Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 20 April 2009

The Queen remodelled

Back in the day, there was an amazing magazine called Nova, the intelligent woman's guide to life, fashion, politics and the rest. I adored it when I was a teenager.

A former journalist on the magazine, Brigid Keenan, has just emailed me with this gem, apropos the piece I wrote last week about the Queen as fashion icon:

It was in the days before you could change images on the computer, so what could have been done in a few minutes now, was an incredibly expensive and complicated affair. Basically, we had to find out the Queen's measurements and exact height (we did this at Madame Tussaud's) and then find a model of those proportions. I asked Andre Courreges to design a suit for the Queen - he made a very snappy navy and white outfit, then I got Alexandre, who was the world's top hairdresser then, to design her a hairstyle, and someone else to design the makeup. The Queen-sized model was photographed in the suit, and the hair and makeup superimposed on the image and it all ended up with the Queen looking like herself but some sort of continental, soignee version! (Apparantly she herself thought we'd made her look like Queen Fara Diba!) There was an awful hiccup at one stage because Courreges had insisted on making the skirt above-the-knee length, and when the finished pictures, which seemed to show the Queen in a mini skirt, arrived from the US (where the retouching was done) the Customs siezed them and we only got them back by negotiating with the Palace. The skirt was lengthened to an appropriate length and that was it.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

I dreamed a dream: on the limitations of appearance

I'm sure that there are many readers of this site who are better dressed than Susan Boyle, better looking, with better figures and more lively romantic histories. And perhaps you too (I know I do) long to step in front of Simon Cowell and belt out a number that would cause his jaw to drop. But in my case that will never happen. It will not happen because however much I dream that dream, however much I spend on the right dress, however much botox I had, I can't sing, and Susan Boyle can.

I now read that Piers Morgan is now planning to take her on her first ever date. Can no gallant man offer himself, in Morgan's place? George Clooney, please step up.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Not the West Wing

scene from In the Loop released Friday which I saw at a press screening today.

Trying on Marilyn's clothes

What size was Marilyn Monroe? A Times journalist tries on her clothes.

As I tentatively tried to coerce my way into the Some Like It Hot dress, Valerie Nelson, the woman charged with caring for the pieces in the Jersey exhibition, talked me through Monroe’s body shape. Monroe was 5ft 5in (I’m an inch shorter); just over eight stone (I’m ¾ of a stone heavier); she had a respectable BMI of 21 (don’t ask). She had an incredibly narrow back and rib cage but big boobs, so if she were to pop into Rigby & Peller for a bra fitting today she would probably be a 30E.

She didn’t have a long body, and although her legs were a lovely shape (beautiful bony ankles and knees) they weren’t particularly long. She had a very short rise (the distance from waist to crotch), but what made her body so extraordinary was the 13-inch difference between her breast and hip measurements and her waist. In her younger years her vital statistics would have come in at 36 23 35, and although her weight fluctuated throughout her career, she always maintained that out-of-this-world body ratio. A real life Jessica Rabbit.

Nelson tells me that they had to get a special mould made for the corset and swimwear dummies in the exhibition because Monroe was such an extreme hourglass shape that no off-the-peg dummies existed in those measurements. The Some Like It Hot dress just about zips up on me – which is pretty mortifying, considering I had always thought of her Sugar phase as a gloriously plump one.

1001 reasons not to buy cheap clothes

(if you can afford better)

The Guardian reports that clothes from Primark don't sell in charity shops:

' . . . I'm surprised that so many clean items in almost pristine condition aren't sellable - anything from Primark, for instance, or one of the supermarkets, and especially children's clothes. "They're so cheap to begin with that we can't sell them," says Sue. They would take up valuable space in the small shop. Instead these clothes go in the "rag" pile - they are bought by "the rag man", who comes every week to collect the bags and pays around £100 for a load: the good clothes are sent to developing countries, the unusable ones are recycled'

Considering some of these clothes were only worn once or twice in the first place they only good thing that may ever happen in their short lives is that they're recycled to make something a bit better

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Lilibet is hot

A short piece of mine in today's Guardian on the new style icon, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II:

Decades of viewing Her Majesty in canary-coloured sacks, matching handbags and two-inch heels, with her hair unchanged since her youthful profile on the stamps, we forget that once she was, if not a trendsetter, nonetheless wearing the newest styles by the hottest, albeit British, designers. In the 60s even she wore a miniskirt, demonstrating the more iron strictures of style 40 years ago, when designers dictated hemlines.

But Elizabeth II, unlike her predecessor, Elizabeth I, who appears in her portraits immolated behind ruffs and pearl-encrusted bodices, has had to wait until old age to be declared a fashion icon.

It was Vogue who started it, when, two years ago, it declared her one of Britain's most glamorous women. She was photographed by Annie Leibovitz, who only does true celebrity. Now the launch issue of Katie Grand's long-awaited style magazine Love, focusing on the fashion icons of our generation, has a naked Beth Ditto on the cover and inside, model Agyness Deyn in ice blue satin Lanvin gown, white lace gloves and tiara, dressed as the Queen. And, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth, an exhibition of six decades of royal couture goes on display at Buckingham Palace in July so we can glimpse how her taste has altered, or not, throughout and even before her reign.

Love magazine's Deyn photo is a weird combination of HRH and Marilyn Monroe. Spookily, Monroe, had she lived, would be the same age as the Queen: the two women were born only two months apart and both came into their own in an age of postwar glamour. Even their figures - the large bust and small waist - are similar.