Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bugger Off You Wanker

*title totally unrelated to following post*

Today we went to the V&A Museum. AKA Victoria & Albert.

I wanted to see the Britain 1500-1900 galleries -- figured I would look at some art and furniture and portraits of Tudor and Stuart kings and queens and then we'd make a quick exit.

Inside the foyer of the museum. Dale Chihuly might have studied in Venice, but the dude lives in Seattle. Rock on, U.S. of A.

I did not expect to get totally sucked in to the fashion exhibit, but there it was. I was hypnotized by the dresses and suits and corsets and petticoats and shoes and the ridiculous skit performed by two museum employees arguing about why women's undergarments needed to be altered so that women were no longer deforming themselves with ridiculous corsets. There were amazing dresses dating back to the seventeenth century -- hoops so wide women had to turn sideways to go through doorways, all for the purpose of showing off the luxurious yards of material that the hoop-skirt wearer was able to afford. But equally amazing were the more recent dresses -- the best of the best of 20th century fashion -- fashion that spoke to its decade but was so flipping cute I would have happily slipped into anyone of the Chanel suits or Vivienne Westwood ballgowns and worn them home. The wedding dresses were yards of white or ivory lace and ribbon and organza all pleated and ruffled and tucked and gathered. They were incredible.

The Project Runway wannabe in me was fascinated by the displays of fashion designs by the recent graduates of the Royal College of Art fashion department. New York, Paris, Rome... they got nothin' on London. The clothes were so freaking cool and it made me want to be a fashion designer. Or at least practice my sewing.

Wishing I were a fashion designer. Also wishing I did not have a stupid bandage on my arm. I bought the book of the 2009 designs. That is how much I loved it.

David finally dragged me out of there to tour the British galleries and after checking out that display we had some lunch at the cafe in the museum. I've been pleased with the pretty large amount of vegetarian options everywhere we've gone and the sandwich at the cafe was no exception. Mmmm avocado. David ordered the "New Yorker" sandwich which was sort of funny. Like when I apologetically ordered "Cafe Americano" at the train station and I swear that the cashier giggled.

This is the nineteenth-century style textile I designed at the museum. They e-mailed it to me. Just call me William Morris.

Obvy, the museum was awesome. And we decided when we left that we hadn't had quite enough of museums and that we hadn't yet walked enough miles and that we are gluttons for punishment. So we hopped on the underground and headed for the National Portrait Gallery. We practiced our memorization of past English royalty (we're still not so good about remember the order... Henry VIII then Edward but don't remember his roman numeral, then Mary I, or II?, then Elizabeth I, then James II, then... eh... urgh. Is there a song like the one we have to memorize the presidents? George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe John Quincey Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison...).

We checked out the Kit Cat Club (evidently they rocked in their day -- the way men in wigs who belonged to exclusive clubs rocked). I swooned over Lord Byron's portrait and we checked out all the Victorians and all the modern folks as well -- the Bloomsbury group, the actors from the Harry Potter movies... Every museum here is amazing and even though we picked and chose and didn't walk the 12 miles of corridors that were available to us in the V&A, we were worn out by the time we staggered out of the portrait gallery.

We've gotten into the habit of heading back to the hotel for a nap and a shower before dinner everyday so that's precisely what we did. And that means we had just enough time before dinner to watch National Lampoons European Vacation which seemed funnier than ever before. I was cracking up and David was laughing at me laughing.

We had dinner at 8 at a tapas restaurant on Charlotte Street. This was the place where we had to make reservations and it did not disappoint. It was absolutely divine. Everything was just the right amount of spicy and savoury and delicious. My wine was too sweet but other than that it was my favorite dinner so far.

We thought we'd go to a movie after dinner but it turns out the late shows here start between 8 and 8:45 so by the time we finished eating, we'd missed our opportunity. Plus it doesn't seem like anything good is showing. GI Joe? G Force? Meh.

Tomorrow is our last day in London which seems impossible. Actually, it feels like we've been here forever and also like we just arrived. I do miss my dogs and my house and my cell phone. But I am definitely ready to see what Paris has to offer! Joi de vive!

*Note: There are no pictures of D in this post because he refused to pose like a statue in the V&A museum and he refused to let me take his picture wearing a paper mask of Lord Byron in the National Portrait Gallery Bookstore. Both times he said it would be "embarrassing." Whatev.

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