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Thursday, 19 December 2013

The gift you can guarantee won't be re-gifted? A really stylish book

Jeans, classic shirt and lots of bangles for C'mas style- and why not?
Chanel muse Ines de la Fressange shows how it's done

It was the late Phyllis Diller who said the thing she didn’t like about the office Christmas party was having to look for a job the next day. Looking Our Best has learned over the years to stay a safe distance from the communal party bucket of mulled wine; possibly the most hair-raising experience was once witnessing a former colleague tipsily grabbing scissors and cutting the telephone flex on the reception switchboard,  post party on the night of 23rd December. For some reason, it didn’t seem all that funny come the subsequent 2nd January inquest. 

Although austerity has curtailed the works' parties,  there will always be an Aldi mince pie and glass of Lidl plonk to welcome  festive merry-makers at LOB Towers. As for sharing those other age-old traditions such as putting so much thought into a gift for that special someone that you’ve left it too late to buy it, there are always books. Real books to read on paper, that is,  not on-screen.  And while buying online is all very practical, one of the pleasures of this  pre-Christmas madness is taking time out to browse your favourite bookstore where you are sure to find something to please the woman who has everything – or indeed, the woman who has nothing. 

First off is a new publication one of LOB’s ultra-stylish pals has drawn her attention to: The Killer Detail (published by Flammarion in both French and English). The authors,  real life couple François Armanet and Élisabeth Quin, are well known journalists in their native France, and, as can be seen from their photo here, can talk about style with some authority and confidence.
Don't forget the French Dressing: François Armanet and Élisabeth Quin
Fifty-year old Quin does not dye her grey hair; for an interview to publicise the new book, the New York Times quotes her as wearing
“a short black Vanessa Bruno dress, a black Balenciaga coat and black Prada motorcycle boots."  Mutton monitor, be damned.

Still with La Belle France, LOB was the lucky recipient a couple of Christmases past of Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange (Flammarion).  Ines was a former Chanel model and muse – which probably tells us all we need to know. She wears those little boucle jackets, Breton striped tee shirts, skinny cigarette pants and flat pumps with nary a hint of French cliché.  She can even wear a string of pearls without looking like a Sloane. The book includes her top Paris addresses for shopping – both designer and vintage.
Vive la accessories a la Ines

Although no longer a catwalk fixture, Ines (56) is currently brand ambassador for Roger Vivier (check out her video shopping diaries). She has also teamed up with Japanese label Uniqlo for a new collection coming out in Spring 2014, no doubt injecting their bright fun clothes with a dash of her own easy elegance.

When it comes to DVD’s as a gift, anyone, whether interested in style or not, will be intrigued by Bill Cunningham: New York. This documentary is a must see because of its endearing central character.  LOB must confess that she was unaware of this eccentric 80-something-year-old photographer until this film (directed by Richard Press) was screened in cinemas in 2012. Clad in his blue utility jacket (as worn by Paris bin men), cycling through the streets of Manhattan on what is his 29th bicycle (the previous 28 all stolen),  the sprightly Bill shoots using film (not digital) for his regular New York Times features on the city’s most individually stylish citizens.
He's just our Bill

Way before the younger fry thought they invented street fashion, he was taking candid shots showing how people dress the way they do, and what it tells us about human nature.  The mighty of the fashion world contribute to the comments in this charming film, including Anna Wintour:  “We all get dressed up for Bill”.  But while lauded in high society, this modest man does not surround himself with celebrity, and the trappings of glamour, living instead a frugal, simple life in his modest flat and eschewing restaurant dining and lavish receptions.  Near the end of the film there is a surprisingly moving insight into what makes Bill Cunningham tick. In a world of tinsel and sequins, the seemingly trivial world of fashion can have its poignant moments too.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Jingle Beads Rock

I'd like to make a statement ....

Mr LOB is a lost cause when it comes to the whole ‘down with the kids’ thing. This morning, he asked the boy ‘What’s all this stuff about Miley Cyrus and fracking?’. The conversation went downhill after that. But, having been hitched to moi for over three decades, Mr LOB does have a handle on the commoner phrases and clichés in fashion lingo, such as the LBD. 
All together now: Gold plated chains, charms and purple crystals
LOB has been giving thought to her own (not so) Little Black Dress of late, given that  the Yankee Candles are now reduced to a fiver in the shops – a sure sign that Christmas is way too close – and the invites, allegedly,  to dressy-up dos will be winging their way as we speak to LOB Towers.

As in most households, the budget for the purchase of any new Christmas party wear is once again headed towards a big fat zero.  Time, then, to dig out the good old reliable black frock and indulge in that pursuit of the sartorially skint – accessorising. 

The benefit of any LBD is that it’s very timelessness allows for an on-trend update. As all you stylish readers will know, one of this season’s strongest looks for bright young things and mature wimmin alike is the statement necklace, or collar necklace.  Designed to dress up daywear when worn under shirt collars, or over sweaters, these detailed pieces of jewellery also refresh and bring sparkle to the plainest party or evening dress. Swarovski crystals, pearls, glass beads, semi-precious stones,  on their own or all together, are fastened with chains, or a length of velvet ribbon for a vintage look.
She has some neck:   Danish model Helena Christensen

A favourite of LOB’s is costume jewellery label Pilgrim, who feature some of the most appealing statement necklaces in their current collection.  Founded in 1983 by Danish duo Annemette Markvad and Thomas Adamsen, they first started off by selling their designs at festivals.  That hint of the bohemian endures in their designs, having appeal for both Lana del Ray generation, and those of us who still remember the free spirit style of Stevie Nicks. 
'Is there a nick in that glass?' Stevie rocking the big necklace look back in the 70s
Necklaces are priced around the €50 mark, with stockists in the larger department stores, such as Debenhams. 

So, while a pal of LOB’s insists that we grown-ups should now avoid wearing black, even as partywear, the addition of an abundantly detailed statement necklace or jewelled collar counteracts any hint of sombre old lady.  It also draws attention to the face,  away from the waistline.  And that’s always a good thing at Christmas….  

 All jewellery by Pilgrim