Today's shoot has something of a baroque feel, lavishly hung with drapery, brocades and thick velvets. There's a Napoleonic chaise longue or two also - alongside those passementerie-festooned crimson drapes that unfurl to begin every scene. The array of candles on set are a reference to one of Michael Howells' favourite films, the Josef von Sternberg classic 'The Scarlet Empress' - for the uninitiated, a visually mind-boggling (if somewhat historically fanciful) biopic of the life of Catherine the Great starring Marlene Dietrich. As a self-confessed Dietrich fanatic (witness my gushing review of the Fashion in Film showing of 'Desire' last year), this is right up my street and well within my frame of reference: the extraordinary 'Marriage' scene, where Dietrich's increasingly erratic breath causes candles to tremble, is obviously on the cards. Likewise, Michael tells me, is the equally stunning 'Birth', where von Sternberg's camera masterfully leads the eye through the fine mesh of a tulle canopy. Michael's baroque materials, quite naturally, have all the opulence of a silver screen Winter Palace.