Why Not? September 2011.

Dear Rowley,

How are you darling? I have to ask because I think we are all feeling rather besieged at present in the big smoke. To quote the Rocky Horror Show ‘it isn’t easy having a good time. Even smiling makes my face ache’. We’re all trying to keep calm and carry on despite the wolves circling our collective door. You know I am a Londoner through and through but even I am questioning whether it wouldn’t be an option to take flight, rent a cheeky little farmhouse on Corfu and sit the economic crisis out until it is safe to come out and play again in london.

I am at present lounging on the day bed in Bloomsbury Square working on the dummy for my new book Gentlemen’s Requisites: The Pursuit of Luxury in London 1800-The Present indulging in champagne and oven chips. Nothing like a bit of the old ‘high low’ behind closed door is there? Anyway, what’s new? Team Mayfair  as my art director Pete and my editor Jennie have christened us for the new book project are once again working like Trojans to get the dummy for Gentlemen’s Requisites written, edited and laid out for the Frankfurt Book Fair.

For all my gnashing of teeth I have to say it is always a thrill to get back into the studio with Pete and Jennie  - Christ I’m starting to sound like Cher!- and see  layouts bringing my words to life. As with Fashion at Royal Ascot, we have a deadline of three months to deliver words, pictures and layouts. This will mean considerably fewer late night sherries in the fleshpots of the metropolis before Christmas. Still, you’ve got to pat the donkey darling and you know life in Bloomsbury Towers just isn’t jolly unless I ride out a few nights of the week.

Despite spending all week monkey typing to finish the Gentlemen’s Requisites text I did manage to sneak out to see the Hardy Amies show at London Fashion Week of which more anon. I also had an evening later in the week when finally out the MacBook Air to sleep at 10pm and simply thought to hell with early nights. I want to put on a pair of Calvins that show off my ass-ets, locate a favourite louche basement bar, perch on a corner bar stool and sip a gin while batting my lashes at a barman. So I did.

Do you love the picture of Trevor Pickett and I laughing and chaffing outside his shop in the Burlington Arcade? Trevor sells what would traditionally have been called Fancy Goods: a rather charming if archaic term for gorgeous little luxuries such as leather Launer wallets lined with Imperial yellow snakeskin, Moroccan souk slippers, creamy kid gloves and bridle leather luggage.

I have also enclosed a snapshot sent by Anda who has been at large in New York recently. She knows I am a huge fan of cabaret: specifically the Cafe Carlyle in the eponymous uptown hotel. I haven’t been for a thousand years. In fact, I think I was living in Greenwich Village over a decade ago with husband number two when I last visited the Carlyle to see Barbara Cook sing Sondheim. It seems the great Elaine Stritch is returning to the Carlyle next month for a Sondheim residence.  As it says on the poster, ‘Why not?’ This will doubtless be the catchphrase of the month on Savile Row for Anda and I.

Stritchie is magnificent in cabaret. I’ve seen her twice in London and if the book text is agreeable and my royalties cheque for the last two respectable I could pop over to New York to catch Stritchie at the Carlyle. Wouldn’t it be a marvellous ploy to invite Elaine Stritch to sing at the Savoy in the Beaufort Bar? I’ve suggested it a million times but what can I tell you? Pearls before swine sweetie. Oh well, onward and upward.

My last photograph is a bit of a ring flash beauty taken from the front row of the Hardy Amies show at No I Mayfair that headlined Men’s Day for London Fashion Week. Held in a deconsecrated church, the show wanted to punch with equal weight as a Gucci, Prada or Dior menswear show. I rather liked the monogrammed summer satins and the louche Saint Tropez in the 70s vibe but am not convinced that short shorts with tailored unstructured jackets is the way to go for Amies. On tanned, ripped Italian stallions the shorts would look hot. On young, skinny and white ‘Emo’ Brits they simply lacked drama and conviction.

To witness a fashion show in a former church – the DJ positioned in the pulpit – was an interesting comment about the evolution of Mayfair. I spent many a happy hour at the old Limelight Club on Shaftsbury Avenue back in the day – another deconsecrated church -so am not squeamish about shaking my toosh where people once bended the knee for communion. But I did find it a marked contrast t0 sit front row at a fashion show in an old church before dashing across town to attend Holy Cocktails with Roddy Leece, the Rector of St George’s Mayfair, at the Rectory behind the Hilton Hotel.

So what has one learnt this week? That St George’s serves better champagne than London Fashion Week, Thames & Hudson expects miracles and that I won’t become a nun any time soon. Until next time…