Sunday, 6 October 2013

Time Passes and Other Things

    In two days time I’ll have been here for four weeks. Four weeks in which time has passed as fast as a bullet and as slow as eternity. Days have been fragmented, elongated and cut short; compartmentalized into To Do lists, dragging lectures, leisurely coffees and long, dripping hours of nothing at all. Familiarity breeds contempt; as I slowly get used to the laissez-faire timetabling, the all-nighters and the long, empty afternoons, inertia begins to creep.

   What to do with these long spaces of blank time? I could read books; study my French grammar books with a misplaced sense of purpose; plan future adventures with like-minded travellers; I could write.

   The year abroad is pipped by a cacophony of eager professors, pompous media types and returning Erasmus students, their faces glowing with the warming effect of hindsight, as recurring variations of ‘the best year of your life.’ I admit, I am young; the years behind me are muddled together in a blur of once-known places and faces and routines. They all seem much the same to me. No year seems better than another; no era particularly worth noting.

    But then I stop to think. Of all the years that have come before, the past three or four have surely been the best. Maybe in all those years of agonizing teenage boredom, of waiting for life to start, something passed me by; maybe life has already started and has started sweeping me along in a ceaseless flood. The past three years have been the best of my life and this year, 2013, has been the best of the lot.

      This leads me back to my contemplation of time and its ever-changing state. Here, in Belgium, I seem to have time in excess; there is time to gorge on, spare hours to fill as I will. The possibilities, like time itself, is endless. Maybe some element of truth sounds behind the hopeful, implausible words of those eager professors and shiny-faced fellow students: this could be the best year of my life, but probably not in the way that they imply. I could continue down the road on which I have already placed a shaky first foot and finally, fully comprehend that dreams are there to be achieved. Maybe I need to stop dreaming and waiting for life to start, and realise that it already has.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Bumps in the Road

I wrote this following blog post in a two hour lecture last week, during which I questioned many, many things. What I was doing a million miles from home in an obscure Belgian city; why the hell had I ever chosen to do French as one half of my degree;  whether I'd ever get out of the two hour hell into which I'd just willingly walked myself  and sat down. However, I'm happy to report that a week later things have definitely improved! I've weeded out the impossible-to-understand subjects and doddery, rambling professors and am on my way to an organised timetable and an organised life. Stay posted for more!

So here I sit, in yet another class I don’t understand, listening to a philosophy professor ramble on about some philosopher who may or may not have been a Nazi and who may or may not have agreed with Sartre’s existentialist theories. I don’t know, because yet again I can’t understand. With no helpful aid in PowerPoint form, or a sympathetic, slow talking and plain speaking professor, I am left adrift in a sea of Gallic pronunciation and obscure European philosophers. At least this time I can somewhat understand the monologue manifesting itself in front of me; this time, it is the subject matter that has me at a loss. Apparently, I am in a lecture on the ‘Philosophy of Art’- ah, he just mentioned Vincent Van Gogh. At least now I’m 75% sure I’ve wandered into the correct lecture theatre. But that is the only hint that this is anything other than a two hour seminar on some flamboyant Nazi-loving (maybe), Sartre- hating (again, maybe) philosopher with an incomprehensible German name which, when first written on the board, I took to be the professor’s. Off to a flying start.

What exactly am I doing here? This is one of those moments, occurring with a growing regularity over the past two weeks, when it dawns on me like a slow breaking winter morning that I am not quite in my comfort zone anymore. This is no slumbering English lecture hall, with a reading list as long as my arm and half-asleep comrades beside me to share my half-guilt that I never got around to reading Paradise Lost. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

University here is mystery wrapped in an enigma and that’s before you start to tackle the language barrier or even get to your classes. Rooms are numbered on one list and named on another. There is no corresponding, explanatory list. No one will tell you, or seems to know, whether classes start this week, next week or not until half way through October. Lectures are taught ‘ex-cathedra’, a term I’ve only just come to learn the meaning of: sit here and listen to the man at the front of the room’s inexorable, rambling monologue. Take notes, if possible. Repeat. A real life nightmare for any querulous Erasmus student not yet fully confident in their powers of comprehension. Or even if they’re in the right room. Things must, surely, only get better…

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Life à la Française

As the rain hammers down on the misty Velux windows of my new loft appartement, I reflect on the vast changes that have been wrought on my life since I last updated my blog. The past four months have past by in a blur of sun-baked London streets, whirring office air-con and the dappled, blustery loveliness of a Cornish summer by the sea. And now this: the tiny, rainy cobbled streets and cafes and restaurants of Liege, the somewhat unknown Belgian city that is to be my home for the next nine months.

This summer has seen me run at speed between internships, exam results and my year abroad, with snatched moments of summer bliss amid my hectic schedule. If you’ve been following my Twitter feed, you will know that my summer months have been marked out by three stark events: two dream internships and a looming, potentially life-changing move away from the family and friends that are so dear to me. Somewhat paradoxically, although I had two what-dreams-are-made-of internships as a fashion writer at both The Times and ELLE magazine, chances to update this blog and embark on personal projects have been few and far between; apart from a ridiculously exciting interview for SID Magazine that will be coming out in the Autumn, this keyboard has never been so inactive.

It seems obvious, but never before had I thought that change could be so inspiring. I have blog posts and article ideas coming out of my ears! There’s so much to say and describe about my electric summer, before it gets lost amidst the freezing boulevards and sudden showers of this autumnal city. And also, I have so much to say about Liege, about Belgium, and my hopes, fears and dreams for this year. There will be travelling, no doubt, and new places and faces and languages to explore. A year spent straddling the Channel, with feet firmly placed on both English and European soil, will have all sorts of adventures to look forward to, at home and abroad. À la prochaine

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Best Dressed at the Cannes Film Festival 2013

Last week I wrote a piece for my university's weekly newspaper on top five best dressed at the Cannes Film Festival. I enjoyed writing the piece, but in hindsight I recognize that I was writing more for the paper's target audience of fellow students than of my own, slightly left-of-field, taste. You can read the original article here, but below I have compiled my very own top five from Cannes.


French ingénue Marion Cotillard was all things modern in her pre- Spring/ Summer 2014 Dior dress at the Blood Ties premiere. Modern not only because the collection had debuted only four days previously, but also because the Rust & Bone actress wore Chopard jewels designed alongside Livia Firth's Green Carpet Challenge project, the eco-friendly enterprise that have been gaining ground and print columns in the last year or so. All highly commendable, but what really interests me is the Memphis- style colour blocking that complements and extends the elegant, fluid lines of her Dior dress. The 60's beehive looks great too, although it could possibly be given a modern update by allowing it a bit of movement and freedom from its structural confines; a few wisps of hair around the face would do it. Plus, Marion's make up is arguably rather heavy for her delicate Gallic features; a lighter hand with the bronzer and eyeshadow would have been ideal. 8.5/ 10


When I grow up, I want to be as awesome as Kristen Scott Thomas. As one of my favourite actresses, francophile Kristen Scott Thomas never disappoints when it comes to film roles, talent or just plain exquisite coolness. Thirty-odd years in the French and English film industries has given her a presence that rises above the starlets who flock to Cannes, and here she trails fledgling pretenders to her throne in her glittering, sequinned wake. 9/10 


Marion Cotillard's second mention in this piece is indicative of two things. Firstly, that I have a huge girl-crush Marion Cotillard and all her frenchy-ness. Secondly, that these walking adverts for the Dior pre-Spring/ Summer '14 collection indicate that Raf Simons is well and truly hitting his stride as the house's frontman and successor to John Galliano. The first couple of seasons of his time at the helm were quietly respectable, wearable and interesting- somewhat loose complements to a brilliant designer such as Simons is. However, the pre- collection that debuted during Cannes depicts a star and a talent that is on the rise, as the designer finds his feet and his confidence at his new post. 9/10 


There's just something about a spangled gold trouser and jumper combo. However, that 'something', or 'je ne sais quoi' as they would say in Cannes, obviously has many determiners. The first is that this is a gold sparkly jumpsuit made by the Antwerp- educated French/ Colombian designer Haider Ackermann, and not something you'd pick up on a whim in Primark. The second is that it is worn by the icily cool Tilda Swinton, who with her bleached quiff and red lips is a definite contender for Kristen Scott Thomas' throne of coolness. Maybe they could share it. Simplicity is the key to this statement outfit: Tilda does not weigh herself down with a frou-frou clutch or an excesse of make up. Moreover, somehow she does not let the gold outfit outshine her- she owns it completely, with a smile that says that she does not take it, or herself, or the entire Cannes circus, too seriously. 10/ 10


I realise that I have already claimed that when I grow up I want to be Kristen Scott Thomas. Well, I also want to be Tilda Swinton and Laeticia Casta in a weird amalgamation of squished up film stars and supermodels. Anyway. Talking about weird amalgamations, here Laeticia puts an outfit together so wrong that it's also completely right. A Dior dress that is cut a little too high for crotch comfort, and plastered with Barbie- pink flowers? Check. Golden wings as a totally unnecessary yet amazing cover under the Cannes sun? Check. What appears to be slightly dodgy sparkly gold platforms which match those wings? Check and check. The only thing troubling about this so-wrong-it's-right get up is Laeticia's slightly aging, brown make-up; I did a double take for all the wrong reasons when I looked up her age. This outfit, a breath of fresh couture air amidst the familiar parade of yawn-worthy gowns, needs a softer, rosier palette, which would let the supermodel's youth and undoubted beauty shine through. 7.5/ 10

All photos:

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Jennifer Lawrence: Dior's Perfect Woman?


         You just can’t escape Jennifer Lawrence at the moment. Following in the footsteps of model of the moment Cara Delavigne, who is simply, J-Law is most definitely the actress du jour.

    Following on from her Cinderella-esque tumble at the Oscars, and her endearingly normal, self-deprecating persona in front of the world’s press, the first shots of the actress for her latest role as the face of  Miss Dior handbags, the chic little sister of the Lady Dior bag, have firmly established J-Law as fashion and film's current First Lady.

           Ushering in a new era of a Raf Simons-headed Dior, the adverts are a departure from thedays when John Galliano headed the French fashion house. Sleek, simplified and structural,the recently released photos mirror Simons take on the extensive Dior archives:paring back the excessiveness of Galliano to reveal the true essence of Dior.The architectural, silken lines of the black blazer that Jennifer Lawrence has been photographed in is reminiscent of Dior’s decisive ‘New Look’, whilst alsoechoing the minimalism of designers such as Jil Sander, and even Yves Saint Laurent’s eponymous ‘Le Smoking’ tuxedo. The net veil strongly speaks of Simons' current collaboration of the old and the new, the classic and the innovational,with the 50’s shape juxtaposing the more recent avant-garde headwear ofdesigners such Gareth Pugh and Martin Margiela.  

        JenniferLawrence could be described as the ideal figurehead of Dior under Raf Simons. The ultimate modern woman, she has the curves of a 50’s icon and a character so assured and self-confident that she, apparently, directed one of her entourage to fetch a McDonalds for her during the Oscars. Who better to spearhead the inimitable brand’s new ‘New Look’?

Images from: Vogue and US Magazine 

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Chanel, Scotland and Tilda Swinton: A Story of Craftsmanship

          Tilda Swinton has today been named the face of Chanel’s Metiers d’Art Paris-Edinburgh collection, which debuted spectacularly in the misty ruins of a Scottish castle last December. 

          Set in the secluded Linlithgow Palace, with a guest list so exclusive that many bloggers and minor editors were left out in the cold, the collection was a celebration of Scottish heritage, craftsmanship and the longstanding intimate relationship between Scotland and Chanel. Described as a ‘truly exceptional show’ by British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, the collection was a classic Karl interpretation of traditional Scottish dress:  well-structured and precisely edited, the collection highlighted both the talent of the head designer, and the exceptional skill of the legion of craftsmen which support him.

          In this collection, fabric was not in short supply: tweed was layered, draped and folded against the Scottish chill, showcased in a variety of bright plaids and chunky Fair Isle knits. The classic Chanel bouclé jacket was lined, unusually (Chanel originally celebrated unlined garments to give an ease of movement) with traditional Scottish plaid. The Chanel chains were transformed from bag handles to embellish hats and sporrans, and the strings of pearl semiotic of the house were developed into the chunky collars and drop earrings reminiscent of the jewellery that would have, once upon a time, been worn in Linlithgow Palace.  Nods to Mary Queen of Scots can be found in the sumptuous shirts, ruffs, Tudor-style jackets and layered bell skirts all embellished with heavy lines of pearls and gemstones. 

     So why the sudden focus on tweed, plaid, leather and everything else that Scotland has got to offer through its long manufacturing history? The Metiers d’Art (pre-A/W ’13, in other words) was designed as an annual celebration of the craftsmen, ateliers and specialists who are both the driving force of Chanel and provide the many, many hours that go into crafting both the Prêt-a-Porter and Couture collections.

       The collaboration between Chanel and Swinton is perhaps unsurprising choice; Tilda has for years been the face of Scottish knitwear label Pringle and has been described as ‘a modern woman, a timeless icon of elegance’ by Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld.In my simple opinion, her ethereal, unusual beauty conjures up the mysticism of Scotland. 

      Chanel as a label and as a person has had a long standing history with Scottish tweed. Chanel, who used to visit Scotland regularly in the 1920s to stay in the Duke of Westminster’s rugged pile, sourced her original bouclé tweeds from Scotland, introducing it as one of the house’s defining fabrics in 1927. In 2012 the fashion house acquired the specialist factory Barrie Knitwear, which has made luxury tweeds for them for the past 25 years. 

Images and quotes from:

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

London In A Nutshell: Louise Gray Autumn/ Winter 2013


          A cacophony of abstracted prints, with just a hint of the uptight secretary; Louise Gray’s Autumn/ Winter 2013 collection ‘Hey Crazy’ was East meets West: London in a decorative nutshell. Drawn together by the repeating motif ‘Tube Map,’ the collection was a celebration of print, vibrant colour and a certain idiosyncratic ‘joie de vivre’ that only comes from living in London. Prim and proper librarian met East End cool with a large dash of humour, irreverence and impeccable tailoring; the very best of London, you could say.

      East was found in the dynamic, vaguely African-esque prints, mohair jumpers and eclectic recycled accessories and embellishments, which were strongly reminiscent of the 80s punk designers Vivienne Westwood and Pam Hogg, who Louise Gray undoubtedly owes a lot to.

        West in the buttoned up blouses, princess coats and strong tailoring that underpins the collection; jacquard fabrics pinned and cut just so to create mini peplums and decisive trouser and skirt suits. “I’ve found a confidence in tailoring, and it’s exactly what I want to wear right now,” said Gray in her show notes.

       However, despite this newfound confidence, there was no getting away from the ‘Hey Crazy’ theme of the collection, summed up with the recycled plastic bag head pieces, toilet roll accessories (maybe those can be left at home) and silver Bakewell Tart tins as oversized brooches. For fashion, London has long been the capital of ‘crazy’ (we prefer ‘creativity’), and Louise Gray is currently the undoubted queen of offbeat London style.

     ‘Hey Crazy’: summing up the vibrant, collective urban existence that can only be found only in London. 

All images from:


Monday, 25 February 2013

A New (kinda) Beginning

Once again, I can only apologise for being miserably lacking in my blog posting recently. University, various other writing activities and life in general have, this term, supplanted Lanvin My Man in my top three main interests. However, the boredom and frustration generated by revision, exams, essays and, paradoxically, less and less free time, will almost certainly mean that LMM will be getting some TLC in the coming weeks.

For the mean time, here's a picture of me standing on a roof with weirdly small hands. You're welcome. 

Coat and hat: Various charity shops
Top: Next
Jeans: H&M
Shoes and faux fur collar: New Look

Friday, 8 February 2013

From Austen to Beard: Women Writers Fight Back!

         Trawling the online papers recently in that ritual daily effort of supreme procrastination, I stumbled upon the news that this week is, in fact, the two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

        Yes, the author that brought you a wet-shirted Colin Firth, an thumb-bitingly irritating Keira Knightley and the ever-lovable Bridget Jones published her seminal work two hundred years ago. That one of the best-known and well-loved authors and her book is still as popular after two hundred years is something very admirable, I thought to myself. But then I thought again.

           Wading through the endless paragraphs of newsprint on the subject of Pride & Prejudice, I was suddenly drawn back to my first tentative steps towards entering the bipolar journalistic world. Picture if you will a crowded conference room of a middle of the road, middle class university, packed with sweaty, nervous Freshers about to embark on their first plunge into the cut throat universe of student journalism.

       A clear voice cuts the air. ‘I want,’ it says, ‘to do a feature on women writers as, you know, Jane Austen is pretty much the only one anyone’s ever heard of.’ Cue vehement outburst from my side of the table. ‘What the hell, what rock are you living under?!’ I yelled, (that bit might have only been in my head…) ‘What about Virginia Woolf? Margaret Atwood? Silvia Plath?! There are like, sooo many awesome female writers!’ Silence. I sensed my burgeoning journalistic career starting to free- fall in a spectacular burst of flames.

         ‘Anyway,’ says overly self-important editor. ‘Sounds great! Four hundred words maybe?’ And with that I slinked away, comforted only by the knowledge that my much-maligned female authors would be supporting me all the way. Maybe.

        So where does all this hilarious reminiscing lead me? Ah yes, to more wonderings: that is, why is it that the agglomeration of all female writing in the past 200 years is summed up by what is essentially a beautifully written, intellectual chick flick? (Don’t hate me Austen-philes, I am one too!)

        These days, the writing world is a hard one for women: with young, female journalists such as Laurie Penny and Cath Elliott, as well as older commentators like Mary Beard, attracting vitriol and horrific online abuse for their writing, it is seemingly harder for a woman to state her opinion these days than it was for Miss Austen, with her proto-feminist, pugnacious female leads.

       Does sharing your political, personal, whatever thoughts as a writer make receiving horrific threats an occupational hazard? Of course not.  So how do we combat the online misogynistic anonymous who practice vehement censorship of female writing whilst crying ‘freedom of speech’? Are cries of ‘do not feed the troll’ adequate or even effective?

        My advice to women writers everywhere would be: write, and keep writing, and don’t stop until the ranks of Woolf, Plath, Atwood and yes, Austen are swelled and prominent enough to keep the trolls at bay. After all, Lizzie Bennett would never have put with it two hundred years ago.