Thursday, November 26, 2015

Gucci // Spring 2016 //

He came. He saw. He conquered. Alessandro Michele’s creative director status at Gucci is a journey that begin in the 1990’s. He studied at the Academy of Costume & Fashion in Rome before becoming a senior accessories designer for Fendi. In 2002, he went to work for Gucci, then under the helm of Tom Ford. Working in the design studio, Michele was promoted to associate to Frida Giannini in 2011. Four years later and the rest is history. Michele reflects on the past a lot in his Gucci collections. For his Spring 2016 collection he was looking to the Renaissance and the 1970’s. The Renaissance was a revolutionary time for Italy. The 70’s on the other hand, socio-politically, weren’t exactly great, however, singer-songwriters blossomed in Italy during this time. The two eras combined made for an interesting collection. I say interesting because I don’t particularly think it was his strongest. Everything heretofore has improved on the previous collection. I think resort was better than this, but there was fascinating things on show here. 

The show was held at a former train station, Scalo Farini. A lavish carpet with floral motifs and a serpent print and printed seats were the setting for the show. It oozed grandiose and it’s hard not to love the richness of it all. Seven, almost eight, models occupied the runway at any one time. The collection was innocently sensual and appealed to every woman, young and old. Previous designers at Gucci targeted a specific customer, which for me was a woman between 30 and 50. It was too exclusive of a club. Michele defies that, especially in this collection with clothes that could cater for an 18-year-old to an 81-year-old. Whether she’s on the hunt for a floral-embroidered lemon skirt and cornflour blue blouse with a rose bolo tie, or a pixellated floral print micro-pleated dress, a woman of any age would look and feel great in. The same goes for the menswear. This isn’t just for a grown man. It’s great for an 18-year-old to an 81-year-old.
Madeleine de Scudéry’s Carte de Tendre inspired Michele. The map portrays the path towards love. Goodness, respect, accuracy, sensuality, probity, alacrity and sincerity all dot the map, which was emblazoned on one dress. The collection featured ample amount of the destinations along the love map. Michele was respectful to the inspiration, portraying it with sincerity and sensuality.   

The accessories of any collection are usually overlooked and shown in full in the showroom. The models on the runway were the showroom. I counted three rings on one hand. The shoes. There were lace-up Mary Jane’s, sky high platform heels, mules, heeled brogues. There were scarves, turbans and berets, fingerless gloves, bow ties. There is ample opportunity for the customer to buy into the brand. 

This enchanting array was made possible by the genius mind of Alessandro Michele. What he does for Italian fashion, most can't. He makes it interesting, intelligent and fun every time, without compromising any of those ingredients. He’s a rare visionary.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Marques'Almeida // Spring 2016

Marta Marques and Paolo Almeida won the €300,000 LVMH prize this year. The Central Saint Martins trained duo are London’s shredded denim virtuosos, steadily improving at an impressive rate. For Spring 2016, their love affair with the nineties continued but grungier than we’ve seen from them. 

There was a gothic element to this one also. Aside from the make-up, the first example was a black leather jacket draped over the shoulders of a model wearing a white dress. The silk jacket and leather shorts that followed were welcoming to any buyer, a fan of M’A or not. A gateway to the brand perhaps, if the brilliant denim isn’t to someones liking. The sheer gown with leaf accents was bordering on a weak Simone Rocha creation. 

I think the scariest part for attendees (the show was held at a warehouse in north London on the final day of fashion week) were the unexpected gowns. It wasn’t the minds of tired fashion folk playing tricks on them, über feminine gowns did take to the runway. The second look was a loose fit, sheer tank dress with the perfect amount of deconstruction. It insinuated the girl didn’t want a traditional gown and took to the original with a blunt scissors. The result, strangely, was a raw moment of femininity. The third look was angelic. The model glided down the runway in her floor-trailing gown. The bodice was enriched with asymmetrical crepe ruffles. One of the last looks featured a floor sweeping skirt boasting an ample amount of ruffles. The lightweight sweater paired with it added the spirit of the grounded M’A girl. 

This collection reminded me of the discrepancy between the Disney adaptations of Hans Christian Andersen’s novels, and the source material. If this was another designer, the collection would sickly sweet and frothy. They were frothy here, but in a darker, mysterious way. Marques’Almeida portray the honest, harsh side of a fairytale. They show the bleak aspects to things. Bleak but beautiful.
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Monday, November 23, 2015

Topshop Unique // Spring 2016 //

I don't usually review the Topshop Unique show. I've photographed the street-style outside the show twice. Once at the Tate Modern, last February (Fall 2014). The second was in September, outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, for Spring 2016. Socialites, Poppy Delevingne, Alexa Chung, Atlanta de Cadenet, DJ Leigh Lezark, Anna Wintour and more all descended upon Broad Sanctuary for a Unique display that was arguably the strongest one to date.

Kate Phelan, creative director of Unique, was inspired by the "bad girls" of Britain. A loose inspiration, decidedly, but it did make for a great show. The naughty Unique girls hit the runway with an effortless sassiness. The first slew of looks incorporated polka-dots. The beautiful Lineisy Montero prowled the catwalk in her faux-leather coat and navy and peach, polka-dot romper. The sexiness of a women wearing men's clothing also provided inspiration. Marga Esquivel wore an oversized blazer with rolled up sleeves. There were oversized blouses and baggy trousers.

The 70’s influence was evident in Bella Hadid’s floral printed blouse, paired with a denim skirt and fur coat. Another look consisted of a mint wool cardigan, floral printed shirt and a faux-leather flame red skirt. Floral embroidered lace dresses also echoed the 70’s statement. 

What's perfect about Topshop's choice of models is that they all seem like they're the kind of girls that wear the label. After the show I asked model Bella Hadid what it was like walking in the show. "It was really fun," she replied. Backstage images of models was proof of this. Familiar faces at this show included Binx Walton, Malaika Firth and Vanessa Moody. All these girls exude the presence and liveliness (despite not smiling) of a Topshop girl. That's one of the charms of the British label. Fantastic models who wear the clothes with a nice attitude. The clothes don't wear the models, which is the case of some shows.

You could argue that Topshop Unique and other low-end designer brands decide the trends. After all, they’ll perform the best commercially. This collection featured many trends seen through a 70’s eye. However, the most important thing that a woman could take away from this collection is to wear their clothes unapologetically, with an ample amount of attitude. 
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Friday, November 20, 2015

Comme des Garçons // Spring 2016 //

Recently I was offended by the sheer vulgarity of the Vetements collection. The label, whose namesake translates as clothes. I argued that they shouldn’t be showing at Paris Fashion Week. A woman whose label is undeniably fashion, and not clothes, is Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Graçons. I’m going to be wholly honest: I don’t fully get Comme. Previously I was bemused by the creations of Kawakubo. The audacity of sending models down the runway in clouds of heavily constructed garments. I say clouds because they certainly aren’t form-fitting. Perhaps it’s the conceptualism at play that I fail to comprehend. However, I’ll try to remain objective in this review. 

For Spring 2016, the collection was entitled Blue Witches. Kawakubo’s husband declared them “powerful women who do good in the world.” Not exactly the portrayal of witches as we’re used to. Ironically, the first model emerged in black ‘suit’. Boasting black velvet nuggets and a plume of feathers, the model looked like a winged creature. A shapeshifting witch. The uneasily identified arms of one look belonged to a shimmering midnight blue coat. 

‘She wore blue velvet.’ Look 12 was a ‘dress’ that boasted tens of knotted blue velvet. Ice, electric, midnight and sky blue all came together in this look. Cocooned in a metallic faux-leather, was a black fur accented ‘coat’. The final look was a gargantuan ‘coat’ in an icy blue and with black fur. 

Rei Kawakubo is a purveyor of experiential fashion design. Since founding her label in 1973, she has completely rebuked conformity and marches entirely to the beat of her own drum. The best thing about a Comme des Garçons collection is the unpredictability. I use the word ‘unpredictable’ in other reviews, but this is it in its truest form. You don’t know what to expect or you have no expectations. Like it or not—I didn’t like a lot of it—it was an unforgettable experience. 
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Thursday, November 19, 2015

PPQ, Manuel Facchini // Spring 2016 //

On|Off is, for the most part, like Fashion Scout. They act as an incubation facility for upcoming designers. Each season, they occupy a venue and give the designers a chance to present their newest collections to press and buyers. I was invited to two exciting designer presentations this season: Manuel Facchini and PPQ. Both are on the cusp of mainstream success.
PPQ has been around for a long time. Launching twenty three years ago in 1992, Amy Molyneaux and Percy Parker are the duo behind the label. For Spring 2016, the restricted colour palette of white, electric blue and black proved an interesting one, rather than limited. Ideas, as well as ruffles, flares and sheer fabric were flowing. There was a futuristic air to this 70’s inspired collection. It struck me as the bright version of Amy Adams’ wardrobe in American Hustle; the unbuttoned blouse and white pencil skirt, in particular. 

With the new instalment in the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens, hitting screens soon it was quite fitting that the finale proceedings, consisting of three white gowns were suitable for Princess Leia. All the models were short were Carrie Fisher’s iconic hairstyle from the films. It was the theatrical experience that contributed to this shows success.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

W December/January 2015.16 // Magazines //

Tim Walker’s magical storytelling through photography is a match made in heaven with any magazine. In recent years, his work with W magazine has enamoured me. Specifically his shoots with Tilda Swinton, Marion Cotillard and this year’s Oscar acting hopefuls have wowed me. For the December/January issue of the American magazine, he’s back; this time to photograph the statuesque Australian beauty that is Cate Blanchett. 

It is always an exciting time to see Cate on the cover of any magazine. The multitalented Academy Award-winner is starring in two Oscar-bait films this year. Truth and CarolTruth is the story of television news produce Mary Mapes and the uncovering of the Killian documents and the controversy that shrouded the story. Carol sees Blanchett as the object of Rooney Mara’s character’s desire. Both are destined for great things this awards season. 

Here is an excerpt of Blanchett’s interview with W and below are images from her editorial. The full interview can be read and images seen on

In the fourth gallery of “Picasso Sculpture,” a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, Cate Blanchett stopped in front of an elegant, elongated woman assembled from wood and wire that looked like her. It was early October, and Blanchett had come to Manhattan from her home in Sydney to attend the New York Film Festival premiere of Carol, a love story between two women set in the 1950s (in theaters November 20). Blanchett, who was nursing a sore throat from too many flights and events, wore loose black slacks, a white shirt, flat shoes, a flower-print blazer, and pink aviator glasses. Her blonde hair was still damp from a shower, and she wasn’t wearing any makeup. She looked, as she invariably does, effortlessly beautiful. Unlike most actresses, her clothes had not been chosen by a stylist; they were a manifestation of her personality and current mood.

“I love these women,” Blanchett said enthusiastically of the sculpture and its four companions. “They remind me of Giacometti.” She launched into a story about male artists and their obsessions. “I read about this artist who left his girlfriend for four years. He wanted to make art away from any distractions, but he came home with four matchboxes filled with dust. He was so obsessed with her and with art that he ended up creating nothing. Every time I start a project—and I certainly felt this way with Carol—I have to embrace the fear that it might be a disaster. I like that feeling of consequence.” Blanchett gestured around the gallery at the variety of bodies and faces, all of them female. “Like being with these sculptures, making films is a little like existing in a dreamscape. You only reenter consciousness when the shooting is over.”
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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Faustine Steinmetz // Spring 2016 //

The last time I saw a Faustine Steinmetz collection it was a Saturday morning in February. She had just been shortlisted for the prestigious LVMH Prize. The recipient of this years 300,000 went to Marques’Almeida, another London-based brand. The process and candidacy presented Steinmetz with greater exposure and confidence. 

For Spring 2016, she enjoyed further funding from the BFC. She occupied the presentation space at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on a Saturday morning, this time in September. Making the most of the presentation space, models were scattered across the room against a white wall. Some models were literally a part of the exhibition: their bodies poked out of the wall. 
In her early days, Mary Katrantzou became known for her prints. There wouldn’t be a piece about Mary that didn’t have print in it. The fashion world went crazy when she didn’t employ what they thought was her signature. Instead she focused on surface decoration, which she continues to do. Faustine Steinmetz and Mary Katrantzou are similar in that sense. Steinmetz burst onto the scene, famed for her innovative use of denim. ‘Faustine Steinmetz’ and ‘denim.’ Like complementary goods, they’d be no use without one and other. Faustine has yet to radically change, but the subtle gravitation towards non-denim product is a welcome and appropriate change. A black and white, off-the-shoulder dress had lengthy frays all bunched together in a large knot. One uniform-like, black and white dress had a slash in the upper thigh. Frayed denim and micro-pleating perfectly complemented in each other. The white dress with an asymmetrically-cut neckline was perhaps the most commercially driven piece I’ve seen from the designer. Maybe the expansion from denim is experimentation combined with a smart business move.

Considering the nature of the set and the designs, one could draw to the conclusion that Steinmetz is finding her footing, more confident in her already fantastic output. And as the set would imply, this was a breakthrough collection. 
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Monday, November 16, 2015

Christian Dior // Spring 2016 //

It wasn’t Marc Jacobs’ mournful, black-clad goodbye to Louis Vuitton, or Alexander Wang’s farewell to the house of Balenciaga. Raf Simons’ exit at Christian Dior was unexpected. His final show presented at the Louvre’s Cour Carre during Paris Fashion Week in October was to be his last. The press release, announcing his departure read, “it is after careful and long consideration that I have to leave my position [as creative director of womenswear at Dior].” I wasn’t entirely surprised. The pressure of working at Dior is clearly displayed in the 2013 documentary Dior & I, which documented the run up to Raf’s debut collection. 

A timely interview with System magazine, conducted just prior to the departure, his friend Cathy Horyn quizzed him about the process at Dior. “Everything is done in three weeks, maximum five.” Three to five weeks to put together a 60 look collection. That is shocking. “When you do six shows a year, there’s not enough time for the whole process. You have no incubation time for ideas, and incubation time is very important.” In my reviews of a Chanel or a J.W. Anderson collection, I talk about how admirable it is how the designers churn out so many collections in a year. The immense pressure they are under is scary. 
The show in October was unassuming and forgettable. I have been a fan of Raf’s recent collections for the French house but this was disappointing. “To simplify and concentrate on a line that expressed an idea of femininity, fragility and sensitivity without sacrificing strength and impact.” He gracefully achieved what he wanted: elegance and romance. The models had side-swept up-dos, carried large handbags and wore lavish chokers. 

There were a few amazing looks in the collection, I’ll admit. The ribbed, wool cropped-sweater with bunched up sleeves was paired with a micro-pleated dress. A teal velvet cropped bomber. A few other sweaters and the cut of the skirts ignited my interest. Other than that it was lame. 

Raf’s departure from Dior probably won’t cripple the house. For now it will remain soulless; until a new designer comes along and resuscitates it once again. Raf’s vision didn’t always translate but I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for him. 

This collection, the last chapter in his three year reign at Dior referenced the past to achieve a futuristic result. It wasn’t what I wanted it to be. You can’t please everyone, but I’m sure this collection will be to the liking of the Dior customer. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Vogue Italia November 2015 // Magazines //

After endless months of predictions and anticipating, model Gigi Hadid is finally gracing the cover of Vogue Italia. Photographed by legendary photographer Steven Meisel and styled by Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, the foldout cover shows Gigi in three different, multi-coloured clown afro wigs. The editorial sees Gigi in various states of 80’s dress. 

 Inside, singer Madison Beer further proves YouTube domination. The 16-year-old is styled in lavish jewellery. 
Actress, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson is captured by Vincent Peters in the issue. Hopefully I’ll be able to get an English translation of her interview, which I’m sure is thoughtful and thought-provoking. 
Steve Jobs star Kate Winslet looks magnificent in Peter Lindbergh’s black and white portfolio. The actress is a favourite of, well, everyone. The editorial does look like a rehash of Lindbergh’s previous work but it looks brilliant nonetheless.

All images are from thefashionspot