Thursday, December 31, 2015

Best of 2015 // Fashion //

2015 will reach a close tonight, and over the past two days I’ve reflected on the best things from the year in the fields of music, film and television. Today, is the fashion post. Below I have divvied out awards to my favourite things in fashion this year, from favourite blogger to favourite presentation. Normal posting resumes on January 5th.

Favourite Writer
Tim Blanks, without a doubt, earns this title almost every year. When I look back at show reviews his are the most memorable. The fashion critic formerly was the editor-at-large at Style.com before joining the Business of Fashion this summer. Where Tim goes, I’ll follow. His unique view on fashion combined with his encyclopaedic knowledge and masterful writing style makes him my favourite writer. I am always eager to read his reviews, especially when they concern designers such as Mary Katrantzou and J.W. Anderson.

Favourite Blogger
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Susie Lau—of stylebubble.com.uk—a couple of times this year during London Fashion Week, in February and September. She is truly a lovely woman and I visit her blog most days, feverishly anticipating her next post. With her beautiful images and in depth coverage, Susie’s blog is an unmissable treat.

Favourite Shows
Valentino’s Roman couture extravaganza in July was one of my favourite shows this year. The skilful duo that is Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli once again proved that they are the industry’s most valuable players. The collection was glamourous and brilliant. Likewise, Mary Katrantzou’s Spring 2016 collection during LFW was an exhilarating joyride to the cosmos. Mary’s designs become more enchanting by the season. Finally, Simone Rocha’s spring collection, an ode to Kyoto, was a mesmerisingly beautiful display with sinister undertones.  

Favourite Presentation
The classroom birthday for the Spring 2016 Steventai show was the wittiest and quirkiest presentation that I saw this year. Models interacted with the presentation, swaying streamers, partaking in arts and crafts. 

Favourite Website
Style.com dissolved during the summer. I visited this website religiously during the summer, the content continually strengthening up to its close. Luckily Vogue Runway took its place, and many of Style.com’s writers moved with it. However, I preferred Style.com’s layout and it was definitely my favourite website this year. 

Favourite Street-Style Photographer
Phil Oh’s high-contrast, high-saturation street-style snaps for Vogue were fantastic this year. His work constantly inspires me. 

Favourite Street-Style Star
Leigh Lezark is a style chameleon. She looks great in anything from a Burberry maxi dress to a Mary Katrantzou coat. I had the pleasure of capturing Leigh outside the Topshop Unique show in September and love seeing what she wears during the other weeks. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Best of 2015 // Film & TV //

2015 is almost over so I thought I’d use these last few days to reflect on the best things from the year. I’ll be sharing with you my favourite things in music, film and television, and tomorrow there will be the all important fashion post. Today I bring you my favourites in film and television; a great year for both mediums. 
2015 has been a good year for television and film with more progressive characters being created. There is a plethora of television to watch. There’s over 200 shows on television in America. I don’t want to put a figure on the amount of films because I’m sure it’s crazy. The films that I’ve seen this year have been enjoyable but not of the same calibre as in previous years. The performances have, however, been at an all time high. Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet were outstanding in Steve Jobs. Some of the movies on my list were released last year in America, but in January in Ireland. Wild starring Reese Witherspoon was one of my favourites. Jean Marc Vallée’s direction in particular floored me. The cinematography in Sicario by Roger Deakins was atmospheric and simply excellent.
Television has also had quite a strong year. Netflix have produced some of my favourite television series this year. Jessica Jones and Master of None are two recently released shows to the online streaming service. Both featured finely calibrated performances and strong writing. I’d highly recommend both. Season 5 of Homeland returned in October and Claire Danes and Miranda Otto delivered great performances. Set in Berlin, the series explored relevant topics such as hacking and terrorist plots in major European cities. 
In 2015 I had the pleasure of discovering the amazing Amy Schumer. She wrote and starred in an unlikely summer smash hit Trainwreck. Her Comedy Central TV show Inside Amy Schumer returned for a third season this year. I have only seen season 2 and it is easily the best comedy show I’ve ever watched. The Friday Night Lights parody ‘Football Town Nights’ tackled an important issue while being hilarious. That’s a feat. And finally, you must watch Amy Schumer Live at the Apollo

Below are my favourite film and television series of 2015, arranged in alphabetical order. 


Top 10 Films of 2015
American Sniper
Inside Out
Mad Max: Fury Road
Sicario
Spy
Steve Jobs
Trainwreck 
Whiplash
Wild

Top 10 Television Series of 2015
Girls
Homeland
House of Cards
How to Get Away with Murder
Inside Amy Schumer
Jessica Jones
Master of None
Orange is the New Black
Scandal
Scream Queens

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Best of 2015 // Music //

2015 is almost over so I thought I’d use these last few days to reflect on the best things from the year. I’ll be sharing with you my favourite things in music, film and television, and finally, on New Year’s Eve, the all important fashion. Today I’ll begin with music.
In July, I attended an Ellie Goulding concert. The singer exuded energy in her 80 minute performance which saw her belt out renditions to her songs such as ‘Outside’, ‘Burn’, and ‘Lights’. Naturally she encored with her hit single ‘Love Me Like You Do’ from the Fifty Shades of Grey original soundtrack. This year also saw Ellie release her third studio albumDelirium which is jam-packed with fresh pop tracks. ‘Army’, ‘On My Mind’ and ‘Codes’ are my favourites. The 21-track album provided great listening pleasure. 

I discovered a few new artists this year that have had a profound effect on my playlists. At the beginning of the year I took a proper listen to Tove Lo’s debut album Queen of the Clouds. It contains the gems ‘Talking Body’, but my personal favourites are ‘Stay High - Habits Remix’ and ‘Timebomb’. The Swedish singer is undoubtedly one of the most talented Scandinavian acts on the scene. In America, Ashley Frangipane, popularly known as Halsey took centre stage this summer with her smash hit anthem ‘New Americana’. Her debut album Badlands was released in August and it is a beautifully written amalgam of the best indie pop has to offer. More recently I discovered LANY, an LA-based electronic boy band have great, easy-listening tunes with heartfelt lyrics. I cannot recommend them enough.
There are a few of favourite albums of the year that are unsurprising—I could’ve told you they’d be my favourites when they were announced. Firstly, there’s Adele’s 25. The gleaming comeback record was the soundtrack to my life in the two weeks after its release. There’s obviously the world famous ‘Hello’ but I favour ‘When We Were Young’ and ‘Love in the Dark’. I’ve been Australian YouTuber Troye Sivan for years and this month he released his debut album Blue Neighbourhood. ‘BLUE’ featuring Alex Hope is my incontestable favourite. I’ve been listening to it non-stop. Finally, British synth pop and electronica boy band Years & Years’ Communion has been on my top albums of the year. I could listen to the 17 songs over and over again.

2016 will be exciting with a Sia album, a potential Beyoncé record and Rihanna and Kanye West’s highly anticipated albums Anti and Swoosh, respectively.

Below are my top 10 lists of 2015, one for albums, the other for songs and the final one for upcoming artists. They have been arranged alphabetically. 

Top 10 Albums of 2015 
25 by Adele
Badlands by Halsey
Beauty Behind the Madness by The Weeknd
Blue Neighbourhood by Troye Sivan
Caracal by Disclosure
Communion by Years & Years
E-MO-TION by Carly Rae Jepsen
Honeymoon by Lana Del Rey
Make Out - EP by LANY
Sucker by Charli XCX

Top 10 Songs of 2015
Better by Banks
BLUE by Troye Sivan ft. Alex Hope
Colours by Halsey
Fools by Troye Sivan
Freak by Lana Del Rey
Magnets by Discosure ft. Lorde
Reckless Love by Bleachers ft. Elle King
Take Me Home by Jess Glynne
When We Were Young by Adele
Young God by Halsey

Artists to Watch in 2016
Astrid S
Bebe Rexha
BØRNS
DNCE
JONES
Jr Jr
LANY
LÉON
Lostboycrow
Transviolet 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

J.W. Anderson // Pre-Fall 2016 //

The year is reaching a close and the pre-fall collections are upon us. Truthfully I don’t pay the utmost attention to the pre-fall collections but I do obviously take time to peruse Chanel and Gucci, Dior and Louis Vuitton. J.W. Anderson, after a whirlwind few years, also takes a prime place. His pre collections are as profound and outstanding as his ready-to-wear. He rehashes and creates new ideas, simultaneously, in refreshing and unique ways. Everything he creates is singularly his own and reflects no other designer’s aesthetic. It hards to do but Anderson has managed to distinguish himself from the crowd. 

What a year it has been for Anderson. The designer collected two important British Fashion Awards in November, one for best womenswear and for best menswear. Both prestigious honours, before that he produced the spring 2016 season’s most polarising collections. There was the leg-of-mutton of mutton shoulders, lantern sleeves, pants tucked into boots. Some people were repulsed and others were floored. I was floored. His fall 2015 collection in February was an ode to the 1980’s Berlin club scene. Fast forward to this week and the pre-fall 2016 collection is upon us and it is as impressive as you expect. 

Opening the cookbook shoot was a blue, orange and white colour-block leg-of-mutton sleeve top with bulb skirt. Issa Lish’s pewter top and trousers were festooned with circular and pocket accents, respectively. It was quasi-militaristic but maintained an odd, summery air. Wool and satin fused to create a cropped jacket. The new workwear. Striped Irish linen drill trousers were worn with the look. The following look was another toned down version of the now iconic leg-of-mutton pieces. Serving gothic Victoriana was the black leather coat with a flared hemline and cuffs. A similar gothic jacket will surely be the bestseller from this collection. 

Once again, Anderson effortlessly blends the past through the point of view of a different past era. Ultimately, the output is a tremendous display of the past fused with the future. The collection was just a further example that the label is steeped in originality, pushing the unusual to the fore in a tasteful way. Ingenious.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Brandon Maxwell // Spring 2016 //

New York is the hub of American luxury brands, and the hub of American fashion. It hosts, biannually, New York Fashion Week and features some of America’s most notable designers. There’s Calvin Klein Collection, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and Oscar de la Renta (a Spaniard who came to New York). These luxury brands have cultivated gargantuan commercial renown. There are a new crop of designers that will be recognised in that category. Monse, who I spoke about yesterday, are planning to develop a lifestyle brand out of the label. Zac Posen is on the cusp of the luxury American brand. It’s Brandon Maxwell, is a new designer, and the one who seems to want it the most. “My goal was always to start an American luxury brand that I could pass down to my children and grandchildren,” he told Moda’Operandi. If that’s not endearing enough, cast a look upon his debut collection. Shown during New York Fashion Week, the presentation attracted Lady Gaga, Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz and Alexander Wang. 

Chances are you’re more familiar with Maxwell than you think. He worked as a styling assistant to Nicola Formichetti where he met Gaga. He succeeded Formichetti as the fashion director of the Haus of Gaga, the signer’s behind-the-scenes creative team. He styled her for the Oscars, in a custom Alaïa gown with those orange gloves—the ones internet dubbed as rubber gloves for washing up. The singer has also worn the Spring 2016 on the red carpet. At the Emmy’s, Gaga looked resplendent in an off-the-shoulder piece; then there was a crisp white gown with voluminous sleeves; and then a flaming red gown. 

The mentioned Gaga looks all hail from the Spring collection, an excitement venture into ready-to-wear from this clearly talented designer/stylist. Unlike other stylists turn designers, Maxwell has a clear vision of who he is designing for. According to him, the Maxwell woman is “uniquely poised and effortlessly striking.” That she is. There were plunging neckline power suits. Finely tailored trousers and dresses took to the runway in a limited palette of white, black and blush. Putting a spin on old classics, blazers were transformed into caped items; one top had a structurally layered tail. 

Amidst the continual brilliance, there were moments where—in a lot of collections—failure could’ve seeped into the cracks. Brandon Maxwell prevented that by creating looks that were virtually better than the last. From beginning to end, exhilaration: no lull. It is rare that a collection made up entirely of tonal pieces can strike a chord, as this did. There was drama, sexiness, and serenity in this collection. This was an unforgettable thriller. 


Monday, December 21, 2015

Monse // Spring 2016 //

Oscar de la Renta’s label is one of New York’s most respected. After his passing last year, Peter Copping came from Paris to keep the torch lighting. The studio director who was responsible for presenting Oscar's last collection, posthumously, was Laura Kim. This year Kim, and her design partner—and fiancé—founded Monse. Monse is a self-described “fresh take on modern ready-to-wear. Inspired by strong women who dare to express themselves and also appreciate the unexpected.” I don’t think I’ve come across a statement as apt as that on fashion before. They presented their Spring 2016 collection during New York Fashion Week in September. 

Making a classic shirt fun and sexy, the duo transformed one into a mini dress. The off-the-shoulder piece featured interlocked sleeves, tying the dress together. A gown, in classic fabrics, featured the sleeves of a shirt. A fabulously reconstructed black and white shirt was fashioned into a Victorian-inspired dress with graceful folds. A raspberry shirt was haphazardly worn, draped awkwardly across the model’s body. An electric blue shirt and skirt, was misshapen but architecturally structured. These are the structural and easy pieces that Monse are creating with finesse. 

Infusing their time at Oscar de la Renta, an ivory and black, duchesse satin gown took to the runway. A lustrous silver dress, wrapped tied at the centre was another piece that imbued a sense of Oscar. A dress with a richly embellished silver bodice and a cotton skirt with shirt buttons was another dramatic piece that Oscar could’ve easily inspired. 
There was an air of boudoir dressing in the collection. Silk, silver pyjamas with a robe tied at the waist was the first taste. The following look, a black off-the-shoulder look was as if the model had draped the bed covers over her body. The same could said for a black mini dress with a pillow-esqe accent at the back. 

Fashion maverick Sarah Jessica Parker has worn the brand in the past. Amal Clooney, Selena Gomez and Jaime King have all been pictured in the brand’s clothes. All four women have something in common: they’re all risk-takers. Risk-takers, that’s who this brand appeals to. All those that have worn the brand have an affinity for things out of the ordinary. Lady Gaga, Sienna Miller and Allison Williams are also championing the label, effortlessly oozing glamour with a Monse piece. They are the strong women who are daring to express themselves.

It’s no secret that I love upcoming designers. My interest in Monse is different to most. With new labels, I ask myself whether they’ll stand the test of time. I believe, with the experience that these two designers have and a trend-defying ethos, this label is still going to be here in years to come. With a Spring collection has captivating as this, they could go down in history. 

Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Friday, December 18, 2015

Maison Margiela // Spring 2016 //

“Lo-fi, sci-fi,” it was called. I am of course referring to John Galliano’s Spring 2016 collection for Maison Margiela. After assuming the position of creative director in October 2014, the legendary designer has been captivating audiences with his brilliance, wit and bizarre creations that grow all the more loveable per collection. 

On a SHOWstudio video, the panellists at a viewing of this show commented on how it felt as if there was three independent collections within one. There was a silvery Old Hollywood throwback, the silver screen embodied on a silver catwalk. There was a slew of distinctively forties-inspired looks, and then there were geisha-inspired ensembles. How the latter correlated to the others I’m not particularly sure, but watching the show was liking seeing Galliano’s train of thought unfurl before your eyes. 

The aforementioned Old Hollywood referral contained commercial looks, there were handbags, prim jackets. Of course there were some idiosyncrasies, a leopard lined collar on a white blazer worn with a haphazardly patchwork dress. The obnoxiously large beehives and the wind-swept blowouts, teamed with fishnet tights and gloves were a mesmerising mix of the classy and the… not so classy. This segued into the forties which opened with a male-models wearing an open jumpsuits, and then came Kelly green suits. Moving from the previous segment into a trip to the Far East was stark, intense but simply exquisite. Plastic, liquid-like, and brocade skirts were constructed and furnished with rich, intricate embellishment. Thanks to the silhouettes, the age old tendencies of geisha dress. Splendidly, a golden gown with a silk skirt and a deconstructed bodice took to the runway.   

Make-up artist Pat McGrath magically transformed the models. A blue-haired Barbara Bruskova opened the show with three platinum stripes emerging from her eyelids. Other models had silver glitter encasing their eyes, others with carefully exacted paintings. Each model had a variation of four or five moulds. Some had only eye painted, à la David Bowie. The hair too added to the theatrics. There were overly exaggerated coifs, and Edo period shimada hairstyles on the geisha girls. 

Autonomously ruling and delivering his fashion fantasy, the reclusive Galliano is subtly challenging convention, designing what pleases him and the audience best and tailor-making magnificent shows. He doesn’t make an appearance at the end of the show, the brand’s custom, but I’m sure he’ll be pleased to see gleeful attendees, jubilantly applauding his work. 

Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Calvin Klein Collection // Spring 2016 // Menswear

Unlike my awareness of womenswear, which I consider to be quite good, my knowledge of menswear is flawed. There is a certain level of unfamiliarity that I hope to tackle in 2016. An example, I was unaware that Italo Zucchelli was the creative director of menswear at Calvin Klein Collection. The Italian designer moved to the label from Jil Sander in 2004. Since his arrival at Calvin Klein he’s been presenting a juxtaposition of what the label “could” be and what the label “should” be. 

For Spring it was Ed Ruscha’s palm trees that inspired the show. Ruscha is famous, not only for being part of the pop art movement, for his photography of commonplace things such as gas stations, but this collection looked to his photos of palm trees. Andre Doyley wore a black t-shirt, at the end of the collection, emblazoned with a silver palm tree. This collection was quite tame in contrast to previous seasons. Taking a leaf out of Ruscha’s book and looking to the ordinary, the collection ended up being vanilla (literally) and quite boring. Sure, there were some nice, visually appealing pieces in the collection, but a lot of it could've easily have been branded as Topman; the palm tree print t-shirts, and the denim jackets especially.

Covertly, the dreadful combo of socks and sandals made an appearance in the collection. Socks lined with white stripes, instilling a futuristic vibe, were in the same colour as the sandals. The result was quite strange. The white stripes on the black socks made them look like light-up shoes. 

This collection was cohesive, sharply tailored, with a handful of visually stimulating looks. The military jacket festooned with pockets was cool, a throwback to Alexander Wang’s fall 2014 womenswear collection. The formal pieces, the blazers and trousers, contrasted nicely with casual denim. Ultimately, the collection didn’t contain the ebullience seen in other collections this season. I hope that Zucchelli will stray towards what the label “could” be. Over at the womenswear division, Francisco Costa has done that. It has suppressed the negative opinions I had about the label. I am confident that Zucchelli can do that for the menswear.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Coach // Spring 2016 // Menswear

American accessories and ready-to-wear brand Coach has been given a revamp over the past few years. In June 2013, Stuart Vevers was announced as creative director of the brand. Reestablishing the label’s position in the fashion industry, the designer has created visually appealing collections since his appointment. 

The Spring 2016 menswear collection was presented during London Collections: Men in June. The first runway show for Coach men’s, the show was a celebration of west coast psychedelics. The jacket that opened the show was bursting with colour. The abstract prints resembled something like a child’s art project. Livid red, deep purple, acidy lime and pink all amalgamated to create a riveting colour show. I particularly enjoyed the neon board shorts towards the end of the collection. 

There has been a dearth of summery, breezy vibes in the Spring menswear collections. This show, in its use of lighter fabrics, came close. There were a handful of pieces that looked like modernist Hawaiian shirts. Faux-fur lined flip-flops weren’t the most stylish—they reminded me instantly of Céline’s daring furkenstocks from a few years ago. The board shorts were the nicest I’ve seen in a long time. 

“A lot of what we are exploring with Coach men’s is how do you get the guy who is not embracing fashion on board,” Vevers told the Business of Fashion this year. I don’t think the tiger print or the slew of flashy neon jackets and coats will appeal to the broader customer base. The biker jackets and parkas, the cool sneakers, the quirky t-shirts and shirts were much more visually appealing and easy to wear. 

“You create a character, a personality for the brand, a point of view.” Vevers distinctly portrays his. His affinity for the new Americana comes across in both his men and women’s collections. Though revenue may be ailing, Vevers manages to bring something new to the accessible luxury market. The product is accessible and luxurious. 
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Jonathan Saunders // Spring 2016 // Label Closure

In the past week, news broke that Jonathan Saunders would be shuttering his namesake label. My immediate reaction was that of shock and utter disbelief. I am a devout Saunders fan, have been since spring 2011. The Scottish designer cited “personal reasons” as the grounds for his departure. 

His last show was presented during London Fashion Week in September. A specially built show space was erected at Lewis Cubitt Square in King’s Cross. Like an open air theatre, the sun was beaming down on the guests. The models meandered the sun-drenched catwalk. The set added to the shows appeal. A rare moment where the London weather complied with the fashion season at hand. 

Arguably, the show was his strongest to date. Taking references from Japan, origami-style folds, kimono silhouettes and silk panelling exuded a breezy, summery air. The flaming red jacket the opened the show was the first lesson in colour-blocking. A crisp white blouse and dress with coral detailing was worn underneath. An asymmetric red, striped top and skirt (with minuscule stripes) was an outstanding piece. Maartje Verhoef’s one-sleeved multi-coloured dress was the most memorable look from the collection. 

As the show progressed the prints became more abstract. Paisley in yellow, coral and red contrasted against one another. Blocks of yellows complemented yellow and white paisley. A coral and blue kimono jacket was paired with a yellow and black paisley skirt. The more vibrant things got the show elevated to a newer, exhilarating level.  

Houses like Christian Dior and Lanvin lost their creative directors in recent months. Both are tragic losses to the industry. The loss of the Jonathan Saunders brand is highly important. Small-to-medium business are now being affected by the demands that the industry is thrusting to the fore. As well as ready-to-wear, Saunders was producing two pre collections and menswear collections. I’ll touch on this in a long-form piece soon. 

I would rank this as one of my favourite shows of the season. Certainly it is my favourite collection of his. The collection bears sentimental value. This is the last Jonathan Saunders collection, foreseeably, and that unfortunately casts a gloomy shadow. The Spring 2016 collection, bright and optimistic, manages to ward off sadness to an extent. 

The brand acquired an investor, a new CEO and employees, as well as a shiny new workplace. Business wise, and creatively, the company has been flourishing. With each collection, Saunders was sharpening his colourful, abstract aesthetic. Over the last decade Saunders worked for Alexander McQueen, Pucci, Chloé and Paul Smith. He collaborated with leading retailers Debenhams and Topshop, and in America with Target. He was the recipient of the BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2012. Michelle Obama and Carey Mulligan are fans. After accumulating world renowned status, it is upsetting to see the end of Jonathan Saunders. He was a brilliant designer and I’ll miss seeing his magnificent creations.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Monday, December 14, 2015

Valentino // Spring 2016 // Menswear

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli are masterminds. Injecting dreaminess, drama and brilliance to the Valentino house, the duo have made their womenswear collection one of the most sought after collections of each season. I haven’t witnessed a Valentino menswear collection so when, by chance, I clicked on it on Vogue Runway, I didn’t expect the same excellence and inventiveness. Thankfully, it contained all the above. 

The womenswear Spring show was inspired by African tribalism. The menswear collection, presented in June, had similar tribal motifs, but to North America. It also referenced camouflage and denim. All the components were quite casual, but were given a luxurious spin. 

The bomber jacket is an essential. It can masquerade a look as dressed-up or appear as casual. The leather bomber in olive and blue-grey with a bird motif had the ability to transform a look. A satin jacket, emblazoned with florals was in a rust hue. One of the last looks was a satin bomber jacket, featured a dragon spitting a fireball. Stylishly, it was paired with a knit sweater and blue jeans

The denim seen in this collection were handmade in Rome. I am skeptical when it comes to double-denim. It works for some people, but it looks bad on others. One denim shirt and jeans combo was styled with a blue camouflage coat. The coat simplified the looks and made the double-denim more tolerable. A patchwork denim coat was worn over a denim shirt and trousers. The coat was intriguing, though ultimately an overkill. Am I the only one who thought one double-denim look, with a slouchy jacket, was infused with Kanye West’s style? 

A magical display of menswear, this collection's defining lineaments were the jackets. Served in a plethora of materials and styles, they provided great viewing pleasure. Without a doubt, they’ll come in at an extortionate price. However, when you can have something that retains a timeless desirability like Valentino, the price tag falls swiftly to the wayside. 

Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Friday, December 11, 2015

Hèrmes // Spring 2016 // Menswear

Véronique Nichanian has been in command of Hermès’ menswear division for the past 27 years. Since 1988 she has been commenting on men’s mannerisms through her collections. “The way they can be driven by refinement,” she said in an interview with the Business of Fashion.  I can attest to this. Being fastidious is what makes a well-dressed man tick. The way the shirt is tucked or untucked with the trousers, which may or may not be rolled up, to show off the exposed ankle and the sneaker or boot. The particularities of all those things have to be pinned down before casting a glance at oneself in the mirror. Nichanian gets this. Her Hermès collections reflect the statement. Every detail has been given thought. 

An animated movie is edited prior to the commencement of filming. An Hermès menswear collection evokes this vibe. The ideas have been precisely measured and the result is a neatly combined sequences. Womenswear collections can often begin to go astray, but a menswear Hermès collection is the opposite. There is simply no room for this. 

Plain trousers were seen in this collection. An easy sell. Grey, light blue, taupe, brown, black and white. There was a pleasant variety. Although the bottom half may have been simple, the top half of the looks captured the attention. Adding an artistic element to the collection, a swirling print in subdued tones was splashed across a jacket. A red snakeskin hoodie enlivened boring grey slacks. An abstract print decorated a summery shirt. One blazer was festooned with green florals, another with stripes and clovers. The snakeskin bomber jacket was an exciting staple within the collection. 

I’ve looked at some menswear collections and seen ones that get as strange as the women’s collections and others that are hopelessly mundane. This collection has finds a middle ground. The jackets were by no means ostentatious. The trousers in a subtle mint hue and an off-white were further afield than what would be expected.

As the customer, I find it very hard to be pleased by menswear collections. If I’m going to invest money in designer clothes, I need to be ensured good quality and stylish flair. I need to look no further than Hermès menswear, thanks to Véronique Nichanian’s genius, to assuage that desire. 

Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Issa London // Spring 2016 //

When you plug Issa London into a Google Images search you’re immediately met with a suggestion. “Kate Middleton.” The Duchess of Cambridge announced her engagement to Prince William wearing the blue silk wrap dress that is now famous. The dress sold out almost instantaneously. Women everywhere lusted after the dress and thus the label too. The dress brought an insurmountable support to the brand and it still thrives today. During London Fashion Week in September, creative director Jamie O’Hare presented the Spring 2016 collection. Hosted at Brewer Street Car Park, the Sunday midday showing was a pleasant start to day 3. 

Inspired by the “repeating motifs in nature,” the collection showcased commentary on the preciseness of nature. “There [is] this amazing contradiction—we tend to think of nature as something soft and slightly haphazard, but the order and strict geometry of these repeating patterns offered a viewpoint that we wanted to explore.” The inspiration didn’t exactly echo the collection. Also referenced on the press release is the recurring motif of electric circuitry, which I believe spoke louder than anything else. The opened coat featured silver hardware that achieved the geometric aspect of the inspiration. The same goes for the silk black dress with sheer detailing and silver hardware. 
The segues into each part of the collection were subtle and unassuming. When you look at the collection as a whole, the amount of variety is great. The only time I can say the collection went awry was with the draped tie-dye pieces. They were unflattering and underwhelming.

Lily Donaldson’s finale mini dress had 3-D rings, squared off in a grid-like print. The look wasn’t a particularly exciting finish to the collection. A fleet of all-white dresses were sent down the runway earlier in the collection. They would have made a better finish to this collection.  

O’Hare has amassed great experience. He worked at Max Mara, Chloé and Roberto Cavalli—three very different brands. An Issa London collection needs the combination of all three. There is the Parisian attitude of Chloé, an Italian luxuriousness of Max Mara, and the glamour of Cavalli. I also recognised sampling of Isabel Marant in the mix. Issa under O’Hare has yet to find its identity; I sincerely hope he does.

Images Courtesy of Issa London

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Marco de Vincenzo // Spring 2016 //

The Business of Fashion posted an article in late September titled “Is Milan Fashion Week Back?” The vitality of the week is constantly questioned. Personally, I begin to tune out during Milan. Gucci and Prada attain my attention; Michele and Prada are just two geniuses that are flourishing in the city. Alessandro Michele’s Gucci reformation was mentioned and commended by most of the editors and buyers enlisted to comment on the piece. The light also shone on a designer on the rise: Marco de Vincenzo. de Vincenzo is one of the few names that lights up the Milan Fashion Week schedule each season. His collections contain a gleaming sublimity that many other young designers have to match in the city. 

For Spring 2016, de Vincenzo tapped into Orientalism, specifically Japonism. The Land of the Rising Sun, as it is popularly known as, had their flag represented in the collection. The red disc emblazoned one tie-dye sweater and a nude blouse. An erupting Mount Fuji plumed smoke into blackness on a black, white and red tie-dye shirt. Woven sandals were also presented

Beyoncé wore a rainbow lurex dress from the last collection. Always one for a showstopper, de Vincenzo pulled out the stops and offered a multicoloured chiffon fringe coat. If that doesn’t satisfy, there was a funnel collar floral printed jacket and a strapless accordion dress. I’m predicting to see some of the fashion crowd decked out in them in Phil Oh-lensed street-style snaps next season.

The sugary confections in this collection weren’t sickly sweet. The candy colours never strayed too far into that territory. The geometric and floral print accordion skirt was lovely. The overlapping-collar blouse in an array of pastels reminded me of the intertwining marshmallows was quirky and fun. The degradé chiffon fringe vest was another one for the sweet-toothed. 

There is something simply virtuosic about de Vincenzo. It is displayed that he possesses a wealth of talent; he has mastered producing commercial collections but with an abundance of artistic flair. If you too find yourself uninterested in Milan, pay close attention to Marco de Vincenzo.  

Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Calvin Klein Collection // Spring 2016 //

My prayers were heard: Francisco Costa designed his second consecutive Calvin Klein Collection that I reacted to positively. His Spring 2016 collection, a reference to the Spring 1994 collection was designed by the eponymous designer. 21 years later, Costa is at the helm and giving us a timely and welcome ode to the 90’s. 

Back in 1994, Ève Salvali, with a blonde buzz cut (like Ruth Bell today) walked the runway in a liquid silk slip dress. Flash-forward and Rianne van Rompaey is wearing a silver, lingerie inspired slip dress with dangling straps, a redux to the original. Also in that collection, there were uses of florals. Paying homage to this, vibrant florals, different to the muted ones seen back then, hit the runway. Daisies and sweet-pea were given the artistic treatment. The most interesting thing was the blur effect on the dresses. Delivering us the most varied and delightful creations in recent memory, it was a breath of fresh, summery air.

Gothic deconstruction played its part in the collection. Karly Loyce, with a supply cut leather cut coat draped over her shoulders, wore silky trousers and a blouse with delicate beading. Pooja Mor’s dress with trailing strips of material wasn’t entirely flattering. It did satisfy the gothic inspiration. Taking the goth inside the collection to the street, a black suede trench coat was slashed at the waist and on its tail. It bounced about with a careless disregard, as she stomped down the runway in her trainers. 

This could be described as a tame revolution. The cuts may be conservative and suitable to the Calvin customer. However, Costa is revolutionising his design aesthetic. A distressed knit sweater with rips and an exposed midriff? A black pailette coat? Sheer, shimmering, lingerie-style dresses? If that isn’t distinctly un-Calvin then I don’t know what is. Albeit, there is still plenty to choose from for the existing customer: jackets, handbags, etc., this collection undoubtedly invites a broader customer-base. This redirection is the most exhilarating thing to happen to Calvin Klein in years. 

Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Monday, December 7, 2015

Versus Versace // Spring 2016 //

There’s only two other designers that can exact the sultriness and empowerment of a Versace collection. One of them is obviously Donatella Versace. The other: Anthony Vaccarello. His namesake label’s collections ooze sexiness. The product of the two of them combined would be exhilarating. Ms. Versace tapped Vaccarello to design the Versus Versace label. Versace’s younger, more affordable sibling was given a memorable treatment during fashion week. Strangely, Versus descended upon London for their Spring 2016 collection. Known for harbouring London-based developing business—save for a few—the inclusion of Versus was odd but it added some novelty to the weekend.

As strobe lights flickered, the first model wore a two piece, trousers and a jacket. But when the catwalk lit up in a shiny white and Maartje Verhoef hit the runway, it was clear that Vaccarello’s Spring collection was in full throttle. It was a neat jacket and a mini skirt with signature mix of materials. Erin Wasson surprisingly walked the show, unsurprisingly wearing an oversized blazer. Decked out in a sheath mini, Katya Ledneva’s dress was accented with silver hardware. Versus Versace personified.

Anthony Vaccarello’s personal stamp did make an appearance. There were dress with cut-outs, one sleeve looks, asymmetrical hemlines. The denim and leather jackets were all too familiar of his Paris digs. Taylor Hill, born in the late nineties, stepped out of the nineties in a leather jacket with rolled-up sleeves and 3/4-length printed denims. The menswear look that preceded was like a darker, cooler take on the double-denim trend. However, I wasn’t totally convinced. 

I wasn’t as excited by this collection as much as I thought I would be. It was unimpressive. The menswear wasn’t that strong either. One model looked like he was about to fix your boiler. This may be a cheaper diffusion line, but that doesn’t mean it has to look cheap. As I said, Versus is Versace’s younger sibling. Under the helm of Anthony Vaccarello, I’m still waiting for it to grow into itself. 

Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Friday, December 4, 2015

Dazed Winter 2015 // Magazines //

Dazed is one of the many magazines I purchase religiously. Their winter 2015 issue was announced last week and the cover stars are quite exciting. 

Forever the model of the moment, Julia Nobis and her timelessness grace one cover photographed by the brilliant Collier Schorr. With a backward cap, this is the cover I’m hoping to get. Also wearing a backward cap and lensed by Schorr is Rianne von Rompaey. Green eyes and freckles taking centre stage, I can imagine the Dutch model reading the tagline blankly, “do you believe in magic?”.

Confirming that the 'famous-daughter’ trend is alive and well, Coco Gordon Moore (offspring of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore), is photographed in black and white by Collier Schorr. Her first in-depth interview, “the daughter of Kim and Thurston talks making art, growing up with alt-rock royalty and why she has no interest in playing the fame game.” Oh, it all sounds so stereotypical. 

Completing the foursome is singer Tinashe, photographed by Sean and Seng. Hazardously flicking a lighter on her tongue—it’s photoshopped, I think…—the singer wears cherry earrings and a green jacket. One of my favourite alternative R&B artists, I’m excited to read her interview. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Chanel // Pre-Fall 2016 //

Cinecittà is a film studio in Rome, Italy. Filmed there are some of the greatest films of all time; Roman HolidayLa Dolce Vita, Fellini’s 8 1/2 and Cleopatra were products of the studio. It provided the venue for Karl Lagerfeld’s pre-fall 2016 collection for Chanel. A film, Les Enfants du Paradis was one of Lagerfeld’s inspirations for the collection. It’s protagonist is an “lovely and enigmatic” woman. It perfectly encapsulates the Chanel woman, no? 

In light of the horrible terrorist attacks that took place in Paris last month, Karl Lagerfeld recreated the romanticism that Paris shed over the past year. Literally bringing Paris to Rome, a street was created. Equipped with a café, boulangerie and more, the residents of this neighbourhood were ravishingly clad models, who emerged from a Metro station. Ingenious. Australian model Catherine McNeil was the first to appear, stalking the makeshift Parisian night in a tweed mini dress with a checkered coat draped over her shoulders. The kohl-rimmed eyes and beehive hairdo imbued the bad-girl spirit in this collection.

There was a sexiness in this collection which heretofore merely bubbled under the surface. The models all wore lacy tights. Coats were longer than the dresses underneath them. The use of leather and PVC also sexed things up. Lara Stone’s leather dress dress with a chiffon hem was one standout. There was a purple, shimmering wool bodysuit worn under a loosely belted coat. The black PVC skirt worn with a white one shouldered top, resembling ancient Roman dress, was another uncharacteristic piece in the collection. There were parts of the collection which gave us a taste of Karl’s take on boudoir dressing. There was Soo Joo Park’s icy blue lace gown and Bella Hadid's stylish lace nightgown.
Of course there was some more of the same. Lavish tweeds suits, an investment piece for both men and women this season, were featured to their usual extent. Molly Bair’s midi-length, sleeveless jacket was perhaps the most modern rift on a signature Chanel trope.

The menswear was an amalgamation of womenswear past. One three-piece festooned with feathers wasn’t the most likeable look. Unless you’re spending Christmas in Gstaad, I’d skip this one if I were you. The men’s shirts later in the collection instantly reminded me of the Paris/Istanbul collection. With their ballooned sleeves, I didn’t particularly like them. The boots for this collection were fantastic.

The clothes in this collection gave the viewers what they wanted to see. Hopefully it will have the same effect on the customers come May. It was a departure from what we’re used to seeing from Lagerfeld and proved to be the best Chanel collection in years. The dearth of sexiness in recent years was made up for by this. Sure it wasn’t Joseph Altuzarra or Tom Ford, but it was singularly Karl Lagerfeld. 

I’ve seen many people question why the show was held in Rome. The official hashtag (yes, that’s a thing) was #ParisInRome. Lagerfeld did just that. He brought Paris to Rome. Fittingly, the show was held in a renowned Italian film studio. A Parisian street was constructed in Teatro 5. It was atmospheric and, in true Karl Lagerfeld style, it was theatrical. The exception this time: it wasn’t distracting, it contributed to the brilliance of it all.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

J JS Lee // Spring 2016 //

It is an incontestable fact that J JS Lee is the London queen of minimalism. Opening London Fashion Week season after season, Lee doesn't throw too many curveballs. Her Spring 2016 collection could be described as the curveball. The fit was less structured, more fluid. There were more colours than the standard black, white, navy and grey-bright colours: lime, powder blue, rosy pink, soft lemon. It was a slight shock to the system on a damp Friday morning. A necessary jolt to kickstart the five day event.

Lee said the collection was more personal and about “freedom”. Freedom was definitely symbolic in this collection. The designer is letting herself loose from her preset reins. She’s venturing into the freedom land of the 70’s. The silhouette was airy and loose. It wasn’t the usual constrictive spring offering from the South Korean designer. The first look, a precisely cut sleeveless blazer worn with supple trousers. It maintained the sharpness of previous collections. A black shirt with white piping, though tucked gently into silky shorts, nothing was sloppy or distasteful. It was a breath of fresh air. The pyjama dress, a lime and white striped gown with an asymmetrical hemline, wasn’t the prettiest but it was a bold statement. It firmly declared Lee’s stance. It confirmed to the viewers that they shouldn't expect too much of the same. 

Look 30 was a wide-neck floaty gown with a white speckle print. You could’ve have shown me this and I wouldn’t have suspected it to be part of a J JS Lee. In the same vein, the final look, a pink, striped asymmetrical gown was the polar opposite of what I expected to see in this collection. It was the unexpected that made this collection all the more splendid.

Lee graduated in 2010, alongside Matthew Harding (of Palmer//Harding), Thomas Tait and Simone Rocha. The latter have gone on to be two of London’s most sought after designers. With a collection as strong as this one, I won't be surprised to see more attention shift towards Jackie Lee. She deserves it. 

Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christopher Raeburn // Spring 2016 // Menswear

Today I present to you the first menswear post. I’ve wanted to branch into menswear writing for some time. Every other day I’ll feature some menswear posts. I decided to start these posts with one of my favourite womenswear designers.

Christopher Ræburn is one of my favourite designers as you may already know. His recent womenswear collection referenced the Sarawak region in Borneo. His menswear collection, which preceded that, was entitled ‘Borneo’. It was inspired by anthropologist Tom Harrison’s autobiography The Most Offending Soul Alive. It documents his travels to Borneo where he devoted his life to preserving and studying the culture and environment of the nation. He was recruited by the British Army and worked in the area again. The military undertone we see in most Ræburn collections was present here also. Reclaimed military surplus was used in the collection. Bomber jackets and field jackets were reimagined and repurposed. Sleeping bags and air break parachutes were deconstructed, a signature Ræburn theme. 

The cartography seen in the womenswear collection appeared in this collection first. Made in collaboration with knitwear specialist Knyttan, maps of Borneo were emblazoned on pieces. References to the tribes of Sarawak originated in this collection before carrying through to the womenswear collection in September. 

I loved the jumpers emblemed with the season’s mascot: the orang-utan. Their black silhouette was set against an olive green colour. A hoodie with a green, yellow and black orang-utan print was another favourite of mine. A cork woven bomber jacket with net sleeves is another stylish option within the collection. I was intrigued by one look which had camouflage print jacket worn over a similar style yellow-green jacket. The wool joggers looked fantastic. 

The nylon used in the collection didn’t have the same impact on me as the rest of the collection did. I wasn’t impressed by the nylon trousers or shorts. The jackets fared much better with this material. They could easily be dismissed as a boring raincoat, but I would disagree.

This collection was certainly interesting. I found the slouchy trousers and the nylon to be unflattering and unstylish. I enjoyed most of it, primarily the T-shirts, orang-utan prints and the jackets. I still have yet to decide whether he is a stronger menswear designer than womenswear designer. It seems to be even ground, as the spring collections would imply.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com