A passion for food + fashion

Postcards from Billy

In Design, Fashion on November 30, 2009 at 9:31 pm

For the newly initiated, POSTCARDS is recurring feature with fashion advice from my dear friend Billy, an art consultant with a wicked eye and even wickeder wardrobe. In this edition, he takes us shopping in London town, and packs his bags for Art Basel Miami Beach…

Postcards from London

Just back from a whirlwind jaunt to the other side of the pond. My dear Andrew’s family lives in England, so we decided to spend the Thanksgiving holidays in London. The weather was glorious and the shopping was brilliant. As always I limited my spending, since the dollar is still quite weak, but allowed myself to purchase things unavailable in the US. I immediately made my way to Vivienne Westwood, the quintessential UK designer known for her sartorial punk aesthetic mixed with a Union Jack sensibility. Also on the agenda were stops at Uniqlo (only one store currently in the US located in NYC on Broadway) and Top Shop. Both shops provide abundant cheap thrills. Uniqlo is like a Japanese version of H & M, but much higher quality garments. My only other indulgence this trip was Marc Jacobs. Marc is offering numerous accessories at an extremely lower price point which are available only at his stores and not online. Even though I fortunately am often in a city where he has an outpost, I couldn’t resist scoring some nifty black and orange wellie/rain boots. Although, I look a little too Morton Salt Girl and that probably isn’t a good thing.

I also walked out with a chic little tote, an orange tee shirt with his Stinky Rat emblem and a purse for a girlfriend’s Christmas present.

In terms of the art scene, in between shop visits I made time to visit the Tate Britain’s Turner and the Masters exhibition, the Hayward Gallery’s Ed Ruscha 50 Years of Paintings exhibition and the Tate Modern’s Pop Life: Art in a Material World exhibition.

So, on to the bigger topic at hand – a stressful annual trip. In the world of art, it’s the equivalent of a pilgrimage to Mecca – Art Basel Miami Beach. In years past, since my day job is a fundraiser, I’ve had to spend months of advance planning. It was the closet thing to mobilizing troops heading oversees as one can imagine in the museum sphere. We would take our highest level donors, a who’s who of local Bergdorf blonde socialites, octegenerian widows and dilettantes. Believe me when I say that this is not an easy crowd to please.

Packing for this barrage of chic events – which include edgy beach concerts (Scissor Sisters and Peaches have performed in years past), fashion shows and poolside cocktail parties thrown by the abundance of Brazillionaires – is thought through for weeks prior. Dear Andrew still marvels at the fact that not only do I have a list made up of the each individual piece that makes the trip, but also all of the day and evening outfits fully coordinated.

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I’ve invited my dear friend, Atlanta’s premier stylist Josh Cesal, to help in this endeavor. It took a long time to get on his calendar since most of his spare moments are spent launching battleships (very Kitty Carlisle Hart of him). For this evening of strategy he’s brought the requisite tools – a scrapbook of Tilda Swinton photos for inspiration, a bottle of Viktor and Rolf’s Flowerbomb (our version of aromatherapy), a Ouija board for validation and confirmation and a S-T-A-U-N-C-H attitude (we can’t have any special moment without channeling Little Edie).

Apparently he has kindly put me on a pre-flight nutrition strategy, secretly lacing my white wine spritzers with diet pills. Josh says that the plane is the most important place to be at my goal weight. Due to the climate, layers are not in order and skin will be the look du jour. He keeps going back to the body and suggests that nothing can substitute for a flipped adams apple and razor sharp elbows. He is trying to patent a file to use in unison with liposuction.

A few of the items that will find themselves in my new luggage:

· perfectly tailored khaki pants – they will be my uniform and will do well with Brooks Brothers boy sized shirts monogrammed with whimsical things like “NERD” and the requisite sweater tied haphazardly around my shoulders.
· Burberry burgundy jersey cardigan style shirt with epaulets – in case there are any Anglophiles at least I can score a free meal.
· Vivienne Westwood scarf – this month’s issue of
Elle had a whole feature on 16 Ways to wear a scarf and I intend to utilize every incarnation.
· Ralph Lauren blue boys blazer – I will rock this look even poolside with some great plaid swim trunks. I always pack a few Hermes pocket squares to give the ensemble a freshening up from day to day.
· boys cocktail rings – girls shouldn’t be the only ones who get to wear gaudy accessories on their fingers. Top Shop had super fun rings running the gamut from bedazzled leopards (a la Cartier) and chunky rhinestone baubles likely to inflict serious harm in any barroom brawls.

I’ll be sending Postcards from Miami with lots of licentious tales of the art world. As always, there is a soundtrack for this Postcard from Billy – gear up your iPod with Kim Carnes “Bette Davis Eyes,” LL Cool J’s “I’m Bad” and Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again.”

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