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Fashion People

Lavender’s Blue + Twilight

Purple Reign

Janice Porter at Twilight © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Twilight. The seeping of day into night. Flux made manifest. A liminal state, a period of transformation, both optical and psychological. As light fades, our eyes play tricks on us, inventing horizons, altering distances, rediscovering amethyst tinged silhouettes and moonstone obliquities. We become more obscure to ourselves as well. Soon we will be diner, dancer, lover. But in this viridian moment, the last territory of the light, the cobalt night is not so much young as hardly begun.

There’s palpable tension in this transition between our day and night selves, a metaphoric transformation from clear definition to suggestion. In Laughter in the Dark, Vladimir Nabokov’s doomed character Albinus experiences it on a visit to his mistress. ‘Lights were being put on, and their soft orange glow looked very lovely in the pale dusk. The sky was still quite blue, with a single salmon coloured cloud in the distance, and all this unsteady balance between light and dusk made Albinus feel giddy.’

For lost souls, the magic hour passes unobserved, pre empted by the explicit reds of sunset; or its nuances eclipsed by the acid glow of streetlights. F Scott Fitzgerald beautifully captures the melancholy of fading day in The Great Gatsby when his narrator observes, ‘At the enhanced metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others – poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner – young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.’

The subtle apostrophe-free lavender blue of twilight deserves to be the scene snatcher. Even the near obsolete words associated with it are seductive: crepuscular, gloaming, penumbra. Little wonder the Romantics – Coleridge, Keats, Wordsworth – were obsessed about fixing twilight as a poetic shortcut to existential meditations. ‘The violet hour’ as T S Eliot writes in The Waste Land is ‘when the eyes and back turn upward from the desk’. Just dwell on yet more literary episodes imbued with meaning, entwined with being: Mrs Dalloway kissing Sally Seton on the terrace, Mrs Moore’s moment of transcendence in A Passage to India, Marlow’s mistruth about Kurtz’s last words in Heart of Darkness. Not to mention the hotbed of nefarious doings at twilight in gothic novels, from Dracula to Frankenstein.

Twilight. A hymn for vespers. Victor Hugo and Les Chants du Crépuscule. A habitual sense of belatedness. The time when the power of reason wanes and fantasy weaves its own tales. Full of frisson, danger, desire. Moral and social structures loosen as the first stars appear. Under the diffusion of smoky mauve light there is heightened sensitivity to the promise of life; anything is possible in this magic hour of nocturnes and nostalgia. Grasp it, for the intensity is almost tangible; feel it, before going forth into the night; derivative yet original, living in the unregretted present yet loving the lingering evening of the past.

Lavender's Blue Twilight © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Fashion People

The Cuckoo Club + London Red Hot 100

Red Is The New Black | Northern Lights

1 Red Hot 100 London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Did anyone say Thursday is the new Thursday?  Well blow us… for starters, it’s from dining alfresco at the Ivy Chelsea Garden (King’s) to the great indoors at the Cuckoo Club (Regent’s) in one fell swoop. There’s nothing communist about this red revolution. Perchance it’s survival of the cutest fittest. This dying breed is looking very alive. We’re on fire! It’s front stage at the last chance (hair) saloon. The Titian takeover is in town. Let the ultimate Celtic Revival commence. Enter the children of Brehon. We’re alpha not betagh. Pedigree’s all that matters. Girls and boys aloud. And this diaspora ain’t goin’ nowhere fast. We’re stayin’ put within the pale. The media might betray us as mad (Bree van de Kamp in Desperate Housewives), bad (Julianne Moore in Boogie Nights) and dangerous to know (Race Imboden fencing). But c’mon Albion guys, that’s us only gettin’ started. Alabaster rocks, porcelain rolls, Gingerella on ice; the rest is the present, the here, the now. Welcome to the Red Hot 100. It’s London’s most exclusive listing, breeding matters, a Pre Raphaelite dawning, one hundred redheads united on a plate, all henna’d up and everywhere to go. The mane event is top photographer Thomas Knights’ calendar of smokin’ hot girls following the success of last year’s boys edition. “I enjoy hearing stories about other people’s experiences growing up with red hair,” Thomas tells us. “It’s such a unique situation!” We wanna be shot, red or alive. Everyone’s on model behaviour; just desserts. Grace O’Malley eat your heart out (she would); redheads will roll. Natch hatch. Lavender’s copper. Lavender’s blue.

2 Red Hot 100 London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

3 Red Hot 100 London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

4 Red Hot 100 London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

5 Red Hot 100 London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

6 Red Hot 100 London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

7 Red Hot 100 London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

8 Red Hot 100 London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

9 Red Hot 100 London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Thomas Knights Photographer © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Art Design Fashion Luxury People Restaurants

Masterpiece London Preview 2015 + The Wallace Collection

Total Eclipse of the Art

Adam by Richard Hudson @ Leila Heller Gallery MPL15 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

It was as if Elizabeth Bowen was in Masterpiece London and not The House in Paris: “Heaven – call it heaven; on the plane of potential not merely likely behaviour. Or call it art, with truth and imagination informing every word.” Now in its sixth year, Lavender’s Blue have covered the last four but as Liz B declared, “Any year of one’s life has got to be lived.” Red carpet Dysoned, #MPL2015 has arrived. The greatest show on earth is back in town. Millennia of masterpieces filling a groundscraper marquee (12,500 square metres), a pneumatic Royal Hospital Chelsea, full blown Wrenaissance, Quinlan Merry, painted canvas under printed canvas. Arts and antiques gone glamping. Something to tweet home about lolz. An upper case Seasonal fixture and celebration of unabashed luxury. Masterpiece is truly the cultural epicurean epicentre of civilisation, from now (Grayson Perry’s Map of Days at Offer Waterman) to antiquity (Head of a Young Libyan AD 200 at Valerio Turchi).

Eamonn Holmes MPL2015 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Everyone’s here at the preview party, the upper aristocracy and upper meritocracy of globalisation chic to chic. Royalty with their heirs and airs, gentry with their seats and furniture, oligarchs with their bodyguards’ bodyguards, Anglo Irish with their Lords and Lourdes, nouveau riche with their Youghal to Youghal carpet, celebrities with their baggage and baggage, Londoners with their Capital and capital. And a very bubbly Eamonn Holmes. Stop people watching. Stare at the felicitous ambiguity of Geer van Velde. Wonder at the dense opaque impasto of Freud. Gaze at the transparent golden glaze of Monet. Study the descriptive precision of Zoffany. Blog about the parallel lines of Bridget Riley. Instagram a selfie beside The Socialite, Andy Warhol’s portrait of New York realtor Olga Berde Mahl shyly making her first ever public showing courtesy of Long-Sharp Gallery. Better late than never.

Tomasso Brothers Dionysius Bust MPL2015 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“If you think about it the clue is in the name,” muses artist Anne Davey Orr. “Masterpiece – a creation that is considered the greatest work of a career, or any work of outstanding creativity and skill. And Masterpiece is certainly the best in its field. From the faux façades to the faux colonnades, and the exotic festoons by Nikki Tibbles of Wild at Heart, Masterpiece exudes a professionalism which avoids the tackiness that sometimes attaches to other art fairs. The accompanying directory of 300 high end galleries alone, contents apart, sets it in a league of its own.”

Steinway Fibonacci MPL2015 @ Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Newly introduced Cultural Partners such as the Wallace Collection lend added weight to #MPL2015. Every discipline in the design art market is represented. The reflection is so perfect in Edouard Lièvre’s rosewood mirror in Didier Aaron. Hot on the jewel encrusted heels of Wartski is a cool £22 million Bling Ring’s worth of rubies and diamonds at Van Cleef and Arpels. “It’s hard to find rubies over five carats,” notes PR Joan Walls. “The Vermillon earrings are 13.33 and 13.83 carats. Their pigeon blood red colour is so rare, so wonderful. They’ve pure consistency with very few inclusions. The Vermillon earrings are underscored by corollas of pear shaped marquise cut diamonds.”

Another Masterpiece first is a piano. Cue Steinway and Son’s 600,000th instrument The Fibonacci designed and handcrafted by Frank Pollaro. Random renditions of Für Elise aren’t recommended. Sipping Ruinart and devouring pea and mint canapés while chatting to Stephen Millikin is. “Fibonacci is a geometric representation of the golden ratio. It’s found in nature and art, brought together in this piano,” Stephen explains. He’s Senior Director of Global Public Relations at Steinway and Sons, based at 1155 Avenue of the Americas, New York. “The piano is made from six logs of Macassar Ebony. A Fibonacci spiral is inset in the veneer. This motif resonated with Frank Pollaro.” At £1.85 million it’s not going for a song but nor should it. The Fibonacci was four years in the making from concept to completion. Maths star piece.

Vaulted boulevards of dreams, deep white fissures, lead to panoplies of intense colour. Galerie Chenel’s Pompeiian red, empire yellow and lavender’s blue niches fade to black in the shadows of exquisite statuary. There is no vanilla at Masterpiece. Lacroix clad Lady Henrietta Rous and Suzanne Von Pflugl rock up to Scott’s (Mount Street has decamped from Mayfair to Chelsea for the week). The conversation is fashion houses and fashionable houses. “I’m wearing my Ascot hat!” proclaims Lady Henrietta. “I tried on all the hats on King’s Road! Ossie Clarke was a good friend. I edited his diaries.” Annabel P recognises mention of Suzanne’s childhood home now lived in by her brother, Milton Manor House. “It’s perfect for weddings. At the last one Henrietta was still going strong on the dancefloor at 2am!” jokes Suzanne. “It was the vintage music!” blames Lady Henrietta.

Brun Fine Art MPL2015 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“Tamarisks flying past the rainy windows were some dream,” imagined Elizabeth Bowen, “not your own, a dream you have heard described.” Carriages; horses for courses. All aboard golf buggies to vacate the Royal Hospital estate. Not so bound the Honourable Mrs Gerald Legge, Countess of Dartmouth, Comtesse de Chambrun Viscountess Lewisham, Viscountess Spencer. A Rolls Royce pulls up and Raine slides into the back seat. Blacked out windows slide up, no time for a Snapchat. And so, the chimerical layering vision that is Masterpiece London, so emblematic of a progressive spirit, is over for another year. Here’s to #MPL2016.

Lady Henrietta Rous @ MPL15 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Fashion Uncategorized

Pininfarina + e320 Eurostar

You Got a Fast Car 

Eurostar e320 Party © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls Royce. Fast cars. Keep up. Snaidero OLA Kitchen 1990, Juventus Stadium 2008, Calligaris Orbital Table 2011, Millecento Residences 2012, Sergio Pininfarina Concept Car Ferrari 2013, Fuoriserie Bike 2014. Steady excellence. Keep going. It was only a matter of time, time being of everyone’s essence, waiting for no woman, until Pininfarina was asked to design the fleet of trains travelling up to 200 miles per hour that link the UK to continental Europe. The French – and Belgian – connection. All aboard the Eurostar. Happy 20th birthday.

City lights lay out before us | We don’t need anything or anyone

St Pancras Eurostar e320 Party © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

It’s the unveiling of the first new state of the art e320 train. The world class Italian design house has gone full steam ahead with the interior design covering styling, engineering and livery to boot. Pininfarina’s brand values, as ever, are at work and play here: creativity, experience, innovation. Nothing jejune. Nothing ersatz. Nothing déclassé. Nada. That hasn’t changed since 1930. Unlike the number and whereabouts of the employees. The company now has a workforce of 3,000 across Italy, Germany, Sweden, Morocco, China. Bigger picture, devilish detail. After all, Pininfarina has in the past gone micro, designing an exclusive bottle of Chivas 18. Back to macro, delivering it large.

Is it fast enough so you can fly away | We’ll do it all everything on our own

Pininfarina Party © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

St Pancras Eurostar Party © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

A double decade ago, Eurostar really was the most momentous event in the history of cross Channel travel since Blériot wobbled his way over the white cliffs in 1909. At first departing from Waterloo, the smart move was to relocate to St Pancras, a destination itself with two of London’s finest hotels at the end of the line. Beautiful staff line the platform as a DJ and poptastic quartet perform. More seats, more room, more fun. Pininfarina has given Eurostar all that pizzazz. Business class culinary director Raymond Blanc says salut.

Leave tonight or live and die this way | Just know that these things will never change for us at all

Pininfarina Eurostar Party © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Over to Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic: “We’ve changed the way people think, live and work between the cities of London, Paris and Brussels. So far we’ve carried 150 million passengers. Eurostar has doubled the size of the market between our three cities. Our DNA is product innovation and customer service. We aim to make travelling a pleasure, an experience in itself.” Next year, Eurostar will travel direct to Lyon. The following year, Amsters.  A star is reborn.

Maybe together we can get somewhere | Let’s waste time

St Pancras Pininfarina Party © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Architecture Design Fashion People Town Houses

Recreating Eden Landscape Design + Savannah Georgia

Paradise Found

Antebellum House 1905 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Atlanta. Hotlanta. Leave sultry Sunday Funday we’re-off-to-balmy-Piedmont-Park behind. Hop on the next flight out of the capital of Georgia, bumping along over the alligator swamps. Y’all this is the only way to make it from Lavender’s Blue to Savannah blue. Savannah Hilton Head International: as trim and prim as a spanking new golf resort. Grab a cab and speed along the highway past preened lawns greened by sprinklers, screened by clipped bushes, neat verges, shuttered existences, everything manicured to within an inch of its life.

Savannah Georgia © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Turn right off the highway. Screech of breaks. Wham bam thank you ma’am! A change of gear literally, historically, metaphorically. A contrast as sharp as the right turn. Do the time warp. Welcome to the urban jungle that is Savannah. The antebellum and great antebellum mansions between pastel washed clapboard townhouses and horse drawn carriages clip clopping along cobbled boulevards fanned by the river breeze make for picture perfect views framed in 1,000 postcards. Yet it is the lush verdant vegetation above all else, the layer of nature that hangs over and creeps round this genteel city four square, that makes it so special.

Jim Williams Mercer House Savannah 1© Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Spanish moss forms an overhead tapestry of heavy green drapes and swags interwoven with patches of intense blue sky. A pink azalea carpet sweeps across the squares while wisteria climbs up buildings like wallpaper, dogwood blossom providing extra pattern. Ivy acts as leafy borders. Eat at The Lady and Sons, pray at Christ Church compline, love. But this visit was years ago. The immediacy of the past, the distance of the present. Deep calls to deep. That is all we have. The future is not ours.

Savannah Townhouse © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

In the now not the not yet, who better to talk to about Southern planting than the owner of Recreating Eden Landscape Design. Former model, cat lover and Lavender’s Blue reader Sandra Jonas has been designing noteworthy landscapes for over two decades. Gardens, parks, historic sites, cemeteries and even Olympic equestrian competition courses have benefitted from her talent. A graduate in Landscape Design from Radcliffe College Cambridge Massachusetts, her award winning work has been celebrated in Atlanta Homes, Better Homes + Gardens and Southern Living. Sandra’s own garden is a learned essay in four seasons centred on the vistas and verandas and virtues of Hamilton House, her 1840s antebellum home in Hogansville.

“Some of the most beloved and ubiquitous spring plants in Georgia are the big blousy Southern azaleas, or rhododendron indica,” she says. “Every spring garden tour is timed for their bloom. They are spectacular. Larger gardens will have at least one Southern magnolia, magnolia grandiflora, the plant that defines the South. Larger gardens may use these plants as hedging material. They have dense evergreen lustrous foliage and flowers the size of dinner plates with a fragrance that isn’t too sweet or powerful nonetheless.”

Landscape Designer Sandra Jonas @ Lavender's Blue

Sandra adds, “Then of course there are the camellias, which, depending on the variety bloom from autumn to spring. Right now camellia sasanqua is the star of the garden. The wonderful thing about the climate here is that gardens planned with care can have plants to delight every month of the year. Most historic Southern gardens feature a ‘camellia walk’ leading from the house to the kitchen. The kitchen was located some distance from the house so that a fire wouldn’t destroy the house. These sheltered walks were probably meant to keep the food warm rather than necessarily for the comfort of the slaves who cooked and served it. Usually there would be fig trees and muscadines, wild grapes, that would be made into preserves and wine for winter. As for the gardens I’ve seen in Savannah, they mostly use plants to frame the architecture, which is sensational, and anchor the houses in the landscape.” Tara!

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Architecture Art Fashion Hotels Luxury People

Royal Opera House + Ham Yard Hotel Soho London

Artisan Residence

Hang on a minute. Are those elephant droppings in the courtyard? Is there a circus in town? Is Nellie on the rampage? Is it sh1t or sh1t art? We (very) gingerly bypass this and other disconcerting existentialist concerns and make our discerning way straight to the basement Dive Bar at Ham Yard Hotel. Boy, we haven’t been in as fun a disco dive bar since Pinkie Master’s Savannah (midnight in the venue of good and evil). There are enough fluorescent signs to keep even Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown happy. Viva Las Vegas. Flavour of the month Ruinart the imbibable equivalent of caviar, is on tap. Starting with big balls in the small hall, the art continues inside and thankfully improves. Or maybe that’s the bubbly kicking in.

Mayfair’s our usual hunting ground. Private views, our game. So firstly we’re gunning it to the Mayfair Gallery’s inaugural exhibition Impressionists and Modern Masters. It’s a new venture for W1’s antiques treasure trove. “The part of Mayfair Gallery fronting South Audley Street is ideal for exhibitions,” says Director Jamie Sinai. “We’re looking forward to holding more exhibitions in this space.” Watching this space, Renoir’s sensitive charcoal on paper Musicians and Louis Anquetin’s full on watercolour Aux Courses highlight penchants for portraiture. Other Impressionist and Post Impressionist household names represented by painting, sculpture and sketches are Boudin, Matisse, Moore and Picasso.

Ham Yard Hotel Sofa ©Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Ham Yard Hotel Dive Bar © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley,

Next stop Ham Yard. We haven’t strayed too far from the closeness of riches, sticking firmly to the Regent Street edge of Soho. More than a mere hotel, this Woods Bagot designed piece of new townscape is stitched into the tight urban fabric. All the key town planning buzzwords are ticked: accessibility, flexibility, legibility, permeability. Stylistically too it’s a fit, displaying a kickass warehouse meets townhouse typology. Dotted around the perimeter of the courtyard are 13 boutique shops. In the hotel itself, as well as the Dive Bar there are 91 bedrooms and suites, a ground floor restaurant, orangery sunken halfway below street level and a theatre two floors down. Ah, the theatre. Our raison d’être at the Kemps’ latest development. Alex Beard (Chief Exec), Kevin O’Hare (Director of the Royal Ballet) and Kasper Holten (Director of Opera) have invited us to celebrate the opening of the Royal Opera House Live Cinema Season. “We’ve an audience to die for!” exclaims Alex. “We’ve got with us more than a smattering of Royal Ballet artists. Friends and rellies, you can catch me in the cinema! We’re going from strength to strength.”

 

Manon 24/09/14, Copyright 2014 ROH. Photographed by Alice Pennefather

Kicking off (although there’s probably a more genteel term for it) the season is Kenneth MacMillan’s acclaimed Manon performed by The Royal Ballet starring Marianela Nuñez and Federico Bonelli. Madness, materialism, mayhem, mistresses, mystery, misery, Monsieur GM… they’re all in the gripping three acts of Manon. Kenneth MacMillan’s masterpiece may be 40 years old, first performed in 1974, but it remains thematically bang up-to-date. His Views of the Word are not defunct. Tonight’s performance is being simultaneously broadcast across 40 countries. Federico’s family are watching it in Genoa. But first for some revolutionary devolutionary evolutionary canapés. There’s the opening reception plus two intervals then the after party to navigate our way through. Phew. Thank goodness for avocado and lime on dried cracker; grilled goats’ cheese on mini toasted brioche; prawns marinated in basil pesto; grilled asparagus with garlic mayo; mini pulled pork and beetroot burgers; and pan fried cubes of chicken fillet. Not forgetting white chocolate caramel lollipops – they’ve got kick. Survival of the fattest.

Manon 24/09/14, Copyright 2014 ROH. Photographed by Alice Pennefather

Kenneth MacMillan’s source was the 18th century French novel by Abbé Prévost. It had already been adapted for opera by Massenet and Puccini. But he drew new sympathy for the capricious Manon using his customary psychological insight and memories of his own impoverished upbringing. He described his heroine as “not so much afraid of being poor as ashamed of being poor”. It’s a heart wrenching drama accentuated by Jules Massent’s score. The great choreographer’s widow, Lady MacMillan personally introduces Manon at Ham Yard. “Kenneth loved cinema and would be delighted by this performance. I warn you – there’s no happy ending!” And the best bed flip award (presumably there’s a technical term for it) goes to Marianela Nunez.

Manon 24/09/14, Copyright 2014 ROH. Photographed by Alice Pennefather

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Fashion Hotels Luxury People

Jonathan Blake + The Serbian Royal Family

Trunk Call

1 Jonathan Blake Fashion Show © lvbmag.com

Like the Duchess of Devonshire, we haven’t cooked since the War but at least we know our Neo from our Geo; Christian Lacroix from Christina Louboutin; Monet from Manet; Zoffany in a frame or on the wall. We could go on. There is only so much esoteric existential living to be done so it’s off again on our noctivagous wanderings to the Grosvenor House Apartments by Jumeirah Living for some cone shaped canapés of culinary consequence. And fizz to boot.

2 Jonathan Blake Fashion Show © lvbmag.com

A private reception and trunk show is being co hosted by emerging talented Texan fashion designer Jonathan Blake with philanthropists Dr Meherwan and Zarine Boyce, also from Houston. Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia grace us with their presence. But first, we’re on the scent of the global ambassador of our fav perfumer, Victoria Christian.

3 Jonathan Blake Fashion Show © lvbmag.com

As the penthouse corridor becomes a runway, mannequins attired in Jonathan Blake’s Fall/Winter 2013 and Spring/Summer 2014 Collections weave their way past pulchritudinous Sloane Ravers, brilliant black suited barristers, hot hoteliers and the odd columnist. “My designs are inspired by Chanel, Valentino and Versace,” notes Jonathan. “They’re wearable, classic and elegant. Several of the pieces I am featuring tonight are made from a powder blue silk fabric. Others are made of gold lace.”

4 Jonathan Blake Fashion Show © lvbmag.com

To die for definition, clever cuts, sophisticated silhouettes, majestic materials… Jonathan Blake’s woman is international, knows she can look great while being taken seriously. Prices range from a £170 blouse to £9,000 for an evening dress. Meanwhile, we live in hope of a Jonathan Blake men’s collection. Shipping, becalmed.

5 Jonathan Blake Fashion Show © lvbmag.com