Fashion and other lies | Or, how I started writing again

The Diana Vreeland documentary, “The Eye Has to Travel”, inspired me to write again because I felt conflicted after watching it. On the one hand I was inspired by her genius, her wanderlust spirit and her creativity. On the other hand, it emphasised the liberties fashion takes with the truth.

I didn’t intentionally stop writing, it just kind of happened. I think a lot of bloggers go through this. They just kind of forget what it was that they loved about their blog in the first place, or real life intervenes. For me writing became a routine, and a chore, rather than an opportunity to be creative. I started to feel like I was writing about things just for the sake of having something to upload and not because it was something that interested me anymore.

I was finding it increasingly difficult to find inspiration. I love fashion’s connection to history and culture, but I also love the art and theater of it. I like the ridiculous (and the un-wearable), the innovative and the shocking. I suppose it’s what consistently drew me towards Gareth Pugh, Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan and John Galliano. However, I started to feel uninspired, like it was all just a little bit too corporate and predictable for me. Friends that I’d graduated with knew their place in the industry. They knew that they wanted to be stylists, journalists or in PR/marketing and for a long time I just felt lost.

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Franca Sozzani’s interview with New York Times

The following is an article and interview on Franca Sozzani taken from The New York Times (link here), by Eric Wilson. Although Wilson has taken a sarcastic approach and appears less than impressed by her, I cannot express how brilliant I think this woman is. She cracks me up.

Franca Sozzani, the outspoken editor in chief of Italian Vogue for 23 years, has been in the news a lot lately after publishing issues with provocative themes, like one with only black models in 2008, or the so-called curvy issue this summer. She also pushes a lot of hot-topic buttons on her blog and Twitter accounts.

With her newsmaking quips, she’s practically become this season’s Carine Roitfeld or Karl Lagerfeld, telling Newsweek that Dior should “hire back John Galliano,” and Time that Silvio Berlusconi “gives the impression that Italy is one big casino.” (Ellen note: The Italian word for casino is “casino'”, with an accent on the ‘o’. Without the accent, the word means “brothel”. I suspect that Franca Sozzani said that Silvio Berlusconi gives the impression that “Italy is one big brothel”. Which sounds much more likely. Thanks MarianD)

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Giles Deacon leaves Ungaro

Yesterday Vogue.co.uk reported that Giles Deacon, after only two seasons, has left his position as creative director of Emanuel Ungaro.

The British designer received rave reviews after his debut collection with the grand French fashion house. For spring/summer 2011, the media applauded his ability to create evening gowns that had just the coquettish appeal the label was once famous for. Deacon reminded his audience that Ungaro is one of the last remaining couture houses and women still travel to its Avenue Montaigne headquarters to order precious, made-to-measure designs created by some of the most accomplished technicians in the world.

However, hoping to focus on his own brand and upcoming projects Giles Deacon has decided now is the time to move on.

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Topman apologise for offensive t-shirts following Twitter outcry

Public outcry on social networking website, Twitter, has created such a storm (even bordering a PR disaster) that it has forced high-street retailer, Topman, to remove two offensive t-shirts from both shops and online.

While slogan t-shirts are usually of bad taste, read cliché messages and/or are tacky, you have to wonder, surely these misogynistic messages must have raised a few eyebrows in the buying or public relations department? One of the t-shirts in question reads “Nice New Girlfriend: What Breed Is She?”, while the other lists a series of excuses for an apparent act of domestic violence, including “You provoked me”, “I was drunk” and, “I hate you”.

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Westfield: 100 years of style

I just wanted to draw your attention to how lovely this Westfield video is really.

To mark the launch of new East End shopping centre, Westfield Stratford, “100 Years of Style” is a viral video  celebrating the dance, music and fashion of East London, in just 100 seconds.

Directed by Jake Lunt, with The Viral Factory, the video travels through ten decades, with roughly six outfits for each decade. Apparently, the music was created by Tristin Norwell, who took a simple tune and interpreted it for each decade. Complimenting this, a couple dance, waltz, jive, mosh and rave their way into the 21st century.

More than the dancing and music, it’s the beautiful observation of changing style that I think is brilliant. The video begins at 1911, there’s a quick glimpse of 20s flapper before we travel through wartime tailoring and military uniform – with a brief absence of the male partner until he returns the following decade – 40s tea dresses, Dior’s 1947 New Look, 50s rockers melt into 60s hippies and then 70s flower children. Punks are quickly replaced by disco dancers, while the 80s observes power dressing and acid-high ravers. The 90s waves in Brit Pop and those horrible combat trousers and puffa gilet’s, that I unfortunately remember too well, before we evolve into Boho chic and finally the smart/casual tailoring of 2011.

Westfield Stratford City opens 13th September 2011.

Nancy Upton too XLent for American Apparel

It comes as no surprise that I’m not won over by American Apparel or Dov Charney’s antics. I can’t respect a man who is quite clearly, well, a bit of a prick. Focusing on the company, however, one of American Apparel’s more distasteful policies is their long-held refusal to make plus-size products or to market to over size 10s at all. At present, a ‘large’ fits a small size 12. Their reasoning? Plus-sized women “aren’t their demographic.”

In a backhanded attempt at an olive branch (or perhaps their repositioning amid new fears they’ll be bankrupt very soon), American Apparel launched an online competition to find a plus size model to be the face and body of their new XL line. The XL line that would be for sizes 14 to 16, the average size of a woman in the UK.

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Abercrombie’s Situation and Lacoste’s request

Reversing the normal rules of product endorsement, Abercrombie & Fitch have offered a “substantial” sum to Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino – or any cast member from MTV’s popular ‘reality’ show Jersey Shore – not to wear their clothes.

In a report released in August, a spokesperson for the preppy teen retailer said, “We are deeply concerned that Mr Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We have therefore offered a substantial payment to Michael ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino and the producers of MTV’s Jersey Shore to have the character wear an alternate brand. We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response.”

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Cartoon supermodel Polly Bean signed to Premier

Satirical cartoon character Polly Bean has become the first fictional supermodel to be ‘signed up’ to the Special Division of Premier Model Management.

Known as one of the top modelling agencies, with alumni faces such as Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer and Linda Evangelista, Premier recently invited the world into their hectic London office. The seven-part fly-on-the-wall documentary, ‘The Model Agency’, was shown on channel four in February 2011. The programme was a surprising, fascinating, bitchy and perhaps just a little bit controversial portrayal of Carol White’s agency. Throughout, White was the head-strong, eccentric protagonist, so it’s hardly a surprise that Polly Bean would choose to partner with Premier.

A creation of Neil Kerber, Polly Bean was born out of the cartoonist’s “Supermodel” strip, which has appeared in Private Eye for the last twenty years. A witty observation of the fashion industry, the creator said of Polly;

“After appearing in many of the strips, Polly is now emerging as a true star, breaking away and slowly starting to build her own following inside the fashion world. Apart from Polly’s obvious stunning beauty, and fantastic talents as a supermodel, what makes Polly so special is the wonderful way she commentates on the latest trends and issues, using incredible wit and humour, entertaining as she informs. Polly Bean is talking, and the fashion world is starting to listen.”

Burberry: From Plough Horse to Thoroughbred?

For some time I’ve wanted to write an article about the change in Burberry as a business, about the time I had a lecture with Christopher Bailey, which was the same week I attended a Q&A with Colin McDowell (who talked about Burberry), and the time I went to Burberry AW ’10 at LFW.

As of yet I haven’t got around to it. I know, I’m hopeless. So, for now, there’s this rather great article from The Business of Fashion:

LONDON, United Kingdom — Fourteen years ago, Burberry was all but put out to pasture, suffering from a dusty image and its logo being pasted on cake tins, doilies and aprons. Rose-Marie Bravo was put in the saddle and took Burberry for a ride down Chav lane to the gates of the luxury racecourse. Despite doing a great job in fixing Burberry over her nine-year tenure, setting the foundations for her successor and consistently beating market expectations, the jury was still out as to whether Burberry could ever become a thoroughbred luxury brand.

The next phase of growth was spearheaded by Angela Ahrendts, who joined Burberry in 2006. Since her arrival Burberry has galloped to the top of the luxury valuation leaderboard, more than doubling in turnover and market capitalisation to £1.5 billion and £5.8 billion respectively, twice the rate of growth of LVMH’s turnover and market value over the same period.

The recent results announcement was very strong with revenue growth of 27 percent and operating profit increasing 37 percent. However, initial market reaction was muted by the company’s warning that more investment was required in its flagships and that margin growth would suffer in the short term as a result.

In this article we will examine how far the brand has come, where the potential for growth lies and what pitfalls it may encounter along the way.

Read more after the jump or read in full on the BoF website, here

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Roland Bunce could be the Next Top Model

When 24-year-old Roland Bunce entered Next’s “Make Me the Next Model” competition he couldn’t have known the extent to which the public would embrace his submission.

Amongst hundreds of images of beautiful young things it was Bunce, who is perhaps not what might be considered classically handsome, who stood out. Thanks to his kindly smile – and tens of thousands of social media users on Reddit, The Poke, Twitter and Facebook – he is now the most voted for entrant..

Next’s competition invites modelling hopefuls to submit a picture of themselves online. Visitors to the site can then vote for their favourite, the top 250 will then be shortlisted down to 50 by a panel of “industry experts”, with the eventual winner being treated to £2,000 of Next gift cards, a contract with Storm modelling agency and “the chance to star in a Next photoshoot”.

Well that’s great, but it seems like the public are getting a bit fed up of the exclusive nature of fashion and this social media retaliation should send a warning because, hey, we all wear clothes. So far, Bunce, the partying and wrestling enthusiast, has been “liked” by 34,000 people on Next’s Facebook button, way ahead of the number two favourite, who had an incomparable 97 likes. Michele Hanson wrote for The Guardian:

“It’s John Sergeant and Strictly Come Dancing all over again but better, because this seems to be the public having a pop at the ghastly fashion world, with its blemish-free, pouty, stick models poncing about in odd garments that most of the rest of us wouldn’t dare, or want, to wear. And even if we wanted to, many of us couldn’t, because they wouldn’t be in our size.”

Instead of embracing Bunce, however, some of the media seemed almost angry with the campaign; I imagine that they’re still not over Rage Against The Machine getting to Number One in the Christmas charts. The Daily Mail went so far as to say the competition was sabotaged (although this has now been edited out).

Grazia were quick to respond with the article “Next’s Model Search – HIJACKED” and stated “…we have been excitedly championing this opportunity to find a new talent in the modelling world”. Read “new talent” as, “We want a rehash of what’s already out there as to ensure that Next’s publicity campaign goes to their plan,” and you’re a little bit closer to the truth. They continue with, “So it is with a slightly heavy heart that we ask fashion fans everywhere to redress the balance on Next’s website…Sorry Roland”. Despite the light-hearted manner the message was there, “Stop voting for Roland Bunce”. It was this statement, particularly, that seemed to anger readers who responded with comments such as:

“I’m voting for Roland and others like him because I think it’d be nice for Next to use the type of people who actually spend money in their stores, rather than tall and beautiful 18 year olds who really buy their clothes from H&M and Topshop.”
iamKate

“So it is with a slightly heavy heart that we ask fashion fans everywhere to redress the balance on Next’s website and help the fashion label promote some genuine future talent for the industry”….. Are you serious?! It`s comments like this that make people feel awful about themselves and leads to disorders like anorexia. You should surely be more responsible in your attitude! Who are you to say that Roland isn’t genuine talent? Ask Next what they sell and I reckon a good percentage of it will be to plus size customers. Stupid, stupid comment.”
johnny84

“Sorry but we are not all wrong – I personally would rather see Roland than rakes!”
RatherSeeRolandThanRakes

“This article is a complete disgrace. It is these sorts of attitudes that lead to eating disorders, anxiety and other mental health problems. You need to try and write a bit more responsibly. Maybe you should take a leaf out of Rage Models’ book and embrace a concept of beauty that is a bit more inclusive.”
ladylady

However, for Next it’s all publicity, Storm Model Management said, “’We’re thrilled that this year’s event has captured the public’s imagination. Make Me The Next Model 2011 has become the model competition to enter. Entries are up by 1000% on last year, and there are some great faces to watch out for. We would encourage everybody interested in modelling to send in their pictures.”

Obviously Storm are aware that no matter how many votes Bunce gets he still has the substantial obstacle of getting past the judges at boot camp before he can be considered the winner. What an amazing PR opportunity for Next that would be.

Update

Despite making it to the final 250 contestants, beating more than 5,000 hopefuls Roland Bunce posted the following comment on with Facebook page:

“Just to let you all know I am quitting the next model contest. It was a big honour to win and it’s been fun but the amount of abuse I’ve been getting since Thursday is out of control and I’ve now just been threatened. Thanks to everyone who has supported me but I am now bowing out before this gets any worse.”