Thursday, 31 March 2011

Oh to be young, Oh to be Karlie Kloss...

     Karlie Kloss is the atypical American supermodel. She's beautiful, individual, exactly 6ft and is my blog logo.


      Having been discovered at a charity fashion show aged just 13, she signed to an agency at 15 and her career unfolded, her fashion-filled fairy-tale began. From campaigns with Yves Saint Laurent to runway shows with Alexander McQueen, the fashion world literally became her oyster and she's become its pearl. The world's pearl or even Vogue's pearl - with eight covers under her belt and countless editorials, the magazine and its readers alike adore her, with the result that she is the envy of all her rivals. 


        And, like John Steinbeck's 'Pearl', her guardians a.k.a agencies are extremely possessive over her. Her transfer to NEXT Model Management from Elite was one of the most controversial switches ever in the world of modelling, and it should have been. Elite lost a supermodel. They lost Karlie Kloss, who opened ten and closed eight of the SS 2011 shows, and who, on account of her edgy look and coquettish expressions, has become the muse of Dior. They lost Karlie Kloss, who, as I found out today, is 18 - yes, only 18.


      Perhaps, you, unlike me, are not shocked by her age - this is the world of modelling after all, where if you want to be one of the greats, youth or at least youthful looks are key. Linda Evangelista was discovered at the age of 13, Kate Moss at only 14 and Naomi Campbell landed her first cover of Elle at 15 - WOW. 18 suddenly doesn't seem quite so impressive any more. 
      However, outside of modelville it is. In law firms, banks and even schools, you wouldn't reach the heights of your career until your late 30s, 40s, even 50s. You couldn't have an 18 year old Headmaster, just as you couldn't have a 14 year old in charge of your accounts - it doesn't happen. It only does in the media world. Where you can be a star at any age. Keira Knightley filmed her role as Elizabeth Swan for Pirates of the Caribbean aged just 17, whilst Rihanna was only 19 when she released 'Good Girl Gone Bad' and I started  this blog aged 16.


      However like with Kloss, there is always someone younger than us, for Rihanna there is Willow Smith, for Knightly there is the Harry Potter cast and for me there is the inspirational Tavi Gevinson - but this does not matter. These people do not affect our gifts and they do not affect our achievements. Karlie Kloss has achieved great things at the mere age of 18, which may no longer be shocking but are impressive, Kloss is now fulfilling her dreams  - as well as the dreams of millions of girls across the world, and for that and her talent alone, we salute her.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Elizabeth Bolton: One to watch

      As the weather begins to show signs of SS, a serious desire to stroll around in the detailed designs of Bottega Veneta is invoked in boys and girls alike and a sense of longing arouses in even the most introvert of us to do more than just gaze at the latest works of Haider Ackermann. However, less than 50 years ago neither of these brands or these wishes existed and a mere 15 years ago Ackermann was yet to even debut his first collection. 
      The two brands took years to become what they are today. Whether it be through Veneta's years of development or Ackermann's work behind the scenes at lesser known labels, they have both managed to become known and appreciated within the fashion world - Veneta for its Italian attention to detail, and Ackermann for its individual take on classic items.


       However, whilst experience within in the fashion industry is still important, it is by no means necessary any more. Both Christopher Kane and David Koma are proof that in today's Internet world, recognition can be received before, if not immediately after university graduation. The middle ground is disappearing - Kane actually began working for Versace, after he started up his own label, as opposed to, designers such as Phoebe Philo, who worked under a label before spanning out and creating their own collections.
       Consequently, I feel very privileged to know the designer of an up and coming label, who amongst AS levels has managed to both design and have her clothes modelled. The label is Elizabeth Bolton and it really is something special. Bolton understands fashion in a way that designers such as McQueen did, in that whilst she can produce a beautiful coat suited to a well know label, such as Chanel:


     She can also create individual and appealing designs in her own unique style. From velvet tops to jersey dresses, her designs are both young and fresh. She cleverly incorporates Chinese jacquard print, mesh and Suffolk puffs into satin seam dresses, which any young woman would be stupid not to wish to wear.


     What's more is that Bolton is aware of the business side of a label. She has had her clothes modelled and photographed by young, local girls in order that she may advertise her clothes properly. The beautiful, unsigned Emily Pascoe effortlessly wears Bolton's clothes, whilst Victoria Harris has managed to capture their beauty against a simple brick wall. The result is simple but striking nonetheless. 
     Bolton has not only used her talent but her contacts, to start a label, which one day may strut alongside both Kane and Koma at London Fashion Week, or Ackermann in Paris. But wherever Bolton decides to have it shown, purchase and wear her designs now, before she like Ackermann and Kane becomes a member of fashion royalty. Enjoy.

    Join the Elizabeth Bolton Facebook Group, here: 
                          http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=102345693135016

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

ICONS


       Elizabeth Taylor died today. She died aged 79. She died an icon.

     But you already knew that, Google told you hours ago, you heard it on the radio, your neighbour mentioned it over coffee and a Bourbon. You've read countless articles concerning her death,  you've found out that old copy of Cleopatra and now you find yourself wondering how many times she actually did get married - it was eight, including her two consecutive marriages to Richard Burton. 
        Taylor is gone but, as we respect and acknowledge her in death, her legacy lives on -as an icon. An icon of beauty, talent and seductiveness - she oozed it, just look at her. Even in a wheel chair she still looked like the Hollywood star she always was.


      However, beyond her famous friendships, our generation knows very little about her, and perhaps we shouldn't, she was an actress after all not an artist and she became famous in a time, when the internet didn't exist and Twitter, was the sound of a bird as opposed to the recent rants of a celebrity or indeed ourselves. 
     In fact, before today, the majority of teenagers probably didn't even know who Elizabeth Taylor was, they may have thought, to your disdained glare, that she was Liz Taylor, 'the one off of Hollyoaks', not the child star turned adult actress, who defined American cinema. The fact that they were gawping at pictures of British boy-band, the Wanted, mere moments before adds further disgust to your disdain - but why? 
       Elizabeth Taylor until today has been absent from the public eye, whereas the Wanted have not. They have just released a comic relief single and feature on the walls of girls and certain Adonis adoring boys throughout the country and who can blame them, they're 'FIT'.


     But they're not Elizabeth Taylor and they never will be, yet they are icons - if not to you, then to the twelve year old girl who lives across the road. Margaret Thatcher is an icon to David Cameron, just as Iman is one to Tyra Banks and Michael Jackson to Beyoncé. There is something quite beautiful in the way in which icons themselves have their own icons, they take inspiration from others, just as we do.
     British Vogue editor, Alexandra Shulman recently stated in a Twitter interview that the word 'icon' is over-used; it's meaning is lost and she's right, just consider how many icons you have - 12, no 20 oh wait 98 give or take but does that matter? I, myself both love and look up to fashion designers and journalists alike, from Ricardo Tisci to Charlotte Sinclair. 
     However, amongst these great men and women, one often stands out for us and for me it's obvious -  those of you who've read my blog will already be aware of who I am referring to. She is a lady who stands for all I believe in and is the woman for whom I decided to give up an hour of my homework filled evening  in order to watch her most recent interview. If you hadn't guessed it is Sarah Palin...just kidding, it is, of course, Lady GaGa, and here's the interview for those of you, yet to see it.


      She inspires me and changes my perceptions of what is beautiful and what is not like fashion. Her outfits intrigue me and her lyrics relate to me, she is one of my 'icons'. Elizabeth Taylor may be one of yours but if not, who is? Who would you give up a front row seat in Milan to grab a Starbucks with? Quite frankly, it doesn't matter as long as you have one because hopefully one day, someone may look up to you to and you will be an 'icon'. 

R.I.P.
Elizabeth Taylor
27 February 1932 - 23 March 2011

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A pertinent plea in defence of D&G

     As we flick through the delights of what AW 2011-12 has to offer, we are confronted by rumours that D&G may merge with its elder sibling Dolce & Gabbana. D&G's final collection could reach the runway as soon as Milan fashion week for SS 2012 begins and that will be it - in less than fifty years time the line will cease to exist, except hidden in the realms of vintage stores both waiting and wishing to be worn.
     However, these rumours are yet to be confirmed and we trust with great faith that Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana know what is best for the brands and more importantly lifestyles, which they have created. Although I do ask, if these rumours are true, that these gifted designers may reconsider this shock decision for the benefit of their customers and the fashion world alike - because, despite both being products of the design duo's creative minds, the two collections are not the same.
    The two brands are not star-crossed lover destined to be at one with each other but siblings, with quite different personalities, who deserve not to be morphed into one super brand but to receive respect and recognition for their own individual merits. Dolce & Gabbana is the effortlessly sexy woman who entrances all those who gaze upon her, whilst D&G is her younger sister, who intrigues all of those around her with her infectious smile. One is (fairly) sedate and sophisticated whilst the other is youthful and in your face - their SS ad campaigns prove that.


Even the black and white of the Dolce & Gabbana campaigns enhances the appeal of their understated Italian chic and separates the brand from her sister - with the help of photographer extraordinaire Steven Klein, and money making models Isabeli Fontana and David Gandy.

      
Whereas, D&G embraces the colour and vibrancy of youth, with its floral prints and carefree cuts and charming  SS Mario Testino campaign featuring models such as the youthful Simon Nessman and fresh-faced Keke Lindgard.

     From knife brandishing adverts in 2007 to Naomi Campbell t-shirts, Dolce and Gabbana have managed to create a global franchise since they showed their first collection in 1985 - waiting to dress, and use as a model Madonna herself, accompany their 20th  anniversary of creating menswear with the sounds of Annie Lennox live and perhaps most importantly for their creation of the D&G line in 1994. So why end D&G and withdraw from from the success already achieved? 
       In ending the million pound making D&G brand, which counts for 40% of the label's wholesale sales, the designers would diminish their widespread appeal, which men, women, boys and girls across the world have the ability to indulge in and enjoy. Just look at the street wear infusions and 80s inspired D&G collections which the design duo have created for AW 2011-12.



And then admire the air of elegance which their Dolce & Gabbana lines possess, despite their equal 80s influence.


     It is D&G's lack of need to possess and general lack of sophistication, which makes her so endearing and differentiates her from her older sister. It establishes her as her own brand and thus despite the fact that both D&G and Dolce and Gabbana share similarities, they also share differences and it is these differences, which will be greatly missed if the D&G label disappears and Dolce & Gabbana, along with the fashion world, is left to mourn the premature loss of her younger sister. 

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Music Video

     It has been two weeks since the release of Lady GaGa's 'Born This Way'  video and despite being described as GaGa at her best and most individual, its success has been dwindled by that of her previous efforts. Although its view count is undoubtedly impressive - more than 17 million views in two weeks is nothing to frown upon, even if you are the 'Beyoncé Clown', but in the case of GaGa her 'Telephone' video managed to achieve this in just four days.


     Moreover, whilst the 'Telephone' plot is undoubtedly enjoyable it is arguably a bit too random for the song itself, and despite the fact that the 'Alejandro' video has been an artistic success, its 'Cabaret' and Madonna inspired qualities are not quite as GaGa as certain fans would have liked. 


     However, 'Born This Way' is completely GaGa and its unbeaten success in iTunes sales,would suggest that its video would achieve a similar view count to that of 'Bad Romance', but it hasn't. Suddenly 17 million views doesn't seem quite so impressive when you compare it to the 350 million pus views of the, SS 2011 Alexander McQueen heel-featuring, 'Bad Romance' video.


So why does 'Born This Way' seem to tag behind its predecessors like a 'My Little Pony' would in race of well trained thoroughbreds? 

      Perhaps it is because it lacks shock value - but then Lady GaGa giving birth to an entire race of humanity is 'shocking', or maybe it's because it lacks a brilliant choreographed routine - but surely Lady GaGa's united and simple hand raising is one of her most intriguing moves yet, or is it due to the fact that 'Born This Way' lacks the intriguing concept of its predecessors - well no, the battle between good and evil, although commonplace, is wonderfully unique under the hands of 'mother monster'. So where has she gone wrong?


      In all honesty, she hasn't gone wrong. It's just that we as humans are ever so-easily bored, and the fact that this is GaGa's fourth, seven minute plus, 'OMG' feature stops it from being as innovative as the first. We can now place GaGa's creations into a 'shock filled box', just as you can gather the majority of today's artists together and place them in an 'uninspiring dance routine, which happens to feature mild nudity' box. 
      What is sad is that, although GaGa's box is undoubtedly more exciting than the other, it is still a box. Thus although, it would seem that GaGa has now managed to perfect her artistry, we do not feel the same excitement upon watching 'Born This Way' as we did 'Telephone'. 
     'Telephone' was, quite clearly, completely different to anything we had seen before. It reminded us of the days when Michael Jackson and Madonna would invent unimaginable concepts and push past the boundaries of the music video. One need only look at the likes of the banned, but brilliant 'Justify My Love'  and  the renowned 'Thriller' to understand that they, like GaGa, took the word artist to the extreme.
      


      GaGa's wacky, individual, occasionally murderous, fame-mocking qualities are now expected of her and the music video isn't considered to be the exciting, artistic form of promotion that it was in the 80s. Artists now depend on the radio, Internet and music download sites for sales, not videos and so they're visually creative minds needn't be challenged in the way in which GaGa challenges hers. 
     However, we all crave to be satisfied by sight, fashion proves the fact that images can change your perceptions. Music videos can change your perceptions of both an artist and a song. The music video, allows artists to create images as memorable as our favourite fashion moments - Britney's  'Baby One More Time' school girl routine, is just as if not more unforgettable than Christopher Kane's neon-filled debut collection.
     Thus watch GaGa's videos, the old school videos and any others, which happen to be artistically creative because the music video is the indulgence of pop culture; it combines both image and sound to create a sensational feast. It fuses together our favourite fashion labels with our favourite music artists and quite frankly it is time for us to dig in.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Céline & Chloé: The pioneers of simplistic chic

     I suppose the first names, which come to mind, when someone mentions the words 'French fashion' are those of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy - the list goes on. However, it would seem that ready-to-wear brands, such as Chloé and Céline, are beginning to stand alongside these couture houses as household names. People no longer have the time, patience or events for couture - or perhaps not. Couture is and always will be popular - you need only look at both Mila Kunis in Elie Saab's and Cate Blanchett in Givenchy's latest couture collections at the Oscars to understand.


     However, what has become increasingly evident in recent years is that, in order to modernise couture, certain houses, such as a Chanel, have begun to create more subtle designs than they have done previously and more wearable pieces are beginning to appear in avant-garde collections. Whether it is Sarah Burton's second collection as head designer of Alexander McQueen or Galliano's latest and perhaps last designs for Dior, day and easy-to-wear pieces were gazed at with equal if not more longing than evening-wear.


   Thus the simple beauty of a Chloé or Céline ready-to-wear collection has become increasingly more popular because these are collections which are both modern and wearable, whilst still possessing that effortless elegance and expensive quality of Parisian fashion. Moreover, both Hannah MacGibbon and Phoebe Philo have that uncanny ability to set and create trends instantly. Who didn't wish to own one of Philo's Paddington Bags a mere five years ago?
       What's more is that, they know and understand their brands in a way in which a married couple do each other. In fact, they both share a perfect marriage with their labels, in that, whilst being at one with their labels, they do not allow their own personal talents to be overshadowed by them and thus manage to succeed without compromising their talents.
      From the fresh qualities of their SS collections - someone please purchase those Chloé leather shorts, they are just dying to be worn, to the new AW collections - try not to gormlessly gawp at Jamie Bochert effortlessly rocking a faux-fur dress, these are the designers at the forefront of Parisian fashion.


      They are, indeed, pioneers of simplicity because they never spoil a look with superfluous features but instead pay an unimaginable attention to the detail of their clothes, which results in a never boring, but beautiful array of trend-starting looks.


     And it is in the knowledge that the ready-to-wear world is under these talented hands, that we needn't worry about what the fashion world beholds because, unlike the Royal Mail - Philo and MacGibbon always deliver.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Glamour of Gucci

     As AW 2011-12 fashion weeks draw to a close we are forced to look back over, what has been an intriguing month for fashion. From the tribal qualities of Felicity Brown's collection to the drama of the Dior debacle, our fashion focused minds couldn't be more shocked and satisfied.


     However, whilst the elegance of Paris is primarily on our minds, I'd like to take us back to Milan fashion week, in which Frida Giannini raised the heights of glamour once more. Considering that the Gucci SS collection was perhaps the most luxurious of all, the prospect of her AW line was undoubtedly an exciting one - and it hasn't disappointed.


      The shades, which she used, became richer and the clothes more elegant - as you can see the result is magic. The garments flow and caress the body  in the most willing and flattering way, as if your body is Jon Kortajarena and you are the clothes... What's more is that  Giannini's use of detailing is genius. By adding a thin black belt to each look, she manages to create a selection of chic outfits unhindered by the likes of fussy, chunky, unneeded accessories. 
    The look manages to be effortless yet precise, subtle yet eye-catching with the result it is perfect for those parties or dinners, in which one wishes to stand out without screaming and radiate beauty without pain. But, perhaps what is so perfect about this collection is that it embodies the Gucci brand in such a way that the SS collection did beforehand. It is both vibrant and sedate, just as SS's colour-blocking was not garish but drop-dead gorgeous. Who wouldn't want to join Joan Smalls and Karmen Pedaru in their breath-taking campaigns for the brand?


Someone who thinks that Gucci is pronounced 'Gukki' and Joan Smalls is an Estate Agents?
Just a guess.

     Moreover Gucci is not designed for ladies alone, the AW collection for men proves that it is the go-to brand for guys hoping to stand alongside women in the fashion stakes. Its suits are literally out of this world.


      However, what is truly wonderful about Gucci though is that, although it has most certainly grown up since its humble beginnings as a stand alone shop in 1920s Florence, its mantra hasn't changed. It may now be perhaps one of the most philanthropic brands in the business, with links to both UNICEF and Milk but it is still and will always be the epitome of glamour. From Tom Ford's reinstatement of the brand, after family disputes caused its 1980s downfall, the company has never looked back and, in all honesty, why would it? 


     Under his and Giannini's hands, Gucci has reinstated itself as Italy's leading fashion brand - it has nothing to look back to, only forward, just as we know that every time Milan fashion week comes around we and the world alike have something to look forward to in a world which lacks the glamour Gucci effortlessly creates.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

An Ode to Lee McQueen

     As the fashion world mourns in horror over the sudden demise of John Galliano, we are left in a state of wonder as to who may succeed him as head designer of Dior. However, this also reminds us of the far greater distresses of last year, when on February 11th 2010, the one and only, Lee Alexander McQueen committed suicide. 


       A year on and a Channel 4 documentary has been released in both his and his discoverer, Isabella Blow's honour - 'McQueen & I'. However, if, like me, you attempted to 'settle' down in front of it last with a cup of tea and a pack of Maltesers, you would have been left rather unsettled by a new-found stage of mourning . A new-found stage of mourning, which continues to overwhelm us because unlike last year, our sadness is now devoid of disbelief and we are forced to confront the grief that, despite Sarah Burton's honourable continuation and interpretation of the McQueen label, Lee, both its founder and its essence is gone - as are his often disturbing, yet always brilliant fashion shows.


     How can the likes of McQueen creating the Shalom Harlow dress whilst on the Givenchy runway not intrigue and inspire you? How can it be replicated by a successor?


   He was - and still is - the creative master, who designers and fashion lovers alike look up to in the hopes that they to may able to create something...beautiful; because whether McQueen's works were for Givenchy or his own label, they always managed to possess a magical originality often absent from both the world of fashion and reality today. From McQueen's 1996 bumsters to the nature-inspired dresses of his SS 2010 collection, there was always an innovative and theatrical quality to his work, which never allowed the individuality of his shows to outshine them.


 Each look he created was stunning.


     However, it was not the exuberance but the expressive nature of his designs, which made them so beautiful. One need only remember the mirrored cube show of SS 2001, in which he sat his audience in front of a mirror for two hours, confronting them with their reflections, before revealing models in his signature Gothic dresses, enclosed in boxes of butterflies, and then the shocking image of the naked lady, with which he closed the show.


     Or more poignantly the disturbing qualities of his final designs, which focused heavily on religious themes and consisted of a haunting dark versus light palette. They reflected the life and death situation, in which McQueen found himself  at the time. However, it was not light but darkness, which overcame. It was not life but death - and thus McQueen, like his loyal supporter and advisor Isabella Blow, took his own life. He was found hanging in his bedroom - dramatic to the point of death, leaving us all in a continuous state of despair.

R.I.P. 
Lee Alexander McQueen
17 March 1969 - 11 February 2010