Sunday, 18 October 2009

A Great Honour

Last week was exciting because I was told that The London College of Fashion, which is part of The University of the Arts, London, has decided to create a scholarship in my name. It's a great honour and it is quite humbling as it is to be awarded for journalism. It will probably take the form of a travelling bursary for a second year student who is on the BA (Hons) course in Fashion Journalism. Coincidentally, the Director of Programmes (Media) is Brenda Polan, who gave me my first journalism commission in the eighties when I returned from Rome, where I had been working as a designer for a famous couturier Pino Lancetti and later for 'The Queen of Cashmere', Laura Biagiotti – the only time in my life when I went to a beautiful medieval castle to work!

Brenda was fashion editor of The Guardian then, and later became the Woman's Page editor, a position of great significance in those days. So, in one way and another, the scholarship has a great deal to live up to, as has the winner! Incidentally, this is the second prize named after me by an academic institution. Heriot Watt university in Scotland has also created an annual award in my name for an outstanding student of fashion and it is now in its second year.

When I arrived in Kent for the weekend I was delighted to find a parcel that clearly contained a book. I have going on for about 10,000 books already Рthe only rooms in my house which are not like a library are the bathrooms and lavatories Рbut I still get excited when a new one arrives. This one was certainly something to get excited about. Cartier I Love You is an elegantly designed and beautifully printed picture book edited by Bruce Weber. It is about all the beautiful people who have fallen in love with the Cartier aesthetic, from Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn right up to today. There are lots of Weber's photographs (young men in tiaras anyone?), drawings by the likes of Cecil Beaton, anecdotes and poems but, above all, plenty of white space, which is what gives this sort of prestige publication its cach̩.

Cool, sophisticated, Cartier I love You is a visual feast, even for those for whom, like me, jewellery has only limited aesthetic appeal. I am looking at it now and what makes it so sophisticated is that the paper is matt instead of gloss and that gives the photographs and drawings an added depth. Even though very light on words, this must be the perfect picture book to escape with on a dreary damp autumn day, creating a fantasy wish list of fabulously beautiful jewels which are the epitome of high style, and imagining that your cup of PG Tips is a perfectly chilled glass of vintage champagne… served by a man in a tiara.