Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

There are fashion staples and there are Fashion Week Staples. This post is about the latter. In 10 days time the New York fashion shows start, neatly followed by London Fashion Week and onto Milan and Paris. I've never been one of those women to dress up deliberately for the cameras at the fashion weeks; I do get snapped occasionally if I'm having a particularly photogenic day at the shows, but I dress for myself really, experimenting as I go. Of course, there are people out there who organise their outfits in advance, borrow clothes from designers and make a big and fabulous show of themselves to fan the flames of their online careers and web fashion fame. Hello Anna Dello Russo, Susie Bubble, Kristin Knox, Fran Burns and co, not to mention the hordes of fashion-obsessed students trying to get noticed. I wish I was more inclined to play the fashion game their way, but I'm not. No matter. Fashion-paparazzo not withstanding these are the clothes I want for fashion week.

I've been logging into all the major fashion websites everyday over the last ten days to see what is on their respective New In pages, and to see what makes my heart beat faster. For the high fashionista that I am right down to my marrow, Brownsfashion.com is hands down the best place to shop right now. Their edit of Kane, Balenciaga, J.W Anderson, Erdem, Carven and Alaia is inspired and I love the way they find labels that even I haven't heard of yet. I respect that their buying team, including Ruth Runberg and Francoise Tessier have the nous to order the printed Erdem trousers, say, not just his signature dresses which all the safe department stores buy. Browns have even bought into Dr Martens exceptionally cleverly, and the white-soled tassle loafers are truly edgy fashion shoes (even if, to you, they look like something a nurse at Broadmoor might wear).  Designers trust Browns and looking at their edit of Spring/Summer 2012, I can see why.  Now, I have to choose which one of these is the most worthwhile to have in my wardrobe. What would you choose?

Monday, January 30, 2012


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

One of the funny things about being a fashion journalist/consultant is that sometimes you have to do and say the kind of vacuous things that fashion people in the movies say. Such as "It's all about skirts." Which is a bit weird/sad/makes you wonder what all that eduction was for.

I said "It's all about skirts" a lot last October and November when I was talking to interested parties about what fresh new trends were emerging after the catwalk collections in New York, London, Milan and Pareee. Now, responding by saying "skirts" might sound a bit stupid to you. You might be thinking "women wear skirts all the time. Skirts are an everyday fashion item." That is not an unreasonable thought.

You'd be surprised though. The retailers I work with are constantly bemoaning the poor sales racked up in the skirt category. So I say "Its all about skirts," and they say "but skirts don't sell!"  The blockbuster categories are pretty much always dresses, casual trousers, and tops. Generic yes, but within that percentages go up and down with fashion. Dresses dominated for most of the last five years. Then tops, or rather blouses stormed in and became a key wardrobe item under the noses of most fashion retailers who then all quickly caught up.

The thing that happened with blouses is about to happen with skirts, especially little flared numbers shaped like little ding-dong bells. Over the next few months they are going to seem to become very, very important items; something fresh and different to wear with your blouse or luxed-up T-shirt. A girly change from skinny pastel jeans or cool sports pants. In short the must-have wardrobe update for the warmer months of the year.

A lovely blouse and skirt from Prada SS12

It was something Miuccia Prada said after her fantastic Spring 2012 show that stuck on my mind.  "There are basically no dresses, [in the collection], its all separates combined in a realistic way," she told Vogue.com. Normally her post-show pronouncements are more Confucious like; sage and cryptic. This one was instructive. It signalled the end of her love affair with dresses, and quite poissibly ours too, for the time being.

If the most influential woman in world fashion has done away in dresses in favour of pretty skirts and tops, who are we to argue? Without further ado I'd like to show you the best ones from the catwalk for this Spring. I'll start with my absolute favourite one now, this beautiful Herve Leger bell skirt will last for ever, and its the sort of piece that will give new life to the rest of your wardrobe. The high street are catching up, but slowly.
Herve Leger skirt from Net-a-Porter

Carven SS12

Nina Ricci by Peter Copping SS12

Acne Studio SS12

Jason Wu SS12

Louis Vuitton SS12

Friday, January 27, 2012


Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

The world of fashion is racing ahead at full throttle right now; menswear and couture are just done and February is just around the corner which means we're on countdown to the big four fashion weeks. And that all means there's plenty of fashion news to let you know about...

E.Tautz- one to watch at the menswear shows (image from sharpened lead.com)
News from the British Fashion Council: London is to have its very own mini menswear fashion week. The June dates precede the established shows in Milan and Paris. The change also makes commercial sense because it ties into the calendar for buyers. We're glad to see menswear getting its own moment in the spotlight rather than seeming like an afterthought to womenswear (until now, London Fashion Week had a men's day tagged on the end). It makes perfect sense too; London being the home of Savile Row- the ultimate menswear shopping destination.

Michelle Obama at this week's State of the Union address (image from guardian.co,uk)
At this week's State of the Union address, Michelle Obama continued her rather impressive track record on occasion appropriate dressing with a Barbara Tfank sapphire blue dress. However, one blogger on the French Elle website took the opportunity to write an article which argued that the Obamas have enabled black style to move from 'street wear' to 'chic'. Naturally, a row ensued which quite understandably accused the publication of racist leanings. Apparently, the article, which has now been taken down, was 'misinterpreted'. We would just like to point out that Michelle Obama is not the world's first chic black woman. See below, The Supremes, as a starting point.

image from www.sweetlyrics.com
LVMH announced this week that the Celine AW12 show will be scaled back due to Phoebe Philo's pregnancy- she'll be eight months gone by the time of the show on March 4th. Instead, there will probably be a presentation at the same time which is deemed a more manageable task than the full-blown runway affair. Vanessa Friedman at the FT sees this decision as emblematic of a new attitude to designers; 'the Celine move marks a conscious decision to choose the designer over possible marketing returns from the runway pictures'. In a post-Galliano age, designers might finally be recognised as human beings, as well as talented makers of profit earning collections.
Philo's Mum and Dad were at her SS12 show (image from catwalking.com)
Sienna and Savannah Miller have called it a day on their roles as Creative Directors at twenty8twelve, the label they started six years ago and which is named after Sienna's birthday. It looks like the sisters probably haven't had too much to do with the design process for some time, even though Savannah is highly qualified, having studied at Central St. Martins. Nish Soneji, the Pepe Managing Director which owns the label, told Drapers 'We never intended to be a celebrity brand and we remain confident of our DNA'. Don't expect much change at the London show in a few weeks then.
Sienna and Savannah (www.dirklinder.com)
OUTFIT OF THE WEEK: Miss Piggy in Giles at last night's premiere of the new Muppets film. Giles commented 'She's the biggest diva we've ever worked with'.

Fab! (image from graziadaily.co.uk)

We've noticed some particularly deep and meaningful (ahem, not) comments from the mouths of models this week.. SH*T MODELS SAY

Alice Dellal on Karl Lagerfeld: 'He's so nice. It was nice to be able to talk to him'
Dellal on being in a Chanel shoot: 'It made me feel like a lady'

Helena Christensen on advice she'd give to the models she's just selected: 'I want to say "run as fast as you can'

And the biggest gems from Laura Craik's satirical interview with Kate Moss. On Mango's clothes 'The cut and they’re kind of ... you know ... really well made, and the jeans are ... you know, they’re really well made and the cut, you can wear them a lot ... '

Kate Moss on the Daily Mail's obsession with her: 'I don’t know. ’Cos it’s the Daily Mail? They just get on everyone’s tits, don’t they? I don’t know'

Lady Amanda Harlech (from www.justin-teodoro.blogspot.com)
If you haven't read it already, then can we heartily recommend to you Alex Fury's interview with Lady Amanda Harlech, Creative Consultant at Chanel a.k.a Lagerfeld's right hand woman? It's a brilliant lid lifting on the real role of the 'muse' as Harlech is so often called as well as her quite extraordinary life. Particularly apt for couture week. 

Just out: Natalia Vodianova for Stella McCartney. Similar to last season but with pretty flowers this time.

image from wwd.com
The Haute Couture shows are over for another season, not that it matters much for those us not buying. While we can, and do, admire the artisanship, these are collections which only a few of the super-super rich will think about it in an "I want that now" kind of way.

It's easy to feel left out, especially when most of our realities involve the very possible threat of a double dip recession. We shouldn't feel left out. The sad truth is today's Haute Couture is aimed squarely at markets in China and Russia where there is a boom-time economy and fashion is going through a wealth flaunting bling stage. So that yellow shiny long, thigh split dress will never see the light of day again in Europe. In Russia on the other hand....

It is a fact of life that designers now need to straddle all the potential markets from affordable to outrageously expensive. Karl Lagerfeld did that rather nicely this week; he began on Tuesday with his couture show, the next day he launched his affordable, online only collection- available exclusively at Net-a-Porter. Launch events were hosted in London and New York and judging by the huge queues, Karl's mega straddle paid off- they came flocking. Oh, and Chanel have also produced a nail polish in the same clear sky blue which underpinned the couture.  Chanel know better than any other brand how to tickle the fancy of all their critics and fans from uppity newspaper fashion editors to young bloggers, and this is what makes it the world's best fashion brand.

Image courtesy of @jimshi809
This is how Karl celebrated, with a party at his place in Paris. Azealia Banks was performing, can you spy Karl? he is filming the whole thing with one of his many iPads. Looks like the indoor smoking ban is NOT being respected at Karl's place.

Whaaat did she say? (from derekblasberg.com)

In other couture news, Jean Paul Gaultier has offended Amy Winehouse's family by staging a 'bad taste' tribute to the singer to showcase his collection. Barber shop singers performed Winehouse tracks and models wore beehives and smoked cigarettes. Mitch Winehouse said that the show 'glamorises some of the more upsetting times of her life'. We agree that the donning of mourning veils at the end of the show was probably a step too far, but then JPG has never been one to play safe. Jean Paul was a huge fan of Amys and recently told FashEd he was devastated when she died, so the homage was done with good intentions. Perhaps just a bit too soon for the Winehouse family. What do you think?
JPG's couture tribute to Amy Winehouse (image from catwalking.com)
After an eight year absence, Versace made a return to the couture schedule, albeit in a scaled down presentation. This is another label which is doing the 'straddle', only last week Donatella's second Versace collection for H&M sold out. Watch Suzy Menkes' interview to get the lowdown on everything Versace...

A few special looks to sum up couture...

Elegant New Look references at Christian Dior by Bill Gaytten
Livening up the clothes with mohicans at Chanel (this will be big in China)
 Pastel overdose at Elie Saab 
Beautiful Valentino

One for the Russian crowd at Versace (all images from catwalking.com)

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

I've been getting Tweets from people thanking me for turning them onto Lana Del Ray, and she is a love at first listen kinda artist. That's certainly how I felt when I heard Video Games for the first time at Christopher Kane's Spring 2012 show, and then even more when I watched her on Jools Holland in October.

The buzz and hype around Lana has been non-stop since around the time of a post I did back in October 2011. Oddly enough the post I refer to above actually caused one of her publicists to call a colleague of mine and meanly shout at her down the phone. Now the story of Lana Del Ray and how she changed her image is part of why she is famous, and her story is not complete without some mention of it. Some journalists exercise their intellectual muscle on the not-so-modern construct of the performer as alter-ego; others "smell a rat" and question authenticity.  To my mind the only fact that matters is that Lana is a great artist, and extremely beautiful with it.

As weeks go by, and more images of her appear across media, I'm finding I love her look and styling, when at first it jarred.  But, you know, that's the trick of great styling and great fashion collections; if it looks a bit odd at first, or feels jarring to the eye then give it a few months and it will become fabulous.

This is the case with me.  I love the way Lana looks like a triple cross between a sultry Hollywood starlet, an angsty gangsta teenager, and a fetish nurse. After deciding I loved her style, I had to find out who was styling her, reasoning I probably knew of or knew the person. I was right! Step forward Johnny Blueeyes! A few years ago I wrote about Johnny in Grazia. He was my NBF for a few weeks, we chatted too much on the phone, and he came into the office especially to give me a T-Shirt he had created for the fashion show of his label House of Blueeyes which Kate Moss had spontaneously jumped up from her seat and modelled in...

Johnny Blueeyes work with Lana Del Ray

Johnny is a true creative and total free spirit. He's as un-corporate as it is possible to be, extremely flamboyant, but also kind and warm and all about the underdog and the marginalised in society. Lady Gaga (who he has worked with - as well as Ana Matronic and Beth Ditto) could have borrowed her marketing spin from him. It makes me happy that he is working with Lana Del Ray; I adore that she chose him.  Knowing they work together makes me like her even more as Johnny only works with properly edgy talent. 

I wanted to chat with Johnny for this post, but he is on tour with Lana and cannot be contacted. Need to know facts are that he has one of the best vintage collections in London and that Johnny is also the Creative Director of fashion, art and music collective the House of Blueeyes, where he works alongside his fellow designers creating exquisite one-off pieces by special commission. 

Hopefully I'll be able to share some of his latest projects with you soon. Meanwhile, I leave you with a couple of Johnny Blueeyes youtube's. One of him and Beth Ditto, the other of him talking to a journalist about his work and ethos.

Heeerrrre's Johnny!

In this film Johnny talks about his creative ethos, and dispenses advise on how to get on in the fashion industry. "Make your own world". 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

Do you recognise yourself in this?

Or maybe this one is more #totesamaze?


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

For Spring even distinctly non-sporty clothes are looking very sporty. The main reason for this - apart from this so-called "Olympics Fever" which I'm not buying into - is designers' increasing use of neoprene, the foamed synthetic rubber initially developed by DuPont in 1930, doubled with the general scuba/surf wear aesthetic adopted by high fashion designers. Last week, a Preen scuba styled tropical floral yellow shift dress dived in and swam straight out of stock from My-Wardrobe.com, and its PR Lauren Stevenson told me today that "scuba" and "neoprene" were within their top five searches on the site this week. This came after my great friend Nadia Jones, herself a fashion designer and the sister of Louis Vuitton's Kim Jones, made me jealous with her black neoprene coat from the No:21 collection by Alessandro Dell'Acqua. Then, I recalled seeing neoprene topped riding boots from Hermes in Paris, a pair of neoprene sandals from Jimmy Choo, the Pierre Hardy colleciton is neoprene heavy and the whole of the McQ Spring collection is scuba inspired...

McQ scuba top £150  Net-a-porter.com 

This all made me think of one of my favourite Spring/Summer 2012 shows by Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos for their Peter Pilotto label at London Fashion Week. After the show I was straight backstage to say congratulations and to mug the designers for a quote or two. Neoprene came up then too, in connection with the designers' special collaboration with former stylist turned swimwear designer and now luxury neoprene expert, Lisa Marie Fernandez. But it wasn't until attending the Starworks London press day a couple of months later that I had a chance to speak to Peter and Lisa Marie in depth about the collection, and their collaboration.

Peter Pilotto with his collection (photo: fashion editor at large) 

First, Peter talked me through a holiday he and Christopher had taken in Indonesia that ran the gamut from hiking through jungle for days, and ended up in a fairly swank hotel for the weekend. Upon their return, inspiration was translated into truly exquisite and intricate tropical prints that feel like close-ups of palm leaves and magnified jungle details. At a certain point in the collection the florals of the collection go from artistic to cartoon... "we wanted something added to the collection, a surf or scuba element, that toughened up the silhouette and gave it a point of difference. I remembered meeting Lisa Marie, and we took it from there."
The Lisa Marie Fernandez/Peter Pilotto neoprene pieces at London Fashion Week (photo: Jason Lloyd Evans)   
When I chatted to New Yorker Lisa-Marie Fernandez, a divine creature with a body that hasn't seen a carbohydrate in years, she was showing her own swimwear collection and as well as sharing her experiences of working on the Peter Pilotto project. First up though, was a discussion on neoprene, a fabric traditionally used in wetsuits, bottle coolers, laptop bags and treasured for its waterproof, creaseproof and protective qualities. Fernandez explained she is working with a new kind of more luxurious fashion-friendly neoprene, and has been teaching the factory workers who normally make wetsuits for surf brands, how to create her swimwear. "It is a huuuuge learning curve for them,"she said half smiling and half grimacing. The designer is definitely onto something, and I think we will seeing a lot more of her in the coming months. None of the individual pieces were available to be photographed, due to them being on an exclusive to one of the Vogues. 

The Pilotto/Fernandez collaboration is due to arrive at Matches any day now.. I for one can't wait for the "Farrah" one of Lisa Marie's signature swimsuits in a Pilotto print. 

A Lisa Marie Fernandez neoprene bikini (photo: fashion editor at large) 

The Farrah swimsuit £315 by Lisa Marie Fernandez on net-a-porter (more stock on its way)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

It's a miserable, showery January day here in London. I'm about to face the rain to get home. Oh! How I wish a Chanel jet plane were waiting to whisk me away. Today, lucky fashion editors not only got to be in Paris but were also admitted aboard Karl Lagerfeld's couture flight of fancy; the Grand Palais had been transformed into a very chic aeroplane. It was a leap of the imagination from the sumptuous Maharajah banquet setting of the Pre-Fall collection back in December, to futuristic jet set which only King Karl could have executed. Luckily, some of the attendees were kind enough to share the setting and dresses via Twitter. Here are some of our favourite shots....

The model's exit, from @grazia_live

Before the show, from @telefashion

The Finale from @10and10men
Saskia de Brauw by @grazia_live
Poppy Delevingne's pic of the catwalk
The first look, from @grazia_live

Sam McKnight's backstage shot of Anja Rubik

 Karl walks the aisle, from @jessc_m
Cameron Diaz enjoys the show from @jessc_m

From @Grazia_Live

Monday, January 23, 2012


Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

What makes a good brand? For me, it is knowing what I am buying into. Often, that means I feel like this brand knows me and wants to dress a girl like me. But it also means that I want to be their girl. It's a two way thing.

In the 70s and 80s, a great swathe of young women wanted to be the Laura Ashley Girl. She was pretty, feminine and spent her days romping through fields with ruddy farm lads. Well, that was the fantasy. My Mum was a Laura Ashley girl; she would buy the fabrics and make dresses herself, mixing and matching the ditsy and overblown florals which everyone recognised a mile off. But she was no country bumpkin; she worked in an office in a big city so Laura Ashley was a 'dreamy escape'. In the same way that fashion now emulates the Mod styles of the 60s every other season, Laura Ashley revived the Edwardian styles, 60 or so years after they had first been popular. The fashion dream built by Laura Ashley coincided with Fleetwood Mac and their seminal Rumours album and a general love of all things sweet, laid back and romantic.
This could be from the 1910s, but it's 1980, by Jane Ashley
With this strong history in mind, it's odd to think that Laura Ashley isn't really on the fashion radar any more, it's where Middle England goes for its curtains. However, The Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey is currently exploring the brand's heyday with a display of Jane Ashley's (eldest daughter of Laura and Bernard Ashley) photographs as part of the museum's Catwalk to Cover exhibition. The small display also coincides with Uniqlo's collaboration with Laura Ashley on a collection of t-shirts printed with designs from the brand's rich archive.
Uniqlo x Laura Ashley tees. Prices start at £8.50, from 6th Feb
Uniqlo have taken prints from the Laura Ashley archive and revived them on tees

All Jane's pictures featured her friends and family, and personified the brand- no mean feat
Jane's photography is beautiful; all soft, overexposed greys. The titles are charming- 'Lucy and Tim in Wales' or 'Dorothy and Robina'. She was enlisted by her parents to experiment with creating photos which they could use in their shops. The results were iconic images which became just as significant, in terms of creating a brand, as the clothes and fabrics sold in the shops. They create a link between what you see on the hanger, on the roll and what you can make of it, what it will do for you. These are not images posed by models who pretend to represent what it means to be a Laura Ashley girl either. They are the Ashleys' friends and family so they really are living the life which inspired everything the store stood for. I went to a reception which was attended by  some of those involved in the photos- I loved that they were chatting away in Welsh, laughing and recalling those times. They really lived that life. It made me want to be a Laura Ashley girl.
Pretty florals on a sweet tee are where it's at for Spring, as showcased at Erdem (image from catwalking.com)
This is Lucy and Tim in Wales, by Jane Ashley

For those of us that are curious, this is the right time to rediscover what Laura Ashley is really all
 about.  The exhibition is a good starter. Uniqlo's t-shirts show the prints off in a great, modern 
way. It's a starting point which could see the prints exploited as amazingly as Liberty's archive
 is. They should be resurrected. SS12 couldn't be a more perfect moment with tees and florals
 being two of the season's most pervasive trends.As usual with Uniqlo's tees, a percentage of
 the sales is going to charity (the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) which
 is a huge bonus. I'll be wearing mine with a broderie anglaise skirt for a country 
walk this Summer... Now I just need to learn Welsh. 

The tees will be available at Uniqlo from 6th February

All images, apart from tees, are by Jane Ashley and by kind courtesy of the family archives.