Sunday, 20 March 2011

Luella’s Guide to English Style by Luella Bartley: A Review

A concoction of wit and humour with English fashion thrown in, Luella defines the scope of English style that is entrenched in heritage, riding jackets, wellies and let’s not forget that great British fashion icon; the Queen. Luella’s Guide to English Style is beautifully bound in a rustic hardback book embellished with gold lettering and a contrasting saccharine pink book mark. The eclectic British style is practically radiating from the covers of this delightful read.

Throughout the guide Bartley explores the English style from a number of angles, if somewhat inconsistently provides an incandescent and amusing representation of what Bartley dubs as the ‘British Bird’. Style geniuses are identified through the likes of Lily Allen, Vivienne Westwood and Princess Anne which although semi-reductionist provides an interesting approach to the definition of British style. The text is accompanied by characterful sketches of said style icons illustrated by Zoe Taylor and Daniel Laidler which along with the binding, give the guide coffee table couture value and a personal style of its own. Luella’s guide is written with a playful awareness of its subject and often provides an insider’s perspective of members of the fashion industry with reminiscences of Kate Moss’s laugh and the living with fashion editor; Katie Grand.

Whilst this provides a fascinating slant on English style, it also means that Luella’s Guide is prone to sweeping generalisations of British fashion and offers a mostly uni-cultured view of the so-called “British Bird” which appears to be mostly middle-class horsey-types from the royal counties. This book is in truth a guide to Luella’s personal style. This is certainly the case when Bartley begins to adopt the pseudonym of Miss E (English) in order to characterise her British Bird’s style. In the Seven Stages of Style chapter, Bartley depicts the evolving nature of the English girl’s style from school into Motherhood. However, it isn’t long before the notorious “Miss E” takes on a life solely mirroring that of Bartley’s herself opposed to the average English girl as she dashes around London and has an accidental pregnancy at the age of thirty.

Overall this guide is an enjoyable romp through the ages of the English woman and will entertain all who find an appeal in wellies, riding jackets and other cultural icons of eclectic English style. This book is a representation of the charming form in which Bartley can now enchant the fashion crowds. It is clear that the label of Luella is still alive and well.   

Tuesday, 1 March 2011