Darcy Bussell, Evolved

To celebrate Darcey Bussell’s new retrospective, Darcey Bussell: Evolved, here are a selection of the most stunning images of the former Royal Ballet prima ballerina and current Strictly judge’s remarkable career. Darcey Bussell: Evolved, published by Hardie Grant, £30, is out now.

Darcey Bussell

A 20 year old Bussell posing for Vogue, 1989.

From Darcey Bussell Evolved

A grand sissone jump for Arthur Elgort, 1989.

Related image

Darcey Bussell in Harpers Bazaar circa 1990s


thethinspoproject:  Darcey Bussell - amazing legs!

Darcey Bussell and Carlos Acosta

the swan in the louboutins

Darcey Bussell and Royal Ballet Principals at the London 2012 closing ceremony © Reuters/Gary Hershorn by Royal Opera House Covent Garden, via Flickr

London 2012 closing ceremony.

Darcey Bussel for Swan Lake

Swan Lake

Darcey Bussell by Leslie E. Spatt

Darcey Bussell as Juliet.

As Juliet

Rachel Maclean’s Make Me Up

BBC Four aired a 70 minute film by the multimedia artist Rachel Maclean last night, a satire on social media, plastic surgery and how society treats women. The palette was a nauseating cacophony of patriarchy pinks and Instagram lilacs; the soundtrack a re-purposed use of Kenneth Clark’s narration of his 1969 series Civilization and cutesy phone bleeps and squeaks. Maclean herself plays the ringmaster of a disturbing arena where her subjects compete against each other for survival. She lip syncs to Clark’s voice with facial expressions straight out of RuPaul’s Drag Race Cattywalk. The film successfully lampoons the ostensibly cute imagery our society is drenched in that conveys a message that is anything but. The women’s voices are controlled by Maclean’s ringmaster; their behaviour overseen by a malevolent, extravagantly lashed eye that prevents them from eating and insists on subservience and conformity. One of the women just says forlornly, “hungry.”

Rachel Maclean, Make Me Up, 2018 (still). Courtesy of the artist. © Rachel Maclean

Siri, a make up blogger unhappy with her face, is drawn into the nightmarish world by the insecurities that her constant, tech enabled self scrutinising has exacerbated. She is then trapped in this brutalist Barbie house, competing with others like herself who have been “transformed”. “You may be born imperfect but you can die gorgeous.” The sights of the satire are obvious but no less worth it for that.

The imagery is disturbing and powerful, and the film will doubtless linger in the mind long after watching. It could even be viewed as a call to arms, with Clark’s voice over at one point saying that “although civilization looks complicated, it is fragile and can be destroyed.” The satisfaction when the ringmaster is destroyed and the brutalist Barbie house is torn down is energising.


Glacial beauty

Australian photographer Ben Hardman is based in Iceland and has been documenting Arctic winters for the past five years. He lays bare these extraordinary landscapes in a new exhibition, with images that show the some of the most extreme environments on Earth in all their majestic, raw and enigmatic glory.

Ómur: the shape, texture and anatomy of the Arctic is at theprintspace gallery until 29 August.

Methane gas trapped beneath the ice layer of a frozen lake, Alberta, Canada

Ice Bubbles (2018) Methane gas trapped beneath the ice layer of a frozen lake, Alberta, Canada

A blue morph Arctic fox, Thórsmörk, Iceland

Fox Eyes (2017) 
A blue morph Arctic fox, Thórsmörk, Iceland

A geothermal mountain range concealed within a thick sheet of snow, Landmannalaugar, Iceland

Winter Contrasts (2016)
A geothermal mountain range concealed within a thick sheet of snow, Landmannalaugar, Iceland

An outlet glacier seen from an aerial perspective through a thin blanket of low-lying clouds, Svínafellsjökull, Iceland

An underwater perspective of a floating iceberg, Jökulsárlón, Iceland

Submerged (2017)
An underwater perspective of a floating iceberg, Jökulsárlón, Iceland

Intertwined glacial silt waters of Tungnaá, Fjallabak, Iceland

Glacial River Aerial (2017)
Intertwined glacial silt waters of Tungnaá, Fjallabak, Iceland


In the media today…


Camden’s own fashion sprite Noel Fielding looks delighted to be the attention of paps as his profile transitions from quirky cult to proper mainstream after his hiring as co-host for Channel 4’s recipe for GBBO. I immediately went to the comments to see what the notoriously circumspect and welcoming Daily Mail readership would make of a man whose look appears to be based on a mixture of Frank Zappa and a sexy giant crow. Surprisingly, below the line generally approved of him, although one commentator did wail “Has anyone ever looked worse?” The answer to that is most assuredly, yes. See camel toe knickers below.

Shia LaBeouf’s “post-apocalyptic shambles” of a film, Man Down, made £7 at the box office on its opening weekend.  It opened in one cinema in Burnley (a token opening) and presumably one person went to see it. What a lonely place to be: the one Shia LaBeouf fan in Lancashire, sitting in an empty cinema, desolately munching popcorn and sticking out a film that they could persuade literally no one to come and see with them. It’s a harrowing image.






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Trump: Not just a fart in the breeze, unfortunately

The inaugural speech of Donald J Trump as America’s president has just ended. It was a long and aggressive speech, carefully crafted to appeal to the peculiarities of his supporters. I previously thought of him as a joke but less so now, I’m angry and worried. Gone is the age of dignity, facts, circumspection, intelligence. Now is the hour of petulant, puffed up bombast.

“You came in your tens of millions to be part of an historical movement the likes of which the world has never seen before” he reminded his waterproofed supporters. Worrying. It has to be said the crowd was sparser than one might have expected. Must have been the weather.

The main thrust of the address was put “America first”. He claimed: “We’ve made other countries rich. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and redistributed across the world.” I thought America has made no country richer than itself, on the backs of cheap labour from other countries. I guess I was wrong.

He then reiterated his clarion call to “every foreign capital across the land… America first in every decision… When we’re united, we’re unstoppable, protected by [the military]… and by God.” Uh oh.

His rousing speech was met with smatterings of applause. He then repaired to look shifty during the multi-faith blessings. I felt for Obama, having to listen to this idiot who will no doubt destroy most of the good work he did in office; Trump has already vowed to scrap Obamacare. The dignified and real Obamas have been replaced by a self-confessed sex pest and his fembot bride. Please come back, Barack.

The BBC coverage included interviews with his supporters, two of whom looked like extras from Deliverance but without the humour. “He’s one of us” the one with the bigger moustache asserted. “When he’s finished this he’ll probably go back to work and that’s the way it should be in Amuurca.” He’s quite patently not one of you, he’s a billionaire for a start. This Trump is a triumph of magical thinking that will have very real consequences.

PS. The fact the Daily Mail is calling him the don makes me feel physically sick. Don’t try and make him cool. He’s not cool.




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The Great Interior Design Challenge Final 2017

Series 4 of my favourite cosy, slow television show painted itself off our screens last night after only nine episodes, six fewer than the previous series.

Daniela, a stylish photographer and mum of two, locked cushions with Oliver, a 49 year old hairdresser, redecorating three rooms each in a castle on the Kent coast. The 19th century castle was built by Lord Avery, inventor of the bank holiday and represented by a crest that depicted a pelican, “the symbol for caring and self-sacrifice” according to host Tom Dyckhoff. Pelican heraldry: you didn’t get topics like that on Bake Off (may God rest its soggy bottom).

Oliver’s rooms were much like himself: warm and friendly. A tiny galley kitchen was opened up by replacing some of the cabinets with open shelving that displayed crockery in a variety of textures and colours. An oversized clock raised the eye to appreciate the high windows. I loved the freshness of the colours and the sharp black and white laminate flooring. The bedroom was as opulent as requested – deploying a majestic palm print wallpaper in a burnished gold and moody turquoise, taken over the edges of the panelling to great effect. The four poster bed certainly created a mood of warm opulence; despite the presence of a chandelier and a walnut bedside table he still somehow made it look masculine. The study was a warm, welcoming room; a place you wanted to spend time although the colours were a little off to me, light blue with mustards and greeny cushions, hmmm. In fact, there was altogether too much blue in the latter stages of this competition. Oliver’s semi-final with Nicholas looked like it was being bankrolled by a dastardly Pantone salesman who only traded in the colour of sadness.

Daniela’s brief for her home-owners’ master bedroom was to create a spa feel. She created a clean room: dark stain on the fantastic parquet floorboards she uncovered underneath a drab carpet and crisp white, white, white everywhere else. I loved the glamour of the light fitting, created for around £45 by attaching fringing to a large circle of MDF. It looked great apart from the staples still showing at the top. The application of a ribbon to cover them would have sharpened the finish. The room was lovely but lacking colour, a little oomph.

The living room was dominated by a giant likeness of Napoleon which I am still deciding whether I liked or not. A bespoke, checked TV cabinet looked chic yet a little sterile. A large right angle sofa went down well with the home-owners and the overall affect was radical and inventive. Perhaps so inventive it left me a little unsure, but it has certainly stuck in my memory. I think Daniela’s mood boards were so glamorous and sumptuous I was expecting more of a wow factor.

The kitchen, again a tiny galley, was transformed with a metallic wallpaper on the cabinets to reflect the floor and give a smart illusion of space. There was a playful mixture of textures and materials including a cool marble effect wallpaper. The modern flash of dark orange glass on the exposed shelves was impeccable styling.

Daniela was fierce and won the trophy, as expected. No dinky dolls’ house trophy anymore. Like poor Sophie Robinson it has been traded in for something altogether sleeker. Previous full-time judge Sophie returned as a guest, feathers ruffled. She adopted the approach of a peacock and attacked with a maximum colour offensive: a TV-plasma-melting fuchsia mixed with a cerulean skirt. Plus giant scissor earrings. Sophie Robinson I salute you.

I still love this show but I wish the series had been longer to brighten more of my bleak January and I found the chemistry between original judge Daniel Hopwood and Kelly Hoppen unbalanced. She was too domineering and he too nervous of her. He and Sophie had a more equal chemistry but perhaps that will improve on future series.

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GBBO Final

What won out in the finale: precision, experience or going the extra mile?

The first challenge was a crown meringue, which involved processes as niche as polishing physalises and constructing a dam out of blueberries. Candice of Lipstick produced a cacophonous effort, a huge spiky slice of which held its shape marvellously despite it being a sugary behemoth.

Andrew was denied the warm clutch of a Hollywood handshake for his meringue despite his exertion flaming fuchsia across his cheeks. The fact that this was a privilege bestowed on both of his competitors seemed to prompt him to drop the meek façade to reveal the steely cakesmith underneath: he vowed to win or “die trying”. He became like a baking terminator, willing to go down in a blaze of glory, or a puff of flour, rather than accept mediocrity.

The determination worked and Andrew came top of the technical, but alas, it was not to last. “Keep it together Andrew” he told himself at the start of the monumental showstopper with the sort of precarious quaver of those who know they will do nothing of the sort. He started with an excel sheet of timings, he ended by saying “screw the measurements!”

Of course Candice won, with her sausage roll piggies with crackling tails and a chocolate cake which surrendered itself to Paul’s big knife in a most sumptuous and appealing way. The other two were met with too many gripes for any other result to be entertained (soggy bottoms, raw pastry, disappearing cheese flavour).

The next time we see GBBO, it will be on Channel 4. How will the format cope? Will it retain its charm? Or has it been (hehe) over-egged? The post show update told us that Candice and Jane are planning a baking trip together. Obviously that’s not going to be filmed. Cheeky Beeb.

Technicolor Sass

A Rita Hayworth/ Frank Sinatra musical – Pal Joey (1957) – was on TV this afternoon and, as with all Technicolor films of that era, I was struck by the sumptuous, joyous costume and set design. I’ve never understood the appeal of Frank Sinatra, he seems to me like a malnourished pit bull, but his leading ladies were ravishing: Kim Novak parading around a waspish waist and immaculate face and Rita Hayworth effortlessly outshining her, despite being 15 years her senior, with her insouciant sex appeal.


Dress fashioned from gunmetal and sass, with evil decolletage 

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Every lady needs a dressing gown made of diaphanous lace and (faux) fur trim, for swishing out of rooms and draping oneself alluringly over chaise lounges


Kim Novak + Pal Joey + thanks NYTimes_com

Luminous lilac speaks to one’s inner child



Is there a more stylish example of a shirt than this? Low cut yet still demure with an incorporated belt. Swoon



How can jets of water be this stylish?


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You’re cool, but are you Space Dagger cool?

It must have been a headscratcher for his subjects: what to get the teenage god/king who has everything for his trip into the everafter? A space dagger, obviously. An article published today in The Guardian has said that a dagger found in the wrapping of Tutankhamun’s mummy has revealed itself to be of extra-terrestrial origin under new analysis techniques. When Howard Carter discovered the Pharaoh’s tomb in 1925 there were two daggers with him: one of gold and one with an iron blade, gold handle, rock crystal pommel and lily and jackal decorated sheath. The latter has always puzzled researchers as ironwork was rare in Ancient Egypt and the metal of the blade has never rusted. Italian and Egyptian researchers analysed the metal with an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer (yeah) and found that its chemical composition “strongly suggests an extra-terrestrial origin”.

People have worked with bronze, copper and gold since 4,000 BC but ironwork came much later and was rare in ancient Egypt. Nine blackened iron beads were excavated from a cemetery near the Nile in northern Egypt in 2013 and were found to have been beaten out of meteorite fragments and also a nickel-iron alloy. The beads are far older than the young king, dating to 3,200BC.

“As the only two valuable iron artefacts from ancient Egypt so far accurately analysed are of meteoritic origin,” the team that studied the knife wrote, “we suggest that ancient Egyptians attributed great value to meteoritic iron for the production of fine ornamental or ceremonial objects”.

They suggested that the findings added meaning to the use of the term “iron” in ancient texts. Around the 13th century BC a term “literally translated as ‘iron of the sky’ came into use … to describe all types of iron”. Egyptologists have suggested that objects falling from the sky would have been considered gifts from the gods

The skill of the workmanship on the blade suggests the Pharaoh had metalworkers at his disposal who were skilled with iron despite the rarity of the metal. This is not the first extra-terrestrial object discovered in Tutankhamun’s tomb: in 2006 an Austrian astrochemist proposed that a strange yellow gem fashioned into the shape of a scarab to form part of the King’s burial necklace is actually glass formed in the heat of a meteorite crashing into sand.

It’s exactly this sort of ahead-of-its-time ingenuity mixed with an absorbing mysticism and bad-ass blingery (as well as an obsession with death) that ensures we’re still talking about the Ancient Egyptians thousands of years after they walked the sand.

I mean yeah, Drake’s cool, but does he have a crystal and gold handled, meteorite-iron bladed space dagger? I think not. Jay Z may have Beyoncé (for now…?) but does he have a blast glass scarab necklace? He does not. Thus proving that no matter how hard we try, we will never be as cool as the Ancient Egyptians.

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Prince: Too funky to live

(Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)

(Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)

2016 is pulling no punches: it appears to be systematically wiping out musicians who were a world in themselves: Lemmy, shaman of heavy metal and heavy living, the Thin White Duke, and now his tiny purpleness himself. I was shocked and devastated to hear the news of Prince’s sudden death last Thursday. He was bombastically flamboyant and preternaturally talented, mysterious, unknowable, beautiful. He was also gloriously filthy, responsible for such hits as “Gett Off” (“23 positions in a one night stand”), Cream (“Get on top”) and my personal favourite, “Raspberry Beret” (“I wouldn’t change a stroke”). It wasn’t gratuitous, it was just honest. There was no childish giggling around a subject most adults enjoy, just glittery, raw filth. His song “Darling Nikki” was single-handedly responsible for the introduction of parental advisory stickers.

The diminutive virtuoso weaved his way through my consciousness. I remember he opened a shop in Camden when I was a child: all purple and glitter and running water. I saw him live at Hop Farm in 2011 and he was all that you would expect: arriving on stage like a matador from space and I swear, I swear, noting mine and my friend’s raspberry berets (nobody believes me on this). His band was made up of impossibly gorgeous women and he played with amazing energy and for so long that we actually wandered off to get pints before the end and then went on a ride that knocked over all the full pints we’d left by the side, even though we’d been told it wouldn’t. But enough about carnies’ reckless attitude to trading standards. This is something I bitterly regret – wandering off, not the knocked over pints (though that was painful). Still we got to hear the emotive, soaring chords of “Purple Rain” and be showered in purple glitter. It was a magical evening, one I will cherish all the more now.

Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis in 1958, named after his father’s stage name in a hope that the boy would fulfil the ambitions the father never could. He wrote, arranged, produced and performed everything on his debut album For You, released when he was 19. He dominated the 80s with albums like Purple Rain, Sign O’ the Times and 1999. He knew his way around an epic tune and managed the rare feat of attaining mega-stardom whilst still being cool. He was extraordinarily prolific, releasing 39 albums in his career – four in the last eighteen months alone – and his songs pepper popular culture, from Alicia Keys (“How Come You Don’t Call Me?”) to Chaka Khan (“I Feel For You”) to Sinead O’Connor (you know the one). With mega-stardom, however, came what he saw as a loss of control, with his famously feisty relationships with his record company and, latterly, the internet. In 1995 he changed his name to an unpronounceable squiggle based on a blending of the scientific symbols for male and female with customary added flamboyance. This caused much disdain and consternation in the media, who struggled with what to call him, settling on “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince”. When The Times reviewed a show of his in 1995 and used his former moniker, he complained and sacked his PR. This may sound precious but it was also the actions of an artist trying to regain control of his own public image. He provided us with excellent music, it seems a small thing to ask that we called him what he wanted.

Prince appeared to be one of the many artist with whom massive fame didn’t wholly agree: he hated giving interviews. His last one was conducted from behind a piano and any question he didn’t like was greeted with the theme from The Twilight Zone (haha!!). Artists who are sensitive and thoughtful, talented and unique often buckle under the pressure of confounded journalists trying to fit them in a box they understand. Prince wasn’t a round peg in a square hole, he was a peacock feather caught in netting. Fame only seems to wholly agree with the vacuous perma-tanned entities that haunt reality TV, perhaps because they have no personality or talent to be distorted. Fame for nothing is the logical conclusion of their unfounded narcissism. I wonder if the gods of music and fame are angry at us for allowing Simon Cowell and his despicable oeuvre so much earspace and are punishing us by taking out the best we have. Someone please stop Cheryl whatsherface from trying to sing, it can’t hurt.

To remember the man, here is some footage of him with James Brown and Michael Jackson. Who else could arrive on stage on a bodyguard’s back and spangle about high as a kite whilst still being awesome?

Goodbye Prince. I don’t know how that much talent fitted into such a bijous package but I’m grateful it did. Rest in purpleness.

Prince Rogers Nelson 1958 – 2016