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

‘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.

‘Kate in Nude Shoes Shock!’

The above picture is of a recent article in the Saturday Times (29th September) which perfectly demonstrates everything which has been previously said on this blog about the Duchess of Cambridge’s choice of shoe. Hilary Rose writes in a witty way, satirising the awful LK Bennett Sledge, the 3rd person in the royal marriage. I am sure that were Kate and Wills to have a son, Kate would want to call it Sledge as a dedication to her favourite shoe of all time.

The following are some of the best lines from this wonderful piece of writing:

“One style guru describing [sic] them as the white stiletto of the middle classes (bit harsh). But now they’re the Ugg boot of 2012, worn everywhere by everyone from WAGs to yummy mummies at the school gates, from pole dancers to celebs on the red carpet” – Describing them as the white stiletto of the middle classes is definitely not too harsh, it is a fitting description. We’re not talking a Céline or Stella McCartney-style white stiletto; instead picture a very high, pointy, patent white stiletto and that is the sister shoe of the patent heel. They look cheap. End of story. Nude shoes are not actually flattering and I will say it again and again until it becomes a widely accepted fact. They look cheap, especially the patent variety.

“Kate’s job is to be the photogenic wife of the heir to the throne.” – It has always been difficult to discuss Kate’s style without people commenting that it shouldn’t be something people care about. In one sentence Ms Rose has perfectly captured the exact reason why it is, and always will be, something we care about.

“So will she swap the shade if not the style?…According to a spokesman for LK Bennett, the Duchess owns Sledges in different shades – “cream, off-white and taupe”. So probably not, then.” – The perfect closing statement.

There is however one small sentence with which this anti-nude shoe blogger does not agree – “They go with everything”. Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. They supposedly ‘go with everything’ because they are the same colour as your skin. This is hardly ever the case and they end up being some odd shade of greige which draws attention to them, whilst also having the unflattering effect of making the wearer’s skin appear greige too. And there-in lies the other problem with nude shoes; why would you want a shoe which fades away and no one looks at? There is a world of options for women and amazing shoes out there, we should celebrate and wear the most eye-catching, pretty shoes available, not the most drab, ugly ones.

The Giants of Fashion Illustration

René Gruau for Vogue Paris June/July 1985

Before the days of photography and photoshop, magazines and fashion houses employed the skills of Fashion Illustrators for their spreads and advert campaigns. These days fashion illustration is rare, so when I heard of David Downton, it was very exciting news. He follows in the footsteps of the greats, such as René Gruau and Carl Erickson, bringing whimsical romanticism to the world of fashion through his beautiful illustrations.

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Carine Roitfeld: “The Client”

Another fashion video, this time W Magazine are following Carine Roitfeld, former editor of Vogue Paris, around as she tries on clothes from the Haute Couture shows. Since abdicating her throne at Paris Vogue to Emmanuelle Alt, she is now a client and therefore thinking of how the clothes will look on her rather than when photographed for an editorial piece. An interesting insight into her style and the incredible world of Haute Couture masterpieces.

Vogue Covers Colour Charts

These charts show the colours which have been used on the cover of British, Italian, Paris and American Vogue for the past 30 years, from 1981-2011. American Vogue has by far had the brightest coloured covers, followed by British Vogue which uses a lot of neutral pink tones, while Paris and Italian Vogue tend towards darker, perhaps more chic colour choices. All found here.

British Vogue

Italian Vogue

Paris Vogue

American Vogue