Tuesday, 29 January 2008

The Staple - The Age of Enchantment at Dulwich Picture Gallery


As last week’s Extra helping of Stapling went so well, here’s another. This weekend, with my lovely parents down for a couple of days, we decided to go to Dulwich Picture Gallery to see an exhibition on the ‘Golden Age of Illustration’. And it was one of the best exhibitions I’ve ever seen. I’ve been a fan of Dulac’s illustrations for a while now, but for me it was the intricate, miniature and trippy pen-and-ink Beardsleys that were the highlight. The one pictured above was described as a portrait of the Abbé, drawn "to represent the heady lines of the true aesthete: 'The place where he stood waved drowsily with strange flowers, heavy with perfume, dripping with odours. Gloomy and nameless weeds, not to be found in Mentzelius. Huge moths, so richly winged they must have banqueted upon tapestries and royal stuffs, slept on the pillars and flanked either side of the gateway, the eyes of all the moths remained open and were burning and bursting with a mesh of veins.'" The rest of the gorgeous illustrations were accompanied by similarly poetic, beautiful and adjective-heavy prose. Truly one of the loveliest collections I've ever encountered, in the positively idyllic setting of Dulwich village, I can't recommend it highly enough. Get yourself down there before it ends on 17 February, it's well worth the trip, especially in the company of one's aesthetically-appreciating parents...

Monday, 28 January 2008

The Staple - Reiss Sale

Reiss and Pleased

So the sales are drawing to a close, and I must say I’ve had a pretty good sale-shopping season this year; a plentiful haul, all at less than half-price. My favourite bargains (before this weekend) are some black Energie jeans for £23 and my gorgeous patent leather ankle boots from Russell & Bromley, down from nearly 200 quid to £69. Unsated, I decided in my post-Birthday party hungover-funk to venture to the Liberty sale. Nothing whatsoever, well at least nothing of a reasonable price – I love the Dior white jazz derby shoes, but they’re still £139, and the Kris van Assche knitwear, which is reduced, but still £150-odd. So I left empty-handed (though severely nursing a need to buy the entire Dries van Noten SS08 collection) and headed to Reiss - which is a goldmine this time of year. I picked up a pair of burgundy jeans (shamelessly 'inspired' by my mate Ross) for £20. And a gorgeous midnight blue pure wool jumper for £20. And a couple of scarves – one huge and woolly, the other smarter and aubergine - down from a collective price of £100 (for 2 scarves!) for under £25. The key with sale-shopping at this time of year is shamelessness. Many friends, countrymen and fellow-bloggers have decried rooting around in sale buckets, but I absolutely love it – it makes shopping more of an adventure; a real treasure hunt. And while there’s not always a high success rate, the feeling of walking out of a high-quality shop with your bag of lovely swag - having saved nearly £200 - is incomparable. Get yourself down there and have a rummage; now is the time. Other Staples this week:
End-of-Sale bargains from Reiss
Camino Spanish bar in King’s Cross
Lightspeed Champion’s album ‘Falling off the Lavender Bridge’
Drinking Pisco Sours
Konstam at The Prince Albert restaurant
Afternoon naps

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The Staple - Triple Tremendous Tube Challenge


This week, it's a double-bill of Stapling. I spent this Saturday playing the most fantastic game. Last year, some fantastic friends of mine put together a Monopoly board-based game, whereby a big group of us split up into teams and travelled across London doing rather odd challenges. On Vine Street, we hid in plastic bins and shot a video. I, predictably, got stuck, and the following hilarity won some points. One of my mates had to do a somersault on the trampolines at the Trocadero. We collected flyers, photos, and other random objects to get more points. Much to our surprise, we won. And it had been genuinely one of the best days I've ever had in London. So when this year's was announced, I was unbelievably excited. Despite going to bed at some ungodly hour of the morning and getting to London Bridge for 12 (where we demanded they open the pub), I was possibly the most excited I've ever been. The game followed a similar format this year of running around London doing mental stuff - digging up Green Park, finding out obscure knowledge, lying in the street imitating dying horses and vets, stealing flowers from the Ritz, playing 'bus darts' , buying tourist tat, taking silly photos at every available opportunity and spelling out our team name with a different shot at every stop. Saturday was one of the most exciting, interesting and superlative days I've ever had in London, and I want to thank Kev and Tom for organising one of the highlights of my year. Even if the defending champions only came 10th out of 14. But it didn't matter; it genuinely was the taking part that counted, seeing stuff in London, like Buckingham Palace, that you never normally would. Never mind, there's always next year...and if it's even half as good as this year, then I cannot wait. Literally, I cannot wait. This is an absolute Staple.

The Staple - Tom Ford Fragrance

Scents and the City

Loathe as I am to have another bottle of alcohol as a Staple, this is a completely different type, and whatever - it's my birthday. Back in the halcyon days of being Down and Out in Paris, I spent a day with my fabulous friend Anna in Sephora on the Champs-Elysées, testing basically all of the men's fragrances. After several hours of olfactory cogitation (yes, we were very bored, and VERY poor), the conclusion was that the only ones worth getting were Chanel's Platinum Egöiste and an old Givenchy one that I've forgotten the name of. Then along came Prada's 'intellectual' scent, which I found on a holiday to Italy, as my first (and only) purchase from the Milanese branch of Miuccia's emporium. This year, the scent's Ford, Tom Ford. Like Amaretto, it's a gorgeous amber colour, but in a ribbed glass bottle with a gold label. It's got a certain luxe even before you spray the first richly scented cloud of wood-smoked, cinnamonny and almost citrus-infused scent, which is luscious and, in my mind at least very Christmassy - damp logs, holly and sticky pine; cloves, blood oranges and black pepper Molton Brown shower gels. Describing a scent usually descends into this adjective-heavy style, and although the only way to experience it is to wear it yourself, some pointers help. Especially as scent is so subjective, and so personal. But for me, this year is the year of old school Hollywood glamour, Tom Ford style. Other Staples this week include:
Tom Ford for Men fragrance
Bishop's Hand card game
The Washington pub in Primrose Hill
The film 'Ronin'
A silk scarf (always useful)
Narrow-legged black jeans Satsuma Japanese restaurant in Soho

Monday, 14 January 2008

The Staple - Amaretto

Another Amber Nectar

Following last week's organisation drive, it seems I'm going to have a busy couple of weeks ahead. At this stage (10pm on a Monday night) it's time for a chilled out evening. I can't quite remember what I was going to Staple this week, it's been troubling me all day in fact - it might have been a CD or a book; maybe even Carluccio's or my new Klingon phone - but then I realised that a recent new favourite is this lovely liqueur. Now Amaretto has a bit of a bad reputation; it's very sweet, and often drunk by grannies. However, just recently, it's become my absolute Staple for a quiet, civilised drink. It's like whisky for the youthful (and untrained) palate, and I suppose my enjoyment of it does come down to my very poorly hidden sweet tooth. One day, I will be a whisky-drinker, but until that day comes, I have Amaretto - it has the same aura of complete relaxedness about it, it's great after a post-dinner coffee, or as an aperitif, with a single icecube. It also dates from as far back as 1525. I think the best thing about it is that, even as I write this, I can't make up my mind if this spirit is a guilty, dirty pleasure that I should be ashamed of, or a real, primal and fulfilling one. In my mind, this conflict represents a true Staple; like listening to a favourite song repeatedly (Roll Deep's 'Shake A Leg' rings a bell) or wearing a £3 Primark tshirt that always gets compliments; something that you're pleased with on several levels. This means it's indispensable. An absolut Staple. Along with other Staples this week:
DiSaronno Amaretto
Greek Mythology
Nokia 7900 Prism with 'The Antiques Roadshow' ringtone
The Cross Kings pub in King's Cross
Making a well thought-out compilation CD
A vintage Zegna cableknit cricket jumper
The Fly magazine

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

The Staple - Notebook

Mister Lister

"You don't get anything done without a list." The sage words of my Dad to me as I explained that I'd spent the weekend having a constructive time doing little jobs I'd been intending to do for ages. And he's so right. In order to remember things, I have to have lists - for work, for music, for clothes, for stuff - it helps me to organise and make things happen. I carry a notebook everywhere (this one's almost over; there's a much nicer Moleskine on standby), both to remind me and to store more things on. Not only does this mean that I can always remember what I need to, but it means I never walk into a record store without getting something I actually want, rather than a hasty impulse buy (impulse buys are great, but must be curbed this year), and the lists also force me to do more difficult stuff that I'd rather put off so I have the satisfaction of crossing it off the list. The most useful part of listing is that once it's been written down, the information is sorted on the list and not in my head, leaving me free to write, have fun and generally daydream until I feel the need to be useful. I know this sort of anal listing malarkey won't work for everyone, but the idea of being organised and motivated is essential to having a good time; it is a Staple in that it takes care of the essentials; essentials we will all have to do in the first week of the 'New Year, New You' self-help bollocks stage of the year where everyone has good intentions. And while you might not get anything done without a list, with one you'll certainly have more time to do what you want. Happy New Year! Other Staples this week include:
A listbook
Short-sleeved knitwear from the B store sale, (preparing for SS08)
'Pyongyang' by Guy Delisle
Lancashire cheese
M&S socks and underwear
Short hair

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

The Staple - Woolly Hat

Feeling Hat, Hat, Hat

After the civility of Christmas, what could follow but a huge warehouse party blowout for NYE? I'd never been 'out' out on New Year's Eve before, preferring the relative inexpense and sanity of a good house party. However, with no work on the 1st, and an offer of free guestlist to an East London party in a couple of astroturf pitches off Liverpool St., I couldn't resist. A brilliant time was had, I wore some of my fantastic new sale bargains (Judy Blame for Superfine tshirt, narrow black Energie jeans) and a jester mask which I bought for a masked ball in Milan. Complete partymode then took over until my mate Martin and I stumbled onto the tube at 9.30am. The only things that I felt alive in were my sunglasses and this woolly hat. It's now my second (the other one was lost on a video shoot), and from that Temple of Style, Burton. Its lovely and warm, and the peak keeps rain off my glasses. The wool itself is a lovely cableknit, and I think that it's an ideal winter hat - cosy but not too warm, decorative but not novelty. As has been noted by several of my friends and fellow bloggers, men's hats seem to have died a death. And though this is not exactly Jean-Paul Belmondo's fedora, the peak is a start. One of my older uni lecturers pulled off a lovely fedora with a navy raincoat, which is a look I aspire to, and as the year goes on, I think I will be on the hunt for an appropriate hat to see me through the warmer months. For now though, this is going everywhere with me. Other Staples this week include:
Tiger of Sweden menswear
Taittinger champagne
d_store in Leeds
Sale black patent leather ankle boots (as inspire by StyleSalvage)
Takeaway pizza
The Shins' album, 'Wincing the Night Away'
Quiet time at work