Archive : April 2011

11 Apr 2011
avatar Author: Colette Van Den Thillart
Creative Director

Are peacocks common??? You know in the British sense of ‘common’…Must ask Nicky…


He certainly never balks when I throw some peacock in a colour scheme…its SUCH a brilliant accent colour.

Nicky’s friend Maggi Hambling breaks my heart with her expressions of water and movement…which I’m convinced are portraits of sorts. 

She also happens to be the one whispering something naughty in my ear, making me scream with laughter, on my facebook profile picture.

Elsie knew how to work peacock blues, with abandon!

And do you remember it was HUGE in the 80′s!

And Vermeer…why does everyone look to 18th century interiors when 17th are often much more romantic?

6 Apr 2011
avatar Author: Nicky Haslam

Princess Kate is clearly, radiantly, the apple of William’s eye, but Wallis Windsor was the king’s peach….when I worked for American Vogue in New York I came across them from time to time.  Once, most memorably, as I describe in my memoir ‘Redeeming Features’, the duchess and I were both early for a cocktail party at the Waldorf Towers so she insisted we hid for 20 minutes, laughing, in a corridor broom closet until some other guests arrived. 

This was typical of the woman as I knew her…full of vim and vigor and completely unstuffy…an example is this Philippe Halsman ‘jump’ photograph of the couple, though as a detractor sourly remarked, ‘it looks more like they’ve been dropped by somebody’.

The duchess also had a very tender side. I have a letter she wrote to her friend and mentor, the decorating genius Elsie Mendl, from La Cröe, the Windsors house on Cap d’Antibes (and now Roman Abramovitch’s), in the late 1930s … “nothing could make me happier than to be alone with you at the Villa Trianon… to look at you, and all the things you have created”….and she adds… “tonight I go to play cards with Winston Churchill who is stopping with Max Beaverbrook”…so much for her being shunned by ‘society’. 

Wallis’s style and chic are legendary, to say nothing of the famous jewels. Some of these were sold recently at Sotheby’s and Chairman Henry Wyndham asked me to co-host a lunch there before the sale. The idea was our guests would try on those huge historic rocks, but maddeningly they had all been sent to some Hong Kong potentate for a private viewing. So the nearest I’ve got to clamping on that vast ruby and emerald flamingo is one of the copies made by Butler and Wilson….and which my friend Hugo Vickers snapped up in readiness for his forthcoming book, ‘Behind Closed Doors’, a  chronicle the duchess’s last tragic years  after the duke died.

It makes harrowing reading, the poor woman bedridden and bullied…..tortured would not be too strong….by the ogreish female attorney Maitre Blum. I prefer to remember her as the epitome of elegance.

And fun…the first time we met, I mentioned a new group. “The Beatles!” she said. “don’t you just love ‘em?”

4 Apr 2011
avatar Author: Colette Van Den Thillart
Creative Director

I don’t know who Blake Lively is wearing on this recent cover of Grazia but I’m a sucker for anything resembling a cage crinoline.

A year or two ago, Sadler’s Wells staged Eonnagata…co-created and performed by ballerina Sylvie Guillem, choreographer Russell Maliphant, and theatrical wizard Robert Lepage (Lepage may I just say…being Canadian).  Based on the Chevalier d’Eon, famous cross dressing, sword wielding spy.  How’s that for dishy?  Anyway McQueen was asked to do the costumes and I just thought everything about it was absolute genius.

In fact I went twice.

This 18th century dress seems to share a similar inspiration…not to mention looking very like our shutter stripe fabric.

Hussian Chalayan probably has executed the most contemporary and stylized takes on this idea…also genius.

And if you happened to miss his ‘After Words’ in 2000, it was extraordinary.

Anish Kapoor’s at the Royal Academy….looks like a birdcage skirt to me!

And do we think McQueen saw this Uccello drawing from 1430′s when he designed those costumes? Probably not but this is a VERY reoccurring geometry that seems to really cross the boundaries.

So simple and yet so alluring.