Visiting Shanghai

Shanghai Fashion Week, 2014

If I was a much younger man looking for metropolitan thrills and a glimpse of a future self, I think that Shanghai might be my choice of escape. New York and Berlin (the destinations for my generation) seem so twentieth-century by comparison. Continue reading

Glamour and Espionage: the story of Brian Stonehouse

Brian Stonehouse

From flyer for the upcoming Brian Stonehouse exhibition at Abbott and Holder

On a visit to London last week I called in to the picture dealer Abbott and Holder in Museum Street. This is a long-standing haunt, celebrated for its stock of excellent British drawings, watercolours and paintings from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Conversations with the gallery’s director Philip Athill are always enlightening and on this visit he drew my attention to a forthcoming exhibition of the fashion illustrator Brian Stonehouse (1918-1998). Stonehouse’s elegant work for Vogue through the 1960s compares well with that of many of his better-known peers, but it is the backstory to his life that is truly fascinating. Continue reading

Luxury and Greed

View of Florence. Image by Artur Staszewski, used under a Creative Commons license:

View of Florence by Artur Staszewski (Creative Commons License)

Last week, as a member of the Leverhulme Trust International Luxury Network, I attended the latest of a series of Network conferences. This one was hosted at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at the Villa I Tatti and the European University Institute at the Villa Schifanoia in Florence. Continue reading