culture, Fashion, Lifestyle, London, Longchamp

An afternoon at Kew

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Last weekend my lovely friend Fareed cooked me lunch and showed me around his neighbourhood, which just so happens to encompass Kew Gardens. I’d been before, years ago as a young pensions reporter on a freebie press do at a summer concert, but I’d never had the chance to explore it. Fareed has a season ticket so we strolled through the gates with an ice-cream without having to pay and headed straight to the palm house.

I wore my petticoat especially for him that Sunday because he once dared me to wear it to work…

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Top – Topshop

Petticoat – American Apparel

Ballet shoes – Topshop

Bag – Longchamp

Army jacket – Gone Retro, Milton Keynes

Ring – Thor & Whistle

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culture, Lifestyle, music, Retro, Vintage

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

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Last night my friends Auriol, Ayesha (pictured) and I spent an evening in a Parisian/tiki haven – Ollie Vee’s in Leighton Buzzard. Vintage shop Ollie Vee’s, which recently transformed its basement into a tiki speakeasy, complete with a water feature and a four-foot statue, hosted a night with Edith Piaf.

Singer Susan Black performed some of Piaf’s best-known songs and between pieces told us the story of Piaf’s life – from her childhood in a brothel, her discovery as a performer, her contribution to the Résistance and to her poor health and drug addiction. All downstairs in tiki paradise.

The perfect first outing for my Family Affairs Cafe Zoe dress…

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culture, Fashion, Lifestyle, museums, Style

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore

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Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore at Somerset House is fantastic. If you love avant-garde high fashion then you will not be disappointed. Isabella’s collection of Philip Treacy, Alexander McQueen and John Galliano is stunning.

The exhibition, which runs until March 2, also includes McQueen’s graduate collection from 1992, which Isabella bought in its entirety. However, she was a bit skint and could only afford to pay him £100 a week for the pieces, which were released one at a time.

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 The show is full of personal touches including family photos, school pictures,videos, notepads, her favourite Chanel lipstick (“If you don’t wear lipstick I can’t talk to you”) and a fax from her boss querying a string of dodgy expenses claims. The exhibition also tells you that she usually wrote in pink ink, often wore odd shoes and had the same shoe in various sizes.

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It’s a great exhibition that underscores the huge impact she had on British fashion. I already liked Isabella and knew she was great but I didn’t realise just how influential she was. Go and see it before it ends!

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culture, drinks, entertainment, Lifestyle, Theatre, travel

Wilton’s

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Yesterday my friends and I capped off a perfect Saturday in London with a trip to Wilton’s Music Hall near Cable Street. We’d already been to the Isabella Blow exhibition at Somerset House, which I’ll blog about in a few days, and had a late lunch at The Breakfast Club in Spitalfields when we popped in for a few chilled out drinks in the Mahogany Bar.

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Wilton’s – the world’s oldest surviving music hall – is one of my absolute favourite places in London. I commuted to London for five years before going freelance and when our office moved to Wapping, which felt about 10 miles from anywhere, Wilton’s became our haven – it was just around the corner from work, tucked away off the main road, and it was our cosy little living room for the best leaving dos, after work pints and Christmas drinks. They also do fantastic and very cheap food during shows.

Auriol had never been and I knew she’d love it…

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Pretending this is our front room. How much cool stuff can we fit in our bags?

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Wilton’s Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley (off Ensign St), London, E1 8JB

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culture, food, Lifestyle, New York, travel

New York: food and drink

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 I don’t like to wait too long for food, and I like even less to wait too long for a pint of beer. But when you hear from several sources that Shake Shack, seemingly the most hipster gourmet burger chain in New York, has queues half an hour long you suddenly really want some.

I’d heard the burgers were amazing and when I saw beer on the menu it made it a bit easier to stick it out in the queue. The line moves faster than you might think (but if you’re that bothered there’s a web cam to show you how busy it is before you arrive) and once you order you see it’s pretty heavily staffed.

I got a cheese burger and a beer for just under $10. Was it worth the wait? I wouldn’t go again at such a busy time (it does seem to have its quiet moments during the day) but it was very tasty. The flavours reminded me a lot of McDonald’s but the ingredients were clearly much better quality.

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 Brunch is apparently a big thing in New York, and a lot of the good restaurants book up for Sunday brunch pretty quickly. For some late breakfast we headed to Five Leaves on Bedford Avenue in Green Point, fairly near where we stayed with our friend Toni. This casual oyster bar, opened with the backing of Heath Ledger’s estate when he died before he saw his cafe plans come to fruition, was packed.

We grabbed a table in the sunshine and shared a huge stack of ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter, banana, blueberries and strawberries, and some dandelion bruschetta, all for about $20 – pretty decent value considering we had to abandon half the pancakes.

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Further down Bedford Avenue is a string of great vintage shops, boutiques and bars and restaurants – I highly recommend a visit if you go to Williamsburg. We had a quick drink on the roof terrace at Juliette but there’s a big restaurant downstairs if you’re hungry.

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I didn’t take my DSLR out to dinner with our good friend Ayesha but here’s a little iPhone pic of the great Mexican food at Zona Rosa on Lorimer Street and the corner of Metropolitan Avenue. We were drawn to this place for three main reasons – a roof terrace, cool fairly lights and an old Airstream that made up the side of the kitchen. We didn’t make it to a table on the terrace but the food here is great. We ordered a selection of tacos and our hearts fell a bit when we were presented with a high tea-style get-up. Then we got very full. Eyes, belly…

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And here are some pics I nabbed from their website…

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And I didn’t get anything from this next place but how cool is this? Draft beer to take away? Why don’t we have this in Britain?

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culture, entertainment, fashion, film, lifestyle, Lifestyle, style

An afternoon at The Rex


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The Rex in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, is a real treat and has spoilt me for other cinemas forever. This restored single-screen art deco cinema is an absolute gem. It was built in 1938, closed in 1988 following the rise of video, and reopened in 2004 as a thing of beauty.

Yesterday my friend Auriol and I popped down for a matinee of Rush, Ron Howard’s 1970s Formula 1 pic. It’s excellent, by the way. But a trip to The Rex is much more about the cinema itself – candle-lit tables in the lower circle, a gold curtain over the screen and gorgeous art deco details everywhere. There’s even a licensed bar inside the auditorium and with a cheese platter that the bar staff will deliver to your table five minutes before the start of the film, who needs popcorn and sticky nachos? You certainly can’t get them here. And the best surprise is that it’s significantly cheaper than going to an Odeon or a Cineworld.

And obviously you should vintage up your outfit on a day out to such a special place. It was the first outing for my gorgeous vintage fur coat – a 1960s piece in perfect condition from Stella Dallas in Soho, New York. It was my one big New York purchase, was fairly pricy but I’m so glad I took it home with me.

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Who put that can there?

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I’m wearing:

1960s fur coat – Stella Dallas, New York

Reindeer jumper – Topshop (via a surprise parcel sent to me by my beautiful friend Maryam)

Skirt – Primark

Bag – Beyond Retro

Lace gloves – vintage, present

Mary Janes – Dr Martens, £30 from the factory shop (the Doc Shop, High Street, Wollaston, near Wellingborough)

Umbrella – Lulu Guinness

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