The Last Swan
There is good taste – then, in a stratosphere all its own, there is Agnelli taste. Last October a breathtaking tome, The Last Swan, written by Agnelli and her niece Marella Caracciolo Chia was published by Rizzoli. It charts the life of the goddess of style through photographs many never published before. This is one of the famous modern fairy tales of love, glamour and heartbreak, Marella Agnelli has become an icon of our times. She married in 1953 the late Govanni Agnelli,, the charismatic scion of the Fiat empire and a man generally considered the unofficial king of Italy. Marella Agnelli, born Princess Marella Caracciolo di Castagneto is not only one of the great beauties of the last century, but also the most elegant and cultured of that exclusive club. She was photographed by the most famous artists of the day and it was Richard Avedon who nicknamed her The Swan. Her clothes her gardens and her many homes had a timeless elegance, each one housing many pieces from their renowned art collection. Agnelli born in 1927 and now 87 years old, is tall and rangy, with a narrow, angular face, thin and fine-boned. “She has always been chic” said one old friend “even in a straight skirt and blouse with the sleeves rolled up. Agnelli says of herself, “I never saw myself as a beauty, so it was important at least to be elegant” The photographs in the book portray a great beauty in a series of divine clothes, from the simplest chinos to the most glamerous ball gowns. Her homes shown in the book are truly envy making but there are details that can also inspire our own humble dwellings. I note that her favourite room fragrance is mine too, Bitter Orange by Agraria, so that’s all right then!
The book is ravishing, showing many of the wonderful Avedon photographs. The tour of the Agnelli homes and gardens is fascinating.
No one loves a classic more than I. The more sure footed and stylish a woman is, the more her wardrobe tends to be built on classic foundations. That said, classics do not last for all eternity. Replacing, upgrading and occasionally redefining, none of these activities negates a classics status. On the contrary they prove what a brilliant design blueprint it was in the first place. Over the years I have owned a dozen Pea coats, Blazers etc. My first from an Army surplice store replete with gold buttons and braid, was a real uniform jacket and like most successful uniforms was simple and sophisticated. Others I loved were from, YSL. Whistles, Hamnet, Dolce etc. The Pea Coat, Blazer, Caban, Reefer Jacket have over the decades varied in proportion from skinny to roomy. The double breasted buttons in brass or plain. Shades of dark navy is always best and today we demand a supple fabric. The real pea coat should end just below ones bottom where as a blazer can be a more jackety length. This is a style that can be worn pretty much anywhere, any time all through the year. As chic for kids as well as mums and beyond. I would probably save my Pea coat from a fire before a fur, well it is partly cashmere.
What not to be tempted by, cheap fabrics, colours except navy, and any little fashion add ons like zips and I prefer them without back belts.
So to be cool and comfortable check that you have the perfect pea coat, jacket/coat at the ready as this is a coat that is the perfect marriage of form and function.
Above right is the new www.winserlondon.com Milano knit Blazer in Midnight blue. Perfect for Spring, super chic and comfy too.
Martin Margiela 2015
Check out www.style.com for the photos by Tommy Tom of the Fashion Crowd at the collections. It is more inspirational than some magazine spreads. I particularly like seeing how the fashionistas put it all together and what they are picking to show case each season. Tommy Tom has just posted the Street Pix of the audience who are in Paris for Couture. Specs, sunnies and glasses for those who cant see so well,are the accessory du jour. Super important to be modern not mumsie and despite the crippling prices we get more bang or our buck than a new pair of earrings. So this spring don’t hold back on a re-look at what we wear everyday on our face. There are lots of new kids on the block designing glasses so no need to stick to Raybans or Calvin Klein or what is on offer at the optician. My current fave is Mondelliani www.mondelliani.it I wear glasses so was looking at the optical frames N.Punto collection is all frames in fab colours check out miele and cel, that’s honey and turq to us.
Not the easiest to source unless you are going to Rome but well worth the effort. AUERBACH & STEELE, KING’S ROAD, LONDON WOLF&BADGER, LEDBURY ROAD,
Oh and if you are watching Cucumber the delish Freddie Fox is wearing Mondelliani specs
FASHIONISTAS AT PLAY
Can’t promise you will have hair like Mrs Clooney but I’m happy if I don’t look like a massive dandelion. If you haven’t met the Cloud Nine O heated rollers, well they are totes-amaze. These are a massive leap forward for womankind. A new concept in heated rollers that was introduced into the market in 2010, something to do with heat induction technology, don’t ask.
Anyway they are the brainchild of millionaire Robert Powls, Yorkshire man, techno wizard, hair guru and chairman. He started life in the 60s with a hair salon in Ilkley and from then onwards to London and upwards to a yacht in the med. So he knows a thing or two about it all.
Hard to explain how they work – the pod heats up the rollers singly in 4 seconds. So one puts in the roller and heats the next one – no problems with interruptions or rollers getting to hot or cooling down while we take a phone call. The rollers are light and fuzzy so they stay in. They leave the pod cool and heat up in the hair, well it’s all a mystery. So much better than the trad rollers that are so slippery and heavy and too hot. The rollers are a shocking price but for me well worth it as I do my hair at home and it is quicker and smoother. There are deals to be had on line. I hear the straighteners are particularly good too. www.cloudninehair.com
I’m Vanessa, I am a cashmere addict.
Without revealing my age – suffice it to say that when I grew up clothes were tweedy and scratchy, trendy was a mini Shetland sweater. I can remember meeting my first cashmere on a relation, it was a white cardigan brand new and I was hooked. Slowly slowly I started buying cashmere, often on sale.
So soft like wearing a kiss. Comforting, luxurious and actually very practical. I wash my sweaters in the washing machine. I wear them winter and summer. Simple shapes not really classic but not trixy either.
Single ply colourful cardys often from JCrew. Double and triple ply chunky sweaters that are light as a feather and can be convincingly country. Sleeveless vest tops for under suits and I confess to a large collection of shawls and scarves.
Currently I am hooked on a sweater called Audrey from www.Winserlondon.com I have cream and navy and am going for grey and black. They also have a long cardigan/coat called Audrey too, that I have in Black but as you see from the photo Cream is pretty yummy. The Winserlondon scarves and shawls fit the current mood for almost sheer yarns and a more lofty weave too.
Cashmere is the best jumper a girl can have, the go-to, never-let-you-down, universal flatterer. So I say put your cash into cashmere.
What a surprise! Who would have thought someone would create a new way to wear and play with scarves and shawls. The Winter 2014 Burberry show was a lovely trip to Bloomsbury portraying an artist’s muse. Longer skirts, hand painted jackets, tapestry bags and an array of printed shawls. Visit the www.burberry.com site and you can see the whole show complete with piano and Paloma Faith singing at top screech. The Boho vibe is very London and it has been around the block a dozen times but it can still enchant. Also it is a good counterpoint to the minimal and stiff trend and it looks a lot better on the upper class girls. The traily scarves are huge, fine and secured front and back with a long narrow belt.
I know it’s for skinnies only, but none the less adorable for that. Doesn’t Cressida Bonas (photo by Mario Testino for Vanity Fair this month) just look young and so chic. The Burberry kit will cost a fortune, but the Hoxton Hussies will get it together from the vintage shop and mum’s stash of YSL shawls from the 70s. Then it’s off to the Country for the weekend. Hey Ho.