28 April 2009

the f-word

Since I entered it ceremoniously, this world of the big four-o, I've become more and more aware of a constant feeling of being on the edge - not in a nervy way but in a "teetering on the edge of a very steep precipice" kind of way (think Cathy in Wuthering Heights or the second Mrs de Winter in Rebecca just for that extra, windswept drama effect). Which is a lot more scary and quite a new sensation for me. It doesn't leave me either. Actually it just gets stronger. Things feel decidedly different to me now. Day to day things, they seem much more important, more serious and I have a very definite sense of urgency about me which suggests that I'm watching an imaginary clock ticking away while running at an increasing speed to make things happen. Even my children's comments seem more poignant to me. Probably because I'm referring back to my own childhood when I remember making the conscious and rather stubborn decision to stop counting my parents' ages once either of them had reached 40. When I hit forty I didn't think it would make a blind bit of difference, I laughed at the thought of it: "Bring it on!" I used to shout. I don't shout anymore, now I'm fairly quiet about it. All my determination and nonchalance is nowhere to be found, in its place an overwhelming sense of life and its meaning, and how precious it is and how living for today is paramount and how every second counts. That's what occupies my mind these days. I wonder if all this is normal? Fortunately I am an incorrigible optimist - so while I'm teetering up there on the edge of that precipice, my mantra 'the best is yet to come' is also ringing quite loudly in my ears. Other welcome side effects of being forty (at least for me) are confidence and assertiveness. They make life so much smoother and more enjoyable. Like I said, I wonder whether it's just me...?

24 April 2009

true to type

Watching the very talented Mr R working yesterday I couldn't resist snatching this piece of gorgeousness from him (please be sure to click on the picture for a proper, enlarged view). Don't worry I have his consent. There's something about a typeface, about a specific way a word is presented on print that is so beautiful, powerful and to the point. No fuss. No frills. No extras. No sound. Just a word - in most cases put very simply in black on white or vice versa. I suppose it all boils back down to design. And I guess it's graphic design really - but I like to think that it actually goes back further than that. Graphics don't really do it for me, but letters baby, yeah! Typesetting and, more importantly Typography. What genius to beautifully arrange letters to create your very own typeface, Herr Max Miedinger. I do love all those wonderful Harpers Bazaar articles with the iconic serif typeface, but have to admit that it's the sans serifs that I'll go for time and time again. They're just beautiful to me. My favourites from the mood board above are without a doubt the 'Acqua di Parma' logo and the 'Eleven Madison Park'. That's how simple I like it. Whilst doing his reasearch work yesterday, Mr R showed me this website which shows some great examples of a stunning typeface used so effectively on a collection of book covers (albeit rejected ones - I can't imagine why). Mmmm books.... don't get me started on those!

20 April 2009


How long am I going to have to wait? With an H&M on practically every corner (yawn, double yawn) is it really too much to ask? It can't be that hard for COS/H&M to realise that there's a market for their sublime products beyond the usual suspects (UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands). Why no Switzerland and, more importantly, no Italy? Where's the problem? I live in hope...and in Switzerland.

17 April 2009

make-up anyone?

So I waved and kissed our Easter guests goodbye on Saturday and promptly burst into tears. I don't know about you but I've completely given up on maintaining my composure at farewells, it's such hard work plus it just seems a bit, you know, insincere. What's the point in putting on a brave face when your heart is breaking? And with the guests gone I found myself in the middle of town, by myself and in no great rush to get back to an empty house. Instead I made tracks for our only department store where I like to have a little peek now and again at the relatively new and exciting arrival on the ground floor cosmetics department: the Bobbi Brown counter. As far as make-up's concerned this, I feel, is as good as it gets. Feeling just a little bit washed out and blue I didn't offer much resistance when the chirpy male make-up artist (Abdul "on a whistlestop tour of Europe visiting all the Bobbi Brown counters" and working his magic on the likes of me by giving very good face) invited me to take a seat for a "quick make-over" in the latest spring colours. I made a half-hearted attempt at declining but soon decided that it would be kind of cool for once to be professionally worked on like that. I might even learn something. Yeah, so make-up. Where do YOU stand on that one? I've always been fascinated by it, heavily influenced by my mother and all that advertising. Once I got into my teenage years I experimented constantly and looked incredibly scary most of the time, trying desperately to ascertain my look whilst coming to terms with my own 'colouring'. I've not been blessed with perfect skin and so the 'no make-up' option was not for me (not in a million years) - instead I developed my own little life support team of products, without which I'd never show my face in public. Ever. I know exactly what works and what doesn't on my skintone and because I would give anything not to have to wear make-up in order to look halfway decent, I have, over time, tried to perfect that natural, sunkissed look that suggests hardly any make-up at all. Since we moved to this part of the world it soon became obvious to me that there is none of the high-gloss sophistication that I used to encounter on a daily basis in the UK. Instead you have pretty much 2 very defined camps: the I-would-never-dream-of-wearing-a-scrap-of-make-up lot (bless them for they have the courage of their convictions) and the I-think-the-black-lipliner-look-is-a-winner lot... Ok, I lie: there are those of course who fall in between these 2 extremes choosing to wear make-up and looking just great. But there really is very little emphasis on make-up over here - which is a good thing as natural can never be bad, right? Well, sort of. I suppose it's just one of those things, you either do or you don't. And on Saturday, after my little make-over I was glad that I'm one of those that do. Abdul confidently applied his art to my face and made me look like me but better - it was great. Admittedly I wouldn't necessarily wear eyeshadow or lipgloss during the day, but it made a difference to my mood - I felt refreshed and bright and, thanks to Abdul, I learned how to improve my complexion with the clever use of a brush....

07 April 2009

so here's to you, Mrs Robinson

Ooooh I can hardly type for excitement! The temperature today hit 23 degrees and all thoughts of winter and cold are suddenly filed away together with silly worries about doom and gloom - at least till November. Now it's the new season (and for me the best season, or as they so poetically call it 'round my parts, La Bella Stagione - wonderful, eh?). I'm making way for positive optimism and renewed confidence and am so looking forward to new beginnings.
Which brings me swiftly to the point of this little story. New beginnings, change, change, and more change... It's that time again. The big question, the big dilemma. Is it time? Can I still pull it off or is this (ie. the sneaky suspicion I may have reached that dreaded state of mutton-dressed-as-lamb) the perfect bloody excuse to go and chop it off once and for all and shut the hell up about the blimmin' hair? Here I am, wafting around as always with my long tresses like some ageing Rapunzel. Of course I've had long hair all my life so it's as much part of my character as my character but I do get to this stage every 3 years (it's like clockwork) where I just have to go through this process - and this time, you're coming through it with me. Were it not for the sheer terror/cold fear of completely losing my identity, I would have done it years ago. It's always the same: I spend weeks lusting after 'my perfect short hairdos' (see above) and it reaches feverpitch till I walk into the salon and every single time without fail some young whippersnapper of a coiffeuse talks me out of it because she, just like me, has absolutely no backbone. Sounds harsh? Well, if only I had a little of the Annie Lennox about me (that divine bonestructure, such angles, such precision) or the soft voluptuousness of Marilyn. But alas no, I am me! And it takes exactly this process (I can feel it, I'm almost through it) to realise that I do really love this long hair thing and that it just suits me and my style perfectly. I will never forget Mr R's words to me almost 20 years ago (and a few more times since), about how he thought older women looked fantastic with long grey, salt and pepper kind of hair....Well, sir, sticking it out with me may just be starting to pay off because it looks like that's gonna be my look pretty soon. Move over Annie and Marilyn, make room for Anne Bancroft.

If you can't quite remember just how fabulous Mrs Robinson looked, go refresh your memory by visiting this week's post on The Women's Room.

02 April 2009

new collection

Karin's new spring/summer 2009 collection is ready - check out her website. Here's an exquisite taster of the new batch. Looks just as good lying on your dresser as it does draped over your summer linen tunic.

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