Saturday, 26 September 2009

Designer: Rob Maniscalco / Claude Maus

We really like the spring/summer 2010 collection from Australian brand, Claude Maus. Designer Rob Maniscalco created a cool, stylish collection, with particularly clever use of sheer fabrics, which lend certain outfits almost a weightlessness , and which preventing the dark mood of the collection from becoming too heavy or tortured. The cut has been skilfully executed, and the pieces hang well; there's an edginess, but at the same time everything is grounded by a real sense of style.

We never seem to tire of well executed, dark collections with their roots in the Rick Owens school of design.

London SS10 collection summaries should be up shortly, along with more updates.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

London Fashion Week

Above: Tommy Ton (aka Jak & Jil)'s amazing Christian Louboutin studded shoes. Tommy was really nice about me being super-lame and wanting to have a Jak & Jil moment on his own shoes (he must have heard that one about a million times before..)

And here's a little conference of studs (his Loubs on the left, me on the right in studded Prada shoes):

Before we post London Fashion Week show summaries, we thought it would be fun to post some candid 'fashion paparazzi' pictures we took outside the Christopher Kane show on Monday, really just because we know how much we love looking at these sort of 'real' street photos on other sites.

About half of these were taken by me (i.e. the rubbish blurry ones) and the rest were taken by an amazing (and very stylish) friend, and she actually knew how to operate the camera which was a bonus (here's a hint for the uninitiated: remove the lens cover first!)

Legendary New York fashion critic Lynn Yaeger. Doesn't she look lovely? And she couldn't have been nicer about having her picture taken. I really wanted to say something about how much I admire her writing, but somehow words failed me because I was kind of in awe.

Susie Lau of Style Bubble and Lynn Yaeger.

Fashion Week gridlock of black cars and taxis.

Kate Lanphear, editor of American Elle, looking cool as ever.

A zoom on her Burberry Prorsum boots.

The International Herald Tribune's Suzy Menkes (one of the most respected fashion writers today) trying to get past the crowd of street style photographers.

Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue. Love that she arrived in a Volvo - she has this real low-key cool about her.

Yvan the Facehunter's cool shoes.

Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova is absolutely stunning in person.

Here she is being interviewed by fellow supermodel and Vogue TV presenter Jade Parfitt.

She was wearing a fantastic Christopher Kane skirt.

Silver YSL cage boots, out of focus (I don't think Jak & Jil need worry about any competition here!)

Fashion consultant Yasmin Sewell (I think) wearing a beautiful Christopher Kane dress, holding the crocodile print tote that was given out at his show.

The crowd just after the show.

Diane Pernet (centre), of A Shaded View - always love her look.

Joan Collins being interviewed by Jade Parfitt. She looks amazing... such a class act. Kept thinking of Dynasty! She suddenly appeared from the back of a taxi, then we got caught in the middle of a bit of a photographer scrum.

Saw Anna Wintour in the flesh for the first time.. so exciting! Obviously we didn't dare take a picture without permission (and how would you feel about asking?!), so all we've got is this blurry shot of her in her Mercedes leaving the venue... you can make out her BlackBerry screen and knees!

Anna Wintour's car got driven in right through the gates and into a sealed-off area of the venue so she could enter in private, without having to walk past all the plebs on the street! The only other people who got this treatment were Sir Philip Green (billionaire owner of Topshop) and Donatella Versace (wish we could have got a photo of her!) and her daughter, who also attended.

Show summaries to follow.

Cool Alert: Mondrian Manicure

A good friend of ours just had this Mondrian manicure done at Wah Nails on Kingsland Road. Aren't they just incredible? Every cool girl (not to mention a few guys) in East London seems to be heading there at the moment for their amazing manicures. Fans include Mandi Lennard, the London fashion PR who also has a blog on the Colette website, and Cassette Playa's designer, Carri Mundane.

More of their recent work:

Sunday, 20 September 2009

New York Spring/Summer 2010 Collections, Part 2/2

1) Marc Jacobs

Images from - click to see entire collection.

The underwear as outerwear may have been something of a seen-before yawn moment, but otherwise Marc Jacobs’ spring/summer 2010 collection felt fresh, interesting and original. In an enormous improvement from the brash orgy of 80s references which saturated his last collection, Jacobs worked a sort of East meets West theme, characterised by a real lightness and fluidity. It was a veritable breath of fresh air after the day-glo headache of fall/winter 09. The cut was beautiful, the aesthetic was rich but never heavy, and there was a real energy to it all. Wear-ability was evidently not high on the agenda, but this collection, which reminded us what we love about fashion, will doubtless do no harm in creating a suitably haute image, needed to shift those all-important bags, sunglasses and fragrances.

2) Jason Wu

Images from - click to see entire collection.

For SS10, Jason Wu presented luxurious interpretations of American casuals, followed by rich eveningwear confections. The collection was elegant, serious (a hint more fun or quirkiness perhaps wouldn’t have gone amiss), and deceptively simple looking with its clean lines. The fabrics were rich and well selected, and the colour pallet included decisive splashes of red, yellow, purple and lime green.

3) Zac Posen

Images from - click to see entire collection.

Zac Posen showed a bright, upbeat collection, with exuberant colours and prints, and particularly strong glamorous eveningwear. The collection was slightly limited in scope, but we enjoyed the 60s Op Art references.

4) Mulberry

Images from - click to see entire collection.

It was all about the big hair at Mulberry (which at times was more interesting than the clothes themselves), although creative director Emma Hill did prove that there is more to the British brand than bags and leather goods. The collection veered towards the young and hip, with tiny shorts, high hemlines, neon accessories, and that sort of cutesy-with-a-twist, which brands like Luella and PPQ have championed. We can imagine this collection going down very well with London’s It girls.

5) Y-3

Images from - click to see entire collection.

For his sportswear line, Y-3, Yohji Yamamoto used the motif of football (soccer) goal nets which, combined with Y-3’s characteristic asymmetric draping, sporty-tailored look, and ‘techno’ edge, led to a cool, well executed collection with a sort 90s vibe to it (all those big logos and relaxed silhouettes).

6) Michael Kors

Images from - click to see entire collection.

The inimitable Cathy Horyn of the New York Times was unimpressed by Michael Kors’ spring/summer 2010 collection, saying it “really had to stretch to say upscale. The shades of wisteria and mint were unappealing, the crinkled, so-called “techno” fabrics probably have middle-market cousins somewhere. Designers like to deconstruct things, yet there didn’t seem to be much thought given to cutting the ribbing off a cashmere turtleneck and leaving it dangling like an old rubber band.” We didn’t find this the strongest or most interesting of Kors’ collections, but we didn’t find it offensive either: he simply seemed to be playing it a bit too safe.

7) 3.1 Phillip Lim

Images from - click to see entire collection.

Phillip Lim showed an easygoing, wearable collection for SS10, which had simple and stylish daywear, and more complex evening dresses, which worked well with their layers, pleated draping and hint of glitter. The shoes were again created in collaboration with Christian Louboutin, and there was some interesting jewellery which resembled screwed up gold foil.

8) Marchesa

Images from - click to see entire collection.

Celebrity favourite Georgina Chapman showed stunning dresses at Marchesa (what else?!), by which we mean truly breathtaking, sculptural, almost origami-folded creations. At times the good taste barrier may just have been breached, but this collection had a real ‘wow factor’ and will provide plenty of strong red-carpet options.

9) Alexandre Herchcovitch

Images from - click to see entire collection.

Alexandre Herchcovitch showed a vibrant, energising collection for spring/summer 2010, with rich colours, striking prints, and a fun (American) football exaggerated padded shoulder motif. The upbeat energy of this collection was hard to resist, and there truly were some well executed more wearable pieces among the madness.

10) Halston

Images from - click to see entire collection.

Marios Schwab will show his debut collection as creative director of Halston next season, so this season’s collection was a small fill-in collection, which elaborated few new ideas, but rather took inspiration from the house’s flowing, draped 1970s heritage.

11) Marc by Marc Jacobs

Images from - click to see entire collection.

Vibrant prints were order of the day at Marc Jacobs’ second line for spring/summer 2010, where the designer showed another strong collection, which playfully borrowed elements from his recent work at Louis Vuitton (the crushed satin head bows, the metallic monogrammed bags, and the bright, African inspired prints). Jacobs demonstrated real skill with prints, making even the most incongruous and potentially clashing combinations of colours look just right, and he managed to strike a good balance between design and creativity, and the need for Marc by Marc to be more ‘accessible.’

12) Threeasfour

Images from - click to see entire collection.

Threeasfour showed a small collection, with prints of Yoko Ono’s drawings, and interesting construction based on curved lines. The colour pallet was limited to black, white and duck egg blue, and although the collection didn’t say much overall, there were some very cool individual pieces.

13) Diane von Furstenburg

Images from - click to see entire collection.

The prints were bright and exotic at Diane von Furstenburg, where the designer presented her show in front of a painted Ancient Greek backdrop, and spoke of focusing on “antiquity,” and there was a pre-Raphaelite richness to how the models were presented. We enjoyed the rich and bold visual statements, and the collection provided all the pretty, wearable elements one expects from a DVF collection. For a harsher analysis, we must turn again to Cathy Horyn, who noted that “nothing looked really sharp and clear and different,” and the collection “kind of all rolled up into a big garment ball.”

14) Vera Wang

Images from - click to see entire collection.

Elegance with an edge was the vibe we were getting from Vera Wang’s spring/summer 2010 collection, which stuck to a sophisticated primarily black and grey colour pallet. Sheer tulle and chiffon fabrics added lightness, but in black – and paired with ‘bondage’ platform shoes – they hinted at something darker, melancholic even. The collection was well cut and well executed, and had a ‘poetic beauty’ to it.

What's your take on these New York S/S 2010 collections?

For Part 1, including Rodarte and Calvin Klein, click HERE.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Runway: Then vs Now

Now we're in the thick of 'fashion month,' with all the spring/summer 2010 women's shows happening in the four main fashion capitals, the question of how the clothes themselves are shown on the runway comes to mind. There's a drill that's been in place for several years now: fashion editors, buyers etc. battle in past hoards of street style photographers; take their seats, and fan themselves furiously with the pre-show notes during the inevitable delay while the invited celebrities cause havoc outside (unless it's Marc Jacobs, in which case the show starts bang on time, celebrities or not - as Lady GaGa found to her peril last week); maintain looks of disinterested glacial superiority while said celebrities finally take their seats; stick-thin Russian 16 year olds stomp angrily along the runway to techno beats (sometimes falling thanks to vertiginous footwear) pulling their best 'fierce' faces; then it's all over within about 10 minutes, and it's time to air-kiss the designer before rushing back to your blacked-out town car, to go and repeat the exercise about 10 times more over the course of the day.

It has not always been thus. Before fashion got as full-on and crazy as it is today, it seems things used to move at a more civilized pace. Just look at this video of Yves Saint Laurent fall/winter 1995 Haute Couture - a small audience perched in a salon style show room, decorated with thousands of flowers (no cavernous warehouses or 'edgy' basements); the show was set to opera, not thumping 'stomp along' music, and lasted for nearly half an hour; and the poise and elegance of the models (particularly love Carla Bruni), who were not hungry girls from Eastern Europe, barely in their teens, is incredible:

Compared to Yves Saint Laurent fall/winter 2008:

Obviously times have changed, and it's too easy to be fuzzily nostalgic about these things. We know it's not a totally fair comparison to set Haute Couture against ready-to-wear, and we're not saying that every show now would be better as a full-on classical blow-out, and now editors, buyers etc. have to fit so much more in to their schedules, longer shows wouldn't be practical.. but that's not to say designers couldn't take some lessons from the past, particularly where models are concerned. We just love the 1995 Yves Saint Laurent models, and the way they move so fluidly, and slip off jackets and the like to fully demonstrate the outfits. It would be nice if we saw some more of that today, along with more women - as opposed to very young girls - on the runways.

New York Spring/Summer 2010 Collections, Part 1/2

Shoes at Rodate - pictures from NY Magazine (L) and (R).

Here we present the first part of our summary of the New York spring/summer 2010 collections:

1) Rodarte

Images from - click to see entire collection.

The Mulleavy sisters showed a collection for spring/summer 2010 which was characteristically big on both creative vision and technical skill. The models were draped and swaddled in a rich variety of materials, from wool, to cheesecloth, to printed fabrics, to leather, lending the collection a ‘futuristic cave girl’ vibe overall. In some respects it is almost with a reluctance that we apply that label, since it suggests a sort of latent absurdity and pretentiousness, which fashion is often prone to veering towards, when in fact this Rodarte collection suffered neither affliction, since it was all held together and supported by genuine creative flair, and flawless execution. The crucial factor, perhaps, is that the overall impression, and the silhouettes, remained stylish at all times, despite all that was going on visually. Nicholas Kirkwood collaborated to produce the shoes again, which you can as good as guarantee will be extra-covetable next spring.

2) Oscar de la Renta

Images from - click to see entire collection.

Oscar de la Renta’s show was another New York strong point; for SS10, de la Renta gave his signature very polished, very chic, very New York, aesthetic another airing, but there was a real freshness and subtlety to its attraction this time around. The cut was spot-on, the colour pallet included decisive jolts of teal, orange, chartreuse, and violet, and the show ended, as ever, with show stopping evening gowns.

3) Proenza Schouler

Images from - click to see entire collection.

For spring/summer 2010, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough showed a very young, hip Proenza Schouler collection, which had its high notes (particularly among some of the prints and the end, and the luxe sportswear at the start), but overall the elusive ‘wow factor’ was missing. As Suzy Menkes put it “like a dish where the ingredients are good but never quite come together, Proenza Schouler presented fine things — but a collection without direction.”

4) Alexander Wang

Images from - click to see entire collection.

To put it quite bluntly, we’re yet to be fully sold on Alexander Wang’s approach. There’s no denying Wang is hot property at the moment (and his post-show party in a gas station was one of the most talked – and Tweeted – about events of the week), but by the same token it all feels a bit ‘hype’ and lacking in substance. That’s not to deny the lightness and technical skill with which he reworked classics like polo shirts and khaki jackets, but a personal vision (other than to drive trend! hot! now! sex!) seemed somewhat lacking and, as numerous others have noted, the homages to designers like Rei Kawakubo and Vivienne Westwood at times seem to go too far.

5) Donna Karan & DKNY

Images from - click to see entire collection. (Click here for DKNY pictures).

Donna Karan showed a chic, airy, soft-edged and wearable collection for spring/summer 2010. Sheer fabrics and flowing cut lent some outfits an almost weightless quality, reflected in the colour pallet which stuck largely to whites, greys, and nudes, with occasional invigorating splashes of red.

Now in its 21st year, Donna Karan’s diffusion line, DKNY (pictures on the second row), is still serving up a healthy dose of relaxed, easygoing cool, but with a degree of classicism which prevents it from seeming too ‘hype’ – although the flip side is that at times the collection could have done with a bit more edge, to raise our interest levels.

6) Helmut Lang

Images from - click to see entire collection.

The cut at Helmut Lang was as tight and razor-sharp as ever, to the extent that at times it almost looked a touch stifling, but generally Nicole and Michael Colovos showed a stylish, minimal collection, with that characteristic hard-edged sex appeal and hint of subversion. Well placed nude coloured panels added edge, and a degradé dress with an unexpected thin strap across the collarbone gave the creepy visual effect of overlapping layers of skin. The collection was far from groundbreaking, but we thought it was well executed, and it resonated well with us.

7) Altuzarra

Images from - click to see entire collection.

Eschewing the ubiquitous 80s references, the decade of choice for Joseph Altuzzara seemed to be the 1970s. That’s not to say the characteristic Altuzarra sex appeal was absent, but proceedings were given a softer edge thanks to the muted colours, use of soft suede, and floaty white fabrics. It would have been too easy (and perhaps tempting, given the positive reception of the last one) for Joseph Altuzzara to show another very sexy, very body-con, sparkly 80s inspired collection, so we applaud Altuzarra for taking a risk – and better yet, it seems to have paid off.

8) Victoria Beckham

Images from - click to see entire collection.

Say what you will about celebrity designed collections, but Victoria Beckham’s fashion line isn’t shaping up badly at all. Sure, it’s still limited in scope to unforgiving, bodycon dresses (of the type of which Mrs Beckham is personally very fond), and some aesthetic variation, and the occasional loosening of the fit, wouldn’t go amiss, but the fact is, unlike most celebrity brands, we feel there’s real potential, and we’re prepared to take it seriously as a high fashion brand. Buyers have reported that consumers (if we dare still use the word in this delicate economic climate) are sold too, as their stores quickly shift Beckham’s dresses, despite their very high fashion price tags.

9) Anna Sui

Images from - click to see entire collection.

Anna Sui showed a full-on, psychedelic, circus inspired collection, which was fun and upbeat, even if it did make us feel somewhat dizzy. Some outfits really did not work (think yellow and orange colour block sweater with three quarter length sleeves, worn over a long sleeved grey top, above a yellow tartan skirt, accessorised with black sandals and a black doctor’s bag), but generally we thought this was a cheery, strong Anna Sui collection.

10) Calvin Klein

Images from - click to see entire collection.

A softer, less geometric aesthetic prevailed at Calvin Klein, where Francisco Costa showed a strong, sensuous and subtle collection. Several pieces were imbued with a feeling of almost organic decay, as the designer played with fabric deconstruction, within the overall minimalist framework; there was experimentation with volume too, and the whole collection was pervaded by what termed “playing natural off techno.” Save the few looks towards the end of the show in sickly pastels, we enjoyed this collection, which stayed true to Calvin Klein’s minimalism and simplicity, while simultaneously exploring new ground.

What are your thoughts on these NY collections? Agree/disagree with us?

Stay tuned for Part 2, which will include Marc Jacobs, Jason Wu, and Michael Kors, among others.