Saturday, 18 July 2009

Giles Deacon at the Museum

Giles Deacon is a designer I've followed with great interest, as his collections although chaotic are always unmistakably Giles. I love looking back to his early shows, and especially his use of older supermodels in his show, to insure maximum coverage for his collections.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to go to a Giles Deacon retrospective at the Victoria & Albert museum, which meant a runway show and a best of Giles. The show was fantastic, staged in the dramatic Raphael gallery, and luckily enough my friends and I secured second row seats behind Hilary Alexander and Barbara Hulanicki.
Watching the clothes go past was a real honour to see the incredibly intricate detail that is often overlooked, stand outs from the show included:

The last look in particular inspired spontaneous applause from the audience, but one of the most fascinating things about seeing all these looks together was realising what a fantastically strong designer he is. Even the Pac Man heads doesn't seem gimmicky when you see them walking down the runway, there's a beauty in the chaos he creates in his collections, something that I think London Fashion Week thrives on. 

After the buzz of the show calmed down, my friends & I took a brief respite sitting on the steps of the V&A. But for who to walk past? Giles Deacon himself. We all congratulated him on the show (for which he thanked us for attending!), and he took the time to talk to us, and take a few pictures too:

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Is imitation really the sincerest form of flattery?

Sometimes you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. Finally, a new model graces the cover of W magazine, and not just any model but the bombshell Lara Stone. Not many models will ever get this honour - models such as Jessica Stam, Natasha Poly & Raquel Zimmermann have never even had this. So to see Lara Stone as the model that W magazine want to push to an American market is quite frankly groundbreaking.

So when I saw the cover I couldn't help be disappointed. Yes, it's aesthetically beautiful to look at - the soft focus and the coy look from Lara but it's just too Bridget Bardot inspired. This, at the beginning of Lara's career (2005) was a real selling point - a model who resembles Bardot in her prime! So a slew of Bardot editorials followed all backcombed hair, smokey eyes and gap toothed grin. However, people started realising that Lara was more than this; a Givenchy campaign followed, regular spots in Vogue Paris and then came the inevitable Vogue Italia covers. This year Lara has shot to stratospheric new heights - making her Vogue US debut by appearing on the cover, and followed that up with a frankly adorable editorial with Morgan Freeman for Vogue US.

So to see her just all dolled up as Bardot is disappointing to say the least. The reason Gisele, Kate, Daria, Natalia and even Gemma broke new ground when it came to modelling as that they were allowed to be themselves, the magazine's they were appearing in didn't try to mould them - as they face, modelling ability and talent was more than enough. I think the same is true for Lara, with her less than conventional runway walk and by her own admittance her dislike for even doing runway, surely that's enough to separate her from the slew of supermodels that have gone before her?

all images from

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The Row

Any celebrity line makes me feel a little weary. I admit some of my style icons are celebrities, but it just feels so cheap to cash in on their own style (or a style that has been created for them by their stylist). That's all a celebrity fashion line seemed to do: want colourful and trashy? Go to Jessica Simpson. Want trendy but not too fashion forward? Go to Kate Moss.
So when The Olsen twins - sorry, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen - announced they were creating two fashion lines it made me a little uneasy. Mary Kate & Ashley's style is difficult to replicate well, and to be honest unless you are a billionaire it's hard to run round purposefully looking like you don't earn any money. However, as there style has developed from the layered NYU years a real dichotomy has developed between their style, and as they have grown older I err on the side of Ashley's classic minimalist look. Something I think her line - The Row has actually created some interesting garments without just aping Ashley's style.

It would have been far too easy to manufacture some plaid shirts and imitation Balenciaga boots and sell them for half the price to their many followers.
The Row was a line I followed the progress of and through reading interviews with Ashley it's clear how much real involvement she has through it. From her Marie Claire interview from 2008 when the interviewer followed her around sourcing materials and changing hemlines it seemed, from the outside at least that Ashley was more involved than the average celebrity producing a clothes line.
So, when an interview with The Hampton's magazine came out this week with Ashley it was interesting to get an update on where exactly her position within The Row was currently at.

"That's the thing about celebrity brands these days," Olsen says. "People think they can define a brand by just a name, but the product has to speak for itself. It doesn't really matter whose name is on it. That's the truth. It's the work behind it. It makes you step up to the plate."

Firstly, the price points within the brand (T-shirts start at $600) have meant a level of exclusivity to the brand, the average Olsen fan simply can't afford these clothes. As a result of this the line has been popping up in Paris Vogue editorials as well as being worn by the likes of Lauren Hutton (who modelled the lookbook) but the clothes have best been modelled by Ms. Olsen herself, who showcased her talent and eye for creating clothes beautifuly at this years Met Gala:

The Row is stocked at Harvey Nichols, La Bon Marche in Paris and Barney's in New York and this, Ashley says it something she is very proud of. For the child star turned fashion icon she also describes her typical day in the office:

Olsen and her team will introduce a men's collection this fall, and she's at work every day from 8 am to 8 pm editing look books, draping garments and running the company. "I understand what it takes to make a brand and to have an eye for product that sells. I don't have the time to step away for a month. I hold myself accountable every day."

If what Ashley says is true then I think she maybe the only celebrity to create such a respected brand, I really hope this will become a model of how to create a celebrity brand - through hard work and building up the brand and not using the celebrity to just promote the brand. Unfortunately, I don't think this is a likely occurrence but I, for one think The Row is one of the most promising new brands there is.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Public Enemies

I have found my inspiration for fall clothing, and it comes from Marion Cotillard playing gangster girlfriend Billie Frechette in Public Enemies. The film is set in 1930'a depression-era America, and after John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) presents her with a fur trim coat early on in the film, I knew the film would be a fashion tour de-force.

She slinks through the film, in equal parts strength and vulnerability - the constant angel on Dillinger's shoulder. Dressed in muted colours for the most part of the film the real stand out is on there first date, where in the restaurant she remarks: "everyone is looking me, like I don't belong here, because I'm in a $3 dress". But it is quite the $3 dress...

Inspired by the film I decided to create a modern day look from the film (four leaf clover earrings are of course, for luck) :

Public Enemies
(Sonia Rykiel Mongolian Trim Wool Coat, Giambattista Valli Red Dress, Dior Lady Dior Quilted Nappa, Art Deco Silver Cigarrette Case, Jimmy Choo 'Bonnie' Studded Suede Sandals, The Very Best of Billie Holiday, Miu Miu Studded Leather Heart Purse, Alex Monroe Clover Stud Earrings)

But really, the look is just finished off by Johnny Depp as John Dillinger in impeccable tailoring that isn't too far away from Depp's red carpet looks.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Is Vogue still relavent?

The Times recently published an article about the relevance of Vogue Magazine and its editors. Written by Lisa Armstrong (a contributor to Vogue herself) it provided a strong case as to why Vogue remains so powerful, in spite of other magazines fighting to take Vogue's place.

In fact even the cheaper weekly magazines (Look, Now & Grazia) far outsell Vogue; Armstrong argues that this is because:

"With their familiar cast of characters (Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham, Angelina Jolie) and rotating plot-lines (Jen finds love, Jen loses love, Posh gains weight, Posh loses weight, Angelina finds child, loses Brad, etc) the weeklies have created a compelling reason to buy them."

Why else would this all star cast constantly appear on the cover of the weeklies? This is because they sell units, the public are genuinely interested in their salacious and constantly changing lives showing little interest in whether said stories are actually true (Depending who you read, Angelina Jolie is either a) splitting up with Brad b) marrying Brad c) getting back together with Billy Bob Thornton).
An interesting dichotomy has developed though; as these weekly magazines vary rarely carry interviews directly from the celebrities instead it inevitably comes from a source 'close to them'. How close? Well the reader will never know, and that seems to be good enough for them.
But it is Vogue that really is that close to them. It was US Vogue that got the quote that Angelina was 'uncool' from Jennifer Aniston, not Grazia magazine. One would imagine this would lead people towards the likes of Vogue but this just isn't the case.

Lisa Armstrong argues that readers of Vogue demand clarity:

"I learnt early on in my career as a fashion journalist that the last thing anyone who is asking about this season’s colours/lengths/trends in breast enhancements wants is a benign, touchy-feely, “these days you can probably wear whatever suits you” response. When it comes to fashion, women don’t want softly, softly condescension. They want fascist dictatorship. It makes shopping so much more linear."

This I think is where Vogue US & UK excel. The team of editors know exactly what trends they are going to push this season, something that some readers really do need. They don't want to look through avant garde French fashion magazines decompiling looks of the season. Vogue has to tell them, and people will follow. Unlike magazines such as Love and Numéro where the readership is very different. They know exactly how they want to dress next season and merely use these magazines as stepping stone, to serve as inspiration not to force a look.

"Collectively, these four editors have been in charge for aeons: 21 years in the cases of Wintour and Sozzani; 17 in Shulman’s. Roitfeld, the risky newcomer, has been in place for eight years. Unlike Bauer Consumer Media (formerly Emap), which spins its editors into new jobs every three or four years, Condé Nast prides itself on the longevity of its appointees. This adds to their aura of inviolability and immutability."

I think the power of longevity in fashion is often under looked, especially within journalism. All the best journalists and editors have really learnt their trade - unlike trends within fashion which continue to be one season wonders - and have had longevity at their respective magazine. Which makes Interview's merry go round of changing editors and creative directors all the more perplexing. In the space of a few months Fabien Baron has unceremoniously left the magazine, taking uber stylist Karl Templer with him, and then returned a few months later to the helm of the magazine. Of course, Fabien Baron is a major asset to any magazine, but it begs the question; why leave in the first place?

Readership is of course always an issue:

"French Vogue’s circulation, at 133,000 a month, is minuscule compared with that of the fortnightly French Elle. American Vogue, at 1.2 million a month, is outsold by the brasher, even breathier and more celebrity encrusted American InStyle (1.7 million)."

Once again however, Vogue transcends the readership=influence motto.

"Ooh, have you seen what OK! (circulation: 508,000) has to say about The Balmain Shoulder?” Whereas in reality no one gives a stuff what OK! says about anything."

The magazine industry has reached a strange stage now, where magazines are folding left right and centre. I-D magazine has halved the amount of issues it's putting out each year and Dazed&Confused are turning more and more towards online content. No one really knows what's next for their favourite niche magazine, but whilst other magazines crumble around them Vogue continues to shine (mainly due to Conde Nast's vast financial wealth) and live in a world that doesn't have a recession or any financial worries.
Vogue US will continue to do their yearly couture feature, a gigantic September issue and continue to draw every celebrity, model, stylist and photographer it so pleases, and doesn't that just speak so much louder than any readership figure ever could?

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Buenos Diaz

After the latest sneak peek of Cameron Diaz for V Magazine, I found myself reminiscing to her exquisite W December 2006 cover that remains one of my favourite celebrity editorials ever. With temperatures in London soaring right now, I'm definitely not the only one who just wants to escape to the beach.

So often a Hollywood starlet on a beach setting shoot can just err on the side of beautifuly bland, but Cameron's modelling past really shines through here. As a tanned brunette in Grecian attire (styled by Alex White) she could certainly pass as one of the supers.

With brunette hair I certainly get a Helena Christensen in the 'Wicked Games' music video vibe from it.

Iris Strubegger

Rarely does a model exude class, intelligence and poise so successfully as Austrian model Iris Strubegger. After returning to the modelling scene in 2007 after a long break for her studies she's produced an absolute master class in the art of modelling.

In US Vogue July, an entire article is dedicated to her new hair cut ("A Star Is Shorn") surely a haircut has never created such hype since Linda Evangelista and her chameleon ways in the later 1980's.
There is a certain look of Ms. Evangelista herself too, but Iris as an almost regal like quality in her pose.