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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Hot in here/ Let's hear it for New York...

BA flight from Heathrow to JFK; an overzealous steward accosted me, asking whether I wanted a newspaper, a drink ... I quickly expedited him, he was now free to hone in on my unflappable sister: “Would you like a newspaper mam? A drink?”
“No thank you.”
“Excuse but I know you...have we met?”
“No we haven’t” replied my sister as she continued to store away her things.
“But your face says something to me” he insisted.
“Well yours says nothing to me” she replied and he bowed out gracefully.

 Jumeirah Essex House Hotel on Central Park West: Great location but a slight problem with housekeeping and their ever diminishing amount of towels. We started off flush, with towels ranging in all shapes and sizes, enough for two showers a day for both of us. Then housekeeping started to reel them in as though they had made some gross error of judgement .As the days progressed, we seemed to enter a towel downward spiral.... we were left with a scant few, fed up, my sister grabbed the phone :
“I think we seem to be having a problem with towels here......they seem to leave this room never to be replaced...Pretty soon we will have to start sharing them ..... ?“
We got a bag load within 5 mns, took the woman so long to store them, my nails had grown half an inch.

I called up the spa to see whether they had a treatment for legs to help the circulation:
“Oh No! Madam! We don’t do anything like that!”
You'd think that I had just asked her for a forged passport.

On our second morning we were escorted away from the main cheery breakfast area (where everyone was sitting ) into the empty cold restaurant .... I guess they wanted us to get the breakfast party started on that end:
“Are you punishing us?” inquired my sister... 
We were immediately given a table in cheery land.

Abercrombie and Fitch on 5th Ave at 9.50 am: a queue literally around the corner and up the street...crowds patiently waiting to get in. 

Hollister further up 5th Ave at 9.55 am: zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....no one.

Late afternoon outside A and F, people being sucked in and spewed out all looking slightly bedraggled and squinting their way back into the sunlight proudly clutching their A and F bags to their chests like victory medals. The bare chested hunk du jour being photographed with hysterical preteens, looking every bit as smug as he could until.... a man ripped off his polo and sidled up to him while his friend took a picture of them...Kodak moment: Hunkola looked decidedly out of sorts, with a face like a slapped arse...hysterical. He soon resumed his debonair hunkness when the next teen squealed beside him.

At menswear,somewhere between loud and deafening:
"Do you have cargo pants?"
......."Can you repeat the question?"

At the cash register the young cutie said to me: “U ‘ust chec' m'ic hols-ter "...with the deafening  and unrelenting beat, I could hardly hear myself think let alone him telling me... What?....
 “You want me to check your epic holster?! ”

“I said :You must check the EPIC Hollister!...on 5th ave?”
“ Oh!Ok...well I did.... wasn’t that epic dude.”

At the madhouse come labyrinthine Hollister on Broadway:
“Do you have this t shirt in X large?”
“ I’ll go and check” ...she then disappeared before my very eyes ....then again it was so bloody dark in there she could have been standing next to me. By the time she re appeared I felt like I had aged a decade:
“The T shirt? In XL!”
“Oh I won’t know until they bring it to me....”
“So you have one then...”
“I don’t know..... Until they bring it to me.”

We left.

Now for restaurants:

"Lavo" on 39th East 58th Str.: fantastic food, great laid back vibe at lunch time with a gorgeous smiling waitress who kept us topped with hot crusty garlic baguette while we sipped on chilled white wine. She recommended the Chopped Louie salad that is so heavenly we returned 2 days later with friends and jumped back in again. Great food, great service an absolute must.

 "Lupa ", Mario Batali’s restaurant on a quiet leafy street on Thompson: the hostess, not so great with that whole business of: “Is your party all here? I can’t seat you until they are”...crap. We were all there bar my cousin who popped up in no time, until then there was no talking this woman into seating us. The restaurant is quite small, very casual with a large bar and rowdy atmosphere. The food was delicious and soon made up for the inconvenience of standing around when a perfectly empty table for 4 was waiting for us...Wine took the edge off and we soon were tucking into some delightful anti pasti before we dove into our pasta ....it was to cry for...Gorgeous food and top notch service, apart from the hostess...

Cab ride back uptown :
“Essex house ,please.”
Cab pulled up to the Ritz Carlton:
“ Would you like us to change hotels?”

Conversations with "P.Bibi” aka Buff Daddy and dear friend (no malice intended P, just a spot of pun!):

At Saks shoe emporium while I was hovering over the Miu Miu shoes I have been coveting: "Why are you looking at those shoes, Reem...they are for pole dancers in Vegas...”
Walking around with my sister: "I don’t get why some of these unknown Italian designer shoes are so expensive...I mean who has ever heard of Zanotti?”

At "A Voce" in the Time Warner Centre: an upscale paysan restaurant, where one would expect to run into Carmela Soprano and her crew downing bottles of Pinot Grigio... We were ordering small but getting rather large portions as starters, P.Bibi leaned into my sister and said: “You could feed a family of four on that!” We chuckled and tucked in...Next course ,the main course and a hearty amount once again: “Are you enjoying it? You could feed a family of four!”

“P. You've fed them already...they're not hungry anymore!"

Dinner at "Jean Georges" and guests of the delightfully gorgeous Aliki and her debonaire partner Seth: the restaurant had a mixed bag clientele and all pomp and circumstance whenever a dish was dutifully placed infront of us... an announcement was made by the "town crier" followed by the removal of the cloches by the silent waiters....
Aliki was the life and soul of the party with such tales to tell and one liners that had us in hysterics..I hope I do them justice here:
" I went to Banana Republic looking for trousers....All I found was rags!"
" I love Tiger Woods...so he was unfaithful! He married an aupair for goodness sake...what is an aupair? A maid!"
"When I was much younger in Greece..before I became a freak..."
When time for dessert came Aliki ,sharing our love for icecream ,totally disregarded the chi chi dessert menu and asked the bored head waiter: " What kind of ice cream do you have?" He mentioned a few standard ones.
" But those are sorbets...You are not very enthusiastic about ice cream are you ?"

*Outside The New York Palace Hotel...waiting for Chuck Bass...*

We had a wonderful if not extremely hot stay in New York: my feet swelled to twice their size, my calves became cankles...but I let nothing distract me.  
Thanks to Philippe and my dear friend Janet Bibi who joined us on our stay and made it that more entertaining.
To my aunt Sousou and her daughter, our long lost cousin Sam...without whom a trip down memory lane would have been quite useless and a lot less fun and for making us discover restaurants under our very nose...Bodega del Vino!
And to Aliki and Seth who entertained us way beyond our bedtime...
I hope I can still pack a verbal punch at 85.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Natasha Bedingfield - Pocketful Of Sunshine

This is cheerful and addictive .
There is a part towards the end when Natasha sings:
"There's a place that I go that nobody knows
Where the rivers flow and I call it home
And there's no more lies in the darkness there's light
And nobody cries,there's only butterflies..." ....Does Mariah know about this place? Should somebody give her directions?

Saturday, 11 June 2011

"SAVAGE BEAUTY" Alexander McQueen at the MET: May 4- Aug 7 2011

“You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I am here for, to demolish the rules but to keep to tradition.”

Alexander McQueen:”Romantic Mind”

I was extremely lucky to be in New York at the end of May and to be able to go and see the
Alexander McQueen exhibition at the magnificent  Metropolitan Museum of Art. When I saw the title banner: “Savage Beauty” I was a little discomfited, for what could possibly be seen as savage in McQueen’s magnificent creations?  What I was about to embark on was a journey not only into McQueen’s vision of fetishism and the macabre but as I strolled from one themed gallery to another I felt myself being submerged into a world of vivid imagery and revolutionary designs, each one highlighting the body of McQueen’s work, some more disturbing than others but all powerfully thought provoking.

In the first gallery “Romantic Mind” you are rewarded with the beautiful craftsmanship McQueen acquired from his Savile row training: a row of mannequins in beautifully tailored jackets and trousers, all so familiar and now all part of his legacy. As I was carried along by the crowd of avid fans and the curious, all of us hungry for more..... Things started to get decidedly chilly. I was no longer sure whether the cold that settled on my bare shoulders was from an overzealous A/C going full throttle or something more chilling that bade me forward into the realms of McQueen’s gothic mind.
*Gallery View Romantic Mind. Courtesy of The Met*

The “Cabinet of Curiosities” is like nothing you could possibly imagine. This inner sanctum, a walled room that could easily mimic the cloistered sections in McQueen’s mind, is where your breath catches in your throat and you let out a silent prayer. The array of curios from collaborations with a number of well know designers such as jeweller Shaun Leane and milliner Philip Treacy are all on display in shelved compartments . These bewildering pieces cry out to be inspected, each design more complex and mind boggling than the other. A wondrous sight.

*Cabinet of Curiosities. Courtesy of The Met*

“People find my things aggressive. But I don’t see it as aggressive. I see it as romantic, dealing with a dark side of personality.”

Alexander McQueen “Romantic Gothic and the Cabinet of Curiosities”

Gallery view: Romantic Gothic. Courtesy of The Met

And so the themes progress from romantic to traumatic , from sane to insane, from the ravages of the hunted in the eerie “Highland rape” and the spine chilling hologram of Kate Moss’s “Widow of Culloden” gown silently billowing, layer upon layer of silk endlessly turning before your eyes.

I think I reached my limit of what I could only describe as palatable, after all the excesses and extremes, when I got to the glass box used in “Voss: the spring/summer 2001 collection”. Inside I spied the voluptuously naked woman reclining on a divan wearing some eerie fetish mask, I quickly moved on, my quota filled for the day and an overwhelming desire for sunlight and hearing children’s laughter pulling me on and out to the final display:

 “Romantic Naturalism/ Plato’s Atlantis”: here in this somewhat cold and clinical room was the last collection Alexander McQueen produced before his untimely demise.  I was able to feast my eyes on the serenely  beautiful  and hypnotic  moth prints that had so enchanted me , as well as the ungainly bondage shoes that only Lady Gaga and Daphne Guinness would find charmingly beguiling...to me they are the hooves of the devil, but to each his own.

This exhibition is neither for the “happily ever after” school of thought nor for the yummy mummy who wanders in for some quiet time while dragging her rambunctious little one. This is hard and thought provoking, moving as well as disturbing, but clearly a journey to be undertaken by any die hard McQueen fan and admirer. His was not often a quiet mind but it was far from boring.   The Met has done an immense and incredible job with this exhibition, it is an excellent tribute to this much loved man who transformed the face of fashion and the way we perceive it. I would recommend going when things are a little quieter, so that you can take your time to listen, read and fully absorb the sheer volume of  sights and sounds. Then I recommend a coffee or even a glass of wine because you will need the distraction... you will come out wearing this whole experience  like a heavy mantel , saddened by the fact that the genius that is Alexander McQueen is no more.  

All images courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I would like to thank Nancy Chilton at the Met for her help in acquiring these beautiful images to accompany my piece, without them it would not have been possible to describe my visit.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Cheryl Cole: The Hex Factor

Can somebody please throw this piece of "Cole" back in the barbecue, slap on a few burgers, bring out the beers and lets get on with a Cheryl free summer...Someone? Anyone?
Come on! All we have been hearing is how stressed she is, how overwrought; she has lost weight,put on weight all this and more in the anticipation of getting chosen to be a judge on the US version of the X-Factor.
This was a yawn fest for me but a field day for the tabloids.
Then lo and behold, the clouds parted and there was Cheryl along side her buddy Simon Cowell and the diminuative Paula Abdul , all smiling into the cameras like one big happy dysfunctional family. Paula made it known that Simon was her confident and sparring partner, Cheryl met her match and  was relegated to the back of the row . So she soldiered on, tried to make a better impression and decided to style herself and come out looking like Chewbacca in a lounge suit. Her hair was not only teased but surely titillated to the point of explosion with her feet not only hidden but enveloped by her wide leg purple trousers. Was she channeling Prince?...Surely schadenfreude kept someone from telling her that she looked like a marionette on speed. The "hex" was on and nothing short of a ouiji board could have predicted that she would be unceremoniously shipped back to Old Blighty. Did I laugh? Hell yeah! Especially when the newspapers reported how no one could understand her Geordie accent; that when she asked a contestant where he came from,he thought she was asking him how old he was.
Seriously, this show like so many others in this genre, is simply a factory churning out "stars" most of whom fall through the fame net into complete oblivion no matter who mentors them or who deigns to proclaim them" winners". Just like on " America's Next Top Model"...where are they? I have never seen half of the winners on that show in any fashion magazine let alone on the catwalks...and they are proclaimed " Top Models"... Where? Uzbekistan??
Back to Cheryl: I only wish she would follow the same path and get off our radar for a little while. Why not sing another duet with wedge head Will-i-am?  After all: Where there is a Will...there is certainly a way and that should boost her ego as well as record sales.... maybe even make her more plausible and more bankable, not just the dimpled cheeked, incoherent face of L'Oreal.
 And Cheryl? Get your cojones back.