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Sunday 9 December 2012

THE GOLDEN GLOW OF DECEMBER

Despite the cold weather and the gloomy economy, December seems to have brought with it a certain golden glow.

Harrods Christmas lights gleam in the dark Knightsbridge night.


Their window displaying the iconic Chanel No 5 perfume is golden and shining.


Glittering golden trees flank the front doorway at Harvey Nichols.


Even seasonal gift wrapping reflects the gold mood - fashionable baroque style gold and black damask wrapping paper and glossy rosette bow from Paperchase. 


There is a new festive makeup collection from Chanel for the party season.  Collection Eclats du Soir de Chanel combines the shimmer of gold and bronze with soft beige, pinks and dark red shades.  For me, the star of the collection is "Harmonie Du Soir", a palette of four beautiful eyeshadows; Bronze Gold, Plum Red, Smokey Taupe and Pink.  Each eyeshadow resembles a Chanel button, quilted and stamped with a double "c".  



Some have been celebrating Chanukah, some are looking forward to Christmas and most are welcoming the forthcoming holiday season.  Seasonal greetings and happy holidays to everybody.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

DECEMBER CHILL

It's December and it's really cold.  The morning was so frosty and crisp.  This is the time to turn to those little winter warmers.

Getting out of bed wasn't so bad now that I am slipping my feet into these warm, grey, thick-knit sock bootees trimmed with black velvet bows. (from Calzedonia).






Also from Calzedonia, these lovely black lace pattern socks have a lurex sparkle.  They are longer and thicker than my other ankle socks and should keep out the chill.






Out and about in the cold and I indulge in a lovely hot chocolate from my favourite coffehouse, Caffé  Nero on the Brompton Road in Knightsbridge.




A faux fur collar can combine both warmth and chic and I found this one at River Island.  It was just the right size and shape for me and I love the way the black fur is tinged with purple.  I think it's so elegant.



I think I'm getting used to the cold!

Wednesday 28 November 2012

A BLACK LACE BRA

Lace dresses and tops are so fashionable now but often need some thought about what to wear underneath them.  For very transparent lace, a thin silky vest or body is probably the best solution, whilst a lovely bra is a must for a less see-through top worn on its own.  

Although the shops are full of very attractive bras, most have a disappointing back view - generally a strip of nylon.  I was looking for a black lace bra with lace all the way round and I found this beautiful "push-up", multi-way bra at H&M.  The moulded, padded, underwired cups lift and shape and the straps are detachable and can be worn in different ways.



and the back...........



H&M really do have a good range of lingerie at affordable prices.


Saturday 17 November 2012

BLACK AND GOLD

Autumn fashion has been very influenced by the Dolce and Gabbana A/W 2012/13 collection.  The theme of baroque, opulence, gold, rich brocades and black lace has been picked up by the high street designers.  Whilst H&M, as usual, have a good selection of lace pieces, Topshop have really reflected this trend with their Rock-oco collection, which includes jewellery and embellished corsets.

I have not gone over the top with this look but taken inspiration from it to update my style.  I can always welcome a new lace piece to my collection and this is my new black lace dress from H&M Divided.  The fitted bodice is demure and opaque at the front and glamorously see-through at the back, to match the long transparent sleeves.  The skirt is a pretty, flippy shape.




These Black Fine Pointelle Ankle Socks are from Topshop and will look good with skinny trousers and shoes.


This Mismatch Ring Set, from Topshop's Rock-oco Collection, in gold look metal with black stones is just right for the season's mood.  I like the different shaped stones (circular, triangular and square).


I couldn't resist this beautiful little satin jacquard purse with black bow from Accessorize, nor the Rhinestone Ring Set from Topshop with multi coloured stones.


I've also done a bit of recycling and customizing.  This black H&M corset, originally with some subtle jet beading, was in my wardrobe.  I had a little box of dressmaker's gold beads and decided to follow the shape of the black beading with gold.   



At the beginning of the season, I bought a Midnight Blue lace peplum top from Topshop ("Blues at Midnight", 16th September), and Chanel's Eclairé gold eyeshadow  ("Autumn Gold", 29th August).  I will mix all these new additions with pieces in my existing wardrobe to bring them into the current fashion mood. 

Saturday 10 November 2012

SLEEK AND SLINKY

Calzedonia, the Italian hosiery and beachwear firm, have a really good selection of leggings, including leather-look and denim styles.  I chose this pair in mock-croc leather material, which I liked because they were a little different and less glossy than plain leather-look leggings.  



Leggings, skinny jeans and bodycon dresses all need a smooth base.  There are lots of sleek bras and knickers in the shops now, which aim to give a smooth foundation.  Extra help is also at hand from shaping underwear and tights designed to flatten bulges and support bits that are not so firm.  H&M do a very good range, including Shaping Briefs that sculpt the stomach and hips and various tights that deal with stomachs, bottoms and thighs. Both underwear and tights are all made in materials that are sleek and silky in texture and look attractive in black.  These 30 Denier Shape Up Tights Bottom Lift in the picture below are an example.


So it's not so hard to be smooth!


Tuesday 6 November 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO PENNY






Penny, my vivacious P.A., celebrates her eighth birthday today.  I found just the right present for a young fashionista at Waterstone's bookshop. 


Paper Fashions Fancy by the editors of Klutz is a fashion design pack, which even includes trimmings and tiny hangers.  For where to buy see www.Klutz.com  

A COLD NIGHT IN LONDON, A QUILTED JACKET AND CHEKHOV

It was a cold evening in London as I set off to the theatre.  I was really pleased with my warm, Black Quilted Jacket with its flame coloured lining (from H&M Divided range).  I wore this over my black round-necked, short-sleeved jumper and crystal and pearl collar, (both featured in my post "Easy Pieces" on 12th October) with black skinny H&M jeans and black ankle boots.





I went to see "Uncle Vanya" at the Vaudeville Theatre in the Strand.



I enjoyed a good performance of Anton Chekhov's classic play by an impressive cast, which included Ken Stott (Vanya), Samuel West (Dr Astrov), Anna Friel (Yelena) and Laura Carmichael (Sonya).  Certainly Chekhov's characters always know how to feel truly miserable and he can always find some humour and comedy in their depression.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

MY LITTLE BLACK JACKET

I'm sure that I don't need to extol the benefits of having at least one little black jacket in the wardrobe.  I bought this little black jacket last autumn from H&M's Divided range.  A little androgynous in style but not cut too long, it's ideal for a petite person.



Long ago in 1966, Yves St Laurent designed his now legendary "Le Smoking" jacket, a tuxedo for women.  Since last autumn, "Le Smoking" seems to have become an important look again.  It has been featured in this autumn's issues of French Vogue - they even included a humorous article about it in their September edition entitled, "Le smoking mode d'emploi".  Now Christian Dior has shown "Le Smoking" in their Spring/Summer 2013 collection.  Here the tuxedo was worn with very slim trousers or a skirt and often with a lavaliere tied at the neck.

I wear my jacket in the "Le Smoking" manner.  Last autumn I wore it with black skinny trousers, a jet collar from Topshop and tiny jet stud earrings.  When it was cold, I slipped a black slim polo neck jumper under the jacket and added little diamond earrings (like Charlotte Casiraghi in September 2011 French Vogue).  Spring came and I teamed the jacket with a little black silk dress, a black flower on the lapel and black rose earrings.

Winter:  Jet Collar, Spring: Black Flower and Rose Earrings

Now, inspired by August 2012 French Vogue, I plan to give it a sophisticated glamour with red lipstick, red nails and diamond earrings and of course high heeled shoes.


YSL La Laque Couture Nail Lacquer in Rouge Expressionniste,
Chanel Rouge Allure Red Lipstick Samples 


The important thing is that I always wear this look with feminine hair, shoes and jewellery.  If a petite woman does androgyny, she needs to avoid a "toy man" effect!

Monday 22 October 2012

THE LITTLE BLACK JACKET


Today I went to the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea to see CHANEL's photographic exhibition.  This is being presented in major cities of the world in conjunction with the release of Karl Lagerfeld's new book, "The Little Black Jacket: CHANEL'S classic revisited by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld".

Over 100 famous people, male and female, from the world of cinema, music and fashion have been photographed by Karl Lagerfeld in the iconic Chanel jacket, each wearing it in their own individual style.  

I was amused to see Carine Roitfeld looking very much like Coco Chanel in a hat, ropes of pearls and holding a little scissors on her fingers.  I smiled too at a rear view of Anna Wintour in the little black jacket with her famous neatly bobbed hair.  Then there was an exuberant Sarah Jessica Parker with the jacket pulled up over her head with a crown on top and a bare midriff.  Legendary supermodel Linda Evangelista looked cool smoking a cigarette and wearing her jacket with black trousers.  Alice Dellal, model and drummer (the face of CHANEL's "boy" bag campaign) was studded and punked up in a black leather jacket over her little black jacket.  Jane Birkin and her daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, both wore the jacket very casually with jeans. Charlotte Casiraghi of Monaco looked beautiful - like a modern day take on Marie Antoinette - with her hair piled high on the crown in a half-up, half-down style and a garland of white flowers around her neck.  

The list could go on and on but there are two more I must mention that really impressed me.  I was so very struck by Tuki Brando, the model and grandson of Marlon Brando.  He wore his little black jacket above a black studded belt at his hips, his long hair side-parted and I did see a definite resemblance to his magnificent grandfather.  Finally, there was Vanessa Paradis, the French actress and singer, her long hair tumbling over her shoulders, wearing the black jacket so prettily and demurely over a flimsy white lacy dress and holding a mini white lace parasol. Then came the twist, her hand with it's dark painted finger nails was lifting her dress up at one side just enough for the viewer to see her stocking top and suspender.

I really recommend this exhibition.

After this I must write about my own little black jacket.  I'll be doing just that in my next post.   

Monday 15 October 2012

WOOL WEEK

With so much knitwear in the shops made from synthetic materials, wool is becoming a rare luxury.  This week is Wool Week and today I went to see the Wool installation that Harvey Nichols have displayed on their shop front in Knightsbridge.  It's a giant ball of wool with knitting needles.


There's a slight autumnal chill in the air now and seeing the ball of wool reminded me of how soft and warm wool feels in the winter.  I bought these black wool and angora mix gloves in the nearby Benetton, a firm that still offers a good selection of woollen knitwear and accessories at reasonable prices.  They are warm but neat and not bulky.



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Friday 12 October 2012

EASY PIECES

Every season I get excited about designers' new collections.  Although I will be inspired by fashion, when I actually go out to buy clothes, I tend to buy updated versions of the same kind of pieces.  These are often those basic, black pieces that I think of as my "easy pieces", the pieces that I will reach for most in my wardrobe.  Here are my new ones for this autumn.

I'll start with this perfectly plain, black, round-necked, short-sleeved jumper from Benetton in a soft wool and angora mix.



In the summer, Louis Vuitton opened their jewellery boutique in the Place Vendôme in Paris.  They have produced a video about their jewellery, "Voyage dans le Temps", which can be viewed on bit.ly/NrLexL.  I love their "Dentelle de Monogram"  diamond necklace, which resembles a lace collar.  I admit that it inspired me to buy this crystal and pearl necklace from Accessorize.


Here it is worn with the black jumper, reflecting the season's jewelled collar trend.


Next, my Black, Knitted Textured Grunge Jumper from Topshop.  This is great over leggings, skinny jeans or even dropped over a short, slim little silk dress.  It can be worn just as it is, or over a shirt with the collar out, or with the unexpected twist of an opulent piece of jewellery.



With the autumn chill, bare, brown feet are out.  These Black Lace Trim Ankle Socks were from Topshop.  They look lovely with the lace trim peeping out of the top of ankle boots.



Finally, I would mention my black leather-look biker jacket, bought last autumn at Topshop but every bit as good this autumn.  Photographs from Paris Fashion Week showing front row guests and chic street style featured many black leather jackets.  FASHION NOTE:  the way to wear a jacket in Paris right now is draped casually round the shoulders.  Now that's "easy" !

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Saturday 6 October 2012

WESTERN BLUES

Still with the blues and in Western mood, I was back in Topshop to buy their Petite Dark Wash Denim Shirt.  It's a fitted shirt in a dark vintage wash and being from their Petite range, it's the right length for me and even the sleeves are not too long!  I like the buttoned cuffs and pockets.




This shirt could be worn in different ways - for example, tucked into jeans, like a jacket or perhaps boyishly under one of the season's chunky knit jumpers with the collar out.  Accessories could be Navajo silver and turquoise jewellery for a Santa Fe look, spiked and studded punk or the quirky embellishment of an opulent piece of jewellery (very "now").  This is going to be a well-worn piece in my wardrobe.

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Saturday 29 September 2012

WALKING WEST

Western influences have been around for some seasons, featured by French Vogue and appearing in collections by contemporary French designers like Isabel Marant and Zadig and Voltaire. This Autumn sees lots of cowboy style boots in the shops but this time round they come mostly in the form of little ankle boots, some of them quite embellished.  I bought these Spanish Artreu Western Ankle Boots at Topshop.  Although these are quite simple, I think that the soft black leather, almond toes, cuban heels and western stitching all add up to a very stylish little boot. 



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Saturday 22 September 2012

AUTUMN........AND CHESTNUT HAIR

Autumn officially began today.  I went for a walk in Kensington Gardens and the park and the trees bore evidence of the new season.  The leaves on the trees were already changing colour and the fallen leaves were beginning to form a carpet on the ground below.



Hair may now be looking a little jaded after the holidays, sun and sea.  It's the time to look at colour and condition. 

I use Wella Color Fresh on my hair, a very gentle semi-permanent colourant which doesn't contain ammonia, alcohol or PPD.  This product is used professionally in salons and is not sold in normal retail chemists or supermarkets.  I buy it from Sally at 394 North End Road, near Fulham Broadway, London SW6 1LU but there are many branches both in the UK and internationally.  (You can check your nearest stockist at www.sallybeauty.com)  


Shade No. 5/4, Light Red Brown, gives a lovely chestnut tone to brown hair and adds shine.  It will cover grey hairs, picking them up in a lighter red than the darker hair, resulting in an attractive variation. 

However, because of its gentle properties, for a successful result, this semi-permanent needs to be applied with a certain amount of care and expertise.

Here's how:

Step 1  Have everything ready in one easy-to-reach place.

Step 2  Shampoo hair normally and towel dry to avoid drips.

Step 3  Put on thin polythene gloves.

Step 4  Take a comb and work across the head from ear to ear, making partings and applying
              the dye straight from the bottle to the roots at each parting.  Massage the dye well into
              the roots.  Go round the hair line at the front and apply carefully to those roots.  Apply
              some dye to the crown and the back of the head, distributing evenly.  Lift up longer hair
              and apply some dye underneath, then bring ends up to crown and apply dye to ends.  
              Distribute once with smooth upward strokes of the hands. 

Step 5   Put on a thin plastic shower cap.  Check the time. Wipe off any drips on face, ears         
               and neck with a facecloth.  Don't forget the back of the neck.

Step 6   Leave the dye on for 30 minutes and continually pass a warm hairdryer over the head.
               Heat makes the dye absorb more successfully.  Meanwhile, have a good cup of 
               coffee. 

Step 7   Emulsify the hair with warm water and rinse thoroughly.

Step 8  Apply a good conditioner or masque.  My favourite is John Frieda's Frizz-Ease
             Miraculous Recovery Intensive Masque.  Rinse off.

The hair is now ready to be dried and styled as usual.  I find the colour lasts well for a month/5 weeks, by which time the roots will have grown out anyway. 

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Sunday 16 September 2012

BLUES AT MIDNIGHT

My first buy of the season was this Navy Blue Lace Peplum Top from Topshop.  I think of this colour as Midnight Blue and it's a good alternative to black.  The peplum was an important new feature in the Spring/Summer collections but seems to have become even more popular this Autumn.  Lace, always a favourite of mine, fits the opulent mood of the season.


A peplum top needs to be teamed with a very slim piece, either a pencil skirt or skinny trousers.  These Blue-Black Denim Jeggings from Calzedonia team perfectly with the top, both in colour and shape.  They have a waistband with belt loops and jeans-style pocket details at front and back.



I will keep accessories simple - just a little pair of earrings with a touch of the baroque about them and slim dark court shoes or boots.


Today is the 87th birthday of B. B. King, the legendary vocalist and guitarist, often called the King of the Blues.  You can hear him singing "Blues at Midnight", a track from his vintage album, "Mr Blues" on YouTube. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSOud8cxzaM).

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Friday 7 September 2012

VOGUE FASHION NIGHT OUT

Last night was Vogue Fashion Night out in Paris, London and New York.  Here in London, the shops and streets in the West End and Knightsbridge were busy with shoppers and fashionistas. Fashion shops held both public and private events and there was excitement in the air.  I celebrated the evening at Christian Louboutin's shop in Mount Street, Mayfair.


Against a background of beautiful Louboutins - I was captured by a pair of high-heeled gold strass shoes - I sipped a Martini cocktail, had my fortune told and my arm tattooed with Christian Louboutin's signature, picked out with little Swarovski crystals. It was a great party and a vibrant evening everywhere in the fashion world. 

Wednesday 29 August 2012

AUTUMN GOLD

At the weekend, Chanel brought out their new Autumn makeup, Les Essentiels de Chanel,lovely collection of colours with violet-plum, pink, beige, grey, silver and gold.  I was especially interested in finding a lipstick or lipgloss and a gold or metallic eyeshadow. 



Caractère, no. 45 in the Rouge Coco lipstick range, is an unusual blend of brown, violet and plum.  In the Rouge Coco Shine range there are two new shades, no. 73, Chic (a beige) and no. 74, Parfait (a pink) both containing gold.  Then there is Lèvres Scintillantes lip gloss in no. 297, Sweet Beige (a beige with gold).  I chose Parfait, a very pretty pink, because I wanted a pale shade and I loved the sheer, shiny texture of Rouge Coco Shine.




I like Chanel's Ombre Essentielle mono eyeshadow in its little black, mirrored compact.  There are four new shades for the Autumn - no. 93, Complice (pink), no. 94, Eclairé (gold), no. 95, Furtif (grey) and no.97, Infini (silver).  Eclairé was just what I was looking for, a sparkly gold, in the season's opulent Baroque mood.  The photograph doesn't capture the full beauty of the colour.


I discovered an attractive but inexpensive range of costume jewellery, by Odile & Fleur, at Boots the Chemist.  I thought that this set of six pairs of earrings - studs and drops in carved old gold, crystal and pearl - suited the Baroque mood.  The crystals are a lovely orangey-peach colour.



It's hard to believe that it's almost September.  I shall be looking around now at the new Autumn clothes that are coming into the shops.

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Monday 20 August 2012

AUTUMN BEAUTY

I have long been loyal to Chanel No. 5 but I was excited about the launch on Friday of Chanel's new fragrance,  COCO NOIR.  It joins the perfumes Coco and Coco Mademoiselle to form a trio.  Inspired by Venice and the glamour of black, which were both loved by the legendary Coco Chanel, it is a sensual and sophisticated scent.  It contains many lovely ingredients including rose and jasmine at the heart, grapefruit, bourbon vanilla and white musk frankincense.  I took home a sample to sniff on their little black and gold tester card (pictured below).  This rich scent, in its black bottle enhanced with gold, seems to reflect the Gothic darks and Baroque opulence of the Autumn fashion mood. 






























Still inspired by Marion Cotillard's makeup on the cover of French Vogue (I wrote about it in my last post), I went to look at the new Autumn colours.  Yves Saint Laurent have brought out a new nail polish, La Laque Couture and I found exactly the rich red that I wanted - No. 32, Rouge Expressionniste.  Chanel's new colours are not out yet but I chose an eyeshadow from their existing range - Ombre Essentielle, in No. 45 Safari.  It's a Taupe with a shimmer and I think it's a good shade for my grey-blue eyes, combined with black kohl pencil or eyeliner





   


















I am looking forward to seeing the new Chanel colours, Les Essentiels de Chanel, later this week.  I know they are bringing out two new pale lipsticks in the Rouge Coco Shine range - Chic and Parfait.  Also there will be a pale lip gloss in the Levres Scintillantes Gloss range - Sweet Beige. I'm looking for a pale lipstick or gloss to contrast with shimmering smokey eyes and dark nails. 



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Tuesday 7 August 2012

AUGUST

This is not a usual August in London.  This is the August of the 2012 Olympics and almost everybody has been affected somehow.  Most of us are proud, thrilled and captivated but perhaps some just feel inconvenienced.  Even when I walked down Sloane Street and looked at the designer shop windows, there was a luxurious reminder - Gucci and Roberto Cavalli had both dressed their windows in a sporting theme.  I'm wearing my black silky runner shorts. It will be an August to remember. 

It's hard to imagine that in a few weeks it will be September.  I tend to start a new season with some makeup and I'm looking forward to seeing the new Autumn colours and products as they arrive in the shops.  In the meantime, Marion Cotillard, the French actress and Dior muse, is on the front cover of August French Vogue with a great look for the new season.  Her blue eyes are intensified with a shimmering bronze eyeshadow and black eyeliner, her lips are pale pink and her prettily short and rounded nails are elegantly painted dark red.  That's a look I might emulate!


August - wearing Topshop silky running shorts and reading French Vogue.

Please read my GUEST BLOG on FASHBO. (www.fashbo.com/blog).

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Thursday 5 July 2012

WHITE SHOES

In my post of 9th May, "Lovely Louboutins..." I wrote about white shoes.  I have now bought a pair of white ballerinas.

"Vibrant" Perforated Ballet Pumps from Topshop



















I shall wear these with white jeans, shorts or skirts but not with other colours.

This will be my last summer purchase.  Soon, the Autumn/Winter fashions will be coming into the shops and I will start to plan my own personal AW2012/13 "collection".

Tuesday 26 June 2012

STARRY NIGHTS

It was Midsummer Day on the 24th.  The nights have not been warm and balmy yet and I have been going out in the evenings in black lace or dark denims and black leather jacket.  I have been adding some glamour to these dark looks with sparkly, starry accessories and nail varnishes.



















Above, clockwise, Navy Blue Sparkly Ballerinas from Kurt Geiger, Pearl and Diamanté Alice Band from Accessorize, Navy Blue Sparkly Bracelet with Gold Star from Warehouse, Silver and Diamanté Ring and Silver & Crystal Star Earrings, both from Accessorize.




















Nail varnishes, to wear all at once.  From left to right, Blue Rebel, a dark denim shade by Chanel; Silver Bullet and dark and sparkly Gypsy Night, both by Top Shop; Shelton Street, a glittering gold by Nails Inc. I painted the little finger and the thumb nails in Blue Rebel and the other nails between them in the sequence shown in the photograph.



Friday 22 June 2012

YOKO ONO.......AND MEMORIES OF JOHN











































Earlier this week, an exhibition spanning over five decades of Yoko Ono's work opened at the Serpentine Gallery.  The exhibits, which include films, photographs and installations, demonstrate her significance as a pioneer of conceptual art.

Viewers are invited to enter and explore AMAZE, a perspex maze.  There is a series of identical photographs, each representing different people and events in her life from her birth to an imaginary end.  CUT PIECE 1964 is a film in which Yoko sits, passive, vulnerable, allowing members of her audience to come one by one and gradually cut her clothes to pieces with a scissors.  She remakes CUT PIECE in 2003, now aged 70 and wearing an elegant long black dress.

I found the exhibit of footprints on a sheet of paper particularly poignant.  Yoko explains that she and John Lennon made these footprints together.  More recently she hung the piece vertically on a wall and realised that "We were walking to the sky".   








With thoughts of Yoko and John still in my mind, I was out looking at  t-shirts and vests.  Icon and band tops are key pieces this season in the "festival" look.  Dolce and Gabbana have some beautiful icon t-shirts but there are many to be found in the High Street shops.  I came upon this John Lennon vest at H&M.  With an image taken from a Goldblatt photograph and a Yoko Ono Lennon copyright inscription, this was somehow a rather special vest.