• #insideout oi oi @cosstores and @currentelliott - who made your clothes??? @fash_rev
  • Last @designerjumble outfit of the day - @saundersstudio jacket, Betty Jackson jacket, Antithesis shirt, @fromsomewhereuk top, Loewe skirt, Luella bag
  • More brilliant @designerjumble pieces @prada top and skirt, Antony Price parachute dress @rupertsanderson shoes
  • Made In Britain pieces by @jameslonglondon and @topshop Who made your clothes? #InsideOut @fash_rev
  • Amazing pieces from a 1,500 collection of Hannalore Smart, widow of Circus King Billy Smart Jr... Alaia,  Gaultier, Comme, Issey Miyake, Prada... All going into @designerjumble soon with some on auction!! Gaultier corset, vintage customised jeans, Prada shoes, CdG skirt - very Meadham Kirchhoff SS13!

>> I found myself backing away from my own words as I somehow ended up doling out advice about how to stay cool in scorching 36 degrees celcius (that's 96 degrees Farenheit) here in Paris where there's a bit of a mini-heat wave going on.  I may not be running around like a mad chicken like I normally do when I'm in Paris and I'm certainly taking my time to walk to places to prevent sweatage but still, I think I came out pretty much unscathed after this day of arid heat, until I collapsed into a pool of sweat at an Argentinian meat house at night where it's strictly charcoal fumes in place of air-con.

I may have even declared quite airily to my friends that I wasn't at all hot because I had taken the following measures…

-Wear natural fibres.  Silk and cotton are my summer saviours, and very thin knits if you can get them mighty fine.  Just not err… a thick 100% wool jumper of course.  Today, it was time to resurrect an Alpha60 River 'Stand By Me' Phoenix t-shirt which never fails to have 30-something year old men stop in their tracks and go "Fuck…I LOVED that film…" and an old Future Classics navy silk button-down skirt that ties up at the front. 

-Those items happen to be airy and loose too.  I'm all for more fabric flapping against the skin just in case any breeze of wind passes along. 

-Carry a light bag that is hands and weight free leaving you arms to swing about creating gusts of wind going up arm pits.  Yay for the no-DSLR days when all one needs is a debit card, some euros and my phone. 

-The Urbanears white headphones are there not just for accessory but for drowning out any other people on the street possibly going "I'm SO hot!".  Soundtrack of wintry music is essential – a few Elliot Smith tracks, icy Four Tet perhaps and nothing involving vaguely tropical noises so that rules out Jamie XX's steel drum bonanza 'Far Nearer'.  Dang.

-Putting the hair up for obvious reasons.  People keep asking for video tutorials on top knots from but I'd feel stupid re-enacting how I do my hair on video, when it is so naively easy.  Tip head forward.  Gather hair.  Ponytail with hair tie.  Twist.  Another hair tie.  Bobby pin stray bits.  Done.  Gordon Ramsay would be so proud of those succinct instructions. 

-Wear sandals that don't rub which in this case are these old Surface to Air ones.  I'm not really into airing feet.  I actually don't like looking at feet in general and have now officially been warded off pedicures after seeing a friend who had her foot skin 'shaved' and in the process, a sizeable chunk of flesh taken off as well. An Itchy & Scratchy skit from the The Simpsons comes to mind.  Still, 36 degrees weather calls for sandals plus gnarly feet.  Hopefully people are so blinded by the sun they're not looking at feet.  Or else the men here for fashion week are looking at perfect plaids, raffish artisinal shoes and not much else.  

-Sunnies that actually shield the sun.  There are a few fash-on sunnies were the lenses don't actually prevent sun searing into eyes and I've been victim to a few pairs that now sit in my drawer mocking me because I don't actually wear sunglasses in any situation UNLESS they're there to protect me from blinding sun.  These Yves Saint Laurent ones do the trick as well as looking deceptively like a polka dot pattern when really it's a plaid.  CLE-VUH eh? 

-I'm always buying fresh bottled of CHILLLLLLLLED water along the way that I'm walking just so I can press it against my chest.   

-When I say 'Think Cool', I don't mean it in that Grease way when Danny keeps telling the T-Birds to 'Be cool, be cool.'  I literally mean think COOL temeprature wise.  Every time I walk around moaning and whinging "I'm so hot", somehow, I feel that much hotter.  Heat is a state of mind maaaaaaan.  And I don't mean err… hot as in beauty.  Wow that's a lot of double-meaning explanations there. 

IMG_9797

IMG_9802

IMG_9809

IMG_9816

IMG_9821

When I was in Florence, I found the time to pry myself away from the perfect pin striped suits, immaculately matched shoes and socks and too-tanned-prettiness of Pitti Uomo and made my way to the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum.  Back up there.  As a somewhat vocal devotee of Ferragamo shoes and having been to Florence five times, I've NEVER been to the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum?!?  *Clasped hands to chest major gasp*

To be fair, I'm a half-hearted devotee, harbouring an addiction to the Vara pump which was in fact created by Salvatore Ferragamo's daughter Fiamma in 1978, long after the shoe maestro's death.  With four pairs and counting, half an hour each day is exclusively devoted to scouring eBay ensuring that I haven't missed any unusual colour ways in size US8A – that's hard work, that is. 

Therefore the visit shored up my scatty knowledge of Ferragamo's legacy, with a glimpse into a teensy part of his 10,000 shoe archive (he was a fastidious hoarder…) as the basement of the Via Tornabuoni store.  Cleverly of course, after being entranced by the museum's exhibits of Ferragamo treasures, you can go straight up into the store to do some 'inspired shopping' which is how I nearly spanked a wack of money on some new Varas, stopping myself to say "eBay will yield me better ones…" 

IMG_9041

IMG_8986

In the 'Creations' section of the store, you can also buy re-issued replicas of 1930s-40s Ferragamo originals which come at a pretty penny but are so far distinguished from the conservative ilk of Ferragamo shoes that they really are quite astonishing as shoe speciments consideirng the age of design. 

IMG_8977

There were a few things that I knew before seeing the exhibition – that Ferragamo held many patents and trademarks to shoe shapes which he could call entirely his own, that he blended science and art when approaching shoe design and that he had strong ties with Hollywood.

I love this quote from Ferragamo's autobiography Shoemaker of Dreams (I must try and find a user copy of this‚Ķ): "I have divided the women who have come to me into three categories: the Cinderella, the Venus, and the Aristocrat. The Cinderella takes a shoe smaller that Size Six, the Venus takes Size Six, the Aristocrat a seven or larger."  I'm presuming he means US sizes in which case I'm neither Cindrella or Venus.

The first section of the museum documents Ferragamo's relationship with Hollywood starlets well with clientale that included Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Lauren Bacall and for me, most famously Judy Garland, who for me will be equally associated with the famed Ferragamo "Rainbow Platforms" as seen above, as well as her ruby red slippers.  Through the 30s-50s, you can really see how Ferragamo experimented and pushed boundaries of what materials could be used creatively in times of rationing and restraint – cork, fish skin, cellophane and raffia were just some of the things that Ferragamo used in prototypes, some more successful than others but a lot of these styles have had a lasting impact just by looking totally contemporary and standing up to what is out there today.    

IMG_8983 IMG_8998

IMG_8991

IMG_8994

IMG_8990

IMG_8996

The museum's permanent collection is accompanied by temporal exhibitions, with the previous one about Ferragamo as Craftsman covered extensively by the blog Theatre of Fashion.  When I went, they had just started the 'Salvatore Ferragamo: Inspiration and Vision' exhibition where the curator has made a connection between the discoveries of Ferragamo's time – the excavation of Tutankhamon's tombs and  other archaeological and ethnographic finds that were inspiration material for Ferragamo. 

IMG_9000

IMG_9006

IMG_9008

IMG_9010

I particularly love this chain sandal created in 1956 for a private client (the chain is unique to Ferragamo's design) and its ties with Andy Warhol's shoe drawings from 1955…

IMG_9012

IMG_9013

In the next part of the exhibition, they present a connection between Salvatore Ferragamo and Futurism.  Certainly Ferragamo had ties with Futurism especially as Italian Futurists such as Lucio Venna created the Ferragamo logo as well as several adveritising campaigns.  Still, the link is presented as a hypothetical one – Ferragamo may not have met Sonia Delauney, Thayaht or Giacoma Balla but you can certainly draw parrallels between their work and Ferragamo's creations in the 50s-60s.  

IMG_9016

IMG_9017

IMG_9019

IMG_9026

IMG_9020

IMG_9024

IMG_9023

The final part of the museum presents again an imagined parrallel between the creations of milliner Stephen Jones and Ferragamo.  Both creators don't seem to be restrained by their product genres.  The creative heights of shoes and hats can be dizzying in both cases as displayed in this portion of the exhibition.  It's extraordinary to think that the shoes seen in the museum are just a teensy tiny portion of the full Ferragamo archive which means the possibilities for exhibition curation are endless, making this museum more than just a rudimentary history footnote to the expanding Salvatore Ferragamo brand of today, but a real contextual foundation for customer and enthusiast to enjoy. 

IMG_9035

IMG_9034

IMG_9037

IMG_9040

IMG_9039

Peter Jensen's often cinematic influences makes me want to hit Fopp and hunt out old DVDs that are hopefully going to be part of their 3 for ¬£10 deals (seeing as downloading older films on torrents can be troublesome…not that err… I'm into illegal downloading or anything…).  One season, it's Mike Leigh's Nuts in May.  Another it's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.  I can thank Jensen for a significantly augmented DVD collection.  

The last few seasons has been about shifting the focus slightly with a more American slant, an effect of having shown in New York for a couple of seasons or working with photographers like Autumn de Wilde or stylist Shirley KurataLast season despite basing his collection around Godard ingenue Anna Karina, it was very much a trip to LA, a new experience for Jensen and his design aesthetic.  The season before that, Shelley Duvall was his muse of choice which resulted in a playful, colour-blocked take on 70s staples.  For his resort collection, he takes a shift towards the late 70s and effectively matures his clothes by looking to Meryl Streep in films such as The Deer Hunter, Manhattan and Kramer vs. Kramer where Streep's wardrobe is the sturdy and practical part of the  70s that meant she was a constant style inspiration for my mother at the time, pre-babies and all that. 

IMG_7769

IMG_7780

IMG_7781

IMG_7770

On set for the lookbook shoot, Americana was amped up in the props section with items such as questionable jars of Frankfurter's, macaroni cheese in a box and an overpriced jar of Skippy peanut butter (it's overpriced once it gets to these British shores alas…).  I don't think any of that made it to the final set of pictures but hey-ho, they looked the part…

IMG_7785

IMG_7784

Iekeliene Stange was the charismatic model who was required to act out a variety of scenarios which made for a much more dynamic lookbook shoot than yer' average 'Stand-Straight-Like-Fash-Zombie' lookbook.  She also donned a blonde wig to emulate Meryl's late 70s flowing blonde locks.  Fellow Dutch-speaker Tim Gutt was the photographer who coaxed some wonderful shots out of Iekeliene…

IMG_7734

I noted that Jensen's sketches had quite angry/terrified/petrified expressions on them.  Apparently he has always sketch liked this. 

IMG_7768

I've only just recently been seeing LA-based stylist Shirley Kurata in a non-backstage-context (she styles Rodarte's shows) and I'm quite taken with her style.  This is the second time she is working with Peter Jensen and on set, she wore a quilted polka dot vintage dress…

IMG_7775

There were tears required for this shot so copious amounts of drops were needed to bring a sorrowful stare into the mirror…

IMG_7772

IMG_7766

Still, as pragmatic as Peter Jensen gets with his shapes with American sportswear infiltrating his clothes – the trench, the cropped trouser, the loafer, the neat button down shirts – it's the colours and prints that ensure he doesn't lose that Jensen-ish quality about his work as evident in this purple and lilac ensemble.   

IMG_7804

I love these patent loafers from past seasons and vaguely remember passing them up when they were on sale…  I decree to myself anything involving lilac and patent should not be passed up. 

IMG_7786

IMG_7812

In pieces such as this sweatshirt where Sissy Spacek a la Badlands is depicted with clusters of white beads, Jensen's whimsy is ever present. 

IMG_7747

Still, it is Americana-flecked neat preppy that reigns strong in the collection, especially in the accessories such as these new season shoes consisting of loafers and peep-toe pumps with bows that are on the conservative side. 

IMG_7795

Or these satchels and bucket bags that Jensen produces in England with the help of a leather maker on Redchurch Street. 

IMG_7750

I love this enlarged version of the 'Angela' bag which came in a variety of colours over the past few seasons.  This one is about twice the size and could well sit with Streep's character in Kramer vs. Kramer

IMG_7799

Jensen-ish qualities jostle with this new level of preppy with sweaters that are banded with stitches of unusual colour combinations or gingham dresses that have a vaguely 50s matron kind of vague that are left raw-edged and finished with a lining of tulle peeking out…

IMG_7790

IMG_7748

016m 019m

Even in utilitarian pieces, details such as different coloured pastel zippers on the pockets make Jensen's point of difference even more pronounced. 

IMG_7756

I especially love these prints where Jensen has been excelling for years where his trip to LA from last season once again turns up in these graphic vistas of 50s LA…

IMG_7757

Of course Jensen's bunny makes an appearance too and this time he's encased in this postage stamp chequered print that works particiuarly well as a shirt and cropped trouser combo. 

IMG_7760

008m 012m

I cower in shame over my complete lack of student show coverage this year.  I missed not one or two or three but ALL of the final year fashion graduate shows this year because of a variety of reasons but mainly because of poor calendar skills on my part and my Tokyo trip taking over the month of May/June.  It feels terrible that I'm catching up on it all through Catwalking or FTape and I have received a ton of emails with people's collections which I've sifted through.  It seems a bit fraudulent to be writing about stuff I've not seen in person, and I don't want to play fashion college favourites either but London College of Fashion's Showtime profiles combined with Timothy Hill's amazing backstage photography (all the shots with a grimy concrete background) made it hard NOT to round up some of my favourite LCF BA Fashion graduates. 

Showtime technically is a vehicle for all University of Arts students (CSM, LCF, Chelsea, Camberwell etc…) to post their portfolios up but when it comes to the featured fashion design students that were seen in the final fashion shows, LCF students seem to be far more diligent when it comes to posting up full profiles to Showtime.  I'll admit to blogging laziness and say that Showtime saves me a hell of a lot of time as it provides email addresses, full lookbook shots of their final graduate collections, useful blurbs, inspiration notes and more often than not, sketchbook scans.  After a scan of all the pics on Catwalking and picking out my faves, I can then go on to Showtime and do further research with arse still firmly on seat and my violet-painted mug of tea at my side.  I promise I'll peel my derriere off this seat and get out into the big bad world to do more graduate scavenging but for now, all hail graduates who aren't just mired in the act of creativity but are bothered to upload a few of their treasured JPGs. 

…………………………………………………………………………..

Angela Brandys - Looking at Brandys's collection is like being attacked by a bazillion dichotomies.  That's a good thing.  Haphazard textures, unexpected colour combinations, naff materials made good all contribute to an undefinable mish-mash that is hard to categorise by theme and I suppose that's the point. She says that she beg, borrows and steals her materials, bought from jumble sales and thrift stores and immediately I see this collection as upcycling 2.0 – a vast upgrade from "Oh I made this old sweater into an awkwardly shaped skirt…".  The way the fabrics and colours come together into these dresses and statement coats seem more like purposeful collison.  Hopefully she'll take her reworking ideas to another level and in the long run, promote creative upcycling. 

"This collection does not favour the superficial façade presented by the mass media dictatorship currently in play. It explores a more ‘real’ tension of new fabric, texture and color arrangements focusing on ones ability to create in a personal way without rule or order."

Angela Brandys6

Angela Brandys5

Ab1

Ab2 Ab3

Ab4 Ab5

Ab6

Ab7

…………………………………………………………………………..

Kathy Lam – Blue and white Chinese porcelain infiltrating fashion will immediately bring to mind Rodarte S/S 11's collection but Lam's proposition abstracts that very recognisable combination of blue and white into something else.  I've probed into the use of chinoiserie in fashion before and I would say that Lam attempts to take the codes of Chinese traditional dress – boxy shapes from older Chinese historical dress to Mao uniforms – and combines them with blue and white patterns that give the illusion of texture and shadows.  Since there aren't any perceivable motifs, the blue and white porcelain influence seems like only a background note as opposed to the main component in this collection. 

"Since I stepped into the fashion industry, I always questioning myself "What do I believe in fashion?" I believe fashion is a principle method can voice out essential personality from a person. In my opinion, it is important to be comfortable of who you are more than who you want to be."

Kathy Lam2

Kl1

Kl2 Kl3

Kl4

Kl7

Kl6

…………………………………………………………………………..

Mengyi Hu – Messing up with historical or ethnic context seemed to be a theme at the LCF BA show as Hu meshes small trades workwear with the ritual adornment of West African tribes.  It becomes an exploration of texture but in each ensemble you can clearly read the African and workwear elements very clearly – a gingham shirt tucked into a skirt that ruffles with raffia-esque shag.  The symbolism is clear – it's that old chestnut theme of Westerners' exploring the unknown – except here it's synthesised by contrasting the utilitarian function of workwear with decorative African masquerade wear. 

Mengyi Hu1

Mh1

Mh2 Mh3

Mh4

Mh5 Mh6

Mh7

Mh8

Mh9

…………………………………………………………………………..

Yeashin Kim – Focusing on the subject of corals under the sea gave way to this exhuberant collection where emotive colour as well as decorative detailing are used to create a collection that I could conceivably wear straight away.  Multi-coloured wool tufting recreates the texture of the coral.  Kim finds joy in Antoine Watteau paintings and injects that into the collection too.  

"I have always wanted to make clothes that could make people happy and joyful when they looked or wore them, and that wish remained the same when I first started to do this work."

Yeashin Kim 121

Yeashin Kim

Ys1

Ys2 Ys3

Ys4 Ys5

Ys6

Ys7

Ys8

…………………………………………………………………………..

Rexy Sung – Once again the past strikes in unexpected ways and Sung has taken the industrial revolution of Great Britain to heart by investigating the historical impact of new technologies affecting economy and social conditions as well as its impact on the environment to influence her eight silhouettes.  Machinery infiltrates the silhouettes in a series of boxy shapes that grace trousers and the shoulders of jackets.  Sustainability is on Sung's mind as she uses nails, safety pins and recycled buttons to embellish the pieces.  I love that the palette is a softer version of the dull grey that looms over our painted picture of the Industrial Revolution in our heads making this collection look outwardly feminine.  Sung's also taken great care to accessorise her collection with her wood patina bags which is always impressive for any graduate. 

"Since this revolution is always a symbolisation of new innovation and prosperous economy phenomenon, I wish people who wear my collection would think positively and vigorously in this economic recession period."

Rs1

Rs2 Rs5

Rs3 Rs6

Rs4

Rs9

Rs7

Rs10

…………………………………………………………………………..

Samuel Johnson – Photographer Diane Arbus and her subjects drive Johnson's collection where notions of beauty and ugliness play off one another.  Researching Arbus and her background led Johnson to the 1950s socialite scene in New York and the Edith Head-designed costumes in the 1950 film All About Eve propel the use of crisp and restraining lace in his collection.  These are not straight forward pretty lace frocks as Johnson uses a lot of raw-edged cottons and wools to 'roughen' up the beauty of all that lace.  The extreme silhouettes were Johnson's way of making the dresses 'freak-like' except in trying to conceive something that straddles line between pretty-ugly, the effect is that these dresses are actually quite beautiful to behold.  

"I believe in the power of the wearer within fashion. One garment can represent contrasting meanings in an assorted society, whether it be age, height or race. Using this ethos I try and design using contrasting elements and references, to create clothes that have different interpretations, for every individual person."

Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson1

Sj1 Sj2

Sj3

Sj4 Sj5

Sj6

Sj7

This is a question that came up in the FAQ section and I wrote a reply this morning in a moment of clarity.  Perhaps I'll feel differently later when I get back on my high fashion horse.  For now, it'll suffice…

Did the thought 'fashion & all that stuff are a bit shallow, there are more important things in life' ever cross your mind?
That thought crosses my mind every day.  There ARE plenty of things about fashion that are incredibly shallow.  I only need to read the comments section of the Guardian where people constantly deride fashion to see how it is perceived and if I'm being truly honest, in the wider context, we are basically talking about frocks and not much else.  I don't like to imbue a lofty sense of importance to fashion like I used to when I was a mardy teenager but rather, I'll take it for what it is in its many guises and forms.  It is commerce.  It is a business.  It can reflect socio-economic and political circumstances.  It is a vehicle that references the past.  It can be art (although people are all too ready to apply that world too liberally‚Ķ.).  Fashion at its core is a luxury not a necessity.  We perceive it as 'important' because I like millions of other fashion-obsessives developed an indignant territorial claim over it.  "Seeing an Alexander McQueen show on The Clothes Show changed my life", "Reading The Face was mind-blowing" – these are familiar superlatives that affirmed our devotion to something that made us feel more like individuals in our bedrooms.

As a previous commenter pointed out though, we are in an age of creative narcissism where the affirmation of ourselves as individuals' has never felt more important through what we do, what we listen to, what we eat, where we live etc.  In that way, I think that is where fashion becomes powerful, as a tool of self-expression, as a way of staking your claim to your self.  Yes, it is incredibly pretentious to throw arounds phrases such as "I experiment with my style" or "I curate my wardrobe".  I don't deny that all of that is a sort of phoney ruse that is basically linked up with the fashion product chain and yet I don't eschew it myself, because I still believe joy and some form of creativity can be found at the end of all of that consumerism.  People will look at my wardrobe and make certain assumptions about my depth of character.  That is their prerogative.  As long as I know myself that every thing has some tiny bit of meaning or significance‚Ķ a vintage Moschino shirt is there because the naked ladies remind me of Jessica Rabbit or that a Balenciaga skirt won on eBay was hard-fought because the woman refused to pay for postage to the UK‚Ķ minuscule tidbits that won't mean anything to anyone else except for me.  How marvellous.  

I want to be grateful though for being able to do something that is inherently selfish.  'Curating', 'Experimenting' or 'Concocting' looks and writing about it in an indulgent way and just being under the impression that anyone would want to read that.  Observing the changes and developments that are in effect niche and not really impacting on the wider world.  Getting invited to events with all costs covered and quaffing champagne whilst feeling ridiculous that I'm doing so.  The whole circuit of shows from invites to dressing for shows to scurrying to my seat to fighting for backstage interviews to writing till 3am in the morning.  All of that is a privilege.       

There ARE more important things.  How important they are to me, you'll never see on this blog.  How much food matters to me and where it all comes from.  How I'm suspicious about the economic rise of China.  How I can't read about extremist politics in the USA without wanting to chuck the paper across the room.  How I hate the closing of grammar schools.  How I believe in the benefits of learning a musical instrument.  Sure they're more important.  But could I write about them here?  Would I do a good job of it?  Nope, so I'll stick to the 'shallow' stuff and carry on being earnestly grateful and forty years from now when it's likely I won't be working in fashion, I'll look back and go "Wow‚Ķ I was so lucky I got to do all of that‚Ķ"