Friday, 25 June 2010

Seberg’s style: The epitome of Parisian chic

June 25th 2010 marks the re-release of one of my all-time favourite films for style. That seemingly effortless yet iconic, feminine yet gamine, simple yet beautifully constructed Parisian style which we all covet. Look at girls walking past you on the street today and you can witness the enduring fashionable influence that is Jean-Luc Godard’s À Bout de Souffle (or Breathless). We can particularly thank one girl (its leading lady): Jean Seberg. How can you not adore her pixie-like, tomboyish hair-cut, archetypal striped Breton tops, printed t-shirts, trilby hats and summery, collared dresses?

jean seberg: scene from à bout de souffle

All such Seberg-inspired items are best-sellers in vintage stores and reappear on the catwalks season after season. The fact that this stylish actress was American, should be encouragement for the fellow non-Frenchies among us. No doubt this re-release (see here for London showing times) will catapult that search for the elusive ‘French chic’ back into our consciousness. Luckily, there are ways to re-create the look. Courtesy of Rodarte,The New York Herald Tribune t-shirt worn by Seberg in the film, is available at London’s Dover Street Market or Barneys in NYC. You can also buy several logo/message t-shirts from worldwide French label, Agnès B. Or try APC’s Summer 2010 (now) sale or Day Birger  Et Mikkelsen for the nautical, Breton jersey. Don’t forget to visit Anthropologie for shirt dresses and why not take yourself to the next Frock Me! vintage fair. While we’re talking vintage, if you happen to be in the US you should see RUCHE which sells several charming creations that would have made Seberg proud. Or which would look perfect today, wandering around the Champs-Élysées.

DAY Birger et Mikkelsen Long striped T-shirt
Beda Dress

Of course, fashion isn’t the only must-see in Godard’s cult 1960 film (although, before I stop, male readers/partners should really look to the male lead played by Jean-Paul Belmondo, for the masculine version of Seberg’s cool, sexy, understated glamour). Alongside stylish clothes, lies an unforgettable romance, gangster plotline (or sub-plot?), homage to Paris and Jazz and a ‘free’ cinematic style which broke all conventional  Hollywood storytelling rules. Ushering in French New Wave cinema, Godard employed techniques which included shooting with a hand-held camera and frequent jump-cuts. I would love to hear your thoughts on the film!

Images: 1-3: Style High Club, 4: Mood in Progress, 5: Day Birger Et Mikkelsen jersey top at Net-a-Porter, 6: Anthropologie shirt dress.

À bout de souffle (Trailer)

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Christmas in June - worth the wait!

Pret a Portea afternoon tea, The Berkeley

Today, I fell in love. With a Jean Paul Gaultier cheesecake. And an Erdem chocolate and passionfruit slice of heaven (the only way to describe it). Oh, and a Paul Smith orange papaya and pink lavender bavarois (a creamy, fluffy mousse-like desert to you or I). Delicious. 
Paul Smith crockery, Pret a Portea
Paul Smith crockery!

What am I talking about? Well, thanks to a wonderful Christmas present (taken very belatedly), I spent a deliciously decadent day with my two favourite girls at The Berkeley hotel, Knightsbridge. Before the cakes, came the spa....a modern and petite, yet luxurious space where treatments are of a very high-standard. I would personally recommend the Chrono Reverser Collagen - advanced exfoliation and anti-ageing treatment (70 mins/£110) Sensational. Checking my reflection several times post-treatment, I questioned the glowy, baby-faced image looking back at me, free from all of London’s nasty pollutants. Expensive but worth every penny: a result-driven yet highly enjoyable alternative to any (topically) controversial peels/fillers/botox procedures. So perhaps it wasn’t wise just after the treatment, to ‘discover’ the rooftop pool and sit there for a few stolen minutes while the other girls' treatments finished. If you stay at/visit The Berkeley, you must dedicate time to this tranquil spot; revitalise yourself with fresh air that you don’t normally find in this City and relish the sun-trap which it becomes on a day like today.

Rooftop pool, The Berkeley
The Berkeley's rooftop pool

After reluctantly leaving the spa, I was in for a lunchtime treat with a very fashionable twist. An afternoon tea fit for Chanel herself (she does make an appearance via a delicious clog biscuit, adorned with brown studs and white leather glaze), we were surrounded by delectable edible versions of Spring/Summer 2010’s fashion collections. Those I mentioned at the start were probably my favourites, but there are many delights to devour. Here are some pics:

Pret a Portea, The Berkeley
The Berkeley's Prêt-à-Portea afternoon tea!
Pret a Portea menu
The Prêt-à-Portea menu

Held in The Berkeley’s Caramel Room (a charming, chocolately-coloured, old-worldly room), this afternoon tea, named Prêt-à-Portea, is served on funky Paul Smith crockery and is £35 per person, or £45 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne. The waiter will take you through each delicacy, explaining the designer influence. It’s not just cakes either - you start with a long plate each of ornate sandwiches containing the usual English afternoon tea treasures: smoked salmon, cucumber, egg and cress, yum. The list of teas available is also impressive, from Lapsang Souchong to Chocolate Mint Truffle. You can even opt for delivery and enjoy the tea in your own home, if you call 3 days in advance. Then sit back and wait for the Pret pistachio green and pale pink Vespa to arrive, tea in tow.
Pret a Portea fashion designers
The inspiration behind Prêt-à-Portea
Whether combined with spa treatments or not, Prêt-à-Portea is a destination in itself and would be perfect for a girlie get-together, a birthday, Mother’s Day, a Hen Do... the list is endless. Interestingly, it wasn’t just women occupying this refined room. For the fellas who can’t bring themselves to eat food that’s shaped like a shoe or handbag, the Caramel Room also has an all-day menu with fairly pricey but inventive salads, sandwiches and mains. Left your sweet-tooth at home? Try the Penne with lime, tomato compote, aubergines and feta or the Sesame crusted salmon fillet with cucumber risotto. 
Pret a Portea shoe biscuit, The Berkeley

What makes The Berkeley one of my favourite London hotels is that it prides itself on high-quality food and service, but just as important are its’ innovative interior and exterior designs. There is a whole Berkeley world to discover. Despite deserving of more blogging space, worth mentioning are the hotel’s other attractions: The Blue Bar (entirely blue interiors create a stunning cocktail sipping ground), Marcus Wareing’s fine dining restaurant (he was previously Chef Patron of Pétrus) and Koffmann’s (a more relaxed but famously French offering from Pierre Koffmann).

The Blue Bar, London's Berkeley Hotel
The Berkeley hotel's Blue Bar

Images: all my own, except for the rooftop pool and The Blue Bar, both: The Berkeley Hotel, London

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Trend Report: A Man's World?

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen, Annie Hall
Move over, boys. There’s a new woman in town and she most definitely wears the trousers. Strutting her suited-pins down Fashion Week catwalks, or boldly delving into your wardrobe, this 2010 female is discovering that she looks good dressed as a ‘he’. What began with a flirtatious borrowing of the ‘boyfriend jacket’ (or that white shirt) is now a marriage of head-to-toe masculine items with, importantly, feminine touches. Androgyny is nothing new, thanks to the likes of Coco Chanel, Amelia Earhart, Annie Lennox or Tilda Swinton. Each, clearly a woman in body and spirit, enjoys the strength, success and eroticism suggested by wearing traditionally masculine jackets, trousers and ties. Remember Woody Allen, mesmerised by Diane Keaton in Annie Hall? Or 1940’s Rita Hayworth? You get the picture.                                                                        

But why has the girl-meets-boy trend returned to almost every catwalk this year? Some might suggest that harsh economic climates encourage fashion-following females to seek enduring items of clothing that maintain impact. Perhaps designers are also anticipating a return of women to the still male-dominated workplace. And, as Coco or Rita would testify, tough social times call for stronger female figures, in the eyes of men. Of her target clientele at Paris Fashion Week, Stella McCartney proudly asserted: “The woman? We’re trying to let her know that she shouldn’t be afraid of what she wants. It’s very important for me . . . to give the woman the control back.”

Stella McCartney, Pre-Fall 2010.
Wearing pinstripes, trench coats, bow-ties and slicked-back hair (Cavalli/Lagerfeld), 2010’s Annie Hall is cheekier and more up-front, challenging the concept of ‘a man’s world’ and male/female fashion boundaries. In New York, Alexander Wang’s Wall Street banker-meets-Gothic-girl creations revealed cut-outs around the hips and jackets cropped under the cleavage. In Australia, Kate Sylvester celebrated ‘female-dandy’, with Regency neck-bows and fob chains. And in Milan, Dolce & Gabbana proved that body-skimming suits can be sexier than a leopard-print dress. The High Street must get in on the act.

Alexander Wang, Fall 2010

Images: 1) Queens of Vintage, 2) A.Wang's Fall 2010 RTW, 3) S.McCartney's Pre-Fall 2010
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