For the latest arts, style, food and travel reviews and to hear about the best of London, please visit, keep following and subscribe to receive email updates at: www.thoroughlymodernmilly.com
For the latest arts, style, food and travel reviews and to hear about the best of London, please visit, keep following and subscribe to receive email updates at: www.thoroughlymodernmilly.com
Nowadays, most women 'in the know' will have cottoned on to the brilliant beauty technique that is threading, a painful but effective way of removing unwanted hair. It is used most for tidying up eyebrows and upper lips. And Blink is THE place to go for perfect threading results.
It is amazing to watch: highly skilled women hold thin laces of cotton between their mouths and hands carefully extracting hairs to create a perfect shape. It is much more effective than waxing as it is easier to remove shorter hairs, giving a cleaner job, and also pulls the hair deeper, so the hairs don't grow back as fast.
My mum was there at the start of this new fad, years ago, pampering her eyebrows with threading in a posh beauty place in Paddington, back when this was a little heard of and specialist treatment. More recently she has reverted to Blink, swearing by their experienced beauticians, and unbeatable results.
Blink has brought the technique to the masses with its brilliant brow bars that are now located in most of the big London department stores...as well as across the country. A convenient and quick way for women to quickly have their eyebrows tidied up in between shopping. Since trying the technique a few years ago I will never ever go back to waxing or plucking.
The Blink beauticians are very experienced and kind, aware that the threading can be painful on sensitive skin. In Selfridges recently I received the best eyebrow thread yet. A lovely girl called Hetal was my beautician. It was less painful than usual and the final look better than ever. My favourite thing about the Blink brow treatments is the relaxing mini massage they give at the end of the threading, maybe I'm just so relieved the painful bit is over!
Blink also provides a range of nutritious and glamorous eyebrow and lash products that help you maintain and perfect your brows on a day to day basis. I have tried the useful gel which keeps your eyebrows looking smart and in place, and the Blink pencils which come in lovely rich colours to give eyebrows a glossy and full look. The luscious lash oil is my favourite, because I wear fake eyelashes obsessively, this gentle oil adds moisture and shine while also strengthening.
£17 and 15 minutes is all it takes to achieve the best brows you have ever had. Get your brows beautified by Blink, it is so worth it. Visit website here.
‘Building the Revolution’ is a small but thoughtful exhibition showing in the upper Sackler Wing at the Royal Academy. I visited after a long look round the Hockney so, I'm afraid, my mind kept wandering back to the bright landscapes on show below.
The show focuses on Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935, very much activities that ran in parallel in the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Pre-revolution the basics of colour and geometry were stripped right back with cool, minimal results. The Russian Revolution in 1917 brought the Bolsheviks to power leading to a period of intense innovation in visual arts and architecture. A radical visual language was established to represent the new world of Soviet Socialism. Artists and architects worked in a burst of creativity, abandoning traditional ways to address the modern world.
This exhibition explores the relationship and interplay between art and architecture, qualities are presented through both forms… the cubist-influenced art is structural and exact and the architecture shows similar qualities, together they present a vivid picture of the idealistic culture of the time.
At times the exhibition is a little too much like a history lesson, though there are some beautiful photos of geometric architecture and lovely artworks by leading Russian avant-garde artists El Lissitzky and Liubov Popova. They save the best till last, the final room shows small cubist works by Russian artist Ivan Kudryashev. The palette used is gorgeous with angular shapes and subtle shading, understated but beautiful work from this little known artist.
Allow plenty of time when you go to the David Hockney, the hottest exhibition to open in London this month. The Royal Academy dedicates its main space to this illustrious artist, in a major retrospective show that includes over 150 works. Some pieces date back as far as 1956, but most have been created in the last eight years, in a staggering flurry of activity.
With Lucian Freud gone, Hockney is being dubbed as Britain’s best painter - this exhibition seems set to secure the crown. We are taken on a journey through Hockney’s vast output visiting numerous fascinating landscapes from different stages of the artist's life. The exhibition’s sole focus is landscapes… Hockney’s favourite subject receives obsessive and excessive treatment, in particular the lands of East Yorkshire where he has been stationed for the past few years. Many of the huge paintings are made from several adjoined canvases, their sheer scale makes them very impressive and much of the colour is so bright you feel a glow standing beneath them. The colours, the vibrancy, the sense of perspective and line all illustrate the passion behind Hockney’s talent, he often seems overwhelmed by the natural beauty before him, and he certainly presents a glorious picture of our land. ‘Woldgate Woods’ and ‘Winter Timber’ stick in my mind: huge bright canvases, rich and atmospheric, bold and memorable.
The most widely anticipated part of this show perhaps is the suite of iPad drawings, a new technology Hockney seems captivating by. The Arrival of Spring features 51 curious iPad drawings of the same country road at different points of the year. The immediacy and speed with which he can draw on this electronic tablet makes it the perfect medium for capturing ever-changing nature. It is an intriguing marriage: instantaneous modern technology and timeless rustic subject matter. It is a breathtaking room of images: as the drawings are printed on paper their original medium is not immediately obvious; Hockney makes the finger stokes very painterly. They are joyful and lively, full of innocent vision. I would have loved to see the process of creation, an amazing function on the iPad enables one to watch how a picture is drawn.
Towards the end of the exhibition a film is playing, a very different medium for Hockney, but even here his energy and love of colour is evident. The film is a collage of moving images; it is lovely and happy, all the audience were smiling watching dancers in bright costumes with familiar upbeat piano music. I had to drag myself away from staying for a second sitting. David Hockney was born with synaesthesia, a neurological condition where you see colours to musical stimuli. With my interest in music and art this particularly fascinates me, effects that can be noticed in this film, but are perhaps not as obvious in his paintings.
I left feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by this epic exhibition, and yet have no doubt that it was Hockney’s vivid canvases that lifted my mood for the rest of the day, it is the perfect remedy to fight off the January blues.Exhibition continues until 9 April 2012, book here.
“Celebrate the beauty of words, the joy of writing and the art of conversation.”
Selfridges are currently honouring wonderful words, with writers-in-residence, a special collection of letter-inspired jewellery, captivating storytellers and literary themed objects and gifts.
I absolutely love clothing or accessories which use words… my ‘Milly’ version of the famous Carrie necklace is a treasured piece in my jewellery box, as are my old limited edition Luella t-shirts with slogans like ‘Daddy I want a pony!’ On my 18th birthday I received a beautifully simple engraved silver ring from my parents quoting ‘Je vois la vie en rose’ (which loosely translates as the familiar saying ‘I see the world through rose tinted spectacles’). And inside there is a personal message, words that remind me of that important birthday.
I think Selfridges are onto a winner with the words idea. Teaming up with Tatty Devine, they have created an in-store workshop where shoppers can go along and design and customise their very own, entirely unique piece of jewellery. They’ve got everything at hand to decorate your necklace with different chains and charms in store. All the rainbow sheets of plastic are available and someone is on hand to laser cut your piece to perfection. All the jewellery findings are stored in jars attached to shelves by their lids (one twist and you can pick out just what you need). I went along and designed a Thoroughly Modern Milly necklace.
If you’d rather have a ready made piece this fabulous jewellery brand have also created an exclusive range of funky necklaces, with plastic words like ‘OMG’ and ‘Bookworm’ on them.
The Words Words Words programme continues until 1 March: visit the Selfridges website here for more information on all the literary workshops, talks and events.
The London Art Fair preview evening is always an interesting night of familiar faces, the odd celeb and lots of art dealers and critics. As the UK's biggest art fair for Modern British and Contemporary Art this annual exhibition has quite a reputation to uphold, and this year it is confident and colourful as ever. I have worked at the fair several times in the past, but for the 2012 opening night I was invited as a guest.
As usual it is located in Islington’s vast Business Design Centre on Upper Street, the smart building with its simple layout is perfect for displaying art. The list of galleries exhibiting is endless and it is almost impossible to see it all. We got a bit lost while on the hunt for champagne, the trail of empty glasses led us round the wrong way.
There is the usual handful of big names on show, Hockney (very topical), Riley, Lowry, Aitchinson to name a few, but there are also unknown gems cropping up every few stands. Of course my dad Chris Kenny's work, beautiful and immaculate boxes, shines out, a selection of new work specially saved for the art fair. I loved wandering round overhearing the fascinating conversations of art critics and art lovers, the well-heeled visitors to the art fair are certainly a bold and bright bunch to admire.
Finishes today Sunday 22nd January at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Tickets £11 in advance, £16 on the door. More information and book here.
The good news? I got there just in time, on the very last day of the John Martin exhibition, the bad news? So did the rest of London. I was hit, on entering, by a musty sweaty smell, which I guess is expected with a whole roomful of eccentric visitors, all grappling to see the final hours of the Apocalypse show. John Martin’s work is apparently very popular, though I have never come across it before. This is a giant exhibition of his spectacularly vast paintings depicting biblical catastrophes and grand landscapes.
John Martin certainly had a particular vision, and I could see how his work has inspired film especially science fiction. Many of the paintings in the show look similar to stills from blockbuster films, hugely dramatic scenes of natural disaster and terror. The mezzotint prints are more subtle and intriguing, delicate illustrations made by Martin illustrating his impression of Milton’s Paradise Lost. These works show technical prowess as well as an instinctive poetic power.
One thing is very obvious walking round this Tate show- John Martin’s work is characteristically Romantic, meeting all the criteria and acting as an example for what this period was all about. Seeing the subject matter, fiery palette and dramatic flourishes, I could easily relate these paintings to composers' work of the time: Wagner's and Berlioz's and, later, Mahler’s large scale symphonies and choral works… exaggerated, grand and an over-the-top expression of passion and feeling.
I personally found this exhibition rather repetitive. Although many of the exaggerated epic canvases are impressive, few offer anything more, it is a dark and moody show with a lack of subtlety.
The bad news for you is, you’ve missed the show, the good news? You haven’t missed much.
The Anglesea Arms is a lovely gastropub in Hammersmith with a lively atmosphere and inventive menu. The restaurant has a glowing reputation… and is often graced with the presence of local celebs, like comedienne Miranda Hart! I've visited several times now and from my experience the food here varies enormously though I have always enjoyed it. Last weekend we visited for lunch for a rare family meal out, it felt like a real treat. The pub was buzzing with weekend jollity and the service was impeccable, with friendly, efficient staff.
We chose an assortment of dishes, and I managed to try pretty much everything on the table. Much to my brother’s annoyance his dish required more than one taste! I was tempted by the Imam Bayeldi – an aubergine based type of ratatouille, but was put off on hearing that it is served cold, and opted instead for the leek and cheddar tart with green salad. It was delicious - a warm comforting slice of cheesy quiche with soft crumbling pastry complemented by the crunchy salad. I would never choose cauliflower soup, in my opinion thick white liquid is not very appetising; however my mum felt like it and sadly found it too salty (but to be honest her tolerance for salt is staggeringly low). The waiter immediately brought her another dish and didn’t charge for the replacement - a fresh buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto and red watercress salad. My brother’s Middlewhite Pork Belly with Potato Gratin, Greens and mustard was divine, a lovely piece of meat – with layers of crispy crackling, a small proportion of flavoursome fat and delicious, perfectly cooked pork. The potatoes were all caramelised and creamy and I thought the buttery kale was the ideal choice of vegetable to accompany the rich meat.
Puddings were a sight to behold, a glorious array of oozing sugary treats. We chose a few to share, originally we agreed on two but overwhelmed by indecision we gave in and ordered a greedy three! Very generous portions of Salted caramel & Chocolate Truffle, Frangipane Tart with Poached Pears and Ricotta Doughnuts with Butterscotch Sauce arrived for us to fight over. I liked the Frangipane Tart best: a soft, almondy cake that arrived hot served with contrasting vanilla ice cream. The only odd thing was the excess of chocolate sauce that covered the pears, it was just one flavour too many. The doughnuts were eccentric and interesting, very sweet but delicious nonetheless and the caramel and chocolate truffle was too salty bitter for me, but went down well with the rest of the table!
We had a lovely meal: hearty food, delicious cider and faultless service, an all round perfect pub lunch.
The meal cost £70 for a decent meal for four including drinks and service.
Why did silent movies go out of fashion? It is the question lead character, George Valentin argues, and a conundrum I pondered while watching the Michel Hazanavicius film ‘The Artist’.‘The Artist’, like many others before it, is a movie about a movie. It’s set in the 1920s in Hollywood: George Valentin is a silent movie actor, an idol. Outside, after the premiere of his latest film, he meets, by chance, Peppy Miller, a star-stuck fan and aspiring actress. There is an obvious attraction immediately between the two. They meet again on set when Peppy is an extra in his next film and dance briefly, a passionate friendship begins. Soon ‘talkie’ films take off, and while George is left behind, Peppy gets her big break, a star of the new genre of talking films. Their roles are dramatically reversed as is their unconventional friendship.On screen there is undeniable chemistry between the two leading actors Jean Dujardin (George Valentin) and Berenice Bejo (Peppy Miller) dancing youthfully and sharing a love for cinema. I adored the retro feel of the film, stunning costumes and styling, and Chaplin-esque wit. The lack of language barrier allows this film to appeal to anyone and everyone.I went to see ‘The Artist’ at the Westfield cinema, which is, admittedly not the most charming of venues! If you have the choice I would recommend visiting the Electric in Portobello or the Ritzy in Brixton to see the film while sipping a glass of wine. The Artist is beautiful, classic and romantic, subtle and simple. It is visually spectacular, a vintage picture that is heart-warming and utterly enjoyable.
Showing at cinemas everywhere.
Kerbisher and Malt is a modern, upmarket British fish and chip shop. You can take out, but the clean stylish interior may encourage you to eat in. Cool photos hang on the white tiled walls, and trendy wooden benches and tables provide casual seating. Located in W6, a few minutes walk from Hammersmith station, I was delighted to be visiting a café so close to home.
The food is simple and classic, a selection of fish varieties that promises to be the best and freshest available. I was disappointed they didn’t have plaice when I went along, but as all the fish bought in is fresh off the boat, it obviously means the menu will vary, and so it should in a good fish eatery. Impressed by the inclusion of sustainable fish on the menu, I chose the Coley. The batter was crisp and light, and inside the soft melting white fish was perfectly cooked, and super fresh.
The best bit was perhaps the deliciously vinegary pickled onion rings. I find this accompaniment can often be too sloppy and greasy but these were perfect, the onion was cooked but still a little crunchy, as I like it, with a pleasant kick from the pickling and a generous coating of batter. Oh, and the twice-cooked chips were amazing, I couldn’t help finishing off my large portion, a far cry from the usual soggy and heavy chips in most takeaway places.
It was lovely to see some regular customers come in while I was eating… each ordering their favourites from the menu, bulging chip butties or bowls of crispy calamari with chilli sauce. We also tried the Kerbisher side salad, an interesting mix, sprinkled with pomegranate, this gave a little necessary greenery to the meal!
We didn’t have pudding (I ate too many chips) but Jude’s ice-cream is on offer. I overheard the waitress listing the flavours and there are more than enough to satisfy all tastes.
Kerbisher and Malt is old fashioned and stylish, with reasonable pricing, comfortable seating and seriously decent grub. Surely the best fish and chip shop in West London?
I love the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith: aside from the fact that it is a just a bus ride from home, Hammersmith is a nostalgic place for me, just round the corner from the school where I spent seven years. The theatre itself has a lovely auditorium, much like a small West End venue. The Lyric is a lively environment to experience and the press evenings here are always fun with music jamming, friendly mingling and fresh hot pizza handed round, it's a blast.
This month the Lyric welcomes Abi Morgan’s touching love story, ‘Lovesong', a production by FRANTIC ASSEMBLY, an exciting contemporary physical theatre company I have wanted to see in action for a while. The play spans forty years: the marriage of Maggie and Billy, the aging process they endure and how their love changes over time. We watch the youthful couple William (Edward Bennett) and Margaret (Leanne Rowe) in their 20s excitedly embarking on a life together, and also their older selves Maggie (Sian Phillips) and Billy (Sam Cox) as they remember and reminiscence. The action is delicately and completely intertwined, flicking between the two eras constantly… Maggie opens the wardrobe and Margaret slips out instead. I found the older couple more convincing; Sam Cox gives a sensitive rendition of the helpless husband while Sian Phillips is heartbreaking as the dying wife.
The script is very fluid but can be disorientating - at times I wished for more detail, especially regarding Maggie’s dehabilitating illness. However this is where the dance and clever choreography works so well, as the physicality effectively captures the passing of time: beautifully lyrical and transient movement that each of the four actors handled impressively. The play is accompanied by Carolyn Downing’s powerful soundtrack, it supports the script if a little vague and abstract at times.
Lovesong manages to grip the audience for the full ninety minutes, and the day I went, the theatre remained eerily silent throughout, everyone seemed captivated by the truthful love affair.
You would have to be pretty cold-hearted to leave the theatre feeling completely untouched, I was certainly worried about my mascara smudging.
Lovesong continues at The Lyric until 4 February, book here.
I like the sound of Closet Swap, a new Facebook and iPhone app from Channel 4 Education that encourages people to stop shopping and, instead, start swapping. It is a perfect solution for those wanting a wardrobe makeover this New Year, and is an ecological and cheap way to update your outfits for the coming months.With Closet Swap you and your friends can exchange clothes easily and conveniently. After signing in with your Facebook ID you create your own virtual closet. Users upload pictures to www.closetswap.co.uk and tag existing Facebook photos - using #closetswap - to build an online wardrobe that they can share, and apparently even go on to customise. You can then extend your fashion search by sending out a Fashion SOS alert from your iPhone or ipod to your Facebook wall to ask if anyone they know has that perfect dress or essential accessory you need, then when the time comes hopefully you can return the favour. To reward the goodwill, users are awarded kudos and higher rankings on leader boards the more they swap.Also on Closet Swap you can:
- Discover local markets, vintage stores and pre-loved clothing stores
- Organise fashion parties
- Read up on information about sustainable fashionI love going to the Notting Hill Retro shops to sell and exchange my unwanted clothes, so I can tell I’m going to adore Closet Swap.Sign up and get swapping here.
Megan's is the type of place where the Made in Chelsea cast hang out: a humble, picturesque little cafe-restaurant-deli where Fulham's upper west side enjoy amicable champagne brunches and light lunches.
Despite being located on the upmarket King's Road with elite customers, the place has a down to earth and friendly atmosphere, and prices are very reasonable. Visitors are kept content with yummy home cooked food and delicious fresh juices. Out back is a magical courtyard to use on warmer days.
I went along for a late breakfast with my best friend last weekend. We found Megan’s to be the perfect place to munch and gossip. Every table was occupied by a gaggle of excited girls, the adjacent lot were sipping fizzy and celebrating an engagement.
After an extra busy morning, the staff were very apologetic explaining that all the hot food had gone, so sadly no bacon butties and toasted crumpets for us. We settled for warmed almond croissants and candied lemon cake, with creamy cappuccinos and freshly pressed apple and orange juice. Everything was delicious, I just wish we’d had the chance to sample more of the menu; I guess that’s an excuse for going back.
Next to the till home-made jams, flavoured oils, pickles and sauces are prettily stacked for diners to buy on their way out. The white peach and saternes jam and chilli and thyme infused olive oil looked particularly appetizing.
As we left the waitresses were frantically getting ready for the next bookings. Megan’s doesn’t need to advertise, they pride themselves on being the best kept secret café in South West London.
Visit Megan's website here.
Frankland & Sons was an intriguing production, especially as this was my first review. Written and performed by father and son John and Tom Frankland, the performance tells the very personal story of three generations of the Frankland family, stemming from John’s father’s letters to his wife while fighting in the Middle East during both World Wars. As father and son delve into their shared history, facts taken for granted are laid bare, disproved, and suppositions come crashing down before the audience’s eyes at the climax of the narrative.
Having spent a long evening unearthing previously unknown family truths of my own the previous day, it seemed a fitting theme for a play to address. In an age when family heritage is newly-accessible online, and programmes like Who Do You Think You Are? explore previously lost personal history, I was excited to see what the stage could contribute to this emerging trend.
Unfortunately, Frankland & Sons failed to live up to this potential. The play started, both in the performance and as a starting point for the men’s research, with a suitcase of letters, inherited from John’s sister Barbara, who died in 2006. Once read out to the audience, these were hung from a timeline, overhanging the stage, along with balloons and ribbons marking significant events along the narrative. While this was an interesting use of space and a neat concept, it created some unnecessary fuss, and detracted from the direction of the storyline, although the second half is less involved with hanging letters from string, and meatier in terms of content. At the same time, the mood of the performance lurched somewhat unconvincingly from slapstick humour to deep emotional revelation, in a relatively uncomfortable rhythm, and what momentum was created was broken by an unnecessary interval.
The relationship between the two men is intriguing too, but again falls between two stools in terms of the final result. It was unclear, perhaps to the performers as well, to what extent they were playing themselves, playing a theatrical version of themselves, or simply narrating their family’s history. Their relationship is nevertheless one of the strongest and most appealing aspects of the play, shown perfectly in two mirrored moments in either half, as one scolds the other, and visa versa. Consciously haphazard and endearing, the Franklands are definitely worth watching, even if the play itself doesn’t quite deliver.
Frankland & Sons continues until 28 January, book here.
Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, James Bomford.
It was a special treat to see my cousin, Nell Ryder perform. Having worked on her sound and style for the last five years she has now developed into an impressive singer-songwriter.
Walking into the Bowery, I was overwhelmed by how many faces I recognised. Family and fans gathered to support Nell and listen to her newest material. The venue is used regularly for gigs and has a nice warm acoustic.
Nell’s voice has matured considerably since I last heard her, it has a lovely husky quality in the lower register while remaining clear and in tune. She has a gutsy soulful delivery that suits the repertoire well. Nell's own songs are lilting and lyrical, most often quite melancholic, even mournful. She has a very personal quality to her voice that I can only describe as a bleat (like a lamb), a very beautiful natural wobble (it is not accenuated enough to be called vibrato) adding great emotion to her singing. Nell also presented a few old school covers, mostly retro love songs she particularly likes, sung softly into the microphone with her gentle guitar accompaniment they were very touching. In between songs she spoke frankly and naturally to the audience.
As Nell mentioned onstage before her final number, "the best love songs are always the simplest"... her own songs follow this rule: very simple, often repetitive, floating melodies that really stick in your head; they are thoughtful and memorable. It was a short but intimate and lovely gig.
Visit Nell Ryder's website here.