Steak, Guy Bourdin & Christmas Tree…

I am very sorry for abandoning my blog again.
Nothing drastic had happened during the silence except my daily fight with muscle fatigue and aches caused by the all-out hockey action which has commenced since last September. When one’s body is much too tired, one’s will to do anything other than absolutely necessary wanes, and as the result, my thumb dancing had been on pause over my iPhone screen for quite a while. Now, a quick sit-rep of my household. My.B is doing very well by the help of medications. He is comfortable and still full of beans. And Hubbie is the same old himself, busy, busy & busy. So, it is all good & happy in my household!

Last Saturday, Hubbie and I went out for an early Christmas lunch at Hawksmoor, Covent Garden. We had dined at their Shoreditch branch on Curtain Road some years ago but this West End Restaurant was new for us.
We were both in the mood for serious meat eating, and therefore, we opted for 850g of Porterhouse steak to share. We also ordered tender stem broccoli, salad with vinaigrette and beef dripping chips.

Waiters cross the numbers out from the blackboard as the cuts were sold off…

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After about a half an hour of waiting, our foods were brought to the table….

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And they were great. The seasoning was exquisite and the way the steak was done was perfect.
Especially, their beef dripping chips, they were so wickedly tasty. Sorry my arteries and hello to my cholesterol…

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After settling our full stomach with cappuccino, we waded through The Piazza which was awash with Christmas shoppers as well as tourists.

A lone silver reindeer on the display…

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‘I am just a reindeer! Get me out of HERE!!’

It looked like as if the deer wanted to be free from the madness of Covent Garden in weekend.
Even there was a mass exodus of Santas on BMXs…

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Modern Christmas becomes more and more insane, don’t you agree?

Somerset House, here we come…

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We were there for the Guy Bourdin exhibition…

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It was great to see and understand his method of creating the works. Hubbie told me about his sad demise towards the end of his career. Guy Bourdin was a perfectionist who would have hated to work with someone like Anna Wintour for sure…

After the exhibition, we walked around an indoor Christmas market, expecting it to be the same as the last year’s. However, I was disappointed because there was no independent traders but all Fortnum & Mason. I had nothing against one of the most famous London stores but I just didn’t want those big names in my face everywhere I went. I would go to Piccadilly if I wanted to shop in F&M, thank you very much! So please leave some chance encounters with small retailers at Somerset House next Christmas.

An opulently decorated Christmas tree in the courtyard…

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Then, we grabbed a cab on Aldwych and sped home where our dear Mr.B awaited…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Jean Paul Gaultier @ Barbican Gallery

Apart from having lunch at their Foodhall, the purpose of our visit to the Barbican was to see the exhibition “The Fashion World Of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk”…

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The show was conceived by the Montreal Museum of Fine Art which also owned most of the frocks on the display. The first exhibition was premiered in 2011 at Montreal…

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I was very much intrigued by the show because my dear friend, Letizia, who saw the same exhibition at San Francisco last year, was raving how amazing the whole experience was.

As I approached a row of mannequins on the pedestal which were clad with iconic garments by Monsieur Gaultier, their faces lit up and started to greet me by winking or smiling or even chatting! How remarkable!! This bewitching experience was created by the overhead projectors, which incorporated motion sensors, shone moving images on the mannequins’ faces.

Jean Paul Gaultier greets each visitor with his personal welcome…

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The experience was rather unsettling at first because the effect was so convincing and made the mannequins so lifelike…

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The exhibition showcased Mr.Gaultier’s creations from the early 70s to the present day…

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There were so many collections I admired but the one I loved the most was his punk themed collections…

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I was especially besotted with the detailing of this artificial fur skirt. The monsieur cleverly utilised the texture of the fleece to mimic air-brush like effect…

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There was also a “camouflage” dress…

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and a cape made with the same detailing of a MA1 flight jacket…

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Another of Mr.Gaultier’s take on the punk was an haute couture dress with “Whirl of legs” lining…

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The couturier has dressed many celebrities during his long career but the most famous one has to be Madonna. The corset with the infamous cone bra she wormed during her Blonde Ambition tour earned its wearer as well as dresser a significant amount of media exposure in the early 90s. The actual article was on the display together with the costumes of his another pop star client, Kylie Minogue…

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Nowadays, there seems to be blurred definition between what is underwear and what is not. However, it was sensational in the late 80s when Madonna debuted a Gaultier’s pink satin bodysuit. Now, the original garment appeared a little tired and even humble amongst the more opulent frocks. Yet, the item carried certain cultural significance on its slight shoulder straps.

The images below are what caught my eyes at the exhibition.

A black dress with an angel bodice…

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A dress with graphic insets…

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Digital printed insets made the frock strangely alluring…

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Complicated details around the hip of a Japanese kimono fabric inspired dress…

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A crocheted dress with structured shoulders…

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A cage like construction holds up the garment…

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A feather dress with the subtle nuance of the 30’s…

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A fur headdress inspired by the Eskimo…

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The Mongolian nomad?…

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Oversize hair accessory…

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A spectacular “Parrot” dress…

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A knitted dress with a giant face…

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The dress which is there but “barely” there…

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A man with a feathered bodice…

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A fez hat with eyelash…

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Hubbie & I both heartily agreed that we enjoyed the show enormously.
Gaultier’s intricate and sensual yet lighthearted and witty creations were entertaining and inspirational…

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This highly recommendable exhibition will be on until the 25th of August. Don’t miss out if you are around, or you will regret it forever…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Isabella Blow @ Somerset House

Hubbie is singing non-stop and giving me a headache. I don’t want to hurt his feeling so keep my mouth shut. But he is so out of tune. Please HELP!

Belatedly, I visited a highly acclaimed exhibition dedicated to late Isabella Blow at Somerset House on Strand last Wednesday.
I meant to see it sooner but the trip to Japan and the colds I had after that held me back. Since the show would close this weekend, I thought I couldn’t delay any longer, so booked a ticket and off I went.

No more ice rink until next winter. The square looked bare but also it was a definite sign of the approaching spring and it made me happy…

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Photographing was prohibited so there was no image of the inside of the exhibition “Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!”…

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The first space was filled with old family photographs and newspaper clippings, depicting her early life and a complicated relationship with her aristocratic parents. I did know about her career in fashion but not so much about her private background. Therefore, listening to her, recounting how she was brought up in the shadow of her parents’ manor while longing for the luxury and opulence her pre-war ancestors must have enjoyed, was interesting and poignant. One of the exhibit was her interview film and in the centre of the frame was her family’s history book. From ime to time, her pale hand with a colossal bracelet on its wrist appeared and pointed at certain parts of the photographs, describing how the remnants of the bygone time haunted her and her family. It was the first time I heard about her less than ideal upbringing in her own voice and it endeared her to me. I felt sorry for her.

The rest of the exhibition was simply divine. I feasted my eyes on one-of-a-kind creations by Philip Treacy and Alexander McQueen. The craftsmanship which involved to create them was awe-inspiring and I just couldn’t help ogling every detail from all angles. Materials, applications and executions, everything was exquisite. I understood why Isabella Blow was so taken by it. No offence to Mr.Valentino’s retrospective exhibition at the same venue last year but I was moved by this show more. The world Isabella helped to create with talented British designers was hauntingly beautiful and definitely one-of-a-kind. And I was very grateful to the people, explicitly to Daphne Guinness, who made this exhibition possible. She not only rescued Isabella’s entire collection from being auctioned off and lost forever but also shared it with us, showing the particular luxury and opulence the late Isabella aspired and practiced throughout her life…

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By the way, did you know that I met Isabella Blow in the fresh once? My brief encounter with “The Hat” – apparently the late Princess Margaret nicknamed her as such – was at the Design Museum on Shad Thames. The museum was hosting “When Philip Met Isabella”, a show featuring Mr.Treacy and his famous mentor. As I was at their riverfront cafe and happened to look up from my cup of latte, there she was, Mrs.Blow was standing by the till with an elaborate but not so stupendous headgear, waiting for espresso. I remembered how awkward she looked. While the rest of us clad in jeans and sneakers, she was donning a hat, a pencil skirt and court shoes like a lady out of the thirties’ silver screen.
Without her and her beloved Mr.McQueen, the world had definitely become less beautiful and more mundane and I moaned their absence very very much…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Paul Smith @ Design Museum

After leaving behind the warmth of the glassblowing studio and stepping out into the crisp air outside, we carried on walking towards Shad Thames.
The primary objective of our outing was a visit to Design Museum for the exhibition: Hello, My Name is Paul Smith

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The inside of the pink shed explained how Paul Smith started his global fashion empire from a humble room in Nottingham.
The next exhibit was a video installation narrated by Paul himself…

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Then, his study was showcased, using his collection of knick-knacks…

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I’ve heard the story that Paul receives a heap of letters and gifts from his fan from all over the world. Even though I’ve never met him personally – I only saw a glimpse of him in front of his shop on Floral Street some years ago, I am not at all surprised because he comes across as a genuinely nice person. Unlike those large big name brand designers, who want us to regard them as demigods therefore never make themselves easily accessible, he appears to be relaxed, balanced and humble in a good way.

Then, the next exhibit was a recreation of his studio with desktops a full of designing paraphernalia while patterns were hung above them…

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An array of mood boards, books, samples litter the whole space.

Some of his famous collaborations with another designers and manufacturers were on display.
The most famous one must be with Austin Mini…

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Teaming up with Roberts Radio…

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Turned the corner and found a wall full of buttons…

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In the middle of it, there was a flat-screen TV, showing the opening of his Albermarle Street shop opening in sequence.

Then, we moved on to the next room, exhibiting some of his iconic works…

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Men’s cotton jacket made from embroidered afghan blanket…

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Men’s quilted down shark tooth print top…

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Men’s cotton floral print jacket…

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Women’s sequin snowflake knitwear…

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I was surprised that the exhibition didn’t include his most famous “Mao-collar jacket”. Why not?
What I always loved about his work was his sense of humour. Not taking things too seriously but also grasping them with enthusiasm. Living up to his word, his adulation was infectious.
And my fascination seemed to be shared by show visitors, young…

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And not so young…

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The spine of the exhibition was decorated with the collection of Paul’s artworks…

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They were mishmash of photographs, printings and paintings…

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A man in suits…

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A girl in a coat…

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His deft footwork definitely has helped to make British tailoring as well as British humour accessible to a worldwide audience…

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On our way out, his upbeat motto cheered me up greatly…

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I came away from the exhibition, feeling positive and happy. It was obvious that his enthusiasm rubbed off on me. Anyone who wants to bask in a myriad of colours in the middle of winter, the show will offer it in abundance. Why don’t you get a sartorial vitamin injection by Paul Smith at Design Museum?…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Sunglasses & Cake @ Maison Bertaux

Yesterday. was one of those days which I was so out of tune, every single thing I did ended up making me utter ‘Augh!’
The day started with chaos of my own making. While my face was covered with facial soap, I opened my eyes for no apparent reason – I still don’t know why I did that. The soap ( especially, Dr.Alkaitis‘s one really hurts!) stung my eyes so bad, I was weeping while I rinsed my face furiously. Then, I was off to post office. Only after coming back, I realised that I did not follow a web return request procedure (for my defence, nothing was mentioned on a paperwork accompanying the original order!) and panicked. After a few frantic emails and international phone calls, I managed to explain my blunder to the customer service and the matter seemed to be resolved (please refund me!). For late lunch, I decided to have two brioche rolls with raspberry jam and a cup of Darjeeling tea. When I was squashing an empty brioche bag for binning it, the bag broke and fine breadcrumb went everywhere!
What on earth is wrong with me? I was so let down by myself. Did I take it too easy on sunday? Is my brain still in weekend mode? I sincerely hoped that the next day would be another day…

Anyway, the story goes back to where I left it in the last entry.
Fei, SC and I headed to our favourite haunt, Maison Bertuax, for a post-ramen chat and tea & cake.

Charmingly disorganised Maison Bertaux…

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So  chi chi & girly.

Fei handed out her beautifully crafted collection one after another for SC to try on…

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Rather conveniently, the walls of the ground floor cafe were clad with mirrors…

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So we were busy with putting on different pairs and checking ourselves in the mirror. We also had a large pot of tea and cakes too…

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In the end, SC found the pair she loved and we decided to call it a day.
It was a long Saturday filled with lots of walk and fun!

By the way, I rarely see Mr.B puts his foot wrong but even for him, there is a ‘augh!’ moment…

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While he was poncing around with his harness after a quick dash to outside last night, the lead was caught with the stool and he found himself stuck.
You see, it’s because you are dilly-dallying too long. He must be muttering ‘Augh!’ in his head…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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