WHEN you are Madonna – the popstar, not the religious figure – it must be exhausting to constantly find new and provocative ways to garner attention.

You start with fingerless lace gloves and before you know it you've burned through cone bra corsets, kimonos, cowboy chaps, leotards and fishnets, a top hat and cane, bullfighting traje de luces, latex catsuits and double denim.

After four decades, that queen of reinvention tag is clearly a bit of an albatross around the neck. Case in point: Madame X, the alter-ego that Madonna has adopted to promote her forthcoming album of the same name.

Madame X – in case you are wondering – is "a secret agent, travelling around the world, changing identities, fighting for freedom, bringing light to dark places."

Woah. Back up there. That first part is basically a rip-off of James Bond. As for "bringing light to dark places", isn't that, well, a lamp?

Anyway, hold that thought for a moment. We're not quite finished. Madame X is also "a dancer, a professor, a head of state, a housekeeper, an equestrian, a prisoner, a student, a mother, a child, a teacher, a nun, a singer, a saint, a whore and a spy in the house of love."

That's a lot to unpack but before we do, does anyone feel like they've just read a list of words plucked at random from a career adviser's database/the pages of a steamy Mills & Boon novel?

It could be that it all relates to something hugely clever – in which case I reserve the right to swiftly rescind this statement – but on first impressions this whole Madame X business smacks of someone frantically throwing darts at the zeitgeist in the hope of hitting a bullseye.

The problem with Madonna's latest incarnation is what masquerades as mystique is simply meh. It has been done to death. Madame X is old hat.

Here's a potted history. The name Madame X first pricked the public consciousness in 1884 with John Singer Sargent's portrait of Virginie Amelie Avegno Gautreau, an American socialite living in France. The painting shocked and scandalised Parisian society with its seductive nature.

Madame X is a 1908 play by French playwright Alexandre Bisson about a woman who is thrown onto the streets and loses her son after an extramarital affair, and features in the title of no fewer than 14 films including a 1966 drama directed by David Lowell Rich and starring Lana Turner.

It is also a cryptanalyst – a code breaker – who worked for the US Navy during both world wars, a glam metal band, a funk/R&B group and a British DJ Madam X (no "e"), aka Crissi Vassilakis, who is a stalwart of the underground dance music scene.

Now here's Madonna, late to the party and trying desperately to convince us all she's still edgy and relevant.

The rise of posh kebabs

SPEAKING of reinvention, has anyone else noticed the creeping scourge of the gourmet kebab? Similar to the burger boom a few years back, these pitta-clad interlopers are being hailed as culinary hip with a slew of dedicated restaurants.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not kebab bashing. But there is a time and a place. In short, the murky hours after midnight in a stowed out takeaway shop with fluorescent strip lighting. Not 7pm at an upmarket restaurant with upholstered banquette seating and stainless-steel cutlery.

Having dabbled in kebabs over the years I'm well versed in the drill. You lean on the counter and watch bleary-eyed and hiccupping as a guy in a grubby apron procures the fat-marbled grey meat, shaved in long slivers from what resembles a dismembered elephant leg on a rotating spit.

A handful of limp salad coupled with a squirt of neon pink chilli sauce is added to the spirals of gloopy meat, by now cradled in pitta bread.

Then off you wander into the night to eat it, ending up elbow deep in grease and looking like an extra from The Walking Dead chowing down on entrails.

It has emerged that a swanky London restaurant is selling a £60 kebab – or "kebabito" as they are being dubbed. The seven-course tasting menu at Kebab Queen includes barbecued foie gras and risotto, monkfish and milk buns filled with caramelised cream.

None of which sounds like a classic doner. But the chef who rustles these creations is vowing to take kebabs "as far as they can go". Enough. It ends here.

Whatever next? Pot Noodles and Findus Crispy Pancakes as haute cuisine? Actually, I hope so.

Recession dressing

Should we be worrying about the state of the economy? The reason I ask is that I've been carefully monitoring what fashionable types are wearing.

While the hemline index has long been used as rule of thumb, the idea being that the length of women's skirts become shorter as the economy booms and longer as it plummets, I would argue that the shoulder pad could be far more precise indicator.

Historically, and I impart this wisdom tongue-firmly-in-cheek, as the storm clouds begin to gather – be it during the Great Depression in the 1930s or the early 1980s and post-2008 recessions – the shoulder pad has risen swiftly to prominence.

Could a resurgence of Dynasty-style power shoulders – as spotted recently in the collections at Saint Laurent – mean that we should be bracing ourselves for potential financial Armageddon?

Possibly. More troubling is that while scrutinising shoulder pads I ended up down the rabbit hole of an entirely different and quite baffling trend: the boiler suit.

Typically the sartorial domain of decorators, mechanics, janitors and other hardworking manual occupations in this ilk, the boiler suit has become the coveted outfit of choice among fashionistas, worn to cocktail bars and swish parties.

Which should come in handy if a fuse blows or a toilet needs unclogged.