Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beyond Biba, Winston Churchill's mistress and Garbo's peeing


I didn't realise Winston Churchill - the warrior PM, not subsequent copies - had a mistress. Is this public knowledge? Poor Clemmie. Perhaps volumes have been written about this; Google will remain virgin on this one. I can't be bothered to research. Her name was Eleanor and she lived Chelsea way. You want to know more? Please, let's respect people's private lives. Madame Arcati disapproves of rummaging about in celebs' dustbins. How unhygienic!

This story was told me last night when I attended a screening of Beyond Biba: A Portrait of Barbara Hulanicki at the Kensington Roof Gardens. Barbara, in her trademark shades, was over from Miami and I was there with my fiancee Molly Parkin and her biopic film director Robert Chilcott. "This is my fiance," Moll said, introducing me to her old mate Barbara. "Oh Molly, another fiance!" An ordinary person might have felt flattened by such a response. Me? I was flattered to have found my place on such a glittery assembly line of love: eternal engagement has much to recommend it, and no prenup or late night phone excuse is necessary.

Beyond Biba is a fascinating reminder of Hulanicki's influence on fashion, architecture, interior design, music. Of the last, her Roxy Music connection is mystifyingly overlooked as is her early championing of iconic American singer stars. By far the best bits are her salty conversations with Moll who recalled Garbo and her mannish approach to urination. Greta would ask where the little boys' room was and then leave the seat up. You have to wonder.

Sight & Sound editor Nick James gave me an excellently sharp appraisal of Beyond Biba - I think he's planning to write a piece about fashion movies, what with The September Issue due out soon. Moll, Robert and I then retired to the Chelsea Arts Club where over dinner our talk returned to Winnie and Eleanor, Croatian plots, the bitch Anna Wintour and the perils of big cocks and buggery.

Short film on Hulanicki

17 comments:

I Stepped In A Sooter Furrball (barefoot), Yuk ! said...

Clearly, the spirit of Garbo visits the Dacha`s bathrooom !

Anonymous said...

What about big cocks and buggery?

Sooter`s Revenge said...

Not encountered big cocks , nor buggery at the Dacha`s bathroom (yet)

veritas said...

How wonderful!

Biba was a never to be repeated sensation. It's as legendary as Studio 54 and only lasted about the same time.

There were mass tears when it shut. Mainly from every shoplifting gang in the UK and the Continent. With vacuous shop girls staring into space one could wheel out a whole rack of clothing and go back for a second.

When this endless engagement finally is sealed will Madame be receiving enemas from her bride?

Anonymous said...

I love the Roof Gardens, one of the most serene places in London. You can wander through its arcades and fairylit arches and imagine you've died.

Anonymous said...

What happened to Biba was a scandal. A classic example of corporate vandalism.

Very good write-up. God help anyone when you and Moll turn up to critique.

Christopher Itchings said...

I see you're running Scientology ads now. What's next? A Waco mass suicide pact among Arcatistes?

Madame Arcati said...

I have no control over the ad content. There must be something on this site that qualifies MA for the Scientology lure.

Anonymous said...

Re: scientology adverts...
It's the mention of enemas, MA darling.
ox

Madame Arcati said...

I wish I'd thought of that.

Anonymous said...

Oh leave the poor scientologists alone - they've done far less harm than the Muslims and Christians.

Anonymous said...

Humm... they've been around for less than 60 years. How about we balance that though a little by speaking proportionally? No that it matters; I don't think there is a religious organization we can bring up here and not tear them apart, right?

Madame Arcati said...

You'll have be clearer in your meaning, poppet.

Anonymous said...

You are so wicked... you just like to provoke me. You're lucky I only write these things for you. I'm tired... 8-( ... I've been running around all day from meeting to appointment to meet deadlines...and it has been soooo hot! The sun has sucked everything out of me. I don't want to link one by one a bunch of examples of the horror stories that have started to expose the scientology system with stories from ex-scientologists that were abused buy their leaders...

What kind of argument is that? "Let them be". And let them do wrong because others have done wrong for thousands of years (and of course bring that up every time there is a chance), since these have only started? Instead I'm going to give an example, how about that?

You and I are sisters and we have a brother called Albert. Albert has had horrible physical confrontations with all of his neighbours that don't agree with his views, he has abused the fact that he is an elder in the community to do terrible things to helpless innocent members of his circle of friends, he has also abused his kids because he is head of his family. Finally, these thing come to light and, rightfully so, Albert Arcati is prosecuted for his wrongdoings. But, you see, then the neighbours, whenever they see you and me, they point an say there go those two Arcatis. Do you know what they mean?

Does it matter that nobody else in the family behaved like Albert did, or that we lived in different towns and had no clue that he was doing all this, or no other power than the same that the neighbours in his town had to bring him to justice?

I will not take to be told "I'm an Arcati" as in that kind of Arcati without answering back and I will not change from being an Arcati because Albert was an Arcati that did wrong. I'll will not chose like cousin anon to change my name to Potter so that no one links me to bad Albert. Why should I change my name to please the finger pointing neighbours? I like being an Arcati and will continue to be, because I know what I've been up to. Are you going to start calling yourself Sophia Loren?

Do you like my story? If you want more I'll have to e-mail you, but now I'm going to relax while I read your newest post :-*

Madame Arcati said...

Be a proud Arcati dearie.

The Look said...

Dear M. Arcati


This may be of interest - a review/story on the V&A screening of the film and subsequent Q&A:

http://rockpopfashion.com/blog/?p=173

Anonymous said...

The late Winston Churchill's grandson Winston Churchill also had several mistresses.. Jan Cushing, Soraya Khashoggi, Corinna Sayn Wittgenstein amongst others...