Saturday, 24 September 2011

Gimp Couture

Greetings all! I'm back from my vacation and slowly catching up with everyone's blogs. Patience my lovelies - I will eventually get around to saying hi but I am being hampered by a few things. Unfortunately there is the rather pressing issue of Global Financial Meltdown Mark II that is keeping me stupidly busy at work. I am also suffering from some persistent RSI in my right hand which tends to be aggravated by blogging.

I would have liked to have shared some holiday snaps with you all but we managed to lose the camera cable in Spain. So for the moment, I'd like to share some opinions on other fashion related matters to distract me from impending economic doom.  On that Armageddon-esque note and keeping in mind what the Grim Reaper would wear if he was into fashion, I come to my first pressing fashion matter.  Can anyone tell me what the hell this is?

Source: Net-A-Porter
Now I know fetish is a big trend and all, and being a leather lover and a fan of black, I fully intend to embrace the trend this season.  I have been salivating over all the deliciously dark delights feeding into the "What's New For You This Week" updates from all my favourite online retailers with the better judgement filters in my brain switched off, imagining how I would wear them all if money and lifestyle were no issue. However, I think I've finally found the piece that has stumped me.

Perhaps I just lack the necessary fashion forward vision to make this sweater-and-gloves-in-one designed by no less than Maison Martin Margiela work for me?  At first I couldn't work out how you'd get into it, let alone do anything vaguely useful that required finger dexterity, like typing.  However on closer inspection it appears the attached gloves unzip so that your hands can poke out.  Unfortunately, this does leave the gloves to flap around behind your arms as if the hands of a deflated corpse have sprouted from them.

Then I wondered if, zipped up, it would add a certain dominatrix style frisson to domestic drudgery, say, as part of an outfit to wash the dishes in rather than my usual get up of apron and yellow, rubber Marigold gloves.  But the £835 price tag certainly wiped that idea out quicksmart, as did Mr V running away from my laptop screeching that it was just downright creepy when I showed it to him. Talk about a man repeller.  Perhaps it would scare the dishes into washing themselves?

I have to say that I have to agree with Mr V.  This is fetish fashion taken just a step too far and treads a fine line between someone dressing up as the gimp and someone hell bent on committing murder.  If it has any saving grace it is that hermetically sealing yourself up in something like this is bound to keep you warm in winter!

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Gauguin

This sarong was a gift from Mr V during a period where we were living in different parts of Europe.  I was in Spain, he was in England.  Sarong is a Malaysian word and the Spanish word for sarong is pareo, but for years I've called this bright, colourful sarong with its naive tropical floral print "the Gauguin".  In my time living in Spain it would faithfully accompany me to the beach.  Whenever I wore it, my girlfriends would tell me that I reminded them of one of those Tahitian women that Gauguin was so fond of painting and it earned me the nickname "La Gauguin".

I have an irrational fondness for this sarong as it reminds me of those times.  I might have been dealing with the upheaval and solitude that comes with a long distance relationship but I was never alone.  In fact I was surrounded by amazing and wonderful women all hours of the day.  We shared flats, cooked meals together, ate together and hauled ourselves to and from hours of flamenco classes daily.  And in the summer we would all pile into a car together after our classes and drive to the coast to plunge beneath the waves and cool off.  After a long swim I would wrap myself in the Gauguin and sleep on the sand as the sun went down, listening to the banter of my friends drifting away on the late evening sea breeze.  And then we would do it all again the next day.

If there is one thing I am sure to pack whenever I return to Spain it is the Gauguin.  It reminds me of being younger, more energetic, of more carefree times with friends.  Of being drenched in art from the minute you woke up to the time you went to sleep and throughout your dreams.

Can clothes really make us feel like works of art?  A strip of printed cloth certainly isn't going to bring back my youth but I can wrap it around me at the beach and fondly remember that I was once compared to a work of art whilst wearing it.  And at the beach at least one can shrug off any preconceptions of what age appropriate clothing is.  All are welcome here and there is only so much variation on the theme of what we can wear swimming and sunbathing, whatever our age.  That's why I love the coast so much.  The beach is a great levelling plain on fashion, age and body image related matters.

I am packing the Gauguin tonight as tomorrow I am heading to Spain for a badly needed break.  I'm even choosing to miss out on attending London Fashion Week - that is how much I need this break!  I'll be taking a simultaneous break from blogging too as I've been burning the candle at both ends lately and need a rest from all things computer related.  Will catch up with you all when I get back.

Oasis Star Print Maxi Dress

Spot the Difference.  Image Source: Oasis and Oasis Fashion Journal

One of the slightly annoying things about fashion is the difference between the raw creative vision that is sent down the catwalk and the manufactured version of that vision which ends up on the shop floor.  Sometimes the difference means a designer's original flight of fancy is made more wearable for the average human being and therefore more commercially viable for the design house.

Super sheer confections will have a lining added; peek a boo lace dresses will come with a nude slip; a couple of inches will be added to scandalously high hems which were only ever intended for shock value on the catwalk; sleeves appear where there were once spaghetti straps; spikes and studs might be toned down or lessened in number; all tricks of the trade to convince the fashionistas of the more faint of heart to open their purses and buy into a dream - albeit a more wearable one.  It is common practice but sometimes the end result falls short of what we were geared up to expect in the press.

The same goes with the great British High Street.  I can recount several times I've seen press pictures of a product being touted as the next big thing and the resulting product is a damp squib in comparison.  I can recall a white broderie anglais jacket and daisy print tea dress from an early Kate Moss for Topshop High Summer collection in which the garments photographed on Kate were quite different in design to the ones that were eventually sold in Topshop.  Then there was the disappointment that was Louise Goldin for Topshop's studded shoes and their rubbish final version of a studded trapper hat, both of which looked misleadingly amazing in publicity campaigns.

This time the high street store Oasis is under the spotlight for this practice.  The image above right is the dress which has appeared in press photos being hailed by the likes of Grazia as the must have maxi dress of the season for its nod to the Dolce and Gabbana star print collection.  It looked like it would be the High Street's wallet friendly answer to channel that billowing star print maxi without having to remortgage your home.

The image above left however is what you will actually get if you buy this dress, which is what I discovered when it arrived in the post.  I couldn't put my finger on what was bothering me about the dress at first but then a less than favourable review on Oasis' website led me to dig around on the internet and back through the magazines where I'd first seen it.

That Dolce and Gabbana dress - Source

With the Oasis versions the design is the same in both cases and the shop version comes with a handy underslip.  Rather cleverly, the press sample was photographed without the slip to emphasise the transparency of the fabric and the starry print, making comparisons with the Dolce and Gabbana dress inevitable.  However, the both the print and fabric of the two dresses is quite different.

The final product is still a nice dress, it's just not as nice as the other one and that is putting me off keeping it.  I liked the simplicity of the stars on the press version whereas the final print, executed on fabric which is not quite so sheer, is a bit more cartoonish, and as a result looks, well, cheaper.  Or if you like, it's an even paler imitation of a pale imitation of a runway dress that was bound to launch a million High Street copies!

There are many reasons that garments may morph between the design sample stage to production.  In this case the original fabric may have become unavailable due to unforeseen supply issues but I often wonder with High Street fashion chains if it is just a cynical cost cutting exercise in the mad dash for profits by replacing good raw materials with inferior cheaper ones.  At any rate, even if the sample that went to press was the intended final product, it smacks of false advertising when something else altogether goes on sale.

I kind of get it when high end designers do this because its adjusting high end fashion to become relevant and wearable.  But it seems to bug me more when the High Street does this because I feel like I am being advertised something that aspires to be high end fashion at temptingly low high street prices, and then I get annoyed when I get what I pay for - i.e. high street cost cutting and high street quality.  However the bottom line at both price points is, understandably, profits, so there is no rational reason for one seeming more underhand than the other.  Am I just being an irrational consumer?

What do you think?  Does a press to product mismatch leave a bad impression on you of a brand?  Do you think High Street brands should be allowed to market in this way?

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Friend Friday: Fall Trends

This Friend Friday is about Fall trends. We have been asked to name our five favorite fall trends and how we plan to wear them this season.  To see what other Friend Friday participants will be wearing this Autumn head over to Modly Chic and drop Katy a line if you want to join in the fun.

Mui Mui - Source

The great thing about this Autumn is that there are so many trends on offer, so there really is something for everyone and plenty to keep the fashionably adventurous very busy indeed!  I was also very happy to see high fashion looks and truly beautiful clothes that wouldn't look out of place on a grown woman for a change.  Hallelujah!

Marc Jacobs - Source

A cross sectional analysis of the trends according to my runway preview editions of Elle, Harper's Bazaar and Vogue showed at least fourteen different trends identified between them.  For anyone hankering for vintage inspiration from the past you are spoilt for choice as this season the forties, sixties, seventies, eighties and even nineties all got a look in.

Mui Mui - Source

What I found really interesting this season was how the lines between several trends blurred and merged.  The craze for colours and prints and sequins were worked into the forties and seventies trend.  Elsewhere shimmering sequins were combined with a new found fascination with stars, polka dots and floral motifs, or alternatively polka dots, florals and starry prints were fashioned into seventies style maxi dresses.

Fur returned in Arctic white, burgundy and teal adorning forties tea dresses and slick seventies outfits.  It was combined with optic shock prints, or with Navajo fringed boots, or used in glossy black to adorn the fetishist pieces.

Gucci - Source

There are plenty of looks you could work without buying new, as many of these trends are rehashing those of previous years under the guise of new names.  Plunder your closet - there is sure to be something that fits the bill!  It was really hard to whittle down five favourites out of a whole lot of trends that I am really excited about but here goes - my visual wish list and dream wardrobe for Autumn Winter 2011:

1) Fetish

Louis Vuitton - Source

Don't be put off by the S&M and Little Miss Whiplash connotations.  If you peel back the label a bit and scratch the surface a little, this scary sounding trend is really just a reworking of the black, lace, leather, sheer and Gothic trends of seasons recently gone by.  Harper's Bazaar goes so far as to give the game away by shying away from the term fetish altogether and labelling this trend "High Gothic" instead.

Louis Vuitton - Source

 I for one couldn't be more excited because this sort of dark dressing is right up my alley and my Autumn wardrobe is stuffed full of things that will tick all the boxes all the way through to Winter.

Louis Vuitton - Source

I'll be pulling out my leather dresses for this one, mixing in layers of sheer black and adding fierce boots and studded leather driving gloves.  And I have plenty of black lace that could be worked into achieving an outfit worthy of that exalted sounding state of "High Gothic"!

2) Colour and Print

Marc Jacobs - Source

There are some great trends within this trend. I'm particularly excited about the return of burgundy and wine colours as I love them and they have been hard to get hold of for several years. I hate the rather uncouth term "boozy" shades which much of the fash pack seem to have daubed them. Much prefer Vogue's classier version of "garnet" under the "jewel tones" trend file. Don't know about you but I prefer to think of dressing as a gem or a fine wine than a bottle of booze. Maybe it's a generational thing...

Marc Jacobs - Source

Every stylish woman knows that it is worth having some clothing in the colour that flatters you all year round whatever happens to be in fashion.  So when a colour you love and which suits you comes back round into season stock up! Because when the trend fades you never know how long it will be before you can get good pieces made in it again. I have a little tawny port dress arriving soon from ASOS which ticks the burgundy and forties (or seventies depending on which way you look at it) boxes at the same time!

In fact many of the jewel tones suit my skin tone so if budget allows I may extend to emerald, sapphire and ruby red as well!

Dolce and Gabbana - Source

There are also some great prints and patterns this season.  Polka dots à la Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney, decorative à la Mary Katranzou, stars à la Dolce and Gabbana and winter florals à la Paul Smith.

Mary Katrantzou - Source
Paul Smith - Source
I managed to get some  floral embroidered leather and wool pieces from the last Christopher Kane Autumn/Winter collection heavily discounted in last winter's sales and at a sample sale.  So I've sorted out winter florals and fetish at the same time.  And it's in my job description as a flamenco dancer to wear polka dots!

3) Past Eras - Forties and Seventies

I really couldn't choose between these eras as I love them both!

Mui Mui - Source

I absolutely love the Mui Mui collection of forties style tea dresses with sequin embellishment and banana heeled shoes. The high street is already producing copies. Count me in!

Mui Mui - Source

The seventies comes around very often, the maxi dresses, the pussy bow blouses, the wide legged trousers and jeans and the floppy wide brimmed hats.  This season's interpretation has forgone the ethereal hippy dippy aspect of the era and instead really focused on rekindling the smouldering, high octane glamour, as seen in collections like Gucci's.

Gucci - Source
Gucci - Source

I have wide legged trousers in spades and for next season I've bought a billowy seventies style blouse with a pussy bow tie from Sportmax to wear with them.  I'm eyeing their floppy brimmed hat as well.  I've also just bought a seventies style, star print maxi dress with fabulous billowy sleeves from Oasis which I'll wear with platforms.

4) Shimmer and Shine

I've always been a bit partial to the sparkly and shiny so there's plenty of sequins, lurex and lame in the closet already to play around with.  I love the fishscale sized sequins in the Prada collection and the star emblazoned sequined dreses at Dolce and Gabbana.  I have this all over fish tail gold sequin dress which I might just have to let out to play again during the party season.

Dolce and Gabbana - Source

5) Boyish/Androgyny

Again this is masculine tailoring marries the tuxedo trend of late and off we go again, old trends masquerading as new.  Not complaining, in fact I'm positively overjoyed!  This is a trend I particularly like and one I'm sure most of us can do without purchasing new as we probably all have clothing that looks like its borrowed from the boyfriend lurking in the closet due to this trend repeating over the past few years.

Jason Wu - Source

I for one will be dusting off the boyfriend jackets, suits, mannish trousers and tuxedo jackets I already own to work this one.

6) Fabulous Furs

Isabel Marant - Source

I know. I'm cheating adding a sixth but I can't go without mentioning the furry coats.  I am so happy they're still going to be around.  As long as shaggy remains de riguer I'll be fashionable as well as warm come mid winter.

Giles - Source

I also have plenty of furry friends in the wardrobe with whom I can reacquaint myself rather than buying new. Though have to say, this season, I quite fancy me a furry skirt!

Giles - Source

Which are your favourite trends for Autumn?


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