Fashion designer Vera Wang has had a good couple of weeks. Not only was her dress for Colombian beauty Sofia Vergara the sensation of the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles but her new uniform for the cheerleaders of the Philadelphia Eagles debuted to great approval.
Wang knows about the importance of functionality in exercise clothing having been a top level ice skater herself. In fact it was her just missing out on selection for the Grenoble Winter Olympics in 1968 that made her go full time as a designer instead.
She stayed close to the sport, designing dresses for some of the top US figure skaters and, ironically, getting herself inducted into the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame on the back of her designs, rather than her skating.
Wang first designed uniforms for the Eagles' cheerleaders ten years ago and was then the first fashion designer to design outfits for an American professional sports team's cheerleaders.
The new uniforms first saw service two weeks ago with women spectators apparently lusting after the cheerleaders sparkly new shoes. Male spectators just lusted after the usual things, we suppose.
The range include a number of options to take account of the variable weather the cheerleaders will encounter over the season, including some somewhat bizarre sweaters which appear to keep the ladies arms warm but ensure that their other assets are still on display.
Agent Triple P enjoyed a visit to the fine city of Philadelphia a couple of years ago and managed to take in a game when he was there. He also saw the Eagles, under the peerless Randall Cunningham, play the Cleveland Browns at Wembley Stadium in a pre-season game in August 1989.
Some tops require more engineering than others we suspect
So we have always had a soft spot for the Eagles and they now have the most stylish cheerleaders in the NFL as well!
This wonderful photograph by architectural photographer Julius Shulman gives us the clean, modernistic lines of cutting edge Mid-Century Modern architecture in the late fifties. Shulman (1910-2009) largely worked in black and white and produced some of the most iconic images of modern architecture, particularly domestic architecture, in the last 75 years. In fact, much of the decor here is black and white giving extra potency to the flashes of colour that appear to be racing into the picture from outside the frame like so many trains.. Shulman was an absolute master of composition and you can be certain every element was carefully placed to produce this simultaneously calm but dynamic shot.
Living room and hall 1959
The hall in 1959
The location for this house is 9038 Wonderland Park Avenue in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles. It was part of a project sponsored by Arts and Architecture magazine called the Case Study House Program which originated shortly after the Second World War. The idea was to get architects to come up with designs which could be easily reproduced with the idea of using modern techniques to address the coming housing boom. The programme ran from 1948, when the first house was built until 1964. Thirty six houses were designed but only 26 were built. This is Case Study House No 21 which was commissioned in 1957 by psychologist Walter Bailey.
Pierre Koenig during the construction of the house in 1958
The architect was Pierre Koenig (1924-2004) a pioneer in the use of steel in residential house construction. Case Study House No 21 was built entirely of steel with the idea that it could be easily reproduced as low cost housing. The house was completed in January 1959 and through Shulman's photographs in the February issue of Arts and Architecture, as well a subsequent shoot in 1960, became an icon for the new Californian living.
Dr Bailey sold the house in 1969 and a succession of owners began to remodel it, losing many of its key features. In 1997 film producer Dan Cracchiolo bought the house and commissioned Koenig to get it back, as far as possible, to its original state.
The hall in 2006
They went to extraordinary lengths to do so; commissioning, for example, a new black Naugahyde sofa to replace the one seen in the picture at top. They even got the original maker of the ten foot long hi-fi cabinet to build a similar unit. The restoration won a City of Los Angeles preservation award.
In 2006 the house was auctioned and Julius Shulman, by now ninety five years old, was invited back to photograph the restored house, providing a wonderful record of the project. The house was bought by a Korean lady for over $3,000,000; a lot of money for what was supposed to be a prototype for affordable housing!
Steel housing never caught on in the post World War 2 housing boom that did, indeed, follow so the CSH No 21 is a glimpse of a future that never was but might have been.
So here is another young lady we have never heard of, for our delayed August post. Not surprising, really because despite a suspiciously high ranking in FHM's 2013 100 Sexiest Women (51st - a new entry - above Nicole Scherzinger, for Heaven's sake)) she doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry.
Her fame (such that it is) is based on her role as a "ring girl" in some American cage fighting sort of thing. This is one of those American "fighting sports" that almost nobody else around the world bothers with as it is so ghastly.
Brittney hard at work in her challenging role
Brittney's critical role seems to be parading around the ring between rounds holding up a big sign so the brain-damaged participants can see how far through the fight they are.
She has posed several times for FHM, which seems to almost guarantee you a place in the World's Sexiest Women ranking now, unless you look like a complete dog. This brings up the old question of whether the FHM ranking is a poll (doubtful) or whether the editors choose the list based on whose agent is lobbying them hardest and who they can get to pose for little or nothing (Victoria Pendelton didn't get paid a penny for her first shoot).
More interestingly she was on the cover and inside March 2012's Playboy where she demonstrated that not all pretty girls look good naked, especially those with big heads, short legs and badly done plastic breasts. The pictorial also revealed that her rather ordinary looking body was despoiled by a tattoo across her back.
It looks like she is falling foul of the increasing addiction of women to having these as she now has a nasty one on her inside left arm.
Born in San Diego in 1987 she became a professional model at the age of eighteen. She is a keen artist (a redeeming quality - until you see her paintings) and is currently studying art at UCLA. She enjoys surfing, snowboarding and jiu jitsu (how retro).
We suspect that Brittney won't be reappearing in future FHM calandars, unless she stars in a major film or snags an A-List boyfriend; both of which seem unlikely. She just isn't famous or, dare we say it, attractive enough. Let's hope September's calendar girl is more to Triple P's taste. We have been so busy we haven't even had time to turn the page yet!
Agent Triple P is often rude about the repetitive nature of many of the pieces of music played on Classic FM. However, over the weekend we caught the second half of a striking piece we didn't know. It was obviously late romantic but we couldn't place it. It turned out to be an early orchestral piece by Ralph Vaughan Williams. This piece, The Solent, was the central movement of Three Impressions for Orchestra which has just been released in a world premiere recording by Paul Daniel and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. Now Triple P has spent a lot of time on or next to the Solent (the piece of water that separates England from the Isle of Wight) so thought that this would be a good piece of music to acquire.
Map of the Isle of Wight and Solent in 1900
It wasn't available to download so we took the unusual step of buying the CD, which was only released last week. The history of the piece is somewhat convoluted as the three sections weren't conceived as being part of a single work at all. Vaughan Williams was something of a late developer as a composer so his first popular work, the song Linden Lea, wasn't composed until he was thirty (in 1902). The same year the composer was planning a four movement work called The New Forest of which Burley Heath (included here as the first of the Impressions) was the first. It was never performed and a few bars had to be reconstructed for this recording. The CD sleeve notes call it Brahmsian but Triple P thinks it sounds more like Mendelssohn in his Scottish phase.
Triple P's picture of the Western Solent from the Isle of Wight
The second part of The New Forest was The Solent, the opening of which is more recognisably Vaughan Williams and gives a hint of the string sound which will appear in the Fantasia on a Themes by Thomas Tallis (1910) eight years later. A quarter of the way through, the music swells from its contemplative beginning to something more late Wagnerian (Vaughan Williams had visited Bayreuth in 1896) in the Tristan und Isolde mould. The strings in the finale are more like the Tallis piece again and also echoe The Sea Symphony which he started work on the same year as The Solent; 1902.
The final one of the Three Impressions,Harnham Down, wasn't part of the original The New Forest but was the first of two further impressions for orchestra written between 1904 and 1907. The second part has not survived. It is even more Wagnerian than The Solent but in 1908 the composer felt that this "Teutonic" direction was a dead end, which his time studying under Ravel in 1908 put a final end to
The rest of the CD contains some songs (a classical musical form that Agent Triple P doesn't appreciate) and some enjoyable incidental music from a BBC radio production of The Mayor of Casterbridge, from the other end of Vaughan Williams' career, which was composed in 1950. This too is a world premiere recording.
All in all a worthwhile and enjoyable CD and let's hope it sells well as it helps support the excellent work of The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society.
Triple P was early for a meeting at the Foreign Office last week and looked to stop in at Churchill's cafe across the road. This tiny place has a great location not far from Parliament Square but last week it had disappeared completely, as the whole block it is located in is being renovated.
This Italian-run cafe is a complete tourist trap with famously appalling service but as a convenient place to stop and have breakfast before a Whitehall meeting it was very useful. The cooked breakfast wasn't that expensive but it was quite cheap (about £5.50 with tea). Triple P wonders whether it will return in the future?