Friday, January 29, 2016

Valentino // Spring 2016 Haute Couture //

There is an irresistible grandeur embedded in a Valentino haute couture collection. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli are a formidable duo with a magical touch. Not a season passes, womenswear or menswear, without extraordinary creations from the Italians. This season they borrowed historic fashion references, from the early 1900s. Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo was a Spanish fashion designer, famed for his Delphos gown. The opening look, resembled that of Fortuny’s: a sleeveless, a taupe pleated silk gown, given the Valentino treatment with marigold velvet. Velvet played a recurring play in this défile, coming in gentle accents or in a full gown, in a rich scarlet hue and with Fortuny pleats.  

The models glided down the runway, though it could easily be misconstrued as floating. Silk billowed in the air as the models walked barefoot, and in sandals, on the buttercup petal-lined golden flooring. Angelic-beings, they delivered a melange of historic timestamps, from Roman times to the 1930s. 

The audience was ensorcelled by a dazzling array of evening wear—perfect for the impending Academy Awards. No doubt, there will be a look from the collection on the red carpet in late February. One gown, with a low cowl neck, boasted a chiffon skirt enhanced with serpentine velvet accents in marigold and grey. Another Oscar moment waiting to happen was the lavish teal and gold gown with a deep, plunging neckline. Ornamental and decadent, Saoirse Ronan or Brie Larson would be perfect for this piece. 

If last season’s Roman decampment from the Paris schedule, this show felt the knock on effects. July’s presentation referenced the dainty goddesses of Roman mythology, this season Roman civilisation was on their mind. White gowns, draped on the body beautifully, featured velvet decoration. Like a vision, Maartje Verhoef closed the show in a tulle gown with a netted bodice. I’m still scraping my jaw off the floor. Invisible sandals and excessive gold jewellery amplified the Roman mood. There were gold-disc body chains, custom serpent headpieces (designed by Harumi Klossowska de Rola), dripping pendants. 

Luck has been bestowed upon the women wealthy enough to purchase Valentino couture. This heavenly collection was packed with 66 entrancing dresses—there wasn’t a trouser in sight; clearly their customer is focused on evening wear, a testament to their client base. Though some of the pieces mirrored those from last season, boredom isn’t an issue. When you’re stuck in a blissful dream courtesy of two magnificent talents, boredom doesn’t even cross your mind.  
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Chanel // Spring 2016 Haute Couture //

Karl Lagerfeld showed his Spring 2016 haute couture collection on Tuesday morning, at the Grand Palais. The German designer provided another set for the Instagrammic-age. A mechanic pavilion wood set, three stories high was placed against a blue sky backdrop. If you ever find yourself begging the question “where do the Chanel sets go following the show?”, I can provide you with the answer today. Vanessa Friedman reported that “all the wood will be recycled and composted after the show.” Kaiser Karl contributed to the sustainable fashion narrative that is one of the many issues currently facing the industry. So eco-friendly inspirations aside, the couturier presented a delectable lineup of intricately detailed clothes for the über-rich to buy this year. However, unlike other designers with sustainable, eco-friend ethos’, Karl said backstage, “this is high-fashion ecology. It must not look like some sloppy demonstration.” That’s what I like to hear.

The usual suspects, tweed and boucle, were featured to their usual extent. Subtle modifications were, naturally, made to further entice existing customers into extending their Chanel haute couture wardrobes. Those who can afford Chanel couture already have a vast collection, I’m sure. Edie Campbell’s white boucle jacket with navy accents was paired with a navy, embellished skirt. Jamie Bochert’s customer-friendly jacket in gold and black paillettes didn’t bear the impact of it’s skirt. A wood chip pailette skirt? Surprisingly, stunning.
Bochert’s look wasn’t the only look that explored fine couture details. One dress, with balloon sleeves and a figure-hugging fishtail was richly detailed with floral embellishments. A bib dress was painstakingly-detailed with green flowers. Countless hours poured into creating these pieces paid off. They got their 10 minutes on the catwalk, but they are unforgettable. Hopefully this effect rubs off on the wealthy woman purchasing these pieces. One dress, full of character, featured shimmering butterflies, bees, leaves and other insects.

An offering of evening dresses, larger than usual, made for an exciting excursion into Oscar-worthy territory. A soigné Kendall Jenner took to the runway in a black gown with subtle, pewter embellishment. This dress is calling Rooney Mara. More supple creatures emerged in gold-tinged garments. Charmingly beaded, the silk gowns in particular were a sight to behold. Gigi Hadid’s caped gown was lovely, as was her sister, Bella’s; amply beaded, shoulder bearing. Face of the Spring 2016 campaign, Argentinian model Mica Arganaraz was the Chanel bride. Her textured, clotted lace, midi-length dress was styled with a hooded jacket, no less. 

Two seasons in a row and Karl’s affinity for a flashy, Instagram-like-fishing sets has not outshone his creative output. This couture collection may feature a lot of components present in every collection. There was innovation present in this collection. See woven skirts, wood chips embroidered into pieces, etc. The sublime evening gowns, and dearth of overstyled, overcooked looks also contributed to the collection being one of the stronger display in recent years. Exquisite sophistication is prevailing at Chanel in the past two collections - exquisite being the operative word. 
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com & theguardian.com

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Versace // Fall 2016 // Menswear

It’s no surprise that space is having a moment this past year. Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Martian were both released between October and December of last year. Two weeks ago, Y-3 —Yohji Yamamoto’s Adidas division—launched a collaboration between Virgin Galactic. The design of the space suits “has been thoroughly exciting, challenging and rewarding”, says Lawrence Midwood, Y-3’s senior design director. Donatella Versace was also feeling the gravitational pull for her Fall 2016 menswear collection. The Italian designer was seeing stars and the result was a high-powered, sharply tailored foray into space.

The show space, shaped in a V, had pristine white floors, the inside to Donatella’s spacecraft. Out came joggers first, their glow-in-the-dark outfits illuminated the runway. “Sports and space,” was the inspiration; she juxtaposed the two nicely. A neatly cut grey tuxedo was styled with a white jacket, a Perfecto jacket with another. Metallic joggers were designed, perhaps not for the faint-hearted. One look consisted of a silver jacket with shearling accents and slouchy, matching trousers. It was those silver pieces that looked like spacesuits. Not exactly as nondescript as Y-3’s collaboration with Virgin, but why should they be. It’s Donatella Versace, her clothes were always going to be the standouts. 

Arriving at the cosmos—as Mary Katrantzou did for her Spring womenswear collection—there was a heavily embellished white jacket. Pins, wheels, grommets and more adorned the body of the piece. Matching trousers provided the audience with more stargazing opportunity. 
Alexander Fury reported on Vogue Runway the booming sales that menswear is experiencing at this Italian brand. He also pointed out that they amount to half of the business’ profits. It’s not that hard to believe considering how brilliant the clothes look on the runway. Sure, the colours may be a little deterring for most men; powder blue, lavender and pink won’t attract a large, potential customer base. However, the more you look at them, you enjoy them more. Whoever has the chutzpah to wear them, to you I say “brava.” A maroon bomber jacket, a heavily embellished lavender coat, a purple, turtleneck cashmere sweater? They all look fantastic. 

Clearly in tune with the times, Donatella presented skin-hugging trousers—affectionately known as baller pants. Most men have a pair of those. They came in off-white, black, and a deep plum hue. Other pieces that I see appealing to customers are the accessories, specifically the hats and trainers. Deftly preparing us for the winter months, Donatella pepper cashmere coats (accented with a NASA/Versace brooch-hybrid), thick sweaters and fur-lined duffles. 

Fashion’s obsession with space is one of the more interesting fascinations. There’s a wealth of possibility to explore, ideas to be acted on and clothes to be created. Donatella Versace’s clothes are unquestionably fashionable, the influence of space ostensible. Though the pieces may not appeal to every man, there is no denying that they’re great to look at. 
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Friday, January 22, 2016

KTZ // Fall 2016 // Menswear

Sportswear is commonplace in fashion these days. The Olympics are nigh and we’ve already seen its influences on certain collections. From couturiers Chanel and Dior (who have both used sneakers in their couture collections) to other high-end brands like Mother of Pearl and Margaret Howell, sports luxe has been infiltrating the fashion industry for many years now. Sports as a whole hasn’t really hit the catwalks in some time. However, during London Collections Men, Marjan Pejoski is bringing sportiness back to the catwalk in its truest sense. 

American sport, Russian futurism and German electronic brand Kraftwerk all influenced the collection. A boy’s sports-room and the geometric nature and minimal colour scheme inspired the collection. The flaming red burst throughout the collection knotted the three main influences together. 

Baseball was the prime influence for the collection. The lacing of a baseball lined bomber jackets, and trousers. These pieces will be bestsellers. From the list of people I’ve seen wearing KTZ, pieces like this are the ones they gravitate towards. A bottle-green hoodie with black and white detailing was my personal favourite, along with a patched, leather varsity jacket. The baseball lacing on one pair of shorts looked perfectly fine until I saw the literal interpretation of baseballer’s uniform; they were ticked into knee-grazing socks. Also seen at J.W. Anderson, boxing shoes were worn by models in the collection. 

After opening a store, Kokon to Zai, in 1996, Marjan Pejoski launched the label KTZ in 2003. Though he may be a Macedonian designer, the label was birthed on UK soil and it remains a very important part of the brand’s identity today. Two models emerged at once, the British flag draped over their respective shoulders, buttoned at the waist. Underneath, one of the models wore a soldier’s jacket that instantly resembled Sarah Burton’s Spring 2016 collection for Alexander McQueen. Instead of dabbling with gender fluidity this season, I have noticed designers channelling womenswear collections. The influences of Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood were present her. In other collections this season I recognised Marc Jacobs and Vetements. 

Athleisure is often contrived. Luxury brands seem to glamourise sports and it works, it does. Marjan Pejoski’s fall KTZ collection restored a certain amount of believable grit, in a glamourous way, to sports inspiration. It’s the varsity jackets that KTZ fanboys and fangirls will be clamouring for next season. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Watch Louis Vuitton Fall 2016 Menswear LIVE

On Thursday 20 January, Louis Vuitton will show their Fall 2016 menswear collection during Paris Fashion Week. Kim Jones will present the new collection with some famous faces in the crowd. Notably, Kate Moss, Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, models Jade and Georgia May Jagger, The Clash’s Paul Simonon, and Rosemary Ferguson will all be in attendance. 
The show begins at 4PM (GMT). A replay will be available after the show.

J.W. Anderson // Fall 2016 // Menswear

Maybe it was the blatant commentary on the pace of fashion that propelled J.W. Anderson’s recent menswear collection to the fore of every fashion news source? Or, perhaps it could’ve been the Grindr live-streaming controversy the show found itself in? Models, cast specifically due to age complications, paraded the runway to an audience larger than one perched on the benches at Yeomanry House. 100,000 people streamed the show on the gay hook-up app. Some have been quick to deem the pairing puzzling. I’m on the fence about that. More importantly, the real breadwinner was the strong lineup of clothes that hit the runway during London Collections Men.

“We operate in a world of speed,” Anderson said backstage. Fashion shows are a fleeting ten minutes, models zoom up and down the industry. Some designers have departed their positions at labels due to the vicious time constraints the industry presents creators with; for example, look at Raf Simons. The constant demand for new is supplied by designers who are currently trying to rectify the situation. They want, and need, breathing space between collections. For most, its between two and six collections. At an incredible pace, new designs are churned out, essentially every two months. Writing that down proves how unhealthy it is and as Raf Simons states, “it’s killing creativity.” Professing his love for the speed of change resulted in a collection that strongly disagreed with this statement. Sure, the models, pouting with petulance, stormed the runway rapidly, but the motif for the season was the snail. In pale pink and turquoise, two snails were embossed on a crisply cut white double-breasted jacket. Other cartoon representations of the slow, slimy creatures adorned silk shirts and trousers, jackets and coats. Though Anderson declared them a motif, not ulterior motives, it was clear to the audience that speed of the fashion industry is on everybody’s mind.
Anderson also looked to boxing for the collection. Fixing ones eyes upon the footwear and, intriguingly you’ll be met with boxing shoes. Usually for agile and quickstepping sportsmen (and women, of course), Anderson wants them to appeal to men everywhere for Fall 2016. The rise of Sylvester Stallone in 2016, thanks to his career-defining role in Creed (as Rocky Balbao), must’ve been on his mind. 
Motifs from the women’s pre-fall collection carried through to this outing. Noticeably, cloud-shaped pockets were seen on tops and coats. Tinges of Edwardiana were also visible throughout the 33-piece collection. The bulbous trouser leg, resulting from tucking the hem into the boot before fluffing it out, as seen in the women’s Spring 2016 collection, was present here. 

It remains to be told whether or not the fashion industry plans on adjusting itself; to take a step back and view the negative effect of fast-fashion, in a, once, slower moving entity. There was an odd juxtaposition between snail prints featured on the clothes and the pace at which the models walked in this collection. Jonathan Anderson may have intended for the snails to merely be a mascot for the collection, but it mightn’t be foolish to wonder if there is more at play here. He didn’t say it outright, but the changing state of fashion was, inadvertently or not, referenced in this collection. The buyer will be wearing an emblem of that come fall. 

Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Astrid Andersen // Fall 2016 // Menswear

The menswear fall 2016 season commenced on January 8 in London. London Collections Men is now in its eight season (formerly it was the last day of the womenswear week). Founded by British GQ’s Dylan Jones, the week is the first stop in the men’s international fashion calendar. It’s schedule features some of the brightest names: Craig Green, Agi & Sam; as well as the industry heavyweights: Alexander McQueen, Burberry and Coach. For my inaugural post on the menswear season, I’m going to dissect Danish designer Astrid Andersen’s collection.

Presented during London Collections Men, Andersen’s menswear show is one of the highly anticipated slots on the schedule. Her “premium casual wear with a sports inspired aesthetic” was in full effect in this collection. Looking to the ski slopes of Sölden, Gstaad or Courchevel, the resorts were certainly on Andersen’s mind. An oversized army green and pistachio sweater, with a knotted wool detail, was tailored in a way that it didn’t look obnoxiously oversized. The trousers worn with the look, also in a pistachio hue, would be perfect for snowboarding. Mittens, creeping their ways up the arm, reached the elbows. A crimson winter jacket, one of the closing looks was another brilliant look. 

Logos are ever-present at the London shows. Tactical business moves, yes. Does that mean it has to be black text on a white background? No. Andersen embossed her logo in black against black sweaters, army green quilted hoodies, and check zip-ups. On the breast of many pieces, the circular logo was also featured. 

There was tinges of lad culture in the collection. Easily imaginable is a “lad” gallivanting around a big city or small town, decked out in crimson baggy trousers, a quilted bomber jacket or an oversized logo sweater. Also distinguishable were grey, wool tracksuits. A recurring trend in London has been the smothering of the collections in sensuality. Yes, that was subtly present in this collection. There’s something about Andersen’s collection that is distinctly masculine in its ways, but not obtrusively. It bears subtle feminine touches. Because of that, this collection will appeal to those interested in fashion or not.

Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Monday, January 18, 2016

Greek Street Takeover

Fashion East, the greatest non-profit designer support and showcasing scheme, is fifteen years old. From the start the Lulu Kennedy-founded initiative has pushed some of the biggest London names to the fore. Gareth Pugh, Roksanda Illincic, Meadham Kirchoff, Simone Rocha and Craig Green have all graduated from the scheme and have gone on to lead successful careers. For Spring 2016, the designers were selected by a panel including Brix Smith-Start, Charlie Porter and Sarah Mower. Richard Malone (whose Spring collection I have already featured on this blog), Caitlin Price and This is the Uniform were the three labels. On Greek Street, a famous rue in Soho, the three designers occupied different spaces. Greek Street, Freak Street, the invitation read. It was a Greek Street takeover, and it was more jubilant than freakish.   

Caitlin Price graduated with an MA from Central Saint Martins and was awarded the Armani Scholarship under the late Professor Louise Wilson OBE to get there. Taking over the Soho Revue art gallery, her collection was a commentary on the brave, sporty girl. "19th century elements with contemporary casual wear inspired by the drum and bass raves of Caitlin’s teen years,” was the official reference. A bustier styled with tracksuit bottoms and slip-on flip-flops? 90’s pop star creed. There was of course the bubblegum pink cropped sweater and ball gown covering one leg which went hand in hand with the lime green skirt and bra look. The latter drew connotations to Star Wars Princess Leia. The force of the blockbuster on fashion in unquestionable. There was a blockbuster air to this collection also. Shown it presentation form, it certainly didn’t detract from it being one of the most exciting tickets of the weekend. From ruffled bustiers, to stylish pink tracksuits and revealing ball gown skirts, Caitlyn Price is referencing her teenage years and invoking the revolutionary 90’s spirit in her customer base. Who said the 90’s were unfashionable?
Jenna Young’s This is the Uniform is an exciting addition to the Fashion East lineup. Her girl is “very confident” and “isn’t really trend-led.” This springs to mind the individuality that London is known for. Ideas don’t necessarily overlap, and trends aren’t always plucked from the week. There was a correlation between This is the Uniform’s fine art-inspired Spring collection and Caitlyn Price’s. Both were clearly feeling the magnetic pull of the nineties. The collection skewered street wear and sportswear, something we also saw in Price’s collection. Models also wore white trainers and there were similar white mini dresses. The distinction was Young’s use of colour and exposition of skin. A net top and a white net dress left little to the imagination. Livid reds in a lustrous satin came in the form halter tops, pleated skirts, cropped jackets and disc-embroidered sheer dresses. A youth club, filled with pingpong-playing models provided an apt setting. These clothes are for the experimentalist. She’s confident and possesses a great deal of youthfulness.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Friday, January 15, 2016

Peter Pilotto // Spring 2016 //

Occupying the BFC Show Space at Brewer Street Car Park, Peter Pilotto chose to forego the nondescript white benches, instead opting for woven deck chairs. Netted sculptures in bright primary colours lined the runway. The BFC space, with ample natural light, deserved the gentrification, if only for a show. Trust Peter PIlotto to display something that didn’t detract from the clothes but as a palette cleanser prior to the show. There was an effortless power to the way Julia van Os opened the show. Her pinstripe, viscose waistcoat and knit skirt with two centre splits was stunning. 

A vacation to Greece, earlier in the year, inspired Pilotto and design partner, Christopher de Vos. Swept away by the traditional peasant embroidery, the textiles and the seaside, they made their way into the collection. The crop tops This prettified vision of Greece contrasts starkly to the fiscal crisis the country is enduring. Unlike other London designers, there is something utopian at the heart of this label. Other hot destinations, deserts for example, were in mind during the design process. The whole collection felt like the escape section of Portermagazine: expensive, lavish and breathtaking.

Paying homage to what garnered them critical renown, there was a slew of printed looks at the end of the show. A richly floral printed skirt, with mathematic matter also adorning it, was veiled by white netting. Innovation is key when tackling old favourites. Providing stylists with red carpet-worthy garb, a ruffled dress with lace trim featuring a glimpse of net at the waist and white fastenings. 

There’s something mathematical about the way this duo design. Not only am I talking about the way their clothes are precisely tailored, but the symbols used, especially in this collection. Triangles and circles were plastered on skirts, dresses and tops. Geometry, something that the Peter Pilotto perfects in their collections; from geometric shapes to prints. Certain pieces looked like the formula for a difficult equation. 

A tried and tested formula is what Pilotto and de Vos have developed over the years. They are renowned print masters—London’s finest, one might say—and they create interesting shapes that flatter the wearer and illuminate her, adding an undoubted intrigue to the look. Subtracting heavy use of printing this season, the duo have arrived at a well calculated breath of fresh air. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Roksanda // Spring 2016 //

The fourth day during London Fashion Week is a difficult one. The collections in September weren’t as powerful as the previous days, on face value. My thoughts percolated and I’ve grown to like most of them. With 11 shows to get through, it’s almost impossible for me to review all of them, without inundating you with larger brands. However, there are certain designers that I hold a special place for on that day. There’s Erdem and Christopher Kane, another is Roksanda. Roksanda Ilincic has stood the test of time in London and her collections are sought after by, none other than, Samantha Cameron - who was perched front row. You can see why women would be taken by the looks featured in this collection. They’re certainly not your typical ladylike garb. They possess an artful flair—art being a them Roksanda chooses to reference.   

Roksanda's venue of choice: the Seymour Leisure Centre, once again hosted her show. Last season, an installation by artist Gary Card was erected in the sports hall. The London-based set designer returned for spring 2016, offering an insightful look into what was to come before the collection even hit the runway. A maze, constructed from MDF, lined the catwalk; models weaved in and out of the structures. 

Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging inspired the designer this season. The asymmetry and empty space present in the arrangements was particularly on Roksanda’s mind, which echoed the set created by Card. There were layered skirts, and dresses. Artistically, there would be circular cutaways. One yellow coat came alive with floral-esqe 3-D trimming. 

Ballet also infiltrated the collection. The floaty nature of the looks combined with Tabitha SImmons-designed heels, the theme pleasantly juxtaposed against that exactness of Ikebana. The free against the constricted. A black and sand pink dress with a buttercup yellow accent was the epitome of a ballerina’s grace. The yellow dress with cinched sleeves and the orange and blue dress also exuded that serenity. Though too bulky for a ballerina, the finale looks, comprising of three layered organza pieces, were magnificent on the models. There was a black skirt with a yellow accent, a yellow dress, and most beautifully a pink strapless number (the one that was all over Instagram).

Roksanda is cementing a place for herself on the borderline between conceptual and glorified ladylike wear. The details must be tweaked but she is almost there, establishing a new footing in the overcrowded London market. In the time being she’ll continue to create luxury pieces that stylish women will want to own.

Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Going for Gold, the Olympics and Fashion

It seems like age ago that the 2012 Summer Olympics took place in London, England. 2016, four years later, is upon us and the athletic community will be descending upon Brazil for this year’s Olympic Games. Every four years, fashion heavily regurgitates the athletic/Olympic theme. Louis Vuitton have already announced their Resort 2017 show will be held this May in Rio de Janeiro. São Paulo Fashion Week in October saw brand Osklen look to Ancient Greece, where the games originated. This season, the theme was pertinent during the big four fashion weeks. Two designers in particular that I felt the ode to the Olympics were Lacoste and Chloé.
Lacoste’s founder was René Lacoste. He was a French tennis player who won a bronze medal at the 1924 Summer Olympics for tennis in men’s doubles. He created the Lacoste tennis shirt almost 90 years ago. Sportswear and athleisure has forever been embedded at the heart of the Lacoste brand. Portuguese designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista took the helm at the end of 2010. 

The inspiration for the Spring collection was flags. Sharp tennis dresses, in red, white and blue, were enriched with funky cutouts. Mica Arganaraz wore a dress that explicitly represented the American flag.The United Kingdom, Argentina and more were visible on one male model’s jumpsuit. Closing out the show, Binx Walton’s jumpsuit was an amalgam of fragmented flags. Ine Neef’s wore a red and white striped romper that would be perfect for an afternoon venturing the balmy Brasilia, or touring Rio. A tricolour tunic is ideal for the days spent basking in the summer sun. 

I was swept away by the simplicity of the menswear in this collection. There was the white joggers with navy stripes, a net shit worn over a blue, red and white t-shirt. Piero Mendez’ navy sweater with the Lacoste logo emblazoned on the chest was one of my favourite pieces. It contained the airy athleticism vibe while permeated the money-controlled nature of sports. Logos and branding are everything in sport, and they sell prolifically in fashion.  

“It was about peace and diversity,” Baptista said. If only it contained more of the latter. 
“Kate, Chloe, Cecelia, Corine, Rosemary, Emma, Courtney and many others who embody the liberty and elegance of a perfectly mastered and excessively lived simplicity.” That’s what the Chloé show notes read at the Paris Fashion Week show. The model line-up permeated the collection with a 90’s air. Specifically, the athleisure element portrayed that. Roos Abels opened the collection in zip-up, red and navy sweater worn with a flowing floral skirt. A grey tank top with red piping, a navy zip-up. Giving us a stylish tracksuit was the red and camel coloured top paired with red trousers. Stylising sports has never been this literal. I admire Claire Waight Keller’s bravery. 

The sportiness in this collection didn’t stray far from that. It was a minimal portion of the collection, but there was a sense of the summer ahead, the games in Brazil in the collection. Sports aside, the rest of the collection maintained “a spirit as fresh and colourful as ever.” A paisley print kaftan was enlivened by a patch of red and lace trim. A lilac paisley, strapless jumpsuit was stunning; as was Lineisy Montero’s off-the-shoulder, multicoloured blouse and denim shorts, and Willow Hand’s multicoloured maxi dress. 

This collection, though in parts, athletically inclined, contrasted two themes that didn’t exactly work side by side. 
Neither collection stood out in the way I expected them to. Both referenced the theme of athleticism, pairing it with easy pieces for the summer months. While Lacoste grew tiresome; the blatancy became slightly overbearing; Chloé on the other hand felt like it was holding back. The 90’s air was refreshing but the athleisure felt out of place in the context of the whole collection. If these two collections were competing in the Olympics, I must say they’d achieve a bronze medal at best. 

Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Jamie Wei Huang // Spring 2016 //

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by the genius J.K. Rowling, the precious Hermione Granger is presented with a Time-Turner necklace from Professor McGonagall. The necklace enabled Hermione to maximise the amount of elective classes she attended. Brilliant idea, isn’t it? If only one actually existed, then it would be possible to attend clashing shows during fashion week. Whether you’re caught in a heavy stream of traffic, or showtimes overlap, a time turner would allow you to see both shows. Personally, I experienced many times during London Fashion Week this season where one would’ve come in handy. The rainfall outside Bora Aksu—I would’ve bought an umbrella. Subsequently, I missed PPQ and Manuel Facchini. Also, while I was waiting in the rain outside Brewer Street Car Park for Bora Aksu, across town Jamie Wei Huang was presenting her Spring 2016 collection. That is a show I always like to see.

If you’re a regular reader you may be aware of my love for Jamie Wei Huang’s contemporary designs. Her Fall 2015 collection, ‘Nymphomaniac’, was in my top five shows of 2015. Her Spring 2016 collection was entitled ‘Hereafter’. Interpreting the afterlife, the collection "is a combination of different languages from different religions, cultures, countries, personal experiences.” Ultimately, Jamie arrives at varying concepts of “the great beyond.” Segueing nicely from her previous collection, the same design practices, emblematic of her ethos, showed up. Firstly, her use of leather holds up. Leather trim could be found on many pieces. Vests with buckle fastenings were also translated into this collection. Last season’s subdued teal became electric blue this season. A symbol of faith and heaven, the colour lit up a large portion of the collection.

Creatures pertaining to different religions’ beliefs adorned certain pieces. A horned, ghoulish monster was on an op-art and mesh sweater. Contrasting against a printed white, the creature reappeared in the next look. The imagery appeared in a fiery red later on. A horned goblin took cartoonish shape on a leather-trimmed biker jacket, and it was portrayed in red against a grey background in other matching pieces.

The collection was stocked with various cultural references but what will strike a chord most with the customer is the sense of involvement. The collection carefully weaves around different religious viewpoints and it positions itself, firmly, in neutral territory. How a viewer interacts with the piece will be a solely personal experience. That is a fine accomplishment on Jamie’s part.

Hopefully the fall season doesn’t provide any scheduling conflicts as tragic as this one. When Jamie produces a collection as involving and thought-provoking as this I want to be present, in the moment, observing the clothes in person. Like I said, it’s the sense of involvement you can feel at this show—through the images and notes, and of course in person—that proves Jamie Wei Huang is onto something that will be wonderful in the long run.

Photo Credit: www.jamieweihuang.com

Monday, January 11, 2016

Promising, Prospering LFW Designers

Today’s post is essentially a bumper issue filled with London Fashion Week’s newest, most exciting names. Boasting a plethora of talent, this season’s fashion week beset by a deluge of presentations. You’d blink and another presentation would’ve come and gone. Between the official BFC schedule, Fashion Scout, ON|OFF and miscellaneous off-schedule events there was a lot to be taken in. Just listing those entities was overwhelming. The six designers compiled in this post are those with promising futures, and they're not to be forgotten.

Sadie Williams first came to my attention when one of her gown’s was placed in Selfridge’s window. Two years later and she has exponentially grown as a young designer in London, a difficult city to break into the industry. For spring 2016 was sponsored by NEWGEN for Spring 2016—her second season working with the Topshop-funded initiative. She also had a spot in the designer showrooms in Brewer Street Car Park. A bunk bed set up with samples of her work was set up in a fraction of the space. Small space, yet it stood out more than the rest of the presentation.

Her collection was titled ‘Barnes B’, after her house at boarding school. The school discos of the noughties also played a part in the collection. Williams would customise her own clothes in her teenage years, creating her own backless tops and party dresses. Sportswear also took centre stage in the collection. Folded skirts, in printed lurex, gave the appearance of a sports skort. Apron style t-shirts were resembling bibs worn during P.E. Whimsical white sheer organza silk was festooned with bright metallic leathers. What’s not to love? I’d tell you if I wasn’t so taken by this magnificent collection.
To tell the truth, the effect Ed Marler has on other people didn’t hit me until this season. Held in a backstreet courtyard in the depths of Soho, Marler’s Spring 2016 collection was another foray into a dark royalty. With models wearing high crowns . Transporting us back to medieval times via a post-apocalyptic world, male models—who wore dresses, informing the season’s move toward gender fluidity—had painted faces, like jesters. Bra cups as protective knee caps on cycling shorts, tinsel accented peplum jackets, bin-bag-esqe dresses, gingham bodysuits, slashed trousers, distressed denim. This distorted view of royalty through a dystopian lens has proved to be some of the strongest work from a British designer with tendencies to be anarchic in their aesthetic. I bow down. 
Marta Jakubowski joined Sadie Williams with a NEWGEN-sponsored appointment-only presentation format during the weekend. The German designer is noted for her refreshing, unique takes on classic silhouettes. This season she looked to women for her inspiration, but with a sinister tinge. “Women in mental institution, shelters and prison—women with a hard shell and soft core.” Constricting pieces bearing semblance to straightjackets were worn; that was especially visible with the bodysuits and underwear style pieces. Red, black and white. Three colours: red for anger; white for innocence; black, a barrier between itself and the outside world. 

Having trained with Hussein Chalayan and Alexander Wang (to name but two), Jakubowski is clearly influenced by their work but never copies it. The subtle references to Wang’s street wear and Chalayan’s shapes with a Jakubowski flair made this a very enjoyable collection. 
Phiney Pettman launched her womenswear label Phiney Pet in 2014 and the product is an endearingly saccharine teenage dream, occasionally equipped with dark undertones. For Spring 2016, the designer proposed the brief, “if Debbie Harry had a super sweet sixteen.” The collection, presented at a church hall—to symbolise the awkward teenage discos—was packed with quirky pieces festooned with hand-painted illustrations. In stark contrast to Claire Barrow who draws sinister characters, Pettman’s are childlike and innocent, though the talent required to create them is estimable. A Humpty Dumpty character, Bambi wearing a bonnet, donuts, birthday banners decorated one leather jacket. Confectionary items adorned another. In a spring season where a lot of designers sucked the fun out of their collections with austere outfits, Pettman restored a sense of effervescence that was lacking. 
Mary Benson is perhaps my favourite designer to have feature in this collection. In February of last year she graduated from Fashion East, and the following season she's showing a solo presentation in the cramped Soho pub The Sun & 13 Cantons. Her “ethereal modern gothic babe” was permeated with hints of singer Melanie Martinez for spring. Her models wore exaggerated make-up looks, reminiscent of the American singer. These clothes will also be popular with ballsy fashion maven Rihanna. 

The outfits all featured scribblings, an ode to the title: ‘Letters From the Darkest Corners of My Heart’. Words galore were thrown about on the clothes. Illustrations of crying girls emblemed the outfits. Albeit the clothes were a funky, colourful and ebullient, the show notes read, “behind luminescent prettified patternage lurk the subtexts and hidden depths of drama Mary Benson is known for.” The crying girl illustrations and make-up, “I don’t even know you,” was on a sheer shirt, “you have seduced and smother my heart! Cruel” on a dress. This self-reflective collection portrayed a vivacious persona but as you can see there something macabre fizzing under the surface. Mary Benson, with her wealth of talent, juxtaposes the two finely. 
Last, but certainly not least is Sadie Clayton. Occupying a room in the Royal Academy of Arts, the Kingston University grad is “manipulating industrial materials and silhouettes to fit the female form.” With a love for copper, Clayton contrasted the metal against a select colour palette, consisting of blue, brown and black. The 3-D embroidered bomber jacket from the collection is a standout piece, but the faux-crocodile vinyl cape with quarterback shoulders and symmetric cut-outs had a louder voice. It is in no way wearable but it is certainly pushing boundaries. That’s the great thing about Sadie Clayton: there are pieces in this collection that are perfectly wearable, enriched with idiosyncratic details and there are pieces like the aforementioned cape, or a peplum trouser, copper plated breastplate and a full, tulle skirt. It’s the effortless mix that will propel Clayton into stardom.
Photo Credits: sadiewilliams.co.uk, thelovemagazine.co.uk, martajakubowski.com, wonderlandmagazine.com, noctismag.com

Friday, January 8, 2016

Mary Katrantzou // Spring 2016 //

Recently, I commended Aaron Sorkin’s writing for the Steve Jobs biopic in a links post. Sorkin is a writer who shapes his films in a three-act structure. There’s a solid beginning, middle and end. It’s precisely acted and delivered exceptionally. To think of a fashion designer with this same effect, my mind immediately went to Mary. The Greek designer also cemented her collection in a three-act structure. There was the embellishment that opened the show, a blistering ascension to the cosmos with art history references—see Flammarion wood engravings emblazoned on dresses. Katrantzou prioritised lightness; embellished pieces can be heavy. The feathery mini dresses were cut fabulously. There will always be a commercial desire for a mini dress. When they come as gorgeous as those, customers will be clamouring for them. The second act progressed into an elementary volume and construction course. Iridescent surfaces adorned heavily structured pieces. One violet jumpsuit boasted a quilted apron and billowing ruffles. A quilted, blue dress worn by the fantastic Anna Cleveland had cascading ruffles bursting from its empire waist. The final, third act in this show was a venture into tailoring. Sharp and precise, tops and trousers took to the runway. Lacing, metallic colours and metal enriched those pieces.

The folkloric costume traditions of the Balkans permeated the entire collections, appearing in all three of the aforementioned acts. The models, the gypsy princesses stridently took to the runway and paraded a line of mismatched florals—a self-referential return to her own beginnings. The clothes were airy but packed a punch with their magnificently detailed prints, demanding interest from the outset.
Mary Katrantzou won the British Fashion Council & Vogue’s Designer Fashion Fund of £200,000 in March. The fund has enabled the brand to take the next step in becoming a fully fledged label. Her Spring 2016 collection was the first with the fund in use. The results were visible. The pieces were more luxurious, the show space was bigger—it was Central Saint Martins, where Katrantzou graduated in 2008. How things come full circle, hey? Her creativity still lights up fashion week eight years later. This collection was a extravagant, majestic journey to the stars, but it never became starry-eyed. 

Three words Mary Katrantzou mentioned in her Vogue Runway interview after the show stuck with me. She wants to created lightweight, desirable clothing that is enchanting to woman. Lightweight, desirable, enchanting. It would be no lie to say that she accomplished that with ease.  
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com