London Fashion Week – Segundo Día

Today was a strange one. A. It was hard to wake up after a busy first day. B. A different set of people seemed to descend on Fashion Week. My collage today is chaotic…I feel it sums up the day pictorially! Here’s a brief rundown, photos to follow tomorrow.

Charles Anastase – Situated in South Molton Lane in the lofty coolness of The Music Rooms, the feel was very different from the get go. A much smaller, intimate event ensued, with a different set of people from day one. Firstly my girl-crush, job/look envy idol arrived – Kate Lanphear. Then the equally iconic, for very different reasons, Diane Pernet, complete with her lofty veil. I squished in next to the gorgeous Jackie Dixon (Show Me Your Wardrobe,) gossiped for a while, before the treat of a show began. Fabrics were mixed; felt, wool, colour-block, bows and ruffles, all completed with vertiginous heels. I loved the whole show. the layering and various materials felt opulent, yet accessible.

Kinder Aggugini – There was mohair (Disney Roller Girl‘s wool of choice ;) military with bold flashes of red, painted black hair and most hauntingly, Kate Bush on the soundtrack. I loved the way the tiny flecks of wool dazzled in the light behind the models. Could I photograph it? Unfortunately, no!

Topshop Unique – This one deserves a whole post of its own and shall get it soon. Prior to Fashion Week, there was no Topshop ticket for me. Speaking to lots of other bloggers, Topshop was an elusive ticket to find. I’m not sure what the criterion for ticket allocation was but it seemed sporadic among bloggers. Liberty London Girl and Kiki’s Delivery Service persuaded me to come along, despite my lack of ticket, to see if there was any chance of entry. This is where the “who you know” in the industry came into its own. Sasha (LLG) knew someone working at the door; that was enough, a front row for me. I shall save the experience and the show review for that dedicated post. Needless to say I felt like a fish out of water and in hindsight wish I’d called some of my fellow, more deserving, blogger friends to take my place.

Emilio de la Morena – Another kindly donated ticket from Sasha (I think I owe her A LOT of drinks!) Julia Restoin Roitfeld and Olivia Palermo followed over from Topshop and a beautiful show began. The soundtrack was phenomenal. I filmed parts of the show just to find out what the track-listing was later. The hair was backcombed on the crown and held in place using what looked to be tens of kirby-grips and bobby pins. Ankle socks teamed with phenomenal boots, beautifully matched the coloured prints and sculptural dressed.

Louise Gray – Presentation. The lure of finally meeting Fred Butler and the fab company of Disney Roller Girl persuaded me to head to Louise Gray (not much persuading was required ;) The presentation was in a gorgeous space in the Portico Rooms. The styling and arrangement of the room was perfect, with an open balcony space overlooking the Thames. Brix Smith Start and Fashion Editor at Large were in attendance, adding to the fun. The models posed around and about the cut-out frames on which the clothes were hung – head holes for comedy photos were optional. The eyebrows deserve a blog of their own!

And there ended my day. There was going to be more, but exhaustion kicked in and the train home beckoned. That is also it for my Fashion Week. The “real” world of work resumes on Monday so tomorrow may be a day of complete contrast – total nothingness in PJs. That seems a phenomenal choice right now as my train trundles home at an inordinately slow pace but tomorrow I shall be envious as the fashionistas continue to report.  One definite task for tomorrow is photo and video uploading. Those of you that follow my Twitter will have seen some of my Polaroid offerings. There’s a slew of them to follow, plus higher quality images and videos. My mini-Fashion Week, you have been kind to me, I shall hold fond memories of A/W 2010.

(All photos in the above post belong to me EXCEPT the large image far-left which comes from Topshop’s Facebook page)

London Fashion Week – Premier Jour

London Fashion Week began in earnest today. This was my first “proper” fashion week and to be honest, I had NO idea what to expect. My main preoccupations prior to shows:

1. I wouldn’t fit in
2. No-one would want to talk to me
3. I would break my ankle

Regarding the first two points, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The 3rd hasn’t yet happened but tomorrow’s another day for this clumsy blogger fool!

Here is the abridged version of today’s events. I have videos, polaroids and pictures to come when more detail will be added. I am going to wait to be out of the confines for my Easy-Hotel/Orange Cell to do all my uploading!
1. Paul Costelloe – I was apprehensive. Paul is “old school,” a veteran of Fashion Weeks but I was VERY pleasantly surprised. The styling was awesome. HUGE backcombed hair, gorgeous make-up, perfect models. The clothes were a lot more fashion forward than I was expecting.
2. Maria Grachvogel – BEAUTIFUL. The setting was perfect, the Palm Court at The Waldorf. The music and atmosphere were ethereal, the clothes were all equally dreamy for me. The ONLY downside – the models were SUPER skinny, jutty out, jagged bones and all seemed very young. There was no doubt of their beauty but they stood out as being extremely slight. (Since watching the video on my return, I’m not sure if the natural light of the room enhanced these features…would bold runway light hide true size? Something to think on further)
3. David Koma – A slight disaster (this one deserves a WHOLE post to itself) I had a ticket (kindly donated by Mademoiselle Robot) but was refused entry as it was too full.
4. Bodyamr – I believed it to be a presentation but it was actually a show. Although some of the clothes weren’t to my taste, every other single element was perfect. The soundtrack lunged from ferocious to floaty. The setting was elegant, yet austere and had a real church feel. The superb models walked to the end of the “catwalk” as if guided towards the heavenly light seeping in through the stained glass window. Gorgeous!
5. Jena.Theo – Amazing atmosphere, stunning styling (especially eye make-up & rolls of hair) perfect soundtrack. Some real stand out pieces; skilfully folded fabrics with voluminous elegance. There was a repeated fabric print that wasn’t necessarily to my taste but the overall feel was beautiful.
6. Sass & Bide – A fluke of a show. I had no ticket but Liberty London Girl kindly introduced me to a very lovely someone and I was in, second row. Music played a huge part in this show for me; from Mozart in the introduction, to The XX’s version of “You’ve Got The Love” The feel of the show was bold and the looks matched. Gold featured heavily; crochets, woollen shoulder-pads and jewelled embellishments all ruled the catwalk. The metallic headpieces finished each look perfectly.

The day was made for me by my fellow bloggers. Their kindness and welcome was greatly appreciated and will not be forgotten. Liberty London Girl, Mademoiselle Robot, Disney Roller Girl, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Bitch Buzz, Show Me Your Wardrobe & Tales Near The Runway (phew….think I remembered them all) were the highlight of the day for me. Better than any show or item of clothing, the generosity of human spirit that they demonstrated towards me is the main thing I will take away from my first day at London Fashion Week.

(Show pictures “borrowed” from The Telegraph…if you’d like me to “unborrow” them, let me know. P.S. I gave Hilary Alexander my card just in case ;)

Identity

As I sat waiting for the new Grazia to land on my doorstep and reveal the “real” Liberty London Girl, I was left contemplating the concept of identity. I spent today sat in my flannelette pyjamas, with an old ski hoodie and M&S f-UGG slippers. Is this who the readers of my blog perceive me to be? I remember chatting to the lovely Catherine Kallon, the creator of Red Carpet Fashion Awards. At the time GMTV had asked Catherine to follow her around for a day, watching the creative process as she blogs. Catherine told me, “I don’t want them to see me get up at the crack of dawn, lumber over to my desk with a coffee and blog in my PJs all day!” I remember thinking how refreshing it was to hear that her reality of blogging was very similar to mine; despite the fact that GMTV believed it to be very different. The irony now is that Catherine now has an office from which she blogs full time and an extremely hectic but enviable lifestyle.

Anonymity in the blogosphere is quite commonplace as it allows the freedom of speech that open magazine journalism often curtails; not through desire but necessity. The last thing a magazine wishes to do is anger their advertisers. The revenue they bring in is essential to the existence of any magazine. I’ve been forced to ask myself of late if the thin veil of anonymity makes me immune to any influences and totally free to speak my mind. The answer, truthfully, is no, not really 100%. If a brand invites me to a lovely meet-up, which I subsequently write about disparagingly, do you think they’d ever invite me in my blogger guise again? If I want to remain in the loop, at times my opinions must be censored. I haven’t yet been forced into that situation as I have chosen instead to remain positive and only write about the experiences I have enjoyed.

How does knowing Liberty London Girl’s true identity change her blog for you, or does it change it at all? For me there is no difference as I do not know Sasha personally (yet.) For those who work or have worked with her, without knowing her nom-de-plume and her online persona, today will have come as a shock. I don’t think that simply because of what she has written, but because they weren’t privy to this important part of who she is. Very few people with whom I work or am acquainted know about my blog and I feel that this would be the element of shock for them. My Mum used to think a blog was a part of an online gaming community. When I sat her down and showed her the blog last week, she said, “Who does the pictures for you? Who publishes the articles? What magazine do you work for?” I think her shock lay in the fact that I could be so independently productive!

I too today was forced to verify my own identity. As a “semi-anonymous” blogger most of my work is annotated as Random Fashion Coolness. I spent a glorious 6 hours (not in a row; emails back and for) trying to prove that my real name was associated with my blog. Eventually I managed to demonstrate that I was…well, myself!

Therein lies what I love about the bloggersphere. It’s not who you are but the contribution you make that is judged. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a magazine editor, a housewife, a full-time blogger or a business professional. Your blog is your persona and your opinion and work is what is scrutinised and respected, not your salary or perceived standing within the industry.

British Fashion Genius – Breaking The Rules

This is an excerpt from BBC2′s Style Season of programmes that first aired in 2009. I loved the series British Fashion Genius, especially this episode – Breaking The Rules, Fashion Rebel Look. Well respected industry greats commented on the work of the “fashion rebels;” from Vivienne Westwood, to Galliano, finally reaching McQueen. McQueen himself discusses his inspirations, his rebelliousness and collections; my personal favourite, the mirrorbox (raved about below) is also featured. The only reason I am posting a BBC video is that is is no longer available on iPlayer. My intention here is not to anger anyone at the Beeb but maybe to coax them to show this phenomenal series again. Please watch and Re-Tweet it, comment, pass it on, as I feel it is a perfect homage to the work of an artist in the industry.

The Future is deprived

I need to get this post down before I give in to the lure of Twitter. Usually when EVERYONE blogs about something, it’s the last thing that appeals to me. But the death of Alexander McQueen however, is something I feel I MUST write about.

I was reminded of the artistry of McQueen a few months back in the superb BBC 2 series, British Style Genius (See McQueen’s Rebel profile here.) One episode blew me away and reminded me of everything I love about fashion – the flamboyance, the drama and specifically the ART of the designers. It was entitled, “Breaking the Rules: Fashion Rebel Look” and delved back into the archives of Galliano and McQueen to chart the beginnings of their fashion rebellion. The first thing that hit me was the fact that McQueen’s work remained equally pioneering, exciting and innovative, even 10 years on. My eyes hadn’t become accustomed to his showmanship as the decades had progressed; quite the opposite, I still looked upon his work with the wonderment of a small child.

The production of his 2001 Spring/Summer collection stands foremost in my mind. Nick Knight describes it best in an interview with Grazia and I wouldn’t even attempt to describe it better myself,

“My favourite, simply because it was so clever, was the mirror box show. He put all the models inside a huge mirrored cube. Before the show all the lights were on in the auditorium and the cube was a huge mirror reflecting the audience. The shows are always about 45 minutes late to start, and I remember I was on the front row between Alexandra Shulman and Gwyneth Paltrow, so if you looked up you stared at your own reflection, if you looked sideways you stared at your neighbour, so after a short time you ended up staring at your feet. Lee had managed by the use of this simple trick to have the whole of the front row, some of the most important people in fashion all sitting, heads bowed, humbled. Once the show started, the house lights went down, and the audience were released from this. And then it was the models inside the mirrored box who could see only their own reflections. Voyeurism was swapped to vanity.” (See Nick’s full interview here)

I would have LOVED to have been there or even to find a video of the whole show. I have found a snippet here by Iconiamag on Youtube (at 41 secs)

I hope the BBC repeats this episode of British Style Genius, simply to honour the passing of a genius that had contributed so much to the industry. It is sorrowful that the future of fashion will be deprived of Alexander McQueen.

Scents, Smells and Hotels

Once again, idle chit-chat on Twitter has inspired a post. Marian Kihogo and Susie Erskine were discussing their mutual admiration (and Marian’s worrying obsession) with candles. I butted in, as over the last few years the importance of smell has become more apparent to me. I’m not going to quote scientific statistics proving how smells can make you feel a sense of comfort, anxiety etc but just how smells affect me.

Of late bad smells have infiltrated my existence. There are two VERY ripe camemberts in the fridge that kindly remind me of their presence ever time the fridge door opens. Their smell is not abhorrent to me but I have found it strange how they like to make themselves known. Our home (a.k.a. the building site!) has a plethora of strange, unfamiliar smells lurking around each corner. Cement, plaster, paint all tickle my nose hairs each morning.

Perfumes evoke a huge sense of nostalgia in most people. I’m not necessarily referring to fragrances alone – natural, floral scents have the same impact. The Hotel du Petit Moulin in Paris is one of the most phenomenal hotels I have had the pleasure of staying in. The hotel is a design masterpiece and I have extolled its virtues many a time on this blog. It is a hotel that holds many happy memories and I can be transported back there in an instant thanks to a smell. The first time I stayed there it was my perfume of choice, it was also their room spray of choice. No, I did not douse myself in Glade!…Jean Paul Gaultier 2 was sprayed throughout their halls and more ingeniously the lift. In the confined space there was no escape from it; the smell permeated every little corner and (I know this sounds SUPER ostentatious) and a little bit of my soul too. Please delete that last comment from your brain, especially if it made you throw up a little in your mouth!!

Smells are important, thank you for reminding me of that fact Marian and Susie. I now feel the sudden urge to go out and buy a Diptyque candle and I hold you both personally responsible!

Lara Stone

Indicative of the meteoric rise of Lara Stone has to be her standing in Google. This year she has surpassed Lara Croft on the search scale! LOVE magazine has forced me to choose between 8 naked icons of the industry and without hesitation I will choose Lara Stone. I had to ask myself why I was so decisive on this issue. Is it her voluptuous, every woman curves? Is it her quirky, toothy gap? (I share that gappy grin) Is it her striking resemblance to Brigitte Bardot? In short I felt her freshness, in an industry that has championed a definitive waif-like look for over a decade, was the key. Plus sized models have been offered a moment in the spotlight of late but unfortunately, once any marketing opportunities subside, I don’t believe the trend for plus sizes on the runway will endure. A look like Lara’s however, will. She is healthy and more importantly, overtly sexy, without venturing too close to the line of smut. This advert for Versus by Versace sums up her appeal for me. She is loved by men and women alike. She oozes confidence and sexuality from every pore, yet still manages to maintain an editorial feel. Jak & Jil blog and W Magazine have captured some of my favourite images of Miss. Stone, featured above. My hope now is to watch her walk at Fashion Week and see for myself if the charisma translates live on the catwalk.

Marketing, Blogging & Editors

Bloggers seem to have put a fly in the proverbial ointment of late. We have “allegedly” disgruntled magazine editors with our appearances at shows (specifically the young Tavi at Couture Fashion Week) Questions are being asked on how our heads may be turned by free products that impede our true judgement of brands. The Cut Blog cited this quote, written by Robert Johnson at GQ,

“Bloggers are so attractive to the big design houses because they are so wide-eyed and obsessed, but they don’t have the critical faculties to know what’s good and what’s not. As soon as they’ve been invited to the shows, they can no longer criticise because then they won’t be invited back.”

Magazine editors have had to curb their true opinions to suit their advertising accounts for years. Do they have free reign to criticise a top fashion house’s show if that brand has a 4 page spread in the front of their magazine? The blanket statement, “they don’t have the critical faculties to know what’s good and what’s not,” is so sweeping and disparaging of a whole emerging industry that it is truly insulting. Here I do not refer to myself but to fellow bloggers that are also well respected journalists. Does that mean to say that what they write in print is worthy but the stuff on which they blog is not? I’m sure print journalists receive their fair share of free “gifts” from designers – do they have to declare this whenever mentioning their products in their writing?

Integrity and intelligence is the key. I was recently asked to take a look at some hosiery for a website. Everything was arranged the tights were on their way. I then received an email telling me which blog they’d like me to write my review on and how. I may have misinterpreted their email but I then felt I was being dictated to, so I declined their offer.

A brand that seems to have got it right is Stolen Thunder. Here in lies the irony and possible contradiction of this post. They asked for my address, they sent me one of their beautiful necklaces. There was no pressure, no demand, no compulsion to blog about them. For that very reason, they’ve made it on to my blog. Are they running the slickest marketing campaign out there? Their kindness, coupled with a lack of intimidation offers the most persuasive argument to post about their products. I love their jewellery, admire their marketing strategy and have chosen to blog about them. Does that mean I lack “critical faculties” or am I promoting a product the same way that the industry always has? A sample is received, it’s looked at, reviewed and if liked, written about. Just because I blog and am able to express my opinion more freely, does that mean my view is clouded? I would say not yet…but if I feel the fog descending, I’ll try and let you know.

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