The 3 L's

Idol of the Week: Winston Churchill

I no doubt have a lifetime of my father quoting Churchill to thank for this one, but so many of his quotes have stuck with me over the years…

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It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.

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Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

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To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.

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This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.

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Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

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Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.

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Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all the others.

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If you are going through hell, keep going.

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Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

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The 3 L's

Idol of the Week: Stephen Fry

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I am a lover of truth, a worshipper of freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance.

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Incuriosity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is.

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Having a great intellect is no path to being happy.

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Life, that can shower you with so much splendour is unremittingly cruel to those who have given up.

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What’s great about them is that anybody can go into them and find a book and borrow it free of charge and read it. They don’t have to steal it from a bookshop. … You know when you’re young, you’re growing up, they’re almost sexually exciting places because books are powerhouses of knowledge, and therefore they’re kind of slightly dark and dangerous. You see books that kind of make you go ‘Oh!’

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I used many times to touch my own chest and feel, under its asthmatic quiver, the engine of the heart and lungs and blood and feel amazed at what I sensed was the enormity of the power I possessed. Not magical power, not all that Carrie teenage telekinetic wank, but realpower. The power simply to go on, the power to endure, that is power enough, but I felt I had also the power to create, to add, to delight, to amaze and to transform. Yet I was unwanted, rejected and unthought of. My mother, yes, she believed in me, but everybody’s mother believes in them. No one else believed in me.

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“Principally of course—oh how one sees that now—myself. Principally, I did not believe in me. I believed in ghosts more than I believed in me, and take my word for it, I never believed in ghosts, I’m far too spiritual and emotional and passionate to believe in the supernatural.”

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The 3 L's

Inspiration of the Week: Emma Thompson

After last week’s post in regards to Emma Watson’s amazing first speech as a Goodwill ambassador, I decided that this will be a new little tid-bit feature of this blog, because, you know, I’m not all about photography projects and aimless wanderings around London sans camera and stylised OOTDs and runway favourites. I have always been an ‘idol connoisseur’, and from that a ‘quotation connoisseur’; I have numerous little Moleskine cahier journals lying around filled to the brim with quotes from everything from political debates to feature films, literature to theatre to overheard snippets of bus-stop conversation. My ‘idols’ are equally as varied, but all generally follow a leading thread; wisdom, ambition, and quite often a dizzying level of intellect. I think it’s important to have idols to inspire us, to envy enough that it motivates us to not just want what they have, but to go ahead and get it. I also think it’s important not to simply what the materialistic perks, and the inflated bank balance to make it so, but rather, I find myself watching a show or reading an autobiography of my idols, and envying their minds, their wisdom, their knowledge and experiences, enough to seek my own personal growth with an even greater degree of hunger than usual.

So, it felt only natural that once a week I give a little nod to the people who inspire me.

And where to begin… Emma Thompson.

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Isn’t she just amazing? She’s the gem who introduced Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, two equally-valued idols of mine, she’s has been awarded two Oscar’s as both an actress and a screenwriter, not to mention Baftas, Golden Globes, Emmy’s… she is a comedy treasure, a brilliant actress, a talented screenwriter, and author, and yet she still finds the time to support about a dozen charities, including being an ambassador for ActionAid. Not to mention that her husband is so, so gorgeous. And she’s also a really smart cookie. There’s just something about her quirky sense of humour… she’s in equal parts embarrassing mother and hilariously fun aunt. Or that’s how she strikes me, anyway.

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That’s the dream, right? To spread our talent across multiple platforms, to become just as celebrated in each medium that we fancy dipping our toes in, and to help the world with our influence.

A few great Emma Thompson quotes:

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It is remarkable how many misconceptions there are here about life in the developing world, and I think that that knowledge gap has done a lot to contribute to the imbalance quite frankly.

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I think our hearts are very chemical and we change the way we see people according to how we feel about them. That’s what love is, in a way.

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Children are much more understanding of the suddenness and arbitrariness of death than we are. The old fairy tales contain a lot of that, and we’ve stolen from them, just as they stole from Greek myth, which has that same mixture of pre-Christian chaos.

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If you don’t want women to do whatever they need to do, then you must provide them with food, you must provide them with shelter and their basic human rights.

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I’ve realized that in all the great stories, even if there’s a happily-ever-after ending, there’s something sad.

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It’s unfortunate–and I really wish I wouldn’t have to say this–but I really like human beings who have suffered. They’re kinder.

It’s fair to say, I love her.

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The 3 L's

Idol of the Week: Emma Watson

Surely you’ve seen it? Everyone’s talking about it – the internet is going crazy over it. Twitter is pinging with supportive tweets and snaps. Celebrities are clamouring over each other to try and associate themselves with it. I’m talking about Emma Watson’s amazing UN Speech, which can be viewed here.

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I’m a big believer in having idols. I think having people to admire and even envy (within reason) is healthy – without losing sight of ourselves, of course – as it inspires us all to embark on a path of self improvement, and so when those who we admire involve themselves in greater causes, such as charities, it inspires those who look up to them to become involved, and to step back and think ‘how can I help? Is there something about my lifestyle that contradicts this amazing cause? Is there something that I can do?’

I’ve heard some people say things such as ‘why is this little actress getting involved with this stuff? What difference can she make – she’s an actress’. Please. As a member of the Harry Potter generation, its fairly obvious to me just how influential Emma Watson is. The series may be over (for now… who knows, after all), but the Harry Potter generation is ongoing, and therefore whatever ‘Hermione Granger’ has to say, this age group sits up and listens.

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It’s so great that she is obviously fully aware of this fact and is therefore using her voice wisely.

So yes, she is someone who I admire, in the mush that is the often-ugly world of Hollywood; a world of twerking, ‘accidental’ wardrobe malfunctions, sex tapes and… Jesus.. the Kardashians I think I’d cry if either of my younger sisters turned around and said that they want to be just like one of the Kardashians or Miley Cyrus when they grow up, to be quite frank.

So this is a little shout out post to someone who actually speaks sense.. simply because I like people who speak sense, but they are such a rare find!

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I don’t want other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that for myself.

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All I can do is follow my instincts, because I’ll never please everyone.

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But it’s a journey and the sad thing is you only learn from experience, so as much as someone can tell you things, you have to go out there and make your own mistakes in order to learn.

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I don’t want the fear of failure to stop me from doing what I really care about.

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There’s nothing wrong with being afraid. It’s not the absence of fear, it’s overcoming it. Sometimes you’ve got to blast through and have faith.

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I have felt for the last 10 years I have had this battle; I’ve been fighting so hard to have an education. It’s been this uphill struggle. I was Warner Bros’ pain in the butt. I was their scheduling conflict. I was the one who made life difficult.

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I don’t have perfect teeth, I’m not stick thin. I want to be the person who feels great in her body and can say that she loves it and doesn’t want to change anything.

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The saddest thing for a girl to do is to dumb herself down for a guy.

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I feel that young girls are told that they have to be a princess and fragile. It’s bullshit. I identify much more with being a warrior – a fighter. If I was going to be a princess, I’d be a warrior princess, definitely.

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Don’t feel stupid if you don’t like what everyone else pretends to love.

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As much as someone can tell you things, you have to go out there and make your own mistakes in order to learn.

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Trend of the Season: Ponchos, Capes, and Really, Really Big Coats

While there are many great trends for us all to focus on during the frosty winds and rain of AW14, none have got me quite as excited as the oversized outerwear trend. Be it ponchos, capes, or coats, I swear each winter the size of our outerwear is swelling, and this year, it’s definitely a case of the bigger the better. That doesn’t, however, make puffy marshmallow coats ok. Ever. Even if some brands, such as Wood Wood and Stine Goya try to convince us otherwise. It is on the list of regrettable fashion choices, and so do not give in to it just because it may be a fad trend. Stick to capes. Capes are cool.

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However, as much as I’m sure most of us would love to be able to buy one of Burberry’s already iconic blanket ponchos (especially if we could have a monogrammed one.. please?), sadly, very few of us can afford to splash out the needed £900. Therefore, I have been scouring the internet for the best bargain buys, so that even if, like me, you can’t afford Burberry, you can still feel amazing in a big coat… because nothing feels quite as good during cold winter days as a really, really big coat. Best of all, I’ve stuck to a budget of £100, to show that anyone can look amazing in a statement coat this winter.

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Topshop: Checked Cape. £32.

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River Island: Camel Colour Block Waterfall Jacket. £70.

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River Island: Dark Brown Faux Fur Lined Waterfall Jacket. £85.

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ASOS: Cocoon Coat in Pink. £85.

Also available in camel.

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ASOS: Coat with Faux Fur Collar. £80.

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Beyond Retro: Vintage Wool Coat with Fur Lining. £54.

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ASOS: Cape in Black, Camel or Cream. £25.

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Free People: Sunset Hooded Ruana. £58.

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New Look: Cream Chevron Tassel Hem Blanket Wrap. £24.99.

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New Look: Green Check Faux Fur Coat. £64.99.

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H&M: Coat in a Wool Blend. £79.99.

Remember last year when we were all being told to choose a pastel coloured coat for AW13? Well, apparently that trend hasn’t died entirely, seeping through into H&M’s AW14 collection. While I haven’t been a pink coat fan since a rather disastrous pink puffer jacket fiasco of mine – yes, my earlier advice is based on personal experience – ten years ago, this one is a winner for me, and I think it looks to be worth so much more than £80… probably not the coat to choose if you have a ‘one-coat-for-every-look’ mindset.. pink is rather picky, after all.

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By Zoe: Cape with Fur-Lined Hood. £87.40.

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Very: Savoir Longline Shearling Coat. £89.

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Very: Rochelle Humes Fur Collar Wrap Coat. £99.

This one just manages to scrape into our £100 budget, sparing you a precious pound for your savings. It is a beautiful coat, from Rochelle Humes’ Very Collection, and once again harks back to last winter’s pastel coat trend. Oh, I want it so badly.

Also, while I know, this post has become a bit more of an ode-to-ASOS than I intended, for those of you looking for a great bargain (aka, all of us), you have to see this… ASOS is currently selling a range of beautiful Helene Berman capes for £98, reduced from £170, available in a range of colours. You’re welcome.

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Tips of the Trend:

1. Silhouette should no be abandoned entirely. While this is a trend that revolves around baggy, oversized garments, give a moment to think about your silhouette. You want to find a coat that still nips in slightly at the waist. A fur lapel will help to create a natural hourglass figure. A defined silhouette also prevents the oversized look from becoming frumpy-hobo. It’s simply more flattering.

2. The same rule applies to what you are wearing underneath. For example, when wearing a blanket cape, your outfit will be visible, and so don’t swamp your figure in a shapeless, oversized shift dress, unless you’re deliberately going for the maternity chic look…

3. It’s all about the details. Toy with chunky waist belts over a blanket cardigan, pin a fur lapel to your coat, sew (with tiny tacking stitches) a statement necklace to the plain neckline of your poncho to really give your outerwear the same wow-factor as the rest of your outfit. Just because you’ll be taking it off the second you arrive at your destination, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t look amazing. You never know who you’ll bump into in the street, after all.

4. If you are going to break the silhouette rule, show of your skinny pins with a great pair of heels, and avoid wearing anything that sits below the knee.

5. Have fun. Experiment with colour, patterns, fur… try things even if you’re not sure that it will suit you. That’s the great thing about shopping for outerwear – you don’t have to queue for hours like cattle to be hurried into a stuffy, generally quite dirty dressing room (unless you can afford the champagne-inclusive luxuries of design houses, of course) – every shop includes a scattering of handy mirrors around the shop floor, and so you can just try on every option right there, between the knicker aisle and the wall of hats.

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Emmys 2014

Let’s face it, who doesn’t love to watch to see who’s wearing who and who looks great and who looks… not so great, at each red carpet event? There are certain big star events that will always be top of the list, such as the Oscars and the BAFTAS, but when it comes to TV, it’s the Emmys. As ever, I found myself caring more about the beautiful dresses than the wins. Not that I was entirely oblivious – I just don’t watch all that much TV. I was especially chuffed (is that not the most English word ever?) to hear about Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, and Jim Parsons’ wins (though as for the latter, how many consecutive years has he won an Emmy for best comedy actor now? Six? It’s a wonder they bother going through the nominations at all anymore!)

But anyway, I’m here to talk about the fashion, you’re here to see the fashion… here are a few (slight under-exaggeration) favourites from last night.

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Allison Williams in Giambattista Valli Couture

My love affair with the colour yellow continues, it seems. For such a dramatic dress, it’s really so simple; the yellow sash is the final touch that brings it all together and ups the drama by about 1000000000x. Very elegant but fun… I can’t help but see it as a modern take on a Grace Kelly design? Does anyone else see that?

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Betsy Brandt in Olivia & Alice

This dress should be too much, but it works so well. The blue/purple shoes are also a great choice – it can be tricky deciding on a shoe to go with such a canvas of colour as this, and I think most would have made the mistake of black or white… or red. I have such a clear image in mind as to how I would wear this dress; I’d wear it with a simple, fitted black jumper, a white bead collar necklace, and black suede kitten heels (yes, I know that I just stated that Brandt teaming black pumps with this dress would have been a mistake but just go with it…). It would look amazing.

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Camila Alves in Zuhair Murad

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Kate Walsh in Stephane Rolland

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Claire Danes in Givenchy

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Heidi Klum in Zac Posen

 Even though I doubt I could really pull off this colour, this is probably the dress from last night that I would love to see in my wardrobe most! In fact, no, forget it being in my wardrobe! This is the dress that I would most love to see on me… but you know, in pretty much any other colour but this one. It just wouldn’t work. On Heidi, however… wow.

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January Jones in Prabal Gurung

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Keke Palmer in Rubin Singer

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Teyonah Parris

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Lizzy Caplan in Donna Karan Atelier

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Lucy Liu in Zac Posen

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Michelle Dockery in Rosie Assoulin

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Natalie Dormer in J. Mendel

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Sarah Hyland in Christian Siriano

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Zooey Deschanel, channeling Marilyn-meets Audrey in Oscar de la Renta. I know it’s not the first time, but I still can’t get over just how different she looks without her fringe/bangs. She looks beautiful, but… ordinary, and then suddenly, the bangs are back and it’s such a ‘wow’ look in comparison. I’ve never seen so much power held in one fringe before.

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And the ones that missed a beat for me:

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Kelly Osbourne in Honor

Very few people can pull of this hair colour as well as Kelly Osbourne, and I love that she frequently incorporates similar violet-grey tones in her wardrobe, while the rest of us are still thinking about what works with our hair. Red heads should avoid pink (though I think The Little Mermaid proved that rule to be completely unnecessary), and stick with blues and greens, brunettes look great in any colour, and no one works pinks and reds better than blonds, etc etc. However, here, there’s too much lace. When your hairstyle is so out there, you should tone down the embellishments to an absolute minimum. Perhaps this would work on the right celebrity… but even then, I think a bodice would look much better, rather than this high necked, 3/4 sleeved top.

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Sarah Paulson in Armani Privé

The 1980s were a well known disaster, and it scares me how revived it has become in recent months on our runways. The spotted, tulle prom dresses were among the worst, and to see that one has managed to reemerge like this… do people never learn?

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Julianna Margulies in Narciso Rodriguez

I’ve seen dresses like this hanging in numerous charity shops; ill fitting, cheap fabrics, causing general confusion among staff and customers as to whether it ought to be displayed in the dress section, or the nightwear section. As for the visible bra straps at the back, it just makes the whole look tacky.

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Lena Dunham in Giambattista Valli

There are no words. I get that Lena Dunham is a big deal, especially in America, I get that everyone adores her for challenging celebrity stereotypes, especially regarding the ideal female figure, and good for her – so she should… there are too many dieting sheep in Hollywood, all conforming to the same rules, all fighting to look just the same as each other. She’s talented, she’s gorgeous, she’s humble and intelligent. However… far too often she just gets it so, so wrong, and this one is a doozy. The hair and eyebrow contrast, The weird grown-out bowl cut, the tattoo, and not to mention, that dress… which, by the way, looks amazing on the runway. Here, however, it’s frumpy, ill-fitting, unflattering, contrasts horrendously with that over-bleached ‘do, and basically gives her the appearance of someone who’s attending a halloween party dressed as an animated Pixar character… the story of a workaholic bird of prey, or something. I’m getting a bit bored of seeing her frumpy red carpet fashion again and again, if I’m honest. I’m just going to focus instead on her talents: acting, screenwriting, directing, producing… please, can someone take over her wardrobe, because Lena Dunham does not have a talent for fashion.

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Mayim Bialik in Oliver Tolentino

Mayim Bialik wrote for her official blog over at Kveller.com that she hoped that this year’s Emmy dress balances between ‘hot and holy’… while it’s not a bad dress, and I admire her for her strict rules on modesty in a world so set on showing as much skin as possible to gain attention, it just doesn’t… quite work. I feel like there’s too much lace (I’m sensing a pattern among the fashion police victims this year), which makes the whole thing too fussy, and tied in with that neckline, it’s all just too much.. way too much. The colour looks amazing on her though. Had she opted for satin, or something sleek, then I think it would have worked. I’d also love to see her with a sheer bateau neckline and sleeves, but would that be sticking with her modesty rule? Or is sheer fabric out?

(*Update, having just found this dress, I can confirm that she looks great with sheer sleeves and a wider neckline. She. Looks. Amazing.)

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Katherine Heigl

 I don’t know who Heigl is wearing here, and I have very little to say, except that it’s just too.. old.. too motherly.. too matronly. Much better things could have been made from this fabric.

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Oscars Behind the Scenes

After the fashion, I love seeing the BTS antics of the Oscars. Celebs and their camera phones never fail to amuse me, but mostly I’m just really drawn to candid photography.

Firstly, there’s the Oscar selfie that has been all over twitter, because of course, with Ellen Degeneres as host, the night was going to consist of about 75% Ellen antics. Such as group selfies, ordering pizza, and dressing as Glinda the good witch.

Best selfie ever? Ellen DeGeneres took a moment out from hosting duties to grab this selfie with some of her favourite celebrities

Making them jealous: Ireland will be the envy of her friends after being smooched by hunk Pharrell Williams

The really Wilde show: She seemed to have a great time posing up with Olivia and her fiance Jason Sudeikis

How is Olivia Wilde so beautiful as to look great even when awkwardly posing is such a shoulder-jerking, bump-squashing, heel-teetering way?

Starting Rumers: Willis made sure she gave her fans a thrill by posting this 'sneak peek' pic of her dress

Exit stage right: Emma Roberts and Joseph Gordon Levitt did not have far to run if they had a panic attack backstage

At least she won't get slated: Her Fashion Police star daughter Kelly would know better than to poke fun at Sharon Osbourne's outfit

I am in love with Sharon Osbourne’s Oscar outfit.

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In the dark: Jamie Foxx stood backstage before presenting the Oscar for best original score

Speaking of teen idols: Zac Efron looked handsome as ever in his black suit as he waited to present backstage

Winner all around: Jennifer, Cate, Matthew and Daniel got together backstage

Photo bomb: Benedict Cumberbatch jumped high and pulled a face as U2 posed for a photo op on the red carpet ahead of their touching Oscars performance of Ordinary Love

I laughed way too much at Mr Cumberbatch’s photobomb, I must admit. So much, it hurts. Am I supposed to refer to it as a Cumberstitch? I don’t know, I’ve just noticed that it’s common when talking about Mr C to add literally any and every relevant word of the conversation to ‘Cumber’.

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