Monday, May 31, 2010

London Assurance

Ok, so I guess this'll be more of a cultural blog b/c I like to write play reviews that aren't strictly about the costumes. That being said...

London Assurance at the National! Starring Fiona Shaw and Simon Russell Beale this play is a mid 19th century comedy with a fop, a country girl, a masculine woman and all sorts of shenanigans. Simon Russell Beale plays Sir Harcourt Courtly, an aging dandy that has arranged to marry the niece of his friend to secure her fortune and his. Grace is agreed to this because she doesn't believe in love, but falls in love with Charles Courtly, Sir Courtly's son, while in disguise (Charles, not Grace). Meanwhile, Sir Harcourt falls for Lady Gay Spanker (Fiona Shaw) who assists Charles in distracting his father from Grace. Hilarity ensues.

The actors were completely committed to their characters and didn't judge them, leading to some of the funniest moments I've ever witnessed on stage. Beale's portrayal of Sir Harcourt was absolutely sublime. His body language (as you can see above) spoke volumes that added to the comedy written into the piece. His costumes were fantastic, consisting of an incredible morning outfit, his first "country" suit (seen above), a second suit in plum, a white tie satin tuxedo with pumps and his traveling attire (including a purple cape).

Fiona Shaw played Lady Gay, an always happy and boistrous woman who's married her husband, the aged Dolly Spanker, so that she can always be in control. When first introduced she's wearing her hunting ensemble (above) which is fantastically drawn to show a well shod leg. She laughed and smoked and drank and was just absolutely too great. I'd tried to describe her attitude to you, but I can't. She was just too great.

Lady Gay accepts Sir Harcourt's suit in this fantastic dress! The darker stripes are iridescent and from far away the fabric looks like it's been painted on with big brushes. So fantastic! In stiff taffeta this amazing dress moved like a dream.

The cast included (from left) Richard Briers (Sir Spanker), Fiona Shaw, Simon Russell Beale, Mark Addy (Max), Paul Ready (Charles Courtly) and Michelle Terry (Grace).

The costumes were just fantastic on everybody and like I said, the comedic acting was so honest, sincere and nonjudgmental of the characters that it was riotous! One of my favorite pieces ever.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Harrods has ruined me forever. My friend Martha and I went the other day and maybe saw 1/3 of Harrods. She has a fashion degree and works in the shop w/ me and I of course am an avid lover and follower of fashion. Seeing De La Renta and Dior and Marc Jacobs and so many others up close and personal made me weep internally. First of all the craftsmanship is amazing. One De La Renta Dress had diagonal seams all the way around the middle with the invisible zipper in on the diagonal. It was amazing. Also, furs and angora were everywhere and I just had to touch them all. You can tell that Marc Jacobs is a clean designer, but you don't really grasp the crispness and extreme perfection of his tailoring and designs until you're up close and personal with them.
Saw this person:

MENSWEAR:::oh. my. goodness. We only scratched the service of the menswear, and actually didn't go into the bigger names, but what we saw made us weep. We're talking a leather jacket that was so buttery and well tailored I would marry ANY MAN that wore it (providing he went out and found it and bought it himself). Suits with hand pick-stitching everywhere, real buttonholes on the cuffs, and amazing material. There were cardigans that were too adorable for words and plain old dress shirts with so much detail I couldn't help but gasp.

I was a little underwhelmed by the shoes actually. I can appreciate paying exorbitant amounts for well made clothes out of good materials, and the same goes for shoes, but I feel like with shoes there's no cap for how much you can charge for a jelly flat.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Recent Purchases.

I packed light so I could buy stuff when I got here. So far I've bought some clothes, but mostly books. The V&A has an amazing bookstore, so I'm actually surprised I didn't buy anything from there. I would have if I hadn't bought 3 books from the Fashion Museum in Bath, 2 of which are from V&A Publishing. I also bought a Janet Arnold from the Globe. These books are cheaper in the UK and I don't have to pay for shipping! Well, mostly cheaper.

Patterns of Fashion 1540-1620: Superb, of course. I'm excited to go home and perhaps play with making some of the doublets into women's jackets. This one has much more visual research in the front, which I greatly appreciate because this is a hard time period to research for.
Fashion in Detail 18th Century: HQ detail shots of highlights of the Victoria & Albert fashion collection. Beautiful. One grievance: you don't get a full shot of the garments. I know it's Fashion in DETAIL, but sometimes it's a little TOO detailed. Technical sketches are provided.
Fashion in Detail 19th Century: Better than 18th century. Has many full length shots of garments.
Corsets: fabulous. Has excellent photos and sketches and patterns for each corset ranging from the late 18th century to about 1910. Includes construction instructions and projects in the back. While some corset descriptions include original dimensions, I wish they all did. I can figure it out of course, but would have liked to have the work done for me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

London: attractive men, cute shoes and jeggings

Men here are much more attractive than back home. They have the same attractiveness in the face department, but they are so much better groomed! A dapper hair cut and European clothes do the body good. Although...

Best looking man I've seen in my life: Jogging past Martha and I on the way to the tube. Tall, dark, ridiculously handsome, short curly hair and just in jogging stuff. He smiled at us because we both broke out in huge smiles as soon as we saw him. Ah....

Also, the general trend for women of the younger set is to be less groomed rather than more. Haircuts are layers and frayed and shaggy. Fashion leans heavily towards shapeless on top and fitted on bottom. Very short skirts are popular with tights. Leggings are popular with tunics. Some women are very well put together. Raincoats and jackets abound. As mentioned earlier, jeggings are worn as pants (above).

Women here wear adorable lace up leather flats like men's shoes (shown above) and I want some real bad and will probably budget to get some b/c I've never seen anything like them in the states.