It’s Grim Down South January 2011

Dear Rowley,

Don’t you love the shipping forecast? It reminds me of meditating. You haven’t got a clue what they’re saying but the mantra comforts and reassures. Let’s face it that’s what we all need this January. January is always a maudlin month but January 2011? It is enough make a nun kick a hole through a stained glass window. About a month ago, I shattered my circular looking glass Habitat bedside table. Perhaps it saw a reflection of Julian Assange in the telly screen and ‘the mirror crack’d’ as it were.

Anyway, I didn’t replace it and now my cream carpet looks like an areal view of Kandahar pitted as it is with cigarette ash and pools of Valpoliparrot. Anyway, I was steeling myself to spend the buck when I a lightbulb went off above my head. Magazines are always a bugger to store. Mine were on the staircase in clear perspex Muji box files. Anyway, I stacked about five of the mag-filled box files into a tower with a Vanity Fair Marilyn Monroe cover on top and, before you can say Annie Leibowitz, I’ve got a new coffee table. Now the stairs are free for all of my paperbacks that until now languished under the day bed next to the ex-husbands.

Well, the one good thing about being an early riser is that you have a few extra hours of ‘me time’. Don’t you loathe that phrase Rowley? ‘Me time’. It reminds me of that ludicrous column in the Daily Mail written by a fashion magazine editor entitled ‘I don’t know how she does it’. I do, she takes three prolonged periods of maternity leave, has a nanny and a staff of hundreds to obey her every command. In my day, editors didn’t even get married let alone have children. It was part of the deal. Patsy Stone we love you.

One good thing about writing my Fashion at Royal Ascot book for Thames & Hudson from the comfort of my chaise-longue at Bloomsbury Towers is getting into the routine of finishing around 7pm and catching some ‘me time’. Last night I spent it with a stack of magazines including Private Eye, the Spectator, Hello and British Vogue’s February issue which I bought for the new season runway report supplement. Perhaps writing about frocks for Ascot has tweaked my interest in women’s fashion again.

A lot of people have knocked British Vogue of late  including me – and, as Vincent Price said to Bette Davis, ‘that’s how you judge a great star: by her knockers’ – claiming that is has lost the edge to magazines like Pop and Love. Well, I devoured the Feb issue. Loved Lisa Armstrong’s interview with Victoria Beckham, even quite enjoyed Alexa Chung’s interview with Christopher Kane even though fashion features editor Harriet Quick would have made a better fist of it…

How interesting that the worst shoot was the head-to-toe new season designer looks portfolio whereas Lucinda Chambers dropped her usual ‘Mash-up’ school of fashion editing and shot a simply divine portfolio of young British fashion. You’ll recall I met most of ‘The Young’ at the Bay Savile Row/Savoy Cocktail Book launch in Toronto in October and particularly liked Erdem and Richard Nicholl. Or was it Jonathan Saunders? I am suffering from part-timers disease. That’s when you remember some but not all of what you were supposed to say.

Shoot of the issue was an accessories story photographed in an airport and styled by the great Charlotte Pilcher who was on Harpers & Queen when I was doing work experience a thousand years ago. Charlotte Pilcher is one of the true greats but she’s so unassuming that this is sometimes not acknowledged. She is up there for me with Caroline Baker. Lovely piece about the new creative director of Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton, but very lame story about how multi-tasking the new gen of models are. Who knew some models find the time to DJ and Twitter when they’re not falling down a runway? As a wise woman once said, ‘models aren’t stupid. They are just hungry’.

The biggest revelation in the Spring/Summer 2011 catwalk supplement was that I actually rather liked some of the fashions. You have to buy the issue for the last part of the letter because I want to see if I’ve still got the eye and you agree with my take on the season. One never knows as one gets, ahem, older. Loved the New Brights (as opposed to the Old Brights last season) and in particular Victoria Beckham, MaxMara (best in show) and Martin Grant. Not keen on Smart Sport or Modern Craft and will go so far as to say fashion’s edgy darlings Prada and Balenciaga were all hid-e-ous as my mentor Bobby Hillson would say rather frequently.

Adored all the Yves Klein blue, particularly the Akris trouser look, and Erdem’s flowing florals. The neat Mad Men white Chloe wrap dress was TO DIE as were Margaret Howell’s denim culottes and Matelot tunic. Tangerine is a hazardous colour, isn’t it and I would urge all girlfriends not to Go East or Layer-on-Layer. Loved Donna Karan’s nudes but wasn’t nude ‘in’ last season and the season before come to that? The fashion cycle is on spin evidently. Enough (Ed).