Secret Style Icon No.16: 19th Century Paris

Last night I went along to the magnificent Salon Project at The Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, and spent an evening in a closed-off stage of enormous chandeliers, mirrors and arched ‘windows’ beaming unreal white light as if from a sunny Parisian day. Usually, I would hide in a dark corner to avoid any kind of […]

Secret Style Icon No.3: Nabokov

Secret Style Icon No.3: Nabokov

I’m pretty sure that most (or, some) people who like reading books go through a very serious and important phase of reading solely about unrequited love affairs, painful memories and champagne drinking. It usually starts with The Great Gatsby. It’s a gateway book. It often leads to Nabokov. that’s what happened to me, and although I’ve drifted away recently (I got lost somewhere around The Luzhen Defence because, well, it’s a book about chess) I still think Nabokov could write better than (almost) anyone. Which is pretty galling for every native English-speaking writer, because he was Russian.

Anyway – he wrote pervy books full of lust and memories, and for a straight man he had an excellent eye for lady fashion. The character of Lucette in Ada or Ardor gets all the best outfits, from her ‘emerald-studded cigarette case’ and ‘very short evening gown in lustrous cantharid green’ to her bright copper hair and series of black silk handbags that ‘click’ open. What a dame. (Cantharid is a kind of beetle. I had to look that up.)

Check out this sustained passage of serious chic:

‘He headed for the bar and made out, through the optical mist, the girl whose silhouette he recalled having seen now and then, passing alone, drinking alone, always alone. For a minute he stood beside her, sideways in remembrance. She wore a high-necked, long-sleeved romantic black dress with an ample skirt, fitted bodice and ruffy collar, from the black soft corolla of which her long neck gracefully rose. We know, we love that high cheekbone and the forward upsweep of black lashes and the painted feline eye’.

There must be other literary hotties that I’ve missed out on. Let me know about them. I need their unattainable glamour in my life.

Secret Style Icon No.2: Katie Morag

Secret Style Icon no.2: Katie Morag

Mairi Hedderwick deserves serious kudos for this. From the knees up its all fey indie girl with artfully bobbled Aran sweater, but those boots! Hard as nails is Katie. If you start life with this look, you will go far. I imagine that Katie continues to break hearts and intimidate classmates until she’s old enough to leave Struay for London, to find herself in the fashion world. After a few years of nonchallantly executed modelling campaigns, she retires at 23 and becomes the archetypal mad-haired designer. She continues to rock the look she invented as a child. much like Margo Tenenbaum. I’d like to be her friend but I’d probably be too in awe to speak to her.