Thursday, 7 July 2016

review: fendi fall 2016 couture

At first glance, what is most spectacular about the latest Fendi couture collection is its setting. People travel from all over the world to visit the Trevi Fountain in Rome. It is shrouded in romance and legend. Tossing a coin into the fountain ensures good fortune and a return to Rome. However, this evening, another miracle occurred on the famous site: celestially dressed Fendi models walked on water.

via Vogue Runway

A glass runway was built across the fountain so that models could glide along the water. If the fairytale setting wasn't enough, the clothes lived up to it. Organza, velvet and fur were all embellished with absolutely dreamy designs. Each year Lagerfeld wows at Fendi with its ethereal magic. It is starkly different to the classical looks Lagerfeld creates at Chanel. 

If fairies flew around the Trevi Fountain granting the wishes of those who toss coins into the water, they would be dressed in Fendi couture. Floral embellishments, feathery fabrics and forest greens all evoke images of fairytales. This is fitting for the show's setting as I noticed an Instagram comment from one woman saying that she got engaged by the fountain where the show was held. Rome is a city steeped in history, but setting the collection in a location as iconic as the fountain, reminds people of their own personal histories as well, which is especially important in couture where each piece is so unique it needs to connect to us on a human level.

via Vogue Runway

One look in particular (above left) stood out as highlighting the fairytale theme. The castle, the flowers and the princes on horses could have been taken from a picture book. The dress was definitely made for a modern princess, with the midi length revealing cute ankle boots. If money can't buy happiness at least it can buy you a happily ever after on a couture dress. It was Bella Hadid’s closing look, (above right) however, that stole the show as the most iconic piece in the collection. Bella looked like a fairytale princess, (Snow White, perhaps?) in the forest green embellished cape sealing the fact that Lagerfeld tapped into the romance of the location perfectly.

It was the opening look (below left) that jarred with the rest of the collection. The bright red boots stand out against the rest of the more muted and natural colours. Alongside the blue dress they look tacky. The collar and buttons also look more conservative than the rest of the casually delicate looks.

via Vogue Runway

Even the most heavily embellished dresses and oversized fur coats were made to look weightless as they glided across the water. Modern love stories were told through every swish of fabric and every glimpse of glitter catching the light. In case we needed more proof of the validity of couture as an art form, Lagerfeld has just proved it. 

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

english country houses and fashion

Gucci's Resort 2017 campaign is being shot at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. The 17th century house belongs to the Duke of Devonshire and it is open to the public, who come to admire its opulent architecture and beautiful gardens. Like many English country houses, its events are usually in the realm of afternoon teas and family days out. This seems a far cry from the glamorous world of high fashion. So why does a stylish Italian brand like Gucci want to shoot its new campaign there?

Dog walking at Knole (photo by Antonio)

The collection being featured in the campaign was shown at Westminster Abbey, another place that is distinctively English. Chatsworth is an obvious progression from this and therefore not as polarised from the fashion industry as it first appears. Artists have always been inspired by country houses and Alessandro Michele is no different. 

Country houses are luxurious and artistic symbols of status, much like designer clothes. They also have the advantage of being surrounded by acres of land, inspiring references to the natural world and all that it represents. The show at Westminster opened with the sound of birdsong. Poets, painters and novelists have all been inspired by country houses whether they live in them, work there or just visit. They are settings for romance and adventure. Thinking of them as stodgy places that your parents dragged you to for days out when you were younger and pensioners go for tea and cake might be pretty apt in the 21st century, but there is much more to them than that. Perhaps Gucci has the power to bring National Trust houses back into fashion. 

Westminster Abbey itself was the starting point for Gucci's Resort 2017 collection. For those who have visited the Abbey, you will be able to visualise the breathtaking architecture and know its rich cultural history. Michele did not design the collection as conventionally British nor did he make it an ode to the royal family and the aristocracy, but instead the collection was informed by youth culture. 

Gucci Resort 2017 at Westminster Abbey (via Vogue Runway)

Country houses do not always have to represent a dying aristocracy. Whilst they remind us of the shocking class divides in 17th and 18th century Britain, from a creative perspective they are much more than that. Michele's take on English heritage is refreshing. He did not send wannabe aristocrats down the runway, but young punks and grunge kids. The looks that were reminiscent of royalty were frivolously over the top, with overflowing frills and heavy jewellery, like teenagers playing dress up in their mother's clothes. There has always been an element of make believe fantasy that appeals to visitors of expensive country houses. It would be much less fun if you didn't imagine living there as you walk around the lavishly decorated rooms. 

I have always been interested in country houses from an historical perspective. There are so many near me that I have grown up going to them. As I have got older I have learned to appreciate their cultural significance. I recently got a part-time job at a house near me and I can't wait to be working in that environment. Knole House, where the photos in the post were taken, was an inspiration for Virginia Woolf's Orlando. Beatles' videos were also filmed there. Chatsworth is not far from where I study in Sheffield and I am definitely going to try and take a day trip there next year. 

Fashion will continue to be a fast paced and global industry, but Michele is bringing Gucci back to authentic creativity. English country houses may not have the exotic appeal of Italian palazzos, but inspiration can be drawn from every detail. Architecture has always had strong links with fashion. The double C logo for Chanel was inspired by a pattern in the convent that Coco Chanel was raised in. Louis Vuitton's futuristic Resort 2017 collection was informed by its setting at the Contemporary Art Museum in Brazil. Both architecture and fashion are art forms that create something useful and they will continue to influence and inspire each other. 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

why vintage fashion is better than fast fashion

Yesterday I finished work experience at The Tab at their offices in Shoreditch. I spent most of today catching up on sleep and reading. I loved working in London last week. I wrote and published so much everyday as well as leaving the office to go and talk to other people. On Tuesday I shot the best street style on Brick Lane and asked people their opinions on rogue summer trends. You can read that piece here. The next two weeks will be quite relaxing, but I am excited for the rest of the summer for festivals and going on holiday. 

After my last exam earlier this month I went to COW vintage where they had a huge sale on summer dresses. I bought three to complete my summer wardrobe. Sheffield has so many amazing vintage shops that I frequent often. Most of these visits just involve browsing because student budget. I wish that there were more vintage shops near me at home, but the closest is London and they tend to be more expensive there. I prefer vintage clothes because they are unique, do not directly finance unethical practises such as sweatshops and animal cruelty and give you the smug hipster satisfaction of answering, "it's vintage" when someone asks where you got your dress/shirt/jeans/skirt from. 

This dress is very cool and comfortable because of how light the fabric is. I tied a scarf from H&M round my waist as a belt to change up how I had worn it earlier in the week. Antonio took these photos after we drove to a field to see an abandoned bridge. These photos remind me of a People Tree campaign, which is fitting given how in this post I am going to talk about the ethical benefits of wearing vintage clothing.

Vintage items of clothing are to be treasured. They are a fuck you to throwaway fast fashion. Once you are done with vintage items you can recycle them back into another vintage store where they will be worn and loved by someone else. The more people that shop for predominantly vintage clothes, the smaller the demand for sweatshop produced, environmentally unfriendly fast fashion. The fact that vintage has become so stylish is a huge step in the right direction for the fashion industry. Now when I look round Topshop, I think that I could buy similar but more unique pieces for much cheaper in vintage shops. One of my most recent high street purchases was from Alexa Chung's archive collection for M&S, demonstrating how vintage has really integrated into the mainstream.

However, you can still only find quality vintage stores in cities. Small town charity shops that smell of old people and are full of last season Primark do not quite have the same charm. I applaud anyone who has ditched fast fashion completely, but I still make the occasional Topshop or Zara purchase. At the moment I am trying to cut down on the clothes I buy because I really don't need anymore. For years I've justified satiating my desire for new clothes because it means I can post them on this blog, but you don't need a lot of clothes to be creative with the ones you have. Going to uni made me realise what I actually wear, with the clothes I left at home rarely being missed. Plus, having less clothes makes choosing what to wear much quicker. 

I have just read the sad news that Bill Cunningham has passed away. I owe a lot to him as an inspirational influence in my life and the fashion industry owes even more to his vision and work ethic. He shaped street style, without which fashion blogs may not exist. I'd link to the post I wrote in 2012 after I watched the Bill Cunningham New York documentary but it was essentially just a 15-year-old fangirl rant. I've been searching for the perfect Cunningham-esque blue jacket to wear for when I'm taking street style photos for The Tab. I didn't think that an 80-something year-old man would have such an influence on me as a teenager, but he has definitely helped shape me. I hope that by the time I am 87 I have lived as fulfilling a life as he did. Bill, you will be sorely missed. 

Saturday, 18 June 2016

chaos is what killed the dinosaurs

Maybe because I've started blogging so frequently after a long break, and the fact that I have been writing articles for The Tab, I have felt little desire to blog for the past week. I have outfit photos to post and some photos to get developed which I will probably share on here. Plus, it's crazy having so much spare time and figuring out what to do with it. I'm at The Tab offices all of next week which will be much more fast-paced than last week. I figured that there's no point writing long pieces on here if I'm not feeling like it because you are unlikely to enjoy reading what I did not enjoy writing. I will catch up on Raf Simons' Robert Mapplethorpe inspired collection, biased reviews and other fashion-related posts once I feel more ~in the zone.
For now, here's an inspiration post: 

Mirror, backstage at Molly Goddard, Love & Basketball, Heathers, Twin Peaks, Kissing by Ed van der Elsken, Jean Seberg by Peter Basch, Stuff, Une Femme est Une Femme

Love & French films have been on my mind a lot lately. 

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

grab your mother's keys we're leaving

I wore this outfit to go to the cinema to see Alice Through the Looking Glass. I am back from uni for summer now and it feels very surreal. The evening I got back, Antonio and I went for a drive to introduce me back into our hometown. Driving around it was like being shown where it had all begun. We listened to Lorde and Arcade Fire as we sped down the country roads. There’s something magical about driving in the dark. The empty roads seem to stretch on forever beneath yellow streetlights and the silver moon. We got out of the car to sit on a wall that looked out over the whole town. The streetlights glowed yellow, but it was so misty that everything else was virtually indistinguishable from the sky. Occasional flashes of lightning lit up the sky in faraway places. 

I was so obsessed with being teen last year and thought that moving away from home and going to uni would mean moving away from that, but I’m still growing up and the same things are still relevant and important to me; like “Pure Heroine” and Palo Alto. I thought I might grow out of them but, if anything, I’ve grown into them because now I am living my life rather than just idealising experiences through a cultural lens. There were moments of strange magic on the drive that don’t happen at uni. Strange magic, in the way that Tavi Gevinson describes it, only exists for me in the suburban moments where we have to create it ourselves. It comes through ceaselessly trying to make life look and feel like a film. 

Summer is the time for driving with the windows down and feeling the cool evening breeze against your skin. Summer drives are an escape from the boredom that can set it when spending long days in your bedroom that start to blend into one. They represent the freedom of summer. Playing your favourite music loudly is liberating. They are wonderful breaks from responsibility when you are simply driving for the sake of it. You can explore places you have never explored on foot. One of the best things about summer drives is how filmic they feel. I think of Lux coming home the morning after prom in The Virgin Suicides and April in Palo Alto. Sometimes they feel like new beginnings like when Mason is driving to college at the end of Boyhood. 

This outfit was originally a basic summer look, but then I realised it was only 14 degrees and raining heavily. I added the jacket and tights underneath the socks in order to maintain the summer style but not get cold. I have been dressing more colourfully than usual lately, so today I decided to go back to neutral tones. The jacket stops the outfit from being boringly monochromatic though. 

I am getting my hair cut on Thursday. I noticed the other day that it's now long enough to tie back, but I've lost all the hairbands I used to own so that's kind of useless anyway and I much prefer having short hair. 

Thrifted jacket, Accessorize necklace, Topshop top, New Look belt, vintage shorts, M&S socks, Doc Martens.

Hope you're having a good week!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

stay inspired

This week I realised I'd been in a creative slump for quite a long time. I had been writing and collaging in my journal and writing occasional poetry,  but I had no source or outlet for constant inspiration.

I used to feel inspired all the time when I first started this blog and in my early teen years. I was still so young that there was no pressure to be chasing success. I wrote and blogged mostly for the sake of writing and blogging. I didn’t feel weighed down by anything. The competitiveness of what I wanted to do excited me. However, as I started to see other people around me having more success, I started to worry that what I was doing was not worthy enough and its difficult to stay inspired with that negative mindset. 

One reason why I have recently come out of this creative slump is because I have started blogging frequently again. Being able to create something for other people to read, that I never get with writing in my journal, is inspiring in itself. It forces you to create high quality content. I was recently accepted onto The Tab Fellowship programme to write for their Babe site. My first piece was submitted last week. (You can read it here.) Although inspiration and creativity should exist even if you are getting nothing back other than the satisfaction of having created something cool. However, a little bit of recognition and encouragement goes a long way in motivating you going forward and being published on a site that has so many readers felt like recognition. People say you should fake it 'til you make it, and that becomes a lot easier if you are getting something back. 

Last weekend I went to a student paper alumni event. I spoke to a lot of journalists and people working in the media industry. They were all very encouraging and no one was patronising about our ambitions. I’ve had a why me kind of attitude about my goals for a long time, but now I’ve started to ask why not meReading work by others used to make me feel inadequate, but now I see each article I read as research and a way in which to collate ideas and expand my mind.

Another thing that helps me stay inspired is to constantly be busy and working on something. I want to try and keep this up over the 3 month summer I have ahead. I have started planning my days more effectively by having lists of things to do, but approaching it as more of a guide than a plan because I've found that being a slave to my own constructed schedule limits inspiration. However, being busy means I don’t get bored, which is when the creative lethargy sets in. Tavi Gevinson said that she has a note on her mirror saying, “There is not enough time for hating yourself. Too many things to make. Go.” I have been thinking about this more and more lately. It is only when you are not actually working on something that you have time to overthink it and become overly self-critical. 

Self-doubt is a cruel cycle because it often leads us to stop altogether, when that is such a backwards solution. We have to keep practising what we are passionate about, even if that means we’re embarrassed by what we’ve made in the past. Self-doubt never goes away completely. The world’s most successful artists still possess it. However, instead of that being frightening it should be inspiring, and comforting because the feeling is universal.

I find that the more I do, the more I want to do. This is a much more positive cycle. A certain amount of introspection is good, especially for writers, but I won’t be weighed down by it anymore. I get such a rush from writing, researching, reading, and the more I do it, the better it gets.

//Vintage shorts and top, eBay choker, Topshop socks, New Look sandals//

photos taken by Ethan on the steps behind Sheffield Cathedral

Hope you're having a good week x

Friday, 3 June 2016

does fashion really need to exist?

Rodarte Fall 2016 (via

I recently read an interesting article on Washington Post about the existence, or lack thereof, of Rodarte. Rodarte, the 10 year-old brand designed by sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy and named after their mother's maiden name, has scores of fans all over the world who admire their ethereal designs. However, their clothes are very rarely seen off of the runway, as if they only exist in their own elegant bubble of aesthetic perfection. But how influential actually is the brand?

Meadham Kirchoff Spring 2015: the brand's last collection (via

Brands that lack business savvy often burn out quickly, no matter how large their cult following is. Meadham Kirchhoff, who went bankrupt in 2014, are a prime example of this. Their iconic collections made them instant fashion industry favourites but, like a shooting star, their brand shone brightly then disappeared. So, the answer is yes, probably. Fashion does need to exist outside of its own sheltered fantasy world.

Balmain Fall 2015: using celebrities to sell clothes (via

It's a sad state of affairs when a brand has to focus on business more than the integral creativity that should be at the core of fashion. Building a successful brand more often than not involves selling out and using social media stars as models and creating clothes that will realistically sell or be a success with it-girls. (See: Balmain, Chanel, Calvin Klein.)

The Mulleavy sisters designed the costumes for Black Swan (via

However, Robin Givhan's article suggests that brands should be awarded for their financial success rather than for their artistry. If Rodarte's clothes are barely worn or seen, do they deserve so many awards? I think yes. Otherwise we'll end up only rewarding corporate sell-outs. A number of Givhan's points seem contradictory, leaving us questioning, not whether or not Rodarte actually exists, but if the article actually should? Givhan raises interesting ideas, but of course Rodarte exists. We talk about the brand. We see their collections online and on social media. They designed the costumes for Black Swan and helped Tavi Gevinson's blog become a success. They have clearly had an impact on the world, no matter how small it may seem compared to global luxury brands.

Alessandro Michele Gucci Fall 2016 (via

It is extremely difficult for young, independent brands to strike exactly the right balance between creativity and business. The brands that manage this tend to be large and well-established. People will pay attention to Gucci no matter what, allowing creative director Alessandro Michele to experiment and create really beautiful collections and campaigns. Fashion is art meeting business. However, Rodarte lean further towards the art side, with their clothes being shown in museum exhibits, but rarely being purchased by ordinary, albeit wealthy, people.

Mermaid vibes at Rodarte Spring 2016 (via

Couture has existed for decades, without successful sales. No one is questioning whether it exists or not. It is one of the most important parts of the fashion calendar. However, Rodarte does not show couture. It shows ready-to-wear; only two collections a year. With more and more pressure on designers to keep producing, it is almost humble of Rodarte to show only Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter collections. We are in the midst of Resort right now. Some say the industry has become over-satiated with collections, but Resort sells more than any other. Perhaps if Rodarte increased their collections and marketed them differently then their sales would increase. However, their brand is said to be financially stable so there is no desperate need for them to do this. It is refreshing to see a brand following the traditional fashion calendar. It allows us fashion fans to keep up.

Star Wars dresses at Rodarte Fall 2014: Rodarte is not isolated from popular culture (via

Rodarte's most spectacular pieces are sold at almost couture price ranges. Therefore, we only see them on the runway. Maybe we see them once again on the red carpet, picked out by celebrity stylists with an eye for unique beauty, but after that it could be argued that they cease to exist.

Viktor & Rolf Fall 2015 couture in Elle Italia (via

Similarly, it could be said that other industry darlings, Viktor & Rolf, could not "exist" as well. Remember their fashion meets art collection with models walking out wearing framed artwork? It was an instant social media hit with fashion fans. It was later modelled by Magdalena Frackowiak for Elle Italia in what is possibly one of the best fashion shoots ever. However, after that it has not been seen elsewhere. Did the brand make back the money it spent on this couture collection? Probably not. Couture rarely does make its money back. That collection definitely existed. It provokes a reaction from many people and revived complete originality in an industry that tends to copy the past.

Rodarte Fall 2016 (via

What is at the beating heart of Rodarte, is a desire to return to the original art of fashion. There are no 90 piece collections, with less than 20 memorable looks, sent stomping down the runway. We will not see their dreamy designs draped over every other celebrity it-girl as they dodge paparazzi on their way to the shops. What Rodarte do is special, and if they can maintain it then it proves that this breed of fashion did not all die with Alexander McQueen.