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.