Sunday, 28 November 2010

Keeping up with the Ray-Joneses

That's Not My Age is fond of a spot of gritty realism - give me Ken Loach over Richard Curtis, Shaun Ryder over Nigel Havers any day. So this weekend, the Blog Widower and I were very excited to be invited to a private view of the late, sixties photographer, Tony Ray-Jones' work. I'd seen some of Ray-Jones' pictures before at Grayson Perry's Unpopular Culture exhibition but didn't really know his stuff. According to my lovely friend Paul Deller, who organised the exhibition, this is because, 'Tony Ray-Jones is a photographer's photographer.' My favourite images are those of unsuspecting holiday-makers in English seaside towns - the ballroom dancing photograph in Morecambe, the man on the sunlounger in Bournemouth, the couple on the promenade in Blackpool. All taken by TR-J as he travelled around England in a VW Camper van, for a couple of years at the end of the sixties with his wife, Anna.

Doubly exciting was the fact that Magnum photographer, Martin Parr was there too (at the private view, not in the camper van). Some of his TR-J photos are on loan and he was in discussion with Anna Ray-Jones - which was a real treat. I won't go on about it but Parr says the reason TR-J is still so inspirational is because, 'He treated the English seaside as a theatre, brought an American sensibility to British photography and his pictures are very simple,' adding knowingly, ' They look effortless but I know how complicated they are.' Definitely a photographer's photographer, then. And in the spirit of the Great British photojournalism, That's Not My Age picked up a camera and took a picture of Martin Parr:

Tony Ray-Jones went to school at Christ's Hospital in West Sussex, which is where the exhibition is on until 9 December 2010 - it's by appointment only but don't let that put you off, everyone's welcome. Contact:

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

That's Not My Age Illustrated

Wherever you go in the world, you can guarantee, there's going to be an amateur street artist creating way-too-flattering images of tourists with more traveller's cheques than sense. Like any sane holidaymaker with better things to do than sit around on the quayside being gawped at by strangers, That's Not My Age has never felt the urge to get involved in this ego-fluffing exercise. But last week, the lovely people at M&S, gave me the opportunity to have a portrait painted by Japanese artist, Yoco Nagamiya. And having five minutes to spare, I accepted. So, tah dah! Tonight sees the official unveiling of That's Not My Age the illustration (actually this is a photo of the illustration, the real thing is much clearer and brighter). Younger and with fewer lines than the real thing, I'd like to think there's a reasonable similarity. After studying this work of art for a wee bit longer than was absolutely necessary, even Mr TNMA recognised me.

A subsequent visit to the Dior Illustrated, René Gruau & The Line Of Beauty exhibition at Somerset House confirmed my belief that when it comes to fashion and style, less is definitely more. Gruau worked with Dior, first as at Le Figaro in the 1930s and then on sketches for the New Look and perfume advertisements in 1947. His elegant brush strokes created witty, understated illustrations. 'Do exactly what you want,' said Dior, 'we speak the same language.'

Dior Illustrated, René Gruau & The Line Of Beauty is on at Somerset House until 9 January 2011.

For more information on Yoco Nagamiya

Monday, 22 November 2010

Big Girl's Blouse

Inspired by Lauren Hutton's easy style, the romance of seventies disco and the glory of glam rock, That's Not My Age recently felt the urge to buy a silk blouse. I've always been fond of sparkle, there's a healthy sprinkling of Lurex in my party drawer but a silk blouse isn't something I've ever considered. Until now. I came across the Gold Silk Blouse (GSB) at a vintage fair, upstairs at the local pub, classy eh? It's by a label I never thought I'd own, Escada. Shoulder pads, fucshia long-line jackets and ostentatious floral prints really aren't my thing. Anyhow, as you can see the nearly-new blouse is grown-up, glamorous and er, golden. To date, the GSB has joined forces with a pair of slim black pants - though as the Chloé catwalk picture shows, camel works just as well - and an old pair of jeans.

But I may even wear it with a skirt (pencil probably but the new fuller/midi shape could also be an option) and kitten heels. You see, the GSB has plenty of mileage and is well worth it's price tag, eight English pounds.

Like the commoner and the prince, the union of That's Not My Age and the slinky shirt is destined to last. And because you're never too old for animal print, I'm hoping when the sales come along to be the proud owner of grown-up blouse number two. Ooh does that mean there'll be three of us in the marriage?

Fortunately, it's a matt fabric and not a super-shiny, slippy silk like Keef's shirt, which is fine if you're a showbiz legend or a northern barmaid but I'm guessing it's not low-key enough for Lauren.

Do you own a big girl's blouse?


Lauren Hutton: John Spellman at Retna Ltd
Tucker blouse: Net-a-Porter
Liz McDonald and Bet Lynch: Rolling Stone Magazine

Friday, 19 November 2010

Age Before Botox

After seeing Joan Rivers in A Piece of Work and Britt Eckland on screen every night this week in I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, I turned to photographer, Jane Bown's Exposures book for some respite. That's Not My Age would rather look at gorgeous old faces with well-earned wrinkles and under-eye bags than the puffed up, scary alternative:

From the top: Lauren Bacall, Vivienne Westwood, Eve Arnold, Bridget Riley and Samuel Beckett

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Great Escape

Not that I need an excuse to blog about superstar rebel, Steve McQueen... but to celebrate their upcoming 75th anniversary Barbour have re-launched 'the daddy of all motorcycle jackets,' the International (originally created in 1936). McQueen loved racing motorbikes both on and off screen, was a member of the US elite team at the International Six Day Trial in 1964 and wore Barbour. Here's the jacket and some gratuitous shots of the Hollywood legend:

Photos of Steve McQueen: The Selvedge Yard

Monday, 15 November 2010

You've got to roll with it

'No one ever got laid in a roll neck,' said The Observer's fashion pages yesterday, well excuse me... I thought we'd decided knicker-flashing porno chic was dead? Who needs to get their cleavage out to get lucky? Actually, don't answer that, we'll be here all night. Let's focus instead on the classy qualities of the simple roll neck. OK it may not be the sexiest sweater in the drawer but, in cashmere it's a sensual proposition, a chic wardrobe staple and the best way to hide a saggy neck, just ask Diane Keaton.

Think about Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, Yves Saint Laurent's Beat Collection, which upset the couture clients and saw him sacked from Dior, and the other first lady...

Marilyn Monroe looked just as sexy in a sweater and Capri pants, as a show-stopping, knicker-flashing frock:

Chloe and Céline showed roll necks for autumn/winter 2010 - blimey even Victoria Beckham's in on the act (seen below in Céline)- and W editor, Stefano Tonchi certainly knows a thing or two about style.

Yep, the roll neck works or men too. I give you the fabulous Steve McQueen, and Mr Michael Caine:

So, what do you think - is the roll neck 'contraception in fashion form,' or a super-chic cover-up?

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Funny You Should Flask

Behold an autumn micro-trend! A couple of my male colleagues have taken to sporting what has got to be this season's hottest accessory: the Thermos flask. Usually containing milky tea, sometimes coffee but almost always accompanied by a spoonful of middle-aged pride. Maybe it's the prospect of hard-times ahead - think of the money you can save by carrying your very own bespoke hot drink around - or perhaps it's a control thing, having a cup of what you like, when you like (believe me, in an office without a kitchen, there's nothing wrong with that). Time to investigate.

'There's something very satisfying about using a flask, ' says Mr Glenn Waldron, 'It feels both nostalgic and comforting. I think it harks back to my school days, I was cross-country champion - hot chocolate definitely tastes best served from a Thermos in the middle of a field.'

'Pure economics,' adds Mr Paul Tierney, 'I'm not tight but the price of a cup of coffee these days is criminal.'

Another colleague, Mr Ben Wilmott, is on the cusp of flask ownership but has to 'deal with the demons of a traumatic childhood incident first.' Opening a dropped flask to find it full of smashed glass leaves a deep mental scar. I know. My first flask looked like the one above but instead of a map of the world it had a picture of some pretty flowers on the side. Sadly, I too was involved in a traumatic childhood incident, and even though it made a good noise, I was devastated by my shattered flask. Fortunately, they're more robust these days, Thermos sells one that's guaranteed for 10 years and is virtually unbreakable. No need to worry about finding shards of glass in your cuppa, then.

So, That's Not My Age has been contemplating the return of the flask. There's an old Stanley languishing under the kitchen sink, that hasn't seen the light of day for ooh at least a decade, but if memory serves, it looks just like this...

According to the website, Stanley vacuum flasks have 'been keeping coffee warm since 1913.' Which brings me onto the subject of suitable beverages. I have fond memories of hot chocolate and sweet tea but when it comes to soup, a stale smelling flask is hard to avoid. My advice is to invest in a 'flask wardrobe.' One container for sweet drinks and one for savoury. According to the Thermos website, 'vacuum technology provides superior thermal insulation,' keeping cold things cold and hot things hot. People, I give you the perfect trans-seasonal accessory: the flask... it's not just for autumn.

Old flask: V&A
Green flask: Stanley

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Quote of the day: Franca Sozzani

The Italian Vogue editor and er, guest judge on America's Next Top Model, Franca Sozzani, sounds off about the state of fashion TV:

'TV shows about fashion are generally boring and with so many websites on the subject, unnecessary,' adding, 'Television is great. It makes you famous in a few seconds. It's like fashion. However both together haven't found the way to work. This requires an idea. A new one.'

And I'm inclined to agree. What do you think?

Read Sozzani's full blog post here

Photo: The Independent

Monday, 8 November 2010

Postcards from the edge of the catwalk

I'm always happy when a decent fashion book lands in my lap on Christmas Day - gives me an excuse to swerve the washing-up - so if anyone out there is thinking of buying me a present, Postcards From The Edge Of The Catwalk by Iain R Webb is on the wish-list. The book of photographs spans over three decades and provides a snapshot of Webb's life as a fabulous fashion journalist. Last week That's Not My Age caught up with the lovely IRW for a quick chat:

TNMA: What is your most memorable show, ever, and why?

IRW: I think you always remember your first time! My first fashion show experience was in 1977 while I was doing a pre-BA foundation course at Salisbury Art College. I opened the end-of-year graduation show with three outfits I had designed and made. The attitude was very punky so I got the models to wear dirty old raincoats over my designs and ‘flash’ the audience. My looks were made from shocking pink, purple, white and ice blue nylon (actually hot air balloon fabric), a handful of sequins and some plastic tubing. Quite bonkers!

TNMA: Who is your favourite catwalk model?

IRW: I have loads of favourite catwalk models from over the years. I think so much depends on the context. It works best when the designer chooses the right girl for their clothes/narrative rather than just that model-of-the-moment thing. I like models with a certain attitude. Kirsten Owen, Leslie Winer, Teri Toye, Amanda Cazalet, Kristen McMenamy, Jade Parfitt, Jodie Kidd and, of course, the Supers. And the ‘actresses’ like Shalom Harlow and Erin O’Connor. I have been lucky to work with Erin since her first days in the industry. Whenever I hear Suede’s She’s In Fashion I think of her: ‘And she’s as similar as you can get, to the shape of a cigarette.’ And I love the catwalk girls from my early days – Sheila Ming, Jane Spencer, Michele Paradise, Sayoko Yamaguchi and the genius Pat Cleveland. When I left St Martins Art School I worked for Zandra Rhodes and was involved in a late-night fitting with Pat. At one point, wearing just her knickers, she declared, ‘ Isn’t it strange how the best dance you ever do is the one for yourself in the bathroom mirror.' And don’t get me started on male models…

TNMA: What's your least favourite aspect of the fashion week circus?

IRW: I hate traveling. Not a good start. But the worst part has to be the sheer physical crush. I often felt hemmed in and claustrophobic. Some of the venues were a disaster movie just waiting to happen! I also dislike the unreasoned hysteria that appears to set in as soon as the invitation arrives or, worse, doesn’t. How grown men and women can lose all sense of proportion (something I have seen a lot of designers do too!) I find it amusing now to see quite how dressed up the audience has gotten. My job as a fashion editor was to see what the designers had to offer not to be part of the show myself…

TNMA: Who's the friendliest person on the front row?

IRW: One of the best things about doing the shows is that I got to hook up with all manner of fabulous fashion freaks who love the frocks as much as me. The unrelenting seasonal schedule at least means you know you’ll get to see old friends. I always love to meet up with Anna Piaggi and I miss Isabella Blow and Amy Spindler.

The Brit pack always like to have fun so I’d hang out most with best-buddy Susannah Frankel, Hilary Alexander and Colin McDowell (Mr McD and I would always go see a Broadway show during the NYC collections), but I guess I was most excited when I got to sit next to all-time hero and heartthrob Peter Beard, the anthropologist. Check out his astonishing notebooks and collages.

TNMA: And the nastiest?

IRW: Like I would air kiss and tell!?!

TNMA: Is there an iconic show that you wished you'd seen?

IRW: I would love to have seen a Perry Ellis show in New York, preferably his A/W 1978 collection when he coined the Slouch silhouette. It’s my all-time favourite look. I also would have liked to be at Bill Gibb’s debut fashion show at the Oriental Club in 1972. The BBC filmed the show for a TV documentary series. I have watched it over and over again till it almost feels like I was there.

TNMA: What do you think is going to happen to fashion week/the catwalk show now that we have live streaming?

IRW: Even though live streaming can reach a huge audience the days of the catwalk show aren’t numbered yet. Nothing can quite compare to the first hand experience. If anything they might scale down and become more intimate (like the couture salon shows) thereby cutting cost while making the privileged few invited guests feel extra special indeed. These shows could then be streamed worldwide. There are so many ways to present fashion on a smaller scale – I loved it when Rifat Ozbek used to show his designs on just three models in his showroom. Perhaps this age of austerity will focus designers to be a tad more creative in their ‘catwalk’ presentations.

TNMA: How did you manage to remember all the facts for the book? Do you have an amazing memory like Keith Richards?!

IRW: I have always carried a notebook and like to draw the looks sent out by the designer. It kind of processes them in my brain. These sketches I annotate with key information about colour and fabric but also mood inspiration, soundtrack, staging, models and who is sitting front row. Compiling the index for the book was at times like an Agatha Christie whodunit. There are still a couple of images in the book that have no captions. I also think I might have a photographic memory although as I get older this is beginning to fade like an old Polaroid!

TNMA: And last question - do you still get the buzz when you go to a show or would you rather stay at home and watch it on

IRW: Over the years covering the grueling New York, London, Milan, Paris collections trip twice a year, along with the haute couture shows and menswear, there have been times I wished I was at home on the sofa eating baked beans on toast and watching Coronation Street. But, I still love the frocks…

Postcards From The Edge Of The Catwalk by Iain R Webb is published by ACC Editions, priced £24.95 and is available at all major bookshops and online from

Check out Iain's top 10 fashion books for students - and other fashion fanatics here

Photos from Postcards From The Edge Of The Catwalk - courtesy of Marian Kihogo and

Friday, 5 November 2010

Classic Covers

Leather trousers may be a bit too try-hard for women of a certain vintage but chic accessories are not. For These are a few of my favourite things, Radley have added a couple of limited edition, grown-up gift ideas to their range of beautiful handbags, shoes and leather goods. This lovely, leather-bound painting box is a collaboration with art supplier Winsor & Newton, and to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Penguin Classic, a selection of embossed covers for three of the publisher's most popular books; Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice.

Available from mid-November at Radley.

Have you got a cherished classic you'd like to cover in leather?

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Can Middle-Aged Men Have Long Hair?

Still thinking about the The New York Times middle-aged/long-hair debate - but having concluded that as far as women are concerned, age is unimportant - it's quality, condition and a decent cut that matter - let's turn our attention to men.

Apart from rock stars, fashion designers and er, X Factor contestants (that's Wagner in the photo, not John Galliano), does long-hair really work for men of a certain age? I put it to the Blog Widower - shortish hair, longer on top, not much grey - and he said, "The two words that summarise my despair about this country used to be `The Monarchy', now they're `Top Gear.'"

Mmm..I can see where he's coming from but that's more than enough of smug middle-aged men showing off in fast cars/ front of Simon Cowell, wearing crap clothes and ladies' hair. Time to ask the experts.

The case for:

Author and style commentator, Paul Gorman

'I like long hair on older men - the Grinderman outback/maniac thing with a suit always looks fab.'

'When I was 38-41, I liked my hair long and straggly behind the ears. I was inspired by these guys I saw in Asia, in a Singapore shopping precinct. Skinny as hell with long hair, vests, crosses, sarongs and sandals and a sprinkling of tattoos. It felt right for a couple of years but it became problematic in London in the winter - too cold to dry it naturally. So I gradually reduced it and then went back to the quiff. But I might do it again - goes well with a beard once the temples have started to go and you get coarse greys.'

The case against:

Fashion writer and historian, Iain R Webb

'I think the short answer is short. Long hair on a, ahem, middle-aged man is definitely aging. I went through the classic mid-life crisis thing when I left my last full-time job. I went all hippie and grew my hair. Even though I work in fashion and have sported styles that had breezed my collar - think Surf Dude meets Coupe Sauvage - suddenly I had flowing locks that looked like I'd lost my way at Glastonbury Fayre in 1971! Thankfully, I now have a short back and sides with a side-part. I am actually thinking of getting a shorter spiky cut. The only problem: when you have a sharp short style you have to keep getting it trimmed to maintain the look.'

The verdict
As with middle-aged women, if the man has got a good image to start with, like Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, then long hair can look amazing. I simply can't imagine Iggy Pop with short hair. But for grown-up men without a rock and roll lifestyle, Iain's right. You can't beat the traditional short back and sides. Like Jon Hamm in The Town or the most recent episodes of Mad Men when Don Draper's super-slick image is slowly sliding off a bar stool.

Model, Andre Van Noord in the latest issue of Vogue Hommes International has a slightly longer version of this versatile 'do.'

Oh go on then, let's have one more photo...

Personally, I can't imagine going out with a man whose hair is longer than mine, Mr TNMA spends enough time in the bathroom as it is! What do you think?

Signed copies of Paul Gorman's latest book, The Life & Work of Barney Bubbles, are available here

And I'll be blogging about Iain R Webb's new book, Postcards From the Edge of the Catwalk soon. Promise.


Wagner: Rex Features
Top Gear: The Guardian
Paul Gorman: Sarah Lee
Iain R Webb: The Independent
Jon Hamm: The Guardian