Monday, 28 February 2011

Oscars 2011: best dressed

Is it just me, or was the actual awards bit of Oscars 2011 a bit of an anti-climax? Take nothing away from Colin Firth et al but I can't remember the last time the Oscars were just so predictable. Even I called all the major categories right and my powers of prediction are legendary for their shiteness! 

Thankfully my interest in the Oscars is very rarely to do with the awards and very much to do with the dresses. And this year was exceptionally good in that regard. There were no truly legendary Oscar dress disasters (think Bjork laying an egg) although quite what Marisa Tomei was thinking I'm not sure. Kudos to her for going vintage, though. I found it quite hard to get my favourite looks down to a top 10. But I have done, and here they are:

1. Mila Kunis in Elie Saab
I am actually in love with Mila Kunis after this awards season. She hasn't put a foot wrong, and last night was no exception. Her beautiful lilac Elie Saab (who, let's be honest, is pretty much the king of the red carpet) was perfect. The lace and the plunging neck line kept it young, whilst the draping and frill to the skirt upped the glamour. Pared down hair, make up and jewellery kept her from looking too try hard and kept the look from being fussy. She looks breathtaking. And I love her.

2. Halle Berry in Marchesa
Halle Berry's gorgeous, nude, strapless Marchesa had just the right amount of froth and bling to look special without looking showgirl. The shade looks amazing against her skin tone too. Again, hair, make up and jewellery were kept minimal to let the dress do the talking. Beautiful.

3. Amy Adams in L'Wren Scott
As previously noted, midnight blue is having a moment. Amy Adams was its main ambassador at the Oscars and she looked stunning. Her beautiful, sparkling L'Wren Scott looked incredible against her red hair and incredible Cartier jewellery. I love the cap sleeves too. 

4. Scarlett Johansson in Dolce and Gabbana
This girl knows how to dress her figure. Her beautiful, plum lace D&G with a cut out back looked demure but not boring, classic but not ageing. Both purple and lace were trends at this year's ceremony so Scarlett yet again flexes her fashion savvy. I love her tousled bob too, and her statement cocktail ring is to die for. 

5. Gwyneth Paltrow in Calvin Klein Collection
The best of many gowns embracing the 'less is more' feel that's been big this season. The simple lines and lack of embellishment on this lush CK Collection showed off the brilliance of its cut. Pared with poker straight hair and Louis Vuitton jewellery, Gwyneth looked super cool. A triumph all the sweeter given some of the disasters she's had in past years...

6. Hailee Steinfeld in Marchesa
The most age appropriate Oscars dress ever made for a young starlet, probably due in large part to the fact said young starlet had a hand in designing it. There was a definite ballerina feel to this pale pink, gently embellished Marchesa number which, largely thanks to Natalie Portman looking amazing in Black Swan, is very on trend. The skinny alice band and not-floor-sweeping hemline kept the look young. As it should be, given its wearer is 14. Wish I'd been that cool at 14!

7. Celine Dion in Armani Privee
Believe me, I'm as surprised as you are! But this simple, long sleeved, pale hued dress by red carpet specialists Armani Privee is just gorgeous. I have a serious fashion crush on dresses with sleeves and this one is executed perfectly. Also, Celine gave birth to twins four months ago. She's looking pretty damn good for it!

8. Natalie Portman in Rodarte
Rodarte famously were behind the costumes for Black Swan so it was only a matter of time before the film's (now) Oscar winning star turn wore one of their designs on the red carpet. The off the shoulder plum number she eventually went for was beautiful and worked on the very pregnant star's body perfectly. Teamed with minimal accessories and sideswept hair, this was the best dressed bump I've scene in a very long time. 

9. Jennifer Lawrence in Calvin Klein Collection
From the same house and in the same mould as Gwyneth Paltrow's nude column gown, but also completely different. The stunning newcomer went for a daringly simple red CK Collection dress that flaunted her 20-year old figure to perfection whilst keeping everything covered and classy. Teamed with almost no jewellery and perfect blonde waves, the up and coming actress cemented her status as one to watch both on and off the screen.

10. Hilary Swank in Gucci
Hilary Swank always seems to get just the right amount of drama into her big red carpet event dressing and this stunning silver sequinned AND feathered Gucci number was a real showstopper. The rest of the look was kept as simple as could be which really let the dress shine. On other stars this could have looked awful, so double thumbs up for (as Tim Gunn would say) making it work.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Things I'm loving this week

You know what? There's not enough cheeriness in my world. I'm not a naturally cheery person, to be fair, far from it. I like to think it's the combination of my Celtic and Yorkshire roots but more likely I just enjoy complaining. And I do enjoy complaining. But by way of making an effort at cheerfulness I'm introducing a new regular feature to the old blog. Nothing special or complicated, just a list of things that are making me smile each week. Hopefully it'll be more imaginative than the word 'Anton' over and over again 52 times. But we'll see.

This week I'm mostly wearing: an on trend and snuggly fringed cardigan from Topshop. I love all things Americana, and it looks like something a cowboy might wear. You can buy it here - although the sizing is generous and I'd advise you hunt it down in store and try it on first (I'm wearing a size smaller than I usually wear from Topshop and it's still lovely and loose). I'm teaming it with my most worn in jeans, bright turquoise Converse high tops and my Anton and Erin Puttin on the Ritz t shirt.

This week I'm mostly listening to: Lance Ellington (can't get enough of that man!), Cee Lo Green (the best album I've heard in ages) and Sheytoons. You may not be aware of the latter. They're a sort of folksy indie band (think Mumford) comprised of two of my favourite West End stars Ramin Karimloo (of Love Never Dies) and Hadley Fraser. The musicianship on display is awesome - these guys are scary talented. You can check out their music on YouTube, but this is my favourite song of theirs currently, Losing:

This week I'm mostly watching: Boardwalk Empire on Sky Atlantic. This week, and every week. Because it is superb. The best thing that's been on TV in so long. Steve Buscemi is my new god.

This week I'm mostly eating: At Melton's Too, my favourite restaurant ever. If you're ever in York you must go there - the seasonally changing menu is to die for. Doubly excited about this trip as my parents are coming up for a visit, thus it's free!

This week I'm mostly reading: Undisputed by Chris Jericho. It's a WWE memoir so not for everyone, but if you have even a passing interest in 'sports entertainment' it's well worth a read. Funny, readable, pleasingly naughty and full of great anecdotes about all the big name Superstars of the past few years. It's a froot book (a comment that only makes sense if you've read it).

Award season round up - best dressed at the BAFTAs, SAGs, Brits and Grammys

It was very poorly planned of me to let my blogging slide during awards season. As previously stated, I love awards season and its excuses for unadulterated fashion perving (and bitchiness). The Golden Globes got this year's crop off to a flyer as well - I'm still salivating over Mila Kunis' emerald green beauty. How could the other ceremonies every compete with that parade of loveliness?

The Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAGs is such a hideous acronym) put up a good fight led, once again, by Mila Kunis in completely stunning deep red Alexander McQueen. I am developing a serious girl crush on Mila. Her red carpet choices are just bang on at the moment. I CANNOT WAIT to see her Oscars gown this weekend. Honourable mentions also to Lea Michelle, who looked beautiful in Oscar de la Renta with a plunging neckline, and Julia Stiles, staying the right side of gothic in dip dyed Monique Lhuillier. Controversially, I also want to mention a man at this point. Red carpet dressing for men is easy. No one ever gets it horrifically wrong, but rarely does anyone deserve a special mention for getting it right either. That said, I give you Andrew Garfield in midnight blue Burberry. Yeah. I just swooned a little.

Next up were the BAFTAs and Grammys, irritatingly holding ceremonies on the same night. In fashion terms these two couldn't have been further apart though. The Grammys were loud, sequinned and unapologetically glam. The BAFTAs were... well... underwhelming frankly. For a start Mila Kunis wasn't there. Instant fashion points lost! Overall the dresses were understated, which in many cases is a polite way of saying dull. There were some high points though. My pick goes to the ever gorgeous Julianne Moore who was the epitome of old Hollywood class in deep blue floor length velvet by the equally gorgeous Tom Ford. This dress was really simple, but incredibly effective against her hair and skin tone. I also liked Thandie Newton's shocking pink swirly Monique Lhuillier (who's having a bit of a moment) and Jessica Alba's colour pop cobalt blue Atelier Versace.

At the other end of the scale and the other side of the pond, the big names at the Grammys were having much more fun. I loved J Lo's completely age inappropriate futuristic Emilio Pucci and a newly-svelte Jennifer Hudson's gorgeous dark blue (I spot a theme here) Versace with a stunning sequinned bust. At the risk of being shouted down loudly and quickly, though, my top spot for this one is going to Kim Kardashian. Yes, you read that correctly. I adored her in her gold sequinned split to the waist/thigh KaufmanFranco number. Subtle it is not, but I defy you to say she looks anything other than stunning.

Last and least were the Brits. I've tried to pick three gowns per ceremony for the purposes of this post (plus Andrew Garfield. I'm still swooning) but from the disappointing crop of disappointing 'stars' who walked the red carpet for the Brits I only found two I thought were worth mentioning. Managing to look individual without being completely insane was Rihanna in eye popping Christian Dior Haute Couture. I'm not claiming for a second I would ever wear this, but I loved it on RiRi. Very much from the school of 'shouldn't work but it does' fashion as ever. I also loved Katherine Jenkins pouring her gorgeous curves into lush Vivienne Westwood florals. More conservative - and wearable - than Dior Couture, but no less lovely for it.

There's just the one ceremony left in the 2011 season now: The Oscars, this Sunday. Bring it.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Let's face the music with Lance

First off, apologies to Reg for stealing (borrowing?) your line for the title. It's my favourite pun ever though. And I will get that t-shirt.

Anyway. So I mentioned yesterday that one of the best things about this year's Anton and Erin tour is the inclusion of Lance Ellington on vocals as the man is just brilliant. Today I wanted to emphasise that point. Seriously people: Lance Ellington is amazing.

If you've ever watched Strictly (and if you haven't then what are you doing with your life?!) you'll have heard Lance, although you may not be aware of it, as he's one of the fabulous singers on the show. The fabulosity is increased a billion-fold when Lance is on his own in front of a band though.

As I said in yesterday's post, I'm very picky when it comes to my singers. And were I writing about almost anyone else this would be the point where all the caveats were introduced. I'm trying to think of something - anything - to criticise here. Erm... When I met Lance after the Dublin show he couldn't find his Sharpie so had to sign my programme in regular biro? Seriously. That's all I've got.

His voice is just stunning. Genuinely, completely and utter gorgeous. At the risk of wandering into pretentious bollocks territory, if molten gold could sing it would sound like Lance Ellington. Which, bollocksy as it may sound, actually makes sense if you listen to him. Listening to him sing Blue Moon gave me goosebumps both times I saw POTR. The second time it made me cry.

He is also devastatingly cool. The boy can swing, and rocks a midnight blue tux and suede shoes in the most effortlessly cool way I've ever seen. (Yes I know I said cool twice.) He can dance a bit too. Oh, and you certainly wouldn't kick him out of bed on a cold night either. Or a hot one come to that.

He is the complete package, and your life will be greatly enhanced by getting to know his music. So you can consider the following a public service announcement. You can buy Lance's brilliant album, Aspects of Ellington, from Amazon and iTunes or check it out on Spotify. And you really should. Go, do it now.

You can thank me later. Preferably by buying me tickets to one of his solo gigs. Deal?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Anton and Erin Puttin' on the Ritz: best thing ever?

I think that title gives you an idea of where this post is going..! But then, to be honest, it's got Anton in it. I think that's a bit of a mega give away straight off the bat really.

So I've seen Puttin' on the Ritz twice now - a Saturday night in Dublin and a Sunday matinee at the Sage in Gateshead. Little author's note first: should you ever get the chance to visit either of these places, do. Dublin is an amazing city. Amazing. Grown up, laid back, fun with some cracking bars, restaurants and shops. I loved it and fully intend to go back as soon as I have an excuse to. It's even better if you're a politics geek and visit during an (STV) election campaign! And the Sage is a fabulous venue. Very funky and modern with great acoustics in the actual hall. Again, I fully intend to go back. But I digress.

Puttin' on the Ritz is a completely wonderful show. Completely and utterly wonderful. If you've seen Anton and Erin's first two tours (yes, I have, obviously) you will love it. For my money, it's by far the best of three for a couple of reasons. Honestly, the biggest of these reasons is probably the inclusion of the genius Lance Ellington (of whom more soon) on vocals. He is just amazing and if his voice doesn't blow you away then, frankly, you need to have a long hard look at your life! I also think it's a better show than the previous two as it's more brazenly about entertainment rather than just dancing. There is more Anton and Erin banter, or perhaps more accurately more Anton banter whilst Erin tries to get a word in edgeways (which is fine by me - she gets the gorgeous dresses so it's only fair Anton gets something!), and more - and better quality - old school variety song and dance numbers.

This is the point at which I suppose you expect me to pick a favourite number. Well I can't. There are too many. And I'm not going to do a number by number rundown either, because as I've said re: Strictly review writing I find those immensely tedious. What I will do is a bit of a highlight real.

I literally can't pick a favourite dance number. It's impossible. There are a series of ridiculously fast and perfectly pulled off quicksteps all of which I adored. There's also a brilliant charleston and a fabulous ballroom tango. Those are my favourites, but I have described about 70% of the show there to be fair. You can't make me choose between them. It'd be like Sophie's Choice! (Author's note: who are you calling over dramatic?!) I feel like this paragraph should be much longer, but there's not much more to say other than the dancing is universally superb. It just is. For the Dublin show we were front row, eye-to-stage, and I think I spotted one mistake all night. Which is pretty damn incredible when you think about it. It's Anton and Erin dancing self-choreographed ballroom. What more do you need to know?

Both Anton and Erin sing this year. Now when it comes to singing I'm a picky bitch having had lessons and taken exams for the best part of eight years. That said, they both have a good stab at it although Anton is a lot better than Erin - he's done this before (last tour and, of course, the epic Me and My Shadow with Brucie a couple of Strictlys ago), she hasn't and you can tell. That's not to say she's bad, by the way. She isn't. I love her number - Me and My Baby from Chicago - it's great fun and super-high energy.

Anton has two songs this year, one of which is a duet with Lance (which is exceptionally brave, there's no way in hell you'd see me duetting with someone that good!) and one on his own - All I Need is the Girl. The solo one is the best. I'm not sure if you're aware of the lyrics of this song? It features much talk of 'my tweed suit and my striped tie.' Spot the costume opportunity. I can't honestly claim to have ever been sexually attracted to a man in a three piece tweed suit, until now. Seriously. Tweed? It's not right - it should not be possible to look that hot in tweed. It's only right that the tailor of said suit gets a credit in the programme! I'm just going to bask in the memory for a while, excuse me.


Mm. Right. Sorry about that. What can I say? It's a fucking amazing suit.

I could go on about how great this show is for a very *very* long time. It really is superb. I don't know if there are still tickets available for any of the remaining dates - there shouldn't be, frankly - but if there are you must go. You will not regret it.

So, to answer my own question, is Anton and Erin Puttin' on the Ritz the best thing ever? Honestly? Right now I'm struggling to think of anything better. Go. And. See. It.

...aaand I'm back.

Yeah alright I know. It's been a while. Again. I suck. No excuses - other than my innate and often extreme laziness. I'll try harder, honest. Indeed, get ready for a veritable flurry of posts over the next few days!

To be fair, I have been busy. And I have also been dumped, unceremoniously and without explanation, after five (mofoing) years. Count 'em. I have.

It's a weird thing being dumped, especially from a non-exclusive relationship. A lot of people seemed to be surprised that I was so upset, the attitude being 'hey he was sleeping with someone else anyway - why care?' Well, as I've explained here before, just because your relationship is non-exclusive doesn't mean you don't love the person. And I did. Deeply. It had been five (mofoing) years after all, you tend to grow fond of someone in that amount of time.

The manner of the dumping was in equal parts shit and bizarre. I say shit as it was disingenuous and over the phone. Not quite post-it note, but still. Bizarre because... it just was. Here, I'll sketch you a timeline of how it went:

(Backstory: after massive row last year we split, he begs for forgiveness, I relent, we're back together)

Sunday: I return from Dublin having seen Anton and Erin Puttin' on the Ritz (of which more later) on a massive downer 'cos the show was so awesome and now it's over.

Monday: Hitherto Strictly generally and Anton specifically hating Bloke phones to say he's got us tickets for POTR in Gateshead the following Sunday (day before Valentine's) as a surprise gift. Surprised? I'm speechless! Huge deal for him to agree to this, HUGE. Much excitement.

Tuesday/Wednesday: Mostly, I'm happy dancing about going to see POTR again.

Thursday: Bloke phones first thing in the morning as I'm sitting down to work. Says he's been thinking about our relationship for months now, and dumps me with no particular explanation of what he's been thinking. After all it was him that so desperately wanted to get back together. Once again, I'm speechless. He goes on to explain that I'm going to POTR alone - he only ever bought one ticket as a way to force himself to finally dump me. I hang up, furious, and spend the day being alternately hurt, angry and crying.

Friday: I'm angry. All day. Bloke starts trying to get in contact, eventually sending me a stream of DMs on Twitter which don't really say much.

Saturday: After a good night's sleep, some trashy TV (Hustle and WWE Smackdown, since you asked) and some serious retail therapy I feel much better and tweet that I do. DMs continue, mostly along the lines of 'You shouldn't be ok, did our relationship mean so little to you?' I don't (and won't) dignify this bollocks with a response. 

Sunday: I go and see POTR alone. I go in feeling horribly tragic. I come out smiling. Life goes on.

See? Bizarre! The POTR ticket thing is just truly odd. I suspect the intention was not to make me feel better, but it did. Muchly. Thus the ultimate conclusion from all of this: Anton and Erin tickets are cheaper than therapy and ultimately as effective! Trufax.