Summer things

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Big Sur, 1946, by Ansel Adams

I never long for my school days and would hate to be 17 again, but I look back with more than a touch of nostalgia at the school holidays. Six whole weeks, free from from any worries or obligations.  There were family holidays abroad in Spain, France and Switzerland, lazy days in the garden and hours of television – trashy MTV, and plenty of American shows like Saved by the Bell, My So-Called Life and Beverly Hills 90210. While summer generally doesn’t live up to expectations – British ones are generally a wash-out, Roger Federer doesn’t win Wimbledon, people ask my constantly why I’m so white and mosquitoes drain the blood from my arms and legs whenever I go abroad – I still feel excited around this time of year thinking about it. Long evenings, dinner in the garden while listening to birdsong, the chance to wear summer dresses and go out without a jacket, picnics and cool drinks. So I thought I’d put together some of my favoute summer things for inspiration. I’d love to hear what your essentials are.

Aperol Spritz

My favourite summer drink along with Bellini which reminds me of being in Venice last year, sitting on the terrace watching the sunset. Although I must admit to also enjoying a large glass of Pimm’s whenever Wimbledon is on.

The perfect summer dresses

This one, with a pattern inspired by the Royal Porcelain collection, is for me the essence of the perfect English summer and ideal for tea in the garden.

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Royal Worcester Jacquard dress, £78, Oasis

And I can’t resist polka dots

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Navy spotted ruffle sundress, £22, Dorothy Perkins

 

Red shoes to brighten up any outfit

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Lily suede flats, £198, J.Crew

 

The best facial sunscreen to wear under makeup

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Murad Luminous Shield, SPF 50, £55

A perfect orange red lipstick

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Nars Audacious Lipstick in Lana, £25

A straw shopper for that Jane Birkin feelinghmprodStraw shopper, £17.99, H&M

A cute hat for protection from the sun

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Marl Scarf Summer Hat, £17.50, Marks and Spencer

The perfect tea

This delicious blend can be served hot or cold as according to the Fortnum and Mason website, it’s also excellent for iced tea.

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Afternoon blend tea, from £5.25, Fortnum and Mason

The most delicious summer scent, as worn by Cary Grant, David Niven, Ava Gardner and Audrey Hepburn

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Acqua di Parma, from £66

And of course, books for summer

It goes without saying that I’ll be reading the blog written by my friend Jan over the summer.

As for books, this year, I’ve got my eye on The Riviera Set about all the glamourous people who spent time at the Château de l’Horizon near Cannes, from Coco Chanel to Rita Hayworth. There’s also Dolce Vita Confidential about 1950s Rome and I’m dying to read The Unfinished Palazzo which tells the story of the three women who lived in the Palazzo Venier in Venice – Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse and Peggy Guggenheim.

Or if you prefer fiction, can I recommend something by Patricia Highsmith or Ross Macdonald (I love gripping books in summer), some John Cheever short stories, My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell about his eccentric childhood in Greece or The Great Gatsby which is the perfect choice at any time of year.

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Christmas gifts according to Clovis Sangrail

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Emily’s note – after writing my gift guide for women the other day, I was asked to come up with a gift guide for men. Naturally, there could be only one person for the job – Jan, who writes the fabulous Clovis Sangrail blog and who kindly agreed. His choices are exquisite and erudite, as you would expect. Enjoy!

Clovis Sangrail’s Christmas Guide

I love Christmas. Not for the gifts lying under the Christmas tree, but for the family reunion. The beautifully set dinner table, the decorations, the splendid wine from my parents’ wine cellar, quite a small cellar actually, but surprisingly well equipped, and the Charlotte Russe for dessert. Which brings me to my first gift ideas:

I love everything Russian. The very mention of this country makes me happy, although, to be quite precise, I always think of a pre-Putin, pre-Stalin, pre-Lenin Russia, my Russia is the one of the Czar, of Anna Karenina and Prince Bolkonsky. I love Andrej’s uniforms. So handsome, so becoming. You’ll find a lot of them in Russian Splendor, published this October by Rizzoli.

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Russian Splendor: Sumptuous Fashions of the Russian Court by Dr. Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovsky, $95 from here or £50 on Amazon UK.

The matching scent could be Chanel’s Cuir de Russie. Ernest Beaux created it in 1927, giving Coco Chanel the olfactory equivalent of her love affair with the Czar’s cousin, Prince Dmitri Pavlovich, a blend of birch, tobacco, hay and smoky woods, counterpointed with some jasmine.

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Cuir de Russie, from $185 here, or from Chanel boutiques in the UK.

The best way to look good is a good complexion. And to achieve that, men need the right soap. The best moisturizer won’t help if your face is irritated by the wrong cleanser. Erno Laszlo’s black sea mud soap does the trick. It’s so famous, it even starred in Woody Allen’s classic masterpiece “Annie Hall”.

Image result for ernest laszlo soapErnest Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar, $38 from here (or £39 in the UK. Lookfantastic currently has 20% off until midnight on the 27.11.16. Click here.)

Even something as simple as a USB stick can be a stunning gift if it comes from Hermès. You get it in the most amazing colours, mine is in étoupe, and I have it with me all the time, even when I don’t need it… Style goes a long way, doesn’t it?Hermès

Hermès In the Pocket, £200

My last idea for Christmas is utterly stylish and smart and witty and philosophical at the same time: Evelyn Waugh’s novel “Brideshead Revisited”. It’s the ultimate gift actually, it’s an experience that will stay with you forever.

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$11.21 on Amazon.com or £8.83 on Amazon UK

Happy Christmas!