Every couple of months or so, the fashion crowd shifts shades- from pastel to navy, just in time for the changing seasons and below tolerable temperatures. However, there are the new kids on the block who don’t think that wearing seasonal appropriate shades is important. Why not wear canary in winter? Who has defined it unspeakably illegal to try wearing burgundy in spring? These mischievous types decided that there are no more rules- and that seasonal dressing is as over as wearing goth make-up past Halloween.
Of course, nothing is wrong with those who decided that they’d rather stay safe and wear the colours that regularly come out in shops every year- pale pink, blue and white for Spring and Summer, then burgundy, mustard and forest green for Autumn, and then sometimes black and silver for winter, thrown in with some sparkles to keep in ‘festive’. Some people feel it is an ode to the seasons- when the gorgeous russet and yellow colours start turning the leaves, people feel like it is right to show that they are on track.
However, who says that these season purists are correct- after all, fashion is no longer about what fits in with the crowd, but what does not. Every fashion magazine tells you to be yourself, pursue your own style and be individual. All of them state that fashion is something to have fun with and express their individuality with. However they still do suggest some key trends and staples to help you find ‘your true self’.
So how is fashion meant to adjust? Now collections do not just come out two times a year- no, there are Pre-Fall collections and Resort, meaning that designer houses are getting a regular income from collections. These work better with the regular consumer, since the fashion shows usually show items that would simply be unwearable in the time they are shown. It does not help that many items seen on the catwalk are not even available to purchase until a later date, with the exception of Burberry, who let customers buy the products as soon as they are shown on the catwalk. as well as limited edition collections, such as Nike x Liberty, which come out twice a year or so and always have new designers to bring high fashion down to the masses.
H&M have been doing designer collaborations for many years now- their latest H&M x Alexander Wang collection was centered around winter-wear, but sportswear was also a key theme. Because there are so many trends going around right now, collections are more free- there are no restrictions when it comes to colour use. So in fact there is no need for seasonal collections any more- there is however a need for creativity. Nowadays the idea behind the collection is more important than being seasonally appropriate.
Nowadays designers try to put out an idea behind their collections- and it’s usually not just a story, but also a statement. Many have now presented collections inspired by tragic events in the news, and are affected by economic issues, meaning that the once lofty world of high fashion is hit in the same way that their consumers have been. Collections are down priced to suit the customers, so why would they also make the colours of the season something that limits their clothes?
Fashion buyers nowadays don’t care if their new item will be in the right colour- they want a shape and texture that suits them, and the majority do not have to deal with extreme temperatures either, so items can be worn all year round. Fashion staples have become the most commonly worn items from designer collections. Some do still buy the items that they will only wear for one night, but the majority wants basics they can rely on to look en point.
Individuality here does not come from signature pieces, but rather from the art of putting together items that do not need hours of preparation. This does not mean that the signature, outlandish pieces should start to fade- however it may be an idea to start creating more quality, basic collections which still hold the brand signature, without the fanfare and expensive tag.
The year does not truly start until September- the autumn leaves bring in new prospects and books, expositions, the beginnings of Doctor Who and that first cup of steaming tea when its freezing outside. It’s also the time for change- in particular for new starts, as it was for me, with leaving the metropolitan lifestyle behind and entering a slower pace in Durham where I can’t get around on the Tube. The move to the countryside of dales and moors is in order- away from the smoky grey bustle of London.
Just to get that last bit of culture pumped into my mind I decided it may not be too late for an art show- and nowhere is better than the V&A, where fashion meets art and culture in a combustible mix. The photo exposition of ‘Horst: Photographer of Style’ was particularly fascinating- his vision in technicolor was even more startling than his more famous monochromatic works. In these he plays with shadow and lighting to create dramatic effects which bring to mind the classical sculptures of ancient Greece. Interested in studying the columnar architecture and the marble statues that looked dignified and poised, he studied the shapes and angles and took it as inspiration for his own work.
Particularly focused on draping the clothing around the body, his work evokes a different era, something that may even have seemed escapist at the time when the rest of the world was in chaos with the war. He brought the Parisian fashion alive with dramatic shapes and sultry eyes turned towards the camera. While others looked to the pages of Vogue for inspiration and otherworldliness, the man was behind the camera coming up with new ways to dazzle his audience. There is a definite sense of magic when you look at his photographs- he works well at outlining the defined lines that make the photo seem like an artwork. His connections to Vogue did not elude me- it was with the famous fashion house that Horst really grew into the photographer that many now aspire to be.
Strangely enough, his focus strayed from fashion- maybe he got tired from just showing beautiful women in elongated poses with doe-like eyes for commission! He loved to travel- the focus on symmetry in nature and his surroundings were also captured in startling chiaroscuro in black and white, from seashells to Fibonacci sequences in plant macro’s. Nothing escaped him- from the movement of the neck when a woman turned in her corset to the attention he paid to nature, historical artifacts and interiors.
In particular he liked to look into the houses of his glitterati- you see shots from the rooms of Baroness Rothschild and the gardens of Yves Saint Laurent, both of which he shot in colour, showing the beautiful colors of the carpets and divans set out on the viewing platform in the gardens and the delicate bamboo frame in the bedroom of the Baroness. These photographs show just how much people liked to travel and collect pieces from their exotic ventures- some items were from the Orient, others from Africa and classical Europe.
At the time when he began shooting for magazines modeling still was not a profession- fashion magazines had to look elsewhere for their beautiful faces that had to stand out in the detailed shots that were an elemental part of the magazine. That is why many of the models were famous aristocrats, who knew the people working for the magazine and would turn up so that they could get their face shown on the international market as the face of high fashion. Many nowadays would not approve of this order, however magazines would usually have trouble funding everyone of their models and it was easier to rely on beautiful form in this way. However, this era also gave rise to the pursuit of new faces- in particular one that Horst shot in 1946, Carmen Dell’Orefice, when he was completing his photographs from nature in his book ‘Patterns of Nature‘.
From his avant garde expression when it came to the body to his vivid studies of colour in Vogue, the Horst exhibition leaves nothing to hide. His work is exemplary and the V&A have taken their time in putting together his most revered work. In his own words,“I like taking photographs, because I like life,” he once said. “And I love photographing people best of all, because most of all I love humanity.”
Capturing the essence of Britain is something I have wanted to do ever since I was a child- from the old Victorian romance associated with the works of the Bronte sisters, to the traditions associated with summering in England. There was something about the long journey back to the white-washed cottage in Devon, after an excruciatingly long walk across the fields with the dogs that made these summer moments stick out in my memory. Maybe not quite summer loving, but special to me all the same. Along with the rest of the botanically-obsessed English ladies I visited numerous National Trust Parks, as my mother thought it was important to get to know the beauty of nature, and in particular, the magical English countryside.
Now, with harsh reality bringing me back from those warm flowery days, June still means work and study, just like for others my age. However, for those like me who still thirst for those unannounced picnics and feeding ducks in floaty white outfits that just scream summer, there are a few events here that certainly do herald the arrival of a ‘spiffing’ summer.
The first of these would be Ascot, or The Races, as it is more commonly known, the event of the year for many of the upper class of living in the UK. An experience worth having, since it is unique in its presentation and etiquette. Who wouldn’t want to dress up like Audrey and play out the pauper-turned-lady Eliza Doolittle in that perfect hat while sipping on champagne an placing a bet or two on the Queen’s racehorse? There is something very quaint and old fashioned about dressing up to the nines when others just outside the racetrack are sweltering away in jeans and flip-flops. It has become synonymous with the first main occasion to pull out the hat-boxes and dust off those feathery creations. Many more adventurous race-goers let their fantasies go and order fantastic millinery from the likes of Stephen Jones or Philip Treacy, with no shortage of themes or colour coordination.
The other, of course, is Wimbledon, the most traditional out of all the tennis Grand Slams, where tennis champions who get through the harrowing qualifications have to wear white clothing and play on grass courts. For British players, this is the tournament of the year, as there is no other like it. People flock to watch the champions on Centre Court, where men and women have been playing since 1877. From the almost laughable number of 22 amateur players to the 128 that play nowadays, the standard of play has not only gone up but has changed in many ways. All of this is watched by close to 500,000 people over the 13 days, not including how many people watch it at home as well. Wimbledon is also a place where fashion plays a key role- with its more formal requirements, people take it as an opportunity to dress up, relating to the sporty aesthetic on court. Pastels, white and stripes are key motifs for the public, while many of the female tennis players use Wimbledon to showcase the latest fashion from major sport brands like Nike and Adidas.
Many people now see these two events as the proper start of the British summer. If you are dreaming of moving away from the desk and throwing all papers into the bin, get away with the coming Pimm’s and strawberries and watching the most exciting sports events of the year.
My slight obsession with Prada started a few years back, when Prada first came out with the Saffiano bags the colour of blue eggshells. Their luxurious leathers and practical approach to the essential pockets and space showed me that Prada was more than just the leather goods boutique that it started out as.
Now with the help of Harrods, Prada has opened their retrospective in the Pradasphere with their most notable collections from the last years, as well as brand history displays and their famous accessories, like the iconic nylon backpack launched in 1950.
History is not what Prada is about at all though- ever since the takeover by Miuccia, the brand has become a symbol of Italian craftsmanship and the world of contrasts, which really appealed to me… As a person who wonders why sweet and salty have never been put together, going with opposites is ideal!
I think one of the reasons I have always wanted to be part of the big bad fashion world was because of people like Miuccia who were not afraid to risk their brand image to move in a new direction, and I think that now more than ever it is important to remember that although fashion is a business, it is also an art form, a way to express creativity. Prada’s fun collections- who wouldn’t want to be a 1950’s Americana housewife or a part of a girl gang- mean that women do not need to feel stifled by what they wear.
Maybe as a visual activism against fashion becoming a sea of clones people should take to their appearance in the same way- look to dressing up, either in pretty heels or not as a way of conveying ones own personal outlook on themselves and the world around them. After all, there have been so many times in history when women have shown that their clothing can change how others look at them, like wearing the fierce red lipstick during the war.
Even now I am worried about that red pout being too forward, too provocative. However, as I choose to express my silly attitude with pastels and riviera dresses, others would rather show their maturity with black and textures. Isn’t there always a hidden meaning behind what people put on every day? This item may help you get that dream interview or dazzle those at the next soirée. Yes, some will say that wit and intelligence should be enough to get you ahead, but does that mean that the clothing you buy is also as expressive? Every choice made with what you wear is something that will be scrutinised, especially in the fashion world where images are shown daily on every social media portal.
And I guess that is the reason that I am now a proud owner of a re-issued pair of forest green Prada shoes, based on their A/W 2012 collection. After all, there are only a few pairs and who wouldn’t want to be individual…
Every time the New Year heralds the first sign of spring (which happened to be last Sunday in London) my inner composed self stops thinking. Maybe its the fresh air -after being shut in with Diptyque candles poring over books the whole winter, I cannot go even one year without a complete mental style revamp- from the realistic London grunge student aesthetic to energetic Cali girl sunny brights. For some reason, having an iPhone this time has made my stalker tendencies of such sunny personalities even worse, and I won’t be kicking that habit anytime soon. Please don’t blame me, my own personality would be raving to moon and back if I could even step on one square foot of white sandy beaches and dip by toes in clear water.
However, there is one part of the Florida sunshine that I can easily try, even if I can’t go out in shorts and flip flops in March. For one, its eating healthy, meaning putting in more oranges and berries in to my diet than sushi and pizza, and the other is to buy some bright sports bras and pretty Nike’s and get in the gym. See, told you, Cali girl all the way. Little bit of a tan and highlights, and I could be smelling like Escada sunning myself on a beach in the Maldives somewhere.
So hopefully I won’t be the only person reaching out for a little sunshine from my duvet, and the pictures on the site here will bring you that little bit of sunshine and sickening peace and happiness to get you ready for the summer.
And for a touch of sun and fashion, follow Shine by Three by Margaret Zhang on Facebook and Instagram.
After a first few blurry photos posted up on Instagram showed me just how seriously Valentino took their embroidery this season, I quickly typed up my review based on those blurry images and a bit of help from Style.com up on my site.
I have always been fascinated by fashion inspired by art of the early fourteen-hundreds, and Valentino took those mythical creatures that appeared in the tales of bards and minstrels and turned them into the beautiful decoration on sheer dresses.
Anyway, dont want to give too many spoilers here.
Off you pop now, get a nice cup of tea and settle down to what exactly goes into creating the fairytale princess gowns created by Valentino.
And after you read the review if you do want to get a bit of culture in merry March, go see the Paul Klee exhibition at the Tate, which is on until the 9th of March.
There is a new interview up on my site, Sparkle* with the creator of one of the best British fashion blogs Park & Cube- Shini Park. The funny creator of the blog shares how she creates her posts, what drives her most in finding inspiration, and how she remembers the recent Fashion Weeks.
I have been working relentlessly on finding new people to interview on Sparkle*, so if you do know someone who you find as inspirational as Shini, or would love someone to get into the blogging or fashion stratosphere, please let me know through comments or by email!
For the moment though,I have to get back to sleep. Night blogging turns me into a blood-sucking vampire during the day…
Since it seems that Instagram is the chosen medium for image self expression, and I forgot to post the January pictures at the end of January, which would have made logical sense… I want to post them now. However, since it seems that being late is not so fashionable any more, let’s say that my workload has forbidden me from posting anything remotely close to fashion. (Let’s just forget about the actual fact I had time to take the picture in the first place, add some decent lighting and filters… But hey, no one is paying attention to the details.) So flick through the pretty pictures, and browse my favourite Instagrameeeurs for even more time procrastination.
In the mean time, I will get to Emily Bronte and ‘commment tuer mon essai francais en cinq etapes’.
1. Miu Miu booties in the issue of Glamour. If these come out in stores, I’m the first one to get them, first one to love them.
2. Inspired by an illustration from a Japanese work of art, I copied the image with detailed patterns for the fabrics.
3. The best candle in the world… Smells like a wood fire on a cold night. Memories from your childhood will filter through…
4. The Elie Saab gowns from the Couture Catwalks 2014 took inspiration from classicism, draping inspired by Roman and Greek outfits. This pleating in turn was inspired by the architecture of Ancient Greece and the columns which supported so many buildings. This was a favourite technique used by Alix Barton, later known as Madame Gres.
5. Soba for dinner. As a light buckwheat noodle, usually eaten during the hot summer months in Japan. Usually eaten with a light, sweet sauce and sliced spring onions. However, I’m strange, and eat in the middle of January.
6. Some of my old illustrations from Paper 53 are up on Pinterest for happy browsing. Still having that pale pink vibe.
7. Great mashup of two photos by Dubble, with one of mine from a crepe stand in Harajuku, and one from @akwkm, which has a pattern of Japanese stamps.
My favourite Instagrameeeurs:
@margaret_zhang – Perfectly executed lunch & fashion photos, with snaps from her travels around the world. Best written posts on Shine by Three!
@alice_gao – Beautiful minimalist photos with a united, pale theme with plenty of sunlight. Just the thing for lovers of the Park & Cube aesthetic.
@femme_foodie – If, like me, you can’t get enough of luxury food and great restaurants, follow Mai Pham, the Forbes Travel correspondent and lover of great meals and beautiful pictures with a focus on new flavours.
@kehauai – Ever since discovering Hawaii Instagrams, this lady has pushed my wishes of white sandy shores and turquoise coloured waters, and motivated me to get in the water enough that I actually want to go surfing again.
@mermaidlove808 – A buzz of colour with wonderful inspirations from the waters of Hawaii and food and fashion of Japan. Also, she has the cutest dog!
@keiyamazaki – Her breakfast pictures have become so famous that she has now published a book with her Japanese-Western inspired, diverse, yummy breakfast ideas.
@balletbeautiful – Mary Helen Bowers, former ballerina and creator of the Ballet Beautiful program posts photos of herself by the barre and her new born baby, Lumina Belle.
Hope you get to check out their wonderful snaps. Hope you have a wonderful Valentines day tomorrow!
This is the first show that really came through for the successor of the Alexander McQueen kingdom, Sarah Burton. Previous collections were based on the sketches made by Alexander McQueen before his untimely death in February 2010. To remember this great creator and pioneer when it came to mixing fantasy with fashion in RTW, I am posting a review I did privately of the collection by Sarah Burton.
Usually in the world of fashion, no one will remember a show if it had no impact. Most of the designers have become far too subtle, forgetting that when you want make an iconic collection, you need to do it with a bang. There were only a few ones this year in the Spring/Summer 2011 which were even close.
One of those few designers who had made an impression on his viewers every time was Alexander McQueen. Yet after his suicide in February 2010, there was an uncertain moment for the brand. Everyone was curious in which direction the brand would go and if it would actually exist at all.
Sarah Burton, the new head designer, surprised everyone by fuelling the spring collection with feminine details, elaborate embroidery and unexpected materials. She had been working with Alexander McQueen for fourteen years and her first show was an incredible success. It crossed the boundary that stopped women from really relating to McQueen and led the brand forward.
The show was shocking in a different way to what had been seen before. There was no theatrical show, which everyone was used to at McQueen. Instead, there were densely patterned dresses and gowns, covered with butterfly wings and feathers. There were suits embroidered with shining buttons, the patterns forming galaxies on the clothes. There were shoes with heels of plastic leaves, demonstrating just how original the designer can make a simple object through an innovative idea.
There was a big difference to in the finishing of the clothes- the hems were rough and frayed. McQueen had previously only made designs with defined edges- in this collection though; there were dresses where the shape was only defined by the contours of leather leaves, barely covering the fragile bodies of the women. Where tailoring would expect a hard edge, such as on suits and tuxedos, Sarah had also abandoned the finishing touch, leaving them more natural to the eye without sacrificing their excellent design. She focused on creating outfits which were purely feminine and delicate, even though the shapes might not have seemed so.
The combination of hair woven into delicate thin plaits and the fraying edges of the clothes showed that not all outfits have to be strong and defined. The elfish models brought lightness to the heavily ornamented dresses. This way, the outfits were not weighed down with heavy looking make-up or hairstyles. The looks could still be perfect, no matter if the edges were not finished and the models seemed to be wearing no make-up. In the end, this was the perfect canvas for such a detailed collection.
Nature and its adjective played a huge part here. It was surprising to see that the usually grotesque figures which modelled the clothes were replaced by ethereal beauties, with unblemished skin and long flowing hair. Their make-up did not collide with the clothes; it was fresh and young, while the clothes revealed a mature woman, who knows how she can show her beauty. With using these contrasts- the young and the mature, the looks were levelled out and for some- perfect.
The only remotely darker and more gothic part of the collection was polished and flowing, without disturbing the beauty of the whole. The black suits were perfectly tailored and there were both smooth ones and ones with intricate designs. As nature was an inspiration, the beading and sequins formed vines and leaves all over the fabric. The fuss free make-up and hair scraped on both sides into thin plaits allowed the clothes to take over the whole look, focusing the attention of the viewer right there. For these pieces, male clothing was an inspiration, yet it was equalled out in feminine patterns which enveloped the suit. Here again, we see the combination of two contrasts and the way that they were mixed to create the perfect designs.
Alexander McQueen had been known in his previous collections to use mirror images of some patterns to make a fabric more interesting and it had become his trademark style. How could the House of McQueen be without it for even one collection? Even here, the flowers and stripes on the dresses were split up like the image in a kaleidoscope. Even the dresses where butterfly wings formed the pattern, the geometrical angles of the looking glass were still there. Giving a striped background to the harvest pattern of the medieval mini-dresses was a way to freshen up the style. If Sarah Burton would have stayed with a smooth, one colour background, the dresses would not be as intriguing as they were.
The light and flowing outfits were weighed down by wide leather belts with heavy golden buckles and boots, giving it a more medieval warfare theme. They reminded me of the heroines of computer games, whose outfits were very feminine, yet also appropriate for warfare. These females were usually elves, and their powers were given to them by nature. This natural power has been harnessed in the collection of Spring/Summer 2011. The models were looked regal in the dresses. If the dress was not long, the pattern on the dress and its elaborate cut made up for the length and still remained majestic.
The gilded dress in my opinion was the best piece out of the whole collection. The way that only the embroidered pattern was what created the dress, with the medieval style bodice just used to keep its shape was marvellous. This was how true simplicity could be used to all its glory. The dress was balanced and light, yet at the same time gave a lot of movement in the skirt. This is not just a dress which is meant to make the wearer look more beautiful. This dress finds the beauty that can be is in every woman and brings it out onto the surface.
The shoes reached up to the ankle and were very original- their heel was like one long droplet of water. Although the heel was so thin, the shoe was still weighed out and proportional. The interesting detail is the gold hobnail at the front. Hobnails were put on shoes to increase their durability, so this must just be a way to make them more elegant and versatile. They complete the outfit perfectly and are also just one of the ‘tough’ accessories used. There were a couple of different designs on the shoes- one of white snakeskin, one with a repeated white flower pattern on black, and two others- black snakeskin and black leather.
The collection was in no way ecological. Instead, it used nature to create beautiful clothes. The snakeskin which was used on the shoes related to the wild side of nature and how it allowed women to wear its creations. There were furs, feathers, hair, all used to decorate the clothing and add even more to them. Nothing was spared, yet the use of them did not seem cruel. It was as if to say- ‘yes, man has used beautiful things from animals before. But this is just to add more beauty to their bodies, to what they wear. In this world, there is a difference between loving the planet and recognising what power it has and just being selfishly scared that we will stop existing if we don’t do something about it. This show in no way should be seen as a violation. It is more of a thank you, to help understand just how beautiful nature is.’
Gaia, the ancient goddess of nature and fertility played her part in the show too. There were outfits made of wheat stalks and straw, woven together to make the geometric shapes of dresses and bodices. For others it could be Demeter, the roman goddess of harvest, who had come to lend the materials for this collection. The dresses and suits were cut around the midriff and sown back together with a thin piece of mesh in between. This allows for hip movement, which is one of the main attributes to a woman’s body. No model would have been able to move as freely in the outfits if it there was no cut. The clothes that Burton creates keep the natural form of the woman’s body in mind, not even forgetting about little details like this.
Was Sarah inspired by Mary the Queen of Scots? Her patterned dresses have a high collar that the queen would have worn during her reign. The sixteenth century monarch seems to have a big influence on McQueen too, who used the high collars in the last of his collections. The thick brocaded fabric which was used for some of the outfits (such as the flower patterned dresses) was also worn during the medieval times.
Curiously, during this time, the church had incredible power over people’s beliefs. There was a fascination with anything which wasn’t human and ‘faeries’ were seen as the work of the devil. They are the exact image of a woman Sarah Burton has shown in the collection. In fact, after the middle ages, fairies were only mythical creatures which formed in the imagination of women, who wanted to feel different in their greying lives. For the modern woman though, watching the Alexander McQueen show, the women/fairies must have been sensational, showing just how close magical creatures can be.
The colours included for this collection were startling, to say the least. With typical shades that are used in the spring summer collections such as pastel or neon thrown out of the window, the House of McQueen has once again stood out in the group, keeping only fresh white to relate to for Spring. The other colours would have been appropriate for the autumn fashions, yet they were used here, and to a surprisingly good effect. Sarah Burton included brocade in rich hues such as amber, red, yellow, gold, dove grey, olive green and beige. As pheasant plumage was used, the shades there had to link in some way to the ones on the designs. She shows that high fashion does not need to relate to anything going on outside, but can just be brilliant and admired through the ideas.
The designer’s main focus was on craftsmanship, which she showed brilliantly in her show. The intricate work she put in to the feather dresses, where the feathers folded over so densely, it did actually look like a bird’s wing.
The same was for the leather leaf outfits, which seemed like a shroud of the woman’s body, barely covering it, giving it enough exposure to intrigue. A lot of the body was shown, the skirt was quite short and the dress itself was off the shoulders, yet it remained tasteful, which was hard to come by before in McQueen’s show. The same pattern was used for the shoes, where the models feet were encased in black leather and buckled up tight. The shoes with their rigid structure showed that women do not need to always have dainty heels to flaunt their beauty.
Sarah Burton revealed a woman’s secret- her clothes do not need to expose the body for them to be recognised. It would have been easy to call this collection boring and it must have been hard to get that golden balance- right between shocking the audience, which was the late designer’s tactic, and boring it with shows where one piece was exactly the same as the other. Yet Burton managed, and created a very deep collection for something that must have been done in some sort of a rush. This alone should be admired, but Sarah did even better- she showed a very deep meaning to the collection and turned eyes to an issue which had been forgotten.
What was interesting in the outfits was the use of hair and feathers and butterfly wings. Ever since the ecology craze, designers started becoming more and more lenient towards using synthetic fabrics and straying from any sort of natural materials, in fear that they would be accused of exploiting the planet. As many designers became more and more attached to creating modern, futuristic, safe clothes, Sarah decided to reinvent the best fabrics and textures seen in nature, sticking to plastic only for the shoes. Her butterfly dress with the wonderful high collar made of butterfly wings stood out, because the colours were not washed out or created synthetically. They were vibrant and beautiful and caught my breath when I first saw them.
The woman that Burton created in her collection is in complete harmony with herself- she accepts that she is both fragile and strong, that she can wear both delicate and tough fabrics, as long as the proportions remain in harmony. This is something wonderful that brought the collection out to me as at the moment, in most shows, the designers are fixed on swaying towards extremes.
A couple of the outfits were focused around, hair, furs, gold and olive green. These royal shades are used in the brocade of some of the thicker jackets with big sleeves and yet the look does not seem to be heavy. The whole collection is in some way focused around light- the light reflected from the golden threads, the one showing through gauzy fabric and the light in the white colour of some of the dresses. A lot of the collections involved movement and how it is shown, so even tight or rigid outfits had something to them that made them more natural. The golden green suits had hair, the dove grey bodice had a skirt made of ostrich feathers, and the heavily patterned mini dresses had ruffles on the skirts.
Relating to collar draping and ruffles which were a trademark of the sixteenth century and the French revolution, Sarah had woven the issue of freedom in the women’s collection. As McQueen was very focused on liberating women from stereotypes, this historical connection must have been one of the many metaphors of doing so. The pleating that was on the collars was also repeated around the skirts, which made the dresses seem less uptight and gave them a flow, which had not been seen previously.
By accentuating the silhouette and making it more like the ones seen in the fashions of the Middle Ages, Sarah Burton has revived another trend from that time. The emphasis on the hips and the flat chests were seen as a mark of a high class lady, which the House of McQueen would surely want to show in its present collections. Although crinolines were first introduced in the middle Ages, they were not the type that Sarah Burton used in the collection. The skirts which went out to the sides were more like the XVIII century panniers, which were wide to the sides and flat at the front and back. Could this be a second relation to the French revolution and the freedom women should have? The ones used in the show were more modern, because of the short length of the dresses in which they were used. Where the dress is longer than to the thigh, the rest of the skirt is in frayed strips of fabric, which move with every swaying of the hips.
There was a harmony to all the designs. Although there was still a connection to the alien world, it was more fantasy coming from nature than from other planets, like in the collection for last year’s Spring/Summer. A main inspiration for the collection was elves and women and how one represented the other. The outfits in this collection were more regal and were certainly more in the direction of a queen of this world, than of a different star constellation.
Although I am not a fan of using feathers in design, in this one show they were truly beautiful, and the way in which they were used was marvellous. The long skirts billowing with layers of soft down created movement that could not be reproduced by a machine. There is so much laser cutting and sharp edges in most designs that it is a surprise that someone has not gotten cut yet! A woman is not used to wearing clothes which only would suit a robot. She needs flowing fabrics or clothes which accentuate her figure. They are an ornament to her natural beauty and this is what only Burton has managed to do in her very first collection. This alone is admirable; as there are many other designers who still are stuck in a rut of creating the same clothes, no matter what season. The house of Alexander McQueen has stayed afloat and not let routine take over the collections.
The feathers which were included on so many of the designs symbolise the woman’s fragility. They are both to show her main weapon, an element of her beauty, and her biggest weakness, where one hit can shatter her like glass. If anyone was to imagine a woman, the best way would be to see her as a female swan, which is both delicate and courageous, just as a woman should be. Feathers were a main inspiration to another part of art recently- to film. The thriller ‘Black Swan’ about a ballerina with a split personality, who takes part in the production of Swan Lake (starring Natalie Portman) was probably the best film of 2010. The costumes were made by the sisters of Rodarte and were covered in feathers, which Sarah Burton must have referred to in this spring collection.
Although the jackets and tuxedos were perfectly tailored, the signature pointed shoulder pads from the previous shows were slashed at the seams, giving more movement in the structured outfits. These pointed shoulders were a signature mark of McQueen’s and they were not forgotten here either, making them the perfect finish to the jackets. This is just another way that Sarah Burton has updated the House of McQueen’s and it might just be the next big thing. The boring blazers which are so fashionable right now should get an update, and this is definitely one of the ways to do it. Who knows, this could be what such classics like blazers need.
With the ‘modern woman’, who has rights, is allowed to drink, smoke and have multiple partners, most designers have not paid any attention to the fact that she is still weak inside. This fake confidence only confuses women and they rebel, not exactly knowing against what. In this collection, it is shown that even the ‘modern woman’ can accept herself for who she truly is and remain strong. She does not have to pretend or lie about how she feels and that is shown through these clothes.
If other designers would go in her steps, they would see that their own synthetic collections are as boring and common as plastic. Theses futuristic designers create a robot, one which is free to do anything, to have manly jobs and tasks, without actually examining who a woman is inside. I would not be able to feel like a woman if I chose minimalism in its cruellest form, with boxy jackets, unnatural colours or ugly shoes.
It’s funny how often you can end up using the phrase ‘riot of colour’. If there is a spring fashion show, it’s going to be plastered across every review and blog post across the Internet. However, using it to describe Notting Hill would be just a simple understatement. The festival is like a warmer, happier version of a Sonia Rykiel show with dancing models. It literally feels like London has been ripped out of the ground and transported onto the spicy shores of Mexico or Brazil. Walking, slightly disorientated from the station you get hit with the smells first- the jerk chicken, smoke and ripe fruits, and then you start to hear the first buzzing of the music. Entering the area around the Portobello market, seeing Cara dashing around, searching for the parade just like everyone else and seeing the speakers piled up like Lego bricks in front of the nailed up bars is so refreshing- it’s why Notting Hill comes before Fashion Week for sure! Nothing gets rid of excess stiffness from heels better than a session of jumping up and down like a mad puppy just to see that biggest costume.
For many, this is the street version of Victoria’ Secret- the wings, glitter and jewelled bikinis are all there, and though the models might not be strutting on a catwalk, they are certainly proud of their bodies. Gok Wan would certainly have trouble finding self conscious women for his show! This is my kind of acceptance- every race and shape, baring all and enjoying every second. Celebration is something that fashion does grudgingly- worried that it will make its world sound unprofessional, shows stay stark and uncompromising. This is why shows like Vuitton S ’12 blew such a hole in the routine that even in august people were still talking about the collection and the carousel. Going to events that mean so much emotionally lets you think positive. After all, it does only come once a year, doesn’t it?
After what felt like months of planning, boxing and moving, I have managed to remove all of my little boxes and my whole shoe collection from the modern flat in Warsaw to a charming Victorian semi detached house only a train ride from my city of dreams- London. I even have a couple of glazed fireplaces that I hope to expose with a beautiful armchair at some later stage.
For all those people who don’t quite know that London is, and will always be my favourite city, I re-visited the amazing Burlington Arcade in Mayfair. It is by far the most enjoyable part of London, as it stores a collection of small boutiques selling a range of items, from cashmere sweaters to vintage jewellery, which I had already shown in a previous post.
This time, pleasantly surprised, I stumbled on the just-opened pop-up boutique of my favourite graduate shoe designer, Sophia Webster. Apart from sharing a name, this lady also shares my passion for shoes with a story, that are fun! Just looking at the candy coloured darlings is enough to see that she is inspired by the simplest of things- from plastic beads that I strung on a string when I was little, to the blue striped exercise books that I wrote in, I felt that this collection really spoke to me. Of course, there was another detail that I was envious of- a graduate of Central Saint Martins, Sophia interned at Nicholas Kirkwood, and his influences are visible in her work. I hope that her future collections will also let possible shoe buyers indulge in their childhood visions of stilettos…
The thing with visiting other places is that you can never truly alienate yourself from the people around you. Travel is a means of escape from what you already know into something more exciting, new. But the truth is that being around people who you know are always the same is much more comforting than anything else out there. That is why I would love to make Tokyo my home.
Europe, on the whole, is quite monotonous- there are different cultures and different food, but there are no differences (or very little ones) when it comes to the mentality and the thinking. In Tokyo, I could see the visible differences everywhere and it was the best feeling ever. Apart from the amazing food, the fact I could drink good green tea at every meal and that the culture and surrounding art and fashion was actually beautiful, I could see that people from Tokyo (and most probably, all of Japan) are much kinder, more polite to each other than in Europe. There seems to be a general awareness when it comes to looking out for others, whether it is in the trains going to Shibuya or in the streets where no one seems to knock into each other, yet the rush is far bigger than something that would be seen in London or elsewhere.
The fact that I miss this daily life from Japan, not its touristy attractions, shows me that there are places you only think about in dreams, and that those dreams can become reality. There is nothing stopping anyone exploring the world, and for some, discovering new places to settle down. I miss the meat buns from the Shinagawa Aquarium, where I can imagine taking future kids to (hopefully) and the rush of the streets. The smallest things, like the wrapped up manga books in convenience stores made me smile and truly forget about the dreary times I pop into the shops downstairs.
Is this something I should be looking out for when I come to Japan? I do not know. I spent my time enjoying the best of what there is to see in Tokyo- visiting Shibuya at night, the Sensoji temple and the fabulous street leading up to it where I bought the most beautiful silk robe I could imagine, eating sushi at the two Michelin star Kanesaka, staying at the Park Hyatt where “Lost in Translation” was filmed and drinking Bellini‘s at the New York Bar… The whole experience was out of this world. I could not have imagined, or even dreamed of the kind of trip I would have there.
I would like to thank my boyfriend for letting me experience something I never had before in a country I had never been to- a feeling of coming back home. And also for the never ending packets of sembei that he let me buy during the trip!
After laboriously trying to keep on top of both the real world and the fashion world, I have started to see potential similarities and patterns when it comes to behavior concerning clothes and politics, or general knowledge perhaps. Right now, with the recession still fully active, it feels like designers are not only economizing on the amount of money spent per show but also on their creative ideas and visions. These seem to have been shut away with the rest of the S/S 2012 fashion shows which encouraged princessy styles and the ‘happily ever after prospect’, exactly like the Louis Vuitton carousel parade.
Bracelets, bangles, pendants, necklaces and more… The never ending, constantly glittering world of the queens and kings of the diamante world is usually too dizzying and terrifying to venture into. Seeing as reality can sometimes punch you in the face reminding you of what happened to your last pendant/necklace/expensive pair of gloves (where did that come from…?) that these glowing jewels become a little less dazzling. Even if they do make you feel like you’re standing in front on Tiffany’s with your morning latte, the twirling and the dancing would probably have to be put back in its pristine box before being taken out for an equally official occasion. Recently, shuffling (wishfully) through the hordes of jewels (ahem…), I dusted off one of these pristine cobalt boxes and took out the green eyed monster inside. Obviously, I could not be out done by it and instantly took to wearing it. And after much prancing about thinking of a would be cat without a name, I put it back in the box so I could keep my little green eyed monster for when I feel particularly extravagant and my personal economy is not in the best shape.
After getting to know someone over three years, you would think that I know their style and vision perfectly, so I was surprised when I first got a glimpse of my friend Zuzia’s collection. Although I did know she had a certain fondness for geometrical shapes and easy, manageable forms, I did not expect her pieces to be so well thought out colour-wise and how much variation there was when it came to cuts…
Anyway, lets start from the beginning. Zuzia had been planning to show her first collection since June at least, so it came as no surprise when I got an invitation to join her and Celebration Media in the modern setting of Studio 4th Floor. Genuinely excited, I waited until the first perfectly made-up model shasay-ed across the floor, spotlight on her hair. I was happy to notice that the girls looked glowing and elegant and not dark and sulky, as was the theme with ‘young and upcoming’ Polish designers. The pieces melded well with the ideas, allowing me to notice the small details- the tiny chains across naked ribs, the golden flames shooting up from the ankles and loose openings in the sleeves.
The colours, being mostly based on contrasts, such as cream and orange and navy and burgundy were clean and unobtrusive- no one felt they clashed together, instead giving a decisive message- I am not here to play… I would recommend this collection for the office, as many of the pieces are as versatile as they are fashionable. Having said this, and even with the suited decor and the clever designs, I think Banais is going to get much better with time.
All photos are courtesy of Zuzia at Banais.
Seeing as even British Vogue have decided to embrace POP, I will too. Not out of the peer pressure, but out of judgement- the clothes do happen to be very familiar with what I remember to be called POP. And so I call on the shoes, lonely as they are, to take the center stage and show they are truly in their place here.
$935 – net-a-porter.com
$905 – net-a-porter.com
$595 – net-a-porter.com