Monday, 30 May 2011

Keeping it real

George Shaw, 45, is a working class bloke from the Midlands. The Shane Meadows of the art world, whose work repeatedly references the kitchen sink memories of growing up on a post-war council estate. In Shaw's case that's Tile Hill, Coventry. He's up for the Turner Prize this year.

On our way to see his The Sly and Unseen Day exhibition at the South London Gallery, me and the Blog Widower were discussing our Desert Island Discs shortlist - still incomplete because it's a joint endeavour so we only have four tracks each and neither of us is very good at the definitive list-writing game. If you don't want to give away your age, don't talk about music. Most of our favourite tunes are from a particular era. The songs we listened to as teenagers - The Clash, Joy Division, David Bowie - are like a tell-tale time capsule. A better guide to age than wrinkles and hair loss. Anyhow, we were thinking about music and our memories of the late seventies/early eighties when we got to the gallery and suddenly there was the perfect backdrop to our soundtrack. The bland details of a This Is England council estate - the graffiti, the vandalized phone box, the dilapidated garages - a familiar landscape for both of us (me, up north. Mr TNMA in south London). The picture below could be called Straight out of Moss Side:

Shaw paints using Humbrol, the stuff used to decorate Airfix models and so there's a lot of steel grey and khaki, and it's permanently twilight in Tile Hill. His images look like photographs from a distance, but then up close they don't. In spite, or maybe because, of the subject matter the pictures are beautiful and atmospheric not mundane or melancholy.

And this is the talented Mr George Shaw. We're going to see him in conversation in June.

The Sly and Unseen Day is on at the South London Gallery till 3 July 2011.

Photo and images: The Guardian

Friday, 27 May 2011

That Is My Age: Desert Island Discs

Next year, Desert Island Discs will be 70-years-old. The BBC radio programme started life in a bomb-damaged London studio during the Second World War, with broadcast journalist Roy Plomley, who went on to present the show for 43 years.

This week's Castaway was Debbie Harry. The 65-year-old star doesn't usually give much away in interviews but once the lovely Kirsty Young, 42, endearingly admitted that she, 'Probably wasted a good 10 years wanting to be Debbie Harry,' the mood was quite relaxed. When asked how she felt about ageing, Harry remarked that, 'It's unfortunate women's calling cards are based on looks,' and how she, 'Tries her best. Exercises like a fiend and eats healthily - all those things that recovering drug addicts do.'

I realise it's not very hip to get excited over the BBC's new online archive but I love looking at who chose what. By entering the name of a band, a track or a Castaway, it's possible to click through the data and look at all the different choices. So, Jarvis Cocker likes Joy Division's, Transmission and Lieutenant Pigeon's Mouldy Old Dough, Rachel Whiteread loves Nick Cave and PJ Harvey and Lynne Barber chose Common People by Pulp. And I've listened to the Grayson Perry and Mary Portas shows, again!

For Mr That's Not My Age's birthday weekend, I have a real treat in store. We'll be nominating our very own Desert Island Discs online. Though I'm slightly alarmed to find that the only person to share our musical taste is Boris Johnson. His Castaway selection included The Clash's Pressure Drop and Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones. Desert Island Discs. Hours of fun. Mid-life doesn't get much better than this.

What's on your list? Nominate your own Desert Island Discs by clicking here. Nominations close on Friday 3 June.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Next Stop Paris

That's Not My Age has been thinking about Michelle Obama all week. Who hasn't? America's First Lady has an easy-going, confident approach to style that's impossible to ignore. Anyway, we've heard enough of this already - so as the Obamas break off their Essential Relationship, imagine if they were heading over to Paris for a romantic interlude with the Sarkozys. Would Michelle Obama opt for Parisian Chic? Maybe she'd have a copy of Ines de la Fressange's style guide in her carry-on? In London, MObama cleverly embraced British fashion by mixing Preen and Roksanda Illincic (above) with some of her favourite American designers, so when in France...

First stop for a statement dress would have to be Lanvin.

If Carla's planning a barbecue/baby shower, we might see the signature cardi, a more relaxed Breton stripe dress and Pierre Hardy sandals/Roger Vivier flats:

For a champagne reception at the Elysée Palace - Obama could call upon a Carven body-con dress - or more Lanvin - and Louboutin heels:

But what I'd really love to see Michelle Obama in is an Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo - and if she has read Parisian Chic, who knows? Charlotte Rampling looked fabulous in YSL at Cannes last week, and America's First Lady would definitely add personality to this classic look.

That's Not My Age recommends an Equipment shirt, Carven slingbacks (or the Roger Vivier flats) and an Isabelle Marant necklace:

Michelle & Barack Obama: Getty
Lanvin, Carven, DVF and Louboutin: Matches
Isabel Marant necklace and earrings, Pierre Hardy: Net-a-Porter
Equipment: style-passport
Striped dress: Hobbs

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Men in scarves

Not so long ago, we were watching a video of The Pianist with a couple of friends and their 11-year-old son, when the youngster piped up, 'Hey doesn't Mr That's Not My Age look like him (Adrien Brody)?' Absolute silence. 'Well they've both got big noses!' Mmm. So that's not the Blog Widower, it's Adrien Brody looking quite chic in a summer scarf - and, I suppose, a little bit like Mr TNMA if he had facial hair and a shiny suit. Next week is Mr TNMA's birthday and inspired by the elegant, Continental Style of those lovely older Italian men The Sartorialist captures so well, I asked how he felt about a summer scarf:

Had he ever worn one? 'Yeah, all the time in the eighties,' Mr TNMA then went on to detail his New Romantic phase, a series of flamboyant outfits including a tuxedo jacket, gold BOY London trousers and a lime green snood. Yes, a snood. This latest gift (from Sandro) can only be an improvement.

Don't worry, he's seen it already, in fact he even took part in another game of dress-up in the shop. Now, I know anyone can wear a scarf and lots of men do: football fans, hippies, Russell Brand, but having the panache to carry one off is a different matter. As Mr TNMA points out, Keith Richards has always liked a bit of scarf action:

Peter Saville designed some of the best album sleeves, ever and gives good scarf.

Editor-in-chief of W magazine, Stefano Tonchi wears one all year round.

My advice to grown-up men everywhere is to go for wrap-around rather than skinny and then casually throw the scarf on over a tailored jacket.

Can you think of any other men who accessorize well?

Adrien Brody: Wenn
Keith Richards: Contact Music and Ethan Russell
Peter Saville: Anna Hessman
Stefano Tonchi: The Sartorialist and Getty

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Quote of the week: Carine Roitfeld

With a Ped Egg in one hand and a bottle of Chanel Mimosa in the other, women everywhere are preparing to unleash their feet for summer. Fortunately, style expert, Carine Roitfeld, 55, is on hand with advice on what not to wear:

'Mules – those shoes – I hate them.'

Read the full interview with Roitfeld in the FT.

Photo: Getty

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Ai Weiwei Day

At the weekend, Mr & Mrs That's Not My Age had an Ai Weiwei Day. The conceptual artist is incarcerated in China, unable to attend his two London exhibitions and banned from blogging, so I thought I'd do this for him. The Lisson Gallery is showing Ai's beautiful paint-splattered Han Dynasty vases.

There are posters of his quotes all down the street, mmm... Bejing take note. A couple of years ago, the Chinese authorities set up CCTV cameras outside Ai's studio and he responded with this marble work of art. Which made me smile. Watching me, watching you, ah ha!

This installation is called Moon Chest (look through the port holes in the wooden chests and you can see all the different moon-shaped silhouettes). Stunning.

Then it was over to Somerset House to see Ai Weiwei's Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads. The Portland stone is the perfect backdrop for the 54-year-old artist's 12 bronze sculptures:

The man who helped create the Bird's Nest Olympic stadium and filled Tate Modern with porcelain sunflower seeds is being detained without charge for 'economic crimes,' like publishing online pornography...

I don't get it. China is reaching out to the west. The west loves Ai Weiwei. Ai Weiwei gets banged up.

Free Ai Weiwei.

Ai Weiwei is on at the Lisson Gallery till 16 July 2011 and Somerset House till June 26 2011.

Sunflower seeds photo: The Telegraph

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Your purse is on fire!

That's Not My Age has never owned a bag with a name, like Kelly or Birkin or Alexa or Stam. My accessories would have names like Freebie and Giveaway and This Is Not A Designer Bag. Anyhow, I'm still hankering after a Mum Bag. And if I had a fat wallet, this week, I'd go for the Hermés Constance. I'd buy it from the Instant Luxe website, which has just launched in the UK (and was originally set up in France in 2009) - the retail price of a new Constance is approximately £4800 and this little number recently sold online for £1265. At Instant Luxe, customers can buy and sell second-hand luxury goods safe in the knowledge that they're getting the genuine article. Items are authenticated by independent valuers so there's no chance of being lumbered with a counterfeit dud. Bonne ideé, non?

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Black and white picture show

This is a first for That's Not My Age, I don't normally do the red-carpet round-up kind of post but Blogger's near-death experience has obviously had an impact. Blog-loose and fancy-free, I was idly flicking through the Cannes Film Festival images yesterday when up popped Cheryl Cole in a sleek white Stephane Rolland evening gown - two days after her big-haired American debut wearing what looked like someone else's clothes. Huge improvement. Anyhow, I got to thinking about style and such matters and realised that some of the more wearable Cannes looks were simple monochrome outfits. Actually, I think Tilda Swinton's blouse could be described as nude, but hey let's not quibble over a few shades on the colour spectrum. I can't wait to see We Need to Talk About Kevin, read the book on holiday a few years ago and couldn't put it down. Bet Tilda's ace as Kevin's mum.

A simple understated attitude feels kind of appropriate on the Riviera. All very elegant, very French, very Coco Chanel. Speaking of which, here are a couple of photos from the Chanel Cruise Collection show:

Stella Tennant does casual glamour. Watch the Chanel show here.

Oh and three cheers for Ines de la Fressange in Roger Vivier flats.

Photos: Getty, EPA and Reuters