Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Holiday Chic

It's official - whilst the weather may be far from snowy and our present shopping far from complete...the holiday season is here. Nativity plays are being put on, candy canes are being handed out and festive lights surround the city streets. Christmas is all around and whether we celebrate it or not, a day off is at our doors and the chance to sit with the family, put our feet up and reflect upon 2011.
And fashion is embracing the Christmas spirit too – one need only look at the Selfridges window displays to see that Christmas cheer is here as it sells an array of AW designs in a winter wonderland theme. Even Karl Lagerfeld has appeared to take the season to heart in Paris with his quirky new doll displays for Chanel. As they indeed suggest that, if any of us are lucky enough, Lagerfeld could be our very own Father Christmas this season. Here’s hoping…


And that's what's so wonderful about this time of year - regardless of profession or background it affects us all.  Even in the fashion world people stop for a day to appreciate tradition. We take a pause and look at what's most important in life: family. In fact, if we are lucky, it's the products of the fashion world which bring our families together. As we give and receive the produce of AW designs, be they Topman fair-isles or Calvin Klein knitted snoods, in prospect of the winter weather to come.
However, this year my Christmas will be different. It will not be full of winter relevant gifts this year because this evening I fly to Australia. I will be spending two weeks with my family down under. The Christmas spirit will be there but the weather will not; it will be summer. Cardigans and jumpers will be locked away at home and shorts and shades will be out on show. I will have the chance to embrace SS fashions once more as I make an escape into the luxury of holiday chic.


And it is holiday chic which we all enjoy when abroad, whether our escape is to the Alps or Argentina. It allows us to select a collection of clothes from our wardrobes which will allow us to look fabulous for each and every day of our holiday: from Jerry Hall swimsuit perfection to Missoni après ski glamour the holidays are our very own fashion parade. Holidays after all are full of photos – appearance is important and heaven knows if you’re like me you pack everything you can to give you options. You won’t wear everything you pack but you will look good every day of the holiday because you can.            
It is this spirit which we as fashionistas should attempt to apply to our day to day lives wherever we are – there may not always be a camera in front of us but that doesn't matter; we needn't be in a special place with special people to make an effort. We can make an effort for ourselves. As British Vogue focuses on in this month’s issue – escapes abroad are important. They provide interest and intrigue to our lives but we can achieve this escape through fashion…the backdrops of the shoots below merely reflect what the clothes the models wear themselves achieve: escape.
            

            And so this Christmas wherever you may be: at home, on holiday – escape with holiday chic. Utilise fashion for its purpose and enjoy because with fashion every day can feel like a holiday…fashion and a bit of  classic Maddona.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Hairography

   You had a bad day...chances are you had a bad hair day.


Whether we like it or not our hair in many ways defines our look. It can enhance our facial features, complement our complexions and even change our moods. If your hair looks as though it's just flicked off of a L'Oréal commercial, chances are you will feel as though you have too. If it looks as though it's need of a bit of TLC, chances are you will be in need of some too.
I myself am in the TLC stage...my hair has grown out of its shape and as a result doesn't feel quite right. It isn’t my style. As a result, I have booked a haircut for this week. My hair will be transformed from its long and swishy state to a short and slick cut. Simples - but as I wait, I can't help but look at the ways in which hair has changed and developed along with the fashion world.


From Bridget Bardot beehives and Beatles mop tops in the 60s to Jackson 5 afros and Farah Fawcett feathered dos in the 70s, hairstyles like fashion define eras; they hand in hand with fashion represent and reflect culture. Moreover, their presence is exemplary of what's popular at the time because people imitate their idols through hair. It wasn't long after David Bowie decided to take on that infamous mullet that his army of male fans began to adopt the experimental look, something which remained popular up until the 90s.
However before Bowie's mullet there were other culturally important dos. Twiggy’s 1966 crop cut along with 1960s mini dresses not only represented fashion's change in image but  women’s emancipation. With the snip of a pair of scissors the 1950s housewife image was torn apart and it became clear that women were no longer forced to conform to the long locks and frocks of years gone by but could finally embrace the more androgynous and revealing aspects of their looks. Women could look and dress how they wished.

               
Similarly feathered dos and afros represented their eras; they were reflective of the luxury and excess which the 70s and 80s invoked both in fashion and in life. Unsurprisingly hair continues this trend today. The popular Mad-Men-esque cuts that so many men sport right now reflect our needs to have 'no muss no fuss' within our lives, whilst women's sudden fascination with colour evokes our sudden wish to explore in hair and in life.
It is this new obsession with colour which is interesting right now seeing as not only is red hair taking over blondes and brunettes in popularity stakes but fluoros are too. Thanks to natural beauties such as Florence Welch and Lily Cole and the dye brigade red hair is no longer dismissed but longed for. Likewise stars such as Rihanna prove that fluoros are cool too, not to mention the likes of Katy Perry and American model Charlotte Free whose pink styles have along with the colour of this years collections, brightened up the face of fashion.


It is this experimentation within hair which is so exciting. It recalls Christopher Kane's resurrection of neons and proves that, as Free's name would suggest and Lady GaGa sings, we really are as 'free as our hair'.
  
 

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A Fashion Appraisal

        We live in a day and age in which criticism is unavoidable. On a day to day basis we criticise people both internally and externally...often concerning what people wear. We are criticised and in turn we criticise others; it's natural. However, whilst criticism can be fun and often is an effective learning curve - there is a fine line between criticism and bitching and whilst criticism is cool bitching is not so.
       Criticism addresses flaws and mistakes in order that we might gain from them - it takes a negative and moves on from it positively. Whereas bitching points out the flaws in others unnecessarily and inappropriately, often in order to make us feel better about ourselves...something which is ever so easy to do. From women's weeklies to the tabloids there are entire columns devoted to bad-mouthing celebrity looks and whilst for the most part we like to look at outfits of others to see what works and what doesn't...sometimes we just want to see the perfect look not-so perfect. Sometimes we're just bitches.


      It's this bitching which can get sickening; it harms others and it harms ourselves. Sometimes it's important just to eat a bit of humble pie and move on. This is, after all, where many fashion monthlies succeed - they appraise successes. Instead of bitching over fashion faux-pas they applaud head-stopping style. They give   mistake-makers the chance to redeem themselves; those who muck-up mid-career a second chance. When John Galliano was fired from Dior, whilst the general media was all over the shop, fashionistas took into account his whole situation, digested it and left it behind.
     Thus whilst I find myself busy with deadlines, interviews, play rehearsals and the like, I am taking this momentary escape to take note from fashion and appraise it, to promote the high fashion which SS 2012 promises.

       For women: 


      Whilst it may seem as though our winter warmers are here to stay with bobble hats beginning to make their mark, it looks as though the ladies among us will have a painless swap come SS next year. Fashion's foremost designers have outdone themselves once more. From the daring multi-prints of London's Mary Katrantzou, to the ankle-skirt jumper combos of Jil Sander the extroverts will have a field day when March appears and as YSL's modern adaptations of its classic suits and jumpsuits prove, the season will have something for everyone.

        For men:


     Of course boys it's not as though we have been forgotten either, in fact far from it. The family duo DSquared2 have built on the boldness which brightened up our catwalks last SS with an array of lively chinos, not to mention brilliant print-play shirts. In contrast agnès b. has shown that daring can work alongside dandy this SS with an array of neckerchief masterpieces mixed in with modern chino blazer cuts and Alexander McQueen proves with its smart-casual creations that this look can carry off a more laid-back approach as well.

        In fact, as these designers prove, it looks as though there is a lot to look forward to in the not so distant future of fashion and very little to criticise, let alone bother bitching about.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Editor's Letter

     Behind every successful man there is an even better woman - QUESTIONABLE. 
Behind every successful magazine there is an even better editor - FACT.

   In a world where poverty is prominent and John and Edward run riot, there are magazines, which with the speed of clicking an Escape button allow us to ignore the world around us and delve into our interests whatever they may be: gossip, girls, fly-fishing, chess, vans...or indeed fashion.
      However, whilst fashion magazines ultimately hold their own on stands, it's the editing hands behind them  which often take our interest. Through editor's letters and public appearances alike it is these hands in which a magazines' success ultimately lies. Editors act both as puppeteers and models for their magazines.


   Anna Wintour, as fashion's most notable editor, proves this. Having edited U.S. Vogue since 1988, her trademark bob and chic Chanel sunglasses have made her more famous than the famous on the FROW. She is a mastermind of fashion and, with Vogue's monthly circulation of over 1.25 million copies in the U.S., she holds fashion's most powerful position. From jeans and jumper covers to celebrity introduction she is the magazine and whether or not she is reality's version of Miranda Priestly, it is her ruthless nature that is responsible for Vogue's success.
      In the U.K. Alexandra Shulman, unlike Wintour, is far from a catwalk celebrity. British Vogue may not be as commercial as its U.S. counterpart but it's editor is a tad more accessible. Being a size 12/14 and having no qualms about it, she defies her stereotype and quite Britishly acts upon it, having stood-up against sample sizes throughout her career. Her fame may not sell British Vogue but her down to earth nature does - and that along with Tim Walker shoots like this make for quite a mix.


    In fact it would seem that throughout Europe most Vogue editors emulate their magazines in some way or another and in turn they cause their magazines to emulate them and their viewpoints. Under the helm of model come socialite Carine Roitfeld Vogue Paris for the best part of ten years promoted her high society ideals in the form of fashion and now under the hands of the elusive Emmanuelle Alt it still upholds to its appealing yet somewhat unattainable attributes.
      Yet, perhaps out of all of Vogue's editors tough it is Vogue Italia's Fanca Sozzani who really epitomises the edition of her country. Being older than the magazine itself at the age of 61 she somehow manages like Vogue Italia to be edgy and up to date. The two may both be old in terms of years yet with regards to spirit and style they show no signs of ageing - Sozzani's tweets and blogs along with controversial photo shoots and magazine content confirm this.


      However, it is not just Vogue's editors who act as spokespeople for their works in the forefront of  fashion. i-D's Terry Jones promotes his magazine's cool street style to a tea as does his co-editor Hannah Shackleton. Similarly fashion editor Julia Sarr-Jamois exemplifies Wonderland; her outfits are always met with awe and intrigue, as are her articles. She is style and this can't help put predict exciting things for the future. Wonderland may only be 6 years old now but no doubt under Sarr-Jamois' hands this 6 could become 60...its success after all lies in its editors' hands.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Metro vs. Macho

Metro: A heterosexual, usually urban male who pays much attention to his personal appearance.
Macho: Having qualities considered manly, especially when manifested in an assertive or dominating way.

    In the past the term metrosexual didn’t exist. Of course people had metrosexual traits but it was widely considered that men were men, who did masculine things like chopping wood, whilst women were women who did feminine things like frolicking. However, as society has progressed, it would seem that these terms have been broken down.
    Metrosexuality itself was introduced as a concept in 1994 by the journalist Mark Simpson, as it was noticed that heterosexual men had begun to embrace things traditionally associated with women. Shopping for Tom Ford and groomingwith L'Oréal became things for the modern man and thanks to poster boys such as David Beckham and Nicholas Hoult it would now seem that metrosexuality is normal.


    People no longer need conform to the traditional traits associated with their respective genders and sexualities. A heterosexual woman can be a strong assertive figure like Beyoncé or Margaret Thatcher, just as a heterosexual man can have a vulnerable side and proudly cry in public like Prince Charles on Diana’s death or alternatively a butch rugby player during a rom-com - or so we think?
      As a homosexual who enjoys fashion, shaking my booty to Beyoncé and Mariah Carey ballads from the 1990s, I rarely face troubles concerning my disposition – I seem to fall into my stereotype. However, even in a day and age when metrosexuality is regarded it is clear that it is yet to be completely accepted outside the celebrity world – we still expect men to be men and women to be women.  People still seem to be completely offended by the idea that men and women can spend equal time on their appearances – it’s reversed sexism.
     Having spent the past few years in a day boys’ house I have noticed countless boys struggle over this issue. It seems that every event calls for boys to ice themselves in otherwise unused aftershave as they ponder 'Should I be as manly as King Kong or as metrosexual as a Ken doll?' No doubt, these fears translate into society - will a potential employer take me seriously if I put enough product in my hair to grease a cake tin or will a girl be attracted to me if I don't? 


     And this is where the trouble lies – girls and the generalised idea of what women want. Is it metrosexuality or is it masculinity? Do you want Chuck Bass or do you want Heathcliff? In a recent GQ article written by Victoria Coren, titled ‘Man Up!’ it was suggested that heterosexual men should be able to wire a plug, read a map and pitch a tent, all of which I can proudly just about do. However, I’m not proud of these because I’m a man but because they are useful skills for anyone to possess regardless of gender or sexuality. These are things which the modern person ought to be able to do - not just the modern man.
         She goes onto say ‘don’t dither’ – referring to men who spend ages over their look, ‘avoid cowering – nobody wants to see you shrieking at a spider' and ‘Be the first to say I love you’ – arguably so that she doesn’t have to put herself in that vulnerable position. Once again these are traits which ought to be universal and not just for men alone – shrieking without serious reason should just be banned full stop.


      Whilst Coren is clearly yearning for metro men to become more macho, it is widely considered that other heterosexual girls want the same. They want men to be masculine yet groomed, strong yet gentle, confident yet vulnerable, have swag yet not strut, be perfect yet flawed. Girls want men to be walking talking contradictions and whilst as humans there are innate contradictions in ourselves, to demand them to be demonstrated is just plain out rude. When the concept opposites attract was thought up it hadn’t occurred to me that these opposites were supposed to be innate within ourselves.
      What we mustn’t forget, however, is that these are generalisations. In reality all women have varying opinions on the matter of Metro vs. Macho, just as men do. Preferred characteristics will differ as will ideal looks and interests. All men are different as are women. No one man is a perfect specimen for everyone. We can’t all be 50/50 metro-macho jugglers. As humans we are innately androgynous – we have both masculine and feminine qualities to various degrees. And it is time for us to stop placing each other in boxes and understand that masculinity, femininity and metrosexuality are just concepts which we all fall under regardless of gender.



       Boys embrace both your masculine and your feminine sides as suits – although bear in mind that skipping showers isn’t manly, it’s just wrong. The term metrosexuality was invented so that heterosexual men could embrace their feminine sides without fear of having their sexuality question. Today we shouldn’t care what people think of our sexual orientation and we shouldn’t be so stereotypical. Sexualities and traits have patterns but these are not concrete. Being yourself is and hopefully always will be what’s most important, whether you are metro or macho is so 1990s. 

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Nostalgic Appeal of Dressing Up

      Throughout our lives we dress up: occasionally in costume, often in outfit. When attending an event we rarely go in our day to day wear but instead make that extra bit of effort and delve into the depths of our closets or local department stores to find something more suited to the occasion. You wouldn't turn up to the Opera in your ASOS trackies just as you wouldn't lounge in front of 'The X Factor' in a Tom Ford tuxedo - different outfits suit different things. 
         As a child a party was an excuse for me to dress up as a monster or cross-dress - come on boys who doesn't secretly enjoy wearing tights? Now that I'm older not much has changed I still enjoy the occasional bit of drag and I am a self confessed little monster; the difference is I now know that to dress up I needn't wear a costume. I needn't shove on a Godzilla mask or try as desperately as I can to look as feminine as Andrej Pejic's god-given DNA allows him.


     However Halloween, much like themed parties, is different. It is the perfect time to put on a costume, whatever it may be. It allows you forget about your inhibitions and dress as whatever you want and literally re-live your childhood fantasies. It gives you the chance to get creative or as Mean Girls so bluntly puts it 'In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.'
     And, whilst a sexy catwalk Louis Vuitton fetish combination is a success, it is the extra thought of celebrities and friends alike which can make Halloween such a special evening. One need only look at the efforts of those who have attended the likes of Heidi Klum's annual Halloween extravaganza to see the brilliance of costume. Jessica Alba's take on Dora the Explorer in 2009 was an unforgettable achievement - does anyone else find her strangely scary?



      And so this Halloween I planned to go all out, re-live my childhood years and dress up, as the Black Swan - drag and fashion all mixed into one mysterious bundle of Rodarte-esque brilliance. Sadly however last minute a friend of mine had forgotten to bring me her black leotard which would have made the centrepiece of my costume. I couldn't dress as I had hoped; instead I had to make do with what was already in my closet.
       However the party wasn't over, whilst I was unable to achieve the humour of Jessica Alba through a themed costume I did manage to layer on some guy-liner and get hold of a top hat. I didn't get hold of a hilarious outfit but I did dress up which allowed me to look and feel great and as a result have a great time with my friends for the entire evening.


     Dressing up is something which, whatever your age, is fun. Whether it's in costume or just a change of get-up,  it's something which allows us to dress how we'd like to, free of judgement and it's something we should all embrace and maybe adopt slightly more into our lives - embrace our GaGa. Halloween is the perfect occasion for it; it is the perfect occasion to encourage it and that's why readers 'it has recently come to my attention that I love Hallowe'en'.

Friday, 28 October 2011

High Fashion High Street

     In the U.K. we are lucky, whilst we may never be able to compare the quality of a Topman tee with that of one of Bailey's designs at Burberry, we can compare the style. The materials are different as is the craftsmanship but the look is not and this allows us to embrace fashion, which ever background we're from, as we create our own personal styles through fashion, whether its designer, high street or both.
    Our high street stores take the latest looks off of  the catwalk and mould them into more affordable versions for us to live-in, love and cherish until they get lost, tear or receive a stain which to our dismay not even Vanish Oxi Action can remove. From FCUK to River Island, the state of the British high street really is commendable; our stores give us the chance to be high fashion without the high fashion price tag.


     What's more is that our high street understands high fashion and perhaps more importantly high fashion understands our high street. It is this bond between both sectors of fashion which makes British fashion so exciting. The two are not mutually exclusive but instead intrinsically linked as they both allow each of us to do the same thing: express ourselves.
      Thus, understandably the two mix: in our wardrobes, in our outfits and behind the scenes in design. New Look wedges sit next to Louboutin loafers in fairytale cupboards and ASOS jumpers work well with A. Sauvage suits for fashion filled combos. We accessorise our high street basics with saved up for designer goods just as actors, musicians, models and even royalty do, as the Duchess of Cambridge proves on many occasions as she sports the likes of a Reiss dress with an Anya Hindmarch clutch.


     However, undoubtedly the most brilliant mixture of high street and high fashion lies off of the street and in the workshop, where international brands such as H&M take it upon themselves to do lucrative one off collaborations with some of the worlds most sought after designers. From the likes of Largefeld in 2004 to Lanvin in 2010, the company has made the bridge between the high street and high fashion shorter than ever. 
       Instead of high street imitating high fashion, H&M literally allows designers to create high fashion for the high street and it does this on an annual basis, garnering enough fashion focused attention to let a scrunchy go unnoticed. Of course this season is no exception, as Versace takes hold of the task and offers the high street buyer a unique chance to enter their world at more attainable cost...the result, whilst not as commercial as previous collaborations, does not disappoint. 
     

      Together Versace and H&M have created a fashionable be it in your face collection of designs to satisfy all those like me who, no matter how much we love Versace, cannot afford its longed for clothing. From lamé dresses to leather wear each outfit will be in high demand because despite being made for the high street, the clothes haven't lost any of the sleek but bold sensuality central to Versace.
      They are exactly what they should be: beautiful and bold with the result that the wait until their on-sale date of November 17th is beginning to seem all the more unbearable - yes I do really want to try out those monochromatic jeans and girls I know that you're dying to at least try out some of the looks which Lindsey Wixson and Abbey Lee Kershaw are wearing if Daphne Groeneveld's printed dress is too out-there for you...


     That being said, with behind the scenes treats like this and with all that our high street currently has on offer, I'm sure we'll find a way of keeping ourselves occupied until then.

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Importance of Introduction

      An introduction is always important whatever the scenario. If you are at an event and a friend spies someone, who you might share similar interests with, they introduce you to them and if all goes as planned the two of you kick it off, meet again for coffee, start a business together and maybe somewhere down the line get married. In the most recent Rihanna video Agyness Deyn's introduction is important; it sets the scene for the rest of the video.


       Introductions start relationships be they inane or important and one world in which this couldn't be more true is that of fashion. Models become muses after being introduced to designers, designers become desirable after being introduced to fashion editors and in terms of the general public the media introduces us to each and every aspect of the fashion world as it mutates and changes around us. The internet introduces us to each and every new collection as it debuts be it that of Bottega Veneta or Balenciaga.


      And the same applies for fashion magazines. Fashion magazines like the internet introduce us to everyone and everything that is important in the fashion world right now, the only difference is that they often choose and nurture those who they introduce; they help create everyone and everything that is important in the fashion world right now.
        A designer may be appreciated in their circle but a designer is rarely a successful designer until they have been written and raved about...in fact as some of the darker Alexander McQueen shows prove, they needn't be raved about just discussed: 'all publicity is good publicity'. Need I mention any collection other than his controversial 1995 highland rape show?


      Magazines help talented people become successful and renowned just as successful renowned people help sell magazines. The two share a mutual relationship like the Beckhams - Victoria's Posh Spice status turned David into a celebrity, whilst his footballing success has kept Victoria in the public eye up so that she could create her own designer brand.
      The two are loyal as well: if a magazine bigs up a designer, soon after that designer's work will become commonplace within the fashion editorials of that magazine. By the time the brand becomes a well-known fashion house they will continue to feature in that magazine out of loyalty. Similarly if a magazine praises a model soon enough after they will appear in its spreads and then eventually on its front cover.
       One need only look at the beautiful Freja Beha Erichsen to understand: a few years ago she was hardly known but in 2005 after becoming an instant catwalk hit she became the muse of many a magazine. After featuring in the likes of i-D, whose up-to-date based sales were aided by her as they helped promote her and her talent, she began to model in the coveted magazine spreads of Vogue and 5 years after her initial success she hit British Vogue's cover in August 2010.


     Vogue, or at least British and certainly American Vogue, sells due to its celebrity covers but British Vogue has this wonderful relationship with its models in which it introduces and promotes them endlessly until they become celebrities to Vogue readers and then, once they earn this status, they become cover girls. An introduction may not create instantaneous success but, as Vogue proves, it can lead to it and for that reason alone an introduction can be ever so important.
        And on that note I introduce you to Lanvin's AW 2011 campaign because if you haven't already seen it, it is quite simply genius. Enjoy.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Fashion Folk

      You are unlikely to immediately think of fashion when someone mentions the word 'folk'. No doubt you will probably be thinking of a field, some hay bales and perhaps the odd sheep wandering around some idyllic hamlet in the middle of nowhere. Fashion is from the city, folk is from the country - the two just don't mix
      Yet, whilst fashion may often seem to simply be a world of glitz and glamour it often takes reference from the natural world in a way that many folk artists do with their music. Lyricists use nature as a means of creating imagery whilst designers use it within the images they create. From weather to water and fruits to flowers musicians such as Laura Marling and Johnny Flynn and ready-to-wear designers alike use nature in its entirety - both fashion and folk complimenting each other to great success.


     One design duo who effortlessly achieve this is Rodarte. The Mulleavy sisters understand and use the  link between folk and fashion in a way that few people do. They use nature as the muse of all their designs whatever they may be, consistently creating beauty. It is this beauty which has caught the eye of fashion editors and celebrities across the globe, searching for unique yet classical designs to occupy their wardrobes. From Dakota Fanning to Anna Wintour, who coincidentally has supported them ever since their humble ten piece collection beginnings a mere six years ago, the fashion world is hooked.
       Interestingly despite their success the two sisters still lead the folk like lifestyle which they've always led. They may be fashion royalty but they haven't left their hometown. Thus instead of being city-based socialites the two remain the simple romantic girls they've always been, popping into New York only when necessary, allowing nature to be a continuous form of their inspiration. And this couldn't be more evident than in their recent SS show, which featured piece upon piece of Van Gogh inspired clothing - rural of course but runway ready.


        Like Rodarte, Marling and Flynn enforce the link between folk and fashion too. They do so through the crossover between both their music and their styles. Marling in that whilst her music is folk her style is  sophisticated demonstrating that folk fashion need not have the farmyard chic air it is known for. Be it at the Brits or dotted in the pages of Vogue with a blonde pageboy bob or long brunette locks Marling is both a folk and fashion icon.
        Interestingly Flynn, being a man who needs his flannel shirts and little else is also becoming quite the fashionista. Having been a heart throb to many a folk fan since his artistic debut due to his draw dropping features, he like Marling has expanded his horizons to mix his flannels with designer wear. The mix is perfect. And it's those gorgeous good looks along with his talent which have earned him his Burberry model status.


           Thus fashion designers use folk just as folk artists use fashion and why not? Folk is beautiful, as is fashion and together the two really are quite delicious. Are you a fashion folk?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Art of Juggling

    Throughout day-to-day life we juggle. Whether it's balancing our work-life with our social-life or our school-life with our fashion-life, we juggle the mundane activities with the not so mundane. We do this to stay human - to read Vogue, to watch Downton Abbey and to attend that friend's 18th we've been dying to go to without turning into some sort of self automated robots which work and work until, eventually, they stop.


       Fashion being the fun but fickle world it is, is always on the go - there rarely seems to be a moment for designers to breathe let alone embark upon a new collection...but that's the beauty of it. We can stop but fashion doesn't, it constantly mutates and changes whilst we watch with awe. Most designers have two collections a year to juggle with: an AW effort and some SS designs - simples. 
      However in this crazy world some do men's on top of that and a few wonders head renowned labels too. Of course these people have their helpers - most of them were a helper at one stage in their careers, but the sheer effort, energy and strength it takes to helm numerous brands is always applaudable. Two men who do this every season without fail, this one being no exception, are fashion's resident king Karl Lagerfeld and its undisputed prince Marc Jacobs.


      Lagerfeld is, as we all know, head designer of Chanel and artistic director of Fendi, not to mention designer of his own eponymous label if and when he has time for it. And so, taking couture into account he creates and develops six if not seven or eight collections a year - jetting between both Paris and Milan to debut his designs. The man is a mystery. What's more is that each collection he releases never fails to live up to his fashion famous name. 
       His most recent collection for Fendi was Fendi at it's best: sexy simplicity so Italian it would make up the entire wardrobe for La Dolce Vita were it released today. From the accessories to the hair no detail went un-thought of...and the same applies to his latest works for Chanel. Each item of clothing acts as its own art-piece be it culottes or clutches and whatever collection it may be, Lagerfeld always creates beauty. A beautiful capsule - watched and wanted by all.


      Jacobs shares a similar story, currently being tagged as Galliano's successor, the fashion world literally is Jacobs very own glammed-up oyster. As Art Director of Louis Vuitton and head of his own labels Marc by Marc Jacobs and Marc Jacobs, he like Lagerfeld runs six to eight collections annually, amongst perfume and event attending on the side - thus making him another of fashion's ever-expanding group of ever working talents, all be his collections slightly different to those of Lagerfeld.
       Marc by Marc Jacobs offers a unique take on classics that work and suit everybody, whilst holding that Marc Jacobs look. Whereas as his personal label is a little less restrained - his use of materials such as silicone and synthetic fibres makes him the renowned designer he is today, inspiring all of those around him. This AW his Louis Vuitton collection has been the undisputed leader of the fetish trend and looking onto his most recent works it looks like come next SS girls worldwide will be pining for the ethereal allure of his LWDs.


      Both Jacobs and Lagerfeld are fashion royalty and it's all because they eat, sleep and breathe it, that and the fact that they have so perfectly mastered the elusive art of juggling.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

New Collections, New Directions

      It's always hard for an artist to take a new direction. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't - think Madonna 'Ray of Light' era - inspired, and then compare it to that of 'Hard Candy' - not so. Ultimately tough a change is necessary, no matter how subtle it is. People get bored easily and thus, whilst artistic integrity is key, an element of reinvention is essential for any artist because it keeps people interested.


       Fashion is the same, whilst a label has to stay true to its style, it also has to stay fresh with every new collection. It may reference back to pieces of previous seasons but ultimately it has to have its own individual relevance within society today to remain at the centre of the fashion world - to hold its own amongst new and upcoming brands.
       A man who always seems to achieve this is Peter Dundas; his works for Emilio Pucci are always on trend yet on tradition. From his floor length extravaganzas, which featured in the Beyoncé 'Run The World' video to the gypsy inspired looks of his latest SS collection he never seems to put a foot wrong, consistently inspiring fashion with every new direction he takes.


      Interestingly, when a music group splits up or 'takes a break' its members have to change their directions dramatically too in order to create solo albums as successful and interesting as those of their bands. George Michael and Diana Ross to name a few did not forge out their solo careers through imitating the sound of the groups for which they sung. Instead they asserted their own unique style into the music world through different directions.
          In the case of Girl's Aloud's Nicola Roberts, her debut album works due to its 'new direction'. From the music to the lyrics and the cover art to her voice everything is electro-pop perfect. Whilst some people may still dismiss her as the 'rude ginger bitch' of Girls Aloud, one need only listen to and look at 'Cinderella's Eyes' to understand that she is not. She is an artist and a bloody good one at that. 


      The music for a start is wonderfully unique. It may have the touches of Metronomy's Joseph Mount and the hooks of dream producer Diplo but it has it's own sound and whilst her cutesy come quirky voice may not be to everyone's taste it's one hundred percent Nicola Roberts. She isn't attempting to commercially appeal to the masses but instead create an album which is true to her artistic image; true to herself.
       Moreover, 'Cinderella's Eyes' is one of the most lyrically interesting albums of the year, as it gives us an insight into Robert's life through words so unabashed you'd think you'd stumbled across her diary. Whether it's the media mocking 'Take a Bite', the innate insecurities of 'i' or the hauntingly revealing 'sticks + stones': 'Too young to buy my own bottle of Vodka, so I beg the driver please I need another' - 'Cinderella's Eyes' is Robert's diary.
       It is this personal honesty, which makes Roberts solo music so unique and is something which she ought to hold onto regardless of direction, just as Peter Dundas holds onto the vivid sensuality of Emilio Pucci with every new collection he creates. A direction, after all, stems from a place: the artist it comes from and thus a new direction ought to do the same, be it from a designer like Dundas or a musician like Roberts.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Success of the Successors

        The time has come that we find ourselves in the midst of Milan fashion week, verging on the Parisian one that lays ahead, and whilst we still may be coming to terms with D&G's closure, it looks as though its Italian counterparts will keep us occupied for future seasons. 
       What's interesting about many of these famous Italian fashion companies though is the fact that they are family orientated. When a Head Designer or Creative Director dies, gets bored or God forbid gets murdered, a relation often steps in to inherit the brand and keep it going. In Paris labels such as Givenchy, Dior and Balmain are usually taken over by whoever's a popular designer at the time; in Milan labels such as Prada, Missoni and Versace have always been family run. 


           When Mario Prada died in 1958 his daughter Luisa took over the company and twenty years later his granddaughter Miuccia became Head Designer. Interestingly Mario believed that there was no place for women in the world of business yet, seeing as his son wasn't interested in fashion, it transpired that his female relatives kept the company going. In fact, it is Miuccia Prada's talent and determination, which have made the brand what is today - an innovative label, which inspires both designers and fashionistas alike, setting its own unique trends as it breaks the formalities of convention. If last season's fruit trend didn't prove that, 2012's cars certainly will:


        Like Prada, Missoni is another Italian label, which has passed through the generations of its respective family. Although married designer duo Ottavio and Rosita Missoni founded the brand in 1953, they got bored of it twenty years later and subsequently passed it on to their daughter Angela. Angela has managed to keep the brand young and fresh with the help of her beautiful daughter Margherita Missoni, resulting in collection after collection of sumptuous knits - the current AW designs are to die for.


        In contrast to Prada and Missoni, Versace's story is one of great sadness; at the age of 50 Gianni Versace was shot dead by a spree-killer to the shock and misery of the entire fashion world. Despite this, his sister Donatella has kept Gianni's vision alive through her indisputable determination, creating red-carpet ready and day-to-day looks with ease - each beholding the edgy sex appeal, which Versace is known for. One need only look at Lindsey Wixon in that gorgeous studded maxi of Versace's most recent SS collection to understand.


        It is the talent behind these labels, which is necessary for them to prosper, regardless of family ; without it they would dwindle, just as Gucci did before Tom Ford came and rescued it in the 1990s. A family-based fashion company is a beautiful thing; it reflects the importance of family and tradition, essential to Italian culture. Thus, long may these designing talents be passed down from one generation to the next so that these family based fashion houses may live on long into the future, as one family member succeeds another to great success.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

GaGa by Gaultier - The Perfect KitKat Break

      It being the September of my final year of school, makes this a very stressful time of year - Personal Statements are due, UCAS forms need to be filled and I must begin to envisage a life outside school. Luckily for me, school is not my life. Yes - I love it, but fashion and other forms of culture are what drive and inspire me. Thus, this evening, in the midst of the madness, I had the pleasure of pausing to watch 'GaGa by Gaultier' - the perfect KitKat break.


         As avid followers of my blog and friends will be painfully aware, GaGa is to me, what Barbie is to a young girl - the perfect person - she does what I want her to do, provides me with much amusement and simultaneously  looks amazing. The only difference is that GaGa does what I want her do of her own accord, often before I even know I want her to do it. 
          Of course, I wanted her to be interviewed by interesting people, but even I couldn't have predicted that Jean Paul Gaultier would abandon his designer role and take the reigns as an interviewer for this one-off but incredibly enjoyable one hour special.
          Like GaGa in music, Gaultier is an innovator in fashion. His looks are never dull, his concepts never copied, as his AW couture collection proves. It is 100% Gaultier in its theatricality, yet 100% relevant and beautiful in it's elegant humor. And with models, such as the ever-so current Karlie Kloss and eternally striking Erin O'Connor on the catwalk, Gaultier managed too add another beautiful collection to his incredible repertoire - Coca Rocha's draped look being a particular favourite of mine.


          Thus, both he and GaGa made for the perfect interviewing pair. Equally eccentric and equally wonderful they clicked. And whilst GaGa has been known to not get on with all her interviewers - her first Jonathan Ross one was frosty to say the least, when she does, magic is made, we see her for who she is, a funny, outgoing young woman, who despite being 25, is incredibly mature.
         The fact that Gaultier was involved in it meant that it was incredibly stylish too. The special had a brilliant monochrome interview setting, which mixed in with that of his own atelier, as the two passed through on occasion to gaze at Gaultier's latest works and discuss what fashion means to GaGa. 
           GaGa goes onto state that it is the links between fantasy and reality in fashion that inspire her and consequently cause her and the Haus of GaGa to create the looks she is so famous for. Whether its her cigarette glasses or her telephone hat, the looks are an interpretation of her imagination, one that as we can see in GaGa's new set of 'You  and I' fashion videos, never stops working.


             It is concepts, such as this, which inspire Gaultier also and it is this mutual love and vision that makes the GaGa by Gaultier interview so enjoyable, as it unites two incredible artists in the most informal  and fashionable of situations. What's more, is that in just under an hour in length, it really is the perfect KitKat break.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Paris, je t’aime

       Anyone who is the slightest bit fashion orientated will know of the four fashion capitals London, New York, Paris and Milan. London is quirky, New York is slick, Paris is chic and Milan is sexy; some brands do break the mould but for the most part they live up to these sentiments; the one thing, which they all share in common though is a sense of style.


        Consequently, for any devoted fashion blogger, it is something of a dream to visit, if not live, in one or more of these cities; fashion revolves around them. Thus, this week, before the troubles of personal statements and university applications arose, I not only went to Paris but took part in some work experience there before the school year began.
          For three seemingly short days I worked with the small but luxurious eco-brand Featherstone & Co (check it out is so chic), setting them up a blog and translating some of their website, whilst flittering around Paris window shopping in the most luxurious of boutiques and visiting the most high end exhibitions – it was heaven.
       Whether I was in Lanvin’s two luxurious layouts, Hermés’ high end Montparnesse store or Ralph Lauren’s intimate experience - and believe me, with its distressed denim rugs, personalised restaurant and Yasmin Le Bon mannequins, it was an experience; I felt as though I had found the homes, in which I had never lived and the houses in which I could one day work.


         My fashion-filled life flashed before my eyes as I gazed upon designs I had longed for online and held them in my hands - the tangerine/sand Hermes wrap coat will live with me forever. Yet, perhaps what is so amazing about Paris is not seeing the designs but gazing upon them as they walk down the street. A gaggle of girls may pass you clad in Prada’s entire SS collection or you may sight a man sporting Balmain’s latest leather look. Fashion is not just in these cities; it lives in them.
However, my undoubted highlight of the trip was the insane Hussein Chalayan exhibition which is taking place for a few months more at Les Arts Decoratifs. Chalayan is genius in a way that very few designers are; each of his collections is not only beautiful but has a purpose and in this exhibition you get to see this first hand from his 1990s collections to his latest AW masterpieces.
It acts as a labyrinth of his in depth imagination, as you are taken to places destined only for the likes of Lewis Carol’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. You see both his ‘I AM SAD LEYLA / UZGUNUM LEYLA’ installation, in which the video of a singer’s face is projected onto that of a mannequin’s, and the morphing mechanical dresses of the ‘ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN’ collection, which demonstrate history’s effect on fashion to incredible effect – it’s jaw-dropping.


Perhaps, what was most impressive about the exhibition though, was the museum’s presentation of his well-known ‘AFTERWORD’S’ collection, in which you are able to see the exact room he used, the dresses, the infamous furniture, and an accompanying video of the actual runway show.
This was the collection, in which he created fashion history, as he interpreted the war forcing people into exile through fashion. Each item in the room cleverly transformed into the clothing of his models, creating the idea of one fleeing not only with their clothes but their household items intact. From his chair cover dresses to his seat-structure suitcases and that renowned table skirt, it was all there.



Thus, whether it’s Hussein or Hermés, Featherstone & Co or Colette, Paris is the city of fashionistas dreams and when you get the chance to go there do, get hold of a scooter and see the city. You only live once, but in Paris you live to the full and in all honesty, that’s the only way to live.  

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Looks can only get you so far…

         I must begin this post with an apology: my recent trip to Edinburgh and subsequent moving house has left me internet-less over the past few weeks, and whilst this does suggest that it’s about time I scrimped and saved to replace my ancient Nokia with a more modern phone, it has also given me plenty of blogging inspiration.

*****

Whoever’s been to the Edinburgh Fringe before will know that it’s a wonderful array of money-spending madness. Whether you’re being gently harassed with a smile on the Mile, laughing like a pig on ecstasy in the midst of a sketch show or contemplating murder in a down-right dismal production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, it’s quite an event.


Amongst the crap…and there is a lot of crap - there are gems. This year’s highlights were a quirky production of ‘When Women Wee’, which consists of 5 girls playing 25 different women going in and out of a night club cubicle, dance troupe Flawless and the Nineteen Eighty-Four meets Glee-esque ‘Melody Blog’.
Although, perhaps what stood out most, was ‘Action to the Word’ and each of their various productions. From a Tim Burton like new musical: 'Constance and Sinestra', to a cut-throat interpretation of 'Titus Andronicus' - the company stood out, not to mention their startlingly homoerotic version of 'Clockwork Orange', which stunned me, my friends and reviewers alike.


However, whilst the man, who played Clockwork’s protagonist Alex, Martin McCreadie undoubtedly deserves a great deal of credit for his incredible acting ability, I can’t help but think that if McCreadie weren’t so McDreamy, the production would have failed to receive quite the same response, or at least the same audience ratings.
It is a fact that acting success often goes hand in hand with good looks. Hollywood icons are Hollywood icons for more than just their sought after talent, their looks play an important part too. Would Brad Pitt be the phenomenon he is today, without his chiselled features and would anyone have cared for Marilyn Monroe, had she not had that effortless smile? Probably not.


The reality is that, whilst film and theatre often aim to give an honest interpretation of life, they are also very visual mediums…if someone is going to spend a couple of hours watching an actor perform, innately they want to spend hours watching someone visually or at least stylistically pleasing, rather than someone who lacks in both of those departments.
Looks guarantee that even when a script drags, the film doesn’t because you could quite happily gaze at the actors and actresses it beholds, even if the film were mute. Would boys turn up to Transformers without the likes of Megan Fox and Rosie Huntington-Whitely and would girls bother with Twilight had it not featured its fair share of alien like abs and flawless face screen shots - Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner? Again, probably not.
Like fashion, film and theatre follow beauty because it pulls in the ratings, and makes for picture perfect posters or even, and perhaps more wonderfully, clothes, as the recent Dolce & Gabbana collection demonstrates, with its selection of Marlon Brando t-shirts and James Dean vests.


The design duo unashamedly celebrate the appeal of aesthetics in film by placing the most handsome  of Hollywood icons in the forefront of their designs; their appeal is universal and there is nothing wrong with it. Of course, you can and should be successful, if you have the talent, whether you are Timothy Spall or Tom Cruise…it’s just looks help, and who doesn't love to look at someone beautiful?