Some light photographic relief

Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education We recently spent a weekend with my parents in the countryside. J and I went to relax for a while, which was long overdue, both to see my parents and to relax a little.

So we had some fun taking a few photos and playing with our camera. Hope you like them!

Still makes me long for a garden though... To grow tomatoes and gooseberries would be enough :)

In search of domestic godessness

Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education I've been trying to get more in touch with my domestic goddess recently which has been quite good fun, it's been really nice trying some new recipes and working at old ones. First are some of the old ones J and I work on, his tabbouleh (soooo good), my houmous with lamb and pine nuts and some labneh. Yummy! This all went with our lebanese feast we had when we were in one weekend recently.

And then up come the choux buns! This was the first time I've made Choux pastry, and it was surprisingly easy. I thought it would be much more liable to go wrong but somehow it turned out really well. And tasted good too! I then filled these bad boys with creme patissiere and covered with melted nutella...

And finally the meringues from the egg whites left over from the custard. These were a little crumbly, something went wrong somewhere but they tasted okay so all good in the end!

Now I think I might have promised the choux pastry recipe at some point so below please find the recipe, taken from Michel Roux Jr's recipe book "A life in the kitchen"
125ml water
125ml milk
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon sugar
100g butter
150g plain flour sifted
4 eggs
Put the water, milk, butter, salt and sugar into a pan and slowly bring to the boil. Take off the heat and beat in the flour. When the mixture is smooth put it back on the heat and beat vigorously for a minute. Take off the heat and put the paste into a bowl, beat in the eggs one at a time. Now put the paste into a piping bag with a 1.5cm nozzle, pipe out buns measuring 3cm across onto a non-stick baking sheet (I used oiled baking paper). Cook in a preheated oven at 220C/Gas Mark 7 for 5 minutes. Open the door for a few seconds to let out the steam, then turn down to 180C/Gas Mark 5 for 20 minutes or until fully cooked.
And enjoy!!!

Being Unhealthy

Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education This week has not been a good week for being healthy. I have been out three nights on the trot and am really feeling it. Nowadays I really cannot take the pace any more.

I really must try harder. Which is why I'm writing this post. Having it written down often makes one think about it more and hopefully take more action.

So here is my plan:

1. Schedule nights in rather than out
2. Make a conscious effort not to snack between meals on crisps and chocolate and think about all I am eating
3. Try and drink less and less often
4. Start doing yoga at home and find another class to attend during the week

I'm hoping that if I can start making little changes and feeling more healthy then it'll become habit to be better. And once it's habit then hopefully I can introduce even better habits and proceed on an upward trajectory, not an up and down and sometimes spiralling trajectory...


Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education Posted by Fashion Junior at Large 

While the Fashion Editor at Large has been relaxing in foreign climes, I decided to use some of my spare time to get tattooed. (Recovery time is important - blood, bandages and antiseptic cream aren't a good look for fashion business meetings.)

To me, this is a normal activity - I now have five tattoos in total, really enjoy the whole process and will no doubt add to my collection as time goes on. This is where the Fash Ed at Large and I differ, because as far as I know she isn't concealing any body art under those elegant outfits! The fashion industry has completely changed its views on tattooing over the last years, and they are now de rigeur (this month's Vogue covergirl, Freja, has 16.) In fact, it would be easy to say that it is now more 'normal' to have a tattoo than to not have one.

 Just a selection of Freja's tattoos

The Guardian reported this week that 1 in 5 British adults have some sort of permanent ink - that's a huge percentage considering the older generations still consider them the domain of jailbirds, servicemen and generally shady types. My own parents were horrified when I got my very first one - a tiny star on my right wrist. I think their exact reaction went something along the lines of 'trampy, common, awful' and 'concentration camp victim'! But seven years later, they now have two children covered in tattoos - and have somehow come to accept and even appreciate the artworks, even if they aren't to their personal taste. When you see SamCam swanning into No. 10 with a dolphin on your ankle, you know times have changed.

Sam Cam's Not-so-Conservative dolphin

However, that truly naff dolphin tatt brings me to my point - everyone may be getting tattoos, but that doesn't mean they are necessarily getting them done well. Just like all creative industries, there is a tattoo hierarchy - some artists are just better than others, just like illustrators, photographers and designers.

There is also an age old saying that states "good tattoos are not cheap, and cheap tattoos are not good." It is so true - if you are going to get something on your skin forever, this is a good time to employ the Grazia 'cost per wear' strategy, and not to go for the budget option.

It is my firm belief that if you are going to get a tattoo, you need to commit to it, and do it properly! I am a huge fan of the old style (traditional hearts, swallows and pin up girls) and have wanted a rose design for about a year. They are a classic tattoo motif, something I knew I would love forever.

The vintage postcard that started my rose obsession

I knew it needed to be a big, full, bloom, and so choosing the placement was tricky - I almost booked in to have two, one on either shoulder, but decided against that area is so often obscured by clothing.

My forearms already have three tattoos, so I figured one more couldn't hurt. It took a long time for me to find the right artist for the job - Stefano, at Frith Street in Soho - but when I had, he agreed it was the right place for his design.

The studio in Frith Street

Getting a new tattoo is always scary - yes, they do really hurt. Luckily adrenalin distracts you from the majority of the pain, which is best described as a really sharp scratch accompanied by a dull ache from the vibrations from the gun. Nice. I completely trusted Stefano, which helped, and after two and a half hours of grimacing, nail biting and inane giggling (I laugh when I'm nervous!) I now have a beautiful rose.

The latest addition to my body

Tattoo fans like me get a huge thrill from the whole process, and the euphoria after you are done is incredible. Good tattoos look lovely, in my humble opionion. They do make life more exciting, and everytime I look at it I smile. Now I can't wait for the Fash Ed's return, to get the ultimate verdict!

For more on the Fashion Junior's tattoo obsession, click here:

(Images: Daily Mail, George Langford, Frith Street)

A final Italy post - the artwork

Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education My first real life Damien Hirst - stunning, vivid colour and a subtle skull which isn't menacing.

One of the two Mark Quinn Kate Moss statues. J did ask if Kate Moss really could do that. I suggested probably not... Fascinating and loved the gold.

Anish Kapoor's concave circles. For their simplicity I loved these.

Another Damien Hirst, this was perhaps my favourite. All butterflies in a fabulous mosaic/geometric design. Ticking my symmetry and colour and material boxes all at once. If only I could have this in my house one day...

Not sure who this one is by but it made me smile and I like having it hanging off in the first room you walk into.

So there we are, I'm finally going to stop banging on about our one night in Italy!

Having the time to stop

Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education This weekend we had nothing planned, nothing at all. And for once I was delighted (I'm a planner as well as a worrier). Things have been busy, work for both of us has been busy and we've had functions booked in for weekday evenings and weekends for quite a while now. So much so that I got ill at the beginning of the week, my body's way of telling me to slow down and relax. So I slept most of Monday.

And then this weekend. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Bliss.

We have made the most of it, cooking most of yesterday, making Lebanese, some of my favourite food, but time consuming to do properly. Making ice cream, from scratch with no machine and then just sitting and not doing.

This weekend has made me realise the value of stopping. Of sitting down together, sometimes in silence, sometimes chewing the cud about whatever is on our mind. We've had the time to appreciate all we have, how lucky we are to have each other and all else that we have.

What joy nothing sometimes is...

Verona Arena - A night at the opera!

Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education The whole reason for us to go to Verona was for a night at the opera. Every year they hold an opera festival which lasts during the summer and is held in the Roman arena in the middle of Verona. We went to see the first night of Carmen showing and it was just fabulous!

The sets were all done by Franco Zefferelli and were beautiful. Plus the stage is about three times the size of a normal theatre so you fit many more singers and animals on stage! As you can see by the horse above...

It was a great opera, a wonderful experience and one I won't forget for a long while.

Review: Byblos Art Hotel - Verona

Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education We stayed at the Byblos Art Hotel, a leading small hotel of the world, and boy is it a leading hotel. Not only is the setting absolutely stunning, on a hill just outside of Verona in an old villa but then inside is a delight. The service was great, breakfast was a feast and dinner was fab. Plus they provide a shuttle service in and out of Verona making staying a little further away not a problem at all.

Our room was a riot of colour but put together beautifully. I love bold colours so this suited me to a tee. The bed was big, and comfortable plus the bathroom huge and really well equipped (bar the hairdryer which was like all hotel hairdryers I have ever experienced, pants).

All around the hotel are various artworks, I have a whole other post about the artworks because they really were stunning and exciting to see too! but below just a small example of how the fabulous old architecture was mixed with modern art.

And then there was the pool... Oh sweet delight when it was nearing 40C (over 100F) on Saturday and Sunday! We spent most of Saturday afternoon relaxing in the sunshine and frolicking in the pool.

The gardens were beautiful, so verdant and full of fabulously scented herbs which left the air smelling sweet.

Finally one of the art pieces, a painted bronze orchid by Mark Quinn. Truly beautiful, the colours popped out.

In short a hotel I would absolutely recommend, for it's service, for the luxury, for the beauty and for being such an escape from the humdrum of normal life, which was really just what I needed right now.

Whisked away to... Verona!

Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education What a lucky lucky girl I was, early on Saturday morning we hauled ourselves up, me excited to go away but tired. And then at Victoria we met some friends who were joining us on our mini adventure and were off on the Gatwick express. We left a very cloudy grey Gatwick to arrive in a scorching Verona, a city I have never visited before. And what little we managed to see of it was lovely.

After lunch we hopped in a taxi to our hotel, again no idea where we were staying so to turn up to the below driveway I was excited to say the least...

And then we walked into this entrance hall, wowee! And we were at the Byblos Art Hotel, just outside of Verona. Another post to follow on the hotel, we spent most of our time there!


Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education Posted by Fashion Editor at Large

We all know true fashion eccentric’s are few and far between. But surely there can only be room for one woman in the world who wears her edgy Haute Couture with millions of pounds worth of diamonds, outrageous Philip Treacy hats and who is slim enough to slip down a drain when turned sideways? Last week this theory was turned on its head when I saw two of these women in a room at the SAME TIME. I was attending the Istancool arts festival in Istanbul when the seemingly impossible happened. “Daphne Guinness is over there, look!” whispered my neighbour at a lunch in Istanbul Modern art gallery. Everyone’s head swivelled towards a pencil slim woman wearing a giant black and white Philip Treacy hat which was obscuring her face.

Who's that veeeery skinny girl in the Philip Treacy hat?

 “That isn’t Daphne Guinness, THAT IS DAPHNE GUINNESS. We all looked towards the doorway as the in cantered the real Daphne on heel-less silver platform heels, an undulating Tracy concoction floating above her brow.

Daphne took off her Treacy hat to have a quick chat with Gore Vidal

So WHO was this pretender? Let me introduce you to Stacy Engman. Stacy, 32, is the chief curator of Contemporary Art at the National Arts Club in New York. Stacy was typically vague when it came to her family, except to say “my dad is in finance and insurance”. She was more forthcoming about her style, however. “I am wearing Philip Treacy, of course. My shoes are McQueen; my leggings by NY label “3 as 4” and my bag is Chanel. When our eye was drawn to a massively blinging diamond ring, what we were told next made our eyes water. “This is my personal mark,” she said, deadpan. “I was looking for a monogram for my clothes and luggage and I wasn’t happy with anything the graphic company created for me. So I looked for a symbol instead. This is inspired by the “Sheela na Gig” a pagan symbol of a female gargoyle who uses her vagina to scare away evil spirits.” That was me told, then. The ring totals 13 carats and took “my family jeweller ages to create.”

Stacy's "personal mark" inspired by the symbolic vagina of the gargoyle "Sheela na Gig"

Stacy also told us she wears “the world’s most expensive fragrance by Clive Christian.” I adore Daphne Guinness, but have also rather warmed to Stacy Engman. Anyone who is as dedicated to the cause of fashion and personal style as these two women are very welcome to the Fashion Editor at Large world. Let the rivalry commence!!

The feet of from left, Daphne Guinness (you should see Daphne when she flips down to flat position in those shoes; its so cute, and she says she does it to keep her calf muscles flexed and stretched) , Pablo Ganguli, Philip Treacy

Daphne chatting to Liberatum founder Pablo Ganguli, the 27 year old responsible for the Istancool festival.

Photos: Fashion Editor at Large
Daphne Guiness fashion shot was lifted from, no credit shown.

Whisking away

Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education For the first time in 7.5 years J is whisking me away on a surprise trip tomorrow morning! I'm very excited, I know its Europe, for one night and with a couple of friends. Beyond that nada...

So I shall have stories and photos on Monday!

Hope you all have lovely weekends, xx

Thoughts on friendship

Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education
I saw a couple of old friends recently on a couple of separate occasions, both of whom I haven't seen for a few months but who I am close to and have been close to in the past. But it got me to thinking, both these girls had no idea about something which right now to me is important and having a big effect on my life. Something which somehow they were unaware of. How had they missed this? Because I hadn't seen them or because our friendship had changed.

I know friendships change, I know they wax and wane and someone who is close at a time in your life might not be so close at another time. Often due to circumstances. But for some reason I always feel a little confused as to why these thing happen.

I also know that relationships need to be worked at but it's a fine balance between both parties working at it and one party putting more effort in. I'm never sure when to cut the effort off. Is a past friendship something which should always be worked at or do I need to accept when a friendship has passed that that's what happened and there are always plenty more opportunities to build relationships and new friendships.

It's something I have found myself pondering on as I've grown up and changed, life has changed, relationships have changed and so have friendships. I guess though that throughout it all I've always understood the precious value of friends, be they bloggers, colleagues or childhood friends.


Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education Posted by Fashion Editor at Large

Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy was having none of that fashion show malarkey this season. This designer marked his tenth couture collection for the house by casting aside the fashion show format altogether. Tongues wagged at first – financial trouble? Loss of confidence? Nope. He wants to show off.

Haute Couture is best viewed in close-up. How else to appreciate the 1000 hours of embroidery in a single gown? A fashion show can’t do this, as well Tisci knows, so his alternative was fabulously logical: face time with the clothes with all the detail you could want about the work. Voila – surely the future way to show couture?

Within an exquisite four room apartment at the historic Hotel d'Evreux on Place Vendome he showed ten looks suspended from sleek steel beams and beautifully day-lit to highlight the thousands of hours of work. These were clothes for hard-bodied women with millions in the bank, major events to attend and the confidence to wear either pure white, pale blush or blinging gold. No black in this collection!

Tisci loosely worked with two themes: the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition – and all its associated humorously macabre nick-nacks from skeletons to skulls and his favourite symbol, the crucifix – and the passions of Frida Kahlo.

I loved the humour of his bodysuit in blush tulle, sheer bar for the lace appliqué delicately mapping out a human skeleton. A 100% gold crystal studded gown Tisci developed from the dress he created for Lara Stone when she married David Walliams was also present. Most beautiful was the thickly fringed sculptural jackets – a Givenchy jacket is a thing of wonder. You don’t see shoes that appear to have been dipped in porcelain everyday, or sculptural rings resembling vertebrae made from solid silver and dipped in alabaster (below). Of course it was all utterly magnificent to behold.

The best factoid of the entire visit, though, was news that Riccardo Tisci’s former male PA, is now a female model called Lea T, who is currently much in demand on the high fashion circuit. Lea is in the group picture below that was the last stop on the Givenchy couture tour. Can you tell which one she is?

I guessed straightaway, only because she was the only model I didn't instantly recognise. This then made me think - what hope would a non-fashion person have picking the man among these amazonians?

To read more on Lea T's inspiring story click, here for a Guardian interview; here for a Huffington Post round-up on Lea T media, and here for a more in-depth story about living as a transexual, or with gender dysphoria. Also check out this website, if you want to take your studies further.

Photos: Fashion Editor at Large


Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education Posted by Fashion Editor at Large

So at the weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to Istancool (sponsored by Turkish Airlines, though I flew BA and they LOST MY LUGGAGE). It was a brilliant arts festival arranged by Liberatum Global, an organisation headed up by an inspiring 26-year-old Indian man by the name of Pablo Ganguli. I have posted this snap taken by the chic be-turbanned jeweller Waris (House of Waris) because it was taken an hour after I was reunited with all my belongings, among which nestled this winner of a dress by Roberto Cavalli which I couldn't wait to slip into after three days wearing the same T-shirt and Houlihan's. It's the best snap taken of me for ages, and makes me smile everytime I look at it.  I am standing at the gates of the Topkapi Palace on my way into an amazing dinner hosted by Jefferson Hack and AnOther Magazine. See their reports of the event here. It was an unforgettable night. Look out for more about Istancool in next weeks Grazia.

During day two of the event Daphne Guinness (now ensconced at Haute Couture goings on in Paris from where I write) dropped in with her new beau, a handsome philosopher, to the Istanbul Modern contemporary art museum. Here she is on the top floor of the museum having a moment while she overlooks the Bosphorus towards Suntanahmet, the historical centre of Istanbul. She was feeling wistful and told me she had not been to the city since 1989. Following this she sat in discussion with Philip Treacy to talk about their working relationship; she being an avid consumer of his incredible hats. This ine, Philip told me was "inspired by a wimple, and  is made from plasticised net." It all became very emotional when Philip broke down in tears when talking about their much loved and missed friend Isabella Blow. During his teary moment his partner Stephan reached over to whsiper in my ear that Istanbul had been Issy's favourite city.  Of course we all now know that Daphne Guinness is now the custodian of Isabella's entire collectiojn of fashion. Something she spoke about at length in the FT this weekend. Read it for yourself. It will give you a glimpse of the utter one-of-a-kind-ness of this extraordinary woman.

Like I said I'm in a very hot and steamy Paris right now. Off to see Givenchy Haute Couture in an hour. Then I meet BryanBoy for the first time, and buy him tea and cake. Then CHANEL!


Crossing the Blues, University of the Nations, Social Work and Education, Shop Clothes Online, Radiology Information Social Work and Education Guest Post by Fashion Junior at Large (George Langford)

If you go down to Cornwall this month, you are in for a big surprise. Nestled away on the Rame Peninsula, in the south east of the county, the most magical festival will be taking place in just over two weeks time. An enticing concoction of music, fashion, food and literary performances will be taking over the beautiful site of Port Eliot.

Port Eliot is the historic family seat of the Earl and Countess of St Germans, who have been hosting incredible festivals and events at in the House and grounds since the 1980s. In 2003, Peregrine and Catherine St Germans, along with a team of creative friends, founded the Port Eliot Lit Fest, with the idea of starting a completely new and exciting type of literary festival. Since then it has grown into an amazing mixture of music, the visual arts, incredible food, brilliant authors performing their work, and this year, a fantastic fashion element in the form of a dedicated tent in the Walled Garden (even the tents sound romantic!)

The first Port Eliot Festival had only 17 visitors, that number has grown to 5000 in only 7 years!

The organisers always encourage both the performers and festival goers to be as creative and free-spirited as possible during the weekend, which creates a truly magical atmosphere. It is not unusual for people to hold spontaneous seances in the woods, or a masked ball in the middle of the night, or for younger punters to run down to the 'One Minute Disco', held on the hour, every hour. It is this unique spirit that has meant knowledge of this boutique festival is spreading via word of mouth.

The capacity of Port Eliot festival is limited to 5000, which means everyone has space to camp wherever they so chose (a far cry from the usual flooded shanty towns of other festivals!) and there is the choice of several areas offering different forms of entertainment; the Cabaret Tent, the Boat House, the Caught By The River stage and the enchanting House of Fairy Tales.

A typical Port Eliot Festival goer!

There is a truly incendiary list of authors and musicians who will be performing at this year's event, but what has really tickled our fancy is the thought of the fashion tent in the Walled Garden.

Barbara Hulanicki (founder of Biba) and Fashion Junior's fave, Luella Bartley, will be making clothes for festival goers live and for free! How brilliant?! Sarah Mower, the British Fashion Council's Ambassador for Emerging Talent, will be interviewing milliner Stephen Jones on stage, and he will also be creating bespoke hats during the event.

  Stephen Jones driving the world's cutest golf buggy!

Taking a break from curating iconic exhibitions at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in NYC (yes, where the amazing Met Ball is held), Andrew Bolton will be teaming up with fashion legend Anna Sui for another special event. Anna says of the festival itself:

"It's like a fairytale. Those vistas! You have to catch your breath."

That sounds like a good enough reason to discover the festival if ever we heard one. Tickets are still available if you want to experience some of the magic for yourself, and you can buy them/get more information from the website:

Images courtesy of Port Eliot (Bill Bradshaw, Fiona Campbell)