London A/W'12 - Pringle of Scotland

Turns out Pringle of Scotland was the happy surprise of London fashion week! I've always like the idea of Pringle of Scotland - Scotland (duh), moors, moodniess, Tilda Swinton, argyle - but anyone can admit that all that potential has been continually wasted with yawn-inducing ready-to-wear collections (I'm looking at you Clare Waight-Keller, you and Chloe deserve each other). So I was pretty interested in last season's first collection from ex-Balenciaga designer Alistair Carr. That show was pretty meh to be honest, but he has more than made up for it with this outing.

Carr seems to have balanced out his Balenciaga-esque tendencies (asymmetry, unexpected prints, geometric leanings) with the personality and more formal elements required for Pringle. The collection seems very Scottish to me, but yes, I will admit that my only qualifying factor is whether I can imagine Tilda Swinton wearing it. A little bleakness doesn't hurt the Scottish-ness either, and those monochrome looks towards the end of the show definitely had a bleak air about them.

But of course Pringle is all about knitwear isn't it? This is how I imagine Carr thought up how to approach the staples this season: (voice over in head) "Knitwear knitwear knitwear... so cardigans... jumpers... wool... cardigans... who wears cardigans... 90s... fluffy... cardigans... KURT COBAIN!"

So in my opinion Carr has slyly looked to the 90s and what was the result? We get ribbed wool, fluffiness, turtlenecks, twinsets and icy grey/blue shirts. I guess you could call that beige twin set ironic, but in fashion the word irony is usually associated with ugliness and there was no ugliness here, just 100% Drew Barrymore awesomeness. I like a designer who infiltrates his influences throughout a collection. I also like a designer who can use such a tired trend and keep the clothes from looking like 90s-themed house party costumes.

The colour palette of the show is noteworthy, too. Apparently Carr was inspired by Ettore Sottsass and other Post-Modern artists, which explains how we ended up with beige, camel, baby pink, baby blue, rust red, burnt orange, navy, white and more and yet it all working perfectly. Also brought to mind was the navy, starchy simplicity of Margaret Howell. Which is nice - maybe a new, decidedly British aesthetic is beginning to form.

The absolute last thing that the collection made me think of is Charlotte Gainsbourg in that one movie with Johnny Depp where they drool at each other over Creep (man two Radiohead references in a week). She just looks so good leaving that record store. And nice Youtube screencaps right?

To finish off, there were also very cool shoes. I would definitely like to stride purposefully around in what looked like less dainty versions of those Giambattista Valli pseudo-platforms. And finally tell me, what is more edgy and thus, more Scottish, than having tin cans on your heels. 

Runway images from vogue.com
Other from depths of internet


Thoughts on Calvin Klein

I was driving around town about a month ago and kept seeing those Girl with a Dragon Tattoo posters everywhere, and I realised that this was one pop culture thing that had completely passed me by. I had had absolutely no interest in it before, but the thought that I knew nothing about something that millions loved and even critics adored, well that I couldn't stand. So to Wikipedia and Youtube I went. I love me a good trailer, I think they are an art forum unto themselves and I wish there was an Oscars for trailers because damn the trailer for this movie was GOOD. Right up there with the trailer for The Social Network with the acapella version of Radiohead's Creep. I think the key is definitely the song choice, I remember the first Wall-E trai- woah ok I'm getting way off topic. To make up for lost time: Francisco Costa went all Lisbeth Salander for Calvin Klein and it was all dark and cool except for the orange which totally sucked.

The dim lighting for the show was perfect because it enhanced the textured graininess of the charcoal wools, and the effect is especially enhanced when reproduced in photographs. The collection was also best when Costa experimented with the materials' textures - panelling sheer black and dark grey wool was fantastic, especially when paired with a salt-and-pepper knitted woolen sweater.

And these are the dresses I want to see on Sunday.

All images from vogue.com


Don't Wanna Gloat

But summer is pretty nice today. Will probably be gone tomorrow. My friend Tim has a new camera, took some photos on my deck, and this is probably the closest you'll get to a post about me. Mmmmm sun...


New York A/W'12 - Proenza Schouler

For Winter 2012 Proenza Schouler were influenced by samurai. SAMURAI. This is immensely awesome. To be more accurate Jack and Lazaro looked not just at samurai but also martial arts and more general elements of eastern dress. All a recipe for a show full of western condescension and cultural appropriations, but by boiling down these influences to the notion of protection, any cringe inducing, Lagerfeld-esque cliches were avoided and instead we were presented with a thing of beauty.
The idea of protection was presented at first through swaths of white cotton wrapping models' bodies, asymmetric coats and low-slung pants bringing to mind karate and judo. Comments were made on the unusual choice of cotton for a winter collection, but right now the thought of layer upon layer of the stuff seems very comforting. And it is with this protection theme that the collection worked right the way through to riffs on samurai armor (!!!).

Although the collection may have been about protection, after last season's tailored ladies Hernandez and McCollough wanted to relax everything, drop waists and loosen. You can see this in the roomy cotton shirts and pants as well as wrapped miniskirts which, when the models walked, flicked out, their sharp edges exaggerated. And so as well as everything being wonderfully slouchy, there were elements that were totally stiff and angular. Hal Rubenstein (who I admit I had to google after finding this quote) said "It's about movement, it's not about the form", which for me hits the nail on the head. The show felt wonderfully complex because not only was this movement loose and slouchy but stiff and angular too. To see what I mean you will have to watch a video of the show.

In the skirts you can see the forming of samurai-style wrapping, but Jack and Lazaro went all-out samurai for other ensembles. Wearable, no, kickass, yes.

Proenza Schouler always makes sure to include interesting craft elements, and Bhutanese basket-weaving was the starting point for this collection. Woven leather was used on everything except pants, it seems. For skirts, jackets and tops, thick and thin strips of died leather were used to create an amazing assortment of patterns. The texture of the weave varied, and for coats the weave was much finer - were it not for close ups I wouldn't have been able to tell that the black and red coat was woven leather at all.

While they claimed they didn't want this collection to be about Asia, obviously it's pretty hard to ignore the total proliferation of Asian influences. However they've extended the influences enough and, in most cases, interpreted them subtly enough to avoid this being "Proenza Schouler's Asian Collection". And with the final brocade looks (brocades they developed themselves!) they saved themselves from anything too close to appropriation by filtering everything through a New York view of Asia. And since these looks reminded me of the late 90s/early 2000s cheongsam dress trend, I'd say they did that well.

Runway images from vogue.com
Backstage shots from Self Service


Looking Good Ladies

My favourite looks from New York on what just happened to be some of my favourite women in fashion.

Top L-R: Arizona Muse; Shala Monroque; Emily Baker 
Bottom L-R: Oroma Elewa; Tavi Gevinson; Jenna Sauers

Even though New York fashion week is officially over, I've still got posts on Proenza Schouler, Calvin Klein and Rodarte to come. Rodarte is causing some serious conflict within me guys, serious conflict.

Tavi's photo from her blog
Oroma's photo from The Sartorialist
All other photos Victoria Adamson at The Cut 



A second Stevie Dance styled editorial for RUSSH magazine, and an example of her storytelling at her best. It may be a borrowed story, but one worth telling and Dance perfectly presented the most memorable clothes of that season. Oh Louis Vuitton. Oh those ears.

In case you were wondering, the movie was Badlands (duh, but if you haven't seen it, then do) and the season was Winter 2009. Apologies for any bad scans (oooh I can see a bit of a pun formed there).


Victoria and Cynthia

Victoria Beckham and Cynthia Rowley both showed excellent collections which were beautiful and wearable and, in their own ways, seemed to embody what is good and great about New York fashion. Ultimately it's an attitude thing, more laid-back than Paris, less wacky than London and, well, not Italian.

You may have raised an eyebrow when I included Victoria Beckham with 'laid-back', but for all the collared necks, nipped waists and laser sharp necklines, there was something practical about the whole collection. Which is also a key difference between New York and all the other cities! When I look at a NY collection, more often than not I actually think about wearing the clothes. I think Beckham would be pleased with that because she is oft quoted saying she wants to wear all of her clothes herself.
As for the clothes themselves, Beckham cutely drew inspiration from her man and her children's football uniforms. Although she referenced them quite literally with necks and short sleeves all collared up, and with horizontal stripes, there was nothing boring about the interpretation. The stripes, placed sparingly and carefully were very flattering, and while they exaggerated the models' tiny waists too much, on the average woman this would be a welcome detail. The contrasting collars were oh-so-crisp, and talking about crispness, how about those v-necks! As Rachel Zoe would say, I die.

As always the coats were great, and the short, flippy skirt looks were a nice nod to a younger audience and have made me want to buy biker boots - in fact the shoes and socks have to be mentioned because they were unexpected and completely perfect. They remind me of Marc Jacobs' A/W'06, but like they have grown up and become more sophisticated. Rounding it all off the hair and makeup was fantastic - people need to start realising just how practical tucking your hair behind your ears is (take that Julia Roberts).
Many critics noted that she had no evening looks which was a shame because of the Oscars coming up, and while I guess having a dress at the Oscars is a good business move I feel like, whatever, because this collection served its purpose well.

With Cynthia Rowley, for the first time in a while I started calculating when these clothes would hit stores and for how long would I need to save for that coat etc. etc. Which in a completely non-intellectual way means the show was a success! If you want something deeper we can go into inspiration from mechanics overalls but who needs that when all you want are sweater embellishments. And curly hair.

Victoria Beckham images from vogue.com
Cynthia Rowley images from style.com


Marc Jacobs and Hats

I couldn't avoid writing about the Marc Jacobs show, and even harder to avoid were those hats (badum-tsh). I would like to just put it out there that I thought the hats were in no way funny or artistic or clever or interesting or ironic but they were offensively bad and hugely distracting from the clothes. I would even go as far to say that in the six or so hours since the show, I have outright hated them. If you haven't seen them yet and want to you are going to have to go somewhere else because I'm going to crop out the heads in order to see how the clothes look:

Ah much better. How rad are those embellishments?? Now I don't want to be a drag but overall I prefered the more somber looks. As a whole the more colourful looks seemed too self-consciously zany, a little forced - however that impression could wholly be blamed on those damned hats. Sarah Mower has already made large claims that this collection "reestablished the radical idea that fashion can still be free to be creative and cross over with art". Sure MJ may have collaborated with artist Rachel Feinstein on this one, but I think that fashion and art have more to do together than clashing tinsel (as an aside, do you think the tinsel woven looks were scratchy for the models?).

I liked the more toned-down looks because you could really focus on the completely bananas shapes that were being thrown out. I mean that man can really do things with proportions! And it's nice to see an acknowledgment that women have hips. For me, in black the textures became more luscious too; I wish I could have seen those dark shimmering dresses in person.

I did not like paisley at Jil Sander or Stella McCartney but here I've been won over. Perhaps it has something to do with sparkles. A part from shaping, Jacobs also has an innate knack with shine and I for one am incredibly grateful for that.

On a final note, the Valentines Day reference was pretty cute. I wonder whose job it was to choose the rose, and how long they spent finding the perfect one.