Tuesday, 25 September 2012

All the News that's Fit to Print

With some big Bedlam related stories still under embargo, we'll tie up some loose ends with another monthly compendium magazine of round-ups.
We did a Sunday morning dawn dash up to Edinburgh to catch Nile Rodgers who was reading from his auto-biography at the Edinburgh Festival. It was many years ago I was last there, performing in a play at the Festival. The air was crisp and bright and clean, while the sky seemed much bigger than it does in London where it is broken up with towers and spires and con trails. With the newly invigorated touring schedule that Nile has embarked upon with Chic and the promotion for his book, it's been hard to find him in one place for more than five minutes but he was here for a whole three days. We presented him with what we hoped was indeed his finished suit. He put it on and emerged to pronounce it a fit. YOWZER YOWZER YOWZER!

Nile wasn't just in town to read from his book but had also, unbeknownst to us, been invited to compose a suite in F, along with other composers similarly assigned a key each to create a scale as listeners moved from shed to shed in the courtyard of the Summerhall Arts Centre. His suit, I told him, was our tribute to Duke Ellington. And guess who Nile's composition invoked? Strange is it not, or not, how separate intentions and inventions weave together to make harmony.

An extract from the text in the musical hut hosting Nile's  Suite in F
Conclusion of the accompanying text

Having visited the musical installation we went inside to attend a runway show by Danish designer Christina Borcher, showing at the first International Edinburgh Fashion Festival. The previous night, our old friend Pam Hogg had shown, and I was shin-kickingly disappointed that we missed her -
I very much liked Christina's open umbrella skirts (below). We watched the show courtesy of my friend Merryn Somerset-Webb, editor of Money Week magazine, who now lives in the city. People have been extraordinarily surprised in the past that I should know Merryn, someone who can add up, and I'm not so jolly well sure they should be. Anyway, Nile had been talking about the millions of Live Aid money that still sits in a bank account that still no one knows how to distribute. There's not a lot hungry people in a dust bowl can do with a fistful of dollars, that is if corrupt agencies or militia haven't grabbed them first. With calm brilliance, Merryn then pronounced quietly (but firmly, as is her way, possessed of a natural, dignified gravitas as she is) - "Turn it all into gold, give the people who need it an ingot of gold. Everyone knows what to do with gold."
This reminded me that I have put an ounce of gold in a very safe place and now can't find it, accordingly unable to do anything with it.

oops forgot skirt

Skirt refound
We then scooted back across the city in time to watch Nile be interviewed by Irving Welsh, the genial ex-junkie author of "Trainspotting". We got to bed late and were up in the dark for the first flight back to London in the morning. Ouf.

Mr Wesley with Mr Welch
Now behold that photo above, for it contains a void that artifice has now filled. Dear readers, we have the technology, we can rebuild him:

Mr Wesley is now ready for his close-up. See his new smile below.

Meanwhile I had some limelight thrust upon me when a young man was stabbed outside of the shop. I have been reprimanded for employing the cliché, "I only did what anyone would do," but more important than my hackneyed soundbite is to clarify that what was heartening about an otherwise dispiriting experience is that so many people stopped and did what they could to help rather than crossing the road. Two men in particular, whose names I did not get, did not falter in attending to the victim, despite the considerable gore. Other people gave chase and apprehended the perp while we tended to the vic. The emergency services arrived in time (and it did take a time) and CSI Bedlam was then established.

As a result of that incident, I confess I came over somewhat Classical Roman and concluded that when the gutters run red with blood, it truly is time to get the hell outta Dodge. But more on that in the next posting, which shouldn't be long now.

More press came grace a la belle Stephanie, our sterling friend since we were introduced through the late great Tutu and her Breast Cancer t-shirt project. Helping to compile the Sunday Times 10th anniversary edition of "Style" magazine, she proposed our t-shirt of Pussy Riot lead singer Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. That duly wound up on the "Hot List" and has since sold like a hot cake, da da indeed:

Add caption

Here's the Sunday Times piece - confess I'm coveting the Russian red Carven skirt beneath our shirt:


The same weekend my old pal Goldie was off to Moscow to spin some rekkids so I intercepted his trajectory and gave him a couple of Pussy Riot tees to take. Arriving before him in the designated drop-off café I chose a table outside, forgetting that he can't do anything under cover these days. A middle aged man in a not terribly great suit at the table next to us came over all girlish and interrupted to ask if he could have his picture taken with him. Here's G in his Bedlam motorcycle club tee having just juked me in the ribs:

The ten year anniversary thing for "Style" magazine had me somewhat confused as I am very old and know for a fact it's been around for at least twenty. The one time editor Jeremy Langmead, now director of Net-a-Porter's menswear section Mr Porter - http://www.mrporter.com/ - published my first feature - at the time the most words ever run in the mag, which they ran over two weeks. What I think they meant to say last weekend then was "Hurrah it's the ten year anniversary of the editorship of Tiffanie Darke!" but someone edited it down. At least the redoubtable AA Gill articulated what I was thinking in his restaurant review in that / "our"issue, reassuring me I hadn't gone bonkers. It was his lovely other half, "The Blond" - Nicola Formby who, sat next to me mid hair-do at Nicky Clarke's salon all those years ago, launched my feature writing "career" when she thought the story I was telling Rupert le Coiff was so hilarious I had to write it down. My "career" has since more followed in the path of Peter Ustinov, who, when asked what was meant by his tag "raconteur" replied, "a story teller who can't be bothered to write it down". It's not so much "can't be bothered" as "haven't got two quiet minutes" these days.

There was no such obfuscation regarding the celebrations of "Luxure" magazine's fifth anniversary - it was what it said on the packet. or rather, the five covers they commissioned to mark the occasion. A marvellous bash was held at the Ivy, where we practically have our own coat pegs now - that'll be twice in as many months, no wonder there's no time for writing:

We were immensely proud that of all the get ups with which his wardrobe must surely groan, CEO of the magazine Phil Tucker chose to wear Bedlam's "Tectonic" pinstripe. It was also his birthday being celebrated that night. The ballerina-coverstar who danced for the guests wore diamonds by Van Cleef & Arpels. 

Mr Wesley and Mr Tucker

Messrs. Wesley & Tucker flanked by Maxim the Russian jeweller and his wife

My favourite dress of the night, on the right

Oneself in Stephen Jones hat with Simon Salter
You are familiar with hisshelf on the left. Josh works on the mag and is a neighbour of Bedlam, indeed shared the  knifing outside the shop experience with me

Doing the hokey-kokey - putting it in, shaking it about: Reggie, editor of the magazine, in the white suit with his angels inc. Simone in the white shimmy dress, Phil's missus
So that's your lot for now, stand by for a Bedlam Bulletin later this week (eyes crossed).

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Postcard from Summer, and redirected mail

Summer's on the run, even if it did visit in disguise this year. We grabbed a blast of oven door heat in the South of France chez Mark's mum and dad, up in the hills behind Cannes, to coincide with Nile playing Juan les Pins, the chi-chi seaside resort, with Chic. This was to be Ocean's first ever concert and I'm not sure how it will ever be topped. We dressed him in a "Le Freak" tee naturally - we hadn't made children's sizes so it was more of a dress on him - and as soon as Nile's tech spotted le petit fana he was hauled up on stage. Unfazed by the long lenses and exuberant crowd of thousands he busted his robot dance, in flip-flops to boot. As the sun set on the beautiful Riviera, twinkle twinkle, a little star / stage struck monster was born -

Nile clocks the pint sized stage invasion

Getting into the groove

It took some cajoling and then a stern "OI! COME HERE!" to get Ocean to leave the stage 
and go to proud daddy (Mark in the lower left corner) 

Finding the limelight an uncommonly agreeable sensation - his face was a study in stunned joy, his body swiftly galvanised into interpretive dance when they played the opening bars of his favourite song "We Are Family" - Ocean didn't immediately understand that he was a guest in someone else's show: "BUT I KNOW THIS ONE TOO!" he protested.
Well quite, that's the thing about Nile's catalogue - you DO know them all, and can't quite believe that one man is behind so much of the soundtrack of our lives. The carrot was dangled that he would most probably get to go back on for the finale. Sure enough, flanked by the beauty of Kimberly and Folami, the Chic ladies, swept up on their soaring voices and trapped in the vortex of funk spun by Mr Rodgers, Ocean took centre stage as the show reached its peak.

The mini-groover (Ocean to Chic as Bez to Happy Mondays? http://www.happymondaysonline.com/ ) then took his bow with the band, slapped hands along the crowd at the front of the stage, and sauntered off into the wings. Worried that he might be in the way, and that heavy flight cases would soon be flying about as Kool and the Gang prepared to go on next, I shoved Mr Wesley through the hordes of happy faces to get back stage as fast as we could. Progress was slow but eventually we arrived sweaty and dishevelled in the catering area for the artists. No sign of him there so up another staircase to the dressing rooms where I asked a humourless homme de sécurité (I know, they're not paid to be funny) if he had seen a little boy. "Oui Madame," he replied, "He is through there with Monsieur Rodgers and His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco. You cannot pass. You must wait."
I'll leave you to visualise the vous-devez-rigoler look I gifted him in return for that terse instruction. At that very moment, Peter, Nile's road manager, walked out and said "Come in!"

Dragging Ocean away despite his insistence that he was needed on stage with Kool and his Gang, we discussed stage wear with Kimberly and Folami - that we hope to be making for them - before I got my own hit of  fabulous by singing a while with Liza Minnelli's piano player, the lovely Arnaud Fusté-Lambezat, but that's another story. Then we said our goodnights to wind our way along the unlit hairpin-twisty unbarriered narrow roads with precipitous drops back up into the dark hills. It was a long and scary drive in case you missed the subtext there and my tired eyes were wide with terror. In the back seat, however, one little boy, who was "not sleepy at ALL" with the adrenalin of the experience, had eyes as bright and wide as the moon.

Back at Bedlam's base camp, we were asked to provide the entertainment for a party thrown by our friend and client Matias at his house in Gloucestershire. We delivered a tip top trio - Shane Alessio on double bass, Andrea Marongiu on skins and Theo Jackson at the Bosendörfer (www.theojackson.com).  I sang a couple of numbers but Theo is not only the most accomplished pianist but has a voice to melt mountains too. Accordingly we are proud to announce another musical ambassador of Bedlam, this time one at the outset of his career. We are making him a waistcoat to wear on stage and hope our stars will rise together.

Theo Jackson and Shane Alessio

Andrea Marongiu on the drums

Don't leave your kit unguarded. The stage struck kid strikes again!
Another of our clients went for white on his mediterranean hols - Nick Etherington-Smith is pictured here at the Caserta Palace in southern Italy where he attended a party in his Bedlam evening jacket. The Baroque architectural masterpiece and a beautiful consort set off our work delightfully. Larger than Versailles, the name Caserta impinges rarely on the radar these days. Yet as well as its monumental scale and stunning execution it is not only where the Germans signed the unconditional surrender of their forces in Italy in 1945 but also did a turn as Queen Amidala's palace in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. They liked it so much they returned to use it again in Episode 2: Attack of the Clones as Queen Jamilla's palace. http://www.starwars.com/

And here is Natalie Portman on the same staircase as Nick, not wearing Bedlam but only cos we turned her down (but persevere Nat, we'll give in eventually):

So to sign-off our postcard of Summer, here were some more of our favourite snaps from late July and August. And here's some red hot news - as the season's moving on, so are we. We will shortly be announcing details of our relocation so as ever don't stray far from the trusty ticker-tape machine that feeds you your coded Bedlam bulletins.

The 1940s raffia satellite dish hat got an outing on Fréjus beach

Our lovely client and friend Megan heard me say I couldn't bear to think I'd lived in London during 2012 and not been to the Olympics. I'd've gone to Tiddliwinks by the penultimate day I was so desperate to interact. She duly offered me her spare ticket to the ladies' basketball final, USA vs. France. What a dame! And see kids, articulate your wishes, someone's always listening.
Thomas articulated his wish for a red pinstripe such as he had yearned for his whole life. It was our pleasure to create it!

Prepared for Autumn  - Peter and Jack coincided in the shop, here in their chosen suits looking magnificent I think we all agree?

Prepared for all life may offer him - new-born Nikolai already showing up his underdressed  pals. The froggy fella looks particularly mortified to be thus caught out,  the monkey's a bit on the blithe side. Bedlam's sincere congratulations to Matias and Natasha for this creation!
Head to toe in Baby Bedlam - likkle white wabbit, model's own.

As we're well on the slide to Christmas now, here's a preview of our card. Mary and Joseph dressed in towels not by Bedlam