Archive: January 2011

Islamabad’s first fashion week

A great article written by Huma Qureshi for The Guardian:

Forget the catwalks of London, Paris, New York and Milan. This year, there’s only one fashion week making history: the world’s very first Islamabad fashion week.

Pakistan’s capital city was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently after Salmaan Taseer, governor of the Punjab province, was shot dead three weeks ago outside the Kohsar shopping centre, but Islamabad, or Isloo as its affectionately called by locals, is determined to put that sad event behind it.

“Islamabad fashion week will change the way people think of Pakistan,” says Kamran Sani, one of the directors of Excellent Events & Entertainment, the company behind the four-day extravaganza that starts on Thursday. “There is a bright side to Pakistan, which is modern, secular and upwardly progressive. No one bothers to see that side – they see the Taliban, bomb blasts, floods, poverty. But Pakistan is alive and kicking and the time has come for our fashion industry to go global. The west needn’t be so surprised – global culture has fully crept in to Pakistan and our fashion designers are brilliant.”

As would be expected, security is tight. The venue, the Serena, a luxury hotel popular with foreigners, will be cordoned off and surrounded by guards, as will everything else within a half-kilometre radius. Guests are strictly by invite only, and include fashion journalists from Paris, Russia, Ukraine, Switzerland and even trendy Vice magazine. Sani says that he has done what he can to ensure the safety of designers, models and guests. “The rest is all in Allah’s hands.”

Pakistan’s fashionistas are determined to make an appearance. “Everyone is worried about their security in Pakistan,” says Andleeb Rana Farhan, editor-in-chief of Pakistani fashion monthly Xpozé. “But these ‘by invitation only’ events tend to be secure. Besides, life moves on, and as a fashion editor I’ll go wherever I need to.”

Among Pakistanis, Isloo is known as the clean city that goes to sleep at 7pm, and not a lot happens. Will its fashion week really put Islamabad on the map for the right reasons? “Well, just the fact that a four-day fashion event is happening there is very exciting,” says Farhan. “It makes a change to the usual political news that we only ever hear from Islamabad.”

“There’s this idea that Pakistan couldn’t possibly have a fashion scene, that it’s poverty-stricken and full of economic and social problems,” says Manchester-based fashion writer Nazma Noor, who blogs at and says she’ll be following the fashion week closely online. “But people forget there are a lot of very rich Pakistani people who are incredibly fashion-forward – in terms of Asian fashion, the UK is always behind Pakistan.”

Of the confirmed designers showcasing at Islamabad fashion week, two stand out – Nilofer Shahid, whose label Meeras has dressed Madonna and Jemima Khan, and Ammar Belal, whose jeans reportedly sell in Sex and the City stylist Patricia Field’s New York boutique.

Whether or not traditionalist mullahs will be up in arms over models strutting their stuff down a catwalk remains to be seen, as too do Sani’s optimistic claims that the fashion week will turn Islamabad into one of the world’s fashion capitals. But the fashion industry is defiant.

“There’s definitely a lot of uncertainty in the air and a war between ‘them’ and ‘us’ – them being the mullahs, and us being the open-minded liberals who want a change,” says Farhan. “The latter have come to a point where they’ve stopped giving a damn and just want to have a good time. The Pakistani fashion industry is on a roll.”

(Editor’s note: Check out the Islamabad Fashion Week website for further information about the event and be amused, as I was, by the choice of music on the website. Plan B anyone? Westernisation at its best, I think.)

Alexis Mabille opens Couture Week

As the menswear collections end, after a month of runways showing us what’s to come for autumn/winter 2011/12, the fashion glitterati move back to 2011 as women across the globe imagine what they’d be wearing this spring/summer if they could afford to pay £100,000 for a dress. This morning, the world’s most expensive outfits took to the catwalk, as Couture Week gets underway in Paris.

Young couturier Alexis Mabille opened this morning with a subtle, romantic collection that saw the return of the designer’s embroidery skills. An improvement on last year’s vertically splicing, bi-coloured looks, the predominantly white collection is adorned with floral, applique and sheer detailing, clearly attempting to target wealthy brides-to-be. I loved this collection, very beautiful.

However, I didn’t care much for Bouchra Jarra, who followed: too frumpy, too heavy and too oppressive. I’m being unfair. It’s just that, for me, Haute Couture is beautiful, hedonistic, “I need that in my life” dresses and intricate detailing, not heavy layered suits.

As I write this one of the most anticipated shows of the week, Christian Dior, is about to begin. Last year he presented a stunning collection of flower inspired dresses that were so magical, that had Galliano been born in the 17th century he’d have been burnt at the stake.

This will then be followed by Giorgio Armani Privé, which has already been previewed. Tomorrow, both Chanel and Givenchy take to the catwalk, and Wednesday plays host to Jean Paul Gaultier, Elie Saab, Valentino and Stéphane Rolland.

Kate Moss and Lea T embrace the latest Love cover

My love affair with Love covers continues with the latest edition of the magazine, which sees transsexual model Lea T. and a masculine-styled Kate Moss lock lips for the androgyny issue, bluntly titled, “This is hardcore”.

Editor Katie Grand told the Telegraph how she met Riccardo Tisci’s muse, Lea T., remembering, “I was by the pool at the Copacabana Palace Hotel when I saw her. At first I didn’t notice her gender; just that she was wearing Givenchy couture and looked amazing!”

Lea, born Leandro Cerezo, the son of Brazilian football player Toninho Cerezo, was discovered by Givenchy’s creative director Riccardo Tisci. She went on to star in his campaigns, pose for French Vogue and the cover of Italian Vanity Fair. I wrote an in-depth article about her: here

The striking image for Love, shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, will no doubt see issues flying off the shelves. Unfortunately, this will probably be over-shadowed by the simultaneous Justin Bieber cover, as Beliebers or Bieberites (or whatever the hell the kids are calling themselves these days) scramble over themselves to own anything and everything with his face on it.

Renowned for releasing multiple covers per issue, it appears that Justin Bieber’s feminine looks have landed him the tounge-in-cheek cover shot.  Although it hasn’t been released how the Bieber/Love connection was made, I wonder if the singer was informed that his cover would in fact be for the androgyny issue. I hope the answer is yes, and that the performer, who has even inspired a website, ‘Lesbians who look like Justin Bieber‘, where readers can send in pictures of female lookalikes, was fair game.

The latest issue of bi-annual Love magazine goes on sale on February 7th.

Pugh’s creative direction

Found via Vogue UK:

“Flattered but inappropriate” was the reaction Gareth Pugh gave when his name was suggested as the successor to the late Alexander McQueen’s label. “There have been so many rumours. How many jobs can one person do? To be honest with you, I thought that the McQueen thing was a little in bad taste with the circumstances surrounding that. It is vaguely flattering but obviously the inappropriateness did rather take over,” Pugh, in Florence to make his Italian debut with Pitti, told Vogue.

“I met him a couple of times but I didn’t know him as a person, I never worked with him. They obviously have a very specific way of working there and Sarah Burton worked with him for a long, long time and to be given that role and responsibility is a tough one.”


Gareth Pugh at Pitti

Making his Italian fashion debut with a reimagining of the Sistine Chapel, Gareth Pugh showcased his designs at Pitti Immagine #79 via a film created by Ruth Hogben. Projected onto the ceiling of Orsanmichele, a 14th-century church, Pugh’s collection, which was inspired by religious iconography and Florentine opulence, melded with the grand traditions and art of the ancient city.

“Basically we’re doing a film like a fresco. So the screen is going to be the ceiling and the idea was to, rather than just bring a new collection, bring the universe, the Gareth Pugh universe, to introduce who I am and what I do to a new audience,” Pugh told Vogue only hours ahead of the grand unveiling.

“The idea is that the audience will stand in a cloud. We’re using the top space in the old building and it’s quite a journey to get up there and it feels very high. This evening we’ve got this smoke so it’s like you’re in a cloud, looking up into this world.”

And Pugh’s world is one of considerable imagination, attention to detail and hard-work. When the designer appeared as part of the Fashion East line-up, back in 2005, he was a solo endeavour with no financial backing and no means of bulk production.

“I do what feels right to me. Back then I didn’t have any worries with regards to making clothes that would sell in shops. When Lulu [Kennedy, founder of Fashion East] asked me to do Fashion East I had just left college and a lot of people present their stuff there when they have factories and production in place. I didn’t do that so ever since I have been playing catch up,” recalls the designer, who has since gone on to open a standalone shop with Hong Kong-based retailer I.T. Group and become a regular fixture on the Paris Fashion Week schedule following his ANDAM award win in 2008.

He added, “You have to remember, when I’m showing in Paris I’m showing next to people like Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent and huge houses that obviously have teams and teams and armies of people to do things for them.”

But teams and teams and armies of people aren’t really what Pugh would want anyway, preferring instead to maintain control of his vision, something which is very important to him and through which he finds film to be a perfect outlet.

“For me it [film] brings back control. With a live show you only have a certain amount of control over what you do. When models go out they can fall over, photographers can take bad pictures, the models can have their eyes closed, the outfit could be blowing some weird way that looks awful and obviously those pictures of my work or my show define me as a designer for the next six months. If those pictures are awful, I’m not going to be very happy,” says Pugh, noting an instance in which a catwalk look was lost due to a wardrobe malfunction where an intern mixed up the outfit. “But shit happens,” he levels.

Emmanuelle Alt is French Vogue editor

After the surprise departure of Carine Roitfeld last month, it has been announced today that Emmanuelle Alt has been appointed the new editor-in-chief of French Vogue. Alt takes the position after a decade at Condé Nast’s Paris operation, where she is credited with styling some of the magazine’s most memorable spreads.

Alt began her career in 1990 at Elle, becoming fashion director aged 20 – which is my age and impossibly depressing – before undertaking the same role at Mixte. The 43-year-old fashion journalist joined French Vogue in late 2000, months before Roitfeld, after being recruited by Condé Nast International’s chairman, Jonathan Newhouse.

“Vogue Paris is performing strongly and I wish to entrust the editor-in-chief position to someone who will ensure a certain continuity, while bringing a new energy and dimension,” Xavier Romatet, president of Condé Nast France, said. “Emmanuelle has all the professional and personal qualities required to maintain Vogue Paris as a world reference among fashion magazines. Vogue Paris will remain the most important fashion, beauty and cultural magazine, working with the world’s greatest photographers and stylists, who Emmanuelle knows perfectly. I totally trust her to manage this prestigious brand and develop it in all its dimensions, including digital.”

Alt said, “It’s a great honour for me, but also a great pleasure to get to the head of Vogue Paris that I know very well. I will try to develop the incredible potential of Vogue Paris while working with very talented teams.”

Emmanuelle will work in close collaboration with Olivier Lalanne, deputy editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, whose field of responsibility is widened. Lalanne will also oversee the editorial direction of the magazine Vogue Hommes International.