Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Things to See: Watteau - The Drawings at the Royal Academy of Arts

If you're going to be out and about in London in the next week or so, you'll be just in time to catch the Royal Academy of Arts' special exhibition of the drawings of eighteenth century Rococo artist, Jean-Antoine Watteau. Largely known for his painterly skill, Watteau also worked in graphite and chalk on paper, sometimes using a starkly limited colour pallette of black, red and white crayon to create drawings of incredible depth and tone. He referred to these sketches when painting, having them bound into volumes as a constant source of reference and inspiration.

My own first experience of the Royal Academy was on a school excursion, aged 15, and it's been a favourite stop-off ever since, both for contemporary and retrospective exhibitions in the beautiful, light-filled setting of Burlington House. 

Watteau: The Drawings runs until Sunday 5th June. Ticket and booking information can be found here.

All images courtesy of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Audrey Style

It's fair to say that I'm an Audrey Hepburn fanatic - a great admirer of her work, her style, but most of all, the lady herself. Needless to say then, that this month's cover of Tatler magazine caught my eye...

Actress Lily Collins (daughter of Phil Collins) has been given an Audrey style makeover by the Tatler team, and the results are beautifully striking, not only on the nautically themed cover, but throughout the whole shoot.

Taking the essence of Audrey's look in the film Roman Holiday (although the setting has changed from central Rome to beach riviera), the shapes are sharp 50s style - nipped in at the waist and out at the hips with dashes of colour .

The neckerchief and flat sandals are also borrowed from Roman Holiday, although Lily's mode of transport is a bicycle, not riding pillion aboard a moped with Gregory Peck. The Audrey-channelling is all in the details...

Capri trousers, sculpted eyebrows and a cropped fringe - even a Yorkshire Terrier appears in the shoot (Audrey's Yorkshire Terrier, Mr. Famous, was a constant presence by her side for years, even appearing with in one scene of the film, Funny Face).

The shoot is an affectionate nod to Hepburn-glamour; pure eye candy with well thought out details...

Lily Collins manages to balance the elegance and cheekiness of Audrey with ease, making for a truly beautiful shoot that's full of summer. 

Images courtesy of

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

She Wore It Well

It was a bright, blustery day on Friday the 29th April - a perfect day for the Union Jack flags and bunting displayed around the country, fluttering in the breeze and marking the occasion: Miss Catherine Middleton married her Prince in a ceremony that captured the world's imagination. 

Official photograph: Catherine and William and attendants.

And oh, the dress! The best kept secret in couture was finally revealed, and as I sat there, confidently asserting to my boyfriend that the bride would not choose McQueen, I was proved totally wrong. I had been saying it for weeks - even wrote it to my friend Ingrid at Fashion is My Muse.Miss Middleton would not wear McQueen, I said, because it was much too avant-garde a choice for a royal-to-be. 

I'm honestly very happy to be wrong! I nearly choked on my tea when the announcement was made, but with such a dress as it was, how could anyone fail to be enchanted? Sarah Burton, designing for the Alexander McQueen label, could not have done a more perfect job.

From top-to-toe, Catherine exuded radiant charm. A waist-length, single layer tulle veil, hand embroidered at the edges, covered her face. It has been reported that the bride chose to apply her own make-up of natural pink lips and cheeks, topped with strongly kohl-lined eyes. The veil initially covered the tiara, also widely speculated upon. In the end, the choice was a 1936 Cartier tiara - a gift from the Queen Mother to the Queen on her 18th birthday. Catherine's ears sparkled with diamond oak-leaf earrings (designed by her mother, and presented as a gift from her father).

Sarah Burton adjusts the bridal train.

In basic form, the bridal gown was a strapless corset and A-Line skirt padded at the hips and bottom, which showed off Catherine's narrow waist. On top of this was the lace over-bodice, created by the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace, and in a symbol of the British union, the floral design was one of roses (England), daffodils (Wales), shamrocks (Northern Ireland) and thistles (Scotland). The train, at three metres, was modest by Princess Diana standards, but perfect as it slithered over the gorgeous floor of Westminster Abbey. The shoes, although largely unseen, were also specially made by Sarah Burton for McQueen - ivory satin courts with a two-inch heel. 

While a McQueen creation, the gown had none of the high-fashion quirkiness of catwalk couture. Quite simply, it was a brilliant collaboration, with Sarah Burton's skill and vision complimenting the wishes and choices of a radiant bride to perfection. It was demure but sexy, modest but dramatic, and a determined showcase of British craftsmanship and symbolism.


It was a event in which the joy of one couple in love reflected onto those who watched. It was a day of endless red-white-and-blue, and it made me smile all day long.

Images courtesy of The Daily Mail and The Telegraph.