Archive for the ‘SALON’ Category
On Tuesday we returned to Drink, Shop & Do for the first of our series of summer salons. Our guest speaker was Amanda Mackenzie Stuart, author of a truly fascinating and insightful biography of the great Diana (Dee-ahna) Vreeland, editrix supreme and the force behind the Met’s famous fashion exhibitions.
Here’s a little excerpt from our introduction:
Amanda worked as a screenwriter for an independent film producer before writing her first biography, Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and Mother in the Gilded Age and her brilliant biography Diana Vreeland: Empress of Fashion was published by Thames and Hudson earlier this year… Diana Vreeland was made for a life in fashion – her entire philosophy corresponded perfectly with fashion’s – she essentially Photoshopped her own life, emphasising the good – her glamorous childhood in Paris – and erasing the bad – her husband’s love affairs, her deep-seated insecurities about her looks.
The first in our series of summer salons takes place on Tuesday 2nd July with Amanda Mackenzie Stuart, author of Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland. Amanda will be talking to us about Diana’s life and work and how she came to write this comprehensive biography in an evening of bookchat and wine at our favourite venue, Drink, Shop & Do in Kings X.
We have long been fascinated by Mrs V, arch-editrix and tastemaker extraordinaire. She was the ultimate example of how clothing can be used to construct a better, truer version of yourself. Her influence can still be felt today – although no-one has ever come close to surpassing her vision, creative courage or pizzazz.
We hosted the London launch party for New Yorker Emma Koenig’s FUCK! I’m in My Twenties on Thursday night at Drink, Shop & Do and want to thank the lovely and lots of fun 20-somethings Tina Mories and Maddy Hall from Chronicle Books for inviting us to get involved.
We also need to thank Jessica Riches, George Langfordand Emmy the Great who spoke very insightfully and wittily about their 20s, (inspired by FIIMT) at the salon section of the evening upstairs in the Dome Room. Also T4’s Georgie Okell and best friend Verity Douglas plus George L who djed downstairs while guests supped on 1/4 Life Crisis cocktails, a divine concoction dreamed up by DSD’s best drinks magicians.* We were lucky enough to have the artist and now graphic novelist Karrie Fransman on-site to illustrate events and also supervise the FUCK/20s pinboard (see below) on which partygoers shared their innermost 20-something secrets (drunken accidents, flashing, diets involving guacamole, Marlboro lights & sweets etc) on multi-coloured cards with felt-tips in what I’m sure were moments of great emotional catharsis! Thank you to everyone who shared their very special stories with us.
We made a special issue of Pamflet to give out on the night and photocopying the scrappy little thing (at just 7 A4 sheets, it’s only 70% the size of regular pamf) made us think that we might like to make one more – MIGHT. Photocopying and folding and stapling all the copies of issue 12 made us remember why we stopped doing it – zines are seriously labour-intensive, but also how Pamflet started and how with the zine we can do/say/be something that we can’t replicate on the blog…
So look out for further updates on the print-front very soon and in the meantime enjoy Emma Koenig’s message all the way from the USA to LDN partygoers here.
*The 1/4 Life Crisis: vodka, cherry gomme, ginger gomme, lemon juice & apple juice served in a martini glass. I can confirm that this is both DIVINE and LETHAL.
We can’t wait to co-host the London launch for Emma Koenig’s F*CK! I’M IN MY TWENTIES with her publisher Chronicle Books at Drink, Shop and Dance on Thursday. She was kind enough to answer some questions for us over the internet from the USA about her blog, her friends and her twenties. Obviously!
You mentioned in an interview that you originally thought about making a zine – are zines an area of interest and if so which ones are your favourites/have you read?
I actually am not a zine expert by any means, which is part of the reason it never became a zine! However, I am fascinated by them and want to do more exploring in the zine world.
In one of our early issues of Pamflet we inserted an advertisement asking for 30-something mentors to guide us through our various career woes and general existential questions as confused 20-somethings. Have you had any mentors on- or off-line who’ve helped you out?
My main mentors have been my parents and my brother, as well as my friends. Their support and advice has helped me immensely.
Which has been your most popular post on the Tumblr?
I’m not sure which is the most popular, but I think one of the earlier ones that got a lot of reblogs was about my favorite time of day being between 12am and 4am.
How did you find working with an editor and the book-making process? The blog has an appealing, chaotic feel, but in the book it all fits together into helpful categories
Working with an editor was great! It was nice to transition from personal deadlines to professional deadlines. There is a deliberate order to the pages in the book, but no explicit structure so it stays pretty true to the feel of the blog.
We’d love to know the story of how you met your boyfriend too… please share!
My boyfriend Dave was part of the first wave of FIIMT followers on Tumblr. I was very vigilant about who was following at that point and he stood out to me. Months later, I saw a viral video of him and thought he was a kindred spirit. We ended up following each other on twitter and agreed to meet up when I got to LA. We hung out the first day I got here and we really hit it off! The whole thing is still pretty unbelievable to me.
Do you still think ‘FUCK. I’m in my 20s’ or have things got a bit better now/are you used to it?
My situation has definitely improved since I began the blog, but I still have a lot to figure out. As wonderful as having a book out is, it doesn’t serve as a tool to bypass the usual frustrations, fears, and self-loathing.
A lot of your scenarios focus on the humour that arises when situations are really not what you expected them to be or when your expectations are too high – rubbish parties, being friends with people on Facebook who you don’t really know or like – do you think that social media makes things difficult for us as it’s all about how you present yourself? because equally I suppose you could have done ‘AWESOME! I’m in My 20s’ and been like YES my job rules etc. Which perhaps would have been dishonest but… you know what I mean!
Aah I’m not sure if I do know what you mean! This is a complex issue so I’m not going to do it justice, but let me attempt to sum it up in a few sentences: I think social media and the internet have had a profound effect on how we see ourselves. Often, it can make it seem like everyone is having an amazing time except for us. The idea of ‘AWESOME! I’m in my Twenties’ would only support the proliferation of that ‘Everyone’s life is better than mine’ anxiety. In any case, I was motivated to create FIIMT because I was very unhappy with myself and my life. This was my way of coping. I wouldn’t want to present something as autobiographical if it wasn’t.
How much time did you spend on the blog when you first started/i.e. how did you make it fit in around your money-job
When I first started it, I posted almost daily. I would work during the day as a cashier and then do the drawings at night. If it was slow at work, I would write out ideas and draw some sketches, there, as well.
Did it start as a notebook/how did you actually make it?
I started out drawing them in my notebook, but from the beginning this was a project with an end goal and I always knew the work had to leave the notebook at some point. [See the FIIMT book trailer for a proper demo of Emma and her notebook]
What’s the best thing about being in your twenties?
The best thing about being in your twenties is experiment with what makes you happy. That’s not unique to being in your twenties, but it’s the first time you have to do so without any kind of structure.
And the worst?
One of the worst things is the self-doubt.
Who are your favourite 20-somethings famous or not-so-famous?
All my favorite twenty-somethings are my close friends!
In my section of our pop-up salon at Port Eliot last month I discussed Balls & Banquets, and here’s what I said...
The 1920s and 1930s were renowned party decades, when the dazzling and decadent Bright Young Things careered around London on scavenger hunts, dressed up as babies for costume parties and generally partied like there was no tomorrow – and for many living in the shadow of WWI, that’s exactly how it felt. This glittering world was shallow, restless and superficial and there were many casualties – those who like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s characters in The Great Gatsby and The Beautiful and the Damned lived fast and died young. But oh what a marvellous time they had, bouncing between New York, London, Paris and the Riviera, with occasional sojourns in Switzerland and Austria’s spas to recover from their excesses, before venturing, cocktail in hand, once more unto the breach…
The novels of this time are characterised by a sort of jolly despair or nihilistic silliness; they know everything’s hopeless, so why not party on til the end. That’s certainly the attitude of Agatha Runcible, the brightest of the bright young things in Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies. Elizabeth Ponsonby was said to have inspired the character of Agatha, who ends her glittering career after a racing car smash up in a nursing home where she dies. Only her family and the novel’s hero attend her funeral.
Now I thought the ‘20s and ‘30s were roaring enough, but then I read Juliet Nicolson’s account of a year in the previous decade: The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm and realised that the social scene before WWI was just as racy, if not more so… “Harry Cust joining Lord Curzon in a nude tennis doubles match against George Wyndham and Wilfrid Blunt.” (p.86)
I get the feeling that in first decades of the 20th century, it almost seemed like the parties and balls became more spectacular and lavish particularly when there was a dark cloud on the horizon – like in 1911 with the strikes and the war looming, and again in the ‘30s with the rise of fascism and the threat of another horrifying war. You write in your introduction to The Perfect Summer, “There was a sense of urgency about that summer. Socialites crammed in their gaiety as urgently as the poor made their grievances apparent. It was as if time was running out.”
Maybe there’s an inverse relationship between people’s need to party hard – almost in a frenzied way – as they feel disaster is approaching? I’m thinking of what you wrote on p.88 “The coterie’s ‘devil may care’ attitude to life was summed up by Vita Sackville-West, whose own ethic was somewhat similar: ‘Why worry? Why not enjoy the present?’ she wrote. ‘We may all be dead tomorrow, or there may be a war or earthquake… I think one never enjoys life so much as when it becomes dangerous.’”
Now as we’re in the Wardrobe Dept. of course we must talk about the party dresses, and you have some gorgeous examples of fantastic costumes in The Perfect Summer, mostly modelled by Lady Diana Manners who made lots of her own dresses – often copied from designs by Poiret and given her own spin. Everyone seemed to enjoy dressing up enormously – men as well as women, and the older generation as well as the younger…
Lady Diana seemed to have the knack, much like Linda Radlett in The Pursuit of Love; “Linda had one particularly ravishing ball-dress made of masses of pale grey tulle down to her feet. Most of the dresses were still short that summer, and Linda made a sensation whenever she appeared in her yards of tulle, very much disapproved of by Uncle Matthew, on the grounds that he had known three women burnt to death in tulle ball-dresses.”
Another example of the girl who always looks perfect is Kate in Rosamund Lehmann’s Invitation to the Waltz: “The airy apple-green frock which Kate had made for herself flared out below her hips and clung lightly to her waist and breast. A little floating cape was attached just over each flat delicately-moulded shoulder-blade by a band of minute flowers, buds, leaves of all colours. She wore green stockings and silver shoes…. Kate said placidly, ‘I just took it straight from Vogue.’”I’m more like Kate’s sister Olivia, feeling hot and flushed in a red frock that looks all wrong (mainly because she has it on back to front to begin with but still…)
In The Pursuit of Love, Nancy Mitford writes; “’It’s rather sad,’ she said one day, ‘to belong, as we do, to a lost generation. I’m sure in history the two wars will count as one war and that we shall be squashed out of it altogether and people will forget that we ever existed. We might just as well never have lived at all, I do think it’s a shame.’” Pity that generation – adrift without a moral framework they could trust, so all that was worth taking an interest in was the superficial – clothes, love affairs, parties, because everything else was ‘utterly bloody.’ When you’re surrounded by death and despair, why not knock back a cocktail or two and dance all night?
A ball could be a real ordeal for debutantes and their chaperones – not being asked to dance, pretending you needed your dress fixed so it wasn’t obvious etc. Excruciating!
“The supper menu for balls never varied, prepared by a stretched kitchen staff supplemented with chefs from local restaurants, and Diana was wearily familiar with the dishes before her. The choice was guaranteed to include ‘quails too fat to need stuffing, and chaud-froids with truffle designs on them, hot and cold soup, lobsters and strawberries, ices and hothouse peaches’, all piled high on Sevres plates.” The Perfect Summer
“Dinner that evening, according the Mrs Hwfa Williams, included one course ‘made to represent lighthouses, surrounded with ortolans to represent seagulls, with aves and surf of white sauce breaking over them.’” (p.121) The Perfect Summer
Song: Pulp Sorted for E’s and Whizz
The fleeting, soggy summer gives the English a chance to take risks, abandon reserve and go wild in the woods. Festivals have become a sort of liminal space, where illegitimate behaviour is acceptable and normal conventions – and costumes – are abandoned. It’s like Shakespeare’s forests where anything can happen and identities are switched… They’re a place where teenagers come of age and adults try to recapture their youth.
In terms of fashion, festivals have become a whole new theme/reason for dressing up – lucky for the magazines, now they can run seasonal features on ‘festival dressing’. Iconic festival moments = Kate Moss at Glastonbury in Hunters, denim hotpants and waistcoat, or boho Sienna coming face to face with Sadie Frost.
The bad girls I contributed to Anna-Marie’s section were Elizabeth Ponsonby, Tallulah Bankhead and Princess Margaret.