Rock & Roller | Crazy Pig Designs

Armand Serra is the eclectic mastermind behind Crazy Pig Designs, since designing rings for a decade at Great Frog in Carnaby Street, Armand opened up shop in 1992 in the heart of Covent Garden, London…

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Dior Homme: Suit Genealogy

Founded in 2001, the Dior Homme suit atelier calls on the incomparable savoir-faire of Italian craftsmen recognized the world over…

Located in Northern Italy and developed through a close collaboration between the Parisian design studios, Dior Homme creative director Kris Van Assche works from the sketches of each Dior Homme suit initiating five weeks of work.

An exclusive choice of fabrics are presented with hand cutting, and then hand sewn to ensure high quality traditional animal fiber interlining sewn, intricate pressing of the shoulder line, invisible holding stitches, top collar insertion following long-held rules, reverse seams and buttons sewn by hand, constant quality control.

Read more on TheRake.com.

Queen Of The Swingers

Killing Kittens founder, Emma Sayle hosts a members-only club driven by female pleasure. Indulging in the curiosities and debaucherous behaviour of that found in erotic literature, The Rake explores the sexual impropriety, (nay fulfilment!) one would find at a KK party…

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Rebus Signet Rings: Not By Words, But By Things

A signet ring is the perfect finishing touch to a sharply tailored suit or outfit, and there is no finer supplier than the London-based Rebus workshop…

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Alexandra Shulman’s LFW Synopsis

To close London Fashion Week, the Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman gave a very perspicacious talk at the Playboy Club in Mayfair – a bizarre choice of location where the women tend to wear very little clothing (basque’s are so 2004).

Despite the bunnies, Ms Shulman lead the way unnerved, rounding up the trends for SS14 plus further insight into the colossal and daunting world of fashion:

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On her humble beginnings at Vogue and LFW..

‘We had a team meeting early on in Vogue saying what can we do about London Fashion Week? To which was replied “There’s nothing we can do about it, London’s a disaster – there won’t be a London (fashion week) in a few years time, everyone will be showing in Paris.”  So that wasn’t a very constructive or helpful meeting but here we are now – seeing how wrong they were about it. From 1992 to 2013 we’ve come a long way, it is definitely a long time coming but the whole fashion scene has completely changed and I think we are probably the most exciting fashion week that exists now.’

On how much revenue the fashion industry and LFW brings to the UK..

‘There are 58 on-schedule catwalk shows over the five days with 15 presentations by which can be quite substantial, there’s international press from over 50 countries and a curious figure of buyers from over 52 countries plus a projected revenue of one hundred million pounds generated from these five days.* The issue with London though has always been how do you marry the creativity that you’ve found in the city with a really meaningful commercial activity? The one thing I would say is that the British Fashion Council which has existed for years is doing an incredible job at the moment doing concrete things to help designers turning from being a wunderkind to being a full brand.’

*Sidenote – Our grandeur fashion industry brings in £21 BILLION to the UK alone, that’s more than the automobile industry! #jussayin

On the BFC and how fashion creatives should have a business partner in tow (something I’ve always had in the back of my mind)..

‘The BFC are good at finding financial partners for designers, because you can be a fantastic creative designer doesn’t mean to say you know anything at all about managing finances of a brand and because fashion is one of the few areas which is a total hybrid of art and commerce, you got to have the ability to deal with the commerce side. Partnership is proving to be a big key for success in the fashion industry – you’ve got to have someone else who you can trust and who is on your side to help a brand – if you look at Valentino with Giancarlo Giammetti, Christopher Kane and his sister Tammy – she’s so grounded and very focused and he will always listen to what she says, or Miuccia Prada and her husband Patrizio Bertelli – Miuccia is a visionary but Patrizio’s out there making sure the numbers work. So I think if any designer’s come to me for advice I always say – find if you can, a soulmate who can help you in business.’

On next season’s trends..

‘Onto the shows, I am very proud of the way Vogue support designers  and we’re the only magazine who sends a huge team to all the shows. I personally went to 38 shows this season, coming in from NY – where everything is very slick and professional but there just isn’t that same buzz of excitement  when  you first sit down about what you might see – the way you do in London. We saw a a major trend forming from both fashion week’s for Spring/Summer ’14 which was monochrome, continuing from this season with hardly any colour at all. I was a bit ambivalent about it as I have to think about what people will actually wear and also what it will look like in the magazine -having already done a lot of black & white last summer. 

Another continuing trend is florals (groundbreaking), which has been realised in a conceptual thought process such as Matthew Williamson’s lace daisies, Christopher Kane using the reproductive organs of flowers as his motif and of course Preen using floral patchworks. The good thing about florals is that they are easily duplicated and commercial hence the high street’s obsession with them.

Less commercial but easily present were these graphic block shapes – less bodycon, more trapeze shaped in a clean minimal look as an alternate to the mass of flowers.

I was pleased to see there were no 80’s trends, but a more modern ladylike trend that came through in London – there’s a whole new level of designers creating elegant sloping silhouettes for professional women. It’s quite interesting how designers don’t usually like the idea of being ladylike in anyway, for fear of looking dated. I know that Erdem has always had a fear of being seen as too prim and proper so this season, when everyone was doing an Erdem, he decided to go off in a completely different direction with a conceptual Japanese androgynous look.’

On print journalism vs online..

‘Everyone says print is dead and the future is digital, but it’s just not true – noone is making any money from their blogs or websites, but we’re still going strong. I still feel very evangelical about print journalism and I think it’s got a lot of life in it yet. Print is still the medium that designers trust to have their campaigns as well as products featured in.’

At this point, I had to ask her question (while quivering with fear);

Would you say print journalism is becoming almost elitist due to the endless amount of online writers and bloggers?

‘I think that what the internet allows, is that anybody can post what they want whether they can write or not so we do edit – we curate ideas and only use writers who we know to be good and when their copy comes in we edit – whereas what you’re seeing online is like the raw version. Some bloggers are really good, some online journalism is extremely well thought out and filled with information… I think there is a difference but not with the medium – more so the process, when someone does a properly edited online magazine, it won’t be that different from print.’

So there you have it – straight from the Shulman’s mouth, and yes I’m still shaking.

LFW SS14

As LFW rolled around this September the weather continued to pour down, placing a slight gloom over Somerset House not to mention ruining pre-planned outfits. However, seeing a few of the Spring/Summer ’14 shows brightened up the days with candy coloured pastels, digital prints and fun sunshine merriment.

Here’s a pick of my favourites;

Orla Kiely brought together a girlish safari explorer concept with 60’s styling complete with berets and knee-high socks. The presentation featured an African plains backdrop transporting you to a retro, stylish (and slightly impractical) campfire scene, garments displayed a whimsical theme with embellishments and animal motifs. A sunset colour palette of hues sweeping from burnt orange to pinks and of course no adventurous explorer would be complete without the utility driven khaki shorts suit.

It also reminded me of Suzy Bishop’s character from the Wes Anderson film ‘Moonrise Kingdom’, the curious 12 year old girl who runs away from home with a boy scout armed only with binoculars, her cat and a battery powered record player. Cute and kitsch.

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The first thing that stood out for me at Jean-Pierre Braganza’s was from reading the press release before the show had even started, stating that his inspirations came from his daughter’s school uniform and how everything had to look in place, he says;

‘I’m fascinated by the controlled nonchalance with which my daughter wears her school uniform. Her socks and skirt have to be just so, and her jumper tied around her waist in a way that is completely contrived but gives the air of effortlessness that so many stylish women convey. I wanted to explore how this translates for women, the most attractive women always give the impression that they’ve put very little effort into their outfits.’

With this, JPB released his signature floral prints and tuxedo tailoring onto the catwalk but with an updated de-constructed aesthetic, similar to the ‘I just threw this on look’ when actually it took about a day and 3 virtual moodboards to come up with the perfect simple outfit.

I took an unexpected shine to the drop crotch trouser suits – a tomboy cut in contradicting and ladylike pastel colours. The prints also featured a slightly concealed raven on silk, a symbol of a trickster and also the creator in Native Canadian mythology, a metaphor for the ‘effortless’ women perhaps?

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Holly Fulton’s key Art Deco prints return with a 70’s trip in California vibe, carefree with a wave of loose silk shirt dresses in bright coastline colours and glittering embroidery. Kaleidoscopic prints were included to mimic the perplexed combination of free love and formality from the era while styling paved the way for chic lounging. This was probably the largest collection I saw for SS14 with a total of 40 different outfits to take the Fulton girl from busy city to beach side cocktails.

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Take a look at my SS14 trend write-ups for LUX FIX here & here.

Meeting Julie Verhoeven

As part of the British Library’s ‘Spring Festival’ event, Julie Verhoeven came in to talk about her career as a fashion illustrator and the piece she made for the event. So naturally, as a huge Julie Verhoeven fan (so much so, I misplaced my talents in fashion illustration while studying at college!) I came to visit her talk and was surprised by how how humble and slightly bashful she was as a person despite her success!

Julie addressed this as she sat down to a group of us, mentioning she didn’t fare well when it comes to expressing herself through speech and that she prefers to communicate through her work of illustration, art and bold colours which make her happy. She also mentions her love of libraries, not for reading though, rather to people watch as she finds how people dress and carry themselves is most interesting and this inspired the artwork behind the ‘Spring Festival’ artwork.

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While speaking, Julie covered the floor of the room with objects and visual references which she has held onto since the late 1970’s such as vinyl record covers, Misty comics, magazines, garments and books which were all unsurprisingly brightly coloured and psychedelic – making it into her own chaotic canvas or mood board, revealing aspects of her own personality.

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She then goes onto say how there are different people she want’s to be over time, sometimes an art director, sometimes a fashion illustrator but right now she thinks of herself as an artist, moving away from the early doll faced fashion illustrations and onto more collaborative projects to do with videos and installations- showing us a commission she did last year for Chloé (one of my most favourite fashion labels):

With all her different collaborations, Julie said one in particular – Louis Vuitton from Spring/Summer 2002 was quite unbelievable, so much so infact that when Marc Jacobs personally called her, she thought it was a joke! She also said she would love to one day work with Karl Lagerfeld, having been inspired by his work he did under the house of Chloé in the 70’s- I can see that would be an amazing cross-over on either the Chanel accessories or the Karl Lagerfeld ready-to-wear, fingers crossed!

I also got to ask her what her favourite project had been so far, she replied saying the Versace project from Spring/Summer 2009 as it was ‘just very surreal being in the same room as Donatella!’ and the fact she had to take a hammer to the Versace china ware to create a mosaic panel for print design:

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Julie talked about her early years of ‘grafting’ under John Galliano in the 90’s where she worked hard every day from 12 hours a day all for free (sound familiar?) and her old school friend in the room piped up to say Galliano had passed off all Julie’s illustrations she had done for him as his own(!) – queue dramatic gasps resounding from the room.

It was a very informal and relaxed talk just how she wanted it to be and I was so happy to have finally met this amazing woman who despite her success and what she had to do to overcome her hardships, she remains a very down to earth and friendly person.

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p.s. Here’s a couple of my most loved Julie Verhoeven illustrations – I am still partial to the early fashion illustrations which inspired me throughout college:

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Les Quatre Elément. Numero Magazine, May 2002

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Fat Bottomed Girls ‘Television Personalities’ Part Time Punk, 2002