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!)