Sunday, 13 February 2011

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Friday, 27 March 2009

Put a Spring in Your Step: The Sport of Fashion

I’m not always a big fan of the utilitarian look, preferring more feminine & classic styles. One of the few good things to come out of the Nineties however (let us forget the uninspiring & ubiquitous “blue jeans & white T” look) was a new sporty & sleek utilitarianism. As an antidote to the neon, punk, & padded shoulders of formative years, fashion responded by adopting a casual athletic look (this later led such innovators as Dries Van Noten to really experiment with shapes, sizes and silhouettes).  High fashion throughout the first half of the twentieth century responded to socialised ideals of how a woman should dress, with particular emphasis on the class to which she belonged, or indeed, aspired to belong. Whilst such vestiges may remain present amongst Russian oligarchs and German baronesses, kids in Britain, Paris & America turned the idea of “class” on its head by opting for sleek and unromantic urbanity, no pretensions necessary. Architectural angles, no-nonsense lines and cuts, this wasn’t for the wallflower. 

From a range of displays across Adidas stores in London, I chose the leading picture because of its reclamation of femininity within an unashamedly tough & competitive (not just with others, but with oneself?) sporting arena. Adidas is a simple brand built upon the three-stripe image, but today’s customer has more than one identity that she shares with the world, & she doesn’t want anything to be a clear-cut prescription where boundaries are rigid. Stella McCartney’s collaboration with the brand brought us loose tank tops in fine grey knits, beige racer-backs & easily wearable bikinis: clothes not just reserved for conversations on the race course or athletics track but for our everyday vernacular.

Stella McCartney for Adidas, Fall 2008 Collection:

Terry Richardson & Kate Moss. A pairing almost as inimitable as Kate Moss & Corinne Day. Again, the new hook that the Nineties grabbed & ran with was a more functional & bare grasp of beauty, Kate taking her place as the spearhead of Generation X’s naked aesthetic. The image below, untouched by time, remains a photographer’s shot rather than a fashion editorial piece. Helmet in hand, Kate exudes a toughness, a don’t-mess-with-me persona, yet at the same time her vulnerability shines through from an almost effected exploitation with the sexually charged intensity of the shot. (Different replications of the image lengthen or reduce the use of the light beams). The all-black outfit, wet-look hairstyle, matte red lips & white stilettos remind us that what may seem simple in isolation, can together create an image that is powerful, lucid & lasting.

Military-buttons finish a navy blue coat: on the street, NYC:

Cropped pink parachute pants give a sporty & relaxed feel to high end fashion. Model Coco Rocha in Milan:

Paris (- again courtesy of The Sartorialist):

Utilitarian goes neon: Dries Van Noten hits the spot:

Picture Sources:

Leading Pic: taken by yours truly, Adidas store, Oxford Street, London

Dries Van Noten:

Stella McCartney for Adidas pics:

Kate Moss by Terry Richardson:

Military buttons, Coco pic, Baggy pants w/ white line trim, Paris pics:

Thursday, 5 March 2009

It’s All in The Detail (Super Spectacular!)

One of the easiest ways to wear clothes is in block black, striking colours, or simple separates. An attention to detail always helps for the final coup de grace: make sure you have well made seams (keep an eye out for French or bound seams - designers love them), and the garment will be sure to hang itself off you almost as if you were a mannequin in a Chanel/Dior/Prada store window (delete as appropriate). However, one might want to go a little further by heading for a touch of embellishment, material pleats, or beading, et cetera. I chose the leading shot for this piece because of its wonderful intricacy (please don’t wear this down the King’s Road. It’s just for inspiration guys). We’re talking high class design, architectural splashes of inspiration, & the real way to flash a bit of clash without the trash.

At first this might seem a bit dauntingly expensive a pursuit. Beads, gems and handiwork labourers do not come cheap in this economic climate. But then there was vintage.  Like the answer to many a fashionista’s sourcing query, vintage stores & sites enable us everyfolk to get our mitts on some pretty fabulous stuff. Check out these pics I took recently of a really cute dress hanging in an uber-trendy clothing store whilst in New York:

(fyi: lower east side, manhattan, near nyu. Unfortunately I forgot to take down the name of the shop, so anyone over on that side of the pond, well you’ll just have to get out those fashion antennae & do a bit of searching in the city...)

Below we have our beloved LC demonstrating a gorgeous Jenny Packham dress. What I love with this piece (& that makes it fit effortlessly into LA without being too high-glamour) are the jewel & coral tones: a reflection of the sand dunes & the sweet, sweet blue skies of Los Angeles but mixed up with the delicate beads & feathers of an artisan at her most inspirational. & fyi, this from a London-based designer.

The best of late, however, has to be Diane Kruger in Valentino. A breath of fresh air in canary yellow, she turned up in this in stunning ensemble but a few days ago & certainly wowed the crowds, as always. Speechless. What more can we say? C’est tout.

Liz Hurley (with Eva Herzigova) is a devoted fan of Jenny Packham. Don’t let this put you off. (Let’s face it, this dress would look one thousand times better on Kate Moss, or Eva, if you know what I mean):

Now these clearly weren’t created with a simple Singer machine & one pair of hands. Dior, Spring 2009:

Pleats & fringes, swings & roundabouts. Exciting ways to embellish:

Another of my pics from nyc, love this shop! Note to self: keep a pen & paper handy if you can’t be arsed to remember the name of an amazing little one-of-a-kind boutique in a fairyland store.

Picture Sources:

Leading pic: Chanel:

Lauren Conrad: in Jenny Packham,

Liz Hurley in Jenny Packham, Diane Kruger in Valentino:


Emma Watson & Natalia Vodianova: (please do not be hatin’ on me for sourcing this pic from here, it was what Google images threw up!)

Friday, 13 February 2009

Motorcycle Diaries

Blondes have more fun? Really? Is that the best you can come up with? Okay, so maybe it’s more than just hair colour, but I’ve recently been inspired by a bunch of brunettes who play up to their dark roots. It’s a sort of posh grunge, biker-ready but with a limousine & driver handy just in case. The new 90210 miniseries revival boasts a big dose of preppyness with the plaid-brigade, but the character Silver, played by Jessica Stroup, injects a breath of fresh air, albeit the sort probably infused with cigarette smoke from teenage rebels.

The pieces needed to create this devil-may-care persona must, if not be black, then somehow embody it. At the same time, a cheeky sex-appeal must come through. Not too overt (forget cleavage), but not a nuance so subtle it’s hard to identify: a bit of leg seems the easiest way to approach this, especially when, with Jessica’s lead, you pair with a zippered jacket up top (leather, natch, for biker appeal).

Audrina Patridge, of The Hills “fame”, is forever seen on the backseat of a bike with on again/off again beau Justin-Bobby, so she needs something manageable but ever camera-ready for her close-ups. This invariably ends up as skinny black jeans (seriously, who can remember how we ever lived without these darlings??) with a simple vest top, leather jacket, & a bouffant evocative of Priscilla Presley: half up-half down, long black hair.

Ece Sukan, former model, now owner of a hot vintage boutique in Istanbul, brings a more sophisticated look to the table. Her inspiration comes not only from the Middle East, but also from the catwalks of Paris & Milan (where, let’s face it, we’re not expecting Jessica or Audrina to show up anytime soon). Her over-the-knee leather boots kick ass, & her idea of throwing on a gold chainmail dress in autumn simply rocks us crazy.

If you really want to be daring, get a tattoo.

Just don’t go all Angelina on us.

Audrina with a hard-ass caffeine infused beverage:

Jessica mixes black & yellow & avoids bumblebee syndrome:

Sequins don't have to be all sugarsweet - wear them in black:

Leather bags go with practically everything:

Audrina with a scary-looking tattoo man, gets a tattoo:

Celine, Fall/Winter 2008:

I’ve included some vids this time. Diesel are pretty much a definite source of inspiration when it comes to mixing high fashion with a more street-level leather chic:

Celine may not come to mind initially, but check out the long dark coats, chic yet edgy silhouettes, & funky platforms, especially on model Coco Rocha (the 7th look):

(note from ed: i'm working on embedding these!)

Picture/Video Sources:

Jessica Stroup in yellow skirt:

Jessica Stroup in black dress:

Jessica Stroup in black hotpants:

Audrina with leather bag:

Audrina gets a tattoo:

Audrina with drink:

Celine pic:

Ece Sukan, leading pic:

Ece Sukan/Jim Goldstein:

Diesel fashion show, from youtube:

Celine video, Elle magazine on youtube:

Monday, 2 February 2009

It’s a thin line between love & hate.

One of the many great things about style & its perception is that everything reads as in the eye of the beholder. What one person believes to be vulgar, others see as a refreshing manifestation of all things hip & inspired. Take Vivienne Westwood. Do guys, of the non-camp camp, really appreciate her wonder, her unswerving ability to keep pushing the boundaries of ‘taste’ further & further, particularly with her own personal style? Many artistes create such perfected personas that compliment their lines, their canvas, an image that makes a house.

A shock of red hair & a staple of badges pinned to her body: Vivienne Westwood’s character emanates as if unending from her own essence through to her collections. From her almost humble abode at 430 King’s Road, ‘71, the infamous Sex store was born in ’74, & Ms Westwood caused quite a stir with pieces inspired by S&M, punk & the pirate. Together with her business partner & then lover, Malcolm McLaren, Westwood dressed the Sex Pistols, & from then on, the rest, as they say, is history.

Carrie Bradshaw, heroine of Sex & the City, chose Westwood for the final showdown: The Wedding Scene. Paired with a fantastically courageous turquoise feather, the structured layers and the shaped bustier create an elfin-twisted haute couture fairytale as she exits the cab at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. What I loved was what so many people were drawn to hate: the feather. Yes, it’s turquoise & about a foot in length, but it gives drama to an outfit that for Westwood is relatively mute. It really brings a touch of the 1940s to the modern punk that is brought out in the dress.

Sex and the City breached the gap between what was acceptable & expected of city women, with the world of haute couture & constant innovation that was previously restricted to the catwalks of Paris & Milan. Granted, this may have been taken to extreme on occasion, toying with audience naïveté on what was really happening on the streets of New York between women & fashion. Take the character of Carrie: she evidently relishes the walk of shame after a night at Big’s so much so that her nonchalance brings her to don a large white men’s shirt, secure a black leather belt to give the outfit a waist, & simply add stilettos. Would this genuinely happen in real life? I don’t think it matters. Patricia Field, costume designer for Sex & the City for much of its career, made us sit up & watch. Here was a high-fashion editorial look being played out on the small screen. That’s what made it real, the fact that it was fashion, & it was happening real-time.

Sarah Jessica Parker, as Carrie, revived the corsage, putting it back into everyday vernacular:

Sarah Jessica Parker & Chris Noth play their onscreen characters for an Annie Leibowitz shoot for US Vogue:

Wardrobe rails, backstage at SATC:

Vivienne Westwood, true as always to her Punk roots:

Carrie in Westwood wedding dress:

Vivienne Westwood, Paris f/w '08:

Picture Sources:


Vogue shot: original credit to US Vogue.

Wardrobe rails:

Vivienne Westwood:

Vivienne in turquoise:

Westwood Paris f/w ‘08:

Westwood & Mclaren:

Carrie in Westwood wedding dress:

Carrie with umbrella:

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Colour me Quick!

So many people are afraid of a little colour. Truly. An LBD (little black dress)? Why not a navy blue? – easier on the complexion, brings out the rouge in one’s cheeks. Red nails a la Chanel’s shade Pirate? Check out Agness Deyn’s orangina manicur-a in the latest ed of US Vogue. Cute! & all sophisticated at the same time!

One of the best ways to stand out through outrageous colour combinations is to clash, clash, clash. Mix a neon pink silk blouse with tan riding pants. Yeah baby. Or go for preppy red jeans with a summer-rose cashmere twinset. Add pearls if you’re meeting the in-laws. Richard Nicoll has shown real innovation through his use of colour on the catwalk; the ability to blend pastels, nudes & brights without causing offence does not come along often.

UniQlo. Great name (Unique Clothes), great shop for this sort of thing. Heard on the down-low that the store actually maintains a sort of Primarni/Peacocks grade level over in Japan, famed for its inexpensive (read: cheap) pieces more than anything else. A transatlantic marketing boost can do wonders for a brand (remember how Banana Republic came to the UK with an upgrade?)...& so Uniqlo in London translated into innovative style solutions, a rainbow of colours to brighten up the dank and somewhat grimy streets leading from Oxford Circus onwards. Cords in a primary colour palette, opaque leggings, and long button-down cardigans in enough shades to make even your 101 paintbox you had as a kid blush with inferiority.

Whilst the time has approached to replenish one’s summer wardrobe, you may want to hold out a while. Punch through a melee of winter nudes, tans, and neutrals with a shot of high definition vibrancy. Henry Ford? Pfft. You can have any colour, so long as it’s not black.

Richard Nicoll, S/S ‘09:

Elettra Wiedemann wears Chris Benz for the infamous Met/ Costume Institute Gala. 2008 was the year of 'Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy'. (Hop on the Obama-is-superman/Jesus Christ reincarnated bandwagon...)

Alexis Bledel goes for a pink lip:

Chris Benz, S/S ’08:

...more Chris...

Kristen Bell excels in a nude/pink/nude sequence head to toe:

Picture Sources:

Richard Nicoll:

Elettra Wiedemann pic:

Chris Benz pics:;

Kristen Bell:

Leading pic, Chris Benz, spring 08:

Alexis Bledel:

Friday, 23 January 2009

Parker Vs. Parker

We all know what happened to Sex and The City: it became a movie, & then it became a possible movie sequel, & now it’s just fashion folklore from those oft remembered days gone by. Whatever happened to Patricia Field? Zeitgeist, Artiste, Designer; she went to M&S. SATC became a hit through its more hilarious than accurate, but all the same still touching rendering of career women through their thirties, seeking love, sex & money. We all know what really made it stick in the collective was the fashion, the colours, the designers. Samantha’s Fendi baguettes (both authentic & fake), Carrie’s Louboutin’s, Charlotte’s preppyness & Miranda’s suits: they called out to us. & now they’re gone.

Where SATC paved the way, other US drama series are taking smaller, subtler steps. Mad Men, set in the Sixties in a dependably sexist advertising industry where women are valued more for their likeness to a pin-up Coca-Cola ad than a technical education, throws out inspiring ensembles for both men & women. Costume designer for the show, Janie Bryant explains on Black Book that she wanted to create “a sleek style...masculine...that’s also about wealth & personal grooming” for the men, with a pithy “cupcake...hourglass...a little bit prim” look for the ladies. Fashion in the 1960s really came into its own as it began to breach the gap between the conservative white-picket-fence Fifties and the Roxy Music/Studio 54 Seventies. Hair was coiffed & curled while bodices were loosened, skirts began to creep towards the knee whilst twinsets still reigned supreme.

From Sarah Jessica Parker to Mary-Louise Parker, those of the double barrelled names. The unlikely sleeper hit based around a kooky suburban drug-dealing widow, Showtime’s Weeds really hit it off with the young, urbanite professional crowd. Where Mary-Louise Parker, in arguably her best-suited role yet, began with pedal pushers, wife-beaters and static hair, she ended the recent series with a whole array of car-crash-causing bondage stilettos and Roberto Cavalli slip dresses to die for - which, trust me, after coming dangerously close to death several times throughout , she probably doesn’t want to do -

Keep an eye on the small screen, kids.

Behind every glamorous & adoring housewife is a cigaretted man in a sharp suit:

Cutting it fine: smoke & silhouette:

Girl:Boy shoot for Vanity Fair magazine:

Daydream believer, Mary-Louise Parker in Weeds:

Siren on the small screen, & off:

Walking away with a sly smile. Spaghetti strapped black number:


Janie Bryant quotes:

Picture Sources:

Mad Men: girls/boys double shot:

Housewife & cigarette pic:

Smoke silhouette pic:

Red lipstick/blue suit:

Polka dot Mary-Louise pic:

Walk away:

Weeds promo pic:

Red dress: