Monday, September 30, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

One of the many benefits of flitting to Paris during fashion week is that even if you don't get there in time for a particular show, or if you are too low down the fashion food chain to be awarded a ticket, then you can still get up close with the clothes which are shaping up the forthcoming season with a visit to the showroom. In many cases, you could argue that these are even better places than a catwalk show to understand the shapes, the colours and the fabrics.

And so it was that today I stopped off at Comme des Garcons' home on Place Vendome. Having diligently studied the show reviews in advance, I was fully mentally prepped for the fact that Rei Kawakubo's approach to SS14 was mostly about forgetting that she was designing clothes. She apparently had no ideas for clothes and so sought to create a kind of art installation centred around the body. The ultimate expression, perhaps, of the SS14 mega-trend for art? Anyway, the main point of this Comme des Garcons collection was probably that it was viewed in the complementary space of a show venue where each outfit had its very own soundtrack and, like an art gallery, the light and sound were under complete control. The showroom, by contrast, is a bustling room full of busy buyers and sales agents closing deals on taking these apparently non-clothes (or more truthfully, their more commercial counterparts) into stores across the world. It's the place where that vital link from catwalk to shopfloor is really made.

I might not have been able to imbibe Kawkubo's entire seasonal ethos but it was super interesting to experience the show pieces laid out neatly on tables and displayed clothes-like (not to sound churlish) on mannequins. Many of the dresses you see in my tumble of pictures below are made in a defiantly non-fashion fabric which I have been trying to fathom all day; it's something like a jay-cloth, very polyester-ish and very, very similar to the hydrophobic sort of thing which might make-up a mattress protector or lining for something around the house. One thing's for sure, it's probably never been pleated, stuffed and stitched in Comme way before. Equally fascinating was the footwear which was entirely sole-less so that really they were only footwear covers- these came as brightly coloured bootees and childlike, painted lace-ups.

A new reason to look forward to next Spring... seeing how this is going to translate for street style stars and on the floor at Dover Street Market A.K.A how will non-clothes become fashion?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large
Vileda supermops. In fashion?
"Humdrum domestic world of wipe-clean tablecloths, abandoned takeaway boxes and vileda supermops" read J.W Anderson's SS14 press release. Those references seemed so singular that surely no other designer could match them? A quick flick through the latest pictures from Paris shows that this mop reference is alive and well however. On the Rochas catwalk this afternoon, Marco Zanini showed shoes which would easily double as cleaning implements, as observed by Eric Wilson.

These shoes are like Swiffers for your feet. At Rochas.

Rochas mop shoes (image via @ericwilsonNYT)
Are we entering a new functional era of fashion? I, for one, am looking forward to seeing an outfit entirely fashioned from mops at some point very soon. A challenge for the DIY-ers and customisers amongst you.

J.W Anderson SS14

Wipe-clean plus mop feet at Rochas SS14 (via
Wearable Swiffers 

Friday, September 20, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

Art has, as ever, played an important role in the Spring/ Summer collections so far; from Roksanda Ilincic's Brazilian neo-concretists to Gucci's Erté illustrations. But none have been quite so brazen as Mrs Prada who yesterday commissioned six artists from around the world to create huge murals for her show space and then transposed the essence of their work- "the multiplicity of guises that women assume  in the course of a day, or a lifetime"- onto skirts, dresses and coats to become part of her Spring collection. As Sarah Mower points out in her review for Vogue, it is quite impossible to see the scale and drama of Prada's project via the runway images alone. Very kindly, Prada sent through a comprehensive booklet with details of each artist and the work they produced for the show.

The essay which begins the booklet sets out the thinking behind this project which seems to have been born not just out of Prada's feminist message, but also from a wish to concentrate very much on the idea human-human interaction, not via technology from multiple locations but from being physically near one another. It's an idea which sort of goes against the grain of the way so many shows are now conceived, with maximum shareability and digital involvement at the forefront; "In many ways, this projects contradicts the prevailing cultural condition of disembodied, networked communication. There is a creative energy that can only result when everyone is physically working together in one space".

A final, fickle note before the tumble of gorgeous art begins. This might be street art taken right off the street and into a space where only select people could see it for real and then onto clothes which most of us will never afford. But, how incredible will this street art look when it finally becomes street style?







Sunday, September 15, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

"Whatever I do is already Chinese, because I'm a Chinese designer" points out Huishan Zhang, fresh off the plane from Shanghai and gearing up to show his SS14 collection at London Fashion Week today. It's a good point, because there is lots of talk about Zhang being at the forefront of a new generation of designers from the East bringing their designs to a Western customer. Zhang does have a big studio in China and manufactures with specialist factories with whom he has built up a relationship but he is by no means limited to his native country when it comes to how he imagines his clothes will come to life; "I think about this elegant nomad who will go to an event in New York then pop her dress in a bag and head to London where she'll slip back into it again." What a glamourous, yet probably quite realistic, vision especially for a designers who describes their work as "couture-like ready-to-wear".

For SS14, Zhang has been thinking about the body, with particular reference to the photography of Man Ray whom he observes "transformed women's shapes" through his use of blurring double exposure. A key silhouette is a short fitted dress with flouncing 'pep-hem' with coats and trousers which support that idea. There is no fastening but instead Zhang has employed bias cutting- he cites it as "modernised Vionnet approach"- to create a close fit which "is neither tight nor loose". Then it gets complicated with traditional couture smocking which gives a waffled, textured look and re-uses the bias by twisting it back on itself 45degrees. My maths fails me here but Zhang tells me how he studies ancient Chinese mathematical theories so that "the pieces look very simple but it takes lots of equations to get there".

Swarovski have continued their sponsorship of Zhang this season and he's put a new spin on the idea of embellishment. "We used these teardrop crystals as a protection for the very delicate fabric beneath" he explains as he shows me the Man Ray image Tears which sparked the idea. Usually it's the gems which need protecting so it's nice to think there's a bit of role reversal going on. There are also big pailettes which look almost like fish scales layered like a second skin over tiny tops. The embellishment helps too with Zhang's colour mission; "I focused on this photograph by Erwin Blumenfeld- I wanted to take weird colours and make them look nice". Personally, I quite like jade green and rose but of course they do look lovelier when they're made to sparkle and glimmer- I'm looking forward to seeing them under the lights at today's presentation.

Amazingly, there are just three fabrics in the entire collection: organza, jersey (a new addition, sourced from underwear suppliers) and silk which has been specially treated so that it doesn't crease. Then there is an abundance of lace which acts as a trim and, in many cases, an extra veil. I love Zhang's story about spotting this incredible lace at an exhibition while he was at Central Saint Martin's. He wanted to work with the manufacturers but had no idea where they were based. After a bit of research, it turned out that the factory was round the corner from his parent's business in Qingdao and that their accountant's wife was the designer. The pattern is very different, Zhang tells me, to what you might find in Europe, "the flowers we use in China are very specific, and we always work in a figure of eight pattern". As I touch and admire the collection, Zhang exclaims "everyone has something Chinese now. Your toothbrush was probably made there so my coming along is just good timing." Indeed.

With thanks to the Swarovski Collective.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

When this beautifully-made video landed in our inbox this morning, it was an instantly calming antidote to pre-LFW jitters and tasks. Commisioned by The London EDITION (new hotel launching soon) and Nowness magazine, the film sees Amanda Harlech and JW Anderson serenely lazing in the grounds of the former's Shropshire pile, having a chat about collaborating which takes the notion above and beyond the almost ceaseless collabs which are now such a big part of the fashion industry. Make a cup of tea and take three minutes to float away on a Harlech/ Anderson cloud...

On Collaboration: Amanda Harlech x Jonathan Anderson on

Friday, September 6, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor of Large

The SS14 shows are officially underway and so for the next four weeks fashion news will largely centre on who's who and what's what for next Spring. So, today I thought I'd share a few links to longer think pieces which have appeared over the past couple of weeks as well as a couple of need-to- know news bits.

First up, Kering, who in January acquired a 51% stake in Christopher Kane, today added Joseph Altuzarra to their portfolio of brands by investing in a minority stake in the business just days before Altuzarra's NYFW show. Way to create a buzz.

Lauren Sherman on designers transitioning from no.2 to Creative Director star

Brilliant, thought provoking piece on fashion's moral compass by Robin Givhan

Cathy Horyn bemoans the new way fashion weeks pan out.

Suzy Menzes on faster and faster fashion

I listened to bits of this earlier and it was inspiring and fascinating- Lucinda Chambers interviewed by Lou Stoppard on SHOWstudio. 

Finally, music in fashion.

Christopher Bailey has a dedicated music team at Burberry.

And Hedi Slimane has made his first Saint Laurent video to promote ballerina shoes. It stars Gracie van Gastel, with soundtrack by Cherry Glazerr.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

Once upon a time we thought crop tops were silly things. Who on earth would you want to show off your belly in public unless you were Rihanna or Miley Cyrus? Then Miu Miu happened. Last September, Mrs Prada showed crop tops in a new light as chic pieces to wear with pencil skirts. Coupled with a huge revival in 90s fashion, crop tops became normal, nay, fabulously cool. This has also been the Summer of the cami top which is slightly less challenging than the crop top but still hardly straightforward when it comes to controlling one's cleavage beneath it. All in all, tops have undergone quite a transformation. The humble vest just doesn't quite cut it any more.

Alexa Chung in Carven resort '14 at the launch of her book (via
So what will next summer bring for our torsos? If Alexa Chung's choice of outfit at the launch of her debut book last night is anything to go by then it will be all about the off-shoulder. On the majorly plus side, shoulders tend to be pretty good parts of our bodies- when did you last hear someone complain about their fat shoulders? On the downside, any kind of bra with straps would likely be a terrible idea. Clearly we really need a miraculous leap forward in the world of strapless bras before next Spring.

Once Alexa wears something, it's almost guaranteed to become a big trend. But it's not just Alexa. There were lots of off shoulder tops and dresses in the Resort collections, including Christopher Kane which Chloe Moretz then wore to the Teen Choice Awards. Rebecca Hall also gave Celine a rare turn on the red carpet a few weeks ago wearing the AW14 obi wrap top. Thankfully, the new off shoulder top is more fitted and sleek than those regrettable boho super- flouncy gypsy tops of the early noughties. Hurray.

Chloe Moretz in Christopher Kane at the Teen Choice awards (via

Rebecca Hall in Celine (via
Alexander McQueen Resort '14 (via

Kenzo Resort '14 (via