Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Looking Like Your Christmas Tree Trend

Worn with the ultimate style!

As I admire the work-of-art that is our Christmas tree, I am led to a burning question; who ever thought it would be a good idea to dress in the same way? The Christmas jumper, emblazoned with snowmen, Santas or generic winter scene has been an object of festive humour for decades but in Winter 2011 it is both at the height of fashion and at its very fugliest.

Alongside gold, frankinscense and myrrh, some would have you believe Jesus received the first hand-knitted sweater courtesy of the three shepherds; they had enough wool after-all! However, its position on the Loud Scale from 1 to ‘you-literally-cannot-fit-another-felt-bauble-on-there’ is unmentioned in the scriptures. It is easier to track its rise to gaudy fame from the 1960s, alongside the general fashion revolution and commercialisation of Christmas.

Millions could suddenly watch their favourite television stars donning an ornate sweater for the Christmas special via this new technological form of mass-communication and then, of course, the eighties arrived. The decade for gaudy, loud and unforgiving fashion embraced the jumper and took home-made knits to a whole new level. It is at this point that we should probably thank Bill Cosby for the inspiration his spellbinding-or just plain blinding-array of sweaters gave throughout the running of his own television show until 1992. In fact, if you’re currently looking for inspiration, here is his portfolio-

 Possibly in delayed mourning to the daring fashion decade, the early noughties saw the massive rise of the Ugly Sweater Party. Vancouverites, Jordan Birch, Chris Boyd, and Scott Lindsay, have quite willingly put their name to the creation of this event after holding their initial celebrations back in 2001. Eggnog flows, carols are sung and the ugliest jumpers known to mankind are awarded for their utter repulsiveness. The trend is so compelling that the trio have even produced their own book on the etiquette of hosting or attending such an event. 

The amount of people who turned up to the Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party in Vancouver
To be the ‘Belle of the Ball’ though, requires the most repulsive sweater in existence and sites are popping up all over to meet demand. Ugly jumper entrepreneur, Nancy Schloetel, told ABC News that she can actually sell her sweaters for more by ‘uglifying’ them; customised pieces have included battery-operated lights and even a sewn-on Nativity scene!

Now tell me, have British bloggers seen the recent BBC advert with all our familiar faces sporting novelty Christmas jumpers? That was quite a large order for David and Judy Fitchie but apparently, “the demand is certainly there”. Ever more so this year as fashion has celebrated any kind of motifed jumper along with the traditional winter Fair-Isle designs seen on the runways. 

It began with Balenciaga’s German shepherd top and now stars like Kelly Rowland, Justin Bieber, Fearne Cotton, Selma Blair and Matt Damon have all been spotted working Christmas kitsch.

Kay Barron, senior fashion news and features editor at Grazia (a trusty trend source, one may claim) says, "loads of the girls in the office are wearing them...we've had snowflakes, Fair Isles and even a Rudolph". At GQ magazine, associate editor Robert Johnston admits: "I've always secretly loved them. I was at a party last week and no less than three other men were wearing them." 

Topshop are selling a similar design at the moment (Colin Firth not included)
In Britain, our current economic climate is being blamed for the extra stardom that the festive sweater is having. Uncertainty about the financial future can be masked for a few days with massive, reindeer-emblazoned jumpers it seems.

So there you have it; Christmas is on the verge of arrival and faster than you can dibs the last mince-pie, it will be over but resurrect that novelty knit with pride tomorrow. They’re fun, great conversation-starters and, who knows, people may leave presents at your feet by accident!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, 25 November 2011

It's Oh So Ab Fab Sweeties!

Forget Lacroix darlings! Eddy, our very own PR to the fashion world, appears to be backing another designer now.

It has been revealed that, Ab Fab star, Jennifer Saunders will be turning on Stella McCartney's Christmas lights at the Bruton Street store this year. Previous comedy acts have opened the festivities, including Catherine Tate and The Mighty Boosh but, for me, there is an added meaning to this latest alliance. 

If Stella's sheer polka-dot panel dresses had not increased my respect for her enough, the designer's decision to work with a comedian, who managed to write and star in a five-series show based on ridiculing the farcical side of fashion, certainly has!

Of course, there is a great deal more to Saunders than Ab Fab; a comedienne, screenwriter, actress and, more personally, cancer survivor. However, as someone who spends their days immersed up to their metaphorical (but beautifully adorned) ears in Vogue's latest news and swotting up on all there is to know about the fashion industry, I enjoy being brought down to Earth once-in-a-while.

Don't get me wrong, that doesn't stop me fantasising about swapping my little Ford Ka for a personal driver and taking lunch at Harvey Nichols before jetting off for some shopping in New York (yes, one can dream) but you can take it a step (or a few miles) too far. At the end of the day, I am in fashion for fashion alone and sometimes the best creations come from designers who don't take themselves too seriously.

The costumes in themselves were entertaining enough; whilst, at times, Saunders managed to look like a designer's nineties nightmare in every label she could find, I have always wondered where Bubble shopped for her...conversational pieces. Sarah Burns was the original Costume Designer followed by Rebecca Hale and they really did do an amazing job in representing the characters through their clothes. 

Here are a few images...

My Christmas outfit inspiration

Oh and whilst I was looking through pictures, I came across this link for a competition (back in 2004, sorry). All you had to do was design an outfit for one of the main characters and they've kept the entries on the site! Just a bit of fun to look through and it's amazing what you can do with a bit of Paint!

Even Saffy's jumpers are back in fashion!

Have a good weekend!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Frow at the Peter Jensen Fashion Show

Subtract the dribbling baby, who propelled mushy carrots from the highchair next to me and his mother, persisting with ‘here comes the aeroplane’ (despite the kid clearly having a fear of flying) and I would have, had the most refined evening of my life on Friday.

Apparently, all it takes is live music, a pot of tea and a comfy spot in the V&A to make me think I’m sitting in a French salon rather than a museum cafĂ© in west London. Nevertheless, whilst I might have believed I could hold my own in a debate on the metaphysics of morals or paralogisms of pure reason (the Romantics knew how to have fun), I was simply there to watch a fashion show.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Peter Jensen’s womenswear brand, the Victoria and Albert Museum showcased some of his pieces (styled by Lucy Ewing) as part of their Fashion in Motion series. Two weeks ago, I decided to set my alarm and be first in line for a ticket in order to practise my reporting technique at the event and, thankfully, the early start paid off!

The actual show was amazing; I secured a Frow seat (look at me all down with the lingo) and could practically touch the walking works of art. Like old friends, we were re-introduced to pieces produced over the past ten years. However, I really should have spent less time pretending to philosophise beforehand and more time trying to work out how to use my camera.

It turns out I am no more a photographer than an eighteenth-century philosopher and the following, shameful evidence proves I have no idea how to deal with moving objects through a lense. My only solution, apart from asking the models to stand still and say cheese, was to set my camera to ‘kids and pets’ (if anyone has any advice I would be grateful by the way).

Apart from my appalling photography skills, I was also appallingly unprepared. The moment the lights went down, I realised I had one battery life left and a full memory. My first fashion show was spent frantically deleting pictures in between taking unbelievably horrific photos!

Anyway, I hope you can at least make out some of Jensen’s designs in these pictures. He really is a fantastic designer and I love the way each of his collections is based around a muse; be it friend, family or a famous female of strength.

For Spring/ Summer 2012, the Dane used Nina Simone, soul singer and advocate of civil rights, as his inspiration. Apart from the pieces being cut to perfection, you could see Simone’s life being played out through the clothes; from the virginal white pieces of her religious upbringing to the colourful prints that reflected her move to the buzzing atmosphere of New York and Atlantic City.

Yes, those literally are furry leggings

Two pieces from the latest collection
Possibly the only positive element in these images is that they prove I was definitely there! If I was going to copy and paste, I would have gone for better images! Of course, you can still see Jensen’s previous collections directly on his site and the designer also published a book earlier this year, entitled...wait for it...

‘Peter Jensen & Mary Miles Minter & Mildred & Emma & Olga & Nancy & Gertrude & Cindy & Tonya & Fanny & Sissy & Helena & Tina & Christina & Mink & Candice-Marie & Jodie & Jytte & Laurie & Muriel & Shelley & Anna Karina’ (literally all of the man’s muses).

 Anyway, hope you enjoyed the show and my lesson for the day? 
You live, you learn!

I’ll be charging my camera the night before next time and swotting up on aperture priority settings...god help me.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Fate on a Bus

Exhibit A (funky bus)

I live by the philosophy that everything happens for a reason, even if you can’t see that reason at the time. Last weekend, as I sat on a stationary bus for a good forty minutes (the joy of finding a seat having been quickly replaced by the harsh reality that the vehicle would not be leaving the busstop anytime soon), I too struggled to understand why the gods were being quite so crummy!

When I finally gave up and got off though, I ended up walking right into the heart of the Lord Mayor’s Show. As an almost 800 year tradition, cutting off three miles of London’s roads, I really should have known the parade was happening but, if I had, I probably would have avoided the entire area. I wouldn’t have seen this groovy bus, taken a snap of Exhibit A (with the camera I had been planning on using at the end of my, ultimately failed, bus journey) and then discovered CCA Galleries' website. A website full of amazing artwork! The pieces are technically sale items but together they make a brilliant online exhibition for those of us who can’t even afford the luxury of quilted toilet paper, let alone invest in superfluous canvases, however engaging!

Some of the work is controversial, others personal and certain pieces just fun but they are all beautiful. I absolutely love this type of contemporary art; there is certainly more to these creations than a roller and a tin of Dulux!

Obviously, I would rather not be sued for crimes of copyright (I already have red marks against my name for repeated (accidental) Oyster Card felonies) but here is a pick of some pieces that stood out to me:

Love Letters-Patrick Hughes
 Patrick Hughes's pieces are full of humour, charm and colour. Also look out for 'Lifesaver'; an image of a heart floating in a rubber dingy in the middle of a desolate sea-deep or what?

Love-Dan Baldwin
Baldwin's work is full of symbolism; a modern Salvador Dali, one might say and he can often be quite controversial. However, this piece tells the personal story of how he met his true love and the meaning of the word.

St. Michael's Mount-Donald Hamilton Fraser
 Simply put, I love the colours! I love the way the sky looks like ice and how he has modernised the classic art of landscape painting.

Vichy-A Convention of Comic Book Characters-Sir Peter Blake
I love a bit of Pop Art and Blake is the modern master. Some of his work is absurd to a Monty Python-cartoon-interlude level but it makes you laugh out loud. Who wouldn't want to see what Paris looks like full of elephants?

What’s more, each piece also has a write-up to explain the artist’s ideas behind the image. So sit back, relax and catch up on a bit of culture from the comfort of your own sofa!

The link to the website is 
Let me know what you think. What are your favourite pieces?


Thursday, 10 November 2011

Art Worth Investing In

My feet may be screaming but I am beaming right now! Going against all sense, last night I decided to wear strappy platform heels to my best friend's 21st birthday celebrations and still managed to survive the occasion with both ankles intact!

'Big woop', I hear you say and sure, most women would call that an, albeit slightly wobbly, walk in the park but chuck in dancing, inebriation and a rocking boat and I could have been leaving on crutches at the end of the night! As it happens though, my sense of balance is slightly better than I thought and, with that success, it seems only fitting to post about my recent trip to the Javari Shoes for Show exhibition.  

The display showcased a range of couture shoes, from Nicholas Kirkwood’s Alice in Wonderland creations (above) to Louboutin’s Swarovski encrusted stiletto ballet pumps, all in celebration of the heel. Of course, the pieces were utterly impractical (they should have come with a Health and Safety warning) but they were there to be admired as works of art; sculptures rather than footwear. 

Suffice to say, it was even better than a trip around Kurt Geiger. I love Art almost as much as I love Fashion and when the two collide, great things happen! Plus, photography was permitted (even by novice's who don't know their way around the flash button-sorry about that) so enjoy the show my lovelys :)

Louboutin for Rodarte (A/W 2008)

Nicholas Kirkwood for Meadham Kirchoff (S/S 2012)

Meadham Kirchoff, once again, rebelling against conventional beauty. You can see how the shoes compliment the show's theatricality.

Roger Vivier for Dior 1957

Terry de Havilland for Agent Provocateur 
(Fall 2009 Superhero collection)

(I think this is the same pair)

Alexander McQueen's mini 4 inch Armadillo heels (flown in from the Savage Beauty exhibition in New York)
Dior Couture (Spring 2008)

Nina Ricci (Fall 2009) courtesy of Lulu Guinness

The shoes stole the show at that collection!

Yantorny circa 1920
Rupert Sanderson for Verdi's Aida
at the Royal Opera House

Natasha Marro

Prize Shoes exhibited at the Great Exhibition 1851

Turkish Bath Shoes 1890s
Chau Har Lee 2009

Must have been the excitement, I missed a reference for these beauties

Nicholas Kirkwood 'Alice in Wonderland Heels' 2010

Christian Louboutin for the English National Ballet

Niamph O'Connor and Emily Crane 'Return to Oz' 2011

Sophia Grace Webster for Manolo Blahnik "Babylon" Project2009
Salvatore Ferragamo and his 'Famous Feet', 1956

So what do you think? 
Who needs a Ming vase when you could have a pair of those Nina Ricci heels on the mantelpiece!