Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Cape Reimagined

I visited The Cape Reimagined at The Burberry Makers House at Manette Street, London the week after London Fashion Week and it was the most beautiful exhibition I've ever seen.   It was open for only a week on February 21st and closed on the 27th.

Being able to see the pieces up close, seeing the beautiful materials from feathers to lace to Swarovski crystals was amazing, the first time I've seen couture up reality.  Each one was unique and beautifully crafted and I took the time to admire each one - some attracted me more than others but I appreciated all of them.  Seeing workmanship like this makes me emotional - the talent that creates such beauty is wonderful.  If you get the chance to see the exhibition in another city then it's well worth taking the time to enjoy and appreciate.

Here's the detail in an image of two close ups, both very different.

There were 78 couture capes, first introduced on the February runway in London and a selection of these will visit cities including Seoul, Paris, Tokyo and Los Angeles as part of the travelling exhibition.  Inspired by the scale and form of Henry Moore's elemental sculptures and created using unique constructions, each design is handmade and available to special order.

The Spring/Summer collection was exhibited nearby the capes, lined up in procession and a calm mix of relaxing colours and lovely textures including the traditional wool sweaters.  There was an exhibition about the design process and Henry Moore's work - showing the development of sculptures from initial concept to finished piece.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fashion Goes Political

Slogan t-shirts - black text on white cotton like newsprint - can be as powerful as any headline.

We’ve just seen the political slogan trend reminding us of the potency of the fashion runway as a medium for protest showing clothing as an expression of identity and beliefs. Fashion reflects culture as a response and a relevant progressive art form like music. It’s no longer frivolous – if it ever was - it is a reference of mass consciousness which trend influencers develop so clothing has a voice rather than being the mute accompaniment to words; it's a character in the theatre, not only the costume.
As Elle reported “it appears the fashion industry isn't holding back when it comes to expressing its political views on Trump, reproductive and immigration rights and diversity during fashion week.  From Tommy Hilfiger to Calvin Klein, designers are standing up against the Trump administration with fashion, music and art. Subtlety is nowhere to be seen”.

T-shirts have been emblazoned with slogans and symbols for decades, starting in the 60s and being a huge trend again in the 80s with Katharine Hamnett, Wham, Frankie Says etc. In addition to slogan t-shirts campaigns for change have been championed by high profile people in popular culture like Vivienne Westwood and Anita Roddick of The Body Shop and more recently the Chanel protest show.


In addition to actually writing words there is the traditional context of patterns and print, such as tartan, which is “a unique textile in that it has so many meanings attached to it… It can represent rebellion, conformity, homeliness and performance, and this is why it has been consistently popular in fashion around the world since the late eighteenth century. While tartan was a symbol of the Jacobites to indicate loyalty to the Stuarts, it later became incredibly fashionable when taken up by Queen Victoria, as before Hollywood and pop stars, it was royalty who were the trendsetters" says Edinburgh-based fashion journalist and author Caroline Young. Slogans are instantly understood as the meaning of symbolism can get lost but if you know your history you will read between the lines and add impact to your expression.   

Prabal Gurung has dressed some of the world's most famous and influential women including Michelle Obama, Demi Moore and Oprah Winfrey and has expressed a desire to dress Prince William's wife, Catherine The Duchess of Cambridge. "The women I like dressing always have to have a strength of mind and real character,"

In the first of the fashion weeks he made a strong case for fashion as resistance statement taking his bow in a T-shirt reading ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ and used the finale to express his politics with models wearing T-shirts reading ‘Revolution has no borders’, ‘I am an immigrant’, ‘I am a Rosa’ and to promote a fuller-figured catwalk model, casting Candice Huffine and Marquita Pring in the show. The clothes continued his strong woman theme with chunky wool sweaters and coats with quarterback shoulders alongside elegant materials and delicate colours, conveying a sense of female authority without the tired ‘sexy-equals-empowered’ concept.
New York-based fashion label, Creatures of Comfort models wore silk-screened T-shirts with, 'We Are All Human Beings', written across the chest, highlighting unity in defence against Trump's divisive ideologies.
'We are all human' top at Creatures of Comfort at NYFW17 | ELLE UK

At Calvin Klein, Raf Simons Reimagines America complete with very cool denim, playing David Bowie’s “This Is Not America” during the finale – is this officially the era of 'fashtivism'?

Unfortunately politicism is being sold as a trend – commercialised and marketed and therefore diluted rather than having strong passion with a need for progress. I-D spoke to Bertie Brandes, freelance journalist, about Dior's "we should all be feminists" tee. "If fashion is the commodification of aspirational trends, which it is, this is a perfect example of a perfect product: aspirational in both price and politics," she explained. "That T-shirt is a hilariously sharp if unconscious depiction of how capitalism as an ideology will hijack literally anything to appear relevant." 

On the other hand Ashish’sAW17 show was a symbolic collection full of meaning with Wizard Of Oz themes and a giant broken heart and Mary-Kate and Ashley's Olsen’s clothing line The Row made a quiet statement with the understated word 'hope' embroidered  on the cuff of their shirts in a mark of hushed defiance. 

Elle summed it up quite nicely with a quotable summary “It appears politics is being stitched into the very fabric of the fashion industry this season.  May it long continue”.
There’s a book Slogan T-Shirts Cult and Culture which “offers a multi-faceted approach to the question of what makes the slogan T-shirt so rich, layered and culturally relevant... because slogans are never simply just words; they are emotive and evocative, suggestive and provocative".

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chanel review

I  was catching up with the catwalk shows over the last few days and thought I'd review some stunning Chanel ones.

At the Ready-to-Wear Show Fall-Winter 2017/18 there were lots of stunning clothes on the catwalk (needless to say).  I loved the sparky tights under the tweed dresses and suits; lovely green metallic trousers, shorts, skirt and jackets and my particular favourite is the black sequin jacket and top which is stunning (15 minutes in).

The soundtrack was great too - the first track is so full of impact and tension, the same with the last track, especially with its long crescendo like a roaring engine building up the tension.  There's a definite nod to the sixties with the second track when there was such a strong space-age and futuristic trend and when trends were quite child-like.  Is this a subtle reference to the peace movement at a time when the world is, as usual, in total turmoil coming after Chanel's previous protest show (protest from 9.20) again with sixties trend references in psychedelic colour and tie dye which replaced business attire. 

There were so many space references in the clothing from wide white collars on many of the dresses make me think  of astronaut suits wide collars to accommodate the helmet, the metal edging on other  necklines and the super rocket handbag!  All the current trends were there - metallics in various guises, pinks, pleats, midi skirts.  Strong but not over stated makeup which kept the feminine heritage.

The Haute Couture Show Spring-Summer 2017 which took place on January 24th, 2016 at the Grand Palais in Paris began very refined with flute music, a glass stage decorated with lillies and models in beautiful little suits.  I think the slow orchestral sounds are to relate back to the heritage of a slower pace of high society.  The music soon became contemporary, the clothes became more elaborate and detailed.  It was all purity with a light palette, whites, reflective jewels decorating clothes - the detailing like ruffles, frills, adornments is beautiful.  There's something about the exquisite detail and design that makes me tearful

There were a few black pieces, and two jewel coloured dresses made with a reflective material.  The fabrics included sequined, feathers, lace, bead encrusted - breathtakingly delightful

Models hair and make up was very elegant and subtle - absolutely no need for anything else to draw attention from the statement clothes.

Between the Ready To Wear and Haute Couture shows there was a strong element of purity and reflection, references to futuristic themes and high society tradition.  All very contemporary and artistic in one of the most fundamental ways someone can express their identity.

I've had a long week so I'll write about CHANEL M├ętiers d’Art show Paris Cosmopolite 2016/17 soon!

Friday, March 10, 2017


I'm really pleased to see metallics are still on trend as I love this look.  The pleated skirts have been done to death so I've been finding some less obvious looks - it's been difficult not to get one for the styling, one for Jacki but I did well...  ASOS have a huge load of great items in this trend, it could be your one stop shop, but the best of the high street - Zara, Mango and River Island have some lovely pieces too.  I'm not suggesting wearing head to foot metallic, here are items from each category you can wear to funk up an everyday look.

There are some stunning elegant dresses available

This Missguided dress is one of my favourites so it gets flatlay board all to itself.

These other clutch bags didn't make it to the final cut - I wasn't going to go with a totally gold look so the stunning round bag didn't make it and the elaborate turquoise one was just a bit too heavy on the detail.

And then let's go from tops



To toe with shoes

Edgy suits for women and men

Here's an idea to wear double metallic without being too bling.  A top and a pair of boots can look really cool, either casual or smartened up for going out.

And for work you can wear a smart pair of pale grey trousers with a long sleeve silver top which looks contemporary but business like.
Trying to find tasteful coloured metallic dresses was a challenge - there were very few which didn't make the wearer look like something from a Quality Street box.  Here are the wrong uns -

And to finish off, here are some beauties.

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