Peggy Guggenheim, photo by Man Ray

Shallow Not Stupid

My first run-in with art was on a school trip to Venice with a pedo biology teacher who didn't realize the Biennale isn't every year. A gang of art-junkie thirteen-year-olds pooled our pocket money to hire a gondola and drift along the Grand Canal toward Peggy Guggenheim’s palazzo to see The Angel of the Citadel, the famous bronze statue with the detachable penis. The organ had been soldered on because it kept being stolen, but we had our pictures taken with it anyway, to give our mothers heart attacks.

"Sex and art go hand-in-hand in my brain," Peggy Guggenheim says in Art Addict, a new documentary by Diana Vreeland's daughter-in-law, Lisa Immordino Vreeland, celebrating the woman who all but invented modern art.

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Dec 05, 2015 14:26:00
Alberto Giacometti

Shallow Not Stupid

We'll always have Paris, as Bogart said to Bergman. But while old boyfriends grow a gut, the City of Love remains its neo-classical self. It's always there for you when you want it or need it, thanks to Napoleon, who hired Baron Haussmann to reinvent its medieval streets as a stage for a procession of artists and models to show off on.

A city is defined by its atmosphere as well as its architecture, and Paris's past mingles with its present. Marie Antoinette and Oscar Wilde could be drinking champagne from the same cup as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Picasso. Add a little absinthe and turn it into a car crash.

New York City, Tokyo, Beijing have been art capitals more recently than Paris, but the streets of Le Marais still echo with the footsteps of surrealism. Alberto Giacometti, one of the artists associated with that dead-glam world that was Paris between the wars, is now showing at London's National Portrait Gallery (until January 10, 2016).

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Oct 20, 2015 15:30:00
David Cameron

Shallow Not Stupid

London Fashion Week, already the bastard child of the shows, has been upstaged by the Prime Minister. Designers and their dresses can't compete with allegations about the leader of the sexually repressed world receiving fellatio from a dead pig to gain entry into the secret aristocratic society of Piers Gaveston.

You couldn't make it up, and why would Lord Ashcroft want to? Porn revenge, perhaps? No pictures yet, but give it time. Dave is on record saying he had a "normal" student experience. My days as an undergraduate with farting 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.

The PM's wife 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 pig love. But let's applaud Sam even if she does have a unisex name and poor taste in men.

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Sep 24, 2015 19:10:00
Photo by Irving Penn

Shallow Not Stupid

I'm more into bracelets at Tiffany's than breakfasts. Holly Golightly can keep that croissant. Of course, in real life the Audrey Hepburn diet was a boiled egg, two bits of toast, and a martini a day to keep the fat police away. And don't go spoiling it by adding a 29-calorie olive when a citrus twist is easier on the eye as well as the waistline.

Hepburn, the face that launched a million haircuts, is immortalized in dead-glamorous stills by Angus McBean, Richard Avedon, and Irving Penn, among other iconic photographers, which can currently be seen in Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon at the National Portrait Gallery in London (through October 18, 2015).

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Jul 18, 2015 10:34:00
Altaussee, Austria

Shallow Not Stupid

Call me weird, but I love a detox-diet. And where better to shrink than the new medical hotel Viva Modern Mayr in Altaussee, Austria? You go in fat and come out flat. It doesn't get more idyllic than that.

No alcohol, sugar, or calls from my mom until next week is easy, but I was worried about withdrawing from high heels, espresso, and Mr. Lash. At least stressing that I might be the fattest one there made me puke up enough calories to go down a dress size before I'd even started the prep work of cleansing my colon. Retoxing with pig on pita at the airport, instead of my usual breakfast of watermelon juice, was my tiny act of diet evil before drinking the Kool-Aid.

Mr. Lash doesn't understand why I can't starve at home, while Enery, my driver, offered to lock me in his garden shed until I've misplaced a few kilos. Imagine my ecstasy when I arrived at Mayr to find a bloody filet steak waiting for me instead of the glass of milk that's on the menu at the hardcore rival clinic across the Alps.

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May 02, 2015 11:30:00

Shallow Not Stupid

"There is no way back for me now," are the last words written on the wall at the exit of the Savage Beauty show at London's V&A. But the exhibit is a celebration, not a suicide note.

The show opens with McQueen talking exuberantly about his hometown of London, his dirty laugh echoing around the gallery. "You have to understand tradition to subvert it," he says, and the clothes on display show his talent for cutting. Scissors are sexy when they're slicing something like a dress made of hair.

The highlight of Savage Beauty is a hologram of Kate Moss, in a room of her own, dancing on air in a feathery white wedding dress from the Widows of Culloden collection of 2006. If I were locked in the V&A overnight, as McQueen fantasized, I'd steal this dress and do a Liz Taylor by marrying Mr. Lash again, for the sole purpose of being a McQueen bride.

There's nothing savage about the beauty of Kate's performance as she's transformed from a mesmerizing Miss Havisham into shooting stars, to the music of Schindler's List — possibly a perverse skeleton-chic reference, or just a haunting melody. And when it ends, Kate's glass cage turns into a mirror, so you can confirm you're still the thinnest of them all.

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Mar 26, 2015 11:38:00

Shallow Not Stupid

Mr. Lash and I don't do Christmas, though I'm not above accepting gifts any time of the year. But don't you hate getting a mink scarf with a list of instructions as long as your leg about how not to wear it? At least Carnaby Street is only a few Manolos away from Lash Mansion when I need a break from the manservant. A good shoe, like a good wine, improves with age.

Mod central in the 1960s, Carnaby became uncool for a few decades with faux punks spraying their hair blue and fat ladies having their photographs taken. Now Carnaby is cool again. Its Christmas lights went up straight after Halloween and sinister Santa's followers are shopping till they drop.

What sort of people celebrate a mooby man who sneaks into homes with a sack of ho ho ho, then allow their bawling, snot-nosed elves to sit on his lap? Twisted people with eyes wide shut and mouths wide open, that's who. They're the same types who have nothing better to worry about than who Anna Wintour — in London this week for the British Fashion Awards — puts on the cover of Vogue. Kim Kardashian does look like a ho on holiday, but previous covergirl Lena Dunham is practically an ambassador for Alarming Burds Anonymous.

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Dec 12, 2014 19:37:00
Vivienne Westwood

Shallow Not Stupid

As a Soho-Scottish expat, my heart shouts YES YES YES to the referendum vote. So I was ecstatic that the other Viv, Dame Westwood, dedicated her Red Label spring 2015 show, Democracy, to supporting Scotland's freedom. Even the queue was democratic, with Vivvy's son Ben Westwood — imagine Harvey Keitel in Taxi Driver, but with better boots — and his leather-clad Japanese wife waiting in line behind me.

England's other Queen has been with me at all the big moments. From my first day at school when I turned up in a punk pink Anarchy shirt worn with my midget granny's Chanel jacket and St. Trinian's-style trashed silk stockings, my place was secured as the class-fash leader.

John Waters, who describes his look as 'disaster at the dry cleaners' advises that to be a fashion leader you need to annoy your peers, not your parents. My school uniform annoyed everybody except my best accessory, Fat Cat, the flabster friend who would make even Lena Dunham look thinster if she were sitting next to her. So I sat in the front row with the cheek to wear an old — let's call it vintage — High Street red dress with, of all things, black stockings. Everyone knows it's flesh-colored tights this year. I'm so fucking rad!

The usual questions flashed through my mind the night before Queen Viv's show in Bloomsbury's Victoria House. Will I be the fattest one in the front row? Should I have taken the advice of the skeletor in Yves Saint Laurent, who suggested that I have my chest amputated to fit into a size-zero Le Smoking? Why is Westwood's youngest son called Joe Corre and not Joe McLaren? Is it because everyone shouts "Cor!" when they see his Agent Provocateur underwear? Will I be able to resist putting pins on the seats of those hacks who compete to look more bored than Victoria Beckham? And the big question, the one that haunts me every day: What will I wear?

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Sep 19, 2014 16:11:00
Virginia Woolf by George Charles Beresford, 1902

Shallow Not Stupid

When Virginia Woolf was fed up with the Bloomsbury world and everyone in it, she wrote two suicide notes — only a weirdo (or a writer!) leaves two drafts — and jumped into the river wearing her husband's raincoat weighted down with bricks. The notes, scrawled in sinister, spidery handwriting, are on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision (July 10 - October 26, 2014).

Virginia had such a nice life. Why did she want to leave that room of her own for the damp riverbed and say goodbye to being sucked up to at parties by T. S. Eliot and Lady Ottoline Morrell, she of the famous 'bird's beak vagina.' The great thing about being a novelist is that you get to diss your ex's genitalia and call it fiction — but the lady is dead, let's not rake over old bags.

Woolf started as a blue-stocking but turned into a fashion junkie after her affair with Vita Sackville-West. Like Princess Diana after her, she was dressed by Vogue, whose editor sourced Matisse print dresses and mannish tailoring for her to wear with her big flat shoes.

To be fair, Mrs. Woolf had lost all her teeth by the time she ruined her hair jumping into the River Ouse. So many parties, so little sanity! She left the gossipy Bloomsbury world behind to be cruelly treated in death, being played by Nicole Kidman and a big prosthetic nose in The Hours. The exaggerated nose was supposed to make Kidman look intelligent, but instead it dominated the film, leaving the audience to wonder if Sam Taylor-Wood was her stand-in.

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Jul 23, 2014 16:39:00

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