Thursday, December 19, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

Vilshenko SS14
A new fashion niche has developed over the past few seasons, possibly spearheaded by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paulo Piccioli's designs at Valentino. I like to call it fairytale fashion; dresses come either very short, or very long. There is intense detailing and bold colour, the likes of which you might expect to see in the modern-times wardrobe of Game of Thrones' Cersei Lannister. It's the new way to nod to the traditional and feel like a Princess (more the medieval kind than the Beatrice or Eugenie kind). One such brand which taps perfectly into this aesthetic is Vilshenko which I first discovered when I kept rushing past the room where the collection was on show during LFW. Each time I looked in en route to another appointment, I would catch sight of a model swathed in one dreamy but demure gown after another.

Olga Vilshenko is the designer and businesswoman behind the brand which I remembered as a little oasis of calm amongst the fashion week rush. As the fashion world's focus remains firmly on the ever-growing Russian market, now seemed like the perfect time to find out more about the Vilshenko world which as you'll learn is this season centred around the idea of a modern-day Tsarina with the clothes always referencing Vilshenko's Russian heritage and costume collections….

BH: Russia has become a big fashion focus point over the past couple of years, what do you love about the Russian fashion scene?

OV: Russians are very welcoming to everything new. Here the volume of fashion consumption is quite high, and it is continuing to grow rapidly. People like to see new brands and new trends, meaning Russians have now arrived at the forefront of everyone’s minds for trend setting and have stepped away from the flashy style we saw a few years ago. The influencers who are trickling out of here at the minute make it a really exciting time to be a Russian designer.

BH: What led you start your own brand?

OV: A love for fashion runs in my blood. My mum used to make clothes for our family and I always wanted to get involved, I definitely have my mum to thank for inspiring me. I graduated from the Design Institute in Russia and then went on to study at London's branch of Instituto Marangoni. Naturally I decided to try and show people my vision of fashion.

Vilshenko SS14
BH: Tell us about your SS14 collection, what's the story?

OV: In this collection you can see my vision of 21st century Tsarina. When imagining my heroine, I wanted to see her both feminine and elegant, refined but with a slight tomboyish sparkle. The collection sees a variety of styles - romantic silk floor-length gowns, flirty embroidered dresses, lots of polka dots which comes through in different fabrics and shapes. If I had to describe it in one word, I would say it's delicate. 

BH: How are you moving the brand on each season?

OV: The evolution is very natural, I begin with previous seasons - analyse what worked and what didn't and I that keep it in my mind when I'm coming up with the creative concept. It’s also important for me to add new types of fabric and embroideries each season. For SS14 we’ve made a few pieces decorated with silk balls sewn on netting, all of them are handmade so it’s very time consuming. I love the mélange embroidery I use on organza dresses; the multicolor thread makes the garments really opulent. 

BH: What's been your most successful design to date?

OV: Oh I love all of them! I love the Mira dress in grey field flower print from FW13/14, as its neckline and shape is so flattering. One of my all time favorites though, is the Florence dress in printed silk.

Vilshenko SS14
BH: How do you spend your time? Do you travel a lot? Where do you get inspired?

OV: I often travel a lot for work so when I do have time to myself I love to spend it in the country house with my family. Gardening is one of my hobbies; it inspires me as it's very relaxing and gives me time to think. I also feel inspired from art, architecture, history, literature and music. I love the unknown of what may lead you onto the next collection.

BH: Are you still working with Sarah Richardson, what impact does a great stylist have on refining the collection?

OV: We've worked with Sarah for five seasons and it's hard to underestimate her contribution to the brand's growth, she is a fantastic inspiration. Stylists are often the eyes and ears of a designer, so of course they make quite an impact on the collection - it's team work and I have been really lucky to work with great stylists. We have been working with Cathy Kasterine since the SS14 look book and we have just done a shoot with Cathy and photographer Yelena Yenchuk so I’m really excited to see the results of our collaboration.

Vilshenko SS14

Vilshenko SS14
BH: Lots of your designs references Russian folk costumes. Do you ever or have you ever worn these? Is tradition important to you?

OV: It's not so easy to find and wear Russian folk costumes. I have a collection of Russian vintage pieces I’ve been accumulating from villages hundreds of kilometres away from Moscow over the years. I find it very important to know and remember traditions because we are nothing without our past. I like to infuse traditional elements in my collections. I also think it's crucial to keep a balance between traditional and contemporary; nobody wants to wear costumes unless it's a masquerade.

The only time I wore a traditional costume was in nursery for a holiday when we were performing a traditional Russian dance. It was so much fun but a bit awkward because I was tripping over the long skirt all the time and my tiara was a bit too large so I couldn’t see anything either! 

BH: If we were visiting Moscow, what would be your insider tip for things to do?

OV: If you were visiting Moscow for the first time, I would recommend going to the Armor Museum on the Red Square – they keep unique treasures from Royal families, it’s truly stunning. Now that the Bolshoi Theatre is open again, it has become a Mecca for those who like the opera and ballet. To try Russian cuisine, go to Pushkin – they have most amazing and exotic Russian food and the interior is beautiful. Gorky Park is also very nice, during summer and in winter time when they set up a skating rink.

Vilshenko is available to buy at Avenue 32 (in a rather brilliant sale right now) and at M'oda O'perandi

All images courtesy of Vilshenko. Photographer, Yelena Yemchuk styled by Cathy Kasterine with model Zlata Mangafic

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Posted by Maya Peilow

Note from Bethan: Maya has been interning with us for the past few months and has written for us today about the curious lack of 360 degree views in catwalk images….

When was the last time you saw the back of a model in a catwalk image or even magazine shoot? I would hazard a guess that the answer is, probably, never. Even though everyone attending fashion shows gets a good front and back view of each look, it's not until the item goes up on e-commerce sites that we ever get to see the back again. So the daring scoop of a jumpsuit or the bustle of an amazingly tailored jacket is often completely missed on a line-up or in trend reports. It's up to interested showgoers to tweet and Instagram the best back-views but even those quickly disappear down the news feed. 

In a feature for The Cut’s ‘Out of the Box’, photographer and artist Erik Madigan Heck has revisited the Spring/Summer 2014 collections to make us reconsider them from behind. These photographs highlight the details and actual trends that are often missed, as viewers all-too-often focus on the front of a garment. The photographs are presented in two ways; firstly, in a chameleonic manner, whereby the prints are placed against a similar or an identical background and, secondly, against a plainer background, which emphasises the attention to detail on the back of the clothes.

Chanel paint palette dress, from behind by Erik Madigan Heck (via

Alberta Ferretti SS14 (via
So, what have we been missing out on from a back perspective in the SS14 shows? Raf Simons' slightly eerie collection comprised jewellery which reminded us of moss creeping down the models' backs. And in one of the best examples of front/back diversity, the Dior designer sent out a perfectly respectable shirt dress which turned into a shoulder-blade revealing, sequinned racer back once the back came into sight. One of my favourite examples is Alberta Ferretti's embroidered sundress which turns to become beautifully backless with clustered bunches of flowers.

Dior SS14 (via

Dior SS14 (via
There's one major designer who is paying serious attention to the back/ front issue. In his work for both his own label and for Balenciaga, Alexander Wang is employing clever tactics to make sure we notice every angle of his designs. I wouldn't be surprised actually if he had someone solely in charge of mirrors. 

Balenciaga Resort '14 (via

Balenciaga SS'14 (via
On the catwalk, he positions mirrors so that the images which are beamed around the internet demonstrate a reflection of the back of the look. With the Resort (and pre we expect), he can be even more tactical, photoshopping in details as if on mirrors which can easily be missed in the full-length shot to give a much more impactful message for each item. The shoe, the arm detail and the cut-out all get their moment. In his own label Pre-Fall, Wang has eschewed mirrors but still makes sure we get different focuses by getting models to pose at different angles. It's a simple tactic but completely changes the way we view the collection.

Alexander Wang Pre-Fall (via

Friday, December 13, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt and Maya Peilow

A flurry of last minute 2013 fashion and music happenings this week. No time for sitting back with a mince pie just yet...

NEWGEN and Fashion East winners announced

It's been a great week for Ryan Lo, Claire Barrow and Danielle Romeril who won NEWGEN sponsorship and along with it the chance to showcase to the world the incredible fashion talent which won over the hard-to-please NEWGEN panel- including our very own Melanie Rickey. Helen Lawrence and Louise Alsop also step onto the next rung of the fashion ladder winning support from Lulu Kennedy's fabulous Fashion East. That's some major fresh new talent to look forward to at LFW in February.

Danielle Romeril (via

Helen Lawrence (via
Louise Alsop (via

Beyonce Day

This Friday 13th has (basically officially) been declared Beyonce Day. The fabulous Bey blindsided the world by releasing an entire album complete with a full set of videos unannounced and with zero promo in the middle of the night. That woman. While we're taking it all in and planning all the occasions this weekend when it's going to be appropriate to play the eponymous album, here's your essential checklist of all the items required to recreate the album in looks:

Denim hot pants (obvs), a silky scarf dress (one for wafting and floating about in which you make look like wings), a pinstripe tuxedo suit, very dark purple lipstick/ nail varnish, a pants plus long sleeve crop top co-ord, stacks of rings, a baker boy cap and a hand chain. Got that?

Congratulations lovely David Koma

Speaking of NEWGEN, it's been a big day for former recipient David Koma who's hot the fashion big time and been appointed Creative Director at Thierry Mugler. Koma's fierce and super sexy design ethos will be the perfect fit for Mugler. Koma steps in to replace Nicola Formichetti whose good friend Lady Gaga famously modelled for the brand during his tenure.

Galliano has a newjob

John Galliano has landed the ultimate luxe drag costume designer gig. It has been confirmed that Galliano will design the costumes for Stephen Fry’s stage adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest, due to open next year. Galliano pipped Roland Mouret and Sarah Burton who were also rumoured to have been in the running for the job. In addition to directing the production, Fry will play Lady Bracknell.  Galliano joins a line of high fashion designers working on stage costumes; Chanel designed the costumes for Diaghilev’s Le Train Bleu in 1924 and, in 2011, Stefano Pilati, former head designer at Yves Saint Laurent, created the costumes for Harold Pinter’s Betrayal. However, Galliano is well experienced in this field, having dressed Judi Dench in the Lady Bracknell role back in 1982.

Judi Dench in Galliano as Lady Bracknell in 1982 (via

One of the top skiing destinations, Courchevel, is about to welcome some new guests. Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Prada boutiques will be taking to the Alpine slopes this winter. Prada’s chalet-like boutique is seated at the bottom of the slopes in Place du Rocher. It was designed by a Prada-loyal architect, Roberto Baciocchi, who has worked with the brand on their other stores. Louis Vuitton will also launch a pop-up at the resort, close to its permanent boutique. The pop-up will showcase a selection of products, including the new Capucines bag, as well as furs and jewellery. You can never have too much Louis Vuitton in one place! Chanel has gone one step further to make sure its arrival at the exclusive ski resort stands out. Karl Lagerfeld has adorned 36 out of 72 cable cars with Chanel sketches. Le ski, c'est chic!

This week, Mango announced that it would be launching a plus size range, Violeta, in the New Year. The range, set to hit European stores in mid-January, will come in sizes 12 to 24. The Spanish retailer is reported to have recruited a team of experts to address the technical details. The 400-piece collection, modelled by Australian plus-sized model, Robyn Lawley, is intended to be “comfortable, feminine and modern” and will be expanded gradually, with new products added on a monthly basis. The collection will be available online in the UK from 15 January. Our only question is- who decided that a size 12 is plus-sized?

When people speak of new and exciting young designers, you expect them to at least be a teenager. But Melissa Jade Aiello, better known as Missy, is only 12 and she’s already making a name for herself in the fashion industry. Having discovered her ability to draw, she set up a t-shirt label at the age of 9 with the aid of her mother, a model booker. She has drawn fashion icons, such as Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour and Donatella Versace, who she described as having “a really interesting face.” Her t-shirts are only available upon request, although she already has plans for expanding her business – she’s added a line of tote bags and is in talks to bring the label to a wider audience. In her own words, “fashion is really important to me because it defines who I am.”

This week, Hollywood actress Drew Barrymore confirmed that she is expecting a second baby girl with her husband Will Kopelman. The best bit though- and what sets the news part from your standard snippet of celebrity gossip- is the little one's nickname. The unborn child’s grandfather, Barrymore’s father-in-law, Arie Kopelman used to be chairman of Chanel and so  has declared that his fifth grandchild will be nicknamed Chanel no.5. We wonder how long he's been thinking about that?

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

When Suzy Menkes published her Circus of Fashion article in February, it understandably sparked extensive debate across the fashion spectrum. Bloggers, journalists, fashion fans, designers and industry insiders all had something to say in response to Menkes' complaint that the previously low-key rounds of international fashion weeks had been overtaken by hoards of "peacocks". Many agreed that the enormous (and oft overdressed) crowds were indeed getting out of hand, and what part were they really playing anyway? Others argued that bloggers- the group who took most of the flak as Menkes labelled them "legions of imitators"- help to democratise an industry which previously relied upon a tiny coterie of influencers to set its agenda. Everyone had their say but it wasn't quite clear whether any kind of consensus had been reached or if any of the people with real power, like fashion week organisers and the designers who host catwalk shows, were going to do anything about it. In fact, were we beyond the point of no return?

Anna dello Russo surrounded by photographers outside a show (via
As it approaches a year since Menkes wrote Circus of Fashion, it seems that some decisive action might begin to show a new direction for fashion weeks. New York has announced what can only be described as a crackdown on the breadth of attendees at its fashion week which kicks off proceedings each season. Using rather undiplomatically direct language, Catherine Bennett from organisers IMG said that NYFW "had become a zoo" and it was time to change the format so that invites were "once again an exclusive pass for true fashion insiders." Such comments might seem pretty galling for the not insignificant numbers of bloggers who work directly with designers on projects like sponsored posts, social media campaigns and in-store events. Even if they don't work directly with designer brands, when an influential blogger wears or promotes a designer in some way it can have just as much impact as a stylist including the piece in a shoot for a big magazine. You might say that the big magazine has more kudos than the blogger but the best bloggers can now inspire just as much trust from their audience as established publications.

In London, the British Fashion Council has also established a blogger strategy, gathering a panel of bloggers in order to better understand this ever growing sphere; they report that applications for blogger passes have increased by 25% each season since February 2011 meaning that there will be around 3,000 requests for access to LFW by bloggers by the time the September 2014 shows come around. London's approach is much more gentle than NY's, at least from a PR perspective. There have been no accusations thrown or sweeping statements made, the BFC is just quietly making a concerted effort to refine and properly vet the bloggers gaining access. They are sorting the truly impactful and effective sites from those which have been set up in five minutes and rarely posted on then used to get a pass into the swirl of events and shows which always makes fashion week seem so exciting.

Marc Jacobs' AW12 Louis Vuitton show in which an enormous steam train formed the centrepiece (via
There are small signs though that this is an issue which designers themselves are beginning to question. In an interview with Marie Claire last week, Marc Jacobs admitted that "things need to change" at Louis Vuitton. It's an ambiguous quote and probably just refers to the fact that, after 16 years at at the helm, he has left and been replaced by Nicolas Ghesquiere whose tenure is bound to usher in a complete refresh for LV. But if the change to which Jacobs refers has anything to do with the Vuitton show then the impact would be massive for Paris Fashion Week. The seven-day event ordinarily culminates in the extraordinary mega spectacle of the Vuitton show, finally setting the overarching theme for the season which has been playing out for the previous four weeks. If Ghesquiere's approach deviates from this model, then the fashion season will feel recalibrated at the very least.

Band of Outsiders might not be anywhere near as big a brand as Vuitton, but comments by designer Scott Strenberg this week could be indicative of a wider feeling of frustration among the smaller brands.  In an interview with Apartmento magazine picked up by Vogue, he spoke abut his admiration for Tom Ford's decision to step away from catwalk shows because "he doesn't have to do all this crap, waste all this fabric, make all these clothes that nobody is ever going to buy that's essentially for a few stylists to shoot and is part of the 'dog and pony show'." Ford might have triggered this feeling that there's another way for younger brands but he's now decided to return to the traditional show concept.

Ultimately, the future of fashion weeks will be decided when brands and organisers decide on their real function. There is so much which can now be done digitally- many cite Cathy Horyn's Saint Laurent review conducted solely from seeing the pictures online. I doubt there's much future in that as a common practice, not until they invent touch-and-feel-ability via the web anyway. This week, Chanel hosted their annual métiers d'art show in Dallas and received 24 hours of social media hype and coverage, as opposed to the 2-3 hours which shows get during fashion week before everyone moves on to the next. Whatever the future of fashion weeks, it will take a few more major shuffles akin to the one announced by New York last week for a new vision to start taking shape.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

By this point in the fashion season, trends can start to feel a little tired. Everything which seemed so cosy, fresh and inviting back in September feels "done" by now but let's not kid ourselves that any of the SS14 stock which will land in the coming weeks is really going to be wearable for a while yet- unless we get a freak February heatwave. Nope, what is really required at this time of year is a new wave of inspiration to get us through the last dregs of Winter.

ASOS and House of Hackney have come to the rescue with a gorgeous new collab which suddenly makes grunge- one of the biggest Autumn catwalk moods to transfer across the retail spectrum- feel exciting again. All tartan-ed out? House of Hackney's giant tasseled scarf might make you think again. Or perhaps it's the new take on dungarees- cropped, printed and in velvet- which will pep up your fashion outlook for the dark, cold months ahead. I also love the silky checked slip dress which will do just as well for NYE as for Glasto.

Frieda Gormley, the House of Hackney founder whom I had the pleasure of interviewing last year, says that it's the girls of Dalston they're surrounded by every day who really inspired them, so much so in fact that they've called the collection "Dalston Tart". Cheeky. If you're a Dalston tart yourself, or perhaps find yourself over that way one day then be sure to pop into the House of Hackney shop on Shoreditch High Street where the brand's maximal, witty, Victorian dandy vision comes to life beautifully.

Happy AW13, take 2.