Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Great Danes

 When Paris is too unatainably chic and expensive, New York too 'done' and London too try-hard, Copenhagen has provided my (until recently frustrated) shameless, street-style stalker with a bountiful binge of innovative and genuinely interesting ensembles for me to feast on.

Aside from being populated by such innately beautiful creatures, the Danish capital seems to be home to some of the most varied, original and effortless ensembles I have seen in months. Copenhagenstreetstyle.dk is a fantastic showcase of some of the city's most dynamic dressers, a superb source of inspiration and perfectly productive procrastination.

Just a selection:

So this girl is 16, definitely more than a little depressing.
The simple grey pea-coat is something I have been considering for a while but haven't ever found one cut quite as well as this.

According to CSS, Copenhagen's Man-folk are fabulously attired also

This is particularly exciting, one I intend to receate. It makes me pine for weather where tights aren't completely mandatory.

Leggings and chelsea boots topped off my some form of faux dead animal. 

Johan, you are how many men should be clothed.

Teetering dangerously on the slim border between old clothes and old age but I think she pulls it off.

VB, you're out of your mind

Following her British Fashion Council's 'Designer Of The Year' nomination and highly-praised New York fashion week collection, I decided it was time for me to a have a fresh, objective look at Victoria Beckham's forays into the fashion world; and having done so, order a large slice of the humblest of humble pies.

I realise I'm a little late. The buzz surrounding Posh's Ready-to-Wear dress collection has been mounting for some time; with everyone from A-list actresses to Vogue editors sporting her line; but it is testament to the gravity of my prejudice (mounting since she was my least favourite Spice Girl in 1996) that I managed the ignore the hype, and the wealth of cold, hard, aesthetic evidence supporting it.

Now in her fifth season as a high fashion heavyweight, there is no denying Victoria's precision and prowess as she debuted yet another fantastic collection of flawless frocks, in her own personal, gallery-style presentation, to finally silence her sceptics and prove her worth among the fashion elite.

Citing “the neat shapes of sculptures and works” of Brancusi as a crucial influence; this season saw her move away slightly from the rigid corsetry, for which she has recently become known, and embrace a more fluid, but no less elegant silhouette into her collection. VB herself claims that her dresses “fit you perfectly” and it seems with her ever-expanding loyal legions of fashion followers, she doesn't just talk the talk, but with the feet Louboutain-clad and swinging her own new Kelly-style boxy handbag (available in either lizard or Nubuck, which also comes in a big enough size so David can fit his trackies in, fact fans), she walks the walk too.


I've decided I'm on the hunt for a hat.

Now that my much loved mohair grey beanie has become the Ugg-boot of the forehead I've decided to purchase a real hat, one that will complete outfits, frame my face, and on days like today, conceal from the other unfortunate students in my seminar that I shall forever choose an extra hour in bed over basic hygiene of the hair.


The trouble with hats is, that at least 85% of people wearing them provoke an involuntary reaction of ridicule, scathe and haughty judgement from me and I'm not sure if I'm ready to completely discard my principles and become quite that degree of hypocrite just yet. If the truth be told I've wanted a dickhat for years. You know the kind: floppy but not too so, preferably made out some form of felt material, fairly wide-brimmed? Think Sienna Miller's boho heyday, or my personal inspiration: Renee Zellweger as Ruby Thewes in Cold Mountain.

But whoever that 85% may be channelling; be it a British actress with a dubious grasp of sexual morality or an un-washed, Appalachian illiterate, the effect still makes me shudder almost as much as a River Island rosary swinging proudly around the collar of a Topman polo shirt in a heinous shade of neon green.

Potentially the worst of some real tragic examples I've seen in this town was last week's Alex Curran-a-like who's decided she wants to 'mix it up'. Her bid for individuality manifested in the hideous ensemble of too-tight cut off Levi's (guaranteed from the "it's vintage so we'll charge you £40 you stupid lazy wannabee" section at Urban Outfitters), black leather studded waistcoat, Kurt Cobain vest, those irritating tights with the love heart garter design, about £70 of disposable Topshop silver jewellery and topped off by none other than, you guessed it, my much lusted-after dickhat. For another prime example see below.

Here's hoping with the whole of the Northern Quarter at my feet and my elusive student loan dangerously tangible and burning a hole in my bank account I can finally acquire a piece of beautifully practical wide-brimmed, black, maybe ribbon-trimmed hat that lands me firmly in the hallowed 15% of the headwear-sporting population who invoke such admiration in me for managing to not look like total dickheads in their dickhats.

Monday, 27 September 2010


After a beautiful week spent in the Italian capital I couldn't help but marvel at the quintessentially Italian sense of style. The unashamed glamazon: big hair, bigger heels, nipped in waists and pushed up breasts; all finished and polished to oh-so Italian perfection, was everywhere in Rome and I was in awe.

It was one morning as I was sat in the Piazza De San Lorenzo, reading Elle's 25th Anniversary issue over cappuccino and cornetti, that I first truly began to appreciate that this iconic, national sense of style was propogated most crucially by Mr Dolce and Mr Gabbanna. Attire to make women exude sex appeal is fairly sparse in the fickle fashion world; but whatever guise Domenico and Stephano's muse is adopting each season; she is always strong, fearless and devastatingly sexy.

This inherent Sicilian sensuality transcending the turnover of trends is no more apparent in light of their latest Milan Fashion Week offering, for Spring/Summer 2011.The duo's last Autumn/Winter show was famously ushered in by the stunning sight of a seemingly endless sea of lean, lithe limbs strutting down the runway; topped off my the hottest of tiny, black hot pants and the signature Dolce Blazer; a sight which many lucky enough to witness first hand described as "stunning", "breathtaking" and "emotional".

The slick, sleek and sexy nature of the collection's aesthetic was juxtaposed by their latest showing, inspired, according to Elle by the "Wedding Trousseau" and executed to feminine perfection, predominantly in exquisite white lace. This was however, by no means the demure wardrobe of a blushing virgin bride; sheer sheaths, with exposed undergarments, corsetry, high hemlines, mid-riffs aplenty and the tightest of pencil skirts ensured that the brand's inherent temptress was still very much at play underneath her floaty facade of faux-innocence.

Flashes of the tight, noir and leopard print punctuated the romantic collection, serving as striking reminders to the voyeur that the irrepressibe D&G vamp refuses to be ignored, tamed, or reigned in; and doesn't need a proposal as a pre-requisite to having her slice of fairytale white, couture-flavoured cake, and eating it too.


Sunday, 26 September 2010

Kilian Me Softly..

So I managed to blag spending half an hour in Harvey Nicholls Restaurant with the wonderful Kilian Hennessy. Just about managed not to descend into a fit of girlish hyperventilation, here are the results:

Bonjour Monsieur Hennessy. So we're here in Harvey Nichols for your first UK launch of your personal brand outside London. It all looks fantastic. Could you talk our readers through the collection and the inspiration behind it?

So the collection's name is“L'oeuvre au noir”, in reference to the book by Marguerite Yourcenar, but if I did a translation it would be “The black artwork”. For me the collection is like a script for a movie director, it has three main chapters. One chapter, it expresses love, one chapter expresses artificial paradises, and one chapter expresses human temptations. So far there are nine scents, and the collection will be completed with ten perfumes. To continue with the same comparison, the name is like a script for a movie director; whom you cannot imagine choosing his actors and actresses without a script, and the same for me. The name is my script, my story, that provokes an emotion and takes you in to a world of that emotion. It is that world that I try to translate into a scent”

Have you always envisaged embarking upon your own story in the perfume world; after being surrounded by the industry growing up, as well as your study in the semantics of scent at La Sorbonne?

No. It has definitely evolved over the years. The semantics is the issue of our industry. Music and colours are the same in any colour, not the same in perfume, We make a reference to the origin of the scent, not to the scent itself. That is our number one issue.

What sets your own personal brand apart from the master perfumers you worked with and learnt from: Giorgio Armarni, Paco Rabanne, Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen, aside from the very significant price difference?

“Really, what I am trying to achieve is to go back to a world of perfume that existed in the late 19th and beginning of the 20th century, a perfume world that now you only witness in museums. The whole ambition was to go back to that level of luxury, but done in a way where it would look and feel and smell contemporary. So everything that you see: the wood boxes, the satin linings, the engraved bottles, the keys, all those details of luxury; that was the normal level of luxury a century ago. Today, by comparison, because everything is disposable, in glass bottles, cardboard boxes and mass produced, that's why it looks so luxurious. Really, what I'm trying to do is perfume as an art, like it was a century ago.

To my surprise, I found the term 'eco-luxe' attributed to your products. These are two terms that mostly seem to unnecessarily contradict each other. In what ways would you claim your range is ecologically-friendly, and is this an issue that you're particularly interested in?

“You can put so much things into 'Eco'. No, really what interests me here is that when luxury is so 'apétit', so finished, when everything offered to a customer is so precious, that the customer feels that everything has a meaning, that becomes to me the ultimate eco-luxe brand: in the sense that the customer doesn't throw anything, therefore there is no waste. The satin lining is removable so the customer can use the box as a jewellery box, the bottle is refillable, the only thing you have to do is go back to the store and we will refill the bottle for you. The refill is less than half the price. So really, it's a great incentive not to throw anything.

You launched in 2007. With the recent poor economic climate, have you found people being less inclined to part with their money for perfume; has the global recession been much of a hindrance?

No. Even in the recession, this would be expensive for a regular perfume bottle, but it is not a regular perfume bottle. Number one: you are getting much more than a disposable, glass bottle with a sticker on it. Number two: it's less than a pair of jeans at Diesel. You can spend £150 on a pair of jeans that you will wear for a couple of months before they go out of style, or you can decide to buy yourself a perfume bottle which will last a lifetime. So again, when you put in it perspective, customers are just spending their money wisely.

At the moment you have the perfumes and the scented candles, would you ever consider going into couture or beauty or is perfume the one true love?

Why are you asking me that? I am actually launching a new category of products at the end of the year.

Can we have any further information on these items, or is all remaining a mystery until then?

I will come back at the end of the year to introduce that. It is not going to be beauty. More fashion, but again with the same spirit, in the sense that what I want to do is piece that are close to art. That it's an art object that you're getting and in that sense, a collectable item, an investment, that in thirty years you can give to your daughter. I would only do something where I feel I can bring something interesting in comparison to what is being offered at the moment, you know? There's categories of products where I wouldn't be able to bring something new, where there are already so many great choices, and I don't see myself proposing anything interesting enough. But there are somethings, example, I can't find it, If I want to offer it for a girlfriend.

So as long as there's the story behind it and it's in tune with the vision of “absolute, uncompromising luxury”?

Yes, as long as there's a story, as long as it's timeless, luxury and modern. I feel very often when things become very luxurious, when they reach a sudden level of price that this immediately means they cater for a more mature customer. What interests me is to do real luxury, but in a contemporary, modern context. Like with the scent: it's luxurious, but it's not super-classic, it has an edge.

And it's very sexy

Ah, yes. That too.

I've also heard you quoted as saying your perfume could be unisex, and not directed exclusively to men or women?

I'd never say unisex in the way of CKONE of anything like that. For me, it's more like Gender-less.

So with By Kilian being such a niche, high-end, uncompromisingly luxurious brand, if your range did expand, along with the demand would you expand your outlets or would you want to retain the exclusivity of your line?

Yes, definitely. I have less than a hundred doors in the world. I want to stay very exclusive so because I want my customers to feel unique; that's why I am interested to offer them more products as well as the perfume in my very exclusive stores.

So you'll be back in a few months to launch the mystery developments you have in store for us?

That's another Harvey Nichols, in Knightsbridge. They will be there November fifteenth. But I'll be back in Manchester after.

Eveything is so beautifully packaged! Even the free-bees.

Indeed, everything should be so, always.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Abstinence Isn't So Hard.

I didn't have to hold out for too long...
the camel found me!


In the guise of a £6.99, slightly too big, belted BHS overcoat circa 1998: hidden away in the back corner of a fabulously provincial and unpretentious PDSA, was the camel coat of my dreams. Cheap it may be (in more ways than one) and almost certainly too long for my 5"4 inches; nevertheless, in my rose-tinted retinas it is a perfect imitation of  Chloé and MaxMara's finest Autumn/Winter outerwear, that at the equivalent price of lunch, I simply couldn't pass by. I'm almost excited for Manchester's blistery winter weather so I'll have a chance to put it to good use.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Cheap Frills

The rumours are true! The highly speculated H&M-Lanvin collaboration is indeed going ahead; the manifestations of which shall be hitting the the high street in November.

Now, before an irrepressible state of hysteria engulfs every discerning dresser in the land, think back to H&M's previous big-name, high fashion fusions: Viktor and Rolf, Jimmy Choo, Sonia Rykiel, Matthew Williamson etc. Ponder the pieces you purchased. Were they really as fantastic a bargain as you expected them to be? Did they reflect much of the brand's beauty, quality and ethos except for the name? Or, if truth be told, were they mediocre buys of poor quality, discarded after a few weeks and purchased primarily amidst all the gimmicky fashion furore of being able to pay a high street price for a high-end garment?

The reality is of course that you are not getting anything near the calibre of the designer's own collection. From the cheap fabrics, unravelling hems and snapped-off heels, big name brands in both the high-end and high street poles of the fashion have realised the innate gullibility of the bargain-craving fashion fanatics and as a result, the lucrativeness of their many collaborations.

But who knows, The H&M and Lanvin fusion may melt my icy cynic's heart. I am a huge fan (from a wistful distance, of course), season after season, of Lanvin's collections under the superb artistic direction of Alber Elbaz and if H&M just so happen to present me with the perfect mid-winter, quintessentially Lanvin cocktail dress come November, I shan't be too stubborn to refuse it. That said, I shan't be holding my breath either.

'New Window' Shopping

The time has come. It's thirty nine minutes into the day that one of my most persistent prayers has been answered by my omnipresent fairy godmother of fashion: Zara have finally realised the lucrativeness of the world of Internet shopping and at last have a fully functional, real-life, transactional website!

Now, peace in the West Bank, a cure for cancer or fat free Reese's peanut butter cup this is not; but for a humble devotee of the miraculously underrated brand for many years, this is terribly exciting news. From this day forth I shall be able to purchase their perennially perfect outerwear in my actual size rather than just making do with ill-fitting shoulders and unsightly cuffed sleeves due to my local branch's fairly poor size selection. No more will I have to ponder for hours (quite literally) over a 'piece' purchase; resulting in judgement from the staff and (at the very least) mild irritation from whoever has the misfortune of my being my chosen consumer companion as I dither, agonize and attempt to justify significant sums of money on that completely essential clutch or blazer or kaftan...or maybe that other blazer? Henceforth I shall never be subjected to...well, you get the general gist: Zara has a website. You can buy stuff on it. In bed.

 I know Internet shopping is hardly revolutionary, but this means that Zara's international collection is now at my fingertips and I can debate, dither and deliberate over all it's many delights free from hassle, judgement or rational second opinion. Bliss.

Now to just casually browse and wait for my bank to call and inform me of suspected fraudulent, online transactions from my account...again.