The editors' blog

  • FROM OPIUM WARS TO LIFE AFTER MAO

    ~ Posted by Julia Lovell, May 2nd 2015

    read more » ChinacultureExhibitionsJulia LovellPhotography
  • YOU CAN LEAVE YOUR HAT ON

    ~ Posted by Kassia St Clair, May 1st 2015

    In the final years of the 1960s Patricia Underwood, a British woman living in New York, came to the conclusion that she desperately needed a career. She had already tried several jobs: first as a typist at Buckingham Palace, then an assistant car mechanic in America, specialising in classic Jaguar XKEs, later a salesgirl and a secretary, but none had really suited her. Until, that is, she turned her hand to millinery. It wasn’t the choice of a practical woman—few would hit upon making berets as the most efficient way to bring home the bacon—but as the best hats are seldom purely practical either, it was the perfect match.

    Forty years on her name is as synonymous with headgear as those of Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones, and she has worked with several revered designers, from Oscar de la Renta to Ralph Lauren. A new book, "Patricia Underwood: The Way You Wear Your Hat", celebrates her work with lush images and playful details about her, her collaborators and, of course, the hats themselves.

    read more » FASHIONKassia St ClairPhotographystyle
  • EJIOFOR MAKES A POETIC EVERYMAN

    ~ Posted by Isabel Lloyd, April 30th 2015

    read more » cultureIsabel LloydTheatre
  • GOODFELLAS AT 25: OUTSIZED FUN

    ~ Posted by Tom Shone, April 28th 2015 

    Up on stage at the Beacon Theatre in Tribeca last weekend, Ray Liotta (above, left) basked in the love for Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas”, which had just screened in a new print as part of the film’s 25th-anniversary celebration. Afterwards, the author Nicholas Pileggi (on whose book the movie was based), Liotta, Robert De Niro and other cast members took to the stage to swap anecdotes, some well known, others not—such as the time Liotta got a call to meet Henry Hill, the mobster he was playing, at a bowling alley in Los Angeles. A somewhat scared Liotta came to the appointed place, only to have Hill walk up to him and say, “Thanks for not making me look like a scumbag.” Liotta couldn’t believe his ears. The film had shown Hill bludgeoning a neighbour with the butt of his gun, sinking into cocaine addiction and ratting on his friends. “Did you see the movie?” he asked incredulously.

    read more » cultureFilmTom Shone
  • RUSSELL BRAND'S HAZY AGITPROP

    ~ Posted by Nicholas Barber, April 24th 2015

    “Everything you’re going to hear about in this film, you already know.” So says Russell Brand at the start of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, the excitable anti-banker agitprop documentary he has made with the director Michael Winterbottom. It’s a clever disclaimer. Brand immediately establishes that he hasn’t uncovered anything new about the Grand Canyon-like divide between rich and poor: he just wants to remind us that it’s okay to be angry about it. The problem for me, though, is that I’m a lot more ignorant about global financial shenanigans than Brand imagines. Like many people, I don’t know everything about off-shore tax havens and quantitative easing, and I was frustrated that “The Emperor’s New Clothes” didn’t enlighten me.

    read more » cinemacultureDocumentaryFilmNicholas BarberPOLITICS
  • THE PENCHANT FOR PEASANT SHOES

    ~ Posted by Rebecca Willis, April 24th 2015

    Summer footwear has an easier design brief than its winter counterpart: it doesn't aim to be warm or waterproof. A sandal need be little more than a sole with a rudimentary means of attaching it to the foot. Witness the strappy, leather "Jesus sandals" favoured by Seventies hippies, or the spectacularly un-waterproof espadrilles, both of which are traditional peasant shoes from southern Europe.

    read more » FASHIONRebecca WillisSHOPPINGspainstyle
  • A PLAY WITH TOO MUCH STYLE

    ~ Posted by Isabel Lloyd, April 23rd 2015

    The theatre company 1927 is unlike many others. They barely ever use any set—just a flat backdrop with a window and a door cut into it—and the actors spend much of their time standing still, or walking on the spot. The stage pictures they create with lighting and animation have the flickering, tableau vivant quality of early cinema: their actors wear the dark, hollowed eye make-up of silent-film stars, and even their name is a reference to screens, as 1927 is the year the talkies began. But despite the element of two-dimensionality, the performance poet Suzanne Andrade and the designer Paul Barritt make plays that encapsulate a complete world. Since 2007, when their debut show “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” was a standout hit at the Edinburgh Fringe, it’s a world that has gathered a young, growing and devoted following.

    read more » cultureIsabel LloydTheatre
  • INSIDE THE PIANO WITH NILS FRAHM

    ~ Posted by Tom Shone, April 22nd 2015

    Encylopedias regularly hem and haw over whether the piano is a string instrument or a percussion instrument. In the hands of the German classical pianist Nils Frahm (above), it is both. In 2011 Frahm made an important discovery. Recording late at night and trying to do his neighbours a favour, he damped the sound of his piano with a thick layer of felt and placed his microphones so deep inside as to be almost touching the strings. The results were quite literally breathtaking: on the subsequent recordings, released on his 2011 album "Felt", you can hear not only Frahm’s breathing but the creak of floorboards beneath his feet, together with the delicate rustle and scrape of ivory against wood, wood against felt, felt against steel—the secret sonic life of the piano revealed.

    read more » classicalcultureMusicTom Shone
  • THE INNER WORKINGS OF OUTSIDER ART

    ~ Posted by George Pendle, April 21st 2015

    Last year, in a scene akin to a heavyweight boxer facing off against a tiddlywinks champion, the Museum of Modern Art knocked down its neighbour, the American Folk Art Museum. The symbolism was striking. The American Folk Art Museum, whose building was sold to MoMA in 2011 amid much financial upheaval, had been designed as a “house for art” to highlight the work of artists outside the mainstream art world—the art of peasant communities, or that of children, or those with psychiatric disorders, which is often termed “outsider art”. MoMA, on the other hand, is in the midst of a never-ending expansion replete with high-rise apartment blocks and Michelin-starred restaurants, and has recently been featuring blockbuster shows of well-known artists (Henri Matisse) and celebrities (the film-maker Tim Burton, and a much-derided show by the singer Bjork). Entry to the Folk Art Museum is free; entry to MoMA is $25 a head. Yet despite this difference in scale, the Folk Art Museum’s latest show—in their much-diminished new digs 30 blocks north—is a master class in curatorial intelligence and emotional wallop, and displays a gender and racial diversity that MoMA would give a substantial chunk of its nearly $1 billion endowment to have.

    read more » Artcontemporary artgeorge pendleNew YorkPerformance Art
  • OUR LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE KITCHEN

    ~ Posted by Rebecca Willis, April 20th 2015

    The subject of kitchens—what they reveal about their owners, how many it is acceptable to have—has become something of a political football in the run-up to the British general election. Three main-party leaders have invited cameras and journalists into their kitchens for coffee and conversation—with mixed results. But there is something far more interesting about the kitchen than its brief spell as a subject of spin, as I realised on a recent visit to the Geffrye Museum. And that is its positioning over the centuries in our homes, and what that tells us about our domestic history and our relationship with food.

    read more » ArchitectureFamilyinteriorsLondonRebecca Willis

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