Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

We're used to glossy magazine profiles being overly gushing, heaping praise upon their subjects. Usually, that's fine. But we all knew it wasn't OK for US Vogue to print an interview with the First Lady of Syria, Asma Al-Assad, which was entitled "A Rose in the Desert". And so it went on, painting  an image of a glamorous, modern woman which was totally at odds with the atrocities which were being committed in the name of her husband's government. The piece was published in the March 2011 issue, just as the Arab Spring was erupting and the full force of Assad's regime became apparent. You can see why Vogue sent their star writer and former editor of French Vogue, Joan Juliet Buck on the assignment- at the time, there was little well-publicised evidence of the cruelty the Syrian president was willing to subject on his people. What was bafflingly, obviously wrong was for them to go ahead and print the piece given what Buck experienced while she was in Syria (according to her explanation) as well as the events which unfolded across the Arab world in the intervening months.

The "glamorous" Assads- image from thedailybeast.com
Now, Buck has been released from her contract at US Vogue (which took the original piece off its website) and seems to have been made the scapegoat for the scandal which has dogged the title. Now, she has decided to write the piece she should have written in the first place by way of explanation. We all love fashion, culture and reading about people who are aspirational but before all that we have basic values which we hope the publications we read shares and uphold. Let's hope US Vogue has learnt its lesson.

Joan Juliet Buck- the former Editor of French Vogue who wrote the Asma Al-Assad profile (image from lapin-amore.blogspot.com)
Here's the first page of Buck's explanation, you can read the whole article here on The Daily Beast:

"Late in the afternoon of Dec. 1, 2010, I got a call from a features editor atVogue. She asked if I wanted to go to Syria to interview the first lady, Asma al-Assad.

“Absolutely not,” I said. “I don’t want to meet the Assads, and they don’t want to meet a Jew.”

The editor explained that the first lady was young, good-looking, and had never given an interview. Vogue had been trying to get to her for two years. Now she’d hired a PR firm, and they must have pushed her to agree.

“Send a political journalist,” I said.

“We don’t want any politics, none at all,” said the editor, “and she only wants to talk about culture, antiquities, and museums. You like museums. You like culture. She wants to talk to you. You’d leave in a week.”

A week: clearly my name was last on a list of writers that the first lady had rejected because they knew nothing about Mesopotamia. I didn’t consider the possibility that the other writers had rejected the first lady.

“Let me think about it,” I said. I had written four cover stories that year, three about young actresses and one about a supermodel who had just become a mother. This assignment was more exciting, and when else would I get to see the ruins of Palmyra?

I looked up Asma al-Assad. Born Asma Akhras in London in 1975 to a Syrian cardiologist, Fawaz Akhras, and his diplomat wife, Sahar Otri. Straightforward trajectory. School: Queen’s College. University: King’s College. Husband: president of Syria.

Syria. The name itself sounded sinister, like syringe, or hiss. My notions about the country were formed by the British Museum: the head of Gudea, king of Lagash, treasures from Ur, Mesopotamia, Sumer, Assyria, and Babylon—all of which had occupied what is now Syria. Both Aleppo and Damascus had been continuously inhabited for more than five millennia. This was where civilization was born, 6,000 years ago.

I knew the country’s more recent past was grim, violent, and secretive. The dictator Hafez al-Assad took power in 1970 and, until his death in 2000, ran the country as cruelly and ruthlessly as his idol Stalin. He was an Alawite; he dealt with a Sunni Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Hama in 1982 by killing 20,000 of its men, women, and children.

Bashar al-Assad looked meek. He’d been studying ophthalmology in London in 1994 when his older brother, the heir to the presidency, died in a car accident. Bashar was brought home, put into a series of military uniforms, and groomed for power. At Hafez’s death, a referendum asked whether the 34-year-old Bashar should become president. There was no other option. He “won.” At first he was perceived as a reformer, but his only reforms were to do with banking.

Under Bashar al-Assad, Syria was still oppressed, but the silence and fear were such that little of the oppression showed, apart from vast numbers of secret police, called Mukhabarat.

Syria and Hizbullah were the suspects in the 2005 car-bomb murder of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Damascus was home base for Hizbullah and Hamas; Syria was close to Iran. But these alliances also made Syria a viable interlocutor for the West, even a potential conduit to peace in the Middle East. In December 2010, Obama had just named a new ambassador, the first since George W. Bush had broken off diplomatic relations in 2005.

In 2010 Syria’s status oscillated between untrustworthy rogue state and new cool place. A long 2008 piece on Damascus in the British Condé Nast Travellerdescribed its increasing hipness. It was the Soviet Union with hummus and water pipes. In the worldview of fashion magazines, Syria was a forbidden kingdom, full of silks, essences, palaces, and ruins, run by a modern president and an attractive, young first lady. Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry had visited, as well as Sting, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Francis Coppola.

It was also a Pandora’s box.

Syria was a dictatorship, which was the default mode throughout the region. Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a veteran of 30 years in the CIA, says: “Until a year ago, every Arab state was a police state—some cruel, some not so cruel.”... READ MORE HERE

Monday, July 30, 2012


Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

Wasn't the Olympics opening ceremony on Friday night brilliant? We were madly tweeting throughout the whole extravaganza and were so happy to see that the evening's costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb had commissioned NEWGEN designers Nasir Mazhar, Michael Van Der Ham and Christopher Shannon to create costumes for 350 dancers in the section which celebrated British music and culture- their studios are a stone's throw away from the Olympic park so it was a fitting nod to East London talent. 
Dancers at the Olympic Opening Ceremony in costumes by young Lodnon designers (image from vogue.co.uk)

A sketch of one of the dresses Michael Van Der Ham created
for the opening ceremony (image from vogue.co.uk)
The most diverse costumes of the night came from the athletes as they processed, nation by nation, into the Olympic stadium in a pageant which took almost two hours to unfold. There were some absolute howlers (hello Germany and Sweden) while most of the African nations looked completely magnificent. Our beady eyes noticed that a number of countries were wearing outfits not so very dissimilar to catwalk looks from recent seasons, so we've had some fun this morning...


The Cook Islands' batik prints, floral wreaths and leis were so cheerful but also reminded of a certain Mr Saunders' (who dressed Emeli Sandé for her rendition of Abide with Me) Spring/ Summer collection.

Jonathan Saunders SS12 (image from catwalking.com)


The best outfits were those in the brightest colours and Cuba certainly delivered with their lemon blazers. As it happens, yellow has been a dominating hue in the latest Resort collections, with Valentino doing a particularly lovely version. 

Valentino Resort '13 (image from style.com)


The team from Guyana went for top-to-toe tailoring in their country colours. The whole look is coincidentally akin to Marc Jacobs Resort  collection.

Marc Jacobs Resort '13 (image from style.com)


Ombré is such a massive trend right now that it's even spread to the remote African region of Lesotho, a favourite destination of Prince Harry's. The whole thing began on the Louis Vuitton SS12 catwalk. 

Louis Vuitton SS12 (image from catwalking.com)


The procession of Mexican athletes was a riot of eye popping colours and patterns. We know that Carven's Guillaume Henry took a "round the world" approach to his SS12 collection and this zig zag print is very Mexican. 

Carven SS12 (image from catwalking.com)

There's a growing trend for plastering the name of your brand across your chest- see Kenzo and ACNE Resort. Estonia decided to do the same of Friday night.

Kenzo Resort '13 (image from style.com)


Poland's female athletes went for a graphic floral pencil skirt to pep up their all white outfits. There's a not dissimilar piece in Preen's Resort offering.

Preen Resort '13 (image from style.com)

Danny Boyle took us through a whole catalogue of very British things in his opening ceremony, from Mr Bean to Queen. He obviously couldn't find anywhere to slot in the national hero that is Jimmy Saville so Next, who were enlisted to design Team GB's outfits for the night, took it upon themselves to reference him in the tracksuits they made. We also noted the gold underarm patches which perhaps alluded to our gold medal ambitions, sweating gold already?
Team GB (image from Team GB's Facebook page)

Jimmy Saville works the high shine shell suit (image from digitalbungalow.co.uk)
Unless otherwise stated, all images of athletes are from USA Today and Zimbio

Friday, July 27, 2012


Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

As I write this, Olympic fever is catching fast. It's difficult to recall that there are other things happening in the world besides a two-week long sports day. But there are, lots of them very serious and important but also happenings from the wonderful world of fashion. So before you go off to dress head to toe in gold and wave union jack flags while drinking Pimms all night (or is that just me?), here's the latest...

Happy Birthday to Christopher Kane, who celebrated his 30th yesterday!

Mr Kane in 2007 when he was 24, cute! (from list.co.uk)
A look I love from Christopher Kane Resort '13 (from style.com)
You don't get much more British than Downton Abbey, the period drama which has been a huge hit over its last two series both here and in the US. So much so in fact, that Ralph Lauren's AW12 show was entirely inspired by the 1920s aristo fashion of the show and it was the talk of US press and buyers we met in Paris. Let's face it though, cutting edge fashion endorsements don't come more major than LOVE magazine which is a kind of seasonal indicator of what's really key. The latest issue- entitled 'A Costume Drama'- stars Lady Mary, Lady Sybil and Lady Edith in a high fashion meets decaying Edwardian shoot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott.  The girls are styled by LOVE Editor-at-Large Katie Grand who also works with Marc Jacobs and Giles Deacon among others- remember Giles' burnt out medieval AW12 show? Or Marc's floppy hats, 18th century coats and steam engine at Vuitton? We sense an obsession! The new issue, the with editorial input from Alex Fury and Lulu Kennedy, is out on Monday. And I can't wait so much that I tried to buy one yesterday.

Lady Mary a.k.a Michelle Dockery bursts out of her corset in the name
 of fashion, what would Matthew say? 
Laura Carmichael plays Lady Edith who never usually gets the chance to strip
off on TV, given that she's the super straitlaced sister
We've highlighted before the frankly awful practise of copying in the fashion industry- and we don't mean 'inspired' but full-on trying-to-be-identical. Now Mother/ Daughter copycat duo Linda and Courtney Allen from New York have been ordered to pay a mahoosive $44 million in damages to Coach after they set up two websites selling counterfeit versions of bags from the much sought after American label. The judge Coleen MacMahon told the court that "This award may be crippling, but it is plainly needed to prevent Allen from going back once again into the business of counterfeiting.". It was not the first time Linda Allen had been prosecuted- in 2007, she was sued by Chanel over 'the same exact illegal conduct'. Copycats, you have been warned!

London has so many great schemes to support designers at every stage on the road to establishing viable businesses. Two of these were in the spotlight this week. First of all, Fashion Forward which is a kind of follow on from NEWGEN announced that eBay would become its new sponsor. This means that Fashion Forward recipients, Mary Katrantzou, Louise Gray, Henry Holland and James Long will all receive grants and advice to help with their SS13 shows and beyond. Not only is this great news for the designers but it's also an interesting move for the auction site which is a favourite of fashion lovers looking for bargains. eBay has become an even more credible high fashion destination of late as celebrities chose it to auction their clothes for charity- Carey Mulligan sold her Prada dress from the Met ball and Princess Beatrice got £80,000 for Children in Crisis and UNICEF by flogging her infamous Royal Wedding hat. 

Louise Gray AW12- her next collection will be sponsored
 by eBay (image from catwalking.com)
The winners of the latest prizes from Vauxhall Fashion Scout, which is a first rung on the ladder for designers, were also announced this week. The Merit Award goes to Heohwan Simulation while the Ones to Watch winners are Hellen van Rees, Ming Pin Tien and Hana Cha. The Merit Award is worth £25,00 over 3 seasons and all the winners get unprecedented exposure at both London and Paris fashion weeks. Judging by this cohort of prizewinners, it's quite clear that minimalism, architecture and menswear are still big influences on emerging designers.






If you need something else to get excited about aside from sport then perhaps we can interest you in the forthcoming release of Carine Roitfeld's CR Fashion Book on September 13th. A new website emerged this week- crfashionbook- where readers can pre-order. If the mere thought of a new publication from the former Editor of Vogue Paris weren't enough then there is a taster image to tantalise further. This involves Juliet Ingleby strolling virtually naked through a cemetery save for a swathe of purple fabric and flanked by three leather clad, veiled fellow models. The scene is captured by Sebastian Faena and is prone to being mistaken for a shot from a war and death themed porn film.
A taster image from Carine Roitfeld's new book (image from fashionologie.com)
Two of the most enigmatic (sort of) figures in fashion got together this week when Karl Lagerfeld shot Victoria Beckham for a forthcoming front cover of French Vogue. Mrs B kept her Twitter followers updated on the backstage details via several twitpics, including one of her in a bath robe sitting on the famous staircase from which  Mademoiselle would observe her shows. And if you're a Chanel fan with a predisposition to jealousy, then don't even look at the photo of rows of Chanel gowns and jewels.

Backstage at the Lagerfeld/ Beckham shoot- looks like Chanel galore!
King Karl hotfooted it from his VB shoot to London to give us all a pre-Olympic fashion treat. He was here to open his Selfridges pop-up which will be selling his latest eponymous which is full of reference to the the Games, including plenty of gold, silver and bronze as well as medal motif. Lagerfeld turned up fashionably late for the event- two hours in fact. Nevertheless, this did little to dampen the excitement of many a tweeter who was feverishly awaiting his arrival. Daphne Guinness, Tallulah Harlech and Edie Campbell were among those on hand to welcome the designer when he eventually showed up at the reception. The Guardian's Jess Cartner-Morley wrote a fascinating piece about the might of the King Karl show which is a great read.
Karl and Daphne at Selfridges on Tuesday evening (image from dailymail.co.uk)
As promised in last week's news round-up, we're on celeb beach fashion watch. here are our top 3 from this week:

Gisele 'confirmed' her pregnancy via allowing herself to be photographed with a slightly protruding stomach on the beach. Good job about the bump really which deflects from the wet patch/ print on her crotch which the tabloids might otherwise have had a field day over...

Image from dailymail.co.uk

I'm going to be glued to The Telegraph's already brilliant Olympic fashion live feed. They've unearthed this gem which shows Italian swimmer Federica Pellegrini in a loud, very Italian, Versace/ Pucci-esque swimming costume. 
Image from telegraph.co.uk
Finally, Lady Gaga has eschewed the concept of swimwear/ underwear and posted a picture of herself apparently naked on Twitter. The fact she's in an armchair in a darkened probably disqualifies her from  any 'Best Beach or Summer Look' competitions.

Finally, Sample Sale alert! Print the pic below and you'll get £5 off.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


A note from Fashion Junior: I've had my eye on Lucy Rose for a while now, ever since my friend Rose introduced me to her gentle tunes way back last year. Lucy Rose's star has been on the rise ever since so we asked Rose to go and find out about the girl who even has her own brand of tea and report back for FEAL.

Guest post by Rose Stokes

Every so often an artist emerges that creates a palpable buzz in the music world, sending shivers down the spines of music aficionados and racking up millions of views on Youtube; an artist brimming with talent who manages to win the hearts of even the most critical of critics. New-age acoustic folk songstress Lucy Rose is one such artist. Her new single ‘Lines’ is currently dominating the radio waves and she counts Zane Lowe, Fearne Cotton and Lauren Laverne amongst her loyal fans. With one of the most unique and hauntingly beautiful voices on the scene right now, and more than her fair share of the ‘what makes a good song’ know-how, Lucy has been penning tracks since her tender teens when she began her career, recording songs in her bedroom in Rowington, Warwickshire and uploading them to Myspace. Since then, she has based herself in London where she has spent the last four years relentlessly playing gigs, busking, touring and singing vocals for London based band Bombay Bicycle Club, gradually amassing an arsenal of dedicated followers.

So who is Lucy Rose? In order to find out, I caught up with her at her recent show at the Portland Arms in Cambridge and had a quick chat with her before she went on stage. Sitting in the pub adjacent to the venue, Lucy sits scribbling fiercely into a notebook wearing a massive pair of headphones; seemingly totally disconnected from the world around her. Fans waiting for the show exchange disbelieving glances and excited whispers of ‘is that really her?’ fill the room. One fan walks tentatively over to her, taps her on the shoulder and asks for an autograph. ‘Of course!’ she says, smiling softly before handing the CD back to the starstruck fan who looks like she might faint. Lucy appears surprised at the ambush. This moment crystallises something which becomes increasingly obvious during our chat; in spite of her recent successes, Lucy remains incredibly grounded, humble and gracious, possessing a charm with which she is able to draw her audience, no matter the size, into a state of awe. 

This understated style and endearing modesty also finds itself mirrored in her fashion sense. During our conversation I ask Lucy about her tastes when it comes to high street shops and fashion icons. True to self, her responses were unpretentious and honest. She named M&S as her favourite shop, owing to their ‘quality knit wear’ and admitted that although she loves clothes, she finds shopping stressful and therefore wears her jeans until they’re falling to pieces, and borrows or acquires clothes as hand-me-downs. And where does she look for for inspiration, ‘my style guru?’ she asks. ‘My Mum,’ and I believe her. We talk about the things she couldn’t live without. Her beloved tea scores pretty high on this list and indeed is one of her best known passions. Contrary to her contemporaries who cash in by selling overpriced merchandise at their gigs, Lucy sells reasonably priced tins of her own blend ‘Builder’s Grey’ tea; a unique combination of English Breakfast and Earl Grey. Alongside this, she sells little pots of ginger jam and t-shirts which she received as a Christmas present from her incredibly supportive family. As for places, she says she is never happier than when she is at home in Rowington; the location which was used to film the video for her single ‘Scar’ as well where she recorded her forthcoming album ‘Like I used to..’ which is set for release in September. ‘I feel really happy there,’ she says, ‘and now my music is rooted there, I feel more connected to it than ever before’.

Happiest, she says, when she is creating something, you can tell that though she enjoys her success, it is not the reason why she does what she does. It is her fierce love of music and unrelenting passion for songwriting and performing which gives her most pleasure; traits reminiscent of the lady she names as her greatest musical inspiration: Joni Mitchell. ‘She persisted with something,’ Lucy says, ‘her music was 100% her’. Like Mitchell, Lucy lays herself bare in her music, combining heartfelt and sincere lyrics with her goosebump-inducing-vocals; her songs are enough to move even the stoniest of hearts.

Finally, I ask her what her favourite track of all time is. ‘Easy Lover by Phil Collins,’ she declares, attributing her affection for the song to all the childhood memories which she attaches to it. If you hadn’t been convinced before, then surely this is evidence enough of her disinterest in the creation of any sort of fake ‘cool persona’ contrived to attract fans. Not that she needs to; her talent and understated charisma speak for themselves. This is an artist whose love for what she does is infectious, spilling from the stage into the audience, winning her hundreds of thousands of enamoured fans who travel miles to catch her in action.

And with that, our chat concludes, leaving Lucy to rush off into the ladies toilets to do her make-up before the gig kicks off.

Lucy’s single ‘Lines’ is out now and her forthcoming album ‘Like I used to...’ is currently available to pre-order on iTunes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

What with the tastes of China and Russia's newly minted fashion lovers dictating a lot of what international designers create for their runway collections, fashion is having a funny time of it at the moment. It certainly seems the majority of catwalk fashion is not talking to European women as much as it used to. In the U.K, quite possibly because of this disconnect, half the young female population has lost touch with any form of style currency whatsoever, opting in favour of their own take on "fashion", namely fake tan, fake tits, fake nails and bandage dresses.  They are clearly watching way too much TOWIE/Geordie Shores and/or porn.

Real fashionistas, and I count myself one despite the fact I fit precisely six TopShop and ASOS maternity items in my wardrobe at present, are always looking for where fashion is going, judged from where it has been. And we hunt it down at the junction where luxury meets innovation, namely on the the runway where the cleverest fashion designers do their most experimental and boundary breaking work. Nine times out of ten this sweet spot is where the popular fashion trends 18 months hence will germinate, even if they are harder to find amongst all the new money bling on the runway.

I was reminded of this sweet spot yesterday when Alexander McQueen sent me an email heralding the release of their latest short fashion film created by fashion photographer David Sims in tandem with the brands' gorgeous advertising campaign for Autumn/Fall Winter 2012. Once I had gotten over the psychedelia, I thought "yeah, whatever" for a couple of minutes, until I flicked back to the press release and realised the film was not just some poncy bit of stuff, but in fact created to promote the sci-fi visors worn by all the models at Sarah Burton's utterly divine Autumn/Winter catwalk show. The visors cost £270 and are the very first - and currently only - item available in the section of the McQueen website entitled "Shop The Show".

Alexander McQueen Autumn/Fall Winter 2012 by Sarah Burton (photos: catwalking.com)

I have to say, I was pretty surprised. Looking at the romantic puffballs of exquisite demi-couture fluff and frou that made up the McQueen catwalk clothing for AW12 - both at the time of the show and while perusing the photos and samples afterwards - it would never have occurred to me the most commercialise-able product being shown was the sci-fi visors. I thought sci-fi visors = catwalk prop that works great in pictures. And yes, they were a great catwalk prop, reducing the fantastically sugary overload with a kick of opaque-eyed fierceness, but hey ho if McQueen are boldly giving us the opportunity to go all Star Trek with our Autumn/Fall look.

Dr Spock always starting a trend... (images: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Visor) 

Smart of them really, because the super-modern oddness of the futuristic/sci-fi look is about the most exciting new trend out there right now. Two of my personal favourite for-me-to-wear Autumn/Fall collections were Alexander Wang and Balenciaga, both resolutely futuristic looking in their approach. To me this is what modern fashion should looks like. And god knows, the future really is here. We speak into "walkie-talkies" and use computers for everything, so why not wear the clothes to go with? Maybe in seasons to come McQueen visors will have inside-the-lens screens so we can beam TV shows, films or music videos onto them... Sarah, get your team on it!

Alexander Wang Autumn/Fall 2012 (photo: catwalking.com)

Balenciaga Autumn/Fall 2012 (photo: catwalking.com)

Now for the David Sims film... BBC news would probably give this a health warning, but at FEAL this is almost as good as a double voddy

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

Rare is the festival where there is a corner so civilised that it is worthy to play host to the treasured childhood dolls of fashion's great and good. Port Eliot house is nestled at the bottom of the valley where the festival takes place and is open throughout to offer festival goers an antedote to tent and field based activities.  Thus, its Dining Room was the ideal setting for an auspicious gathering of Barbies, Sindys, Kens and traditional dolls owned and much loved by the likes of Viktor&Rolf, Simone Rocha and Lady Amanda Harlech. There are few with the cachet to persuade designers and fashion luminaries to allow their treasured possessions to go on a little trip to the country but luckily Sarah Mower, who came up with the whole idea and is the festival's fashion curator, and LOVE magazine editor Alex Fury were on hand to prise the dolls from their owners' hands for a few days of tea partying. 

It seems almost obvious that a fashion designer might begin their career making clothes for dolls. After all, our childhood toys are what we use to act out our fantasies of adulthood, giving them the lives and looks which we on some level aspire to- I remember that I would ensure all my dolls had nicely plaited hair and pretty party dresses before lining them up in neat rows in my bed to be taught by me in the role of teacher or to go on imaginary trips to the zoo (my brother's farmyard animal collection) and model in fashion shows. For an aspiring designer, the doll is an ideal canvas to begin on- take Erdem Moralioglu who was "violently jealous" of his twin Sara's Skipper Barbie, which had "a flatter chest and bigger shoulders" than the Barbie Bride Sara previously had. Erdem kidnapped Skipper Barbie whilst his sister was at Brownies and "got hold of this cheap-y blue polyester , and fashioned a circle skirt from it and put it over her head", he then got his Mum to help him make a strapless bustier- "very Spring/Summer". Whether that has anything to do with the fact that he's now a very successful fashion designer is anyone's guess.
The" cheap polyester" dress which Erdem made when he was five, and a dress
 from his AW12 collection in Barbie size.  

Many of the stories which Sarah, Alex and their team of curators (Jess Dubeck and Ben Evans) unearthed as they collected designers' dolls were far more extraordinary than them simply being childhood toys. In fact, this tea party was such an insight that I reckon the V&A would be mad not to hound Sarah and Alex until they agreed to host the same tea party, or even an expanded version, as an exhibition in the capital so that even more people could realise that the power of the doll is far more than a mere plaything. These are some of my favourite stories....


The line-up of Chris Kane Barbies is a mini retrospective of his work to date. That's because a member of Chris's team recreates a look from each season in Barbie form as a record of the collection. They do it rather speedily too because Resort '13 already has its own outfit (far left). 


It was Alber Elbaz's story which sparked Sarah's idea to host a Fashion Doll's Tea party. And it doesn't even involve dolls but a distinct lack thereof. Elbaz's family were too poor to afford toys for him and so he took the ingenious approach of dressing the figures on the family's chess board. Elbaz describes how he would "use my Father's silver cigarette paper, and use flowers and sequins, and stick hair on their heads with a piece of chewing gum". Decades later, Elbaz has an endless supply of real-life dolls in the form of Lanvin customers and models but has also created the Miss Lanvin dolls which perhaps go some way to making up for his doll-free childhood. The chess set which appeared at the tea party is one he recreated especially for Port Eliot. The process made Elbaz reflect on his chess piece dressing and he remarks in the tea party notes "It made me think: maybe the best creativity comes out of lacking resources". I think it also shows that when something is innate- like his desire to dress and design- there will always be a way around it.


Jason Wu's doll connection is probably the strongest of them all and he probably wouldn't be where he is today if it weren't for his love of doll dressing. He describes how "at the age of sixteen, while at boarding school in Connecticut, I decided to call the president of Integrity toys offering them my sketches, astonishingly they offered me a job designing for their fashion dolls. A year later, I was named Creative Director, then partner. Both positions I still hold today and am extremely proud of". In fact, Wu has financed his label through the money he makes designing for Integrity, meaning that without dolly fashion, he may not be doing real lady fashion now. 


A doll version of a piece from Lee McQueen's final, posthumous collection
The dolls sent by McQueen's Sarah Burton do not have so much of a childhood resonance but represent a key stage in house's design process which began with the Plato's Atlantis collection of SS10. Each season, McQueen's famously tailored and complex shapes are engineered in doll form before being scaled up when perfect to human size. This reminded of the way that Vionnet would do all her groundwork on mini mannequins. It's not a practise unique to Burton and her team, but the dolls looked like works of art in their own right, especially as the paper dresses they have were printed with the patterns which would eventually make up the final dress. 

Lulu Kennedy's rabbits, Paul and Amanda, would be entertained by Lulu and her little brother dressed as pirates or gypsies for hours on end.

Giles Deacon sent dolls he made, dressed in miniature versions of dresses from his AW12 collection...

Simone Rocha's doll attends the tea party, complete with scars from being thrown down banisters by her loving owner.

Tallulah Harlech's Barbie with her Mother Lady Amanda's dolls
Sarah Mower at one of the first doll's parties she curated 
With such a prestigious group of dollies in attendance, this had to be a truly spectacular party. So set designer Michael Howells, who also curated the flower show at the festival and has decorated the house's chandeliers with feathers and dried flowers, scattered sweeties amid sets of doll's china to create the perfect backdrop for proceedings. The pièce de résistance was the doll's house which Sarah Mower spotted in the window of the Trinity Hospice charity shop in Kensington.

Sarah sent us this photo of (left to right) Hannah Lambert (her assistant),
Jingle-Jangle James, Meggie and designer Louise Gray beside the main table at the tea party
And Sarah couldn't get away with not inviting her very own doll. She sits, dressed in a paisley dress and knitted knickers made by Sarah's fashion loving grandmother, Maisie- the doll is named after her.  Maisie sits centre stage with Tammy Kane's (sister and business partner of Christopher) doll who is called Toni Bonnie Bella- Tammy has recently had a baby called Bonnie, perhaps named after the doll?