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From junkie Lolita to poo potion

Vivien Lash tours a century of Vogue and wonders whether heroin chic has been superseded by Dr Stossier’s stale bread regime


The theory that fashion magazines spawn eating disorders is exposed to ridicule by the fat ladies poring over the pictures at Vogue 100 in London’s National Portrait Gallery (until 22nd May 2016), a show celebrating a century of UK Vogue.

Conde Nast bought Vogue for his wife but while the marriage ended in divorce the magazine is still expanding with sexy young readers in China who compensate for the ageing readers in England.

Incredibly given how gorgeous I am, I’ve always hated looking at pictures of myself; but I love visual memories of decades that I lived through and ones I’ve only imagined.

Patrician models from the 1930s, like my great-grandmothers with their wasp-waists and tailored clothes; the pushy glamour of 1980s creation Princess Diana facing Juergen Teller’s 1990s portrait of young David and Victoria before betrayal and botox; and the war years in a room painted Vreeland red as a backdrop to the magnetic photography of Lee Miller, Clifford Coffin and Cecil Beaton tell the story of Vogue in a dazzling visual history.

Garbo’s mate Beaton restored his reputation with glamorous images of the blitz after being sacked by American Vogue for captioning a picture ‘kike’.

Hitler’s burning house is photographed at such close range I can’t help but wonder if Lee Miller started the fire herself. And her seductive picture of the Burgermeister of Leipzig’s daughter, Regina Lisso, taken just after she suicided, contains a demented poetry visible to former Vogue model Miller whose own ethereal beauty conceals a lifetime of suffering syphilis contracted during childhood abuse.

Like holding a magnifying glass to the past, the camera sometimes lies with its subjective eye but no more than body dysmorphia in a full length mirror.

Corinne Day who, like Bette Davis in Dark Victory, died of a brain tumour – one of many things that sounds more glamorous than it is – turned teenage Kate Moss into a junkie Lolita in those famous heroin chic pictures Under Exposure; launching the age of the waif but almost finishing her own career as a fashion photographer.

But the images in the display cabinet that suburban sisters are leaning in close, to kiss or sniff, contradict my memory of thinster Kate posing in her pants as I read Vogue secretly in school.

Moss’s Belsen ribcage lures your eye away from her mama hips but her thick thighs shocked me into swallowing some emergency Viva Mayr poo potion.
In real life my waist is 2 inches smaller than Kate’s and I’ve been the same dress size so long that vintage is just a walk to the back of my closet.
But when Maddie woke me from a fat nightmare shouting, ‘Vivvy the Piggy’, hoping to instill an anorexic vocation in a daughter who lacks the commitment to starve; I started to worry.

Did Vivvy really stay the same size; or did the dresses get bigger? Am I a size 4 masquerading as a size 2?!

The best presents are the ones you give yourself.
My size zero bestie Crazy K’s favourite diet is a trip to the nuthouse for a stint in a straitjacket; mine is stale bread and fresh air at the Viva Mayr clinic in the Alps.

Normally I can’t stand quacks but I pure love Dr Ingrid at Viva Mayr even if the kinesiology test to determine food intolerances is a bit silly.

‘I can do a stool test if you prefer,’ Dr Ingrid threatens, while testing my tolerance of tomatoes and koo milk (cow to you) and gluten by getting me to shove her while holding the potentially toxic substances.

The strength with which I push the doctor determines which foods it’s best for me to avoid, but my short attention span makes the test unscientific.
When I get bored I give bossy Ingrid a really hard shove: that means I’m allowed chocolate!

My attention wanders and I give a lethargic push: that means I have to say no to fruit!

In Dr Ingrid’s experience – which to be fair is greater than mine – kinesiology really works; and I am not going to disagree when she’s bigger than me, and a very good doctor who cured my Beijing lungs.

But I draw the line at being stretched by Colonel Klebb’s larger sister. Lovely person, just a bit strong. And if I want to be taller I’ll put on my 7 inch spikes not have my legs ripped out of their sockets.

I used the Poo Trick: excused myself to eliminate more toxins and “forgot” to return to the stretching room.

Next I was reborn in a salt pool, a super relaxing treatment for body and soul, but the psychotherapist had me worried when she said, ‘There may be tears.’
But no, she did not torture me. We just floated in the dark water, like a womb without the blood and Maddie shouting, ‘Devil’s spawn!’ as I emerged from the birthing pool.

I made myself popular by reporting the chef for giving us too much octopus for lunch and winning the chewing competition at every meal.

The night before my final weigh, I was sick with nerves at facing Dr Ingrid’s scales so I vommed up my dinner with a bit of help from the salty water you’re encouraged to knock back faster than vodka martinis.
I’ve gone down half a dress size, which makes the difference between pulling up my zip with help from the manservant and a coathanger; to just using the manservant’s paw.

Health is like acting: you only notice when it’s bad. You could just stay at home and read ‘friendly werewolf’ Dr Stossier’s book The Viva Mayr Diet: 14 Days to a Younger You, bake the bread and let it go stale before eating it; but really it’s best if you check into the clinic next time you catch sight of a person who looks like you only fatter in the mirror.
You will leave the place of happiness with glowing skin, a flat stomach and possibly the appetite to bite somebody; just don’t forget to chew.

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Botulism paralysis at London Fashion Week

Vivien Lash surveys the scene at London’s bastard child of the shows


London Fashion Week, already the bastard child of the shows, has been upstaged by of all people that supporter of British brands the Prime Minister.
Designers and their dresses just can’t compete with allegations about the leader of the sexually repressed world fucking a dead pig in the mouth.
You couldn’t make it up, and why would Lord Ashcroft want to? Porn revenge perhaps? No pictures yet, but give it time.
Sam Cam may be an odd choice to lead Vanity Fair’s best-dressed list but you have to love a lady in red who sits front row at Roksanda on the day the world discovered her husband’s ex was possibly a pig.
If I was unkind I’d call Mrs Cameron a very well-groomed horse, with a look often resembling top of the range Marks & Spencer; though I’m sure she paid more for it. But let’s applaud Sam even if she does have a unisex name, long teeth and poor taste in men.
Dave is on record saying he had a “normal” student experience. My days as an undergraduate with farting veggie wankers at drama school must have been abnormal! I never felt inclined towards either necrophilia or bestiality though I did suffer students simulating sex with skeletons during my brief interlude at medical school.

This year LFW’s HQ has moved from Somerset House to Brewer St car park, helping to ‘bring a buzz to Soho’ according to one of the organisers.
Is she, like, deaf and blind? You have to make allowances for crumblies, as long as they don’t smell, but Soho is already buzzing and the streets are too narrow for all those big bummed old burds who work at Vogue.
Of course, Brewer St is restricted to the faux shows for people from the burbs who pay to get in, like the 3 fat ladies who had ‘stood on a train for 3 hours’ then not seen any celebrities.
‘Is the poor train all right?’ I asked but they, rather rudely, did not respond.
The “real” shows pick their own venue, like Burberry in Kensington Gardens with an orchestra and trench-coated Alison Moyet singing live; distracting attention from the models in their see-through lace worn with big black pants, which is a bit Kate Middleton as student model when she caught the eye of Windsor Willie.
Kate Moss, who made Burberry (a brand formerly associated with football hooligans and ladies who wet their knickers) cool, was sitting FROW with a depressing case of face bloat, between Cara Delevigne who appears to be growing a moustache and this month’s UK Vogue cover girl Sienna Miller – born again ginger and, defiantly or stupidly, wearing green fur. The Miller couldn’t keep her paws off Kate, or maybe she was just trying to get her freckly mug in-shot.
The Frows with their botox faces and their old knees peeping out of ripped jeans are determined not to enjoy anything. Or maybe that’s just botulism paralysis. To be fair they’ve seen it all before, probs more than once.
Retro fever is out of control but I confess I am addicted to YSL white Go Go Boots which I first wore in the playground when I thought I was Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver.
Next time I come home with a pair of boots almost the same as the ones stacked in my shoe room already, Mr Lash will be relieved that I haven’t bought an old cafe on impulse like my Persian Princess friend.
Infected by nostalgia for decades past, that senile attachment to mothy stuff, and the sight of girls who should know better mixing mustard with denim and 1970s platforms which encourage a forward slump creating a saggy stomach that is probs illegal in the era of gut cleanses, the Princess just couldn’t resist coughing up cash for a greasy kaff; money that would have been better spent filling her closet with Christopher Kane.
Dr Johnson probs wished he hadn’t said when you’re tired of London you’re tired of life, because no one remembers another word he uttered. But I’m guessing by London he meant north of the river and south of Camden. If you must buy a cafe, don’t pick one for down and outs in Kilburn.
Some other dead fucker said that London is a collection of villages and in each part of town there’s a fashion tribe.

Soho’s days of sleaze are numbered now that Stephen Fry is leading the charge to preserve its sex shops for any tourists daft enough to be abused in them. I’m sure Oscar Wilde was churning in his grave when the Fry guy played him in the biopic, with Jude Law as his wee balding boyfriend.
In Golden Square, where the shows are streaming along with the rain, I bumped into an old girlfriend of Mr Lash’s – ok I pushed her – who recently gave an interview about their ‘really bad break up’.
Fascinating as Mr Lash is, it is bizarre that a magazine would want a kiss and smell about him a quarter of a century after he dumped the floozy; even if it was in Swedish.
Say what you like about his exes – and I often do – but while some of them look like pigs after the unkind passing of time, none of them actually are pigs.

If you like Shallow not Stupid you will love Spying on Strange Men

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About Carole Morin

Carole Morin is a Glasgow-born novelist who lives in Soho, London. To date she has had three novels published: Lampshades, Penniless in Park Lane and Dead Glamorous.

Carole Morin’s fiction is critically acclaimed and has been described as ‘Sylvia Plath with a sense of humour’ (Glasgow Herald) and ‘A Scottish nihilistic Catcher in the Rye’ (Kirkus Reviews).