A Moxie Fashionista takes fashion by the balls and makes it her own.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Awesome Chick: Shirley Manson of Garbage

Do you all remember the 90's and the rock'n attitude, the mini dresses and boots, the grunge, the fishnets and the awesome alternative/grunge band Garbage? Shirley Manson was and still is the frontwoman of the band, and has become a face of 90's alternative with her moxie style, fierce, seductive attitude and doll-like looks. She has caught my attention.

Girlfriend loves tights and boots!

In an A.L.C. striped silk dress.

With her Garbage bandmates at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards

With Gwen Stafani in 1996 at the KROQ Weenie Roast.

Modeling Oliver People's sunglasses for the 2010 Resort Collection with Elijah Wood

Modeling Oliver People's sunglasses for the 2010 Resort Collection with Elijah Wood

Normally I can match a dress to a celebrity the moment I see it on the runway, which also helps me memorize runway looks.

This Marchesa Spring 2010 embroidered black tulle gown with draped sleeves looks like it was made for Shirley Manson, despite that fact that I would never have consider her for this stunning gown.

The singer gives the gown a romantic Gothic vibe I don’t believe Georgina Chapman was going for, but Shirley really works this look.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Hear Bill Murray Read Poems by Billy Collins and Cole Porter

Who wants some Bill Murray? I sure as hell do.

This year, he flew in from filming for Wes Anderson’s new movie Moonrise Kingdom to join the 16th annual Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge. He read poems by Sarah Manguso, Cole Porter, and Billy Collins.


LeBron Jame's Face Catalogued

You NEED to look at this piece, in which LeBron James’s attitude throughout the NBA Finals is chronicled in facial expressions. It’s brilliant.


The Latest News on John Galliano

John Galliano arrives at French court on June 22nd. He spoke through a French interpreter, as John Galliano is British.

Before you all read this, I want to make my opinion known. In no way do I condone John Galliano for his remarks and behavior and I do not think his addictions are an excuse, but I do believe he was shit faced drunk. Out of his mind drunk, wasted...gone. He spattered out horrible things like many other drunk people do. We all have seen drunk people, and they do and say stupid shit. Regrettable, despicable things. I do not think his career should be over because of this. I love his work and think he is a genius. He needs help first and foremost. But I do not think he should never design again. I mean, have you seen his work? It's beautiful, brilliant and so Christian Dior. http://www.style.com/fashionshows/complete/F2011RTW-CDIOR

He made Charlize Theron even more gorgeous:

Now for the news:

Fashion designer, and former head designer of Christian Dior John Galliano told a Paris court on Wednesday that he was so out of control on drugs and alcohol he does not recall hurling anti-Semitic insults at strangers in a bar earlier this year.

Looking thinner than in his last public appearance, Galliano arrived in a hushed courtroom wearing long sandy hair, his trademark razor-thin mustache and leather trousers, prepared to defend himself against charges of anti-Semitic behavior.

He stood as a judge read out charges against him and repeated statements he allegedly made in an incident in Paris on Feb. 24, including "dirty Jewish face", "f-king Asian bas-d I will kill you", and "f-king ugly Jewish b-h"

Asked whether he remembered the insults, Galliano said: "I don't remember very well ... I have no recollection."

"I have a triple addiction," he added. "Alcohol, sleeping pills and Valium."

Galliano's career is in tatters. He was fired from fashion house Dior in March, after a video posted online showed him drunkenly telling a woman he loved Hitler and saying her parents might have been gassed in a Nazi death camp.

French police first questioned the British designer in February after a couple accused him of hurling racist abuse at them on the terrace of a cafe.

Designer Galliano Says He Can't Recall Speaking Slurs

Published: June 22, 2011

PARIS — In a halting voice, John Galliano, the fallen star designer of the fashion house of Dior, defended himself Wednesday against hate-crime charges by insisting he could not remember spewing anti-Semitic insults in a Parisian bar because of drug and alcohol addictions.

Mr. Galliano, 50, appeared in court wearing a subdued charcoal jacket and open-necked shirt, speaking with the aid of a French interpreter who was replaced by Mr. Galliano’s lawyer when the translator had trouble understanding the English-speaking designer.

“I have addictions, I am recovering from addictions and I am still in treatment,” Mr. Galliano said as he stood facing a panel of three judges. Under questioning, he said his addictions to alcohol, sleeping pills and Valium were a crutch to cope with extreme work pressures and financial crisis.

“The drinking started in a cyclical way. After every creative high I would crash,” Mr. Galliano said, adding that the death of a friend and key aide, along with work pressures, exacerbated his drinking.

“Dior is a big machine and I didn't want to lose Galliano,” he said of his own label, which is majority owned by Dior. He complained about suffering panic attacks as he struggled to raise new revenues for his brands for everything from children’s underwear to menswear.

For the one-day trial, the judges evaluated testimony of about a half-dozen witnesses and watched a grainy, 45-second cellphone video that shows Mr. Galliano speaking in a slurred voice. The witnesses testified about two incidents, in October and February, both at a bar in the Marais, La Perle. The video, which involves a third dispute that was not part of the trial, was allowed as evidence.

The actual crime of which he stands accused — public insults about religion, race, or ethnicity — ordinarily ensnares far-right politicians with a clear ideology. The crime carries a penalty of up to six months in prison and a fine of €22,500, or $32,400, though usually the maximum fine is not imposed. As the trial still continuing into the evening, it was unclear when a verdict would be issued.

Despite the attention surrounding his trial, the John Galliano label will go ahead with plans to stage a show Friday of his menswear line for Paris fashion week, which also began on Wednesday.

But for Mr. Galliano, there was no red carpet on Wednesday, just the bare parquet floor in a wood-paneled French courtroom, where a young couple in their 30s testified in detail about their encounter with Mr. Galliano at La Perle, a clash that ultimately resulted in his being fired by Dior.

Mr. Galliano insisted that he had no recollection of the venomous language that witnesses described, or of the comments he made in the 45-second video, which had been widely circulated online, showing Mr. Galliano slurring his words and declaring, among other things, “I love Hitler.”

“He had different expressions, dirty Jew, Dirty Jewish face,” recalled Geraldine Bloch, an art curator whose visit to the bar exploded into a 45-minute encounter with Mr. Galliano in late February.

“At a certain point, he told us to leave because he said I was in his bar and his neighborhood. He finished by saying, ‘I am John Galliano,”’ she said, noting that he also peppered his comments with observations about her hair and what he called her “revolting” eyebrows and boots.

After the video was viewed in court on a wide screen, Mr. Galliano stood and faced the judges and spoke about himself, sometimes in the third person.

“I never had these views all my life,” he said. “These are not the sentiments of John Galliano.”

Ultimately, Mr. Galliano apologized for his behavior, including the video and the dispute with the couple. He said that he himself had faced discrimination for being gay.

“On the video, I see someone who needs help and is very vulnerable,” he said. “It’s the shell of John Galliano.”

Dubbed fashion’s bad boy for his flamboyant and provocative style, Mr. Galliano had helped to energize Dior since he joined in 1996 as creative director, increasing sales and making it one of the jewels of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton luxury empire, run by the billionaire Bernard Arnault.

Yet in court, that flamboyance had vanished. He spoke so quietly that the judge pushed him several times to speak into a microphone.

For every witness who declared a list of insults, he responded in a tired voice that he could not remember.

“I was in denial,” he said. “I was taking all those pills and alcohol. I was in complete denial. I am still in recovery. But I am feeling much better.”

The hearing, which started about 4 p.m. and continued for more than four hours, also included witnesses who said they had not heard any anti-Semitic remarks made by Mr. Galliano. One supportive witness was an English-language teacher.

Others have fashion industry ties — an American fashion student and a public relations employee who represents fashion firms.

At one point, the presiding judge, Anne-Marie Sauteraud, asked his current profession.

“I have none,” he said, almost inaudibly.

Then he issued a plea to the judge to take note of his work, inspired by his travel to diverse countries.

“I know what it feels to be discriminated against,” Mr. Galliano testified, noting that his real name is Juan and that his mother is Spanish. “We moved to south London when I was 6 years old and aware that I was gay. I was sent to a difficult English boys school and you can imagine that children can be cruel.”

Galliano Scandal Timeline:

Galliano was arrested and taken to a police station for a sobriety test, where he was found to be just over the legal limit. Police then escorted him to his home.

February 28, 2011: Galliano is been suspended from Dior. The designer visits a police station in Paris to answer questions about the incident. Just hours earlier, a video emerged of him apparently praising Hitler in a separate incident.

Another woman later comes forward to say she suffered a similar attack in October last year.

March 1, 2011: Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman, who is the face of Christian Dior's Miss Dior Cherie fragrance, issues a statement condemning Galliano over the video. "I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano's comments that surfaced today. In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr Galliano in any way. I hope at the very least, these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful."

Dior confirms that it has sacked Galliano in light of the video.

March 4, 2011: The Dior show goes ahead during Paris Fashion Week, without Galliano. Dior's CEO, Sidney Toledano, took to the stage before minutes before the curtains were raised to give a moving speech: "What has happened over the last week has been a terrible and wrenching ordeal for us all. It has been deeply painful to see the Dior name associated with the disgraceful statements attributed to its designer. However brilliant he may be." With Galliano gone, speculation then fell to who would replace him at the luxury house, with Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy, Haider Ackermann and Alber Elbaz of Lanvin all apparently in the frame April 15, 2011: things go from bad to worse for the disgraced designer after he is ousted by the board of his namesake label, 91 per cent of which is owned by Dior.

May 3, 2011: rumours circulate that Stephane Zerbib, Galliano's lawyer in the case, has quit; Zerbib had previously defended his client in an outspoken interview with an Israeli newspaper. However, a spokesman for Galliano issued a statement saying Zerbib was "dismissed as Monsieur Galliano's lawyer some weeks ago."

June 22: Galliano is due to face charges in a French court over the alleged racist tirades at a Paris bar, which the fallen designer will blame on drug and alcohol addiction. If found guilty, the 50-year-old couturier - considered one of the finest fashion designers of his generation - could face a sentence of six months in jail and a fine of 22,500 euros (£20,000).

Versace for H and M

I didn't get my hands on the Lanvin for H&M collection because it is at select H&M stores- not the ones at the mall- which is stupid. Most people shop a the mall. So have designer collaboration collections at H&Ms located in malls! Why should I have to drive to an H&M in Washington DC to get the new Versace for H&M collection? And probably see it sold out because I had to drive 30 minutes to get there! The collection with ONLY AT 300 stores. Probably sold out in a day... so get competitive!

I hope Donatella dives into the archives and sends out a "Gianni Versace Couture" from the late 80s to early 90s-inspired collection. It would be great to have the younger generation (whom I assume are big H&M fans) get a chance to wear tons of gold medusas, buckles and multi-color printed everything.

Versace has signed on to do H&M’s latest designer collaboration.

The collection will be big and include two rollouts, one on November 17 including men's, women's, and homewear, and another prespring collection on January 19. The line consists of "iconic" archive Versace pieces repurposed for H&M. More from H&M's press release:

The womenswear collection will be dominated by dresses that express the spirit of the season, featuring studded leather, silk and colorful prints, and accessories including high heels and costume jewelry. The men’s collection will focus on sharp tailoring, including the perfect tuxedo, as well as belts and jewelry for men. For the first time in a designer collaboration at H&M, the collection will include homeware pieces including pillows and bedspread.

“For me this is an opportunity to show to a very very big audience what Versace has been and what Versace is now,” designer Donatella Versace said in a video announcing the collaboration.

According to H&M creative adviser Margareta Van Den Bosch, the collection, which is comprised of 40 pieces for women and 20 for men as well as accessories, will look back at iconic pieces from the brand dating back to the ’80s.

“As a designer I look at the future–I never look at the past, but being the sister of Gianni, the DNA is Versace and I’m going to use iconic Versace pieces of iconic Versace moments which are not exactly always the past but also the present,” Donatella said.

And as if to prime the masses for an accessible vintage-leaning iconic Versace collection at H&M, Lady Gaga has been wearing only Gianni Versace to promote her new video, “Edge of Glory.” Good timing.

I think Donatella changed her attitude from 2008, when she declared she wouldn't do a line for H&M: http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2008/05/donatella_versace_wont_do_an_h.html

The collection is set to hit 300 H&M stores on November 19. Donatella has also designed a pre-spring collection for the Swedish retail giant, which will only be available in countries with H&M on-line sales starting on January 19.

The highlight of the Versace men's show at Milan Men's Fashion Week was not the striped booty shorts or pink suits, it was Donatella — but isn't she always the highlight, in a way? — taking her bow at the end wearing a Versace for H&M studded leather dress.

Sketches from Donatella Versace's Versace for H&M collection

Donatella Versace puts the finishing touches on one of her H&M looks.

The H&M collection will be full of "prints, color and exuberance," Versace said in a statement.

A studded shift dress from the Versace for H&M collection.

Men's looks will focus on sharp tailoring, and the collection will include a tuxedo.

Kate Middleton Denies Designer Freebies

Kate Middleton Won’t Accept Free Clothes, Is Striking ‘Private Agreements’ With Designers

Today in Kate Middleton wardrobe news, royal officials are decidedly being more tight-lipped about Kate Middelton’s fashion choices than almost anything else. The level of secrecy that surrounded her wedding dress was only the beginning.

As we’re sure you’ve heard, William and Kate are about to embark on a tour of North America—starting with Canada, followed by a trip to California. As usual, we’re all wondering what Kate is planning to wear to charm us North Americans at her many scheduled appearances. According to a spokesman for the couple quoted in a story about Prince William’s 29th birthday (happy bday!), it’s a secret, but she definitely will not be wearing anything that hasn’t been paid for. Like the American first lady to whom she has been compared on more than one occasion, Middleton “has a policy not to accept any free offers of clothing.” She also “will not receive any special clothing budget for the Canada and California tour.” However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the decidedly down-to-earth duchess will be wearing nothing but high street labels for her tour. According to People, she is striking “private agreements” with designers to “help build her tour wardrobe,” which presumably means that certain designers have been chosen to dress her (not for free) and those designers have been sworn to secrecy.

Somewhat related–William and Kate’s itinerary for Canada was just released via AP and it sounds like we’ll get to see Kate in much more casual fare than we’re used to, as planned activities include campfires, cooking workshops, a dragon boat race, a canoe trip, a barbecue and a rodeo, for which the couple “will be given 10-gallon cowboy hats and are expected to dress in jeans and casual western clothes for the extravaganza.”

We’ll especially be looking forward to the cowboy hat.

Would You Buy A Candle That Smells Like A Newspaper?

A New York Times Candle That Smells Like Newsprint

If you've kept around old issues of The New York Times because you kind of get off on the smell, don't worry, you're not (that) weird. A fellow newspaper addict, the now deceased designer-artist Tobias Wong, created The Times Of New York candle, a concept that's equal parts a tribute to the Grey Lady and a commentary on the fate of printed media. The scent is, in a word, newsy, with hints of guaiacwood, cedar, musk, spice, with "a powdery note and velvet nuance," meant to mimic the aroma of black ink on newsprint. Realized by Josée Lepage, the Creative Director of Bondtoo, the candle, made in a limited-edition run of 1,000, is available for $65 at Project No. 8 at Ace Hotel and Bondtoo.com. Your apartment's never smelled smarter.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

98% of Mexico Can't Afford Oscar de la Renta So Why Is He Their Poster Boy?

No Seriously You Guys, Oscar de la Renta is the Face of Mexico City

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
This morning, I got a brief announcement that Oscar de la Renta had been named the official tourism ambassador of Mexico City. Yeah, it didn't really make a lot of sense to me either, since de la Renta is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent and still holds very strong ties to the Dominican Republic, despite having renounced his citizenship in 1971. I just got the official Mexico City government agency press release on de la Renta's appointment, though, so I thought I'd share it with you. To be fair, the ambassadorship seems to be more of an award in recognition of de la Renta's achievements rather than a diplomatic or spokesperson-type post.

Oscar de la Renta received recognition today as Tourism Ambassador of Mexico City "in the hands of the Minister of Tourism, Alejandro Rojas Díaz Durán, who on behalf of the Head of Government, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, recognizing the career of fashion designer. Tourism Minister explained that the designer is "one of the titans of fashion" and a recognition of his career, he has held for several decades throughout the world, is the scroll that was given on behalf of the Head of Government. The famed designer Oscar de la Renta said, be very happy in Mexico City, said that all the inhabitants are very warm and mentioned that he longed to return to the capital of Mexico, which has known for many years. And he stressed that during a visit on Friday night at Garibaldi was splendid to meet up with mariachis, sing some songs and visit this landmark of the city square.

He said that many of the renowned Mexican artists and foreign use their designs, and stressed that since the seventies he began to make their designs with the goal of being the best in the continent. He acknowledged that one of his goals is to stay updated on any area and learn the changes of fashion. At a press conference held in a Havana hotel, acknowledged fashion designer in Mexico City feel peace, security and "the music of mariachis, to forget the fatigue." Accompanied by Secretary of Tourism, Alejandro Rojas Díaz Durán, Oscar de la Renta recalled that when he began his career in the United States believed that their nationality was Spanish or Italian by the name, however, said he was proud to be Dominican and to be Latino, deeming that the successes achieved in your life are the product of all Latinos. As a background to the catwalk fashion is now held in the Plaza de Toros Mexico, Oscar de la Renta accepted the award and said to be one of the admirers of the nation's capital, as well as heighten the Latin roots that bind all members of the continent.

At a press conference, Oscar touched on his career in the United States, deeming that regardless of his nationally, the successes achieved in his life are a product of all Latinos.

Wonder if this means he will make like Lagerfeld and take his next catwalk to the streets of Mexico City?

For even more adorableness and his trip to Mexico City, check out the video below! Oscar sings Bachata with Juan Luis Guerra in Mexico City.

According To New Study Brits Buy Half Their Weight In Clothes!

Clothes: Too much, too cheap

In an age of democratic dressing, when women buy 62lb of clothes a year and own at least 20 garments they never wear, Susannah Frankel argues that when it comes to fashion, less is more

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The new Prada shoe, the make-up at Balenciaga, the tights at Chanel, are common knowledge before the first designer outfit has even made it on to the runway


The new Prada shoe, the make-up at Balenciaga, the tights at Chanel, are common knowledge before the first designer outfit has even made it on to the runway

According to the environmental journalist Lucy Siegle, most women now buy half their bodyweight annually in clothes. The writer's new book, To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? (£12.99, Fourth Estate), states that the average female invests in 62lb of clothing each year, has upwards of 20 garments hanging in her wardrobe that she has never worn and owns four times the amount today than she did in 1980.

When a story written by Siegle for the Daily Mail to publicise the book was published at the end of last month, and then featured on the newspaper's website, it was met if not quite with howls of derision, then with a healthy dose of scepticism. Perhaps she's touched a nerve.

Siegle's figures are based on research conducted at Cambridge University into textile imports as opposed to sales, it was argued, and the two do not necessarily tally. It's safe to say, though, that any half-viable manufacturer is unlikely to over-estimate their fabric requirements on a grand scale – that is, throw away large amounts of investment – and stay in business for very long.

Equally contentious appeared to be the fact that women weigh approximately 124lb (8st 12lb) in the first place. Given that we are consistently informed that most of us are sized somewhere between a UK 14 and 16 this seems on the light side. The loaded nature of issues concerning both bodyweight and wardrobe expenditure make it far from surprising that this, in particular, saw eyebrows raised. Still, it's just an evocative gimmick, surely, and the principle behind it – that is, we buy a huge amount of clothing – holds water.

With this in mind, there's more. Women are expected to spend £133,640 in a lifetime on fashion. In 2007, three pairs of jeans were sold each second. Between 2001 and 2005, while spending on womenswear rose by 21 per cent, the price of individual items dropped by 14 per cent. And so forth.

Such facts and figures, for all Siegle's diligence – which is considerable – are unlikely to be wholly representative: statistics are statistics and the way in which we choose to digest them is clearly subjective. Having said that, we only have to look around us to see that there are more clothes and accessories available to buy both on the high street and in more upscale shopping destinations than ever. And we only have to observe the shopping patterns of colleagues, friends and family to know that, to varying degrees, we must be doing our bit to consume them. That much is clear.

But why?

For her part, Siegle is most vocal in the first place about the culture of celebrity endorsement. Until very recently, she claims, we were only interested in what celebrities wore on the red carpet or to a film premiere. Now, though, we are obsessed with their off-duty wardrobes too.

That is also true but celebrity endorsement has been around since the court of Marie Antoinette, the difference today is that far more of us can actually afford to emulate our idols, or we think we can at least – our bankers, struggling with burgeoning debt, might beg to differ. Where we used to look on in spellbound wonder at Marlene Dietrich's Dior gown at the Oscars, say, or Grace Kelly's Hermès bag, and even at Madonna's Jean Paul Gaultier conical bra, we would never have expected, or even necessarily wanted, to own them.

Until the turn of the 21st century this was a purely aspirational and entertaining activity, the stuff of dreams and/or nightmares depending on how we chose to look at it. Now, though, with budget copies of any outfit worn by even the least interesting young hopeful proliferating and images of the same published everywhere from online to the pages of newspapers and magazines, far more of us believe we can actually live that dream.

The rise and rise of Asos.com is a case in point. It may have cast off its original tag – As Seen On Screen – and have an eye on a more credible and far-reaching position in the market but the premise the business was originally founded on remains the same.

More significantly, Asos, like all other online shopping destinations, allows us to purchase clothing at the mere click of a button, making poring over a garment in a store, returning on two or even three separate occasions to consider just how much we want or need it redundant. Neither do we save up for clothing the way previous generations did, appreciating them far more just for that. Shopping for clothes is now a practice as undiscerning as many of the products we shop for. And that is regrettable.

Blame the so-called democratisation of fashion if you will. Images straight from the catwalk – and the inevitable fast-fashion copies that go with them – are also everywhere. Formerly, the designer fashion industry was a closely regulated concern – as late as the mid-1990s, all photographers at the international collections were accredited journalists required to sign forms limiting the use of any images to prevent plagiarism.

And if, since the mid-20th century, the world's leading couturiers, including Christian Dior and Coco Chanel, might have been persuaded to sell their patterns to American department stores, any buyers paid good money for them and their execution and distribution was closely guarded with a view to protecting exclusivity. Today, the shows are an all-singing, all-dancing, all-blogging, all-tweeting media circus. And consumers can "get the Marc Jacobs look" or whatever, only hours after the designer's biannual New York show has taken place, and this despite the fact that the prototype, which is high-end and therefore takes longer to produce and is necessarily more expensive, won't go on sale until almost half a year later.

The new Prada shoe, the make-up at Balenciaga, the tights at Chanel, are common knowledge before the first designer outfit has even made it on to the runway. And where such material used to be seen as news – admittedly not necessarily hard news, but news nonetheless – the purpose of which was to show people what they might, or might not, like to wear six months down the line, it now fuels a consumer habit that might be described as full-blown addiction.

The effect of this has been huge across the board. If we accept that it is now almost impossible for designers to copyright their ideas – and much has been written about the time and money involved in tracking down and removing everything from catwalk-inspired pieces deemed too close for comfort to blatant counterfeiting – then they are forced to take action in other ways. And so they have.

We may not have the budget to pay for a straight-off-the-runway, so-called seasonal statement piece, but we can and do buy designer sunglasses, bags, hosiery, shoes or even just an itsy-bitsy keyring/mobile-phone trinket to go with them. And just as the high street famously turns over clothing at breakneck speed with new drops appearing in any self-respecting fashion store on a weekly basis, so designers too have upped the ante with the aforementioned small-accessories market booming and pre-collections, cruise collections, all-year-round classic collections, multiple diffusion lines and more freshening up of the formerly proud-to-be-impenetrable designer stores.

With this in mind, where it was once not uncommon for fashion's biggest names to force consumers to knock at a locked door to gain access to their hallowed portals "by appointment only," today anyone and everyone is welcome at the vast majority of even the most elitist retail outlets where they will be greeted, if not quite with open arms – some things never change – then certainly without having to break in.

At the same time, and to establish a point of difference, fashion's big names are ensuring that their main line collections are more complex and therefore more difficult to interpret. And that is reflected in their price. The customer who is prepared to spend a three or even four-figure sum on her so-called seasonal statement piece does not want to show up at the party and find a half-dozen other women wearing the same.

The Independent regularly receives letters from readers decrying the price of clothing on the fashion pages, complaining, for example, that a dress might cost as much as £200. This is a dangerous mindset and, at the risk of attracting more disapproval, even a decade ago anyone working within the industry would have replied that £200, or indeed far more than that, is a fair price for a garment if it came from a great creator heading up a French or Italian fashion house and was made the country of origin by highly trained craftspeople all of whom were thereby respectably and respectfully employed.

In a similar vein, it was considered a mark of shame for a fashion editor to wear a copy of a catwalk design – we were, effectively, biting the hand that fed us by so-doing. Neither would we have shown high-street clothes mixed with designer looks on our pages or, certainly, demonstrated to people just how they might emulate them for a lower price. Cheap was cheap. Chic was chic. And the two worlds should never knowingly collide.

The basically protestant British mindset decrees that a desire for fashion is rooted in vanity and therefore to be frowned upon. But is it really any more shameful to want to dress in clothing that is interesting and well made than it is to lust after a precious first edition of a much-loved book or to buy a beautiful car?

At best, fashion is an entirely valid vehicle via which to express ourselves and one that can be passed down through generations of women carrying with it as much emotional power as a grandmother's wedding ring or a mother's scented cotton lawn handkerchief. Somehow, though, society has developed in a manner that deems it acceptable for us to descend en masse upon a low-budget store from where we emerge with bagfuls of clothes that we will either wear infrequently or not at all.

The hypocrisy – and indeed outright snobbery – that drives our disapproval of a Wag shopping on Bond Street for more of the same, meanwhile, only their carrier bags are glossy, carry more expensive merchandise and spill over with clouds of tissue paper, is disingenuous in the extreme. Contrary to popular mythology, shopping in the modern world has little to do with budget. It is not the less well off who have caused the boom in cheap fashion but the middle classes in search of a sartorial bargain. Neither are the super rich responsible for the proliferation of exorbitantly priced product. Instead, and as always, supply reflects demand. We choose to buy more low-priced fashion – and just more fashion – now than we used to. And that is more suspect.

"How do they make them so cheap?" It could be Lorraine Kelly's mantra. But, of course, someone somewhere in the world is always going to pay the price. Although there is no guarantee that all designer clothing is made in the best possible conditions, luxury brands that do employ cheap labour are likely to have longer lead times and bigger budgets than their mass market, high-street counterparts. Similarly, it would be naive to claim that price invariably reflects quality but more high-end clothing does generally come with a degree of care attached because those behind it can afford it.

And so, in France, artisans really do tend to make the clothes. In Italy, pioneers of the ready-to-wear industry and the computer technology that goes with it have passed down their knowledge since the 1950s and their expertise is second to none. Should we live in a world where the concept of investment in clothing expires then technicians such as these will die out and innovation and creativity will ultimately suffer for that.

To say that all budget clothing comprises cheap copies of what we see on the catwalk would be to over-simplify the matter. The high street, we all know, has come of age. Topshop sponsors many of Britain's youngest and most vulnerable designers. It also has its own design team which, while informed by designer fashion, is by no means reliant on it. Ditto the aforementioned Asos. However, a huge amount of the fashion we are buying is derivative, brazenly upheld in the press as a low-budget alternative to the real thing. Blame the word "commercial", perhaps, which in itself is misleading. Sell 10 jackets for £1,000 or 100 for £10 and the end result is equally cost effective to the designer or manufacturer, after all.

Of course it's a good thing that fashion is today available to many as opposed to merely the privileged few and Miuccia Prada, to name just one hugely influential name, has probably done as much for our collective fashion consciousness both in this country and overseas as Sir Terence Conran has for the look of our homes

So what's the answer? Buy carefully and buy less, is Siegle's argument and she's right. Consider everything from the origins of any garment, its sustainability and the working practices that went into its creation to whether it will actually add to the quality of your life or not. It almost goes without saying that, if we all chose to do that, the amount of product would naturally diminish to more manageable proportions. It may become more expensive as a result but the planet will only benefit for that.

As for what we don't buy, there's never been any harm in looking, has there? There's an inspirational quality to the best fashion that can and should inform our wardrobe choices and fuel our imaginations to boot. And all without costing us a penny.

Vivienne Westwood Does Some Good- Check This Out

Vivienne Westwood's Ethical Fashion Africa Project

Pictured: The Vivienne Westwood Ethical Fashion Africa Project shoppers (€120)
Vivienne Westwood's Ethical Fashion Africa Project is Exclusively online at YOOXYGEN (www.yoox.com)

For the eco-friendly project YOOXYGEN, virtual store yoox.com has teamed up with renowned British designer, Vivienne Westwood. yoox.com is the only online destination to feature three Vivienne Westwood shoppers created for the launch of Westwood’s Ethical Fashion Africa Project. The shoppers will be available online exclusively in the YOOXYGEN section on yoox.com and viviennewestwood.com starting in February 2011.

Handmade in Nairobi, all bags are created using recycled roadside advertisement banners and safari tents by marginalized communities of women such as single mothers, widows, HIV/AIDS victims and those living in extreme poverty. Vivienne Westwood is launching the Ethical Fashion Africa Project with the International Trade Centre, the joint body of the United Nations (UN) and World Trade Organization (WTO).

The Vivienne Westwood Ethical Fashion Africa Project shoppers (€120) come in three sustainable designs: The “Get a Life” banner bag in a variety of colors, the “Purple Gaia Heart” printed on beige canvas, and the multi-colored “Orb” appliqué embroidered on khaki canvas. All will be available only in yoox.com’s permanent eco-friendly section, YOOXYGEN, which focuses on providing an engaging virtual platform for ethically conscious and fashionable products, as well as featuring exclusive eco-items and special collections.


Just In Case You Have No Idea What To Wear When Cooking

When you're hosting a dinner party, your outfit has to do double duty: It must be suitably festive while freeing you up to cook. Even when she expects to be busy in the kitchen, chef Giada De Laurentiis believes in dressing up for guests. "I want people to feel like I made the effort to look nice because I'm excited about having them over," she says.


When entertaining, chef Giada De Laurentiis likes her outfits to be practical, yet festive.

When she entertains in her Los Angeles home, Ms. De Laurentiis, who is a judge on season seven of the TV show "Food Network Star," as well as hosting her own show, often chooses an ankle-dusting cotton dress. The length "looks sophisticated," she says, but it's still somewhat casual because of the less dressy fabric. She likes cottons with a little stretch and flowing quality—jersey knits are a favorite—so that her movements aren't constricted.

The fabric must be lightweight, as a kitchen "tends to be a lot warmer and can get overheated," she says. She avoids silk, which shows perspiration easily.

The chef also likes empire-waisted styles, as they are loose but "just fitted enough so you don't look like you're wearing a sack." Sometimes she may wear black jeans, which she finds "elegant" when paired with a "floral or printed blouse that adds a little dimension of happiness and color on the top."

Ms. De Laurentiis likes her cooking blouses fitted so the fabric doesn't snag, and she favors three-quarter sleeves. Wrist-length sleeves, on the other hand, "get in your way," she says. "You don't want to be constantly pushing up your sleeves." Ms. De Laurentiis rarely wears skirts in the kitchen as she doesn't want to worry about baring too much when moving around or bending down.

Ms. De Laurentiis typically wears dark colors such as burgundy, black or gray. "Things can splatter and spill at any moment," she says. Although chefs sometimes wear patterned pants in professional kitchens so stains are less noticeable, Ms. De Laurentiis, who is 5 feet 3 inches, believes a printed fabric on the bottom would overwhelm her petite frame, so she limits patterns to her blouses.


On the set of 'Giada at Home' for the Food Network, she wears a lightweight dress suitable for the kitchen heat and loose enough to allow easy movement when preparing food.

To spice up dark outfits, Ms. De Laurentiis relies on accessories such as striking earrings or necklaces that aren't too long. The chef, who wears her hair pulled back from her face to avoid "hair dropping all over" the food, often wears large faux-diamond hoops in the kitchen, saying they "don't get in the way of what you're doing." But she avoids bracelets or rings. "I'm always touching things with my hands. I don't want to get food in my rings," she says.

Ms. De Laurentiis generally avoids aprons, which she feels restrict movement. But the chef sometimes ties on a frilly, colorful half-apron to "add punch" to a solid, dark outfit. Ms. De Laurentiis picks styles with one or two pockets, to store frequently used objects such as a tasting spoon.

One thing Ms. De Laurentiis doesn't dress up: her feet. Eschewing heels, Ms. De Laurentiis usually goes barefoot when entertaining: It "gives a relaxed feel to the whole evening," she says. "I don't believe in wearing heels in the kitchen. I need to move around easily, pull things out of the oven, bend down to pick things up. [With heels] I'm afraid I'll slip and fall."

Whatever you choose, the key is to "wear what you're most comfortable in," Ms. De Laurentiis says. "If you're constantly pulling and tugging at your outfit, you're fidgeting and your heels are burning your feet, your guests are not going to be comfortable," she adds.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

TOMS Shoe Guy Gives Sight Like Jesus

The guy who started the TOMS shoe company that gives shoes to needy children per purchase- is now giving sight to the poor of the world per purchase of TOMS eyewear. Ain't that nice. They aren't cheap, but it's all for a cause.


Website to buy the sunglasses:

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Don't Forget About Dre: A Dr. Dre Flow Chart. Seriously


Read a flowchart analysis of those who ‘Forgot About Dre’

From the great minds at Pop Culture Labs, a breakdown of the many mother####### who forgot about Dre, for whatever reason (and there are many, all of them considered and refuted).

Bath Spa Students Have Nothing Better To Do Than Make Dresses From Cheese

Check this out. Damn.


Monday, 18 April 2011

Milla Jovovich You Can Finger Gun Me Any Day

I hope you know how much I love finger guns. The charm of finger guns is that you are shot but you don't die. This is why I would never complain if Milla Jovovich shot me:

Remember Milla Jovovich, it is totally okay if you finger...gun me. I don't bite gorgeous.

Christina Hendricks to Be the Future Mistress to the King of France

Imagine this new role for Christina Hendricks:

Christina Hendricks plays one of the mistresses of France’s King Louis XV, a flame-haired vixen and political firebrand who keeps marrying courtiers (for appearance’s sake. You understand)….only to see them die in, shall we say, mysterious ways. But though she spends the entire film in mourning, not even grief can dampen the power of her seduction! Opening this summer, power your wigs and pack up your lorgnettes for….MADAME de POMPADEATH.

Random Robert Pattinson Fact and Quote for Twihards

Rob's favorite curse word is the British term, “tike,” which apparently refers to a “crude, ill-bred person who lacks culture or refinement.”

“I’m not mushy but I have a romantic soul.”

Fine- you guys figured me out. I find Robert Pattinson attractive okay...

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu Seemed Like A Cool Lady

Women’s History Month can’t end before we talk about Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, one of the consummate writers and letter-writers of the world who would, I like to think, have been delighted to correspond with me.

Lady Mary was the first woman to document Muslim customs like the Turkish bagnio and the first European to write with comparative accuracy about the Muslim women’s world, including her visits to various harems. She was also responsible for bringing the smallpox vaccine (which was used in the Turkish Empire) to England after trying it out (successfully) on her baby son, not that anyone took much notice. Edward Jenner would receive full credit for the “discovery” much later.

Those are the relevant bullet points, and while I’m including them here, she was, as I think the letters below will show, so much more. A tremendously gifted writer, for one thing. Also—and this is key to understanding her, I think—a famous beauty, at least until she was scarred by a near-lethal battle with smallpox. After that her face was badly marked, her eyelashes, which had fallen out, never grew back, and her face–important currency at court, and impossible to hide—became, not precisely a liability, but certainly an occasion for gossip and lost status. Her remarks both on the nudity in the bathhouse and the “ferigee,” her name for the Muslim head-covering, evince a real longing for the anonymity they offer. In particular, she seems to see both as relief from the persistent tyranny of the face. What with the Beauty Myth and the current debates over the veil in the West, it’s a good moment to remember what history has to tell us.

Much of what follows comes courtesy of Isobel Grundy’s fantastic biography of Lady Mary, which I’ve been reading for fun in the bath.

Mary Pierrepont was born in April or May 1689 to wealthy parents. She was their first-born. Her mother died when she was very young. Her father, delighted by her beauty, recommended her as a toast to the Kit Kat Club, the Whig center of power. They refused to toast her until they’d seen her. So she was dolled up and presented at the club “from the lap of one poet, or patriot, or statesman, to the arms of another,” until her health was drunk by everyone present. By the by, she was eight. Unlike other women (who were toasted but kept outside), she had actually entered the male center of artistic and political power; she would spend the rest of her life trying to do it again.

She secretly taught herself Latin. I know it’s common to read over a sentence like that without letting it sink in, so may I just repeat: She SECRETLY taught herself LATIN. And apparently pretended to know less of it than she did to give her future husband, Edward Montagu, an excuse to tutor her. Playing stupid is an old, old game, and Montagu, being the twisted root of insecurity he was, required that kind of reassurance.

Montagu was a puzzle. He courted Lady Mary by means of his sister, a good friend of hers. Totally and grudgingly smitten, he dictated letters to his sister and made her send them as if they were her own. Sort of a reverse Cyrano de Bergerac that broke down when his sister-mouthpiece died and he was forced, awkwardly and grouchily, into the open.

In the meantime, Mary and her sisters and friends got crushes, fell in love, and wrote to each other in code, in case the letters were intercepted. (If they were, the women were whisked away to another part of the country and the romance was unceremoniously squashed.) The code worked as follows: A “Paradise” was someone you wanted to marry for love, a “Limbo” was someone you could deal with, if forced to marry them. “Hell” is self-explanatory. By not naming the people concerned, the women ensured that the letters would do minimal damage if found.

Even so, nobody married their Paradise.

Lady Mary’s father was more or less forcing her to marry a Hell, the aptly named Clotworthy Skeffington. Edward Montagu (her Limbo) had been in marriage talks with her father, but they’d broken down. Desperate as her wedding to Clotworthy approached, Lady Mary more or less asked Edward, her Limbo, to elope with her.

Edward hemmed and hawed, but in the end, elope they did, in what might be the least romantic elopement ever.

He became the Ambassador to Turkey, and it’s in the course of her travels with him that we get the incredible Embassy letters, some of which I’m going to reprint here.


But before all that, two years after giving birth to her first child, she got smallpox. We don’t have a sense of what smallpox was like (here’s an extremely distressing modern-day image), so here’s Grundy’s description of the course it took:

The smallpox, which had killed her brother, which she had feared for her husband and baby, had got her at last. After a couple of weeks’ incubation period, the sudden onset of severe symptoms must have frightened her badly. Her two-and-a-half year old son (who, like his sister later, was probably in the habit of playing about the room while she dressed or wrote her letters) would have been sent hurriedly away, with his nurse, to someone else’s house. Her temperature soared to at least 103 degrees F. The sweat pouring from her did nothing to bring it down. For two whole days her pulse raced, her back ached, and her head ached even worse. She was constipated; she vomited; she had a dreadful thirst.

On the third day of her illness the spots appeared, confirming what she already knew about her case. Her fever diminished, but in other respects her condition deteriorated rapidly. First a perceptible redness appeared around the roots of her hair, and within hours the heat, and itching, and pustules spread to cover almost the whole surface of her head and face, her body, and then her limbs. The spots itched; they filled with clear liquid; they went on itching. They ran together over large areas of her body. The word went out that she was ‘exceedingly full’. Her whole skin, both where it was all spot and even where there was space between the spots, was so swollen that her face became literally unrecognizable. The mucous membranes of her mouth and throat, nostrils, eyes, and sexual parts, were also swollen, and terribly painful. Breathing became difficult as her nose and throat closed up; her voice was hoarse and she had to keep spitting up an unstaunchable flow of saliva.

Meanwhile, the talk in town was whether she would live and, more importantly, how she would look:

Those ‘Ladies who know every minute of ye day, what her distemper takes, say she… will be very severely markt.’ Some wit … said ‘she was full and yet not pitted [pitied]‘. Her court career was assumed to be over, and Worltey said to be ‘inconsolable for ye disappointment this gives him in ye carrier [the career] he had chalked out of his fortunes’. (Any more intimate emotion that he may have felt went unreported.) Lady Loudoun thought that with a ‘pair of good eyes’ like Lady Mary’s ‘being markt is nothing’, but only because complexions could be bought. This sounds double edged….”

Lady Mary wrote a about the ordeal in her closing eclogue–”Satturday–the Small Pox,” where “Flavia” addresses the loss of her beauty. It’s sad, but also self-aware, self-deprecating and satirical, jumping in its evocations of pathos from the high culture of portraiture to an embarrassing and joking apostrophe to her vanity table:

“That picture which with pride I us’d to show,
‘The lost resemblance but upbraids me now.
‘And thou, my toilette! where I oft have sat… “

When she arrived in Turkey, she found that they had what amounts in modern parlance to a smallpox vaccine: old women would take some scrapings from an infected person and “graft” them onto a health individual. Lady Montagu, watching this, was so impressed that she ordered that it be done to her little baby son. Here’s an excerpt from her letter to Mrs. S.C.:

A propos of distempers, I am going to tell you a thing, that will make you wish yourself here. The small-pox, so fatal, and so general amongst us, is here entirely harmless, by the invention of engrafting, which is the term they give it. There is a set of old women, who make it their business to perform the operation, every autumn, in the month of September, when the great heat is abated. People send to one another to know if any of their family has a mind to have the small-pox; they make parties for this purpose, and when they are met (commonly fifteen or sixteen together) the old woman comes with a nut-shell full of the matter of the best sort of small-pox, and asks what vein you please to have opened. She immediately rips open that you offer to her, with a large needle (which gives you no more pain than a common scratch) and puts into the vein as much matter as can lie upon the head of her needle , and after that, binds up the little wound with a hollow bit of shell, and in this manner opens four or five veins. The Grecians have commonly the superstition of opening one in the middle of the forehead, one in each arm, and one on the breast, to mark the sign of the Cross; but this has a very ill effect, all these wounds leaving little scars, and is not done by those that are not superstitious, who chuse to have them in the legs, or that part of the arm that is concealed. The children or young patients play together all the rest of the day, and are in perfect health to the eighth. Then the fever begins to seize them, and they keep their beds two days, very seldom three. They have very rarely above twenty or thirty in their faces, which never mark, and in eight days time they are as well as before their illness. Where they are wounded, there remains running sores during the distemper, which I don’t doubt is a great relief to it. Every year, thousands undergo this operation, and the French Ambassador says pleasantly, that they take the small-pox here by way of diversion, as they take the waters in other countries. There is no example of any one that has died in it, and you may believe I am well satisfied of the safety of this experiment, since I intend to try it on my dear little son. I am patriot enough to take the pains to bring this useful invention into fashion in England, and I should not fail to write to some of our doctors very particularly about it, if I knew any one of them that I thought had virtue enough to destroy such a considerable branch of their revenue, for the good of mankind. But that distemper is too beneficial to them, not to expose to all their resentment, the hardy wight that should undertake to put an end to it. Perhaps if I live to return, I may, however, have courage to war with them. Upon this occasion, admire the heroism in the heart of

Your friend, etc. etc.


Vienna, Where Every Woman is Old, and Has a Husband and a Lover

Before getting to the Turkish bath letters, I want to pause in Vienna, where she marvels at the court convention, wherein older women are considered more beautiful and powerful than younger ones: “I can assure you that wrinkles, or a small stoop in the shoulders, nay, grey hair itself, is no objection to the making of new conquests.” She observes that “a woman, till five-and-thirty, is only look upon as a raw girl, and can possibly make no noise about the world till about forty. I don’t know what your ladyship may think of this matter; but ’tis a considerable comfort to me, to know there is upon earth such a paradise for old women; and I am content to be insignificant at present, in the design of returning when I am fit to appear nowhere else.”

She writes that most women, once married, go about acquiring a lover as part of their “equipage,” and that unlike England, “getting a lover is so far from losing, that ’tis properly getting a reputation; ladies being much more respected in regard to the rank of their lovers, than that of their husbands.” So much is this the case that it would be rude “and publicly resented if you invited a woman of quality to dinner, without at the same time inviting her two attendants of lover and husband, between whom she always sits in state with great gravity.”

Lady Montagu was herself offered a choice of lovers:

But one of the pleasantest adventures I ever met in my life was last night, and which will give you a just idea after what delicate manner the belles passions are managed in this country. I was at the assembly of the Countess of ___, and the young Count of ___ led me down stairs, and he asked me how long I intended to stay here? I made answer that my stay depended on the emperor, and it was not in my power to determine it. Well, madam, (said he,) whether your time here is to be long or short, I think you ought to pass it agreeably, and to that end you must engage in a little affair of the heart. –My heart (answered I gravely enough) does not engage very easily, and I have no design of parting with it. I see, madam, (said he sighing,) by the ill nature of that answer, that I am not to hope for it, which is a great mortification to me that am charmed with you. But, however, I am still devoted to your service; and since I am not worthy of entertaining you myself, do me the honour of letting me know whom you like best among us, and I’ll engage to manage the affair entirely to your satisfaction.

As she made her way, she took every opportunity to find out as much as could about different customs and world views. Many of her impressions of th Turkish Empire seem to have been shaped by her early conversations with Achmet Beg, her host in Belgrade:

I pass for a great scholar with him, by relating to him some of the Persian tales, [Arabian nights], which I find are genuine. At first he believed I understood Persian. I have frequent disputes with him concerning the difference of our custom, particularly the confinement of women. He assures me, there is nothing at all in it; only, says he, we have the advantage, that when our wives cheat us, nobody knows it. He has wit, and is more polite than many Christian men of quality.

And finally, here is the bath letter, wherein the first recorded encounter between these Western and Muslim women results not, as you might expect, in the former seeing the latter as an oppressed figure of veiled mystery, threatening and unknowable, nor in the latter regarding the former as a perverse or liberated creature.

I am now got into a new world, where every thing I see appears to me a change of scene; and I write to your ladyship with some content of mind, hoping at least that you will find the charm of novelty in my letters, and no longer reproach me, that I tell you nothing extraordinary.

I won’t trouble you with a relation of our tedious journey; but I must not omit what I saw remarkable at Sophia, one of the most beautiful towns in the Turksih empire, and famous for its hot baths, that are resorted to both for diversion and health. I stopped here one day on purpose to see them. Designing to go incognita, I hired a Turkish coach. These voitures are not at all like ours, but much more convenient for the country, the heat being so great that glasses would be very troublesome. They are made a good deal in the manner of the Dutch coaches, having wooden lattices painted and gilded; the inside being painted with baskets and nosegays of flowers, intermixed commonly with little poetical mottoes. They are covered all over with scarlet cloth, lined with silk, and very often richly embroidered and fringed. This covering entirely hides the person in them, but may be thrown back at pleasure, and the ladies peep through the lattices. They hold four people very conveniently, seated on cushions, but not raised.

In one of these covered waggons, I went to the bagnio about ten o’clock. It was already full of women. It is built of stone, in the shape of a dome, with no windows but in the roof, which gives light enough. There were five of these domes joined together, the outmost being less thant the rest, and serving only as a hall, where the portress stood at the door. Ladies of quality generally give this woman the value of a crown or ten shillings; and I did not forget that ceremony. The next room is a very large one paved with marble, and all round it, raised, two sofas of marble, one above another. There were four fountains of cold water in this room, falling first into marble basins, and then running on the floor in little channels made for that purpose, which carried the streams into the next room, something less than this, with the same sort of marble sofas, but so hot with steams of sulphur proceeding from the baths joining to it, it was impossible to stay there with one’s clothes on. The two other domes were the hot baths, one of which had cocks of cold water turning into it, to temper it to what degree of warmth the bathers have a mind to.

I was in my travelling habit, which is a riding dress, and certainly appeared very extraordinary to them. Yet there was not one of them that shewed the least surprize or impertininet curiosity, but received me with all the obliging civility possible. I know no European court where the ladies would have behaved themselves in so polite a manner to a stranger. I believe in the whole, there were two hundred women, and yet none of those disdainful smiles, or satiric whispers, that never fail in our assemblies when any body appears that is not dressed exactly in the fashion. They repeated over and over to me, “Uzelle, pek uzelle,” which nothing but Charming, very charming. –The first sofas were covered with cushions and rich carpets, on which sat the ladies; and on the second, their slaves behind them, but without any distinction of rank by their dress, all being in the state of nature, that is, in plain English, stark naked, without any beauty or defect concealed. Yet there was not the least wanton smile or immodest gesture amongst them. They walked and moved with the same majestic grace which Milton describes of our general mother. There were many amongst them as exactly proportioned as ever any goddess was drawn by the pencil of Guido or Titian,—and most of their skins shiningly white, only adorned by their beautiful hair divided into many tresses, hanging on their shoulders, braided either with pearl or ribbon, perfectly representing the figures of the Graces.

I was here convinced of the truth of a reflection I had often made, that if it was the fashion to go naked, the face would be hardly observed. I perceived that the ladies with the finest skins and most delicate shapes had the greatest share of my admiration, though their faces were sometimes less beautiful than those of their companions. To tell you the truth, I had wickedness enough to wish secretly that Mr. Jervas [her painter friend, a pupil of Sir Godfrey Kneller] could have been there invisible. I fancy it would have very much improved his art, to see so many fine women naked, in different postures, some in conversation, some working, others drinking coffee or sherbet, and many negligently lying on their cushions, while their slaves (generally pretty girls of seventeen or eighteen) were employed in braiding their hair in several pretty fancies. In short, it is the women’s coffee-house, where all the news of the town is told, scandal invented, etc. –They generally take the diversion once a-week, and stay there at least four or five hours, without getting cold by immediate coming out of the hot bath into the cold room, which was very surprising to me. The lady that seemed the most considerable among them, entreated me to sit by her, and would fain have undressed me for the bath. I excused myself with some difficulty. They being all so earnest in persuading me, I was at last forced to open my shirt, and shew them my stays; which satisfied them very well for, I saw, they believed I was so locked up in that machine, that it was not in my own power to open it, which contrivance they attributed to my husband. –I was charmed with their civility and beauty, and should have been very glad to pass more time with them; but Mr W [Wortley] resolving to pursue his journey the next morning early, I was in haste to see the ruins of Justinian’s church, which did not afford me so agreeable a prospect as I had left, being little more than a heap of stones.

Adieu, madam: I am sure I have now entertained you with an account of such a sight as you never saw in your life, and what no book of travels could inform you of. ‘Tis no less than death for a man to be found in one of these places.

Eyeliner, Nail Polish, Fashion, Freedom and the Ferigee

The ladies in the bathhouse may have thought Lady Mary was imprisoned in her stays by her husband, but she would soon start adapting to Turkish dress. In another 1717 letter, this time to her sister, she describes her own outfit and all the strange Turkish makeup practices (eyebrow-shaping! eyeliner! she doesn’t think much of nail polish). Even more interesting: how she explains the veil as an intensely liberating garment, so much so that she thinks of Turkish women “as the only free people in the empire.”

The first piece of my dress is a pair of drawers, very full, that reach to my shoes, and conceal the legs more modestly than your petticoats. They are of a thin rose-coloured damask, brocaded with silver flowers, my shoes of white kid leather, embroidered with gold. Over this hangs my smock, of a fine white silk gauze, edged with embroidery. This smock has wide sleeves, hanging half way down the arm, and is closed at the neck with a diamond button; but the shape and colour of the bosom very well to be distinguished through it. The antery is a waistcoat, made close to the shape, of white and gold damask, with very long sleeves falling back, and fringed with deep gold fringe, and should have diamond or pearl buttons. My caftan, of the same stuff with my drawers, is a robe exactly fitted to my shape, and reaching to my feet, with very long strait falling sleeves. Over this is the girdle of about four fingers broad, which all that can afford have entirely of diamonds or other precious stones; those who will not be at that expense, have it of exquisite embroidery on satin; but it must be fastened before with a clasp of diamonds. The curdee is a loose robe they throw off or put on according to the weather, being of a rich brocade (mine is green and gold), either lined with ermine or sables; the sleeves reach very little below the shoulders. The head-dress is composed of a cap, called talpock, which is in winter of fine velvet embroidered with pearls or diamonds, and in summer of a light shining silver stuff. This is fixed on one side of the head, hanging a little way down with a gold tassel, and bound on, either with a circle of diamonds (as I have seen several) or a rich embroidered handkerchief. On the other side of the head, the hair is laid flat; and here the ladies are at liberty to show their fancies; some putting flowers, others a plume of heron’s feathers, and, in short, what they please; but the most general fashion is a large bouquet of jewels, made like natural flowers; that is, the buds of pearl; the roses, of different coloured rubies; the jessamines, of diamonds; jonquils, of topazes, etc., so well set and enamelled, ’tis hard to imagine any thing of that kind so beautiful. The hair hangs at its full length behind, divided into tresses braided with pearl or ribbon, which is always in great quantity.

I never saw in my life so many fine heads of hair. I have counted a hundred and ten of these tresses of one lady’s all natural; but it must be owned, that every beauty is more common here than with us. ‘Tis surprising to see a young woman that is not very handsome. They have naturally the most beautiful complexions in the world, and generally large black eyes. I can assure you with great truth, that the court of England (though I believe it the fairest in Christendom) cannot shew so many beauties as are under our protection here. They generally shape their eyebrows; and the Greeks and Turks have a custom of putting round their eyes (on the inside) a black tincture, that, at a distance, or by candle-light, adds very much to the blackness of them. I fancy many of our ladies would be overjoyed to know this secret; but ’tis too visible by day. They dye their nails a rose-colour. I own, I cannot enough accustom myself to this fashion to find any beauty in it.

As to their morality or good conduct, I can say, like Harlequin, that ’tis just as it is with you; and the Turkish ladies don’t commit one sin the less for not being Christians. [HA!] Now I am a little acquainted with their ways, I cannot forbear admiring either the exemplary discretion or extreme stupidity of all the writers that have given accounts of them. ‘Tis very easy to see they have more liberty than we have. No woman, of what rank soever, being permitted to go into the streets without two muslins; one that covers her face all but her eyes, and another that hides the whole dress of her head, and hangs half way down her back, and their shapes are wholly concealed by a thing they call a ferigee, which no woman of any sort appears without; this has strait sleeves, that reach to their finger-ends, and it laps all round them, not unlike a riding-hood. In winter ’tis of cloth, and in summer plain stuff or silk. You may guess how effectually this disguises them, [so] that there is no distinguishing the great lady from her slave. ‘Tis impossible for the most jealous husband to know his wife when he meets her; and no man dare either touch or follow a woman in the street.

This perpetual masquerade gives them entire liberty of following their inclinations without danger of discovery. The most usual method of intrigue is, to send an appointment to the lover to meet the lady at a Jew’s shop, which are as notoriously convenient as our Indian-houses; and yet, even those who don’t make that use of them, do not scruple to go to buy pennyworths, and tumble over rich goods, which are chiefly to be found amongst that sort of people. The great ladies seldom let their gallants know who they are; and it is so difficult to find it out, that they can very seldom guess at her name they have corresponded with above half a year together. You may easily imagine the number of faithful wives very small in a country where they have nothing to fear from a lover’s indiscretion, since we see so many that have the courage to expose themselves to that in this world, and all the threatened punishment of the next, which is never preached to the Turkish damsels. Neither have they much to apprehend from the resentment of their husbands; those ladies that are rich having all their money in their own hands, which they take with them upon a divorce, with an addition which he is obliged to give them.

Upon the whole, I look upon the Turkish women as the only free people in the empire: the very Divan pays a respect to them; and the Grand Signior himself, when a pasha is executed, never violates the privileges of the harem (or women’s apartment), which remains unsearched entire to the widow. They are queens of their slaves, whom the husband has no permission so much as to look upon, except it be an old woman or two that his lady chooses. ‘Tis true their law permits them four wives; but there is no instance of a man of quality that makes use of this liberty, or of a woman of rank that would suffer it. When a husband happens to be inconstant (as those things will happen), he keeps his mistress in a house apart, and visits her as privately as he can, just as it is with you. Amongst all the great men here, I only know the tefterdar (i.e. treasurer), that keeps a number of she slaves for his own use (that is, on his own side of the house; for a slave once given to serve a lady is entirely at her disposal), and he is spoken of as a libertine, or what we should call a rake, and his wife won’t see him, though she continues to live in his house.

Thus, you see, dear sister, the manners of mankind do not differ so widely as our voyage writers would make us believe. Perhaps it would be more entertaining to add a few surprising customs of my own invention; but nothing seems to me so agreeable as truth, and I believe nothing so acceptable to you. I conclude with repeating the great truth of my being,

Dear sister, etc.


There are so many more, but I’ll stop here for now. I’m touched by her observation that both the nakedness of the bathhouse and the extreme coverage of the ferigee eliminate class distinctions (in both cases, the slave can’t be distinguished from her mistress) and the tyranny of the face. There’s so much more—her crazy relationship with Alexander Pope, her eventual separation, her gradual isolation from England—but for now, let’s raise a cup to her, not as a one-time admittee to the gentleman’s Kit Kat Club, but as an institution in our women’s coffeehouse.