Sunday, 12 August 2012

Pre Collections: The Prologue

       Until recently I ignored pre collections. Until recently I decided that SS and AW shows were more important than pre collections and, as a result, tended to skirt past these mid-season masterpieces. And, in a sense, I wasn't wrong to do so. The SS and AW shows are, after all, the main course of fashion. They are the crème de la crème of the runway, whereas Pre collections are but mere starters. They can be ignored - but, what I didn't realise is, that doesn't mean they should be. What I didn't realise is - I'd been missing out.

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       Pre Collections are essential to modern fashion. Having come to existence as a derivation of cruise collections, pre collections allow designers to attend to their customers' needs all year round. They give their clientèle the chance to wear an array of all-weather pieces at times when the weather does whatever the weather feels like doing. They give their customers the chance to jet-set off to hot places in the middle of winter and look the part. Moreover, they have become so popular now that they now provide much of designers' revenues today.
        However, alongside their practical purposes, pre collections have a more artistic raison-d'être. They are not soulless money making machines - far from it, in fact. Pre collections bridge the gap between each season. They keep our fashion hungry minds fulfilled as they introduce us to new looks and aesthetics ahead of each season. What's more they allow us to anticipate the features and details of the SS/AW collections to come - be they the subtleties of a more feminine silhouette or the down-right obvious clues of an excessive use of the colour purple.
     
Pre Collections add to modern fashion and below is a selection of the most fashionable this season:

Marc Jacobs


       It always astounds me how Marc Jacobs can manage to produce two collections for three brands a year - Marc by Marc Jacobs, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton - let alone find time to create pre-collections as well, and yet he does so and he does so incredibly well. This season's pre collection sees him maintain the waist-cinching, calf-hanging silhouette of his AW collection, whilst injecting it with a lighter less brooding attitude. The result is a success and the PVC/ foil details are the icing on a terribly fashionable cake. 

Alexander McQueen


       Granted I'm echoing the words of fashion journalists and bloggers worldwide but Sarah Burton really does go from strength to strength at McQueen and this couldn't be more evident than in her most recent pre collection for the brand. The ornateness of her previous efforts still remains, as do the statement pieces, however Burton has executed them in her most wearable way to date. From jumpsuits to ball gowns Burton has done McQueen proud and those oversized clasp belts will no doubt become a must have in weeks to come.

Versace


       One of the most appealing features of Versace clothing is its tackiness. In most brands, the prints and overt sexuality would seem somewhat over-bearing and yet with Versace it works. This time round Donatella has decided to go girlish with a Versace edge. The hot pink trouser suits and shirts of the collection are not twee but instead possess a harsh sexuality, just as inviting as it is daring. Moreover, with the studs and black detailing to boot, the Versace girl hasn't looked this punk in years.

Christopher Kane


      Kane's clothing always oozes femininity - but in a modern sense. Be it neon body-cons or floral leathers it is always clear that Kane adores the feminine form; he creates his clothes to compliment it. For his SS pre collection Kane has reinvented old favourites, whilst playing about with print and the results couldn't be more perfect. Whether it's a hooded track pant duo your after or an elegant dress with a splash of paint this season, Kane has designed it and he's designed it beautifully.

Chanel


       It's safe to say that Karl Lagerfeld is the king of Pre-collections. Having designed cruise collections for years, Lagerfeld has perfected the art of Pre. Moreover, in true Lagerfeld style, he has made said collections no less important than those of AW and SS - who else goes to the length of organising fountain featuring shows in France's most beautiful locations for their mid-season affairs? The clothes speak for themselves and be it in a crepe mint dress or a voluminous gold circle-skirt, Chanel will keep you stylish all mid-season long.

       So - are you sold? I certainly am. Pre collections are practical but more importantly beautiful and, regardless of my situation in years to come, I will now make time for them - cos they're worth it.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Sporting Fashion

       At 9PM on Friday the 29th of July  Danny Boyle set off the London 2012 Olympic games with a quirky extravaganza of all things British. From Voldermort and Mary Poppins to James Bond and the Queen, Boyle created a unique spectacle to celebrate London's third hosting of the games. A spectacle worthy not only of our country but of the 10,500 athletes from around the world taking part in this year's event. A spectacle worthy not only of the U.K. but the Olympic games and their legacy.


         Up until the age of 14 my interest in sport was void. Having been forced to engage in the likes of Rugby, Hockey and Cricket as a child - all for which I possess no knowledgeable talent - my realisation as to what sport could be was limited to say the least. Up until the age of 14 I avoided sport in every possible way. I avoided sport like I avoided Crocs. However, aged 14 I was introduced to aerobics and running, and, whilst to this day I still possess little knowledge of the world of sport, I enjoy it. I enjoy sport.
       I enjoy sport so much so that I currently find myself immersed in the Olympic Games. I currently find myself watching and supporting athletes take part in sports I've never heard of, screaming at the television when Team GB miss out on a medal and hoping that, with any luck, the BBC will show yet another clip of Tom Daley and his amazing body ..err - talent. I find myself immersed in a world of which I've never really been a part and yet, like fashion, am inhaling.
   

       Luckily for me though fashion is inhaling sport too. In spirit of the 2012 Olympic games, SS fashion  has been sportier than ever. From the fluorescent jackets of BCBG Max Azria to the glossy track pants of Hakaan the 2012 SS collections were littered with sporting references. In fact, such was the inspiration of the 2012 Olympic games that many designers avoided the traditional catwalk to showcase their designs in favour of more sporting venues - for Versus Versace Christopher Kane had his zip clad models walk down a basketball court. He mixed sport with fashion to great success.
        In the same way, magazines are mixing sport with fashion too. Alongside its Kate Moss, Olympic goddess cover, British Vogue ran a spread on Team GB's best hopes for 2012. What's more the magazine is taking part in this year's closing ceremony. Having enlisted the help of Nick Knight, the magazine is providing images for the much-hyped event. Meanwhile, across the pond in the U.S., American Vogue has captured its own stars in its own sports themed shoot - using Karlie Kloss to compliment its own athletes the magazine has created one of its most humorous spreads to date.

       
        In fact, it seems one need only blink at fashion these past few months to notice that it has been dominated by sport - completely. However, just as the fashion world has embraced sport this SS, the sporting world has embraced fashion. Nike's new Flyknit racers, for instance - the most on demand trainer for London 2012 - take inspiration from Missoni's intricate patterns. The knit structure is incredible. What's more one need only take into account the array of fashion designer's involved in this year's Olympic kits to see that the world of sport is currently fascinated with fashion: Armani, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Hermès...
        In Great Britain itself Stella McCartney has helped Adidas create the perfect kit for our athletes. Having been enlisted to design a kit that would make Britain's athletes stand out from the pack, she has done just that. McCartney has created a kit which not only performs well but looks good. She has adapted the British flag to give it a more modern edge and has designed sportswear for all of our athletes. From gymnasts to swimmers and rowers to runners McCartney has married style and effectiveness in Team GB's kit. She has made Team GB proud and proved herself as a unstoppable force to be reckoned with.

Left to right: Eleaonor Simmonds, triple jumper Phillips Idowu, gymnast Louis Smith and heptathlete Jessica Ennis pose wearing the new Team GB kits designed by British designer Stella McCartney (centre) for the London 2012 Olympic Games, at a viewing in London on Thursday, March 22, 2012.

       And this is why the world's of fashion and sport collide so effortlessly. Not simply because sport is a  visual activity and athletes want to both look and feel their best whilst performing, but because successful athletes and designers are both unstoppable forces to be reckoned with. They are talents that constantly seek to better themselves. They are people who, regardless of what faces them, seek to stand out among their competition. They are both driven. Subsequently, there is an intrinsic link between the two and the unification of sport and fashion reflects that. 

       So be it in the form of sports-infused fashion or fashionable sportswear - take part in the unification of sport and fashion this Olympics. Update your sportswear or update your wardrobe - in the fashion Olympics, you have nothing to lose.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Fashion Bible & Its Disciples

       For years Vogue has been considered the 'Fashion Bible'. For years Vogue has been considered  the undisputed leader of all that is fashion. Elle, Harper's Bazaar and even InStyle have established their own respective places within the fashion industry but Vogue still remains the forerunner in fashion magazines. No other fashion monthly has ever managed to balance commercial appeal and high fashion editorials quite like Vogue and for that reason it is and, no doubt, always will be the 'Fashion Bible'. 


       However, alongside Vogue, exists an array of unique disciples. Alongside Vogue exists a selection of biannual and bimonthly treats created to satisfy and fulfil our fashion-led desires. Exotic surprises laid out for us to devour on demand. Magazines, which, whilst not as commercial as their monthly counterparts, stand out in their quirkiness and deserve recognition. Thus, by the means of this blog, I am going to write about a few of my favourites. I am going to promote Vogue's most notable disciples.

WONDERLAND


       Wonderland is the magazine, which is perhaps most famous for its utterly stylish fashion editor, Julia Sarr-Jamois. Luckily for Wonderland though, it is the magazine equivalent of its fashion editor. Both are visual feasts for the eyes - Sarr-Jamois for her eccentric outfit combos and Wonderland for its out-there styling and both are intelligent forces to be reckoned with - Sarr-Jamois for her creative concepts and Wonderland for its down-to-earth features and interviews. The magazine acts as an advert for all things visually pleasing and with its bimonthly release it never fails to  impress.

i-D


      i-D. From the infamous wink face, as pictured above and in its logo, to its playful photo-shoots, i-D is the rare fashion magazine that never fails to find the humour in fashion. Inside every issue is a witty theme played out through an array of anecdotes and editorials, be it Lights, Camera, Action or Whatever the Weather and each is as intriguing as the next. What's more i-D never shies away from promoting up and coming models and talents and, in doing so, allows them, like their celebrity counterparts, to decorate the news stands with great success.

HUNGER


      Hunger is the newest of Vogue's disciples and yet, in spite of this, is no less impressive than its peers. It is the love child of photographer Rankin - a portfolio of his work and, whilst this may seem somewhat self-indulgent - because, well, it is - Rankin makes up for it with his talent and the unique content of the magazine. From Tilda Swinton poetry to unlikely interviews, Hunger intrigues and engages its reader throughout its multitude of pages. Moreover, the photography is stunning and with no adverts at all this biannual magazine is well worth its on-sale price.

LOVE


        Much like Hunger, LOVE is a biannual magazine which works exclusively with a photographer and, much like Hunger, it gets away with it. Within its 7 issues on the news stands, the photographers Mert & Marcus have captured Beth Ditto - not to mention most of the world's top models - naked, Kate Moss and Lea T engaged in a kiss and Linda Evangelista aged 46 proving that she's still got that je-ne-sais-quoi. Within its 7 issues LOVE's editor Katie Grand has ignored commercial formulas in favour of controversy and creativity and for that reason is part of something rather special.

       So there we have it: four of Vogue's most notable disciples and, with the end of the month looming, new issues await us all. In fact, LOVE hits the stands July 31st - happy reading everyone.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Back to the Future

        No matter how experienced you are at something, returning to it after taking a break is daunting. For Serena Williams returning to tennis a year after her 2010 injuries was daunting. However, as Wimbledon's women's singles final proved last weekend, it was worth it. Not only did she return to a well-established career as a tennis-player but she built upon it - a year and a half after returning to the game she matched her sister's impressive feat of five Wimbledon wins and became one of the oldest women to win the title. Aged 30 she worked her way back to the top.
        Now, whilst the similarities between myself and Serena Williams are small to say the least - I too am returning to something I love after taking a break. In what has been a month of ups and downs - A-levels and end of school celebrations, I have had to put blogging to one side. In a month of biting nails and unnerving stress, the sheer escapade and enjoyment of fashion itself has been, more or less, avoided by me, in an attempt to buckle down and secure the grades I need for university.


         However, it being July, exams are over and I can, for the first time in what seems like forever, blog. For the first time in a month I can sit, inhale fashion and write. Moreover, it being July, I have plenty to blog about: shows - the shows at London's first men's fashion week, the subsequent menswear shows in Paris and Milan, the couture shows...and yet, in the midst of all of these, there is one show which stands out in particular. One show which seems a little more blog-worthy than the rest: Raf Simons' debut at Dior.
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        For a year and a half Dior was leaderless. In the year and half after Galliano was asked to leave Dior, the brand wandered somewhat aimlessly in the world of fashion with no exact idea as to what it should do or what it should be post Galliano. Without a figurehead to inject it with fresh creative vision the brand seemed somewhat confused and so the announcement of Galliano's successor in April - Raf Simons - was a welcome sigh of relief for both the brand and fashion world alike. A promise of a new Dior.
       Simons, however, did appear to be a somewhat strange choice for Dior. He is, as his eponymous and Jil Sander collections prove, a master of minimalism, whereas Christian Dior himself was renowned not for his subtlety but for the thrills and trills he brought to fashion and design and Galliano, if anything, accentuated that. Galliano built upon the ball gowns and developed the theatrics of Dior so that the brand stood out  in its extravagance - one need only look at his final couture show with the label to see just how extravagant Galliano made it.



       And yet the appointment of Simons as Dior's new creative director is not as strange as it may have originally seemed. The fashion world loves modernisation and, as recent couture shows have proved, fashion has begun to lean more towards the practical side of design than the impractical. In appointing Simons at Dior, the brand made two bold but necessary statements - first that they are modernising Dior and second that they are moving on from Galliano's era of overt opulence. They are changing. 
       And boy did Simons' debut at Dior fulfil what it promised. Gone was Galliano's loveable excess and in its place came Simons' sleeker take on the Dior dame. In the form of LBDs and cropped trousers Simons established the 2012 Dior woman: a lady who oozes elegance and luxury without having to shout about it. What's more is that Simons even dared recreate Dior's infamous 'New Look' dress - he reworked it in black and yellow tie die to great success. He hailed a new Dior. A new 'New Look' and the result couldn't have been more slick.


        In his first couture show for the label Simons somehow managed to create a subtle Dior. He created a Dior in respect of its antithesis: Chanel. He took us back to the future with a restrained but beautiful take on couture and, in his hands, the future's bright, very bright indeed.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Going for Gold

        It may be a well-known fact but covers sell. Content may sustain loyal followings of avid readers but covers sell magazines. They are the devices which entice us into acknowledging the news-stands. They are the tools which force us to take into account what lays behind them. They are the gimmicks which cause us to momentarily discard of our shopping and delve into their depths, so that with any luck, when we arrive at the checkout, they are in our grasps ready to be purchased. Covers sell - but, more importantly, what exactly makes a good cover?
       Vogue has acted and still acts as a fashion bible in the U.K. today and around the world. However, regardless of its prominence in the magazine arena it, like any magazine, still struggles to gauge exactly which covers will appeal to the masses and which won't - it still struggles to get it right. Kate Moss' May 2003 Aladdin Zain inspired cover may be one of Vogue's most famous but it is also one of its least successful. The cover, despite being beautiful, edgy and interesting, failed to entice the public into buying it at the time of its release. It didn't sell.


        However, whilst the poor sales of Moss' Bowie cover may always remain a mystery to fashionistas and fashion editors across the globe, there do seem to be some general rules as to which covers sell and which don't. There seems to be a general list of dos and don'ts in the publishing world and, though these aren't fool-proof, they do for mostly work. Regardless of time or place, a cover with the perfect ingredients should sell and it should sell well.

The Ingredients

      The first ingredient is a celebrity. Whilst beauty may be at the heart of fashion magazines, the in depth interviews and celebrity photo-shoots alike are what sell them and so, a celebrity draped in Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren is far more likely to sell than a model in Haider Ackermann or Helmut Lang. We live in a celebrity culture and our magazines reflect that.  No doubt Elle's first male cover will sell well - who doesn't love David Beckham...topless?


         The second ingredient is space. It may sound stupid but a cover needs space to work. Crowd it and it will blend into the crowd of magazines that surround it - no matter how clever or kitsch its concept is. British Vogue learnt this lesson in January 2002 when it decided to put 10 of Britain's biggest models on its cover in 10 different Union Jack dresses each designed by 10 different British designers. Whilst the idea was great, and incredibly patriotic, it was too busy and, as a result it failed to sell well. It was an expensive failure.


         The third and final ingredient is an eye-catching colour. The magazine needs to stand out among its counterparts and chances are in nude tones of beige and magnolia it won't. It will fade into oblivion. Red usually does the trick as it's not too offensive and it's not too dull. It's sensual, it's flattering and it makes us gawp and stare at those who wear it - whether it's Jennifer Lopez in a gorgeous Bottega Veneta creation or Cheryl in a figure-hugging scarlett number. Red works.


        So there we have it - the recipe for a top-selling magazine cover: celebrity, space and colour...and looking at British Vogue's June issue, they've done just that. Now on her 32nd British Vogue cover Moss is something of a celebrity, there is space in abundance and with the seductive detail of a red lip the colour is there. What's more is that with the rope and the Versace dress Moss looks like an Olympic Goddess. The cover is a beacon for the 2012 Olympics and as a result is publishing perfection; it's relevant and it's beautiful. Vogue really has gone for gold this issue.


        However, whilst covers such as these are beautiful, a risk can work too. Vogue UK's mirrored millennium cover, Kate Moss' silhouette and Lily Cole's summer extravaganza all proved that a magazine can sell well without conforming to these rules. Formulas work but sometimes, just once in while, something different catches our eye and it sells...what type of covers catch your attention?