Thursday, February 28, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

Dressing up at the shows. Image by Tommy Ton, via
Suzy Menkes is a fashion industry doyenne who has been attending shows and commenting astutely on fashion for decades. Her latest controversial writ came as a precursor to this fashion month and has set the tone for the season.  Just in case you haven't heard about it, it is called The Circus of Fashion and bemoans the fact that show venues are now populated by "peacocks", by which Menkes means all the boys and girls who dress up to the nines in bright, clashing outfits, often comprised of pieces loaned or gifted by designers.

The piece reads as a kind of eulogy to the past; a distant memory of a time when shows were attended by only a small number of editors (she calls this black-clad gang "crows") and nobody else really registered that they were going on, until the designs on the catwalk appeared in magazines and shops several months later. Those days are gone and it's hard, nay impossible, to see how fashion could ever retreat into such a crysallis again. While Menkes acknowledges the inevitability of the situation and recognises some of its merits. She says, "While fashion pros tend to have personal agendas related to their work, bloggers start a critical conversation that can spread virally." This is somewhat ironic given the viral responses which her piece has sparked.

So many bloggers have come out in their own defence of Menkes' piece. I've read so many eloquent and thought provoking responses that I thought FEAL's small contribution to the conversation could be to gather together some of the opinions which have been expressed since The Circus of Fashion was published. All we would add is that it is difficult and dangerous to plonk editors and bloggers in two completely different boxes. There's plenty of crossover. There are many editors who accept gifts and trips and who dress up for cameras. Menkes' article is accompanied by photos of French editors Virginie Mouzat and Emmanuelle Alt cast in the role of arbiters of the old school chic, but aren't they some of the most photographed street style subjects? And I know plenty of bloggers who attend fashion weeks and hardly have their picture taken or dress up too much for the occasion.

Anyway read on to get the lowdown on how bloggers really feel about being labelled "peacocks"....

N.B These are only excerpts, follow the links to read their whole posts.

Man Repeller- Blog Is a Dirty Word

Fashion week has become something of a circus. With a myriad of photographers moonlighting as paparazzi, waiting ambitiously to catch the familiar faces of the plethora of websites that have allegedly made them famous, it seems street style stars are our generation’s newest contribution to the phenomenon of reality star culture. The photos are inspiring, the clothes are magnificent and the conversation street style has incited is vital for the fashion dialogue–but this is only when authenticity bleeds through. In the current climate, I can understand why it might seem like “getting the shot” is less about the credibility factor and more about how far along the spectrum of crazy a subject can sway. But then again, style is also a function of personality. If the girl has got the proverbial balls to strap live vertebrae to her head and loves how she looks, well, good for her.

She is the rare fashion partisan who has subsisted long enough to observe and shrewdly, unapologetically comment on the evolution of fashion week and that which occurs outside the velvet ropes. Noting the previous formula as one that worked, how could she possibly accept the democratization of something so historically exclusive with overwhelming positivity? This is my generation, my vocation, my moment that she is reprimanding, and I, too, have a sincere problem with the notion that front row squatting may be based less on excellence in trade and more on social following density.

But what upset me most about the piece wasn’t even really her fault–it is the cynicism and skepticism that has made a home for itself in the field of blogging.

Last week, because of a comment on my favorite beauty product (which I have been purchasing–not being gifted–every two months for the last three years,) and the response to it, (“we get it, you’re sponsored by X,”), I found myself wondering if we, the bloggers, have entered an era where we can’t like anything without having our motives questioned.

Yes, I concluded. Unfortunately we have.

It has always been the subjectivity of fashion blogging that resonates so well. The raw portrayal of an unedited opinion will likely always command ample attention but there are only really a handful of bloggers who have been able to canon true influence and respect. It is at the point where readers can smell the sponsorship that integrity gets lost. And in this day and age, it seems that sprouting blogs are founded on principles of self-aggrandizement.

StyleBubble- The Sad Clown

A well-known PR recently said to me, “Oh we don’t even think of you as a blogger. You’re an online editor in chief.” Medine hit it in one when she titled her post “Blog is a dirty word.” When blogging is supposedly a full-time legitimate profession as my peers like Medine, Bryan Boy and Rumi Neely have proved, for me, it has never felt enough to say that it’s all that I do. Because the b word has been tarnished - asking us how much money do we make, suspicions that every blog post is sponsored, outfits that have been littered with gifts, accusations that we’re poseurs and not fashion critics, lack of journalistic standards - things, which, I along with others have been guilty of to some degree or another. If I was more positive, I could defend the content on my blog and say that 99.9% of is absolutely NOT sponsored/commercially related to anything except for my genuine love of what I’m writing about, but even then once you commit one instance of gift or trip accepting, how can I get all high and mighty and say that I’m something of an exception.

Then I think about all the outfits I’ve worn this week at London. A London Fashion Week designer featured in every instance - Jonathan Saunders, Meadham Kirchhoff, James Long, J.W. Anderson, Simone Rocha - things I’ve bought with my own money or someone was gracious enough to lend me knowing that I genuinely wanted to wear it. They’re badges of support for the people that we are writing about, exalting and celebrating. They’re the designers making and creating the feathers for the peacocks to don. Are the clothes supposed to stay confined within fashion editorials and PR press days? Who gets to make that judgement call as to who has “genuine” style or who is dressing up for the cameras? Who even cares when an outward celebration (and economic contribution, I might add) of fashion at its most creative is on display? The doubts that I carry, however strong they may be or however low I might feel during fashion weeks, aren’t enough to push me into a uniform of a sleek black blazer, a neat button-down shirt and some discreet but still insanely expensive Alaia shoes. I’m just sorry that convention, as dictated by the inner sanctum of the industry, weighs heavy on me. I could get all angry about it but what’s the point if I just grin and bear it, trudge along in my lilac marabou, neon trainers and pink pastel dresses - clothes that make me giddy most of the time, but inadvertedly drive my spirits down in a fashion week context.

DisneyRollerGirl- The Changing Landscape

Alas, Menkes does come across as slightly jaded in her disapproval. Flagging up the common practice of ‘bloggers’ (read: the Fashion Week style blogger elite) who get photographed in next season’s looks, often gifted by designers in exchange for coverage, she reminds us that real reporters don’t play the gifting game (or ‘bribery’ as she puts it). It’s a funny one I admit. On the one hand, why not help give young designers exposure by wearing their clothes, if it will give them a leg-up and boost your visual presence as well? On the other hand, when the pre- and post-show peacocking starts to get more attention than the shows themselves, then that clearly signals a change in how things are working. Is it dumbing down though? or is it just an evolution in how fashion is seen and consumed now?

Elle La Petite Anglaise- Take Me To The Circus

You don’t just start a blog and overnight find yourself showered with international fashion week invites and free designer bags. I can say from experience that it takes time and a hell of a lot of hard graft to prove your worth to PRs and brands who, with God knows how many thousands of fashion bloggers out there, have to be extremely selective in which ones they work with and invite to their shows.

Cliched though it is to say, it seems to me that since the dawn of blogging the fashion world has become a far more accessible and democratic place than it was during the days of Menkes’ “black crows”.

I’m not going to lie and say I don’t like seeing myself pop up on now and again, of course I do. Being papped for a street style site is also beneficial to me because ultimately, the more “out there” I am the more people are likely to come across my blog. While I do love blogging for its own sake, when you spend virtually every waking hour working on something you do want people other than your mum to see it.

The Very Simon G- Am I A Peacock, Suzy Menkes?

She knew what she was doing. She was probably told or asked to write the piece, ticking it off her 'feature check list'. Just like Liz Jones - though I daren't compare the two writers - they have to be seen commenting on certain topics. Getting a reaction is great journalism after all. What makes me laugh though is that just like Jones, Menkes is about, oooo, erm, six years too late to this particular party (Jones wrote a feature at the end of last year about how FANTASTIC eBay is, that she couldn't believe it existed. Laughably late). Sorry love, some of us have been tapping away at our keyboards and sometimes, yes, actually getting paid for it for years.

To bung all bloggers in the same knock-off Celine tote is totally unfair too. Some of us - me included - are trained journalists. I have an NCTJ diploma, as do other blogger friends. We've done our unpaid work experience time at publications and gone on to work at other high profile magazines or newspapers, freelance or full time. It just so happens that the online world exploded massively a few years ago, and like any normal human, you follow the money and try to carve a niche for yourself. Just like Suzy has.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

Crunching through the substance and hot air of London Fashion Week post-event is a task almost equal to attempting to do the thing itself. Despite spending half of my time in a car (thanks Mercedes, I worship at your altar) crawling in traffic between Somerset House, Tate Modern and grand avenues behind Pall Mall I did manage see a lot before getting home to put baby Horatio to bed. And then I was able to watch live streams. Ahhh. Loved them. My favourite kitchen table shows were J.W Anderson and Simone Rocha who I will be seeing in person with their clothes this weekend in Paris, and I can't wait. With an uninspiring Milan Fashion Week just wrapped, I am still discovering layers of London Fashion Week that gave me goosebumps.

One recurring theme was that of young designers looking to their grandmothers way of dressing for inspiration.  Henry Holland named his AW13 House of Holland range 'Nana Rave' inspired by a fictional teenager from 1989 who herself gets inspired by her grandmother's wardrobe of funny patterned skirt suits, clunky shoes and tunic dresses; a sort of 60s fashion hangover viewed through the eyes of a bored teen from the 80s. How a guy born in 1983 can channel this fashion vibe in 2013 gives it (intentional) ncomedy value; his is just an idea of a perceived memory and that pretty much sums up modern fashion ideas, even the best ones.

Brazilian NewGen designer Lucas Nascimento (whom Bethan recently interviewed)  is obsessed with old women in general. "I love watching them walk down the street," he told her when she previewed his AW13 show, "what fascinates me is the proportions of the clothes, the way their skirts hit below the knee, how they colour block peculiar colours and generally the way they put their outfits together."

Simone Rocha said this of her collection for Autumn/Winter 2013. "The collection is inspired by my grandmothers: my Irish granny Margaret Gleeson and my Chinese grandmother Cecelia Rocha, my relationship with them and my relationship with clothes. It is a story of respect that is rendered in the fabrication, the consideration and understanding of cut and detail."

Her words made me think of my own Irish nanna, Janie Clynch of Lathaleere, Baltinglass, County Wicklow, a mother of seven and independent woman whose catchphrase was "Don't vex me child" said with a loving smile and a discreet whisht motion with her hands. "Out of my way. Go and play." She was never a fashion plate, but she loved a periwinkle blue cardigan and a sensible skirt, always worn with her St Christopher medal, a discreet crucifix and very often a jazzy hat and well tailored coat.  I can't help seing shades of Simone Rocha's show when I look at Nanna in this photo with my cousin Marita. Miss you Nanna.

Janie Clynch circa 1971

Simone Rocha AW13

Simone Rocha AW13

Lucas Nascimento AW13
Lucas Nascimento AW13
House of Holland  'Nana Rave'

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

As if by magic, David Bowie is staging a hype inducing comeback just as a major exhibition about his career is set to open at the V&A, coincidence? You can bet there'll be plenty of questions on that subject at the press view. Where are we now? came as a mahoosive surprise when it was released back in January but now we know there's a new album which will be released in a few weeks- The Next Day. Then today we woke up to a brand new video for one of the tracks on the album, The Stars (Are Out Tonight). You should know this has absolutely nothing to do with Take That's Stardust soundtrack. Actually, it's directed by Floria Sigismondi and shot by Jeff Cronenweth, and is a feast of cool, creepy, clever brilliance for weary, wintered-out souls. Melanie is calling it an "androgynous wet dream". Tilda Swinton stars as Bowie's wife with male model Andrej Pejic- as a girl- and Saskia de Brauw-as a boy- as naughty influencers leading the dogooding marrieds astray from their quietly humdrum suburban life. It's stylish, perverse and brilliant and at FEAL towers we are watching it on a loop. Look out for Dominic Jones' terrifying claws which almost rip off Mr Bowie's beautiful face...

Monday, February 25, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

So the Oscars happened last night, did you know? You'll have seen all the best dressed, worst dressed etc. by now. However, there is a bigger story behind some of these dresses, believe it or not. To explain further, we have awarded some super-specific awards to some of the headline gowns of the night.


Oh Anne Hathaway, we salute you for pushing your boundaries a little bit and going for a lovely pale pink Prada. Unfortunately, the whole thing was somewhat overshadowed by #LesNipperables. The thing the world needs to know is that these are not nipples but darts. If anything good can come of this debacle then it must be that the the humble dart has had its moment in the fashion limelight.

Anne Hathaway in Prada (

So Helen Hunt decided to help H&M promote their eco collection by wearing a navy silk gown- along with $700,000 worth of jewels. The slight issue was that the dress had become hopelessly crumpled en route to the event. The solution? Actresses in dresses which might crease should be provided with Popemobile type vehicles for their arrival. Alas, this doesn't solve the lap crease which so many were suffering by the end of the night.

Helen Hunt in H&M (

The standing position afforded by a Popemobile could really come in use for Hollywood actresses (image via


Considering that Jennifer Lawrence has been wearing Dior almost exclusively this awards season, thanks to her Miss Dior contract, she really should have been a surer bet for Best Dressed. However, there were serious nerves after the Screen Actors Guild gaffe in which her dress slipped apart. Raf Simons and his atelier really stepped up for Oscar night though with a properly modern ballgown for the night that their girl won the Oscar. The gown also multi-tasked as an advertisement for Dior's bridal offering. We'll forget the little trip Lawrence had as she stepped up to collect her award. It was sweetly clumsy, ok?

Jennifer Lawrence in Dior (

Hats off to Naomie Harris who took quite the risk in letting an unknown designer create her Oscar dress after he had won a competition for the honour. Michael Badger, who has been mentored by Vivienne Westwood, designed an environmentally friendly gold dress for Naomie as part of the Green Carpet Challenge.

Naomie Harris in Michael Badger (


Her beautifully multicoloured Valentino at The Grammys will forever be a standout Adele look, but last night's Jenny Packham displayed the virtues of sticking to what you know you feel comfortable in which is not a quality to be underestimated when the eyes of about 40m people, not to mention a room full of glitzy celebs are all on you. Also one of the few examples of a British designer on the Oscars red carpet.

Adele in Jenny Packham (


There's a big trend for cutting bits out of dressed like little triangles round the midriff or sections of the lower back. Armani conjured up the twinkly number for Naomi Watts with a quite fascinating and fabulous half chest cut-out.

Naomi Harris in Armani (

For mixing up black and navy, for looking really classy and event appropriate without being remotely try hard and for graceful ageing... It's DDL and his wife Rebecca Miller.

Daniel Day Lewis and Rebecca Miller (

Friday, February 22, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

Boohoo LFW is over but hurray it's the weekend! While we might all have been making mental check lists for what we need to buy for AW13, there's plenty to get on board with right now, this weekend in fact. Here are three things to roll up your sleeves and get stuck into this weekend and you'll be oh-so AW13 by Monday:


So colourful hair is nothing new but there's a totally fresh and bold way to do it, courtesy of the most memorable model of LFW, Chloe Norgaard. Her multi-coloured look makes pink hair seem boring. Clash, match, layer do whatever. I quite fancy an aubergine/ lilac combo myself... see this selection . Chloe uses semi-permanent colour-jamz and Manic Panic for the green bits. And have a peak at Chloe's Tumblr.

Chloe does Whistles
Chloe at Roksanda Ilincic... N.B Green cape not her own


Not so much a catwalk trend but practically every single usually polished and preened fashion editor did ripped jeans at LFW, some with spiky stilettos, others with Celine-y Vans. For a properly authentic look, rip your own. Follow this video guide...


Mawi's giant gem clutch bags (a new venture which they began for SS13) were a huge hit at the LFW exhibition and have already popped up in a few street style pics and adoring blog posts. Find a tired clutch, buy in a load of cheap as chips plastic jewels and some glue and get your own fancy bag thing going on.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

I only ask because there is so much of the stuff appearing on the catwalks this Autumn. The fuzzy effect is in practically every major collection but what is so striking is the number of designers who are using real fur to express that idea.

Let me say early on that I am not necessarily pro or anti-fur. In fact, I find the whole issue profoundly confusing. I don't quite understand how anyone who eats meat can then make judgement against someone who chooses to wear fur. As recent news events show, we never truly know what meat it is that we're eating, unless you always buy from a local, trusted butchers who prepare cuts themselves. It is far too black and white to say that leather is fine because it's a by-product of the meat industry and fur is not because those animals die purely for their skin- see this Guardian piece for more clarity on that point. What is definitely true is that leather is commonplace whereas fur is laced with- depending on your viewpoint- glamour, disgust, fascination, beauty and otherworldliness.
Joseph Altuzarra AW13
Last year, I was on my own quite late at night at Waterloo station waiting for my platform to come up. I was wearing a very warm, authentically chocolate brown but nevertheless very much fake fur jacket. A man approached, lurched towards me and began to shout abuse at me for wearing fur. This made me wonder, is there so much of  difference between wearing fur that is authentic looking but ultimately fake and the real thing? Aside from cost, to the onlooker you are portraying the same message whether it's fake or not.

Marc Jacobs AW13
Back to the catwalks. A certain kind of lady, maybe best represented by Anna Wintour, has never stopped wearing fur and certain brands have never stopped using fur. The American Vogue editor has endured very public confrontations with PETA protesters but has stoically carried on wearing her pelts because that's her thing. Then Miu Miu SS13 came along; shamelessly, extravagantly offering up fur coats and stoles alongside denim pencil skirts and dust coats. Miuccia Prada was making a statement by being so blatant with fur a. By using it in her supposedly younger Miu Miu line and b. By pairing it with a casual fabric like denim. The casual/ luxe mix is a key part of this fur story. That man at Waterloo station (and his ilk) is of no concern. The most simple explanation is that designers like Prada and then everyone using fur this season- Joseph Altuzarra, Christopher Kane, Marc Jacobs- are simply answering demand. Jacobs even put a cartoonish fox face on his creations, mimicking the the unashamed way women in the 20s and 30s would wear animals with faces and tails still intact. Fur sells now- the industry has almost doubled in value since 2000 from £5.7 billion to £9.4 billion- and so that is a very good reason for designers to use it in their collections, if they can get round the ethics.

Simone Rocha AW13
Obviously some will not use fur, either because they simply prefer the look of faux, cannot afford to work with  the real thing or have their own ethical problem with animal hides. Simone Rocha's 'Respect your elders' collection was an LFW highlight, inspired by her two Grannies. She used verging on kitsch leopard fake fur to trim collars and make entire sweatshirts and coats. In a really great way, you would never mistake Simone Rocha's girl as wearing the real deal. Away from the fashion weeks, Stella McCartney has just unveiled the newest version of her Falabella bag. McCartney famously eschews leather and fur in her collections but has still managed to tap into the furry mood with the Itsy Bitsy bag, so named after two of the sheep in her very own organic flock whose fleeces have been used to makes the bags. If the horsemeat scandal has made us think twice about the origin of our food, then Stella's option is the fashion equivalent of getting conscientious; good welfare provenance assured.

The kindest way to do the tufty trend: Stella McCartney Itsy Bitsy Falabella £1,150

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

Do you remember a world before Vine? A world where the mere Twitpic reigned as the way to share photos easily on Twitter. Obviously, we're not forgetting Instagram, but following some kind of techy bust up there was no easy way to share those vintagey shots with your Twitter followers. Then 24th January came and the Twitter bigwigs officially unveiled Vine, a new app where we could record six second, stop motion mini films. Conveniently, this came just as the fashion industry was gearing up for a big month of AW13 shows which basically meant an excellent opportunity to pioneer the use of Vine in a fun fashion context. There was big competition to live up to as well, after Calvin Klein created some genius Vine posts showing man supermodel of the moment Matthew Terry working out in CK underwear during the Super Bowl. At NYFW, fashion got into the Vine groove with some great videos, the best ones being posted from the front row (any further back and people's hair gets in the way) and backstage. The Cut put together the edit of the best New York fashion week Vines.

Since the lights are still out...  

At the press conference which opened London Fashion Week, Caroline Rush and Natalie Massenet spoke about their six point plan for British fashion. One of those focuses is digital innovation, and in the  next breath Rush was telling us about Net-a-Porter's hook-up with Matthew Williamson, who would be giving previews of his show and behind the scenes snapshots using the Vine app and #MatthewMagnified. Now, Matthew Williamson rather savvily recently recruited Rosanna Falconer, formerly of the BFC, as his Head of Digital which somewhat explains why he was so quick to jump on and exploit the new app. Topshop got on board too, a move which is hardly surprising given that it is pushing social technology in every possible way. It's not just designers who got behind Vine at LFW; us journos and bloggers had fun with it too. Some of LFW's most prominent Viners included The Telegraph fashion team, i-D,  Pop, The Times' Hannah Rochell, Business of Fashion and Charlie Porter.  I even had a go at a few shows. There are frequent complaints on Twitter about the blurry pics which people post from fashion shows- why bother if you can't see anything? Is it just to prove you're there? Those very same problems arise with Vine. I've also found that although six seconds might not seem like long, the best vids have at least three "takes" rather than just one lasting the whole six seconds. Or is that just a terrifying indication of the brevity of my attention span?

Here is a nice selection of LFW Vines. Have you seen any better ones? Will you be using Vine?

Holographic beads lighting up 's last look 

Some  exits. Loose, louche, clothes to feel cool in