Wednesday, 29 September 2010

RETAIL THERAPY

Historically, over-consumption and cancer have been considered to have an entirely hateful relationship; society all too aware that smoking too much, eating too much and drinking too much (generally living too much) can cause the dreaded C word. However, the world of commerce shines new light on this hateful relationship: the high street offers its fashionistas a retail therapy of new depths.

Last month, fashion photographer and more importantly iconoclast Corinne Day became another unjustified victim of cancer. Day’s career famously kicked-off in 1990, photographing Kate Moss for The Face. This was the shoot responsible for beginning Day’s fruitful career, as not only did Day explode into the public eye, the world mesmerised by her magical, inspiring, and visionary work, but she received major brownie points for acquainting the world of fashion with a gawky, self-conscious but beautiful Kate Moss. Renowned for her dirty realist style and artistic defiance of fashion’s prescriptive ideals, Day’s presence in the industry was considered nothing but revolutionary. As brain cancer sadly steals Day away from us, whilst depriving the world of an inexplicable talent, she is once again representative of revolution, reigniting the flame between fashion and charity for the new season.

Along with top-to-toe white wardrobes, fashion’s new face Lindsey Wixon and the Celine Shopper Envelope (the new IT bag), all being in vogue this A/W 2010, the ultimate fashion junkie of the present is all about social responsibility as we see brand and charity shack-up for the foreseeable future. High street giant Topshop, alongside the likes of River Island, Warehouse and Whistles sets the trend collaborating with the campaign of the moment, Fashion Targets Breast Cancer. Kate Moss is one of the many supporting fashion icons and figureheads for the cause, regardless of her apparent disinterest in Corinne at the end of her life. According to Day’s doting husband, Kate simply signed ‘a few photos that were auctioned, but that’s it’ – unusual behaviour towards a friend partly responsible for her fame and fortune. Other supporting famous faces of Fashion Targets Breast Cancer include Naomi Campbell, Gisele and Lily Cole. With regard to Moss’ heartless behaviour, ‘faces’ can hereby be considered the operative word. As these supermodels adorn their charitable reputations by associating with such admirable movements, should we be sceptical of the reality of the charitable depths behind fashion’s shiny and spotless exterior? A fault in the foundations of fashion and charity’s relationship is therefore a morally uncomfortable one. As fashion brands benefit from their good deeds with consumers more than eager to sport a badge-like t-shirt which says “I’m a great person, I gave 5p to a good cause whilst spending £40 on an even better cause: myself”, charities are arguably left high and dry.


As the consumer-obsessed West is gradually trained to associate fashion and charity, long-running associations from Cancer Research and the British Heart Foundation to Oxfam are having to adapt their marketing and branding strategies in order to secure success. In doing so, such respectable charities have noticeably transformed into something resembling a fashion brand, arguably shifting the focus away from its cause. Oxfam’s dominant association with fashion over cause is manifest in its employment of vintage boutiques situated in what is considered the fashion hub of the UK, London’s Oxford Street. Channelling the consumer’s association with Oxfam, turning from poverty and injustice into a high-end fashion brand is worlds away from its association with the suffering ‘other’, Oxfam‘s vintage charity shops are ultimately becoming the latest trend.



It is undeniable that charities benefit from being propped up by the brand. Endorsed by the celebrity, popular culture and commerce, they exposure in the dominant, powerful and impressionable West. However, whilst increasing the charities’ exposure, enabling a single idea to be filtered simply, powerfully and consistently, the fundamental requirement of the charity is sealing people’s commitment to the cause. It is argued that, as charity becomes inextricable from the brand, it becomes incredibly easy to support, just as easy to forget, and ultimately harder to engender deeper commitment.


Rose Brownlow

ROOKIE CREATIVE PROFILES: MATTIX & FUTILE


Mattix & Futile are D'n'B-heads Jack Wakeman and Mike Davis. They are both originally from Horsham in West Sussex and have been DJing together for 7 years. With new promo 'Rising Up/Substance' set for release on Cyntax Error Records in October, Mattix & Futile tell Ellie Wilcox about themselves, the social implications of DJing and the atmosphere within the club scene at the moment...

Ellie: Describe your sound without mentioning any current artists and genres of music.

Mattix&Futile: We like to make uplifting and energetic music which has impact on the dance floor.

Ellie: And now describe your sound using current artists and genres.

M&F: We are heavily influenced by artists like Sub Focus, Brookes Brothers, Culture Shock, Camo & Krooked, Shock One, Furlonge etc. They all share a similar style of melodic, dance floor driven drum'n'bass.

Ellie: How long had you both been DJing before you decided to collaborate?

M&F: We have both been DJing for about 10 years [individually].

Ellie: Can you describe the drum'n'bass/breakbeat genre in layman’s terms?

M&F: In real basic terms we’d describe drum'n'bass as music between 165 & 175bpm that orientates around huge drops, deep sub bass-lines, big energizing breakdowns and complex break beat patterns.

Ellie: Which particular genres or artists have influenced heavily on your sound?

M&F: The majority of music we listen to inspires us as listening to other genres and artists gives us ideas to try in our own music. Electro has probably been one of the biggest influences on our sound over previous months alongside Sub Focus as we really liked the way he began to fuse Electro with D'n'B in his tracks, ‘Join The Dots’ being a great example.

Ellie: Who would you love to share a line up with and where would this take place?

M&F: We managed to share a line up with Andy C last year which was probably one of our greatest DJ moments to date but I guess our ideal set would be playing at a label night like Ram, Shogun, Hospital etc alongside DJ’s that have influenced us along the way. We would have loved to have played at Matter when it was open!

Ellie: Are there any artists that you would like to collaborate on a track with?

M&F: Loads and to be honest, we’d love to collaborate with artists in all different sub genres of D'n'B. Netsky, Noisia, Sub Focus, Alix Perez, Camo & Krooked, Culture Shock, Spor, Xample & Lomax, the list could really go on forever.

Ellie: Are there any other genres you would experiment with in the future, for example; jungle, 2-step, bassline, fidget?

M&F: We’ve done a couple of dubstep tracks in the past and messed around with different genres like electro and fidget. We like all forms of dance music so we would be open to experiment again in the future.

Ellie: Do you prefer DJing live or producing music?

M&F: We prefer to DJ live - its such a buzz, especially when we play our own tracks and see the crowd's reaction.

Ellie: Do you have a regular day job and is it inconvenient when combined with perhaps having to work the next day?

M&F: We both work for a computer company. It’s not hard work but we work long hours. It doesn’t really interfere although we would much prefer to DJ/Produce full time.

Ellie: Do you drink on the job or do you think this is a bad idea?

M&F: Yeh we like to enjoy ourselves whilst playing. We try not to get too smashed until after our set though!

Ellie: When you've finished a set, do you stay out and party or go home?

M&F: It all depends on where we are and if there’s anything to do. We are always up for staying out though!

Ellie: Have you ever found yourselves DJing at an impromptu 'post-lash' after a set?

M&F: Sadly not since we were about 17/18 and there used to be decks set up at the house parties we were at. Wish that answer could have been a bit more exciting!

Ellie: How do you go about getting signed?

M&F: It’s a long LONG process! You need to get artists/label owners to listen to your tracks and that can be the hard bit. Labels are only really going to listen to something once, if they see potential in it and like the track they will be more inclined to listen to follow up tracks, offering help where they can and maybe look to sign the tracks or you as an artist.

Ellie: What do you think of the current ‘scene’ you’re involved in and the target audience it draws into clubs?

M&F: I think drum'n'bass is currently one of the strongest music scenes around. The following is huge and continues to grow. The good thing about D'n'B is that there's so many styles on offer to suit peoples tastes. I'd say the cliental a club draws in depends on whose playing on the night. Artists like Chase & Status and Sub Focus are going to pull in more of a commercial crowd as opposed to a night that had more underground acts playing.

Ellie: Elements of the dubstep genre have recently permeated into the mainstream (e.g. Magnetic Man, Katy B etc), which many 'steppers' dislike. Do you think this has happened with drum‘n’bass, what with successful artists such as Chase & Status, Pendulum and Subfocus etc making it into the charts?

M&F: Yeah, we know there's definitely D'n'B heads who think that but then there's always going to be people in any genre of music who begin to dislike an artist because they go down a more mainstream route and try to make a success of their music or “sell out” as the majority of haters put it. Personally we don’t really see anything wrong with wanting to make your music successful.

Ellie: What do you think about commercial music? Would you prefer a genre to maintain a smaller, more dedicated and knowledgeable audience or do you think it's good that mainstream audiences can appreciate the music too?

M&F: We don’t dislike all commercial music but we’re certainly not too keen on it. I think with D'n'B, not everyone who likes the mainstream side of it is going to like the more underground scene but nowadays there seems to be nights and artists to suit everyone who likes the music. You still get club nights, labels and artists who have a more dedicated and knowledgeable following anyway. The mainstream audiences help the genre to grow and if they can appreciate good music for what it is then it's all good.

Ellie: Do you endeavour to play a wider club circuit or is it difficult to secure a set at clubs? - are any clubs notoriously difficult?

M&F: 'We hope, in the future, we’ll be playing all over the place. It's very hard to get sets in clubs without being an artist as we’ve previously found so we hope, as we release more tracks, the bookings will come flooding in. We do know some clubs that are notoriously difficult but sadly not going to name and shame them!'

Ellie: Are you making a living from DJing? If not, at what stage can you start making a decent living?

M&F: Sadly were not making a living from DJing. If we start to get regular bookings then we can start to think about leaving our jobs but it’s hard and risky to do so unless you’re in demand.

Ellie: Is it an expensive hobby and lifestyle what with set up and maintenance costs, travel etc?

M&F: Over the years it has been expensive buying equipment for production. As it has been a gradual process it hasn’t really affected us. Buying vinyl on a weekly basis can get expensive, but when we really want [to produce] a tune then we don’t think about the money side of things too much.

Ellie: What do you think about illegal downloading? And as opposed to buying a CD, what do you think of the digital realm? I.e. downloading from itunes/beatport/other?

M&F: Illegal downloading is definitely something we don’t agree with. We understand why people do it with massive artists as they make so much money regardless but a lot of smaller labels rely on sales of records to help better the label and fund more releases. Downloading legally is obviously easier and much cheaper than buying vinyl. In the past D'n'B was only available to buy on vinyl, so if you haven’t got a set of turntables it’s no good to you. Downloading means a lot more people can access the music.

Ellie: Describe the importance/relevance of streaming from sites such as youtube/soundcloud/mixcloud etc.

M&F: It helps up and coming artists get exposure and current artists to promote themselves. Plus it’s really helpful to preview forthcoming tracks and ID them if necessary. Also youtube has a massive library of music so you can pretty much find anything you want.'

Ellie: Where do you aim to be with Mattix & Futile in say, 5 years time?

M&F: Ideally? Successful artists! Working on a second album with our own record label and an array of talented producers on it and our own club nigh! Yep, that’s the dream! Seriously though, in 5 years time if were making a living out of music we will be more than happy.

Ellie: You've been played on Grooverider's show on Radio1, are you actively promoting yourselves and do you intend to 'make it big'?

M&F: Yeh we are always promoting ourselves through social networking sites like Facebook, soundcloud, Twitter etc. Also sending tunes to the top artists for them to play out. The intent is to make it big, we just need to keep improving and getting the tunes out there.

Ellie: Do you wish to play any festivals next summer?

M&F: 'Yeh we’d love to play at a festival, that’s what it’s all about!'

Rising Up/Substance is out on Cyntax Error Records in October





Other links:

www.facebook.com/mattixandfutile

www.soundcloud.com/mattixandfutile

www.twitter.com/mattixandfutile

Ellie Wilcox

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

LONDON FASHION WEEK: DAYS 3 TO 5


After prints galore, scarlet wigs and one Mr Galliano at Fashion Fringe, the cities big hitters came out for the final days of London Fashion Week. With his much feted return to London, Giles along with Burberry, Jaeger and Christopher Kane ensured the week ended on a high. Unusual model castings (Kelly Brook and Veruschka at Giles!), star studded front rows, collections inspired by Angie Bowie and laser cut leather are just a few of the final highlights of London Spring Summer 2011. The capital’s youthful collections in neon brights were a refreshing change from the minimalistic look currently being sported by the majority of fashion editors from across the globe (Anna Dello Russo excepted). Here are three of the best collections from the last few days.


Christopher Kane



London’s wonder boy came up trumps again for Spring/Summer 2011, creating a collection inspired by Princess Margaret on acid and Camden Market’s Cyberdog crew. Kane reworked the English gentlewoman look using conservative shapes in the neon hues first spotted in his 2006 graduate collection. The models stomped down the runway in Pringle diamond cashmere twin sets, knee length skirt suits and collarless jackets with a twist. Despite using ladylike pleats and longer lengths, the use of sheer detailing and laser cut leather ensured the collection wasn’t too conservative. Modern elements were added to classic shapes as florals were stamped onto neon forties style leather skirt suits and Japanese prints were embossed over sheer polka dots. Kane created a new fashion armour with dresses and pleated skirts in a kimono dragon print amd neon leather strips teamed with platformed flip flops. The collection consisted of Christopher Kane’s signature items with an added twist; cocktail dresses, striking prints and cashmere were all updated for the new season. There is no doubt that if the rebellious royal attended raves in Camden, this would certainly be what she would wear.


Felicity Brown at Fashion East



After ten years of showcasing designers from Gareth Pugh to Richard Nicoll, Fashion East marked its tenth anniversary by moving from Somerset House to Waterloo’s old Eurostar terminal. Despite young designers Heikki Salonen and Simone Rocha showing striking collections, it was Felicity Brown who created the most show stopping pieces. Brown who has previously worked for Lanvin and Alberta Ferretti, created a collection of feminine ruffled dresses and simple separates in jewel shades. With ruffles emerging like blooms contrasting with a bodycon fit, the dresses were particularly beautiful and had an almost Rodarte like charm. The opening dress in shades of blue was especially striking, with the intricate rosettes, fashioned from a millefeuille (hundreds of layers of silk) conjuring up images of the ocean. The youthfulness of the collection was enhanced by the unfinished, rough edges on each piece which contrasted with their couture like proportions. Despite the three dimensional ruffles on a number of Brown’s pieces; by pairing jewel brights such as coral and sky blue with neutral tones, she insured there was an innate wearability to the collection. Hair was kept in a simple top knot and make up was plain, ensuring the viewer focused on the clothes. These beautifully hand dyed, soft ruffled dresses were the highlight of Fashion East and hint at a very promising future for Brown.


Erdem



After winning Vogue’s Fashion Fund and dressing numerous political wives, for Spring/Summer 2011 Erdem Moralioglu showcased his collection on a circular catwalk in a dreamlike Victorian garden. Consisting of intricate white lace dresses, striking floral pegged trousers and clashing prints this was certainly the most beautiful collection of the week. After spending the summer assisting Jane Pritchard as she curated the Victoria and Albert Museum’s, ‘Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballet Russes, 1909-1929,’ it was clear Erdem was inspired by the exhibition. The dainty influence of ballet costumes was present, from the lace up shoes designed by Nicholas Kirkwood to the fluidity of the dresses with their fitted bodices and flared skirts. The intricate red and white lace dress worn by Barbora Dvorakova seemed particularly reminiscent of the dramatic costumes of the Russes. As always Moralioglu’s signature clashing floral prints were present, although for Spring they were featured alongside harlequin diamonds and Swavorski crystals. The closing dress embossed with faded white roses with a thigh high slit was a glamorous highlight and would not look out of place on a forties film star. Erdem’s ultra feminine spring collection was entirely romantic and is sure to be seen all over the red carpet over months to come.

For Spring/Summer 2011 London created a number of innovative collections that included prints galore, florals and seventies inspired pieces. Now Milan has begun with scuba inspired styles at Marni and stripes galore at Prada, meaning it is likely a number of trends are still to emerge.

Harriet Tisdall

IT'S A FOOT FETISH WORLD - VIVIENNE WESTWOOD AT SELFRIDGES



I walked through Selfridges the other day, picking up some essentials, as you do…(ok, so I was looking for a loo, but don’t tell anyone) and I wandered into a pleasant surprise. No, it wasn’t the spangly, jingly Christmas department which has might I add been open since August! No, it was much more exciting than fluro-pink reindeer.

In an enticingly darkened room filled with rows of display cases there lies an exhibition of shoes. Not just any shoes either; the whole room is dedicated to a surprisingly extensive collection of Vivienne Westwood pieces. Not bad for a free show!

I have to admit- I was excited. I’m definitely a shoe girl, not a bag girl, and Vivienne Westwood is one of the most inspiring designers around. The Selfridges show really is a potted history of her work; her major catwalk themes are clearly visible through the display, as is the obvious fascination with sex and fetishism.
The selection is wide-ranging with shoes from the early 80’s alongside some from the current season’s collection. And they aren’t just samples, gracefully preserved; it’s clear that many of the pairs on display have been well loved, some of them worn into holes!

With so many beautiful examples, it was difficult to have favourites but some of the most exciting had to be the ‘Super-Elevated’ range. The ‘Super-Elevated Gillie’, made famous by Naomi Campbell’s catwalk tumble in 1993, was amazing though perhaps not for everyday wear. More comfortable would be the Pirate Boots which seem to make an appearance nearly every season. They have become a classic, being seen on Kate Moss (of course), Sienna Miller and even Miley Cyrus it seems. The soft leather version on show in Selfridges looked particularly comfy, even with their 6cm heel. Alas, this is not spoken from experience and I still remain an envious onlooker.

Also high up on my wish list are Westwood’s vegan shoes made in collaboration with Melissa. The rubbery texture looks unusual, probably incredibly practical and the range includes heels, flats and even teeny weeny kids’ sandals. My favourites had to be the delicious looking, jelly coloured courts, especially the ones with a cherry on top! With price tags in the low hundreds rather than thousands, they’re maybe more achievable than the Gillies. One day…


The whole exhibition is fascinating and there is just the right amount of printed info to leave you satisfied. I was impressed that there was such a wide range, particularly as it included some very…unusual pieces. What with this insight into an amazing British designer’s work and the newly opened shoe galleries, Selfridges is quite the foot fetishist’s fantasy right now. Somehow, I think VW would approve.


Siobhan Morrin

Sunday, 26 September 2010

HEALTHCARE.... THE FRENCH WAY



The French healthcare system is reputedly among the best in the world, and France is frequently quoted as the country that tops the World Health Organisation’s ranking of health care systems. But the last such table created by the WHO was released in 2000, which is now ten years ago and there will not be another one due to the complexity of actually creating the rankings. So is the idea of France being the world’s best country for healthcare now little more than an outmoded notion?

 I have always been happy with the medical care I have received in France. Even GPs are extremely attentive and thorough and there are abundant numbers of specialists available for consultation. Everybody in employment pays social security contributions, which reimburses part of the money that you pay towards the costs of appointments and prescriptions and most people either opt for a company private medical insurance policy or pay via a separate body as well. The private medical insurance is supposed to reimburse what the social security doesn’t, so that even though you pay upfront for services, you get 90-100% of it back.

This all sounds pretty sweet. However, there is a bitter taste in your mouth afterwards. The amount of reimbursement you receive, even though theoretically it is close to the whole amount, depends on a number of factors, including your age, whether or not you are in employment, whether or not you have children and others. This therefore means that you can end up out of pocket – hence the inward groan when I realise that I have to go to the doctor or dentist. Being an unmarried, childless, 24-year-old woman who works, I do not always receive the ideal level of reimbursement.

One concept of French healthcare that is foreign to any Brit is the notion of paying for contraception. That’s €100 a year for the contraceptive pill gone. Unless you are comfortable being totally reliant on condoms, all options are expensive: with the medical appointment and the smear test that getting the pill also entailed for me, the bill was closer to €200. None of this was reimbursed due to the French state not reimbursing contraception costs at all (would they prefer me to cost the state more by having a baby, I wonder?) and due to the fact that gynaecologists are in short supply due to increasing numbers of – often fraudulent - lawsuits against them. You therefore have to see whichever gynaecologist has room for you on their books (many do not have room for new clients) and invariably the ones who do have room on their books are “secteur 2”: French for “free to charge more”. The “secteur 2” doctors are effectively untouchable and if you see one you will not be reimbursed for your appointment (this again is something you have no choice about – GPs prefer you to see a gynaecologist, and there is no such thing as just dropping off the paper for a repeat prescription in France).

Sounds complicated? You bet it is. And this is all without mentioning the rigmarole that you go through to sign up with the French social security service. Your employer should do all of the leg work, but the operative word here is SHOULD (not all employers are this reliable). The result is therefore often endless frustrating phone calls and trips to the social security office. I perhaps stupidly assumed that my French fiancé would know what procedure I should follow, but being signed up to the system from birth, which provides you with the sacred green card that is swiped every time you have an appointment or purchase a prescription, he wasn’t too aware of all the red bits of paper I had to fill out until my social security card arrived. I therefore unfortunately missed a crucial detail: in order to receive the reimbursement, you had to stick the barcode sticker from your prescription product onto the paper. Sometimes the pharmacist did this for you, but not all of them were this nice, and I didn’t notice when I needed to do it. It consequently wasn’t until the social security service wrote to notify me that my forms were incomplete without the stickers that I realised how much money I had lost (by then, of course, the prescription boxes, with their holy stickers, had long hit the recycling bin).

You can imagine, then, the “Hallelujah” moment that I had when ten months after my arrival in France my green card finally arrived through the door. It makes things a million times easier, even if I am not always reimbursed the full 90%-100%. I just hope that I never become blasé about what I went through in order to get it.

As for whether or not the French healthcare system is really the best in the world…it may well be. The access to specialists is second to none, with there being none of this waiting for weeks for referrals. But nevertheless, in comparison the fixed price of prescriptions and the sheer simplicity of just being able to walk in and have a free appointment with an NHS doctor are certainly not things to be sniffed at. 


Bianca Summons

Thursday, 23 September 2010

ROOKIE CREATIVE PROFILES: KATE FOLEY


Name: Kate Foley
Age: 22
Occupation: Model - recently shot for Opening Ceremony and appeared alongside Chloe Sevigny in her Resort Presentation
Location: divided between London and NY

What is the main difference between fashion in NewYork and London?
I feel in NY there is more freedom to dress how you want. Obviously it depends completely where you live (i.e Brooklyn is totally different to Uptown!) I think NY praises individuality more whereas in London people can be quicker to judge your character by what you wear.

Saying that, I think on the whole people in London are better dressed. Good clothes are more accessible on the high street without spending large amounts of money which is not true for NY where the choice is cheap (and looks cheap too) or expensive or otherwise vintage. There is a lack of really clever high street stores such as COS!

Who’s your fave British designer / American designer
British designer:
An Incredible St Martins recent graduate called Yasmin Kianfar and Theodora Warre for jewellery

American Designer: Proenza Schouler and I love the new shoes from the Resort Chloe Sevigny collection which is available in January.

What's your ideal plane journey outfit? (any do's and don'ts?)
I hate people wearing heels, or anything uncomfortable. I travel in black and white, soft t-shirts and track pants by Alexander Wang with converse and my boyfriend’s big cashmere sweaters to keep warm!

Best places to eat, drink, shop in London/ NY ?
NY:
Shops: ABC Home, Opening Ceremony, Brooklyn Flee Market
Restaurant: Diner (85 Broadway at Berry in Brooklyn)
Bars: Hotel Delmarno is an incredible bar with the best cocktails (82 Berry, Brooklyn) and Le Bain at the top of the Standard hotel

London:
Shops: Rellik for Vintage, Liberty and the Bluebird and then Cos for high street.
Restaurant: Roka for Japanese & Polpo in Soho
Bar: Troubador for tea in the garden and Montgomery Place for drinks..






Dress by Louise Amstrup


Dress by Louise Amstrup
Rings by Florencia Kozuch





To see more photos of Kate click on these links:

…And to find out more about what inspires our London/NY fashionista check out Kate’s blog ‘Tale of Two Cities.’ Thanks Kate for a wonderful shoot xx

Photographer: Tommy Clarke
Stylist: Sacha Harrison
Make-up artist: Lillie Lindh using Mac
Model: Kate Foley
Fashion assistant: Christina Everington

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

VICTORIA!








Photographer: Tommy Clarke
Stylist: Sacha Harrison
Make-up: Annie Tagge using Kryolan
Model: Victoria - Future face at Storm



Monday, 20 September 2010

LONDON FASHION WEEK: DAY ONE AND TWO


As New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2011 came to a close on Thursday with an infusion of seventies inspired clothes and golden lips, its edgier British counterpart kicked off. With designers including Mulberry, Spijkers en Spijkers, Charles Anastase and Margaret Howell showing in the first two days, one can only imagine what the rest of the week will produce. Highlights so far include paper dolls plus Winston the black Labrador at Mulberry, stunning geometric prints at Mary Katrantzou and John Galliano at Fashion Fringe. Despite the fact we are only just bringing our aviator jackets and boots out of the wardrobe, these designers are already making me dream of idyllic summer days.

Here are three of London’s early highlights.


MARGARET HOWELL




















For Spring /Summer 2011, Margaret Howell created a collection of wearable pieces that bridged the masculine/feminine divide inspired by ‘beach stripes and loose fit.’ Highlights included an adorable short toggled coat, cropped cotton tops, smart tailored trousers, soft peach silk shirts and striped deckchair inspired dresses. Accessories were kept to a minimum with tan penny loafers paired with each look and standout pieces including Maud Helzen’s checked scarf in the finale. After designing for four decades, Howell stuck to her signature Breton stripes and well tailored pieces in her usual palette of white, blue and nude. This collection was far from innovative, however these classic French and English inspired pieces are completely wearable. Howell describes her woman as ‘independent and discerning’ and for Spring Summer 2011 has created a quintessentially English collection that is ideal for cool spring days


CHARLES ANASTASE




















Charles Anastase found a more sophisticated direction for his signature gamine look this season creating a ‘light and happy’ collection of mid length dresses in muted hues. After Autumn Winter’s deconstruction experiment, Anastase returned to his wearable formula of Peter Pan collar coats, sheer polka dots, ruffled necklines and stacked wedges. For Spring Summer, Jane Birkin and Charlotte Gainsbourg serve as the designers muses, explaining the more modest vibe of the collection. It is easy to imagine Jane breezing round Paris in one of the mid length dresses straw basket in hand. Possibly due to his Birkin inspiration, Anastase moved away from the dramatic ruffled pieces of previous collections creating versatile pieces, adding his signature quirky geek glasses and pastel sheer tights. Each model wore a blunt bobbed wig which was very reminiscent of Abbey Lee Kershaw’s iconic bob and the current style of Charles’ muse Valentine Fillol Cordier. Charles has always known how to attract a girls’ imagination and items including the divine sheer dress with floral decoration and silver jacquard trousers evoked images of the lazy summer days (of the very chic) ahead.


BASSO AND BROOKE





















The former Fashion Fringe winners provided a toned down version of their signature prints this season, creating a vibrant and wearable collection. The duo showed a new maturity with a range of skater dresses with fitted bodices, pegged silk trousers and shifts embossed with calligraphy prints. The prints, formed of the handwritten letters of Tolstoy, Da Vinci, Balzac and Saint Exupery added an incredibly romantic note to the collection, clashing with faded florals and aquamarine splashed leopard print. Soft pastels and muted hues were contrasted with elements of aqua blue, jade green and orange. At least two prints juxtaposed on each look, although this was less frenzied than previously meaning the items were eminently more versatile. Dresses came in wispy chiffons, silk shirts were tucked into skater skirts and hair and make up was kept clean and simple adding to the duo’s new pared down vibe. Following on from a number of New York collections, Basso and Brooke were inspired by the sixties and seventies and these printed pieces in pastel hues will surely be top of every buyers must have lists.

This is only a small selection of the gorgeous pieces shown so far and it is very exciting to imagine what Erdem, Christopher Kane, Burberry and Giles on his much feted return to London (hopefully more dinosaur bags) will produce over the next few days.


By Harriet Tisdall



GEN Y: THE CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION


The babies of the
aftermath, of the recession: GENERATION Y, today’s 19-29 year-olds, are a new, exciting and unpredictable breed. They are not only a regurgitation of the past, adopting the hippie dreams of their 1960s parents, they are the future. But is the future as bright as the creatives at Orange suggest?

Living in the shadows of generation X, a generation famous for their ambition and success,
generation Y struggle to compare. Dwelling on our tendency to be workshy, spoilt and narcissistic, there is a concern that gen Y are living for the present with little or no regard for the future. However, as someone who is deeply imbedded in gen Y, I beg to differ. Having recently graduated from university at 21, I have been hurled into a pool of unemployment with a resounding splash. Despite the little hope there may be of securing a job (post-graduate under outrageous debt), I find myself strangely at ease, comforted by the desperation for employment and the urge for recognition which is hauntingly echoed amongst my peers. My parents, proud members of gen X, do not share my positive, possibly naïve, sense of ease. They are in fact feeling the pressure of the reality that I, along with my three siblings, will be living at home until the ripe old age of 30.

Reluctant to consider myself under such hopeless pretence, I am the first to adopt the theory of gen Y as ‘the next generation’, acknowledging our motivation, creativity, optimism and idealist attitude. We are a bunch who have lived and breathed recession, no cotton wool over eyes to speak of. Representing the younger end of the spectrum, I have not fled university and turned to a career, property ladders and happy families like gen X once did. Instead, I am faced with a comparatively bleak horizon: 3 months graduated, a 2.1 honours from a respected university, back living with my parents, sharing a room with my 23 year-old sister and still struggling to put my fresh, and what should be sought-after, skills to good use. And to rub salt into the wound, I come entirely free!

Not only can we expect to work for free, I am finding myself paying to work, spiralling further into post-university debt as I travel to London for internships and often unsuccessful interviews. However, it is in fact the very struggles that gen Y face that we have to thank for our status as ‘the next generation’. As money is no longer a factor in the building blocks of our careers, we are having to accept un-paid work as a-given and increasingly a luxury. But being the opportunists that we are, we dodge despair, always seeing a sea of prospect. We no longer face a choice between want and will, between inspiring unpaid experience and menial paid tea-making, most of us previously opting for the latter.

If not enriching my CV with experience, I am sat at home, with nowhere to turn to but the inner depths of creativity. We are the generation blessed with infinite free time. Time to blog, create and imagine a better world. We have the unburdened opportunity to seek out experience of choice without an obligation to wage and it is these experiences which have the potential to ignite gen Y. While it may be difficult for gen X to comprehend our defining moment as ‘a rave at a shop’, referring to the riot at an American Apparel discount sale, gen Y vision considers this nothing far from creative genius. We are the people turning excessive consumption to charity, turning the clocks forward to make it lighter later and we are gradually the people creating a better tomorrow. We are the children of the revolution.

Rose Brownlow

Sunday, 19 September 2010

A FREE DESTINATION FOR THE INCURABLY CURIOUS


Wellcome Collection is a ‘free destination for the incurably curious,’ and after my experience this slogan couldn’t be more apt. Housing the incredible collection of Sir Henry Wellcome, a philanthropist, archaeologist and inventor, this free destination hosts events, exhibitions, collections and includes a world–renowned library and bookshop.

I headed down to 183 Euston Road to check out the ‘Skin’ exhibition (only running until 26 September so hurry!) and left feeling considerably more informed. The exhibition does exactly what it says on the tin and explores the functions and meanings of the skin we live in. From plastic surgery to the diagnosis of diseases, every aspect of skin is examined.

For me, one of the most interesting displays was artist Tamsin van Essen’s exploration of skin diseases through the decoration of apothecary jars. One ceramic jar on show was covered in tiny pustules to represent acne, another’s surface was flaking demonstrating the effects of psoriasis. Despite the fact that these are devastating conditions, the jars were intriguing and made me want to linger.

Skin decoration is also explored with images of traditional Maori tattoos and more disturbing pictures of the effects of self-harming. This exhibition is thought provoking, insightful and interesting and you will definitely go away thinking about our attitudes to skin and quite probably feeling quite differently about your own. Highly recommended.

By Amy Peck

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

CATWALK TRANSLATIONS: THE AVIATOR JACKET


As London Fashion Week came to a close with Burberry’s Cadet Girl’s show in February, the industry was abuzz with the news of the show’s stand out pieces, nine lambskin lined flying jackets. A number of fashion editors claim they knew aviator mania was due to begin a few days earlier when French Vogue’s Carine Roitfeld ran backstage at the end of Christopher Kane to pull a flying jacket off its hanger. It is unsurprising then that the shearling lined, chocolate Burberry jacket priced at £1895 is sold out everywhere. The flight jacket (the aviator) conjures up images of the elegant era when Amelia Earhart ruled the skies and Katherine Hepburn shone on screen.


The flying jacket is an adaptable piece that goes with everything from camel trousers to tea dresses. Burberry’s designer, Christopher Bailey, even went as far as to state that he felt the jacket is as versatile as the brand’s iconic trench, commenting on its ‘strong and sexy, masculine and feminine’ appeal. Luckily for those of us who cannot afford to spend a thousand pounds on a jacket, the high street immediately jumped on the trend, creating a number of affordable alternatives. From Topshop to Matalan there are a number of styles available, enabling us all to channel Kelly Mcgillis as the weather becomes colder.




(Burberry, me in a Topshop aviator, Kelly Mgillis in Top Gun)

For those willing to spend more than the standard price, the high street has created genuine sheepskin, designer quality jackets for a fraction of the cost. It is particularly surprising to note that despite its expensive appearance, the luxurious flying jacket on the cover of Vogue’s October supplement is £250 from Next. Topshop’s (£325) version, labelled the ‘piece of the season,’ sold out in both black and chocolate within minutes of appearing online but is soon to hit the shelves again. Similarly, ASOS has created pieces of designer quality including the Premium Shearling Aviator Jacket (£350) and gorgeous Natural Coloured Aviator (£290). However, there are still a number of other options available, Warehouse is due to release their ‘super soft, shearling jacket’ imminently in camel and chocolate for £300. My personal favourites are the very warm looking Whistles Shearling Jacket (£350) and Hobbs’ NW3 Flight Jacket (£349) which comes in a sumptuous chocolate brown with thick shearling lining.


(Topshop sheepskin flying jacket £325 to be restocked imminently)



Despite lusting after these jackets, as a recent graduate I am looking to achieve this trend at a more reasonable price. After searching for a furry collared jacket since Alexa Chung was spotted in Acne’s delectable Rita 2, I was delighted to spot ASOS’ identical Leather Aviator Jacket with Detachable Faux Fur Collar (£150). There are also a number of faux leather jackets in this style, including the Topshop Fleece Collar PU Biker Jacket (£58), which would look gorgeous with jeans and a floaty shirt. However, after lusting after Burberry’s beauties I decided that only a bigger collar would do. A number of jackets fit this criteria including the H&M Leather Shearling Jacket (£149.99) spotted on Anja Rubik, although it is in massive demand due to its innate similarity to 3.1 Philip Lim’s aviator. For those wanting to channel Earhart, Marks and Spencer’s Limited Collection Jacket (£89) has a perfect huge collar. Oasis’s Leather Aviator (£150) a mix between an Acne and Burberry jacket, was a very tempting option due to its washed out design and cream collar. I was also attracted to Zara’s Flight Jacket (£39.99) as its camel shade ensures it is a slightly different take on the trend. However, after admiring the press preview of Matalan’s Faux Leather Aviator (£30) and then discovering it was not being released until October, I stumbled across Topshop’s Faux Sheepskin Flying Jacket (£78). This is not only reasonably priced and excellent quality (I was not the girl stroking the sheepskin one for comparison in Knightsbridge), it is able to dress up the most mundane outfit.



(Oasis leather aviator £150)



(Matalan) jacket £30 to be released in October



For those searching for the perfect flying jacket, do not despair this is only a small selection of the styles all over the high street. So thinkTop Gun in 2010 by wearing an aviator jacket, though maybe leave out Tom Cruise and the sunglasses.

By Harriet Tisdall