Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Newbies

     Whilst the new 3.1 Phillip Lim collection may already be on your Christmas list and you may be in the process of mind-dressing your favourite celebrities in the subtle and elegant dresses of the AW Calvin Klein Collection, Saint Martins has had another show in which to debut its finest and freshest talents. The show itself is the birthplace of designers such as Christopher Kane and David Koma who, as anyone can tell from their latest collections, are now a central part of today's exciting and individual LFW.

     Thus you can understand the excitement fashion editors and fashionistas across the world felt, when last week saw twenty one Saint Martins graduates reveal their first attempts at collections. The future of fashion was unveiled and, in the words of Orange, 'the future looks bright'.
     Primarily there were the joint winners of the L’Oréal Professionnel Creative Award, Victor Smedgine and Phoebe English. Smedgine's use of  a beige and black palette enhanced his eye for detail in the scroll-like shapes of his beautiful coats, trousers and LBDs just as Phoebe English's quality concerned collection, is emphasized by her sole use of  black. However, unlike her counterparts, English has weaved a glossy hair-like material in and out of her designs. The result is striking and it suggests that, under her matriculate hands, faux-hair could one day become the new faux-fur.

     However, just like the designs of Smedgine and English, there is an abundance of other graduates, who are worthy of  credit too, which they will no doubt receive throughout their up and coming careers. Whether it be Daniel Lee's unique mixture of tweed and velvet fabrics or menswear designer Pietro Franch's playful use of textures and shapes, it looks like both men and women have something to look forward to in the future of British fashion.  
    Similarly, Marque's and Almeida's use of on-trend seventies-inspired denim suggests that perhaps one day they could join the likes of design duos such as Dolce & Gabbana, DSquared2  and  husband and wife team Aminaka Wilmont, as members of fashion royalty.

   However my favourite collection of the new generation had to be that of Jenny Postle, whose outrageous qualities are reminiscent of an early Jean Paul Gaultier and whose use of patchwork is as intriguing and chic as that of Missoni. Within her wackiness a true talent has emerged - you need only look to uderstand.

     Thus, whilst browsing through what AW 2010-11 has to offer, look at these collections. Decide who you like and who you dislike and watch the careers of these potential designers unfold. Find the next Kane, find the next Koma. These are the designers whose collections we shall be wearing in ten years time and, quite frankly, that's something to look forward to.

Friday, 25 February 2011

America's Next Top Model - The Irony?

     As we indulge in the delights of Milan Fashion Week,  from Gucci's ongoing glamorous affair to Prada's  toned down chic, another cycle of 'America's Next Top Model' begins.

      The show itself is often regarded as little more than hangover TV because, in all honesty, how many 'Top Models' has 'Top Model' actually produced? As it stands, one. Whilst many contestants and winners have enjoyed forms of success, only Australia's Alice Burdeu has managed to earn a career similar to that of today's top models.

      It would seem that whilst contestants on shows such as, 'The X Factor' can rely on their  fans in order to achieve success, the potential models of the 'Top Model' franchise must turn to industry experts, who have little desire to embrace girls with little idea as to who John Galliano is, let alone that his position in Christian Dior. However, as 'America's Next Top Model' enters its second 'high-fashion' cycle and influential guest stars become quite clearly commonplace, is it time that we take 'Top Model' more seriously?
     The show under the likes of Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley and, of course Tyra, has returned to its roots; as opposed to luring in fame obsessed girls, it now attracts model hopefuls and fashionistas alike. The prizes are no longer merely good but coveted and envied by working models and teenagers alike - who in their right mind wouldn't want to feature in Vogue Italia? What's more is that the hopefuls now have high fashion bones in their bodies - one only needs look at last cycle's winner Ann Ward to understand that she has a Penelope Tree edge worthy of ready-to-wear runways and elegant editorials alike.

     Moreover, where else would you find Patrick Demarchelier, Alek Wek and Erin Wasson giving advise to a selection of potential models?

Your local shopping centre?
I think not. 

     As opposed to dying out, it would seem that 'Top Model' has undergone a much-needed rebirth. Girls are no longer able to succeed without some knowledge of fashion  - there have been and are models other than the likes of Kate and Naomi. The photo shoots are no longer a thread in a long train of wacky ideas but realistic situations, which allow contestants to build up professional portfolios, worthy of agencies such as IMG. 
     Moreover, viewers and contestants are now educated in the works of designers such as  Alexander Wang, as opposed to the inane bitchiness of the 'Top Model' mansion - the franchise has suddenly been elevated into something exciting for both television and the fashion world. It gives girls, trapped in the outskirts of America, a chance to fulfil their full model-potentials and allows each of us to watch their careers develop and unfold.
     Thus, I encourage us not to ignore cycle sixteen but to watch it. Determine which contestants will succeed in the cut-throat business of fashion and who will fail to surpass the gifts of genetics.  My favourite is Lea T's long lost sister Mikaela Schipani:

Who's yours?

Monday, 21 February 2011

How I wish that I were in a Koople

     Having gazed at countless ad campaigns of Anna & Lars from the comforts of the Cotswolds but not been anywhere near their clothes, there was no question that I would visit 'The Kooples' upon my next visit to London.

    The label itself, was established in France in 2008 but, like brands such as Dior, it has taken an unnecessary amount of time for the brand to make its way across the channel. The label itself is the brainchild of siblings, Alexandre, Laurent and Raphaël Elicha, whose father, Tony Elicha created the ever successful 'Comptoir des cotonniers'. And like 'Comptoir', 'Kooples' bases its essence on relationships, however, as opposed to the mother daughter connection commercialised by 'Comptoir', 'Kooples' centres its advertising campaigns around the concept of romance. 
     The idea, although adapted from that of their father, is quite simply genius. It is reminiscent of  the 'Stolen Girlfriends Club' in that its androgynous clothing may be shared between couples, without having to look as twee as your granny's collection of antique teacups. Just take a look at the commercials to understand how 'cool' the brand really is:

    Thus, despite being a full fledged member of the singleton clan, I decided to visit and undoubtedly purchase something from this individual French brand, particularly considering that their 'gentleman to rockstar' look is a favourite of mine. And having briefly seen the stall in Selfridges, after visiting its unimaginable shoe hall - if you haven't seen it yet; go now, it's Willie Wonka's chocolate factory for shoe lovers - I decided to visit the Kings Road store in order to experience the brand within its own environment.
     The store itself is chic, with its neutral colouring, edgy posters and youthful logo, it  makes you wish not only to wear the clothes but to become one of the hand picked couples chosen for their campaigns. However, due to school trip based savings, I was unable to splurge and thus whilst gazing in envy at waistcoats, jackets and scarves alike, I limited myself to the jeans section, because I happened to be at that time  within a high-quality jeans drought. 
     The collection of skinnies immediately caught my eye - loose just isn't my style. In fact, the assistants really helped with the fitting in that they explained how you could afford to go at least a few inches smaller than your usual  waist size in order to get that authentic rock look. In the process I think, I managed to try on the entire fitted trouser collection before settling on a brilliant pair of matte, leather-look jeans. They cost £87.50 and it was definitely worth it, just take a look at them below.

And now watch their video just to witness the coolness once more:

     Is anyone else undergoing serious relationship envy now? - particularly when you consider that each couple featured in the ad campaigns is actually a real couple. What's more is that, if you do happen to be smitten with some gorgeous guy or girl, you have the chance to apply for the next advert campaign. I can't but you can, so please do and hopefully we'll be seeing you advertising the next ever so cool collection.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Exclude Yourself

      'Fashion is an exclusive community, which  forces people to conform to a certain look'

      Having recently overheard this comment from someone who believes themselves to be 'too intelligent' for the supposedly 'superfluous' nature of fashion, I was outraged. 
    Firstly, fashion is not 'exclusive'; it effects and unites each and everyone of us just as other forms of culture, such as music and cinema do. However, unlike music and cinema, fashion cannot be avoided, even if you become a nudist,  in doing so you are making a statement with your appearance, which essentialy is the essence of fashion. Moreover, an advertising campaign come collection just as any song or film, has the ability to unite friends and foes alike in discuusion and debate, whether it be David Gandy's advert for Dolce & Gabbana or transgender Lea T and Kate Moss' recent cover for the androgyny issue of Love magazine.

    Moreover fashion's days of rigid conformity disappeared long ago during the sixties, in which the overbearing appearance of the 1950s housewife image was cut up by the cropped hair of a certain wide eyed Londoner and the cropped skirt lengths of certain designers. Set images were being torn up.

       In fact, you need only take one look at the latest copy of  any fashion magazine to understand that there are so many different trends nowadays that one needn't feel forced to follow a certain look. From 'biker chic' to 'tangerine', trends are a summary of the latest collections, a suggestion as to how you should update your wardrobe. However, one needn't follow trends to earn respect within the fashion-world. Would you really praise an Alexander McQueen collection for its trendiness?

The likeliness is you wouldn't, you would praise it for its beauty and uniquness, which set trends but are by no means trendy. Moreover, Lady GaGa's controversial meat dress was not exactly 'in trend' for A/W 2010...

       Instead it was a statement, which GaGa used to highlight the stupidity of America's 'Don't Ask. Don't Tell.' law. In GaGa's own words it represented how 'dead meat is dead meat. And anyone that’s willing to take their life and die for their country is the same. You’re not gay and dead, straight and dead. You are dead.' In doing this, GaGa managed to use fashion to both capture people's attention and represent her views without conforming to anything.
     Thus, fashion offers to embrace you; it allows you to express yourself. So why exclude yourself from it; it's not excluding you?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Don't be a drag, enjoy the song

    For those of you who aren't hermits, Lady GaGa's new single will already be embedded into your heads, circling on repeat. Whether it's in the gym, in the bath or in an exam, GaGa has managed to create a hook that not only leaves you gasping for air but wanting to suffocate.
    Having become some sort of a cultural phenomenon within two years, with one and a half albums and an array of outrageous outfits, it would be safe to say that Gaga is under pressure to outdo her self both musically and visually. However, as opposed to hiding in the closet in fear of failure, Lady GaGa has leaped outside, locked it and lost the key, repeatedly informing the world of release dates, lyrics and artwork alike, not to mention claims that 'Born This Way' is the greatest thing  she has ever written. 
   The result has been an Internet hype, which would make you think that a cure for cancer had been discovered, particularly when one considers celebrity blogger Perez Hilton's statement that the song 'will save lives'. Thus, you can understand the excitement that I and other monsters across the globe felt, when GaGa announced, via Twitter that the single would be released on Friday 11/02/11 as opposed to it's original release date, which was only increased by the release of her androgynous David Bowie inspired artwork.

 Which somehow manages to look empowering yet vulnerable at the same time and thus gives GaGa an honesty and sincerity that many critics doubted she possessed.

    However, when in fact the single did premiere on Friday, despite it's record breaking achievement of topping the iTunes chart in 21 of its 23 countries, fans were split with many calling it a disappointing imitation of Madonna's 'Express Yourself'...and it is influenced by 'Express Yourself', in as much as it is an uplifting upbeat pop song that encourages people to accept and enjoy who they are. But what is so outrageous about that?
      Fashion repeats itself all the time - the upcoming SS collections are heavily influenced by the seventies, and as opposed to knocking it down for taking influence from past fashions, we respect fashion for its beauty and enjoy the nostalgia of a more glamorous time. We still accept Marc Jacobs as the creative genius he is, despite the studio 54 fashion references in his collection for this SS.

So why can't we appreciate talented musicians who take inspiration from other works of art?
     The answer is we can, it's just as humans we are keen to criticise others but why bother. 'Born This Way' although equally as camp as 'Express Yourself' is an updated version, with a universal message that can unite people. It is an upbeat number to which anyone can relate to and have a good time. It may not 'save lives' but it is a remedy for those who suffer prejudice and middle finger up at those who cause it.
     Whilst 'Express Yourself' helped the ongoing emancipation of women, 'Born This Way' judging by its  immediate success will help to promote equality and acceptance in sexuality and race, through a simple yet powerful message:

No matter gay, straight or bi
Lesbian, transgendered life
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born to survive
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born to be brave

Undoubtedly this is a good thing.
     Thus in the words of 'Born This Way' 'Don't be a drag, just be a queen', listen to the song and i you do dislike it, don't dislike it because of its influences; similar music is bound to come as the result of similar artists with similar beliefs in similar genres. Don't de-construct the song unnecessarily but enjoy it and look forward to the  music video to follow, which like those of Madonna, shall be more than just a dance but a work of art.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

It would be such a bore to ignore couture

   Whilst the Ready-to-wear collections have never been so vibrant, it would seem that the couture collections have never been so wearable. From the reserved elegance of Chanel to the exotic exaggeration of Dior, couture has managed to maintain its individuality whilst appearing seemingly effortless as it enters S/S 2011. 
      The idea of dressing from head to toe in Jean Paul Gaultier couture is no longer a potentially painful chore that one must endure in order to radiate beauty but instead a dream which all girls long to experience. This new-found development, within the fashion industry has managed not to affect the luxury and originality of couture but merely enhance it. Artistic experimentation has not been abandoned but perfected - one only needs to look at the innovative futuristic Armani Privé collection to understand this.

        Who would have thought that there could be a fashionable take on The Jetsons?
     Moreover, the brilliance of couture is that it is both personal and individual to designers and fashion houses alike. It needn't tame itself to trends because it creates them - in the upcoming season, whilst Ready-to-wear collections have been seduced by the 70s, Dior delves into the 1940s' postwar decadence of its very own New Look Days - the original incarnation of glamour.  

Who isn't envious of models of the moment Karie Kloss and Jordan Dunn as cameras capture them in the utmost elegance of our day?
   But perhaps, when investing in a couture piece this spring, the womanly wonders of Elie Saab's floating florals or the girlish gifts of Valentino's texture-based talents, courtesy of design duo Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, appeal. 

     Not to mention Chanel's unique adaptation of 'couture', which somehow divides itself between the eternal edginess of Stella Tennant and the reserved femininity of the original Chanel girl.

       And  for those of you who want something completely different, there are the wonderful designs of Jean Paul Gaultier, who never fails to excite and entertain with his exuberant exhibitions.

His attention to detail when it comes to accessories is unmatched - just look at those gloves?
     Thus, next time you happen to pass by couture, do not ignore it as if it is some sort of futile fashion which is far to superfluous for the modernity of today; it is not. Each item is unique, which is ever so important in the copycat world of today. Couture is both architecture and art and if male model Andrej Pejic can pull it off, the chance is so can you.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Embrace your inner ballerina - as long as she doesn't resemble Nina Sayers

   It's interesting - the way in which cultures imitate and intertwine themselves with each other. During the renaissance period both music and art mimicked each other, during the 60s androgynous haircuts became commonplace as women were emancipated from the image of the 1950s housewife and during the 90s platforms demonstrated the rise of 'Girl Power' in conjunction with the in your face pop of the Spice Girls.
    Having finally had the chance to see the brilliantly disturbing 'Black Swan' - Aronofsky's direction was harrowing, Kunis' role as sexy as Marlon Brando and Portman's portrayal of perfectionist Nina Academy Award worthy - it became overtly apparent that, whilst some of the upcoming season's collections have taken inspiration from fruit i.e. Prada, Stella McCartney - many have been influenced by the ballet of the 'Black Swan'. The film itself, although not fashion-centred, features the costumes of Amy Westcott in collaboration with the Rodarte sisters, which, despite being designed for ballet are beautiful.

Not to mention Judy Chin's incredible make-up.

     Is anyone else wishing that they had taken ballet a little more seriously now?
    However, for those of you longing to look like Portman and Kunis, you needn't look any further than the couture and ready to wear collections of SS 2011. Fashion labels and houses alike have used the 'Black Swan's' promotion of ballet to their advantages and in all honesty, who's complaining?
    The House of Worth, having been accused of being slightly old fashioned in its previous couture collection has taken inspiration from ballet and as a result its new couture collection couldn't be more current. What's more is that its bodices and tutu creations can be separated so that, in the words of Giovanni Bedin himself, 'you can just wear the bodice[s] with jeans.'

    Moreover, it would seem that Chloe have also taken advantage of this sudden interest in ballet having moved on from its leg lengthening AW trousers to the luxury of SS silk. Hannah MacGibbon's use of ballerina wrap tops, nude tones and chiffon has resulted in her creating a collection, which will give you the chance to look and feel as beautiful as Natalie Portman - in a devilishly comfortable way.

     Thus, as we head into SS 2011, embrace your inner ballerina, whether it be in an outrageously fashionable manner or one that is effortlessly elegant, you will look beautiful. However, whilst doing this, perhaps do not adopt the mindset of Nina Sayers, whose insecure attitude and actions will distress and disturb her viewers for weeks on end.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

What do you wear?

      Perfume, Aftershave, Eau de Toilette, Fragrance, Aroma, Cologne - Scent.
     January is over and we now find ourselves completely settled into 2011 - we've stopped writing 2010 in date headings, we've forgotten our new year's resolutions and we've finally adapted to the new fragrance, which we bought ourselves for Christmas.
     Having worn Paul Smith 'Men' for the best part of two years, I would recommend it to anyone. 
It has a fresh, distinctive smell which epitomises, sophistication whilst staying true to the quirky British brand. However, when seeing the bottle approach its emptiness in the final days of December, I decided that I would start 2011 with a new fragrance. I wanted something else. The decision itself was easy. Having seen and smelt Marc Jacobs' 'Bang' amongst the pages of GQ and Vogue alike, I was immediately attracted to its woody and exotic aroma - not to mention  Marc Jacobs himself:

     And despite having attempted every aftershave available, I could not help but return to Bang, because like Marc Jacobs and I'd like to think myself, it stands out amongst its counterparts. It is unique...and having used Bang for over a month now, it has now become a part of me - part of my essence. 
    Thus today, when I left home, without my scent, I felt naked, I was unarmed. Although I was conveying who I am through my outer appearance, I lacked my scent, which is more important than clothes in that we change our images on a daily basis yet we rarely change our scents. Moreover, they allow you to recognize someone's presence without having to see or hear them - in the 1950s everyone knew that Marilyn Monroe or one of her devoted fans was in walking distance when they could smell a hint of Chanel No. 5. 

    What's more is that scent achieves in seconds what designers spend years developing - an identity. It is so personal, that you must decide on it alone because, unlike clothes, it seeps into your skin and you absorb it. It is the last think you apply and it is the last thing you remove. It is an innate external part of you. 
    Thus, when your perfume bottle begins to reach an end, have a ponder as to what you wear and what it expresses. Is it elegant and chic or more suited to the musky air of a brothel. Your sense of smell is your strongest sense and whilst people will forget the clothes that you wear, your smell shall subconsciously be cemented into their memories. It should express you, and if it doesn't - it's time for an update.