the handmaid's tale - margaret atwood


Blurb: "The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed . If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs. . . . ."

If I had to sum up a description of The Handmaid's Tale in one word, I would probably choose 'terrifying'.

In Gilead, religious fundamentalists have taken over the Government and implemented an oppressive regime based on chilling Puritan and Christian values. Any woman capable of bearing children has been forced to choose between two depressing scenarios. Become a handmaid/surrogate mother for a childless couple who are in a position of power or be sent to the Colonies to clean up radioactive waste/dead bodies and die a slow and painful death. If you choose the Handmaid option, you will adhere to a 'three strikes and you're out' rule, implying that if you fail to conceive a healthy baby (any with deformities etc are 'shredded' under the regime) in three postings, then you will be sent to the Colonies as punishment.

The Handmaid's Tale is told from the point of view of Offred (all handmaids must take the name of their Commander, individual names are simply erased and no longer used) as she goes through the motions of this enforced misery with irony, wit and a desperation to survive.

This is one of my favourite books and one that I feel everyone should read at some point. It is frighetningly realistic and relevant, a grim warning of a future that doesn't seem so far away. 10/10

P.S: A useful guide to read afterwards is the York Notes Advanced , which offers additional insight and brilliant suggestions for further reading.

notd: barry m's 296 coral



Although I have tried out a few new brands recently (definitely finding a new love for O.P.I), Barry M still remains my current favourite for nail varnishes. Today's NOTD has been inspired by the re-appearance of sunshine this week, even if it was merely flitting. 296 is a perfect bang on coral colour, that beautifully mixed hue of orangey-red that reminds me of long, hot summer days and restless nights.

happy pet extreme - another extreme dog toy FAIL

Dog owners everywhere share not only the unconditional love of their canine friends, but they also share the expensive united misery that is the 'dog toy FAIL'. Case in point, I'd like to show you fig A, below:-


I came across this new range being stocked in my local independent pet retailer. It's made by Happy Pet and is entitled the 'Extreme Gym' range. Let's take a closer look.


This is the 'Kettle Weight' and as the advertising suggests, this looks like it will be ideal for my enthusiastic dogs. It feels tough and durable but how will it stand up when in action?


Chloe has a sniff. Hmmm. This isn't food. Not interested in that.


Henry takes a more intrigued approach. But the minute he starts to put his teeth into that corner.....




So there you have it. This deceptively sturdy looking toy with it's dual layer protection and 'extreme' wording, is nothing more than an EXTREME FAIL. What's worse is that both of my dogs have had toys that didn't feel as tough as this and they've lasted longer. This was destroyed and rendered useless in merely minutes. I also played tug-o-war with Henry and his teeth easily punctured into the fabric and prompted by the tugging action, the holes widened and the compact stuffing began to fall out.

In conclusion, if you have any dog with actual teeth, then don't buy this. Save the £8.15 that this product will steal from you and buy an Xtreme Kong instead which is the only dog toy so far, to withstand the jaws of both of my puppies and is still going strong after a year of usage.

Spring 2011 Haute Couture Report

Chanel Haute Couture by Karl Lagerfeld

by Christine Suppes, Editor at Large
If Chanel and its brilliant seer Karl Lagerfeld are the arbiters for the times, we are in a simple post-depression mode. Out came the glamorous “Mom” look, a term my then twelve year old several times applied to Soccer Mothers—leggings and tunics with not a high heeled shoe to be seen. Bouchra Jarrar, a designer supported by Neiman Marcus, also did a simple sheath-like dress draped with some floating movement and strategic cut-outs, mainly at the back. Jarrar had the January cover dress in French Elle. This will be a hot look. Galliano gave his usual history lesson for Dior. Galliano said that his collection was inspired by the late fashion illustrator René Grurau, who adored the classic Dior of the fifties. The look of pencil- shaped skirts paired with voluminous jackets and little tilted hats, or else ball gowns in dozens of yards of fabric have little to do with reality of women, but for advertising fantasy, Galliano has it nailed down. The show was gorgeous escapism, and the fact that everyone is still talking about it proves that we still need to dream. Armani Privé’s shiny new fabric was very metallic and uncomfortable looking but the gowns were simple and the palette was supposedly inspired by jewels. The movie stars like Jodie Foster (Jodie Foster)? in the front row suggested Mr. Armani is still bucking for center stage, Red Carpet that is. It will take courage to wear these creations.

Bouchra Jarrar Presentation during Paris Haute Couture

Dior Haute Couture by John Galliano

Giorgio Armani Prive Haute Couture

Givenchy was a very private walk about in a salon on the Place Vendôme. Riccardo Tisci produced a small collection inspired by Japanese Butoh and created works of art. Slim gowns, some with obi belts, some embroidered top to bottom with seeds pearls, in colors from barely there to light fuchsia, gave no immediate reference to The House of Givenchy, although there was little doubt in my mind that the original Givenchy muse, Audrey Hepburn, might be slender enough to have worn this extraordinary look. Jean Paul Gautier did not disappoint. With Catherine Deneuve’s sultry recorded narration (she also sat as she always does front and center), the Glamazons (models who look like women, not waifs) strode the catwalk in classic Parisienne ensembles, some evening gown take-offs of his famous trench, all modern, hot and sexy, all very Mr. Gaultier. No history lessons here except the history of this one and only original designer left in the pantheon of Haute Couture. Last and certainly not least was on aura tout vu, who although are not the only designers creating for Lady Gaga (the afore-mentioned Mr. Armani is another), have the spirit of the moment, which means Gaga…lightness, angels and feathers. The Smoking ensemble with transparent lace trousers, and the lime green and black chiffon gown were stand-outs, but anything this team does with lace is collectible. This collection is so cool and of the moment that the audience walked away shaking their heads. Everything else seemed a little---bourgeois? ----this season.

Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture

On Aura Tout Vu Haute Couture

Photos by Yannis Vlamos and Umberto Fratini/

miss wyoming - douglas coupland


Blurb: "Susan Colgate is a teen beauty-queen and low-rent soap actress. Dragooned into stardom by her demonically pushy, hillbilly mother, Susan's career is at rock-bottom. When she finds herself the sole survivor of an air-crash, she views it as her opportunity to vanish, embarking on a voyage of personal discovery. Meanwhile, John Johnson, debauched star of such Hollywood legends as Bel Air PI, also longs to vanish. After a near-death experience, where he is treated to a vision of Susan's face, he roams the badlands of the western States. Back in L.A., a chance meeting sets him on a mission to unravel the mystery of Susan Colgate."

Anyone who has read Generation X, Life After God etc, will be fully acquainted with the wonderful and witty dialogue that has come to define the author's fictional work. His take on counter-culture irony and self-discovery is usually genius. Unfortunately, I felt that Miss Wyoming falls short of the mark. Whilst it starts off on a good footing, it soon rambles and unravels midway and then into a dismal anticlimatic mess which causes the reader to shout out 'Did you get bored with this yourself Mr Coupland?!' The characteristic Coupland dialogue is only prevalent in parts and soon becomes tiresome. In my opinion, it's just not that good. Read only after you've read his other novels first and see for yourself. Disappointed. 5/10

films i've watched recently







1. The Shining (1980) - Kubrick adds some classic horror moments to King's novel, but the book is so much better. 2. Shaun Of The Dead (2004) - one of my favourites, it still makes me giggle. 3. Flight Of The Living Dead (2007) - this is what happens when you buy those 99p DVDs from Amazon marketplace, really terrible. 4. Day Of The Dead (2008) - oh Mena Suvari, why did you do this movie?! It's awful. 5. Roadkill (2002) - awesome B-movie thriller about two stupid boys who piss off a truck driver, brilliant. 6. Bruno (2009) - you only really need to watch this once and then give to a friend who needs some silly cringey humour.

NOTD: Nars' Orgasm


This nude pink with tiny flecks of gold glitter, is indeed modelled after the cheekily named and infamous blush by Nars. I did three coats to achieve a semi-sheer finish. I'm not usually one for sheer colours, I definitely prefer solid opaques but this was nice for a change. It does however , still make you cringe when your boyfriend's elderly mother asks what your nail narnish colour is...

highs and lows

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have banned the advert for Yves Saint Laurent's Belle D'Opium perfume, citing 'stimulated drug use' as it's primary reason.

"The TV ad for Yves Saint Laurent's Belle D'Opium showed a woman dancing to a drum beat, pointing to her inner elbow and running her finger along the inside of her forearm.

The model was then shown lying on the floor as a voiceover said: "I am your addiction. I am Belle D'Opium. The new fragrance by Yves Saint Laurent."

The Advertising Standards Authority said it was concerned that the image of Belle running her finger down her inner arm could be seen to simulate the injection of opiates into the body.

It also expressed concern the image of Belle moving in a series of short, rapid scenes, before the ad concluded with her body seizing upwards while lying on the floor, could be seen to simulate the effect of drugs on the body." - Sky News

The advert can be viewed on Youtube below:-

Whilst I can see that the advert has been shot in a deliberately provocative manner to show the allure of perfume and it's 'addiction', does it really promote heroin usage? The overused 90s term 'heroin chic' obviously springs to mind here but what amuses me more is that the ASA then said:-

"While we recognised the name Opium was a well-known designer perfume brand and did not consider it irresponsible or offensive to advertise Opium branded products... we nevertheless considered the woman's actions simulated drug use, and therefore concluded it was irresponsible and unacceptable for broadcast".

So it's OK to have a product which is virtually named after a highly addictive Class A substance (let's face it, Opium is best known in its synthesized form as Heroin) but heaven forbid, they don't wish for a dancing model to point to her arm with no drug paraphenalia, in case some fashionable youth decides to turn to smack?

I think it's a bit ridiculous.

Style Diary: The Glamorous Angie Barrett

Angie Barrett shining in Nameen Khan

by David Pedroza, Editor in Chief
Angie Barrett is one of the most glamorous women in Texas. She is a respected philanthropist, art patron, and TV personalities, who has become a social fixture in Dallas with a grand sense of style. Not only does she have a high voltage style, but a personality that is kind and welcoming; She supports several charities and serves on the board of directors for Genesis Women’s Shelter, Children's Cancer Fund, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, American Foundation for AIDS Research (Am FAR), along with other organizations. Angie’s style extends into her Art collection and home in Dallas’s Arts District, which has been featured in magazines for its unique and modern sophistication. Angie shares with us the treasures in her closet and what makes her style so special….

DP: Who is Angie Barrett today?
AB: I am, and always will be, first and foremost a mom to my daughters, Alana and Whitney. That is a constant. Other than that I feel that I am ever evolving, inventing and re-inventing myself. Depending on my mood or what is needed on any given day I am a film editor, Dear Abby, art collector, dog walker, fashion aficionado, ballroom dancer, mediator…But at the end of the day, I’m the same girl from a small East Texas town who used to spend hours in my closet telling my grandmother I needed to “visit” my clothes. A quote from the Duchess of Windsor describes me best, “A woman’s life can really be a succession of lives, each revolving around some emotionally compelling situation or challenge, and each marked off by some intense experience.”

DP: Most woman in Dallas are ruled by conservatism, you seem to have broken away from that train of thought… what inspires you to dress at the beat of your own drum?
AB: I gain inspiration from people, surroundings, travel, books, art, observing and keeping my mind open to receive the imprint. Also, I believe the way you share relationships with the people around you forms your character, personality and self confidence. I have through the years developed a keen sense of personal style that is very empowering. As time passes I feel more confident and happy, more at ease with who I am. I think it is fabulous to be a woman and celebrate our femininity by dressing up.
I am also influenced by the style icons of past decades who had a strong sense of self, represent the importance of personal style rather than temporary trends and enough confidence to break fashion rules rather than follow them. The common thread that runs through each of their lives is that they were groundbreaking in their style and attitude and changed the face of fashion forever, paving the way for others A perfect example is Millicent Rogers ( muse of Charles James) for being the first woman to collaborate with designers James, Mainbocher and Schiaparelli to invent unique pieces exactly as she wanted them…(LOVE that) and for pairing evening gowns by James with Navajo bracelets and gold jewelry or a white tailored blouse and black skirt by Valentina Schlee with pounds of turquoise and silver jewelry. Mona von Bismarck for being the first to be named the “best dressed woman in the world” by Jeanne Lanvin, Coco Chanel, Edward Molyneux, Madeleine Vionnet, and Lucien Lelong (for whom Christian Dior then worked), for oozing glamour and for being fiercely loyal to her favorite designers.(It is said that when Cristobal Balenciaga closed his design house in 1968, she spent three days in bed crying). Marisa Berenson (muse of Halston) for being the first to showcase a Pucci handbag by casually tossing three of them over her shoulder in a shoot for VOGUE, wore a Yves Saint Laurent tunic as a mini dress paired with flat suede boots, layers of cuff bracelets and a gold medallion necklace. Ines de la Fressange (Karl Lagerfeld’s muse until their falling out in 1990) for causing what ELLE magazine called the “French revolution” by pairing Levi’s 501 jeans with Chanel jackets, admitting to “jellybean binges” and for being the first model to engage the crowd. Carolyn Bessette Kennedy for her minimalist style, understated elegance and runway model’s poise. I love the fact that she wore her hair in a ponytail on her wedding day with her simple Narciso Rodriguez gown and showed such style. Kate Moss for wearing what she wants, mixing vintage with other styles of clothing and for breaking the fashion rules.

Angie Barrett making a grand appearance in Atelier Versace Haute Couture Leather and Taffeta Gown

DP: You are a celebrated Art collector… does art influence what you wear?
AB: Definitely. Clothing is an art form like other art forms. It is art that I wear. There are great and unequalled culturally and historically relevant pieces in major museums all over the world. I purchased a beautiful golden Galanos from the show GLAMOUR at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The entire collection was photographed and published under the same title as the show. Throughout history there have been collaborations between artists (or their estates) and designers: Basquiat and Valentino, Warhol and Halston, Schiaparelli and Dali, Takashi Murakami and Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, Julian Schnabel and Rei Kawakubo. During NewYork Fashion Week this September there was a distinct melding of art and fashion. Nicholas Ghesquiere, creative director of Balenciaga, hosted the U.S. debut of “Cindy Sherman: Untitled” a series of six images featuring the artist dressed in head-to-toe Balenciaga. Ghesquiere’s runway collection included printed shirts and dresses with quotes from Sherman’s interviews and reviews. Thakoon Panichgul and Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte even held their shows at major New York galleries. I use the same gauge for buying clothing that I do for buying art. I ask the same questions and use the same criterion. It’s the message, not the medium, that counts.

DP: Who are your favorite Artists?
AB: My favorite artists consist of the artists whose works I own and also the works I hope to own in the future. They are Dan Flavin, Andreas Gursky, Glenn Brown, Ed Ruscha, Juergen Teller, Lucian Freud, Jonah Freeman, Jack Pierson, Mark Rothko, Thomas Struth, Cindy Sherman, Gregory Crewdson, Justin Lowe, Teresita Fernandez, Michal Rovner, Adam McEwen, Stephen Rhodes, Shirazeh Houshiary, Matt Conners, Rivane Neuenschwander, Amanda Ross-Ho, Sol Lewitt and Ellsworth Kelly.

DP: Which designers create clothes that you find your self most comfortable wearing?
AB: My staple go-to designers for comfort and chic are The Row, vince., Carvan, Rick Owen Lillies, A.L.C. by Rodarte, Theory by OlivierTheyskens, Erdem, Matthew Ames, Marni underpinnings (wear them year round), and Yohji Yamomoto.

DP: You have received praise for your extravagant evening choices, such as the leather Atelier Versace gown and other haute couture pieces…What was your first haute couture purchase and what lead you to buy haute couture?
AB: My first piece of haute couture was the “Shipwrecked” gown by Alexander McQueen. I saw it in BAZAAR and was totally spellbound by the sheer beauty and obvious craftsmanship of this garment. I asked Todd Okerstrom (Couture Buyer for downtown Neiman’s) if he could ask Alexander to make the gown for me. He spoke with Alexander who said he would be delighted. When the gown arrived and I tried it on for the first time, I was officially hooked for life. (Do you think there’s couture re-hab)? I wore it to The Art Ball and had the best time and felt… I can’t think of a word to adequately describe the feeling. I have had many couture gowns since, but that will always stand out in my memory. It will be hard to top that experience.

Angie in her bespoke Alexander McQueen Gown, one of the many gems in her wardrobe

DP: Are you specific with what you want in your wardrobe?
AB: Very specific. It has everything to do with how I see myself and is always a reflection of my taste. Clothes are like ideas and opinions that are expressly ours. I try to buy, collect and own pieces that are unique and individual…pieces that others do not have. I NEVER shop with girlfriends and I don’t buy labels so much as looks…more obsessed with the artistic line rather than the bottom line. I do not use a personal shopper because I feel that doing so is tantamount to paying someone to buy their courage. I feel that confidence is very important and it is essential to look and feel at ease with your choices. I edit my closet rather brutally as I re-create and change my style and taste. I am of the same opinion as C.Z. Guest who said, “It’s important to not have too many clothes. Keep it simple. There’s only so much you can wear.” I have always told my daughters and their friends that you really only need to own six things to look chic on any budget. A black cashmere sweater, great fitting jeans, black boots and the best watch, sunglasses and handbag you can afford. (For summer the sweater would be replaced by a long-sleeved white tee and the boots by sandals or ballet flats).

DP: What are your favorite shopping destinations?
AB: Collette, Suite 114 and L’Eclaireur in Paris, Lily et Cie and Maxfield’s in L.A., Dover Street Market and Liberty in London, Bergdorf’s and Takashimaya in New York, Forty Five Ten and Barneys in Dallas

DP: What is the one piece you cannot live without?
AB: The Row leggings in every color they make.

DP: What is the best beauty advice you have?
AB: I’m going to run through what’s in my handbag in answer to this: Deborah Lippmann nail color in Just Walk Away Renee, Weleda Everon lip balm, Le Labo fragrances in Bergamote 22, Iris 39, Fleur d’ Orange 27 and Labdanum 18 (gel instead of the liquid version so you can throw them in your bag). You can layer a couple of them to create your own unique scent., Anthelios sunscreen, Anastasia Brow Gel in Clear, Mason Pearson Popular Mix hairbrush, Cle’ de Peau Beaute concealer in Ivory, Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Stain (makes your lips look like you just ate a cherry popsicle), Gypsy Water by Byredo Parfums, Marvis Jasmine Mint toothpaste, La Bella Donna Enriched Lash Enhancement, John Master Sea Mist (for back from the beach hair), Tarte Ten Natural Cheek Stain, Beauty is Life lipstick in Heavy Pink, Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream (great for chapped lips), Clinique High Length mascara and the new fragrance Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle. Of course, the basics of drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep, exercise and wear sunscreen!

Angie's Closet. Photo by Paper City Dallas

The Shining - Stephen King


Blurb: "Danny is only five years old, but he is a 'shiner', aglow with psychic voltage. When his father becomes caretaker of an old hotel, his visions grow out of control. Cut off by blizzards, the hotel seems to develop an evil force, and who are the mysterious guests in the supposedly empty hotel?"

The Shining is a story that most people will have heard something about, mainly due to the Kubrick film adaptation in 1980 which terrified audiences. Who can forget that elevator of blood and those creepy ominous little girl twins who invite Danny Torrance to play with them forever and ever? And of course, Jack Nicholson screaming "Here's Johnny!" through a slit of beaten through door that has been parodied to death in popular culture.

Well, the book is a LOT better. A million times better in fact. King does what King is best at; writing supernatural horror and blending it with a human touch to bring the reader something that we can relate to, almost like subconcious nightmares comes true. The novel gives us a shocking insight into Jack Torrance's childhood and the sheer domestic violence between Jack and his wife Wendy, all give the story a hidden depth that just isn't that prevalent in the film. The Overlook Hotel is a million times more supernatural and sinister and of course, the ending is completely different.

In a nutshell, definitely check out the book. I liked the film but I loved the book. 8/10

P.S: How cool is that cover?! It's the 'King Classics' version which is (in my opinion) a much nicer format than the re-issued ones that are everywhere.