13 January 2009
Logan in a tizz about bogan supermodel Catherine McNeil - Fashion news 2009
13 January 2009
What will Michelle Obama wear to her husband’s inauguration ball? - Fashion news 2009
Michelle Obama will go to no less than 10 society balls within one night to mark her husband’s, Barack Obama’s, inauguration. Her chosen gown however, still remains a puzzle.Photo: GETTY
I'm just back from New York, where the young designers I visited were sighing about how hard it was to get their samples ready for next month's fashion week. "All the workrooms here are flat out making inaugural dresses," they explained.
No wonder they're busy: the Presidential Inaugural Committee has arranged 10 balls for next Tuesday – and that's without the dozens of unofficial shindigs. Even without pausing to boggle over the number of celebrations (and wonder how the Obamas are going to get around 10 in an evening), that's a huge run on gowns.
Whether they're being made to order in New York ateliers, or pulled off the sale rails in department stores, it adds up to a fillip for a desperate American fashion industry. But just how effective the publicity will be in stimulating business – and whether the night will herald a change in style as well as politics – are the questions exercising nervous fashion-watchers.
First, no one knows what Michelle Obama will wear. In the absence of information, the Washington Post has run a readers' competition for suggestions for the First Lady's gown (an emerald green mermaid dress was judged the best stab by the fashion editor, Robin Givhan), and Womens' Wear Daily, the fashion trade bible, asked designers to submit sketches. Only a handful sent in their notions – including Betsey Johnson, who drew up a horizontally striped red-white-and-blue number. Somehow, we don't think so.
Mrs Obama is morally obliged to wear American, but from the point of view of etiquette, there are no other limits on how she should look. "I've checked and I can find no written protocol. The First Lady can wear whatever the First Lady likes," says Elizabeth Saltzman, international social editor of Vanity Fair. "And this woman knows what she wants. It can be Narciso Rodriguez or it can be J Crew. She's cool, either way."
However adventurous the rules and her athletic figure might allow her to be, though, this 6ft 44-year-old lawyer is not about to push the limits of fashion innovation. She might draw from the designers she's already worn: the Chicago local Maria Pinto, or Thakoon or Rodriguez, for a long version of the sleeveless columns that suit her.
In the New York spring collections, there were a few others calling out for her attention. A halter-neck siren dress from Carolina Herrera is virtually tailored to show off Mo's strong shoulders and hourglass outline, and liquid-draped gowns from Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren could be contenders.
Then again, when it comes to First Ladies, Oscar de la Renta is the unofficial national default-designer for state occasions and can't be ruled out (he's dressed Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush), though his penchant for froth might not be quite Mo.
What with all the dancing and dashing about she's going to have to carry off next Tuesday, a neat, trainless, frill-free shape is going to function best, with the addition of some sort of coat, cloak or cover-up for the many door-to-limo sprints she'll be making.
That narrows things down in more ways than one, but that's the essence of Michelle Obama's style, anyway: straight up and down, and no messing. Like Carla Bruni in the Elysée Palace, she's worked out that more or less plain, well-cut shapes in solid colours, showing toned arms but no cleavage (and usually in a single colour) serves to communicate the image of a brisk, unfrivolous, modest-enough persona, and produce good photographs. (Bruni, by the way, will cause her own publicity-stir when she appears in front of fashion people for the first time since marrying the President, as guest of honour at the Aids charity ball in Paris couture week at the end of January.)
Still, in spite of all the column inches that will be generated, how influential can the wardrobes of public women – either the new First Ladies or old-style red-carpet walkers – really continue to be?
"In terms of leading fashion, I'd say that's long gone," says Elizabeth Saltzman. "Look at the Golden Globes. It's very safe out there. Plain dresses, solid colour, boring hair. Maybe those strapless gowns will shift a shape, in terms of what you might see on the high street later, but no one is ready to shake it up. If they're going to go out and be photographed from every angle, and be judged, it's survival. They won't take risks."
The economy is also sharply deflating the bubble of excess that has blown up around red-carpet dressing since the mid-Nineties – and not before time. "Will celebrity culture change? My feeling is it might," says Fiona Golfar, Vogue's editor at large, who, as the wife of film producer Robert Fox, gets to observe Hollywood closely.
"It's a question of actors' fees, all the way down to whether fashion houses can continue to afford to invest in offering people dresses they may or may not wear on the night. And then it's to do with what's appropriate. If she wants to stay in touch with her audience, what actress would want to be seen in a £100,000 dress everyone knows is for one night only?"
Compared to the Depression years, when movie audiences saw films as escapism and demanded glamour from their idols, that's a big change of consciousness. The Academy Awards were invented by Louis B Mayer in 1929, the year of the Wall Street Crash. Even when things were really bad, in 1937, as Browyn Cosgrave writes in her history of fashion and the Oscars, Made for Each Other (Bloomsbury), the ceremony was " a gridlock of haute couture"; Jean Harlow in Adrian, Norma Shearer in Hattie Carnegie, Loretta Young in Molyneux, Carole Lombard in Travis Banton.
Meanwhile, in the White House, nobody dreamed of expecting the highly respected, gloriously frumpy Eleanor Roosevelt to be a fashion-leader. Michelle Obama might well wish she could be in the same position, actively supporting whatever her husband's equivalent of the New Deal will be without having to contend with frock issues as if she were a celebrity.
Still, that's just how it is these days: political women need to dress like exemplary fashion experts, and actresses must trim their dresses to political correctness. The irony is that none of this conspires to jump-start anything new in fashion. The more careful and conservative public figures become, the less the public will be inspired to buy. Next Tuesday, Mrs Obama is bound to look hot and amazing and totally herself. Only she could make Safe and Boring into a style trend.
13 January 2009
Luxe labels are the way forward - Fashion news 2009
Feeling the fashion frost of January? Then why not broaden your horizons and invest in understated luxe pieces that will last right the way through the credit crunch, says Bethan Cole.Photo: AP
It's that strange, gloomy seasonal hinterland of January: the jollity of Christmas is over and the rites of spring are distant on the horizon. There's a feeling of austerity and bleakness around, partly due to the weather, partly the economic climate. Only the other week, Karl Lagerfeld said in an interview with the BBC, "I see (the recession) like a cleaning up. (The economy) was too rotten anyway – so it had to be cleaned up". Perhaps not for those poor souls who worked at Woolworths, but for the superannuated and those whose wardrobes are bulging with excess, it's certainly time for a reality check.
It goes without saying that ostentation is seriously de trop right now. "There's a change going on that could be termed the 'baglash'," says Juliet Warkentin, content director of trend forecasters Worth Global Style Network (WGSN). "It's a movement against de rigueur, It bags and conspicuous consumption. In its place there's a humbler design approach to luxury that's all about understated perfection and unconscious simplicity."
In other words, it's time to purge pieces that exude the hubris of boom time. Logos, bling and handbags dripping with trinkets are declasse. According to Dana Thomas, author of "Deluxe – How Luxury Lost its Lustre" (£8.99, Penguin), ostensible luxury is over because it has become ubiquitous. For example, Louis Vuitton's logo, the intertwined "L" and "V", once the signpost of exclusivity, has become the badge of every aspiring WAG. "For the modern consumer the placement of a perfect seam or an immaculately-sculpted collar is more awe-inspiring and authentic than any logo," says Warkentin.
Thus Bottega Veneta's woven handbags, with their intricate craftsmanship and subtle, yet unmistakable, transmission of brand identity chimes with the times more than a vast tote adorned with logo-ed gold stirrups or padlocks. Ditto red-carpet-ready, Swarovski crystals-encrusted sandals, which have been replaced by butter-soft leathers (see Rupert Sanderson and Christian Louboutin) and brightly-hued suedes (see Jonathan Kelsey for Mulberry). A precision-cut LBD by Balenciaga has usurped Roberto Cavalli's slit-to-the-navel confections which screamed wealth, privilege and OTT glamour from every ruffle. Even Versace have ditched their signature sexy dresses (at least temporarily, anyway) in favour of a more refined, pretty aesthetic thanks to haute eccentric illustrator Julie Verhoeven, who created their quirky prints for spring/summer 2009.
In these nebulous and grey times most of us are seeking to build a core collection of investment pieces – items fashioned from the finest fabrics – in our wardrobes. The labels to covet are Bottega Veneta, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Jil Sander, Hermès and Martin Margiela who all speak a quiet, measured language of luxury, of quality built into to every seam.
"The ultimate in discretion is Bottega Veneta," says Warkentin. "As for pared down opulence? Miuccia Prada leads the zeitgeist and her spring/summer 2009 collection is no exception. Her spare, elegant line is classice yet feels at once fresh and new."
Averyl Oates, buying director at Harvey Nichols, is treasuring a heavy sculptural Jil Sander wool coat she bought this season. "It's so couture-like and Raf Simons (creative director of Jil Sander) has kept the detailing to a minimum to better serve the dramatic effect of the exaggerated collar and augmented sleeves," she coos. "It's a truly beautiful investment piece that has taken me from 2008 to 2009 and is still going strong."
Brix Smith-Start of London's hip clothes boutique Start feels we should be treasuring the high quality classics along with the recherche. "If you're doing an edit on your wardrobe, keep anything black and anything unusual, such as a beautiful ancient silk kimono."
The moral of the story is consign anything that shouts "I'm considerably richer than you" to the cupboard, charity shop or eBay. "Store anything with too much bling – the new fashions are dynamic, sensual and free of gimmicks and unnecessary hardware," confirms Harriet Quick, fashion features director of Vogue. Victoria Beckham got it very, very wrong when she sported an £80,0000 Hermès special edition Birkin the other day. Whilst a classic Hermès is a great investment right now, anything that trumpets extreme wealth, as this jewelled version did, looks frankly ugly and insensitive in the current climate. Seems like old WAG habits die hard.
13 January 2009
Golden Globe fashion and faux-pas - Fashion news 2009Photo: GETTY
In stark contrast to the red carpet – and last year’s premiere passion for frocks to match – it was monochromatic black and white, navy and muted metallics rather than technicolour which stole the show at the 66th annual Golden Globes.
Double award winner, Kate Winslet scored twice in the fashion stakes, both in her choice of gown – a severe, but sophisticated black, strapless column by Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent – and in her extremely wise decision to display neither too much bust nor too much bling.
The slowdown, super-chic approach also worked in white. Angelina Jolie, in Versace; Kate Beckinsale in J. Mendel; and Sandra Bullock, Demi Moore and Eva Mendes, all in Dior, all worked the ‘vestal virgin’ not the paparazzi-vamp to stunning, but subdued effect.
The Magnificent Metallics included Angelina Jolie – whose dresses are split to the thigh more often than Liz Hurley’s, but without the cleavage – in a softly-draped Versace; Kristin Scott Thomas, also in a draped gown, but by Yves Saint Laurent; and America Ferrera, who cast aside her Ugly Betty persona and shimmered in a one-shoulder, platinum-shaded puffball by Oscar de la Renta.
Glenn Close wore vintage gold Giorgio Armani, but unfortunately her antics made it look like she had raided John Cleese’s Monty Python wardrobe for the Ministry of Funny Walks sketch.
The Blues were another major style success, from Anne Hathaway – in a navy strapless Giorgio Armani gown, the bodice scattered with Swarovski crystals, the skirt a cascade of layered silk gazar – to Paris Hilton, almost under-duress in sky blue; and Drew Barrymore, who appeared as an astonishing, amazing 21st century Marilyn Monroe, with a bouffant flip to her hair and a deceptively demure, delphinium-shaded organza, Dior couture gown, caressing her curves.
Sadly, it was in the cleavage department that many stars were let down, literally and figuratively. They say that half British women are wearing the wrong bra size. Obviously, the same statistic applies in Hollywood. Step forward Beyoncé, and Salma Hayek both of whom suffered from the unfortunate cleavage which results from ‘The Toothpaste Effect' – squeeze it the wrong way and far too much appears.
Both their dresses (Salma Hayek in Dior and Beyoncé in Elie Saab) were at least TWO sizes too small. Ladies, step up to the size 12 plate PLEASE. There is no shame in wearing a gown which fits – or at the very least a bra underneath which does.
Surprisingly, even Jennifer Lopez looked out of step with the new Magnificent Modesty in her swimsuit-topped, backless gold gown by Marchesa; was she auditioning for Strictly Come Swimming?
And Renée Zellweger in her ‘Duchess of Duke Street-meets-Lily Langtry' costume, should have certainly known better than to wear a WHITE bra under a sheer black hourglass gown.
Cameron Diaz, 36, normally a Red Carpet runaway success, in ruched and flounced Chanel, failed miserably in her ‘Pretty in Pink’ attempt to emulate a Teen Queen less than half her age.
Conversely, the age-appropriate rules passed by Rumer Willis, 20-year-old daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, who seemed to have snagged one of her mother’s casts-offs; and likewise, Maggie Gyllenhaal, who looked twice her age in a blue, animal-print concoction, the like of which is normally seen at Rotary Club balls.
11 January 2009
Bold and sophisticated looks abound at Golden Globes
11 January 2009
Stars don't hold back on Golden Globe glamour
11 January 2009
All About the Clothes at the Critics' Choice Awards
11 January 2009
11 January 2009
11 January 2009
"Seduction" Surveys Sexuality in Fashion
11 January 2009
All About the Hair at the "Bride Wars" Premiere
11 January 2009
Fashion designer Ted Lapidus dies at age 79
10 January 2009
Fashionable furry boots
Our resident closet thinker, Justine Picardie, examines the boots on display in Paris and finds three of the best options.Photo: FULL STOP
I've just got back from Paris after spending a few days working there, and am agog with excitement about the enthralling people-watching and fashion-spotting (otherwise known as nosiness). Best of all was the Chanel show – inspired by Coco Chanel's love affair with the Grand Duke Dimitri, a Russian émigré to Paris in the early 1920s, whose style was to influence her couture – which featured lavish embroidery, Cossack trousers, jewelled brocade, towering headdresses, and sleek furry boots.
There were more winter boots on view in the Chanel boutique – flat matt suede, lined and trimmed with softest sheepskin, and pulling off the near-impossible trick of looking both chic and practical at the same time – and also strolling through the lobby of the Park Hyatt hotel, just across the Place Vendôme. The Park Hyatt turned out to be as star-studded as the Chanel front row; the latter had Marianne Faithfull, Diane Kruger and Princess Caroline of Monaco, but afterwards, while I waited to meet a friend at the hotel, I couldn't help noticing Monica Bellucci sipping champagne at the bar and Giles Deacon by the fireplace, ensconced with impossibly glamorous members of the French fashion press. (No sign of any Russian oligarchs, however; nor of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, sadly, even though they lived at the Park Hyatt for three months with their children.)
Anyway, this quick shot of Parisian sophistication reminded me, forcibly, that furry boots do not have to equate with sloppy, soggy Uggs or droopy English hippies. The Frenchwomen were all sauntering about in warm boots because the weather was cold and the streets awash with puddles, but their footwear was more reminiscent of 1920s Slavic elegance than 1990s slipshod bohemianism. These were boots to be worn with astrakhan-trimmed tailored coats, immaculate black leather gloves and strings of pearls; boots for the rue de Rivoli, rather than the Euston Road.
Back home in London, I've been inspired to buy a pair of the furry sheepskin boots known as Billows, from the same clever people who invented FitFlops, which I wore non-stop last summer. The theory is that these boots will keep you toned, as well as warm – the shape of the sole encourages the muscles to work harder than an entirely flat shoe – and I have a fantasy that by the time I return to Paris in the springtime I will be as svelte as Vanessa Paradise, and installed in a penthouse suite at the Park Hyatt, preferably with a Russian grand duke for company, and a complete set of Chanel couture.
10 January 2009
TREND: COBALT BLUE
Swap last season’s conservative navy for the extraordinary intensity of cobalt blue, as seen on the s/s 09 catwalks of Gucci, Lanvin and Adam Kimmel. Sure to prompt an abundance of admirers, this striking hue works well worn as a statement. The less daring can use it as an accent in the form of a T-shirt or tie.
Forget bog-standard Breton-striped T-shirts, this season it is all about working a head-to-toe look. Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana and Paul Smith all sent models down the catwalk in pale-blue, vertical-striped suits, starting a pyjama party.
BROWNS SHOE STORE
Starting life as a small boutique in South Molton Street in 1970, Browns quickly became one of London’s most exciting fashion spots. It has expanded through five connecting townhouses to become the emporium it is today, stocking a mix of established and emerging designers for men and women. Shoes have been in store for two years, but this spring its first stand-alone shoe shop will open on Brook Street, W1. Expect an array of exclusive items from the likes of Lanvin, Raf Simons and Bottega Veneta (pictured above, £445 a pair) on the dedicated men’s floor, as well as bespoke shoes and a repair service (brownsfashion.com).
The Japanese high street label is launching a tailored menswear collection for spring. Featuring slim jackets with matching waistcoats and suit trousers, it is sure to be a success as it follows the Uniqlo design mantra: quality and good finish, all at affordable prices (020-8247 9200).
JAMES LONG FOR TOPMAN
The hottest accessories available at Topman this season will be those of the London designer James Long. After two successful collections for Man, shown during London Fashion Week, Long has turned to designing bags and joins the Topman Lens boutique brigade, selling his heavy- duty manbags in the area assigned for up-and-coming menswear talent. Available at Topman Oxford Circus and online at topman.com. £150 (08451-214519).
This covetable new menswear label is the idea of Belgian Nathalie Bouhana and her photographer partner David Sdika. Bouhana, having previously designed knitwear for Hermès and Salvatore Ferragamo, has an eye for luxury knits. After huge success selling hand-knitted mittens and jumpers from its website last season, the label is steaming ahead with a full collection for spring (020-7251 9003; chauncey.be).
PHILLIP LIM 3.1 FOR MEN
In less than three years, the American designer Phillip Lim has become one of the most sizzling names in fashion. His laid-back, youthful s/s 09 men’s collection is a clever mix of pastels and brights. Matches’ boutiques will stock the line for the second time, and it is sure to fly off the rails (matchesfashion.com).
Burberry has finally launched the male version of its Beat for Women perfume. A fresh, woody fragrance mixing leatherwood with vetiver bourbon, cedrat, black pepper and violet leaves, it is heralded with a stellar ad campaign shot by David Sims. According to Christopher Bailey, the house’s creative director, 'the scent captures all the characteristics of the Beat man’ – who judging by the ads is akin to the up-and-coming British actor Alex Pettyfer and the on/off boyfriend of Daisy Lowe, Will Cameron. Eau de toilette 50ml, £36 (0845-769 7072).
Franz Ferdinand are back in the public eye after time out writing their third album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, which is set for release later this month. What’s more, the Glaswegian quartet’s slimline look, complete with skinny ties, helped them secure a deal to front John Varvatos’s s/s 09 ad campaign (above), the latest in a series shot by the celebrated music photographer Danny Clinch (johnvarvatos.com).
This former design assistant at Preen is now wooing the fashion pack with his first menswear collection. The line is made up of what Kashoura describes as 'classic pieces with a romantic twist’. Look out for the structured tailoring and intricate details in a palette of dusty pink, lime green and gunmetal grey (020-7531 6155).
10 January 2009
Shopping at Terminal 5, Heathrow airport - Fashion news 2009
Mary Portas finds that the shopping has really taken off at Terminal 5...
I know the team at T5 went to extraordinary lengths to persuade the nation's biggest brands to upgrade the quality of their shops. They even created a selection panel to determine which of the prospective retailers had taken T5's ambitions on board. All of which got forgotten as the terminal itself failed in its primary function of transporting passengers, resulting in a public relations disaster from which both BAA and British Airways are still recovering. Nine months later, as I passed through Richard Rogers' colossal space, I decided to put the shopping under scrutiny.
The welcome I swept into the new building on the efficient Heathrow Express and, despite all the hullabaloo, made it through security without incident. Inside, the space isn't quite as breathtaking or airy as the exterior would have you believe, but it's a darn sight nicer than the other terminals at Heathrow.
Shopability To review a space as big as T5 after one swoop is probably unfair on all concerned, as the shopping experience is massive and I've only seen a part of it. Even so, I didn't see all that many retailers who had upped their game, though I did spy a clever new shop from Dixons with interactive displays, a wonderful Sony shop, a nifty Thomas Pink 'business bar', and a funkier than usual Ted Baker. Paul Smith's Globe concept store is one of the best new shops I've seen in a long while, with its fantastic mix of one-off finds from the man himself, limited-edition photographic prints, original doors from a French chateau and the best changing rooms on the planet. My only real criticism is that, when finding things fast so you can make your flight is beyond critical, navigating T5's huge space is far from easy.
Was I being served? World Duty Free, the multi-brand travel retail shop, had done a great job with both its service and offer. The beauty hall impressed me, anchored by a gorgeous Chanel concession selling the house's entire range of cosmetics, sunglasses and skincare. Best service of the day came courtesy of Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food restaurant, which has single-handedly transformed airport dining.
Did I buy? I looked at the sunnies at Chanel but eventually settled on some books from Paul Smith. I also bought the best practical idea I came across, a Plane Food picnic from Gordon Ramsay. The restaurant has Breakfast, A la carte and Picnic menus, the latter including tiger prawn salad, croque monsieur and chocolate brownies.
When I went online The BAA site is more about arrivals and departures than shopping, but further research led me to its new microsite, airportgiftlist.co.uk, with clever present ideas from the likes of Tess Daly and Olly Smith.
Verdict We can be proud of the shopping and dining experience at Terminal 5. There is the odd dodgy luggage store, it's hard to find your way around, and some of the high street brands didn't really raise their game. But there are some beautiful stores that knock most high street sites into touch, and the dining is fabulous.
05 January 2009
Gone is the withdrawn, longhair 'schlump' hooked on drugs and alcohol. In his place is a new Marc Jacobs who resembles something like a superhero – and is just loving all the attention. The fashion designer tells Ariel Levy why, after two spells in rehab, he's finally happy in his skin...Photo: AP / REUTERS
The two individuals perhaps most responsible for transforming Greenwich Village in Manhattan from what it was 10 years ago into what it is today are Carrie Bradshaw and Marc Jacobs.
The former is a bubbly, self-involved, inordinately chic blonde journalist who chronicles the lives of New York women, and her own life in particular. The latter is a fashion designer who has become famous as the creator of the shoes and clothes and, most prominently, handbags worn by the women whom Bradshaw chronicles and the women who wish that they could be her. Carrie Bradshaw, of course, is make-believe, the protagonist of the Sex and the City franchise, whereas Marc Jacobs is a real person. Or he was once.
Marc Jacobs used to be a chubby Jewish guy with long hair and glasses who made his name – and got fired – by designing a 'grunge' collection (of very expensive silk shirts printed to look like flannel, and fine cashmere sweaters with the appearance of thermal underwear) in 1993, as the head of womenswear at the middle-market American fashion house Perry Ellis. Five years later he was hired as the creative director of Louis Vuitton, where he was seen as an enfant terrible, and nobody was quite sure if he would make it work. But, in the decade since Jacobs arrived at Vuitton, he has quadrupled its business and, with the company's backing, watched his own Marc Jacobs collection and his less expensive secondary line, Marc by Marc Jacobs, grow into a global business, with 160 shops, in 19 countries.
Jacobs' physical appearance has come to reflect his success. At the age of 45 he is no longer plump. His hair is cut short (and was, briefly, bright blue), and he has started wearing contact lenses. Muscular and bronzed, he looks like a cartoon superhero. And he has accomplished the comic-book feat of transforming himself from hardworking Everyman (Bruce Banner, Clark Kent, Peter Parker) into something elevated and different and not merely human.
Jacobs could almost be in one of the Annie Leibovitz photographs that make up his current Louis Vuitton ad campaign. (They feature Sofia and Francis Ford Coppola relaxing in a field with a monogrammed Vuitton tote; Keith Richards playing his guitar in a hotel room next to a custom-made instrument case; and Mikhail Gorbachev and a Vuitton satchel in the back seat of a limousine near a remnant of the Berlin Wall – all in a golden, larger-than-life light.) Almost, but not quite, because Jacobs' brand of success is unapologetically less dignified. He has 28 tattoos, among them one on his left arm that says bros before hos, a phrase borrowed from pimp culture that expresses a credo of allegiance to men before women, comrades before conquests, or, as Jacobs puts it, 'friends before a piece of ass'.
Until recently he had a boyfriend named Jason Preston, 17 years his junior, who was a retired prostitute, and who had the Marc Jacobs logo tattooed in large letters up the length of his forearm. The couple issued regular updates on their romance on their respective pages on MySpace.
In New York, Jacobs' retail domain – a trio of shops – stretches across several blocks in Greenwich Village, rendering the area
a kind of Marc Jacobs theme park and, naturally, a prominent stop on Sex and the City bus tours, which regularly crawl along the cobblestones, shuttling young women to the Magnolia bakery to sample the cupcakes favoured by Carrie Bradshaw. A handbag that Jacobs designed for Vuitton was so prominent in the recent Sex and the City film that it was more a character than a prop. All this makes Jacobs very happy. There is nothing he loves more than seeing his work woven into the culture.
Jacobs actually lives in Paris, in a sparkling Batcave filled with millions of pounds' worth of modern art, and many, many ashtrays. 'I'm going to smoke a lot,' he tells me, having returned from the gym after his daily superhero workout. 'Forgive me.' Jacobs smokes at the office, at the table, in his bedroom, in the car on the way to and from exercising. He smokes and smokes Marlboro Lights, and he talks and talks about working out at the gym, his favourite place lately. 'Everything is beautiful at the gym,' he says. 'Everyone looks amazing. You just think it's like one big healthy circus going on out there: the bodies are great, people are jolly, and, even when they're complaining about how strenuous it is, there's, like, a kind of very good, positive, we're-all-doing-something-good-for-ourselves… And it's two and a half hours that I'm not smoking.' He takes a drag of his cigarette. 'I am a true addict in that whatever makes me feel good I want more of, whether it's good for me or not.'
Jacobs is well aware that he has shape-shifted from a withdrawn schlump in glasses into something… special. 'Somewhere along this nutrition-gym thing I started to develop a sense of, I don't know, a sense of confidence,' he says. For Bruce Banner, it was gamma rays; for Marc Jacobs, it was free weights. He goes on, 'All of a sudden, before I knew it, I started to say, "Gee, I'm really happy with the work we've been doing. I'm really happy with the house I live in. I'm really happy with the way I look when I look at myself in the mirror. I spend hours in the bathroom now. I used to spend five minutes! But I like taking a shower. I like shampooing my hair. I like putting on moisturiser. I like wearing jewellery. All of these things I used to think, "That's not for me. I'm on the floor picking up pins or I'm sketching all day, what does it matter what I look like?" And then I discovered, "You know what? It does matter. It makes me feel good. I get it!" I went for a manicure and a pedicure this morning, and I understand when I look at my hands and they're not, like, scabby and bleeding – it's great!'
Jacobs has the word 'perfect' tattooed on his right wrist. 'Because I am a perfect being in a perfect world where everything that happens must be completely…' He lets that thought go. 'It was from something that I was studying at this rehab that I went to.' Jacobs has been to rehab twice, once in 1999 and again in February 2007, for alcohol and cocaine abuse. 'It felt so right to me when I read it: that I have a choice. We all have a choice in how to look at things, and when things don't go the way I like I tend to think they're a problem. Well, you can look at something as a problem or look at it as a learning experience or an opportunity for growth or whatever. This idea that everything happens for a reason and is perfect and you will benefit from it even if you can't see the benefit – it's just a nicer ideal to subscribe to than, "Oh, God, I've got all these problems and life is full of obstacles."' Rubbing his finger over the word on his wrist, he says, 'I put it there to remind me, for when I'm looking at myself and wishing that I could be stronger in this way or better at that thing, and I can just go, "No. I'm exactly how I need to be." So, perfect.'
Hours before we meet he was expressing these ideas – firmly – to his current boyfriend, a handsome Brazilian advertising executive named Lorenzo Martone. According to Jacobs, Martone was upset by the avid coverage that Jacobs' (and, consequently, Martone's) romantic life receives in tabloids and blogs. (A gossip website had run a photograph of the couple looking dashing in tuxedos, along with the post: 'Trendy Wendy fashion designer Marc Jacobs escorted yet another new gentleman friend to last night's Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute Gala… He could be another MySpace find, or some aspiring hanger-on who stumbled into one of the stores one day… What a revolving door this man has! Keeping all the hookers, porn stars, and Mensa members straight – heh – can be difficult.') Jacobs told Martone to 'man up' and not pay any attention to the stories.
Jacobs may think that all difficult things are opportunities rather than obstacles, but the truth is that being a tabloid star is not something that he finds particularly difficult. 'There is definitely part of me that just loves the idea that I'm the headline – I do get some weird thrill out of that,' he says. 'I'm human. I love attention. I like that I get out of that fashion-designer box and become, I don't know, personality box or celebrity box. I love that! It's fun.'
Jacobs walks out to the back garden, to take in the evening amid the boxwood. 'I like the fact that people are sort of commenting on my appearance,' he says. 'I work on these things! So to have them recognised, even if sometimes I don't like the way they're recognised, I like that they are, and I feel good that I can admit that, instead of being ashamed.' He pauses. 'I'm going to get a shameless tattoo next,' he says, the Eiffel Tower sparkling behind him. 'That's what I think everyone should aspire to in life: being shameless.'
Superheroes tend to be orphans of sorts, and Marc Jacobs is no exception. His father, a theatrical agent in New York, died when Jacobs was seven. His mother, whom he has described in the past as 'troubled', is still alive, but he doesn't see her. 'I haven't spoken to her or my sister and brother in years and years,' he tells me. 'I never feel like it's a bad thing.'
Jacobs was brought up by his paternal grandmother, in the Upper West Side. 'She had a very bad relationship with her sister, whom I never knew, but I guess there was some argument and they never spoke again,' he says. 'Whenever I would mention something about my family, my grandmother would bring up the story of her sister and she would say, "We haven't spoken in years, so you'll get no argument from me.'
When Jacobs was in his teens he would go to the hyper-fashionable club Studio 54 all night, sometimes taking his books along so he could go straight to school in the morning. 'I had a ball,' he says. 'I mean, I really did.' He went to France for the first time at 17, and 'cried like a baby' on the plane home, because he felt so sure that he was meant to be a Parisian. 'Living with my grandmother, I just kind of grew up feeling like I was not going to be obliged to spend Thanksgiving with a bunch of people I didn't like – or who didn't like me! I shouldn't "shouldn't" do anything, or shouldn't "shouldn't" feel anything. I either do feel or I don't feel. I'm not going to "should" feel. Whether we're talking about contemporary art or we're talking about family, pretending that I feel something I don't feel doesn't really achieve anything. People say, "What if something happened to one of them?" Well, if that happens and I regret that, that'll be the way it is. But right now it's not something I'm regretting, so I can't act on that.' When Jacobs says that people should be shameless, he is talking about something more than exhibitionism.
A few weeks after we meet, on the evening of the Council of Fashion Designers of America awards, the courtyard in front of the New York Public Library, where the gala is taking place, is crawling with beautiful women assuming poses for the cameras. The exception is Victoria Beckham, who is wearing a pouf of a dress made from hundreds of heart-shaped pieces of fabric (by her date, Marc Jacobs) and who always looks as if she's having her picture taken, no matter what she's doing. Jacobs has been nominated for the accessories and womenswear designer awards, but he wins neither. During the nominations Beckham gives a little speech about him, in which she says that, from season to season, Jacobs' collections tend to be 'diametrically opposed, yet completely signature'. It is perhaps the only element of the evening that pleases him.
'I love frogs,' he tells me.' This sort of fairytale frog that became a prince, and the chameleon who changes colours with his environment. I can hang out in a sports bar with a bunch of straight guys and I can run around in the art scene and I can also be at the Met Ball and be Mr Fashion Designer with Anna Wintour. I can go wherever I want; I can be whatever I choose.' This, in the end, is Marc Jacobs' superpower: 'I can change colours – for my own amusement and, perhaps, the entertainment of others.'
05 January 2009
Our resident closet thinker, Justine Picardie, hunts down the best loungewear in town for those cold January days at home.Photo: FULL STOP
I love the notion of 'loungeweare', with its connotations of Ava Gardner or Coco Chanel in perfectly cut silk pyjamas, reclining on an elegant cream chaise-lounge, holding court while surrounded by their admirers. In reality, the look tends to be less chic; more faded tracksuit bottoms than sumptuous satins, and, I confess, I veer towards the couch potato rather than the Hollywood heroine.
However, loungewear is big news again – perhaps because we're all meant to be staying at home this January, saving money at the same time as cocooning – which means that I'd better sharpen up my act. The theory, I think, is to emulate Rachel in Friends when she relaxed at home on the sofa after casting off her uptown Ralph Lauren office uniform: sexy drawstring trousers revealing a glimpse of alluringly naked tummy, plus little camisole tops and a big cardigan in a subtle palette of dove-grey and caramel.
You can find just the thing in the new loungewear section of Net-a-porter: lots of pale coffee- and cream-coloured cashmere from a label called Lounge Lover, launched by Sylvie Gabriel, a Belgian designer whose mantra is 'To embrace life in the most relaxed way'.
Oh, how I wish I could embrace life like Sylvie, while also maintaining sufficient body tone to have a taut tummy like Rachel's, but somehow relaxation and stomach muscles don't seem to go together, at least not in my case. This sad fact therefore rules out the low-slung Lounge Lover cashmere pants (pants as in American trousers, not knickers). Net-a-porter also recommends a more accommodating oversized grey wool cardigan by Stella McCartney, which would certainly help in concealing the post-Christmas flab, but will do nothing for the New Year crisis in my bank account, given the stress-inducing price tag of £465.
More affordable is the range at the Pyjama Room, which has a sale starting tomorrow – hurrah! – with sizeable reductions on its slinky cashmere and cotton camisoles, wrap cardigans and trousers. (At the time of writing, the price of a temptingly soft cardigan was coming down to £35.)
So, if the loungewear is sorted, what to do while lounging about? We have no chaise-lounge in this household, and a disappointing lack of high society repartee in the sitting-room, which means, I fear, that it will be me and the dog slumped on the sofa as usual, watching reruns of Friends; she'll be sufficiently relaxed to have started snoring, but I'll be embracing life as we know it in January.
02 January 2009
Fashion’s flirtation with last summer’s most challenging garment, the all-in-one, has blossomed into a full-blown love affair. Almost every designer sent at least one jumpsuit down their runway, including Derek Lam (above). It’s much more fluid and sexy than ever – summer’s new evening attire.
From soft blush hues at Stella McCartney (pictured) to shimmering beige at Lanvin and peachy tones at Chloé, sun-kissed nudes dominated the runways for s/s 09. Thankfully the spectrum ranges from the palest apricot to darkest caramel, meaning there should be a hue to suit every skin tone.
Paisleys, ditsy florals, geometric zigzags, computer graphics, chintz blooms… it seems that prints are the sure-fire way to make a statement this summer. Best of the crop? Watercolour florals in neon pastels as seen at John Galliano, Nicole Farhi, Paul Smith and Erdem (above).
... continues to make a statement for spring. This season’s offerings are of tribal taste. Marc Jacobs’s collection for Louis Vuitton, designed in collaboration with Camille Miceli, is leading the pack. State of Rain necklace, £1,520 (020-7399 4050).
The Greek print designer and former assistant to Sophia Kokosolaki has taken her inspiration from the Constructivist art movement, plastering her body-con dresses with bold, computer-generated renderings of supersize industrial jewellery. When they are worn with her chunky neckpieces, the combined effect is hyper-real and one of the strongest aesthetics to come out of the s/s 09 international collections. Available from Browns Focus, £470 (020-7514 0063).
Chloé’s more affordable baby sister, See by Chloé, introduces its first collection of footwear this season. Choose from perforated leather ballerinas, playful, brightly hued jelly shoes, and leather stack-heeled sandals. Talon shoes, £240, flat shoes, £160 (020-7823 5348).
The French actress Anna Mouglalis is to play Coco Chanel in a fashion biopic, Chanel et Stravinsky: l’Histoire Secrète, about the designer’s relationship with the Russian composer. Mouglalis has been the face of Chanel’s Allure Sensuelle perfume since 2002.
Current Elliott is the hot jeans label for s/s 09. Created by the stylists-turned-designers Emily Current and Meritt Elliott, it is spearheading the latest denim trend: slouchy distressed boyfriend-fit jeans. Wear low-slung, baggy and with the hems rolled up à la Katie Holmes and Sarah Jessica Parker. Boyfriend jeans, £260, Harvey Nichols (020-7235 5000).
TOPSHOP AND BARBARA HULANICKI
Designed by Barbara Hulanicki of Biba fame, Topshop’s new designer collection includes body-con dresses and palazzo pants plastered with supersize animal prints; wide-leg catsuits with cutaway shoulders (a Hulanicki trademark), cute, printed silk chiffon blouses and three-quarter-sleeve suede jackets. Given that this is the woman behind the cult label largely considered to have defined the Swinging Sixties and louche Seventies, the collection looks set to rock the late Noughties. Barbara Hulanicki’s 20-piece collection will be available nationwide from April 20. Prices from £20-£120 (0845-121 4519).
Yves Saint Laurent’s designer Stefano Pilati has reworked and reproportioned 18 looks from his s/s 09 men’s collection that he envisaged women would love to wear, creating a mini collection of masculine-inspired pieces for the female figure. Saint Laurent himself was preoccupied with androgyny, and Pilati looks to that heritage for Edition Unisex. Albany silk Habutai jacket, £1,555, and Honan pants, £570; wool fishnet sweater, £555; patent leather belt, £235; patent leather Day and Night sandals, £390 (020-7493 1800).
When it comes to the must-have handbags, think eye-popping bright and minimal hardware: the ultimate statement bag. Blue, £895, Tod’s (020-7493 2237); orange, £1,062, Chloé (020-7823 5348); peach, £730, Fendi (020-7838 6288); pink, £616, Marni (020-7245 9520); turquoise, £495, Mulberry (020-7491 3900).
02 January 2009
Emma Love talks to fashion illustrator, artist and teacher Julie Verhoeven about her work, ambitions and New Years resolutions...Photo: MAJA FLINK
Julie Verhoeven, 39, has collaborated with Louis Vuitton, Mulberry, Versace and Peter Jensen. Her latest solo exhibition, Fannying Around, is at the Concrete café in the Hayward Gallery on London's South Bank from January 9, and her work is also part of Voo-Doo, a group show at the Riflemaker Gallery in Beak Street, London W1, from January 19. She lives in south London.
Eye opener I try to get up between 6 and 6.30am, and if I'm treating myself, I'll have a McDonald's bagel with Philadelphia cheese and a black coffee on the way to the studio. If I'm not treating myself, I'll have muesli with fruit and tea.
Work Two days a week I teach; at the Royal College of Art and at St Martins, which is nice because they're both different. If I'm not there, I potter along to the studio which is a 10-minute walk down the road. And if that's going really badly then I go to one of the London Institute libraries for research. I'm trying to move away from fairy tales in my work now and I'm becoming more painterly.
Childhood ambition I knew I wanted to draw in some capacity because there was seriously nothing else I could do. I loved fashion and I wanted to be remembered. Everybody really wants to be remembered, but whether they will admit to it is another matter.
Listening habits I always have the radio on as background noise, but when I'm in the studio and start to draw I line the CDs up.
My music taste is a bit of a contradiction. My favourite music is punk and new wave because it gets me started, but my favourite album is Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, because it makes me happy every time I put it on.
Books I've got tons of picture books, the more pictures the better. More than anything I like old publications and periodicals and that's what I spend a lot of time going through in libraries. I like a photography magazine called Zoom, which still exists, Graphis, from the 1960s, and L'Officiel, which was a poor-man's Vogue from the 1960s to the 1980s, with really dodgy shoots. I'm also reading Molly Parkin's autobiography, and the The Orton Diaries, by the playwright Joe Orton. I recently re-watched the film Prick Up Your Ears, which is based on his diaries, and which made me want to read the book. It was quite hard to get hold of so that makes it all the more exciting.
Favourite room I have a soft spot for the lavatory. Whenever I go to the library I make photocopies to have as references for my drawings. I have banks and banks of copies, so I thought it would be rather nice to choose a few and put them on the wall.
Films I've only recently got into films, so I'm catching up and going through all the classics. I really like Turkish Delight, which is one of the director Paul Verhoeven's early films (we're not related). He used to be really cool before he went all commercial.
Collections I don't collect anything consciously but I do accumulate junk. I think it's more about laziness because I keep putting off clearing out, so the area where I work and live becomes smaller and smaller. On the way home from the studio I pass four junk shops and inevitably buy something. I have lots of local finds, such as a vase that I've painted pink.
Best present received One of my favourite things is a guinea-pig poster which my friend, the designer Emma Cook, gave me. I used to have a guinea-pig and she didn't know that it had died when she gave me the poster. It makes me chuckle when I look at it because the guinea-pig had died literally two days earlier.
Shoes I've got a giant tennis shoe in my hall that I made from calico, cardboard and polystyrene for an exhibition. I've got a weird relationship with trainers – I hate them – and apart from the giant tennis shoe, I only keep one secret pair at my studio.
Art I've got a wall of art which I keep adding to. I've just started to swap work with other artists, so I have a picture from Lucy Stein and I've also got a pair of shoes made from Sellotape which Emma Cook made for her graduate collection. They are balanced on a portrait of a cat, which is a light and the eyes become very blue when it's on.
New Year resolutions To worry less and embrace being 40. I've also done a children's book with a friend, called Cicely Scissors, and we're trying to find a publisher, so that's on my list to attack this year. My friend wrote the story and I illustrated it. It was fun to draw – lots of animals and cakes.
02 January 2009
Outdoor store Snow + Rock showcase their high and low points to Mary Portas...
While many of my mates spend hours planning winter sports holidays, my life is full enough already of thrills and spills, and
as such I always spend my New Year on a beach somewhere in the company of a good book. However, my kids, Mylo and Verity, who have always enjoyed a ski break with my ex-husband, couldn't disagree more and thought that a trip to a specialist ski shop might bring about a change of mind.
Research revealed that any novice skier has first to answer three questions: do I plan to use one plank or two (skiing or snowboarding); where am I going (can I afford Verbier or do I need to make do with Bulgaria); and have I got the right kit (the expensive roll call includes jacket, thermals, gloves and hat). Snow + Rock's Surrey superstore sounded like a good place to start.
The windows The Chertsey store had two large windows, one for ski wear and one for the rock climbers. Some bright spark had decided to create a 3D effect through shards of glass that protruded out of the fascia. Giving the windows a theme in their own right is a high-risk strategy that might limit what you can do with them as the year progresses.
Shopability The store is laid out over two floors with a useful directory in the reception. Fashion and apparel is displayed on the ground floor, while the technical gear is upstairs along with a service centre for skis promising a while-you-wait service between Mondays and Fridays. Some large signs helped me to navigate around the shop packed with product more easily.
Was I being served? I asked a girl which jacket the kids might need for a trip to Canada as prices seemed to range from £150 to £600. She asked me all the key questions, and told me that it didn't matter which jacket they bought as long as they layered up. She fell at the last hurdle by presenting us with one of the more expensive items. More impressive was a treadmill-like machine that fitted you for ski boots.
Did I buy? A jacket for my daughter – but not the first one I was offered.
When I went online The website is nice and coherent, and you can shop either by activity or department for a vast range of apparel, footwear and equipment. It is also a great information and meeting point as it offers snow reports, resort guides and even jobs.
Verdict While the service was a little pushy and some of the prices were high, I did enjoy my trip to the store. But it didn't change my holiday plans.
Snow + Rock 99 Fordwater road, Chertsey, Surrey
Visited Saturday, 2pm
Number of stores 18
What they sell ski, cycling and climbing gear
Key Player Dion Taylor, the managing director
Star rating 3/5
Good for everything you could possibly need to hit the slopes
Bad for pushy service and unconvincing windows
ASK A SHOPKEEPER, Alex Herdman of Last, Brighton
What's the job?
I'm the owner, buyer, shoemaker and keeper of a bespoke shoe shop. We opened in 2004 in the centre of town near the seafront. I have a loyal customer base and the word of mouth has been brilliant.
How do you run the business?
We make leather shoes for men and women and sell ready-mades by some 30 designers. I make about a pair a month myself (from £500). I like quality, well-crafted shoes in a classic but interesting design. I have an enormous number of lasts – the wooden form of the shoe. You have a mould for the left and right foot. There is a different last for every size, toe shape and heel height.
What qualities does a shoemaker need?
I can talk knowledgeably about shoes because I can make them. We have a lot of exclusive brands and I can communicate with customers and explain the integrity of the design. I also do alterations to shoes.
Any unusual designers?
I stock Rafi Balouzian, a Lebanese designer in California who makes by hand beautiful sculptural shoes under the brand name Cydwoq (from £180). We also sell a wide range of hosiery (£20-£80) in wool, cotton and silk in dozens of different shades. Exclusive to us is Funn, a 1960s brand usually available only to theatre and film companies.
Most memorable order?
A bride who was wearing a kimono-style dress wanted some red-leather, mid-knee wedding boots with a big wooden wedge, fastened with a zip. They looked like motorcycle boots.
Your perfect day?
I'd be busy, a friend would pop in for coffee and I would be making a pair of shoes.
02 January 2009
From animal prints to zany art galleries, Bronwyn Cosgrave reveals next year's hottest labels and the best places to show them off...Photo: JEFF GILBERT / HEATHCLIFF O'MALLEYA is for animal prints.
Striking zebra, ocelot, tiger and giraffe patterns have stalked the catwalks for so many seasons that animal prints are now considered as classic as stripes. A candy-coloured, spotted-leopard cashmere jumper from Christopher Kane's tropical-themed "Me Tarzan, You Jane" spring/summer show is the print to have for 2009.
B is for Browns Shoe Store.
Sought-after shoes by Balmain, Alejandro Ingelmo, Rupert Sanderson and Nicholas Kirkwood will dominate the first floor of Browns new footwear boutique, which opens in spring in Brook Street, London. Claridges Bar – located opposite this shoe heaven – is the ideal pre-shopping destination for a glass of champagne to loosen the purse-strings.
C is for collaboration...
... because two heads are better than one. Glamorous Italian footwear brand Sergio Rossi has hooked up with Puma to rework its classic designs, including its 1973 Clyde trainer in lush hues of lilac. Meanwhile, leather-goods label Bill Amberg and British swimwear brand Orlebar Brown have collaborated on an elegant collection of swimming trunks, totes and tops for men.
D is for Derek Rose.
In late 2009, this venerable Savile Row boutique will offer a collection of pyjamas, nightshirts and gowns inspired by its famous fans. Get ready for sleepwear based on Jackie Kennedy Onassis's favourite nightie and Brigitte Bardot's brushed cotton pyjamas.
E is for Erdem.
This talented Canadian designer, based in London, has been spotted with all the right people lately – meeting Karl Lagerfeld via Anna Wintour at the Paris Ritz bar and having intimate tête-à-têtes with Oscar winners Gwyneth Paltrow and Marion Cotillard at Notting Hill's chichi Electric Cinema. His beautiful, red-carpet-ready satin cocktail dresses (as worn
by the likes of Keira Knightley and Thandie Newton) are the highlights of London Fashion Week. So, how long before he ups sticks and joins the big guns in the grander fashion arenas of Paris or New York?
F is for frills.
This feminine fashion accoutrement prettifies all of the best summer party dresses from Aquascutum's disco-glam, off-the-shoulder navy shift to Temperley's flouncy floral gowns and, best of all, tiered minis and knee-length dresses by Luella (pictured above, far right).
G is for the 66th Annual Golden Globes Awards.
On January 11, the Globes will kick off fashion's red carpet "awards season". With Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet, Kristin Scott Thomas and Meryl Streep all vying for the Best Actress prize, their red carpet fashion face-off will mark an impressive comeback for the Globes which, due to the writers' strike, were abruptly cancelled last year.
H is for Hats: an Anthology by Stephen Jones.
Two years in the making, this blockbuster fashion exhibition promises to be the most fascinating display of millinery ever staged. Curated by the celebrated milliner Stephen Jones, who recently won Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design at this year's British Fashion Awards, Margot Fonteyn's favourite Dior cloche and Marlene Dietrich's signature beret will be among the 300 toppers, which will go on show at the Victoria & Albert Museum (February 24–May 31 2009, 020 7942 2000).
I is for Istanbul's Park Hyatt Maçka Palas.
With wetrooms offering five different "bathing experiences, this new Park Hyatt (00 90 212 315 1234, www.istanbul.park.hyatt.com), which opens in February, is the ultimate winter getaway.
J is for Josh Goot.
This up-and-coming Australian designer has described his trademark style as "tailored comfort". His chic jersey pieces are perfect for lounging around in style at home, now that staying-in is the new going-out, thanks to the credit crunch.
K is for Kettner's.
Founded in 1867 by Auguste Kettner, the chef of Napolean III, this previously down-at-heel Soho institution is back and better than ever thanks to a major revamp. The menu features comfort food with a twist, such as lamb with pea and mint mash and lobster shepherd's pie, while the champagne bar stocks more than 100 vintages. Its soothing cream and dove-grey decor comes courtesy of Ilse Crawford, whose interior designs made Soho House in New York rock.
L is for Little.
That is, Graham Little, the young Scottish artist who is creating a stir in the vibrant British art scene. Represented by the Alison Jacques Gallery in London, the 36-year-old produces intricately crafted pieces fuelled by his fascination with fashion, such as his Facts are Stupid Things (fruit vs fashion), 2008.
M is for Missoni's...
... much-anticipated London flagship store, which opens in spring. Located at 193 Sloane Street, the sweeping space will house everything from womenswear and bags through to jewellery and its home collection.
N is for Neoprene.
Marc Jacobs ingeniously resurrected this synthetic rubber, most often associated with dodgy 1980s Body Glove wetsuits and bikinis, into desirable totes in eye-popping shades of neon orange and hot pink for Louis Vuitton's Cruise 2009 collection. Perfect for Sandy Lane this winter and St Tropez come summer.
O is for theoutnet.com.
Masterminded by Natalie Massenet, founder of luxe retailer Net-a-porter.com, this online fashion outlet, which stocks designer labels at heavily reduced prices, promises to be the recessionista's shopping paradise. Massenet is keeping details top secret but she describes theoutnet.com as a site her customers can "call their own". Theoutnet.com is due to launch in spring 2009, so save the date and try to bag yourself a bargain.
P is for power dressing.
What links Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Brown and Carla Bruni Sarkozy, the women currently fronting politics? Answer: each have their own idiosyncratic style and the confidence to work it. Bring on the Narciso Rodriguez, Mrs O! And keep wearing the trousers in 2009, Hillary!
Q is for the Queen of Pop.
Aka Madonna. The Old Truman Brewery, in London's East End, will be holding a fashion retrospective called Simply Madonna, Materials of the Girl (February 21–March 22 2009, www.trumanbrewery.com). With more than 300 Madonna memorabilia assembled together for the "very first time", including the wedding gown she wore in the music video for Like a Virgin and the pink, strapless satin dress she flaunted in Material Girl, this exhibition is worth a visit for the camp factor alone.
R is for Rome.
Rumours abound that Frida Giannini, creative director of Gucci, will relocate the fashion house's operations from Milan to Rome – and it's easy to see why as Italy's capital is on the rise as the nexus of art and fashion. American art-dealer Larry Gagosian, who recently opened his first continental Europe – and seventh – Gagosian Gallery there, called Rome "Europe's sleeping giant". Not for long.
S is for the Savoy.
London's original luxury hotel, which has played host to Coco Chanel, Christian Dior and Halston, reopens in May after a two-year £100 million restoration project. Prepare to be dazzled by its new-look, decadent Art Deco interior.
T is for the Towering World of Jimmy Choo (Bloomsbury).
"The story of how the Jimmy Choo brand got where it is today is one of love, hate, sex, fashion, finance, drugs, celebrity, power, intrigue and ambition. And every word of it is true," according to its authors Lauren Goldstein Crowe and Sagra Maceira de Rosen. Tawdry? Probably. This summer's best beach read? Undoubtedly.
U is for unique.
Expect easy-chic smocks with a hint of Chloé, sporty oversized sweaters with a whiff of Marc by Marc Jacobs, plus LBDs that could give Balenciaga a run for its money when the next drop of this fantastic collection by Topshop lands in its Oxford Street flagship and online.
V is for Valentine's Day.
Will Love – Condé Nast's new bi-annual fashion magazine edited by Pop editor and stylist Katie Grand – conquer all when its first issue is launched on February 14? The Gossip's Beth Ditto is expected to grace its inaugural cover.
W is for Wedgwood.
Taking afternoon tea is proving a popular pastime with the fashion set. Make yours a grand occasion with funky tea sets designed by hip graphic artist Will Broome and designer Vera Wang for Wedgwood, England's first china company which celebrates its 250th anniversary in 2009.
X is for the X-factor.
But enough already!
Y is for the Yupana Collection.
Bold jewellery will continue to dominate catwalks in spring – Lara Bohinc has some of the most eye-catching. Her new collection references the geometric shapes of yupana boards, from which the Incas once derived their revolutionary method of communication (from £202, 020 7730 8194).
Z is for Zaha Hadid.
The Pritzker Prize winning architect will remain ubiquitous through 2009 given her current spate of projects in London – art dealer Kenny Schachter's new Hoxton Square gallery, a metallic-hued bar for members' club Home House and Dune Formations, an ongoing furniture project with David Gill Galleries. Hadid also has her finger on fashion's pulse. She was recently spotted at Dover Street Market buying two coats by Barbara Tfank, the Los Angeles designer to watch in 2009.(telegraph)
02 January 2009
Sarah Mower talks about the surprising buys that have gone the distance whilst explaining how to dress for sub-zero temperatures...Photo: STEPHEN LOCK/ CATWALKING.COM
As 2009 heaves forbiddingly into view, it becomes us all to forswear all fashion mistakes and shape up to a new, radically slimmed pattern of spending. But what should that look like? As if economic forecasts aren't enough to put the kibosh on the impulse buying of, say, £2,000 "It-bags", we're now also faced with figures to bring on a monumental case of green-tinged remorse over fast fashion.
Last week, it was reported that the British are throwing out a million tonnes of £10-and-under dresses, spangly tops and badly fitting jeans a year. And most of that unrecyclable tat is being shoved into landfill.
Sackcloth and ashes, then? Penitential weeds for an era in which spending on clothes will be so socially disparaged that it will either cease – or have to be heavily disguised? Believe it or not, if you look at the spring collections, sackcloth is already a choice. There are hessian dresses by Miu Miu and Alessandro dell'Aqua – conveniently ready-holed for the povero look in the case of Miu Miu. True, ashes haven't yet emerged as a beauty trend, but just don't be surprised…
If that seems like a supreme outbreak of fashion Marie-Antoinette-ism, well, it's premature to judge. Only at the beginning of February, when New York kicks off the cycle of autumn/winter shows, will we really start to see clothes that were designed mid-crisis, backs-against-walls. On past performance during a recession, designers will start channelling the slumping economy in their imagery, just as Marc Jacobs's Grunge collection did in 1992. Others may become so terrified to experiment that they'll go into creative paralysis and just start repeating anything that worked before.
Seems to me, though, that neither downbeat dressing nor safeness and predictability are going to convince us now. If you're going to save up (remember that?) for a purchase that will really count, it will need to be something outstanding that you're going to wear for years. But what sort of thing would qualify? Looking for answers, I audited all the collections since the millennium, and discovered something interesting: if you want longevity, you're far better off buying the extreme and original design than the safe, the watered-down or the knock-off.
Here's the proof: if you'd bought anything from Prada's spring collection of 2000, its lipstick-print skirts, knits or bowling bags, you could wear them now, not just with impunity but a certain triumphal smirk (Prada herself recently re-released the prints, just to underline their credibility, and the bowling shape's become a classic). If you'd had the courage to grab a pair of the strappy, clumpy boots in Tom Ford's Peasant collection of 2001, you'd be able to swank into the front row of any Paris show (as the fashion editor of Figaro did in October) and be sharply envied. Similarly, any tulle-backed, ribbon-tied necklace from Lanvin's spring 2003 show (the collection with which Alber Elbaz revived the entire jewellery category) has also acquired the patina of a trophy capable of making onlookers spit. It's the copies that are landfill by now.
How to predict what a long-laster might be, though? As art and antique experts always say (annoyingly), it has to be something you personally love to live with, because you can never be sure of an investment. That isn't quite true, though, when it comes to some aspects of recent fashion. Since the millennium, a handful of significant designers have been working in a quiet continuum, making clothes that become dateless collectables that relate to one another over years.
Rick Owens, with his drapey, dun-coloured layers and fabulous washed-leather jackets, is a master (if you own anything of his from 2004, it's just as cool now); Ann Demeulemeester and Dries Van Noten are also lodestars of individualism. Consuelo Castiglioni has graduated to the same class of design with Marni, too: inventing the colourful, loose-fitting retro-printed look that is rapaciously imitated up and down the high street.
Counter-intuitively, there's also a case I could argue for the absolutely mad stroke of genius: the kind of thing that causes a sharp intake of breath from editors at shows, and begins its long path to vindication by being ridiculed as "unwearable". Glance at Nicolas Ghesquière's Robot collection of spring 2007, for instance, and see the incredible gilded leggings – museum pieces that triggered the high-street craze that hit young fashion this Christmas. Or, again, my favourite of all: Martin Margiela's extreme Shoulders collection of spring 2007. I got my hands on one of those brilliantly cut Joan Crawford shouldered jackets and have worn it ever since, loving it each time, and feeling even better about it as the line has become more and more influential.
All these collections, whose elements seemed a bit "out there" or eccentric when they were first shown, have become "normal" over time. That's because they've been so copied, of course. The moral, though, is that only the originals have survived to look great (their cost forgotten). It's the cheap copies that have by now literally turned out to be a crying waste.
If there's one incontrovertible excuse for spending on clothes, it's absolute necessity. Hard to argue in most circumstances, but this week's freezing weather makes owning effective cold-weather garb imperative. Since this is not a problem we've faced for years (last winter, retailers could hardly sell a cloth coat, it was so mild), the question is, what works – and is there any smidgen of hope of looking good in it?
One thing you should never do is buy a branded fashion item in the hope it will live up to performance standards, or performance clothing that has been styled with an eye to fashion (that is, most ski wear). The functional solutions are all held by companies who deal in authentic survival wear, and when it comes to arctic temperatures, that mostly means Northern American outdoor manufacturers, and the military.
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