Archive: October 2009

Would you take style advice from Katie Price?

No sane fashion critic would ever look at professional attention seeker, Katie Price (formerly known back in her glamour modelling days simply as Jordan) and say she has style. Yet, Jordan is not letting that get her down, as she’s come up with the ultimate “style” guide to help women learn to recreate her outfits, her makeup and even her surgically altered features.

“People are scared of Botox as they think their face is going to end up frozen and blank-looking,” explains Katie in one keynote address from Standing Out, “but I don’t have a very expressive face anyway so I don’t worry about not being able to show emotion. It’s not like I’m an actor and need to have that ability.”

But it’s not all cyborg glitz. “I remember one time I had a charity job in a poor part of India,” begins one heart-rending passage. “I arrived to find my suitcase had split and everything had vanished, so I didn’t have anything to wear for the job, no make-up, toiletries – nothing. As there were no shops I had to spend the whole three days of our trip in what I had been wearing on the plane. That was pretty shit, I can tell you.”

And there the anecdote ends, redefining the concept of putting things into perspective.

If you buy this book you need professional help. Fact.

Anyway, this blog was just an excuse to look at the orange lady’s terrible outfit choices, let’s all prepare to shake our heads in disgust.

Outrage over Vogue photographs

French Vogue has never been one to tiptoe around controversy. Recently it has published photos of supposedly pregnant models puffing cigarettes [see pictures to the right], supporting devil worshipping and leather-clad glamazons kissing with blood pouring from their mouths.

Now, though, the magazine may have gone too far for even the most dedicated followers of fashion. Its October edition features pictures of Dutch model Lara Stone in which the naturally pale-skinned blonde’s face and body are painted black. The photo shoot, styled by the magazine’s long-time editor, Carine Roitfeld, provoked outrage today as its subject spread through internet forums and fashion websites. The US blog Jezebel criticised the decision of Roitfeld and photographer Steven Klein to alter the model’s skin colour, accusing them of cultural insensitivity.

“What Klein and Roitfeld should know … is that painting white people black for the entertainment of other white people is offensive in ways that stand entirely apart from cultural context,” it said. “France and Australia may not have the United States’ particular history of minstrel shows … but something about the act of portraying a white woman as black ought to sound an alarm, somewhere.”

French Vogue said the magazine was unaware of any controversy. Neither Roitfeld nor Stone’s agents at the IMG model agency in New York or Paris were available for comment.

Dominique Sopo, president of the French organisation SOS Racisme, said that even if the shoot was not racist in intention it was certainly “tactless”.
“If the aim was artistic, and not to pass off the model as a black girl, the fact that it produces such reactions shows that the world of images – advertising, fashion, whatever – is now paying for its long tradition of not allowing black people to show their bodies in public.”

Before starting this blog, perhaps in my naivety, I didn’t realise just how political fashion was and how many people it’s capable of offending. I suppose the clue is in the name; people are worried that behaviour they deem offensive will become “fashionable” and therefore acceptable.

It never seizes to amaze me at how diverse the fashion industry is (business, politics, creative) and how much it affects us; that selling clothes can cause so much controversy, how the clothes are made can cause so much controversy, that a picture can cause so much controversy.

Janet Street Porter – an actual moron

In a previous article I believe I fairly debated the “normal size” woman versus the thinner woman used within the fashion industry.

Today Janet Street Porter commented in the Daily Mail about how Vanessa Feltz is a better role model then Lily Cole.

She wrote:

“Lily Cole, who looks like a boiled egg on a stick… is highly intelligent, but let’s be honest, she’s not exactly normal-looking. She looks a bit like a Thunderbirds puppet, huge eyes, a big head and a tiny body.”

How rude. I wonder if she would say this to any “normal”, thin woman or if this kind of witty attack is reserved only for models?

“Surrounded by airbrushed images of females we can never emulate, we desperately need some new role models. Forget bloody Lily Cole – how about Vanessa Feltz, who should consider putting herself forward to Brigitte for a spot of modelling.

Sometimes I worry about looking like a badly packed sausage when I venture out to parties – does my midriff bulge show and is my jacket managing to hide a multitude of sins? I’ve seen enough pictures of myself looking like Mrs Chubby Drawers to hold my stomach in every time I see a camera.

But Vanessa is a very different high-profile woman. She was photographed in a skin-tight pale pink beaded frock last week, smiling happily and weighing in at quite a few sizes bigger than the size 12 she dieted and exercised to back in 1999.

Vanessa looks great – more importantly, her expression says she couldn’t give a stuff what anyone thinks anyway! Go girl!”

Perhaps Ms Street Porter should do her research considering the Daily Mail was happily slagging off Vanessa Feltz earlier in the year.

But yes, she’s absolutely right. Why would anyone admire Lily Cole; a beautiful, intelligent, Cambridge-educated, talented model and actress when they could admire Vanessa Feltz: an obese (which is just as unhealthy as anorexia), brash, tacky, frankly insane (let us not forget her Big Brother moment), unintelligent (I’m sure she is smart, being also Cambridge taught, but based on interviews and written work she clearly wants us to assume otherwise) woman?

Janet Street Porter clearly wanting to get in on the sizing debate…and failing miserably.

The best of Paris Fashion Week

And that’s all folks, Paris fashion week is over and wasn’t it amazing? Here’s a review of the best the city of romance had to offer:

Alexander McQueen


See a full report: here

Chanel


See a full report: here

Balmain


If you’ve been shopping recently you can see the effects of Balmania everywhere, you can’t move for a shoulder pad and those sequin body-con dresses are sitting tight in every high street window. Having carved such a strong and signature look for the last two seasons, where was Decarnin going to go next?

“It’s warrior women and the military with a mix of different times and a touch of Mad Max,” the designer told the International Herald Tribune, concisely summing up the metal mesh dresses, medallion-dotted military blazers, vests and T-shirts with rips and holes in them as though the models had been caught in a crossfire, and sequin carnage camouflage overlays.

I couldn’t help thinking though that Balmain were paying homage to themselves by creating a collection similar to the last two popular seasons; we’ve already seen the military jacket’s and the studded dresses. Obviously, I thought this collection was amazing, I think Balmain are amazing, but perhaps this was just because I’d already seen and adored this collection twice before.

Gareth Pugh

See a full report: here

Hussein Chalayan

Hilary Alexander wrote of Chalayan’s collection: “Navy and white were key in a collection which evoked the Côte d’Azur of the Fifties”. I felt this best summerised a collection which was made for some resort in Deauville or Havana, or any other playground of the rich and idle in the Fifties.

Accompanied by the Italian rumba band, Farniente (which translates to “doing nothing”), Chalayan proceeded to describe the meaning behind each outfit, his concept was the fact that idleness has replaced the ancient tenets of a religious society, I don’t really agree but each to their own and Hussein Chalayan is amazing.

The collection itself began with tailored short suits which had dramatically cutaway sides, and were accessorised with swimming hats and sci-fi sunglasses propped on top like goggles. There was black or white column dresses with circles cut out of the back, which had a sophisticated elegance, and came with wide-brimmed matching hats.

The beautiful jersey dresses had wide, shiny belts and high leg splits and seemed more Chalayan-esque, especially when they featured fake pointed (removable), breasts beneath. Blue and white striped versions had Riviera elegance but then neoprene jackets and bodices with floaty chiffon sleeves and floor-length skirts were a consummate example of Chalayan’s combination of scientific interest with his designer vision.

White goddess gowns, in stretch jersey, featured hands in fabric or plastic, clasping the halter-neck straps, perhaps underlying the grip materialism has on life in the 21st century.

Lanvin


Alber Elbaz presented, what must surely be, his finest collection with what he calls the “new minimalist” look.

The show opened with a black dress boasting a huge ruffle around one shoulder and cinched in at the waist, this was followed by beautifully shaped Tuxedo dresses that were styled with a single black glove. Strapless minis were drawn in at the back to produce a vertical spine of fabric, while taffeta dresses of red and rose pink had a single puffed shoulder and fell in plump swathes from nude under slips. However, nude and black silk dresses and jump suits were the most elegant, single-shouldered offerings of all.

The finale of heavily embellished jumpsuits and dresses (and one show-stopping pair of liquid gold trousers) was an appropriate celebratory end to a show that celebrated a sophisticated female form.

Louis Vuitton


Marc Jacob’s geek chic collection for Louis Vuitton was a melting pot of travellers, hikers, skate kids, dolls and cartoons, with an overall sporty mix of cycling shorts, backpacks and bum bags. Girl after girl travelled down the catwalk wearing gigantic fluffy afro wigs of every colour but throughout the course of this ugly duckling show, the models slowly transformed into enviably sassy and totally original stylistic statements: unconventionally, uniquely cool.

I did like this collection but I think it was just too busy for me, I like my designs to be sleek and the clash of so many colours made it hard for me to actually see the designs, hey, I like my colours to be basic.

Little mini dresses (everything came above the knee) were made with panels of sparkly pink, green or blue brocades. Strips of denim there were tasseled and beaded to match the fur and bauble-strewn accessories of the huge rucksack bags and sandals they were worn with.

Sporty white mesh dresses were woven with neon laces or blue tie-dyed ribbons, with a touch of lamé in gorgeous cropped jackets, with drawstring waistbands or glittering hot pant-aloons, added glamour.
Vogue wrote that they were “pleased to see a younger Vuitton girl after the sex kittens of autumn/winter and the tribal-inspired glamazons of spring/summer 2009, it made us start gossiping immediately about who he’s planning to pick for the ad campaign.

Mui Mui


Fashion may well be fascinated with all things Eighties right now but Miuccia Prada has her sartorial interests vested in the Seventies which, today, proved part inspiration for the designer’s Mui Mui collection.

“It is fresh – about how innocence can survive in this world,” explained the designer to the International Herald Tribune. And so cat, daisy, puppy and swallow prints playfully adorned super-cropped jackets and boleros that barely covered breasts beneath (though the models were wearing shirts of contrasting cute print), narrow-leg trousers stopping just shy of the ankles – which were gripped with golden daisy or raspberry bird print boots – and sweet pleated school skirts. The palette was of midnight magic in soft shades of pale lilac, pink, black, indigo and later tan, beige and gold.

There was something youthful and innocent about this collection; Jean Shrimpton lashes and long tousled braided hair made for Miu Miu’s Lolita girls, who stepped out in beautifully high and stacked platform Mary Janes in golden yellow, baby blue and bright cerise.

Sonia Rykiel


Last week fashion was busy getting excited over the prospect of Sonia Rykiel bringing her sassy Parisian chic to the shores of Britain via a new collaboration with high street giant H&M, this week the industry is excited by the prospect of Rykiel’s spring/ summer 2010 collection.

Models danced, yes danced, their way down the catwalk in long length padded gilets, belted at the waist, transforming them into the chicest of outdoor attire; in sheer black stockings andquilted turquoise brassieres with matching French knickers and sugarplum pink sheer shirts.

They pranced in bobbly woven cardigans and in neat little blazer and skirt suits; in dinky striped tops in shades of yellow and blue and cerise; and in transparent shiny macs with emblazoned “SR” bodies beneath.

And they jived in silky pajama suits splashed in cornflower blue; star-dotted sheer chemises (that showed off big knickers beneath), gathered at the waist and cut away at the cleavage; and Forties tea dresses with falling flowers wafting about their skirts.

Oh, what fun it is to be a Rykiel girl.

Surface To Air teams up with Solve Sundsbo

This month fashion label and creative agency Surface to Air has not only masterminded Uniqlo’s first store opening in Paris but has also teamed up with Norwegian, fashion photographer Solve Sundsbo who has designed a capsule collection for the company.

Creating three prints entitled Parrot, Hair Dress and Dry Clean Bag the photographer has developed three key pieces with the fashion team: a top, a dress and a fabric bag printed with the famed lensman’s stunning, trippy, ethereal images, all of which can be seen here

Prices start at 140 Euros.

Yohji Yamamoto files for bankruptcy

Coming after an extremely memorable show at Paris Fashion Week, Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, one of the most influential designers of our time, has filed for bankruptcy.

Best known for his Y3 Adidas tie-up, the Japanese designer said that the downturn had impacted sales and landed it with debts of 6bn yen (£42m). Yohji Yamamoto has filed for bankruptcy in the Tokyo courts but fortunately under Japanese law, he can keep the business afloat while restructuring takes place.

Integral Corporation, the investment firm, has signed a deal to sponsor Yohji Yamamoto and inject cash. Integral has entered in to a sponsor agreement to invest in the Yohji Yamamoto and Limi Yamamoto brands, it will also assist with management resources.

Integral’s Yoshihiro Hemmi, formerly vice-president of Adidas Japan, will become chairman of the fashion house’s board.

Ralph Lauren apologises for extreme digital retouching

There has been a lot of criticism recently for the use of editing fashion photography and giving women unattainable figures, especially in retouching photos of celebrities to make them look thinner. In the last few days another sizing debate has sprung up but this time, rightly so. Ralph Lauren have been criticised for digitally retouching size 8 model, Filippa Hamilton, to such a dramatic distortion that her head was wider then her waist.

Ralph Lauren quickly apologised yesterday for the botched photograph. A spokesman for Ralph Lauren said: “For over 42 years, we have built a brand based on quality and integrity.

After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body.

We have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the calibre of our artwork represents our brand appropriately.”

Yesterday the eating disorders charity Beat welcomed the company’s apology but warned fashion firms to use their power responsibly:

“We are obviously very glad Ralph Lauren have realised that digitally enhancing people like this can cause a lot of upset,’ a spokeswoman said.

“They have a very powerful influence that can be highly toxic to young and vulnerable people. Fashion can be creative and uplifting but the fashion houses must realise the impact they can have on people suffering from all sorts of issues in their lives.”

Irving Penn obituary

Parts taken from The Guardian, read the full article here

Irving Penn, who has died aged 92, was one of the great photographers of the 20th century. His fashion pictures appeared in Vogue from the 1940s onwards, but he became known, too, for his portraits of writers, artists, celebrities, children and tradesmen, as well as his studies of tribesmen, nudes and still-lifes, which found beauty in decaying fruit or cigarette ends. He once claimed that “photographing a cake can be art”.

(more…)

Sarah Coggles angers rivals over Grazia promotion

Found on Drapers, designer independent Sarah Coggles has angered its market rivals after launching a 30%-off promotion across its Coggles.com website in women’s glossy magazine Grazia.

Premium indies including Sunday Best in Rawtenstall, Lancashire, Newcastle upon Tyne-based Jules B and Emporio Clothing in Worcester, have lambasted Sarah Coggles owner Mark Bage for offering the discount on more than 200 brands – including Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood Anglomania and Nicole Farhi – for two weeks until October 12.

The trio of indies baulked at the level of the discount, and the high-profile ad and cover line – Grazia sells about 228,700 copies a week. They claimed the promotion hit their bottom lines and reduced customer demand for new season autumn product.

Indies generally do not discount outside of the traditional Sale periods during the year, but they have seen their market share eroded by recent heavy discounting by multiple department stores.

“I was horrified to see this from a reputable retailer,” said Rhona Blades, co-owner of Jules B, which sells brands including Vivienne Westwood Anglomania and Twenty8Twelve. “It’s an approach that is bad for the industry and the repercussions have been phenomenal. Sarah Coggles has offended colleagues in the industry.”

Bage defended the move and Sarah Coggles’ reputation as a retailer with a strong track record where promotional activity is concerned. “We rarely do promotions and that hasn’t changed,” said Bage. “We had to break one of our own rules and it was a one-off. I thought long and hard about it and came to the conclusion that if any other indie was in my shoes and Grazia said ‘you can go on the front cover’, they wouldn’t have turned it down.”

Paula Jauncey, owner of Emporio Clothing in Worcester, which sells Paul Smith and Joseph, said: “It was cavalier and we are furious. Customers have started bargaining with us and the designer ethos then becomes market trader.”

It is understood that a number of brands involved in the promotion asked to be withdrawn from it following calls from angry stockists.

The boss of one brand involved said: “Part of me feels ‘good on him’, and the other part understands why people are irate as it’s not ideal to set a precedent. It’s a gamble unless you’re a massive department store and you can get away with it.”

Sunday Best owner Jan Shutt added: “There is a gentlemen’s agreement when it comes to RRP. It’s good to make a stand to address this.”

Oh dear. Yes, this practise is unethical but on the plus side, discounted designer clothes anyone?

Paris Fashion Week – Gareth Pugh

I’ve loved Gareth Pugh for several years now and have watched him as he’s gained the fashion industry’s attention: gaining popularity at London Fashion Week with his abstract and body altering collections, being transferred to Paris Fashion Week, gaining press attention through celebrities wearing his designs (Roisin Murphey, Kylie, Beyonce and Rihanna to name a few), his first menswear collection, LVMH confirming they’re responsible for financially backing his shows. So, I was exciting to see what this designer would dream up for his Spring / Summer 2010 collection.

With a front row that boasted Rihanna (she couldn’t stop declaring how she “loved it”), Terence Koh, Mario Testino, Michael Stipe and Daphne Guinness, what was once a certain type of clientale/fanbase for Pugh has surely expanded somewhat and this collection is yet another milestone in Pugh’s establishment in Paris.

The film that Gareth Pugh debuted at an installation during New York Fashion Week was supposed to be a precursor to the newest collection and whilst it got the mood and the colours spot on, you would not have been able to guess the sort of shape shifting that Pugh would show in Paris, a collection that moved in a new direction, veering away from the menacing looks the designer favours for a more wearable wardrobe.

Cue the trench coat that was the opener for the collection, thickly belted and boasting layers of skirt beneath it. Next, there were jackets corseted into shape by zips, dresses that streamlined the body into place with black semi-circular panels at the flanks and a palette of grey (from dove to slate, and often doubled up together).

Overall, this collection was far softer than anything Pugh has created before; the shapes flowed, as opposed to previous collections where designs were more restrictive. Models floated down the runway in their softer fabrics, where before they appeared to be stomping out for war. They were styled with red smudged eyes that looked like they hadn’t slept, and wore grey hair bands that matched their clothes and came out as a dark serenity.

I was disappointed to see the same dress (pretty much) that he designed for Spring / Summer 2009 – see the pictures to the right for comparison. And the use of the same tessellating triangle shapes. Similarly, the menswear collection toyed with the same shape vocabulary as previous collections with perhaps a bigger emphasis on structure. I hope he doesn’t think to repeat this style again or the fashion industry will get bored and lose its’ dark side.