Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vivienne Westwood - An Unfashionable Life!

She's here again!!!! I would have scanned an image of the cover - which is Vivienne wearing one of her scarlet red plastic bags from her store, on her head as a dashing headscarf - but due to afore mentioned scanner debacle I couldn't. I'm not fretting as I have ordered a new one courtesy of the lovely Glenn.

This is the best biography of hers I have read. It's not a pictorial biography - it's a dense comprehensive bio and it's great. It get into all the nitty gritty of Ms. Westwood's upbringing in northern England and her marriages, but it's not salacious and gossipy - it's all within the relevance of her creative output. It informs about the influence of Andreas on the direction of the line, how Malcolm Mclaren was a major player and all the fun and frolics from her various retail locations. Unputdownable. 

Vivienne Westwood: An Unfashionable Life
Jane Mulvagh
Out of Print / Hardback

Clifford Coffin.

I've been suffering from scanner issues the past few days, which slightly hinders my ability to write, because I don't like to just use images from the interweb.  I was wanting to scan in a bunch of gorgeous images of Clifford Coffin's photography from an old vintage book I found. I got it at an estate sale of a librarian. She had hordes of amazingly rare and wonderful art, fashion and photography books - most of them were far out of the realms of my pocket but I managed to get this one. The Librarian must have been a heavy smoker as the only problem with the book is that it REEKS of old smoke. Other than this it's in excellent nick. I like to think of The Librarian sitting amongst her stack of books, smoking and browsing all her amazing books - she's wearing a brown tweed skirt and sensible shoes but has a Viv-Vibe.

The first two images above, which I found online, are by Clifford Coffin, they don't really capture the beauty of some of the images in the book but demonstrate that he was quite the snapper. He's a pretty, not quite obscure, but less well-known photographer who was  taking pictures from the 1950s onwards, predominantly for Vogue. The second image is the one that stands out for me, it's cropped here but it's of a model in a once grandiose now dilapidated building. It's beautiful. It reminds  me of a recent Tim Walker spread for Vogue.  At the back of the plates are his portraits of celebrities in their youth - my favourite is a particularly wide-eyed one of Truman Capote when he's about 20. He looks like a cherub but I think he had the vicious tongue of a Komodo Dragon. 

The last image is of cliff coffins which also popped up when I searched for images of Clifford Coffin. I like this photo.

Friday, July 25, 2008

John Lautner, White Russians & Broken Hearts.

I used to live in London and it was great and all, if a little chilly.  I spent a few months one year running about town with a lovely man. He was quite delightful and looked like an elf. I like elves. In November of that year, he decided that he no longer wanted to run around town with me, which was a little upsetting. After being delivered this joyful news, I met my big brother and he took me to a swanky book opening in Soho and bought me a gazillion White Russians. We got superbly drunk and then had a McDonald's take out which we ate on the tube on the way home. The next morning I woke up, quite heart sore and sweating cow juice from the White Russians and the Big Mac. I spent the next few months recreating that combination of ingredients (minus the break-up conversation) and having a gay old time - even if it was slightly tinged with rejection and hurt feelings. It was around this time that I kept falling over on my way to work in the mornings. This wasn't from the demon drink, but more I think from a feeling of being out-of-balance with the world. It was embarrassing and after falling I would sometimes just lie there, being too mortified to get up. This is not a good idea, because then people around you assume you are mortally wounded and run over and make a fuss and kerfuffle. I learnt, it's much better to quickly jump up and pretend nothing happened.

I started drinking White Russians the year before this series of disastrous events. My friend Margot and I used to escape the perils of London every couple of weeks by trekking to her house in the countryside. No-one else would be there and we would spend the weekend eating, drinking and watching re-runs of our favourite films - one of these being the Big Lebowski - hence the White Russians. There was a time when we could both lip-synch along to hour long chunks of the film, which is very annoying for anyone other than us. We still think we're HILARIOUS.

The very long-winded point of all this is, that John Lautner, the architect who designed the house that The Dude has to visit to see Mr Lebowski - the one where Bunny is outside painting her toes green (Tara Reid before she got a bit ragged) - is the subject of the new exhibition at the Hammer. I haven't been yet but I hear wonderful reviews - I have a delicious book of his in the store "Between Earth & Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner".  The images above are from said book...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's Arrived!!!

Vivienne Westwood: A London Fashion
Out of Print

She's arrived! Vivienne is in the building! I've been trying to get a copy  of this book forever. I had a whiff of a copy about 6 months ago from a seller in Quebec but after numerous emails it came to nought. But now I've found one and it's here!!!! 

It's not the largest book I've ever seen but it's 80 pages about 9" x 11" and full of great, glossy colour photographs of Londoners who wear Westwood.  It's on sale on amazon for $270 but I'm selling it for $150 - although I'm looking at it on my desk and thinking I've been waiting so long for her, maybe she should come home with me and live on my bookshelf. This is the inherent problem for an obsessive book-worm working in a bookstore. 


Saturday, July 19, 2008

He Evelyn & She Evelyn

I was thinking about names that can be for men & women, and I remembered that Evelyn Waugh embarked on a short-lived and seemingly disastrous marriage to Evelyn Gardner in 1928. Their friends called them He Evelyn and She Evelyn. It's maybe a good thing that they parted company, while this moniker must have been hilarious for friends & family it could have become tiresome for them. She Evelyn must have been doubly relieved as I think He Evelyn might have been a bit of a loon - he once tried to commit suicide by swimming out to sea, but turned back after being stung by a jellyfish. Not to belittle Mister Waugh though, some of his books are among my favourites. Brideshead Revisited was the only thing that got me through one particular nasty, wet, grey and miserably gloomy week in London.

Bordered Beauties and Rusty Waves, Feathered Footmen and Great Brocades, the Gothic and the Stranger...

The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams

I ordered this book a while ago after reading a glowing review of it, I think on the Guardian's website but it might have been The Times. It took a while to arrive because it's not been published in the States yet and had to come from the UK. If it is published here, I hope they keep this cover as I think the design is gorgeous. I'm not sure if it translates but the small green moth motif is a shade of shiny green and is slightly raised. I also think it's a wondrous title for a book. Moths are so peculiar looking and conjure images of dusty attics and silence.

Here's the blurb from the inside jacket:

"From her lookout on the first floor, Ginny watches and waits for her younger sister Vivien to return to the crumbling mansion that was once their idyllic childhood home. Vivien has not set foot in the house since she left forty-seven years ago; Ginny, the reclusive moth expert, has rarely ventured outside it. Selling off the family furniture over the years and gradually shutting off each wing of the house, she has retreated into the precise routines that define her days.

Only the attic remains untouched. There, collected over several generations, the walls are lined with pinned and preserved moths.....Bordered Beauties and Rusty Waves, Feathered Footmen and Great Brocades, the Gothic and the Stranger.....

With Vivien's arrival, long-forgotten memories are stirred up and the secrets that have seperated the sisters threaten to disrupt much more than Ginny's carefully ordered world. "


I like the name Vivien, maybe because it can be a girl's name or a boy's name: Vivienne Westwood, the lovable prostitute Vivienne in Pretty Woman and Vyvyan from The Young Ones - probably my favourite of the bunch.

Friday, July 18, 2008


We have got some insane bookends in the store recently. My favourites are the Swedish Owls and the Arrow. They're all for sale and go for $65-$125. For some reason I have the shakes today and my photographic skills aren't up to my usual David Bailey standards. Sorry.

Stamps, Bags & Brown Paper Packages.

I stamp my own bags at the store. It's a bit time consuming and sometimes the centre of my palm starts to ache and I get a weird red patch that looks a bit like the stigmata - it's not though, I'm pretty sure I won't be surprised by any religious miracles.....I could have stickers but they cost a bit and I quite like the result of my stamping efforts. Brown paper bags are a favourite, they remind me of brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favourite things. I shan't start to sing.. ask my brother - ears will bleed.