Nicky Haslam rss

Mary Portas: anything but ordinary

Madly Modern Mary overcomes childhood hardships to become the Queen of Shops

14 March 2015
Shop Girl Mary Portas

Doubleday, pp.288, £16.99, ISBN: 9780857522863

In this autobiography, Mary Portas doesn’t dip into the fabled store of her talents by giving an account of her countrywide progress as monarch and oracle of retail, but conjures… Read more

Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba Photo: Getty

Nicky Haslam

10 January 2015

I was once bundled into a police car in Palm Springs to explain why I didn’t have snow-tyres on my pick-up in the red-hot California desert. I don’t remember the… Read more

Elsa Schiaparelli in an apartment in the Place Vendôme, in the shadow of Napoleon

Nicky Haslam on sharing a lover with Elsa Schiaparelli and the endearing punk of Vivienne Westwood

15 November 2014
Elsa Schiaparelli Meryle Secrest

Fig Tree, pp.377, £25, ISBN: 97805711311187

Vivienne Westwood Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly

Picador, pp.463, £25, ISBN: 9781447254126

A comet streaked into France in the 1930s, its fallout sending the staid echelons of haute couture into a tailspin. A mere 30 years later a rogue missile blasted into… Read more

Cecil Beaton with Mickey the cat, Reddish house (self-portrait)

The genius of Cecil Beaton’s interiors

15 November 2014
Beaton at Brook Street Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, W1.

The odds were a hundred to one against him. Brought up in bourgeois Bayswater by genteel parents, Cecil Beaton was effete, pink-and-white pretty, theatrical and mother-adored, with a stodgy brother… Read more

Cecil Beaton, self-portrait, 1936

Cecil Beaton, the bitch

20 September 2014
Cecil Beaton: Portraits and Profiles edited by Hugo Vickers

Frances Lincoln, pp.287, £30, ISBN: 9780711235502

Beaton was the great inventor. Apart from inventing not only himself but his look, his voice, his persona and a glamorous family, he invented the a in photography, the Edwardian… Read more


A summer's social whirl, from Bette Midler to Satan

13 September 2014

This summer brought highs and lows, sadness and laughter, some irritating, some exhilarating. I was fortunate to be uplifted by an encounter with Leslie Bonham Carter, a remarkable woman who… Read more

Joan Fontaine at home

Tea with Greta Garbo's decorator

19 April 2014
I Used to Be in Pictures: An Untold Story of Hollywood Austin Mutti-Mewse and Howard Mutti-Mewse

ACC Publishing, pp.304, £35, ISBN: 9781851497539

Many people write, or at least used to write, fan letters to their film favourites. Usually all they received in acknowledgement was a 10 x 8 glossy with a mimeographed… Read more

Talluluh Bankhead, the only convincing flapper in the book, photographed c.1930

Flappers, by Judith Mackrell - review

15 June 2013
Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation Judith Mackrell

Macmillan, pp.488, £20, ISBN: 97802130752337

I’m never quite sure what the term ‘flappers’ means. How did these creatures flap, and why? Where did they flap? Did they flap all day, or only at night? Were… Read more

Helena Rubinstein in her New York apartment in 1941, surrounded by some of her art collection

'Helena Rubinstein: The Woman Who Invented Beauty', by Michèle Fitoussi - review

13 April 2013
Helena Rubinstein: The Woman Who Invented Beauty Michèle Fitoussi

Gallic Books, pp.497, £8.99, ISBN: 9780730496502

In New York, in the 1960s, in a sleek, silvery elevator, I rose from the marble halls of Helena Rubinstein’s gleaming emporium up towards the top floor office of a… Read more

Coward with Gertrude Lawrence in ‘Private Lives’ — a play he wrote specifically for them both

Old King Noël

15 December 2012
The Treasures of Noël Coward: Star Quality Barry Day

André Deutsch, pp.64, £35, ISBN: 9780233003498

What is this I hold in my hands? Is it just a book? It’s quite heavy, but somehow, instinctively, one feels its light heart.  When I eventually prize its even… Read more

Colin Tennant at home on Mustique (1985), photographed by Patrick Lichfield

The worldling’s pleasure

3 November 2012
Lord of the Isle: The Extravagant Life and Times of Colin Tennant Nicholas Courtney

Bene Factum, pp.264, £20, ISBN: 9781903071649

Two women are the only heroes of this book. One is Princess Margaret, whom the author points out was far more instrumental in the early years of Colin Tennant’s ramshackle… Read more


High society

2 June 2012
The Astaires: Fred and Adele Kathleen Riley

OUP, pp.241, £18.99

One evening in 1923, Edward, Prince of Wales, pretty as paint in his white tie and a cutaway-coat, went to the theatre to see a new Gershwin musical. It was… Read more


Portraits of an age

3 March 2012
Beaton in Vogue Josephine Ross

Thames & Hudson, pp.240, 28

By a fine coincidence, two legendary icons of British art were being feted in London on the same evening last month, and both are primarily famous, to the public at… Read more


Amen to an era

10 September 2011
Patrick Lichfield: Perceptions Martin Harrison

Quadrille, pp.224, 30

It must be said that Patrick Lichfield — the outer man — wore his ego proudly and loudly on his sleeve. It must be said that Patrick Lichfield — the… Read more


Fish and chaps

23 April 2011
The Day of the Peacock: Style for Men, 1963-1973 Geoffrey Aquilina Ross

V&A, pp.144, 24.99

This is the ultimate ‘niche’ book. This is the ultimate ‘niche’ book. It focuses on that singular decade between the years of rockers and punks, when toffs, freed from school… Read more

Deadlier than the Mail

13 November 2010
Nigel Dempster and the Death of Discretion Tim Willis

Short Books, pp.249, 16.99

This is an effervescent, elegantly written and faultlessly researched romp through the life and times of someone whose name in Britain was spoken with genuine fondness by an urbane few,… Read more

Tails you win

5 July 2006

I recently discovered that until the early 1900s it was considered the height of bad manners for gentlemen to take off their hats indoors. As a mark of great favour,… Read more

Nicky Haslam

17 May 2006

The embattled Prime Minister is not the only one being dogged by Blairite woes. I ran into his namesake Lionel, my friend of 50 years, in Sloane Square. He is… Read more

She fashioned her future

15 February 2003

HarperCollins Inc/Morrow, pp.320, 30

Judging by her own ideals of beauty and drama, Diana Dalziel’s arrival in the world must have been a bit of a let-down. That her Scottish father’s lineage merely went… Read more