Category Archives: Fashion

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How to look like Kate Moss

Kate Moss and Kanye West have joined Instagram in the same week. A curious move in 2016, given that your mum joined last easter. So what does it mean? Judging by the first posts that communicate very little, the two have had a change of heart or direction – West stayed safe with an arty image (a shot from Total Recall), while Moss first posted a picture of her in a field in shorts (which she then deleted) before posting a picture from an interview with Business of Fashion. Moss’s post might be new but a model on Instagram is not and this picture is (perhaps) illustrative of the power social media has in fashion.

Since leaving Storm, her agency last year, the model has been stealthily setting up her own eponymous agency. In a recent interview, she said of models including Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner: “They’ve definitely got another side with it, like the Instagram side, and they know their business, I think.” We know digital media is changing the way fashion and its people are presented but this has always seemed like a chicken/egg situation. Gigi Hadid’s fame would be halved in the absence of social media – Moss is already famous and doesn’t need to calibrate her brand.

Still, agencies are having to cope with a shift towards a system where models are hired for their social media presence, one where their personal brands are multi-faceted to the point of exhaustion: “Modelling is so much about … the constant demand for content. Models aren’t just walking the runways and appearing in campaigns. They are also managing a constant feed of content through social media and online,” says Imran Amed of Business of Fashion.

Since Kate Moss is Kate Moss, suggests there’s something to be learned from the move: black and white is the new lark, outdoors is the new indoors and trousers are still optional. West’s post, however – an image of the Johnny Cab’s cab from Total Recall – tells us nothing we don’t know about the artificial fragility of our world.

Beautiful things on your style

People are already calling it the fashion moment of 2016. In Galeries Lafayette, an upmarket department store in Paris, cult label Vetements, purveyor of elevated streetwear, is staging its latest rule-breaking collection. The brand is opening staid old couture fashion week with a show featuring genuinely unexpected collaborations with various other fashion labels – waist-high Manolo Blahnik boots, rejuvenated Juicy Couture tracksuits – and models with a haute level of scowl. But it is when stylist Lotta Volkova strides past on the catwalk, modelling a floral white and blue Vetements dress, with a dismissive hand holding the corner of a white clutch bag, that the front row’s iPhones are raised in unison. Because that’s the picture. Lotta Volkova modelling the Vetements dress that self-consciously references the Vetements look. In an industry that constantly seeks to label things “cool”, Lotta Volkova has just been crowned as the coolest woman in the world.

Volkova is arguably fashion’s most in-demand creative. She is stylist and muse for the Vetements collective, the Paris-based group of designers currently subverting the barriers between streetwear and high fashion. She consults for fashion houseBalenciaga – on the casting and catwalk shows – where Demna Gvasalia is creative director. She also works with her friend, the menswear designer, Gosha Rubchinskiy and a raft of other labels. She somehow squeezes in editorial shoots with the likes of Juergen Teller and DJs at her friends’ fanzine launches. Volkova’s is a seven-day working week.

A few days before her Vetements fashion moment, I’m sat in a cool-but-you-have-to-know-it’s-cool-to-realise-it’s-cool cafe in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, not far from the Gare du Nord, asking Volkova how she, as a 32-year-old woman, feels about appearing as a model on the catwalk. Since starting work with Vetements, Volkova has walked in every show alongside kids cast from Instagram and regular models with an edge. Between swigs of Perrier and sips of black coffee, she laughs fast and loud before snapping into her brusque-sounding answering mode.

“It came about really spontaneously and out of the blue. When we were prepping for the first show, we did not have enough models, so Demna was like, ‘Oh, you are gonna model’ and I was like, ‘OK fine.’ Of course I was flattered. But for me it was like a friendly gesture. ‘Try this black turtleneck and sweatpants, and I just want to see you in it’ and I put in on and he was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is the opening look.’ I was like, ‘Nawwwww….’” Her speech is peppered with a Baltic-accented vocal fry that is too compelling not to mention.

“Spontaneous” and “out of the blue” are phrases that Volkova returns to regularly. Those and the fact that she and her gang are “just doing what we laaaav”. Volkova’s rise to the pinnacle of high fashion was neither exponential nor intentional, but not wholly surprising either. Born in Vladivostok, Russia, in 1984, Lotta was exposed to rebellion early on. Her father had jumped on a train from Siberia when he was 16 to captain a ship. Her mother, a professor of physics at medical school, instilled in Lotta the idea of doing things her own way: “For her that was a rebellion against communism, against this pre-packaged life.” It is her mother, too, that she has to thank for her Led Zeppelin-inspired name (she’s named after the song Whole Lotta Love). “She liked the whole post-punk, early 80s, alt-rock era, so I grew up sucking in all those references.” It was also her mother who fuelled her love of fashion, taking 12-year-old Lotta on shopping trips to London and Tokyo. “I had Prada shoes and Dior by Galliano jumpers, she was wearing Galliano herself. She is tiny and has really big boobs and is blonde, but then she pretty much looks like me.”

Tartan myth style tips

After the stripe, the plaid or check is the easiest pattern to weave, something our earliest ancestors discovered for themselves as soon as their various cultures had attained the technological level of the loom. Costume historians have logged plaids, sometimes muted and discreet, sometimes joyously garish, in sources as disparate as an early Japanese print and a primitive Sienese painting.

The non-expert would be forgiven, however, for assuming, along with the rest of the world, that the plaid was uniquely invented in the mist-bound, granite fastnesses of the Scottish Highlands some time before the Emperor Hadrian took to wall-building. Indeed, there are some overly refined souls who hold that the kilted tartan in attack formation was the reason why he did and thank God for Latin aesthetic sensibility. In fact, as many historians have been at recent pains to prove, the tartaning of Scotland was the first major confidence trick in the resourceful history of tourism. And it set a pattern much emulated but rarely equalled. For a start, the chief copywriter, one Sir Walter Scott, was a cut above your average hack – and titled, too, with the good connections that always implies. His background briefings, copious and literate, created an irresistible mythic scenario and his personal stage-management of a Royal Visit to Edinburgh just after Waterloo was the archetype upon which all later well produced launch parties were to be based.

The celebrity endorsement campaign didn’t mess about either. There was, it must be conceded, a slightly slow start as the portly, flabby-kneed tail end of the Hanoverian line posed for portraits in Royal Stewart kilts and rosy flesh-coloured tights but Victoria changed all that. Once the campaign got a youthful, pretty and fecund sponsor, it got lift-off, too. For this sponsor was no mere cipher, content only to wear the gear, smile for the cameras, take the money and run. She had integrity. She really wore the stuff in private, and even had a special Balmoral tartan designed for the holidays and a particularly tasteful one in lavender and white just for herself and named Victoria.

In fact, the plaid never had the quasi-heraldic and clan-identification significance with which it was retrospectively invested. All that researchers have established is that a small cross check pattern, known colloquially as a “tartan”, was adapted for use in kilt, plaid (the shawl/cloak length of fabric worn against the cold) and hose around about 1660. Pattern tended to be employed for its decorative value and had no clan or family connotations. And it was peasant dress. The aristocrats demonstrated their status by wearing the latest court fashions from Edinburgh, London or Paris. It was only when the victorious Hanoverians banned the plaid after the battle of Culloden that it acquired a romantic glamour and political symbolism which the Jacobites were able to exploit. The concept of exclusivity, that a certain pattern could and should only be worn by a person entitled by blood or regiment to do so, was introduced when, in the late eighteenth century, tartans were designed as part of the new military uniforms for the Highland regiments. The earliest, like the 42nd Regiment of Foot or Black Watch, survived the period of Caledonian romanticism as approved “clan” tartans with fictional pedigrees as long as one of Sir Walter’s tales.

Good looking on dress while fat body

So who are you?
I’m Aoife, I’m 26, I’m a quiz master, among other things.

And what does your outfit say about you?
I dress however I bloody want to dress. For years, I was scared of what people thought of me and felt like a chubby weirdo. As I’ve come to terms with myself, my world has gone from black and white to Technicolor. This outfit shows my inner confidence on the outside.

Where did you get the coat?
I found it when I was about 10 in my granny’s house, long after she died. I’m not really sure where it comes from.

How many weed-print items do you own?
Five, at the moment: a skirt, two crop tops and two pairs of leggings. They’re from a brand called Motel Rock. I came across it online and fell in love.

Is your style a talking point?
A guy came up to me recently and said: “I like your ganja-leaf clothes.” Then he looked at me and said: “They are ganja leaves, aren’t they?” I think he thought: “Oh no, I’ve offended this poor woman.” I love it when people are amused by what I’m wearing.

And what it really says, by Miranda Sawyer

Scarlet chinoiserie coat. Crop top and mini covered in ganja leaves. Necklace like a luminous toilet chain. What’s amazing about Aoife is that her clothing is so attention-grabbing, yet what you notice is her face. It shines like the sun, and says, “I am here!”

She is clearly happy. If you saw Aoife in a bar, you’d know you’d have a laugh with her, whether she was serving or buying.

She could be an actor, a nanny, a bus driver or an organiser of off-beam nights that bring outsiders together to dance or knit. I’d be surprised if she worked in fashion. Or the financial sector.

Her clothes are interesting. People who wear marijuana leaves on their tops are usually making a point, but she isn’t a hemp-cat type. Aoife’s leaves say: ‘Life is better without restrictions,” rather than: “Shall we close the curtains and listen to Pink Floyd again?” The Chinese coat could have been bought on her travels, or found in a charity shop, or, indeed, been given to her. She wouldn’t have paid a lot for it, anyway. Not her style.

As she gets older, I think Aoife will discard the madder extremes of her outfits. As someone who dressed like Andy Warhol-meets-Andy Pandy in my younger years, I know that bright colours, strong hair and this-is-my-opinion clothes are a distraction. They’re talking points that ensure you get attention, but not for how you score on a conventional prettiness scale. When Aoife really believes in herself, she won’t need to hide her true light behind an outer wackiness. Her beautiful, luminous, smiling face tells us everything we need to know.

The point of London fashion

kuThere are three parts to your question, Marcus, and I’ll try to answer them each fairly, politely and without punching myself in the face. So, what’s “the point” of fashion week? Well, the point is that it allows designers to show their clothes to stores that decide whether or not to buy them. This is what’s called “running a business”. It is also so designers can show their collections to journalists who then write about them for people who are interested. From your tone, I gather you are not interested, Marcus, but one of the many strange things about life is that not everyone is interested in the same things. I, for example, could not give a single fig about sport, and yet I do not spend my time leaving comments beneath articles about the European Championships such as: “What is the point of this????? Boring!!!!! Look at all these overpaid idiots!!!!” as some folk are wont to do beneath articles about fashion. When I hear people talk about how excited they are about, I don’t know, Arsenal, I don’t run up to them bellowing: “But why?! None of us will ever be able to play like that so why is anyone wasting their time watching this rubbish?” I accept that some people like to watch a bunch of men kick a ball around a field on a rainy day, and I get on with the far more important activities in my life, such as styling my dog’s hair so that he resembles Andrew Ridgeley, or deciding who I fancy more, 1986 James Spader in Pretty in Pink or 1990 James Spader in White Palace (impossible decision, but one I plan to ponder for the rest of my life).

The reason people feel free to dismiss fashion with a “what’s the point” in a way that no one ever would about sport, or theatre, or film, or Apple product launches, is because fashion is aimed at women. Thus, it is, apparently, totally legitimate to dismiss it as frivolous. Silly little ladies and their lady things! Not important like kicking a ball, you see.

Your next point is slightly separate, although it is often used by fashion sceptics as an excuse for their loudly voiced dislike of the industry. Yes, the clothes are expensive and made for a minority. You could say the same of, say, theatre tickets, to say nothing of Apple products with their inbuilt obsolescence. Regarding the size issue, there is no question that the clothes are shown on indefensibly thin models. But to say that fashion is therefore irrelevant to bigger women, or even most women, is to let the idiotically sizeist designers win. Fashion is for everyone, and just because some ridiculous stylist who has destroyed their brain cells by reading only Vogue for 15 years thinks clothes “hang better” on an underweight eastern European teenager doesn’t mean that’s true. Any woman can look at the runways and get inspiration, such as how good your striped jumper would look with your metallic long skirt from Zara (thanks, Gucci, for that one) or how flat boots would look amazing with a floaty dress (ta, Victoria Beckham). Fashion shows aren’t just telling women to buy specific clothes – they show women how to wear clothes in more modern, often fun, ways. To say that fashion week is irrelevant to most women is to be on the same side as the idiot designers and stylists who think anyone over a size 10 should be happy wearing a burlap sack.

What are you wear on best one

For the purposes of this column I will travel to the very edges of my comfort zone, but as far as hemlines go, this is not very intrepid. A mini skirt, to me, is any skirt that ends more than about three inches above my knee. (This is not because I am a prude; my legs end about five inches above my knee.) I will sometimes wear a floor-length skirt, but not all that often, because while they are undeniably excellent for standing around looking elegant in, if you attempt to accomplish anything at normal speed you end up walking along while lifting your skirts up in the manner of an impoverished minor Austen character who is about to give herself a fever from walking through wet grass. Which is not elegant.

But a change in proportions is the most eyecatching way to reset the needle on your look. Which is why I am quite excited by the idea of a Super Sleeve, despite the obvious cuff-in-coffee drawbacks. Changing the hemline on your sleeve is almost as impactful as altering your skirt length – think of how significant the connotations of rolling your sleeves up are, after all.

This season’s Super Sleeve is any sleeve which is knuckle-grazing, bell-shaped, or extravagantly shaped. The trend has evolved from two long-running trends, for oversized shirts and for statement knitwear. Cuffs worn open and loose, and slightly too long in a borrowed-it-from-the-boys kind of way, are a key part of the chic shirt-wearer’s look. Meanwhile, a high-necked poloneck looks even more statement-making if you elongate the line with an extra long sleeve. This season, those details – the big open cuff, and the cosy long-slim sleeve – have been co-opted by blouses, tunics and dresses

What I wore this week a pinafore dress

As to the cuffs-in-coffee matter. Hands buried under fabric are traditionally for wizards, or ladies in opera gloves. The impracticality is, as always in fashion, part of the point. And not being able to hold a coffee without fear of a spell is one thing; not being able to cross a road without getting run over is another. As far as sleeves go, I am really quite intrepid.

The fashion that you should know

You won’t see a pocket on a Jacquemus catwalk. Chances are, you won’t see a zip or button either. The French label, soon to be showing its eighth collection, has a specific MO: take something simple, a classic shirt or mini dress, and muck about with its silhouette. Tie a knot, turn it back to front, take a chunk of fabric out – et voilà. The absence of fastenings, though, has more to do with money than anything else: “When I started, I was super-poor,” says 26-year-old designerSimon Porte Jacquemus. “So I did what I could for very little money – and I haven’t changed that yet.”

Jacquemus was born in Salon-de-Provence in southern France. Moving to Paris as a teenager, he launched the label aged 19, just after his mother died – a seismic event that propelled him to where he is now.

The past is key to Jacquemus. He named the label in honour of his mother, citing her as his main inspiration, and the hazy landscapes of his childhood, playing in the fields, were writ large on a debut collection that paired boxy pastel dresses with little white plimsolls and matching socks. The Jacquemus girl, he says, “is not Parisian and that is important. She is French, and French girls are not elegant, they are raw, casual, spontaneous. She’s between a kid and an adult.” It’s a sentiment echoed in the colours – often primary, pastel or pink candy stripe.

Last spring, Jacquemus won €150,000 and a year-long mentorship as part of the special jury award in the LVMH prize, a score for any up-and-coming designer not just financially but also in terms of fashion kudos. Winning enabled him to get a studio, expand his team and get the label into more than 100 stockists worldwide. “At that point, I became an adult,” he says. There were, of course, anxieties over compromising, given the size of the LVMH conglomerate: “But they have allowed me to do exactly what I want.” Already his pieces have been worn by French pop singer Petite Meller, and Miley Cyrus, not that he cares. “I’m not obsessed with stars,” he says with a laugh.

Current season Jacquemus is easy to analyse, with patriotic blue, white and red running through geometrically cut mini dresses, jigsaw skirts and tops layered upon tops (the whole collection is playfully meta). Concept is crucial: he describes his collections as “stories” rather than clothes, and each tells a new and deeply personal tale. His most recent featured, among other things, a horse, a giant red ball being pulled by his cousin and a red tie dragged across the stage (thought to be a commentary on the ushers at Paris shows who are known ascravates rouges). It reflected a more emotionally charged period in his life. “Usually, the Jacquemus girl is smiley. But this time, things got a little darker…” The designer wants to stay true to his French girl audience but he also has ambitions, when things are “less fragile”, to take the label into menswear. As for pockets, as yet there are no plans for those.

Women slacks on fashion

A new fashion in slacks has arrived. The figure-fitting style of the trousers included in the autumn collections of sportswear is an attempt to prove that a pair of slacks can be attractive as well as functional.

Ask a man whether women should wear slacks and the answer is almost certain to be a firm “No.” Why is this? It is over twenty years now since women “commandeered” male trousers for their own use, so that masculine hostility can hardly be based on the claim of prerogative. It is based rather on aesthetic reasons: women surely choose their clothes to enhance their appearance, men point out, and only a boyish figure looks well in slacks. In addition, the criticism continues, women do not buy carefully. Few have the trousers specially tailored: generally they are bought ready made and fit badly.

All this cannot be denied, but the original reason for adopting slacks still remains. They give far more freedom of movement than a skirt and they are comfortable to wear. But although women have now made the word “slacks” an almost exclusively feminine one, their construction and line have remained essentially masculine. A woman wearing slacks, even if she is skilfully “made up” and wearing a womanly sweater, is discarding a part of the femininity she expresses in her costume. She sacrifices charm for comfort.

Now, for the first time, women’s slacks are trying to become feminine by following the movement of fashion towards soft curves. They are also, incidentally, following the revival of the Edwardian styles in men’s clothes. The pair of stacks with full roomy legs is now being threatened by slacks tapered from hip to ankle. They are made in many materials – worsted tweed, corduroy, barathea, or velvet – and whatever the material they have a figure-clinging fit, with rows of tiny buttons to fasten at the ankles, pockets jutting beyond the hips, or tabs fitted on the waist to hold a coloured sash.

Naturally a hip-length tailored jacket is not appropriate with this silhouette. The outfit is more likely to be completed by an attractive bolero. Black velvet seems to be the favourite material, and the slacks are worn with a fancy jersey of black or a strong colour, and with a wide cummerbund. The Londonus model in the illustration is in black velveteen with a ruby belt of angelskirt. The rounded bolero is edged with braid.

The style may have stemmed partly from the Edwardian trend in men’s trousers, but no woman with an opulent Edwardian figure should adopt it.

New Hair Styles Ideas

afIn this country we’re so hair conscious – we push the boundaries. There’s a particular link between the British teenager and hair: young people wear a style as a tribal badge. Maybe it’s because we’re such a small country with so many people squeezed in, you have to find a way to stand out. I feel we’re in danger of losing that tradition a little bit, and I’m hoping my show at Somerset House will give an insight into how hair has become a part of our culture.

It was a big part of my teens. I lived in a tiny Scottish village, but I was always into fashion. The 60s were such a stylish decade to grow up in, and because of television we were all aware of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. I had friends who owned a hair salon and I used to help out at weekends to get pocket money. I found myself intrigued by the world of beauty and I loved the creativity.

I moved to London in the 70s and ended up working at a salon on South Molton Street. From there I did a shoot for Vogue magazine and this whole other world opened up, full of cameras and beautiful models and people making incredibly sophisticated images. I was hooked from day one. I couldn’t go back to 12 haircuts in a row after that. I have complete admiration for people who work in salons, it’s a wonderful talent, but it’s not my talent.

I guess the shell of fashion has changed in the decades I’ve worked in the business but the nut in the middle is the same. Though there is recognition of what we do because of social media, people still ask where my salon is. Creating an iconic fashion image is all about timing. It has to be done at the right time on the right person. I’m really lucky in my life because I work with the most amazing people, from the 80s with Linda Evangelista and the 90s with Kate Moss and photographers like Mario Testino and Nick Knight. You have all these talents together and you spark off each other.

Even when I work on celebrity styling, it’s basically still doing hair for a brand. As with any brand, you develop a relationship and you create an image, whether it’s for Cate Blanchett at the Oscars, Kate Moss at a product launch – each person has their own agenda. It’s the same as doing a summer Vogue cover: it has to say summer. You’re communicating an idea.

Though sometimes celebrities surprise you. Once Tilda Swinton was promoting a film and I’d almost finished when she suddenly said, you know what, let’s do something radical. We cut it off really short and she’s had it like that ever since. It became her thing. Tilda owns that haircut. That’s an incredibly satisfying thing to do.

My most popular style is the done undone thing. It’s become part of the mainstream and it’s a go-to look for many designers. Kate Moss’s Bardot look is a thing; the Princess Diana look became very popular. People still look to celebrities for ideas, but it’s just ideas and there may be a few of those in one look, so they end up taking inspiration from multiple people.