>> Following my short piece in last week's Stylist magazine (a stellar example of free publishing) extolling my love for all period dramas (although controversially except for Downton), I went on a House of Eliott marathon binge over the weekend.  In my head, I'm in fact stroking my imaginary beard and agreeing earnestly with all of the issues that this BBC period drama quite pertinently  brought up.  Such as commercial viability versus creative expression, designer knock-offs on the high street, silver spoon privileges and connections getting you places in this industry and loss of quality through mass production – it's funny how a fluffy lightweight period drama series set in 1920s London, covered all of that, touching upon issues that no BBC documentary has even bothered to seriously analyse.  It's also funny how those storylines are still very much applicable today.  

In my heart though, I know I'm in fact gorging on sixteen DVDs all in one go because I get to look at all manners of hats, hear Louise Lombard squeal over silk shot velvet and imagine saying phrases like "Yes, this is quite the thing!" if I should ever pay custom to a couturier.  Back to the hats though – cloches, turbans and toques – everyone's newly short bobbed, shingled or Eton cropped head in House of Eliott gets to wear a vast variety of hats.  Even the lowly paid seamstresses.  I've been getting a lot of hat action lately, acquiring all six of these in the last three months.  Save for my feathered fez, I doubt any of these would be welcome at a House of Eliott soir√©e.  It's ludicrous thoughts like that, which prove exactly how mushy my brain has become from period drama mara fever.  

Hexue feathered fez – A feathered fez is the last thing I'd expect to buy in Shanghai, in a vintage shop no less (Lolo Love Vintage to be precise), especially when vintage is still a relative rarity over there.  Still, I was enamoured enough to bring this hat all the way back from Asia, careful not to squash it in my sardine-packed suitcase.  There clearly aren't enough feathered fezes (yes, I checked that is in fact the plural) in my life.  I'm sorry I don't have more information about the label as my Chinese searching/Weibo skills still aren't great.   

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Joseph Nigoghossian bucket/cap/trapper hat – I've been bang into my hat hybrids and this one is a less extreme version of the J.W. Anderson A/W 12-3 current season hat, taking elements of a bucket/porkpie hat with a cap and some trapper back flaps.  Primitive London in Hackney is selling this Joseph Nigoghossian hat in navy foam mesh.  More of that 3D spacer stuff that I've been getting into.  

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Miu Miu Patent Souwester – Many an hour has been wiled away on Yoox, searching for every thing under the sun (my top search terms at the moment are "metallic", "patent, "silver shoes" and "Balenciaga" obvs),  A few months ago, I bought this lonesome patent Miu Miu hat on Yoox.  Lonesome because it bears a very very old Miu Miu label so it comes from a randomly old collection.  Sheepishly, it did however catch the eye of Cathy Horyn when I wore this in Paris.  Suffice to say that I now face celestial downpours with glee.     IMG_0251

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Ganryu blue lurex deerhunter/beanie/cap – I've already talked about this hat when I bought it in Tokyo.  Like I said before, it's my very own tribute to East 17's Brian Harvey, albeit with an extra cap clap at the back and rendered in sheeny shiny blue lurex.  The rest of the current A/W 12-3 Ganryu Comme des Garcons collection makes me wish this jocular streetwear-orientated menswear part of the Comme empire was more readily available here.  

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J.W. Anderson A/W 12-3 quilted bucket/trapper/fisherman's hat – First on my list when going to the over subscribed J.W. Anderson sample sale a few weeks ago was this hat from the current A/W 12-3 collection.  This is about three or four hats packaged into one quilted nylon head warmer.  I'm literally locked in my own head when I put this on.  With a pair of headphones, I'm quite unaware of everything that's going on around me which makes it perfect for trampling across the park, crushing frost and puffing out little breath trails.  Right about now then.    

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I no longer have to feel all guilty and faddy duddy about posting about period dramas now that shows like Downton Abbey have left a veritable cultural sweep of success around the world.  Did I mention that during NYFW in September, the question that I got asked about the most was how does season two of Downton end?  Me, the bumbling Brit is of course duty-bound to love period dramas.  Dutifully, I conform to all cliches.   

That said, Downton Abbey shouldn't be the successful exception in its genre.  Alright, it's got the dramatic twists ("Oh my god, I can WALK again!").  It's got the upstairs, downstairs posh vs. poor element.  And yes, sumptuous cinematography and costumes are a given.  That said for a series that is a touch closer to the subject of fashion and retail, I give you The Paradise, which has just finished airing its first season on BBC 2 on the unusual Tuesday night slot.  What gives credence to the series is its loose basis on the √âmile Zola novel Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight), which I once mused about.  Instead of Paris though, the series is set in a city in Northern England.  

The premise is pretty much the same though.  The Paradise is a bustling department store, the first of its kind in the city and it's crushing the small businesses around it.  A new shopgirl Denise Lovett (played by Joanna Vanderham) comes in and inspires the ambitious owner John Moray (Emun Elliott) with her innovative ideas.  This is the kind of fluffy easy-on-the-brain period drama that most people can digest even if it isn't the loftiest acting or scripting. 

Moreover, a whooping ¬£8 million has been spent on the production and in aesthetics, it shows.  The sets are lavish and the costumes are quite memorable, more so than Downton in my opnion.  Screencapping madness takes over.  The store itself is a work of powder puff eye candy – pastel boxes, ribbons, taffeta, silks etc.  Then you have the sumptuous costuming, which is largely centred on the character Miss Katherine Glendenning (Elaine Cassidy), the rich heiress who is out to marry Moray.  She isn't the central heroine nor is she a likeable character but she does have a costume designer who has pretty much gone all out on her wardrobe.  Her mostly cream or pale dresses are always adorned with eye-catching trimmings.  Her hats sit just so.  She fluffs and huffs about with a spoilt demeanour.  She's all packaging and presentation – a beautiful husk of a woman to consume.

For substance though, it's the central plot, which points to parallels between the rise of competitive open-market capitalism in late Victorian England and today, when small independent shops fight against large corporate chains.  The birth of this seduction process of walking into a department store tells us much about how consumerism sways us today.    

Reading Zola's novel would be a good accompaniment to watching The Paradise.  Take this passage for instance‚Ķ

"First of all, a spring of light satins and soft silks: royal satins, renaissance satins, with pearly shades of spring water; and featherweight silks, crystal clear, Nile green, sky blue, blush pink, Danube blue.  Then came the heavier fabrics, the duchess silks, the wonderful satins, with warm colours, tumbling in swollen waves.  And down below the heaviest stuffs reposed as though in a basin:  the thick weaves, the damasks, the brocades and the silks decorated with pearls or gold and silver threads, in the midst of a deep velvet bed – ever sort of velvet, black, white and coloured, embossed on silk or satin, its shimmering patches forming a motionless lake in which reflections of landscapes and skies seem to dance.  Women, pale with longing, leaned over as though to see their own reflections in it.  All, confronted by this bursting cataract, stopped in their tracks, seized by a vague fear that they might be swept up in the torrent of such luxury and by an irresistible desire to leap and to lose themselves in it."

Yup, a whole paragraph just on the description of the silk department.   

I hear ITV is also producing a drama based on the life of Harry Selfridge (the founder of Selfridges) and The Paradise has been recommissioned for a second series.  Bring on the cosy nights in when watching period dramas could almost be classified as *ahem* "research" for the blog.    

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My recent bout of holiday posts is basically a straight forward reflection of my  film/TV/repeat intake over this period where the ratio between leaving the house and staying at home stuck on my sofa has been about ooh err‚Ķ 1:100.  This intake includes‚Ķ.educational Disney (Fantasia), period dramas (Great Expectations – both film and the new BBC drama, Downton Abbey – duh and copious amounts of Austen on Yesterday channel), Bubble's rejuvenated and excellent styling in the new Ab Fab, Real People Disney (Mary Poppins and the like‚Ķ), Harry Potter films for that vaguely Christmassy vibe (wizards should only wave their wands in snowy weather), Gratuitously Good Disney (Pocahontas, Sleeping Beauty‚Ķ) AND finally, a marathon of rewatching the Japanese manga series Lady!! and its sequel Hello! Lady Lynn dubbed with Cantonese.  

Apologies if the final reference for this post is itchingly obscure.  I gather that on the continent in countries like Belgium or Spain, this Japanese manga did get dubbed accordingly.  UK peeps got a ton of US imports instead so we may have missed out.  I, however got sent VHS tapes from Hong Kong in an illegitimate trail of bootleg recordings.  Therefore I got to be delighted by all of Lady Lynn's adventures with dukes, viscounts, horses and an insane amount of anime rendered pastel outfits styled around Princess Diana circa 1983.  I only wish I could find a link to the English dubbed version for everyone to enjoy all the animated melodrama.  This all brings me to my own interpretation of Lady Lady! ness in these outfits helped by a trip to London vintage fave, Merchant Archive and its new dwellings in Notting Hill.  I'll be revisiting the subject soon as the new location has meant the store has been ransacked by a) Florence Welch (a Merchant Archive devotee) and b) the Notting Hill set that are prepared to drop serious ¬£¬£¬£ on their vintage.  

Alongside those Merchant Archive finds are some old bits that I've resurrected after carefully clearing out the closet (five Ikea bags stuffed full of unwanted clothes remain for the taking… ), a few sample sale buys and some Christmas/birthday gifts.  Oh erm… and an accidental buy.  I went into Liberty looking for Christmas cards and came out with a new season Dries van Noten skirt.  I can only blame this Ab Fabby anecdote on the maddening period of merriment in exchange for swiping your plastic.  Lady Lynn would not approve. 

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IMG_0146(Vintage sheer bed jacket, vintage straw hat, vintage panther print top and skirt set from Merchant Archive, Peter Pilotto x Nicholas Kirkwood shoes)

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(Vintage kimono from Merchant Archive, Richard Nicoll for Fred Perry jacket, Dries van Noten skirt from Liberty, Dries van Noten wedges from Yoox)

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(Christopher Kane embroidered dress, John Rocha frilled culottes, Miu Miu x Pop glitter heels)

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(Calla hand painted floppy hat, ASOS Premium sash top, American Apparel vest, vintage pink wool skirt, Christopher Kane satin crystal heels)

>> The weekend was thwarted with a series of ridiculous obstacles that made me conclude that I should have done nothing but roll around in a Club Monaco cashmere onesie at home whilst anticipating the return of Sarah Lund on The Killing and her knitwear antics.  Despite the Guardian's New Boring protestations about novelty knitwear and their tedious fashion boreward direction, that hasn't stopped the same publication from lauding jumpers and asking people to eschew coats.  I generally have been on the same 'boring' track especially when this self-imposed hibernation seems all the more appealing when accompanied by the outfit equivalent of a big cuddle.  

Fortunately I've amassed enough knitwear to kit out the body from head to toe, which means I can leave the house and still feel like I'm wearing the clothes of a jumper-watching hibernator.  Sub-zero temperatures have also yet to hit London and so with a foundation of one or two Uniqlo heat tech t-shirts, layering up on jumpers, sweaters, skirts, cardis and any other knitted item I can get my hands on without wearing a coat is still fairly plausible.  There's a dose of blatant vanity too.  Obviously it's never all that fun to hide away an outfit underneath a big hulking coat and even if this means I'm shedding away two or three layers once I get inside, say a hot and sweaty burger bar (MEATLIQUOR!!!) and leaving it in a messy heap next to me, at least I get to errr… show off some pretty jumpers that are absolutely NOT boring.  Cue headshakes of disagreement… 

Seeing as these are clothes that give hugs and cuddles, I suppose I should take the time to commend a few of them….

Chinti and Parker's star jumper had been seen on Alexa Chung YOU KNOW????  Don't care?  No, me neither.  However, what IS great about this jumper is that it comes with its own lovely dust bag bearing all the 'conscious cloth' branding of Chinti and Parker.  They currently use lovely lush Loro Piana yarn but await the arrival of organic cashmere to adhere to their stringtent ethical standards.  

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I roamed around the newly expanded Opening Ceremony store in Soho New York for what felt like three hours and still ended up back on the ground floor at the Cacharel rail stroking what is the last collection from ex-Cacharel-creative-director Cedric Charlier.  Had to buy a piece of it to vent rage at what I think was a terrible decision from the powers that be.   

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Whizz kid designer Mundi took me on a mind bending tour through his drawings in Reykjavik back in May and his red and blue oversized cardi has been through a simiarly bendy journey as I've been tying it up as skirts, around the waist, looping it through other sweaters and basically making it do whatever I want it to do.  Subservience.  That's what I want in my clothes.  

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During Milan fashion week back in September, given that I only go to a few shows, it's the one fashion week where I can saunter through streets and shop at a leisurely pace.  I stumbled into Sportmax for the sheer reason that I'd never walk into Sportmax in any other city.  I was with Alex Fury of SHOWstudio and together we found a few things that were floating our boat but weren't hideously expensive either.  I came away with a snug polo neck jumper that zips up neatly at the back.  This is the ornate upgrade of Sarah Lund's beloved knitted Fair Isle creature no?

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It's handy having fashion designers as cousins.  As Steve and I cheesily posed as a nauseating giggly couple for Elizabeth Lau's lookbook, we're now kitted out in Havin' A Bubble and Guvnor' jumpers, which we plan on wearing on our other hibernation nights where Masterchef Professional is keeping is company.  New Boring, we salute you!  

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Chinti and Parker star jumper, Cacharel cut-out jumper, vintage crochet skirt and shorts underneath, Colenimo cardi around the waist, J.W. Anderson shoes

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Cooperative Designs sweater, COS spotty knit dress underneath, Mundi blue and red cardigan worn to one side, Cooperative Designs white knit skirt underneath, Tommy Hilfiger x G.H. Bass loafers

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Sportmax zip-up sweater, Susana Bettencourt skirt, Topshop lurex flares, Alexander Wang wedges

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Issey Miyake raffia knit cardigan, Elizabeth Lau 'Havin a Bubble' jumper, Tim Ryan lurex knit underneath, vintage pink skirt, Anastasia Radevich shoes

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COS cropped jumper, Topshop lurex cardigan, Something Else by Natalie Wood 'Eye' sweater, Miu Miu knitted flares, Jenne. O. silver shoes