May 2009

May 29, 2009

Going, going … Hats at the V&A

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This weekend is your last chance to catch the very fabulous Hats exhibition at the V&A, which is a collaborative effort between London milliner Stephen Jones and the museum. Jones has scoured the V&A’s extensive archives to showcase not only the changing fashions in headwear over the past 17 centuries, but to throw light on the workmanship, creativity and inspiration that goes into each individual piece.

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Challenging my own (rather bad) habit of visiting must-see exhibitions ‘til the final days, I caught Hats back in March, and was enthused by Jones’ clearly passionate curatorial role, which also provided many professional insights.

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Personal highlights included Jones’ mod-ish Underground roundel hat for AW08, a horsehair and silk bonnet worn by Queen Victoria, and a 17th century leather jester’s cap adorned with tiny jingle bells (and not a lurid velour version in sight!). I also really loved Hussein Chayalan’s wooden egg helmet (’98), Christian Dior’s plastic cubist pillbox (’66) and Adolfor’s mushroom hat (’65). And then there’s the Norman Hartnell evening hat worn by Margot Fonteyn, and the Cecil Beaton bonnet worn by Audrey Hepburn during the Ascot scene of My Fair Lady.

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The centrepiece of the exhibition is a voyeuristic glimpse into the inner sanctuary of a milliner’s studio, which Jones accurately describes as “half-Aladdin’s cave and half-artist’s studio”.

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Keep an eye out for some of the choice goodies on offer in the museum shop, like these cloche hat brooches and reasonably-priced paper hats.

Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones
Closes Sunday 31 May 2009
£5 adults, £4 concessions.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL

Nearest tube: South Kensington

All images courtesy of the V&A Museum.


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May 26, 2009

A week of flowers: Chelsea Flower Show

With more magnificent blooms from Chelsea Flower Show on Saturday, this could quite easily become "two weeks of flowers" …

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I really loved this old-fashioned display of daffodils – apparently the guy has been attending the show for thirty-odd years and has as many awards under his belt. I was also amazed by the sheer variety of daffodils.

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Heavenly scents (and the most perfect, old-fashioned English roses) from the David Austin stand…

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and James May's plasticine garden (with plasticine ladybirds and clever cauliflowers) …

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May 25, 2009

Foxy Knocker

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Happy Bank Holiday, London birdies! Couldn't resist taking a pic of this rather handsome fellow on the door next to Ryantown on Columbia Road last week. You can also see that I've recently taken to photographing piles of shop bags (see pic below). However, you should note that these are extra-special shop bags, hand-screen printed by Rob Ryan and featuring a cute wee birdy stamp in the corner. Swoon!

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May 24, 2009

A week of flowers: Chelsea Flower Show

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Chelsea was a-buzzing yesterday with the most gloriously fat bumblebees. Check out this wee chubber with his powdery yellow pollen sack.

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David Austin rose, Pimms in the sun and a Chelsea Pensioner, just some of the grand visions from the Chelsea Flower Show.

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Vertical planting was a big trend this year. Loved this living tower with drought-resistant plants from the Future Nature garden, which also included a vibrant wildflower meadow, butterfly mounds and insect towers.


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May 24, 2009

A week of flowers: Chelsea Flower Show

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London turned on the most magnificent May bank holiday weekend weather for the last day of the Chelsea Flower Show yesterday. And I'm exhausted but very happy after a day of wandering around magnificent show gardens and inspecting the most perfect blooms – not to mention scoring BIG TIME when the Chelsea pensioners rang the bells for the 4pm sell-off. So much fun. I'll be posting some of my highlights over the next couple of days.

In the meantime, check out my favourite garden at the show, the HESCO garden, from Leeds City Council. A tiny patch of the Yorkshire dales in Chelsea, the lush cottage garden featured a stone potters shed amongst the most gorgeous pastel blooms and a meandering collection pond, for excess rainwater (flash flooding being a timely local concern).

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May 23, 2009

A week of flowers: Chelsea Flower Show

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Been meaning to post about this lily-of-the-valley posy I bought from a flower stall on Earlham Street a couple of weeks ago. It was only two quid, and looked super-sweet in this ceramic paper bag vase (a birdy birthday present from my dear friend Gemma).


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