Monday, 30 September 2013


Actress Natalie Portman poked a stick in a hornet's nest, albeit one that badly needed poking, when she took issue with Hollywood's idea of what makes a strong female character. "The fallacy in Hollywood is that if you're making a 'feminist'* story, the woman kicks ass and wins. That's not feminist, that's macho," she told Elle magazine (in an interview to promote her new Thor movie in which she plays... Oh, you know.) "A movie about a weak vulnerable woman can be feminist," she goes on, "if it shows a real person that we can empathise with."

This is one of my pet hates. Like the old virgin/whore chestnut, it seems that women in movies (and plenty of books too) are either murder victim or total badass; either a prettily arranged corpse or capable of taking out an entire gang in one spectacularly orchestrated martial arts move (nine times out of ten without mussing her mascara).

Because, for screenwriters, strong rarely seems to mean resilient or complex or multi-faceted or contradictory or, god forbid, real. They mean kick ass. Feisty. Probably capable of breaking some balls. But however "strong" they are, ultimately, those characters are still one-dimensional. (There are, of course, honourable exceptions - Merida from Brave, before she got a Disney makeover; Buffy, of course.)

Anyway, I was going to do a whole rant about how making female characters 'strong' was stereotyping them just as much as making them love interests (and have you noticed how many times the strong female character STILL ends up being the love interest...? I digress.) And then I remembered this absolutely brilliant blog Sophia McDougall wrote back in August. ("Nowadays the princesses all know kung fu, but they're still princesses.") Why I Hate Strong Female Characters is reproduced here by the New Statesman. You should read that instead because there's nothing I can say that McDougall hasn't already said better.

*I assume that feminist is being used here  as shorthand for a film where the female character isn't either a corpse, a soon-to-be corpse or the love interest.

Today I'm channelling... Yves Saint Laurent

And to prove it, here is Bianca Jagger in Le Smoking...

"Fashions fade, style is eternal."

Yves Saint Laurent #fashionweek

Friday, 27 September 2013

Today I'm channelling... Stella McCartney

"Sometimes I wish I were less sensible."

Stella McCartney showing her SS14 collection this week in Paris #fashionweek

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Today I'm channelling... Phoebe Philo

"The chicest thing is when you don't exist on Google. I would love to be that person."

Phoebe Philo showing her SS14 collection for Celine, this weekend in Paris #fashionweek

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Today I clicked, read, downloaded... 25/9

Princess Merida from Braveheart, not your average Disney princess

Downloaded... this feature in today's Stylist on the joys of being ginger. (I bang on about the very same subject in my feature in this month's Harpers Bazaar.) Clicked... on too many features about offensive men. Witness for the prosecution 1: the literature professor who "doesn't love women writers enough to teach them... what I teach is guys. Serious hetrosexual guys." Read it on jezebel and you can get stabby too. Witness for the prosecution 2: the guy who told his girlfriend, "Honey, you are 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring." I know what he could do with that ring. nymag.comRead... the new issue of The Gentlewoman, featuring interviews with a whole host of smart, interesting, interested women including Lea Seydoux, Katie Hillier, Alison Moyet and more.

Today I'm channelling... Coco Chanel (again)

"I only drink champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not."

Coco Chanel #fashionweek

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


Fashion Director Nicola Rose wearing her trusty Church's' brogues in Milan a year ago.

They're comfortable, you can walk in them and - what's this - they're 'in fashion', too? Must be some mistake surely? But no, the front row have spoken. Apparently. (Although, it has to be said, if Milan is anything to go by, visual evidence is somewhat lacking.) Fashion assistants have always worn flats (of course, they have to walk places) but in all things footwear, it's the front row that counts, since they allegedly have drivers and therefore are at liberty to wear whatever the hell they want on their feet without having to lug around the ubiquitous 'walking shoes' in their extra large totes. (For the Frow-ers without drivers - or who had one but lost him, don't ask - that spare pair of shoes always comes in handy...) Or maybe, it's more that when a trend reaches the front row you know it's properly taken hold.

Whichever, flats, which have officially been 'back' for a couple of years ever since the trusty brogue put in a showing, are now officially, officially back. Here's the good news for your feet:

Pointy flats (not round-toed, pointy)

Bayswater leather pointy ballet flats, £89, Jigsaw

Old School Trainers

New Balance 410, £60, from Size?

Slippers are here to stay

The Darby suede loafer, £150, from J Crew

Biker boots, the chunkier the better

The oddly named Carvela sausage boot, £150, from asos

This year's brogue

The Grosvenor monkstrap, £175, from Russell & Bromley.

Inspired by Celine...

The Londres slip on by KG Kurt Geiger, £85

Ballet flat with a twist

See by Chloe Studded Ballerinas, €229 from PerfectlyBasics.

Today I clicked, read, downloaded... 24/9

Moore and Gordon-Levitt in Don Jon, released November

Read... several reviews of Don Jon and got excited. A movie where a 32-year-old man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has an affair with a 52-year-old woman (Julianne Moore). Some mistake, surely? Clicked... on the 'leaked' lookbook images of Isabel Marant's collection for H&M. It's released on November 14th, if we start queueing now, it may still not be soon enough. Read... 25 Years Of Supermodels by Jess Cartner-Morley in The Guardian's new biannual magazine The Fashion. "What the enduring appeal of Kate Moss represents is how her generation has rejected the traditional trajectory of ageing." Smart, thoughtful, spot on. Downloaded... Desert Island Discs with Zadie Smith. You can't go far wrong with Prince, Madonna, Billie Holliday and Notorious B.I.G. If you missed it at the weekend, you can find it here. Read... Noreena Hertz's thought-provoking new book about cutting through the information white noise, Eyes Wide Open: How to Make Smart Decisions in a Confusing World.


Suddenly, I'm feeling the need for a pair of grey pumps in my life. At a tidy £400 these Gianvito Rossi ones from are gorgeous but, frankly, not happening. Until I find a similar pair on the high street this is as close as I'm getting.

Today I'm channelling... Isla Fisher

"What you say no to is as important as what you say yes to."

Isla Fisher

Monday, 23 September 2013

Today I'm channelling... Giorgio Armani

"Elegance is not standing out, but being remembered."

Giorgio Armani showing his SS14 Emporio collection today in Milan #fashionweek

Friday, 20 September 2013

Today I'm channelling... Jil Sander

"If you cut a painter's hands off, s/he'd still feel the urge to pick up the brush."

Jil Sander showing her eponymous SS14 collection this week in Milan #fashionweek

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Today I'm channelling... Miuccia Prada

"I hate the idea that you shouldn't wear something, just because you're a certain age."

Miuccia Prada showing her SS14 collection today in Paris #fashionweek

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Today I'm channelling... Diana Vreeland

"We all need a splash of bad taste. No taste is what I'm against."

Diana Vreeland #fashionweek

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Today I'm channelling... Vivienne Westwood

"Buy less, choose well."

Vivienne Westwood showing her SS14 Red Label collection this week in London #fashionweek

Monday, 16 September 2013

Today I'm channelling... Angela Ahrendts

"Give us a world where half our homes are run by men and half our institutions are run by women. I'm pretty sure that would be a better world."

Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry who show their SS14 collection today in London #fashionweek

Friday, 13 September 2013

Thursday, 12 September 2013


It will come as no surprise to any of you that books are my bag. Books made me, books shaped me, and, more often than not, books saved me.

I was a booky kid - too ginger, too gobby, too incapable of having anything on my face other than the true expression of what I really thought. This is not a character trait that has stood me in good stead over the years, politician I am not. But in the playground it was suicide.

So, books were my friends, and bookshops were my favourite place in all the world, specifically an independent bookshop called Simmons hidden up a side street in the small Hampshire town where I grew up. (Why are bookshops always hidden? It's part of their enduring charm and eternal damnation.) Books were my treat of choice, Simmons my preferred destination. Dentist? Bookshop. Haircut? (Yes, I hated having my hair cut even then.) Bookshop. Back to school? Bookshop.

There I met the Pevensey children and Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Jo and Meg, Marianne who dreamt, the Moomins and many more. They were even to blame for my introduction to Spike Milligan...

It's not there any more, replaced by Ottakers and then by Waterstones when it moved into what we quaintly called the town centre. I think it's a pet shop now. I have nothing against pet shops, but...

Simmons bookshop,and the adults who recognised I needed an escape and encouraged me to read, engendered in me a life long passion for books and reading. A relationship that is amongst the best, the most successful, the most rewarding, in my life. 

Yes, I've got a kindle, and I love it, but I still buy and love books. Half the time I buy them twice (once on kindle and once 'for real'). The question of *where* I buy them constantly on my mind. Because I can't imagine a world without bookshops, a world where you can't push open the door and find something you'd never heard of, something that will transport you to a world you can't wait to leap into. But if we don't push open the door, before long bookshops won't be there any more, and personally I think that's a pretty crap place to be.

So, that's why books are my bag. And Laura Bailey's and Lucy Worsley's and Bill Nighy's, and so many more's. If they're yours too, do something to support your local high street bookshop this Saturday. For more information on Books Are My Bag and events near you on 14th September, visit

Today I'm channelling... Hanne Blank

'Plus size' model, Robyn Lawley in Guardian Weekend last month

"Real women are fat. And thin. And both. And neither."

Hanne Blank, historian #fashionweek

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


J Crew SS14

J Crew / Sophia Webster shoe collaboration shown this week at New York fashion week as part of the Spring/Summr 14 catwalk presentation. Need.

Today I'm channelling... Bill Cunningham

"Fashion is the armour to survive everyday life."

Bill Cunningham #fashionweek

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Today I'm channelling... Kate Spade

"Playing dress up begins at age five and never truly ends."

Kate Spade #fashionweek

Monday, 9 September 2013

Today I clicked, read, downloaded... 9/9/13

The sold-out Super Lab Playset, $250 from Citizen Brick

Clicked... on the looks-a-lot-like-Lego-but-isn't 'Bricking Bad' make your own meth lab from Citizen Brick. Downloaded... this terrible story on the Huffington Post about the death of an 8-year-old Yemeni 'bride' after sex with a man over four times her age. Probably one of the most unpleasant things you will ever read. To find out what's being done to end child marriage, follow @planuk and @equalitynow on twitter. Read... Eva Wiseman's interview with the wonderful Carine Roitfeld in the Observer Magazine. Wiseman totally nails the cool, accessible ex-Editor-in-Chief of Paris Vogue who was always happy to wait outside with everyone else for a show to start, chatting to students and bloggers. Clicked... on Ask Men UK's 10 ways to flirt sexually.. should have read ten ways to absolutely guarantee you won't get laid.

Today I'm channelling... Victoria Beckham

VB after her SS14 show in NY yesterday. She doesn't have
much to worry about to judge by the reviews...

"I don't believe anyone who says they don't care what people say about them. Of course they bloody well do."

Victoria Beckham #fashionweek

Sunday, 8 September 2013


Oh no! Mary Berry what have you done? The Great British Bake Off star wore a leopard print coat on the front of yesterday's Times Magazine and, suddenly, leopard print started to look like something your mother might not just approve of, she might even wear. (It's not that Mary doesn't look very chic and smart and all, she does. It's just... well, that's precisely the ante-point of leopard.)

Ever since I was a student, I've nurtured a little 'thing' for leopard print (I blame you, Courtney Love). (Four pairs of shoes, one pair of boots, two bags, and counting...) It was the leather jacket's louder, trashier sister. For years it teetered on the cusp of being neither in fashion nor out of it. It was too rock and roll to bother with mere trends. Too 'tasteless and it knew it and, you know what, it didn't care.' Pretty much every year someone tried to declare leopard over (much like skinny jeans) and the cool girls just lit another fag, shrugged and kept on wearing it. Even its permanent place in Pat Butcher's and Bet Lynch's wardrobe couldn't wreck its karma. Especially Bet Lynch... there was just something about those fags and that beehive... That and the fact that when Bet was at the leopard print vanguard in the 70s your mum most definitely did not approve.

But then the really cool girls got their mitts on it. Kate Moss adopted it - always with black. Editor of Paris Vogue, Emmanuelle Alt, and Carine Roitfeld, love it. French women, in general, wear it. What more evidence do you need that leopard hasn't lost it, it's just gained a new convert.

3 low-key ways to wear leopard

1. On your feet...


Try Jigsaw for pointy flats, for celine inspired skate shoes (if they haven't sold out), Zara or Whistles for slippers.


Ankle boots

Chelsea boots at Russell & Bromley, or a block heel boot from Sam Edelman at asos.



Gianvito Rossi at if you're feeling flush, J Crew's Etta pumps (if you move quickly there's a 'Shoe Event' online now) or M&S Autograph if not so much.


2. Under your arm or over your shoulder...

Slouchy clutch, try Autograph at M&S or Topshop for a black and leopard duffle. The high street abounds with Celine-inspired black work-friendly totes with a leopard-print panel.


3. When it's not really leopard print at all...

There are lots of muted variants out there this season, like this coat (The Klein) from a massively rejuvenated All Saints. (No longer just for old goths with bigger bank accounts. And I say, that as one of them...)

Alternatively, you could just make like Julie (Bet Lynch) Goodyear and live a 'leopard print kind of life'...

Friday, 6 September 2013

Today I clicked, read, downloaded... 6/9/13

Clicked... on Charlotte Tilbury's new website and lost an hour. So far, managed not to lose any money her new wide-ranging skin and make up collection. Although very tempted by her magic cream... Read... Robin Givhan's piece on the absence of black models on the runways of NY fashion week - and just about everywhere else. Downloaded... the first series of The Returned (Les Revenants, pseuds), streaming on Blinkbox now or out on DVD on Monday.The Returned - Series 1 [DVD]. How creepy is that kid?! Would have downloaded... the oyster app, billed as 'netflix for books', except it's not Brit-friendly yet.


Yes, yes, I know I said I'd never wear a onesie but, come on, it's grey, there are no stars on it, or elephants, or stripes. And it's cashmere. What more can you ask for?
Cashmere all-in-one, Jigsaw, in store October.

Today I'm channelling... Oscar Wilde

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast."

Oscar Wilde

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Today I clicked, read, downloaded... 5/9/13

Cicked... and clicked and clicked again on this utterly compulsive weightloss gif on Jezebel. Nearly 24 hours later I still. can't. stop. watching. Read... this brilliant piece on Salon about how not to be terrible when you're talking about rape. Clue: it's not a million miles away from just behaving like a decent person. Clicked... on this bad-but-I-want-one hashtag necklace after being alerted to it by Lauren Laverne on twitter. Yours for £48 of your English pounds. How can you resist? Picked... five books worth looking out for this autumn, and blogged about them for Bazaar On BooksClicked... on a very cute but probably way too short Zara mini and had to remind myself that, you know, probably not.

Today I'm channelling... Amy Poehler

"There's power in looking silly and not caring that you do."

Amy Poehler

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Today I clicked, read, downloaded... 4/9/13

Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry

Read... Allan Ahlberg's enchanting memoir, The Bucket: Memories of an Inattentive Childhood, published tomorrow by Viking. Downloaded... Business of Fashion's inspiring interview with Burberry powerhouse Angela Ahrendts. Read... several pieces about police referrals of domestic violence cases to the CPS dropping by 11% (or 20% depending whose figures you believe), while reported cases increased by approximately 10%. And got cross. Watched... Celebrity masterchef. Hooked. Go Janet! Read... Lucy Sweet's column on Me Time in the new issue of Libertine. "Everyone who uses the phrase Me Time should be killed and made into sausages." One day, people, one day, those of us without a Y-chromosome will be allowed to spend time on our own without lighting a scented candle...


The queen (a woman with no need to carry a handbag at all) loves hers. Margaret Thatcher couldn't be parted from hers. And this season there's hardly a designer on the planet who hasn't fallen for them. Miuccia Prada - the godmother of the granny bag - has been cleaning up for nearly a decade but now McQueen, Fendi, Mulberry, Vuitton have all thrown in their ladylike lot with Her Maj. Even Givenchy. I know! Givenchy, rock chic home of Ricardo Tisci, beloved of granny-with-edge Carine Roitfeld, is flogging a £1000+ granny bag. I bet you the last pair of Jimmy Choos that were bestowed on me as a magazine editor that Roitfeld would not be seen dead carrying one.

So if even owning a granny bag would make you feel - and probably look - like your granny, here are some other styles to carry.

The Duffle

Autograph duffle, £89,

The Shopper


The Bowling Bag

Joanie, Navy or Black, £235,

The Satchel

Classic satchel, £99,

The bag every other celeb is carrying that isn't a granny bag

Saint Laurent classic duffle, from £680 for the teeny version, this one is *cough* a lot more,

The clutch

Triple zip clutch in brown or black, £79,

Or make like Carine and don't carry one at all. But for that you need a driver and a car to leave all your stuff in...