Prints, please

How many prints is too many prints? Given that to most, a printed dress is scary enough, the answer is probably just one. However, fellow fun fabric connoisseurs/lovers of potentially bad taste – call it what you will – may agree that anything upwards of two clashing prints, and the day is looking good. Throw in some lurid colours for good measure and you are onto a winner, fashion friends.

Prints, please

The key is to have a classic foundation; pair a white-based Breton with a cropped dark tartan trouser, with flashes of red a yellow running through it, and you have a solid foundation to work with. Now we can start to have fun. On top of this, how about a crazy take on the perfecto with the black given new dimensions by a melange of green, orange and white? This is probably a good place to end, unless you also feel that the addition of possibly Nike‘s most offensive pair of shoes will add a certain je ne sais quoi. If nothing else, a jaunty juxtaposition of colour, print and texture will have you smiling all day long (as well as scaring and shocking Parisians, my current favourite game).

Nike Air

The aforementioned Nike trainers

Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter are all about prints, so now is the time to try, experiment and maybe even fail. That’s where the fun lies and that’s where your style lies. As Lucinda Chambers, British Vogue fashion director, said “You need to get to know yourself and what works for you; it’s all about trial and error“. Style shouldn’t be daunting, it’s a way to express your creativity, passion and energy. You should never be afraid to try new things, because yes, new ensembles may often crash and burn, but somewhere in there you’ll find what you love, what makes you comfortable and what makes you you. What’s the point in being part of the crowd and following someone else’s style? In the end, you won’t feel comfortable or confident, and that’s what you’ll portray to others. London is renowned as being the home of fearless fashion, which is why London will always be the best; it is the nurturing ground of the young and talented, and yes, more often than not you may look twice at someone in the street because their look is so totally alien and wrong, but when people are looking at you twice in the street, that’s when you know you’re doing something good.

If your own outfit inspires you to write, you must be doing something right…or very, very wrong. Either way, I’m happy with that.

Prada Spring/Summer 2011

Prada Spring/Summer 2011

Marc Jacobs resort 2013

Marc Jacobs Resort 2013

Susie Bubble & Other Stories

Susie Bubble & Other Stories

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Palmer//Harding papercuts

Autumn/Winter for the Palmer//Harding design duo is all about paper. Fresh, white, crisp, clean, structural yet free paper. Paper with highlighter details. The textures of paper: shredded, fringed, folded. Get the picture? It’s all about paper, sartorially-minded friends. Who knew that paper could be so diverse, delicious and wearable? Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding, that’s who.

The pair are based in London, where they both studied at Central Saint Martins; Palmer has a BA in menswear, and Harding both a BA and MA in womenswear, meaning they’re the ideal team to bring a masculine edge to women’s pieces, and a soft femininity to their men’s collections. They debuted back in 2011, using the simple white shirt as a starting block to launch themselves into the world of London Fashion Week. It worked, and the fashion community have taken notice of the young designers.

Their Autumn/Winter 2014-2015 collection showed progression in the creativity of their covetable designs. The white shirt was still a key feature – it revealed its many forms in 12 different looks – but the pair moved onto new silhouettes, exploring flowing silk trousers and structural miniskirts. The forms were made more impressive by the very clear theme running throughout the collection: the aforementioned paper. We saw a strong identity throughout the 28 looks, which showcased the pair’s skills in manipulating fabrics and making a concept effortlessly wearable.

Did you ever think you’d want to sport shredded paper and a paperclip accessory? Think again. With hand-cut suede and leather, a modern look at fringing, and flashes of highlighter yellow, Palmer//Harding have made women want to wear the items found on their desks. Watch the show, and see how in one look the fabric flutters as a sheet of paper does in a light breeze, another shows its more rigid structures and Palmer and Harding explore the humble shredder via a multitude of glorious skirts, including a particular favourite oily purple number. There is huge attention to detail: at the London Showrooms in Paris, Levi Palmer explained that the shred-effect pieces are hand-cut, as lasers leave an undesirable black outline. After this painstakingly meticulous process, they then painted the tips bright yellow  to get the vibrant effect of a highlighter making its neon mark across virgin territories, also shown in the use of strips of neon mesh across crumples of fabric, and in the accessories worn around models’ necks – and it was a refreshingly diverse mix of girls who walked the show.

Palmer//Harding

Hand-cut suede with highlighter detail skirt

Palmer//Harding

Camel, white and highlighter yellow skirt

Palmer//Harding

Hand-cut oil-slick purple miniskirt details

This is a brand to watch. If they can make the humble sheet of paper and a highlighter look this good, I personally can’t wait for seasons to come.

Images from Fashion(Ed) In London’s Instagram.

Fashion full circle

Although fashion is always moving forward – think Alexander Wang’s innovative fabrics that change when heated  –  it always finds itself coming full circle to the same ideas and motifs. Season after season, designers return to their crutch of lace, leopard print and leather, and yes, they (sometimes) do new things with them, but inevitably the same ideas do crop up every fashion week merry-go-round.  Fashion is forward-thinking and reactive, but with pressure to design up to 10 collections a year for some of the biggest players, it is understandable that not everyone can be Wang (who designs upwards of eight collections a year, not counting his recently announced H&M collaboration).

Speak of fashion carousels and you can’t ignore Marc Jacobs’ last show for Louis Vuitton, which revisited his iconic sets, designs and silhouettes from his 16 year reign at the creative helm of the French brand, and never has a collection all in black had more panache. The pieces were, of course, widely shot by fashion publications around the world, their dark sequined allure lighting up the pages of magazines and shimmering sombrely on the red carpet. As with every collection, there were numerous inspirations behind it and a young Kate Moss shot by the one-and-only Corinne Day in 1990 has airs of the show’s feel.

Kate Moss Louis Vuitton Edie Campbell Marc Jacobs Corinne Day

The question is: is this an intentional reference or a classic example of fashion coming full circle? Did Marc pounce upon the insouciance of the picture, or just the general attitude of one of his many muses? And if the latter, then did Vogue Paris use the photograph as inspiration for its shoot with Edie Campbell? Probably, but even so, it is a coincidence, especially considering that when you put Kate Moss and Corinne Day together in a sentence, this is not the image that springs to mind. That’s nothing against the image, but rather a comment of the incredible work these two produced together. In the 24 years since Corinne incarnated Kate’s personality in black and white, fashion has come right back to this place again. Just look at her footwear as a classic example. The only difference: on a Nineties Kate Moss, Birkenstocks actually look vaguely good.

kate moss  corinne day

The Louis Verdict

Yesterday in Paris, a slice of fashion history happened: Ghesquière showed his first collection since leaving Balenciaga as creative director, stepping in to fill those prestigious shoes left by Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton. In the grand scheme of things, what with the Ukraine situation or announcement of a Kardashian-West wedding date, this may not seem the most important event of late to some (N.B. the Kimye reference is clearly a joke). However, with all the buzz going on, you wouldn’t have guessed it. Often touted as the designer of his generation, Ghesquière possesses an incredible talent and did a sterling job at Balenciaga, leaving the house with a near-perfect collection of modern silhouettes with a Cristobal signature. After a period of silence from him on the designing front, during which he conducted a very candid interview with System magazine, it was joyously announced that Nicolas Ghesquière was to pick up where Marc Jacobs was leaving off, at the creative helm of the jewel in LVMH’s crown: Louis Vuitton.

Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2014-2015

Usually, when a designer takes over creative direction of a house, they have access to a wealth of history and deep archives, plummeting the depths to draw inspiration from the core fabric of the brand, as Wang did post-Ghesquière at Balenciaga, or Raf at Dior. For Nicolas though, he came to a semi-clean slate. Louis Vuitton is relatively young as a ready-to-wear label, with Marc Jacobs as his only predecessor since the late Nineties. Marc Jacobs did an unforgettable job at bringing the leather goods brands to the forefront of fashion, creating patent leather and presenting the most elaborate of shows, featuring lifts, elevators, carousels and more, none of which ever detracted from his beautiful collections.

Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2014-2015

Wednesday’s show was a total break from that side of the brand, as Nicolas chose a stark, clean space to unveil his first steps. The blinds were lifted and natural light flooded into the room, echoing the new era. From the setting to the music, it was a very carefully thought out show on Ghesquière’s part, with Kelis singing “Oh come here, copycat! You’re my puppet, you know I love it!” as Freja Beha Erichsen stepped out in the first look. As a designer who has entire blogs dedicated to the fact that his Balenciaga designs are constantly being ripped off, it was a humourous and poignant song, including the apt lyrics “How do you keep it so fresh?”.

Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2014-2015

As for the collection itself, the French designer kept the brand’s money makers in there: patent ankle boots, little bags, leather belts and the all-new mini trunk bag. He referenced some of Jacobs’ work, bringing a new high-waisted trouser silhouette out in patent leather. There was nothing there to shock or make a statement, instead he chose to quietly say, “I’m back, and these are clothes women want to wear.” And he was right. Ghesquière’s Vuitton girl is cool, laid back, modern and fresh. She wears a lot of leather and suede (of course, they are the brand’s key fabrics), in clean lines with a slight retro feel. The very fact that he chose Freja Beha Erichsen to open the show set the tone immediately. There is no model who can better encapsulate that oh-so-awful word, cool. But here the word wasn’t awful. This isn’t the cool girl in school who everyone pretends to like whilst secretly despising them and their awful attitude, this is the inherently cool girl who is laid back, lovely, effortless and has that edge that we crave. It was mirrored in the beauty look too, or fact that there wasn’t one. She hadn’t quite rolled out of bed, but the models were naturally beautiful, no threatening eye make-up, no unattainable hair. Therein lies the key word: attainable. The collection was a quiet success because we were left wanting to be her and knowing that we can be. It’s hard to be the Anthony Vaccarello sex bomb or Rodarte princess, but you can walk out the house a Vuitton girl, and that’s something to be happy about.

Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2014-2015

There was no big finish to the show, no stand out piece to wrap it up, instead a collection of leather skirts, layered looks, Chelsea boots, polo necks (trend alert) and asymmetrical fabrics. At shows these days, designers create incredible fantasy worlds and stories and in some way it was refreshing to have just the clothes, and be shocked by simplicity, and not outrageousness. I’m all for innovation and creativity, but given the choice between the most incredible set for a disappointingly ugly collection and no set for a wearable collection, there’s a clear winner. Whilst some have been left a little disappointed, saying the collection was “nothing”, it’s hard to argue against a collection that is wearable, real and now. An understated start perhaps, but one that will no doubt go down a storm commercially.

Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2014-2015

See the show here.
Listen to Kelis here.

Images from Style.com.

London Showrooms Autumn/Winter 2014-2015

London ShowroomsThe London Showrooms in Paris, a space where the up and coming designers on the eclectic British scene bring their collections during Paris Fashion Week, providing press and buyers a chance to (re)see them post London Fashion Week. Marques Almeida, J JS Lee, Michael van der Ham, Piers Atkinson, KTZ, Todd Lynn, Fashion East, David Koma, 1205, Christopher Raeburn, Sibling, Holly Fulton, Claire Barrow, Danielle Romeril, Nasir Mazhar, Ryan Lo, and a standout collection from Palmer//Harding were all on show in a modern Marais space until yesterday.

Important and enchanting as the runway show is, you get a much better sense of pieces when they’re in front of you and you are able to touch and feel them. The graphic qualities and innovation show through in a way that can only be experienced up close and personal. Take Danielle Romeril for example: she created a collection that had a Christopher Kane circa Autumn/Winter 2011 feel, complete with curved plastic trims that had such a graphic quality as could never be captured on camera or film, hard as you try. Using lenticular, Danielle printed it with polka dots in alternating strips that when looked at, seemed to be 3D and at different levels, but it was all flat. Trippy to the extreme, and a detail that can only be captured up close with the eyes. It gave such a detailed insight into just how innovative, imaginative and thoughtful London designers are. In London, bad taste, clashing prints, loud colours and modernity are all embraced and encouraged, and at the London Showrooms, they were on full display, from Marques’Almeida’s red feathers to Todd Lynn’s neon-tipped fur, all via the colour and ruffle mayhem of Ryan Lo.

It’s meeting some of the designers that is perhaps most valuable reason for popping along: show notes are one thing, but a face-to-face with one of the people behind it, to whom each piece is so personal, is another altogether. The Palmer//Harding collection, for example, was interesting to browse through, full of texture and flashes of colour, however, when one half of the design duo, Levi Palmer, started talking about it and explaining the inspirations behind it, the collection took on a whole new significance. Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding looked to paper for Autumn/Winter 2014-2015, playing with it in all its forms: ripped, shredded, scrunched, smooth. The shredding caught their creative eye, forming a hand-cut white suede skirt, soft, beautiful, 3D. Next, highlighters grabbed their attention, specifically the marks they leave on paper and the way the neon stands out against bright white. Another hand-cut skirt was created, this time with the ends of each strand of suede dipped in highlighter-bright yellow. Strips of neon mesh were plastered over scrunched white fabric like a discarded piece of highlighted paper, and, most subtle and clever of all, a white pencil skirt made of a white stretch fabric with very fine slits featured the same vibrant yellow as an underskirt, meaning that as the wearer walks, quick jolts of lively colour shine through. Would you get all this from just looking at the collection alone? Most likely not. If there is one reason to go to a showroom alone, it is in the hope that the designer will be there, breathing life into his or her collection.

With so many collections together in one room, it’s hard not to pick up on a few trends that appear as a thread throughout the inventive offerings. So, what will the London girl be wearing next season? Pleats, metallics, leather galore and fabrics that make a statement, be it feathers, snaggle fur, plastic or something that looks like shredded paper.

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‘Cover Girl’: A lesson in fashion history

Everyone has seen this by now, how could you miss Lena Dunham, of Girls fame, and fashion legend Hamish Bowles vogueing? The short clip is excellently done, with Dunham in classic Hannah-mode (and some rather delightful silk pyjamas – Olivia von Halle perhaps), being outshone by Hamish’s effortless elegance and grace when posing. Yes, it’s very entertaining, but it is also an important lesson in fashion history, featuring some very iconic images, albeit from only one side of the pond. One would imagine that Hamish had to do very little research for the piece, as he appears to have a wealth of knowledge, casually throwing names into the mix, and if asked, he would probably have no issue telling us the photographer, who the model’s wearing, and even the location and issue. That is so important, and all too rare. These days, so many people claim to love fashion, but have no concept of the basic history. Being able to identify references is so very important and, due to its rarity, impressive. So, watch the video, have a giggle, but then watch it again and again until you can see any of the images shown and know the information behind its creation, and then some. Powerful photographs don’t come out of thin air, they have the past behind them, pushing them into the future.

100 Years of Style in East London…or not

Upon first viewing this clip, for approximately 82 seconds I was charmed and delighted. The video, actually a couple of years old now, is an advertisement for the opening of Westfield Stratford in London’s East End. It is a flirtatious 100 seconds of history, charting the change in British (more specifically East London) style from 1911 to 2011, using music and dance from the various eras to cleverly cut between the decades. A great idea, demonstrating the importance of clothes through history, and how a changing social and political background leads to a change in opinion and thus style, the most accessible form of expressing one’s point of view.

However, the smile faded at 82 seconds, as the horror of the modern day depiction of our style unfurled on the screen before me. Thank you very much, but you will never have seen this blogger, or the vast majority of other sartorially minded women out there, sporting a huge doughnut bun and patent platform heels. If that is how modern day style will be remembered, (fashion) God, help us all. To make matters worse, this is a video about East London, that veritable breeding ground of quirky British style – not always a good thing – and individual looks. No hipster, male or female, would ever don the latter three outfits in this video.

Britain is, and has always been, home to the most diverse, daring and exciting range of styles, looks which across both Channel and Pond are viewed with both fear and delight, but most importantly, respect. This video does not portray that. Forgotten are the likes of (East End-born) designer Alexander McQueen, Shoreditch favourite Meadham Kirchoff, or elegant-with-a-twist J.W. Anderson. No, we shall be remembered by badly made, ill-fitting, nondescript outfits.

If nothing else, enjoy the first minute or so, but then shut your eyes so as not to be offended by how Westfield perceives the sartorial richness of our fair Isle. If I don’t post for a while, it’ll be because I’m busy remaking this video, and doing British Fashion justice.

Sample sales and vintage victories

Paris has started with a bang. A buying bang. That is, once all the bureaucratic faffing was out the way and access to a functioning French bank account with money in it was gained. Then there was a bang. Think of it like a firework and you’re waiting for it to explode but there’s some technical hitch which Dad is trying to sort out; he’s wading through paperwork, waiting on letters, setting up transfers, waiting on transfers to take effect and then BANG, we’re off!

So, once said access was gained, I entered the world of Parisian journalist perks and the treasure trove of vintage wonders that the city of lights has to offer. First up, Sonia Rykiel sample sale. Sonia Rykiel is not a brand that has ever popped up on my radar too much (aside from her gorgeous Poor Boy sweaters, featured in British Vogue when I was working there), and so it was without much expectation that I went along to the sale with my colleague. What was the lesson learnt? Do not ignore Sonia Rykiel. Beautiful coats, butter soft leather bags, and a pair of maribou feather heels which in fact feature on a picture which I’m looking at hanging on my wall as I write this (thanks to my lovely ex-boss). It was a dream, and quiet to boot meaning ample touching and feeling time before leaving  with a gorgeous necklace, having been my most restrained self. I could have left with a navy blue ponyskin bag – too impractical – or a gorgeous, minimalistic camel coat – waiting until I can afford a cashmere one – not to mention a wealth of other beauties, but control was exercised. Needless to say the prices were fantastic, and my colleague nabbed herself a ball gown and left feeling like a thief for having paid such a good price.

Saturday brought with it more bargain promise, and it dealt up the goods. First up, a “vide-robe”, literal translation a “wardrobe empty”. People registered to come along and set up a stall where they sold their unwanted clothes. Simple. Being Paris, this wasn’t unwanted Primark and Topshop (although there was a lot of Zara on offer), no, clothes ranged from two season-old YSL blazers, to €1000 vintage Hermès bags, with a lot of Maje and Sandro on the way. I won the shopping award, scooping up a delicious military green Equipment blouse for just €40, a bargain seeing as they can cost up to €400 and mine is unworn. Equipment is a French brand, run by the husband of Carine Roitfeld, ex-Editor-in-Chief of my current employer, Vogue Paris. They specialise in silk blouses and are, in my humble opinion, the leader in this particular niche of the fashion world.

Rubbing my hands with glee, I headed further into the Marais under the guidance of my lovely colleague Holly, to explore what ancient treasures lay in the many vintage shops. The discovery was not what I expected. Spoiler alert: vintage shops in Paris are amazing, and cheap. The layout is generally hectic and you have to be prepared to get your hands dirty and do some digging, but, my friends, the rewards will be plentiful. If you’re in the market for any type of sheepskin or shearling jacket, the Parisian vintage world is your oyster. Unfortunately, this savvy shopper saw the shearling jacket of her dreams on the back of someone as they walked out the shop having purchased it. Not one to dwell on what might have been, I quickly snaffled up a very loud, printed shirt, an oversized men’s navy corduroy shirt (new favourite item) and a top so Nineties, only Buffy (the Vampire slayer) would wear it.

So there you have it, the first forays into the Parisian shopping scene for Fashion(Ed) in London. I wonder how many people have read to the end of this and not given up, wondering why there are no photos…

FNO Manchester

Fashion’s Night Out has moved to Manchester this year, and yours truly is playing a part in making it happen, alongside some amazing colleagues. Keep up to date with all the exciting things going on on Thursday 10th October by checking out and liking the brand spanking new Facebook page exclusively for FNO Manchester – http://www.facebook.com/FNOManchester

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