“Brilliant in diamonds, solid in judgement, critical in talk” This was Hester Thrale’s description of Elizabeth Montagu, the Shakespeare critic du jour and Bluestocking Society hostess, in ye olde 18th century. Thrale met her at a legendary bluestockings get-together in London and was clearly enthralled. How. Flipping. Cool. I’d like to be brilliant in diamonds […]
Secret Style Icon No 14: Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter
If you were expecting saucy romance (or aliens) from a film called Brief Encounter, this British masterpiece of the 1940s instead offers a wonderful oddyssey of longing, compromise, disappointment and despair. I love it. From the cut-glass accents and minutae of everyday middle class life (making a phonecall from the tobacconists, taking brandy in a […]
Secret Style Icon No.12: Margot Fonteyn
I’ve always had a soft spot for ballerinas, probably because they seem to take suffering for their art to such deadly-serious extremes. The broken feet, the strict figure control, the scraped-back hair, the vicious competitiveness – it’s all bonkers, but there’s something weirdly fascinating about it too. Perhaps it’s the dedication to something so unequivocally frivolous. Utterly beautiful, fleeting, minor and frivolous. Sitting at […]
Secret Style Icon No.11: Kate Bush
If you think of Kate Bush and immediately picture some mad harpy with a wild mane of hair… Then you’re almost getting there. Here are some reasons why she might just be the most amazing woman: 1. She began her musical career at the age of sixteen with the help of some guy who happened to […]
Secret Style Icon No.9: Yasmin Paige in Submarine
Submarine is a beautiful little film and Oliver Tate (played by Craig Roberts) is the teenage narrator. Selfish, deceitful, self-aggrandizing in the extreme, he somehow manages to win you round by the end. Maybe it’s his tenderly pained expression when the people around him fail to realise his ‘genius’. He enjoys re-casting memories as Super-8 […]
Secret Style Icon No.8: Parker Posey
She played the original mean girl (1976 edition) in Dazed and Confused, as the unhinged, cold-hearted Simone, whose sweet 70s hair-do and cute little uniform (‘Seniors’ jumper, shorts, knee socks) belied the fact that she was leading the freshman students through various masochistic torture rituals for the hell of it (“Now fry like bacon, you little freshman piggies. Fry!”)
Parker Posy deserves kudos for pulling this off with so much zeal and then also nailing her part as the ultimate geek in Best in Show. Behold, the adult-brace wearing ‘Meg Swan’, who has taken her dog to couples therapy. She met her husband in Starbucks (“Not the same Starbucks, but we saw each other at different Starbucks across the street from each other”). They enjoy reading catalogues together. There is an untamed hysteria simmering not far beneath her cool surface, which comes out to spectacular effect when her dog’s favourite toy goes missing. Parker Posy yelling is cinematic gold.
Special mention should go to Mathew McConaughey for his role in Dazed and Confused, without a doubt the pinnacle of his career. That outfit, that hair, the unashamed celebration of arrested development – it shouldn’t work, yet in the world of the film, he is getting all the girls.
Secret Style Icon(s) No.7: Redheads
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a redhead…
When I was 11, there were only a few things I wanted in life: some green frog hairclips from Bow Bangles (now Claire’s Accessories!) the Friends apartment as my own living space (this was 1997) and red hair. Tight corkscrew curls of a deep red colour, to be precise.
It didn’t really matter that I was enjoying the last days of my long blonde hair (I got it all chopped off at 15 and, sadly, it never grew back. Bye bye blonde). All I wanted was that fiery red – because everybody knows, redheads have the best fun of all.
Here is my personal hall-of-fame of beautiful, beautiful hair. Some of it looks like it fell straight out of a pre-Raphaelite painting. Lily Cole makes me feel a little queasy with jealousy for having such heavenly curls (and the winning combination of a slightly deranged Playboy shoot and a double first from Oxford).
Charity Shop Love: Shoooooes
These Carvela beauties came in at £3.99 in Oxfam the other day… I bought them because I found I couldn’t physically let go of them once I had them in my grasp.
They’re both wonderfully high and really, really comfortable, and oh those straps looks so fantastic. I like to call them my ‘But Officer…’ shoes. Yes, I name my shoes sometimes. Judge me!
So far these shoes have had two outings: one to the dancefloor of a 1980s themed club, which, frankly, ended in disaster in many ways (a sticky dancefloor, regrettable dance moves, demanding George Harrison songs from a bemused DJ) but the shoes remained disaster-free. I also went high-brow and took them out to the ballet for a bit of culture. They rose to the occasion magnificently. They’re so well made that there is no wobble when you stand in them – a properly aligned heel is a joy indeed.
Anyway, in other shoe news, I picked up these ACTUALLY MAGIC* glittery heels in topshop for a tenner in the sale, and I have yet to let them outside because they’re just too darned precious. Maybe by Christmas I’ll be ready. These shoes need to see the world.
*Not actually magic.
Secret Style Icon No.5: Christina Ricci in The Ice Storm
Everyone in this film gets at least one amazing look (Tobey Maguire’s orange boiler suit in the snow is shivery good) but Christina Ricci tops them all with her sparky, laconic teenage style, chubby little face and the defiant red cape that she wears when she’s freewheeling in the ‘burbs on her little bike. She’s precocious, sarcastic and politically engaged (“Nixon, it’s incredible, he should be shot”) in a world of sad, grey, icy-cold adults. Her parents (Kevin Kline and Joan Allen wearing mostly trenchcoats) hate each other, don’t care about Nixon and are baffled by their own kids. They dabble with drinking, therapy and key-swapping parties, while living in a very 1970s full of floor-to-ceiling windows. Meanwhile, Christina Ricci dots around being strange, unnerving the adults and having adventures all her own. She also wears a lot of superb woolly red jumpers. Clearly the girl knows her look.
If I lived in a castle made of money, I would also be wearing this Chloe dress. It is more beautiful than the sun and will cost you £485 if you so desire it – and if you’ve recently gone insane within walking distance of Harvey Nics and need to max out the last roof-space on eight credit cards. This could happen: you need to have a plan. Plan for this. At last you’d have a great dress.
Anyway, on my search through the internet I also found this, MUCH BETTER item of clothing/lust. It could have been made for me.