Women for women

There's change in the air. Against the odds women are finding their voices. The current President (I won't write his name here) tells us it's a frightening time for young men while an alleged sexual preditor/Frat-boy is very likely to sworn in to hold one of the most powerful legal seats in the US for the rest of his life (and he's young).

And how does all this shake down to what we wear? I looked at the latest Celine collection designed by Hedi Slimane and it was very Hedi Slimane - in that it was designed for anorexic 17 year olds. It was definitely andrgynous which is officially "A Thing" but it took me back to the mid-2000s when he did it the first time around at Dior. You may remember that until last season Pheobe Philo was the designer at Celine where she lead it to become known as the "thinking woman's" brand.

This made me think about where women older than 30 might now look for their clothes and it appeared on the screen, the opening dress from Givenchy - not a label I have really given much attention to as in recent seasons as, while it was fabulous, slightly macabre and ornate under the helm of Riccardo Tisci it has never been one of those brands that I related to.

But this collection by Clare Waight Keller, was inspired by a Swiss writer called Annemarie Schwarzenbach who lived about 100 years ago and who prefered to dress in mens clothes, and it was killer.

Waight Keller clearly thought about the woman who wore those clothes and about the women who will wear these clothes and no doubt considered her own life in that process. The result was a sharply tailored and highly feminine collection which showed strength through its simplicity. It was an assured collection for the woman who is unapologetically in contol of her life and proud of it.

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The Collaboration Is Dead, Long Live The Collaboration!

It sometimes feels like the world of collaborations has been done (Jimmy Choo Ugg Boots anyone?). But then along comes a partnership that is so right, it's right and the collaboration lives to fight another day. Of course I'm talking about Richard Quinn for Liberty of London.

His fearless use of florals goes boldly where this wonderfully eccentric department store has never been before and it just works. Saturated colours, check; acid brights, check; floral prints, check; faceless model trapped in a box, check... Everyone wins! It's a little bit subversive but in a friendly accessible way. All so very British.

Of course that's not to say that an all in one spandex morph suit is going to work for everybody but one tote fits all.

 

 

 

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Wish You Were Here

Pink isn't a colour I usually associate with Alexander McQueen but it's pitch perfect in the Spring/Summer 2018 collection. It's a bit punk and a bit sordid and reminded me of a peignoir usually worn by a Madam.

In fact one of the look reminded me of the costume worn by Emily Lloyd all those year's ago (1984) in the scandalous film Wish You Were Here - which was loosely based on the life of Britain's best known madam, Cynthia Payne.  Coincidence?

 

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How to Wear an American Quilt

One of America's monumental fashion brands, Calvin Klein is currently in the throes of a much needed facelift courtesy of the visionary Belgian designer Raf Simons.

Perhaps it takes an outsiders point of view to engineer something as inherently American as the Quilt in to the most covetable outerwear of the season. Whether it be as the liner to a badass parka or the tailored body of a winter coat. 

At a time when the concept of what America means and what it means to be American is being questioned who doesn't want to wrap themselves in the safety of some honest, homespun fabric? Traditional quilts were painstakingly made by hand and passed from generation to generation, they told stories, they were given as gifts, they are cherished heirlooms.

I've been reading the book "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" by Sherman Alexie. It's made me cry and laugh but mainly he's given me a schooling on the collective and extended grief of a race.

Alexie is Coeur D'Alene/Spokane Indian and he lays bare his very complicated relationship with his late mother Lilian. Amongst many other things his mother made memory quilts, a skill that was introduced to the Native Americans by the Colonialists as they moved west and made themselves at home in another persons land.

Fashion as provocateur is not a new concept but to harness the timelessness of craft in this age of Twitter feels like a political statement.

A memory quilt
Contains pieces of your past
Rejoined and renewed.

My mother made quilts.
She would sew instead of sleep
And rage at sunrise.
— Excerpt from The Quilting by Sherman Alexie, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
Photo by David Sims / Vogue September 2017

Photo by David Sims / Vogue September 2017

Photo by Mariano Vivanco / Harpers September 2017

Photo by Mariano Vivanco / Harpers September 2017

Photo by Zoe Ghertner / Vogue September 2017

Photo by Zoe Ghertner / Vogue September 2017

Survival suits

I'm slightly obsessed with the inherent Englishness of Craig Green's collections and the romanticism in his clothes. They weave traditional menswear shapes and tailoring with a modern sense of urgency and perhaps a hint of our need to always be prepared for action (his previous season's collection was inspired by a Boy Scout's neck scarf).

Green's amazing Fall/Winter 2017 collection brought to mind the work of the artist Lucy Orta who presents the concept of an all too near future where our clothes may need to offer more substantial protection than would have previously been considered as we dress for survival on a planet where resources are limited.  It sounds hysterical, but have you read about the ice melt lately?

I love this collection's transition from the classic practical sea farer in his deep ocean navy blue to the squishy full body life jackets in a palette of soft pastels. The colours might be soft but the message is hard. Get ready, tides are rising, are you going to sink or swim?

 

Old world charm offensive

Stella Jean's collections are beautiful and romantic and elegant and in a world that is increasingly none of those things I'm touched by the sense of old school charm.

This collection was like receiving a vintage postcard from a mystical Caribbean locale that brought with it the sounds and scents, the tastes and warmth of a sultry summer afternoon. It reminds me of a scarf my gran had folded in a drawer that she had brought back from one of her trips in the early 1960s in a pea-green boat called the "Delight" that they took down through the Continent.

Different times and days of naive innocence evoked through Stella Jean's easy silhouettes and pitch perfect colour palette.

And ps those stripy mules are to die for.

Alessandro Michele's Runway for Fantastially Wonderful Clothing

Oh my god what a snore-fest it's been. Until now. Until Alessandro Michele revealed the most fantastic parade of eccentric Gucci clad characters you've ever seen on one plush pink wall-to-wall carpeted catwalk.

It's like David Bowie and a tin of boiled sweets meet some of the weirder kids from Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and time travel to a disco in their favourite get ups from the past, present or future.

There are so many brilliant looks to choose from (75) but here's a few gems. I want to live in his world. I want to wear a shiny pink suit with a 4" ruffle from cuff of sleeve to hem of pant. I want to go out to play with the weird kids who wear Gucci.

 

 

Power to the people.

I recently read an op-ed piece in The New York Times by David Brooks about the Revolt of the Masses which gave some context to the political shit-storm that's going on in the UK, the US and further afield too I suppose.

The working classes are repressed and skint and are finally using the vote to make their voices heard and to take a stance against the intellectual elite and a world where manual labor is looked down upon while the suits are celebrated and rewarded, where instant vapid celebrity is valued over craft and hard work.

Which wouldn't generally provide a segue in to the very elite world of couture but the collection Viktor and Rolf presented was a celebration of the beauty of something clearly made by human hands. Strange, magical and idiocyncratic with a slight tinge of "fin de siecle" about it. As if ragged ghosts from the French revolution had wrapped themselves around the models just as they stepped on to the runway.

Couture is one of the last reaches of fashion where hands do all the work. The "petites mains" of the work rooms are the skilled builders who help the designer achieve their vision, they bring it to life and in this instance they breathed life back in to disused fabrics and clothes to create fresh beauty.

Re-birth. Re-naissance. Re-volt. Vive la revolution!

The Vampire's Wife

Susie Bick was one of those models who was truly captivating.  She wasn't a household name - except in the coolest households - and while still a model she's also a designer and has used the title of an unfinished novel by her husband (only Nick Cave) as the name for her line.

Inspired by vintage pieces and guided by her own elegant tastes, The Vampire's Wife offers a small range of styles but each one looks like it has its own story.

They're like pieces from a film by Fellini or Sophia Coppola. The skirts are so swishy, the dresses so romantic and perhaps this is me getting distracted by the name but the collection has a wonderfully bittersweet film noir feel. I love it.

 

Float on

It's Coachella out in the desert this weekend and although I'm quite happy not to be there, a big part of me would love to be wafting around in a selection of these beauties.

The Spring 2016 collection was inspired by the 1990s and starts with a full sportswear look I suppose as a nod to the music scene of the time but it's these whimsical, colourful magical pieces that make me want to lie back in the long grass and stare at the little fluffy clouds.

And when it would rain it would all turn, it, they were beautiful
The most beautiful skies as a matter of fact
The sunsets were purple and red and yellow and on fire
And the clouds would catch the colors everywhere