Monthly Archives: August 2015

Cloth to Crave: The Best of the Latest Design

All the most striking designs du jour rounded up…

body chain

Erickson Beamon Hung Up gold-plated Swarovski crystal body chain

£1,620

This confection is crafted from gold plated brass and Swarovski crystal, a shrug made of stunning if you will.
clutch
Christian Louboutin Riviera iridescent leather clutch £795
Louboutin does Barberella by way of an 80s mermaid with this lame clutch.
596920_ou_xl
Herve Leger Sophia metallic bandage gown

£1,935
Like delectable sweetie wrapping for the body.
suede dress
Anna Sui Suede mini dress

£875
Suede has been the fabric of the season and you could do worse than this folk-inspired shift with applique wooden birds and evocative teardrop stitching to nod to the trend.
shoes
Aquazzura Theo Studs cutout suede pumps

£555
These vintage feel pumps blend a feminine silhouette and hue with modern attitude and detail.
587369_fr_xl
Kenzo Symbols embroidered crepe dress

£620
This loose dress is embroidered with rainbow coloured hieroglyphic and spiritual symbols for a relaxed yet striking look.
579105_in_xl
Nike Internationalist suede, leather and mesh sneakers

£65
The burgundy, orange and mint panels have a modern and international feel.
619879_in_xl
Balenciaga Wool-blend coat
£1,955
You may as well be a dame in a Dashiell Hammett novel in this coat lustred with silk. The fabric and nipped-in waist are a bombshell wink, while the exaggerated tailoring details are a 21st century smirk.
609711_ou_xl
Frame Denim Le Flare de Francoise stretch-denim jumpsuit
£285
Does anyone make utilitarian look as alluring as the French? This cream jumpsuit has a flattering cut and a flirtatious zip whilst maintaining utter Gallic seriousness.
614726_fr_xl
Miu Miu Buckled patent-leather pumps

£460
Nothing says naughty secretary more than patent leather paired with the most demure of silhouettes.
608065_in_xl
Lace-panelled wool and cashmere-blend dress

£990
Inspired by life drawing lessons, this crimson sweater dress features what the designer calls “Lover’s Lace”, entwined bodies in coral and cream Swiss lace
608060_ou_xl
Christopher Kane Tulle-panelled lamé mini dress

£850
There is something charmingly gleeful about the brash colour and lightning bolt neckline of this mini.
594885_ou_xl
Boutique Moschino Cropped embellished wool sweater

£325
Fun oversized crystals for overgrown little princesses.
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Psychedelic tasting menu

I don’t agree with the use of foie gras, but I admire the ingenuity elsewhere. No hippies were harmed in the testing of this taster menu.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/aug/12/amsterdam-gourmet-marijuana-dining-experience-eight-courses-high

TV Review: GBBO, DTTB and PJDN

A night of acronyms last night, starting with the return of dough juggernaut, The Great British Bake Off (BBC One, 8pm). The first task for the array of bakers was madeira cake, surely chosen for the amount everyone could gleefully talk about their crack in relation to it. Yes, madeira cake needs a crack on the top and don’t we all know it now (“Then my crack will show”, “Looking for crack” etc etc). There were some flamboyant variations on the traditional citrus: Mat the firefighter added seven shots of gin to his glaze, although Mary Berry sniffed that she couldn’t taste it.

The second task was replicating Mary’s walnut cake – an iced behemoth. Stu the musician struggled with his caramelised walnuts, dejectedly pushing them into a sad molten goo that was supposed to be caramel. As his offering was eviscerated by the judges, there were tears in his eyes, bless him. It’s not just cake, it’s personal.

The showstopper challenge, always the highlight, was a black forest gateau and offered plenty of scope for creativity in the decoration and variation. Ugne, the bodybuilder, created a chocolate tea cup decoration with cherries spilling out, Alvin a vicious abstract chocolate shard concoction, many offered up luscious-looking, gloriously tiered affairs while Stu… well, Stu’s contained an unholy trinity of beetroot, meringue and cream. Little surprise he got the boot. An early favourite emerged for me in the form of Ian (the Dalai Lama’s personal photographer when he’s in the UK, don’tcha know) who decorated his cake with trees made from a caramel “skeleton” covered in chocolate and chocolate animals such as bunnies and, er, an elephant. There is something infinitely satisfying about watching people work with tempered chocolate. It’s more soothing than a lava lamp.

The judges went for efficient Marie, but star baker for me was trainee anaesthetist Tamal, whose steady hands created stunning decorations: an apple rose on his madeira, a chocolate shell on his gateau adorned with cherries and swirls. The biggest drama of the night belonged to poor Dorret, whose mousse filled gateau oozed itself away once the ring was off, deflating until nothing but a broken top layer of cake, and an even more broken woman, remained. It was the first of this series’ bake related breakdowns – a bakedown, if you will – and Sue rushed in for emergency counselling as tears flowed down Dorret’s face the way the mousse had flowed all over her countertop. There was not a little bit of pathos in her presenting the cake to the judges – it looked like it had been dropped from a high rise and then run over. The look Dorret gave the intact cake of one of her fellow competitors was akin to the look an involuntarily childless woman gives babies. As they decompressed outside behind Ugne strutting about showing off her guns, you could glimpse Dorret channelling Kurtz from Heart of Darkness with a hanky held to her eyes: “The mousse! The mousse!”

And with that, it’s back. I can’t tell you quite why it is so cosily compelling but it bloody is and I love it.

Over on BBC Three was the return of Don’t Tell the Bride (9pm) even though a series has literally just finished on BBC One. Its incarnation there was not as fun and it was a welcome return to form to watch more hapless but lovable idiots enthusiastically blow 12 grand on the most ill-conceived, misjudged wedding themes. This episode featured Ellis and Luke (and best man Afro) whose rave theme wedding was held in Sheffield’s o2 Academy, complete with marquee inside and bouncy castle. Luke and Afro were obsessed with the sort of music that sounds like a robot having an orgasm and were most excitable and evangelical about it. Other considerations appeared to be less of a priority. The dress they picked for the 15 bridesmaids was the first one they saw as they bowled into the shop: a clingy fuchsia number for £11 each, the bride’s shoes were fuchsia Nikes and the veil, well… As Ellis tried on the dress Luke had chosen for her there were shouts of approval from her extremely loud Mum and aunts, followed by roars of outrage when the (fuchsia) veil was brought out. “Fucking horrible” Mum Dee exclaimed. “It looks a twat” one of the aunts surmised. “He’s dropped a bollock with that veil” the other noted. But Ellis was undeterred, told them they were being fucking horrible and wore it anyway. When her Dad saw her in full bridal regalia, he immediately started blubbing. Mum was placated when a huge vintage fire truck arrived to take Ellis to the ceremony, although it started to piss with rain and she had to go along the motorway huddled under an umbrella in the open top vehicle. Oh yeah, and it broke down 100 metres from her home. She was remarkably sanguine about the whole thing. It all worked out in the end though, as it usually does: the marquee looked spectacular, Afro performed the ceremony (immediately choking up) and there was much silly dancing at the reception. Foul-mouthed Mums and aunts and blubbing Dads and best men are what make this show the hilarious yet heart-warming beast it is.

After that was People Just Do Nothing, a mockumentary following the antics of the group who broadcast “Brentford’s number 1 pirate radio station.” This episode saw them trying to set up and promote a club night in pound shop Alan Sugar Chabuddy’s new club (“Never underestimate the power of gold spray paint”), with hapless Steves attempts at flyering a highlight of this series. I think this is the funniest thing on TV at the moment. I especially love Hugo Chegwin’s (DJ Beats) shifty eye work to camera and Chabuddy’s lines. It’s low key genius and five episodes a series is not enough. By the way, we have to wait until next week to see how the club night fares.

TV Review: A Very British Brothel

Made in the Carry-On school of film-making (lingering shots of a sign reading “Open, please use rear entrance”), this documentary followed Sheffield’s only mother/daughter run brothel. A family business where the tools of the trade are fishnets and fantasy rather than rivets or bonds was undeniably interesting, although I did have to set down the chocolate bar I was about to tuck into as the show commenced.

According to Mum Cath, City Sauna offers a “friendly, family atmosphere” with “18 movies” on offer in the gentleman’s lounge with a “self service” option. There was a pug named Frank and a tropical fish named Pimp. It was a very tea-centric brothel, with one regular Sean seeming to come in just for tea and biscuits, despite booby perennial Anna’s best efforts.

The show was rife with hilarious characters and quotes, such as Foxy, who saw herself as an unconventional outreach worker preventing blue balls for the good of the nation. She spoke in a jerky Jamaica/Sheffield hybrid accent, bowled around town  glamorously and spouted honest gems such as “if I wasn’t doing this I’d be shoplifting”. She was very popular with the customers, incongruously mixing with flat capped granddads, but in the end she left to have a baby (“Petal Rose […] Smith-Smith, known as Water”) with Mother Madam top of the Godmother list. Another regular, who reminded uncannily of a human Bob the Builder, had had his sexuality appropriated at 14 by a predatory Brazilian brass and had had a predilection for escorts ever since, like an estimated 1 in 10 British men who regularly use the services of women such as Anna and Foxy. The camera listened at the door to hear his session with Anna, who had not yet “found anything she couldn’t do” ( which is quite an unsettling statement if given even cursory thought), to hear his ecstatic and verbose sex noises: “that feels nice”.

There was a most unsavoury incident with the Jacuzzi and a food fetish customer who had “gone too far.” Cath lambasting the girl who allowed this to happen over the phone – “you should know when he’s coming with fish, what’s gonna happen” – was cut with doleful shots of haddock chowder and custard packets around the Jacuzzi. I could have done without that scene – I’d been looking forward to that chocolate.

Occasionally, Cath roped in other daughter Rachel to help out, I mention this only for Cath’s description: “She’s the posh one of the family. You’d never catch Rachel giving her child a hot dog”. Rachel saw a shift at the sauna like a night out. There was a camaraderie between the women as they sipped tea and discussed Big Brother and breaking whips on customers. The whole thing was a cosy yet queasy affair, but it was undeniably fascinating.