques dealer mate Josephine delivered a marvellously a propos bashed up desk on Saturday morning, as was supposed to be the finishing touch, but as yet the surroundings did not match it. The desk wasn't the only precious thing delivered. Mark's mummy Diane flew over from France with his youngest son Ocean, set to stay with us for half-term. He liked the NYPD road incident car set with which we presented him and happily staged pile-ups with Uma, Josephine's beautiful little girl, while the grown-ups stood around surveying the refit-disaster scene. Then Mark's mum went to use the loo and the ceiling fell in. Let's not even contemplate the injuries that could have been sustained in such circumstances and give thanks for her lightening reactions and pragmatic "Well I picked it all up" response. Before we left for New York I had pointed out that there was definitely something going on with the ceiling, that the lids of paint pots stored in the littlest room were covered in standing water, ergo the drip suggested more of the same on the flat roof above. So I got properly grotty at this point. It's funny that, contrary, perhaps, to expectations, it's me that does Bad Cop, goes all D.I Regan on their ass, while Mark turns his feet out and channels Dixon of Dock Green. This is, he claims, because if it kicks-off, he's the one who has to square up. Hence he does all he can to avoid escalating aggro.

We went to Sainsburys to find comfort and stock up on dinosaur comics, mint Aero puddings and mini Scotch Eggs, Ocean's favourite. Barnzley called and asked Mark if he would model in his show the next day. It was a tired and unglamorous moment in the vegetable aisle and Mark said no, he didn't think so. In the car home he said his belly was more sticky outy than last year and he expected none of the other models would talk to him during the hours they have to wait around. "We think your belly is beautiful and you are the most handsome man on the planet. Aside from which Barnzley has done so much for us lately."
"Yes, you are very handsome daddy. I love you to the moon and I will do it with you. Can I have a Scotch Egg now?" said Ocean.
So Mark rang Barnzley back and said, "Um, ok, what time do you need me?"

Still, the next day, Daddy still wasn't feeling too comfy in his skin and a sense of unease emanated from our favourite pin-up. We were almost ready to set off to deliver him to hair and make-up when Barnzley called and said he was terribly sorry but they had booked so many models they'd be hard pressed to use them all. Would Mark prefer to come as a guest and just enjoy the show? Whaddya reckon?!
"But am I still in the show?" asked Ocean.
"Huh? Oh, um, well, ah, we will all dress up and then it will be like we are!"
"But ME, I am IN the show?"
"Only if we get your outfit together," I said, rummaging for a natty black and white snakeskin belt from my childhood flares that I have been keeping for such an occasion, "and then we will see!"

Going for a received character look rather than brave new styling - we'd leave that to Joe and Barnzley - I draped my Portobello bullet belt over his little shoulders and tied my silk leopard spot scarf over his nose. New Clarks shoes stayed on sensibly. "There! El Grande Bandido, Miguel the Magnifico! Magnificent and reaaaaaaaaally scary! Olé!"

In the car Ocean practised saying his character name in his "Batman Returns" gravelly basso profundo and, slightly to my consternation, rattled the bullet belt at people in buses that drew up next to us.
"Perhaps we shouldn't do that sweetheart?" I suggested, not least as we had to pass the police check point on London Bridge.
I had wanted a while ago to buy my godson Marcello a fab bullet belt from my friend Nikki's store in LA - - and was deterred by the tutting, eye-rolling and chorus of "NO!"'s the idea induced. Marcello is the same age as Ocean and I guess he would have been four at the time. But I don't see the difference between dressing-up box cowboy-renegade accoutrements from toy guns and soldiers?

Well here's Big Poppa and El Poco Bandido outside the Child of the Jago shop:
The Earl and El Poco Bandido
Barnzley came out with our tickets. He looked somewhat occupied as you can imagine but I asked anyway if they needed any baby bandits as extras. He said sorry, but they didn't have anything in small. Some of his full-sized cast were having a smoke meanwhile on the sidewalk:
A smoke AND a beer?! They walk intoxicated?!

We walked round the corner to the most excellent venue, "Village Underground", and were relived to get inside as it had turned wintery cold again. I had hastily put on my Antony Price trouser suit such as we designed together, in a fluo silk check, and we passed unhumiliated by Philip Salon who was there, as ever, to vet "boring dressers". I hadn't found the necklace I wanted, but grabbed a chunky rocked piece that turned to ice cubes round my neck, having failed to grab a scarf or coat or gloves or hat. The invitation said "Wear your best fancy duds, and don't forget your dancing shoes." I thought Ocean could shoot his fingers at the floor to get gringo feet flying. But after Phil Dirtbox recited the opening homily, feet were presently parading along the raised catwalk.
Phil Dirtbox, portrait by Ocean

Sam Bully kindly let Ocean stand up on the front row form next to him and we enjoyed an untrammelled view:

My favourite look of the show

Half way along the models paused on an outcrop before they re-emerged to trip along the stage together, heralding the appearance of Joe Corré and Barnzley to take their bows. En masse I got a sense of passengers on a stage coach heading for Pioneer Town with a representative from the Pinkerton Detective Agency (the black demi-cape look above) riding inside with the young East Coast gentlemen out to make their fortunes while those sharing whiskey and looking out for angry injuns, who had already lost theirs at the card tables, clung on the roof with the belted trunks, hats battered by the sun. Which of course is all wrong as it's meant to be Ripper-esque London, but that was the story I imposed upon it and fashion should free you to reinvent, not dictate. Eh? And I think a little Mexican jumping bean fits rather well with that story-board.

Child of the Jago team Joe Corré and Barnzley Armitage
"Is it my turn now?" asked a bright voice suddenly.
"Yes darling, quick, now!"
And before you could say "Sticky out tummies are the new shrug", Ocean was up the little flight of steps and striding down the catwalk so fast that I couldn't even get my shutter open. So you will have to take my word for it that he did walk at the Jago show, even if it was some five minutes after the official end and most people were looking the other way. He then jumped down to mingle and shuffle.

We particularly loved Caroline the milliner who used to work at BOY and write for NME:

Bobby Gillespie was sitting along from us and greeted Barnzley when he entered the throng, as did our own Mr Wesley who had a hug for his old chum:
Bobby G and Barnzley
Barnz & Wez, just like old times when they worked the music halls

Miles of room between those tummies

Then suddenly a space cleared in the middle of the floor and photographers and camera men swarmed to get a picture of the newest star of London Fashion Week:
Ocean strikes a pose

Then Daddy came to the rescue, before we kissed him goodnight and gave him a long leash to stay and hob nob while we went home for chocolate digestives and milk:

While Joe's mummy Dame Vivienne Westwood was admiring Mr Wesley's suit and asking who had made it (*PRIDE*), for me and El Poco Bandido, it was definitely time to call it a night. I let him take the camera to record our journey home and buckled him in the back of the car. Man, I was plum tuckered. I have never been more ready to trade photo-ops for pillows, but there was one more ambush still to come before lights out:

Portrait of a Punk by Ocean (as are all the following shots)

View of the road home from the back seat by Ocean aged 6

We had Fire Flies for outriders

SO happy to be in bed! (as recorded by Ocean)

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Bedlam: NY-Lon

We had a full day in New York before flying back to London on Thursday night. Mr Bell required photos of the collection, clear and unfussed, to show his colleagues with responsibility for the Third Floor. Our fab mates Redboy and Miss Jaffe once again devoted their time and talents to helping us out. We had with us one of the (three!) Stars & Stripes I bought at the Goodwood vintage fair last summer. Evidence of its antiquity is the mere forty something stars it bears. I think Mr Wesley assumes a real vintage dignity in this portrait:

Mark Wesley by Redboy (

Talking in depth to Mr Bell of Barneys, I unveiled our suggestion of the padded podium, and proposed it might go in that nice space to the left of the elevators. He laughed so hard it made his tummy hurt.
"No my dear Lady C, you are not going in front of Lanvin, who turn over ten trillion dollars a day, and who expect us to keep clear access to their section."
Oh. OK. Well, how about by the changing rooms at the back??
"This is more realistic."
He also regretted that while a year ago the padded podium and bars would have been installed without a murmur, now Mark is rethinking the presentation of the whole store... "YOU'RE LETTING MARK RETHINK THE WHOLE STORE??!!"
"No darling, Mark Lee, ex-Gucci, our new CEO" (an appointment announced last August) things have to be... the way Mr Lee wants them to be. So I regrouped my brain cells and said sure, and seeing as our collection is concise, with no shoes or belts and bits as yet, a couple of mannequins would present it AND we could pull in bits from the other designers on the floor to demonstrate our "integratability". We exchanged fond goodbyes and then he said the most extraordinary thing, that he feared he had not lived up to our expectations. While we wait for the final word on how this will conclude, I can only say, as I wrote to him, that if these postings were the Chronicles of Narnia, then Mr Bell would be Aslan. We started writing them in October and I boldly sold the premise as the journey from sketch pad to carrier bag, with Barneys as the pinnacle of commercial endorsement. Whatever next transpires, he made magic by inviting us to meet him and in the way he reacted to what he saw. Discretion stays my hand as much as I would love you to see the exchanges between us. So no matter what happens henceforth on, the satisfaction in meeting such a same-styled spirit will be its own reward. And we left with the double delight of having achieved our first piece stocked, thanks to Mr Andrew Clancey, down at Any Old Iron. Above and beyond the mechanics of commerce we hope we forged another enduring friendship on his rusty anvil. From the Lower East Side to the elevation of Mount Madison we believe the Earl has proven his appeal across society, "Class united in style".

To conclude this epic week, we wolfed my favourite sushi and then made for JFK. During last night's shenanigans, Mr Clancey snapped this sign:
You bet your bottom dollar we is

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Bedlam in Bedlam

When we left Mr. Bell at Barneys on Monday evening, he asked that the next day we go into the store, present ourselves to the sales representatives and reccy the Third Floor, which is where he envisages presenting us. First up I wanted to restock my favourite perfume, "Amoureuse" by Parfums Delrae, such as I discovered when billeted on the West Coast. The lady on the counter tried to sway my nose with their new whiff, "Emotionelle". If you recall that in the last blog I told you "Toy Story 3" made me cry, you will understand that I am the last woman on earth who needs a perfume called that, so I stuck with my old olfactory favourite.

On the Third Floor our dear Stefan Campbell was waiting for us and together we scoped out the sitch. Mr Bell asked us to walk the floor with a focus on how not to be "drowned" by the names already there. And we're talking names with some serious, resonating gravitas here - Dries, Jil, McQueen, Lanvin, Paul Smith, Rick Owens, Thom Browne, YSL and more of that elevated ilk.
Mr Stefan Campbell with the Earl on the Third Floor at Barneys
We introduced ourselves to HB who is just visible behind the desk above and dressed him up in Leslie's rasta-sweata. Now here's the magical thing, HB is taller than Mr Wesley and it looked great on him. André, who works with us back in London, is, how can I put this, quite a bit smaller yet it looks great on him too. So clearly the piece has magical fit qualities. We formulated a strategy involving a padded podium and iron bars and thereby exhausted, rose to the Fifth Floor to reward ourselves with dinner at Fred's. Then we tottered out onto Madison, but not before Mr Campbell took a picture of your two envoys of Bedlam, rolling our world in a Globe Trotter trunk along the corridors of the most stylish store in the universe. As SJP once told Vanity Fair, "If you're a nice person and you work hard, you get to go shopping at Barneys. It's the decadent reward.":
Dinner at Barneys beats Breakfast at Tiffany's

It does look a little secure-institutional here, in front of the elevators

Mark, jolly guard and pretty Julie in another elevator hall

Telesccope Face not Rolling Pin Face
The next day, Wednesday, Arsenal were playing Barcelona, and not only did Mr Wesley manage to find a pub screening the match but a gaggle of raggle taggle supporters, New Yorkers and a random Japanese man, who were so excited to meet the authentic Gooner deal, they stood him drinks all through play. I did possibly have a bit of a rolling pin face on when he got back to the apartment as we were late to meet my funny, feisty, fit, bass-playing friend Julie at the Empire State Building. She is going to be in our band, Earl and the Bedlams not least because she has the Willy Wonker Golden Rock-Star Pass that fast-tracks its bearer to the top of the pops - Hell yeah! - AND the top of tower. From there we gazed down upon the city.
"If we can mmm-mmm make it there... " ah c'mon, you know the rest.
Bedlam beholds Gotham through the bars

Brought down to earth, we hailed a cab and made our way to the Lower East Side
where sits the Bedlam Bar  - - on Ave C and Third.

When they opened before Christmas it garnered quite some column inches. Its opening night was attended by Sarah Jessica-Parker, Empress of Manhattan and Barneys' own PR dream. The event even made it into this publication, and we prophesied that in time we would present ourselves there. Well tonight that prophesy was fulfilled as we hosted our salute to the city and invited friends to come raise a tankard with the Earl. As their logo they have the dome of the Bethlehem Asylum, now the Imperial War Museum along the road from us.
On its card it gives three definitions of "Bedlam" - its own self; "a popular name for the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlem in London, which served as a lunatic asylum from c.1400; and finally, "a scene or state of wild uproar and confusion."
Yes well, I think we can safely say we proved them correct in that. And our loyal much loved buddy of yore, Redboy - and - was there to record it for posterity (where not credited the shots below are mine, with contributions from Mr Andrew Clancey also). Many thanks to Sam the bar manager and our server - who will please forgive me mislaying the letters of his name other than the T with which it began - for indulging us.

 Miss Michele Jaffe "cake" was also feeling indulgent when she agreed to model the most versatile piece of knitwear, Leslie's Rasta Jumpa.

Redboy snaps the sweet woolly biscuit cake

Mr Campbell honoured us once again with his support and my surrogate mom and dad from LA, Francine & Paul also came along. I am happy beyond the clouds to report - and naturally relieved that I am no longer a ward out of wedlock - that they got so drunk they got engaged, and you can't put a finer stamp on a night than that. Check out their make-up company

Me with my West Coast Mudder and Fadder
Stefan, me and him
Sam the Bedlam bar manager wipes his brow. He forgot to heed the warning.
Ricky and the Earl get riotous

The Earl flanked by Messrs. Red and Clancey

Mr. Clancey passes one of the less outré of the initiation rituals to become a Bedlamite

The night rolled on and Mr Red recorded the good vibes, leading the die-hards on to one of his favourite whiskey dungeons before we called it a night. We let him have just enough sleep before rousing him to shoot the clothes the next day, some of which were worn tonight. It has been explained to those with an interest in placing an order that authentic beer stains and floor scuff are extra.

A meeting of the NY Chapter of Bedlamites (portrait by Redboy)

And there you go (portrait by Redboy)
On our way to the next whiskey bar (c) Redboy

Portrait by Redboy
One more bright idea before bedtime (pic by Andrew Clancey)

When I put my hat on it's time to go home