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The First Official Meeting of The Rhubarb Society 📜
Your Application Has Been Approved
It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to The Rhubarb Society and to congratulate you on having your application approved. I want to start by saying a huge thank you for subscribing and for reading this (assuming you are, in fact, reading this). Over the last year, I have sincerely and genuinely loved the community built due to my chaotic shitposting on social media. Being able to discuss everything from current pop culture to restaurant recommendations, Rhubarb's favourite brand of caviar (I'm only half joking here), good books, even better art, Harry Styles and his ever-changing accent, and everything else in between with all of you, has been a delight. I've been thinking a lot about how to foster this community and make it grow above and beyond TikTok comments and Instagram question boxes and DM's, and whilst I attempt to work on something bigger and more robust in the background, I wanted to get the ball rolling with none other than a humble newsletter. For me, a club, a society, a community, or whatever you want to call this, is a place where a group of people with similar interests and passions can share said things freely and safely and, most importantly, have fun.
Delivered weekly on Sundays (hopefully), I want this newsletter to provide inspiration and information for the week ahead. Whilst The Rhubarb Society will start with me sharing anything and everything that has inspired me that week, I ultimately want this to be something that serves you all. Whether that's a regular feature that has to be included every week (perhaps a specific type of review, themed lists, or even simply images stolen from my mood board) down to the formatting that makes reading this more digestible for you, or even exclusive discounts for brands you and I both love, I encourage you to feedback to me with any, and all of your thoughts; within reason, of course. With that being said, let’s kick off with our first official meeting, starting with….
The Rhubarb Society is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
love at first loafer
I recently found myself upstairs in the Celine store in Florence, shoeless (but with a pair of dog-covered socks on my feet), waiting for the sales assistant to bring me a pair of loafers in my size. I had been mentally preparing for the fact that I would have to eventually switch out my shearling Birkenstocks for something a little more sturdy. When I make a big purchase, it is usually something I stew over for months. Back in April, I tried on a pair of chunky Prada loafers in their store in Rome (I may tend to overspend, but I'm also Asian, so if I know I can save on currency conversion and VAT, I'm going to wait until I'm outside of the UK to buy these things), and subsequently tried them on several times in the months following trying to make up my mind on them. Of course, the moment I decided I actually wanted to buy them, they told me that not only did they not have any in my size in that store, but they also didn't have any in my size in any of the stores within a reasonable radius. Fast forward to me in Celine with my 'Dachshunds in jumpers' socks, experiencing love at first sight with their Margaret Loafers.
I had been mentally and physically curating my AW22 wardrobe for a while with visions of wool and cashmere jumpers (from Uniqlo, of course), crisp shirts with dramatic sleeves, tailoring personalised with pins and brooches, and finally, a pair of thick woolly socks paired with the perfect chunky loafer. I bought the loafers and excitedly wore them around Florence for a total of 45 minutes before I could feel the skin on the back of my ankles scraping off. Once we returned home, I gave them what I call a ‘baby break in’, which included blasting the backs of the shoes with a hairdryer whilst intermittently standing on them in an attempt to soften the leather. I doubled up with two layers of plasters and was good to go. Surprisingly, it actually made them pretty pain-free after that.
I love making seasonal mood boards (you can see my sept-dec one here) so let me share some pieces I will be buying (or coveting) over the next few months to go with my brand new shoes;
In terms of bags, I’m obsessed with the Gucci Jackie 1961, the Ferragamo Trifolio Box and the Celine Mini 16 in Tweed. In terms of more affordable luxury, I love the DeMellier New York Midi (starting at £395) that comes in different colours, sizes and textures.
Seeing as I live in my black Djerf Avenue blazer, I’m ready to buy the grey one as soon as it’s back in stock. I wear an XS.
I’m yet to see how this looks in person, but I love the look of this belted Arket wool coat. It’s simple, chic and, most importantly, 100% wool.
two films based on two entirely fictional women
I went into these two films with wildly different expectations. With the Luckiest Girl Alive, I had read and been a big fan of the book since its initial release. I remember rumours of Reese Witherspoon’s production company picking up the rights to make the film, and I had been waiting patiently ever since. With Blonde, my expectations could not have been any lower and yet, somehow, it still managed to disappoint me, so kudos is due for its ability to surprise me with how truly terrible it was, I guess. Whilst sharing my thoughts about Blonde on my Instagram, I was happy to see so many of you in agreement. I was also grateful for the extra knowledge many of you bestowed on me about this film. So with that, let’s dive in;
In my opinion, any film with a deceased person at the centre should at least add to the discourse of their life in some way, so to discover that this film was based on an entirely fictionalised take of Marilyn and her life was….interesting. But you know what? It’s still possible to create a sensitive and effective film based on fiction…unless the director of said film feels comfortable enough to admit he has never watched Marilyn’s films, calls her and her co-stars ‘whores’ and has no qualms with saying he made up bits of the story in addition to the already fabricated source material. Right.
Admittedly, the cinematography was beautiful, the soundtrack was ethereal, and Ana de Armas did give a strong performance, despite her questionable accent and the abysmal script she was working with, but that’s as far as my compliments go. Blonde boldly declared that there was nothing under the surface of Marilyn other than who she was in relation to the men in her life. From her ‘daddy issues’ as a child to her just calling any and every man ‘daddy’ in every sentence for some unknown reason, all Blonde highlighted was the director’s fetish for seeing beautiful women in violent and degrading positions. There is no reasonable explanation for having Ana topless for over 80% of the film aside from the director’s own gratification.
Whilst people are defending the film by saying it’s based on a fictional novel, therefore giving a pass to the absurdity, then why on earth did they choose to film the end scene in the actual location where Marilyn died? Aside from that being disrespectful and disgusting, you can’t make a ‘fictional’ film that degrades and exploits a real human’s name and image that ignores every aspect of that individual’s life whilst choosing to stay only true to such a traumatic, undignified detail.
With The Luckiest Girl Alive, my main frustration was the lack of insight and nuance that we get in the book. Whilst I appreciate that a film adaption can never capture the same information that a book does, the point of the story is that it’s told from Ani’s perspective; this is her story, and her lived experience, and the occasional voiceover and intermittent flashbacks in the film failed to give anything useful or insightful.
This should have 100% been made into a limited series, a la Big Little Lies. I also think we personally could have all benefitted from seeing Mila Kunis and Finn Wittrock, the best-looking onscreen couple of late, for an extended period of time.
Who on earth thought it was a good idea to drop the big plot twist in the first 20 minutes?? I remember feeling it in my damn bones when I read the novel’s core conflict. Suffice it to say, the film's delivery of it fell completely flat, and I found myself asking how they were going to spin the story and where its focus would lie.
However, where Blonde fails, The Luckiest Girl Alive seems to prevail in how it handles women living through trauma. I was glad that they chose to focus on the ‘Me Too’ aspect in the film adaptation; aside from it being timely and appropriate, Mila’s character was given the closure she didn’t receive in the novel. Whilst it’s not a terrible film, I would recommend watching it and taking it at face value before reading the books to see where it falls short.
TO HANDWRITE OR NOT TO HANDWRITE?
As a child, I somewhat dreaded occasions such as birthdays and Christmas because I knew in the days following, my parents would hound me to write individual Thank You notes to anyone who had so much as glanced in my direction. Tamsin, the pre-teen, only had so many ways of saying ‘thank you for my present, I look forward to seeing you soon, blah blah blah’. Now, as an adult, I fully appreciate the sentiment and find myself equally delighted and surprised when I receive a handwritten thank you note. It often even lives on the fridge for an extended period. In this day and age, it’s so easy to drop a thank you text (I am guilty of this), and whilst it’s an OK gesture, it can still feel quite impersonal and somewhat lacklustre. Rewind to a few weeks ago when I was reading an issue of HTSI, which included an interview with one of my favourite people, Graydon Carter (ex-Vanity Fair editor and the genius behind Air Mail). Earlier this year, Graydon and his wife launched Electragram, a luxury, digital, stationery website that allows users to personalise Thank You letters without the stress of physically leaving the house or the worry of the awkward ‘it must have got lost in the post’ conversation. I love the idea of taking something as traditional as a handwritten note and bringing it into the 21st Century. The personalisation element also manages to show a little bit more thought has gone into it than a few emojis in a Whatsapp message, and whilst I don’t think anything can replace the charm of a handwritten letter, in my opinion, this is the next best thing. If you happen to invite me anywhere, expect one of these in your inbox.
THE CLUB CORNER
a weekly feature in which I take recurring topics and questions from my DM’s and try my best to answer them - on today’s menu, we have;
‘What are your London hidden gems?’
The recent influx of messages regarding my hidden gems of London has signified the end of summer for me (despite the weather saying otherwise). It seems as if all of you want to know where you can hide away as the nights get colder and darker, but most importantly, which places are worth your hard-earned cash? I’m not sure if many of these places are considered ‘hidden gems’ as they may be well known to many of you, but for those who don’t know them, please treat them as sacred. You’re welcome.
I love Friday and Saturday nights at Nolita Social (in the basement of the Bulgari Hotel). It’s a small and intimate space with live music, followed by a DJ, open until the early hours of the morning. I love the eclectic mix of people who end up here, and the people-watching is unparalleled. Great for a girl’s night or somewhere to go post-date night for a little drink and dance.
I am a Taurus Sun which means I have a few non-negotiables, one of which is a decent massage. Whilst there is a time, and a place for the ‘soothing music, expensive oils, someone whispering into your ear as you drink a home-brewed herbal tea’ type massage, I find, more than often it doesn’t do it for me. Step In Reflexology is a little massage parlour down a side street in Chinatown called Rupert Court, where they really mean business. It’s no frills and well-priced, and I often find myself sweating and wincing through the massage, but afterwards, I feel fantastic. One of my favourite combos is 30 minutes of reflexology with 15 minutes of neck and shoulders for £45.
As I said, I am a Taurus Sun, so after my gratifying yet painful massage, I need sustenance. Luckily, directly across from Step In Reflexology is C&R Cafe. They do delicious, homemade Malaysian food, and much like the massage, it’s no-frills, well-priced and gets straight to the point. The Laksa and the Beef Rendang are my two favourite dishes. They don’t take bookings, so make sure if you are passing by, you have your whole party with you, or they won’t seat you until everyone is there.
When I want to feel inspired, I find myself going to Maison Assouline on Piccadilly and marvelling at the interiors whilst enjoying a glass of wine and sharing the cheeseboard with Rhubarb at their bar.
WATCH, READ, LISTEN
Here are a few pieces of media I've been enjoying this week...
Christian Bale is as charming as ever whilst talking about the hot mess of a film that is Amsterdam here.
One of my all-time favourite recipes, which I will be reintroducing this season alongside my weekly roasts and bone broth (recipe coming, I promise).
This week I found myself returning to one of my favourite roundtables, focusing on directors such as Guillermo del Toro, Denis Villeneuve, Greta Gerwig and Angelina Jolie. I love watching these whilst I'm cooking.
Speaking of Guillermo, I’ve just started his Cabinet of Curiosities series on Netflix. Every episode is a different story from a different director, and whilst not every episode is my cup of tea, I still find myself equally parts horrified, fascinated and creeped out. So, from that perspective, it’s a job well done. In particular, the ending of episode 5, ‘Pickman’s Model, had me saying ‘nope’ to myself for an extended period of time.
I recently started reading ‘It Didn’t Start With You’, which I have included here in my Sept/Oct Amazon Favourites. The book studies inherited family trauma and how it impacts us in ways we don’t even realise. Whilst I don’t think everything the author says should be taken as gospel, and by no means do I agree with him on everything, with books like these, I think it’s important to find a way to make them work for you. In this instance, I think the author has some great tools and practices that everyone could benefit from, whether you believe in inherited trauma or not!
And that’s all from the first issue of The Rhubarb Society! If you’re keen to get ahead of next week’s segment of ‘The Club Corner’, please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below, via email or in my DMs. If there’s anyone you think would be an excellent fit for The Rhubarb Society, please do extend the invitation below.
Until next time,
Tamsin & Rhubarb xoxo
The Rhubarb Society is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.