Friday, 29 April 2011

Always a celebrity...rarely a model.

     Today Catherine Middleton became a princess but, ever since the announcement of her engagement, she has been an A-list celebrity, gracing the covers of newspapers and magazines alike, on a daily basis.
     Celebrities sell - everyone knows it. They have mighty legions of don't-disrespect-my-idol-or-i'll-dunk you fans. Even the less aggresive of us can be swooned into paying £2-6 to read an in depth-interview of someone we admire. Whether it is teenage-idol Justin Beiber, Duchess-of-Cambridge Catherine Middleton or mother-monster Lady GaGa, we take an unashamed interest in their lives; they're fabulous.

      Yet, with models that instant recognition is only beheld by fashion fanatics. You, like me, may think that Freja Beha Erichsen is one of the most beautiful people ever to have existed but your average person has no idea who she is: Freja Beha who? - Is that some sort of Bodyshop product? They will have seen her in nothing but Georg Jensen, looking luxurious in Louis Vuitton and hitting the high-street in H&M but they will not know her name, she's just a model - they do not care but they do care about celebrities.

     Anna Wintour herself, is renowned for being the first magazine editor to truly understand the effect a celebrity cover can have on sales. From talk-show hosts to actresses she has placed them all on Vogue's front cover, with the result that the U.S. edition now has a monthly circulation of 1.2 million copies. Moreover, Anna Wintour herself is now a celebrity in her own right - The September Issue, her talent, her bob. People pay to read what she has to say, just as much as they do, to hear the latest anecdotes of Reese Witherspoon and Rihanna.

     The British edition itself, dabbles between models and celebrities alike, but in order to maintain sales, it endlessly promotes its cover models until they have earned some sort of celebrity-like status amongst Vogue readers. Lara Stone and Freja Beha Erichsen would not be so well-known, without their constant editorials, within editions that feature the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Cheryl Cole on their covers. 
     The only Vogue magazine, which appears not to have been lured into the attraction of a celebrity cover is 'Vogue Italia', which amongst the more commercial editions of Vogue, remains the bible of high-fashion. It never compromises its high-quality for popularity; the shoots are always impressive and extreme and the covers unbelievably eye-catching. 
     However, it suffers because of it. Although, Italy has a much smaller population than that of America, its circulation is only 145,000. The U.K. has a population similar to that of Italy, but our Vogue has a circulation of 220,000, and whilst, I wish I could say that it is due to better writing, it is due to the celebrity covers. People are lured in by an in-depth interview with their idols, sadly an intriguing image isn't enough. 
      Thus, as lovers of fashion, whilst we enjoy the more commercial editions of Vogue, I challenge us to buy and browse through the likes of Vogue Italia more often, because it is all about the fashion and, quite frankly, what else do we need?


Monday, 25 April 2011

New Life...New Trends

     Yesterday was Easter and, whilst some people were celebrating 'new life', others were enjoying a day with the family or appreciating the fact that it is a bank holiday weekend. I myself am not religious - 'new life doesn't concern me'. However, seeing as British weather is shocking us all by reaching 'tropical' temperatures, it would seem that there certainly is something to be celebrating.
     We now find ourselves immersed in SS and the possibility of wearing its fashions - no matter if we're celebrating 'new life' or not, we can certainly celebrate 'new trends'. So as we find ourselves already gazing at what AW 2011-12 has to offer, here is a reminder of the delightful designs of this season and what to experiment with in the near future.

1) Colour Blocking

     Perhaps the most obvious trend this season is colour; it is everywhere. From Jil Sander to Gucci and Christopher Kane to Lanvin, colour is your friend this season but if you really want to take the trend to a Louis Vuitton level, leave your inhibitions in the closet and colour-block. Obviously colour-blocking can result in you looking as though you ought to be at a circus-themed party, but when it is done right, it can  transform you into a beacon of beauty and looking at the designs above, it is worth it.

2) White

     Now for the more minimalistic of us, there is of course the 'white' trend, which always works in SS. In fact, white and SS can't help but go together because, like Cinderella and the Prince, their separation only strengthens their love and desire for each other. Moreover, the combination of sunshine and the designs of YSL, Dolce & Gabbana and Calvin Klein alike, can elevate us mere mortals into modelesque paragons of chic and, in all honesty, who objects to that?

3) Stripes

Horizontal stripes have always been renowned for fattening their wearers, yet the recent designs of Moschino and Versace would suggest that this 'common knowledge' is 'common crap'. When tailored correctly a striped tunic can actually accentuate the hour-glass figure of a woman, so much so that they look more Marilyn Monroe than Mr Blobby. Moreover, the nautical stripes of Jean Paul Gaultier make men look more muscular than Michelin man. Besides, Prada's humorous selection of stripes this season makes it impossible for us not to long for them regardless of size.

4) The 70s

     Fashion has always had a wonderful ability to take inspiration from the styles of yesteryear and update them in a fresh and modern way. This season it reflects on the 70s, when glamour was all the rage and fashion was not for the faint-hearted. Whether you like the luxurious leisure of Salvatore Ferragamo or the laid back qualities of Gant - this SS is a time to indulge in fashion and forget about the recession. Wear a Marc Jacobs dress, experiment with make-up and look a million dollars - you know you want to.

5) Androgyny

     Finally a trend, which always excites - androgyny. Fashion has always favoured the androgynous, from Twiggy to Agyness Deyn, it is interesting. Thus, whether you sport Paul Smith quiffs or DSquared2 slouch suits this season, you will be in fashion. Moreover, men are beginning to embrace this trend too - drop-crotch trousers are all the rage for men, yet are the twin of harems. What's more is that the likes of Andrej Pejic and the lipstick wearing boys of Vivienne Westwood's AW show, prove that this may not just be a trend but a revolution in fashion and what could be more exciting than that?

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Nick Knight

     As we wait with bated breath for the release of Lady GaGa's new Judas video, it only seems apt that I should celebrate the life and career, of the infamous fashion photographer and Born This Way video director - Nick Knight.

     Knight is to British photography what David Bowie is to British music - a necessity. Having published 'Skinheads', a book of photographs in 1982, he was spotted by i-D editor Terry Jones and, as they say, the rest is history. From Vogue shoots to designer campaigns he has become one of the most sought-after photographers of all time, amongst the greats: Mario Testino, David Bailey - the list goes on. 

     However, if it was Helen's face that launched a thousand ships, it was this shot that launched a thousand shoots for Knight, who now aged 53, still seems to be within the prime of his career. His use of colour contrast was so innovative and fresh for the time that it lead him to capture more campaigns than that of Yohji Yamamoto's 1986 collection. In fact, like Bowie's genre defying music, Knight has always defied the boundaries of photography. His use of effects is second to none - just look at this shot from his campaign for the SS 2004 Alexander McQueen collection. It is incredible.

    He understands designers and the images they wish to create, in such a way that he transports you into their worlds - their beautiful worlds. Who-else has managed to capture McQueen's talent in such a modern yet stunning way? Yet, it is not just designers that he understands but magazines, models and musicians to name a few. His  works for Vogue are instantly recognisable in that they are always different. 

     From a glamorous Linda Evangelista to an androgynous Kate Moss, he has captured some of the most beautiful people the world has ever seen, in the most interesting of lights. His recent 'Mean Streets' editorial for Vogue demonstrates his timeless relevance. The breathtaking Joan Smalls and model-of-my-fashion-filled-dreams Karlie Kloss have never looked edgier than in this pretty punk paradise.

     However, perhaps most recently, it is his relationship with Lady GaGa that is intriguing us all? His direction of the Born This Way video resulted in something both bonkers and beautiful - will anyone seriously be able to forget the image of GaGa giving birth to a gun?  He understands his client. What's more is that he has photographed her entire album shoot, which, from the images released thus far, shows GaGa looking both 'fierce' and vulnerable - it's wonderful.

     Thus, as we wait in excitement for the rest of the Born This Way shoot and Knight's next editorial, let's enjoy his ever-stylish back-catalogue because we can and, when it's this beautiful, we really should.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Window Shopping

     Whilst having Lady GaGa's Judas on endless repeat - I have made another trip to London and whilst not being in the financial position to purchase anything other than a slick in-sale military United Colors of Benetton peacoat, I have undoubtedly window shopped.

     Everyone does it - it's in our nature, we may not be able to afford something but we can gaze at it with longing eyes in the hope that one day we will. What's more is that, as people, we can try and hide it but we are innately curious. Whether we enjoy taking a quick peep into someone's window on a walk or take pleasure in flicking through the pages of - we like to indulge in the lives and lifestyles of other people. We like to indulge in the clothes of other people.
    However, unlike the window of a neighbour or a celebrity, the window of a shop is meant to be looked at. Like a magazine, it should catch our attention and draw us into its world, in such away that, at least for one moment, nothing else seems to matter. Thus, whilst affordable stores, such as Topshop and H&M, do well to prevent their windows from morphing into the sight of a humdrum high-street, designer and department stores are the shops which really take their displays to the next level. 
    It literally is nigh impossible to walk down the likes of designer's paradise Sloane Street without bumping into anything - every window desires and deserves to be looked at, whereas, in comparison to its windows, the pavement and its occupants do not.

     However, designers often aim to display their clothes in fairly simple backgrounds so that us pedestrians come potential customers are entranced by nothing but their clothes. There are no distractions. In contrast, department stores such as Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Selfridges create unbelievably avant-garde displays in order to transport you into their seemingly accessible world of luxury and beauty. You turn your head to catch a glimpse of a designer window, whereas, you stop your tracks to gaze at those of the infamous department stores.

     Harrods windows posses a brilliant Britishness, whilst Harvey Nichols' take luxury to the extreme but it is the slick yet quirky displays of Selfridges that are my personal favourites. Primarily, as a store, Selfridges is perfection. Its layout is inviting and it combines designer and high street labels in such a way that it is impossible not to enjoy or be offended by your Selfridges experience. 
     And in order to enter Selfridges, you must pass its windows - the gateways, which lead to utopia. They stand out like stars in the night sky - illuminating Oxford Street for the world to see, as opposed to being drowned out by the array of shops, which surround it. From the-definition-of-glamazon mannequins for the BRIGHT young THiNGS display of January to the current display, in which mannequins find themselves encased in flowers and mushrooms - Selfridges always intrigues the passer-by.

January 2011 - Thank you - for the pictures. 

March 2011 - Apologies for the reflection.

     As you can clearly see Selfridges understands window displays. It understands them in the way that Karl Lagerfeld understands Chanel and Anna Wintour understands Vogue. They all know how to stay true to their brands, yet also how to modernise them in order that their audiences do not become bored. Lagerfeld knows when to add a miniskirt into a Chanel collection, Wintour knows when to place a pair of jeans on the front of Vogue and Selfridges knows when to place a tree trunk in its windows. 
     Moreover, they contort their mannequins into such positions that they are not just inanimate objects but beings of some wondrous work of art. The clothes come to life, whether they are held in balletic death-defying positions or romantic nature-absorbed slouches. Their beauty is not hindered but enhanced and I like the 200 million people who pass it each year - adore it. 
    So next time you find yourself anywhere near Oxford Street - go to Selfridges. Stop, stare, have a sandwich. You may not be able to afford what lies in its windows but you can still enjoy their beauty. And perhaps, if you have time, you can make a quick visit to the gorgeous shoe hall in order to appreciate beauty some more - after all, in a world of stress and social injustice, you deserve it.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Vogue: Strike a Pose

     Although on my birthday I didn't get any of the clothes on my wish-list or meet anyone as painfully sexy as Jon Kortajarena - I did get the Vogue Covers book and, quite frankly, I couldn't be happier. From the art deco illustrations of Eduardo Benito to the David Bailey cover-shots of Jean - The Shrimp - Shrimpton, it is a necessity for fashion enthusiasts, photographers and illustrators alike. 

       The British version of the magazine itself was founded in September 1916, when war was rife and spirits low - it acted as an escape mechanism for women of great style and taste to indulge in - just as it does today. Moreover, just like in 1916, Vogue uses its covers to sell and set the tone of the magazine. They have to stand out. However, upon its release,Vogue had no problems about standing out because, unlike other magazines, its covers were in colour. Thus, amongst row upon row of black and white magazines, the simple yet powerful illustration of Vogue's first cover stood out.

     It was elegant and, most importantly, relevant within the context of the war. The marionettes used to portray Spring, Summer and Winter fashions lay defeated, whilst that of Autumn stood victorious because even amongst the horrors of war, one could still enjoy the fashions of Autumn. Fashion was not dead and although death was imminent, the death of British culture and style most certainly was not. 

     Even when killing a polar bear the Vogue goddess and her cover held their place on the newsstands. Thus, during WWII as opposed to dying out, as many other magazines did, Vogue stood strong - it still released its renowned covers, whether in photo form or the illustrations of old. The photographic cover at the start of the war in August 1939, is perhaps one of Vogue's must well known images - its just so kitsch.

     However, it was not until after the war that illustrated covers began to die out completely, as photographers began to create the covers of Vogue and become puppeteers of the world's most beautiful women. Shots of models and clothing made the Vogue lifestyle tangible because it was no longer a fairy-tale drawing but an attainable sight with real women at its forefront. From the 50s flawless Jean Patchett and the 60s crop-cut Twiggy to the 70s beauty Marie Helvin and the 80s wondrous Talisa Soto - Vogue captures and displays beauty in all of its forms to the entire world. 

     Not to forget the 90s supers: Naomi, Linda, Tatjana, Christy, Cindy...

...and of course Kate, who continues to reign supreme.

       Then there was the ever so recent 00s, whcih beheld the likes of Gisele, Stella Tennant, Natalia Vodianova and post-the-Vogue-Covers-book Agyness Deyn.

     And we now find ourselves in the 10s, in which Lara Stone shines, Rosie Huntington-Whitely captivates and Freja Beha Erichsen rules but who will join them? As you may have guessed from my recent posts, my wish is that Karlie Kloss will but, whoever it is, Vogue will create a beautiful cover with them because that is something which Vogue always does.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Which designer will she wear?

     No doubt, having purchased the latest edition of British Vogue, you like me will have scoured it from back to front and enjoyed the editorials of both Arizona Muse and Agyness Deyn alike - not to mention the choice of three sublime supermodel covers.

     Mario Testino has managed to capture the incomprehensible beauty of Natalia, Freja and Lara in such a serene light that he has made even the most cold-hearted of us imagine ourselves walking down the isle in the incredible creations of Vivienne Westwood and Oscar de la Renta alike. Yet, as far as I know, these imaginations are far from the realities of our lives. We are not getting married nor even going to a wedding or that matter but Prince William and Catherine Middleton are. 
     However these university sweethearts aren't just getting married, they are about to say their vows in front of upwards of two billion people and Catherine is on the verge of fulfilling the seemingly impossible childhood dreams of women both old and young alike - she is about to become a princess.

     But, why should we care? Regardless of the circumstances, we know very little about these two people. Although we may know a few facts and figures about their media documented lives, we have know idea what it is like to have a cup of tea and a catch up with them. As opposed to couples who specifically invite us to their weddings, we do not know Catherine and William. 
     However, on the 29th of April, you and I shall attend their wedding, via the television. We shall witness some part, if not all, of the ceremony, whether it is the exchanging of vows, the bearing of the rings or, what we are all dying to see, Catharine walking down the isle, in a stunning designer dress.
     But which designer will it be? My personal wish, as rumour has it, is that she will sport an all British jaw-dropper, designed by the one and only Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen - who else can create something so regal, yet so feminine?

     However, whilst we find ourselves lost in this bubble of excitement, in which we plan the wedding out as if it were our own - we have to understand that this is not our wedding. We are not six years old and Catherine and William are not Barbie and Ken. We cannot control them and, quite frankly we shouldn't. This is their special day...not ours. Catherine will probably not wear a Sarah Burton dress - bar hats and fascinators her style is rarely that extrovert. Ever the poised princess, she prefers to play it safe in elegant Issa beauties; it's her style.
     Moreover, her daily floral getup is far more D&G than Dolce & Gabbana; it like her is sweet and young, and why should she change it for our liking? She is not a pin up girl but a princess and like any woman in control, she should have power over her decisions. She already has to face the reality that her every word and movement on April 29th will be analysed by both the paparazzi and public, the day has to run perfectly and, as enjoyable as it is to suggest a dress, we needn't interfere. Catherine has little control over what will happen on the day but she can decide what she wears and we should respect her decision, just as we would any other bride's.

     Besides, although he will be wearing uniform for the wedding, which designer will William wear to the reception?

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Wish-List

Today is my birthday. I am 17 and here lies an extremely condensed wish-list. Is anyone feeling generous?

1. First of all Prada's new three-toned brogues are a must-buy. They may be unfeasibly chunky but it adds to their appeal and in a vibrant colour palette of yellow, brown and blue, they are set to set streets on fire with their humor and class. Buy these and you won't regret it. Wear these and S/S will be a season to remember. Miuccia you are a genius.

 2. To those of you who have read my blog before, you will be well aware of the fact that I have a blatant desire to own a pair of leather trousers but due to the realities of teenage life, I cannot afford any. Thus, I have found the perfect pair in the hope that one day soon I shall, and despite heavy competition from Burberry, it would seem that Balmain owns the trousers of my fashion-filled dreams. Many thanks to Christophe Decarnin, who we salute as he shockingly leaves the brand after 4 years of both brilliant and beautiful design.

3. Now as for the casual summer look, it lies on the catwalk of Dolce & Gabbana, who always manage to combine relaxation with elegance to create the perfect high-fashion mixture. From the holdall to those thigh-skimming shorts, Domenico and Stefano have designed the perfect go-to summer outfit - not to mention used an undeniably sexy model as well - Phwoar!

4. Colour, now having scoured each and every SS collection, it would seem that Moschino and Jil Sander are the brands truly embracing the colour trend this season and this outfit would be a much-needed splash of colour in my fairly neutral wardrobe. From the petrol blue coat, to the skinny red trousers, the look is fun and youthful without ever feeling too try hard, and looking at the AW 2011-12 collection, it looks like Rosella Jardini has no intentions to end her colour-filled collections - we're not complaining.

5. Inevitably, it was always going to end with this - the Burberry studded biker. It had to make an appearance because it is so edgy that it could give any clothing the sought-after moth eaten look with its super stylish studs. It is an emblem of coolness. Burberry is an emblem of coolness. It is the 'beat[ing]' heart of British fashion and if I can own an item from one collection this season, it would be this because, whilst I adore the collections of French and Italian brands alike - I shall always be a British boy at heart, aged 17 or not.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Bright Young British Things

     An introduction or reintroduction to two people set to become so popular this year that you would have to be a hermit not to know their names. 

     1) Douglas Booth

               London-born Douglas Booth is the future. Primarily he is a talented actor, and secondly he is gorgeous. His eyes are captivating, his jawline is razor-sharp and his cheekbones are so defined that they could cut through a Burberry studded biker - he is a living work of art. Aged 18, he has already modeled for numerous Burberry campaigns alongside Emma Watson, cheekbone chick Nina Porter and so sexy, she ought not be exposed to the average heterosexual male, Rosie Huntington-Whitely. Yet, considering that he has already starred in three BBC productions, it would seem that modelling is a mere diversion for this talented chap. Firstly he played Boy George in the biopic 'Worried About the Boy' to much appraisal, then Eustace in the 2010 adaptation of 'Pillar's of the Earth' and most recently he acted as Christopher Isherwood's lover Heinz in the brilliant 'Christopher and His Kind'. Not too bad for an 18 year old. And with a stateside production of 'L.O.L' set for release this year it looks like international stardom is a given for him, as Booth makes the transfer from Britain's second best-dressed man to one of the U.K.'s finest actors. 

     2) Natalia Kills

            Bradford-born Natalia Kills, like Lady GaGa before her, is set to become a new generation pop artist, who like Miss Germanotta uses musical talent, lyrics and video to create not just music but art as well. They will both be 25 by the 15th of August and they both release their music under a pseudonym. However, unlike GaGa, upon the release of her first album 'Perfectionist', Natalia is no stranger to the music or media scene. She starred in the BBC sitcom 'All About Me' in 2002, before playing the vicar's daughter in the BBC4 radio series 'The Archers' and releasing the hip-hop top 20 hit 'Don't Play Nice' in 2005. She was fairly successful and then she faded into obscurity but thank God she did. Whilst 'Don't Play Nice' was an enjoyable guilty pleasure, it certainly wasn't anything ground-breaking and, having heard her latest efforts, it has become clear that she is far more suited to gothic-pop than the hip-hop she once sang. Her new single 'Mirrors' manages to be both radio-friendly yet dark and interesting , in that its 'Sweet Dreams'-esque beats add to its haunting 'my stiletto on your neck' lyrics to create something quite remarkable. Moreover, the lyrics of its successor 'Wonderland' are just clever: 'I'm not Snow White but I'm lost inside this forest. I'm not Red Riding Hood but I think the wolves have got me.' and in the video she gets beheaded rocking the famous bejeweled KTZ leather dress - fashion, execution and wit, what more could you want? Natalia has most certainly grown up since her days as a teen star. She has become an adult star and if her experimental make-up, and mini YouTube series are anything to go by Natalia will 'kill' it in the music industry for years to come.

So there you have it, Douglas Booth - the stylish British actor and Natalia Kills - the experimental British artist. Is anyone else excited?