Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On writing...

Like prophets and seers, writers are driven by a force, an irresistible desire to give to the inner impulses, the material form of sound, colour and word.

This desire cannot be held back by laws, traditions, or religious restrictions.

The song that must be sung will be sung; and if banned, they will hum it; and if humming is banned, they will dance it; and if dancing is banned, they will sing it silently to themselves or to the ears of those near, waiting for the appropriate moment to explode.

Professor Ngugi wa Thiong'o
In his address to The South African Literary Awards

xxx elle

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dennis Was Here

Truth be told, I was a little taken aback by Mick Pedroli's appearance, as Mr Nielson better known as Sid, and I ran towards 18 Folgate Street Spitalfields in a last hour bid to see Dennis Severs House!

There he was standing casually at the black front door, grinning happily at us in his shorts and t-shirt. And who could blame him on such a glorious summer's day. He wasn't to know that I was expecting a more Hogarthian character, someone at least in 18th Century garb to answer the door!

Within just a few minutes of his delightful introduction we were opening it, and stepping into the compelling world of the Jervis family.

'Ssshh' I whispered to Mr Nielson  as we stood on the landing, allowing our eyes to adjust to the candle-lit gloom, for the house is best seen and felt in silence.

Only then do you truly 'hear' it whisper to you all its secrets.

Dennis Severs wanted his guests to feel as if they had stepped into a painting with 'a time and life all of it's own.'

And he did everything he could to help that painting come to life.

In one room the clock ticks quietly, whilst voices can be heard murmuring from another. Sounds of street life seem to be coming from outside, along with the clatter of passing carriages.

Bowls of half eaten food hint at a meal interrupted, and crumpled sheets suggest a bed newly vacated.

Although you never get to see this family of Huguenot silk weavers, evidence of the rich fabric of their life begins to take root in your imagination.

It's just as Dennis wished it.

And although he passed away in 1999, he lives on here along with the enchantment he created.

Mick Pedroli sees to that.

Making sure everyday that the beds are crumpled just so, the flowers fresh, fires stoked, the unfinished rolls still crusty.

And then it is you, who steps into the quiet, into the warm smokey light to breathe into it new life.

Let the magic begin...

PS: The ultimate way to see the house in all its dramatic splendor is at night on a private tour. Go here now and Mick will arrange it.

xxx elle

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Where the dogs are

 On the streets of Manhattan, clearly.

Everywhere we went we were reminded of our boy Baxter, who was causing havoc at the Dog sitter's house by all accounts.

Hounds, big and small with owners alike...

We were constantly enchanted.

And entertained...

But the eccentrics in prams that we found on the streets of Toronto, well they were the cat's meow!

xxx elle

impossible conversations

In the 1930's, a column by Miguel Covarrubia's in Vanity Fair explored imaginary conversations between public personas with polar ideologies. Inspired by these dialogues, Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton curated the Schiaparelli to Prada exhibition currently showing at The Met as an illuminating discourse between these two fashion greats.

In a space that even with the curious crowds feels hallowed-like, faceless mannequins stand adorned in glorious splendour.  

Objects of desire, constructed from the finest threads of imagination and intent...

They create a visual dialogue between the past and present that is exciting, intelligent and relevant.

Baz Luhrman's taped interviews with Muiccia Prada and actress Judy Davis who steps in for the more theatrical Elsa Schiaperelli, create a dramatic ever present voice over to the scholarly procession.

The often opposing points of departure are an ode to history. Schiaperelli focuses on the upper body which is most often exposed as society woman gather in the cafes and at dinner tables of her day. Prada is drawn to the lower body, no doubt the influence of a more earthy experience of hippie roots.

Both explore the wide range of the couture, from the serious and sleek to what is known in 'fashionese' as  the more playful 'naif-chic' with it's charming whimsy.

Schiaperelli gains the upper hand for me. Her surreal creations triumph, and leave one thinking for a long time about a hat that is a shoe ,and her flesh-coloured 'tears dress' with it's printed slashes and rips designed by Salvador Dali.

Lady Gaga must swoon at the sight of a black and white photo of that 'Lobster dress', all white silk with an assault of red lobster down it's front.

It's no wonder that the beautiful Marisa Berenson has such a sense of grace and style: Marisa and her sister wore matching ruby red dresses with shocking pink ribbons at the waist, designed by their grandmother for a photo shoot for Elle magazine when Marisa was five years old. It was her first cover, and with such a genetic advantage the first of many.

Later in the day, as Erin and I played in the shoe department of Saks on 5th Avenue, Erin got to try on some Prada shoes.

A girl could take flight in a pair of these...

xxx elle