Pucci whirligigs

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This air stewardess outfit (!) is from the Instagram feed of the Goldstein museum, and what really cracks me up is that my primary school uniform was basically a maroon and olive green version of this. I hated it (the winter style was very Dr Spock, to be fair), but now I love it!

You must remember this

I’m late to the party, but now I’m hooked on the Hollywood history podcast, You Must Remember This. Veronica Lake, Bette Davis, Peg Entwhistle, Jean Harlow, Gene Tierney, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly pre-Monaco, Bacall post-Bogie, and most of all Joan Crawford, are all lodged in my head.

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Most of all what’s clear are the repeating patterns: Jean Harlow and Marilyn Monroe; Peg Entwhistle and Bette Davis; alcoholism; poor relationship choices (mainly Sinatra).

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Listen in and get ready to fire up your Netflix.

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Gorgeous

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How luxurious are these fantastically vampish sketches by Helleu?

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This is absolutely the ideal of beauty between 1900 and 1914 and I feel I could seriously get behind it…

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All images via Pinterest.

Perfume: go, go

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I was pretty sceptical when I heard that Somerset House was putting on a show about perfume, and even more so that it would be done in the manner of a contemporary art installation. Well that’ll show me – it was actually great fun, very well thought out, would be perfect to do either on a date or with friends, and is actually both non-intimidating and witty, a real achievement for a craft that is second only to wine-making for jargon, history and insiders’ snobbism.

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As the notes to the show said, self-taught perfumiers are now breaking the mould, getting away both from the stuffiness of some schools, and the idea of scent as a marketing product. I won’t tell you too much about the perfumes in this exhibition as the whole point of the showing is to have a guessing game / voyage of discovery of your own, but you can see from the pictures above how inventive the sets were. In other rooms you smelt white cotton scarves or brilliant liberty-style print pouches, whilst the room with “paint pots” inspired this response from some other visitors:

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I didn’t get so creative myself, but enjoyed the game of hide and seek, and the weekend I went there was also an interesting series of presentations from perfumiers at the end in the testing lab.

PS in the first room you smelt the bowling balls…it felt quite James Bond, actually.

Balenciaga

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Another exploration from my staycation this year – I loved seeing these dresses close up and the amazing skill that went into them. Such amazing shapes! And the details…

Bravo the V&A for encouraging photography and sketching.

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All photos by me from my visit.

Glowing

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I saw this late work by Alma-Tadema (better known for his massive classical set pieces) over at Leighton House on a pouring wet day earlier this month. Leighton House itself is pretty stunning, with an “Arab Hall” inspired by Syria and Sicily and an entrance of deep peacock blue tiles, so the perfect setting for Alma-Tadema’s equally lush art.

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Rather nicely, the two artists actually knew each other and Leighton recommended his architect to Alms Tadema, when he bought Tissot’s house in St John’s Wood and decided to remodel it to include extra studios for his wife and each of his daughters. This exhibition’s well worth a trip, especially for the films showing how Alma Tadema’s art has influenced film depictions of Ancient Rome, and for a reconstruction of the “panel room”, where artistic visitors were asked to paint a contribution before leaving.

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photos of Leighton House from my visit.