Feminism in Fashion

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The V&A presents ‘Feminism in Fashion’ as part of the V&A Connects evening events, with guest speakers: Caryn Franklin MBE (former Fashion Editor of i-D Magazine and co-founder of All Walks Beyond the Catwalk), film maker and curator Kathryn Ferguson and Lou Stoppard, Editor of SHOWstudio, chaired by Hywel Davies, author of Modern Menswear and 100 New Fashion Designers.

Feminism in Fashion discusses the issues that surround the idea of feminism which may not coincide within the idealisms of the fashion industry:

Hywel Davies: How responsible do you feel is your role of how you report on fashion?

Caryn Franklin: I work with All walks beyond the Catwalk promoting women of all sizes and ages because we seem to forget what women look like without all the airbrushing and falseness – we did a shoot with nine different designers such as Vivienne Westwood, to Giles Deacon and Stella McCartney, showcasing a sample look and worked individually with the model to create a bespoke fit for each unique body shape such as Valerie (pictured above) for Antonio Beradi, this is without any retouching because we wanted to project how beautiful age is and the individuality of the skin on every person. 

Lou Stoppard: It’s a tough one because fashion has always had bad press in all fields, especially feminism – I worry that feminists ignore or reject fashion because that means they’re not seeking any ability to change it. We at SHOWstudio created a series last year called fashion fetish which consisted of all female creatives, and to be able to do something like that in a fashion context is incredible.

Hywel Davies: Do you ever get concerned about the content of image portrayal going online?

Lou Stoppard: For sure, there’s always going to be a part of you when you’re a feminist and you work in fashion that wants to go into a room and just scream for a while but as I work for Nick Knight – he’s consistently known for being experimental and considerate in his imagery so a lot of his work looks at different bodies and ages. He was the first photographer to use a disabled person in a fashion magazine, so I think it’s more interesting and more relatable to see than a woman with a completely unachievable figure.

We did a shoot recently for V Magazine called ‘Studs‘ (pictured above) with a group of women who enjoyed presenting themselves as men and got a far better response than an 18 year old model dressed in a beautiful dress, not that that model isn’t also a valid image of a woman but I find the most exciting fashion imagery is something that is boundary pushing.

Hywel Davies: Can you be honest about your opinions on designers collections?

Lou Stoppard: Yes I can always be honest whether in terms of how they represent women’s or menswear, and even though some male designers aren’t that compassionate when they design for the female form, I find it frustrating when female designers who are often heralded as brilliant are actually putting out very difficult outfits and looks for a regular woman to wear. Take Phoebe Philo at Celine, I love Celine but those aren’t compassionate designs any more than Christopher Kane with his bodycon dresses.

Hywel Davies: Do you get people who ask why you’re doing what you’re doing?

Lou Stoppard: Yes but my argument is that fashion is amazing – it’s so creative, it’s pioneering, it’s intelligent – look at Miuccia Prada or Rei Kawakubo, it’s not an industry filled with airheads.

Guest Question: It seems male designers are overtaking womenswear but yet I think some designers like Vivienne Westwood are creating for the male gaze, is it down to women designers to change womenswear options?

Lou Stoppard: I take issue with the idea that some of the female designers are responding to the male gaze because you easily dismiss all of fashion – anything that accentuates the female form can be classed in that category its an easy criticism to make. But I agree with you that they can be more empathetic to women but then I don’t particularly think its a gender thing – its just what an industry needs to be.

Caryn Franklin: This was something that was highlighted by Karl Lagerfeld when he picked on Adele – said that she was just a little bit too fat, but he didn’t finish his sentence. What he really meant was I cant design for her body, I don’t know how to flatter a realistically shaped body and thats a failing on my part because I only know how to iconize a model who is 6″ and a size 6.

Kathryn Ferguson: It’s interesting you mention Adele, because when she was featured on the cover of The Gentlewoman magazine, Penny Martin had said she found it humiliating because they had to advertise the garment Adele was wearing – it was the done thing, but Adele’s dress wasn’t fitted – it was open at the back and they had to tape it up, Adele wasnt bothered because she was clearly used to it but its just an repetitive cycle, theres always that element of advertisement dictating in fashion business.

Hywel Davies: What advice would you each give people from a feminists point of view on how they should be able to express themselves?

Caryn Franklin: I think the power of fashion is that its an amazing carrier, what you choose it to carry is up to you. I would never ask for fashion’s approval, I’m so anti- all these fashion dictates magazines like ‘get the look’, for me, it’s about you using fashion on your terms to do the job that you want it to do. I think thats a really important space to work with it – its a tool , not a rule, I think as an industry we have yet to really deliver how fashion can iconize or embolden to make warriors of us all. It can proivde the battle dress you need for your day or the comfort or support that you want.

It seems that the corporate in trying to farm us for profit has created some sort of messaging to undermine us. It’s like they got into a room and said lets make people feel shit about themselves so they’ll buy more stuff and its worked! So if we dont respond to that, they dont make profit therefor they will stop. When we complain about the exploitative advertising and don’t buy the product than they will have to try something else.

Hywel Davies: So its the power of the consumer to take action?

Caryn Fanklin: Its the power of the individual.

Kathryn Ferguson: For anyone thats interested in shooting fashion imagery, just really try and think about how you want to view fashion yourselves and take responsibility to what you are showing to the world. 

Keep an eye out for the next ‘Feminism in Fashion’ talk at V&A Connects online.

LFW AW13

London Fashion Week rolled around again, this season the autumn/winter collections are always bigger in my book as it’s almost always autumn/winter in Britain. So, to start with one of my favourite collections:

David Koma, I liked this collection as it was the only concept which matched the invitation – inspired by the 60’s and girl’s who were into vinyl, the invitation took on the form of a vinyl record along with the geometric cuts on the dresses and jackets taking on the form of – you guessed it – a vinyl record!

Being a vinyl record (almost) collector myself, I loved the concept, the only thing was some of the garments didn’t suit the models shape with a-line skirts and flared peplums which looked heavy and awkward to walk in. The coats and jackets on the other hand looked superb with the detailing in the collar in black, lipstick red and nude.

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I also got to sit third row at Mulberry (!) in a very exclusive setting in Claridges Ball Room with a stunning butterfly set design on the catwalk to match the carefully made balancing butterfly invitation. The collection was inspired by English woodland at night featuring all the trappings of a traditional British Mulberry season – tweed, capes, elbow length gloves and a poodle!

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There’s also a photograph on the dirty rag newspapers i.e. the daily mail picturing the A-list front-row with my best ‘looking unimpressed’ face behind them. Pahaha.

My favourite, most ideally wearable collection from autumn/winter ’13 came from an off-schedule designer Hasan Hejazi, showing at the W Hotel on the last day with gorgeous futuristic meets old glamour garments in rose, garnet,black and metallic’s.

Not to mention the eye-capturing armour shoes! I need all of it, now.

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Juergen Teller ‘Woo!’

Juergen Teller hosted a press preview at the ICA a couple of months ago for his new exhibition ‘Woo!’ detailing his major and personal work, I was lucky enough to cover it for F.Tape – read what Juergen had to say here.

It’s always interesting seeing people whose work you admire in real life, I’m not a celebrity seeker but I got butterflies when Juergen was explaining how the giant triptych of a totally starkers Vivienne Westwood came about! My favourite pieces of work in the exhibition, not just because it’s Dame Viv but the fact that she still retains the punk attitude and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks – it isn’t sexy either, punk isn’t sexy, rather just ‘this is me, like it or eff off’ captured perfectly by Mr Teller.

He’s quite shy, I would say but opinionated and open-minded at the same time. The man swears a lot too! He was talking about his interest with the naked form because he was always curious- enough to photography his own butthole but I’ll leave that to the imagination or you could go see it yourself, the ICA is surprisingly liberal when it comes to the sake of art.

The exhibition runs until the 17th March – go see it!

London Collections: Men AW13

It was my first time reviewing at London Collections: Men, namely Men’s fashion week (about time too!) with the Hospital Club in Covent Garden acting as base camp with rooms dedicated to the tired and disheveled fashion industry (although maybe that was just just me) with a press room handing out free drinks and champagne, a Fudge hair salon where I got a wonderful free blow dry and a bulging goodybag, with of course, the basement room where a couple of my favourite designers showed:

Katie Eary took on the idea of death and ‘pained romance’ in a beautiful, colourful and decadent collection, with floral and blue lobster printed suiting.

I thought the whole True Blood, Twilight, vampire thing had blown over, but Ms Eary takes it into a modern (and superior) direction. Think of a luxurious, dark and mythical banquet with 20 something rich kid vampires and there you have the mens and women’s collection for Autumn/Winter ’13.

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Martin Rose hosted a presentation with, what I thought was a 90’s meets 60’s Manchester mod scene in a public house inspiration – when apparently Rose took inspiration from Jamaican ghetto kings…

I personally don’t see it, even the liquor patchwork detailing features Heineken, Stella Artois and Irish stout – all of which are beers/lager you would find in a traditional English pub, surely it would make more sense to go with rum for a Carribbean vibe?

Regardless of concept, I loved the collection – baggy trousers and tight tops, parka coats and printed shirts – I would wear all of it! Androgyny please.

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J.W. Anderson took a lot of criticism for his Autumn/Winter ’13 collection with a feminine twist showcasing short scalloped shorts, skirts and dresses for menswear, but I loved it – one of my favourite collections infact. Probably because I would wear all of it (!) but other than that, I think it takes a new direction in menswear reaching out to men who like to show a bit of leg. Why not?

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One thing I didn’t get over LCM was the Oliver Spencer catwalk, not the collection but the fact that the designer had chosen to use a T4 presenter to model a part of his collection. There are so many professional models who need the exposure and money- having lost a job over a celebrity.

Ouch.

Valentino ‘Master of Couture’

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I was lucky enough to attend the press preview to the new Valentino exhibition at Somerset House for F.Tape a couple of months ago- check out my review here, I visited again for the second time yesterday and reminded myself how fabulous it was and remembered to actually write about it!

At the press preview, Valentino Garavani was there himself to introduce the exhibition and giving his thanks to all who helped make it, although unfortunately he didn’t bring his entourage of pet pugs!

At that time, I was getting slightly annoyed at the disrespectful comments from other journalists saying this ‘would be his last ever exhibition before he dies’ – despite his age (the man turns 81 this year), Valentino is still a legend and regardless of stepping down from the label in 2008, this is the man who sketched his way to being a couture power house.

However, the exhibition itself concedes to cover his whole career timeline, detailing personal letters from the likes of Diana Vreeland and Versace, press cuttings from when Valentino was becoming a household name among the elite and up to the most exquisite couture dresses made and worn throughout the 60 years Valentino headed his eponymous label close enough to touch (but don’t!), including the infamous wedding dresses of Jackie Onassis from 1968 and from the royal wedding of Princess Marie-Chantal from 1995.

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The cherry on top includes examining the atelier techniques into making a couture gown with a full glossary of what’s what – for example: ‘a Budellini – a couture technique specific to Valentino where double charmeuse silk is rolled and sewn around a looped length of wool’.

So as sad as it is to admit, this exhibition being a retrospective – you should take the chance to see it now.

Valentino: Master of Couture Press View

The exhibition runs until the 3rd March, so if you haven’t seen it already – hurry!

Harrods x Disney

I could have sworn I came up with this idea last year, but nevertheless the genius people at Harrods did it first – Disney and 10 fabulous fashion designers collaborate for this year’s Christmas window displays at Harrods, re-creating the modern day fairytale princess’ and their gowns!

I went to see them last week and they are so much more elaborate than I thought they would be. Harrods even have a Disney Boutique inside where you can dress up as your favourite Disney character (I’d like to point out I’m 23 and I still would).

Cinderella by Versace

Snow White by Oscar De La Renta

Personally I would have preferred to see the whole dress in the middle of the window rather than stuffed in the left hand corner..

Jasmine by Escada

Tiana by Ralph & Russo

Belle by Valentino

Pocahontas by Roberto Cavalli

Rapunzel by Jenny Packham

Mulan by Missoni

Ariel by Marchesa (perfect match!)

and my favourite – Aurora by Elie Saab

I think the Little Mermaid x Marchesa is the best match, with Pocahontas coming in a close second. I absolutely adore the Elie Saab dress but I I think Lanvin or Viktor & Rolf would have been more interesting to see.

ANYWAY, you should all go see it because it’s very pretty and christmassy.

Tim Walker ‘Story Teller’

I had the pleasure of previewing Tim Walker’s ‘Story Teller’ prop orientated Exhibition at Somerset House for F.Tape last month, I also got to interview the man himself! You can imagine how excited I was – he even signed my copy of the exhibition book!

Take a look at the review and interview over on F.Tape here

As Tim Walker is one the ultimate fashion photographers, it really was an honour to meet him. Here’s a few of my favourite pieces in the exhibition:

The doll prop used in Vogue Italia January ’12 issue (pictured below) with storyboard on the right.

The skeleton prop from Harpers Bazaar October ’09 issue.
See the making of on prop maker Andy Hillman’s website.

Props used from the Monty Python editorial for Vanity Fair November ’09 issue.

Loved this insect orchestra made especially for the exhibition!

You gotta love Alber Elbaz.
Tim Walker said he was very fun to work with although he didn’t much like full length photo’s…

There’s still time to go visit the exhibition – it’s a fantastic and very well curated, the main focus are the props in which Mr.Walker points out everything in the images are REAL with no use for digital manipulation. Plus it’s free!

www.somersethouse.org.uk

Chanel’s ‘Little Black Jacket’ Exhibition

Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld have revisited the classic Chanel tweed jacket, offering different looks with iconic individuals set to their own style for this exhibition. Touring around the globe at all the major cities, Chanel came to London this October and made itself at home at the Saatchi Gallery.

I was happy to see some industry faces within the gallery such as Anna Wintour – albeit the back of her head, Sophia Coppola (one of my favourite film directors) and lesser known names along with the expected celebrities such as Georgia May Jagger and (yawn) Alexa Chung. What made this exhibition was that with over 100 black and white portraits, they featured people from different age groups, ethnicities and backgrounds all with Chanel in common.

I also want to touch on the fact that it’s all dedicated to the tweed black jacket – not Chanel’s no.5 perfume or 2.5 bag (which are the biggest sellers) taking the brand back to it’s roots and history where Coco Chanel invented the androgynous look with a two piece tweed suit in 1923, saying no to the pastel ruffles and corsets of the time and creating something different designed to give the wearer freedom of movement.

“The little black jacket has crossed that boundary and become a symbol of a certain feminine elegance, nonchalant and timeless. I love that.” – Karl Lagerfeld for iD Magazine

It was incredibly crowded when I visited the day after it opened, so here’s a selection of my favourite images:

Natalia Vodianova, Russian model. First walked the Chanel ready to wear and Haute Couture runway for AW02.

Daphne Guinness, Model, Actress, Style Icon. Friend of Karl Lagerfeld.

Carine Roitfeld, ex-editor of Vogue Paris, Editor of CR Fashion-Book. Friend & muse of Karl Lagerfeld.
Dressed up as Coco Chanel in this image.

Lily Allen, singer/song-writer. Fronted Chanel’s AW09 Accessories campaign.

Waris Ahluwalia, actor.

Alexander Wang, Designer.

Akuol De Mabior, Sudanese Model.

Hudson Kroenig, son of model Brad Kroenig. Both walked the Chanel runway for SS11.
Karl Lagerfeld’s Godson.

All Image Credits
Photography: Karl Lagerfeld
Stylist: Carine Roitfeld
Hair: Sam McKnight
Makeup: Peter Philips

Check out the behind the scenes video:

LFW SS13

So I covered a few shows at London Fashion Week SS13 for F.Tape which you can find here including PPQ – who hosted a very fabulous afterparty at Kensington Roof Gardens, an 80’s ghetto fabulous Mark Fast (my favourite), a Barbie themed Louise Gray and a Tennis playing David Koma among others.

Here’s a few pictures we took..

The Mark Fast credit card invitation, SS13 show entitled ‘Broke’

My press pass!

Street Style Day 3

Fred Butler ‘Honey Bee’ Presentation

Fred Butler & I!

PPQ SS13

Osman SS13

More invites!

I also went to a few Vauxhall Fashion Scout shows which are always packed out! I was gutted to have missed Pam Hogg, Spijkers en Spijkers and Bernard Chandran this season, but I took a new liking to Manuela Dack who graduated in 2010 from Middlesex University (Holla!) who featured glittery Juju jelly sandals paired with white garments of multiple fabrics and textures for Spring/Summer ’13.