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Africa 2

David Attenborough’s new documentary on Africa simply entitled Africa, is a jaw-dropping look at the nature and wildlife of the continent from a refreshingly new perspective. The cinematography is outstanding. As always, Attenborough is as informative as he is witty. The BBC have outdone themselves. Downloadable from iTunes. And go the extra mile and get the HD version. A must see.

Africa 1

Awfully clever, aren’t they those Danes [ — and Swedes?] The Øresund bridge. Have you seen it? Totes amazing!!! It snakes on for like, forever, and then, on the last stretch towards Copenhagen, bridge becomes tunnel. Whoa! All to ensure the safety of flights to and from the nearby airport. Thoughtful, aren’t they?

I like the DESIGN DEMOCRACY that is omnipresent on every street corner of Copenhagen. Its like its in their blood. Visit Illums Bolighus, the royal-warrantied design emporium in the heart of the shopping centre and swoon. It takes lifestyle shopping to another level. I came back with more than my fair share of glassware, kitchen implements and what-a-view!

My Danish mates, and I have a few, all seem to have a natural instinct for collecting ceramics. Their apartments are strewn with esoteric collections of varying forms and colours that are just so damn pretty to look at at.

And those Danes are so tall and blonde and beautiful. Like the palest of pale white beers. Almost silvery hair in the more extreme cases of blonditude! Wow! Can I stroke it? Gliding around on their bikes, blonde locks flapping in the wind. Oh, those Danes…

But for me wood wins out. You should know your design classics and if not do your homework. I came across these chairs and tables in a cafe that I can’t remember the name of. I never said that I was observant! But its a popular chain you’ll come across several times. Its the one just across from COS, on that street that leads to Illums…

They look delightful, don’t they, sunbathing?

 

Grounded rice, formed into meticulous, tiny balls by rubbing the flour through the fingers and rolling the crumbed mixture repeatedly in a wooden bowl, adding a drop of water at a time. Patience is a must. This is then cooked with lemon, water and sugar to create an utterly delicious pudding.

Dessert. West African style. Serve with searingly hot banana dumplings.


Palms in a courtyard, Palermo

Well, hello there. Fancy seeing you here! I must say it’s been a while. What have you been up to? Tell me…

Well, juggling about a million projects and building up those air miles! If I never saw Charles De Gaulle Terminals 2D, E and G again I’d be a very happy man. Modern travelling requires that you plan your outfit prior to your departure:

– What shoes to wear? The Acnes have those lovely metal bits on the shoelaces that set off the scan. Mmmmm, will most probably have to take them off. Which brings me to the sub-question:-

– What socks to wear? Make sure they’re decent (its almost like going on that first date where you’re hopeful that something might happen later, not that you’re that kind of girl but you never know what state of mind you’ll be in after a few too many GT’s, so best to prepare and pop on the “shag pants”, just in case.)

– Do I pack the shoe horn in my hand luggage just in case there isn’t one available? Those Acnes do need breaking in and thus require some amount of effort to put on. Decisions…

– Fuck it. Just go for the all white, All Star Converses then.

– What about beltage? Not the Margiela’s then. Those beautifully hefty buckles…

See what I mean? It’s hard work. And that’s before we get to what I refer to as Traveller’s Waltz, that pre-security striptease that separates the men from the boys, the experienced traveller from the novice. Simultaneously sliding off belt and jacket whilst elegantly urging hand luggage forwards with a gentle kick-push. All this done with the swanlike grace of Naomi Campbell doing one of her notorious nineties catwalk turns…

Ah ya yay! Drama!

Cefalu, Sicily

Anyway, I digress. I went on a proper holiday for the first time in years this summer. After much umming and ahhing we decided on Sicily — a week in Palermo and the Gulf of Castellamare followed by a week on the island of Pantelleria, which is part of the Sicilian province of Trapani and is the closest point between Italy and Africa, sort of bang in the middle between Sicily and the coast of Tunisia.

More on Dirty P ,as I like to refer to Palermo later. For now, let us focus our gaze on that other P — Pantelleria.

Languidly stretched out in what seems to be a perpetual sunbathe, gentle waves lapping at her feet and cool winds providing the occasional respite from the scorch, Pantelleria is quite small and it takes about forty five minutes to travel around it by car. The island is all that remains of a sunken volcanic rift resulting in a starkly beautiful landscape of rolling rivers crumbly black lava rock, vivid cactus greens and an endless oceanic stretch of azure. Exotic and strangely lunar.

We stayed in what is called a “dammuso” — traditional huts crafted out of local volcanic rock that belie the north African influence — that overlooked the spectacular Lago Specchio di Venere, a huge saltwater thermal lake in a now-dormant crater. Its a jaw dropping sight the first time you see it, a turquoise disc glimmering in the sun. The lake is also famous for mud bathing – i fanghi . Slathering yourself in the dark, pungent, nutrient-rich clay and sunning yourself until you resemble a not-so-lithe Giacometti sculpture is at once hilarious and deeply soothing.

You will eat well. Very, very well. The local capers are a revelation when paired with tomatoes, potatoes, onion and olive oil. You will also sleep well. The island’s hard to reach location and lack of any real beaches means that it isn’t a tourist trap. Not, perhaps, ideal for a young family but perfect for a group of friends or couples looking to get some QT.

So, if you want to totally switch off, read a few books and recharge your batteries its definitely worth the visit. Oh, and you might get to spot Giorgio Armani going for a stroll in the town centre — he is one of the many celebrities that have summer homes there, attracted by its splendid isolation.

OK. There are enough street style blogs out there — who knew the streets were so stylish? Note to self: GO OUT MORE! Not to worry; things aren’t about to change round these parts. So he says before going all Hanneli on yo ass!

However, in response to my previous tut-tutting at Mr Jacobs-Louis — there goes my chance of ever working for him, ah, well!! — I thought I’d share with you these pictures of my cousin. Gorgeous, isn’t she? And the dress!!!  As fresh and cooling as a tall glass of something naughty by the pool. You know, its amazing how something so simple, easy and not at all expensive can pack such a punch. Just a printed cotton dress. Amazing print, though.

I was just totally inspired by her natural sense of ease and style. No air-brushing or knowing, I’m-gonna-do-my -best-Freja pose. No terrible weaves [check out Zina Saro-Wiwa’s inspiring piece for the New York Times on the subject of black women “Transitioning” to natural hair. Click here], no make up, hair beautifully sculpted into a bun, minimum accessories — you can just about make out her printed canvas bag which contrasts beautifully with the blues.

Fresh.

It does make you wonder, doesn’t it? Enjoy_

I really like the tone of red — a weird kind of terracotta — coming through the washed out aqua. It’s quite unexpected but works. The dirty greeny-yellow of the window blind in the second picture makes the mix even more interesting. Its just one of many unusual colour combinations that I came across on my recent trip to the Motherland. Every corner you turned down held a new surprise. Beautiful.

I apologize, once again!

No excuses this time. The Lazy Blogger has sunk further into languor’s apathetic embrace. Well, new year, new beginnings, and all that.

It so happens that I’ve been home. Real home, the Motherland, so to speak. I’ll keep the name of this country anonymous – let’s just say that its somewhere in West Africa. It’d been so long since I last went that I got scared of going – a vicious cycle that kept on spiralling out of control. The longer I left it, the more scared I got. How stupid of me. I had the best time EVER. Don’t get me wrong, it was a shock to the system but it was exactly what I needed. There’ll be more on this later but I’ll leave you with a few images till the next time I check in. 

I’m not promising anything. It might be a while…!

 

TTFN. LFN

 

 

 

 


 

Forgot about this one. I took it in a nightclub/ theatre in the Pigalle. It was at a BBB [Black, Blanc, Beur] party.  Can’t remember the actual name of the club. Anyway, BBB keeps changing location every week, Its held now at a club off the ChampsÉlysées.

Anyhow, had a crazy Vodka-infused night there a few weekends ago. Verdict on new location: Nah. Or maybe I’m just getting too old for this sort of thing.

 


Soft_

A few posts back I mentioned that I had been to Cyprus. About 15 years ago I promised a friend that I would design her wedding dress. Earlier this year I got The Call.


1. Pen to Paper

It was an open brief. I had total freedom. The thing with wedding dresses, especially if you know the bride quite well, an image immediately forms in your mind. You intuitively know what sort of dress she’ll want.

6th sense, maybe.

I knew this bride quite well. Knew her enough to know that she wanted something sexy but simple.

She didn’t want the usual Turkish bride get up – all pouffy satin meringue, evening gloves (even in 36∘+ weather!), and a bit too much sparkle. She wanted to stand out in her simplicity.

She wanted to show the locals how its done. She’s a high-flying exec for BMW after all.

At our first meeting I teased her that I’d done Sweet F A. That “I had a vision”. She looked quite worried and wondered if this was a good idea after all…

I then pulled out a series of sketches, inspirational images and swatches all lovingly bound and tied together with a vintage grosgrain ribbon.

This was going to be fun.

I explained that this was only a departure. The actual dress wouldn’t really start to take form until after the first fitting. I warned her not to get her hopes up just yet. The first toile was going to leave a lot to be desired. It would be a way to start playing with silhouette and working on the corset.

She wanted to exaggerate her waist. And wanted to look as slim as possible. Fair enough. If you’re going to drop a few grand you most definitely want more than a few inches dropped.

I felt quietly confident.


2. The Process.

I think we had about 6 fittings all together. She kept losing weight and we kept on cinching the corset in further.

At the first fitting I basically threw out all the previous ideas. Initially I’d been feeling for drape. It seemed more appropriate to do a modern take on a vintage-y dress.

STRUCTURE.

Inside out corset in silk faille with organza and chiffon finishings that had been left raw. And a layered skirt in washed silk chiffon – to take away some of the preciousness and give the fabric a softer handle – with an insert of sun ray pleats at the front and a train made entirely out of pleated chiffon panels. Or maybe washed organza.

The dress was a technical nightmare. My cutter/machinist – who’s an incredible craftsman that works with labels like Alexander McQueen and Roland Mouret – was put through the paces! Four layers of chiffon. No, two of chiffon, two of satin, shiny sides facing each other. No, two chiffon, two tulle, one satin… It went on.

She wanted the dress “to sway”.

And that sodding train! The pleats kept collapsing inward. She wanted it super long but the pleaters couldn’t pleat panels that big.

In the end I had a Eureka!! moment, one of many, and decided that we do concentric layers of pleats that would allow us to get the desired length of train.


3. The Last Stand.

I didn’t get to see the final dress in the flesh. I was in Italy for work.

We did the final fitting via Skype.

I was a bit fresh from knocking back the contents of the minibar. She seemed happy with it. It fitted well – as well as I could tell from the fuzzy screen. The train worked.

I took the dress with me to Cyprus along with those of the four bridesmaids. If anything happened to me or my luggage en route…



4. The Dress

Doesn’t Fit.

I arrive in Cyprus. Fine. I unpack the dress. Miraculously uncreased. Fine. We try on the dress. Not fine. It will only close up halfway up the back.

Shit. F*ck! Definitely not fine.

My friend’s practically in tears. The bridesmaids want to drag me through hot coals and then slowly peel off my skin.

“Its your job to make it fit!!!!”

I feel like the most useless designer in the world. There is nothing we can do. I need a moment. I need three cans of beer, a couple of G&Ts and a pack or two of Marlboro Lights to think this one through.

We can’t alter the dress. Too complicated. No fabric. And without my trusty cutter I wont let anyone touch it. There has to be a way. What the f*ck went wrong?


EUREKA!!!!

God bless her. She came

to my rescue yet again….

The spare buttons!

This could work. Surely it must. The button flap on the outer corset to protect it from the zip of the inner corset. If I could stitch the extra buttons along the edge of the flap it might just give me enough to close the dress. Just about….

I have the exact amount of spare buttons that I need. 15.

We try the dress on again. My idea might work. Might…. I feel sick.

The following day I get sewing. This better work. The wedding’s the next day.

I hate sewing.


Cluck, cluck. The Night of The Hens. We bump into 90s house and garage supremo The Artful Dodger.

Re re-wind, when the crowd say,

Bo, selecta!


5. The Long Walk.

The day of the wedding. It’s boiling. Everyone seems calm but I know that we’re all on edge. Will the dress fit?

It does!!! F*ck, it DOES!

Instead of tracing her spine the buttons now form an elongated “Y”. Almost like tuning fork. Cute.

A Design Detail, darlings!

I am shaking, verging on being emotional.

And I never cry.

This has quite possibly been one of the most stressful things I have ever done.

We are one hour late for the wedding although I think that was pre-planned.

That girl wanted to walk up that aisle, outdoors, the sea to the right, the mountains to the left and the sun just setting.

She knew what she was doing…

My hands were still shaking. I’ll post better pics of the dress when I get the professional pics.

My hands are still shaking.

P.S.

She looked bloody GORGEOUS!!!

Job well done?  ✔

HELL, yeah!

Time flies, doesn’t it?

Been a busy bee this end, even though the photo above might suggest otherwise. Yes the words beach, pool and scorching heat ring true but so do chiffon, button-sewing, panic and nervous sweat. Will explain later. Been busy alright.  I’ll leave you with this image taken at Larnaca Airport in Southern Cyprus – I never knew they did airports as well…

This one’s for “B”

This might gross you out. You might want to look away…

Exhibit A

In Paris again. I was sat outside Le Centenaire the other night, a little bistro on the corner of Oberkampf and Amelot, with a friend, having dinner, drinking, smoking. The city is slowly getting back on its feet after its August summer sabbatical, unwillingly so, perhaps, stretching, yawning and mourning the death of its suntan.

Anyway, I noticed the bump on my friend’s hand, jutting out just where wrist meets palm. She’s a cool chick. Works in fashion as a print and textiles designer. She explained that bump had formed over years of mouse-abuse, hunched over a computer screen, churning out those very lovely drawings one after the other. Such a lovely girl she is, my friend. But such an ugly… protrusion.

Mind you, who am I to talk? Witness Exhibit B below_

Exhibit B

Oh, yes, I sport my own unsightly bump on the middle finger of my right hand. Years of sketching out all those lovely frocks. Its getting bigger… I wonder if when some future archeologist digs up our bodies, hundreds of years from now, that they’ll be able to guess what we did from our gradually deformed appendages and arched backs? Shudder.

Dont even get me started on the weird carbuncles and bunions that plague my fashion girlfriends. Chloe and Balenciaga have a lot to answer for.  A LOT.