Category Archives: Vintage

Some Birkin Knowledge

>> Long time Style Bubble readers will know about my general dunce stance towards handbags.  Bag Snob slash Purse Forum I am not.  I’m generally clueless about the subtle differences in leathers, straps, hardware types and rivet positions that indicate different styles.  Therefore when I heard that Liberty were hosting an exhibition of Hermès bags to celebrate 30 Years of the Birkin bag with specialist private collector Catherine B of Les 3 Marches de Catherine in Paris, I thought I should pop by to glean some knowledge from someone who knows their shiz about handbags.  Catherine has been collecting vintage Chanel and Hermès for decades, opening her shop in St Germain in 1994 which has now become a pilgrimage point for vintage bag connoisseurs, what with an impressive floor-to-ceiling collection of over 1,500 pieces.

IMG_9900Holding the first ever Hermès Birkin bag in all its beaten and battered up glory

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IMG_9898Certificate to verify that this is the first ever Hermès Birkin bag

The central focal point of this open-to-public exhibition, is the first ever Hermès Birkin bag, owned and commissioned by Jane Birkin.  Catherine won it in an auction back in 2000 when Jane sold it to raise money for an AIDS charity.  Very generously, she got it out of its glass vitrine so that I could cop a feel of its marked and marred glory.  It is beaten up and battered with adhesive residue marks, as Jane notoriously stuck travel stickers on her Birkin and also used it quite heavily – a world away from the pristine image I have of privileged owners of Hermès bags.  Everyone will know the story about Jane Birkin sitting next to Jean-Louis Dumas on a plane explaining to him that it’s difficult to find a bag that fits all her stuff.  In 1984, Jane got her wish with a specially designated black suppler leather bag that was based on the large Hermès weekender HAC bag that her then-husband Serge Gainsbourg carried.  There’s an example of these rare specimens on show too.  Catherine also told me that this is the only Birkin bag to have a shoulder strap because Jane asked Dumas to put one on so that she could carry it on her shoulder as well as have little Charlotte in her arm.  Oh, and Jane liked to keep her nails in check with a specially attached nail clipper inside the bag.

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IMG_9912Hermès HAC weekender bag  which the Birkin bag was based upon

Elsewhere in the exhibition, I learnt about skins that Hermès use for their bags – the niloticus croc that originate from the Nile, alligator from Africa and the premium porosus crocs prized for its relatively small belly scales…

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I also learnt about a Kelly bag rarity named Ulysses, distinctive because of its H-patterned leather and canvas finish.

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This Kelly bag was painted by friend Antoine Gruc in 2004 in celebration of Catherine B’s 10 year anniversary of her infamous vintage store.

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Here’s a transparent Kelly, which was first produced after the terrorist attacks in Paris in 1996 created with Anna Wintour in mind, so that the contents of her bag could be seen visibly for a smooth security check at the Hermès show in Paris.

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According to Catherine, Kelly bags aren’t made in black patent leather anymore because of the material’s inflexibility.

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There were also a few prime examples of some highly prized Hermès models that don’t exist anymore such as the ladylike Mini Piano Box, a Medor Box bag with a gold stud and Macpherson Bolide that comes with a detachable jewellery case at the bottom for women to transport their jewellery around…

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…or the curiously named Drag bag…

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This beach bag and umbrella set is also an oddity in this array of well-mannered Hermès leather goods.

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I love this cartoon baby Kelly made in 1996 complete with little arms and legs.

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Catherine’s collection Constances also have a point of difference exemplified by this one in white from the 1960s – difficult to find in such pristine condition.

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Catherine also has a huge Hermès silk scarf collection.

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The exhibition only on until Monday Nov 17th in Liberty’s Heritage Suite on the 3rd floor with Catherine on hand to guide you through the bags.  Private tours are available if you contact rsvp@liberty.co.uk

Some Kind of Shangri-La

Metallics.  Iridescence.  Sheeny shinyness.  Layers.  These are the components that make up the outfit equivalent of Shangri-La for me.  The main facilitator?  A Miu Miu jacket from the current A/W 14-5 collection, looking all delicious and tempting in-stores and online, stuffed with pastels, parkas and plastic brilliance.   How did I get it?  I was very honoured to be asked to be “Girl in Miu Miu” for a few days, leading up to Miu Miu ‘s S/S 15 show in Paris, taking over their Girl in Miu Miu Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr accounts.  Francesca Burns, fashion editor of British Vogue, was the previous Girl in Miu Miu in Venice, and a definite hard act to follow.  I did my artsy-fartsy best to put up some lush Girl in Miu Miu moments.  The reward?  The jacket, which when paired with other equally shimmery things such as Marques Almeida x Topshop‘s collabo taffeta trousers (I know everyone is falling hard for the shredded denim but don’t ignore the awesome 90s silk taffy bits!) and Alexander Lewis’ Palm Springs-inspired resort mermaid tail shirt dress, then becomes my kind of outfit alchemy.  Emphasis on the “my”.  Add a bargain £40 Tao by Comme des Garcons find from Rag Tag (from her debut solo A/W 05-6 collection no less) and some belatedly bought Meadham Kirchhoff x Nicholas Kirkwood glitter wedges from that most beloved SS12 collection (from a recent Nicholas Kirkwood sample sale… ) and there you have all the things that make me beam, beam, beam.  Oh, and thinking I’ll be able to easily convert these Ek Thongprasert bejewelled silicone peach danglies from pierced earrings to clip-ons, they’ll be the final finishing touch to this overly decorated layer cake.

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0E5A9311Miu Miu A/W 14-5 metallic jacquard jacket, Alexander Lewis resort 2015 iridescent dress, Marques Almeida x Topshop taffeta trousers, vintage Tao Comme des Garcons knitted top, Meadham Kirchhoff x Nicholas Kirkwood SS12 shoes, Miu Miu sunglasses, Ek Thongprasert earrings

The past is filled with violent joys and broken toys,
Laughing girls and teasing boys.

But don’t try to touch me, don’t try to touch me
Cos that will never happen again.

Tomorrow? Well, tomorrow’s a long way off.
Maybe someday I’ll have somebody’s hand.

I referenced Shangri-La in the title of the post as a nod to the main soundtrack component of Miu Miu’s S/S 15 show.  The American girl group trio Shangri Las and their 1966 spoken word track about teenage heartbreak “Past, Present and Future”, layered over Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata is one big telling clue into Miuccia’s mindset for Miu Miu’s latest collection.  As is the way she threw in other jarring sounds from Norwegian noise rock outfit Moon Relay as well as the soundtrack from John Waters’ 1974 classic Female Trouble.  How else to decipher what seemed like a medley of Miu Miu classics – remixed of course.  Cinched in plaid belts and pencil skirts, 1950s housecoats and 18th century Bucol floral silks were prim.  Ruffled lingerie-inspired crop tops, exaggerated bow mules and a drawn on brow courtesy of Pat McGrath were not.  In fact they were decidedly bad.  These ladies slash vamps stalked down the OMA-designed runway underneath misleading church-like wooden arches, with a knowing look in their eyes revelling in their “female troubles” (“They say I’m a skank but I don’t care… I’m a jerk – I like it fine!” so the song goes) The juxtaposition between the two made me think of vintage glamourous mugshots, yesteryear girl gangs and teenage rebellion of every era.  In other words, well versed tropes for Miuccia.  After the questionable faux-feminism of Chanel, seeing Miu Miu the next day was like being brought back on to more stable feminist ground.  It’s almost default for Miuccia to think about the complexities of female empowerment or on the most basic level, be cleverly empathetic to how clothing can make a woman feel.  It’s why Miu Miu and Prada collections are often loaded with subjective references, for the onlooker.    Something is always simmering beneath the surface, which is why I so enjoyed my temporary stint as a Girl in Miu Miu.  At the very least, I was within a five metre radius of the woman herself backstage at the show.  Still not said “Hi!” yet.  Maybe I never will.

Was I ever in love? I called it love…
I mean, it felt like love,
There were moments when…
Well, there were moments when.

IMG_20141006_155510Last day as Girl in Miu Miu in Paris

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IMG_20141001_125556From my stint as a Girl in Paris

0E5A0955OMA designed set of wooden arches for Miu Miu SS15

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IMG_20141002_062747Taken backstage at Miu Miu S/S 15 – thin brow action created by Pat McGrath

vintagemugshot1955 mugshot

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1980scholagirlsHoyo Maravilla gang girls, East LA, 1983 photographed by Janett Beckman

pachucaA “Pachucha” (Mexican-American women in zoot suits) Rosie From Boyle Heights In The 1940s

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01175568.JPGWoman in a plaid skirt, 1946 photographed by Nina Leen for Life Magazine

00569797.JPGFrom an April 20, 1942, LIFE story about proper skirt-hem lengths, photographed by Nina Leen

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115019426.jpgTeenager in Tokyo, 1965 photographed by Michael Rougier for Life Magazine

hellsangelsHell’s Angels in a bar 1965 photographed by Bill Rey for Life Magazine

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teenagegirlgunsGirls with guns c. 1920s

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John Stezaker: Pair IVPair (IV) The Approach (2007) by John Stezaker

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shangrilasThe Shangri Las

Japonaiserie

The 1970s.  Underwater life.  Japan.  Admittedly they sound like simplistic inspirations but SS15 can be distilled thus.  These are tropes that have been trundled out in fashion time and time again and that they’ve cropped up this SS15 should have seen our eyes rolling at the predictability of it all.  After all a few designers did go in for the straightforward cliches.  However, some designers did dig deeper, eking out nuances of those aforementioned themes, especially when combined with their own design language.  And it was in Paris where these themes really came to life and felt convincing as seasonal propositions.

In particular, Japonaiserie (as coined by Vincent Van Gogh) or Japonism really took flight in the last leg of fashion month.  The theme of next year’s Met Costume Institute exhibition may be China, but Japan to my mind, seems to consistently be the dominant Asian fountain that keeps on giving, in terms of designer inspiration.  You could already see hints of obis and kimono shapes edging into many New York collections but when designers were bold enough to go for full on Japonaiserie, openly embracing all the obvious art and cultural associations, it really emphasised the main umbrella theme of the season – beauty for beauty’s sake, where the surface prevailed.  No coincidence that the flat surfaces of ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world”) woodblock prints, which flourished in the Edo period, were at the root of this wave of Japanica.

Sarah Burton and Alexander McQueen are no strangers to Japan.  This S/S 15 collection was a nod to all the trips that Burton had taken throughout her time at Alexander McQueen but it could easily have reminded you of Lee McQueen’s ongoing fascination with Japan.  In collections like S/S 2001′s Voss or S/S 05′s It’s Only a Game, Japanese motifs were used to express intense ideas of confronting diversity in beauty and cultural exploitation.  Here, Burton explores a much more straightforward interpretation of Japonism.  Black lacquered faces recall decorative bento boxes and kabuki masks.  The Burton take on the kimono silhouette (reworked time and time again by McQueen in the past) elongated the limbs with stiff black tailoring.  Chrysanthemum graphics resembling Japanese family crests were worked in with traditional pulled thread obi weaving techniques.  Burton’s trousseau of kimono silks and perhaps her personal love of David Bowie what with the nods to Kansai Yamamoto, gave way to the emboldened graphics which were deliberately in your’ face and the overall result was one of the most “direct” Alexander McQueen collections by Burton.

This was about a pretenseless design inspiration colliding with the height of Burton and her atelier’s skill.  Everyone might understand the references loud and clear but it is still Burton’s quest for craft that gives this collection its supreme point of different.  In the showroom, the McQueen team were quick to emphasise that almost the entire ready to wear collections was for sale.  That’s not to say the collection was any simpler – one look at the inlaid python leather coats with floral motifs put paid to that notion – but that Burton and her team had made a conscious effort to marry concept, craft and commerce into one collection.  The ultra intricate showpieces were restricted to sakura dresses made up of black-edged organza petals and ceramic buds flowering on bodices as well as the pieces with hand-sewn pom pom patterns on netting.

This sense of strict control signified a new phase for Burton chez McQueen.  If the past was about a dark complexity of ideas colluding with fantastical pieces that will largely be locked away within museum vitrines and admired from afar (and yes, let’s all get excited about what promises to be a BIGGER and BETTER Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A next year), then the present house of Alexander McQueen is about really going about their business of selling that dream.

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kabuki2Kabuki theatre postcards from Wafu Works

Japan Society Gallery  KabukidoEnkyo_NakamuraNakazoII.jpgThe Actor Nakamura Nakazo II as Matsuo-Maru, 1796 by Kabukido Enkyo 

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obi zuan cho (8)

obi zuan cho (13)Obi designs from “Design Book , 2nd year of Taisho (1913), 7th volume, Miyake Sei Shoten” photographs from Wafu Works

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vogueuk_jul71_arrowsmith_yamamotoMarie Helvin in Kansai Yamamoto feature in Vogue UK October 1971, photographed by Clive Arrowsmith 

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moncrestsTable of Japanese family crests (Mon) 

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Mount_Fuji_seen_throught_cherry_blossom“Mount Fuji with Cherry Blossoms in Bloom” c. 1800-05 by Katsushika Hokusai

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Katsushika_Hokusai,_Goten-yama_hill,_Shinagawa_on_the_T-kaid-,_ca._1832“Goten-yama hill, Shinagawa on the Tōkaidō” c. 1832 by Katsushika Hokusai

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A momentous cha-cha-change at Maison Martin Margiela.  John Galliano will make his dramatic comeback to fashion by undertaking creative direction of all Margiela lines – artisinal, women’s and men’s ready to wear.  The many articles conjecturing this that or the other are meaningless unless we see something so until January, you won’t hear a peep out of me on the subject.  Until then though, let’s take a moment to mourn the departure of Mathieu Blazy.  Yes, it was supposed to be all hush hush that Blazy was the man behind Margiela.  But seeing as Renzo Rosso has eschewed the idea that the house will be faceless, then we should be free to discuss Blazy’s contribution.  His final collection for the house here was a beaut.  “Go through your wardrobe, make do and mend,” was the sentiment of the collection.  Raking the past to try and make sense of the future is something that Blazy shares with his former employer and friend, Raf Simons.  Blazy’s respect for a preloved garment shows here as kimono silks and 1940s tea dresses come together in deliberately discordant fashion.  Threads are left fraying, daisies are naively painted on and there are plenty of strings attached for a tied up take on déshabillé.  It was at the core of it, one of the more comprehensible and romantic Margiela collections we’ve seen in recent seasons – free of overarching concept and instead we have lovely clothes that you’d want to preserve and pull out of your garde-robe from time to time.  I won’t speculate further as to what the future of MMM holds but we should definitely take note of where Blazy ends up.

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wafu4Kimono silks and cottons from Wafu Works

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kimono1Photographs from ‘Kimono and Obi’ supplement to Shufunotomo (“Housewife’s Friend’) magazine, November 1960 scanned by Wafu Works

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oshiereliefsEdo period oshie (pictures made out of kimono fabric scraps) from Wafu Works

Buh-bye Guillaume Henry.  After five years of turning Carven into the contemporary fashion cash cow that it is today, with its USP of quirky bon chic, bon genre clothes, Henry is now off to Nina Ricci.  His final mark on Carven boldly crossed Formula 1  speed and all its primary colour verve with a dash of Edo period Hokusai and Hiroshige-inspired artworks and just a hint of Japanese shunga.   Sweeping landscapes, bathhouse beauties and the old Meiji period naval flag are spliced and partitioned off on sporty graphic zippered dresses and Courrèges-inflected coats.  I was sitting across from the Japanese journalists at the show.  I wondered whether they were cringing at the litany of Edo references or giving it all the thumbs up.  With uncertainty as to who will helm Carven in the future, Henry bid adieu with an uncomplicated easy-to-grasp collection that showed why he was able to give the house its design identity in the first place.

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Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa2“The Great Wave of Kanagawa c. 1820s by Katsushika Hokusai

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Hokusai-0066.jpg_4Part of “100 Poems As Explained by a Wet Nurse” series c. 1830-5 by Katsushika Hokusai

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Kitagawa_Utamaro_-_Beauty_at_her_toilet“Beauty at her Toilet” c. 1790 by Kitagawa Utamaro

Kitagawa_Utamaro_I,_Japanese_-_Two_Geishas_and_a_Tipsy_Client_-_Google_Art_Project“Two Geishas and a Tipsy Client” c. 1805 by Kitagawa Utamaro

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1280px-Kiyonaga_bathhouse_women-2“Bathhouse Women” by Torii Kiyonaga

Nicholas Kirkwood eschewed traditional Japanese pondering and looked at the psychedelic work of graphic design king Tadanori Yokoo.  It felt like a more free-spirited collection from Kirkwood.  Maybe the LVMH majority stake has put a spring in his step (excuse the punning) as he once again delves into sculptural heels with gold bow creates a curvilinear wedge and Yokoo-inspired graphics come together in brightly coloured shoe collages.  Yokoo’s unapologetically maximal work is fascinating in the way he mixed 60s acid triply elements with traditional Japanese motifs.  That blend is evident in Kirkwood’s own graphics, seen in both the shoes and on a central graphic tree that was created for the presentation in Paris.  Kirkwood called this collection “Lucid Plains” – you could also call it an unfamiliar one, where the shoe designer got to expand his horizons.

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ty4“16th Exhibition of Japan Advertising Artists Club. c. 1956-66″ poster, 1966 by Tadanori Yokoo

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ty3Lemon Earth poster, 1967 by Tadanori Yokoo

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ty1Tadanori Yokoo exhibition poster at MoMA, 1972 by Tadanori Yokoo

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ty2“Koshimaki-Osen,” a poster for a theater group, 1966 by Tadanori Yokoo

Red flames

shoppingred1Products Selection:shoppingred_02GCDS Nascar printed tee
Topshop Ninja turtles boypants
Bacon socks
Converse All Star

shoppingred03YSL Baby Doll Kiss&Blush
Chanel Vintage Top
Adam Selman Stretch wide leg Pants
Valentino logo go cross body bag

Graphics by Carolina Cerutti

Denim-Aholic

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Products Selection:

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BEAVIS is wearing: BAND OF OUTSIDERS JACKET
BUTT-HEAD is wearing: LEVI’S JEANS JACKET

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JANE LANE is wearing:
Levi’s Shirt 1
Levi’s Shirt 2
Levi’s Shirt 3

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QUINN MORGENDORFFER is wearing: Vintage Dungaree (Similar Here)
TOAST MAN is wearing: Levi’s Shorts

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ERIC CARTMAN is wearing:
Alexander McQueen Denim and Leather Jeans
Marc by Marc Jacobs Annie Boyfriend Jeans

Graphics by Carolina Cerutti

 

 

Roller skates

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In the same photos two of my secret dreams: a pair of vintage roller skates (found in our South California roadtrip) and Volkswagen hippie van (that I wanna buy after I find a house in Los Angeles).

Nelle stesse fotografie due dei miei sogni proibiti: un paio di pattini vintage (trovati nel nostro roadtrip nel sud della California) ed il furgoncino Volkswagen (che voglio comprare non appena troverò casa a Los Angeles).

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I was wearing:

VINTAGE ROLLER SKATES
LEVI’S VINTAGE DENIM SHORTS
VINTAGE SEQUINED TSHIRT
CELINE SUNGLASSES

Photos by Andrew Arthur

Boys Side

I’m the first one to tell you to buy vintage.

Some of my most special pieces were vintage finds (like my Celine jeans, which we should come back to). But what I found out recently was that the mens side is just as good. Somewhere in Manhattan is a man who buys women’s shoes because HIS feet are that small. And to him I say, Thank you for my all black Prada wingtips in a size 37! I’m not too squeamish to buying vintage shoes …

I’m looking forward to scouring the mens section for big coats I can belt and chunky sweaters for fall, you never know when something might just be the perfect fit…

Do you have any vintage shopping tips?


By brie

Coming to Fruition

10467917_242596119262782_1886810974_nSammy and Val fusing all of the elements that have make Fruition, the store an interesting concept

Fruition.  I’m pretty sure that’s one of my top ten most overused words in speech and in writing.  It is after all an uplifting word that neatly sums up the process of design, development and final product and in on this occasion, I finally got to see the “Fruition” of Sammy Jo Alonso, Val Julian and business partner Chris Julian’s eponymous store that is coming up to its ten year anniversary.  The trio started Fruition in their beloved hometown of Las Vegas because they wanted to shake things up in sin city.  Sammy has been reflecting on her close-to-a-decade Fruition journey on Instagram and had this to say: “To many of you, Las Vegas may seem like a barren desert.  But to me, Las Vegas is a city with boundless untouched treasures.  Treasures and undeveloped talents found within myself these past 9 years.”  

From Fruition’s seemingly in-the-middle-of-nowhere LV locale, they’ve expanded to Los Angeles with a store in Echo Park as well as collaborating left, right and centre with brands, like Nike, along the way to spread not just the Fruition gospel but Sammy and Val’s own mantras of living life to the full (see this post for motivating words that will make you get off your arse and well… just do it!).  On my trip to Los Angeles which also included a one day reccie to Las Vegas last month, seeing Fruition in both cities was on my agenda, just so that I could see this store that I talked up on the basis of their look book styling, which popped off the computer screen.  Hearing Virgil Abloh talk about these “Celine and Supreme” modern times, where one can mix and match street, high-end and other sources all together; it made me think of the aesthetic of Fruition.  Back in 2005, they were already recontextualising vintage to mix up authentically crafted “ethnic” pieces from all over the world, with vintage Chanel and Versace and then both new and deadstock streetwear and sportswear.  Back then, that mix would have been a zany one.  Now, we almost take mixing up style genres for granted.  Case in point, I came away from the Los Angeles store with a destroyed and ripped Chinese robe (no ridic London prices here – I paid USD30) and a Phoebe Philo concert tour t-shirt by the brand Modern Man Paris.  I’m not sure how Ms. Philo will feel about her image cut ‘n’ pasted this way but this t-shirt is certainly representative of the way designers are probably a bit uneasy about the way consumer mixes their collections up, styling and restyling until it is very far removed from the original catwalk context.  It’s why brands and houses instruct editors and stylists to showcase head-to-toe looks in magazines.  The very idea of designers ceding control so that “people” can remix brands in their own way is what makes stores like Fruition so refreshing.  They point out the roots of brands with their themed displays of military jackets, bleached-out denim and 80s windbreakers and pair them up with brand new streetwear or designers that link up to these references.  In the background of the LA store in particular, glitched up images of Celine and Margiela collections are spliced with their own references and we’re invited to “surf” the store and “instamoment” a selfie.  Fruition reflects the same kind of glitched up present, whilst recognising the weight of the fruitful past where so many of the clothes in the store come from.  But what of the future?

We live in a google generation.  A microwave culture where we’ve been conditioned to expect instant results and instant solutions. We’re led by bottom line expectations to produce, coupled with our internal pressure to succeed.  These circumstances can easily take the life out of living if not pursued with balance and meaning.  With patience and discipline, we can learn to run the race we have been called to run.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured. I promise you, we will surpass our own expectations and set the pace towards our best days ahead.”  From Sammy’s Instagram

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Let it Rock: The Look of Music The Sound of Fashion

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A fashion trade show that is as enormous as CIFF in Copenhagen might seem like an odd place to house a comprehensive exhibition dedicated to one of Britain’s most well-known, multi-talented and culture zeitgeist informing provocateurs.  As you enter Crystal Hall, Virgil Abloh is pitted next to Malcolm McLaren – past and present colliding.  The exhibition Let it Rock: The Look of Music The Sound of Fashion, is really a first and proper look at McLaren’s fashion output and how it interwove with the various musical epochs that McLaren championed.  Structured as a journey through the various guises and guerilla changes 430 Kings Road underwent, we got to see unseen and rare original clothing, photographs, films and audio soundtrack and experience a concise yet simultaneously comprehensive look at how McLaren figured into this ultimately groundbreaking partnership between himself and Vivienne Westwood.

The exhibition is co-curated by Young Kim, McLaren’s partner who lived with him for the last twelve years of his life and the creator of my go-to resource about all things sub-culture, British and London, Paul Gorman.  After a slow process of organising an archive of sorts, gathering up information and ephemera, they’re now ready to pipe up and let it be known what McLaren treated.  In mainstream consciousness, Westwood’s fame has far outstripped her former partner, as her solo career in fashion took flight beyond 1984, when her and McLaren officially dissolved their partnership.  Those formative years between 1970 and 1984 though is easily one of the most fascinating time in British fashion history where political climate, music, youth culture and a do-it-yourself, grassroots level creative expression all came together, centred on that infamous shop on Kings Road.  That’s what this exhibition is focused on and that’s where McLaren can be discussed, not just as a svengali/manager type figure, but as an artistic/creative director with a hand on everything from the collaborators to the clothes to the store design to the show soundtracks and even on what was written on the programme notes.  Much like a modern day creative director at a house, tasked with overseeing all aspects.  Only McLaren got to have the final say in every matter.

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The daily rags are quick to pick up on the more tawdry aspects of the less-than-acromonious fallout between McLaren and Westwood, exacerbated by McLaren’s death four years ago and ensuing dispute about his will.  With Westwood still alive and kicking and with Young Kim fighting for a lasting legacy for McLaren, it can be a deeply touchy subject to dissect the work of the two.

But let’s put down the nit picking “who did what” and just get our heads round the fact it was an equal partnership.  There were two names on those clothing labels – from the Seditionaries period onwards through to the more formal collections they showed under the label World’s End up – and that’s a good enough reason to celebrate and highlight the fact that Malcolm McLaren wasn’t just a “shop manager” as Gorman puts it.  “For some people, as Vivienne continued in fashion they dismiss Malcolm’s design role,” says Kim.  “I want people to understand everything from Malcolm’s point of view.  Everything came from the mind of an artist, there was a reason for it, it was entrenched in pop culture and in terms of the clothes themselves, he had real knowledge.”  

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IMG_4664Clothing and pieces from the Let it Rock period

The first surprising fact to stake claim to McLaren’s fashion nous.  His grandfather was a Savile Row tailor and his mother had a dress factory.  He carried a knowledge of how clothes should be made.  At the age of twenty-five, wearing his bright blue lame suit, which he designed, he happened to hap upon a shop called Paradise Garage.  He was offered the backspace to sell his stash of rock ‘n’ roll records.  Later the front shop was deserted and that became Let it Rock, a retrogazing haven for rock ‘n’ roll aficionados, but more importantly this was McLaren’s expression of recontextualising the past as something “cool” and relevant.  Together with Westwood they sold rock ‘n’ gear, such as some ace ties that could slot right into Prada today, but selling wasn’t the point.  “We agreed that it was our intention to fail in business and to fail as flamboyantly as possible, and only if we failed in a truly fabulous fashion, would we ever have a chance of succeeding.”* 

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Just as publications like the Sunday Times Style were picking up on this rockabilly/teddy boy vibe, McLaren and Westwood volte faced and opened in 1972-4 as Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die, where printed slogan and graphic t-shirts were deliberately trampled on and messed up as much as possible.  In the context of early 70s fashion mainstream mod/hippie hybrids, happing upon this Kings Road spot must have felt like a discombobulated trip.  “I created something new by destroying the old,” said McLaren.

“It’s collaging, and combining different influences to create something new,” asserts Kim.  Gorman then adds, “It’s postmodern. Today, we can place him as an artist within the narrative. There’s certain principles that define postmodernism and Malcolm ticks all of them. It was revolutionary at the time.”

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IMG_4658A SEX ensemble from Kim Jones’ private collection 

Then came SEX in 1974, probably one of most monumental shake-ups to the store and one that would coincide with of course, McLaren’s management and creation of the Sex Pistols as SEX customers like John Lydon, Paul Cook and Steve Jones and shop assistant Glen Matlock would come together in this uneasy, sleaze-filled store, fronted by giant pink rubber letters spelling out SEX.  The motto underneath was “Craft Must have Clothes – But the Truth Loves to Go Naked.”  Westwood’s adapted lingerie, fetish and bondage wear were presented on climbing wall bars, adorned with nipple clamps and whips.  “You didn’t know what the fuck was going on,” remembers Gorman about the store.  There was reason behind the provocation though.  “Black expressed the denouncement of the frill.  Nihilism.  Boredom.  Emptiness.  How do you dress an array of disaffected youth?,” said McLaren.  The things we take for granted today as standard “trend” items like a pair of spike-backed black shoes or a printed graphic t-shirt displaying nudity were ground breaking then.  They did shake up the system.  That street fashion of boredom would of course accompany probably McLaren’s biggest claim to fame – the birth of punk – although Kim and Gorman were keen to stress they didn’t want to focus on punk, around which there are so many misconceptions anyway.

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SEX closed and reopened in 1976 as Seditionaries – Clothes for Heroes.  It was to be the store’s most menacing manifestation yet designed by Ben Kelly of Hacienda fame, with a caged-up stark shop front, bombed-out ceiling and walls depicting the Dresden ruins.  This was war.  Jamie Reid’s graphics came into their own and the bondage trouser was born.  From disorder and chaos came commercial cohesion though.  Gorman observed that Seditionaries was a real “commercial” and on the back of Sex Pistols blowing up and media attention, those t-shirts and trousers were commodities.  Sure, the label read “For Soldiers, prostitutes, dykes and punks” but at £30 a tee, these clothes weren’t cheap.  From anti-establishment, Westwood and McLaren were slowly coming into the fold of the establishment, even as people from Vogue were being chase out of the store, as Kim recalled.

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IMG_46661981 Pirate Shirt 

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In 1981, McLaren and Westwood volte-faced again, buoyed by Westwood’s own desire to destroy punk and to sail away from the Kings Road.  The store floated on waves and time went backwards on a thirteen-hour giant clock on the store front.  This was also the beginning of the end for McLaren and Westwood’s partnership even though they arguably created their most cohesive and stirring fashion moments through showed like the Pirate, Savage and Buffalo collections – their originality still looking utterly captivating today as you look at the pieces in glass vitrines or hung up flat in-between perspex.  This wild with abandon, layered and multi-ethnic collaged look was the product of Westwood’s buoyant creativity as well as McLaren’s own interest in influences from the third world.  He connected 18th century men’s shirts to pirates and then to modern day piracy in music, where McLaren was having his own explosion of creation with records like Duck Rock.

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IMG_4687 IMG_4689A top made out of dish rags from the Hobo-Punkature collection

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IMG_4745A knit dress from the 1983 Nostalgia of Mud collection

IMG_4662A Keith Haring collaborated ensemble from the 1983 Witches collection

McLaren’s final expression in retail and fashion resulted in Nostalgia of Mud, a short-lived store in town that pushed the idea that the roots of our culture lay in primitive societies.  It sounds like an extraordinary interiors feat with a formal Regency-style foyer and then a collapsed floor so that you descend into a basement as if on an archaeological dig.  Collections like Nostalgia of Mud, Hobo-Punkature and Witches were to be housed here.

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The final vitrine showcasing the hat dubbed the buffalo hat, now so intrinsically attached to Pharrell’s image is a pertinent ending.  Whilst Pharrell did credit McLaren at the Grammys, it’s Westwood who has profited from the association.  As an idea, it was born out of McLaren’s research of traditional Peruvian dress but it was also a combined realisation, as so much of Westwood and McLaren’s work from 1970 until 1984 was.  As a final item in the exhibition, it leaves us to ponder how do we move forward with this discussion of about this partnership as it can so easily descend into a “Who designed what?” quagmire.

IMG_4648The agreement between Westwood and McLaren to dissolve their partnership in 1984

That discussion wasn’t fully resolved in this exhibition but it did present a somewhat revisionist perspective to the tale, one that not many people will know about.  Is there an absolute and categoric truth to be found in all of this?  Probably not.  But that the conversation about it is carried on by Gorman and Kim’s work is definitely encouraging.  The exhibition will travel to Grenoble in France later this year and to other countries beyond that, hopefully with a book in the pipeline too.  The historian in me says that it will take probably decades after this to uncover an even deeper understanding of this explosive and ultimately game-changing partnership.  For now we can just fully appreciate the importance of their collective output at a time before fashion became product.

I thought I’d end this post beautifully not with a probing question but with McLaren’s 1984 masterpiece Madame Butterfly collaging opera with electro, deftly mixing and recontextualising styles and genres, just as he did with Westwood previously.

*All Malcolm McLaren quotes in the exhibition were said to Gorman in 2006 for his seminal book The Look: Adventures in Rock & Pop Fashion.

The Real Deal

“How do you afford all these designer labels?” is a question that frequently pops up and is one that I answer over and over again in numerous ways when I re-iterate like a boring broken record that I rarely ever pay full retail price for designer labels.  Back in the day, the reason used to be single-fold – the good-old fashioned seasonal sales and markdowns.  Then eBay came along and changed the game.  Then I started seeking out designer consignment stores like Bang Bang in London or INA in New York.  Then charity shops got savvier about taking in designer stuff.  Then I’d snoop out sample sales in London.  Then the sales came earlier and earlier and discounting, heavier and heavier.  Then sites like The Outnet popped up.  Then I’d luckily began to pay wholesale prices on personal orders (applicable to young designers in London).  Then I was fortunate enough to receive discount cards.  Then I developed an addiction to Yoox.  Then I started to go out to Tokyo twice a year to scope out the sprawling network of designer resale shops, where I could really go buckwild and indulge in my love of Japanese designers.  Soon, the reasons became multifold.  In fact, it’s probably never been easier to go and get yourself some designer bargains than it is now and so in my head the sort of equations that pop into my head are… three full-priced Topshop tops at £30 each = one discounted Prada top at any one of the sources above.  Or to bring the recent heartbreaking BBC2 This World documentary about the Rana Plaza factory disaster into the conversation… five Primark vests at £6 each = one heavily discounted Marni vest (Made in Italy – not 100% assured of course but still better quality wise).

Before you throw around accusations of “snobby” thinking, I’m merely stating the above as my own shopping preferences and habits, not to impose on other people or to pass judgement on what your shopping choices are.  Everybody’s circumstances are of course different.  All I’m saying is that today it’s really not as simple to associate designer clothing with being wildly expensive and vice versa, that the high street is categorically always cheap as chips, especially when you factor in cost per wear of these clothes.  At the end of Paris couture fashion week at the beginning of July, I, along with Vogue.co.uk, went to visit the new headquarters of Vestiaire Collective, a social site dedicated to luxury resale founded in 2009 in France.  It’s something of a hybrid of a traditional consignment store and a third party selling conduit like eBay with the added in-house expertise of an authentication and quality control team that deal specifically with designer and premium fashion.  With over 2.4 million members, across 40 countries, Vestiaire Collective has grown to become a trusted environment for both sellers and buyers to safely trade designer goods.  The social aspect is especially important as individual sellers have rated profiles for all to see and buyers can ask sellers questions directly so that it becomes entirely transparent.  Sellers become “Influencers” if their wares are presented in an attractive manner and if you’re followed by other members.

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Vestiare Collective’s USP, which separates it from say an eBay, is its focus and in-depth knowledge of designer fashion.  A seller uploads their item online, including descriptions and photos and that is then vetted and checked by the curation team.  70% of items submitted are accepted depending on whether from first glance they can ascertain authenticity (a conversation might ensue between seller and curating team about receipts, invoices etc) and also whether it’s aesthetically fitting for the site.  Prices are first suggested by the seller and then finally confirmed by VC’s curation team.

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Then when the item is sold on the site, the seller sends the item into the Paris head office to be physically checked by the team, who are all trained in spotting the real from the fakes.  VC are actively  Saying No to Fakes and in February 2012 signed the ‘Fight Against Online Counterfeiting Charter’, initiated by the French government which aims to protect consumers against the sale of online counterfeits.  Even though in actual fact, VC only get less than 1% of counterfeit goods coming through their offices, they take the matter incredibly seriously when authenticating products, especially bags, which of course is big business in the designer resale sector.  One of the experts Saloua El Yazid showed us some tell-tale signs with the ever-popular 2.55 Chanel bag.  We all know we need to look out for serial numbers and the holographic sticker but a bag made before 1984 wouldn’t have one.  Similarly, a bag that has come from a sample sale (yes those fabled Chanel sample sales…) don’t have them either.  It all comes down to knowledge of the leather, the hardware and the stitching, something that the authenticating experts like Saloua know like the back of their hand.  And when they don’t know, they can always contact someone from a house to verify whether something is real or fake.  

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The most expensive item ever sold on VC was an Hermès croc Birkin at EUR35,000.  Hermès bag don’t really depreciate in value and whilst that price may sound extortionate, it’s actually cheaper to buy it through VC than at auction.  In addition to authenticity, quality control is also extremely important to VC as they have to tally up whether the defects on any item match defects described the seller on the site.  

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This amazing giant Chanel semi-circular tote needed some extra TLC because of some damage to the handle.  After those famed SS14 backpacks, it’s quite possibly the most practical of Chanel bags I’ve ever seen… laptop, DSLR AND mags can all go in here.

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Jewellery also has its own checks and tests – diamonds are given the once over with some sort of diamond-detector tool and the veracity of gold is tested out with a special chemical.

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Certain VIPs and celebrities (they did namedrop a few well known fashion editors who are big Vestaire Collective sellers – *ahem ahem*) are dealt with in VC’s consignment department  as all items are taken in-house before they are sold to be checked and held until they are sold.  Delving into the clothes rail was the real highlight for me, seeing as I’m always going to be more of a clothes fiend than a bag hag.  One surprising find was a Dior neon yellow knit dress from Raf Simons’ first ready to wear show for the house, which I actually borrowed and wore to the cruise show in Monaco last year.  The VC team said it came from the UK and is a press sample so this was probably the very dress, which I wore and somehow, inadvertently it has ended up here waiting to be sold at a heavily discounted price.  Current season pieces the markdowns on VC will range from 20-30% and beyond that of course, the prices will dip dramatically.

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Then came the “fun” part of  the day – or fun if you’re a designer bag expert like Saloua and have the all-mighty KNOWLEDGE when it comes to differentiating between real and fakes.  We played a game of “Real or Fake” as a table of real and fake examples of Balenciaga motorcycle bags, Louis Vuitton epi leather and monogram bags, Chloé Paddington bags and Isabel Marant wedge trainers were laid out before us.  Vestiaire Collective, to support their Say No to Fakes campaign, recently conducted a study which revealed that 35% of the female online marketplace in the UK have been misled into purchasing counterfeit designer goods, spending between £200-£1000 on their purchase and that scarily, 66% of women admitted they don’t feel they possess the knowledge to accurately identity a counterfeit product from a genuine item.  Apparently women living in London were most confident in their ability to identify a fake.

Well, you can put me in that category of clueless and slightly arrogant Londoner.  I was vaguely confident I could spot the fake by looking at linings, hardware and sniffing out the leathers but the truth is out of the five pairs of examples we were presented with, I only got one right.  Admittedly I’ll put my hand up and say that I haven’t really had that much first hand experience of any of these items.  I don’t actually own any of these items myself and have only man handled some Louis Vuitton bag samples from the press office.  The Chloé Paddington leathers were easy to tell apart as the red one had a very plastic-feel to it.  Ok so then smarty pants-me applied the same approach to the Balenciaga motorcycle leathers – the blue one looked more weathered than the berry one so I thought the latter would the fake. WRONG!  Apparently I didn’t spot the fact that the serial numbers aren’t correctly marked and whilst we were looking at the mis-matching coloured hardware of one bag, Saloua pointed out that the real Balenciaga do sometimes come with mis-matched hardware.  Then we looked at the Isabel Marant trainers.  Whilst bags run the biggest risk of being fake at VC, they also have to watch out for items like fake Moncler jackets and increasingly, fake Isabel Marant wedge trainers.  Odd.  I’m not a fan myself nor have I ever felt them so I was completely out of my depth with this one.  I’d vaguely seen the suede ones and so said the denim ones were fake.  WRONG!  The suede ones are apparently too “puffy” and the soles are not quite correct so the denim ones are the real deal.

Then we get to the most faked of all fakes – Louis Vuitton.  Looking at two examples of Louis Vuitton Epi leather bags, I thought the red Speedy Epi just looked wrong.  It had a funny plasticky pocket with no lining.  The purple Noé felt right.  Wrong!  The red Speedy is actually an older Louis Vuitton style, hence why the pocket is a like that.  The purple Noé is a good fake but the stitching gives it away.  And then the monogram.  By then, I was thinking “F*** it – I’m shit at this game!” so I think I got it wrong without looking properly.  The way the LV monogram is positioned of course gives the game away and how the monogram print is aligned at the seams.  Again, stitching and hardware are also tell-tale signs.

So I know nothing… which didn’t surprise me that much considering what a dunce I am when it comes to handbags.  If and when I do get a hankering for a designer handbag, then my sources will be limited to designer resale sites like VC or of course going into the real store itself to get assurance of authenticity.

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0E5A3459Real Louis Vuitton red leather Epi Speedy, Fake Louis Vuitton purple Noé bag

 

0E5A3471Fake red Chloé Paddington bag, Real gunmetal Chloé Paddington bag

0E5A3477Real berry Balenciaga Motorcycle bag, Fake blue Balenciaga Motorcycle bag

0E5A3469Real denim frayed Isabel Marant wedge trainers, Fake suede Isabel Marant wedge trainers

0E5A3479Fake Louis Vuitton monogram over-the-shoulder bag, Real Louis Vuitton monogram Speedy

VC assures us that I’m on much safer ground with clothing (although one quick search on Chinese global market place Taobao and you’ll find some truly scary knock-off Simone Rocha pearl-encrusted tops and Christopher Kane flower sweatshirts going for next to nothing).  In the quick turnaround of collections and the great quantities produced, the value of clothing and shoes depreciates far quicker than that of bags and so the problem of counterfeit is not nearly as serious.  Fine by me as I’m almost always in it for the clothes anyway and VC does consistently have a tasty selection.  I just skimmed a few of my favourite labels to find the following…

vestiairecFrom top to bottom, left to right: Marc Jacobs top, Chanel crop top, Carven skirt and Sophia Webster shoes; Prada sunglassesPrada dress, Louis Vuitton jeans and Marc Jacobs shoes; Miu Miu leather trench, Dior top, Christopher Kane skirt and Balenciaga shoes; Marc Jacobs jacket, Balenciaga skirt and Acne shoes; Comme des Garcons shirt, Dries van Noten waistcoat, Celine skirt and Marni sandals; Celine leather jacket, Prada dress and Tabitha Simmons shoes

Port Eliot Returns

From seventeen paying punters at Port Eliot’s first ever edition back in 2003, the festival has grown exponentially.  You felt that growth at this year’s festival, which returned after a one year hiatus to give the grounds of Port Eliot in St Germans, Cornwall a rest.  There seemed to be “more” of everything – more tents, more bustle, more words to hear, more drinks a-flowing, more things to eat, more vintage stalls to rummage through.  Or perhaps the “more” was extra exacerbated with the weekend coinciding with an ultra hot heatwave wafting through this part of the world.

Still, that “moreness” didn’t diminish the feeling that you can still find somewhere to escape to in the extensive grounds, depending on your interest.  On top of the big spiky tents like The Bowling Green, Park Stage and Caught by the River where the “big” acts were on, the bustling Wardrobe Department where there were queues aplenty to get your face/hair did, I love that there are smaller pockets that are more tucked away – The Badger’s Sett for kidult crafting, Ways with Weird and Dovegrey Reader for more intimate talks and then if you don’t want to hear anyone speak, feel free to lie on the lush lands/woods, watching the trains go past on the viaduct and take the a restorative nap or two.

Actually, for the most part of the weekend, I wished I could be in more than two places at once as the timetable had quite a few clashes of talks/words/demonstrations that I wanted to see.  The last thing you want to feel though is stress at a festival that is supposed to be something of a restorative experience for the mind and body.  So I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to… I’ve still taken away an extensive to see/read/do list to ensure the Port Eliot spirit carries on beyond the weekend.

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0E5A4648I have no idea what these tea-dress ladies were doing in front of the house but it looks like fun…

IMG_4548The Orangery was “poshed” up with Fortnum and Mason’s coming onboard as a sponsor and Mark Hix doing a feasting menu.  Renowned set designer Michael Howells as always has given it his magic touch…

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0E5A5425Under my favourite tree on the grounds which is split in the middle – wearing Loewe sunglasses, Zandra Rhodes jacket and top, Tsumori Chisato top and Prism espadrilles

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0E5A4984Caught by the river – wearing vintage dragon embroidered top and Chinese robe around waist, Phenomenon shorts, Suno pumps, Ray Ban sunglasses

It was good to once again be ensconced in the Wardrobe Department within the walled gardens as Sarah Mower had once again put together a stellar line-up to entertain, entice and charm even the hardiest of fashion naysayers.

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Louise Gray may have put her own label on hold for the time being but she was certainly welcomed with open arms at Port Eliot as she and her ex-assistant current Central Saint Martins MA student James Theseus Buck lit up the MAC make-up tent with prints, pigment and freehand body painting that made most people clap/smile with glee.  Abstract trickles, dots, Haring-like strokes – Gray and Bovan did it all.  I went from van Gogh-esque strokes on my left arm to Yayoi Kusama-type dots on my left leg in one weekend.  It was a real shame to wet-wipe the lot of it off…

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For the face, MAC and a few of their core make-up artists tentatively felt their way into the festival for the first time this year.  Their work was more meticulous and precise with delicate dots and fine brushstrokes around the eyes.

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The lovely Rachel did a colourful Penelope Tree-inspired bottom lash and dotty thing on my eyes this year…

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0E5A4961 Wearing Luke Brooks tree t-shirt, & Other Stories cardigan worn as skirt, Ray Ban sunglasses

For all matters of the head, Stephen Jones teamed up with Bumble & Bumble to hat/hair the more than-willing ladies of Port Eliot.  No wonder people left chuffed.  Jones literally bought boxes of his hats, veils and headdresses to place on people’s heads, according to their personality/look… and they get to keep them.  Erm… I hope people treasure the millinery magic that they experienced with Stephen.

 

 

 

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I didn’t need an extensive consultation with Stephen.  He just instinctively clipped a sparkly black veil on my head and I was done.  Later he revealed that the veil was in fact a first toile/prototype for Raf Simons’ first ever haute couture show for Dior (they went with coloured veils sans sparkles in the actual show).  I had to run away and do a mini-scream.  That’s how chuffed I was.

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Bumble and Bumble peeps were on hand to plait, style and stencil people’s hair with pastel powders.  Here’s blogger Zoe London and her dip-dyed hair plaited up.

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In a rainbow hair-extension festooned teepee, the girls from Bleach London were back, bigger with their own line of extensive products to demo on festival-goers and an anything-goes hair spirit that resonated with most of the tweens/teens present at the festival.  They’ve just recently launched a line of hair crayons which – HUZZAH – do work on my stubbornly temporary dye-resistant dark dark hair (still not plucked up the courage to errr… bleach my hair).  The lovely Bleach girls were on hand to demonstrate how to apply the semi-permanent crayon colours, which I kind of want to talk-up separately once I’ve done a bit of experimentation on my own.

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Bleach co-founder and all-round hair maestro-mistress Alex Brownsell was feeling a bit under the weather but still showed up at Port Eliot to trial her new hair tapestry.  Now I don’t want to inaccurately call it “first” without knowing for sure but it’s definitely the first time I’ve ever seen this done.  Alex developed this especially for Port Eliot to fuse the crafting fads of yesteryear’s friendship bracelets and current craze loom bands with hair.  She made a loom out of a picture frame, carving up notches to separate strands of hair to create the “warp” as it were.  Then she would use a special needle to thread cotton through the hair as the “weft”, creating sections of hair tapestry that she could then embroider over to extra embellishment.  It was a fascinating process to watch as Alex trialled it on fellow hair stylist Lou Teasdale.  The end result is pretty ace, especially in the fading summer sunlight, and you could definitely see girls cementing their friendships and sisterhoods with this hair craft.

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The most popular area in the Wardrobe Department was Haughty Culture where Piers Atkinson was once again on hand to collect up flowers and foliage from the grounds of Port Eliot to turn into festival appropriate head wreaths.  I did fear for flower headband making exhaustion on behalf of Piers and his tireless team and was shocked to hear that people were being a bit pushy and rude when queuing up to have their head kitted out.  Not cool and not very Port Eliot.

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I loved the addition of the seed paper logos which Piers added to the wreaths this year.  Apparently you can plant the paper and the embedded seeds will flower eventually.  I’m very sloooooowly turning green-fingered as my patch of garden at home is now fully planted up and so I took extra interest in Port Eliot’s abundance of greenery and flowers this year.

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By the end of Saturday, my head had been triple decorated with Piers Atkinson’s blooms, Stephen Jones’ veil and Alex Brownsell of Bleach’s multi-coloured hair tapestry.  More is always more at Port Eliot.

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Port Eliot is really a lovely place to encourage young ones to get their creative juices pumping and Port Eliot long-timer Barbara Hulanicki was on hand to teach little peeps a spot of fashion illustration, hanging out Tweeny Fashionista Uni badges and awards in the process to the most promising artists.  I learnt that Hulanicki has just started a new illustrated clothing line Icon Club.

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Scarf designer Emma J Shipley, who designed the poster of Port Eliot  was a newcomer to the Wardrobe Department with her bandana print making workshop.

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Jewellery designer Vicki Sarge also returned to create pretty things out of tin foil and once again turn trash into treasure.

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Jenny Dyson aka Mrs Rubbish and her Pencil Agency crew are pretty much a permanent Wardrobe Department fixture with their Pencil Atelier, teaching kids to do neon potato prints and sew up simple dresses for the culminating Pencil Fashion Show.  Cath Kidston also teamed up with Jenny to lend a hand in crafting these ensembles.

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In other crafting areas, you could create head dresses and do beginner’s crochet in Ros Badger and Christine Leach’s Badger’s Sett.

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The ever-popular workshops in Anthropologie’s tent included mask decoration with illustrator Florence Balducci, jewellery making with Catherine Zoraida and fabric taxidermy with Mister Finch.  Once again, as branded activities go at Port Eliot, the approach is always gently does it.  When they lull you with impressive interior styling and Buddy Holly tunes on the record player, it doesn’t feel like they’re trying to ram Anthropologie down your throat.

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The Flower show got a new location inside the basement of the house near the kitchen and there was an added Fodder (food) category too for judges to peruse.  The categories are as ever wildly imaginative – my favourite was “He can take it, but can’t dish it” where flowers, vomit and over-indulgent meals came together and Mrs Peacock in the Library where one entrant created an amazing homage to Great Expectation’s Miss Havisham.

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The Wardrobe Department talks were hefty this year, with Sarah Mower conducting her “If Clothes Could Speak” series.  I’ve already talked up the one with Suzy Menkes, where I learnt a life lesson or two.  The next day, Mower spoke to legendary model Penelope Tree about the Betsey Johnson double-slit dress she wore to Truman Capote’s Black and White ball in 1966.  Tree really entertained the crowd with the minutiae about this incredible night as well as imparting nuggets about her own extraordinary upbringing and life as a model.  There’s an autobiography in the making here.

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I loved that fashion seeped its way out of the walled gardens and on to the larger stages.  At The Bowling Green, fashion historian NJ Stevenson and Mark Butterfield, owner of the infamous C20 Vintage Fashion resource in Devon paired up talk about groovy 1970s knitwear.  Or not so groovy, depending on when you were born.  In lieu of the forthcoming exhibition about fashion knitwear at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, Stevenson and Butterfield focused on 70s knitwear, modelled by teensy tinsy Port Eliot goers.  It was comprehensive for fashion enthusiasts and at the same time and engaging for non-fashion-y people.  More please!

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Back at Five Dials on Sunday, Sarah Mower interviewed Simone Rocha about her rise as a designer in London Fashion Week.  Rocha was endearing and candid when talking about growing up with fashion in her family, her Chirish roots (she’s half Irish, half Chinese) and going from art school in Ireland to studying fashion at Central Saint Martins with the late Louise Wilson.  I loved that Mower got across the special way in which Rocha has created a highly personal “universe” in her brand – in the attitude of her girls and in the types of references which Rocha looks at.  The Warren Sisters – the unofficial go-tomodels of Port Eliot – looked incredible in their various seasons and shades of Rocha.

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What does a fashion show need?  Lots of gin, 6pm summer sunshine and Damian Lewis as a guest host.  The Pencil Atelier fashion show had all those things as all those aforementioned neon-printed frocks were paraded along a haybale catwalk in the Wardrobe Department.  Christopher Kane has nothing to worry about yet but those neon gradiated gingham dresses did look mighty fetching.

0E5A5184Mrs Rubbish hosting Pencil Fashion Show proceedings

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0E5A5185You say Nicholas Brody, I say Soames Forsyte

The fashion show was followed by the inaugural Port Eliot Prom, organised by Sarah Mower.  No left out nerds and jock n’ cheerleader couples here.  Just whoever turned up in their glad rags and wanted to be entered in the prom parade to be in with a chance of being crowned with three beautiful resin crowns, made by Fashion East’s latest addition to their line-up Ed Marler.

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My favourite outfit was number 26.  Just saying.

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There are no winners or losers of course in the spirit of Port Eliot but three lucky girls got to wear and keep these elaborate crowns.  Not that I’m errr… jealous of a six year old or anything…

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I’ve got to say a big thumbs up to my first “glamping” experience thanks to the kind folks at Yurtel.  Electrical plugs inside the yurt, a lockable wooden door (still had the laptop with me…) and a heart-embedded skylight were the touches I loved.

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It was great to discover a new vintage source in Dolly Blue, owned by Lily Walford, who happens to be the wife of catwalk show production expert John Walford.  Lily has a love of Victorian/Edwardian cotton undies and petticoats and she also turns French linen into dresses and jackets.  I bought a sweet Hungarian-embroidered blouse from Lily and hope to see her soon for all my Victorian whites needs.

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On the picture front, I had to end with a trio of rainbow goodness.  Port Eliot really is bursting with colour and it seems to create an environment where people feel it’s safe to express themselves with colour, whether it’s dressing up in silly wigs and hippy dippy clothes or going all out in the Wardrobe Department.  You wonder why that sense of inhibited freedom can’t be felt outside of the grounds of Port Eliot in day to day life.  Apparently real life, normal jobs and judgemental peers all get in the way.

0E5A4483Loved how kids were selling their self-made loom bands as an enterprising business at the festival… this kid was charging 50p a band.  I did say he should charge £1.  

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IMG_4558Easy to picture stalk this girl in her LED lit-up dress…

So we come back to reality.  And back in real land, I’ll be ploughing through a list inspired by Port Eliot’s non-fashion events, which I’ve rounded up here.

To eat…

- I was tempted by Cloud Nine’s marshmallows because I kept hearing people raving about them every time I passed their stall at Port Eliot.  One bite into their strawberry/champagne marshies and I was smitten.  Even veggies who didn’t realise they were eating gelatine were swooning.  Must buy more.

- Port Eliot definitely upped its food game this year with even more choices to indulge in.  My personal faves were The Cornish Fishmonger‘s samphire and seabass, Rum and Crab Shack‘s soft shelled crab burger and everything from The Bowler’s Meatball.  Food trucks/entities that are worth waiting for.

- I missed quite a few of the food talks but have a food book list to get into including the Hemsley sisters’ first tome on The Art of Eating Well and Seb Emina’s Breakfast Bible.

To see/read…

- As I mentioned, Andy Miller’s The Year of Reading Dangerously sounds like a riot as he recounts his experience of reading fifty great books.  Sounds odd to read a book about reading but when I have gradually lost the time to read, I think I need this to kickstart my habits.

- Christopher Simon Sykes was incredibly entertaining when reading excerpts from his definitive biography of David Hockney, focusing on his early career at the RCA.  Sykes’ accents and expressive way of reading brought the book to life but this one looks like a good kindle on-the-tube read.

- I finally got to see my hero Martin Parr, who is a Port Eliot regular, who along with his authoress wife Susie, talked about their book The Non-Conformists.  In the 1970s they had photographed the close-knit methodist community in Hebden Bridge and it’s a chance to see Parr’s lesser known and altogether “quieter” black and white work published in this book.  I will also have to try and catch Parr’s first ever film Tinsel and Turkey, which follows a group of coach holidaymakers in the Black Country, as I missed BOTH screenings of it at Port Eliot.  Boo.

- Louise Gray and James Buck emerged from Viv Albertine’s talk at Caught by the River with tears in their eyes.  A sure sign that Albertine’s memoir Clothes…Music… Boys…  must be read.

- I watched Paul Kelly and Saint Etienne’s wonderful film collaged out of BFI archive footage of London, How We Used to Live in rapture.  I hope it gets released online somewhere as it’s really a trip and a half, traversing through the 50s through to the 70s in London and yet feeling like nothing really has changed in modern city life.

- Give me a book about the Russian Romanovs and I’ll devour it rapidly.  Helena Rappaport has written a new one - Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Grand Duchess Romanov - to add to my historical biography collection.

- I’ll take excuse to re-read Elizabeth Jane Howard but Port Eliot celebrated the celebrated novelist’s life and work with an appreciative talk this year at The Bowling Green and now I’ll be out trying to buy up old EJH paperbacks.

Port Eliot Returns

From seventeen paying punters at Port Eliot’s first ever edition back in 2003, the festival has grown exponentially.  You felt that growth at this year’s festival, which returned after a one year hiatus to give the grounds of Port Eliot in St Germans, Cornwall a rest.  There seemed to be “more” of everything – more tents, more bustle, more words to hear, more drinks a-flowing, more things to eat, more vintage stalls to rummage through.  Or perhaps the “more” was extra exacerbated with the weekend coinciding with an ultra hot heatwave wafting through this part of the world.

Still, that “moreness” didn’t diminish the feeling that you can still find somewhere to escape to in the extensive grounds, depending on your interest.  On top of the big spiky tents like The Bowling Green, Park Stage and Caught by the River where the “big” acts were on, the bustling Wardrobe Department where there were queues aplenty to get your face/hair did, I love that there are smaller pockets that are more tucked away – The Badger’s Sett for kidult crafting, Ways with Weird and Dovegrey Reader for more intimate talks and then if you don’t want to hear anyone speak, feel free to lie on the lush lands/woods, watching the trains go past on the viaduct and take the a restorative nap or two.

Actually, for the most part of the weekend, I wished I could be in more than two places at once as the timetable had quite a few clashes of talks/words/demonstrations that I wanted to see.  The last thing you want to feel though is stress at a festival that is supposed to be something of a restorative experience for the mind and body.  So I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to… I’ve still taken away an extensive to see/read/do list to ensure the Port Eliot spirit carries on beyond the weekend.

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0E5A4648I have no idea what these tea-dress ladies were doing in front of the house but it looks like fun…

IMG_4548The Orangery was “poshed” up with Fortnum and Mason’s coming onboard as a sponsor and Mark Hix doing a feasting menu.  Renowned set designer Michael Howells as always has given it his magic touch…

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0E5A5425Under my favourite tree on the grounds which is split in the middle – wearing Loewe sunglasses, Zandra Rhodes jacket and top, Tsumori Chisato top and Prism espadrilles

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0E5A4984Caught by the river – wearing vintage dragon embroidered top and Chinese robe around waist, Phenomenon shorts, Suno pumps, Ray Ban sunglasses

It was good to once again be ensconced in the Wardrobe Department within the walled gardens as Sarah Mower had once again put together a stellar line-up to entertain, entice and charm even the hardiest of fashion naysayers.

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Louise Gray may have put her own label on hold for the time being but she was certainly welcomed with open arms at Port Eliot as she and her ex-assistant current Central Saint Martins MA student James Theseus Buck lit up the MAC make-up tent with prints, pigment and freehand body painting that made most people clap/smile with glee.  Abstract trickles, dots, Haring-like strokes – Gray and Bovan did it all.  I went from van Gogh-esque strokes on my left arm to Yayoi Kusama-type dots on my left leg in one weekend.  It was a real shame to wet-wipe the lot of it off…

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For the face, MAC and a few of their core make-up artists tentatively felt their way into the festival for the first time this year.  Their work was more meticulous and precise with delicate dots and fine brushstrokes around the eyes.

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The lovely Rachel did a colourful Penelope Tree-inspired bottom lash and dotty thing on my eyes this year…

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0E5A4961 Wearing Luke Brooks tree t-shirt, & Other Stories cardigan worn as skirt, Ray Ban sunglasses

For all matters of the head, Stephen Jones teamed up with Bumble & Bumble to hat/hair the more than-willing ladies of Port Eliot.  No wonder people left chuffed.  Jones literally bought boxes of his hats, veils and headdresses to place on people’s heads, according to their personality/look… and they get to keep them.  Erm… I hope people treasure the millinery magic that they experienced with Stephen.

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I didn’t need an extensive consultation with Stephen.  He just instinctively clipped a sparkly black veil on my head and I was done.  Later he revealed that the veil was in fact a first toile/prototype for Raf Simons’ first ever haute couture show for Dior (they went with coloured veils sans sparkles in the actual show).  I had to run away and do a mini-scream.  That’s how chuffed I was.

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Bumble and Bumble peeps were on hand to plait, style and stencil people’s hair with pastel powders.  Here’s blogger Zoe London and her dip-dyed hair plaited up.

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In a rainbow hair-extension festooned teepee, the girls from Bleach London were back, bigger with their own line of extensive products to demo on festival-goers and an anything-goes hair spirit that resonated with most of the tweens/teens present at the festival.  They’ve just recently launched a line of hair crayons which – HUZZAH – do work on my stubbornly temporary dye-resistant dark dark hair (still not plucked up the courage to errr… bleach my hair).  The lovely Bleach girls were on hand to demonstrate how to apply the semi-permanent crayon colours, which I kind of want to talk-up separately once I’ve done a bit of experimentation on my own.

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Bleach co-founder and all-round hair maestro-mistress Alex Brownsell was feeling a bit under the weather but still showed up at Port Eliot to trial her new hair tapestry.  Now I don’t want to inaccurately call it “first” without knowing for sure but it’s definitely the first time I’ve ever seen this done.  Alex developed this especially for Port Eliot to fuse the crafting fads of yesteryear’s friendship bracelets and current craze loom bands with hair.  She made a loom out of a picture frame, carving up notches to separate strands of hair to create the “warp” as it were.  Then she would use a special needle to thread cotton through the hair as the “weft”, creating sections of hair tapestry that she could then embroider over to extra embellishment.  It was a fascinating process to watch as Alex trialled it on fellow hair stylist Lou Teasdale.  The end result is pretty ace, especially in the fading summer sunlight, and you could definitely see girls cementing their friendships and sisterhoods with this hair craft.

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The most popular area in the Wardrobe Department was Haughty Culture where Piers Atkinson was once again on hand to collect up flowers and foliage from the grounds of Port Eliot to turn into festival appropriate head wreaths.  I did fear for flower headband making exhaustion on behalf of Piers and his tireless team and was shocked to hear that people were being a bit pushy and rude when queuing up to have their head kitted out.  Not cool and not very Port Eliot.

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I loved the addition of the seed paper logos which Piers added to the wreaths this year.  Apparently you can plant the paper and the embedded seeds will flower eventually.  I’m very sloooooowly turning green-fingered as my patch of garden at home is now fully planted up and so I took extra interest in Port Eliot’s abundance of greenery and flowers this year.

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By the end of Saturday, my head had been triple decorated with Piers Atkinson’s blooms, Stephen Jones’ veil and Alex Brownsell of Bleach’s multi-coloured hair tapestry.  More is always more at Port Eliot.

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Port Eliot is really a lovely place to encourage young ones to get their creative juices pumping and Port Eliot long-timer Barbara Hulanicki was on hand to teach little peeps a spot of fashion illustration, hanging out Tweeny Fashionista Uni badges and awards in the process to the most promising artists.  I learnt that Hulanicki has just started a new illustrated clothing line Icon Club.

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Scarf designer Emma J Shipley, who designed the poster of Port Eliot  was a newcomer to the Wardrobe Department with her bandana print making workshop.

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Jewellery designer Vicki Sarge also returned to create pretty things out of tin foil and once again turn trash into treasure.

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Jenny Dyson aka Mrs Rubbish and her Pencil Agency crew are pretty much a permanent Wardrobe Department fixture with their Pencil Atelier, teaching kids to do neon potato prints and sew up simple dresses for the culminating Pencil Fashion Show.  Cath Kidston also teamed up with Jenny to lend a hand in crafting these ensembles.

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In other crafting areas, you could create head dresses and do beginner’s crochet in Ros Badger and Christine Leach’s Badger’s Sett.

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The ever-popular workshops in Anthropologie’s tent included mask decoration with illustrator Florence Balducci, jewellery making with Catherine Zoraida and fabric taxidermy with Mister Finch.  Once again, as branded activities go at Port Eliot, the approach is always gently does it.  When they lull you with impressive interior styling and Buddy Holly tunes on the record player, it doesn’t feel like they’re trying to ram Anthropologie down your throat.

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The Flower show got a new location inside the basement of the house near the kitchen and there was an added Fodder (food) category too for judges to peruse.  The categories are as ever wildly imaginative – my favourite was “He can take it, but can’t dish it” where flowers, vomit and over-indulgent meals came together and Mrs Peacock in the Library where one entrant created an amazing homage to Great Expectation’s Miss Havisham.

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The Wardrobe Department talks were hefty this year, with Sarah Mower conducting her “If Clothes Could Speak” series.  I’ve already talked up the one with Suzy Menkes, where I learnt a life lesson or two.  The next day, Mower spoke to legendary model Penelope Tree about the Betsey Johnson double-slit dress she wore to Truman Capote’s Black and White ball in 1966.  Tree really entertained the crowd with the minutiae about this incredible night as well as imparting nuggets about her own extraordinary upbringing and life as a model.  There’s an autobiography in the making here.

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I loved that fashion seeped its way out of the walled gardens and on to the larger stages.  At The Bowling Green, fashion historian NJ Stevenson and Mark Butterfield, owner of the infamous C20 Vintage Fashion resource in Devon paired up talk about groovy 1970s knitwear.  Or not so groovy, depending on when you were born.  In lieu of the forthcoming exhibition about fashion knitwear at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, Stevenson and Butterfield focused on 70s knitwear, modelled by teensy tinsy Port Eliot goers.  It was comprehensive for fashion enthusiasts and at the same time and engaging for non-fashion-y people.  More please!

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Back at Five Dials on Sunday, Sarah Mower interviewed Simone Rocha about her rise as a designer in London Fashion Week.  Rocha was endearing and candid when talking about growing up with fashion in her family, her Chirish roots (she’s half Irish, half Chinese) and going from art school in Ireland to studying fashion at Central Saint Martins with the late Louise Wilson.  I loved that Mower got across the special way in which Rocha has created a highly personal “universe” in her brand – in the attitude of her girls and in the types of references which Rocha looks at.  The Warren Sisters – the unofficial go-tomodels of Port Eliot – looked incredible in their various seasons and shades of Rocha.

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What does a fashion show need?  Lots of gin, 6pm summer sunshine and Damian Lewis as a guest host.  The Pencil Atelier fashion show had all those things as all those aforementioned neon-printed frocks were paraded along a haybale catwalk in the Wardrobe Department.  Christopher Kane has nothing to worry about yet but those neon gradiated gingham dresses did look mighty fetching.

0E5A5184Mrs Rubbish hosting Pencil Fashion Show proceedings

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0E5A5185You say Nicholas Brody, I say Soames Forsyte

The fashion show was followed by the inaugural Port Eliot Prom, organised by Sarah Mower.  No left out nerds and jock n’ cheerleader couples here.  Just whoever turned up in their glad rags and wanted to be entered in the prom parade to be in with a chance of being crowned with three beautiful resin crowns, made by Fashion East’s latest addition to their line-up Ed Marler.

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My favourite outfit was number 26.  Just saying.

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There are no winners or losers of course in the spirit of Port Eliot but three lucky girls got to wear and keep these elaborate crowns.  Not that I’m errr… jealous of a six year old or anything…

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I’ve got to say a big thumbs up to my first “glamping” experience thanks to the kind folks at Yurtel.  Electrical plugs inside the yurt, a lockable wooden door (still had the laptop with me…) and a heart-embedded skylight were the touches I loved.

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It was great to discover a new vintage source in Dolly Blue, owned by Lily Walford, who happens to be the wife of catwalk show production expert John Walford.  Lily has a love of Victorian/Edwardian cotton undies and petticoats and she also turns French linen into dresses and jackets.  I bought a sweet Hungarian-embroidered blouse from Lily and hope to see her soon for all my Victorian whites needs.

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On the picture front, I had to end with a trio of rainbow goodness.  Port Eliot really is bursting with colour and it seems to create an environment where people feel it’s safe to express themselves with colour, whether it’s dressing up in silly wigs and hippy dippy clothes or going all out in the Wardrobe Department.  You wonder why that sense of inhibited freedom can’t be felt outside of the grounds of Port Eliot in day to day life.  Apparently real life, normal jobs and judgemental peers all get in the way.

0E5A4483Loved how kids were selling their self-made loom bands as an enterprising business at the festival… this kid was charging 50p a band.  I did say he should charge £1.  

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IMG_4558Easy to picture stalk this girl in her LED lit-up dress…

So we come back to reality.  And back in real land, I’ll be ploughing through a list inspired by Port Eliot’s non-fashion events, which I’ve rounded up here.

To eat…

- I was tempted by Cloud Nine’s marshmallows because I kept hearing people raving about them every time I passed their stall at Port Eliot.  One bite into their strawberry/champagne marshies and I was smitten.  Even veggies who didn’t realise they were eating gelatine were swooning.  Must buy more.

- Port Eliot definitely upped its food game this year with even more choices to indulge in.  My personal faves were The Cornish Fishmonger‘s samphire and seabass, Rum and Crab Shack‘s soft shelled crab burger and everything from The Bowler’s Meatball.  Food trucks/entities that are worth waiting for.

- I missed quite a few of the food talks but now have a foodie book list to get into including the Hemsley sisters’ first tome on The Art of Eating Well and Seb Emina’s Breakfast Bible.

To see/read…

- As I mentioned, Andy Miller’s The Year of Reading Dangerously sounds like a riot as he recounts his experience of reading fifty great books.  Sounds odd to read a book about reading but since I have gradually lost the time to read to “real life stuff”, I think I need this to kickstart my habits.

- Christopher Simon Sykes was incredibly entertaining when reading excerpts from his definitive biography of David Hockney, focusing on his early career at the RCA.  Sykes’ accurate accents and expressive way of reading brought the book to life but this biography looks like a good kindle on-the-tube read.

- I finally got to see my hero Martin Parr, who is a Port Eliot regular, who along with his authoress wife Susie, talked about their book The Non-Conformists.  In the 1970s they had photographed and observed the close-knit methodist community in Hebden Bridge and it’s a chance to see Parr’s lesser known and altogether “quieter” black and white work published in this book.  I will also have to try and catch Parr’s first ever documentary Tinsel and Turkey, which follows a group of coach holidaymakers in the Black Country, as I missed BOTH screenings of it at Port Eliot.  Boo.

- Louise Gray and James Buck emerged from Viv Albertine’s talk at Caught by the River with tears in their eyes.  A sure sign that Albertine’s memoir Clothes…Music… Boys…  must be read.

- I watched Paul Kelly and Saint Etienne’s wonderful film collaged out of BFI archive footage of London, How We Used to Live in rapture.  I hope it gets released online somewhere as it’s really a trip and a half, traversing through the 50s through to the 70s in London and yet feeling like nothing really has changed in modern city life.

- Give me a book about the Russian Romanovs and I’ll devour it rapidly.  Helena Rappaport has written a new one - Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Grand Duchess Romanov - one to add to my extensive historical biography collection.

- I’ll take any excuse to re-read Elizabeth Jane Howard but Port Eliot celebrated the celebrated novelist’s life and work with an appreciative talk this year at The Bowling Green and now I’ll be out buying up old EJH paperbacks where possible.

Queen of Fashion

This week has been a bit spare with the posts because from my trip to LA, I’ve segued straight into Port Eliot Festival, which kicked off yesterday, after a one year hiatus (to give the beautiful grounds a rest apparently).  One full, hot and sweaty day done and instead of waiting until the end of the weekend to round-up the whole shebang, a pressing thought struck me at the conversation between Suzy Menkes and Sarah Mower today.

Menkes was there to talk about her treasured item of clothing as part of a series that Mower is conducting here called “If Clothes Could Speak” for Port Eliot’s Wardrobe Department programme.  Her piece of choice was an ultramarine blue Zandra Rhodes 70s dress, tasselled and printed with seashells like an ode to The Little Mermaid, modelled here by Menkes’ own granddaughter.  We were treated to a Zandra Rhodes greatest hits show with prime examples of her delicate and whimsical prints on diamond pointed chiffon dresses, modelled by the Warren sisters (a Wardrobe Department fixture) and borrowed from the Fashion and Textile Museum.

It’s always great of course to shine a light on vintage Zandra Rhodes, especially when you see her relevance popping up today.  Menkes even had her other granddaughter wear a Rhodes “inspired” current season Kate Moss for Topshop dress, to hammer home her point.

But that wasn’t my main take away from the talk.  Menkes talked about her time when she was working at the Evening Standard and had to file her reports on the telephone.  In this pre-mobile phone age, Menkes had to be canny to get her story in.  At a Dior show, she clocked another reporter near the exit, where outside there was one singular phonebook in the vicinity.  Menkes then engineered a move to divert the other journalist so that she could race out to the phone to file her story.

In another anecdote, Menkes recalls not having an invitation to the Chloe show, when Karl Lagerfeld was the designer there and “king of ready to wear” at the time.  So Menkes and her colleague decided to buy some cleaning garb and uniform from a shop and dress up as cleaners to get into the show at 5am, hours before the show.  The hid underneath the podium and snuck out just as the show was about to begin.

These two stories spoke volumes about Menkes’ work ethic and attitude.  It isn’t just her vast knowledge and experience of show-going and the collections that make her so highly respected.  It’s her tenacity, her willingness to graft and her unstoppable quest for “the story” that also makes her a great journalist.  She’s the only one on the frow that will take out her laptop in-between shows (I do it sometimes too but in truth, I’m only aping Menkes… and err…there really is too much time wasted waiting for shows to start).  She’s the first one backstage after every show to speak to a designer (how DOES she get there so fast…?)  She always files super fast and in volume, knocking up huge word counts for individual show reports.

She really is the real deal and frankly, as much as I stand for a newguard digital wave (which Menkes is in full support of in her new role as Vogue’s international editor), it’s hard to see how many people still and will operate the way Menkes does with her high level of tireless dedication to fashion reporting.  I wonder too  whether the showiness and surface of the fashion world (and the exacerbated speed of fashion coverage today) can often mask what is actually important – proper hard work.  Journos continue to hash out lazy cliches about generation y/z Instagramming/captioning their way to the top and in fashion, that accusation is ongoing.  That’s too simplistic a statement.  But at the same time, I can count on my one hand, the people my age or younger who go the sort of distance that Menkes had demonstrated.

With these thoughts in mind, I dashed over to author Andy Miller’s talk in the Bowling Green after Menkes had been crowned as “Queen of Fashion” with Stephen Jones and Jenny Dyson‘s collectively made crown.  Miller was talking about his ten point guide to reading books better, based on his humorous tome The Year of Reading Dangerously.  The general gist of the talk was to encourage people to really engage with their books, read them properly, finish them and don’t pretend you’ve read something just because culture vultures prescribe that you MUST have read a certain book.

From Miller’s talk and Menkes’ stories, I could draw parallels and glean some old fashioned advice – be the real McCoy, don’t think you can fake it and make it, worked hard and you’ll reap rewards, take the long route and not the shortcut… if I think of any more cliched nuggets, I’ll add them here.  It is only day one after all…

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0E5A4807Stephen Jones crowning Menkes as Queen of Fashion with a sweet crochet crown of mini Menkes

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0E5A4830Menkes’ two grand-daughters wearing Kate Moss for Topshop dress on the left and a Zandra Rhodes original on the right…

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Yo Yucca!

I’m currently typing this up in a Starbucks by LAX airport and holiday blues have already set in.  Me thinks someone up there knew we were about to depart because today has been a non-starter of a day involving, traffic woes, fluffed-up shop/sights opening hours and GPS nightmares.  Perhaps it’s some kind of karmic payback after the utterly beautiful day we had yesterday (one day out in this part of the world and I’m already using the word “karmic”)  After our early evening trip-out into Joshua Tree, we knew we had to come back for more weird and wonderful sights.  We were hooked by the loud cricket noises, the hot desert air blowing in our faces and the drive along Twentynine Palms Highway.  I promise this isn’t all strictly tourist mumbo-jumbo.  There’s some fash-un to be found.  Well, I say some.  In fact, there’s actually a surprising amount of unique vintage wares to be found along this stretch of road.  First off though, some inspiration fodder that will feed the eye…

The number one thing on our bucket list was Salvation Mountain in Niland, past the eerie lake of Salton Sea.  It’s about an hour and a half’s drive from Palm Springs and well worth the trek if you have a car.  This is probably one of the most famous and spectacular examples of “outsider” art, created by Leonard Knight, who sadly passed away earlier this year.  Apparently he would have often been on-site to talk people through this psychedelic mound, made out of adobe clay and painted with uplifting murals and Bible verses.  It was Knight’s tribute to God but moreover, to love, to wonderment and to beauty.  Surrounding it are further caravans, tractors and cars painted in s similar fashion.  Collectively it’s an awe-inspiring sight, made even more profound by its far-out and relatively impoverished location.  The harsh late morning sun was beating down on us but those rays and the intense blue sky did cast Salvation Mountain in the most breathtaking light.  We couldn’t tear ourselves away even though the heat was physically hurting our heads.  And not to diminish the meaning of Knight’s masterpiece but obviously, aesthetically speaking, the colour scheme and I were sort of on the same wavelength…

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0E5A4270Not going to lie, Luke Brooks’ special “Tree Shirt” was a bit of a strategic outfit choice for Salvation Mountain.  Worn with Mother of Pearl skirt, Loewe sunglasses, Lucy Folk necklace and Prism espadrilles. 

0E5A4273Steve’s Craig Green shirt was also an appropriate bit of kit to soak up the Salvation Mountain vibes…

On the way back from Salvation Mountain, we stopped by a deserted stretch along the curious lake of Salton Sea.  It’s beautiful from afar but kind of depressing when you get closer as you see thousands of dead fish washed up on the stone-filled shores.  Moody Top of the Lake vibes aplenty here (please watch this series if you can!)

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After refuelling back at our Palm Springs base, we made our second trip up to Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree to try and eke out another layer beneath the obvious Joshua Tree National Park.  Our primary reference was this High Deserts Test Sites map, provided by a non-profit organisation which supports and curates site-based art around this area.  One of the founders is artist Andrea Zittel, whose home and work space A-Z-West was also on my hit list but sadly it wasn’t available to see.  If we had more time, I would have driven around hunting down all of the sites on the map but in the end wee settled for one  and it was definitely special enough.  The journey was an experience in itself.  You drive past the vaguely theme park-esque Pioneertown and on to a winding dirt track road, which leads you to a curiously named path called God’s Way Love.   Up this rocky path in the high desert nestled in amongst wind-blasted rock formations is Boulder Gardens, the eco-sanctuary and retreat founded and kept by Garth Bowles.  This sanctuary is Bowles’ “act of giving” – you’re free to stay here with a voluntary donation.  People are also allowed to go up there and take a look and so we roamed around, looking in all the nooks and crannies of this breath-taking retreat, lovingly adorned with crystal-scattered spiritual niches.  It’s got all you need really when you’re this high up and far out (in spirit and in altitude) – a sauna, a cool pool, a meditation garden, a tranquil pond, chicken coops built into caves and a picture perfect teepee.  The desert planting all around Boulder Gardens was inspiration enough for Steve and I.  Trying to take a little piece of Garth’s retreat back to N15 with us will be a tough tough task.

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Back down on Twentynine Palms Highway out of all the numerous vintage spots dotted along this road, The End in Yucca Valley was a must-see for me, not least because the lovely Jazzi McG gave it a thumbs up.  I didn’t realise the connection until I got there but it turns out owner Kime Buzzelli is a former fellow Typepad blogger (as in blogger generation 1.0), whose blog The Moldy Doily was on my blog feed back in the day.  Kime was working in TV styling and also owned the concept boutique Show Pony in Los Angeles but decided a few years ago to up sticks and move out to Yucca Valley permanently to open up The End.  Here she’s free to concentrate on her beautiful illustration work – seen dotted around the store – and live what seems to be something of the good life.  You’ll spot the distinct murals painted on the outside by Elena Stonaker from a mile off (Stonaker’s wearable pieces are quite something too…).  Inside, it’s a treasure trove of desert-appropriate wafting around prettiness and hippie finds in the true and good definition of the h word.  I picked up a leather bag dripping with paint, created by a couple who live out in Palm Springs.  If I had time, I’d really look into this seemingly sprawling coven of “folk-based” artists and craftsmen from around these parts as everything from ceramics to jewellery to clothing seem to have this … yes, I’ll say it… RAD… aesthetic that I’m drawn to.  I also loved that in the middle of the high desert seemingly in the middle of nowhere, weirdly I managed to make a stray blogger connection.

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10384676_581410168635805_3979975435337962556_nWearing Marques Almeida top, Balenciaga shorts, Birkenstocks, Thomas Tait sunglasses and the bag I bought from The End

A ten minute drive away from The End, right outside the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, was another spot on my to-see list.  Why, it’s the World Famous Crochet Museum, created by artist Shari Elf, which sits in the Art Queen Gallery.  Nobody was at home but we just let ourselves in, unlocked the door to this green pod of awesomeness and marvelled at the shelves of crochet cuties.  Right next door, there’s also Trailer Court Shops, a mini-warren of vintage and oddities sellers.  By the time we looked to have a poke around, they had already closed.  I like that I’ve left quite a few stones unturned.  It gives me an excuse to come back and I definitely will.  That’s a promise.

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On the way to Palm Springs at Cabazon, you can’t miss Ms. Rex and Ms. Dinny aka The World’s Biggest Dinosaurs aka the best roadside stop off ever where we filled up the car, sampled all manners of meat jerky and got a cheesy snap in the process as well.  I promise my wearing the Julien David “Dinosaur” vest was mere coincidence.

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IMG_0281Wearing Julien David vest, vintage slip dress, Kitty Joseph socks, Salvatore Ferragamo slip-ons

One final note on our accommodation out in this part of the world, in between exploring Joshua Tree and Salvation Mountain, we opted to stay the night at the Ace in Palm Springs.  From what people told me, I was a little bit skeptical about this “hipster” bolthole of choice and no.1 hangout during Coachella, but I found the Ace to be pretty chill.  As in, not the frat boy/hen do madfest I was expecting it to be on the weekends.  There were shibori dyeing and collage making classes going on in the clubhouse and the pool was nicely filled out as opposed to super rammed.  And when all is said and done, I am officially an ageing “hipster” for want of a better word… so ermmmm…

… PEACE OUT…

… until I get back to London.  I will then strike-through that sentence and start moaning about the weather, TFL and BT Broadband.

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IMG_4379Wearing Auria swimsuit, Karen Walker sunglasses

P.S. Unlike Instagram, hopefully this is a safe haven from the fat-hating comments I get (exclusively from peeps from China/Hong Kong it would seem… ) but just in case some people can’t resist, I may as well rebut now and say yes, I’m in a swimsuit, and no, it ain’t a perfect sight because I like food.  And drink.  And lots of it at that.

Last of the Croisière

The arrangement of flowers set into wooden geometric vases placed on the mirrored circular dinner tables at the Miu Miu cruise resort croisière (errr…just French for cruise…) show last night said almost as much as the clothes on the runway.  It may be the first time that Miuccia Prada has joined in on the cruise show circuit, as she opted to show Miu Miu’s latest resort 2015 collection in Paris last night, just as haute couture is about to kick off this week.  But of all the designers who deserve to take people into their world on themed or one-off extravaganza shows, Miuccia has certainly earned that right.  She is a dab hand at the methodology of creating a “brand universe” where everything from the carpets on the floor (blue, geometric and as always, plush) to those aforementioned vases (seriously, can anyone ID them?) only serve to strengthen their persuasive sway over you.

The Palais D’Iena is one of my favourite show venues in Paris because to me it’s the Miu Miu la la land, which signals that the end of a gruelling fashion month is nigh (Miu Miu is normally on the last day of Paris fashion week).  Together with OMA, Miuccia always manages to change the space so dramatically that the interior is unrecognisable from one season to the next.  For “croisière” (that’s what Miuccia has opted to call it and I’m inclined to go with it even if I can’t get my rolled R’s down), it’s an intimate affair with mid-century modern chairs and mirrored cubes set up in first-come-first-serve seating along the carpeted runway.

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The girls would descend down the sweeping dramatically lit-up main staircase and then detour into this cosy lounge set-up, preceded by an acoustic set by soul singer Josephine Oniyama.  Her smooth vocals gave way to… why… none other than Deee-Lite’s classic What is Love.  That would clue you into the retro-but-not-really late sixties mod slash psychedelia vibes of the collection.

They’ll hate that I’m tarnishing their original imagery with “current fashion” but the collection did send me on a vintage image hunt, aided primarily by the supreme archivists/historians Sweet Jane and Liz Egglestone of Miss Peelpants.  It’s hard not to make the many many vintage link-ups that a collection like this stirs up.  In fashion Thea Porter, Pucci and Ossie Clarke come to mind.  In music, it’s the yé-yé French pop girls of the sixties meets Jackson 5′s colouful ensembles that might have featured crochet.  In pop culture… well Alex Fury went for Endora in the series Bewitched and I said Jamie Lee Curtis’ character in My Girl.  It’s of course all of that, plus more depending on how you see it.

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rykielSonia Rykiel look in Harpers Bazaar March 1969

thea-tulipsThea Porter outfit in 1971

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retrospace70s crochet pattern

stamp6Daily Telegraph, May 5th 1972

Shelley-DuvallShelly Duval

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panspetticoat2Pan’s People in Petticoat Magazine May 1969

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verushka-pour-emilio-pucci-1964Verushka in Pucci 1964

walesgypsyjuly1969-susansmallVogue July 1969

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THE PROPERTY OF THE SWEET JANE BLOG-ANTONIO PAGE 2 (1)

tumblr_md0urzIM0D1rd1m63o1_1280Antonio Lopez illustrations in Intro Magazine 1967

sweet jane blog milton glaser (2)Milton Glaser illustration in Gebrauchsgraphik International Advertising Art, January 1971

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Some will say it’s one step too far in retrogading.  It struck me though whilst going through those vintage blogs, that the original artefacts of that era are now mostly shored up by collectors and auctions and that these scanned images are for most people, about the closest we’ll come to these clothes.  Miuccia’s recycling and updating process with her myriad of references is an opportune way of making that period tangible and wearable again.  That ’70s Show has moved on.  With trailing chiffon scarves, drawstring embellished leather bags clutched in the hand and a vivid colour combo of pale blue, bright orange and apple green, the lurid scratchy polyesters of that era are duly given a slap up the arse.  Strictly meant in a non-pervy way of course.

After dinner and with the venue lit up in blue, Jack White took to the stage to perform tracks from his new solo album Lazaretto.  As starlets like Stacy Martin and Lea Seydoux swung their hair in the audience, they already looked like they had absorbed the spirit of the collection.  The highlight of the night though was definitely the way Miuccia Prada took her exit bow.  To affirm the more intimate nature of a cruise show, instead of just sticking her head out for a nanosecond at the top of the runway, she came out walking all the way down alongside the chairs, smiling as though she was in the company of close friends.  I wish.  Like Rei Kawakubo and Nicolas Ghesquière, I haven’t quite worked up the cahoonas to go up to Miuccia and say “I admire what you do deeply”  (and yes I would have to put on my most uppity formal voice to speak to these people).  I probably never will.

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Giddy Up

>> Prior to the Dubai/Chanel trip, I had a packing terror over impending 40 degrees celcius plus heat and set myself off on a vintage shopping mission to seek out “Long, floaty, white things”.  The mission was of course bound for failure.  Too easily diverted, distracted and therefore, mission derailed.  Along the Camden Passage, a longtime vintage haunt I hadn’t frequented in a while, where many long, white and floaty garments would reside (spots like Annie’s is basically a sartorial homage to Miss Havisham), I found myself in Fat Faced Cat, looking at something pink, short and not floaty at all.  I was due a curious vintage find and it perhaps doesn’t get much odder than an American horse jockey silk shirt, from the first half of the 20th century.  It comes emblazoned with hearts down the sleeves and was sold with a little black satin racing cap cover.  I must be mentally going through every potential sports/active pursuits to exploit.  70s skiwear.  Check.  Surf and skate.  Check.  Motocross.  Check.  Horse racing.  Check check.

Looser fitting than yer’ average horse racing silks with an unusual seven hearts motif (three on one side, four on the other),  the shirt definitely has a life beyond the race track and obviously gives me the opportunity to literally wear my heart on my sleeve.  Uh-huh-huh – wasn’t going to pass up that pun opportunity.  I’m also feeling the TLC satin PJ vibe of the almost too-shiny silk satin, that today is eschewed in favour of practical lycra in the horse racing world.

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0E5A8326 Worn with Ostwald Helgason skirt, Craig and Karl x Le Specs sunglasses, Raf Simons x adidas boots

Speaking of creative horse racing silks, a quick internet dig and this ye olde 2011 Central Saint Martins BA project came up where graphic design students were invited to give traditional jockeys’ racing silks a radical makeover.  Despite the fact that they’re mostly hypothetical, I love the look of a lot of these.  Despite their flamboyant appearance, the majority of horse racing silks designs have very rigorous registration and ownership processes.  These would definitely shake things up.

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Silk

silk-rrFrom Culture Compass blog

Circus Jumble

I said I would revisit the incredible stuff that is at Designer Jumble and true to my word, I wanted to give everyone a pre-Bank Holiday weekend heads up about the wealth of beauts that are currently going for a song at ex-Vogue editor Abigail Chisman’s wonderful designer jumble at Westfield Stratford.  You know my weakness for second hand designer loot.  It’s why I go to Tokyo twice a year to scour Rag Tag after Rag Tag with my two other hunting buddies Phil Oh and Tommy Ton.  It’s why I’m a devotee of places like Strut and Bang Bang in London.  It’s why sites like eBay and Vestiaire Collective are constantly on my hit hit hit list. It’s why I sometimes go down the auction route with Kerry Taylor.  In short, it’s my way of procuring designer fashion but on a fairly modest budget.  Well, comparatively speaking anyway.  In my head, it goes something like this. Why pay £150 for a brand new high street/mid-level jacket (yup those prices have gradually crept up) when I can truffle out a Comme des Garcons jacket on eBay instead for £80.

Abigail’s love of vintage clothing and designer vintage was born out of budget-related necessity.  Working as editor of Vogue.co.uk wasn’t exactly paying out a fortune and she couldn’t afford the very designers that she was writing news stories about.  Designer Jumble was thus borne when Chisman left Vogue, out of a “Someone else’s trash is another’s treasure” mentality as well as an empathetic consideration for price points.  Chisman has been popping up at various venues since and her residence at Westfield Stratford is set to last until June.

Pilfering the rails of Designer Jumble at this very moment is particularly joyful because the full collection of a consummate and enthusiastic fashion-head, Hannelore Smart has been fully unleashed.  Entitled “Fashion is a Circus” (you don’t need to tell ME about that comparison), Smart’s 1,500 collection of an eclectic array of designers from the 1970s through the 90s is now out there up for grabs.  Smart’s name may not be familiar but a scroll through images of her and you can see she lived a full and style-driven life.  She was a German Pam-Am air stewardess and then literally she ran away with the circus, when she married titan circus impresario and performer Billy Smart Junior.  Smart’s circuses, which were televised to millions in the UK at one point, were extravagant spectacles in the 50s and 60s (their Big Tops held 6,000 people!) and still an ongoing circus brand today.

All the while, Hannelore was living it up, acquiring a rambunctious taste for high fashion that ran an extraordinary gamut.  The star piece of the collection is a rare Issey Miyake moulded acrylic corset, which Hannelore had the bod to wear.  She chose things for their design, rather than the label which means the rails are varied and doesn’t seem to be loyal to one designer or another. She had a taste for the fashion rebels of her day which mean the collection is rammed with Jean Paul Gaultier, Gaultier Junior, Vivienne Westwood, Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garcons pieces.  Thierry Mugler, Gianni Versace and Azzedine Alaia also gets a huge shout out, showing Hannelore’s vampier side.  And then on the practical side of things, there are heaps of 90s Prada nylon pieces, which feel just as relevant today.

A mere glance at the fairly low starting prices of the select auction pieces which Designer Jumble have put up, to raise money for London Alzheimer’s Society (Hannelore is currently suffering from Alzheimer’s) and it’s already tempting.  Auction ends on May 6th and I’d personally have a go at the Chanel bike helmet starting at £125, the Tati Alaia dress at £150 and the extraordinary fez hat created by Stephen Jones currently at £125.  But beyond these selected lots, there are hundreds of bargains galore in-store with many Gaultier, Westwood and Comme pieces priced around the £50-150 mark.  Alaia aficionados should pop in for key pieces at good prices.  I saw an amazing Prada Sport navy space-age suit, which to me is a steal at £200.  I bagged a Vivienne Westwood swimming costume for £45 last week and will be sure to go in again to do another jumble sweep.  I urge a visit to Westfield Stratford soon if you don’t want to miss out.  Abigail has put some of the pieces up on an ASOS Marketplace store but for a full-full selection with new stuff constantly coming out from the back room, a physical visit would be ideal.

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Miyake corset front1980 Issey Miyake moulded corset

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Katharine Hamnett (2)Katherine Hamnett ensemble which Hannelore wore to meet the Queen.

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Philip T frontPhillip Treacy hat

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Alaia claret mainAzzedine Alaia leather coat

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Versace black jacket (3)1990 Gianni Versace Couture jacket

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Stephen Jones hat1984 Stephen Jones for Jean Paul Gaultier fez hat

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Alaia sunniesAlaia sunglasses

Alaia wool coatAzzedine Alaia wool coat

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D&G leather trousers (4)Dolce and Gabbana leather trousers

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Mugler suit-fullThierry Mugler skirt suit

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Versace gold jacket (3)1992/3 Gianni Versace Couture jacket

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Vivienne Westwood hatVivienne Westwood hat

Westwood animal toesVivienne Westwood boots

Westwood corset (2)Vivienne Westwood corset

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Chanel helmet frontChanel snowline helmet

JPG kilt frontJean Paul Gaultier kilt suit

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Oh, and even if 70s-90s designer fashion isn’t your bag, at least go and take a silly selife with these fantastic Linda Farrow vintage specimens.  They’re ace.  I’d buy the whole collection up in a heartbeat if I didn’t think they’d find more meaningful homes as individual objects.

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Sway

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An easy outfit to start the week, something comfortable and laid back to balance what will undoubtedly be a busy next few days. A lot of stuff is happening in the next few months including a very exciting work trip, THPSHOP updates (remember these pearls?), and a move to NYC (yay–finally doing it!). It’s been stressful, but nothing is worth doing unless there is some element of fear involved. It is in what we know that we find comfort; it is also in this place where we can become stagnant and content. Well, fuck contentment, I say. So giddy up and let’s do this!

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And this Addison piece may have just converted me back to the maxi dress. It is totally non-committal in its construction…not full body-con and not quite full maxi–depending what angle you catch it. I have to say though, above all, this dress has great sway. You just want to run after those gusts of wind for some major slit action.

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Wearing Addison Dress, Tibi ‘Denni’ Slip-On Loafers, Rachael Ruddick Le Trop bag, Vintage Motorcycle Jacket

Tumble Jumble

I literally bumbled and tumbled my way into Designer Jumble on Thursday on Fashion Revolution Day because I had just landed in back from Hong Kong at 6am in the morning. Not that natty hair and droopy panda eyes were going to deter me from doing something to contribute to the success of what was a worldwide co-ordinated day of activities to remember the tragedy of Rana Plaza exactly a year ago. Let’s start with a hip-hip-hurrah for their mightily successful #InsideOut campaign, which was trending on Twitter throughout the day.

I chose to set my withered self up at Designer Jumble, a pop-up initiative set up by former editor-in-chief of Vogue.com Abigail Chisman. Devoted to selling secondhand designer fashion and accessories at affordable prices, Designer Jumble’s appeal isn’t just for the socially-conscious shopper. Whether you’re interested in issues of sustainability and fair trade or not, what fashion lover is going to snub their noses up at a Gaultier Junior jacket for under £100 or a Prada dress for £90.

Ensconced on The Street section of Westfield Stratford until June, Designer Jumble really is a 2nd hand designer treasure trove. And I say that having just returned from the 2nd hand designer treasure trove that is Tokyo. What gets my vote are the prices which are definitely not inflated but are priced accordingly. No wonder some vintage buyers/store owners were sniffing around Designer Jumble wanting to buy out their rails. Chisman wasn’t having any of it though. She ultimately wants to sell pieces at a fair price and particularly on Fashion Revolution Day, get the message across that there are high street alternatives out there. And you need not wrinkle your nose at “worn” or “used” when you’re getting the quality and craftsmanship so often displayed with the Made in Italy/Britain/France garments of the 70s and 80s when supply chains were a lot shorter and more transparent.

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On Fashion Revolution Day, Designer Jumble played host to knitwear upcyclist and all-round lover of colour and fun Katie Jones, who was busy darning up an old Jean Paul Gaultier jacket with blue polka dots.  The Good Wardrobe, a forum and site that promotes prolonging the life of clothes with a make-do-and-mend attitude were also on hand to offer tips to people on how to breathe new life into tired clothes.

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I was tasked in to style up the wares on offer on the mannequin.  And there was definitely FAR more choice than I had anticipated.  I found myself shopping and could have winded up with a rack of many possibilities.  The bulk of the 2nd hand designer wares on offer are donated by fashion insiders and collated by Chisman herself.  There’s also another incredible collection that Chisman will be selling on behalf of a woman called Hannelore Smart, who was the wife of circus impresario Billy Smart Jr and thus the collection is called “Fashion is a Circus”.  I’ll be delving deeper into the collection next week (if all the pieces haven’t been snapped up already!) but it is no understatement to say that this 1,500 piece collection spanning the 70s to the 90s is a proper goldmine – Issey Miyake, Comme des Garcons, Alaia, Kenzo, Thierry Mugler, Antony Price, Hussein Chalayan, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood – it’s ALL going on and some of it, going for a song.  A selection of elite pieces including a brilliant moulded Issey Miyake plastic corset and couture Versace jacket are up for auction right now, with all proceeds going to Alzeimers Society in London, but most are going on the rails so a visit to Westfield Stratford is definitely a must.  I used a lot of pieces from this collection to put together outfits.  In addition, there were also examples of ethical and sustainable fashion courtesy of new designer Vivienne Austin and of course Orsola de Castro’s From Somewhere.

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IMG_4874Opening Ceremony lurex shirt, Prada dress, House of Holland skirt, Sigerson Morrison boots

IMG_4876Gryphon aviator jacket, Vivienne Austin white shirt (new), Yves Saint Laurent jacket, Rodarte tutu skirt, vintage ballet slippers

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IMG_4890Gaultier Jeans trapper hat, Hardy Amies checked blazer, Jean Paul Gaultier striped jacket, Kenzo shirt, Gaultier Junior boxing shorts, Marni clogs

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IMG_4899Vivienne Westwood brocade corset, Comme des Garcons sheer skirt, customised 90s floral jeans, Prada silver wedges and vintage straw bowler hat

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IMG_4907Jonathan Saunders felt jacket, Betty Jackson leather blazer, Antithesis shirt (new), From Somewhere top (new), Loewe navy leather skirt, Luella bag

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IMG_4884Thank you to Emeline Nsingi Nkosi for modelling one of my looks consisting of a beautiful recycled denim coat with foiled edging by new sustainable designer Vivienne Austin, a Prada Sports zip-up top, a Gaultier Junior pleated skirt, some Miu Miu pumps and an incredible vintage swimcap floral hat.

I also did my little #InsideOut bit by posting a few outfits – a mix of high street, indie and designer – all turned inside out with origins of factories in China, Italy, Morocco, USA and UK.  Disappointingly only Whistles came back with a personal answer thanks to their helpful PR to my question of where my camoflage top and skirt were made (a factory in Southern China which follows BSCI code of conduct).  Someone from H&M got back to me on Twitter with a link detailing all their factories and suppliers, graded by H&M themselves – to be fair, their dedication to CSR is pretty impressive when you go through their whole Sustainability site.  And sweet Calla assured me her jeans were made under sound working conditions in Morocco – and I’m inclined to believe her because it would do her harm as such a young designer to not be in full control of her production.

On a day where brands were most likely to be inundated with #InsideOut tweets, I’m surprised they weren’t prepared to give an answer – not even a courtesy tweet to say they’d endeavour to find out.  Current//Elliott who have their jeans all made in USA would surely have a traceable supply chain that they can inform their consumer about – all they tweeted me was a compliment saying they liked the look.  Not helpful.  The Topshop slipdress I wore says it’s Made in Britain, and as per many of their Boutique and Unique items, they are all proudly Made in Britain, which probably means the supply chain is close at home and not exactly hard to find out about – so why no reply?  Looking at their Twitter feed, I don’t think they replied to any of the #InsideOut tweets that were posted at them.  Most baffling and frankly disappointing.  The Club Monaco leather coat I wore inside out is priced at a premium – it’s Made in China but to charge that price, surely they have a rough idea of where the item came from – again, no answer.  I’ll forgive Marni, James Long and COS for not replying – their presence on social media isn’t exactly established.  The replies I saw from brands to other people, were mostly independent designers who could give answers instantly and with a clear conscience.  That’s not surprising because they are working on a much smaller scale, without a convoluted chain of third parties, merchandisers and buyers.  Even assurance from the high street retailers that everything is audited, vetted and analysed isn’t a 100% guarantee that what you’re buying hasn’t passed through inhumane working conditions.  Designer brands are also culprits but also seem beyond reproach.

And yet the answers of what is the call-to-action are still murky.  Do we avoid all the high street chains and deprive the livelihoods of women, who would otherwise be jobless and mired in poverty?  Do we restrict ourselves to buying traceable, independent designers or ethical/sustainable designers when not everyone’s budgets can manage that?  I’d conclude that instead of a mass boycott, that we should demand better and expect more from the high street brands we buy from.  #InsideOut shouldn’t be one-day trending phenomenon but an ongoing discussion between consumer and retailer.  The likes of Topshop might ignore these questions for the time being but piling on the pressure consistently will make them listen.  It would be bad business on their part not to.  That’s why contributing to Fashion Revolution’s latest crowdfunding campaign could also help.  They seek to fix the broken links in a supply chain, to put questions to retailers and pile on that pressure and to ultimately raise the standards of an industry that has blood on their hands (by the by reading about one of the Rana Plaza survivors being trapped in the building, drinking dead people’s blood to survive should chill anybody’s bones and spur you on to think about your purchases).

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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

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>> 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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Thor Trews

>> 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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IMG_7959Worn with Christopher Shannon sweatshirt and Y-3 shoes

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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.

IMG_5268Reclaim to Wear’s collaboration with Speedo

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
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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
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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

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

IMG_8487

IMG_8490

IMG_8491

IMG_8492

IMG_8493

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

IMG_8487

IMG_8490

IMG_8491

IMG_8492

IMG_8493

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.  

IMG_8148

IMG_8187

IMG_8166

IMG_8201

IMG_8179

IMG_8459

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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.  

IMG_8148

IMG_8187

IMG_8166

IMG_8201

IMG_8179

IMG_8459

IMG_8177

IMG_8204

IMG_8251

IMG_8240

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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