Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Wimbledon Style

Oh dear, I had such a reactionary moment watching Serena Williams play Victoria Azarenka at Wimbledon today.

I am very conflicted about womens' tennis these days which is probably why I don't watch it very much. This afternoon, however, I sat down in a shady room and decided to give it my all. Did, I? No I didn't. I used up half my concentration getting unreasonably cross with Azarenka for pinching somebody else's top in the locker room and hitching it up with a couple of safetypins. Then, because it may not have been her fault, I imagined writing a rebuke to Nike for making this quite attractive woman look and feel such a mess that she went out in straight sets.

Look at this, look, look.. what is that band of elastic above her tits all about? It is integral with the shoulder straps but its sporting attempt at deconstructing neckline styles fails fails fails. At the back, there is another clumsy band that keeps you guessing about the locker room theory. Is the hem meant to ride up randomly around her navel? That mean little skirt clings to her non-existent hips and adds no grace to her workaday physicality.

OK , Ok, this is where I am conflicted. I would really like my tennis players to look like this

or this

but we have moved on from cotton piqué and frilly knickers. The game is far more athletic , the women are more powerful and if you're making like a battering ram on the baseline, you want to look as well as sound as if you mean business. I can't fault that argument. But what is it about the rotten little skirts? I can only conclude it's that they rarely show your underwear. But dear oh dear, look at these...

What an absolute dog's dinner once again

These women have given up on looking very sweet or very chic like this..

(but don't get me started on the pearls..)

so why don't they wear shorts and be done with it? I love shorts. Martina Navratilova looked fabulous in them

and she tucked her shirt in. So this is a plea: shorts and a shirt tucked in or a tennis dress that
moves with the body and doesn't part in the middle. I may sound like my mother or the gym mistress but frankly I don't give a damn.

Teddy Tinling was acknowledged to be numero uno in the tennis dress game during the halcyon days of gracious Wimbledon. But hard to imagine that anyone ever took him seriously.

Besides her searing tennis today, Serena William's looked fabulous. Her dress was supportive, it was modest, it had cheeky detailing at the back, it flicked and billowed with her movement and above all it proudly showed her BigWhitePants. No wonder she beat poor old Azarenka 6-2, 6-3. She was at the top of her game. Look good and you do good is what my mother used to say.

Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert prepare to slug it out at Wimbledon in 1978 in this video It 's worth watching for a snatch of Dan Maskell's commentary, Evert's lovely dress and lacey underpinnings, wooden racquets, the endangered serve-and-volley and Martina's colourful brilliance that led her to victory.

Thanks to The Guardian online, LIFE and The Daily Mail Online

Monday, 29 June 2009

If I'd known I would live so long (113)...

.. I'd have looked after myself better. It's an old joke. Henry Allingham now the oldest man alive at 113 (the oldest female is 115) puts his longevity down to cigarettes and whisky and wild wild women but I suspect that's a joke too. Henry is still a humorous chap. Doctors researching 'super-centenarians' (you have to be over 110 to qualify) have concluded that these people have in effect won the jackpot - with a winning combination of genetic and positive environmental factors. The odds are 7 million to 1 and well over 70% of those are women. Hats off to Henry then!

See my earlier post when I had the honour of meeting him at Southampton Solent University on his award of an honorary doctorate in engineering. He was obviously blessed with a good brain (after World War II he became a designer in the motor industry), a sense of fun, compassion and stoicism. He admits he had two breakdowns (during and after the war), caused by overwork and stress and believes that 'to stay within your capacity' is vital. Henry is lucky to be well cared for at the famous St. Dunstan's Home for blind service personnel in Sussex, and that Dennis and Brenda Goodwin, none too young themselves, are his 'minders'. He not only outlived his wife but his children too. The man whose life has spanned three centuries, six monarchs and twenty-one prime ministers has five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, 14 great-great grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild.

Here he celebrates his 113th birthday with his great-great grandson Erik Carlson.
Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Image Top: Daily Telegraph; below: Rear Admiral John Lang

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Good Nudes for Artists

Something rather special will be coming to Britain's daytime living rooms in July. Despite panic in some circles about shock horror nudity before the evening watershed, Channel 4 is screening five half-hour life drawing classes.

They will be led by John Berger, Judy Purbeck, Maggi Hambling, Gary Hume and Humphrey Ocean and will feature different types of model in a range of locations from the famous Life Drawing room at the Royal Academy of Arts to the artist's own studio.

Meanwhile, to promote the series and help bring life models to a wider public, free drop-in life drawing classes are being held in various locations this week and next. London, Manchester, Bristol, Southampton and Glasgow are benefiting from this initiative supported by the Arts Council, Artangel, Jerwood and the London Graphic Centre.

On Monday I dropped into Shoreditch Town Hall for a free half-hour session with Judy Purbeck. The sessions ran between noon and two o'clock and were organised most efficiently. It was tantalisingly short, even though I was able to take advantage of a vacant easel in the next group. Much appreciated. I am showing three of the five-minute poses I did. The last one had to have an extension because I failed to fit her feet in first time. Don't you just hate it when that happens!

Find out about the remaining free drop-in classes here

Life Class: Today’s Nude is conceived by artist Alan Kane, commissioned and produced for Channel 4 by Artangel as part of the Jerwood/Artangel Open.
6 - 10 July 2009 12.30 pm + Channel 4
Find details here

All images © Rosie West

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Are We Under-Dressed on the Beach these days?

I've always been a one-piece bathing costume sort of a girl. Can't even bear to call it a swimsuit. Tell me this isn't a lot chicer than a series lycra triangles spliced and strung together?
Perhaps not everyone's cup of tea but fabulous textiles

Oh oh oh, Oklahoma meets my favourite dress from South Pacific

What a gorgeous collaboration between United States Rubber and the milliner

This look would definitely work today

Stunning, modest simplicity

Perhaps a bit on the complicated side and the hoods a little dodgy?

Total elegance for a game of beach rummy

From 50s Fashion Style 1 Beach & Sumer P.I.E Books 1997

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Nearly Driven To Drink

Lately, I've been losing the will to live each time I remind myself that Rose C'est La Vie needs dusting down and a shiny new post put up. It's horrible and I've diagnosed the problem as a mixture of trying too hard and not trying very hard at all.

Just as I was thinking this, I found that awesome blogger Emily Evans Eerdmans was writing this:

I have been encouraged by a new friend to be more regular in my postings - even if they are short and half-baked.

See what happened here. You've got to read the comments.

I might be half baked but Tim Burton is a double cooked soufflé, n'est ce pas? These pictures have been released by Disney in advance of his version of Alice in Wonderland, coming to screens next March.

Alice played by 19 year old Australian actor Mia Wasikowska staring into a very weird future.

Encountering the White Rabbit in the most plaintiff of enchanted gardens.

Shape-shifting Johnny Depp collaborates once more with Burton achieving a Mad Hatter who appears to be radioactively candy-coloured. Is that a Philip Treacy titfer?

I love Burton's wife Helena Bonham Carter as the cruel Red Queen. Cruel? Her face somehow reminds me of an Ideal Home kitchen c. 1954.

Good heavens, it's a double dose of Little Britain's Matt Lucas as Tweedle Dum n Tweedle Dee.
He's a good enough reason on his own to see this film.

Pure Burton magic. I love films that play with scale like this. Can't wait.

All images from The Guardian Online

Monday, 15 June 2009


I shall be away until Sunday in Brittany, staying avec ma soeur in Finistere the most westerly part of France. Quimper, in the centre of the region, is the home of the famous Henriot factory which has been making this tin-glazed faience pottery since the 16th Century.
I'm totally disorganised and rushing off to catch my plane.. more next week.

image at http://cache.virtualtourist.com/3350976-Turine-Quimper.jpg

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Vintage English

Vintage Home is a cottage industry selling whimsical old stuff. The staging of the merchandise in beautiful photographs like this makes it quite irresistible.

I love this pop-up book..

All images © Vintage Home Click here to visit the website

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Exterior Decoration

The mystery is gradually leeching out of the crop circle phenomenon, more than twenty years after they first started appearing in the English countryside. In the beginning I, a lifelong sceptic, felt they had to be man-made. However, their sudden overnight appearance, the immaculate symmetry, the lack of human trace all engendered the faintest suspicion that an alien workforce had been dispatched by flying saucer. Or maybe some creative alignment of electro-magnetic forces, whirlwinds, sacred geometry or the fingerprint of God were at work?

In a field of oilseed rape at Clatford, Wiltshire created on 4 May.

It now appears that these magnificent fieldworks come courtesty of artists and pranksters. According to a recent article in The Guardian it began in the late 1970s with two Wiltshire watercolour artists and was picked up by London-based artists and sculptors in the mid-1990s.

In a barley field near Devizes, Wiltshire, created 24 May.

In a field of oilseed rape at Peaks Down, Swindon, Wiltshire created on 9 May.

Now a group called Circlemakers, including situationist artists and the sculptor Gavin Turk, taunt the paranormalists and spirtualists who still cling to the belief that around 20% of crop circles have no human agency. These days they openly claim to have made hundreds of crop circles but by never revealing which particular ones, they play the game that there may indeed be some inexplicable force behind them. That's cruel! But they are mad if they think they'll convince everyone that there's nothing supernatural in these rural interventions.

In a field of oilseed rape at Roundway, Wiltshire, created on 29 April.

This year has seen a new surge, twenty major formations in the Wiltshire countryside where, incidentally, farmers can offset the damage to their crops by making their fields open to tourists. It all died down in recent years for various reasons. One major operator committed suicide and another died. Bad English weather prevailed. Then interestingly, the pranksters suddenly realised they could command massive sums by creating logo crop circles for multinational companies like Nike, Pepsi, Sky and Mitsubishi. It all makes you appreciate this new crop which look more ambitious and more unearthly than ever.

Top: Kingston Coombes, Oxfordshire. All Photographs courtesy PIN
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