Saturday, 31 October 2009


Well, everybody is doing posts about Halloween, so I guess I have no choice! Tim Burton and his characters are no doubt the big stars of today, and I must confess his terrifying-but-funny aesthetic is something I have always associated to Halloween's mood. Yes, some of his latest films are simply silly (I distinctly remember falling asleep for the first and last time of my life in the cinema during the projection of "Big Fish") but, probably like most of you, I grew up with "Nightmare before Christmas", "Edward Scissorhands" and "Sleepy Hollow" (although my favourite one is perhaps the excellent "Ed Wood". I just love the character). Burton's illustrations and poetry are however less known than his films, but I just love his drawings and the way his characters look totally lost in the world they're living in.

Thinking about Tim Burton's illustrations leads me to another of my favourite illustrators, Quentin Blake: his sketchlike, tremulous drawings are simply great, and it's such a pleasure to see them in Roald Dahl's books! Most children illustrations are edulcorated and cheesy and take for granted that children are just a bit stupid, but Blake's work is crude, messy to the point of looking dirty. His work on textures is amazing (as a kid I was specially fascinated by how he drew old people). This naïve-but-not-so-innocent spirit is how I see Halloween.
I have to leg it and get my pumpkin.

The Witches from ... By William Shakespeare

I can't conceive Halloween without this.
And oh, appearently we are not supposed to say the name of the play... Another English eccentricity.


SCENE I. A desert place.

Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches

First Witch
When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Second Witch
When the hurlyburly's done,
When the battle's lost and won.

Third Witch
That will be ere the set of sun.

First Witch
Where the place?

Second Witch
Upon the heath.

Third Witch
There to meet with Macbeth.

I come, Graymalkin!

Paddock calls.


Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.


SCENE I. A cavern. In the middle, a boiling cauldron.

Thunder. Enter the three Witches

Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.

Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.

Harpier cries 'Tis time, 'tis time.

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Stepping away from the XXth century

Lately we've been seeing shoes as extravagant, impossible and fabulous as these. For the last couple of seasons, heels have gone up non-stop (about 4 cm each season). I have already talked very often about high heels in this blog, but these Nina Ricci wedges, as well as the already legendary Alexander McQueen, have confirmed all my suspicions that heels are "the new corsets": they are the ultimate fashion status symbol.Imagine trying to jump on the tube in these. Or just trying to stand up in them for more than half an hour, for that matter. Yet, I have heard about fifty boys and girls say they'll do whatever it takes to get those Alexander McQueens. When people are actually willing to commit self-torture for the sake of fashion, it becomes a matter to talk about but not to argue, and once the trend is out of fashion, everybody will wonder how people with brains could accept and even cherish such a loony fashion. It has happened with heavy, powdered wigs, corsets of all kinds, shrunken Chinese feet and African overnecklaced necks. And now it might be high heels.

I don't intend to say McQueen's shoes were not beautiful. They were more than that: they were magnificent. Surreal. In the show, they were all you could see. Then you looked up and saw a pristine ginger model glued to them, like a twig-shaped transparent jellyfish. The whole sea creature theme was mastermind. And the shoes were the perfect icing on the cake, looking like a mysterious kind of sea snake or the Loch Ness monster.

The show is one to be remembered for a long time. Not just because of the breathtaking beauty of it all, but because it means the beginning of something new in fashion: the prints were innovative, showing wonderful computer-created effects. The shapes, draping and volumes were also new, and they suggested something different to what clothing during the XXth century has been. Alexander McQueen, as many other designers that are slowly subscribing to the same trend, steps away from the last decades’ freedom in fashion: easy to wear and comfortable clothes, adapted to and enhancing the natural body shape. McQueen’s clothes have an undeniable historical influence (although not in, say, Galliano’s way for instance. McQueen has a unique way of projecting the past into the future, never in the obvious way and never in the easy way), with a very British spirit to it. And his last show proved him to be at the peak of his splendour. But what of all that feminine fashion achieved in matters of body freedom and comfort during the last century? Are we losing that for good? You all know I can be quite nostalgic and that I adore the XXth century, but I do wonder where fashion is moving towards. Is left to see to what extent will McQueen’s armour-like shapes, Elizabethan volumes and maximalist shoes become popular.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Wardrobe tests for My Fair Lady

All these tests were meant for the infamous "move yer bloomin' arse" scene. I think all of them are lovely, but the last one is by far the most dashing, and the one that was finally used (we actually never see all the other looks in the film). All gowns by the wonderful Cecil Beaton.
I know I'm feeling quite nostalgic lately, and I'm actually really enjoying it...

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Milk Plus

A Clockwork Orange is back in cinemas.
Gorgeousness and gorgeousity.

crazy about the new look

I think you all know I'm not the biggest fan of the New Look. I think it's all unnecessarily ornate and excessive. Girls (or should I say women? No one looks like a girl in a Christian Dior X silhouette dress) looked like pretty and very sophisticated frosted cakes, but I don't think those clothes did anything for their sense of independence and modernity. However, I can understand the fascination with luxury after a war and a post-war. After almost a decade of having to wear turbans in order to conceal dirty hair, how to resist the temptation of looking like a cross between Marie Antoinette and a Canova sculpture? Especially when the biggest Hollywood stars were all falling for the look. I mean, when you see Marilyn Monroe modelling like this in "How to marry a millionaire", not only you want her outfit, but you would even like to be as clumsy as her.

I've always felt in the 50's there is a special relationship between fashion and film (I'm of course talking about Hollywood and not about Ingmar Bergman or Roberto Rossellini). When I was almost a baby I already was too exposed to things like Marilyn's obsession with diamonds, Fred Astaire shooting a glamourous Audrey Hepburn in Paris or Lana Turner being cold as ice and fabulously wrapped in metres of "satin duchesse". Had I been a little boy that would have made me so gay. In the recurring subject, in all these films, of relationships endangered by the woman's passion for fashion, not once I felt identified with the man's more rational point of view.

Those clothes, along with Cinemascope and Technicolor, created a curiously unreal, almost sickening sweet athmosphere: too cheerful, too artificial, too naïve to be true, these films create the true essence of Hollywood's way of making cinema; which has been often bitterly criticised and labelled as "dangerously unintellectual". Still, I completely forget what is the point in films by people like Lars Von Trier when I'm watching "Singin' in the Rain".

Friday, 23 October 2009

Lily Cole for Dazed & Confused

Just the kind of inspiration I needed! Mysterious and preraphaelite.
Photos by Martina Hoogland Ivanow.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Tao Okamoto

Each season we are told about at least 10 new it-girls, supposedly new muses, girls with similar names, similar faces and similar expressiveless expressions. It is not often one of these "new faces" is actually surprising and inspiring. This season, it was the japanese Tao Okamoto that got my attention: I love her versatile face, her smile, her 60's-inspired bowl cut and the fact that she looks a bit geeky. She has worked for I-D and Dazed (of course), but also for the likes of Glamour and Teen Vogue. A true star on the rise.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Smile. Smile! SMILE!

We shot with the lovely Kristina Gisors today.
It was interesting but I still feel the spleen. I need some extreme inspiration!