Monthly Archives: March 2011

Red Carpet Rundown: 2011 Oscar Parties, Part II

Having reamed you in with some shameless titillation via the black lace brigade at the Oscars 2011 Parties, here’s some more outfits, from the bizarre to the beautiful with just about everything in-between. Since I’m still feeling grubby from seeing Madonna’s butt cheeks, do you mind if we start with the beautiful?

Anne Hathaway in Versace – So the pattern is a cross between a Celtic knot and the etchings on Xena The Warrior Princess’ breastplates but I still love it. The darker shade of red is gorgeous, it flows beautifully and it’s not a typical Anne Hathaway princess dress. Although she did deserve one for propping up a stoned James Franco for four hours.

Juliette Lewis in Georges Hobeika Couture – Calling Juliette Lewis… you know, ker-azy Juliette Lewis who shows up at events with Native American head-dresses, dodgy home dye jobs and does a ‘rock on’ gesture whilst sticking her tongue out for photos? I’m not sure that that Juliette Lewis would recognise this dignified creature but hey, sophistication suits her well. Ever since Kate Middleton wore that royal blue Issa engagement dress, I’ve been all over this shade like the royal couple over commemorative tableware. It’s a simple timeless shape that flatters and let’s the colour do the work. Which it does. Gorgeous.

Charlize Theron in Atelier Versace – There are times when Charlize Theron’s aura of perfection grates and there are times when all you can do is sigh pathetically and let her get on with being too perfect for the likes of us mere mortals. Had she attended the Oscars themselves, she would have been easily amongst the best dressed with this effortlessly gorgeous gown. It’s clean enough to be classically beautiful but with just the right amount of embellishment to stop it being boring and actually improve on simplicity. Flawless hair, flawless make-up… what else is there to say? She could probably wear this inside out and still look just as good (Arrested Development reference ahoy!).

Anna Paquin in Monique Lhullier – Initially, I thought this dress was boring and wasn’t going to write about it. Since then, I’ve decided I love it, want it and won’t rest until I’ve claimed a cheap high street knock-off of it. I love the romantic ruffles of the flamenco-esque skirt, I love the criss-cross and thus super-flattering bodice with its wide shoulder straps and I love Anna’s mini-quiff. It’s not quite as daring as her outfits last awards season but it’s subtly crept up and become one of my favourite looks from the event. Sneaky work, Sooki.

Naomi Watts in Zac Posen – Heading now for the bizarre, thanks to this dress, which makes Naomi look like she has a vagina somewhere around her midriff. This has distracted both us and her from the fact that a Muppet has attached itself to her backside. I normally love Naomi’s classy style but this is odd.

Anika Noni Rose – What was this, ‘Bring Your Muppet To Work Day’? Another bizarre ensemble, and I’m not sure whether I’m more fascinated by the Fraggle Rock puppet clinging to her side or the strange distortion in the dress that makes it look like Anika has a strangely high, material-sucking belly button. Is that better or worse than a strangely high vagina? I’ll leave you to decide.

Bryce Dallas Howard – Whenever I see this dress I want to sing. Songs like I Can Hear The Bells from Hairspray. Or ‘I’m getting married in the morning… DING DONG! The bells are going to chime!’ (from My Fair Lady and yes, I watch too many musicals). Or even ‘Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St Clements’. Are you getting the common theme yet? In short, it’s not singing through happiness but because Bryce looks like a giant blue bell. And that warrants not a Leslie Phillips ‘ding doooong’ but a sad trombone instead.

Rashida Jones in Valentino – ‘Oh Mr Rochester, I’m sorry to awaken you from your slumber but your batshit crazy wife has just set fire to my bedroom, thus my greeting you in my nightgown.’

Elizabeth Banks in Versace – Elizabeth Banks normally belongs to my holy parallelogram of red carpet bores (alongside Kate Bosworth, Jessica Alba and Jessica Biel) but this dress is just shimmery cuteness in a peroxide blonde bottle. The mesh overlay, creating long sleeves and more restrained neckline, keeps things a little more modern and edgy on what is essentially a bog-standard school disco spangly mini (admittedly one covered in Swarovski crystals).

Rosario Dawson in Diane Von Furstenberg – If you ever wondered what Donna Summer wears to slouch around the house, here’s Rosario Dawson with what everyone hopes is the answer – a disco bathrobe. And despite the fact that it’s electric blue, glitters and seems to be two very different lengths either side, Dawson still reduces it to meh. Let’s make that a holy pentagon of boring, shall we?

Jessica Biel in Atelier Versace – Another member from the clan of yawn makes an appearance, although I actually quite like this dress. I love the intricate criss-crossing of the shoulder straps and the geometric art-deco feel of the pattern itself, but there must be some irony to the fact that an actress who personifies beige looks her best in a dress that’s various shades of the colour?

Claire Danes in Calvin Klein – These are clearly monastic robes for a community who make their own tofu, knock out the lotus position before they can crawl and hand-rear goats whose wool they can then use for scratchy knitwear. Claire would have protested against wearing it but they all take vows of silences too. So she’ll just have to put up with looking like a sanctimonious cult member instead.

Red Carpet Rundown: 2011 Oscar Parties, Part I

Yes, this is a month late but the 2011 Vanity Fair Oscar Party and Elton John’s AIDs Foundation’s Oscar Viewing Party turned out to be more interesting than the Oscars themselves. A boat-load of new celebrities crawled out the woodwork, toting gowns that were either gorgeous or grotesque – either way, it’s entertaining stuff. Be prepared to see more black lace than you’d wish for in a lifetime…

Dianna Agron in Salvatore Ferragamo – Remember me waxing lyrical about Dianna’s ‘exquisite elegant Wasp-y style’ that had a ‘modern-day Grace Kelly’ feel about it?! Well, despite writing this but one month ago, it seems that has been ample time for Dianna to prove my habit of cursing people’s red carpet styles is alive and well. Things started slowly, with some strange splotchy eye make-up at the SAGs but this gown edges things even further to the sartorial danger zone. It’s a fundamentally pretty dress in a fundamentally pretty colour but it should have been nipped in the bud at an off-the-knee length. Instead, the whole look is skewed towards the aged and droopy; factor in wilting hair plus sad eyes (it’s amazing what a tabloid break-up story can make you read into photographs) and it just looks frumpy and cheerless in a night where everyone else was reaching for their glad-rags. The Marion Cotillard poodle perm doesn’t seem that far away now…

Sofia Vergara in Zuhair Murad – At least good old Sofia is on hand to prove me right though. I earlier branded her va-va-voom style ‘vulgar’ and although I tried to steer clear of actually calling her slutty, when you wear outfits like this, surely you’re asking for it. This is underwear. It’s not even nice underwear. Avoid.

Jena Malone in Camilla + Marc – Clearly there was some sort of memo circulating suggesting that underwear was an acceptable dress code. Here is Jena Malone in her training bra and not much else. It’s just as horrible.

Madonna – It’s not just the young ‘uns turning up in their smalls though. Not to be outdone, here is Madonna in an even more horrible version of Jenna’s outfit. I guess the nasty fur gilet is what counts as Madge’s concession towards modesty these days. If you would like to see her butt cheeks (and you’re a braver soul than me), click here.

Michelle Rodriguez – More underwear, more sheer (literally, ho ho ho!) WTF-ness. A change of colour can’t salvage the fact that LOOKING AS IF YOU’VE TURNED UP IN YOUR UNDERWEAR IS WRONG.

Zooey Deschanel in Valentino – Zooey is included merely to prove to my boyfriend that his number one celebrity crush really does have crappy dress sense. I imagine he’s zooming in on the hunt for nipple on those strange plastic-looking boobs… about now. She is wearing tights as sleeves. She is also wearing four variants on black lace, in a night that has made the band who brought Agadoo to the world seem like the preferable use of the words. Seriously, what was with black lace at this party? Did you get a better goodie bag if you wore it?

Jessica Szohr – Another outfit, another misguided use of black lacy stuff… and this time it really does look like a last-minute attempt wrapped round a perfectly respectable outfit in order to get a better goodie bag. The design on this stuff looks like clothes left on a washing line, the overall effect is of a white skirt considered too dangerous to be let out in a public without a muzzle.

Paz de la Huerta – Paz forgoes the titillating black lace brigade to simply flash us her underwear straight up. Sisterhood points for the fact that they appear to be Bridget Jones big pants but even so…

Eva Mendes in Donna Karan – Either an evil black oversize butterfly or an evil black oversize bow tie wrapped itself around Eva’s torso and passed itself off as a top to some unsuspecting stylist. I’m pretty sure it also ate the bottom half of this outfit, as that netting is clearly an underskirt. Meaning it goes under something. And that something was about five sizes too big for Eva anyway.

Georgina Chapman in Marchesa – Black lacy stuff done well? WTF?! Although some may call this dress silly, I think it’s pure theatre, totally gorgeous and most importantly, doesn’t resemble underwear. [Chapman is the designer for Marchesa so the poor love probably has to pop down to Tesco in one of their massive structural ballgowns too]. It’s like the climax to an opera – overblown, dramatic, outrageous, enthralling – and even incorporates the flowers thrown on at the end (or is that just for figure skaters?). The way Georgina has picked up the pink of the roses in her earrings and lipstick is lovely too. Never has looking vaguely like a flamenco dancer’s pencil shavings looked so stunning.

Gabrielle Union in Diane Von Furgensberg – Let’s try and end this post on a classy note, shall we? (My purple obsession spreads to clothes too, you know). I just adore this deep rich aubergine jewel tone and the fluttery way the material drapes makes this pure goddess dress stuff. The darker, less revealing sister to Mila Kunis’ Oscar gown, it’s just beautiful.

Zoya Caitlin nail polish review

So how exactly do you follow a best-selling winter nail polish that got picked up by the likes of Vogue, Italian Elle and Daily Candy? Well, turn the shade down one notch and hey presto, you get Zoya’s Caitlin – a softer, spring-friendly sister shade to last season’s much-loved Kelly.

Caitlin, like China Glaze’s Sea Spray and OPI’s Parlez-Vous OPI, is another colour that made me fall in love at first look – I guess I’m still in thrall to a well-placed touch of grey… except this time it’s not just a blue-grey or a purple-grey but a combination of all three! Caitlin is so unusually pretty, a muted mix of lavender, cornflower blue and dove grey, that’s both perfect for spring yet has enough versatility to work all year round. Whereas Kelly’s slate-grey smokiness had a steely coolness to it, Caitlin is a much warmer softer affair – perfect for kitten-ish angora cardigans and delicate spring blooms – yet both are irresistibly impossibly chic without even trying.

As easy to apply as it is on the eye, Caitlin went on easily in just two coats and the finish was as smooth and creamy as Zoya’s consistently high standards have led me to expect. Just to re-iterate, Zoya’s brush size is my favourite out of the four main brands Cher2 stocks (OPI, Essie and China Glaze) and I continue to find it the easiest to grip, use and get good coverage with.

Although it might not show much imagination just to dilute your winter bestseller for spring, Caitlin is lovely enough to justify it. I’d say it’s low-key enough for work yet with enough hues to keep things interesting, whilst the blend of purple blue and grey is something a little bit different than the usual assault of spring pastels. Caitlin somehow turns cloudy into a colour you’re happy to see – a skill most weathermen would kill for, let alone a humble nail polish! Quick, someone tell Michael Fish!

Looks good with: most outfits, soft shades, spring meadows,
Drying time: 3-5 mins
Coats required: 2
Chips: 3-5 days

Zoya Caitlin nail polish, Spring 2011 Intimate Collection, $80, Cher2

OPI Parlez-Vous OPI nail polish review

My last nail polish post saw me declaring China Glaze’s Sea Spray as the perfect grey-blue. Well, strike me down if I’ve not just found the perfect grey-purple too. Step (or should that be nonchalantly stroll) forward OPI’s Parlez-Vous OPI.

As part of Fall 2008’s France Collection, it’s an oldie but a goodie, but one that feels especially current since the fashion world went gaga for grunged-out grey hybrids all last year, thanks to Chanel’s Particuliere (see OPI’s Over The Taupe and Zoya’s Kelly for further details). Parlez-Vous OPI is pretty much the most grey a purple can go whilst still remaining obviously and very much purple – which, for me, makes it the loveliest ‘grurple’ I’ve come across so far.

As a result, it’s a muddied muddled lavender but one that feels soft and lush as opposed to resembling the dregs of a dirty puddle. I’m pretty certain I used to own a cashmere jumper this colour, which of course, makes Parlez-Vous OPI an instant winner.

This was also one of the best formulas of OPI I’ve used so far – creamily consistent and opaque in two easy coats. For once, I didn’t find their trademark fat brush too cumbersome (whether this older brush was indeed slightly different or I’ve just got used to it remains to be seen!) and, clearly on a roll from their other star performer Miami Beet, it dried relatively quickly and didn’t chip too easily either.

But back to the colour, which is too insouciantly dreamy not to write more about. As befits a member of the France Collection, there is something quietly chic about Parlez-Vous OPI and it’s one of those perennially flattering shades that seems to go with just about everything and work for just about every situation. My purple obsession has been well documented but this may just be my favourite yet.

Pretty but edgy, soft but grown-up, perfectly purple and yet so much more… Parlez-Vous OPI will be my ‘It Colour’ for several seasons to come!

Looks good with: everything (but I may be biased)
Drying time: 3 mins
Coats required: 2
Chips: +5 days

OPI Parlez-Vous OPI? nail polish, Fall 2008 France Collection, $90, Cher2

China Glaze Sea Spray nail polish review

china-glaze-sea-spray

Over a week without a nail polish blog – what’s going on?! So here’s China Glaze’s Sea Spray to get us back into the swing of things – and how!

Of all the new spring collections, China Glaze’s Anchors Away was the one I was most excited about and of all the new nail polish colours, Sea Spray was the one I absolutely had to have. Of course, Treg’s Luck struck again, meaning Sea Spray was the only colour missing from the collection when it first arrived in Cher2 (yes, I was there the first day…), meaning I *had* to stake out both branches until it arrived. Thankfully, it was all I dreamed of… and more.

The perfect shade of dusty blue has been a long-time Macguffin of mine so I was overjoyed to find it encapsulated so wondrously in Sea Spray. And since it’s the absolute ultimate blend between a light powdery blue and a pale dove grey, no other brand need bother me with dusty blues again. I’ve found my lobster (sorry non-Friends watchers)!

Despite a streaky first coat, you soon end up with a meltingly creamy finish, with just the merest hint of a pearlescent shimmer bubbling under there too. What’s more, this stuff goes the distance, staying chip-free in style for well over a week.

Since it hung around so long in immaculate fashion, I decided to see how it might look with some sparkly top coats. I gave it one coat of White Cap (a white-based gold glitter pearly shimmer from the same Anchors Away collection) and Last Friday Night (a supposedly blue but actually very sheer chunkier glitter from OPI’s Katy Perry line) and, although the greyness is diluted a little, the results were dazzling! A cross between a snow globe and the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio, I think this looks like magic dust got sprinkled on my fingers (click for a close-up of its frosty goodness!). Way to make me fall in love with Sea Spray all over again!

A slightly more delicate duck-egg blue, Sea Spray completely makes good on its evocative name. I just think it’s too pretty for words – the kind of colour subtle enough for day-to-day wear yet flattering enough to still garner plenty of compliments. It’s fresh enough to make it an obvious spring choice, yet grey enough to make it look charming all year round. It’s soft, it’s lovely and it’s mine, all mine!!! Can you guess that I like it?!

Looks good with: muted pastels, sparkly top coats, pretty things
Drying time: 5-7 mins
Coats required: 2-3
Chips: +7 days

China Glaze Sea Spray nail polish, Spring 2011 Anchors Away Collection, $60, Cher2

Red Carpet Rundown: Oscars 2011

The red carpet for the Oscars 2011 has to be one of the most boring in a while. When you’re being outdone for wow factor by almost every dress at the after-party, you know something has gone wrong! And whilst we all love a tasteful neutral (hi Michelle Williams, Annette Benning, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hilary Swank…), you know the look has jumped the shark when even Celine Dion, her of the back-to-front man’s suit and fedora, is working it successfully. With star wattage seeming somewhat underpowered this year, many of my frequent red carpet faves disappointed (Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Aishwarya Rai) with dresses that were nice, but not nice enough for me to waste all of about twelve words over. Here are the only outfits that stood out, starting with my three favourites (by a long LONG way):

Cate Blanchett in Givenchy Couture – The love it or hate it dress at this year’s Oscars, except I’m yet to actually see anyone declare hate. Why? Because it’s simply too beautiful. The design on the bodice may resemble the back of a very ornate chair, or a very ornate mirror or a very ornate cameo missing the face inside, but it works. Lovely fresh sorbet spring colours, and so very very Cate. Pretty much the only interesting dress so thank God it was a good ‘un.

Mila Kunis in Elie Saab – I’m thinking Mila was toying with us all the way up to awards season, lulling us into expecting she’d be dull and boring before hitting us up with a triple whammy of colourful gorgeous gowns (that or Macaulay Culkin had a black fetish and she’s breaking gloriously free of her monotone shackles). When a dress is this pretty, delicate and flirtatiously feminine, no self-respecting fashionista would put money against it being an Elie Saab. This is just such a beautiful dreamy soft shade of lilac that we don’t often see done on the red carpet, and by looking so damn good in it, Kunis has probably ensured that no-one will dare do it again.

Amy Adams in L’Wren Scott – YES! After a ropey lead-up, like the tortoise, Amy has finally triumphed just in time for the main event. Stunning sparkling midnight blue, a simple shape and a look that couldn’t flatter her more if it came with a greasy handshake and car-salesman patter. All the more surprising given it’s a L’Wren Scott, which tend to look a little dowdy for big occasions.

Hailee Steinfeld in Marchesa – You may have noticed that I’ve steered clear of mentioning Hailee in all my red carpet rundowns so far. This is because, as far as I’m concerned, if a 14 year-old is dressing as she should, then she probably won’t be exciting me too much. Bloggers have been won over by her ‘age-appropriate’ style, and whilst I’m delighted to see a famous teen who doesn’t wander about with her crotch either hanging out or with Swavorski crystal arrows pointing towards it, cute teen style stopped exciting me when I was… well, a not so cute teen. This modified Marchesa is a whole different story. It’s the ultimate princess-ballerina dress for the inner 14 year-old in all of us, right down to the could-be-overkill-but-instead-it’s-cute-and-charming bun and hair band combo. Swoonsome.

Mandy Moore in Monique Lhullier – If you’re read any of my style posts, you may have worked out by now that it takes one simple thing to make me lose all rational thought and start cooing like a teenage girl seeing Robert Pattinson for the first time. That magic ingredient is sparkle and when done right, it should look exactly like this Monique Lhullier gown – pretty, ethereal and like it was hand-crafted by fairies.

Natalie Portman in Rodarte – I’ve not really been loving Natalie’s maternity style thus far but this is easily the best she’s looked yet – and in a last-minute second choice too (thanks Galliano). Graceful flowing lines, a gorgeous rich plum shade and an overall look of radiance. She definitely picked the right time to glow!

Jennifer Lawrence in Calvin Klein – It’s simple, it’s sexy, it’s almost a Baywatch swimsuit. It’s the sort of thing Scarlett Johansson would have worn five years ago… oh hang on, she did! She does just look rather beautiful though.

Scarlett Johansson in Dolce & Gabanna – Speaking of, here she is, in a dress that not many people seem to like but which I feel quite fond of. I get a slight qipao vibe from it and whilst I’m still not sure I want to see anyone’s underwear on display at the Oscars, there are just enough redeeming factors (gorgeous unusual burgundy-magenta colour, effortless up-do, fabulous matching cocktail ring, atypical outfit for her usual 50s siren style) to make me leave the doily jokes in my drawer for another time. Apols.

Halle Berry in Marchesa – I’m just happy that Berry didn’t source her outfit from a sex-shop again. Having discovered that her legs don’t drop off if she covers them, this frothy girlie confection is a style 180 from the vaguely dominatrix gear she’s been sporting of late and it almost falls through the cracks of the sparkly sea of neutrals that have plagued this awards season. Britney’s bodysuit from the Toxic video, it’s saved/slaughtered by looking like the bottom has been dragged through heavenly clouds… or cotton candy. Shame about those clunky peeptoes.

Nicole Kidman in Christian Dior – I’m fairly certain that I hate this dress. But having flicked through so many photos of utter blah, I’m actually overjoyed that Kidman has completely lost control of her sartorial compass. Someone took a napkin folding-course and was so eager to show off his handiwork that he just went to work on her waist – but hey, at least he didn’t do a swan! I don’t know what the orange shoes are about, I don’t know which 14 year-old pimply teen’s hair gel she stole to achieve those sticky fronds of hair but I do know that I’m glad someone’s still taking risks on the biggest red carpet of the year. Even the nice dresses that I’ve singled out here are fundamentally simple shapes made good by striking colours so for being so different in an expanse of yawns, I really can’t hate her.

Jennifer Hudson in Atelier Versace – Everyone else is loving this. No idea why. It’s bright orange, a shade that seems to have tackiness in-built, and that’s even before you make it out of shiny flammable-looking satin, pile on the baubles, had that napkin-folder go nuts on your arse and hoist your boobs up like a second pair of eyes. There is not a single part of this outfit I like.

Reese Witherspoon in Giorgio Armani – This is essentially Julia Roberts Oscar-win dress made boring, with plastic Barbie hair on top. Except Barbie would never be this dull.

Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton & The Marriage of the Century book review

For anyone that reckons film stars are “just like us”, Furious Love provides definitive proof that that is just not so. Chronicling the notorious love affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (the authors, Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, claim they were inspired to write the book after a young theatre graduate, on hearing of the Burton-Taylor relationship, exclaimed he had no idea that Elizabeth Taylor had been married to Tim Burton), it leaves you in no doubt that, were they around today, Liz n’ Dick would never be off the front pages of Heat magazine.

The book’s title, as the narrative very quickly establishes, could not be more apt – theirs was a love that could not have burned more furiously if it tried. Events kick off on the set of 1961’s sprawling epic Cleopatra, where the already-married actors ignited their passionate affair, with outrageous, flamboyant and basically insane anecdotes peppering every page. The on-screen kiss that got longer with every take, until the director was reduced to finally shouting ‘Does it interest you that it is time for lunch?’ The love letter Burton writes to Taylor describing ‘your divine little money-box… your baby bottom and the half-hostile look in your eyes when you’re deep in rut with your little Welsh stallion’. Taylor’s then husband, Eddie Fisher, telephoning their villa only to be answered by Burton who, when asked what he was doing there, proclaimed ‘What do you think I’m doing? I’m fucking your wife!’ How Burton didn’t believe Elizabeth’s claims that she would kill herself for him, prompting her to stuff herself with sleeping pills to his face and ending up in hospital having her stomach pumped. Taylor waking up one night to find Eddie Fisher pointing a gun at her head saying, ‘Don’t worry. I’m not going to kill you. You’re too beautiful’.

This is all just the first chapter.

This tumultuous account of ‘Le Scandale’ (which had them denounced by the Vatican no less) gets things off to such a rollickingly compulsive start that the rest of Furious Love barely has time to catch its breath in response. The couple’s rise and fall follows in a mostly chronological order, taking in their various films together and apart, their travels around the globe, the gross extravagance, their omnipresence in the press (probably responsible for the state of celebrity-culture as we know it), their alcohol-fuelled fights and sweary trade of insults, their energetic love-making and unquenchable lust for each other, Burton’s declining heath, Taylor’s declining career, their break-up, re-marriage and re-break-up and finally Burton’s death. Despite the fact that Taylor is still alive some thirty years on, the book pretty much peters to an end from there – it is a history of their relationship together and simply not interested in whatever they may have done apart.

The major boon for Kashner & Schoenberger is that Furious Love was written with Taylor’s approval, allowing them exclusive access to her previously-unseen love letters from Burton (hence the ‘divine little money-box’ earlier). As a result, the book is a little too in awe of Elizabeth – not a chapter passes where we aren’t reminded of her flawless beauty, how she was even more stunning without make-up and most importantly, that she was never ever ever fat, whatever anyone else may (frequently) say. It’s a shame, then, that the few pictures within fail to properly convey Taylor’s beauty and especially annoying when the authors make protracted reference to specific photos, only for them never to appear. Similarly, the narrative falls short of criticising Taylor for continuing to drink when Burton was trying to remain sober (an obvious contributing factor in his repeatedly failing to do so) and spends too long justifying her love for jewels (apparently she’s a custodian of their beauty rather than their owner although she expected a ‘present’ from every director she worked under).

A few pics to remind you of how beautiful Taylor really was, including those famous violet eyes!

However, the inclusion of Burton’s letters (though Taylor never seems to write any back) makes up for this. There’s really no need for the authors to bang on too much about his love of language as the vitality, vividness and inventiveness of his writing shines through, evident even in his casual conversation. Able to switch from lyrical eroticism one minute to x-rated banalities the next, here he compares her to a pen:

‘You are heavy like the pen – your ass, your tits… Pendulumed like an infinitely desirable clock… And since we’re talking of pens and you, how [to] watch the ink splurge out of the pen… reach[ing] out from the depth of the divine body. Will you, incidentally, permit me to fuck you this afternoon?’

Don’t worry, it’s not all vaguely pornographic – he’s just as enthralling when signing off with ‘I love you ghastily and terribly and horribly’, fashioning another bizarre nickname for her (Lumps, Twit-Twaddle, Shebes) or scrawling dreamy poetry on the back of her photo (‘She is like the tide, she comes and goes… In my poor and tormented youth, I had always dreamed of this woman. And now, this dream occasionally returns… If you have not met or known her, you have lost much in life’). This was a man who could make probably make drinking a cup of tea sound riveting.

What Kashner & Schoenberger do capture is the uncomfortable disconnect between Liz n’ Dick – their extravagant public persona, laden in jewels and extolling each others virtues on the front pages of magazines – and Elizabeth and Richard, who just wanted to have barbeques in their backyard, drinks in the pub and escape to Wales. As Furious Love progresses, it becomes clear that these two constructs were irreconcilable, even destructive, and that no one was more aware of it than the pair themselves. They are also keen to stress the parallels between art and life, sometimes too tenuously as they exactingly recite portions of scripts to compare the films Taylor and Burton made together with events in their private life. However, it becomes increasingly clear that the movies really were no match for the drama of real-life.

It’s all told in an easy and highly readable manner, yet one that happily stops short of tabloid sensationalism. It’s utterly compulsive stuff as each chapter drips in glorious ridiculous anecdotes that make Brangelina’s clan look like The Brady Bunch. There’s the couple’s yacht, decked out with Picasso paintings and Burton’s thousand-strong library, which served as the ‘world’s most expensive kennel’ to prevent their menagerie of pets having to do quarantine (Taylor had to spend $1000 every 6 months refurbishing the carpets as none were house-trained). There’s room service ordered not just from whole other countries, but whole other continents (sausages and bacon from Fortnum & Masons, since you ask). There’s Elizabeth wondering what one of her Pekingese puppies is chewing on, to discover it was the La Peregrina pearl, given to Mary Tudor in 1554 and acquired for $37000 as a gift from Burton. There’s the couple’s on-set trailer crashing onto the cliffs below to horrified gasps at the blood oozing out of it; turns out it was just the copious amount of tomato juice they had on hand for their daily (morning!) Bloody Marys. There’s Elizabeth making an impromptu appearance on stage during Richard’s rendition of Under Milk Wood to declare ‘I love you’ in Welsh. And all backed by a motley crew of cameos from stars more than worthy of their own biographies – Wallis Simpson, Grace Kelly, Princess Margaret, Aristotle Onassis, Montgomery Clift (and an amazing appearance from Rex Harrison’s wife, who drunkenly masturbates her own dog) – plus an ever-present mob of fans, paparazzi and a coterie of offspring, animals and hangers-on.

Despite clocking in at 400 pages plus and spanning over twenty years, Furious Love tornadoes past at a frantic speed and seems over far too soon; you’ll probably be left panting for breath by the end. Overall, Furious Love may not be the finest, most accurate or best-written tribute to either Taylor or Burton’s lives or careers but what it does entirely capture is the spirit of their mad, bad and dangerous passion. The lasting impression is of a love that was too intense, too tempestuous and too all-consuming for even the most rich, famous and beautiful couple in the world. “Just like us”? I think not… and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton & The Marriage of the Century by Sam Kashner & Schoenberger, JR Books, 2010