The 3 L's

Dowager Duchess of Devonshire

Yes, I know that I have been all about London since I moved here, London, London, London, London this and London that, but today, I spotted a news article that really struck me in a way that I would not have expected; today, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, the last Mitford sister, Deborah Cavendish, passed away.

This isn’t a grand obituary, or any such thing, it just felt right to whip up a quick post for someone who always seemed to feature somehow in my consciousness, be it a day trip to Chatsworth, a Nancy Mitford novel or a documentary on the Mitford clan. Not to mention, someone who I’ve always envied for their style. Go to Chatsworth, and you will find countless paintings and photographs of the glamorous Duchess, and, later, Dowager Duchess.

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Having spent just under four years living in Derbyshire, and before that, eighteen years just one county away in Staffordshire, Chatsworth house – the Cavendish estate – has always struck me as being the most magnificent house in the whole world. I have visted Blenheim and Versailles, and I still prefer Chatsworth. I think that preference is in part down to having spent my childhood reading and re-reading Pride and Prejudice, only to then pick up the remote and watch the BBC series (and later, Joe Wright’s beautiful 2005 version), on repeat. After all, rumour has it that Pemberley was based on Chatsworth, which was visited by Austen. I also think that it’s partly down to a consistent fascination with the famous Mitford sisters.

Deborah-Devonshire

Can you blame me for having sat up straight and taken notice of them? It’s not every day that you come across a family of sisters as varied as the Mitfords: a novelist, a duchess, a naxi, a fascist, a communist and… Pamela, the one with the quiet life. I have lost count as to how many Mitford books I have read (both those written by Nancy and the numerous biographies and autobiographies, and so it just seems obvious that I would love visiting Chatsworth even more, it being the home of one of the fascinating six sisters, a home which is also one of the most beautiful houses in the country.

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Like most of us, I never met the Dowager Duchess, but I saw what she and her husband, and later, her son have done to the estate over the years; the farm shops, the twee little cafes and the produce that lines the shelves of independent shops across the county, all to stop Chatsworth from becoming another National Trust property – not to mention the constantly updated art collection that lines the old walls in a more modernly styled wing of the grand house.

And then of course, as I said before… she was just.. so glamorous!

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Trend of the Day: Turbans

Today as I walked down Brick Lane, ungracefully stuffing a freshly made, still-warm cream cheese bagel in my face, I found myself, as usual, admiring the wardrobes of the people around me, looking at what they were wearing, and how they were wearing it. After all, there are certain streets of London that are used as a public runway, and Brick Lane is definitely one of them – everyone consciously dresses for these public domain runways, myself included. There was one woman whose outfit struck me more than most.

She was wearing a turban.

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Behind the scenes. Prada SS 2007.

Remember when that trend first took off (in regards to 21st century trends, I mean), back in 2007, and then again in 2010? They first appeared on our runways, introduced to the trend pool with Prada’s spring show, followed quickly by Hermès (because of course, if there is a brand that are going to use turbans in their collection, it would be Hermès), and Jean Paul Gautier. Topshop swiftly brought Prada-esque turbans to their high street stores, while celebrity fashion icons such as Naomi Campbell and Mary-Kate Olsen were papped wearing them. Their reappearance in 2010 was a big part down to the Sex and the City sequel, and ever since, they have been a fairly frequent item to see on both catwalks and our local high street, reappearing every season since, paraded by everyone from Luisa Beccaria to Issa to Armani and Jason Wu. And it looks like they’ll be here to stay for a while.

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However, while I did give the look a try once, they’re a tricky thing to pull off… the amount of confidence that I think a person must have to wear a turban.. it’s a bold look, wrapping a scarf around your head, that’s for sure. My style of turban was a knotted scarf (a clumsy version of the Carrie), with my at-the-time Rapunzel hair pinned up, with lots of carefully plucked strands falling around the back of my neck and framing my face. While I remember walking around self-consciously, in my defense, this was while I was living in Derby – a city that will garner stares if you were anything more daring than a floral tea dress. I think I will have to wait for my hair to grow before I try that same knotted style again, here in fashion-friendly London. Visible hair with a turban is pretty much a must, after all.

The woman on Brick Lane, however, looked incredible. Sadly, she denied my asking to take a street style photograph, so I can’t share just how incredible she looked with you. It wasn’t simply a scarf wrapped around her head and dubbed a turban, nor was it the sleek, neatly knotted, optionally pre-tied turbans that line the high streets; the most common style of wearing it, a la Carrie Bradshaw. It was a big, messy, clumsily wrapped mass of cocoa coloured fabric, teamed with a coffee woolen wrap cardigan that skimmed her ankles, black boots, black jeans, black tank.. honestly, I’m starting to wish I hadn’t been polite enough to ask for her photograph, and instead gone for the old snap-and-run.

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Milly SS12. Issa SS11.

A few of my favourite turban looks of the moment:

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Priscila Diniz.

2

Maja P.

3

Samii Ryan.

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As for this lady, I hope I look as cool as her when I’m her age.

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