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'.