Keep your ‘lectric eye on me babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream oh yeah!

David Bowie’s lyrics of Moonage Daydream provides the perfect lyric prism in which to view the latest Dior show.  It’s why it was one of the tracks used in the Bowie medley that soundtracked the show.  You can be an alligator, a mama-papa, a space invader or more fittingly, a rock ‘n’ rolling bitch in these clothes.  This show was so full in every way possible – full of eras, identities and ideas – I said in my Dazed Digital review of the show, “Too much of a good thing… is something amazing.”  I with more designers would just go and do something that was “too much”.  Then again, few have the bravada and the resources that Simons has to make everything work successfully.  You could see it all as overbearing randomness or rather it was a freeing of haute couture that Simons so brilliantly expressed with this show.

I was always thinking of the future for so many years and I was always anti-romanticising the past, but the past can be beautiful too, ” says Raf Simons. “There is a sense of the romance of the fifties, with the experimentation of the sixties and the liberation of the seventies in the collection – both in its materialisation and attitude. But I really wanted to express something that felt relevant for today, learnt from then, from the point of view of now; something wilder, more sexual, strange and certainly more liberated for the haute  couture and for women.”

Wild and strange is exactly what we got as we entered this never ending mirrored maze of white scaffolding and strangely sensual deep pile dusky pink carpet.  It was a time travel vehicle where Simons’ multi-decade, mucho-clashing, more-is-more vision for Dior could traverse through, going first around the hexagonal upper tier and then descending down the stairs.  If you looked up at the ceiling, you saw these strange creatures reflected repeatedly into infinity.  Sometimes there would be verbatim moments – like psychedelic catsuits taken straight from body painting editorial that might have appeared in late ’60s/early 70s Vogue under Diana Vreeland.  Most of the time decades collided with one another - as seen in the ’60s PVC printed with Dior’s femme fleur and made up into ’50s opera coats, worn over short crystal shifts as well as early punk tattoo body suits.  Bowie might have taken a liking to them in his Ziggy Stardust days.  Or when a full skirted New Look era skirt collided with an O-ring cut-out bodice straight from a go go booted dance club.  Speaking of which, the mere presence of those PVC slicked thigh high gogo boots in bright colours with metal cage heels, was more than enough to inject a kink in proceedings as well as a kick to the mainstream perception of what haute couture is supposed to be.  Cue detractors decrying “This is not couture!”

I’ve literally just come been inside a couture atelier today (more about that in another post).  The head of one of the ateliers said that she loved working in haute couture because there were no limits – in price and in ideas.  If that’s the case then Simons has really understood this sense of freedom.  Exploring its outer possibilities in materials and techniques as well as themes is how Simons has chosen to work with these ateliers, limitless in skill and resources – and that should be commended.  The collective gushing post show was genuine and heartfelt.  “So many ideas!  So rich!” was the general consensus.  Some can take what they want out of it  - a grosgrain ribbon heavily pleated skirt here, a guipere lace dress there – indeed, clients are currently clustering around the racks right this moment, taking their pick.  For us mere mortals, it’s the entire experience of this sensory overload that was so glorious to witness.

0E5A3561

0E5A3553

0E5A3573

0E5A3582

0E5A3583

0E5A3598

0E5A3602

0E5A3588

0E5A3605

0E5A3607

0E5A3617

0E5A3622

0E5A3626

0E5A3629

0E5A3633

0E5A3637

0E5A3643

0E5A3654

0E5A3657

0E5A3664

0E5A3677

0E5A3685

0E5A3703

0E5A3699

0E5A3707

0E5A3725

0E5A3720

0E5A3726

0E5A3735

0E5A3749

0E5A3750

0E5A3758

0E5A3760

0E5A3764

0E5A3767

0E5A3771

0E5A3780

0E5A3785

0E5A3796

0E5A3799

0E5A3807

0E5A3833

0E5A3836

0E5A3818

0E5A3841

0E5A3843

0E5A3848

>> I hit many firsts last week and over the weekend as I’ve been reporting on menswear shows for Dazed Digital.  Some of the firsts were good, some not so good. Despite my typing abilities being thoroughly spent, it’s hard not give props to some of those firsts that really gave me the chills.   Givenchy menswear for A/W 15-6 with the bonus of some specially created womenswear looks was a good first.  And it did give me some serious chills.  From Riccardo Tisci’s obsessions as a collector of Mexican carpets, skulls and mystical jewellery came a welcome walk on the darkside that steered clear of the heavy sportswear and streetwear influences that have come to define the menswear in most people’s minds.  It’s hard not to be swung by a strong narrative and this show had it in spades.  Tisci noted after the show that he was at a point where he was currently incredibly happy with what he’s doing and that he felt free enough to just put everything he loved into the collection.  So the references were numerous and sprawling, as objects from all over the world fed auras their into the collection.  That feeling was echoed in The American Horror Story-esque assembly of objects of old TV’s, furniture and spooky dolls in the set.  I’m a sucker for thrift/junk shop vibes and being inspired by objects of significance, especially when in Tisci’s case, inspiration literally came from his own home.  As for the clothes – they were the carriers of all the traits that Tiscis has blessed Givenchy with, making it the house with resonance and relevance that it is today – dark and brooding tailoring, eerie romance, eye-baiting prints and yes, a smidge of that sporty streety stuff (although I’m loving the fact that Tisci has shifted ever so slightly away from the use of a mere printed sweatshirt).   Pat McGrath’s painstakingly painted and collages masks on a few of the models completed this joyously macabre tale.  It’s Givnechy as a haunted house (or should that be maison?) ride – one that you wouldn’t mind going round and round in forever, should you be able to afford its wares.

IMG_3103

IMG_3028

IMG_3066

IMG_3104

IMG_3065

IMG_3133

IMG_3072

IMG_3118

IMG_3064

IMG_3135

IMG_3074

IMG_3124

IMG_3080

IMG_3138

IMG_3078

IMG_3125

IMG_3073

IMG_3032

>> Techno sartorial.  That was how Kris van Assche summed up his latest A/W 15-6 collection for Dior Homme as traditional menswear codes greeted the 21st century.  The leitmotif of the collection were these badges of dried flowers – shiny and trapped in plastic and clustered in sets of three on the lapels of tuxedo jackets and Prince of Wales check blazers.  My first menswear experience in Paris doing the shows has rendered posting a bit on the slow side but having taken these pictures in the showroom today, I thought they’d make for a nice bit of immediate Sunday eye candy.  It’s difficult for me to wax lyrical about the cut of a suit, or a tuxedo, not because I don’t appreciate those things but because I lack the vernacular.  A dried flower trapped inside a badge as a modern alternative to an old fashioned corsage however is exactly right up my street.  The invitation was even more of a treat – it was a set of plastic jelly stickers printed with the flowers and their Latin names alongside them.  Viola adroit, delphinium staphisagria, rosa rugosa anyone?  They’re a keepsake that now cover my laptop, temporarily hiding its banged up boshed up state.  Now, let’s get them clever DIY versions going shall we?  Who’s got a handy Bandai Badge It! machine?

IMG_1703

IMG_1704

IMG_1706

IMG_1708

IMG_1712

IMG_1714

IMG_1716

IMG_1717

IMG_1723

>> Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing in fashion.  Look back with rose-tinted goggles at your peril as you fall deep into a pit of thinking that thoughts like, “Those were the good old days”, and you might miss what’s passing you by in the present.  There’s a trick to looking back into the past in order to go somewhere new.  And Raf Simons seems to nail that balance.  At Dior, Simons looks to a distant and almost remote past to heave it into the present day.  At Simon’s own namesake brand, his own memories – genuine, personal and heartfelt – are accessed, extracted and refined until he can eke out something that speaks to the here and the now.  For my first Raf Simons show experience (I’ve never attended Paris menswear…), that memory happened to be a specific one.  In Belgium, there is a tradition for 3rd or 4th year university students to “initiate” or in his words “baptise” the 1st years.  In the USA, I believe they call it “hazing”, except in Belgium it’s less extreme.  In Raf’s case, he was placed in a box and had plaster poured all over him so that he became a sculpture of sorts, having to chip himself free with a hammer and a chisel.  He never got to be the “baptiser”.  He couldn’t bring himself to do it.  Even if it did mean he would get to don a lab coat, scribbled with messages that are then washed and passed on through the years.

And they’re the items that I absolutely couldn’t get enough of in the show.  Every one was obviously unique.  And as opposed to the faux scribbles, slogans and scrawlings that you might find on mass produced “personalised” items, these looked and felt real.  Even if we didn’t have this tradition at university, it was easy enough to connect them to the leaver’s shirts that we all scribbled over when we left secondary school.  Simons tapped into that feeling of relief, achievement and a hope for the an unknown future with this particular section.  It was also hard not to think about another memory of Simons – his primary influences like Martin Margiela and his lab coated world.  Or as we looked up from our standing positions onto the raised catwalk (standing is awesome when you have a clear upwards view),  you thought of fashion shows of an other era, especially as we were transported to a far out suburb of Paris for the show.  Going somewhere far to see something you really want to see.  Without the standard white light that floods most fashion shows.  Simons said it best: “The way things are visually travelling - it’s all very samey.”  As in the fashion imagery we see – front-on, flash photography, stony gazes – can all look the same.  It was about putting in a bit of effort to really SEE a show.  And to see something in the show that we can all immerse ourselves into, despite the specific memory.

0E5A3033

0E5A3059

0E5A3060

0E5A3061

0E5A3062

0E5A3075

0E5A3156

0E5A3157

0E5A3159

0E5A3161

0E5A3162

>>I never “got” the allure of the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles until I had been given the time last weekend to properly roam its rooms, its vaguely haunted corridors and the outside cottages and bungalows.  And thanks to Mulberry, I styled up their S/S 15 pieces with my own clothes and also got to poke my nose around the premises to find little nooks to do this impromptu shoot (yes that is wet brickwork you see there – evidence that it does rain in LA from time to time…).  It’s hard not to be seduced by all the restored details of this Hollywood haunt.  The chipped away tile work and the old-fashioned 1920s ventilation in the bathrooms, the personalised stationery with that endearingly faux-Medieval font of a logo, the restored O’Keefe and Merritt hob in the kitchenette, the mirrored dressing table and the curiously high number of closets (Hollywood starlets and their unusually large trousseaus?).  And then beyond its walls, the seclusion provided by the folliage even though you’re technically located on Sunset Boulevard, the lemon tree (I took one – sorry – they are very juicy) and the the old logo-ed lifebuoy by the pool and all the Spanish tile details to go with the accompanying bungalows.  Consider me charmed by the Chateau.

002

006

013

014Mulberry jacquard jacket and ‘Lily’ bag worn with vintage geometric slip dress and Meadham Kirchhoff shoes

019

038

045

048Mulberry two-piece suit and ‘Delphie’ bag worn with my own Back shirt and Converse chucks

053

060Mulberry shirt and jumper and ‘Cara’ rucksack worn with my own Toga jeans, Purified loafers