The <i>IoS</i> Hot List

It may be cold outside, but the temperature is rising as we reveal the hottest people, places, and things in the country. Your in-the-know guide starts here...
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The Independent Online

When London Fashion Week kicks off on Friday, with a sharpened toe and spike heel, it will give us all a well-deserved distraction from bankers, wildfires, floods, and under-age parents. However, models striding down a catwalk aren't the only people of the moment. There's a wealth of hotness out there, just waiting to furnish the nation with optimism and joie de vivre.

With that in mind, The Independent on Sunday offers you a comprehensive list of must-know-about people, places, events and objects. And three seasoned trend-watchers add their expert opinions too...

Some will require you to book tickets, buy items, move from the armchair. But it's not all about spending money; it's about inspiring you to experience the stuff that everyone will be talking about in the months to come. Even if your only interaction with this Hot List is to name-drop an artist or gadget at your next dinner party, isn't it a nice feeling to be in the know?

Colour blocking

Whether combining chunks of different colours in one outfit, or tones within the same colour family, this is a trend that requires skill. Layering different shades of pink and orange looks particularly "now" – extra fashion points for including guava and papaya pink in your tropical ensemble.

Polly Stenham

The super-talented playwright's debut, 'That Face', was a sensation two years ago. Now 21, Stenham is under pressure to match it with its follow-up, 'Tusk Tusk', which opens at the Royal Court, London, in March. We think she'll cope.

Art Car Boot Fair

This is the artiest boot fair on the planet and a chance to nab yourself original artworks at rock-bottom prices. "Booters" include Sir Peter Blake, Gavin Turk, Natasha Law and Boudicca. You might even glimpse a naked bottom or too, posing as live art. 14 June, in Brick Lane, London.

Finger puppets

Forget 'It' handbags. To celebrate its fab new online shop, 'Rubbish' magazine is launching limited edition fashionable fingerpuppets, featuring Miuccia Prada, Giles, Luella, Viktor & Rolf and Karl Lagerfeld exquisitely immortalised in knit. Handmade in Peru, created by team Rubbish.

Jack Whitehall

I met Jack when he was 14, while he was at boarding school. He was scouted for a story I was casting for 'Teen Vogue' about school uniforms, and even then it was clear he had a big showbiz future ahead of him. From Edinburgh festival to presenting 'Big Brother's Big Mouth', he has the looks and voice of a young Hugh Grant.

Indigo Fire Music

The composer of this myspace phenomenon lives in a yurt in the Welsh mountains and creates the craziest ambient electro folk that you'll ever hear. Sometimes you can hit play; other times it's mysteriously unavailable. A talented flute player, a very shy hermit, dresses like Captain Jack Sparrow, this unique musician needs your support.

Matt Blease

This brilliant illustrator has been part of the graphic design company Harriman Steel since graduating from art college. In his down time he does genius colouring-in (see his wacky puzzles and mazes inside

Tom Hardy

He was troubled in 'Stuart: A Life Backwards' and thuggishly sexy in 'RocknRolla'. This is an actor who is not afraid to play against type, pillow-lips allowing. He'll next be seen smouldering (alongside Charlotte Riley as Cathy) in a new TV adaptation of 'Wuthering Heights'. Then he takes on Britain's most notorious prisoner, Charles Bronson, in a film out in March.

Habita Monterrey

Great design and impeccable service have helped Mexico's hotels become hospitality benchmarks. The Habita group is who 'Monocle' calls when we need a room in Mexico City or on the Caribbean coast. We are particularly looking forward to checking in to the new Habita Monterrey, which has a roof-top pool and bar offering 360-degree views of the city. The owner, Carlos Couturier, is the perfect host.


It's the year for booking your flight to Beirut: there's a host of new hotels opening in the capital, a great new guide book ('A Complete Insider's Guide to Lebanon') and one of the best food scenes in the world (visit the Souk el Tayeb farmers' market). But this summer – after a few derailed by local strife – the 'Monocle' magazine team will be looking forward to sitting poolside at the Edde Sands beach resort in Byblos. That's if we can find a parking space in the SUV-crammed parking lot.

Santa Eulalia

It's not the year for flash fashion. Men should be making an appointment with their tailor and ordering something chic – and long-lasting. Barcelona's best multi-brand fashion store for men and women, Santa Eulalia, has recently opened a temporary store on Paseo de Gracia while the flagship property is renovated. Its impeccable bespoke service will have 'Monocle' heading into the basement for a fitting – we particularly like its blazers.

Good retail

This will be the year that retailers are forced to rethink how they treat their customers – and how to lure them in. Retail is about to become a pleasure again. And as many of the lacklustre chains lose their nerve, expect small neighbourhood shops and fresh concepts to thrive. Following on from the first 'Monocle' shop in London's Marylebone, we are looking forward to the opening of a second shop in LA's Brentwood Country Mart in the next few weeks, which will stock our collaborations with Comme des Garçons, Drakes London and Porter luggage – and, of course, every issue of 'Monocle'.

Good airlines

Lufthansa is an airline to keep on your radar. It's spending €150m on upgrading its lounges – the new Welcome Lounge at Frankfurt is a destination in itself. Then there's its new Italian operation and its young offspring, Air Dolomiti. And coming up on the horizon is the promise of the first Lufthansa A380, a plane that just makes people feel excited about flying. 'Monocle' looks forward to a year of premium Lufthansa living.

Clive Owen

Is Britain's second most craggy hunk (after Mr Craig) having a moment? They certainly think so in America, where he's almost simultaneously sexing up two films, 'Duplicity' and 'The International'. No one does crumpled suit and three-day stubble like the Clivester, who consistently denies that he's sex symbol material. Oh, we don't agree...


The fresh, clean fragrance by the designer Narciso Rodriguez is already the talk of the industry. (Launches at Harrods in March)

The natural look

It's hot to emulate Lauren Hutton around the time of the film 'American Gigolo': tanned skin, sculpted cheeks and perfectly nude lips – backstage at the S/S shows, the make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury used MAC lipsticks in Honeylove or Girl About Town, £11.26 each.

Dial-up tans

We can't avoid reaching for a bit of fake as soon as spring arrives, but we can swerve around the orange mistakes with Piz Buin's ingenious Self Tanning + Colour Dial, £17.99.

Slow down to get fit

Personal-trainer-turned-Chi-Gung-expert Charlie Cannon is all about effortless action, conscious movement and meditation. Visit

Hair mousse

It's back. The aptly named Sebastian Professional Whipped Crème (launching here later in the year) smooths and softens unruly locks into shiny submission.

Artist Rooms

Like a cloudburst of contemporary art, 50 Artist Rooms will materialise all over the country this year. Anthony D'Offay (legendary London dealer to Warhol, Koons et al) sold his immense modern collection to the nation last year, with the proviso that it be seen as widely as possible. Artist Rooms will include Diane Arbus in Cardiff, Gerhard Richter in Middlesbrough and even Bill Viola in Orkney, as well as bigger displays at Tate Modern and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.


Been there, done that: you could beat the Olympic champions to the Canadian Rockies this year. The 2010 Winter Games will be held around Vancouver and will count among its venues Whistler – which just opened a record-breaking new gondola to connect to Blackcomb mountain – and Cypress Mountain, where snow-sports enthusiasts enjoy wonderful views of the Pacific coast host city.

Phoebe Philo at Celine

Having been out of the fashion spotlight with her young family, the designer who made her name at Chloe, and sparked thousands of high-street copies, will show her debut collection for Celine at the Paris shows. She has said she wants to create "clothes, shoes, bags and accessories that are relevant to right now – modern, exciting designs that women will desire and appreciate".


The election of a new government in the Maldives has been a long time coming and should ease consciences about visiting these paradisiacal coral islands. It's just the time to go, because a bumper crop of luxury resorts are due to open this year. Stylish names to watch out for include Shangri-La Villingili and Constance Halaveli.

Chris Gayle

The cricketer who led the West Indies to their recent rout of England is a destructive batsman on the pitch, but off it is so laid-back as to be almost horizontal. The 6ft 4in Jamaican's beard, earrings and shades give him more the appearance of a rap star than a sportsman, and his nickname, Mr Cool, was bestowed as a compliment rather than a criticism.

Squiggles and flourishes

All things ornate and ormolu will be to the fore this spring when Waldemar Januszczak presents a BBC4 art history programme jauntily titled 'Baroque!' Handel's 250th anniversary is also coming up in April, so expect a swell of tributes on Radio 3.

Wolf Hall

'Beyond Black', the tale of an overweight medium in the grip of a vicious haunting, won Hilary Mantel new fans and an Orange Prize shortlisting. Now she returns to historical fiction with a weighty novel about Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's hated first minister. (Fourth Estate, 5 May)

Culture capitals

Vilnius and Linz take the reins as this year's European Capitals of Culture, putting the sleepy Baltic city and its unsung Austrian counterpart on city break shortlists. They've much to recommend them on top of the range of artistic events they'll be putting on for their year in the spotlight.

Le Smoking

Rip-offs of the YSL classic are everywhere. Variations on the theme include skinny black jackets with velvet or satin lapels. Getting the look needn't be expensive: your boxy old blazers can get a new lease of life with a simple turn-up of the sleeves.

Armchair traveller

Forget Twitter; websites dedicated to the travel community are the places to log on. Make recommendations, get advice, even book a holiday – sites are launching on an almost weekly basis to cater for every type of traveller. Recent additions to check out include and

The new Slim Shady

Eminem is planning the imminent release of 'Relapse', his first album of original material in five years, and a decade after he turned hip-hop on its head. Admit it, you're quaking in your baggy-arse jeans with excitement...

Mini cows

No bigger than an Alsatian. Keep one in your garden – they eat much less than a full-size cow but produce proportionally more meat, plus 16 pints of milk a day, and they mow the grass. Sales are rocketing of the Dexter, the Lowline Angus and Mini Hereford.


The scandalous French proto-feminist writer of the belle époque could be this year's Jane Austen – or at least, Edith Wharton – when Stephen Frears's version of her novel 'Chéri' – starring Michelle Pfeiffer – hits the screen in March.

The WI

After a few false starts, the Women's Institute really is going urban and trendy as branches open in London's Shoreditch and Stoke Newington. Expect the members to be made up of those professional women who are starting recipe exchange email chains and those who think knitted animals are better than babies.


We've already had Flash, Moët's temporary bar/restaurant at the Royal Academy in London, and Doubleclub, the weird Carsten Holler-Prada restaurant that's half "western", half Congolese (open till May). Economic instability apparently makes launching a club/ restaurant/shop on temporary trial a safe option. Certainly, it's diverting for consumers.

Rupert Friend

Gorgeous, talented and going out with Keira Knightley, Rupert Friend is destined for greatness this year when he stars opposite Emily Blunt in 'The Young Victoria', which opens on 6 March. We hear that his Prince Albert is amazing, and we mean that in the most innocent way possible.

How We Decide

A new book on the science of decision-making by Jonah Lehrer sheds light on the fast-moving advances in this area, with huge implications for how the world works. Let's face it, we could all do with help in making the right decision...

Chinese wine

This weekend we hear that Kosovan wine is all the rage, but the smart money is on a more easterly tipple. In fact, the top persons' wine merchants Berry Bros predicts that in 50 years China will be the world's biggest wine producer. It's already the sixth largest and growing fast. If you listen carefully, you can hear the French grape-treaders ranting.

The Prisoner mania

If you haven't already, make the trip to bonkers Welsh mock-village Portmeirion before a new deluge of 'Prisoner' press coverage. The cult TV series, featuring Patrick McGoohan, has been updated and retooled for 2009, starring Sir Ian McKellen as Number Two. Purists may howl, but a new generation of fans weaned on 'Dr Who' will love it.

Green tourism

A must for every coffee table this year is one of the growing library of books for the green-conscious traveller. Keep an eye out for 'Green Europe', new to Alastair Sawday's Special Places to Stay collection, and Bradt's guide to voluntourism, 'Wildlife and Conservation Volunteering: The Complete Guide'.

Fernando and Humberto Campana

The madly creative Brazilian brothers were voted designers of the year at Design Miami last month. They are utterly au courant because their designs, including chairs, use a lot of discarded materials. Those wishing to re-create the styles in their own homes are directed to the nearest skip, with a glue gun, hacksaw and a lot of imagination.

Film-nerd heaven, a new website, claims it can do just that – locate anything from the latest Blu-ray release to hard-to-see antiquities. It could be disturbingly addictive.

Western Asturias

Get ready to rush to the Spanish version of Cornwall... There are cheap places to stay, good surf, empty beaches, amazing mountains and you don't have to fly to get there. And as far as we know, Rick Stein hasn't cordoned off whole towns for redevelopment.


The music name to drop. Everyone knows about Little Boots, Florence and the Machine and all that Eighties electro stuff; he's the next Dizzee Rascal, and he's just 16. For more information about this grime MC, head to his myspace page, of course.

Kangaroo meat

Ruminants cause greenhouse gases; kangaroos don't. We've proved resistant to the charges of the antipodean culinary treat before, but global warming concerns mean green carnivores have a new dish on the menu. George Wilson of Australia's Wildlife Services has a plan to convert Oz farming which could save 16 megatons of greenhouse gases a year.

The Winter Vault

The intense Canadian novelist Anne Michaels won the Orange Prize in 1997 for 'Fugitive Pieces', a heartrending and lyrical novel about the Holocaust. Since then there's been only poetry, and her return to fiction has been eagerly awaited; this one is set among Egyptologists working at Abu Simbel in 1964. (Bloomsbury, 4 May)

Rafael da Silva

It was a 90th-minute volleyed goal against Arsenal in November that woke the world up to the tigerish talents of Manchester United's new 18-year-old defender (left). Signed last summer from Fluminese of Brazil, along with his twin brother, Fabio, he has been described by Sir Alex Ferguson as "a breath of fresh air", and is being talked about as the natural successor to the European champions' ageing captain, Gary Neville, in the right-back slot.


Poetry enjoys a renaissance as the Poetry Society ( celebrates its centenary with a new director, Judith Palmer, and a roster of events starting with the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, launching at the Sage Gateshead on 3 March.

Blur reunion

Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn have buried the hatchet – all so that 20,000 ageing indie kids can get along to this July's two Blur gigs and pogo along to "Song 2".

Sculptural photography

Inspired by "utopian legends and developments in global tourism", Gayle Chong Kwan's "Cockaigne" project of other-worldly food sculptures appeared as Art on the Underground. "Scenescape Scotland" features images created from agricultural waste. See it to believe it at


Come the year's end, which of these sites will be the next Facebook and which webjunk? You decide: lets you plot the location of your friends (or rather their phones); lets you loan money on a "peer-to-peer" basis; is a browser for searching photography and film... over to you.


The man who photographed Kylie (naked) and the Queen (not naked) holds his biggest show to date and first career retrospective in Brick Lane, London, in August. Sign up from March at to be part of a live photoshoot and appear at the Old Truman Brewery alongside the world's most photographed people.

Flight-free Europe

The European Commission's drive to increase the amount of passengers travelling by rail as opposed to flying starts in earnest this year. The high-speed link between Rome and Milan is the first of the new train lines that will open or on which work will begin. By the end of the year, savvy travellers will be able to speed from London to Amsterdam in three and a half hours, thanks to a new high-speed link connecting Brussels and the Dutch city.

Alcoholic tea parties

Or "cockteas". First seen at the Last Days of Decadence bar, a homage to the Depression era in Shoreditch, now in bars and festivals across Britain – a cocktea includes concoctions of chai, jasmine and Earl Grey with the finest spirits.

Ask Alice

The IoS columnist D J Taylor aims for the big time with this epic novel, detailing the Becky Sharp-like rise of a Kansas farmgirl who becomes chatelaine of an English country estate in the 1930s. But those she has stepped on in the past return to exact their revenge. A gripping page-turner filled with surprises, shocks and deep psychological insight. (Chatto & Windus, 2 April)

Adil Rashid

God knows the England cricket team need to play with a bit more style at the moment, so they could do worse than turn to only the third Yorkshire-born Asian to play for his county and the first of Pakistani origin. Rashid, who is touring the Caribbean with England, bowls leg spin, which had become a dying art in cricket until it was resurrected by the incomparable Shane Warne. Let's just hope Adil, who will be 21 on Tuesday, shows a bit more class off the pitch than SMS Shane...


It's Biennale time again from 7 June with Steve McQueen and John Cale in the British posse. Parties, gondolas, weird Epcot-like international pavilions at the Giardini, and yet more parties. Which gallerist will fall into the canal this time? Which eminent artist will get lost on the lido? And if Italy is too far to trek, Geoff Dyer's new novel set at the Biennale, 'Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi' is out in April, published by Canongate.

Love magazine

Condé Nast's new twice-yearly style magazine, 'Love', will be edited by the über-stylist and former editor of 'Pop', Katie Grand. Mark Frith, the former 'Heat' editor, has been brought on board as an editorial consultant. Expect Grand's signature mix of kitsch culture and quirky but luxe fashion when it launches on Thursday.

The September Issue

Rumours that Anna Wintour may be nearing the end of her editorship of American 'Vogue' can only heighten curiosity about this documentary, which aired at the Sundance film festival last month. It focuses on the preparation for the year's biggest issue of 'Vogue', and includes rare access to the magazine's notorious editor.

Beyond the eurozone

If this year is all about how to make the most of your money, Turkey will be a hotspot for summer holidays. As sterling continues to perform well against the lira, a new crop of boutique hotels is springing up along the Turkish coast, and Istanbul is adding stylish lodgings from big hoteliers such as W, Kempinski and Four Seasons.


This year's meerkats, judging by the upcoming Disney documentary 'The Crimson Wing' (June). Apparently, it's the seafood they eat that keeps them pink.

Invisible spray

Referees will be able to spray a line on the grass to force players to retreat the full 10 yards at free kicks. The mark vanishes within a minute. It was pioneered by an Argentinian journalist who was enraged after he played in a match and failed to score the winning goal because the opposition were "encroaching".

Waiting for Godot

The great thesp moment of 2009? Ian McKellen vs Patrick Stewart as the comic tramps in Samuel Beckett's celebrity act-off – sorry, modern classic – at the Haymarket Theatre Royal in London from 30 April. Gentlemen, to your marks...

Whitechapel Gallery

The East End's lovable ol' girl reopens in its 108th year on 5 April, with expanded and renovated galleries, and new restaurants. There'll be more space for shows, of the esoteric German sculptress Isa Genzken and esoteric British sculptress Goshka Macuga, but the whole area will once again come alive to the possibilities of contemporary art.

The Outnet

Forget Primark; the recession may not mean sacrificing designer labels, after all. There are plenty of designer discount sites on the internet, but when Natalie Massenet – who established Net-a-Porter – decides to start one, you know it's going to be good. It will launch in April with standard discounts of up to 60 per cent off the original price and up to 80 per cent off specially selected items.

Woodstock Nostalgia

Get set for a wave of nostalgia on the 40th anniversary of the mother of festivals. Leading the charge are a new Ang Lee feature and a landmark book by the legendary Genesis Publications (of 'Beatles Anthology' fame) featuring an unpublished trove of photographs and exclusive interviews.

Charles Darwin

Non-theism is, like, totally hot right now. Ride an atheist bus to the Natural History Museum for Darwin's Big Idea Exhibition (ends 19 April) or join the British Humanist Association to petition for 12 February, Darwin's birthday, to be made a public holiday.

The Aryan Papers

The best Stanley Kubrick film you never saw – and that he never made. His plans for this wartime drama, starring Johanna ter Steege, are the basis of an installation by Jane and Louise Wilson. (To 26 April at BFI Southbank)

Long-haul travel

South Africa and Australia are the hot long-haul choices for 2009. Both are good moneyspinners for currency-challenged Brits, and if you travel in April and June you'll get the best deals on flights. The One&Only, launching on Cape Town's waterfront, and the Wolgan Valley Resort, opening in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, are two new luxury lodgings you could find that bit more affordable.

Beggars' opera

Can't afford to take a trip to Covent Garden this year? Check out the conservatories instead. At the Royal Academy of Music, Trevor Pinnock conducts Haydn's 'La Fedeltà Premiata' from 2 March. At the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Martin Lloyd Evans directs 'The King Goes Forth to France' from 4 March. At the Royal College of Music, Laurence Cummings conducts Handel's 'Alessandro' from 30 March.

The Devil's Paintbrush

A change of direction for Jake Arnott, who made his name with sharp Sixties thrillers such as 'The Long Firm'. This tale of the unlikely alliance between a disgraced gay general and the "Great Beast" himself, Aleister Crowley, shows off his gift for literary ventriloquism and his eye for period detail. No matter how marginalised his characters, Arnott's imaginative sympathy never fails. (Sceptre, 28 May)


One of this season's hottest trends, fringes took on a Navaho feel at Hermès, looked slick and silky at Jil Sander and evoked the 1920s at Alberta Ferretti. On everything from bags to boots, dresses to tops, in leather, suede or silk, fringing is an easy way to update your look. And yes, the 1980s hair metal groupie look is acceptable.


The misery memoir is dead, replaced by a more upbeat and forgiving take on the past. Christopher Fowler's south London childhood was deeply weird (no wonder he became a best-selling horror and crime fiction author), but the tone is sunny, and anyone who remembers Mivvis, jamboree bags, streets with no cars, Sid James and vast old Odeons will love this Sixties retro-fest. (Doubleday, 12 February)


Rough-hewn kitchen kit is where it's at this year. Ever with his eye on the main chance (when he's not educating us), Jamie Oliver has a new range of accessories out, of which the star is a wooden chopping board complete with bark attached. See for more details. Along the same lines: huge bowl shapes of cork, brought back from holidays in Sardinia, just perfect for fruit.

Ellie Kendrick

No one who watched the BBC's 'Diary of Anne Frank' last month could help but be in awe of this young actress. Next on her rapidly filling dance card is 'An Education', a Nick Hornby-scripted movie co-starring fellow rising star Carey Mulligan. But the real reason to get excited is the just-announced news that she will play Juliet in the London Globe's new theatre season. Start queuing now.

Double-sided cricket bats

The increase in slap-bang Twenty20 cricket and Kevin Pietersen-style "switch-hitting" (right-handers playing left-handed shots and vice versa) will lead to the rise of double-sided bats. But it won't just be for smashing the ball; it will assist in the new "lap" shot, where a batsman shovels the ball over his shoulder.

Red Riding

It's going to be author David Peace's year, with his novel 'The Damned Utd' on the big screen, and Channel 4 screening adaptations of his cult 'Red Riding' trilogy about Yorkshire in the Seventies and Eighties – the Ripper years. Starring David Morrissey, Paddy Considine and Maxine Peake, the feature-length films promise to be that old chestnut – must-see TV.

Tap water

Is it finally going to make the breakthrough this year and become an acceptable ask in posh restaurants? When given the binary option of "still or sparkling" it takes guts to go the third way and request a jug of tap water, and having guts is always stylish. And think of the thankful landfill sites...

Sickert in Venice

Now that we've all forgotten that Walter Sickert was supposed to be Jack the Ripper (according to the poisoned pen of Patricia Cornwell), we can appreciate him as a painter again. Head to the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London from 4 March.


The city break of the year must be Berlin, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the razing of its notorious wall. Special events will take place throughout the year, culminating in a huge concert held on both sides of the Brandenburg Gate, the Festival of Freedom, on 9 November.

Star Trek

If you've ever wondered how James T Kirk came to captain the SS 'Enterprise', you're in luck (if a bit sad): the 11th 'Star Trek' promises to fill in the gaps. And thanks to its director, J J 'Lost' Abrams, it may be the first 'Star Trek' film for non-Trekkies.

Natascha Stolle

Formerly an assistant to Peter Jensen, fashion designer Stolle graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2008. Describing her designs as for "women who wish they'd been sluts in high school", Stolle showed slouchy modern shapes that have a similar cool air to Alexander Wang. Look out for her this London Fashion Week.


This Canadian mixture of hang-gliding and snowboarding is set to become the latest fashion on the piste. The rider is suspended in the air using a harness around his waist, attached to a small crane-like contraption at the back of the board. A T-shaped bar allows you to steer with your hands, while your feet are strapped into a rudder at the back. It's unclear how you get the thing to stop, though.

Celluloid Chanel

Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel was not only a revolutionary designer responsible for popularising the little black dress, she also had a pretty eventful personal life, which two films will explore this year. Karl Lagerfeld is working on the costumes for 'Coco Avant Chanel', starring Audrey Tatou, focusing on her early life, while 'Coco & Igor', directed by William Friedkin, will explore her relationship with Stravinsky.


Forget last summer's wash-out; the weak pound and green aspirations could prove strong enough reasons to make a holiday at home de rigueur this year. Homecoming Scotland, a calendar bursting with events celebrating all things Scottish, is perhaps the biggest effort to get us splashing out within our own borders.

The Damned United

2009's most hotly awaited British film (out 27 March) is set during Brian Clough's brief tenure at a rainy Leeds in 1974. Swearing, football jerseys and macho hypertension are all going to have their moment, courtesy of the cream of UK talent (including Michael Sheen, below left).

Bushy eyebrows

Think Mariel Hemingway in Woody Allen's 'Manhattan' or Brooke Shields, rather than Noel Gallagher. As seen at Dior, Chloé, Chanel and Marni, the big defined brow is back. If yours are a bit sparse or Dietrich-esque, fill them in with Benefit's Brow Zing's eyebrow powder rather than a pencil.


Could London's Shoreditch get any cooler? Yes, if Sir Terence Conran has anything to do with it. His new project, Boundary, a converted warehouse in an E2 street, has already opened the doors of its restaurant, café and food store, and a rooftop bar and grill is due to open in April. But the big news for travellers will be the addition this spring of 12 bedrooms and five suites, featuring designs inspired by the likes of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. Prices start at £200 per night;

Distressed fabrics

From a crumpled cotton and metal mix fabric at Prada, to wrinkled trousers at Burberry, and slashed, bleached denim at Balmain, distressed and damaged fabrics were all over the spring/summer catwalks. It's the perfect trend for low maintenance.

Grigor Dimitrov

The 17-year-old Wimbledon and US Open junior champion is starting to make inroads at senior level. He took Rafael Nadal to three sets in Rotterdam last week after beating Tomas Berdych (world No 23). The Bulgarian has just teamed up with Peter Lundgren, the coach who worked with Roger Federer and Marat Safin. His big serve and matching groundstrokes will trouble the very best.

Terry Gilliam

Nothing keeps this man down. Undeterred by the death of the leading man, Heath Ledger, the director has salvaged his fantasy epic 'The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus' with a bit of fancy digital footwork and the help of Jude Law, Colin Farrell and Johnny Depp. Prepare (in June) to be amazed and moved.


The lousy exchange rate, the precarious climate, the godawful easyJet experience... Britain is the hot destination this year. As the festival season grows and diversifies, taking the kids to Glastonbury or Bestival becomes the new family holiday. Edinburgh, meanwhile, is the new Prague, and insiders have long known that the Dales are as good as Tuscany, with better beer.

3D films

Keep a packet of Nurofen handy as the new wave of 3D films – new, improved, more stylish glasses – rolls in. It's mainly kids' stuff from Disney (the sophisticated 'Bolt'), Pixar (new film 'Up', a revived 'Toy Story') and Sony ('Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs', out in September) but expect eyeball-popping horror too, like the recent 'My Bloody Valentine'.

Mobile Gaming

Playing Scrabble on Facebook with the person next to you at work is so last year. Thanks largely to Apple, in 2009 you'll be doing everything on your phone. Even playing chess. With your uncle in Australia. On the way to work. What do you mean, you don't have an iPhone? It's available Pay As You Go now...

The return of Jez Butterworth

The maverick playwright who made his name with 'Mojo' in the 1990s stages his comeback with a double whammy. 'Parlour Song' is a comedy about stale married life, starring Toby Jones, Amanda Drew and Andrew Lincoln (Almeida, London N1, 19-25 March). Then in the Royal Court's main house, Mark Rylance will take the lead in 'Jerusalem' (10 July-15 August), playing a middle-aged English waster on St George's Day.

Norteno music

A Mexican genre featured in the upcoming film 'Rudo y Cursi' ("tough and corny"), which comes out in June and stars the 'Y tu mama tambien' duo Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna. See the YouTube video for GGB as you've never seen him before – and Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me" like you've never heard it.

Bob Bob Ricard

As our restaurant reviewer, Terry Durack, points out, "affordable fun" is something we're all going to need this year. This new restaurant in Golden Square, central London, serves it up from 7am to 3am, with The Wolseley's food, The Ivy's service, Little Chef's weird touches, personal toasters and buzzers for champagne. (1 Upper James Street, London W1)

D-Day: The battle for Normandy

Antony Beevor, the million-selling author of 'Stalingrad' and 'Berlin', uses new research including tapes of interviews with soldiers who saw the action. Most controversially, it appears the shooting of German prisoners was normal practice. The book also takes a fresh look at the reputation of Montgomery, the British general whose poor leadership led to tragic mistakes being made. (Viking, 28 May)

99p Stores

The modern equivalent of the everything-for-sixpence shop, 99p Stores and its extortionate pound shop equivalents have seen a steep rise in A and B-strata customers since the recession hit. Our tip? Take your own carrier bag. And do say: "I'd have paid a fiver for this in Lidl." Don't say: "How much is this?"

The Secret Garden Party

The surprise success of 2008, this not-for-profit boutique festival in Cambridgeshire had a quirky line-up that included Grace Jones, Noah and the Whale, and the Hoosiers. Set in a 10-acre garden with a lake, it includes skinny dipping, sock-wrestling-championships, hammocks, karaoke, maypole dancing and a fiery finale. Takes place from 23 to 26 July.

Suicidal penguins

Werner Herzog's antidote to 'March of the Penguins' is his Oscar-nominated documentary 'Encounters at the End of the World', in which the maestro visits Antarctica, rails against "insipid new-age philosophy" and asks whether it's possible for a penguin to be deranged. It is. (Released in April)

Naked ladies parties

Otherwise known as clothes swaps. The ethical and budget-friendly way to update your wardrobe in 2009. Lose some garments, gain some garments, renew your belief in the adage "one man's meat", etc. Often accompanied by homemade cakes and tea to complete the make-do-and-mend chic.

Barb Jungr

She's not new – in fact this highly idiosyncratic chanson diva has been performing and recording for years – but she's reached beyond cult status and is tantalisingly close to mass attention with her jazzy versions of Dylan, Elvis and (last year) Nina Simone. Check out her singing "Like a Rolling Stone" on YouTube, then quickly get the back catalogue for your next dinner party.

A nice bit of skirt

As in beef... The race is on among the foodie classes to find and cook with the most unfashionable cut of meat. Many think offal is still awful, but homemade chicken liver pâté and beef casserole is far, far cooler to serve these days than oysters and seared salmon. Make friends with your butcher, if your high street still has one.


Damon Albarn plays in an east London collective, we hear, and little leagues are springing up all over the place, as this once-comical sport gets popular with the blokey set. Get on to find out if anyone's getting rid of a table near you, and start honing your paddle skills. Come summer, everyone will be into table tennis. Put thoughts of Boris Johnson's "whiff-whaff" and Forrest Gump out of your head.

Tony Manero

The 'Saturday Night Fever' revival, Chilean style: Pablo Larrain's disturbing drama, set in Pinochet-era Chile, stars Alfredo Castro as a no-hoper who fancies himself as John Travolta's dancefloor king – but displays character traits closer to Travis Bickle. (Opens April)

A Sleepwalk on the Severn

The reclusive gardener-poet Alice Oswald won the T S Eliot Prize for her nature-infused, book-length poem 'Dart', which traced in verse the course of the Devon river she lived by. Her new book explores the magical influence of the moon on the waters of the Severn estuary. One of the most accessible and lyrical poets at work today. (Faber, April)


Enjoy Sacha Baron Cohen's turn as the gay Austrian fashionista – this film is surely the last time that anyone in the world falls for one of the comedian's alter egos ...

Flip video camera

It was on every scenester's Christmas list, and now it's just £75 – the Flip (right) has gone global and this tiny, slightly tinny video camera has legions of fans. For plug and watch fun it can't be beaten; just remember that like digital snaps, digital movies are easy to take, less easy to edit...

From the Basement

Those who remember 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' might be not quite, er, youthful enough to have heard of 'From the Basement', but young or old, any music fan must be appraised of this dazzling live-performance TV show. Sadly it has just finished a low-profile run on Sky Arts, but has clips from Radiohead, Fleet Foxes, Seasick Steve and many more. A labour of love from Nigel Godrich and his team, the shows are lovingly shot in HD and bear repeated viewing till a new series comes along.

Cloud computing

You've got your cheap, compact netbook, but don't want to clog up its dainty hard drive with thousands of pictures or shell out for expensive software – so why not take advantage of the increasing amounts of highly accessible, inexpensive storage and applications online and upload everything into the "cloud"?

Rufus Wainright

We know he's elegant. We know he can write a song. But can Rufus Wainright cut it as an opera composer? First destined for the Met, now premiering at the Manchester International Festival, 'Prima Donna' debuts on 10 July, with costumes by Viktor & Rolf.

Gran Torino

Clint Eastwood's acting swansong (he says) is, by all accounts, wonderful. From the unpromising premise of a grouchy Korean war veteran trying to protect his pride and joy car (of the title) from theft by his young Asian neighbour, a finely nuanced and moving story emerges. We'll miss your grimaces, Clint, but please don't retire from directing too...

Flight of the Conchords

Where satire meets sexy. They achieved cult status when the self-described "formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo a cappella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo" moved from a BBC radio show to a US TV series. Spin-off album and tour followed, and their deadpan catchphrases threaten to take over when aficionados meet. A second studio album will be out soon, linked to the second series of the TV show, which started in the US in January. UK fans are holding their breath.

Stephen Jones

Definitely the nicest man in fashion, Jones curates Hats: An Anthology at the V&A in London from 25 February. The show will include the greatest hits of the veteran milliner who put Kylie Minogue in a feathered headdress and Princess Diana into a Tam o'Shanter, plus scores of memorable historical and contemporary headwear.

The Great Game

London's Tricycle Theatre has commissioned 12 half-hour dramas on the turbulent history of Afghanistan, where Britain has thousands of troops. From 17 April to 14 June they can be seen either four at a time over three evenings, or all 12 in a single day at the weekends. Falls into the category Tough but Rewarding.


Lisa Markwell, Katy Guest, Carola Long, Bill Tuckey, Hermione Eyre, Kate Simon, Suzi Feay, Kate Salter, Mike Higgins, Paul Newman, Andrew Tong, Jonathan Romney, Kate Bassett, Anna Picard, Ossian Ward, Luiza Sauma, Jenny Gilbert, Marc Padgett, Simon Redfern, Raymond Whitaker