Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I won't bore you with the Harry's Shoes story. Suffice to say I was buying shoes for my children when the rip-off occurred. Not nice.....


Salmagundi Talk 

(Tried and failed to operate the photo-shop device on my i-picture widgit. I was trying to make my hair look a little less frizzy ok? )

Last week my friends at invited me to speak about my new book 'Steal Her Style'. This is the USA title, the British version was 'Vintage Style'.  That's an argument right there but let's not have it now. 

In the above pic, Marjorie of and I are discussing fashion with our audience. We talked about style icons, vintage shopping and President's wives among other things and spent a truly wonderful evening at the very cool Salmagundi Club on 5th Avenue. This is an amazing venue with regularly changing art shows and a fabulous selection of classics on the walls. It feels a bit fin-de-siecle inside and the pervasive charm of artists just radiates around the place.  It was a great night for making new contacts and having a generally luvly time. 

Thanks too, to Joanna Lombardi, owner of vintage store, 'Grape in the Shade' in Washington Depot, CT. Joanna lent me some classic dresses by Armani and Carolina Herrera (to name a couple) for the talk, to enable our audience to look more closely at the kind of clothes we were discussing. 

We had fun! 

Monday, September 17, 2012


Bad ass bi_ _ _ since the day I was born..

I can't fight my alter-ego, the R(B)HONY. She's been kicking New York's ass so badly lately I just have to tell you all about her....

I went to the Post Office last week. I know! This is only the second time I have ever been. Left in tears the first time but my NY bad-ass cojones have sprouted. I was born in Hull, not Tunbridge Wells for God's sake. Three years in Manhattan means it's time to put the pain behind me, stand my ground and fight.

During my first visit to the P.O it was very hot inside and freezing outside. By the time I had filled in the correct labels, found the right boxes, gone back and forth from the counter twice, sweat was trickling down my back. My friend Maxine counselled me afterwards and I never went back.
Last week though, three overdue birthday presents for the UK meant I just had to go to the P.O.  Fed Ex is too expensive, normal people go in post offices all the time and I had run out of excuses. Plus it was the post or the end of three very close and important relationships back home.

 So on the day I walk in, tootle round the tape-fence-thingy and head up to stand behind the folk in line. Meantime, a woman finagling around with the envelope shelves turns round and sees me approaching. In haste, she reaches over the tape-fence-thingy and plops her gym bag down right where I am about to stand, then turns back to the envelope shelves. I step over the bag and take my rightful place in the queue. She turns round and says
"Excuse me! I was there!"
Well, honestly. So I say to her
"No. You turned round from OUTSIDE the barrier, saw me coming and put your bag down. That's different. I, as you can see, am here now."
So she says
"I was there, I just stepped over here to get an envelope."
So I say
"When were you here, 1982? It is the survival of the fittest in here, luv and you just need to deal with that."
So she then says
"Well that is the most bad mannered, rude thing I have ever seen. How dare you take my place!!!"
So I say
"You are such a New Yorker! What, do you think that I should give way to your BAG? A thing that is not even HUMAN?!! Well I beg to differ."
She then says
"What goes around comes around, you will see, you are a very bad person!"
So I say
"And here you are dealing with your own kharma then, because I am now in front of you in the queue, a- ha!!"
Luckily, a window became free for me then but I was not popular with the post office staff, who all seemed to have sided with American Woman. Even that did not deter me. In spite of a hideously unfriendly counter clerk who demanded several correct forms, I was the victor again because I had already filled them in at home! Thanks to Maxine who had supplied me with the forms earlier on in my life. Are you still awake?

The point is, I achieved success in that post office. I walked out and told the guys at the Hertz Car Rental next door 'That Post Office is my bi_ _h now' and everyone cheered. On the way home I high-fived anyone who would do it back and made friends with all the doormen in the buildings along the way.

Watch out for my next post about the cashier who STOLE MY DEBIT CARD in Harry's Shoes....

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cosmetic Surgery Confession

Or rather....pass the smelling salts

For many reasons, I recently made an appointment with a top NYC cosmetologist/dermatologist to discuss what could be done to restore youthful radiance to my 'tired' face. I am also writing a piece on how we have become just TOO CASUAL in our language about and attitudes to, cosmetic surgery treatments but I know none of you will believe that. Anyway....

Before I had even entered the office of Most Famous Doctor In NYC or the 'Filler but not Killer Queen' something horrid happened. Sitting waiting for my early morning appointment, couldn't help but listen in to the receptionist's babbling. As it sharpened into ear focus, I heard one of the receptionists speaking on the phone with a client who was telephoning to say she would be held up. Receptionist put the phone down and said to the other

 'Stupid freakin b _ _ _h! What am I, the traffic guru? How do I know how long it will take her to get here!' and so on....

 I was so shocked.  I'm easily shocked but honestly....after a few minutes bubbling with fury I went over to the desk. 'I heard what  you said about that client on the phone, who was late. It's just so awful and depressing, no it's disheartening that you can be so rude!!! '.

The recceptionists stared back at me, looked at each other and declared that they had no idea what I was talking about and that I must be crazy etc.  If I could remember any of the plot of Mean Girls or Carrie, it might have been a similar situation to one of the scenes in those movies. So I sat back down and returned to my Kindle instead of musing about what the doctors at this clinic must really think about the clients if that is how the receptionists view them.

Anyway, went in to see the doc. She was teeny-tiny, friendly and warm. I had to take everything off and stand there in my knickety knacks while she examined me. 'What, no treatments ever?' she asked incredulously, peering at the crinkles on my forehead and clearly wondering how I could have let myself get into this state. After a good look, she asked what I wanted to do with my appearance. I said, 'look less tired and lessen my jowls, without any pumping up as my face is fat enough, thanks'.. She discussed giving me a liquid face lift and showed me, around my face, where she would 'go in' with a hyperdermic needle. She would then, she explained very clearly and pleasantly, inject beneath my facial muscles and pump in a load of filler and poison.  This would have the joint effect of puffing out, sorry 'lifting' my face and paralysing facial muscles. Only temporary though, I would need to return and have it done EVERY SIX MONTHS. I was reeling. Had to sit down and breathe very deeply. Then, regarding my many and varied chins, she suggested paralysing my neck muscles. That was when I felt the light wave rising inside me, signifying imminent black-out. Thankfully managed to stop it with deep breathing labour exercises, once learned, never forgotten.

Barely able to compose a normal facial expression, I had to get us off filler and ask what the alternative would be. Ulthera was the suggestion. This is the advanced version of Thermage, famous for being cosmetic surgery's most outrageously agonising experience. Lasers, essentially set fire to your dermal layer, while you are awake. Your cells scramble, burn and try to heal themselves beneath your epidermis, while you listen to classical music on a set of headphones and pray the painkillers they have given you, work. The noise is almost as bad as the pain, I've been told. At least there's no burning smell though, like you sometimes get at the dentist. The results can be fantastic, in that your surface skin becomes plumped and taut as the scarring, healing and recovery of the cells beneath causes a collagen overdrive. What though, would your body, if it could speak to you, say about doing this to it?

It is important to mention that I paid for this appointment and the doctor was nothing but lovely, gorgeous and fabulous in every way. It was just the language that would have scared the pants off me if they had not been the only things I was wearing. Think about it. I know botox has been used for medical purposes for over a century but what does it really do to us? Does it emanate through our pores, like garlic, wafting around those closest to us? Does it's increased use mean it may begin to seep into the water supply like oestrogens in cleaning products and chemicals? Nobody knows. Supposedly the human body metabolises it. Oh. What must the longterm effect of say, five years of twice annual botulism injections be on the average human digestive or renal system?

 I am, as many others so often claim, just saying.........

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


We watched the HBO docudrama 'Game Change' - the film of the book by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. The book deals with all the candidates campaigns for the 2008 Presidential Election but the film honed in on the Sarah Palin story, especially the part played by John McCain's advisors. I will be beefing about that further down the page.

The film was riveting and Julianne Moore played Palin so masterfully it felt difficult to distill fact from fiction.  She was just brilliant at conveying those blurred moments some women experience as a new mother, when hormones have not settled back to normal and the connection with reality temporarily clicks off. It is hard to explain if you have never been through it. The descriptive version that appeared in the film is a tribute not only to Moore's outrageously fabulous acting but to Halperin and Heilemann's powers of observation. I know the film makers intended for me to walk away feeling that I understood Palin better and I really did. You must see it.

However, for as much as Moore resembled Palin, Woody 'the beast' Harrelson was a shocker as Steve Schmidt, John McCain's chief advisor. Woody is 'a beast' according to my teenage sons. This means he delivers on the action front. His hard-man fearless act renders him up there in the 'beast' category with other surprising outsiders including Liam Neeson and Harrison Ford. Not in the line-up, for instance, is Vin Diesel. Though he might think he is 'beast' (drop the 'a') Diesel is a wuss, ditto 'The Rock', though Steven Segal, I am told, IS beast.

Well my point here is, we (family) know Steve Schmidt. Well we've shared a cousin's wedding with him. He seems like a lovely bloke. Chatting at the buffet, having a little dance, joining everyone for breakfast etc. If he reminded me of anyone at all in this Whole Wide World and I mean anyone, it would not be Woody Harrelson. It would not even be anyone else in the 'beast' category. Which leads me to ponder, if you are a figure in the public eye,  how alarming it must be to hear someone is making a docudrama in which you will feature. One more reason why it is so fabulous not to be famous.

Leading to my final point....fame is for young people. Only the young and beautiful can enjoy it. For everyone over the age of 30 it must be the biggest pain in the ass. You cannot step out of your home looking less than perfect, no matter what walk of life you traverse. I understood Jennifer A moaning that NYC was like a goldfish bowl. Downtown, near my office in Tribeca which is, admittedly round the corner from Jay Z and Beyonce's gaff, not to mention scrillions of other celebs, the streets are teaming with paps. They just hover on street corners and in caffs. They raise their cameras like guns whenever a person passes by.  A lot of the paps out there now are foreign and unsure of who is and is not famous, so they shoot pics of everyone. Plus, they are getting shabbier and scarier. These are not people who trained in photography at St. Martins. They are street pedlars with cameras, increasingly desperate for a shot. I don't like the way it's going and I love a celebrity pic.

Er, that's it..

Monday, February 27, 2012


What are Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez doing here? The 40-something's Last Stand? This was a very, very bad moment at what was, let's be honest, not a great night for the ladies, The Oscars 2012.

There were so many once-pretty faces ruined by plastic surgery and fillers on that red carpet, someone should have sent in an interventionist squad. Where's Elton, David and the helicopter when you need it? Plus, despite the hype, once again too few movies with strong female characters, apart from the obvious, i.e Meryl as Maggie.  The Help troubled me too deeply on too many levels as a movie to go into here but Octavia Spencer's win was fabulous and it at least shone a light on something so recent yet so buried within society but oh, I promised myself NOT to go there....

Meanwhile at the ceremony, the female presenters were either fall-guys for the guys (Gwyneth Paltrow) or just plain desperate and drinking in the Last Chance Saloon (see above). Is Hollywood going back in time? Perhaps Billy Crystal's odd, gurning, old-time routine rang a litte too true.  As Hollywood stars bare their asses not their brains in true olde-worlde style and female performers only make it on to the winner's lists for acting - forget technical movie-making and directing/producing, I wonder. Something's got to give. Next year I predict youngsters all over the place and women winning ANYTHING other than just best actress/best supporting actress. This will only happen if the doom and gloom of recession breeds creativity, like it did in the 1980s, rather than hunkered-down-traditions that nobody dare step outside of. Here's hoping. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

SECRETS OF FASHION'S TOP BRASS (and my shoe shame)

The inside of my shoe closet. This is why my personal style is what it is and my bedroom door remains locked and barred to my children, lest they discover the horrible hypocrisy behind my 'Tidy up!' mantra.

Today, a Top Editor told me that her Top TV Star Fashion Director always gets dressed from the shoes up. Chooses the shoes first, then the rest of the outfit. A fast and efficient way to style oneself, I'm sure you agree. I do this too. However, my system is not as efficient as the style cognoscenti, hence my frequent lateness and stylistically compromised looks. My problem is, I can never find the shoes I want. See above. I open the closet door and there it is, Shoe Mountain. It is actually the floor of my wardrobe. I have another one down the hallway, opposite my son's room which I can only go into when he is either asleep or out. Really, I should sort out Shoe Mountain but where else would I put the shoes? There is no room in our cramped apartment for shelves neatly stacked with shoeboxes, polaroids stuck to the front etc.  If I line my shoes up on the floor, they just collect dust and get kicked around, looking worse than Shoe Mountain. I have a shoe hangy thing over the back of the wardrobe door for pumps and flats, but my platties, wedgies and stillies all lie around argy-bargying on the wardrobe floor. I do sometimes tidy them up but inevitably, the ones I want to wear are at the back and I end up in a last minute panic, chucking them all out behind me like Butch digging up a bone in Tom & Jerry.

So, if I won the lottery I would not buy a new chin, car or rocks - I would buy a giant shoe cupboard with living quarters attached. Then, I would buy even more shoes to put in it. I know, people are starving in the world and things are so awful for so many women out there that I would probably give it all away. But if I was dim, more vain about everything and genuinely believed any of this stuff is that important really,  I would buy and build that shoe cupboard.