Join in Foyles bookshop’s weekly Twitter fun – today, tied to London Fashion Week, they’re running a twitter competition to find the best fashionable book title, for example, The Woman in Black is the new White, Less Than Size Zero, The Remains of the Sale…you get the idea. Fabulous fun, you have a few hours left to take part (there’s a prize!). @Foyles, #bookfashion
Last Friday I went to the Friday late at Kensington Palace to explore their Enchanted Palace exhibition. The display opened in March and tells the stories of the seven princesses associated with the palace through collaborations with various designers. The palace is well known for its associations with princesses including the young Queen Victoria, Princess Margaret, and Princess Diana, amongst other historic princesses.
Many big names have collaborated on the exhibition. I loved Stephen Jones’ hat designs in The Room of Englightenment, a room filled with statues of philosophers, theologians and scientists. His fabulous red apple hat by the statue of Isaac Newton was just one of the funky designs. As Stephen Jones was quoted as saying: “Great minds need great hats”
In another room the traditional royal throne was usurped by a woollen throne, handcrafted by local women,. Next door in The Room of Flight there was a beautiful Vivienne Westwood dress to represent the much-loved Princess Caroline. She died young, and London ran out of black cloth as the nation mourned.
My favourite piece was a dress made by William Tempest ‘A Dress for dreaming of freedom’. Made from 1,000 origami birds, this dress represented the oppressive surroundings of the young Princess Victoria before she became Queen at the young age of 18 and thus gained her freedom. The origami birds are made from paper printed with the pattern of the Queen’s wallpaper, and the dress hangs over her room.
The palace was buzzing on the night, and I’d definitely recommend going on one of the Friday lates. The next one is 20 August.
The Papered Parlour in Clapham, my local one-stop venue for all kinds of dress-/jewellery-/anything you can dream of making has reached the regional final of the Barclays Business Take One Step competition and is relying on a public vote to win a whopping £50,000!
The Papered Parlour, just off Clapham High Street, runs a variety of workhops in all things crafty. The prize money would make a huge difference to the business so vote now at www.takeonesmallstep.co.uk or text ‘Parlour’ to 87222.
Find out more about the Papered Parlour at http://www.thepaperedparlour.co.uk/
Have just booked train tickets for a day in gay Par-ee in August to see two top fashion exhibitions, the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective at the Petit Palais, and the look-back at 70s and 80s fashion at the Musee de la Mode et du Textile – can’t wait!
Venus Williams set tongues wagging at the French Open recently with her take on the trend for underwear as outerwear, wearing a lacy and racy black and red corset-style outfit on court. Wimbledon begins tomorrow, and I wonder if brows are furrowed and sweat bands are wet with worry over what she will be wearing when she steps on to the court this week, in this most traditional of Tennis Clubs.
To the hoards in Paris Venus said: “Lace has never been done before in tennis, and I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time…the illusion of just having bare skin is definitely for me a lot more beautiful.”
Illusion is one thing, but little was left to the imagination. In saying that, while some might argue it’s too much, Iit seems inevitable and fun that fashion fan Venus should express her strong personality this way, and it’s a refreshing change to see something other than the uniformity of white on the courts. Why shouldn’t sports gear be fashionable? She wouldn’t wear it if it worsened her game, so if you’re going to win, why not win with style…
The innovative and intriguing fashion label has its roots in classic looks reinterpreted in radical and conceptual ways: the traditional trench coat with enlarged shoulders; a modern style dress printed with a trompe l’oeil retro tea dress pattern; or second-hand clothing fashioned into new garments (more common on our high street than the catwalks!) Maison Margiela’s ideas are evident on the high street now – as I type I’m wearing one of many items I now own with heavy embellishment on the shoulders, and the trend for underwear as outerwear has led to less pretty, but nonetheless clear references to trompe l’oeil.
What is also fascinating is the company itself: the acclaimed heads of Martin Margiela never reveal themselves, no interviews are granted and all quotes are delivered as ‘we’. Democratically all staff wear the same uniform white coats. This anonymity is reflected on the catwalk as well as the identity of models is concealed with hair brushed over their eyes, or more overtly with veiling covering their faces. Martin Margiela wants to let his fashion do the talking for him.
Theirs is a story worth telling, of a brand at once cutting edge and contemporary, but with full reference to the glorious history of fashion. The exhibition is full of lovely items from their collections, as well as a wealth of video footage. My highlight was ‘A Personal Wardrobe’ in which Maison Margiela fans were filmed styled in their many favourite items – this featured two young women from London and Antwerp, and, more interestingly, an older man from Munich, who has been wearing the brand’s clothes for almost its duration, since 1989. The house is doing something right!
Runs until 5 September 2010, find out more here: www.somersethouse.org.uk/margiela
To be fair I don’t think I need to dress to impress in that 60+ men aren’t really my type – that’s if there are any men, is it only women who play bingo? I’m thinking of wearing something vintage-style on the basis that my noughties vintage-style clothes will probably reflect the wardrobes of the younger selves of the senior citizens who will be my fellow players. I might go for the 1940s style polka-dotted Cecily James dress I bought from Oliver Bonas last weekend… http://www.oliverbonas.com/p/CLOTHING_BYSTYLE_DRESSES/701761.htm Hopefully this will seamlessly fit in in the bars of Camden High Street afterwards too.
Now all that’s left is to get to know my Two Fat Ladies from my Legs Eleven!
While you’re out enjoying late night shoppingon Oxford Street tonight, some of the capital’s most intellectual names will be debating the weightier issues of fashion at Intelligence Squared’s Fashion Maketh Woman debate. The panel includes Britt Lintner, founder of Britt Lintner fashion label; Paula Reed, Style Director at Grazia magazine; artist Grayson Perry; and psychoanalyst and social critic Susie Orbach.
While you’re deciding which colour dress to buy, or which shoes will go with your outfit, think about the questions they’ll be battling – on the one hand, is fashion a great thing, a form of artistic expression that anyone can enjoy, and something which is fun and makes us feel good? Or does fashion encourage us to judge by appearances, and lead to discontentment and at worse eating disorders?
Plus, more industry-wide issues will be explored -the environmental impact of our obsession with ”fast fashion’ and exploitation of workers in the third world.
It promises to be an interesting debate…
There’s a fine line between fashion and craft – on the one hand fashion is a craft in itself, while on the other fashion can be so outlandish it falls in to the realm of traditional craft and becomes an object for display that is not to be worn! At the opening of Jerwood Contemporary Makers at the Jerwood Space near Waterloo, the work of 29 ‘creators’ included an array of fashion-inspired objects.
These included Rotationalmouldedshoe by Marloes Ten Bhomer, a pair of mint green blockish polyurethane rubber and stainless steel stilettoes – the designer was wearing another pair of shoes from her range at the private view, proving they can be worn! http://marloestenbhomer.squarespace.com/online-boutique/)
Textiles also abounded: Kirsty McDougall, co-founder of Dashing Tweeds and
Hills, has woven New Dandy, a lovely checked wool fabric; Ingrid Tait’s Romance was an innovative folk-inspired fabric, made from lambswool with needle-punched lace and diamante embellishment; and Karen Nicol’s embroidery, Scribble, was beautifully woven, featuring a forest of flowers and birds in its delicate pattern.
Rowan Mersh is well known as a textile based sculptor whose designs are often seen on the Fashion Week catwalks and in the glossy magazines, and his Untitled 10 was on display. Fiona McLean’s Marcel (from Iconic Heads) was a striking bright orange wig, from the range of hairstyle hats made by her brand House of Flora (a tip for ladies who haven’t yet decided on their hat for Ascot!)
Jewellery also featured in the exhibition: I loved Nicola Malkin’s large-scale ceramic charm bracelete, My Charm Bracelet, as well as Nora Fok’s space-age style necklace Disc-florets consisting of hundreds of spheres made from knitted dyed nylon, with a shimmery-bubbly sheen to them.
See all this and more at the Jerwood Space from 16 June – 25 July
Graduate Fashion Week kicked off at Earl’s Court today giving fashion students from around the country the chance to get their works on to the cat walk and under the eyes of the fashion press and industry who will make their futures. All shows are open to the public, it’s a great opportunity to see some cutting edge designs and spot some names of the future, the event has helped launch the careers of designers including Stella McCartney, Hussein Chalayan and Christopher Bailey. Runs until Thursday.
Milliner Philip Treacy has designed an exclusive range of hats for the Museum of London’s newly opened recreation of a Georgian Pleasure Garden. In the London Pleasure Gardens of the 19th century the higher echelons of society would have met for both social and seedy occasions. The Museum’s recreation is a showcase for some of the highlights of its fashion collections (one of the four biggest in the UK), and in the Garden mannequins wearing clothing from the Museum’s collections are completed by unique hats and masks designed by Philip Treacy to complement them. These include a hat like the ship hat he designed for Isabella Blow and a mask similar to that he designed for Lady Gaga for the Brits recently. Philip told Vogue.com: “I think [Lady Gaga] is the ultimate pleasure garden attendee. She’d have been larging it up at a pleasure garden if there were such a thing today. She’d have been playing her gigs there, certainly not at the 02.” Philip’s hats were accompanied by copper wigs designed by London-based artist Yasemen Hussein (profiled on this blog at the end of last year, see Wonderful Wigs by Yasemen Hussein, 8 December 2009. )
During the Bank Holiday Weekend I lazily didn’t stray more than a mile from my home in South London’s Clapham. What’s a girl with all this free time to do within such a small geographical space? The answer – well, who needs Oxford Street with the temptation of Clapham’s boutiques on your doorstep.
The eratic weather of the last fortnight is the only explanation for the fact that in the same trip I bought two summer dresses and a jumper. Bullfrogs was where I bought the jumper, cream, with 3/4 length sleeves and silver studs on the shoulders, to be worn on cooler days with skinny jeans. Fever was where I bought the two dresses, one plain blue shift, a Grecian style with a tie belt around the waist, and the second a cream shift with a pink and green floral graphic pattern on it. During the last week, with temperatures going from one extreme to the other, I have worn all three!
Get a glimpse of one of the dresses here… http://www.feverdesigns.co.uk/proddetail.php?prod=SEDR_Jade&cat=2
When in Rome do as the Romans do – and hence, when I was in Athens recently (post Ash cloud and pre demonstrations!) I couldn’t help but hit the shops with the locals during the hot siesta of the middle day.
On busy Ermou and Mitropoleos and the busy streets in between you’ll find the big high street shops, plus some nice high street boutiques. You’ll see recognisable names, like Mango, Zara, H&M and even M&S, but despite knowing the names and the fact all the shop staff seem to speak English, there are some nice local touches to remind you where you are…head in to H&M on Ermou, just opposite the beautiful Kapnikarea church, and you’ll find lovely fresco style ceilings.
In nearby touristy Plaka you’ll be able to do all your souvenir shopping – you’ll find Greek foods to take home, pretty Greek bowls and home decorations and a multitude of Greek sandals (why buy in London when you can get the real thing!)
Around Platia Kolonaki you’ll find the higher end shops, with Sisley, Diesel and Ted Baker as well as the big designer stores. And while in Athens you should obviously take the opportunity to seek out Greek names like Sophia Kokosalaki on their home ground.
Every Sunday the streeets between Thissio and Monastiraki underground stations host the busy flea market. The heart of this busy market is Platia Avyssinias, with its antique stalls selling furniture, muscial instruments and rugs amongst other things. The stalls in the surrounding streets are a little hit and miss, but amidst the illegal DVD sellers you will find good record stores, bookshops and other antique sellers.
For a more cultural look at local fashions, head to the Greek Costume Museum on Dimokritou – although opening hours are eratic, so it’s worth checking in advance that it’s open.
After all this shopping you might need to chill out, so come the evening try Gallery on Adrianou for a drink. If you don’t fancy ouzo try their delicious frozen sorbet cocktails. Check out the art for sale on their walls, but don’t let it distract you from the people watching and the views of the ancient Agora (marketplace) opposite.
It’s sad, but high street shoe chain Faith has gone in to administration – who doesn’t have a pair of their shoes in their wardrobe. I’m currently living in their leopard skin pointy flats, as are many other girls I keep spotting on the high street!
So head down there now for some bargain prices and a last look at their pretty designs.
Combine fashion and food at Secondo, on Voltaire Road in Clapham North. Away from the hustle and bustle and contemporary boutiques of the main street Secondo, under the arches of Clapham High Street railway bridge, takes you back in time to the 1940s. Half of the store is vintage and retro clothing (currently dresses are all£10 and jackets £15) and the other half is a retro caff, decorated with 1940s film posters and other items. There’s an array of vintage dresses, blouses, skirts and menswear on offer, at good prices. After you’ve worked up an appetite sifting through the packed rails, sit in the cafe and enjoy the backdrop of 1940s music and trains going overhead as you tuck in to some food. A slice of cake will set you back £4, but is delicious and you get a huge serving – you might not fit in to that new dress you just bought after all!
Normally I choose my Grand National horse based on the Jockey’s sweater, but this year in the work sweep stake I had to let fate lead the way, as I tentatively picked a name out of a hat. However, the unattractive green and yellow striped sweater which I selected had the magic touch, and my horse, Don’t Push It, just won! Maybe I’ll embrace green and yellow more this summer, and my winnings will help!
You can barely have moved in the last month without reading about the new Quilts exhibition at the V&A. If you hadn’t thought you could get excited by quilts before you might be surprised, and I defy you not to be tempted to start making your own, especially with the help of the products in the V&A shop to entice you on the way out!Luxurious quilts from the 1700s flaunted wealth in the same way as the wallpapers and decor we choose in our own homes now, made from beautiful silks and ribbons and even with a dash of leopard print thrown in. They celebrated jubilees and marriages, and told stories and fables. Quilts weren’t just for decoration though, as they also become a means of conveying a political view, from a nineteenth-century quilt supporting Caroline of Brunswick, the wronged Queen of King George IV, to Grayson Perry’s contemporary quilt criticising anti-abortion policy in the US. There are post-war twentieth century quilts made from old scraps of suits and pyjamas in the spirit of make do and mend, but also the quilts for which old clothes and fabrics were deliberately chosen for the memories they convey, including Tracey Emin’s. Go along and pick which one you would like most to curl up in!
For more information go to: http://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/future_exhibs/Quilts/index.html
Bang Bang was featured in the top London stores for clothes exchange in this week’s Time Out magazine. Having popped in to their Goodge Street branch today, there is indeed a wealth of designer names on the rails just now – a lovely Zac Posen dress, Vivienne Westwood skirt and shirts, and items from See by Chloe, Eley Kishimoto, Diane Von Furstenberg, Henry Holland and Moschino, amongst others. Despite them having declined items I’ve taken in to exchange in the past (I’m not bitter!), you should pop in and take a look, now the sun’s out it’s a good chance to refresh your spring wardrobe!
Lovely Boutique Babylon on Clapham High Street is set to close! Head in now for up to 70% off, I bought a lovely discounted bag and there’s lots of the usual dresses, lingerie and accessories left. Gladly, it’s not a sad story of the recession closing them down, but the owner wanting a change. Boutique Babylon and its DJ beats will be missed, but my wardrobe has a few items in it to remember it by!
This showcase of the work of the 2008 graduates of the Royal College of Art’s fashion MA programme gives a glimpse of what’s to come in fashion, many of the graduates already being employed in fashion houses. The famous course began in 1948, the year of Dior’s New Look, and former graduates work in fashion houses including Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Chloé, Dior and Burberry. Other graduates such as Ossie Clark, Boudicca, Julien Macdonald, Erdem Moralioglu and Carolyn Massey have developed their own labels.
The exhibition explores all aspects of the design process, from sources of inspiration, manufacturing the garment and the new technological developments which help this, and the detail which makes a piece unique.
My highlights included:
Adrian Sommesauer’s grey wool jacket decorated with prints from 20th century botanical drawings
Liam Jackson’s 19th century inspired men’s jacket with traditional military braid on the cuffs replaced by 21st century reflective stripes
Heikkki Salonen’s silk shirt decorated with a pixellated version of the album cover of ‘Disintegration’ by The Cure
Siri Johansen’s apparently cable knit jumper, of which the arms are hand-knitted and the body is a 2D image
Gudrun Klozpsch’s white dress make from patchwork and layers of silk, wool, cotton, rubber, lurex and feathers
Pamela Leung’s ultra-chunky dress made from Rowan big wool, with four strands twisted together and knitted with one-metre-long knitting needles, entwined with silver foil
Abbie Shaw’s wool dress, fused with fabric and wadding to give it a boxyshape at the hips
Léa Carreño’s wool dresses, inspired by 1920s and 1930s modernism and by the Ballets Russes, featuring bold graphics and geometric patterns
Just a week left, runs until 31 January, see here for more information: http://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/future_exhibs/Future_Fashion_Now/index.html
Did you see the gorgeous oversized jewellery in The Observer magazine’s SheerIndulgence fashion shoot last Sunday? It was designed by Nicola Malkin, a ceramicist, and is not designed to adorn you, but your home. See more of her work here: http://www.nicolamalkin.com
If you’re looking for an alternative to shopping to get your fashion fix in 2010 there are lots of opportunities with some top fashion exhibitions in London museums.
Quilts 1700-2010 at the V&A
The V&A’s first ever exhibition of quilts dating from 1700 to the present day will include a silk and velvet bedcover linked to King Charles II, historic quilts commemorating significant events such as the coronation of Queen Victoria, and recent works by artists such as Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin.
20 March – 4 July, http://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/future_exhibs/Quilts/index.html
Grace Kelly: Style Icon at the V&A
The V&A’s major fashion exhibition of the year will feature over 50 outfits from the wardrobe of Grace Kelly, from her days as one of Hollywood’s most popular actresses to her time as Princess Grace of Monaco. 35 haute couture gowns from the 1960s and 1970s by her favourite couturiers Dior, Balenciaga, Givenchy, and Yves St Laurent will be on display.
17 April – 26 September, http://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/future_exhibs/index.html
Bruce Oldfield Talking Fashion at the V&A
Bruce Oldfield will discuss his career designing couture wear for royalty, aristocracy and celebrities including Sienna Miller, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Diana Princess of Wales.
The Fashion and Textile Museum will host three temporary exhibitions, each with a different take on British textiles. The first looks at
the work of Sanderson, at the forefront of English decoration for the last 150 years and producers of the first coordinated collection of mass-produced wallpapers and fabrics in Britain; the second tells the story of Horrockses Fashions Limited, the manufacturer of one of the most well-respected ready-to-wear labels of the 1940s and 1950s, with their full-skirted dresses sought after by women everywhere including Queen Elizabeth II; and finally, an exhibition marking the work of Timney-Fowler, known for its distinctive graphics black and white imagery in fashion and interiors, in its 30th anniversary year.
Various dates, http://www.ftmlondon.org/exhibitions/future/
Across La Manche in Paris, the Petit Palais will host a retrospective of work by Yves Saint Laurent from 11 March, while on 1 April the Musée des Arts Décoratifs will open a retrospective of contemporary fashion from 1971 to the present day.
Retrospective Yves Saint Laurent au Petit Palais, 11 Mar – 29 August 2010, www.fondation-pb-ysl.net
1971-2010 Une histoire idéale de la mode contemporaine at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1 April 2010 – 8 April 2011, http://www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr/francais/mode-et-textile/expositions-70/prochainement-446/une-histoire-ideale-de-la-mode/
On Monday 21 December I battled the queues on Oxford Street to get to Selfridges, where my mum had asked me to look for a Dior necklace which my sister had seen and liked. I found the necklace and paid for it while another member of staff took my necklace away for gift-wrapping Love Actually style. Ten minutes later I left the shop contentedly swinging my beautifully packaged Dior gift bag.
However, come Christmas Day my mum presented my sister with the grand finale of the presents, the Dior gift bag, and what
should be inside but…a gold Dior purse. The package that the store were simultaneously wrapping for the man buying a purse for his girlfriend had got confused with my necklace and I had the wrong present! No doubt that somewhere in London/the UK/the world is a furious boyfriend whose girlfriend now has a Dior necklace she doesn’t want. However, this might be the only time in her life that my sister owns, even temporarily, a Dior bag, so for the moment we’ll enjoy it. Although come New Year when back in London we”ll have to struggle back to Selfridges through the post-Christmas madness to swap the present back!
I’d been planning on wearing this short, sleeveless number from JJ Park in Camden Market for my Christmas do, but the freakishly cold and shiver-inducing weather made me change my mind! London is too cold for small frocks right now – or am I just easily defeated by the London winter weather? Where do you draw the line between being insufferably cold and looking good?
We had a £5 budget for Secret Santa, and I bought this reusable shopping bag from Museum of London. Its cute design plays on Cockney Rhyming Slang, it says ‘London is a lovely place for a bit of Lollipopping’ (shopping). How true, and perfect for carrying your shopping – I have to confess I bought myself one too!
Two London-based fashionable French men have won prizes in the annual Français of the Year competition. Designer Roland Mouret of the famous Galaxy dresses was awarded the prize for Artist of the Year, ahead of M&S model Noemie Lenoir and actress Lou Doillon. Chief Executive Officer of Liberty department store, Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye, was named Businessman of the Year at the awards, with his competition including Arnaud Bamberger, Managing Director of Cartier.
The award aims to highlight key figures in the UK’s French community. More than 4,000 people voted in the online poll.
If you’re in South London tonight try Brixton Village for some Christmas shopping. New stores have opened in the 1930s indoor market and they’re celebrating moving in with mulled wine and seasonal entertainment tonight, including live bands and the chance to make your own Christmas decorations. The shops, which include vintage clothes stores and food shops, will be open until 9pm.
Tonight, in the style of church hall fares and school Christmas fetes, the Barbican is hosting a £3 Christmas Bazaar, where you will be able to buy Christmas gifts made by upcoming artists. Students from RCA, Goldsmith, Central St Martins and Camberwell College of Art will be selling all sorts of Christmas gifts, from works of arts to quirky stocking fillers.
For more information go to http://www.barbican.org.uk/theatre/event-detail.asp?ID=10109
Camden council is trying to increase custom at the borough’s independent stores this Christmas and has scoured their shelves to help you find original gifts for friends and family on all budgets. There are gift ideas for everyone, including kids, eco warriors, beauty queens and foodies, and gifts include dance and Asian cooking classes alongside more traditional hampers, books, espresso makers and ceramics. Print out the guide on the website and you’ll get a discount in some of the borough’s shops and if you spend £5 in one of the shops you can enter a competition to win a £1,000 prize.
For more information go to http://www.lovecamden.org/
Erdem showcased about 50 dresses, mostly from his 2008 and 2009 collections. They included a range of ultra-modern dresses in the bright colours for which he is known, with flowers and Swarovski sparkle galore, and a selection of lace Edwardian style dresses in contrasting neutral colours. Though very different in appearance there is crossover between the two ranges as psychadelic floral prints featured both digitally printed and appliqued patterns, while ruffles and pleats softened some of the psychadelic overload, (although plenty of body-con style dresses slipped in too). The influence of his early work at Diane Von Furstenburg is clear in the wearability of his designs, and the decorative patterns.
For more information go to www.erdem.co.uk
At the British Fashion Awards last night Kate Moss won the London 25 award, to recognise the person who most embodies the spirit of London and who is an international ambassador for the capital’s fashion industry. The choice of Kate was a bit predictable, but it was voted for by the public, and we do all love her! The award was a special award to mark 25 Years of British Fashion and London Fashion Week.
Today I was lucky enough to meet artist and sculptor Yasemen Hussein. She makes a variety of beautiful objects including colourful pomegranates made from copper and steel and concrete surfaces engraved with naturalistic and floral patterns. What I love however are her gorgeous hair pieces – from recycled copper and steel she makes beautiful ‘wigs’ in a variety of ‘dos’, f rom traditional historic styles to modern 1920s bobs. I’ll have to save up to buy one, but will lust after them from afar for now!
More information at www.yasemenhussein.com
You now have just a few days left to see the Fashion and Textile Museum’s small free exhibition of textiles designed by Jacqueline Groag, the most influential textile designer in Britain post World War II.
During the 1920s and 1930s she designed for Wiener Werkstätte in Vienna as well as for Parisian fashion houses including Chanel, Lanvin, Worth, Schiaparelli and Paul Poiret. She and her husband fled Vienna before World War II and were welcomed in Britain by the design fraternity, so that during the 1940s she was the leading designer of textiles in Britain. In 1951 her textiles and wallpapers were shown at the Festival of Britain and her patterns became influential internationally.
During the 1950s and 1960s she had many clients in the US including Associated American Artists and for Hallmark Cards. Later in this period she also worked with Sir Misha Black at the Design Research Unit and designed interiors for boats, planes and trains, and in the mid-1970s she created a distinct moquette for London Transport buses and tube trains. In 1984 she became a Royal Designer for Industry, the ultimate accolade for a British designer.
You can see a selection of her designs in the display, including raw fabricpatterns, dresses and wallpapers. The bright designs feature pattern as different as views through open windows of people’s homes, geometric patterns, and birds and floral patterns. I liked ‘Puppet Ballet’.
On display until 10 December. More information at www.ftmlondon.org
This weekend there are some great offers on at museums where you can get some nice fashion buys…
The V&A is offering 15% off until Tuesday 8 December. Online simply enter offer code ‘VAXMAS091’ when you come to the payment details screen, or why miss an excuse to pop in to the beautiful museum itself. The main shop has an array of gifts for fashion-lovers, and don’t forget the museum’s new dedicated book shop with shelves full of beautiful books that will keep fashionistas busy for hours, whether you want a coffee table book, a biography or a do-it-yourself fashion guide. Go to: http://www.vandashop.com/
Meanwhile, tonight only you can enjoy a free glass of wine as you shop at the
Fashion and Textile Museum, as well as 10% off. You can buy Marion Foale berets and scarves and limited edition pottery by Sally Tuffin. Also, take a look at Suzie Crisfield’s bracelets, earrings and brooches, silicon corsages with a mottled colour effect which lights up in UV light – I gave in to some clip-on earrings for £18. There are also some lovely eel skin ruched clutch bags by Heidi Mottram, and browse through the shop’s selection of vintage books, which included Susy Menkes’ Knitwear Revolution and a 60s guide to needlework for young girls when I was there. More information at: http://www.ftmlondon.org/
This Friday, 4 December, the Pimlico branch of @work gallery is hosting its late night Christmas shopping event, with 10% discount. My favourites are Yula Yulala’s beautiful dangly hemp earrings in red, gold and black. You can also find Rachel Darbourne’s bangles, earrings and necklaces made from plastic bags, or butterfly- and bird-shaped cuffs, rings, earrings and hair clips made from PVC by Marmalade. I also liked Bena’s ornate letter brooches in bronze and silver.
The Brick Lane branch will have a late night shopping event next Friday, 11 December.
Get a glimpse of what’s on offer at: www.atworkgallery.co.uk/
Now it’s December and the first doors on the advent calendar have been opened (and the first chocolates eaten!) I think it’s officially time to mention the Selfridges Christmas windows. This year’s theme is pantomimes. If you can face the crowds go and take a look – where else will you see Captain Hook in Vivienne Westwood, Cinderella in Miu Miu and Chloe and Snow White’s evil stepmother in Alexander McQueen!
There are several fashion-themed museums you can visit in Paris:
The Musée de la Mode et du Textile at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs has a rolling programme of exhibitions. See http://www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr/francais/mode-et-textile/
TheMusées des Parfumeries-Fragonard showcase the collection of the perfume house Fragonard, from Ancient Egyptian ointment flasks to bottles by Lalique and Schiaparelli. See www.fragonard.com/parfums_grasse/GB/fragonard/paris
The Musée de l’Eventail is basedat the house of the last fan-maker in Paris. It displays the tools of the trade and a collection of almost 1,000 historic fans, alongside the working studio of ancestor Anne Hoguet www.annehoguet.fr/musee.htm
The Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent conserves around 5,000 items of haute couture and 15,000 accessories by the designer, as well as designs and objects related to the company. See www.fondation-pb-ysl.net
And here are some districts and shops to try for your fashion fix:
Montmarte is full of lots of little fabric shops in the streets at the bottom of the hill on which stands Sacré-Coeur. Known as the Marché St-Pierre, try Rue Seveste and Rue D’Orsel. On Rue des Abbesses and Rue la Vieuville you’ll also find boutiques and second hand clothes shops.
The Marché aux puces de Clignancourt is mostly for antiques, but there’s a beautiful vintage clothing shop at the entrance to Marché Paul Bert (enter via Rue Paul Bert). Here you’ll find beautiful vintage Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Balmain and Paco Rabane amongst others. On Rue des Rosiers you’ll also find vintage shop Désir. Amongst others, Marché Biron is full of beautiful antiques shops with items that wouldn’t look out of place in Versailles! See http://www.marchesauxpuces.fr/
Although it’s not strictly under the remit of this blog, not being in London, having spent a weekend in Paris I felt I couldn’t not mention the fashion happenings there, starting with the exhibition of clothes by revolutionary 1930s designer Madeleine Vionnet currently on show at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
In 1952 Madeleine Vionnet donated to the Union Française des Arts du Costume 122 robes, 750 dress patterns, 75 photo albums of copyrights, accounts books and books from her personal library, which are the basis for this beautiful exhibition of dresses.
Vionnet left school at 12 and learn the trade of couture at a variety of houses including at Kate Reily in London and with the famous Callot Sisters in Paris. In 1912 she opened her own ‘maison de couture’ at 222 rue de Rivoli. Forced to close during the Great War she reopened in 1918 from when she achieved her great success. She ran her couture house like a modern company, in a progressive way for the time, and when she moved to new premises at 50 Avenue Montaigne in 1923 the store was seen as a ‘Temple of Fashion’. She co-founded the first anticopyist Association, L’Association pour la Défense des Arts Plastiques et Appliqués and she signed and finger printed the labels on her own garments to authenticate them.
She was famous for developing the bias cut, which meant dresses with
movement, and without linings or stays, buttons or hooks, or corsets. Crêpe was her favourite material, with its crisp, slightly elastic but soft properties, and fluidity on the bias. She liked solid colours, such as black and white, as well “blues and greens, that set off eye colours” and “reds, that echo lips”.
Vionnet was the first concept designer and didn’t use live models, but instead worked direct with the fabric on 80cm wooden models (the example in the exhibition is quite eerie-looking) which led to greater abstraction in her work. She was seen as an artist, however, she was aware that with her art the dresses still had to be liked and worn. She said: “Dressmaking is an art whose products are more directly consumable than those of the so-called major arts, painting and music for example”.
The exhibition tells the story of Vionnet through the display of her dresses. It is chronological and explores trends in her work, including geometric shapes, ornamentation, beading and sequins, fringing, and the use of gold and silver. The beautiful dresses are mostly displayed with mirrors behind them as well, to show the backs of these beautiful garments. Each is also accompanied by an electronic caption which interchanges with illustrations of the garments or photographs of them being worn. It’s a delight to see an exhibition filled with more dresses than words, so a must-see for any fashion lover who is happy to gaze at beautiful dresses for a couple of hours.
Exhibition runs until 31 January 2010, for more information see www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr
The Eley Kishimoto Pop-Up Shop at 8 Kingly Street, in ‘Little Japan’, is now open until January 2010. The shop stocks items items from the current Autumn/Winter 09-10 ‘Jet Set Masala’ collection, including Japanese license accessories that have never been made in the UK before and exclusive and limited edition items that have previously only been distributed to friends and family. There is also a shoe clearance sale, with prices from £10.
Plus, this weekend East London goes all Parisian as The Cube Store unveils Colette’s first ever UK pop-up shop at The Old Truman Brewery’s Boilerhouse. Colette-style trinkets will be on sale and shoppers can also enjoy events including Japanese film screenings and live art installations. To gain entry apply line or look out for Nissan Cube cars at venues and events around the city where you can get a membership card from a driver.
Visit www.cubelist.co.uk for more information
This Somerset House exhibition marks 10 years of fashion photographer Nick Knight’s award-winning website SHOWstudio, in which the world of fashion image-making moves out of its exclusive arena and is unveiled to all, with the website’s viewers able to take part.
The exhibition presents some of the most successful pieces and collaborations that have appeared on the site. Your first step in to the world of fashion imagery is through the Mirror Room (uncomfortable for some!), where multiple visions of yourself remind you that you are also an image, and that we live in a society incessantly preoccupied with body and image.
Elsewhere, video footage reveals the inner workings of the fashion world: in Transformer: The Bridegroom Stripped Bare, by Alexander McQueen, the creative process is revealed as a bride groom is transformed in to a bride by frenzied cutting and ripping of his traditional suit; you can pick up a phone and hear answer phone messages left by fashionistas calling in from the Fashion Week shows; you can watch interviews with the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Kate Moss, answering questions from SHOWstudio viewers online; or see top models looking uncomfortable in front of the camera for once, as they are filmed spending two minutes silent and still in front of a camera, not knowing what to do.
The highlight (although not open all the time) is the Live Studio, where if you plan your visit you will be able to see a live photo shoot unfold each week. So far these have included a shoot for British Vogue and more are to follow – you can even take part, as male models are needed for Simon Foxton’s Sittings installation in the exhibition space (deadline Fri 11 Dec – to enter you have to visit, record your individual look live in front of a camera at the Interactive Casting Booth in the exhibition.)
Just one month to go, runs until 20 December.
As I walked to the tube station to get to the V&A to hear Cath Kidston speak I saw a twenty-something girl carrying a Cath Kidston red and white polka-dotted bag – inevitable, you’ll probably agree, as you can’t seem to go a day without seeing someone on the High Street carrying a Cath Kidston bag.
Since she opened her first store 16 years ago Cath Kidston has grown in to a £31million international brand, and since 2002 alone the business has gone from having three stores within a few miles of each other in West London to having 28 around the world, with five stores in Japan alone. She has been called the “Queen of Florals” by The Guardian newspaper and indeed it is her traditional floral prints that women of all ages seem to love.
Unassuming and down-to-earth Cath comes across as someone to whom this success has happened, as opposed to her chasing it. She confesses that when she opened her first shop she didn’t have any intention of having more than one. However, being ahead of the growing trend for vintage styles, and with the support of the press and the fashion world from early on (a Vogue staffer dropped by regularly at her first shop in Holland Park, and Miuccia Prada once came in to buy some aprons), Cath Kidston is now one of those rare companies bucking the recession.
After working in retail for several years Cath moved in to interior design, learning the trade from the infamous Nicky Haslam, before she started her first business venture with a friend selling curtain poles and antique curtains. Then, inspired by the flamboyant country house style of the late 1980s, the idea for her first store was triggered by a photograph in a magazine showing a bathroom decorated in a very floral and traditional style, with rustic looking furnishings and a bath with the sides covered in patterned wallpaper.
She had £15,000 to start with, £5,000 of which went in to manufacturing wallpaper with her now famous rose print pattern, the original version of which she found in an old cupboard. She would buy unwanted furnishings and redo them, but now makes a variety of new products, with 2009 prints sitting alongside reworks of old ones, re-shaped, or re-coloured, or used on different products, to keep the successful mix of new and familiar which her customers cherish. A key element of the charm of Cath Kidston’s products, and what Cath aimed to achieve, was to make domestic chores more friendly. One of the best-selling products has always been the ironing board covers, which originally kept the business afloat, selling three to four in a normal week in the early days, and still a major seller now.
In the noughties the business has truly developed in a corporate sense, with investors on board, and a full staff of more than 80 now including savvy merchandising and buying departments. As well as stores around the world, the brand has developed its mail order capacity and is also online. Showing how new all this is, the Cath Kidston company has only recently identified its brand, having deduced it by asking its customers, rather than strategically shaping it itself. Recent market research has left Cath impressed by the range of the business’ customers of all ages, although determinedly female, except at Christmas and Valentine’s Day!
A preview of what’s to come – one of 2010’s new prints is in the spirit of Britishness once again with the staycation in mind, featuring drawings of sights around the UK including Stonehenge, York Minster and Edinburgh Castle. Cath jokes that a Kidston tartan might be next.
More imminently, look out for two pop-up shops opening in London for Christmas. More info at www.cathkidston.co.uk