Category Archives: Vintage

Femme

I love Andi’s look because it speaks to me about a femininity that I don’t see so often in the streets of New York.
Okay well, my New York… Maybe I should go uptown more often?
What speaks to me is this chic and certain femininity, which is so sexy – a little bit Italian style.

It’s funny, because I bought a skirt that looks a little bit like that the other day; you can wear it only with heels, and the moment I saw myself in the mirror I was taken back by the added femininity it gave me. For me. who mostly wears jeans and shirts, I though that if I was to dress that way more often, my perception of myself would totally change and you know what? I’d like that.

Then I remembered I like to walk everywhere.
Pffff, life is full of unsolvable contradictions.

Do you find that having really feminine style is tough to keep up in everyday life?

Coat, Michael Kors; Top, Assembly New York; Pants, Tibi; Bag, Stella McCartney; Heels, Manolo Blahnik; Belt, vintage Versace.

Gaultier Redux

The Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibition tour rolls on, having made its way from its starting point in Montreal to cities in the USA and Europe, and now London’s Barbican will be playing host to The Fashion World of Jean-Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk from 9th April.  Unfortunately I won’t be in London for the opening of the exhibition as I’ll be in Sydney/Tokyo but thankfully, a pre-exhibition taster came to me in the form of a curated selection of over a hundred Jean Paul Gaultier vintage pieces available at MatchesFashion.Com‘s Marylebone store and online (from tomorrow onwards), in partnership with Cameron Silver and his formidable Decades archive.  Gaultier quite rightly said of his exhibition: “I didn’t want the show to be something like a funeral, because for me, to be in a museum, it is for people who are dead.  I am still alive!”  It’s all very well seeing iconic pieces of Gaultier on mannequins but it’s on the rails where his language can still make its relevance be known.  ”Gaultier has had this very clear DNA – you can immediately see what he stands for,” said Silver, as he showed me around the installation at the Matches store, wearing a Gaultier couture green velvet robe.  ”Obviously there’s the corsetry and the trench coat.  He’s famous for variations on the tuxedo, he’s done lots with tropical prints, the masculine/feminine thing , the exposed zippers, the see-through meshwork.  It’s hard to just zone in on one specific thing.”

Without meaning to sound like a collective broken record, the sad thing is of course that Jean Paul Gaultier’s current collections are a mere hammy jammy echo of the strokes of brilliance seen in the 1980s and 90s.  It kind of hurts to see critics freely laying into Gaultier with their cruel-to-be-kind jibes (and in one instance concerning Tim Blanks, Gaultier’s open letter as a retort is truly heartbreaking).   At the shows, you cross your fingers that Gaultier will triumph and show them young ones how it’s done, but all the while your brain oscillates between thinking ”Is it so bad it’s good?” and “Who would actually wear this?!”  Silver concurs.  ”Gaultier is in some way an unappreciated designer of the 80s and 90s.  It’s difficult to find the ready to wear in stores today.  To be perfectly honest, it is a broken brand and it makes me sad.  You’ve got this travelling exhibition where over a million people have seen it and they should be having this epic renaissance.  When you ask what Gaultier looks like today, nobody knows.”

The real truth is in the resulting garments though.  I’ve had mini Gaultier epiphanies when I’ve seen the ready to wear at remaining stockists like Opening Ceremony, and thought to myself how great the pieces look.  Likewise I’m eyeing up a pair of asymmetric trousers at Layers from AW13.  They’re a world and away from the spectacles of pastiche we get at the shows.  And of course, at MatchesFashion.com where Silver has gathered his pick of Gaultier pieces, spanning from 1985 through to 2008 (according to Silver anything from 2010 can be considered vintage these days), every piece resonates, with the ability to stand up to contemporary fashion.  In fact, the mannequins dotted throughout the store and in the windows don’t scream “vintage” despite being dressed head to toe in vintage Gaultier.  That pervasive criticism of Gaultier’s recent shows being “dated”, is hardly evident here.  A clear latex trenchcoat edged with black – aren’t raincoat new kids on the block Wanda Nylon making this garment their own?  A nude mesh body embroidered to look like tattoo art – didn’t Marios Schwab do something similar a few years ago?  Kilts and pinstripe suiting?  They’ve become staples of the likes of J.W. Anderson and Christopher Kane in recent seasons.  As Lynn and Horst’s clever blog points out in his Gaultier Questions series, time and time again, Gaultier’s influence consciously or unconsciously rears its innovative and bold head.

As Silver excitedly shows me piece after piece on the rails, there’s a fervour that comes from a genuine place.  Silver’s way into collecting Gaultier, wasn’t just for the purpose of amplifying the archives at Decades, but was part of his formative fashion education.  ”My first fashion piece when I was in high school as a Gaultier piece.  It had that street sensibility and it had that counter cultural thing.  And he had Gaultier Junior as well – also, clothes were a lot cheaper then!”

A note on Silver’s future projects – he mentioned a huge Biba project that he is working on.  ”We’ve got over 500 original pieces that will be showcased during fashion week.  It’s terrifically on time – when you look at Valentino and what Nicolas (Ghesquiere) did at Vuitton – it definitely has resonance.”

One last bit of Silver wisdom?  ”I’m always on the look out for new talent – neo-vintage as I like to call it.  My whole thing is that we curate our closets.  When you treat fashion as though they’re future collectibles, you buy less mistakes.”  I certainly need no encouragement in that department.

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Back to Gaultier though, a shallow dig into archive shows and campaign imagery gave me a teensy glitchy glimpse into the way Gaultier electrified the fashion world and beyond.  His world wasn’t locked up in a rarified ivory tower.  He was a young designer experimenting and provoking, pushing the closeted confines of fashion into a wider public consciousness and confronting diversity head on before it became an act of tokenism.  The touring exhibition has and will continue to emphasise Gaultier’s landmark achievements but looking to the past only serves to make you wonder how that level of innovation and button-pushing could resurge in the future at maison Jean Paul Gaultier.

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Jean Paul Gaultier Spring-Summer 1989 Fashion Show

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gaultier1997Images from 90s Runway, Fashion Art Daily, Le Modalogue, Warhol @ Christies

There Goes My Day

eBay

>> You’re probably wondering why I, along with Sasha Liberty London Girl, am standing in a line-up that includes Kelly Hoppen, Reggie Yates, Danni Minogue and a rather #NotImpressed Alex James. Shortly after the Paris shows, I was back in London to wax lyrical about eBay. More specifically eBay Collections, which has basically given legitimate sanction to my spending hours and hours mired in the world of eBay. I nearly ROFL-ed when I was approached to participate in this project, and they asked “Do you use eBay?” Hah… do I use eBay?  If I said that I probably sacrificed the prime of my uni years because of eBay auctions, it would not be an understatement.

eBay Collections is basically a new way of users to “curate” eBay – that’s a posh way of saying edit or filter through the vast marketplace of old, new and everything in between that eBay is into themed collections that could be as broad and all-encompassing as the word ‘Gold’ as chosen by Kelly Hoppen or as functional and specific as ‘My Festival Survival Kit’ put together by Alex James.  It’s basically combines your watch list and wish list into one – on the one hand you’re keeping tabs on things you’re actually going to bid on or buy, and on the other you’re picking out things that are beyond your reach and mood boarding them up into aesthetically pleasing collections.  Once you start, it becomes a bit of a compulsive habit to keep feeding your collections, especially when items get sold, so here’s a work-in-progress rundown of my eBay Collections, which suffice to say, are all on the idiosyncratic side of things.

Lego Land – This is all things primary coloured and reminiscent of Fisher Price toys and of course, Lego.  It might just be the palette or the way things are cut or shaped in fashion and interiors.  There are a pair of sheeny shiny satin Lego legs blue trousers as part of a costume that I’m seriously considering buying just to see if they can be worn as conventional attire.  That’s the sort of crazy thinking that eBay inspires when you’ve been on it for too long.

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Tra La La – Named after Meadham Kirchhoff’s inaugural Penhaligon’s perfume, this is basically a collection of everything that reminds me of the design duo, their universe and what Tra La La girls might be into.  Cue copious searches of Miu Miu and Prada (their favoured labels) with a spot of Luella thrown into it for old time’s sake (I feel a comeback of Luella eBay searches coming on after her debut at Marc by Marc Jacobs debut).  And plenty of glitter and stickers.

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Blitz Era – Type “Blitz” into eBay UK and you do have to sift through a slew of WWII memorabilia.  Of course this collection is referring to the 1980s magazine and associated fashion renegades like Gaultier Junior, Moschino, Bodymap (no pieces have ever surfaced for me on eBay) and Vivienne Westwood.  In counterpart to the London scene, Maripol, Stephen Sprouse and Antonio Lopez has yielded quite a few gems too.

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Deco Echo – This isn’t a strict historical representation of the epoch but rather, a loose interpretation as art deco is just one of those search terms on eBay that can result in anything and anything these days.  It’s a place to store all of my geometric print fashion finds, both new and vintage, as well as certain pieces of interior design that are deco-in-feel, if not in origin.

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Bye Bye Miyazaki – Inspired by the upcoming complete Studio Ghibli retrospective season at the BFI and the release of the last ever Hayao Miyazaki film The Wind Rises in May, I thought I’d go and find all things Miyazaki in both memorabilia (Totoro sexy stockings anyone?) and pieces of clothing that remind me of iconic Miyazaki characters.

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Sport U Like – I’ll be the one still banging on about surf, skate and motocross judging by the amount of stuff that I wanted to add to this particular Collection.  eBay is pretty good now on the missed limited trainers front so this is where I’ll be storing those up.  I’ll also use it to seek out my particular sportswear obsessions of the moment – which at the moment, include garish goalkeeper shirts, Suzanne Barker-esque tennis dresses and 1970s ski sweaters, as inspired by Nicolas Ghesquière’s debut for Louis Vuitton.

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Digi Art - I’m already looking at digital print under the “Vintage” category – that’s how fast things are moving that what was once considered a digital-inspired “new aesthetic” feels almost somewhat retro already.  I’ve been hunting for prime examples of digital print, photo collaging and internet meme-inspired fashion (cats galore!).  And on a more boring note, this is where I’ve stashed the gadgets that I’m after for personal use.

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Beautifical – This is the one board which is really for my purposes more than anything else as I’ve listed out all the beauty products that I use on a regular basis that I might buy in the future.  eBay is so much more than just secondhand and one-off product that it is a veritable marketplace for beauty products and cosmetics.  Handy  for discontinued lines and limited products.

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P.S. Just in case eagle eye eBayers are looking at my  score on eBay wondering why my last bit of good feedback came in 2012. Pssst… I have a secret account.  Yes, I’m that into eBay that it warrants two accounts.

VINTAGE

M2 M3Lipstick: Diva by MAC

I wanted to do something very old school for my hair and makeup last night at the MANGO show. I didnt realize that when they curl my hair that much, it would look like I chopped my locks about 15cm…People kept asking me if I cut my hair but no, it was a trick to be a little chameleonic just for a night.

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Cultish Oddity

In the spirit of questioning ethics or at least making a “half-arsed” attempt to probe and point the finger, I’ve got a bit of a Freaky Friday oddity on my hand.  Whilst browsing around the weird and wonderful wares of Harajuku’s Dog, I came across the name Tony Alamo.  Oooh, spray painted and diamante-encrusted denim jackets in a sort of theme-y Nudie Cohn vein.  A quick search on Etsy and eBay yields more examples of “The Tony Alamo of Nashville – For Designers for the Stars” – mostly denim jackets, intricately spray-painted and adorned with crystals.  They’re the sort of eighties   On Google though, the name Tony Alamo yields something far more alarming.  Forgive me on the count of ignorance on religious cult leader convictions in the U.S.A. but it turns out Alamo’s is prominent for being convicted for multiple counts of rape and sexual assault of minors, abusing his position as founder of the cult Tony Alamo Christian Ministries.  Alamo’s business of “Tony Alamo” branded sequinned denim jackets, later called “Tony Alamo of Nashville” was a surprising sideline to him and his wife Susan’s syndicated TV sermons – it adds a whole new spin to the word “cult”, when we used lightly in the context of fashion.  Eventually, the business was convicted for federal tax evasion in 1994 and of course, later Alamo’s other atrocities came to light and he is now currently serving out a life long prison sentence.  A fascinating article on the LA Times written in 1989 when Alamo was already on the run from arrest for felony-child abuse.  At one point, total sales of Tony Alamo jackets were anything from $500,000 to $1 million.  Whilst on the run, he took the time to be interviewed to say that he would send in sketches from his hide-outs, faxing them through – “Everything I do is a work of art.”  Interestingly, even as the charges against him were surfacing in the public, the stores still bought into them, apparently unable to resist their allure and their celebrity-endorsed cachet (Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson and Dolly Parton were Alamo fans), with only a handful of stockists pulling out.

It’s a sordid tale with a strange after trail of vintage specimens, that have since graced the likes of Nicky Minaj and Miley Cyrus, who in December last year was spotted wearing a Tony Alamo ensemble with Beverly Hills emblazoned across the back.  It’s unlikely Cyrus was aware of the origins of her spangled denim but it’s also hard to say whether the association would make it less or more appealing for her.  Weirdly, nobody else seems to care.  According to Miami legendary vintage store C. Madeleine, you can Shop This Look without any mention of Alamao’s past, and that there’s even a collectible value attached to Alamo’s pieces, because of his imprisonment.  The moral question behind even considering Alamo’s pieces as a fashion choice has one clear answer.  Especially when you read the slightly ludicrous statements like this, as seen on this fashion blog “You may find yourself asking, who is Tony Alamo anyway? Well on top of being a cult leader and a maker of awesome jackets, he is also a child sex offender! Neat-o!”  Neat-o wouldn’t be my first word of choice, but hey-ho, guess a convicted child sex offender and rapist isn’t exactly a shocking exception in a world when seemingly, entertainers offending in plain sight, are all coming out of the woodwork.

But why bother dwelling on this random defunct fashion line, you might ask?  Fashion has a long history of aligning itself with the debauched and the morally questionable.  A figure like Tony Alamo might well find itself on to a moodboard as a offbeat reference point.  It’s an industry that also unconditionally protects people like Terry Richardson (although it has to be said in the eyes of the law, he hasn’t committed a crime).  Only a handful have challenged this status quo, best summed up by this Hadley Freeman article.  She’s right – creepiness shouldn’t be confused with edginess even when the lines are increasingly blurred.  That applies to seemingly harmless ironic/cool/retro denim jackets.

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>> When pressed you can grind trend predictions out of me even though I loathe the task.  Vague answers along the lines of “minimalist” or “decorative” are just about ok but when asked to pin point specific thematic strands, I wear the dunce cap of fashion magic 8 balls.  When compiling some moodboards for Toni & Guy’s Hair Meets Wardrobe, I named motocross as a potential S/S 14 trend, stemming off of the sportswear trail and on to a pursuit that wasn’t surf or skate (done and done) and inspired by graduates like Seiya Chen from RCA.  Save for a Anne Sofie Madsen collection (whose motocross inspired padded trousers I wore in The LFW Daily), some motocross nuances coming through in Nasir Mazhar (particularly in his menswear), my prediction has largely fallen flat.

When I was shopping in Dog in Harajuku, Tokyo back in October though, a rail of vintage motocross trousers, mostly from the action sport’s main brand Thor (no connection to the Marvel superhero alas), caught my eye.  Well, if motocross catwalk antics weren’t getting off the ground, I may as well put my money where my mouth is.  So a pair of panelled vintage motocross trews came home with me and they neatly pair up with the patchworked flatform hybrid trainers from Y-3′s A/W 13-4 collection.  I’ll be mashing the two together in a pathetic bid to make motocross happen.  Someone will undoubetedly raise their eyebrows and say “Stop trying to make motocross happen!  It’s not going to happen!”

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Dot Comme

>> “Everything comes from Comme,” said a fashion editor when we were having a conversation about the number of collections that have had more than a nod of a reference to Rei Kawakubo’s extensive archives.  The quote might be more of an exaggeration that a truth, but it might account for why I’m constantly drawn to accumulating Comme des Garçons pieces – they have a timeless quality.  No, not “timeless” in the way that people use it when thinking about a black Chanel suit or a some 1950s cinched-in-waist ball gown, but in the way that Comme pieces exist in their own time vacuum.  They’re often conceived so far ahead of its time, with references that are so abstract, that they operate within their own parameters.  My Comme collecting is mainly done through eBay (just beware of the fakes) and in Tokyo, when I can go mad in the myriad of designer consignment stores.

Comme accumulation is entirely possible from your bedroom though as Holly-Rose Butler and her partner Octavius La Rosa, have been selling their collection of rare archival Comme des Garçons pieces on their site aptly named dot.COMME.  They’ve also got pieces from other designers that operate in that similar “timeless” space – Yohji Yamaoto, Junya Watanabe, Issey Miyake and in a slightly less cerebral, but nonetheless happy-go-lucky vein, is an extensive archive of Walter van Beirendonck pieces.  I’m gutted that I missed what was, by all accounts a brilliant exhibition on Beirendonck’s work at Antwerp’s MOMU but the joy lives on not only in his current collections but also in the extensive buyable archives collected at establishments like dot.Comme and House of Liza in London.

The thing about dot.Comme selection in both menswear and womenswear is that nothing feels throwaway or lightweight.  They are seminal showpieces aplenty and Butler and La Rosa take great care in detailing the originating collections and amply photographing every piece to show them in their best light.  I also love their Tumblr page, which delves deeper into the image context of their roster of designers.  I might to think about curbing my Rag Tag in Tokyo habit if dot.Comme ends up luring me in.

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Half-Arsed Ethics

Back in June, I interviewed  Orsola de Castro – founder of upcycling label From Somewhere, curator of British Fashion Council’s eco fashion initiative Esthetica and all-round expert on the subject of “green” fashion – at her exhibition at Great Western Studios, tracing all the work From Somewhere and Orsola has been doing over the years since she started in 1998.  Like the idiot that I am I managed to lose this brilliantly insightful conversation because of a system failure on my phone.  And so I intruded on Orsola again, whilst on her holiday in August to speak to her on Skype.  Then the fashions happened in September and October.  The house happened in November and December.  And now it’s 20-bloody-14.

There lies the difference between my “half-arsed” approach towards the unsavoury ethics of the fashion industry and people like Orsola, whose optimism for positive change within the industry is unwavering and authors like Lucy Siegle, whose search for the “perfect” guilt-free wardrobe as documented in her book To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? means she can wear a wardrobe free of poor labour practises and environmentally-unfriendly textiles.  I cared enough to hunt Orsola down twice but not enough to bother transcribing the interview until months later.

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We now enter 2014 and changes are definitely a-coming.  It seems like the perfect time to resurrect this conversation and point out the pertinent issues that the fashion industry faces – things that neither you or I will be able to ignore.  As a consummate fashion enthusiast and staunch defender of the positives of the industry, it doesn’t feel cool or clever to pretend that fashion is nothing but a bundle of laughs – that everything is fabulous and anything that isn’t can be swept under the carpet.  When I say I’m a half-arsed in my attitude towards the ethics of fashion production, I mean that I care about provenance and about where and how things were made and about the quality of what I’m wearing, but my ultimate goal is for aesthetic pleasure.  I’m not hardline enough to rule out clothes from the high street, despite not knowing the ins and outs of their labour practises.  I’m also not hardline enough to go out and demand information from every single designer about their fabric sourcing and supply chain.  It’s loosely based on Rhiannon Coslett’s witty piece on the Guardian about being a half-arsed accidental feminist, that caring a little is better than none at all.

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What I learnt from my two lengthy encounters with Orsola though is that the tide of change is upon us so that it is up to the companies and the powers that be in the industry to make the changes.  The consumer is already half way there by beginning to ask the questions.  The fact that we’re not at the point where enough of the right product is out there for consumption is something that according to Orsola, will change for the better.

When asked about my initial protestation about the current eco-fashion scene is that… well, for the large part, it isn’t fashion as we know it.  There are often aesthetic and creative lackings.   Orsola had a salient answer.

“In Berlin this summer, my eyes were open to the thriving eco-clothing world and market there.  I’m calling it specifically eco-clothing.  It’s not fashion, it’s clothing.  Wonderful but I asked, ‘Have you thought of working with fashion designers or do more of a fashion offering?’  They say,  ’I've got 150 stockists worldwide.  I am producing.  I’m supporting communities in third world.’  Then I think,

it’s the fashion houses that should be offering an eco collections.   Not the eco-clothing offering fashion.

It’s not up to them to change what they’re doing.  It’s up to Gucci and the like.”

Furthermore that eventually it will be the non-ethical fashion entities who are the minority.

“Bruno Pieters, who is doing wonderful work at Honest By said something that stuck with me.

‘To doubt that it will be all about transparency is to doubt that women would be able to vote.’

We are moving towards being a transparent industry at great speed.  It’s this idea that fashion will be a much more sustainable industry.  It will be the non-ethical brands who stick out.”

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A textile mill’s obsolete stock in Sri Lanka taken when Orsola was working for Tesco

Orsola believes that a generational change is happening that will also speed up change.

“Fashion developed a language which made the word “sustainable” and “artisan” sound dirty.

Fashion is the only world where being “worthy” is a negative thing.  Things are changing now.  Values have shifted and now to stand for something is a good thing.  The fashion industry is fantastically predictable in its cyclical nature.  When it is political – fashion works very well – look at the women in the French Revolution or during the suffragette period.  Inevitably, for the next generation of fashion, this will come around again.  Through the internet, the capacity to communicate is huge.

What you wear feels more significant.  The conscious aspect to how you wear your clothes will be a focal point.”

“The new generation carry a genetic make-up different to the people on corporate boards currently.

This a generation who are thinking that if something isn’t done soon, it might come to the point where there isn’t a fashion industry at all.

I know more and more people joining fashion companies who want to make more of a positive change.  The internet has been our liberator.  It’s shamed these companies.  It’s shown their greed.  It’s shown their mega monopolisation of everything.

We finally have access to so much information and the questions we are asking are more eloquent.”

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So what are the challenges?  A quick read through the articles discussing the fires in factories in Bangladesh last year and the same question crops up over and over again – how CAN we be sure that what we’re buying is 100% sustainable, fair trade, eco and so on.

“It’s not like buying organic food where you know organic broccoli will cost a pound more than normal broccoli.  With clothing, you have the added factor of speaking your principles.  The shift will take longer.  It’s very difficult to make a change that is consistent and communicatable.  People are reluctant to talk about the procedures that have gone into production – for instance you could be using organic cotton but not operating under fair working conditions.

It’s impossible to have a 100% fair-trade, ethical and sustainable clothing at this stage

, and so a lot of the steps are not being communicated in the industry, which is interpreted as not being strong enough.   That’s why transparency is so important.”

In other words, if that 100% guilt-free product isn’t out there, then for now, every little helps.  This is where my “half-arsed” argument comes in handy.  It’s the overall attitude that is already shifting and that can only be a good thing, even if a garment with some dubious modes of production slips into your wardrobe.  Does one issue take precedence over the other at this point?  Not when the bigger picture is still lacking.

“You can’t place more importance on one than the other.  With upcycling, you tackle excess production and all its process and waste of water and fuel.  But then you look at human disasters such as the fires in Bangladesh and you think labour practises is what’s important.

The truth is by splitting it all up, you’re diminishing the point. It’s a whole industry that needs to be MORE sustainable full stop

Eventually you will have a hybrid of the three but right now, that is not attainable.”

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I asked Orsola about the high street taking on organic, eco and sustainable clothing in ways that often seemed tokenistic.  Having worked with the likes of Tesco’s and Topshop (with their successful Reclaim to Wear range), Orsola maintains that more positive change is taking place on the high street than in the high end.

“Interestingly, the high street has been much more proactive than the high end.  One pair of sunglasses from Gucci made of recycled bamboo or one handbag from Vivienne Westwood.  It seems to me that the high street will make the product and the high end will concentrate on CSR. That’s changing though – Stella McCartney is coming out with a fully eco clothing line for instance.”

Then does your average customer who buys say a Balenciaga bag even care whether something is sustainably or ethically made.  Could that be what is making big brands so sluggish in tackling these issues?

“I don’t think they’re offering that product because they’re very very spoilt.

No one owns the factories where they produce.  That’s the biggest change that has swept all problems under the carpet.

When YSL, Prada, etc were producing in their own backyard or in their own factories there was far less waste.  They now no longer have control.  Let’s not beat about the bush.  We’re talking about an industry that is really guilty of very unethical practises.  People think the culprits of the Bangladesh fires is Walmart and Primark but I’ve been inside many of these factories and some very big labels produce clothes there.  They call it “sub-contracting” – so that high end brands can wash their hands of it.   To now disrupt the supply chain and say “Don’t use this because it’s harmful” or “Why don’t we reduce this waste” is much more complicated.

I could tell you when we worked with Topshop to do Reclaim to Wear, the whole design team were rooting for it but it’s the factories that don’t want to do it.  For the CEO’s of this world, sustainability will be a good business.  They will be able to sell it well.  Five years ago, people were thinking “Let’s give them some fucking green organic t-shirts” because it’s a trend.

We now know it isn’t a trend – it is a business demand and the consumer is wanting to know if they can buy something that will not make them feel guilty.

Of course there are the poor households in Britain who don’t have a choice to give a damn but

the reality is that the companies who they buy from don’t have a choice – people are so fine-tuned to find fault in them.  They have no choice but to change.”

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Orsola began From Somewhere in 1998 in earnest, not with an environmentalist or sustainable agenda in mind but because she and her design partner Sasha de Sroumilo loved flea markets, junk shops and vintage clothing.  So they used skills like crochet, filet and tatting to upcycle cashmere jumpers and cardigans.  They’re the type of garments that I came across in shops like Stitch Up in Camden Town.  They felt special.  They didn’t have a tag that explained how the label dealt with excess waste.  From Somehwhere’s clothes sat alongside labels like Preen and Jessica Ogden that were also young and independently spirited labels.  The thing that really stuck out about my conversation with Orsola was the fact that she supports independent fashion, whether it calls itself sustainable or not.
“I’m always asked by journalists what are my tips for shopping ethically.  Find a young designer whether they call themselves sustainable or not.  You are encouraging local production, pieces made with quality and creativity.  Young designers work in such a way, buy whatever you can but because you’re not willing to compromise.  You use your creativity.  Very often, the collections are produced locally using scraps – that’s a need rather than a commitment.

If we can encourage designers to keep close to their early beginnings, then that’s a good thing.

I would call a lot of the designers in London a ‘hybrid’”
Now From Somewhere after sixteen years in the business has relaunched with a new website, a fresh new impetus to attract what Orsola feels is a more conscious customer.  The eco-fashion “tag” doesn’t bother Orsola because for her, sustainable fashion isn’t a flash in the pan trend but the only and right way of working.  From Somewhere’s setup currently doesn’t run as a seasonable label does.  Instead, it’s an ideas factory where collections come and go in drops on their website.  It also helps Orsola and her team consult for bigger companies such as Topshop, to get the gospel out to a bigger audience, so to speak.

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IMG_5280Examples of Orsola’s work with fashion students at colleges like Central Saint Martins

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What Orsola and talked about were once lofty or farfetched ideals but are now looking like inevitabilities.  Even the traditional “evil” of mass production – Made in China – is undergoing changes.

“When (China) start doing things, they do it very very fast.  In last 16 years, I do remember things coming back from China that were horrible.  Now they can mimic things perfectly with their eyes shut.  That kind of change means that if companies demand better standards, China will have to listen.  If it does happen anywhere on a global scale, it’s going to happen there.”

For every one of my questions of the relatively speaking prohibitive cost of eco fashion (it’s not – it’s our sliding standards of what constitutes “expensive” and “cheap” thanks to the lower end of the high street), its aesthetic credentials, its muddled labelling and potential confusion for customers, Orsola had a justifiable answer.  My questions were rendered mere excuses to avoid the issue at hand.  In truth, the ultimate utopia would be that we reach a point where sustainability produced clothing, made out of environmentally sound materials under fair labour conditions are standard, not an unaccessible luxury.  For now, Orsola and I are revelling in an age where we can all make choices – bad or good.  Being “half-arsed” as it were isn’t a crime but being ignorant is.  The point is to keep asking questions about what we wear.  Whether we get answers or not remains to be seen.
“There are more advocates of sustainability than we’ve ever had before.  We had gone from a generation who were terrified of it – that glossy fashion was trying to cancel out.  I see it as an intelligent subject where all contributions can still be made and valuable.  There’s space for manoeuvre and thinking time.  There’s a challenge to be overcome.

It’s a proactive moment to be celebrated.  Make choices, make mistakes.

If you think about the decisions that go through some women’s minds about their outfit choices.  Now it’s more than just thinking about whether to wear blue with green.  It’s a different intelligence that is required of us.  You can think about where your shirt was made, how it was made, what is its provenance.

We will ask more questions about our clothes.  That will be part of the pleasure, part of the dialogue and part of the conversation.”

Recoloured

>> I want to say that I had a rager of a New Year’s Eve in a pathetic bid to salvage what’s left of my so-called youth but that simply wasn’t the case.  We stayed up until 4am playing a Guess Who!/charades hybrid game, drinking gin and tonics and munching on cocktail sausages.  Siiiiiiiiiiiiick!  True to my state of nesting, the recurring theme at the moment seems to revolve around knitting needles.  Jumpers of Christmas, reine du tricot and no, an accidental Etsy find, whilst I was on the hunt for a green office chair.  Lauren Fraser in California hearts vintage knitting and crochet patterns.  She has amassed quite a collection and has painstakingly retyped, reformatted AND hand-coloured all of them so that they are available for a digestible digital download on her Etsy site 2nd Vintage Look.  As someone who once used to sprint home with the latest copy of British Vogue or Numero so that I could scan in the editorials to share with fellow fash-heads on The Fashion Spot, I fully salute Lauren for her dedication to breathe new life into what are normally pen-marked, well-thumbed patterns with often illegible text.  I may not be confident enough to weld needles just yet in order to attempt to follow these patterns, but just a quick browse through these vibrantly colour calibrated images certainly makes for inspiring picture fodder, particularly the 1970s crochet pieces that teeter at just the right point between sexy and ridiculous.  One look at John Lewis’ offering of contemporary knitting and crochet patterns and you wonder where the fun has gone.  All the better then that Lauren has taken the time and effort to preserve the knit tricks of yesteryear for everyone to enjoy.

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Moda Operandi Unleashes a Boatload of Vintage Chanel Bags on an Unsuspecting Populace

Moda Operandi Unleashes a Boatload of Vintage Chanel Bags on an Unsuspecting Populace

Chanel bags (and jewelry, and clothes) are as notoriously difficult to come by as any in the luxury market. Chanel doesn’t sell its wares online (and doesn’t plan to in the near future), and if you’ve never tried to just waltz into a department store or Chanel boutique and purchase one, you might be surprised at how hard it can be to find a store with the most sought-after styles in stock. Solving this kind of problem is the Internet’s specialty, though, which brings us to the huge crop of vintage Chanel bags, accessories and clothing from What Goes Around, Comes Around that are currently available via Moda Operandi.

The bags are mostly black (a Chanel staple), and you’ll find plenty of the brand’s signature styles, like Classic Flaps and camera bags. For us, the standout is the alligator mini crossbody, but any of these bags would be pretty impressive in your closet. (Or under your tree, if you’re feeling generous.) Rest assured, the vintage mavens at WGACA only deal in authentic bags. Shop the full sale until December 16 via Moda Operandi or check out some gorgeous pics of the bags below.

The post Moda Operandi Unleashes a Boatload of Vintage Chanel Bags on an Unsuspecting Populace appeared first on PurseBlog.

Man Bag Monday: Louis Vuitton Vintage Epi Leather Travel Bag

Man Bag Monday: Louis Vuitton Vintage Epi Leather Travel Bag

Despite the fact that plenty of people do it and plenty of brands want you to give it a shot, traveling with expensive luggage or carry-on bags makes me nervous. The airport is…just so disgusting. It makes me want to hand-sanitize my entire body, and as difficult as that might be, it’s even less possible when it comes to your bags. So far, the best compromise I’ve come up with for traveling in style is with a vintage bag, like this Louis Vuitton Vintage Epi Leather Travel Bag. [UPDATE: Our commenters have identified the bag as a Louis Vuitton Taiga Kendall!]

This bag and others like it at East Dane (ShopBop’s new menswear offshoot) come from New York’s What Goes Around, Comes Around, one of the US’s best outposts for high-end vintage fashion. WGACA sells its wares both in its own stores and online, and it offers a small selection of leather goods and jewelry to both ShopBop and East Dane.

This hunter green bag (it’s termed a Keepall on the product page, but its not the right structure for that) is perhaps my favorite of the current offerings. The color is more interesting than the basic black that characterizes most travel options, but it’ll still be durable, particularly when combined with Vuitton’s hardy Epi leather. The best part, though, is that it’s a pre-owned bag, so you don’t have to watch it become progressively less pristine with each trip. As far as its next owner is concerned, it started out that way. Buy through East Dane for $2,400.

The post Man Bag Monday: Louis Vuitton Vintage Epi Leather Travel Bag appeared first on PurseBlog.

Hello, my name is Paul Smith

"I don't like fashion but I like you," wrote an 11 year old Margo from Belgium in a fan letter addressed to Paul Smith, one of many that the veteran designer and professional creative bounder receives on a day to day basis.  That's pretty much the crux of what makes Paul Smith, as a person, as a brand and as a company so compelling.  And the Design Museum has paid tribute to all of those parts in a new exhibition plainly called Hello, My Name is Paul Smith

What young Margo quite rightly pointed out is that Smith is the central lynchpin to the sprawling empire of collections, stores and collaborations.  His boundless energy and endless curiosity are the key drivers to his brand from its humble beginnings as a 12ft square box menswear "shop" in Nottingham in 1970.  In fact for me, the man Paul Smith is what makes the Paul Smith universe fascinating, regardless of whether or not I love every collection.  Likewise, you don't have to be a diehard Paul Smith fan to see this exhibition.  Hello, My Name is Paul Smith explores creative process and natural inquisitiveness and honours the merits of being humble-minded and not overreaching beyond your means when building a business.  All of this will be relevant and inspiring to any young person on the precipice of deciding what they do in life.  Scratch that, it's inspiring to older and seasoned hacks like myself, as I emerged from the exhibition yesterday feeling like I haven't seen enough of the world, I haven't absorbed enough art and photography and that I haven't done enough as a creative enterprise, when compared with the endeavours of Smith.  Trailing Smith around the exhibition at the media preview yesterday was uplifting to say the least.  Two minutes in conversation with the man and I defy anyone not to be a little bit smitten, charmed or at least bemused by him.

It is "absolutely not a retrospective" says Smith and that point is reiterated over and over again.  That would suggest that Smith is vaguely slowing down, looking back and reflecting.  But as Smith guided us around the exhibition, bouncing from one room to another, jovially answering anybody's question and striking up cheeky rapport with the photographers, the amount of kinetic creative energy he displays is enough to convince you that he's not resting on his laurels.  "Fashion is about today and tomorrow", said Smith. "Nobody cares how good you used to be."   

A recreation of that box space Nottingham shop, which was only open for two days in the week and manned by Smith and his Afghan hound Homer is the first  space you're immersed in at the exhibition.  There's also a replica of the Paris hotel room where Smith set up his first showroom in 1976, where nobody came save for one buyer on the last day.  These are the humble beginnings that Smith wanted to use to illustrate that Paul his business was no overnight success.  Smith has famously never borrowed money for his business, working within his means to build his brand - a remarkable feat and a solid example for young businesses today who seem to want everything too soon.  

He also teaches a lesson in learning when to say no.  One look at the collaborations Paul Smith has done and they're plainly selective and in some cases clearly done for personal desire rather than profit - see a floral covered Roberts radio or a cover for a special edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover.  A journalist asked Smith if he would be opening hotels as a brand in the position of Paul Smith could.  "I could do a lovely hotel, and you go there for your supper and the steak is really bad," he says.  "And so you get the reputation for having a hotel with a bad steak.  But the steak has nothing to do with me."  This is a great example of Smith not wanting to overreach his abilities, even though his brand is most certainly at the sort of level where a veritable empire of hotels, cafes, homewares etc have come beckoning.   

The central room of the exhibition is covered by what is a teensy tiny fraction of Smith's extraordinarily varied art and photography collection set out in a higgelty piggelty maze of frames, as if to mirror the way his brain dances from portraits by photographs of David Bailey and Nick Knight to naive drawings sent to him by young fans.  The thing that immediately strikes you about Smith is his appetite for mind fodder of any sort - literature, art, object, culture of a place, someone's personality trait.  He's the type of person who easily takes interest in most things.  This is also reflected in another room where we are taken inside Smith's brain, where a building morphs into a flower which morphs into a print on a dress on sheeny shiny Sony screens and it's yet another way of peeking inside the working lynchpin of the Paul Smith brand. 

Smith is a great collector of stuff and his full to the brim office, filled with bikes, toys, books, art, objects and things that he finds intriguing has been well documented.  Again a small portion of it is recreated at the exhibition complete with a plate of spag bol and an African mask, which Smith poses with in jest for the photographers.    

Another room recreates Smith's design studio space where their signature Paul Smith prints are created.  Every detail feels faithful down to the circa 2006 Macs and the boxes of swatches to pick out colours for their famous multi-coloured stripe patterns.  Here, Smith showed us how a 1906 traditional floral print was manipulated and cut-up to become a glitched up version used in his collection.  That think tank process is again seen in a room where a film is shown depicting the run-up to the mens S/S 14 show.  

I hope Smith doesn't take offence when I say that probably the least interesting part of the exhibition were the rooms with the two rows of archive Paul Smith clothes and the collaborative products to some extent.  Reason being is that they're all things we've seen before.  They're known quantities.  They're also the aesthetic results of a thinking and creative process that in some ways is more interesting to learn about.  That's precisely what this exhibition has successfully exposed for everyone to feel like they're getting to know Paul Smith, the man.  We can all go into any one of Paul Smith's eclectically designed stores to look at the products.  Here, we get peeks into the way Smith's mind works.  Even, then you feel you're only scratching the surface.  

Hello, My Name is Paul Smith open now at the Design Museum until 9th March 2014

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Hello, my name is Paul Smith

"I don't like fashion but I like you," wrote an 11 year old Margo from Belgium in a fan letter addressed to Paul Smith, one of many that the veteran designer and professional creative bounder receives on a day to day basis.  That's pretty much the crux of what makes Paul Smith, as a person, as a brand and as a company so compelling.  And the Design Museum has paid tribute to all of those parts in a new exhibition plainly called Hello, My Name is Paul Smith

What young Margo quite rightly pointed out is that Smith is the central lynchpin to the sprawling empire of collections, stores and collaborations.  His boundless energy and endless curiosity are the key drivers to his brand from its humble beginnings as a 12ft square box menswear "shop" in Nottingham in 1970.  In fact for me, the man Paul Smith is what makes the Paul Smith universe fascinating, regardless of whether or not I love every collection.  Likewise, you don't have to be a diehard Paul Smith fan to see this exhibition.  Hello, My Name is Paul Smith explores creative process and natural inquisitiveness and honours the merits of being humble-minded and not overreaching beyond your means when building a business.  All of this will be relevant and inspiring to any young person on the precipice of deciding what they do in life.  Scratch that, it's inspiring to older and seasoned hacks like myself, as I emerged from the exhibition yesterday feeling like I haven't seen enough of the world, I haven't absorbed enough art and photography and that I haven't done enough as a creative enterprise, when compared with the endeavours of Smith.  Trailing Smith around the exhibition at the media preview yesterday was uplifting to say the least.  Two minutes in conversation with the man and I defy anyone not to be a little bit smitten, charmed or at least bemused by him.

It is "absolutely not a retrospective" says Smith and that point is reiterated over and over again.  That would suggest that Smith is vaguely slowing down, looking back and reflecting.  But as Smith guided us around the exhibition, bouncing from one room to another, jovially answering anybody's question and striking up cheeky rapport with the photographers, the amount of kinetic creative energy he displays is enough to convince you that he's not resting on his laurels.  "Fashion is about today and tomorrow", said Smith. "Nobody cares how good you used to be."   

A recreation of that box space Nottingham shop, which was only open for two days in the week and manned by Smith and his Afghan hound Homer is the first  space you're immersed in at the exhibition.  There's also a replica of the Paris hotel room where Smith set up his first showroom in 1976, where nobody came save for one buyer on the last day.  These are the humble beginnings that Smith wanted to use to illustrate that Paul his business was no overnight success.  Smith has famously never borrowed money for his business, working within his means to build his brand - a remarkable feat and a solid example for young businesses today who seem to want everything too soon.  

He also teaches a lesson in learning when to say no.  One look at the collaborations Paul Smith has done and they're plainly selective and in some cases clearly done for personal desire rather than profit - see a floral covered Roberts radio or a cover for a special edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover.  A journalist asked Smith if he would be opening hotels as a brand in the position of Paul Smith could.  "I could do a lovely hotel, and you go there for your supper and the steak is really bad," he says.  "And so you get the reputation for having a hotel with a bad steak.  But the steak has nothing to do with me."  This is a great example of Smith not wanting to overreach his abilities, even though his brand is most certainly at the sort of level where a veritable empire of hotels, cafes, homewares etc have come beckoning.   

The central room of the exhibition is covered by what is a teensy tiny fraction of Smith's extraordinarily varied art and photography collection set out in a higgelty piggelty maze of frames, as if to mirror the way his brain dances from portraits by photographs of David Bailey and Nick Knight to naive drawings sent to him by young fans.  The thing that immediately strikes you about Smith is his appetite for mind fodder of any sort - literature, art, object, culture of a place, someone's personality trait.  He's the type of person who easily takes interest in most things.  This is also reflected in another room where we are taken inside Smith's brain, where a building morphs into a flower which morphs into a print on a dress on sheeny shiny Sony screens and it's yet another way of peeking inside the working lynchpin of the Paul Smith brand. 

Smith is a great collector of stuff and his full to the brim office, filled with bikes, toys, books, art, objects and things that he finds intriguing has been well documented.  Again a small portion of it is recreated at the exhibition complete with a plate of spag bol and an African mask, which Smith poses with in jest for the photographers.    

Another room recreates Smith's design studio space where their signature Paul Smith prints are created.  Every detail feels faithful down to the circa 2006 Macs and the boxes of swatches to pick out colours for their famous multi-coloured stripe patterns.  Here, Smith showed us how a 1906 traditional floral print was manipulated and cut-up to become a glitched up version used in his collection.  That think tank process is again seen in a room where a film is shown depicting the run-up to the mens S/S 14 show.  

I hope Smith doesn't take offence when I say that probably the least interesting part of the exhibition were the rooms with the two rows of archive Paul Smith clothes and the collaborative products to some extent.  Reason being is that they're all things we've seen before.  They're known quantities.  They're also the aesthetic results of a thinking and creative process that in some ways is more interesting to learn about.  That's precisely what this exhibition has successfully exposed for everyone to feel like they're getting to know Paul Smith, the man.  We can all go into any one of Paul Smith's eclectically designed stores to look at the products.  Here, we get peeks into the way Smith's mind works.  Even, then you feel you're only scratching the surface.  

Hello, My Name is Paul Smith open now at the Design Museum until 9th March 2014

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Shop Incredible Private Collections of Luxury Handbags via Bonhams

Shop Incredible Private Collections of Luxury Handbags via Bonhams

Every handbag has a story. If you look through your collection, you can probably recount how you came to love each bag, where you purchased it, and probably even what was going on in your life at the time. That’s why there are so many ardent vintage aficionados in fashion circles; not only does buying a pre-owned piece represent an opportunity to get a great value for your money, it gives you access to endless pieces of unique personal history from fellow fashion fiends. When you purchase one of the incredible designer bags from Bonhams’ upcoming Handbags and Jewelry Auction, you may very well get a look into one of those histories.

Bonhams’ pieces include everything from exotic Hermes bags to a vintage Louis Vuitton trunk from the 1920s, to Gucci bags in their original boxes. Most come from the private collections of women who would rather not be named, as is often the case with auctions. Others, though, come with a name and story attached. For example, the auction includes numerous Judith Leiber crystal-studded minaudières in shapes ranging from polar bears to asparagus, all of which come from the estate of Dr. Nancy Walls-Williams, a groundbreaking scientist and one of the first female faculty members at Georgia Tech, way back in the 1950s. If Leiber isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps you’ll find something in the 25-piece Hermes and Louis Vuitton collection of Erna de Paz Ortiz Basualdo, a member of a prominent Argentinean family that entertained the Prince of Wales and other royals on their visits to Buenos Aires in the early 1900s.

Once someone has owned it, a bag isn’t just a bag anymore – it becomes a piece of a woman’s story. Check out our favorite pieces below or peruse the entire catalog, which also includes jewelry, via Bonhams. The handbag auction will take place on November 18th, as part of a 2-day Period Art & Design auction at the Bonhams showroom in Los Angeles and is now online at Bonhams.com.


Hermes Crocodile Birkin Bag
Shop via Bonhams

Hermes Crocodile Birkin


Louis Vuitton Monogram Hard Sided Train Case
Shop via Bonhams

Louis Vuitton Vintage Train Case


Chanel 2.55 Reissue Shoulder Bag
Shop via Bonhams

Chanel 2.55 Reissue Bag


Judith Leiber Red Crocodile Clutch
Shop via Bonhams

Judith Leiber Red Crocodile Clutch


Hermes Kelly Bag
Shop via Bonhams

Hermes Ivory Leather Kelly Bag


Gucci Crocodile Handbag
Shop via Bonhams

Gucci Crocodile Shoulder Bag


Hermes Sac Mallette Handbag
Shop via Bonhams

Hermes Train Case


Hermes Crocodile Sac Sequana Handbag
Shop via Bonhams

Hermes Crocodile Sac Sequana Handbag


Louis Vuitton Vintage 1920s Trunk
Shop via Bonhams

Louis Vuitton Vintage 1920s Trunk


Salvatore Ferragamo Purple Lizard and Velvet Handbags
Shop via Bonhams

Salvatore Ferragamo Purple Lizard and Velvet Bags


Judith Leiber Pink Pig Minaudière and Pillbox
Shop via Bonhams

Judith Leiber Pink Pig Minaudiere and Pillbox

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The post Shop Incredible Private Collections of Luxury Handbags via Bonhams appeared first on PurseBlog.

Hara Update

>> I thought it would make sense to segue in from Shibuya 109 over to Harajuku's Dog as it continues to be all things Tokyo around here.  I've still got plenty of the shows to write about but of course, so much of what's brilliant about Tokyo's fashion scene isn't to be found in a sponsor-ridden fashion show venue but walking around on the streets.  It's the style maven characters that you meet who leave the lasting impression.  In Tokyo, it's interesting that out of the blue, "normal" girls like shop girls and students, can break through and become veritable style icons on the back of... well, their style, as opposed to well-oiled PR machines, in-the-know connections and behind-the-scenes stylists.  They become almost like recognisable characters on the streets, signifying and representing the constantly shifting style oeuvres of Tokyo and in particular in Harajuku, these local style figures are rife.  Hirari Ikeda is one such character.  I was completely in awe of her presence when we met at her workplace, the Harajuku fashion institution, Dog.  Her Tumblr page is exemplary of the way Hirari likes to teeter on the very very edge of a sharp precipice in fashion.  She goes for it in a way that has little to do with the well-mannered ya-yas of high fashion and everything to do with her own specific tastes.  

Dog may well have been the perfect breeding spot for her to express her style as this now infamous store still gets the visual adrenaline pumping as soon as you descend the graffitied staircase.  I love Dog's second outpost in the equally famed Kita Kore building in in Koenji but given the size of the orignal store in Harajuku, there's definitely more to get your teeth into here with the pile-ups of Versace vintage, customised denim and leather pieces, heavy-soled trainers and bling-rave jewellery.  Maybe it's the fact that I only get to go once or twice a year on my trips to Tokyo but I love how I find a different niche to rifle through on every visit - this time it was deadstock motocross trousers and local label patchwork No Jeans! knitwear.  Even if you're not completely down with the aesthetic, a simple comb through the racks is inspirational fodder for the brain.  You can't help but commend the tireless dedication to their specific aesthetic, especially when you walk into the store and find three of the shop staff croching over a vintage shirt, examining it as though it were a maths equation and ready to attack it with studs and who knows what else.      

20131016_174044Hirari Ikeda... so badass and awesome that even a crappy camera pic of her works a treat

 

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My makeover fairy Natsumi and Hirari colliding Shibuya and Harajuku style together for Nicola Formichetti's Pop Icon Project at an impromptu shoot in front of Parco on Saturday night.  

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Hara Update

>> I thought it would make sense to segue in from Shibuya 109 over to Harajuku's Dog as it continues to be all things Tokyo around here.  I've still got plenty of the shows to write about but of course, so much of what's brilliant about Tokyo's fashion scene isn't to be found in a sponsor-ridden fashion show venue but walking around on the streets.  It's the style maven characters that you meet who leave the lasting impression.  In Tokyo, it's interesting that out of the blue, "normal" girls like shop girls and students, can break through and become veritable style icons on the back of... well, their style, as opposed to well-oiled PR machines, in-the-know connections and behind-the-scenes stylists.  They become almost like recognisable characters on the streets, signifying and representing the constantly shifting style oeuvres of Tokyo and in particular in Harajuku, these local style figures are rife.  Hirari Ikeda is one such character.  I was completely in awe of her presence when we met at her workplace, the Harajuku fashion institution, Dog.  Her Tumblr page is exemplary of the way Hirari likes to teeter on the very very edge of a sharp precipice in fashion.  She goes for it in a way that has little to do with the well-mannered ya-yas of high fashion and everything to do with her own specific tastes.  

Dog may well have been the perfect breeding spot for her to express her style as this now infamous store still gets the visual adrenaline pumping as soon as you descend the graffitied staircase.  I love Dog's second outpost in the equally famed Kita Kore building in in Koenji but given the size of the orignal store in Harajuku, there's definitely more to get your teeth into here with the pile-ups of Versace vintage, customised denim and leather pieces, heavy-soled trainers and bling-rave jewellery.  Maybe it's the fact that I only get to go once or twice a year on my trips to Tokyo but I love how I find a different niche to rifle through on every visit - this time it was deadstock motocross trousers and local label patchwork No Jeans! knitwear.  Even if you're not completely down with the aesthetic, a simple comb through the racks is inspirational fodder for the brain.  You can't help but commend the tireless dedication to their specific aesthetic, especially when you walk into the store and find three of the shop staff croching over a vintage shirt, examining it as though it were a maths equation and ready to attack it with studs and who knows what else.      

20131016_174044Hirari Ikeda... so badass and awesome that even a crappy camera pic of her works a treat

 

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My makeover fairy Natsumi and Hirari colliding Shibuya and Harajuku style together for Nicola Formichetti's Pop Icon Project at an impromptu shoot in front of Parco on Saturday night.  

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Cheap Date Redux

“This was a magazine that grew out of a deep love of thrifting. It was founded in 1996 by Kira Joliffe and I became the co-editor when I moved to New York City shortly thereafter. Cheap Date became a celebration of  individual style, freedom of choice, empowerment and a love of dressing up; with interviews with the people that we loved. The magazine was embraced by incredibly talented people – like Karen Elson, Liv Tyler and Chloe Sevigny - who did things for us that they wouldn’t normally do. It took on a cult following.  The sense of fun and irreverence was amazing.” Bay Garnett

At the Selfridges Denim Studio event I very nearly rushed over to Bay Garnett, who was styling the live campaign, to politely demand when she was thinking of reviving Cheap Date, as she had hinted at its resurrection in an interview with Oyster magazine not so long ago.  I was even going to be so bold as to offer my paltry services as a writer/dogsbody/slave should she wish to take Cheap Date to the 21st century next lev.  Alas, we all know how great I am at fan-girling people I admire, so the opportunity to give Garnett a gentle nudge came and went.

That leaves me no option but to pine and whine, as I flip the pages of this Cheap Datecompilation book (only available through 2nd hand Amazon peeps unfortunately), featuring content from the first six issues dating from 1997-2000.  Every page of thrift-related interviews, Jackie-style comic strips and DIY pin-up photos feels scuzzier and funnier than the later issues of Cheap Date and definitely less glossy than their more well-known book counterpart The Cheap Date Guide to Style (which does admittedly do a good job of filling the gap after great tomes such as Vogue's More Dash to Cash and Cheap Chic).  The writing and presentation style of Cheap Date is perhaps of its time but the pages certainly hold up today, when you consider that game-changing irreverance in fashion feels scarcer than ever, despite the onslaught of blogs, zines and indie title (I'd cite Rookie as an exception to that observation).  It portrays a hilarious extreme in anti-fashion sentiment that perhaps can't ever exist again because of the way brands fuel and feed content today (from credits in shoots to advertorials to the basic reliance on brands to provide content filler).  Despite loving what Cheap Date stands for, I can't profess to being the 100% thrifter, hate-trends, hate-fashion persona, which the magazine celebrated.  Perhaps were it to ever resurrect, it would have to have a different stance anyway considering Garnett herself is still a contributing editor to British Vogue and is for want of a better word, part of the fashion establishment.  Just a few more thoughts to add to the mix if I were to by chance to encounter Garnett again.    

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Cheap Date Redux

“This was a magazine that grew out of a deep love of thrifting. It was founded in 1996 by Kira Joliffe and I became the co-editor when I moved to New York City shortly thereafter. Cheap Date became a celebration of  individual style, freedom of choice, empowerment and a love of dressing up; with interviews with the people that we loved. The magazine was embraced by incredibly talented people – like Karen Elson, Liv Tyler and Chloe Sevigny - who did things for us that they wouldn’t normally do. It took on a cult following.  The sense of fun and irreverence was amazing.” Bay Garnett

At the Selfridges Denim Studio event I very nearly rushed over to Bay Garnett, who was styling the live campaign, to politely demand when she was thinking of reviving Cheap Date, as she had hinted at its resurrection in an interview with Oyster magazine not so long ago.  I was even going to be so bold as to offer my paltry services as a writer/dogsbody/slave should she wish to take Cheap Date to the 21st century next lev.  Alas, we all know how great I am at fan-girling people I admire, so the opportunity to give Garnett a gentle nudge came and went.

That leaves me no option but to pine and whine, as I flip the pages of this Cheap Datecompilation book (only available through 2nd hand Amazon peeps unfortunately), featuring content from the first six issues dating from 1997-2000.  Every page of thrift-related interviews, Jackie-style comic strips and DIY pin-up photos feels scuzzier and funnier than the later issues of Cheap Date and definitely less glossy than their more well-known book counterpart The Cheap Date Guide to Style (which does admittedly do a good job of filling the gap after great tomes such as Vogue's More Dash to Cash and Cheap Chic).  The writing and presentation style of Cheap Date is perhaps of its time but the pages certainly hold up today, when you consider that game-changing irreverance in fashion feels scarcer than ever, despite the onslaught of blogs, zines and indie title (I'd cite Rookie as an exception to that observation).  It portrays a hilarious extreme in anti-fashion sentiment that perhaps can't ever exist again because of the way brands fuel and feed content today (from credits in shoots to advertorials to the basic reliance on brands to provide content filler).  Despite loving what Cheap Date stands for, I can't profess to being the 100% thrifter, hate-trends, hate-fashion persona, which the magazine celebrated.  Perhaps were it to ever resurrect, it would have to have a different stance anyway considering Garnett herself is still a contributing editor to British Vogue and is for want of a better word, part of the fashion establishment.  Just a few more thoughts to add to the mix if I were to by chance to encounter Garnett again.    

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Annabelle

Since I love Annabelle Dexter-Jones’ feminine & gamine style, I went to see her and shoot a few pictures the other day. I really loved:

How natural she is…

Her super chic vintage outfits.

Her Charlotte Olympia clutch.

How fun she is. And her Prada slip dress.

And this wonderful dress, a vintage find. It makes me think of this winter’s Prada collection, so feminine, so sensual and so cool.

To Four Markets We Go

>> "My mind's telling me no, but my body's telling me yes!" So says, the Casson Londont-shirt I'm wearing today, echoing the wise words of R Kelly.  Except it's my body that's telling me no as I'm currently battling a chronic case of IBS, something nobody really wants to talk about, but a lot of people have.  Clutching one's stomach in pain is not conducive to blogging so today I'm doing a quick and easy upload of photos from the Tokyo/Bangkok/Shanghai/Mexico City trips I took last year.  In particular, I tried to mine some markets in every city, which tend to always be the source of some strange and wonderful sights, with their own quirks that are unique to those cities.  In Tokyo's Meiji Park flea market, Sanrio, off-cut of kimono fabrics and vintage Hawaiian shirts were the dominant themes.  At Bangkok's Train Night Market, a slightly cooler respite from the cray-cray JJ weekend market, I loved the creepy night-lit toys, retro drinks signs and mahussive pieces of furniture that did make think about trying to sort out freight shipping when I was there.  There were never going to be any real bargains at the tourist-y Dongtai Road antiques market in Shanghai but I did love touching up the abundance of Miao tribe skirts and Qing dynasty robes.  And finally at La Ciudadela in Mexico City, which is admittedly a market full of souvenir fodder for tourists, I unabashedly indulged in all that riotous colour, which Mexico does so well.  Now I'm willing my body to co-operate so that I can function properly for upcoming trips to Seoul, Tokyo and of course the usual slew of travel for fashion weeks.  Hopefully R Kelly won't mind too much if I temporarily switch the Yes and No in his lyrics.  

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Meiji Park Flea Market, Tokyo

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Talad Rot Fai/The Train Market, Bangkok

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Dongtai Road Antiques Market/Flower, Bird, Fish and Insect Market, Shanghai

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La Ciudadela, Mexico City

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To Four Markets We Go

>> "My mind's telling me no, but my body's telling me yes!" So says, the Casson Londont-shirt I'm wearing today, echoing the wise words of R Kelly.  Except it's my body that's telling me no as I'm currently battling a chronic case of IBS, something nobody really wants to talk about, but a lot of people have.  Clutching one's stomach in pain is not conducive to blogging so today I'm doing a quick and easy upload of photos from the Tokyo/Bangkok/Shanghai/Mexico City trips I took last year.  In particular, I tried to mine some markets in every city, which tend to always be the source of some strange and wonderful sights, with their own quirks that are unique to those cities.  In Tokyo's Meiji Park flea market, Sanrio, off-cut of kimono fabrics and vintage Hawaiian shirts were the dominant themes.  At Bangkok's Train Night Market, a slightly cooler respite from the cray-cray JJ weekend market, I loved the creepy night-lit toys, retro drinks signs and mahussive pieces of furniture that did make think about trying to sort out freight shipping when I was there.  There were never going to be any real bargains at the tourist-y Dongtai Road antiques market in Shanghai but I did love touching up the abundance of Miao tribe skirts and Qing dynasty robes.  And finally at La Ciudadela in Mexico City, which is admittedly a market full of souvenir fodder for tourists, I unabashedly indulged in all that riotous colour, which Mexico does so well.  Now I'm willing my body to co-operate so that I can function properly for upcoming trips to Seoul, Tokyo and of course the usual slew of travel for fashion weeks.  Hopefully R Kelly won't mind too much if I temporarily switch the Yes and No in his lyrics.  

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Meiji Park Flea Market, Tokyo

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Talad Rot Fai/The Train Market, Bangkok

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Dongtai Road Antiques Market/Flower, Bird, Fish and Insect Market, Shanghai

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La Ciudadela, Mexico City

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Tinsel Thrill

>> It's quite satisfying to know that currently, one of my favourite things that I can't stop looking at/feeling/touching and itching to wear (it's cooled down in London but not quite to jumper weather yet) is a $5 flea market find from my trip to LA.  $5 or even £5 cheap thrills just don't come as easily as they used to, compared to the ye olde days of Style Bubble when I'd swoop in and find something amazing in charity shops and rush home, giddy with excitement and accomplishment.  Excessive travelling, increased workload and admittedly, a diminishing inclination towards the "hunt" for clothes has contributed to the lack of cheap thrills.  Therefore this sweater is being hung up on the wall as a reminder that a) those thrills are still out there if you look for it and b) you can never have enough clothes that remind you of a cheap n' cheerful circa 1986 Christmas complete with dry turkey, electric knife and too many Quality Street chocolates.  I've loaded up on the Eddie Borgo x Beach in the East exclusive cone bracelets here but only incidently because I was using them for a separate shoot.  They're not part of the cheap thrill buzz but they do have a similar Crimbo spirit about them.

Speaking of cheap thrills, here's a not so subtle reminder of the £1 sale I'm having next week in my yard.  Not that you technically can't find clothes cheaper than that but you know... really, does it happen that often?   

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Tinsel Thrill

>> It's quite satisfying to know that currently, one of my favourite things that I can't stop looking at/feeling/touching and itching to wear (it's cooled down in London but not quite to jumper weather yet) is a $5 flea market find from my trip to LA.  $5 or even £5 cheap thrills just don't come as easily as they used to, compared to the ye olde days of Style Bubble when I'd swoop in and find something amazing in charity shops and rush home, giddy with excitement and accomplishment.  Excessive travelling, increased workload and admittedly, a diminishing inclination towards the "hunt" for clothes has contributed to the lack of cheap thrills.  Therefore this sweater is being hung up on the wall as a reminder that a) those thrills are still out there if you look for it and b) you can never have enough clothes that remind you of a cheap n' cheerful circa 1986 Christmas complete with dry turkey, electric knife and too many Quality Street chocolates.  I've loaded up on the Eddie Borgo x Beach in the East exclusive cone bracelets here but only incidently because I was using them for a separate shoot.  They're not part of the cheap thrill buzz but they do have a similar Crimbo spirit about them.

Speaking of cheap thrills, here's a not so subtle reminder of the £1 sale I'm having next week in my yard.  Not that you technically can't find clothes cheaper than that but you know... really, does it happen that often?   

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Miu Miu Renewed

>> I'm not going to lie.  There are times when I will sulk an evening off because I've missed out on a score on eBay.  Normally that score revolves around past season Miu Miu.  My top Miu Miu targets at the moment are anything from the scuba lattice cut-out collection of A/W 08, anything bird/cat/naked woman printed from that over-blogger and over-loved S/S 10 collection and a knitted body or bloomer short from the S/S 07 collection.  I've rinsed out the scratchy textures in beige and pepto bismol pink of A/W 07 so that box is duly ticked.  It's safe to say that Miu Miu along with big sister Prada instills a collector's urge in me.  Their time period might be instantly recognisable to the hardcore fashion person but their appeal is ever lasting.  Not in that boring "Oh it's a timeless classic!" kind of way.  No, Miu Miu does timeless oddity - the sort that you don't tire of and the why I'm constantly hunting for pieces that have made significant indents on my brain.  

This latest feature archive shoot entitled 'The Miu Age" from Dazed & Confused's August issue (with some extra shots on Dazed Digital) isn't going to help that addiction.  Dazed & Confused have always excelled at reminding people of the past with their archive pages of long forgotten designers but fashion director Robbie Spencer has done something extra special with Miu Miu's archive from the last decade (the label began in 1993 but it's safe to say their directional prowess didn't really kick in until later).  Shot by Ben Toms and styled by Spencer, the 16-page editorial is an ever-pertinent reminder of how pervasive Miu Miu is - new or old, brimming with ideas that could still be exploited today by Miuccia to great effect.  It says something when recycled ideas in a collection are still hugely palatable.  I fully expect to STILL be loving the Olive Oyl polka dots of this season in a few years time and if anything, my appreciation will only become stronger in ardour. 

1042156Vlada wears satin gabardine dress, jersey overalls and knit cap from AW08

1042163Anne-Catherine wears burgundy blouson with patch insert, cotton sweater, burgundy pleated skirt, red knit belt, fantasy plex brooches and red plex headband from SS05

1042150Irene wears orange wool dress with metal embroidered flowers and bag from AW11

1042148Jamily wears crepe dress with mink shoulders and sequin swallows from AW11

1042153Jamily wears mosaic cameo top and mosaic patch skirt with attached black overskirt from SS09

1042158Irene wears printed candy silk dress from SS10

1042160Anne-Catherine wears nylon sweater and skirt in camel colour from AW07

1042161Vlada wears double wool coat with glass beading embellishment and astrakhan collar with taffeta skirt and scarf from AW13

1042149Anne-Catherine wears suede patchwork skirt with cashmere jumper and cotton shirt from AW05

1042154Irene wears jacquard argyle yellow top, pink coat and orange skirt with camel wool socks from AW07

1042151Vlada wears silk patterned kimono top and skirt from SS03

1042155Delfine wears nude and blush pink wool dress with crystal embroideries, bra and socks from AW09

1042162Vlada wears tweed and fur dress with coyote stole from AW09

Photography Ben Toms, Styling Robbie Spencer, Film Amy Gwatkin

Speaking of which, it does make it easier to go on an archive Miu Miu hunt when their distribution is such that pieces always pop up on eBay as well as the growing used designer site Vestiaire Collective sometime, somehow.  A few of the pieces featured in the shoot above are currently on eBay should you wish to relive those seasons.  At the very least, the hunt isn't as difficult as say, S/S 03 Balenciaga.  That's another sulking matter altogether.  

 Miu Miu

Miu Miu Renewed

>> I'm not going to lie.  There are times when I will sulk an evening off because I've missed out on a score on eBay.  Normally that score revolves around past season Miu Miu.  My top Miu Miu targets at the moment are anything from the scuba lattice cut-out collection of A/W 08, anything bird/cat/naked woman printed from that over-blogger and over-loved S/S 10 collection and a knitted body or bloomer short from the S/S 07 collection.  I've rinsed out the scratchy textures in beige and pepto bismol pink of A/W 07 so that box is duly ticked.  It's safe to say that Miu Miu along with big sister Prada instills a collector's urge in me.  Their time period might be instantly recognisable to the hardcore fashion person but their appeal is ever lasting.  Not in that boring "Oh it's a timeless classic!" kind of way.  No, Miu Miu does timeless oddity - the sort that you don't tire of and the why I'm constantly hunting for pieces that have made significant indents on my brain.  

This latest feature archive shoot entitled 'The Miu Age" from Dazed & Confused's August issue (with some extra shots on Dazed Digital) isn't going to help that addiction.  Dazed & Confused have always excelled at reminding people of the past with their archive pages of long forgotten designers but fashion director Robbie Spencer has done something extra special with Miu Miu's archive from the last decade (the label began in 1993 but it's safe to say their directional prowess didn't really kick in until later).  Shot by Ben Toms and styled by Spencer, the 16-page editorial is an ever-pertinent reminder of how pervasive Miu Miu is - new or old, brimming with ideas that could still be exploited today by Miuccia to great effect.  It says something when recycled ideas in a collection are still hugely palatable.  I fully expect to STILL be loving the Olive Oyl polka dots of this season in a few years time and if anything, my appreciation will only become stronger in ardour. 

1042156Vlada wears satin gabardine dress, jersey overalls and knit cap from AW08

1042163Anne-Catherine wears burgundy blouson with patch insert, cotton sweater, burgundy pleated skirt, red knit belt, fantasy plex brooches and red plex headband from SS05

1042150Irene wears orange wool dress with metal embroidered flowers and bag from AW11

1042148Jamily wears crepe dress with mink shoulders and sequin swallows from AW11

1042153Jamily wears mosaic cameo top and mosaic patch skirt with attached black overskirt from SS09

1042158Irene wears printed candy silk dress from SS10

1042160Anne-Catherine wears nylon sweater and skirt in camel colour from AW07

1042161Vlada wears double wool coat with glass beading embellishment and astrakhan collar with taffeta skirt and scarf from AW13

1042149Anne-Catherine wears suede patchwork skirt with cashmere jumper and cotton shirt from AW05

1042154Irene wears jacquard argyle yellow top, pink coat and orange skirt with camel wool socks from AW07

1042151Vlada wears silk patterned kimono top and skirt from SS03

1042155Delfine wears nude and blush pink wool dress with crystal embroideries, bra and socks from AW09

1042162Vlada wears tweed and fur dress with coyote stole from AW09

Photography Ben Toms, Styling Robbie Spencer, Film Amy Gwatkin

Speaking of which, it does make it easier to go on an archive Miu Miu hunt when their distribution is such that pieces always pop up on eBay as well as the growing used designer site Vestiaire Collective sometime, somehow.  A few of the pieces featured in the shoot above are currently on eBay should you wish to relive those seasons.  At the very least, the hunt isn't as difficult as say, S/S 03 Balenciaga.  That's another sulking matter altogether.  

 Miu Miu

Miu Miu Renewed

>> I'm not going to lie.  There are times when I will sulk an evening off because I've missed out on a score on eBay.  Normally that score revolves around past season Miu Miu.  My top Miu Miu targets at the moment are anything from the scuba lattice cut-out collection of A/W 08, anything bird/cat/naked woman printed from that over-blogger and over-loved S/S 10 collection and a knitted body or bloomer short from the S/S 07 collection.  I've rinsed out the scratchy textures in beige and pepto bismol pink of A/W 07 so that box is duly ticked.  It's safe to say that Miu Miu along with big sister Prada instills a collector's urge in me.  Their time period might be instantly recognisable to the hardcore fashion person but their appeal is ever lasting.  Not in that boring "Oh it's a timeless classic!" kind of way.  No, Miu Miu does timeless oddity - the sort that you don't tire of and the why I'm constantly hunting for pieces that have made significant indents on my brain.  

This latest feature archive shoot entitled 'The Miu Age" from Dazed & Confused's August issue (with some extra shots on Dazed Digital) isn't going to help that addiction.  Dazed & Confused have always excelled at reminding people of the past with their archive pages of long forgotten designers but fashion director Robbie Spencer has done something extra special with Miu Miu's archive from the last decade (the label began in 1993 but it's safe to say their directional prowess didn't really kick in until later).  Shot by Ben Toms and styled by Spencer, the 16-page editorial is an ever-pertinent reminder of how pervasive Miu Miu is - new or old, brimming with ideas that could still be exploited today by Miuccia to great effect.  It says something when recycled ideas in a collection are still hugely palatable.  I fully expect to STILL be loving the Olive Oyl polka dots of this season in a few years time and if anything, my appreciation will only become stronger in ardour. 

1042156Vlada wears satin gabardine dress, jersey overalls and knit cap from AW08

1042163Anne-Catherine wears burgundy blouson with patch insert, cotton sweater, burgundy pleated skirt, red knit belt, fantasy plex brooches and red plex headband from SS05

1042150Irene wears orange wool dress with metal embroidered flowers and bag from AW11

1042148Jamily wears crepe dress with mink shoulders and sequin swallows from AW11

1042153Jamily wears mosaic cameo top and mosaic patch skirt with attached black overskirt from SS09

1042158Irene wears printed candy silk dress from SS10

1042160Anne-Catherine wears nylon sweater and skirt in camel colour from AW07

1042161Vlada wears double wool coat with glass beading embellishment and astrakhan collar with taffeta skirt and scarf from AW13

1042149Anne-Catherine wears suede patchwork skirt with cashmere jumper and cotton shirt from AW05

1042154Irene wears jacquard argyle yellow top, pink coat and orange skirt with camel wool socks from AW07

1042151Vlada wears silk patterned kimono top and skirt from SS03

1042155Delfine wears nude and blush pink wool dress with crystal embroideries, bra and socks from AW09

1042162Vlada wears tweed and fur dress with coyote stole from AW09

Photography Ben Toms, Styling Robbie Spencer, Film Amy Gwatkin

Speaking of which, it does make it easier to go on an archive Miu Miu hunt when their distribution is such that pieces always pop up on eBay as well as the growing used designer site Vestiaire Collective sometime, somehow.  A few of the pieces featured in the shoot above are currently on eBay should you wish to relive those seasons.  At the very least, the hunt isn't as difficult as say, S/S 03 Balenciaga.  That's another sulking matter altogether.  

 Miu Miu

Blitz from the Past

On the night before I left for Los Angeles, I stopped by the Club to Catwalk exhibition opening at the V&A, who are currently on an exhibition roll.  In fact the whole year has been partitioned by exhibitions that neatly segue into each other from David Bowie Is to Met Museum's Punk: Chaos to Couture to an ode to Blitz magazine at the ICA in celebration of former Blitz Magazine fashion editor Iain R. Webb's brilliantly penned tome and back to the V&A for an overview of the fashion scene in 1980s London.  Jean Paul Gaultier's big retrospective next year at the Barbican also follows up nicely to these movements and oeuvres that are hard to shake off.  I say hard only that it's a specific time period of London that I can't help but romanticise and look at with rose-tinted glasses, precisely because I never experienced any of it.  As I said before when I wrote about the parallels between the characters as documented in Graham Smith's We Can Be Heroes book and today's new gen hardcore dress-up kids, as a Londoner you can't help but be swept away by the mythology - real and projected.  What came before in the 1980s may be a rollcall of designers, music ingenues, club svengalis and party kids - a cast of characters save for a few notables, who are largely forgotten by the wider public today but it's so important to see that what London enjoys today with its free-thinking creative microcosm and its designers finally reaping financial rewards, owes much to what came before when fashion simply wasn't that fashionable and when creative minds came together with shoestring budgets, DIY methods and a desire to have a bloody good time whilst doing whatever it may be - modelling/making/designing/DJ-ing/dancing/drinking.  

Curated by V&A Head of Fashion, Claire Wilcox and Wendy Dagworthy, founder of London Fashion Week, former designer and now Head of Fashion at Royal College of Art, the exhibition is split up into two.  "Club" on the mezzanine level leads down into "Catwalk" with mannequins throwing their hands up in the open air, like they just don't care upstairs, in stark contrast to the more regimented glass cases of the lower fall.  The "Club" section groups up aesthetic and genre themes such as 'Hard Times' 'High Camp', 'New Romantic', 'Goth' and 'Rave'.  The looks that transpire aren't as simplistic though as those categories suggest.  A Christopher Nemeth jacket made out of post office sacks, a hooped gown made by Georgina Godley to enable you to move and the exuberant form-fitting knits of Bodymap, designed by Stevie Stewart and David Holah smack of individuality and in the cases of designs by underground luminaries and club fixtures such as Kim Bowen, Rachel Auburn and Leigh Bowery, their pieces (which look to have survived many a good night out - one part of the problem of putting together this exhibition) are costumes for the night only - when the only thing that mattered was dressing up for your peers and yourself.  It's up on this mezzanine floor where the crossover between music, dance, film and fashion really come together as we hop from one club era to another.  Just reeling off the names of the chronology of London's club nights/venues makes you exhausted - The Blitz, Hell, Club for Heroes, Mud Club, Wag Club, Taboo and then later raving it up at Camden Palace as we near the nineties with all its smiley faces and happy drugs.  

There isn't necessarily an overt correlation between the club looks and the designer pieces downstairs in th "Catwalk" section, only that we can assume that the vibrant and creative club scene went hand in hand with the bold looks created by the fashion designers of London.  Whilst the decade was rich with creativity and talent, it was a time when London's fashion industry was hampered by lack of business know-how or maybe even desire to be commercial.  Vitrines dedicated to forerunners such as Jasper Conran, Betty Jackson, Paul Smith, John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood represent the famous core of designers who obviously laid foundations for subsequent generations.  Others such as Wendy Dagworthy, English Eccentrics and Timney Fowler have moved on to other endeavours or you had names such as Willy Brown and Chrissie Walsh who perhaps were designers rooted to their time, feeding off 1980s culture.  The enduring visual messages are well illustrated by Katherine Hamnett's slogan t-shirts of course.  Like the clubwear section, the catwalk looks showcased range from eccentric knitwear to high octane eveningwear with everyone in between owning their niche.  Much like today then in London. 

IMG_7332

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IMG_7298Bodymap

IMG_7305

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IMG_7313IMG_7314

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IMG_7325

IMG_7237Chrissie Walsh

IMG_7235Michiko Koshino

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Katherine Hamnett

IMG_7246
John Galliano

IMG_7251IMG_7250Margaret Howell // Joe Casely-Hayford

IMG_7257IMG_7258Wendy Dagworthy

IMG_7261
Joseph

IMG_7267

IMG_7268
Betty Jackson

IMG_7271IMG_7272English Eccentrics

IMG_7276
Antony Price

The burst of 80s fashion talent is best summed up in the Blitz Designer Denim Jacket project - a collaborative project to give designers such as John Galliano, Rifat Ozbek, Bernstock Speirs and Vivenne Westwood to the blank slate of a Levi's denim jacket.  The customisation project grew into a extravaganza public show held in 1986 at London's Albery Theatre to raise money for charity.  The concept sounds straightforward enough today in an age of customise this and collaborate that but it was a project that captured the fashion world's imagination back then as the exhibition of jackets went on tour to Louvre in Paris as well as to Barney's in New York.  

IMG_7283IMG_7289

IMG_7291

IMG_8489

"If you do not FEEL it in your heart, then it will NEVER hang correctly from your shoulder.

If you limit your life by the length of your skirt, then your sensibilities will reveal such.  

DO NOT ask my opinion - instead feel fabric against your skin, and DRESS ACCORDINGLY…"

To accompany the exhibition, you won't find better insight than in both the aforementioned We Can Be Heroes book and also in Webb's As Seen in Blitz: Fashioning '80s Style, which I was really excited about when I met Webb out at the Bath in Fashion event.  To summarise, Blitz (unrelated to the club night that was happening concurrently) along with i-D and The Face was part of the trio of exciting magazines that really changed the fashion publishing game.  Actually "fashion publishing" is too rudimentary a category to put Blitz in.  Way back when there was no "alternative" to mainstream titles, Blitz, set up by Carey Labovitch and Simon Tesler, with Webb helming the fashion tone, really did break boundaries that we now take for granted in fashion editorials.  Gender bending, nudity, commentary on religion and race, epoch and subculture referencing and the mere idea of masking the clothes that they were shooting - Blitz did all of that and in a way that would influence future generations of industry biggies such as Katie Grand (who provided the foreword to the book), Simon Foxton (whose CSM graduate collection was featured in the mag) and Hamish Bowles, whose personal collection of sample sale Chanel is featured in the magazine from when he was a junior editor at Harpers & Queen.  Traces of the publication on the internet are scant and physical copies are even more rare and so this has been the coffee table book that keeps on giving.  Webb could have easily put together a back catalogue of imagery from the magazine and that would have been enough, given the fact that many people seen them before.  Ever the consummate journalist, editor and writer, Webb has interviewed the models, creatives, designers, photographers, stylists, make-up artists and hair stylists involved on the shoots to give much needed context and background to the images.  The list of interviewees is long and illustrious; Nick Knight, Marc Ascoli, Judy Blame, Stephen Jones, Marc Jacobs and Katherine Hamnett are just a few that have given words.  There's also a brilliant back section of longer length interviews with the likes of Anna Piaggi, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Calvin Klein.  The first three lines set out here from the Blitz Fashion Manifesto as writtein by Webb in 1985 as well as a shoot featuring a t-shirt, which reads "We are not here to sell clothes" just about sums up the fearless attitude of Blitz - something that has definitely gone amiss in today's fashion landscape. 

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Blitz from the Past

On the night before I left for Los Angeles, I stopped by the Club to Catwalk exhibition opening at the V&A, who are currently on an exhibition roll.  In fact the whole year has been partitioned by exhibitions that neatly segue into each other from David Bowie Is to Met Museum's Punk: Chaos to Couture to an ode to Blitz magazine at the ICA in celebration of former Blitz Magazine fashion editor Iain R. Webb's brilliantly penned tome and back to the V&A for an overview of the fashion scene in 1980s London.  Jean Paul Gaultier's big retrospective next year at the Barbican also follows up nicely to these movements and oeuvres that are hard to shake off.  I say hard only that it's a specific time period of London that I can't help but romanticise and look at with rose-tinted glasses, precisely because I never experienced any of it.  As I said before when I wrote about the parallels between the characters as documented in Graham Smith's We Can Be Heroes book and today's new gen hardcore dress-up kids, as a Londoner you can't help but be swept away by the mythology - real and projected.  What came before in the 1980s may be a rollcall of designers, music ingenues, club svengalis and party kids - a cast of characters save for a few notables, who are largely forgotten by the wider public today but it's so important to see that what London enjoys today with its free-thinking creative microcosm and its designers finally reaping financial rewards, owes much to what came before when fashion simply wasn't that fashionable and when creative minds came together with shoestring budgets, DIY methods and a desire to have a bloody good time whilst doing whatever it may be - modelling/making/designing/DJ-ing/dancing/drinking.  

Curated by V&A Head of Fashion, Claire Wilcox and Wendy Dagworthy, founder of London Fashion Week, former designer and now Head of Fashion at Royal College of Art, the exhibition is split up into two.  "Club" on the mezzanine level leads down into "Catwalk" with mannequins throwing their hands up in the open air, like they just don't care upstairs, in stark contrast to the more regimented glass cases of the lower fall.  The "Club" section groups up aesthetic and genre themes such as 'Hard Times' 'High Camp', 'New Romantic', 'Goth' and 'Rave'.  The looks that transpire aren't as simplistic though as those categories suggest.  A Christopher Nemeth jacket made out of post office sacks, a hooped gown made by Georgina Godley to enable you to move and the exuberant form-fitting knits of Bodymap, designed by Stevie Stewart and David Holah smack of individuality and in the cases of designs by underground luminaries and club fixtures such as Kim Bowen, Rachel Auburn and Leigh Bowery, their pieces (which look to have survived many a good night out - one part of the problem of putting together this exhibition) are costumes for the night only - when the only thing that mattered was dressing up for your peers and yourself.  It's up on this mezzanine floor where the crossover between music, dance, film and fashion really come together as we hop from one club era to another.  Just reeling off the names of the chronology of London's club nights/venues makes you exhausted - The Blitz, Hell, Club for Heroes, Mud Club, Wag Club, Taboo and then later raving it up at Camden Palace as we near the nineties with all its smiley faces and happy drugs.  

There isn't necessarily an overt correlation between the club looks and the designer pieces downstairs in th "Catwalk" section, only that we can assume that the vibrant and creative club scene went hand in hand with the bold looks created by the fashion designers of London.  Whilst the decade was rich with creativity and talent, it was a time when London's fashion industry was hampered by lack of business know-how or maybe even desire to be commercial.  Vitrines dedicated to forerunners such as Jasper Conran, Betty Jackson, Paul Smith, John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood represent the famous core of designers who obviously laid foundations for subsequent generations.  Others such as Wendy Dagworthy, English Eccentrics and Timney Fowler have moved on to other endeavours or you had names such as Willy Brown and Chrissie Walsh who perhaps were designers rooted to their time, feeding off 1980s culture.  The enduring visual messages are well illustrated by Katherine Hamnett's slogan t-shirts of course.  Like the clubwear section, the catwalk looks showcased range from eccentric knitwear to high octane eveningwear with everyone in between owning their niche.  Much like today then in London. 

IMG_7332

IMG_7321

IMG_7294

IMG_7298Bodymap

IMG_7305

IMG_7309

IMG_7320

IMG_7313IMG_7314

IMG_7330

IMG_7325

IMG_7237Chrissie Walsh

IMG_7235Michiko Koshino

IMG_7242
Katherine Hamnett

IMG_7246
John Galliano

IMG_7251IMG_7250Margaret Howell // Joe Casely-Hayford

IMG_7257IMG_7258Wendy Dagworthy

IMG_7261
Joseph

IMG_7267

IMG_7268
Betty Jackson

IMG_7271IMG_7272English Eccentrics

IMG_7276
Antony Price

The burst of 80s fashion talent is best summed up in the Blitz Designer Denim Jacket project - a collaborative project to give designers such as John Galliano, Rifat Ozbek, Bernstock Speirs and Vivenne Westwood to the blank slate of a Levi's denim jacket.  The customisation project grew into a extravaganza public show held in 1986 at London's Albery Theatre to raise money for charity.  The concept sounds straightforward enough today in an age of customise this and collaborate that but it was a project that captured the fashion world's imagination back then as the exhibition of jackets went on tour to Louvre in Paris as well as to Barney's in New York.  

IMG_7283IMG_7289

IMG_7291

IMG_8489

"If you do not FEEL it in your heart, then it will NEVER hang correctly from your shoulder.

If you limit your life by the length of your skirt, then your sensibilities will reveal such.  

DO NOT ask my opinion - instead feel fabric against your skin, and DRESS ACCORDINGLY…"

To accompany the exhibition, you won't find better insight than in both the aforementioned We Can Be Heroes book and also in Webb's As Seen in Blitz: Fashioning '80s Style, which I was really excited about when I met Webb out at the Bath in Fashion event.  To summarise, Blitz (unrelated to the club night that was happening concurrently) along with i-D and The Face was part of the trio of exciting magazines that really changed the fashion publishing game.  Actually "fashion publishing" is too rudimentary a category to put Blitz in.  Way back when there was no "alternative" to mainstream titles, Blitz, set up by Carey Labovitch and Simon Tesler, with Webb helming the fashion tone, really did break boundaries that we now take for granted in fashion editorials.  Gender bending, nudity, commentary on religion and race, epoch and subculture referencing and the mere idea of masking the clothes that they were shooting - Blitz did all of that and in a way that would influence future generations of industry biggies such as Katie Grand (who provided the foreword to the book), Simon Foxton (whose CSM graduate collection was featured in the mag) and Hamish Bowles, whose personal collection of sample sale Chanel is featured in the magazine from when he was a junior editor at Harpers & Queen.  Traces of the publication on the internet are scant and physical copies are even more rare and so this has been the coffee table book that keeps on giving.  Webb could have easily put together a back catalogue of imagery from the magazine and that would have been enough, given the fact that many people seen them before.  Ever the consummate journalist, editor and writer, Webb has interviewed the models, creatives, designers, photographers, stylists, make-up artists and hair stylists involved on the shoots to give much needed context and background to the images.  The list of interviewees is long and illustrious; Nick Knight, Marc Ascoli, Judy Blame, Stephen Jones, Marc Jacobs and Katherine Hamnett are just a few that have given words.  There's also a brilliant back section of longer length interviews with the likes of Anna Piaggi, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Calvin Klein.  The first three lines set out here from the Blitz Fashion Manifesto as writtein by Webb in 1985 as well as a shoot featuring a t-shirt, which reads "We are not here to sell clothes" just about sums up the fearless attitude of Blitz - something that has definitely gone amiss in today's fashion landscape. 

IMG_8479

IMG_8495

IMG_8480

IMG_8483

IMG_8481

IMG_8484

IMG_8488

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Dotty Denim

>> The Made in Los Angeles tag hangs off of a lot of premium denim brands.  After my immersive experience in Selfridges' all-singing, all-dancing Denim Studio department, it was interesting to then venture over to Los Angeles, land of all the denim biggies (Paige, Citizens of Humanity, J Brand to name a few makes their jeans in LA) and see a) the city's devotion to premium denim in the merchandising of their boutiques and vintage stores b) see the way denim is so pervasive on the streets, particularly when it comes to the cut-off shorts variety.  It's literally the fabric of the city.

Whilst I'm a partial denim convert thanks to seeing the advantages of dressing down a "lotta look" (as we would say in amongst friends) with some boyfriend jeans, like I said, I was never tempted to don denim L.A. style.  That is to say, reduce my day-to-day attire to a pair of shredded, patched and overdyed cut-off shorts complete with the essential poking-out pocket flaps and cotton singlet, to localise myself.  I'd rather scorch in vintage polyester and sweat in static-creating nylon.  Or better yet, do denim the only way I find comfortable - why, really go for it head-to-toe and throw in a dose of neon for good measure of course!  

House of Holland's denim is relatively bargainous at the moment with the sales and their long standing polkadotstyles caught my eye.  No point in doing a touch of polka especially when I also had a pair of neon denim n' polka combo heels courtesy of cho kawaii shoester Sophia Webster, who created them as an exclusive for Selfridges' Denim Studio takeover.  Polka dots.  Neon.  Denim.  $5 flea market night gowns in acid colours (can't get enough of them...).  It was like the easiest matchy-matchy jigsaw puzzle ever.  House of Holland does do matchy-matchy rather well and their e-shop currently has some good bits and bobs in aubergine n' orange stripes, tie-dye and oversized diamond checks if you wish to have a gander.  

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House of Holland polka dot denim jacket and jeans worn with vintage neon pink nightgown, MSGM neon lace top, COS circular pink cut-out top, Christian Dior Demoiselle sunglasses, Sophia Webster for Selfridges denim heels

Dotty Denim

>> The Made in Los Angeles tag hangs off of a lot of premium denim brands.  After my immersive experience in Selfridges' all-singing, all-dancing Denim Studio department, it was interesting to then venture over to Los Angeles, land of all the denim biggies (Paige, Citizens of Humanity, J Brand to name a few makes their jeans in LA) and see a) the city's devotion to premium denim in the merchandising of their boutiques and vintage stores b) see the way denim is so pervasive on the streets, particularly when it comes to the cut-off shorts variety.  It's literally the fabric of the city.

Whilst I'm a partial denim convert thanks to seeing the advantages of dressing down a "lotta look" (as we would say in amongst friends) with some boyfriend jeans, like I said, I was never tempted to don denim L.A. style.  That is to say, reduce my day-to-day attire to a pair of shredded, patched and overdyed cut-off shorts complete with the essential poking-out pocket flaps and cotton singlet, to localise myself.  I'd rather scorch in vintage polyester and sweat in static-creating nylon.  Or better yet, do denim the only way I find comfortable - why, really go for it head-to-toe and throw in a dose of neon for good measure of course!  

House of Holland's denim is relatively bargainous at the moment with the sales and their long standing polkadotstyles caught my eye.  No point in doing a touch of polka especially when I also had a pair of neon denim n' polka combo heels courtesy of cho kawaii shoester Sophia Webster, who created them as an exclusive for Selfridges' Denim Studio takeover.  Polka dots.  Neon.  Denim.  $5 flea market night gowns in acid colours (can't get enough of them...).  It was like the easiest matchy-matchy jigsaw puzzle ever.  House of Holland does do matchy-matchy rather well and their e-shop currently has some good bits and bobs in aubergine n' orange stripes, tie-dye and oversized diamond checks if you wish to have a gander.  

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IMG_8187

IMG_8166

IMG_8201

IMG_8179

IMG_8459

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IMG_8204

IMG_8251

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IMG_8247
House of Holland polka dot denim jacket and jeans worn with vintage neon pink nightgown, MSGM neon lace top, COS circular pink cut-out top, Christian Dior Demoiselle sunglasses, Sophia Webster for Selfridges denim heels

Vintage feelings

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Ready for my month around the world: I’m leaving today and I’ll be for work in Brazil, Los Angeles and New York before leaving for my holidays in Vietnam and I can’t wait to discover such a different place from what I’m used to.
Here is one of the last looks I shot in Milan before leaving, all played on a vintage mood in which Ki6? Who are you? nude jumpsuit shines on. What do you think about it?

Pronta per il mio mese in giro per il mondo: parto oggi ed andrò per lavoro in Brasile, Los Angeles e New York prima di partire per la mia vacanza in Vietnam ad Agosto e non vedo letteralmente l’ora di scoprire un luogo cosi diverso dal solito.
Ecco uno degli ultimi look indossati a Milano prima della mia partenza, tutto giocato su un mood vintage in cui la protagonista indiscussa è la tuta di ki6? Who are you? nude. Che ne pensate?

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Photos by Andrew Arthur and Gregorio Capineri Tosetti

I was wearing:

SAINT LAURENT PLATFORMS
KI6? WHO ARE YOU? NUDE JUMPSUIT
CHANEL VINTAGE BELT
MISSONI FOR TARGET HAT
VINTAGE CROC BAG
CELINE SUNGLASSES

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Yo Vintage!

At Nike's "Campus" aka their headquarters in Portland, across design, marketing and communications, curiously there are a high number of British expats.  I think I heard as many English accents as I did American when I was touring campus during the #NatureAmplified media summit, which played out over the last two days.  When I went to visit recommended and rated vintage store Yo Vintage! on the borders of Portland's nicely gentrified Pearl District, it was therefore not surprising to learn that what bought founder Sarah Radcliffe from London to Portland, was her husband's relocation to Nike Campus as part of the Nike Sportswear design team.  Sarah was a trend forecaster and vintage buyer in London previously and when she found herself in Portland four years ago, in amongst a wealth of not-yet-hiked-up vintage, that was perhaps lacking an edit, she ventured with an e-commerce store that began in her basement and then became a physical space.  

For all our ribbing about Portlandia-isms (the obsession/snobbery over coffee, the artfully maintained moustaches, the love of a bird motif), the positives remain.  Sarah admitted she wouldn't have been able to start her business, in the way that she did, back in London.  There's an eagerness to help the new, the young and the independent, which results in lucking out in all areas of starting up; from finding models for her website through Craig's List to getting local letterpress people to make business cards to finding a month-by-month contract on a newly developed shop space.  

IMG_7828

Yo Vintage! is truly representative of the 21st century type of vintage that, for want of a better word is "curated" with a stylist/editor's eye and takes the "musty" or "old" factor out of vintage and recontextualises second hand clothing for a wider audience.  Rather than focusing on period, origin or designer, Sarah picks out pieces that grab your eye because of a certain detail, with bright graphic prints being a strong point at the moment.  When styled up against Portland's pretty landscape backdrop, the clothes seduce the hardiest of vintage naysayers.  The store itself also has a touch of the new with Karen Walker sunnies, and local Portland labels such as AK Vintage and Seaecho.  I also discovered the insane pigments of Portland Black Lipstick Co. and took to a pale blue shade called Difficult Island - I was thinking Mr Freeze, but somebody on Instagram pointed out that this was my Joey from Friends Japanese lipstick commercial moment.    

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Vintage wise, I zoomed in on a dragon embroidered jacket that fits into my "I'm ok with looking like a dim sum waitress occasionally" phase.  I'm heeding the words of Sisqo and unleashing the dragon within me.  And then doing what any Portlandia fan slash photo opportunistic blogger would do but cycle around on a twee-looking bike and match outfit to the appropriate environment, which in this case is Portland's old Chinatown area (where I also checked out the lovely Table of Contents concept store).  

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Worn with Kye skirt, Purl Harbour knitted shorts and crop top, Cecile t-shirt, Rag & Bone bag and L'F Unisex shoes 

Yo Vintage!

At Nike's "Campus" aka their headquarters in Portland, across design, marketing and communications, curiously there are a high number of British expats.  I think I heard as many English accents as I did American when I was touring campus during the #NatureAmplified media summit, which played out over the last two days.  When I went to visit recommended and rated vintage store Yo Vintage! on the borders of Portland's nicely gentrified Pearl District, it was therefore not surprising to learn that what bought founder Sarah Radcliffe from London to Portland, was her husband's relocation to Nike Campus as part of the Nike Sportswear design team.  Sarah was a trend forecaster and vintage buyer in London previously and when she found herself in Portland four years ago, in amongst a wealth of not-yet-hiked-up vintage, that was perhaps lacking an edit, she ventured with an e-commerce store that began in her basement and then became a physical space.  

For all our ribbing about Portlandia-isms (the obsession/snobbery over coffee, the artfully maintained moustaches, the love of a bird motif), the positives remain.  Sarah admitted she wouldn't have been able to start her business, in the way that she did, back in London.  There's an eagerness to help the new, the young and the independent, which results in lucking out in all areas of starting up; from finding models for her website through Craig's List to getting local letterpress people to make business cards to finding a month-by-month contract on a newly developed shop space.  

IMG_7828

Yo Vintage! is truly representative of the 21st century type of vintage that, for want of a better word is "curated" with a stylist/editor's eye and takes the "musty" or "old" factor out of vintage and recontextualises second hand clothing for a wider audience.  Rather than focusing on period, origin or designer, Sarah picks out pieces that grab your eye because of a certain detail, with bright graphic prints being a strong point at the moment.  When styled up against Portland's pretty landscape backdrop, the clothes seduce the hardiest of vintage naysayers.  The store itself also has a touch of the new with Karen Walker sunnies, and local Portland labels such as AK Vintage and Seaecho.  I also discovered the insane pigments of Portland Black Lipstick Co. and took to a pale blue shade called Difficult Island - I was thinking Mr Freeze, but somebody on Instagram pointed out that this was my Joey from Friends Japanese lipstick commercial moment.    

IMG_7814

IMG_7797

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15_yowfpage2

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15_yowfpage7

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Vintage wise, I zoomed in on a dragon embroidered jacket that fits into my "I'm ok with looking like a dim sum waitress occasionally" phase.  I'm heeding the words of Sisqo and unleashing the dragon within me.  And then doing what any Portlandia fan slash photo opportunistic blogger would do but cycle around on a twee-looking bike and match outfit to the appropriate environment, which in this case is Portland's old Chinatown area (where I also checked out the lovely Table of Contents concept store).  

IMG_7835

IMG_7841

IMG_7838
Worn with Kye skirt, Purl Harbour knitted shorts and crop top, Cecile t-shirt, Rag & Bone bag and L'F Unisex shoes 

Past Future Antics

Something old, something new.  The tug and pull between what haute couture has been and what it could/should be.  Those have been the themes that have riddled a lot of the shows that I've seen at this Paris haute couture fashion week, my first time attending the whole thing from beginning to end.  I've always loved Maison Martin Margiela's Artisinal line for its unique position on the schedule.  By taking vintage pieces and recasting them in a new way, they pay respect to the origins of those garments but also demonstrate enough of a transformation hand-crafted process that gives new meaning to the word "upcycled".  I'd liken the Artisinal atelier to the sort of geeky hobbyists who like to obsessively take pieces of electronic equipment apart and build it all back together again to really get to the bottom of the steps that goes into their making.  The end result is that to me, what is essentially "old" looks exceptionally "new" again.  

On this occasion though, Maison Martin Margiela did in fact debut something completely new.  They worked with Swarovski and their new Crystalactite technology to create pieces of jewellery that glinted at you on the catwalk as cuffs clasped around shiny riding boots or on the arms, holding swathes of silk in place.  The new lies in the fact that it's the first time Swarovski have fused crystal and white resin together without the use of glue creating a hybrid material that looks like it might have naturally grown that way over time.  Maison Martin Margiela are the first house, invited to use this technology and took inspiration from stalactites formations (hence the hybrid name) grown in caves for the clusters on these cuffs.  I did try to ask the Swarovski people how two different materials could attach without the use of glue but they kept tight lipped about their innovation.  I'm thinking it's something heat or laser related but I'm not expert on the subject.

Up close, they're incredibly mesmerising pieces to look at with the stark white of the chalky looking resin contrasting beautifully with the glint of Swarovski's famous cut crystals.  The debut of the specially made Crystalactite cuffs at the Artisinal show is a preamble to a more commercial but still very limited collection for Swarovski Atelier, which will go on sale near Christmas this year.  It comprises a wrist cuff, rings, brooches and a pendant, all made out of different formations of shards of matte white and reflective prisms that looked especially sublime in the Tron-esque press day setting seen below.   .   

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The Swarovski Crystalactite pieces weren't the only thing new about the Artisinal show as they began their show with an unsurprisingly subversive take on daywear with "jeans" and a "white t-shirt" made out of latex together with London fetishwear specialist House of Harlot.  And so the contrast between the "normal" and the unexpected or ornate became the ongoing theme of the collection.  The house once again plays on obscuring identity with a whole new set of head masks, covered in cabochons beading or pailette flowers (more performance attire for Kanye West?).  That's another contrast point.  Handmade jeans counterbalance the lavish robes and vests, which salvage rare embroideries and cut-out flora and fauna motifs.  In particular they seem to have sourced from embroidery maisons in Lyon, which sheds light on an element of haute couture that predated even Charles Frederick Worth.  1950s prom dresses of the highest order are appliqued with 1920s fabric flowers in a melting pot of decades.  Being a fan of re-contextualising Chinoiserie garments (Must.Stop.Buying.Novelty.Kimonos), it was naturally the last passage of outfits which I loved the most as the atelier took pieces such a 1930s Beijing opera costume and made it relevant again by fusing it with a utilitarian wool coat.  Looking at all this beautiful bygone preciousness kind of just makes me want to go on a proper vintage hunt, something I don't get to do as much as I used to.  Wonder if Margiela takes on freelance Artisinal sources/researchers?  Sign me up please!

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Past Future Antics

Something old, something new.  The tug and pull between what haute couture has been and what it could/should be.  Those have been the themes that have riddled a lot of the shows that I've seen at this Paris haute couture fashion week, my first time attending the whole thing from beginning to end.  I've always loved Maison Martin Margiela's Artisinal line for its unique position on the schedule.  By taking vintage pieces and recasting them in a new way, they pay respect to the origins of those garments but also demonstrate enough of a transformation hand-crafted process that gives new meaning to the word "upcycled".  I'd liken the Artisinal atelier to the sort of geeky hobbyists who like to obsessively take pieces of electronic equipment apart and build it all back together again to really get to the bottom of the steps that goes into their making.  The end result is that to me, what is essentially "old" looks exceptionally "new" again.  

On this occasion though, Maison Martin Margiela did in fact debut something completely new.  They worked with Swarovski and their new Crystalactite technology to create pieces of jewellery that glinted at you on the catwalk as cuffs clasped around shiny riding boots or on the arms, holding swathes of silk in place.  The new lies in the fact that it's the first time Swarovski have fused crystal and white resin together without the use of glue creating a hybrid material that looks like it might have naturally grown that way over time.  Maison Martin Margiela are the first house, invited to use this technology and took inspiration from stalactites formations (hence the hybrid name) grown in caves for the clusters on these cuffs.  I did try to ask the Swarovski people how two different materials could attach without the use of glue but they kept tight lipped about their innovation.  I'm thinking it's something heat or laser related but I'm not expert on the subject.

Up close, they're incredibly mesmerising pieces to look at with the stark white of the chalky looking resin contrasting beautifully with the glint of Swarovski's famous cut crystals.  The debut of the specially made Crystalactite cuffs at the Artisinal show is a preamble to a more commercial but still very limited collection for Swarovski Atelier, which will go on sale near Christmas this year.  It comprises a wrist cuff, rings, brooches and a pendant, all made out of different formations of shards of matte white and reflective prisms that looked especially sublime in the Tron-esque press day setting seen below.   .   

02-4051

03-4211

04-4266

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The Swarovski Crystalactite pieces weren't the only thing new about the Artisinal show as they began their show with an unsurprisingly subversive take on daywear with "jeans" and a "white t-shirt" made out of latex together with London fetishwear specialist House of Harlot.  And so the contrast between the "normal" and the unexpected or ornate became the ongoing theme of the collection.  The house once again plays on obscuring identity with a whole new set of head masks, covered in cabochons beading or pailette flowers (more performance attire for Kanye West?).  That's another contrast point.  Handmade jeans counterbalance the lavish robes and vests, which salvage rare embroideries and cut-out flora and fauna motifs.  In particular they seem to have sourced from embroidery maisons in Lyon, which sheds light on an element of haute couture that predated even Charles Frederick Worth.  1950s prom dresses of the highest order are appliqued with 1920s fabric flowers in a melting pot of decades.  Being a fan of re-contextualising Chinoiserie garments (Must.Stop.Buying.Novelty.Kimonos), it was naturally the last passage of outfits which I loved the most as the atelier took pieces such a 1930s Beijing opera costume and made it relevant again by fusing it with a utilitarian wool coat.  Looking at all this beautiful bygone preciousness kind of just makes me want to go on a proper vintage hunt, something I don't get to do as much as I used to.  Wonder if Margiela takes on freelance Artisinal sources/researchers?  Sign me up please!

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On the Street……Garance Casual Spring, Southampton

I love Garance’s weekend style. She begged me not to shoot her yesterday in Montauk, but she looked soooo cute in her new Céline sandals and vintage hand-printed cargo shorts.

 

What you can’t see very well is the blue batik print belt that she stole from the robe I bought at The Crow’s Nest Inn.

Punked Up Frocks

Just as the final mannequin in the Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York gave us the finger, wearing Hussein Chalayan S/S 02 bare-all dress, it was sort of predictable that there'd be fingers being thrusted back up at the Met, lambasting the exhibition with comments like "WTF?", "Fashion, by definition, is antithetical to punk" and "Punk isn't about what you look like!" (Guardian commenters I'm looking at you...).  What punk is or isn't is contentious stuff and the word means very different things for different people.  A dissident cultural movement born out of the frustrations of the working class (in the UK at least...), a groundbreaking musical genre, a handy catchphrase for the media to round up the anti-establishment or the more romantic notion of a nihilistic and rebellious attitude - how then to marry such a loaded word with gowns that cost £5,000 and upwards, attached to fashion houses, which make millions in profit.  

What I found interesting in the ensuing chit-chat about the exhibition in the media, was what constituted the look of punk - who were the "real" punks and who were the "pretend" punks, hampered by the fact that the word and the look was parodied and cliched six months in the media after it had begun.  If fashion was antithetical to punk, getting the look certainly wasn't, judging by this round-up of "real" punks whose hair antics defined their stance.  Image certainly mattered but to what extent?  On BBC's Woman's Hour, you had fashion historian Caroline Cox talking about being a young punk in Derby.  She criticised Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren's clothes for being prohibitively expensive and accused the people who bought their clothes of being "pretend punks", who had more money than sense.  To Cox, dressing up in charity shop garb and putting together outfits with imagination represented the true spirit of punk.  She also put a downer on punk leitmotifs like the safety pin or the garbage bag dress - to her, that was all "Top of the Pops Punk" or punk for fancy dress.  In John Lydon's essay for the accompanying Punk: Chaos to Couture book, he cites the safety pin as a symbol from his childhood when he wore diapers/nappies and was a way of constructing clothes without sewing.  According to Lydon, the rubbish strikes in London, where garbage bags were piled high on street corners, also prompted DIY garbage bag dresses and became part of punk's uniform.  You'd be more inclined to believe John "Johnny Rotten" Lydon but who's to say that talking up the look of punk in the 21st century, doesn't in fact serve to maintain his own legacy in pop culture.  Then there are those who also like to point fingers at the originators of the look of punk - Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren - the central point of comparison for the beginning of this exhibition entitled "Clothes for Heroes", where outfits by Junya Watanabe, Alexander McQueen and Rodarte are pitted against almost-identical c. 1976-80 ensembles from Westwood and McLaren's Seditionaries store.  Cox sees Westwood and McClaren as punk "svengalis", who moved with trend-led zeitgeist from teddy boy gear to fetish wear to anarchic t-shirts.  Lydon in his essay said Westwood and McLaren didn't like it if customers mixed and matched their clothes with other pieces, as they wanted to prescribe a total look, something which pissed Lydon off.  Who's right and who's wrong?  Who has the final say about this dispirate movement that was crushed as quickly as it came about?  

Therefore it's no wonder that the curator of the exhibition Andrew Bolton turned to what would be the most direct and upfront way of talking about punk,which would sit well within the Costume Institute's remit.  You can harp on about the semantics of what is "punk" but what's undeniable is that above all subcultures in the past 20th/21st century, the appetite for punk's associated aesthetic is unsatiable.  Why is it that in fashion vernacular, "punk" has become an adjective?  Anything studded, ripped or graffitied is immediately "punk" but on the flipside, a houndstooth drape jacket doesn't say "teddy" to most people? As an investigation of the mere aesthetics of punk, (and whether the "real" punks like it or not, there was an aesthetic...), this exhibition is comprehensive in its gathering of everything from the most banal results of punk-inspired fashion to exquisite pieces that transcend any cliches and go above and beyond what the likes of Richard Hell would have imagined at the time when he was wearing a ripped-up t-shirt with insouciance.  The exhibition makes no attempt to link up social upheaval, political change and cultural context with the garments on display, and that's ok so long as you accept that this is an exhibition that looks at the pure surface of punk - why it has been so enduring within fashion as a tried-and-tested inspiration point.  No point in moaning about the fact that Christopher Bailey of Burberry, most likely wasn't thinking about the "No Future" mentality of early British punks, when he was liberally studding up his S/S 13 leather jackets.  Better to question, why it is that physical traits seen in the galleries themed under "hardware", "bricolage", "graffiti and agritpop" and "destroy", are still so pervasive - turning up time and time again in collections by both independent designers and large fashion houses?  Ultimately specifics and semantics don't matter so much when what we're really looking at here is fashion's desire to rebel, or at least appear to rebel, even if the results are far and away from the ideology of punk.    

The thing is in many cases, it may not have been the original designer's intentions to even touch what has become such a cliched and parodied style genre.  Certainly when you look at a chain dress from an early Nicolas Ghesquieres for Balenciaga dress or a ring-and-lace number from Christopher Kane's S/S 07 collection, the hardware aids construction integral to the piece rather than it being a reference to sadomasichistic DIY ensembles.  In some cases, contexts of the brand itself elevates the visual language of destruction and DIY - like for instance a Dolce & Gabbana ballgown splattered with paint.  It ain't exactly punk but paint splattered anything in Dolce & Gabbana's razzle-dazzle world is certainly a refreshing change.  Same goes for holes expertly burnt into a Chanel jacket.  You might say that artfully destroying anything is pointless but there is something amazing about the fact that a house like Chanel can get away with selling a holey-jacket for top dollar, not only because of the way it was crafted (and it is beautiful in person) but also because of its attached brand value.    

I personally didn't take away anything new from the exhibition itself other than a re-affirmation of fashion's tendency to appropriate subculture - some doing it better than others.  I certainly don't have a problem with it when the results say resonate in ways one wouldn't have expected - Rodarte's A/W 08-9 beautiful collection of Japanese horror film-inspired mohair knits, which prompted girls to get knitting to DIY their own versions of cobwebby tights and jumpers.  There's a touch of that imaginative "punk" spirit that Cox was talking about perhaps.  Fashion will continue to co-opt, adopt, interpret and be inspired by the visual language of punk - genuine or not - but at least here, we got to see the clothes, ladened with safety pins, studs, paint splatters and holes, which stand the test of time and exist, not to please punks but fashion enthusiasts.  

IMG_0337Hussein Chalayan S/S 02

IMG_0159John Galliano for Dior haute couture A/W 06-7

IMG_0164Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren parachute jacket and bondage trousers from Seditionaries period

IMG_0168Recreation of CBGB bathroom in New York c. 1975

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IMG_0195Recreation of Seditionaries boutique on 430 Kings Road London

IMG_0172Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren t-shirts from SEX/Seditionaries period

IMG_0182Burberry S/S 13

IMG_0175Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren "Bondage" trousers and mohair knit from Seditionaries next to Junya Watanabe A/W 06-7

IMG_0201Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren sweater from Seditionaries and "Bondage" trousers from SEX next to Rodarte A/W 08-9 ensemble

IMG_0187Vivenne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren sweater from Seditionaries next to Alexander McQueen A/W 01-2 skull dress

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IMG_0214Versace S/S 94

IMG_0216Zandra Rhodes S/S 77

IMG_0219Christopher Kane S/S 07

IMG_0221IMG_0222Balenciaga A/W 04-5 // Givenchy A/W 07-8

IMG_0225Givenchy Haute Couture A/W 09-10

IMG_0231Viktor & Rolf A/W 08-9

IMG_0244Thom Browne A/W 12-3, Givenchy S/S 11

IMG_0276Gareth Pugh A/W 13-4

IMG_0249Helmut Lang S/S 04, Prada S/S 07

IMG_0259Maison Martin Margiela Artisanal S/S 06

IMG_0260Maison Martin Margiela Artisanal A/W 08-9, S/S 90

IMG_0267IMG_0271John Galliano S/S 01 

IMG_0268Maison Martin Margiela Artisanal S/S 11, A/W 08-9, Maison Martin Margiela S/S 09

IMG_0273Maison Martin Margiela S/S 90

IMG_0285Viktor & Rolf S/S 98

IMG_0286Alexander McQueen S/S 09

IMG_0291Vivienne Westwood S/S 07

IMG_0295Dolce & Gabbana S/S 08 

IMG_0298Katherine Hamnett 1984 dress, Moschino S/S 95 bathing suit

IMG_0303Ann Demeulemeester S/S 06

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IMG_0329Comme des Garcons S/S 13

IMG_0312Miguel Adrover, 2000

IMG_0333Rodarte A/W 08-9

IMG_0327IMG_0325Chanel S/S 11 // Viktor & Rolf A/W 13-4

Just as I was catching the beginning of the Punk exhibition, I saw the tailend of the brilliant, if not more so - Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity exhibition, where works by key Impressionists and their contemporaries are shown alongside period costume, accessories and fashion plates to highlight a relationship between fashion and art.  I got to indulge in Zola's observations in his novel about the rise of the department store Au Bonheur des Dames at this marvellous exhibition, where the gowns depicted by Tissot, Renoir and Monet, are presented as pieces which are just as important as the subjects themselves.  Up against realistic photographs or intricate fashion plates, Impressionists sought to depict the stylish ladies and gents of their time in a way that put focus on the frocks, corsets and accessories.  The exhibition has sadly ended but the accompanying book is really quite an indepth read about the the changing role of attire and dress in society at the time.  In contrast to the Punk exhibition where my imagination couldn't really run wild within the confines of ideology, he-said-she-said semantics and rigid collections, here there's still mystery to an unrecorded relationship between artist, subject and dress.  Plus, I like big bustles and I cannot lie.  I might even try and catch it again when it hits the Art Institute of Chicago in June.   

IMG_0339Promenade dress 1865/68 (English) in front of close-up of Claude Monet, Camille, 1866

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IMG_0349James Tissot, Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, 1866 with sample from Marquise de Miramon's peignoir, 1866

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IMG_0356Claude Monet, Bazille and Camille, 1865 with Day dress 1862/4 (American)

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IMG_0362James Tissot, The Two Sisters, 1863 with Dress 1864 (American)

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IMG_0365Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Lise - The Woman with the Umbrella, 1867 with parasols c. 1860-9

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IMG_0371Albert Bartholome, In the Conservatory, 1881 with original 1880 summer dress worn by Madame Bartholome 

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IMG_0374Paul Cezanne, The Promenade, 1871 inspired by an engraving in La Mode Illustree entitled "Toilettes by Madame Fladry", 1871

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IMG_0380James Tissot,July: Specimen of a Portrait, 1878 with Day dress 1878/80 (American)

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IMG_0394Edouard Manet, Before the Mirror, 1876 with various corsets 1877-80

Punked Up Frocks

Just as the final mannequin in the Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York gave us the finger, wearing Hussein Chalayan S/S 02 bare-all dress, it was sort of predictable that there'd be fingers being thrusted back up at the Met, lambasting the exhibition with comments like "WTF?", "Fashion, by definition, is antithetical to punk" and "Punk isn't about what you look like!" (Guardian commenters I'm looking at you...).  What punk is or isn't is contentious stuff and the word means very different things for different people.  A dissident cultural movement born out of the frustrations of the working class (in the UK at least...), a groundbreaking musical genre, a handy catchphrase for the media to round up the anti-establishment or the more romantic notion of a nihilistic and rebellious attitude - how then to marry such a loaded word with gowns that cost £5,000 and upwards, attached to fashion houses, which make millions in profit.  

What I found interesting in the ensuing chit-chat about the exhibition in the media, was what constituted the look of punk - who were the "real" punks and who were the "pretend" punks, hampered by the fact that the word and the look was parodied and cliched six months in the media after it had begun.  If fashion was antithetical to punk, getting the look certainly wasn't, judging by this round-up of "real" punks whose hair antics defined their stance.  Image certainly mattered but to what extent?  On BBC's Woman's Hour, you had fashion historian Caroline Cox talking about being a young punk in Derby.  She criticised Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren's clothes for being prohibitively expensive and accused the people who bought their clothes of being "pretend punks", who had more money than sense.  To Cox, dressing up in charity shop garb and putting together outfits with imagination represented the true spirit of punk.  She also put a downer on punk leitmotifs like the safety pin or the garbage bag dress - to her, that was all "Top of the Pops Punk" or punk for fancy dress.  In John Lydon's essay for the accompanying Punk: Chaos to Couture book, he cites the safety pin as a symbol from his childhood when he wore diapers/nappies and was a way of constructing clothes without sewing.  According to Lydon, the rubbish strikes in London, where garbage bags were piled high on street corners, also prompted DIY garbage bag dresses and became part of punk's uniform.  You'd be more inclined to believe John "Johnny Rotten" Lydon but who's to say that talking up the look of punk in the 21st century, doesn't in fact serve to maintain his own legacy in pop culture.  Then there are those who also like to point fingers at the originators of the look of punk - Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren - the central point of comparison for the beginning of this exhibition entitled "Clothes for Heroes", where outfits by Junya Watanabe, Alexander McQueen and Rodarte are pitted against almost-identical c. 1976-80 ensembles from Westwood and McLaren's Seditionaries store.  Cox sees Westwood and McClaren as punk "svengalis", who moved with trend-led zeitgeist from teddy boy gear to fetish wear to anarchic t-shirts.  Lydon in his essay said Westwood and McLaren didn't like it if customers mixed and matched their clothes with other pieces, as they wanted to prescribe a total look, something which pissed Lydon off.  Who's right and who's wrong?  Who has the final say about this dispirate movement that was crushed as quickly as it came about?  

Therefore it's no wonder that the curator of the exhibition Andrew Bolton turned to what would be the most direct and upfront way of talking about punk,which would sit well within the Costume Institute's remit.  You can harp on about the semantics of what is "punk" but what's undeniable is that above all subcultures in the past 20th/21st century, the appetite for punk's associated aesthetic is unsatiable.  Why is it that in fashion vernacular, "punk" has become an adjective?  Anything studded, ripped or graffitied is immediately "punk" but on the flipside, a houndstooth drape jacket doesn't say "teddy" to most people? As an investigation of the mere aesthetics of punk, (and whether the "real" punks like it or not, there was an aesthetic...), this exhibition is comprehensive in its gathering of everything from the most banal results of punk-inspired fashion to exquisite pieces that transcend any cliches and go above and beyond what the likes of Richard Hell would have imagined at the time when he was wearing a ripped-up t-shirt with insouciance.  The exhibition makes no attempt to link up social upheaval, political change and cultural context with the garments on display, and that's ok so long as you accept that this is an exhibition that looks at the pure surface of punk - why it has been so enduring within fashion as a tried-and-tested inspiration point.  No point in moaning about the fact that Christopher Bailey of Burberry, most likely wasn't thinking about the "No Future" mentality of early British punks, when he was liberally studding up his S/S 13 leather jackets.  Better to question, why it is that physical traits seen in the galleries themed under "hardware", "bricolage", "graffiti and agritpop" and "destroy", are still so pervasive - turning up time and time again in collections by both independent designers and large fashion houses?  Ultimately specifics and semantics don't matter so much when what we're really looking at here is fashion's desire to rebel, or at least appear to rebel, even if the results are far and away from the ideology of punk.    

The thing is in many cases, it may not have been the original designer's intentions to even touch what has become such a cliched and parodied style genre.  Certainly when you look at a chain dress from an early Nicolas Ghesquieres for Balenciaga dress or a ring-and-lace number from Christopher Kane's S/S 07 collection, the hardware aids construction integral to the piece rather than it being a reference to sadomasichistic DIY ensembles.  In some cases, contexts of the brand itself elevates the visual language of destruction and DIY - like for instance a Dolce & Gabbana ballgown splattered with paint.  It ain't exactly punk but paint splattered anything in Dolce & Gabbana's razzle-dazzle world is certainly a refreshing change.  Same goes for holes expertly burnt into a Chanel jacket.  You might say that artfully destroying anything is pointless but there is something amazing about the fact that a house like Chanel can get away with selling a holey-jacket for top dollar, not only because of the way it was crafted (and it is beautiful in person) but also because of its attached brand value.    

I personally didn't take away anything new from the exhibition itself other than a re-affirmation of fashion's tendency to appropriate subculture - some doing it better than others.  I certainly don't have a problem with it when the results say resonate in ways one wouldn't have expected - Rodarte's A/W 08-9 beautiful collection of Japanese horror film-inspired mohair knits, which prompted girls to get knitting to DIY their own versions of cobwebby tights and jumpers.  There's a touch of that imaginative "punk" spirit that Cox was talking about perhaps.  Fashion will continue to co-opt, adopt, interpret and be inspired by the visual language of punk - genuine or not - but at least here, we got to see the clothes, ladened with safety pins, studs, paint splatters and holes, which stand the test of time and exist, not to please punks but fashion enthusiasts.  

IMG_0337Hussein Chalayan S/S 02

IMG_0159John Galliano for Dior haute couture A/W 06-7

IMG_0164Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren parachute jacket and bondage trousers from Seditionaries period

IMG_0168Recreation of CBGB bathroom in New York c. 1975

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IMG_0195Recreation of Seditionaries boutique on 430 Kings Road London

IMG_0172Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren t-shirts from SEX/Seditionaries period

IMG_0182Burberry S/S 13

IMG_0175Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren "Bondage" trousers and mohair knit from Seditionaries next to Junya Watanabe A/W 06-7

IMG_0201Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren sweater from Seditionaries and "Bondage" trousers from SEX next to Rodarte A/W 08-9 ensemble

IMG_0187Vivenne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren sweater from Seditionaries next to Alexander McQueen A/W 01-2 skull dress

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IMG_0214Versace S/S 94

IMG_0216Zandra Rhodes S/S 77

IMG_0219Christopher Kane S/S 07

IMG_0221IMG_0222Balenciaga A/W 04-5 // Givenchy A/W 07-8

IMG_0225Givenchy Haute Couture A/W 09-10

IMG_0231Viktor & Rolf A/W 08-9

IMG_0244Thom Browne A/W 12-3, Givenchy S/S 11

IMG_0276Gareth Pugh A/W 13-4

IMG_0249Helmut Lang S/S 04, Prada S/S 07

IMG_0259Maison Martin Margiela Artisanal S/S 06

IMG_0260Maison Martin Margiela Artisanal A/W 08-9, S/S 90

IMG_0267IMG_0271John Galliano S/S 01 

IMG_0268Maison Martin Margiela Artisanal S/S 11, A/W 08-9, Maison Martin Margiela S/S 09

IMG_0273Maison Martin Margiela S/S 90

IMG_0285Viktor & Rolf S/S 98

IMG_0286Alexander McQueen S/S 09

IMG_0291Vivienne Westwood S/S 07

IMG_0295Dolce & Gabbana S/S 08 

IMG_0298Katherine Hamnett 1984 dress, Moschino S/S 95 bathing suit

IMG_0303Ann Demeulemeester S/S 06

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IMG_0329Comme des Garcons S/S 13

IMG_0312Miguel Adrover, 2000

IMG_0333Rodarte A/W 08-9

IMG_0327IMG_0325Chanel S/S 11 // Viktor & Rolf A/W 13-4

Just as I was catching the beginning of the Punk exhibition, I saw the tailend of the brilliant, if not more so - Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity exhibition, where works by key Impressionists and their contemporaries are shown alongside period costume, accessories and fashion plates to highlight a relationship between fashion and art.  I got to indulge in Zola's observations in his novel about the rise of the department store Au Bonheur des Dames at this marvellous exhibition, where the gowns depicted by Tissot, Renoir and Monet, are presented as pieces which are just as important as the subjects themselves.  Up against realistic photographs or intricate fashion plates, Impressionists sought to depict the stylish ladies and gents of their time in a way that put focus on the frocks, corsets and accessories.  The exhibition has sadly ended but the accompanying book is really quite an indepth read about the the changing role of attire and dress in society at the time.  In contrast to the Punk exhibition where my imagination couldn't really run wild within the confines of ideology, he-said-she-said semantics and rigid collections, here there's still mystery to an unrecorded relationship between artist, subject and dress.  Plus, I like big bustles and I cannot lie.  I might even try and catch it again when it hits the Art Institute of Chicago in June.   

IMG_0339Promenade dress 1865/68 (English) in front of close-up of Claude Monet, Camille, 1866

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IMG_0349James Tissot, Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, 1866 with sample from Marquise de Miramon's peignoir, 1866

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IMG_0356Claude Monet, Bazille and Camille, 1865 with Day dress 1862/4 (American)

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IMG_0362James Tissot, The Two Sisters, 1863 with Dress 1864 (American)

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IMG_0365Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Lise - The Woman with the Umbrella, 1867 with parasols c. 1860-9

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IMG_0371Albert Bartholome, In the Conservatory, 1881 with original 1880 summer dress worn by Madame Bartholome 

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IMG_0374Paul Cezanne, The Promenade, 1871 inspired by an engraving in La Mode Illustree entitled "Toilettes by Madame Fladry", 1871

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IMG_0380James Tissot,July: Specimen of a Portrait, 1878 with Day dress 1878/80 (American)

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IMG_0394Edouard Manet, Before the Mirror, 1876 with various corsets 1877-80

Versus Rebooted

"This is a new Versus.  it's for you guys…" said Donatella repeatedly on the Google+ Hangout to celebrate the launch of #newversus and J.W. Anderson's collaboration with Versus, where I a) lost my Hangout virginity and b) got lost in fascination of New York's rabbit warren Google offices.  The "you guys" she was referring to was a mix of us bloggers on the Hangout, the smartphone wielding-generation who want instant gratification whether it's through an Instagram like or being able to shop for collections online, and a cross-discipline crowd, not restricted to hardcore fashion-heads.  And I was lucky enough to be along for the ride in New York to witness how Versus would wade into this new territory of "you guys".

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When brands say they're "doing digital", it often feels like they're merely ticking a box so that they fulfil expectations.  Versace threw everything into this Versus launch with gusto.  In the run-up, they had been avidly uploading sneak peeks, design inspiration, archive Versus imagery on their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts.  The newly designed Versus site was counting down the days to the launch to build momentum.  Then there was the more official partnership with Google+ to enable Donatella to "Hangout" with bloggers and indadvertedly seduced me with the whole Hangout thing (brain is a-ticking as to how I can "hangout" more).  The hangout wasn't exactly hitch-free but it's the imperfect and slightly haphazard nature of a Google Hangout, that makes it appealing when a glossy and normally intangible figure like Donatella is involved.  There's a recklessness in this new strategy that taps into Donatella's own initial experiences of designing Versus back in the nineties.  "I feel the same rebellious energy that i felt back then," she said after the Hangout.  "It's different because I can talk to the audience - to learn from other people.  It's great to have that dialogue."  A reported 1.1 million eyeballs saw the Hangout where Donatella also enthusiastically let slip that Lady Gaga would be involved in the making of the music of the show.  This then introduced me to the army of "Little Monsters" contingency on Twitter, where I was temporarily mired in an ongoing spiral of trying to inform them of Gaga-goings-on with regards to the show.  

Speaking of which, I'm all about the no holds-barred thing so cue HASHTAG AWKWARD conversation.  On the day I landed into New York, I was ushered into the New York Versace showroom, ready to interview Donatella and J.W. Anderson and lo and behold, Lady Gaga in Versace finery was there just errr… hanging out and just as she was leaving...

...important PR honcho asks me "Have you guys met?"  I say… "Oh no, I don't believe we've met!" in a faux-posh hoity-toity manner.  Have no idea what possessed me to say that.  Gaga says "No I don't think so either…." Tinkles of embarrassed laughter.  She saves the day by saying "I like your shoes.  They're furry!"  Finally I can get out of my flustered state and say something useful. "Oh, thanks!  They're actually Jonathan's!" looking down at my bearded J.W. Anderson shoes from his first season of doing womenswear.   Ground.  Swallow.  Please.  I have the convo recorded on my dictophone for the time machine that I'll be burying in the garden.    

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Inspo1

Once we finally got the interview started though, what was striking was the working relationship and mutual appreciation between Donatella and Jonathan.  "There were things I didn't understand the first time I saw his work," said Donatella.  "I was so intrigued - 'Why don't I understand this right away?'  When there's a fixation like that, there must be something right about it."  It's not quite chalk and cheese but certainly, Jonathan's own directional collections, which pushes the eye towards something that's gone askew, doesn't necesarily always sit perfectly with the va-va-glamour of what Donatella does at Versace.  

But it's in the archives of Versus where Jonathan, really extracted the original spirit of Versus from the nineties and made it relevant AGAIN for today.  One look at J.W. Anderson's Instagram and you knew he has been digging deep into the Versus archives to rekindle a spirit, where the Versus guys and girls looked like they were having a laugh, not giving a fuck and just looked like they were incidentally wearing Versus with a happy-go-lucky irreverence.  The resulting clothes and campaign imagery were energetic and there was always something a bit "messy" or "off" about them - something Jonathan knows a thing or two about from his own collections.  And so Jonathan has revived that boy/girl gender dynamic of Versus, with his own taken on unisex wear - a category of clothing that can often go horribly wrong.  Here, guys and girls can both take on the Versus patent trouser or a knitted crop top with gold buttons at the shoulders.  They can both take on the satchel bags adorned with oversized safety pins (which traversed around on a pedicab type bike at the event).  Boys were crowned with tilted tiaras - they can be princesses or princes - whichever they prefer.  You can crow "But what boy would wear that…?" all you like, but to dare to put the clothes out there first and then see who takes the bait is far more interesting than holding back from what was clearly instinctive to a designer like Jonathan.

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IMG_0145Showing love for Google with my nails and a bargainous piece of Versus by Christopher Kane which I picked up from TK Maxx for £120!!

What was surprising was how the Versus language somehow fused with Jonathan's own aesthetic so seamlessly.  You saw touches of the asymmetry in the passage of hot coloured knits in his own namesake collection, but the way they were cut on the body looked sexier and well… more in keeping with Versus style.  The cut-out black dresses that slinked their way around the body with drop down straps showed enough flesh but rejected a super tight body-con fit.  An oversized blazer with a band of vinyl across the middle was signature Jonathan but that gold button gives it the Versace stamp of approval.  The energy was Versus through and through and the vibes of those archive campaigns came to life again in the collection.   A Versus core collection designed by an in-house team and launched concurrently at the the event, also reflect something of Versus' iconography.  Overrun with gold chain and medallion prints, giant safety pins and op-art madness, this will be the more accessible offering in Versus' arsenal.     

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The way the New York launch event was conceived also tied in with the direct language of the collection.  "In today's world, we move so fast and get bored," said Jonathan.  "This is a 'happening'.  The looks are done in the same way.  There's no holding back.  It's to the point.   It's to get to the DNA of what Versus codes are.  It's important that we say "This is it!"  And so over 1,000 people were invited to a transformed Lexington Armoury, gaffered up with Versus tape and stacked with TV screens to transmit a trio of live performances by Angel Haze, Dead Sara and Grimes, interspersed with the showing of J.W. Anderson x Versus split in three parts.  The new core Versus collection was worn by the performance artists to compliment the main show.  That idea of revealing all to the internet-world-at-large was reflected in the show setup as inside a giant glass box in the middle, we saw Donatella and Jonathan prepping the models in a backstage mise-en-scene, before they were sent out on to the catwalks at either side of the box.  A reflection on our goldfish bowl society perhaps.  The event didn't play by the standard fash-un guestlist rules either, as Donatella specifically requested a more varied crowd, consisting of people from the art and music worlds and club kids in New York.  It was a mixed up motley crew that would actually give it their all on the vast dance floor as opposed to standing meekly on the sides with a glass of champers.  

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IMG_0007Angel Haze

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IMG_0120Grimes

The journey doesn't stop at the launch party as the point of this out-of-season presentation style of Versus is to launch collections as an event concurrently with e-commerce.  The website design is really quite enticing and it definitely sends Versus up the solo-brand e-commerce site top of the charts for me.   Currently, the core collection heavy with chain and belt bling prints, black and white op-art and yes, that ever pervasive safety pin is available to buy with prices lower than what Versus has been in the past.  J.W. Anderson's collection will apparently be launching in 3 days or so **EDIT** (Fashion doesn't move as quickly as we'd like and the collaboration will be launching on the Versus site on June 15th) with price points TBC. 

Whilst J.W. Anderson's collection was initially reported to be a one-off, it seems like the rapport between Donatella and Jonathan is so good that ongoing collaboration could be imminent.  Donatella doesn't seem to want to put a time stamp on it either.  "I'm going to do what I feel is right.  At this moment, it feels so right."  It's this emphasis on what's going on "right now" that has Versus on course for a full-on reboot.  

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Versus Rebooted

"This is a new Versus.  it's for you guys…" said Donatella repeatedly on the Google+ Hangout to celebrate the launch of #newversus and J.W. Anderson's collaboration with Versus, where I a) lost my Hangout virginity and b) got lost in fascination of New York's rabbit warren Google offices.  The "you guys" she was referring to was a mix of us bloggers on the Hangout, the smartphone wielding-generation who want instant gratification whether it's through an Instagram like or being able to shop for collections online, and a cross-discipline crowd, not restricted to hardcore fashion-heads.  And I was lucky enough to be along for the ride in New York to witness how Versus would wade into this new territory of "you guys".

IMG_9929

20130514_162906

When brands say they're "doing digital", it often feels like they're merely ticking a box so that they fulfil expectations.  Versace threw everything into this Versus launch with gusto.  In the run-up, they had been avidly uploading sneak peeks, design inspiration, archive Versus imagery on their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts.  The newly designed Versus site was counting down the days to the launch to build momentum.  Then there was the more official partnership with Google+ to enable Donatella to "Hangout" with bloggers and indadvertedly seduced me with the whole Hangout thing (brain is a-ticking as to how I can "hangout" more).  The hangout wasn't exactly hitch-free but it's the imperfect and slightly haphazard nature of a Google Hangout, that makes it appealing when a glossy and normally intangible figure like Donatella is involved.  There's a recklessness in this new strategy that taps into Donatella's own initial experiences of designing Versus back in the nineties.  "I feel the same rebellious energy that i felt back then," she said after the Hangout.  "It's different because I can talk to the audience - to learn from other people.  It's great to have that dialogue."  A reported 1.1 million eyeballs saw the Hangout where Donatella also enthusiastically let slip that Lady Gaga would be involved in the making of the music of the show.  This then introduced me to the army of "Little Monsters" contingency on Twitter, where I was temporarily mired in an ongoing spiral of trying to inform them of Gaga-goings-on with regards to the show.  

Speaking of which, I'm all about the no holds-barred thing so cue HASHTAG AWKWARD conversation.  On the day I landed into New York, I was ushered into the New York Versace showroom, ready to interview Donatella and J.W. Anderson and lo and behold, Lady Gaga in Versace finery was there just errr… hanging out and just as she was leaving...

...important PR honcho asks me "Have you guys met?"  I say… "Oh no, I don't believe we've met!" in a faux-posh hoity-toity manner.  Have no idea what possessed me to say that.  Gaga says "No I don't think so either…." Tinkles of embarrassed laughter.  She saves the day by saying "I like your shoes.  They're furry!"  Finally I can get out of my flustered state and say something useful. "Oh, thanks!  They're actually Jonathan's!" looking down at my bearded J.W. Anderson shoes from his first season of doing womenswear.   Ground.  Swallow.  Please.  I have the convo recorded on my dictophone for the time machine that I'll be burying in the garden.    

Versus-Tumblr

Inspo1

Once we finally got the interview started though, what was striking was the working relationship and mutual appreciation between Donatella and Jonathan.  "There were things I didn't understand the first time I saw his work," said Donatella.  "I was so intrigued - 'Why don't I understand this right away?'  When there's a fixation like that, there must be something right about it."  It's not quite chalk and cheese but certainly, Jonathan's own directional collections, which pushes the eye towards something that's gone askew, doesn't necesarily always sit perfectly with the va-va-glamour of what Donatella does at Versace.  

But it's in the archives of Versus where Jonathan, really extracted the original spirit of Versus from the nineties and made it relevant AGAIN for today.  One look at J.W. Anderson's Instagram and you knew he has been digging deep into the Versus archives to rekindle a spirit, where the Versus guys and girls looked like they were having a laugh, not giving a fuck and just looked like they were incidentally wearing Versus with a happy-go-lucky irreverence.  The resulting clothes and campaign imagery were energetic and there was always something a bit "messy" or "off" about them - something Jonathan knows a thing or two about from his own collections.  And so Jonathan has revived that boy/girl gender dynamic of Versus, with his own taken on unisex wear - a category of clothing that can often go horribly wrong.  Here, guys and girls can both take on the Versus patent trouser or a knitted crop top with gold buttons at the shoulders.  They can both take on the satchel bags adorned with oversized safety pins (which traversed around on a pedicab type bike at the event).  Boys were crowned with tilted tiaras - they can be princesses or princes - whichever they prefer.  You can crow "But what boy would wear that…?" all you like, but to dare to put the clothes out there first and then see who takes the bait is far more interesting than holding back from what was clearly instinctive to a designer like Jonathan.

20130515_16283720130515_200837

IMG_0145Showing love for Google with my nails and a bargainous piece of Versus by Christopher Kane which I picked up from TK Maxx for £120!!

What was surprising was how the Versus language somehow fused with Jonathan's own aesthetic so seamlessly.  You saw touches of the asymmetry in the passage of hot coloured knits in his own namesake collection, but the way they were cut on the body looked sexier and well… more in keeping with Versus style.  The cut-out black dresses that slinked their way around the body with drop down straps showed enough flesh but rejected a super tight body-con fit.  An oversized blazer with a band of vinyl across the middle was signature Jonathan but that gold button gives it the Versace stamp of approval.  The energy was Versus through and through and the vibes of those archive campaigns came to life again in the collection.   A Versus core collection designed by an in-house team and launched concurrently at the the event, also reflect something of Versus' iconography.  Overrun with gold chain and medallion prints, giant safety pins and op-art madness, this will be the more accessible offering in Versus' arsenal.     

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IMG_9922

IMG_9931

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The way the New York launch event was conceived also tied in with the direct language of the collection.  "In today's world, we move so fast and get bored," said Jonathan.  "This is a 'happening'.  The looks are done in the same way.  There's no holding back.  It's to the point.   It's to get to the DNA of what Versus codes are.  It's important that we say "This is it!"  And so over 1,000 people were invited to a transformed Lexington Armoury, gaffered up with Versus tape and stacked with TV screens to transmit a trio of live performances by Angel Haze, Dead Sara and Grimes, interspersed with the showing of J.W. Anderson x Versus split in three parts.  The new core Versus collection was worn by the performance artists to compliment the main show.  That idea of revealing all to the internet-world-at-large was reflected in the show setup as inside a giant glass box in the middle, we saw Donatella and Jonathan prepping the models in a backstage mise-en-scene, before they were sent out on to the catwalks at either side of the box.  A reflection on our goldfish bowl society perhaps.  The event didn't play by the standard fash-un guestlist rules either, as Donatella specifically requested a more varied crowd, consisting of people from the art and music worlds and club kids in New York.  It was a mixed up motley crew that would actually give it their all on the vast dance floor as opposed to standing meekly on the sides with a glass of champers.  

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IMG_9893

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IMG_0007Angel Haze

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The journey doesn't stop at the launch party as the point of this out-of-season presentation style of Versus is to launch collections as an event concurrently with e-commerce.  The website design is really quite enticing and it definitely sends Versus up the solo-brand e-commerce site top of the charts for me.   Currently, the core collection heavy with chain and belt bling prints, black and white op-art and yes, that ever pervasive safety pin is available to buy with prices lower than what Versus has been in the past.  J.W. Anderson's collection will apparently be launching in 3 days or so **EDIT** (Fashion doesn't move as quickly as we'd like and the collaboration will be launching on the Versus site on June 15th) with price points TBC. 

Whilst J.W. Anderson's collection was initially reported to be a one-off, it seems like the rapport between Donatella and Jonathan is so good that ongoing collaboration could be imminent.  Donatella doesn't seem to want to put a time stamp on it either.  "I'm going to do what I feel is right.  At this moment, it feels so right."  It's this emphasis on what's going on "right now" that has Versus on course for a full-on reboot.  

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ShopBop expands its vintage offerings to include Louis Vuitton

ShopBop expands its vintage offerings to include Louis Vuitton

The more people get used to shopping for luxury goods online, the more they want options, especially when it comes to things that are vintage, pre-owned or no longer available in regular stores. (Or sold in very limited retail locations, like Louis Vuitton or Chanel.) Several types services, from dedicated luxury re-sellers like Portero to flash sale sites like Rue La La, to traditional auction houses like Heritage Auctions that now offer online options for luxury goods, have sprung up to meet those desires, but some retailers like ShopBop are taking the search for vintage designer handbags into their own hands.

ShopBop has been working with vintage stalwart What Goes Around, Comes Around for several years, and in the past, the handbag offerings have included lots of Chanel and one or two Hermes pieces. ShopBop has now added a small selection of limited edition and discontinued Louis Vuitton pieces to that assortment, including sought-after pieces from the Stephen Sprouse and Takashi Murakami art collaborations. Below, we’ve included our favorite from all of the What Goes Around, Comes Around pieces at ShopBop, or you can check out the entire vintage offering at ShopBop.

The post ShopBop expands its vintage offerings to include Louis Vuitton appeared first on PurseBlog.

Future Vintage

It's that time of the year again to cosy up with fellow Bicester buddies (errr.... well, actually just Alex Fury of Love Magazine who is also my Yoox/eBay sage because we collectively love a bargain) in fashion and head on up to this Oxford shopping mecca to see the launch of what is now the fourth British Designers Collective.  What started off as a tiny shop in Bicester Village's sprawl of outlets that include Prada, Marni, Celine and Versace (alright just rattling off my personal faves there...), has now turned into a strongly curated affair with a storefront that is sure to grab curious passers-by, even if they've not necessarily heard of say Peter Pilotto or Mary Katrantzou.  

This year's British Designers Collective was given a meaningful umbrella theme of "Future VIntage", essentially branding pieces by this set of mostly young British designers, as highly collectible, something which I'd certainly concur with, looking to the way I buy into Brit designers, not just for aesthetic value, but possibly for posterity's sake as well.  Yasmin Sewell, multi-tasking fashion consultant extraordinaire, together with her team was responsible for curating the space as well as overseeing the visual merchandising of the store, which is definitely a vast improvement from previous BDC stores.  A powerful image of Queen Elizabeth I as the headline graphic is likely to draw the crowds in, even if they get lured in under the impression that they might find Tudor-themed souvenirs inside.  As an expert in retail, Sewell has also ensured that there's a good stock flow going in and out of the store, so that it's regularly replenished and never looks stale.  Oh, and Rita Ora is fronting the campaign this year if that interests you.  When asked by someone what I thought of Ora, I couldn't even lie through my teeth and feign knowledge.  I literally have NO opinion of Ms. Ora, not knowing her music or anything about her.  And yes, I do like living under the cooling shade of my habitable rock.    

The likes of Jonathan Saunders, Preen, Nicholas Kirkwood and Holly Fulton are old BDC hands but joining the roster of labels are J.W. Anderson, Lucas Nascimento, Meadham Kirchhoff, Mary Katrantzou and millinery power from Noel Stewart and Piers Atkinson.  Hussein Chalayan was the new addition from the established set of designers and to emphasise the future vintage point, had a dress from his seminal a/w 2000 collection made from 250m of tulle on display in the window.  On the accessories front there are additions from scarf designer Athena Procopiou, sunnies from Prism and Linda Farrow and jewellery from Annina Vogel and Imogen Belfield.  The selection is the richest it's ever been and could well be worth multiple visits over the course of the year, to take in not just BDC, but the other delights that Bicester offers.  The ever-wise Mr Fury advises that visiting mid-week is potentially better for scooping those fresh Celine deliveries and that super low markdowns may occur around the August period.  Don't take those words as golden though.  The beauty of dizzy shopping (dizzy=discounted) is the sheer surprise so a chance visit on a random day could result in... well, whatever is your personal dizzy shopping dream buy.

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IMG_4318IMG_4323Archive Hussein Chalayan tulle dress from A/W 2000 collection

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IMG_4325Meadham Kirchhoff

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IMG_4335IMG_4315Mary Katrantzou // Peter Pilotto

IMG_4327Nicholas Kirkwood

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IMG_4338Jonathan Saunders

IMG_4386Mary Katrantzou

IMG_4340IMG_4350J.W. Anderson // House of Holland - wonder if this particular design is undergoing a bit of revival?

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IMG_4360Piers Atkinson

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I didn't strike it lucky anywhere outside of the BDC but I did get in on some heavy embroidered Peter Pilotto action from their S/S 12 collection.  It's weighty and I fear that I might cause accidents with broken threaded bugle beads but for future vintage's sake, this is one piece that the likes of Kerry Taylor (speaking of which, they have a brilliant auction coming up judging by the catalogue) might be interested in, 40 or 50 years down the line.  

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Worn with Cécile t-shirt, Karen Walker cap, Sheriff & Cherry sunglasses, Nicholas Kirkwood shoes

Future Vintage

It's that time of the year again to cosy up with fellow Bicester buddies (errr.... well, actually just Alex Fury of Love Magazine who is also my Yoox/eBay sage because we collectively love a bargain) in fashion and head on up to this Oxford shopping mecca to see the launch of what is now the fourth British Designers Collective.  What started off as a tiny shop in Bicester Village's sprawl of outlets that include Prada, Marni, Celine and Versace (alright just rattling off my personal faves there...), has now turned into a strongly curated affair with a storefront that is sure to grab curious passers-by, even if they've not necessarily heard of say Peter Pilotto or Mary Katrantzou.  

This year's British Designers Collective was given a meaningful umbrella theme of "Future VIntage", essentially branding pieces by this set of mostly young British designers, as highly collectible, something which I'd certainly concur with, looking to the way I buy into Brit designers, not just for aesthetic value, but possibly for posterity's sake as well.  Yasmin Sewell, multi-tasking fashion consultant extraordinaire, together with her team was responsible for curating the space as well as overseeing the visual merchandising of the store, which is definitely a vast improvement from previous BDC stores.  A powerful image of Queen Elizabeth I as the headline graphic is likely to draw the crowds in, even if they get lured in under the impression that they might find Tudor-themed souvenirs inside.  As an expert in retail, Sewell has also ensured that there's a good stock flow going in and out of the store, so that it's regularly replenished and never looks stale.  Oh, and Rita Ora is fronting the campaign this year if that interests you.  When asked by someone what I thought of Ora, I couldn't even lie through my teeth and feign knowledge.  I literally have NO opinion of Ms. Ora, not knowing her music or anything about her.  And yes, I do like living under the cooling shade of my habitable rock.    

The likes of Jonathan Saunders, Preen, Nicholas Kirkwood and Holly Fulton are old BDC hands but joining the roster of labels are J.W. Anderson, Lucas Nascimento, Meadham Kirchhoff, Mary Katrantzou and millinery power from Noel Stewart and Piers Atkinson.  Hussein Chalayan was the new addition from the established set of designers and to emphasise the future vintage point, had a dress from his seminal a/w 2000 collection made from 250m of tulle on display in the window.  On the accessories front there are additions from scarf designer Athena Procopiou, sunnies from Prism and Linda Farrow and jewellery from Annina Vogel and Imogen Belfield.  The selection is the richest it's ever been and could well be worth multiple visits over the course of the year, to take in not just BDC, but the other delights that Bicester offers.  The ever-wise Mr Fury advises that visiting mid-week is potentially better for scooping those fresh Celine deliveries and that super low markdowns may occur around the August period.  Don't take those words as golden though.  The beauty of dizzy shopping (dizzy=discounted) is the sheer surprise so a chance visit on a random day could result in... well, whatever is your personal dizzy shopping dream buy.

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IMG_4318IMG_4323Archive Hussein Chalayan tulle dress from A/W 2000 collection

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IMG_4325Meadham Kirchhoff

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IMG_4335IMG_4315Mary Katrantzou // Peter Pilotto

IMG_4327Nicholas Kirkwood

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IMG_4338Jonathan Saunders

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IMG_4340IMG_4350J.W. Anderson // House of Holland - wonder if this particular design is undergoing a bit of revival?

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IMG_4360Piers Atkinson

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I didn't strike it lucky anywhere outside of the BDC but I did get in on some heavy embroidered Peter Pilotto action from their S/S 12 collection.  It's weighty and I fear that I might cause accidents with broken threaded bugle beads but for future vintage's sake, this is one piece that the likes of Kerry Taylor (speaking of which, they have a brilliant auction coming up judging by the catalogue) might be interested in, 40 or 50 years down the line.  

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Worn with Cécile t-shirt, Karen Walker cap, Sheriff & Cherry sunglasses, Nicholas Kirkwood shoes

Merchant Online

>> It's redesign this, relaunch that at the moment and one of my favourite vintage spots in London Merchant Archive, just got a website uplift, making it even more tempting to go on and oops, drop a wad on a 1920s feathered cape that serves no purpose other than for me to wear it, whilst swanning around in my living room, doing terrible Marlene Dietrich impressions.

Sophie Merchant has been slowly been evolving her vintage store, which started out nestled in a Lipton General store in Kensal Green, and then made its move to Notting Hill, where it's been doing brisk trade of beautiful vintage as well as new label finds.  Now Merchant Archive's rebranding alongside the new website will take this vintage spot to cast a wider net.  The web isn't lacking in high end vintage online stores (for instance looking forward to seeing how Shrimpton Couture revamps there site...) but nonetheless, Sophie never seems to let me down when it comes to picking out pieces that I zoom in on immediately and subsequently wear over and over again because in some ways, they're even more special than brand new designer pieces.  I'm reluctant to even post images of what they have in at the moment just because I'm itching to get to the store in-person for a renewed Merchant Archive fix.  To be specific, whoever gets their mits on this Hermès feather print blouse or this 1970s Miss Feraud knit dress, I will have to beg them pathetically to sell on to me.  Oh no, is someone going to buy them just to spite me now?  I guess I couldn't blame them.  

Merchant Archive is hardly a secret anymore given their loyal starry clientale such as Florence Welch so I'm glad that they finally have a website to truly spread the word out.  

Merchantarchive

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Sophie has also been using her knowledge of collecting vintage to dip her toes into design with a small capsule collection of pieces that fit into her own personal ethos of finding dramatic vintage pieces a new 21st century home.  A plain double breasted coat can be dramatic with Victorian-inspired cape detailing.  Likewise, the styling of her vintage pieces reflects Sophie's high-low gut instinct of taking historic pieces out of their context by placing say an ornate Japanese kimono or a theatrical tulle skirt with blue jeans or a pair of mannish flat shoes.  New labels such as sturdy shoes by Robert Clegerie, modern and graphic jewellery by Uncommon Matters and timeless hats by Le Cerise sur le Chapeau complement and balance out Merchant's more feathered/floral/flouncy (delete as appropriate) offerings.

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Ma

Merchant Online

>> It's redesign this, relaunch that at the moment and one of my favourite vintage spots in London Merchant Archive, just got a website uplift, making it even more tempting to go on and oops, drop a wad on a 1920s feathered cape that serves no purpose other than for me to wear it, whilst swanning around in my living room, doing terrible Marlene Dietrich impressions.

Sophie Merchant has been slowly been evolving her vintage store, which started out nestled in a Lipton General store in Kensal Green, and then made its move to Notting Hill, where it's been doing brisk trade of beautiful vintage as well as new label finds.  Now Merchant Archive's rebranding alongside the new website will take this vintage spot to cast a wider net.  The web isn't lacking in high end vintage online stores (for instance looking forward to seeing how Shrimpton Couture revamps there site...) but nonetheless, Sophie never seems to let me down when it comes to picking out pieces that I zoom in on immediately and subsequently wear over and over again because in some ways, they're even more special than brand new designer pieces.  I'm reluctant to even post images of what they have in at the moment just because I'm itching to get to the store in-person for a renewed Merchant Archive fix.  To be specific, whoever gets their mits on this Hermès feather print blouse or this 1970s Miss Feraud knit dress, I will have to beg them pathetically to sell on to me.  Oh no, is someone going to buy them just to spite me now?  I guess I couldn't blame them.  

Merchant Archive is hardly a secret anymore given their loyal starry clientale such as Florence Welch so I'm glad that they finally have a website to truly spread the word out.  

Merchantarchive

Db_file_img_1894_1600x2400

Db_file_img_1875_1600x2400Db_file_img_1953_1600x2400

Db_file_img_1987_1600x2400

Db_file_img_2016_1600x2400Db_file_img_2079_1600x2400

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Db_file_img_2115_1600x2400

Db_file_img_2039_1600x2400Db_file_img_2036_1600x2400

Db_file_img_1961_1600x2400

Sophie has also been using her knowledge of collecting vintage to dip her toes into design with a small capsule collection of pieces that fit into her own personal ethos of finding dramatic vintage pieces a new 21st century home.  A plain double breasted coat can be dramatic with Victorian-inspired cape detailing.  Likewise, the styling of her vintage pieces reflects Sophie's high-low gut instinct of taking historic pieces out of their context by placing say an ornate Japanese kimono or a theatrical tulle skirt with blue jeans or a pair of mannish flat shoes.  New labels such as sturdy shoes by Robert Clegerie, modern and graphic jewellery by Uncommon Matters and timeless hats by Le Cerise sur le Chapeau complement and balance out Merchant's more feathered/floral/flouncy (delete as appropriate) offerings.

Db_file_img_1752_1600x2400Db_file_img_1757_1600x2400

Ma

Taking in Bath

I'll be the first to admit that Style Bubble is woefully inadequate when it comes to writing about fashion going on in areas outside of London in the UK.  I'm painfully not well-travelled in my own country and the joke still goes that the only time I leave the confines of the M25 is when I'm leaving the country.  Therefore I took out two days to take a painless 90 minute train ride to Bath, to experience the still on-going Bath in Fashion proceedings.  When I got to the Paddington train station to get my tickets, the lady at the desk said "You're going for the fashion week?" to which I replied "Errr... I guess so."  It's not a fashion week as such but rather it's a curated week of talks, events and some shows that brings an opportunity to experience fashion in one of England's prettiest cities.  For those with a penchant for fashion and living in the local area, events such as Roland Mouret interviewed by Susannah Frankel, catwalk illustrator David Downton doing workshops, textiles legend Kaffe Fassett doing book signings and London figures Princess Julia and Julie Verhoeven descending down to Bath are definitely treats to see.  For those from outside of town, Bath as a World Heritage Site is of course a pleasure all by itself, with the added bonus of fashion-related exhibitions and a chance to take in a talk or two.  

I was eager to revisit Bath because of my own vividly rose-tinted memories of the place, from a school trip I went on when I was 14.  Roman Baths.  Georgian architecture.  The home of Jane Austen.  Historical fantasies about fashionable ladies in the Regency period walking around in empire line dresses, taking the famous waters at Bath and promenading around the Crescent or the Royal Circle.  What's not to like if you were like me, a dorky teenager and liked to run around Hampstead Heath dreaming about court mantuas, Bronte and liked sniffing old books?!  Turns out Bath is every bit as quaint, gentile and charming as I had remembered.  When walking around the compact city centre, the burst of independent shops, each with their own specific niche, was quite lovely to see.  In London, independent bricks and mortar shops come in pockets that are often spread out.  In Bath, the lovely cheese shop, butchers, baker's, vintage guitar store, indie book store and a clutch of vintage clothing shops are within spitting distance of each other.  It's all beautiful presentation, old-fashioned signs and bordering-on-twee aesthetics.  The tweeness isn't irritating though.  It's a respite from the self concious hipster notions of twee that are prevalent in London, because it feels genuine.  So of course there's a shop selling antique buttons or teddy bears.  It seems only natural in Bath.

There's a deluge of quaint indies in Bath but here are some of the things that caught my eye... Mr B's Emporium of Reading delights purely because the name is so awesome, the exacting coffee beans at Colonna & Small's, which unsurprisingly is owned by an Aussie, the fact that you can find buttons shaped like little cars at Jessie's Button Box in Bath Antique Centre, the facade of Jolly's department store and the fact that it's called Jolly's, the awesome refurbed light selection at Felix, the yummy food of Sam's Kitchen complete with a plinky plonk piano inside, the exacting stationery delights of Meticulous Ink... 

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On the vintage shopping front, I didn't investigate every vintage shop (and it's a burgeoning sector in Bath) but found a solid trio in Susannah, Scarlet Vintage and Vintage to Vogue.  Susannah reminds me a little bit like Annie's in Camden Passage in that it's all Victorian to Edwardian underclothes, linens and ribbondry with patchworked quilts made up by Susannah using remnants.  I optimistically bought a skimpy Edwardian cotton slip thinking of summer days.  Scarlet Vintage is small but well-selected with its mix of designer and top quality pieces.  A 1960s checked coat and matching dress caught my eye there.  Vintage to Vogue is great for both womenswear and menswear and veers towards classic pieces so that all ages of women and men shop there.  It makes a change from the youth-orientated retro rags that occupies so much of the vintage sector.   

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As part of Bath in Fashion and as a pertinent reminder that Made in Britain is now a covetable and solid option as opposed to an unrealistic ideal, inside Milsom Place is a pop-up shop set up by British Bag Makers, who also design a much loved local bag brand called Liz Cox.  With a few machines and pattern-cutting desk set up inside the shop as well as a selection of leathers, the idea is to allow customers to see a glimpse of the process that goes on in their local factory just 10 miles from Bath and to encourage the idea of custom bag designs, selecting leathers, tweaking straps and getting a made-with-love and made-locally bag.  If cheeses, charcuterie and breads fulfill those duties, why shouldn't leather goods do the same, especially in an area which has historically had factories such as Clarks Shoes.  The serious upshot to all of this is that British Bag Makers aren't just creating smallscale artisanal goods for the area.  They also take on the manufacture of bags for companies like Mulberry and Dunhill, outputting around 600 bags a week and employing around 60 people.  That's something for British designers and brands to take note of if the possibility of bringing bag production back to Britain should arise.  I'll hopefully be visiting the factory soon to get a better idea of what this company does.     

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Also in the Milsom Place drag of shops is a young weaver called Katherine Fraser, who hand weaves the most beautiful silk scarves and home furnishing textiles, mainly revolving around her signature uneven check designs.  Fraser said she loved the idea of making up orders as they come in and selling one-off designs and really revelling in her own 21st century take on the cottage industry.  In fashion, it's normal to throw around language of upscaling production, wholesale and stockists but Fraser seems content with working away at her loom by herself and keep things on a small scale, which was refreshing to hear.  I'll be hitting her up with a cray-cray order of neon and grey blankets and cushion covers for the new casa (still progressing painfully slow I might add).  

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Bucking the trend of all things twee, quaint and quintessentially English is concept store Found, overlooking the Avon Canal.  Owners Olivia Brewer and Nik Blake had never owned a store before but found a distinct gap, not just in Bath but perhaps in the UK as a whole, of designers mingling with stationery and homeware and it's their selection that really makes them stand out.  Having lived in Auckland, New Zealand for a while, they bought back some of their label finds, which are suffice to say, impossible to get hold even in London, such as bag label Deadly Ponies, Twentyseven Names and Australia's Kinoak.  Solid brands like Karen Walker eyewear and ready to wear, YMC, Dr Martens and Cambridge Satchel Company rounds out the selection as well as the lovely stationery and homewares sections.  Mucho heart.   

Found

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What's a trip to Bath without taking the waters of UK's only natural thermal spa, a pastime that dates back to the Roman times?  The Thermae Bath Spa, opened in 2006 after extensive work to restore and update the historic bath houses, is a great intersection of Bath's spa history and modern spa facilities.  It's a unique spa experience precisely because the rich mineral waters bubble up naturally from the Hetling, King's and Cross Springs and that you can experience that from what seems like a standard roof top pool, albeit with the rolling hills and Bath's skyline around you.  I emerged after two hours of pool-hopping and steam room sampling (they have five different scented steam rooms) with super soft skin and feeling like I could doze the rest of the day away.  

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In between meandering around shops, taking the waters and quaffing perfect flat whites, I also slipped into the beautiful Octagon Chapel to take in the Norman Parkinson exhibition entitled "Mouvements de Femme", curated by Roland Mouret, marking the centenary of Parkinson's birth.  “I find the thing that excites me most about women is the way they move” said Norman Parkinson in 1984 and as one of the most prolific fashion photographers, working from the 1930s up until his death, he saw many women move in front of his lens.  The exhibition traverses through Parkinson's vast bodies of work, with each decade bringing new exciting backdrops and clothes to create enigmatic and lasting imagery.  Mouret chronologically and thematically groups up the photographs as you make your way around the octagonal-shaped room with one wall at the end devoted to the images Parkinson shot in Bath for British Vogue.  

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I'll be posting about the other current exhibition delighs of Bath from my beloved Fashion Museum and the Holburne Museum in the next post just to ease up on the image load here.

Taking in Bath

I'll be the first to admit that Style Bubble is woefully inadequate when it comes to writing about fashion going on in areas outside of London in the UK.  I'm painfully not well-travelled in my own country and the joke still goes that the only time I leave the confines of the M25 is when I'm leaving the country.  Therefore I took out two days to take a painless 90 minute train ride to Bath, to experience the still on-going Bath in Fashion proceedings.  When I got to the Paddington train station to get my tickets, the lady at the desk said "You're going for the fashion week?" to which I replied "Errr... I guess so."  It's not a fashion week as such but rather it's a curated week of talks, events and some shows that brings an opportunity to experience fashion in one of England's prettiest cities.  For those with a penchant for fashion and living in the local area, events such as Roland Mouret interviewed by Susannah Frankel, catwalk illustrator David Downton doing workshops, textiles legend Kaffe Fassett doing book signings and London figures Princess Julia and Julie Verhoeven descending down to Bath are definitely treats to see.  For those from outside of town, Bath as a World Heritage Site is of course a pleasure all by itself, with the added bonus of fashion-related exhibitions and a chance to take in a talk or two.  

I was eager to revisit Bath because of my own vividly rose-tinted memories of the place, from a school trip I went on when I was 14.  Roman Baths.  Georgian architecture.  The home of Jane Austen.  Historical fantasies about fashionable ladies in the Regency period walking around in empire line dresses, taking the famous waters at Bath and promenading around the Crescent or the Royal Circle.  What's not to like if you were like me, a dorky teenager and liked to run around Hampstead Heath dreaming about court mantuas, Bronte and liked sniffing old books?!  Turns out Bath is every bit as quaint, gentile and charming as I had remembered.  When walking around the compact city centre, the burst of independent shops, each with their own specific niche, was quite lovely to see.  In London, independent bricks and mortar shops come in pockets that are often spread out.  In Bath, the lovely cheese shop, butchers, baker's, vintage guitar store, indie book store and a clutch of vintage clothing shops are within spitting distance of each other.  It's all beautiful presentation, old-fashioned signs and bordering-on-twee aesthetics.  The tweeness isn't irritating though.  It's a respite from the self concious hipster notions of twee that are prevalent in London, because it feels genuine.  So of course there's a shop selling antique buttons or teddy bears.  It seems only natural in Bath.

There's a deluge of quaint indies in Bath but here are some of the things that caught my eye... Mr B's Emporium of Reading delights purely because the name is so awesome, the exacting coffee beans at Colonna & Small's, which unsurprisingly is owned by an Aussie, the fact that you can find buttons shaped like little cars at Jessie's Button Box in Bath Antique Centre, the facade of Jolly's department store and the fact that it's called Jolly's, the awesome refurbed light selection at Felix, the yummy food of Sam's Kitchen complete with a plinky plonk piano inside, the exacting stationery delights of Meticulous Ink... 

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On the vintage shopping front, I didn't investigate every vintage shop (and it's a burgeoning sector in Bath) but found a solid trio in Susannah, Scarlet Vintage and Vintage to Vogue.  Susannah reminds me a little bit like Annie's in Camden Passage in that it's all Victorian to Edwardian underclothes, linens and ribbondry with patchworked quilts made up by Susannah using remnants.  I optimistically bought a skimpy Edwardian cotton slip thinking of summer days.  Scarlet Vintage is small but well-selected with its mix of designer and top quality pieces.  A 1960s checked coat and matching dress caught my eye there.  Vintage to Vogue is great for both womenswear and menswear and veers towards classic pieces so that all ages of women and men shop there.  It makes a change from the youth-orientated retro rags that occupies so much of the vintage sector.   

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As part of Bath in Fashion and as a pertinent reminder that Made in Britain is now a covetable and solid option as opposed to an unrealistic ideal, inside Milsom Place is a pop-up shop set up by British Bag Makers, who also design a much loved local bag brand called Liz Cox.  With a few machines and pattern-cutting desk set up inside the shop as well as a selection of leathers, the idea is to allow customers to see a glimpse of the process that goes on in their local factory just 10 miles from Bath and to encourage the idea of custom bag designs, selecting leathers, tweaking straps and getting a made-with-love and made-locally bag.  If cheeses, charcuterie and breads fulfill those duties, why shouldn't leather goods do the same, especially in an area which has historically had factories such as Clarks Shoes.  The serious upshot to all of this is that British Bag Makers aren't just creating smallscale artisanal goods for the area.  They also take on the manufacture of bags for companies like Mulberry and Dunhill, outputting around 600 bags a week and employing around 60 people.  That's something for British designers and brands to take note of if the possibility of bringing bag production back to Britain should arise.  I'll hopefully be visiting the factory soon to get a better idea of what this company does.     

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Also in the Milsom Place drag of shops is a young weaver called Katherine Fraser, who hand weaves the most beautiful silk scarves and home furnishing textiles, mainly revolving around her signature uneven check designs.  Fraser said she loved the idea of making up orders as they come in and selling one-off designs and really revelling in her own 21st century take on the cottage industry.  In fashion, it's normal to throw around language of upscaling production, wholesale and stockists but Fraser seems content with working away at her loom by herself and keep things on a small scale, which was refreshing to hear.  I'll be hitting her up with a cray-cray order of neon and grey blankets and cushion covers for the new casa (still progressing painfully slow I might add).  

IMG_3951

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Bucking the trend of all things twee, quaint and quintessentially English is concept store Found, overlooking the Avon Canal.  Owners Olivia Brewer and Nik Blake had never owned a store before but found a distinct gap, not just in Bath but perhaps in the UK as a whole, of designers mingling with stationery and homeware and it's their selection that really makes them stand out.  Having lived in Auckland, New Zealand for a while, they bought back some of their label finds, which are suffice to say, impossible to get hold even in London, such as bag label Deadly Ponies, Twentyseven Names and Australia's Kinoak.  Solid brands like Karen Walker eyewear and ready to wear, YMC, Dr Martens and Cambridge Satchel Company rounds out the selection as well as the lovely stationery and homewares sections.  Mucho heart.   

Found

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What's a trip to Bath without taking the waters of UK's only natural thermal spa, a pastime that dates back to the Roman times?  The Thermae Bath Spa, opened in 2006 after extensive work to restore and update the historic bath houses, is a great intersection of Bath's spa history and modern spa facilities.  It's a unique spa experience precisely because the rich mineral waters bubble up naturally from the Hetling, King's and Cross Springs and that you can experience that from what seems like a standard roof top pool, albeit with the rolling hills and Bath's skyline around you.  I emerged after two hours of pool-hopping and steam room sampling (they have five different scented steam rooms) with super soft skin and feeling like I could doze the rest of the day away.  

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In between meandering around shops, taking the waters and quaffing perfect flat whites, I also slipped into the beautiful Octagon Chapel to take in the Norman Parkinson exhibition entitled "Mouvements de Femme", curated by Roland Mouret, marking the centenary of Parkinson's birth.  “I find the thing that excites me most about women is the way they move” said Norman Parkinson in 1984 and as one of the most prolific fashion photographers, working from the 1930s up until his death, he saw many women move in front of his lens.  The exhibition traverses through Parkinson's vast bodies of work, with each decade bringing new exciting backdrops and clothes to create enigmatic and lasting imagery.  Mouret chronologically and thematically groups up the photographs as you make your way around the octagonal-shaped room with one wall at the end devoted to the images Parkinson shot in Bath for British Vogue.  

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I'll be posting about the other current exhibition delighs of Bath from my beloved Fashion Museum and the Holburne Museum in the next post just to ease up on the image load here.

Carmen on the Water

I've got this 24 hour flight thing down to a pat now.  I could well have spent my first day in Sydney mooching around, dropping in and out of nap and ordering in room service.  Instead, I landed in yesterday morning, chowed on down to Chinatown (obsessed with any restaurant in Sydney that has plastic grapes hanging down from the ceiling) and then mosied on to the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour to see Carmen, directed by Gale Edwards for Opera Australia.  

Overlooking Sydney Opera House, and nestled right by the Royal Botanical Gardens, this magnificent outdoor stage is impressive to say the least, conceived to open up the art of opera in terms of physical space and projection as well as to a wider audience.  Last year, the Handa Opera stage played host to La Traviata and this year, it's Georges Bizet's Carmen, an opera, which I've only seen once when I was about twelve with a not so great vantage point on a heavily discounted ticket.  Therefore to see Bizet's score and a stellar cast and production come together underneath a clear night sky, overlooking what IS categorically my favourite picture postcard views in the world (yes, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge floors me EVERYtime), was definitely spectacular.  

We took a little behind the scenes stage tour beforehand which showed the nitty gritty dangers of staging an opera on the water.  Cramped, hazerdous and bunker-like just about sums up the backstage areas underneath where the audience sit (dubbed the "underworld") and only makes you appreciate the high production values of the show.  We also met up with acclaimed costume designer Julie Lynch, who has worked extensively with Opera Australia and designed the costumes for this feistily updated version of Carmen.  Two things dictated the look and feel of the costumes, which are vastly different from those seen in most other predecessing adaptations of Carmen - one, is the period as this version of Carmen takes us to 1950s Franco era of Seville in Spain and two, is the sheer scale of the opera where the vast distance between the audience and the stage means the performers are dwarfed.  

Fellini's La Dolce Vita and icons like Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigada informed the vibe for the costumes and gone are the '"corsets and coins" of previous Carmen incarnations, which to Edwards felt dated.  The 1950s era therefore shed a Hollywood-tinged sheen and a vivacious spirit to the costumes, which to me also evoked a whole host of fashion references - Yves Saint Laurent's decadent gypsy and Russian looks from that glory period of the seventies, the energetically bohemian looks of Italian-born American ethnic designer Giorgio Di Sant'Angelo, Ossie Clark and Bill Gibb's romantic British sensibility on tiered exotica, Emanuel Ungaro's passion for the vibrant polka and really, countless instances where the imagery of the Spanish matador and flamenco dancing have influenced fashion.  There were so many fashion moments to be picked out from Lynch's cleverly lurid, ornate and deliberately overt costumes, which translated on stage.

The scale of the stage presented itself as a challenge for Lynch to costumes that would stand up against a distracting backdrop of city lights and water traffic.  "Sixty people on stage, all dressed in a different colour, would look hideous, which is why you have to think in terms of blocks of colour," says Lynch.  "When the stage is large and the audience far away, a single colour becomes one big image, while lots of different colours become ants on stage. So what we have is a yellow sweep of people, a green sweep, a red sweep."  Her choice of high-shine reflective fabrics, strategically placed crystal embroidery and  bold patterns (namely the polka dot on to the ensemble chorus) are all designed to reflect light and catch the eye at the right moments so that even if you're not right up front (which incidentally, I wasn't), the visual identity of each character was clearly augmented.

It was certainly the perfect visual jumpstart to my what is now my fourth time (y'all sick of me yet?) to Sydney for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia, which begins tomorrow.  Jet lag?  What jet lag?  

Opening_Night_2

IMG_3424

IMG_3431

IMG_3454

IMG_3441

IMG_3444

IMG_3438IMG_3451

IMG_3463

050_ossie_clark_theredlistOssie Clark

Carmen_red-dress_4C

028_ziegfeld_follies_girl_theredlistZiegfeld Follies girl

HOSH_Bolero_4

Katemoss_dailymailKate Moss getting into helicopter

IMG_3478

HOSH_Bolero_2

010_emanuel-ungaro_theredlistUngaro

CARMEN costume design 3 (SMALL) by Julie Lynch

056_bill_gibb
Bill Gibb

CARMEN costume design 4 (SMALL) by Julie Lynch_ Photo courtesy Opera Australia

027_valentino_theredlistValentino

HOSH_Bolero_3
038_christian_lacroix_theredlistChristian Lacroix

IMG_3485

HOSH_Bolero_5

46-comtesse-de-castiglione-theredlistComtesse de Castiglione

Ysl_russianYves Saint Laurent Russian Collection

CARMEN costume design 5 (SMALL) by Julie Lynch_ Photo courtesy Opera Australia

Dior-couture-aw-20_1736742a
John Galliano in 'Matador' look at Dior A/W 2008 Haute Couture 

Escamillo_4CDon_Jose_4C

031_yves-saint-laurent_theredlistYves Saint Laurent 1979 Bullfighter ensemble

HOSH_Bolero_6

Giorgio-di-sant-angeloJean Shrimpton in Giorgio Di Sant'Angelo for Vogue Italia

047_zandra_rhodes_theredlistZandra Rhodes

HOSH_Bolero_8

Ysl_ungaro 1992Yves Saint Laurent // Ungaro

Details
Details of Carmen costumes by Julie Lynch from her Instagram

IMG_3493

IMG_3499

IMG_3500

Images of Handa Opera of Carmen taken by myself and from Opera Sydney Harbour site.  Sketches of costumes by Julie Lynch from Opera Sydney Harbour site.  Archive images from The Red List.   

Carmen on the Water

I've got this 24 hour flight thing down to a pat now.  I could well have spent my first day in Sydney mooching around, dropping in and out of nap and ordering in room service.  Instead, I landed in yesterday morning, chowed on down to Chinatown (obsessed with any restaurant in Sydney that has plastic grapes hanging down from the ceiling) and then mosied on to the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour to see Carmen, directed by Gale Edwards for Opera Australia.  

Overlooking Sydney Opera House, and nestled right by the Royal Botanical Gardens, this magnificent outdoor stage is impressive to say the least, conceived to open up the art of opera in terms of physical space and projection as well as to a wider audience.  Last year, the Handa Opera stage played host to La Traviata and this year, it's Georges Bizet's Carmen, an opera, which I've only seen once when I was about twelve with a not so great vantage point on a heavily discounted ticket.  Therefore to see Bizet's score and a stellar cast and production come together underneath a clear night sky, overlooking what IS categorically my favourite picture postcard views in the world (yes, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge floors me EVERYtime), was definitely spectacular.  

We took a little behind the scenes stage tour beforehand which showed the nitty gritty dangers of staging an opera on the water.  Cramped, hazerdous and bunker-like just about sums up the backstage areas underneath where the audience sit (dubbed the "underworld") and only makes you appreciate the high production values of the show.  We also met up with acclaimed costume designer Julie Lynch, who has worked extensively with Opera Australia and designed the costumes for this feistily updated version of Carmen.  Two things dictated the look and feel of the costumes, which are vastly different from those seen in most other predecessing adaptations of Carmen - one, is the period as this version of Carmen takes us to 1950s Franco era of Seville in Spain and two, is the sheer scale of the opera where the vast distance between the audience and the stage means the performers are dwarfed.  

Fellini's La Dolce Vita and icons like Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigada informed the vibe for the costumes and gone are the '"corsets and coins" of previous Carmen incarnations, which to Edwards felt dated.  The 1950s era therefore shed a Hollywood-tinged sheen and a vivacious spirit to the costumes, which to me also evoked a whole host of fashion references - Yves Saint Laurent's decadent gypsy and Russian looks from that glory period of the seventies, the energetically bohemian looks of Italian-born American ethnic designer Giorgio Di Sant'Angelo, Ossie Clark and Bill Gibb's romantic British sensibility on tiered exotica, Emanuel Ungaro's passion for the vibrant polka and really, countless instances where the imagery of the Spanish matador and flamenco dancing have influenced fashion.  There were so many fashion moments to be picked out from Lynch's cleverly lurid, ornate and deliberately overt costumes, which translated on stage.

The scale of the stage presented itself as a challenge for Lynch to costumes that would stand up against a distracting backdrop of city lights and water traffic.  "Sixty people on stage, all dressed in a different colour, would look hideous, which is why you have to think in terms of blocks of colour," says Lynch.  "When the stage is large and the audience far away, a single colour becomes one big image, while lots of different colours become ants on stage. So what we have is a yellow sweep of people, a green sweep, a red sweep."  Her choice of high-shine reflective fabrics, strategically placed crystal embroidery and  bold patterns (namely the polka dot on to the ensemble chorus) are all designed to reflect light and catch the eye at the right moments so that even if you're not right up front (which incidentally, I wasn't), the visual identity of each character was clearly augmented.

It was certainly the perfect visual jumpstart to my what is now my fourth time (y'all sick of me yet?) to Sydney for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia, which begins tomorrow.  Jet lag?  What jet lag?  

Opening_Night_2

IMG_3424

IMG_3431

IMG_3454

IMG_3441

IMG_3444

IMG_3438IMG_3451

IMG_3463

050_ossie_clark_theredlistOssie Clark

Carmen_red-dress_4C

028_ziegfeld_follies_girl_theredlistZiegfeld Follies girl

HOSH_Bolero_4

Katemoss_dailymailKate Moss getting into helicopter

IMG_3478

HOSH_Bolero_2

010_emanuel-ungaro_theredlistUngaro

CARMEN costume design 3 (SMALL) by Julie Lynch

056_bill_gibb
Bill Gibb

CARMEN costume design 4 (SMALL) by Julie Lynch_ Photo courtesy Opera Australia

027_valentino_theredlistValentino

HOSH_Bolero_3
038_christian_lacroix_theredlistChristian Lacroix

IMG_3485

HOSH_Bolero_5

46-comtesse-de-castiglione-theredlistComtesse de Castiglione

Ysl_russianYves Saint Laurent Russian Collection

CARMEN costume design 5 (SMALL) by Julie Lynch_ Photo courtesy Opera Australia

Dior-couture-aw-20_1736742a
John Galliano in 'Matador' look at Dior A/W 2008 Haute Couture 

Escamillo_4CDon_Jose_4C

031_yves-saint-laurent_theredlistYves Saint Laurent 1979 Bullfighter ensemble

HOSH_Bolero_6

Giorgio-di-sant-angeloJean Shrimpton in Giorgio Di Sant'Angelo for Vogue Italia

047_zandra_rhodes_theredlistZandra Rhodes

HOSH_Bolero_8

Ysl_ungaro 1992Yves Saint Laurent // Ungaro

Details
Details of Carmen costumes by Julie Lynch from her Instagram

IMG_3493

IMG_3499

IMG_3500

Images of Handa Opera of Carmen taken by myself and from Opera Sydney Harbour site.  Sketches of costumes by Julie Lynch from Opera Sydney Harbour site.  Archive images from The Red List.   

On the Scene….Pool Party at Viva Las Vegas, Las Vegas