Thursday, March 28, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

My preview copy of The Hunger's Rita Ora cover
Rankin is a hard man to keep up with, seemingly spinning a million different projects at once. One of them is The Hunger, his monster-sized biannual magazine full of fashion and everything you need to know about the cultural zeitgeist, from high to low. For example, in the new issue there are articles on Topman, Phillip Schofield, photojournalism in Botswana , erotic jewellery designer Betony Vernon and copper artist Alice Anderson. Talk about variety.

Phillip Schofield and Abbey Clancy in a whole new light in The Hunger
Disparity is no bad thing but there is actually a very strong theme which runs through the latest issue of The Hunger, that is, for want of a less Spice Girly phrase, Girl Power. In fact, the name of the issue is Girls Girls Girls, which sums it up pretty succinctly.  It features some of the most prominent young women in music today on 7 different covers including Rita Ora, Grimes and Jessie J.  Rankin begins his editors letter saying:

"Over the last year or so, I had begun to notice a pattern emerging in film and fashion, but most notably in music; where people (most obviously, young women) were taking control of their creative lives and output in a way I hadn't seen before".

All this echoes one of the main themes of Beyonce's interview in The Gentlewoman, which I wrote about last week. It's definitely happening, but The Hunger's issue properly records it by shouting about it. The notion of a female singer being a bit gobby and controversial is hardly new, in fact it's what plenty of the best built their brand on, think Madonna and Spice Girls. As Rankin observes though, there's a whole new level of outspokenness open to today's big players; "the new mediation definitely has a lot to do with social media, but also a great deal to do with being born into this era. This wave of young women know that they are individuals" he writes.

Crystal Renn frolicking on the beach with  a shark for The Hunger
I think those go hand in hand. Surely a big part of the reason we now all feel like our opinions are valued and matter is that social media has made a commodity of them? When I look at my Facebook thread and see inane posts about someone's disappointing sandwich, I understand that everyone knows their view matters which is definitely something to celebrate, even if we do have to put up with those annoyances. What Ora, Jessie J et al do so so well is using social media to their advantage and building a brand and identity from it which links them directly to their fans. Doing that well is no easy feat, just look at Azealia Banks who was so hot not so long ago and now seems to have pissed off so many people with her controversial tweets. There's a line. But if you work it to your advantage, it pays off. As Gabrielle Aplin puts, quite simply, in her interview "I still have all control" while Grimes explains "I directed all the videos; did all the album art; wrote and produced all the songs. To a degree, I was aware of the fact I was playing the game, but that's part of the fun, I guess". Girls doing it for themselves.

Great fashion in The Hunger
The shoot with Crystal Renn ties up the spirit of the issue into a powerful visual message. Renn, as you probably know, is the supermodel who has been all body shapes from plus size to miniscule average model. Now she looks like she's at a happy medium (though you should never assume you know how someone feels from the size of their body). She appears in bikinis on a beach in Malibu with lots of huge inflatable animals. She and The Hunger team decided to give her images only minimal retouching so that her thighs look, well, normal. Slim and toned, but definitely not impossibly skinny. Very refreshing indeed.

The Hunger issue 4 is out on 4th April

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

 When Autumn comes- which WILL be after we've had a lovely long, warm summer, please weather man- fashion will be all about dressing like a lady. This will mean only the most luxurious of fabrics, think silk, velvet, cashmere and fur. Lengths will be demure- the ideal skirt being a slim-fitting, calf length pencil. Marc Jacobs and Miuccia Prada were both really pushing this look at their respective shows, however there was something not quite, completely lady. "It's like the most glamourous walk of shame ever" Jacobs exclaimed, alluding to the darker side of his primly-attired but bed-head hair models. Meanwhile, the most-used phrase to describe the Prada show has been "done, undone". So while there were all the elements of a meticulously elegant, pulled together outfit, the hair was wet and dresses were slipping off the shoulders. There was potential for supreme ladydom on the AW13 catwalks, but designers were playing with it.

The catwalk fashion zeitgeist collides perfectly with the BBC four programme schedule tonight as Rachel Johnson explores "How to be a Lady". The former editor of "The Lady" (and sister of Boris) will learn ladylike pursuits such as riding side saddle. No doubt the headmistress of Cheltenham Ladies College, an establishment which Johnson visits, would balk at the towel dried hair or unbuttoned jumpers on show for AW13. Never mind, now's the night to learn.

How to be a Lady is on BBC 4 at 9pm tonight

Monday, March 25, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

There are times when it is difficult to justify covering a "good" fashion story when that story has lots of stories around it which mean that you might not really want to bring too much attention to the fashion element. A good example of this was US Vogue's feature about Asma al-Assad- the good fashion story was that she was a stylish, beautiful woman married to the President of Syria, which is all well and good if they had really been the do-gooding, progressives the feature had made them out to be. But then when the President is actually a violent, murderous war criminal, the fashion story becomes very bad taste.

It does feel important, however, to talk for a blog post about Peng Liyuan, the new first lady of China. After all, she is following in the footsteps of the likes of  Michelle Obama, the Duchess of Cambridge, Carla Bruni and Samantha Cameron. Famous wives are big news, and therefore big money for brands- especially when they are beautiful, well-dressed and so the mere act of them wearing an item generates lots of extra sales and sets trends. The glamorous, former popstar wife of the President of China is bound to feature in the global fashion conversation for some time to come, especially when we consider the increasing power of the Chinese fashion industry- Vogue and Elle's Chinese editions attract so much advertising that they often have to split into two issues per month.

Peng Liyuan arrives in Tanzania (image via
Liyuan is the major topic of water cooler conversation (or the equivalent?) and blogger hype in China right now, after she accompanied her husband, Xi Jinping, on his first international tour as Chinese president. The deputy editor of a Hong Kong newspaper wrote on Weibo "Now is the end of our quest for a graceful first lady", a message which clearly indicates the transformative effect which Peng Liyuan might have. Apparently the chic black trenchcoat she wore in Moscow has been copied already, which isn't exactly difficult. Thus far, her look is nowhere near as interesting as MO's- there's no signature buffed body part, high/low combinations or print/ pattern mix. Instead, she looks like the kind of lady who shops at Dior and Bottega Veneta, which she probably does, as well as having more traditional silk outftits made for her. Her knotted neckscarf, however, could be a styling detail stolen from a Celine lookbook and the bouffed chignon could become a thing but is also quietly faithful to the classic way Chinese women arrange their hair.

Peng Liyuan in Moscow wearing the black coat which Chinese women are now
 clamouring to own (image via 
Given that Chinese leaders have traditionally hidden their wives away, perhaps Jinping's PR advisors reckon that it is time for the People's Republic to produce their own variation on appealingly glamourous, front-page worthy first lady? Obviously it helps that Peng Liyuan was much more famous than her husband until not so long ago as a much adored singer who would perform for troops. She also holds the equivalent of Major General status in China's People's Liberation Army. All in all a good Chinese girl. There are major blots on China's rep including human rights abuses, the rich/poor divide, persecution of the regime's critics, zero free speech, underrepresentation of women in politics... the list goes on.  But like it or not, this won't be the last we see of Peng Liyuan.

Peng Liyuan in her former life as a much loved Chinese singer....

Friday, March 22, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt and Hannah Mason

While we wait for Spring to kick in, let's have a re-cap of everything that's happened in fashion this week. Hot water bottles at the ready....


Francois Pinault proudly points at his business's new logo (image via
Today we saw a name change, one as on par in the visionary stakes of Girls Aloud’s (RIP, until the comeback all singing, dancing theatre show) Cheryl Cole to… Cheryl, just Cheryl. The big, big dog of fashion business PPR has revealed an, er, amazingly imaginative and ground breaking new name…drumroll please... Kering.

“Kerching”? we hear you question, possibly to represent the fashion giant’s ever full cash register? Or do they mean “Caring” (pronounced in a sophisticated Franglais accent, “Kering”? Well, we were closer with the latter. The company’s fifth name since it listed on the Paris stock exchange in 1988 is supposed to evoke the idea of caring. It is derived from “ker,” meaning home in Breton, a language spoken in Brittany, France, where Pinault’s family comes from, and “ing,” expressing the idea of movement, the CEO said today. And to top it all off the logo is adorned with an abstract image of an owl (I know, you can’t quite see it) and the tagline ‘Empowering Imagination’.

LLG just went straight ahead and said what we were all thinking her apt tweet ‏today-

How much cash do you think PPR paid to have someone come up with Kering? What a waste of time and money


Snide Parisians have apparently been accusing Celine's Phoebe Philo of a scandalous rip-off. One of her AW13 coats looks rather similar to a Geoffrey Beene design which was photographed in 2004 by  Jack Deutsch. It's the sleeves which have done it; Beene's concept involved tying them together at the front of the body, similarly Philo's version has sleeves made redundant with a knot but also becomes a wearable cape with armholes inserted at the side. It's unclear whether Beene's design incorporates this detail. Anyway, Philo told US Vogue recently that she's "nothing but flattered" by copies of her designs, maybe Beene fans should look at it that way?

Geoffrey Beene/ Celine: ties up coats (image via

A few weeks ago, these gorgeous images were released to get us all excited about Mad Men season 6. They're beautiful, atmospheric and phenomenally stylish....

Mad Men season 6 images via
Oh, but then the actors came out in their twenty-tens (that's what this decade is called, apparently) finest and sort of ruined the allusion. Julia Raeside summed it up perfectly in The Guardian. I don't want to sound spoilt but didn't everyone look a bit garish and thrown- together? None of that mid-century groomed perfection. Luckily, Kiernan Shipka, who plays Sally Draper, came up with the goods in her sweet little prom dress.

Bad fashion at the Mad Men season 6 premiere (via

Kiernan Shipka saves the fashion day (image via

Mulberry issued its second profit warning in sixth months today, blaming the lack of interest from overseas travellers wanting the heritage brand bags on their visits to British shores. "After three years of rapid growth, Mulberry has experienced a year of consolidation whilst we build the foundations for future growth," said CEO Bruno Guillon. We blame Alexa for moving across the pond.

Mulberry AW13, maybe they should start selling dogs? (image via

Spring Breakers is out in a couple of weeks, April 5th to be precise. It's directed by Harmony Korine, the indie director who's also famous for cult 90s films like Kids and Gummo. He's married to Rachel Korine, a 26 year-old actress who now gets a big part in the film about the notorious US Spring Break phenomenon which has obsessed her husband for a few years. She tells WWD that he went away for two weeks to research the film, and came back with the script written. We're wondering what went on in those two weeks?
Harmony and Rachel Korine (image via
Rachel Korine looking all grown up and prim in Preen for WWD 

Is Armani Exchange trying to cut some edge? After recent collabs with the ubiquitous but brilliant RiRi and tie-ups with Nylon and Coachella can their re-hire of Patrick Robinson (he has worked for the Italian mainline label before) bring some cool back to the brand? The designer was dismissed from Gap in 2011, after only working four years at the company his high fashion sensibility was apparently lost on Gap customers. Since, Robinson has been a busy man, last week announcing his new luxury sportswear line Pashko, so far funded by Kickstarter. Another out of reach high end active wear range we really want to get our hands on.
Patrick Robinson (via
Beautiful sportswear from Pashko by Patrick Robinson (image via

There has been some confusion about whether R-Patz is actually going to be starring in new Dior menswear ads sometime soon. A new twist in the story this week from The Sun which reports that just a few days after news broke of his girlfriend Kristen Stewart's affair with Rupert Sanders, Pattinson was having a foursome in the name of Dior. The Sun's source revealed that "he takes part in a foursome in various states of undress... he didn't take much persuading to get into role." If all this is true, then there will be some very happy people in the world when the ads are released.


Coco Rocha, Naomi Campbell and Karolina Kurkova do The Face in the Us (image via
If you follow the super social supermodel Coco Rocha your twitter/instagram/pose/tumblr/vine feed would have been inundated for the last few months with The Face promos and #teamcoco hashtags from the latest hit US model search TV show (let’s just call it the next ANTM). But you need not have I-live-in-Britain FOMO anymore – The Face is coming to the UK.

Mentored by Naomi Campbell, 24 aspiring Brit models will appear on the Sky Living show to battle it out, ultimately becoming ‘the face’ (clever) of an international brand. It hasn't yet been revealed whether Rocha and Kurkova will reprise their roles as mentors.

Princess Productions are holding auditions at the start of April – APPLY NOW!

And if you are a complete novice, make sure you read R29’s guide on how to take a great photo to have half a chance of becoming…The Face.


Iti sa truth universally acknowledged that Prada make great films. Their Wes Anderson/ Roman Coppola hook-up to promote L'Eau Candy is going to be strung out over the next four weeks. Here's a the first teaser... Happy Weekend!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

Beyonce for H&M by Inez and Vinoodh (via H&M)
Another day, another reincarnation for Beyoncé  a.k.a Mrs Carter a.k.a probably the most fabulous woman on the planet, this time as the face of H&M. It's quite the change of mood after Lana del Rey's sulky, 60s kittenish turn for their Autumn/ Winter campaign. Donald Schneider, H&M's Creative Director, called the new images "an epic fantasy, with glamour, drama and a sense of paradise." That paradise bit probably the consequence of shooting in the Bahamas.

Obviously, Beyoncé is one of the most famous women in the world and must do a trillion photoshoots a month for various campaigns and editorials, but I really feel like H&M have hit on something with their declaration that "all women can be all things: strong, vulnerable, sensual, maternal, fun, flirtatious". It's a contradiction which is not only reassuring and potentially empowering but for which Beyoncé is the perfect poster girl. A fresh way to look at our inclinations to tag/ label/ put people in boxes. 
Beyonce in Miu Miu (

Beyonce, Bow Down (
As well as her H&M project, Beyoncé also graces the cover of The Gentlewoman's SS13 issue, looking the antithesis of her uber raunched up stage persona. She appears bare faced (and astonishingly beautiful) in this season's key softly minimal looks. There's the Raf Simons ballgown skirt and skinny black jumper which she wears on the cover- shot by Alasdair McLellan on a medium format. Or there's Miu Miu's crop top and denim pencil skirt. It's hard to believe it's the same person who's jutting her body in all kind of impossible to comprehend directions in her videos, or even the one reclining in flower embellished sandals and teeny weeny shorts on a tropical beach for one of the most mass brands in the world. Beyoncé makes them all work. 

Beyonce x The Gentlewoman (
Critics might have a pop at Queen Bey for using the word "bitches" loads in her new song, Bow Down. Or even because her new tour defines her as Mrs Carter, which implies (some might argue) her asserting that she is first a wife, second a superstar global idol wonder woman- is there anything wrong with that anyway? In her interview with The Gentlewoman, Beyoncé says "there's not enough of us (female artists) that become moguls". Too true. The biggest lesson to learn from Beyoncé though is, clichéd as it may sound, do what you want, fuck the rest of them. We can't all do that on her scale but even the visual jump from elegantly minimal to tropical beach goddess to vampy Marie Antoinette (in Bow Down) is a reminder of this philosophy. Expect more of the same when the rest of H&M's campaign is released. This so much more than a girl on a beach, it's a woman on a misson. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

It is no surprise to me that the V&A's spookily well timed David Bowie Is retrospective exhibition is already proving to be the fastest selling in the museum's history, with 42,000 advance tickets sold. I'm off to the Press View in the morning and can feel little jolts of excitement every time I look up and see my invitation. Shame I can't make the party tomorrow night, but I fear the fan girl in me would be uable to cope with the proximity of Tilda Swinton, and the possibility that Bowie might turn up, that is if he has secretly been on a ship from NYC all week.  Bowie is a man who does not get on aeroplanes and fly.

Book your tickets here.
Read more here.

Friday, March 15, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

Happy Friday stylish people... Here's everything you need to know about what's happened in fashion this week.


Nope, sadly (maybe?) it looks like the American Vogue editor has lost out on the ambassador job everyone was practically printing her business cards for a couple of months ago. Never mind though, as it looks like Anna will be wielding her editing skills across the rest of Conde Nast, rather than sticking to her US Vogue territory. Wintour describes her new job as "a one-person consulting firm" whereby she will offer advice and direction to Conde Nast's other US (but not international) brands. Insiders are suggesting that she is taking on some of the responsibilities previously held by CN chairman S.I Newhouse who's now 85.

Anna Wintour at London Fashion Week in Prada (image via

The rumour mill is firmly back in action after fashion weeks. Big rumour no.1 is that Nicolas Ghesquiere, who left Balenciaga after 15 years before Chrstimas, might be plotting a comeback with his own label. The New York Post reports that LVMH and Diesel are both interested in backing Ghesquiere. His long-time collaborator and friend Marie-Amélie Sauvé has also hinted that he'll be back before long. She told The Cut "I'm continuing to work in some capacity with Nicolas, I talk to him regularly. I think he'll do something in fashion because he is very passionate about it, but his vision goes beyond fashion."

Nicolas Ghesquiere taking his final Balenciaga bow
after his SS13 show (via

Well not the man, that would be slavery or something, but his Vogue Talent Fund winning business. It looks like PPR's investment in Christopher Kane might have prompted big fashion investors to look to the UK for their next acquisition. LVMH is reportedly just one of the companies apparently courting Kirkwood.

Beauteous pearly heels from Nicholas Kirkwood's AW13  collection

Designers are clearly obsessed with Rihanna. See how Tom Ford cited her as a big inspiration for his AW13 collection in this video-

She's got her pick but has bestowed the honour of designing costumes for her Diamonds tour upon Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci. He told Vogue "Rihanna represents what young and amazing means today. She is punk and talented. She offers intelligence, energy and pure beauty." Right on.

Rihanna's Givenchy tour costume (image via

Find out here. Alexander Wang, now splitting his time between his own label and Balenciaga in Paris, is unsurprisingly nominated as Best Womenswear Designer, alongside the Proenza Schouler boys and, natch, Marc Jacobs. Tim Blanks bags the Media Award. As it happens, Blanks plays a big role in two of the most interesting videos I've watched this week. SHOWstudio's Paris round-up is incredibly interesting. Follow this link to watch. Then there's Garage magazine very timely mini documentary about street style, entitled Take My Picture.

TAKE MY PICTURE from GARAGE Magazine on Vimeo.


In her weekly bargain shopping column, Lynn Yaeger has taken on the "challenge" of finding the AW13 Saint Laurent look on a budget. There follows a vaguely snide discovery that there are rails of lumberjack shirts and babydoll dresses readily available in the value stores of New York.


It's a universally undisputed fact that the Queen is, for want of a better phrase, a style icon. Brilliantly, this summer's Coronation Festival will celebrate her own look, as well as the fashions which have been relevant throughout her reign. There will be four catwalk shows each day during the festival, covering themes like "Vintage Picnic" and "Diamonds and Pearls". All the various outfitters who hold royal warrants will participate, from John Lewis to Daks and the Queen's favourite handbag makers, Launer. Tickets for the festival in July are available now.

The Queen in diamonds and pearls (image via

Harmony Korine's new film, Spring Breakers, is out on March 22nd. Opening Ceremony are tapping into the hype with a range inspired by the teeny fluoro bikinis, ripped up denim shorts and little vests which Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens et al wear in their roles as runaway school girls. Get a taster of what we mean with the trailer... Happy Weekend!

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

It's now just over a week since the AW13 shows came to an end. That's a full 7 days we've had to compute the big trends, themes and major items which will feature on the fashion landscape in the next year or so. While the inevitable high street tributes could begin to pop up in as little as three or four weeks time, the designer collections won't be in store until July at the very earliest. Anyone who has avidly watched the season unfold, whether in person at the shows or via the magical internet might feel the itch to shop what they've seen but that tends to be tricky.

The final appointment on my LFW schedule was Ostwald Helgason, who brought their collection to London for the first time for a fun presentation at Kettners. They'll have their own dedicated post sometime soon. Anyway, I loved their stuff and soon found out that they'd be doing a trunk show on Moda Operandi a couple of weeks later. And so just before I left for Paris, I put in my order for an Ostwald Helgason jumper. It felt like fashion magic. Now, the people at MO inform me that their AW13 trunk shows are in full swing. Indeed, I logged on today and Nicholas Kirkwood, Roksanda Ilincic and Marni were just a smattering of the designers whose collections were on offer. Each trunk show lasts several days and lets you pre-order from most of the designer's collection, rather than being restricted to the buyer's picks. I like that for someone like me, for whom buying a designer piece is a financial stretch, you pay in two instalments, a deposit then the full amount once you receive your order.

In the pursuit of furthering my AW13 fashion fantasies, I've created my ideal shopping list from today's trunk shows....

Vogue Fashion Fund winner Nicholas Kirkwood is the Fairy Godfather of shoes. The embroidery on these heels is beautifully artisan but the plastic heel keeps them modern and sculptural. A perfect contrast.

Nicholas Kirkwood pumps 790 euros
The ultimate version of a luxe sweatshirt. I'm undecided about the morals of wearing sable on my chest but oh my, this Cedric Charlier jumper is a dream thing
Cedric Charlier jumper 1,290 euros
I have to admit that upon seeing Mary Katratzou's Autumn collection, it was difficult to imagine actually wearing any of it. Not that that is ever a bad thing as so many catwalk looks never get made, nor do many realise that most collections have an extensive commercial element which never hits the catwalk. This dress is one of those commercial pieces, isn't it lovely?

Mary Katrantzou Fauwi Babelonia dress 2,950 euros
A few AW13 collections used brown in such a way that made it almost tempting to me. The trim on this Pierre Hardy would be an ideal starting point, especially as it's set off with that awesome speckled monochrome print. 

Pierre Hardy bag 990 euros

As Melanie wrote in The Guardian last week, this was a huge season for coats. This fabulous, structured tweed Marni parka is right up my coat street.

Marni wool coat 2,290 euros
FYI, plaid and general checks are big news for AW13. This Clements Ribeiro knit is a nice subtle, modern way to do it rather than going for full-on McDonald tartan. Here ends the fantasy shopping. Back to real life.

Clements Ribeiro jumper 620 euros

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Note from Bethan: During fashion months, there's no way that we would get through without a brilliantly up-for-anything, stupendously helpful intern. Our AW13 version of that godsend is Hannah Mason. When I heard that she was going to Lichtenstein at Tate Modern before me, I asked very nicely if she might like to write about it for our blog. If you've been dithering about whether to go, let Hannah help you decide....

Posted by Hannah Mason

I stood in the middle of the Millennium Bridge last night taking a snapshot of the magical City of London lit up on a very chilly March evening. I was in this exact spot a few weeks ago during LFW, feeling slightly dreamlike on my way to see my first ever fashion show. I have been busy interning for Melanie and Bethan and managed to scoop a last minute invitation to see a fashion show for myself, rather than through the likes of Twitter and It was JW Anderson that had the honour of taking my fashion show virginity.

In the slightly spooky vaulted Tanks under the Tate Modern, the Topshop Showspace for this LFW, JW Anderson presented a collection that was clinical, with quick bursts of colour but of course still in keeping with the cult, androgynous style which is making his show an unmissable spot on the schedule. Amid acres of white, black, grey and red were two looks printed with graphic comic strips. It was this comic book inspiration that bought me back to this same spot in the middle of the Millennium Bridge last night, off to review the Tate's newly opened Lichtenstein retrospective. Previous to my visit my impression of Lichtenstein was as a one hit, cartoon wonder, but the depth of this exhibition, the first comprehensive account of his work in over 20 years, proved me wrong.

Upon strolling into ‘Brushstrokes’, the first of thirteen themed rooms, I am instantly taken by brash American, pop art laden paint brush strokes brandished on enormous canvases. Lichtenstein paints them in such a controlled manner for what is typically an emotional and erratic move from a frustrated artist, that they have quite a calming effect. Moving through to the ‘Early Pop’ room I viewed some of the comic book pieces from the early 1960s that have been so extensively re-imagined in advertising to this day. Brands such as Perrier and Nivea have incorporated their aggressive commercial language into speech bubbles obviously derived from the Lichtenstein school of art. These pieces were originally inspired by melodramatic stories and clichéd gender roles, themes which ran deep in mass American society at the time. So I was very much expecting the whole exhibition to continue in a similarly familiar vein; American pop and comic.

Perrier ad, inspired by Lichtenstein (via
What I hadn’t realised was Lichtenstein himself described his work as "not 'American' painting but actually industrial painting". It was in the next room, ‘Black and White’, which explained this notion, which is a bit tricky to get your head around at first. There I discovered a complete contrast to his earlier pop days. The commerciality of mass media inspired Lichtenstein’s restricted black-and-white palette; he rendered newspaper illustrations of everyday into a near unrecognisable graphic form; focussing on mass produced functional objects (Golf Ball, 1963). It was Alka Seltzer, 1966 that I enjoyed the most. So graphic and pared back yet still exuding a sense of movement and even sound as small, perfectly formed bubbles float through water and ‘fizz’ when they reach the top.

Roy Lichtenstein, Alka Seltzer, 1966 (image via
Not only were his inspirations of an industrial nature but his techniques too. Lichtenstein developed his Benday dots technique from handmade stencils to large, prefabricated screens and in doing so he found his style, creating an instant trademark that runs uniformly across almost every piece from the 60s onwards. In the ‘Landscapes’ room he takes this industrialisation of pop art into sculptural form, painting onto sheets of Plexiglass and Rowlux. In Seascape and Pink Seascape (both 1965) these pieces of plastic represent sky and water, moving when viewed from different angles, creating hypnotic optical illusions.

The Tate have organised this exhibition brilliantly; I loved discovering whole new swathes of work that I may not have instantly associated with his style, but also felt like I had a good taste of the kind of image which instantly pops into your mind's eye when you hear "Lichtenstein". Bright colour and angular shapes clearly dominate the exhibition, but moving into the last room I am presented with a light and peaceful atmosphere. Lichtenstein’s ‘Chinese Landscapes’ were painted in the final years of his life and are dramatically different to the rest of his work. The illustrational graphics of his pop paintings have receded but you can still spot those trademark Benday dots, cleverly creating subtle graduations of misty mountains.

A bit like JW Anderson, there's much more to Roy Lichtenstein than comic book graphics. What's more, this is a show we can all go to, no need to wait for the invitation.

Lichtenstein: A Retrospective is on at Tate Modern until 27th May. Find out more here.