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Sculpture and the City

A short blog post today, because I’ve got a lot to do before I officially start my course tomorrow (eek!).

I had an art and design filled day yesterday. I finally visited the London Design Festival on Southbank – images coming soon! Afterwards I walked down to the Tate Modern and spotted the Endless Stair.

Endless Stair Tate Modern

I decided to walk through London. I told myself I’d catch the tube home once I stopped seeing interesting things. I ended up walking half way round the city, and only left because it started to get dark and cold.

During my wanderings I accidentally stumbled upon a series of art installations. I’ve almost photographed all of the Sculpture in the City pieces – by accident.

Charlie Le Mindu’s naked fashion show

In contrast to the few articles who reported on it, Charlie Le Mindu’s naked fashion show for spring/summer 2011 hardly caused a stir in London. Over the years, Fashion Week has seen its fair share of weirdness as designers attempt to break the Last Taboo. However, according to the lack of coverage Le Mindu’s runway spectacle received it seems that full frontal nudity is practically a cliché.

The 24-year-old French wig maker unveiled a collection of black beehives, leopard print playsuits, bottle millinery, bright pink platforms and full-frontal nudity during his second collection at Fashion Week.

Born in rural France, Le Mindu studied hairdressing at Vidal Sassoon and Toni & Guy before turning to wigs and opening a studio in Shoreditch, East London where he’s now based.

Launching his label only a year ago he has generally been successful at grabbing the fashion media’s attention, thanks, in no small part, to his impressive client list, which includes Lady Gaga, MGMT, Bloc Party, VV Brown and Jodie Harsh.

At last year’s Fashion Week, he unveiled a full face headdress made of real mice and rat carcasses, outraging animal rights activists.

“I really like mice and rats,” he said at the time, “But everybody doesn’t like them and I just wanted to show people it could be really beautiful.” When asked if he was worried about the public’s reaction, he said: “It’s better to make them beautiful than give them to the snakes.”

www.CharlieLeMindu.com

Full collection here

Net-A-Porter head office relocates to Westfield

According to Retail Week, luxury fashion etailer Net-A-Porter is to move its head office to shopping centre Westfield London.

The retailer, which runs the online shops (and website of torture to every poor fashion student) Net-A-Porter.com and fashion outlet website theOutnet.com, will occupy a unit located above the Luxury Village.

Net-A-Porter chairman Natalie Massenet said: “We are very excited about the possibilities presented by our office move to Westfield London. It is a fitting location and a substantial space that will allow us to increase our organizational capacity and make real headway towards achieving our growth goals.”

Footfall at Westfield has exceeded expectations, pulling in 22 million shoppers; one of which was me when I visited the centre in November 2008 (it opened in October). I thought it was amazing; to those who haven’t visited I really recommend it just because it’s incredible to see the designer boutiques and high street labels together in one building. One minute you could be admiring Mui Mui, a minute later you could travel up the escalators and be in Topshop. I love it, and I genuinely believe it’s only in Britain where high street and high end would combine together.

Commercial London Fashion Week lives up to the hype

London Fashion Week stamped its mark on the international buying calendar this week, impressing buyers with some of the most commercial collections seen in years.

The designers returning to London Fashion Week were the stars of the schedule. Burberry Prorsum lived up to the hype surrounding the label with a collection that plugged into the trend for commercial yet feminine and playful product. It used sugary tones of mint and baby-pink chiffon, injecting fresh takes on its signature trench coats and girly dresses.

Matthew Williamson firmly shook off his boho mantle to team ethnic undertones with futuristic shiny fabrics and metallic detailing.

The best of the rest went to Christopher Kane, whose signature style of sinister yet innocent, came through with checked prairie dresses and sherbet silks with cutaway panels.

With big British names such as Burberry Prorsum and Pringle returning to London from rival international catwalks, the pressure was on the organiser, British Fashion Council (BFC), to live up to its promise that its 25th anniversary event would restore the buzz the capital had lacked since the late 1990s.

Early reports suggested the BFC largely succeeded, with a 15% rise on last season’s visitor figures and a host of international buyers and press.

BFC chairman Harold Tillman said: “We had great feedback from international and UK attendees. There are always things we can improve and work on but that is what drives us forward.”
Buyers were impressed by new talent as well as the much-hyped big-name returns.

Liberty buying director Ed Burstell said: “London Fashion Week certainly lived up to the hype with the return of Burberry and Matthew Williamson. Both put on outstanding shows. Other favourites were Luella, for her flirty and very saleable dresses, and Mark Fast and Mary Katrantzou as new talent to watch.”

He added that the relocation of the event to Somerset House had been long overdue. That sentiment was echoed by Harvey Nichols’ fashion buying director Averyl Oates, who said Somerset House and 180 The Strand “proved that in London we don’t always need a faceless warehouse space for ambience”.

However, other buyers found the venue confusing. Pamela Shiffer, owner of the eponymous two-store London indie, said: “It was hard to get an overview with all the different rooms in Somerset House.”

Some exhibitors said the new exhibition space at 180 The Strand was quiet, but Tillman argued that brands that marketed themselves well made good sales. He said: “The exhibitors that made appointments and created a focus on their area wrote business.”

Visitors were confident that LFW would now become an essential fixture on the buying calendar. Selfridges’ director of womenswear Anita Barr said: “If the BFC can persuade labels such as Burberry to show here again it will cement London’s importance.”

Tillman added: “We know we have our work cut out but we are confident that we can continue to raise the bar.”

London Fashion Week – Burberry Prorsum

Taken from Drapers:

Christopher Bailey’s exquisite Burberry Prorsum collection was a fitting end to London Fashion Week’s 25th year.

Victoria Beckham, Anna Wintour, Claudia Schiffer and brand ambassador Emma Watson were all on hand to watch Bailey’s return to London with baited breath, and were not disappointed.

Following on from the ultra-feminine feel seen leading the charge through the London collections this week, Bailey also plumped for sugary tones, twisting, knotting and wrapping shades of mint, baby pink and duck egg blue chiffon into gently swathed takes on his signature trench and girlish dresses.

Pleating on shoulders added subtle volume to the upper half of the body, which draped down from the waist and out from the hips. Ruching offered the most surface texture options – other than a silver encrusted coat and jacket at the end of the show – and was deployed on trenchcoat sleeves, all the way down skinny trousers and used to add impact to nude slip dresses.

Chiffons were interspersed with stiffer satin fabrics which were bunched and tied into voluptuous peaks along the bottom of double-breasted shirt dresses and cap-sleeved minis.

Watch the runway video on the Vogue website.

The final day at LFW is traditionally not quite as exciting as the penultimate one, but this season London saved the best until last, and alongside Burberry, the day’s guests were also treated to in-your-face colour pop prom dresses from Nathan Jenden, a clean and Nineties-inspired sugary-hued collection from Jonathan Saunders and some ultra-pretty floral print gowns at Erdem.

London Fashion Week – Row over plus size models

Fashion Week is back in London for its 25th anniversary, but aside from the glamour, the hedonistic designs, the glitterati and the parties; this season also receives hundreds of column inches on sizing used on the runway.

This time the issue has been raised because of the use of plus size models. According to reports (read The Guardian article here) a back-stage row erupted at London Fashion Week after knitwear designer, Mark Fast) chose to use ‘normal-sized’ models in his show.

Fast, who is known for his sculpted ‘bodycon’ dresses, used three models who were sizes 12-14 to showcase his designs – which prompted his stylist to resign.

The news emerged after a journalist from the fashion magazine Elle posted a message on Twitter within an hour of the show. Fast’s managing director, Amanda May, said she was ‘so happy we stuck to our guns over the casting’ adding that she was ‘really grateful’ to another stylist, Daniella Agnelli, who had stepped in at the last minute.

Fast used size 12 model Hayley Morley in his catwalk show after working with her for the London Fashion Week photography exhibition, All Walks Beyond the Catwalk.
It launched on Friday at London’s Somerset House with a party attended by prime minister’s wife Sarah Brown (who admitted she had “sneaked out” of a number 10 reception for British designers she was hosting) and Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, who wrote to leading designers asking for larger-sized clothes for the magazine’s photo shoots. She said: “We have now reached the point where many of the sample sizes don’t comfortably fit even the established star models”.

The exhibition features models aged 18 to 65, in sizes 8 to 16, wearing outfits created by young London designers. It aims to change the narrow vision of beauty offered by the fashion world. The size issue is always a sore point within the industry. The 2007 Model Health Inquiry was launched by the British Fashion Council in response to the death from starvation of several models who had been slaves to the size-zero trend. It failed to set out any firm industry guidelines but the debate has gained momentum; this month, plus-size model Crystal Renn launched her autobiography at a glittering Manhattan party and talked of a new vogue for women “lush and sparkly without a jutting collarbone in sight”.

All Walks Beyond the Catwalk aims to change the perception of young designers towards age and weight. Exhibition curator and fashion TV presenter Caryn Franklin said: “Working with designers early in their career to introduce this shift is crucial.” In Fast, she may have found her first true convert.