Lovely, lovely October, the first reliably proper month of Autumn and the universally acknowledged green light to hunker down, cosy up and swaddle ourselves in gorgeous covering clothes. Tights! Coats! Cardis!
Also, the perennially sublime Joanna Lumley coming to the New Theatre with her new one-woman show, It’s All About Me – all of which help make up for darker nights and cooler temperatures. Lumley has always seemed to me a quintessentially Oxford sort of woman: cultured, intelligent, stylish, ethical, open-minded, international. The kind that much-missed John Thaw’s Morse would have inevitably fallen hard for, but could never have hoped to have found happiness with as, frankly, the forthright and indomitable Lumley would probably have had little time for his melancholic meanderings.
Make up inspo
Sadly, we cannot all be blessed with a bone structure like Joanna Lumley’s but applied well, blusher is a direct line to ‘best-you’. It does indefinable things to the face. In the same way that brows provide the frame, blush gives depth. This isn’t about contouring or trying to impose a shape, nor should blush be a clown-like splotch on the centre of each cheek. Just be mindful of your skin tone when choosing your shade. EMM (English Mineral Make-up) is a delight and offers an extensive choice of colours in mineral formulations which are specifically designed to be traceless on older skin, (pictured in Rose, £25, englishmineralmakeup.co.uk). Created to address a spectrum of beauty concerns (natural ingredients, vegan-friendly, lightweight feel/great coverage without exacerbating rosacea or blocking pores), the end result is a practical product in a square, stackable case. Note: it’s worth picking up the kabuki brush (£22) if you don’t have one already. I thought it would be too big and I’d end up looking like a ham joint, but not at all – it sweeps across the cheek leaving a becoming flush in its wake. Just don’t overload it on first use.
Accessory of choice
Back in March, Vogue decreed that silk scarves would be A Thing for A/W 2018. Read this as you will, and by all means investigate scarf-inspired clothing (silk bombers, blouses and handkerchief-hemmed skirts) but I am a literal person, and will take my scarf in its unadulterated form. Bianca Elgar’s silk-screen print designs leave me spoiled for choice but I think that the African-inspired Bead design in Rust Red (£260, available from biancaelgar.com) will lend that necessary well-travelled look to my wardrobe and it also speaks to Lumley’s style ethics: an investment piece to be worn again and again, a disinclination for fast fashion, clothing which is comfortable to wear – what is lovelier against the skin than silk? Plus, shades of brown were all over the runway for Autumn/Winter. The oversized proportions (a sumptuous 130cm square) will allow me to drape this elegantly over outwear or resourceful styling will transform it into a sarong skirt or an evening stole.
A quick Google search revealed that Lumley is a fan of the classic scent Fracas by Robert Piguet, with its distinctive Tuberose top notes, but I rather liked the idea of a rose-based scent to invoke this scion of Englishness and so my compromise – as it’s October – is to layer. Perhaps this is a bit of a cheat, but I’m splitting this between a fragrance and a body wash or, to be more precise, the quite gloriously named Huile de Savon Tubereuse du Mexique by Officine Universelle Buly, a French parfumeur with a heritage dating back to 1803 (£48, available online at buly1803.com or Selfridges). All of the Buly products are stunning enough to take pride of place in my bathroom, and post-shower I will spray wrists and décolletage with A La Rose, by Maison Francis Kurdjian (£145 available in John Lewis and online). This is rose to its core and reminds me of the Georgia O’Keefe quote, “when you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment.” This fragrance is simply the heart and essence of rose and if you inhale deeply you will be transported to the fields of Grasse and that will be your world. Divine.
There are plenty of searchable quotes from JL on the subject of her ‘style secrets’ and a constant theme is the importance of classic, chic clothes which don’t wear the owner but allow the owner to wear them. It doesn’t come much classier or chicer than a camel coat. This Autumn Jigsaw has come up trumps with this enveloping, Drape Collar design (£499) in an alpaca/wool blend. It has a louche air, with its knotted belt tie and unstructured detailing, which lends effortless style which will read – I hope – as deceptively casual. I intend to come across as not too try-hard whilst I delight in the sheer snuggleability of its rich and lustrous pile.
Careful monitoring of Joanna has revealed to me a predilection for jewellery. This isn’t about eye-popping gems of great value, but more about finishing off an outfit with a bit of bling. I’d nip down to Nothing in Oxford’s Covered Market, which is a veritable treasure trove for silver baubles and rainbows of gems (garnet, amethyst, moonstone, lapis, turquoise…you get the picture), all of which are priced enticingly if you’re looking to pile it high. A stack of silver bangles (from around £50) will augment my wrist, provide that all important nod to Lumley’s birthplace, and complete my homage.