Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Tucker Tunic Top

Behold the printed tunic top. Kind of like a souped-up blue shirt - and the grown-up way to embrace casual glamour on a balmy summer's day. An uncomplicated style providing freedom of movement and a subtle flash of colour is the sartorial equivalent of a chilled glass of wine on a rooftop terrace. So. As a wannabe Tucker-wearer and fan of effortless style, this is the kind of sign I like to see when I'm in New York:

Before the Blog Widower could utter the words, 'I'll wait outside,' I'd whipped my top off and joined the fray faster than John Terry at the Champions League Final. After the impromtu trying-on session, I came away with this gorgeous feather print top for a bargainous $100. And a navy blue silk maxi dress which, if the weather holds, I'll be wearing to a friend's wedding this weekend. If not, I'll be in the tunic top and my old Rag & Bone trousers. For a recent business meeting, followed by drinks, I wore my new Tucker top with jeans and these Clarks flatforms (also purchased for the wedding):

J Brand jeans from Matches.

Clarks flatform shoe.

Sadly, I'm still suffering from First Day Of Summer Feet. But with a little perseverance and another box of Elastoplast, by the time the wedding comes around I'll be footloose and plaster-free.

The Tucker feather print top is available from my-wardrobe and Hunter Dunn.

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Old Ladies' Rebellion

How gorgeous do these women look? This fabulous line-up occurred at the finale of The Old Ladies' Rebellion's recent catwalk show. No towering heels, just towelling slippers (and espadrilles). Screen-printed silk dresses with sleeves, elegant trousers and neat edge-to-edge jackets. Fashion for all ages. Perfect.  

One of my first ever blog posts was about twenty-something designer Fanny Karst's label, which is inspired by her admiration for the older generation. So going to this catwalk show - along with meeting Ari Seth Cohen, another champion of Advanced Style - is one of the highlights of my blogging career. The audience was full of elegant women of a certain age, any of whom could have appeared on the catwalk. Before the show I bumped into this lovely lady who told me that she modelled in New York in the sixties and seventies, and helps The Old Ladies' Rebellion out from time to time:

And I was beyond excited to see 83-year-old Daphne Selfe on the catwalk:

The Old Ladies Rebellion has quite a fan club. A dignified crowd who cheer and compliment the models, and don't rush off at the end in typical fash-pack-style. Hanging around, instead, to meet the show's wonderful cast and take a closer look at the clothes. That's Not My Age was lucky enough to have a quick chat with the French-born designer Fanny Karst about her latest collection.

TNMA: What should rebellious old ladies be wearing this year?

FK: 'I'm not a trendsetter, but I would recommend swapping or even stealing items from their daughter's or granddaughter's wardrobes. My top Parisian model Monique Rozier looks very cool in her grandson's bomber jacket. And I'm always stealing my mum's clothes. But obviously for special occasions, I would recommend that they come and see me.'

TNMA: What considerations do you make when designing for older women?

FK: ' There are some easy rules to follow for shape, length (just below the knee for dresses) and fit. In terms of print, I've been encouraged by my customers to take risks. The wilder the print, the better.  My Old Ladies want to be noticed - but their main aim is to look elegant.'

 The fabulous 'See you next year, perhaps!' bomber jacket.

TNMA: So where does the name Old Ladies' Rebellion come from - and does it put younger customers off?

FK: 'The Old Ladies' Rebellion is a name to be taken light-heartedly. It's ironic, it says what it says but also hides a lot too. I'm not worried about what people think, young or old, it's my first name that's the hard one to carry!'
TNMA: Who would you like to see wearing your label?

FK: 'My mother, Andrée Putman, Jay Z's grandmother, Joan Burstein and any of Ari Seth Cohen's Advanced Style ladies.'

TNMA: And what about old ladies like me who can't afford designer clothes?

FK: We have just opened a more affordable line, Karst & CO , for business. Chic sportswear for ladies who don't exercise! It's classic, made in France. Fresh and cool.'

Sounds good to me, think I need to take a closer look.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

The Perfect Blue Shirt

Toast shirt.

It's warmer than Barcelona in London at present and to avoid looking like I'm suffering a menopausal meltdown, I've been thinking of ways to stay cool. Ever since I read about Acne's Snowdon Blue campaign earlier this month, I've been determined to find the perfect blue shirt. So determined, I'm able to conveniently overlook the fact that this is the fail-safe fashion item of Prime Ministers -  David Cameron and Tony Blair are both fans - and focus on its more stylish supporters. As the royal photographer points out, 'The blue shirt is anonymous and yet a kind of uniform. It's a simple backdrop that leaves us to focus on the sitter's face without distraction.'

Actress Emma Thompson.

David Bowie.

At £180 a pop, the Acne shirt is right off my pay scale. So, I've  found a couple of reasonably priced alternatives. The collarless version from Toast (above), in a stunning shade of cornflower, and this little number from Gap:

The perfect blue shirt works with white pants, jeans, chinos and maxi skirts. And when I've got my hands on one, I'll show you how.

Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Punk's got cred

Samuel Johnson said, 'Patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel.' And I'm usually inclined to agree, but to complete my Spirit of '77 Jubilee Look I'm thinking of buying one of these handmade silk cashmere scarves from the Conran Shop. The distressed finish says punk not UKIP. Feels more Vivienne Westwood than Nick Griffin. Its faded colour scheme would look good with denim jeans, a navy blazer and an old t-shirt, and I could add a regal spin with a pair of diamanté earrings.

God Save The Queen.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Punk's Not Dead

Every lamp post in central London is decorated with Union Jack bunting, every shop window filled with cheap patriotic tat, every magazine with the best royal buys - biscuit tin with a corgi on the lid, anyone? And I can feel my inner punk stirring. By the time it gets to Jubilee Weekend, I'll be playing Anarchy in the UK on repeat, snarling like John Lydon and wearing a pair of these fabulous pumps from Pretty Ballerinas. Just hope there's another pair out there with 'The Bollocks' on the toes.

To read my thoughts on what makes British Style great, visit A Femme d'Un Certain Age today where you'll find my guest blog post.

Monday, 21 May 2012

That is my age: gardening

MObama and Bo.

Have you noticed that the garden is the place to be? Michelle Obama's book on developing the White House vegetable garden, American Grown, is out on 31 May. Talking about working with local school children in the Telegraph this weekend, the first lady enthused about the project, 'Equality is a key part of the message. We are all down in the dirt. There is no hierarchy, no boss and no winner. It is almost impossible to mess up. Gardening isn't about perfection.' Which reminds me, our balcony is in need of its summer makeover.

Dan Pearson photo: Howard Sooley.

British designer Margaret Howell has embraced the trend too. Collaborating with garden and landscape designer, and Observer columnist Dan Pearson to create a natural un-dyed, Irish linen shirt. Taking into account a busy gardener's needs, design features include a large inverted back pleat for ease of movement, cuffs that stay put when rolled up and large pockets for a pen knife and pencils:

Margaret Howell has also been working on a series of portraits with the creative director of i-D magazine, Terry Jones. And I'm pleased to see they've used an older model, the artist and gardener Barbara Brody.

Barbara Brody photo: Kayt Jones.

And remember I told you about Mak Gilchrist? The model with a conscience and founder of the Edible Bus Stop Project who put guerilla gardening on the map in south London. As part of the Chelsea Fringe Festival, the Bus Stop team are planning to 'animate sites along the whole 322 bus route, from Clapham Common to Crystal Palace.' An Edible Bus Route. Good, eh?

Mak Gilchrist. Photo: Vogue

The Edible Bus Stop Project.

Right. I'm off to watch today at the Chelsea Flower Show (which is 99 this year) with Mr That's Not My Age  - and hopefully we'll find some horticultural inspiration.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Photographers' Gallery

The Photographers' Gallery reopened this weekend with a two-storey extension, a new, improved ground floor café and a fantastic exhibition by Canadian Edward Burtynsky. Whose decade-long project on OIL shows an ugly industry in a beautiful light:


As you can tell from my out-of-focus pictures (below), I'm no photographer. But they let anyone in, and so I went along and was quite taken by the new digital programme. Particularly the GIF of Dodgy Dave's face with summer riots and burning cars flickering across it:

Eton Mess.

So as not to put visitors off, there's the friendly face of Lora Rempel on reception:

I can remember the days when Ramillies Street was just a quick cut-through from Oxford Street to Liberty. A dirty back alley that stank of stale urine. But now the whole area has had a facelift, the new gallery space is gorgeous and the café's good too. But sssh..don't tell everyone.

The Photographers' Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street, London W1.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Liberty Nike Air Max

Do you like my new Liberty Nike Air Max? When Phoebe Philo wears an item, you know it's the epitome of effortless style. I may not be able to afford Celine but I'm pretty pleased with myself this week for bagging the pimped-up version of this modern classic.

Nike Air Max on the catwalk photo: Garance Doré.

'They're like gold dust,' said the shop assistant as I sprinted over to the till. And, she's not wrong. Liberty sold out in under 24-hours but I know how to play the long game i.e wait until they go on sale in Office and then trawl every central London store. This takes stamina but it's worth the style stake-out because they're the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. And, as we all know it's impossible to be fabulous when your feet hurt.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Stunning Old Lass

Unlike Jenny Joseph, when I'm old I want to wear crazy cat's eye sunglasses, Liz Taylor earrings and fabulous designer frocks. Preferably Marni. Just like the women in this Stunning Old Lass shoot, from the latest issue of Ponystep magazine.

I asked Ponystep's associate editor and resident That's Not My Age menswear expert Paul Tierney for his thoughts on the style at any age scenario, 'I'm always saddened when older people dress like teenagers, but I believe you can get away with well cut, interesting clothes at any age if you have the personality to support them. These ladies have poise and character. They're not trying to look 21. They're not even trying to look 61!'

Here's to growing old fashionably.

What are you going to spend your pension on?

Photos: Andreas Larsson.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Word Up

Valentine Tags: STILL BREATHING pendant.
I'm always happy when a designer creates something fantastic for the older customer. So, now when anybody asks me how I'm feeling, instead of spouting tired old clichés, I'm going to let my jewellery do the talking. This 'Still Breathing' necklace shows individuality and humour and is perfect for the days when that extra shot of caffeine isn't doing the trick.

Designed by Valentine Breton des Loys, 49, who was born in France and lives in London, and wears an 'If Only' tag. VBL worked as a stylist before turning her hand to jewellery making. Her company Valentine Tags sells online and at Merci in Paris, and also has a bespoke service where customers fill in a questionnaire and she proposes a slogan and creates a mock up of the necklace.

That's Not My Age had the opportunity to throw some (of her own) questions back at VBL:

Valentine at work in her London studio.

TNMA: So when you design the bespoke range do you feel a bit like a detective - quizzing a customer about his/her lifestyle and then coming up with a suitable statement?

VBL: 'Oh I like the idea of being a private detective of the secret mind - but I would never share my information!'

TNMA:Why the I-D tags? Where did that come from?

KARMA TAKES TIME. Oh yes it does.

VBL: 'It started with a thank you note that I wanted to send to a friend after a dinner party. I took what I had lying around, a thin silver strip and punched in the words PLEASURE TO SEE YOU. I liked it and since then I've improved the shape and transformed it into a necklace. The words make the tags, it is about saying something you don't want to say out loud.'

TNMA: What's the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? 

VBL: '"Forget your good education," given by Jean-Jacques Beinex when we were working (I was a costume designer) on his movie Roselyne et les Lions.'

TNMA: Which movie/book has changed your life?
VBL: 'Nothing has changed my life (what a question!) but I loved and was inspired by One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marques, Alice by Woody Allen, The Darjeeling Limited by Wes Anderson, and artists including: Gordon Watson, Cindy Sherman, Louise Bourgeois, Annette Messager, Maurizio Catalan.'

TNMA: And finally, what advice would you give to my readers for looking stylish at any age?

VBL: 'Don't change. It's difficult because you don't want to dress like you're 20 when you're 60, but it's stupid to say things like, "I'm too old for jeans." Believe in the style you have. I still have the same general silhouette and it works for me. I don't think I've changed a lot.'

Let's hope she's not...

Tags are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, sterling silver and 22ct gold.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Hermés: Leather Forever exhibition

Neon Kelly bag arrangement.

Until this weekend, the closest I'd ever been to an Hermés leather bag was when Jane Birkin showed me hers. Customized with worry beads, ribbons and Aung San Suu Kyi stickers, the eponymous bag had been given a delightfully irreverent spin. Costing over five and a half thousand pounds, a Birkin bag is well off my pay grade - but if you're in line for an astronomically-priced accessory, then this is how to wear it:

Jane Birkin's bag.

As the folks at Hermés point out, 'Fashioned by the rules of art, handsome leather does not spoil. On the contrary, it adapts to time. Grows in nobility. Is unwithered by age.' Just like the great style icon, herself. Apparently, unlike Victoria Beckham, Jane Birkin likes to have just one bag at a time and has only ever owned four Hermés numbers.

To celebrate the French luxury brand's 175th birthday, and the Queen's Jubilee, Hermés have just opened the Leather Forever exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. And it's fabulous. As well as an impressive range of products (including the Duke of Windor's sporran), there's a leather library and a room where artisans hand-craft bags right before your very eyes.

The exhibition is on until 27 May at the Royal Academy of Arts, 6 Burlington Gardens - and is well worth a visit.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Is Farida Khelfa the new Ines de la Fressange?

Sticking with this week's theme of fabulous French women, here's Farida Khelfa. Actress, model and muse for the soon-to-be re-launched Schiaparelli label. Diego Della Valle is the head of Tod's and the man who successfully revived Roger Vivier. He cleverly introduced Ines de la Fressange as the face of the luxury footwear brand - and is about to do the same with Farida Khelfa & Schiap. 'I chose her for her modern, provocative elegance. She reminds me of Elsa in her charm and her distinct taste and style,' DDV told the New York Times. Research shows that it makes good business sense for brands to use models whose age reflects that of their customer base - even better when they have years of fashion experience and a strong personal style. Who can forget the image of Ines de la Fressange on the red carpet at Cannes last year in a stunning ballgown and Roger Vivier flats?

Khelfa's career kicked off in the 1980s when, working the door at Paris nightclub Bains Douches, she attracted the attention of photographer Jean Paul Goude. Going on to become his muse, and to model for Azzedine Alaia and Jean Paul Gaultier. The six-foot, 49-year-old is still a striking presence on the Parisian fashion scene -  and her grown-up style is not dissimilar to that of Ines de la Fressange's: simple/slightly tomboyish silhouette, an elegant demeanour and, of course, the right accessories.

Farida Khelfa on the Hérmes catwalk 2011.

Who knows, she might even write a style guide.

Photos: Vogue, Zimbio, NY Times.
Farida facts: The Polyglot