137 dresses to die for

Valentino Master of Couture at Somerset House in London is a must see!

The exhibition catwalk presents 137 dresses. They are all numbered and you can refer back to the small booklet for description. These are my personal highlights:

#26 A/W 1967/68 Turquoise, silver, red and orange silk brocade mini dress. I could so rock that dress, preferably at The Beatles concert.

#45 S/S 1988 Black georgette and satin dress with large oval cutouts, yellow underskirt and diamante detailing. A wonderful shadow puppets theater on a dress – black silhouettes against a yellow background. Will I ever go to an occasion suitable for a dress like that? Time will tell.

 Valentino designs are displayed along a catwalk,
with names like Audrey Hepburn (!) calligraphed on the labels attached to chairs

#57 A/W 2007/08 Pink and orange ostrich feather cocktail dress with strass embellishment. Pink and orange ostrich feathers! Doesn’t it just sound sexy, fluffy and oh-so-gorgeous?

#62 S/S 1959 Red tulle evening dress with corsage detailing in the skirt using rose couture technique. Three words: I want it.

#83 S/S 1968 White linen day dress with scalloped hem detailing. Pure class. The simplest of all dresses shown and yet so enchanting.

#125 A/W 1967/68 Green satin one shouldered evening gown with sequin and strass embellishment. Worn by Jackie Kennedy on her official visit to Cambodia.

Cambodian prince and wife with Jackie Kennedy (1967)
source: art.com

Valentino couture designs are complimented with a collection of photographs, invitations and thank-you notes from his personal archive. There is also a section dedicated to the craft of couture, showcasing samples and couture techniques, many of them unique to Valentino, like the pagine technique (discs of organza silk piled to create a page effect). I can’t explain it but I was mesmerized by the samples, the clips showing le ragazze di Valentino at work, the intricate embroidery… I was standing there, taking it all in, and didn’t wanna move…

Staircase leading down to the exhibition area is marked with signature Valentino red

The exhibition closes on March 3rd, so hurry before it ends!


The day I met Kristin. Kristin Scott Thomas

Love is in the air and I’m still quite loved up since Tuesday, when I met Kristin… Not just an ordinary Kristin, although I have a friend of more than 20 years who bears that very name and, may I just say, she is far from ordinary. On Tuesday I met Kristin Scott Thomas, whom I fell in love with the moment I saw her in The English Patient in 1996. To me, her portrayal of Katharine Clifton is amazing and it rightfully won her the nomination for the Academy Award. 16 years on, I still adore her in that role. And so many more…

Meeting KST and feeling like a 12-year old again…

I loved her in Four Weddings and a Funeral, as the hopelessly-in-love-with-Hue-Grant Fiona, then as another Fiona in Polanski’s The Bitter Moon. I whispered her name watching her fall in love with Robert Redford (I really don’t blame her) in The Horse Whisperer. I wished her heart found peace in Random Hearts, where she starred opposite Harrison Ford. I cried during I’ve Loved You So Long, where she plays a woman who spent 15 years in prison and then gets reunited with her sister. A heartbreaking but beautiful story. We saw another side to her in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, that of a ruthless PR lady and, more recently, in Nowhere Boy, in which she was cast as the hard-on-the-outside-and-soft-on-the-inside aunt Mimi to the young John Lennon. Oh, and by the way, did you know that Kristin Scott Thomas made her feature film debut in the 1986 film Under the Cherry Moon, which was directed by and starred Prince? Here is 26-year old Kristin trying to tame Prince, have a look!

I’ve also seen Kristin on stage, three times. First, in 2005, alongside Bob Hoskins, in As You Desire Me at the Playhouse Theatre. Then in 2011 in Betrayal at the Comedy Theatre and two days ago, in Old Times at the Harold Pinter Theatre (formerly the Comedy Theatre). Classy, stunning, electrifying – these are the words I could use to describe her performances.

After the play we waited in the cold by the stage door, hoping Kristin would show up. Two years ago I waited too, that time in vain though. Ralph Fiennes sneaked in and it turned out he took her out to dinner. Lucky it was him! So when this time she came out in the end, I got paralyzed … with joy. My husband took a picture of me and Kristin but we found out that there was a geeky guy hovering in the background. So we asked her for another one, explaining the situation. Someone undesirable? – she said with a cheeky smile and that lovely accent of hers, and I simply froze, realizing that she actually spoke to us. 

I’ve loved you so long… – I stuttered, feeling a long forgotten sensation of overpowering internal blushing. No, she truly does – my husband came to rescue. I’ve seen you first on stage in that play with Bob Hoskins – I quickly recited, title of the play slipping my mind. Gosh! It was, wait a minute, As you desire me. That was a long time ago – admitted Kristin. And then we came to see you in Betrayal, you were wonderful – I added, trying to restrain myself from hugging my object of adoration – as you were tonight. Thank you so much. And, keep coming! – she smiled and got into her cab. I will, Kristin. I will.

Old Times can be seen until April 6th 2013 at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London. For more info click here. Kristin Scott Thomas and Lia Williams alternate the roles of Anna and Kate. Both are simply enchanting.


Laloushka’s London LOVE affairs

Marta Hryniak, art historian an photographer, is also known as the designer of the cool fashion label Laloushka. Her talent has been spotted by experts from the legendary London Browns boutique and Laloushka dolls are now stealing hearts of the British and international fashionistas.

To become part of the store’s merchandise is not easy – the pieces are individually handpicked from the world’s top designers and the offer is subject to strict editing. A second order has been placed by Browns and I’m hearing there is already a Laloushka waiting list! The Browns’ exclusive collection embraces style icons including Anna Wintour, Grace Coddinton, Carine Roitfeld, Alber Elbaz and the founder of the boutique – Mrs. B. To view the whole collection, click here.

Grace Coddington at the 2012 CFDA Fashion Awards and THAT Grace doll
(flying off the shelves at Browns).

Mrs. B, aka Joan Burstein, is credited with discovering such talents as Alexander McQueen and Commes des Garcons. Will Laloushka join the ranks of the world’s famous fashion brands? Time will tell but Mrs. B’s hunch has been known for making wonders… Now, I’ve said it. 

 The dolls waiting to be couriered over to London


Having a Hoot in Brick Lane

I haven’t been to Brick Lane for a while. I am thrilled to find it packed with pop-up fashion boutiques, vintage clothing markets and artists’ stalls. Having resisted the sales in the West End (OK, not quite – I did buy a pair of lovely wedges at Banana Republic), I succumb to the joy of browsing (which, incidentally, turns into buying) in the East End of London. Here is my shopping trip in pictures.

Backyard Market showcases work of various designers, including fashion and graphics.
We acquire a few amazing photography pieces.
As I’m leaving the market, an intriguing drawing of an owl catches my eye.
I decide to talk to the author, who turns out to be a charming print designer,
making patterns on t-shirts and dresses.
I try on a few pieces, and after a little deliberation, decide on a peacock over the owl.
And here I am, oh-so-proudly flashing this grey number.
Next time I’m in London, I will definitely go back to Brick Lane to hunt for more fashion treasures. I’m always happy to support artistic talent. Besides, you never know, over time a market stall may turn into a big label and I may turn into the owner of a vintage piece from the first collection…

Celebrating 20 years of the famous red sole

I’m mesmerized by the Louboutin retrospective at the Design Museum in London. It’s beautiful, sexy and oh-so-chic! From the moment you walk in, you just want to touch every shoe on the display (touching not allowed), or take a picture of it (photography not allowed). Because you can’t, some visitors (female, mostly) resort to mmm-ing, heavy breathing, or even – groaning. I’m not kidding, at times I felt like I was at a fetish show… There is indeed The Fetish Room at the exhibition. Visitors are warned about images of partial nudity and  can bypass The Fetish Room by taking a corridor which leads directly into The Atelier, should the images be unsuitable for them. May I just say, bypass I did not. The Fetish Room was fabulous! It presented one-off designer pieces, not really made for wearing, more so for admiring…

The retrospective is relatively small, but it has depth and it’s very inspiring. When leaving, I only had one thing on my mind – will there be a small Louboutin concession at the museum’s shop? Sadly, there wasn’t… Which is a shame, as it would make breakthrough sales! All of those women, smitten with all those amazing shoes, ready to spend any money to buy their very own pair of red sole Loubis?? Instead, Lucozade Revive drinks were given away at the exit. Hmmm, I did need one to get back to reality…

As photography is forbidden at the Louboutin show, 
this is my only picture, taken at the entry

The Louboutin show closes on July 9th, so hurry up to see it.
Design Museum, London. Ticket price: GBP 11.

As read in Vogue UK: The retrospective has been named the Design Museum’s all-time most popular exhibition, breaking all previous visitor figure records with an average daily attendance of 910 visitors. The showcase has, to date, attracted 38,000 shoe fans – more than Manolo Blahnik in 2003.

And a recent update from July 10th – if you want to recreate iconic Louboutin heels on a budget, buy some red paint. I’m not kidding, read this article.


La Mania’s London Tale

It was a flying visit for me but one which made me fly. On Thursday La Mania launched in London during a glamorous bash held at the Royal Academy of Arts. 

La Mania A/W collection is all about vibrant colors
Art was indeed on the menu, along with prosecco, pomegranate & elderflower cordial and mini doughnuts (it was Fat Thursday, a traditional Polish feast celebrating last Thursday before Lent). As for art – we were treated to the works of Marco Perego, an Italian-born, New York-based artist. It seems as though Marco has no awareness of his international fame, since during the evening he was keeping a very low profile and had to be called for three times, before he showed his face. He’s got no reasons to be hiding though, as his pieces are already gracing private collections of such fashionable names as Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana. 

Where fashion meets art: La Mania’s pink gown
posing against Marco Perego’s painting
Speaking of big names in fashion, La Mania enjoys one-of-a-kind blessing by the mighty Karl Lagerfeld. From the label’s fashionable launch in 2010, Mr Lagerfeld has been offering guidance and inspiration to Joanna Przetakiewicz, the creative force behind La Mania. I was hoping to see Karl at the event but apparently he had to attend something very important for Fendi. Like it couldn’t wait… Oh well, even without Lagerfeld it was a fabulous, glamorous and oh-so-chic-night!

La Mania’s signature performance – the unveiling of a model
and butterfly confetti
I wish La Mania a thrilling success in London! It has quite a few well-wishers, some of whom showed their faces at the launch – fashion critic Joanna Bojanczyk from Rzeczpospolita daily, Katarzyna Niezgoda from Deni Cler, model Anja Rubik, designer Robert Kupisz and even former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, to name a few. Not to mention numerous representatives of the Polish business elite.
The exhibition Fairy Tale Mania, presenting La Mania Autumn/Winter 2012/2013 collection. is open to the public until the end of February at the Royal Opera Arcade Gallery, 5b Pall Mall, London SW1 (free entry). It represents Poland in the International Fashion Showcase project, organized by British Council and British Fashion Council as part of London Fashion Week. 

Color + glamour = La Mania 
If you’re in London, do see it. As Alex Butt wrote in British Grazia: Remember the name ‘La Mania’. You might need it in future.

For a review of the event in Polish, visit my friend’s blog GraBlondyn…


London, the city of everything

London always surprises me. Not only with the weather. It used to be known for its foggy days but now, at this time of the year, you mostly get blessed with London’s crispy air and sunny sky. In such weather the city looks spectacular!

 View on London Eye from Westminster Bridge

Weather aside, what I love about London is its art projects. Some of them are easy to find at established venues, other pop up as bespoke galleries, which you stumble across, while strolling the streets of London… Here is my personal review of the few things I’ve seen on my last trip to the city of everything.

Glamour of the Gods/Hollywood Portraits, a truly glamorous collection of iconic photographs from 1920 to 1960. The exhibition, which until yesterday was shown at the National Portrait Gallery, featured over 70 portraits of the actresses and actors turned legends, with undeniable help of photography. What made the exhibition truly special was the fact that – with few exceptions – all photographs were vintage gelatin silver prints or printed from the original negative in the photographer’s lifetime. Hollywood’s glamour was in the air…

If you are in London now, do go to see The Museum of Everything at Selfridges (closes tomorrow). Amidst Christmas decorations pops up this humble construction, showcasing 400 works from self-taught artists from round the world. It is amazingly refreshing and truly challenging the notion of modern art. The exhibition is free but since this museum is a UK registered charity, donations are welcome. I’m proud to have seen and supported such a great cause.

Entrance to Museum of Everything @ Selfridges

Still on, until the end of the month, is the Musician Portraits exhibition, featuring paintings by Joe Simpson. We have actually bumped in the artist in the gallery, who explained how he approached 22 famous singers and musicians, met them all in person and took photos of them to work from and create 22 oil on canvas paintings. I love the paintings and I love the idea that after the exhibition they will be sold, with 25% of the sale to be donated to Seeing is Believing – a global initiative to tackle avoidable blindness. A beautiful and honorable art project.

Musician Portraits @ Greek Street, Soho

And to top it off, a Polish art element in London – when on a bus to Central London and passing through Brixton, I spotted Poland On Screen at the Ritzy’s (one of the most popular independent cinemas in London). I hopped off to find out more and was pleasantly surprised to discover a quite diversified selection of Polish movies, both old and new, being shown at 6 cinemas across London. A must-see for cinema lovers! On screen until December 1st.

Poland On Screen @ Ritzy cinema, Brixton

Proud to be Polish

My husband and I were strolling the back streets of the crowded Oxford Street in London when we stumbled across Steinway Hall on Marylebone Lane. Hypnotized by the array of pianos visible through the window, we quietly entered the showroom. You do hold your breath as you walk into a room full of musical instruments. I felt like I’m entering Potteresque Olivanders Wand Shop. I was actually looking out for him.

Instead, one of the ladies got off her seat and offered help. Help was not required, as we were only looking and admiring. The lady smiled and said – That’s absolutely fine, upon which she invited us to THE Steinway Hall of Fame. In we walked, amazed at what was slowly unveiling in front of our eyes – pianos in black, ivory and white on both sides of the room, looking truly magnificent.

Pictures of world-class pianists on the walls led us to the giant painting gracing the main wall.

And in that painting was no other but … Ignacy Jan Paderewski himself! Of all people you would expect to see there, Steinway & Sons picked him! My heart started beating faster. I felt a sudden wave of pride. We took our time in the room of wonders…

Ignacy Jan Paderewski, a Polish touch in the Steinway Hall of Fame

Mr. Paderewski’s letter to Mr. Steinway

When leaving, my husband proudly informed the lady: My wife is Polish, you know. With our hearts filled with thrill, off we walked. Having been wonderfully welcomed at the Steinway Hall, we will cherish those memories forever.

Each Steinway grand piano takes nearly a year to create. Nothing is hurried. While visiting London, do not hurry. Get lost. There is a hidden jewel around almost every corner…


London, my Love…

What was meant to be a very serious business summit turned out to be a less serious, but definitely more fun ‘Girls and the City’ trip. 3 girls, each of us running her own business (!), and long-time friends, spent 5 days in London – kicking off our days by sun-salutations, then brainstorming ideas, doing arts & culture, feasting on Thai food and yes, we did go shopping too:) I even managed to squeeze in a meeting with a potential partner to work on a very promising project.

Sunflower Seeds by Ai Weiwei at the Turbine Hall is a must-see (exhibition ends May 2nd). Tate Modern has always been one of my favorite places in London. And, apparently, now a cool meeting spot – I bumped into a journalist from Twoj Styl, while browsing through the rooms!

Deceiving – Sunflower Seeds exhibition
is made of 100 million porcelain seeds made by hand…

The icing on the cake was The Children’s Hour at the Comedy Theatre, with Keira Knightley and Elizabeth Moss. First staged on Broadway in 1934, banned in the US and the UK for many years, the play was later released in 1961 as a film, starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine. Brilliantly written and portrayed, it is a story about one little whisper in someone’s ear which is blown out of proportion and changes the lives of many… Class!

It was an absolutely ‘fabulous-aaa’ trip and we promised ourselves we would do that more often. We got back home inspired, relaxed and with some new ideas simmering in our heads. London, we will be back!

With Asia and Ania – freezing cold yet blissfully happy!