Au Revoir, Ritz Paris

If ever there was a way to bid farewell to the Ritz Paris as it prepares to close for 27 months of renovations, this is it. My favourite model looks spectacular as she romps around the hotel under the watchful eye of Tim Walker. I love the image with Kate in the red: I recall sitting on that sofa in the Imperial Suite sipping champagne last year, and thinking what a phenomenal place to be, with views on to Place Vendôme. Needless to say, I wasn’t wearing anything quite as extravagant, but it was still a dream! I cannot wait to see the Ritz reformed to the glory it deserves.


Where do you come from? No really, where?


When Anna Wintour featured an editorial with Asian models late last year, the fashion world was abuzz. She also remarked that putting a black model on the cover of the September issue was controversial.  I thought about my time living in New York and how I quickly learnt that using “black” instead of “African-American” wasn’t going to work…  When Anna said “black girl”, I wondered what the American viewers were thinking (and loved that underneath her cold glare, she’s still a Londoner!).  Vogue Italia did an “all-black” sellout issue and with January’s Vogue Brazil following suit, I started to wonder what people make of these publications.  I cannot really pinpoint my feelings but something doesn’t feel right with the all-one race issues.  The main argument to make is that it’s a regular occurrence to find an all-white issue, so why not use only minorities every now and then?  Good question and one I have no answer for. Minorities are part of society. Excluding them from fashion shows, magazines and campaigns is just pathetic, ignorant and so 1903, as it making a spectacle of them, as I believe these all one race issues do. When Vogue Paris painted Lara as a black woman, I didn’t really know what to make of it. I wasn’t offended or humoured. It was very French.

Living in France has been my first experience of living in a so-called cosmopolitan place of obvious racial divides, something I never saw as a tourist.   During the first 3 months, I walked from arrondissement to arrondissement, taking photographs and so on and trust me, the city is divided. The French don’t seem to notice and despite living in London for 10 years, my husband doesn’t seem to notice. When we took my mother-in-law to London last summer, as we drove through the city, she remarked “there are black people everywhere”. I laughed and thought it a strange statement. As I thought about it, I can see that someone from Paris would notice how racially diverse my city is.

When we first moved here and I’d meet people (French but of varying ethnicities), they would be like

Where are you from?”

The UK”

No I mean like, where are you really from?”

South-West London. Do you know the area?”

They’d smile innocently and say “I mean, where are your parents from?”

At this point they’d get the are-you-kidding-me look followed by “I’m British” in an ask-me-that-again-and-I’ll-kick-you-around-France tone. This wasn’t a one-off, this was every single time I met someone. In hindsight, I think it deterred me from interacting with people in the first months because this sort of question is just utterly unacceptable to me. My husband and I had some major arguments about this because he couldn’t understand why this is offensive. In my opinion, there is a very clear distinction between asking where you come from and what your ethnicity is. Apparently, not everybody agrees.

I struggled with this a lot in France and the fact that my husband couldn’t understand my (I don’t mind if he disagrees with me) point frustrated me so much and I cried all the time. I couldn’t understand why people wanted to know my ethnicity before they even knew my email address. My husband often tells me that I live in what is now known as “Milla-land” where everybody is kind and accepting like me. He tells me that my view of the world is innocent because nobody has ever been mean to me based on what I look like. Maybe I’m too tolerant. I don’t know, but I’m comfortable with my view,  how I treat people and I, unsurprisingly, believe them to be correct.  I’m not saying that the UK doesn’t suffer from racism. Of course it does. My friend Leah, who has the same skin tone as I do, lives in Newcastle – she was born there.  People actually shout “darky” to her on the street.  WTB!? Scum.

My views about ethnicity mirror my views about religion: let’s just respect each other and play nicely. Surely what matters is personality, kindness and connection, not the colour of one’s skin or the God/s we believe in.

Over a year later as a resident in this beautiful city and I still do not accept it and I am considerably less tolerant of such BS questioning. I have been told-off many times because refusing to answer makes people not want to talk to me & prevents me making friends, to which I laugh endlessly. Do you think that I, Madame I-accept-everybody, wants to be friends with someone who cares about my ethnicity!? Pas du tout!

British Vogue December 2010: Star Girls by Mario Testino

For the first time in months, I bought British Vogue whilst at the airport.  What a smart move on my part – it’s full of gorgeous editorials which have just blown my mind.  Given their recent boring cover girls: Cheryl Cole, Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow and Alexa Chung (yes, I’m the only person in the land who feels this way), I’m surprised, but this is by far one of the best issues I’ve ever bought.

Wouldn’t you just love to be Mario for a week?  He’s like a man with a magic camera!  Here he presents a decade of supermodels who we all know and adore.  You know, this is the sort of editorial I was expecting from Vogue Paris’ 90th anniversary issue. Anyway… Oh course we have Kate (woohoo!), Natalia, Claudia and Naomi, plus relative newcomers like Georgia May Jagger and Freja Beha Erichsen.  Have you seen Lily’s Christian Louboutin heels?!  Holy Moly, let’s hope they didn’t ask her to walk in them! Lara has me wishing, for the first time ever, that I had a much fully bust.  She is so sultry, confident and playful – one of my favourites.  I need not mention Kate.  Where has Daria been?!  A lovely combination of models and glitzy, good fashion.

I absolutely love this issue!!

Vogue US October 2010: Carey Mulligan

I am seriously considering adding “Grace” to our growing names of baby names.  Is the woman a genius or, no scrap the question.  The woman is a genius. Photographed by Peter Lindbergh, Grace styled a romantic, country girl-done-good editorial featuring the talented British Actress Carey Mulligan.  Whilst I do not know neither woman, both come across as unpretentious, down-to-earth women with humour and happiness running through their veins.  Despite the gorgeous gowns, there’s something quite humble about this editorial.  I’m really fond of this.

What do you think?

Coming soon: The Faces of Fashion: Vogue Model

The last time I got this excited about a book was when my “How To Be A Domestic Goddess” copy arrived, and that was back in the day!

Ella Alexander wrote:

“VOGUE is launching a new book, The Faces of Fashion: Vogue Model.

Combining stunning imagery of each model – from Gisele to Kate Moss to Agyness to Claudia – with a detailed guide of their backgrounds and their individual contributions to the fashion industry, the book is a the ultimate A-Z catalogue of the world’s most famous muses.

Written by Vogue’s creative director Robin Derrick and former Vogue picture editor Robin Muir, The Faces of Fashion: Vogue Model will be available from October 7 for £45.”

You can pre-order your copy here.  Expect my review shortly after 7th October.

Obviously I didn’t expect Vogue to personally dedicate the book to me but by putting Miss Moss on the cover, they pretty much have!

Images © 2010 All Rights Reserved.