In the hands of gifted writers, I discovered, bookpacking offered something a physical traveller could hope to experience only rarely: it took me inside the thoughts of individuals living far away and showed me the world through their eyes. More powerful than a thousand news reports, these stories not only opened my mind to the nuts and bolts of life in other places, but opened my heart to the way people there might feel.
This enormous set is a rare extravagance in the age of CGI pictures. And in more ways than one, it looks back to an older style of movie-making. It heralds a flood of Hollywood films on biblical themes.
Eventually, Hitler gets into the swing of the modern world and becomes a celebrity and a politician. He goes on a chat-show (hosted by a German of Turkish background) and goes into politics, striking a popular chord with his proposals to get tough on dog mess.
If Lawrence had worn either of those to the Academy Awards, there would have been howls from the peanut gallery: Joan Rivers and her ilk, the snarky tabloid editors and the viperish internet horde. Hollywood actresses are all but marched to the guillotine if they don’t play by a set of rules for formality and glamour that seemed dated even in the 1950s. The only other group of people so committed to those vintage feminine codes, at least that I can think of, are drag queens.
Excellent, yes. Maybe a good candidate for the first G-B English translation…
“Yeah, it’s very precise, the fashion industry,” Cutrone agrees. “And everyone’s working to create beauty, which is just completely intuitive, and you either get it or you don’t. And if you don’t, you get left behind, because frankly, fashion is insanely competitive, and we’re all playing for keeps. It’s a gazillion dollar industry, for god’s sake.”
Speaking to H&M's consumer magazine last year, in an interview timed for the launch of his Bodywear range for the fast fashion brand, Beckham paused to reassess the infamous Versace outfit: \"That's one when I look back and am like, 'What were we thinking?'\"
And the actresses are complicit, too, as Cosgrave goes on to point out.
I used to think of myself as a fairly cosmopolitan sort of person, but my bookshelves told a different story. Apart from a few Indian novels and the odd Australian and South African book, my literature collection consisted of British and American titles. Worse still, I hardly ever tackled anything in translation. My reading was confined to stories by English-speaking authors.
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It used to be thought that these pointed the way to one of Pompeii’s many brothels: according to some estimates there were as many as 35 in a town with a population of around 12,000 people. But most scholars now believe that the phallus functioned as a kind of amulet, warding off evil forces.
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Except…. spoiler alert: Miranda Priestly re-enters the frame. In her new role as the editorial director of luxury publishing house Elias-Clark, she approaches Andy with the poisoned chalice offer to acquire The Plunge, for gobs of money. And thus, havoc is wreaked.
The book’s scenario is absurd – farcical – but author, Timur Vermes, said that he had painted Hitler as a human figure precisely to make today’s Germans have to think hard about him. The plot is far-fetched but the character is human and complex, not the usual portrayal of Hitler as monster or clown.
Tom Brook speaks to Baz Luhrman, Carey Mulligan and Amitabh Bachchan to assess its chances.
I’ve got plenty of sympathy for those actresses: I’ve stumbled into the odd paparazzi scrum, and frankly, it’s terrifying. But I put it to Coulter that maybe actresses would feel more at ease on the red carpet if they looked more like themselves.
Patrick Chabal was for many years a Professor at King’s College London, latterly as Chair of African History and Politics. He wrote many key works including Amilcar Cabral: Revolutionary Leadership and People’s War, Africa Works (with Jean-Pascal Daloz) and Africa: The Politics of Suffering and Smiling. He died in January 2014.
It is a story which has captivated Germany. Er ist wieder da (He’s back) has already sold 400,000 copies. The audio version, too, is a best-seller. Translations into 28 languages are on the way. So is a film.
Since 1998 Guinea-Bissau has suffered a series of coups which outside analysts have linked to its emergence as West Africa’s first ‘narco-state’. Yet what does this mean for the country and the nature of the state in postcolonial Africa? What links Guinea-Bissau’s instability with questions of wider regional and global security? What would a stable government look like in Guinea-Bissau, and what are the conditions for its achievement?
“It’s in deconstruction that you see punk continue to evolve,” says Bolton. “Those rips and tears have taken on their own momentum. When you look at a garment with safety pins, or something made from a garbage bag, the aesthetic is still very much located in ‘punk.’ But deconstruction has developed its own force, its own context.”
Unity and Struggle: speeches and writings of Amilcar by Amilcar Cabral, translated from the Portuguese by Michael Wolfers (Monthly Review Press, 1982)
There are two planned Moses pictures in the works, with Ang Lee and Ridley Scott rumoured as directors. Then there’s a Cain and Abel story in development. Sony Pictures Entertainment confirmed last year they’d given approval for production to go ahead through Will Smith’s production company. Other religious films are also being incubated.
Although making such profound conclusions from a humble piece of cloth may sound fanciful, there are reasonable grounds when the wearer is Christine Lagarde. For eight years – first as a high-ranking minister in the French cabinet and now at the helm of the IMF – Lagarde has relied heavily on scarves to add a distinctive touch to her political uniform.
I decided to talk that over to the two designers working today who are most punkish in their approach. London-based designers Edward Meadham and Ben Kirchhoff don’t reference the look of punk in their clothes very much, but their engagement with themes such as the tyranny of beauty and bourgeois uniformity make their collections feel unusually norm-challenging and dangerous. So, I asked them, is my made-up squatter a punk?
But does the punk aesthetic still have force? That was the question that kept recurring to me, as all those punk-inspired looks made their way down the catwalk. I posed the question to Bolton: Does a studded jacket mean anything, in this day and age?
Lately he has been seen colour co-ordinating his coats with his younger children – casting himself as an endearing ‘cool dad’ rather than as one half of the tediously matching pair, Posh & Becks. And last month, just one photo he posted of customisable Adidas trainers emblazoned with the names of Victoria and the kids clocked up 200,000 likes on Facebook.
Hollywood’s interest in biblical epics is to some extent cyclical – in the 1950s and early 60s they were a staple. Legendary filmmaker Cecil B DeMille made a big impact with The Ten Commandments in which Charlton Heston played Moses. Other biblical hits from the time included Solomon and Sheba, David and Bathsheba and Ben-Hur. These films dominated the box office.
“It's Hitler speaking. You know what he says. It's him and you have to take a stand. Do you agree with him?”
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“I don’t think it is exaggerated,” Cutrone tells me, when I ask her whether she too found herself disabusing people of the picture of fashion they encounter in books or on TV. “Imagine you’re the person standing in line at the airport behind an insane fashion PR, who’s screaming at a customs agent because the coconut shell bikini Steven Klein is supposed to shoot the next day just got confiscated by Fish and Wildlife. I have been that PR,” Cutrone says.
Books Based In Guinea-Bissau
Which brings us back to the matter of Karl Lagerfeld, and the hypothetical $5,000 studded Chanel jacket. Is that punk? Bolton would say yes, because the jacket shares in the formal attributes of punk. Binns would say no, because, as the product of an established atelier and made from luxury materials, the politics of Lagerfeld’s jacket are the reverse of punk.
When Lauren Weisberger’s Revenge Wears Prada landed on my desk, I was wary. I’ve never read The Devil Wears Prada, Weisberger’s bestselling roman à clef about her time as an assistant to Anna Wintour. But like a lot of people who work in fashion, the novel has dogged me.
He looks for his favourite newspaper, the People’s Observer, but it doesn’t seem to be on the stand – only Turkish papers. The shop owner befriends him and lets him in: “Don’t steal anything, OK?” “Do I look like a criminal?” “You look like Hitler”. “Exactly” responds the Führer.
Exhibitions such as Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum offer the tantalising impression of proximity to our ancient forebears. A bronze bust of a Roman banker is so creased and lifelike that we believe we can grasp his character. A bone vessel still contains pink pigment that a Roman matriarch probably used to rouge her cheeks.
But now, with the passing of time, Hitler is fair game for laughs again, says Thomas Pigor.
But that’s a clear-cut case. I think that Lagerfeld, with that hypothetical jacket, would be trying to have his cake and eat it, too. He’s not interested in the politics of punk, but he likes the attitude, the subcultural frisson. He wants the women who wear his jacket to feel just a bit like rebels.
“If you’re talking about studs and rubber,” Kirchhoff posits, “then obviously, that’s not shocking. It’s all so commonly available.”
Well, exactly: look at her dress. It was a gorgeous one – a pale pink Christian Dior sheath with a vast, billowing skirt, first seen on model Manon Leloup in the finale of Dior’s Spring 2013 haute couture show. But it was hard to know what Lawrence was doing in that dress. She’s an earthy, goofy girl, with a good deal of steel in her spine; you’d never cast her as a docile princess in a fairy tale. So why does she have to play that part on the red carpet?
“It was a big thing. You wouldn’t normally expect them to do that. But they did. Before, no matter what we’d have done, whether you wanted to go to the opera or not in Linz, it was so impenetrable. Then we took the road away and its front door became the Volksgarten, the people’s park. And it went from being extraordinarily difficult to access to being easier to approach than a normal building.”
Revenge Wears Prada commences a decade later, with Andy now the editor-in-chief of an independent, aspirational bridal magazine called The Plunge. Andy herself is about to be wed, to the handsome scion of a blue chip family. Everything is coming up roses.