Dark Star Rising: Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen AW2014

Alexander McQueen AW14 via Vogue.co.uk. Tap/click on images for gallery view.

Dear All,

Oh-my-goodness-me, it has once again been too long, I hope you all are well and enjoying fashion month! For me, really one of the highlights has been Marc Jacobs’s triumphant, drama-filled New York show for Marc Jacobs AW15, which felt like a re-appropriation of all that he had brought to the Vuitton aesthetic, that he’d had to kind of shake off for a while; the embellishment, imagination, and beauty through high period drama, combined with a contemporary sharpness: I will be writing about that soon! This morning, Karl Lagerfeld’s ‘Brasserie Gabrielle’ at the Grand Palais for Chanel AW15 felt to me like a more inspired pairing than the equally inventive engineering feat of the Chanel supermarket of AW14, carrying with it a sense of the legacy of the house and Parisian café culture; more to come in future posts!

For now, in advance of tonight’s AW15 Alexander McQueen show in Paris, a recap of the extraordinary McQueen AW14 show (video below!).

Sarah Burton’s show for Alexander McQueen AW2014 was an extraordinary gothic fairytale, with a huge set like a blasted heath or windswept moor, and the central character a nocturnal otherwordly child-woman morphing with elements of birds of prey into a wolf, dressed in broderie anglaise dresses with full swingy skirts, full-length gowns, hooded capes, heavy embellishment, feathers, fur, and delicately shredded fabrics, velvet ribbon neckties and regal ruffs; a white, jet black, metallic, and dark-gemstone palette, and shod in heavy boots with finely pleated white ruffs in the place of ankle socks. The styling was similarly full of elements of metamorphosis, from teenage metallic sheen on eyelids and elaborately plaited hairstyles to hooded capes and hooded eyes, a sense of disguise.

To the soundtrack of instrumental versions of Björk’s ‘All is Full of Love’ and ‘Bachelorette’ (two favourites of mine), this was an extraordinary spectacle. I immediately thought of the Harper’s Bazaar UK editorial ‘Dark Star’ (September 2013) which was the catalyst for this blog, and imagined that Sarah Burton must have been influenced in some way by that storyline, which included several McQueen pieces, and featured a dark star heroine on Dartmoor (my earlier post on that shoot is here). The astonishing spectacle also felt intimately connected to the McQueen AW08 show, the AW14 girl like a banished, fighting-for-survival, cousin of the girl in the tree who grew up to be a queen.

The combination of tough, killer, seductive, elements and those elements referencing tradition, innocence, gothic literature and Victorian fairytale illustration, was immediately striking, and was echoed in the switch from the sweet and dissolving instrumentation and melody of ‘All is Full of Love’ to the independent hunter-girl throwing down the gauntlet in ‘Bachelorette’ (which included Björk’s wonderful vocals in the finale). Although this was show-spectacle at its most majestic, imaginative, and emotive, it was made up of individual elements which would emerge extremely strongly in the full ready-to-wear commercial collection.

Since the spectacle is so intimately connected to the scale of the show and to its soundtrack by Björk, here is the official show video, from start to finish, via Alexander McQueen. For now, it still seems hard to separate the collection from the spectacle! (Show photos and close-up details are available on Vogue.co.uk .)

What will Sarah Burton show for Alexander McQueen Autumn/Winter 2015? Her Geisha-inspired SS15 collection was such a departure from her Dark Star AW14 heroine. All will be revealed this evening at 7:30 p.m. Paris time. Will you be tuning in live?

Always exciting, the legacy and new manifestations of the McQueen brand under Burton’s direction will be once again in focus not only this evening, but at the weekend, as the Victoria and Albert Museum’s exhibition ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ (an expanded version of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 2011 exhibition of the name same) opens in London. Coincidentally, Björk’s mid-career retrospective exhibition, which explores her music and visual expression through costume, video, and new commissioned material, has just opened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and of course the Björk-McQueen collaboration goes a long way back. An exciting time! Hope you enjoy the show!

Bisou!

Sinéad

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For show photos, close-up details, video, and post-show interviews, see Vogue.co.uk.

For show video, see Alexander McQueen channel on YouTube.

For ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ (London), see Victoria and Albert Museum.

For ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ (New York), see Metropolitan Museum of Art.

For Björk retrospecive, ‘MOMA: Björk’ , see Museum of Modern Art, New York.

MBMJ (Marc By Marc Jacobs) AW14

Images via Vogue.co.uk (tap/click on image for gallery view).

With only a few hours to go before the MBMJ Spring Summer 15 show in New York, excitement is palpable over the direction in which Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley are going to take the MBMJ girl.

At the helm of the brand since last season, their own version of an Alice who was equal parts biker bandit and Alice-in-Wonderland romantic played out on an extraordinary skater-girl set to the pulsing sounds of the title track from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

Mesmerising and thrilling in equal measure, their collection reinvented Marc Jacobs’s little-sister line in one fell swoop. Cleverly done, there was plenty for grown-up Marc girls to admire: sharp suiting for office wear, coats, and great accessories: bags, belts, boots, and killer patent pointy buckled flats, workwear with an edge. But the fun element came with the Manga references, the Motocross biking garb, slogans liberally decorating colourful logoed tops, and the giant oversized bows on knits.

For the cool club kids of East London, where the MBMJ studios are located, on a night of mischief, to New York office girls behaving themselves at lunch with their grandparents on the Upper East Side, in knife-pleated Victoriana, layered tulle, the oversized bows, Alice bands, and tightly plaited pigtails, this was a collection to re-invent both the brand’s aesthetic and its core creative and commercial values.

And I can’t wait for the next chapter in the MBMJ story! (It’s streaming live from New York at 4 p.m. EDT on marcjacobs.com)

PS: Thank you for your patience, am delighted to be in back-to-school and back-to-blogging mode after a break from writing and the book! (I’ve missed it!)

Bisou!

Sinéad

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For show photos, video and interviews, including commentary by Bartley and Hillier, see Vogue.co.uk

For interview with Bartley and Hillier, see Lauren Cochrane, ‘How Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier made their Marc’, Guardian.co.uk, 2 September 2014.

For live stream, see Marcjacobs.com

Saint Laurent Polka Dots and Party Dresses

(Hedi Slimane playing with polka-dot heritage for Saint Laurent: SS13, AW13, SS14 via Vogue.co.uk. Tap/click on individual photos for gallery view and captions.)

Hello All! It has been too long! Hope you are well and that 2014 has gotten off to a good start for you all.

After a hiatus over Christmas and into the New Year, with festivities, yet more layout work for the book, and other commitments keeping me busy, here we are, and New York, London and Milan Fashion Weeks have been a whirl! Can hardly believe Paris is almost upon us!

Will  write about the new collections in upcoming posts, but wanted to share with you a post that I started thinking about on New Year’s Eve as we were getting ready to go out: it’s about party dresses (one of my own, one of my Mum’s); also about vintage YSL and contemporary Saint Laurent and… polka dots. Before I begin, a big thank you to my oh-so-philosophical friends who reminded me that the blog would be waiting for me when I (and the book) was ready, and that I shouldn’t worry about leaving a bit of a gap between posts: thank you, you know who you are!

So, to the dresses. The dress I wore on New Year’s Eve is not vintage YSL, but several people have asked if it is, over the years… Really the fabric should give it away (ssshh it is ‘vintage’ H&M, c. 2006). I have however gotten so much pleasure from wearing it: to parties, on the first birthday I had after meeting my then boyfriend, now husband; on one of his birthdays, and this New Year’s Eve, as pictured below (with sheer polka-dot tights, though they are hard to see).

If it were vintage YSL c.1983, it would be made of organza over stiff taffeta, with velvet petit-pois polka dots decorating the sheer fabric and highlighting the bow that I tie around my waist each time I put it on. I like that I have to tie the bow myself, that is isn’t stuck on and immoveable. My dress has two layers, one sheer but with a certain stiffness, with petit-pois detailing which is gathered into a ruched bodice, while the underskirt and lining of the bodice are jet black. As it isn’t vintage YSL, and H&M’s budget does not stretch to luxury fabrics, it is not made of heavy silk nor of fine organza, but I love it in any case: it contains two kinds of memories or associations, one personal (my mother’s dress), one fashion-historical (vintage YSL). And here is an example, of couture Yves Saint Laurent, from 1983, just to show you…

Yves Saint Laurent Couture, AW 1983, from Icons of Vintage Fashion (2013)

Yves Saint Laurent Couture, AW 1983, from Icons of Vintage Fashion (2013)

The polka dot on tulle here is exactly what comes to mind when I think of mid-80s cocktail dressing. So one dress, two memories. One of the reasons I love my polka-dot party dress so much, apart from the fact that I have so much fun in it, is that it reminds me of the dress my mother wore to her fortieth birthday party, which we had at our house one fine May evening in 1983. Her dress was not black, it was midnight blue, silk taffeta, with a fine embossed polka dot on the fabric: if you looked closely enough, but only then, could you see it.

A few years later, she asked me did I want to try on her dress, and I remember the feeling of the boning inside the bodice against my ribs; the elements of structure holding up this beautiful mass of deep blue silk. It had a tiny knife-pleat frill around the sweetheart neckline, the skirt dropped to the knee, and it twirled like a dream. I do not have a photo of her in that dress, nor do I have the dress itself, but I have the memory, and every time I wear my polka-dot dress, there she is, a little bit of her, in me. Since I don’t have a picture, here’s a quick sketch next to a photo of my dress.

The shape of course is 1950s cocktail dress made fresh for the 1980s. The shoes she wore to the party were in watermarked black taffeta with silk bows (like Dorothy shoes, I thought, but for serious grown-ups, and with a much higher heel). I loved them too. My first abiding very-special-shoe memory is of her opening the big white box full of white tissue paper on Christmas morning, a present ‘from’ my Dad (obviously chosen by her, but at the time I was very impressed with my Dad), which contained the taffeta shoes.

I found my own pair quite by chance, the winter before I got married, when I was doing all sorts of researching and searching for party shoes that I would love enough to wear again. Black sequins on satin, and a Dorothy bow. In heaven, I thought, and thank you Kurt Geiger (they are pictured above). I liked them so much that I also chose the pale peach sequined version for my wedding shoes, cut off the black bow and still get so much fun from them (especially with skinny jeans and bare ankles). (And PS: they are comfortable!)

But back to dresses and polka dots!

Yves Saint Laurent was not the first to focus on polka dots, both tiny petit-pois dots on sheer fabrics and large, graphic dots on monochrome looks, but he exploited their full design potential through the decades.

Christian Dior (in whose house Saint Laurent had started his career) had heralded the dot as elegant and easy and always in fashion in his Little Dictionary of Fashion (1954). 

Even earlier, in Renoir’s Jeune Femme à la voilette (c.1870) we can see a bonnet with sheer veil and polka dots and several of such bonnets appear in Manet’s Musique aux Tuileries (1862): it was extremely chic to wear such dotted veils even then.

Whether tiny polka dots or large graphic discs, the dot became a key element of the YSL signature throughout Saint Laurent’s life. Hedi Slimane, current creative director of Saint Laurent continues this lineage (as did his predecessor, Stefano Pilati) by showing sheer blouses with polka dots, polka-dotted dresses and polka-dot tights in his shows, as pictured above.

Here is a selection of vintage YSL dots to go with the contemporary ones above for inspiration! And here’s to the upcoming Paris collections!

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A bientôt, bisou!

Sinéad

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Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane via Vogue.co.uk

Marguerite Duras, Yves Saint Laurent, Icons of Fashion Design (1988, 2010).

Pénélope Blanckaert and Angèle Rincheval Hernu, Icons of Vintage Fashion: Definitive Designer Classics at Auction 1900-2000 (2013).

Photo of YSL in Polka-Dot Bow Tie via ‘Muse: Polka Dots and Moonbeams,’ Process Blog.

Retrospective Look, Editorial: ‘Take the High Road,’ Vogue UK, September 2008

'Take the High Road' editorial, Vogue UK, September 2008. Fashion editor Kate Phelan, photographed by Venetia Scott.

‘Take the High Road’ editorial, Vogue UK, September 2008. Fashion editor Kate Phelan, photographed by Venetia Scott.

 

Dear all… apologies for not having posted in a couple of weeks… a combination of masses of editing, final book prep (which will mean more time for writing here!), a weekend away, a family birthday and my little one’s winter sniffles (to put it mildly) has kept me busy… but now it is time for tweed!

After the ‘Dream a little dream’ shoot photographed for Vogue UK October 2013 by Venetia Scott, I found myself thinking of another of her editorials, ‘Take the High Road,’ from Vogue UK September  2008 (and very luckily my copy, which could have been in a number of places, was sitting on one of the sitting-room bookcases).

At the time it appeared on the newsstands, I was working at Brown Thomas Dublin, and we had a sleeveless version of the Dior dress pictured above – with Givenchy shirt – with a flat bow as seen on the waist here neatly capping each shoulder. It was made of a gorgeous wool tweed, soft to the touch; beautifully constructed and finished: a grown-up dress for best-behaviour family occasions.

But as soon as I saw the Vogue editorial, it completely radicalised that dress for me, gave it attitude in a kind of punky-aristo way. (And for the purposes of the definition of Punk, which appeared to cause a certain amount of controversy in light of the 2013 Met exhibition, of course the pairing of ‘punk’ and ‘aristo’ may seem anathema; for me ‘punky-aristo’ is a term which attempts to convey the appropriation of certain punk sensibilities or aesthetics by another non-Punk grouping, here aristo(cratic) girls on a Scottish estate.)

(For all images, click/tap to enlarge and for gallery view. All fashion credits appear below.)

Beyond that particular garment the ‘Take the High Road’ editorial really made me think about the relationship between garments on hangers and garments on bodies in imaginary scenarios: or, the art of the fashion editor. I remember Grace Coddington’s tale of a shoot with Norman Parkinson in the recent and wonderful BBC Arena documentary, in which she described the story of a girl cast away on an island with a trunk of marvellous clothes; the imaginary quality of the story and her conviction about telling it really resonated. This belief in the scenario, the set-up, which in the ‘Take the High Road’ case is the Scottish Highlands; with girls in tartans, tweeds, big teenage hair, dark eyes, moments of introspection and a sense of attitude, is the stuff of fashion-editorial dreams.

Coincidentally, it seems fitting that as the ‘Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!’ exhibition opens at Somerset House in London, that I should have been thinking about this 2008 editorial, which was in turn inspired by an iconic shoot on which Blow worked as stylist in the early 1990s (fashion editor Kate Phelan refers to the inspiration in ‘Vogue Contributors,’ September 2008).

‘Anglo-Saxon Attitude,’ Vogue UK’s December 1993 editorial (unofficially known as the ‘Babes in London’ shoot), was photographed by Stephen Meisel, with fashion editor Joe McKenna and Blow as stylist. It featured Stella Tennant, Bella Freud, Plum Sykes, Honor Fraser, and Lady Louise Campbell as models, in grungy, aristo-boho form, and local London settings, streets and apparently deserted (or perhaps morning) pubs, with Tennant photographed wearing a gorgeous wisp of a Philip Treacy hat in one image, as though she was tottering home from an all-night party, which had involved a degree of dressing-up.

I will feature that editorial in another post; here, for now, is the  rest of ‘Take the High Road.’ Look out for the Alice-in-Wonderland-like, girl-in-a-garden-reading image: such a contrast to the other images full of attitude, which speak equally of the self-invention of the girls through dress and accessorising in their Highlands isolation, and the imagination of fashion editor Kate Phelan and photographer Venetia Scott (no doubt fuelled by the AW08 collections at Alexander McQueen and D&G Dolce & Gabbana). Will it inspire a punky attitude in your winter dressing this season?

A la prochaine (it won’t be so long ’til the next time, promise!), bisou!

Sinéad

Photographed by Venetia Scott. Fashion Editor: Kate Phelan. Models: Agnete Hegelund and Kamila Filipcikova. Hair: Duffy. Make-up: Hannah Murray. Production: 10-4 Inc.

(2) Puff-sleeved wool dress, Alexander McQueen. Bow headband with veil, Benoit Missolin. Chain necklace, Stephen Zweck, New York. Tartan rosette, feather brooch, both Piob Mor of Scotland. Fingerless gloves, Chanel.

(3) Cashmere coat, cashmere trousers, both Ralph Lauren. Silk-organza blouse, Douglas Hannant, New York. Velour trilby, J Smith Esquire. Leather gloves, Hermès. Antique grouse-foot brooch, Sylvie Spectrum, Gray’s Antique Market. Felt and feather brooch, Piob Mhor of Scotland.

(4) Strapless wool dress, left, tights, both D&G Dolce & Gabbana. Leather belt, Ralph Lauren. Patent leather shoes, Peter Jensen for Topshop. Pearl flower necklace, Alexis Bittar, New York. Chain necklace and bracelet, Stephen Zweck, New York. Wool beret, Piob Mhor of Scotland. Wool dress, right, tights, both D&G Dolce & Gabbana. Leather belt, Piob Mhor of Scotland. Boots Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti. Beaded pendant necklace, Gerard Yosca, New York. Antique silver locket, Aurum, Gray’s Antique Market. Hat, Toast.

(5) Silk blouse, silk scarf, wool skirt, all Dolce & Gabbana. Striped socks, Karen Walker, at Matches. Argyle socks, Burlington. Leather boots, Alexander McQueen. Tartan beret, crinoline headpiece, both Noel Stewart. Bib necklace, Gerard Yosca, New York. Gold cuffs, Gerard Yosca, New York and Stephen Dweck, New York.

(6) Tweed jacket, Chanel. Chiffon blouse with velvet ties, Escada. Wool skirt, Louis Vuitton. Wool sash, Piob Mhor of Scotland. Chain-link necklace, Ghost, at Liberty. Rabbit-fur hat, CA4LA.

(7) Argyle-knit jacket and matching skirt, Vivienne Westwood Gold Label. Checked cotton/silk top, Vivienne Westwood Red Label. Organic-cotton blouse, Bamford. Cotton hat with checked brim, D&G Dolce & Gabbana.

(8) Wool jacket with ponyskin collar, Anne Valerie Hash, at Harvey Nichols and Liberty. Red checked jacked, Vivienne Westwood Red Label. Lace shirt, Roberto Cavalli. Hat, J Smith Esquire.

(9) Checked wool dress, Dior. Cotton shirt, Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci. Ribbon, in hair, VV Rouleaux.

(10) Checked cotton jacket, Comme des Garçons at Dover Street Market. Silk-organza blouse, Douglas Hannant, New York. Strapless velvet dress, Lanvin. Headdress, to order, Benoit Missolin.

(11) Strapless wool dress, House of Holland, at Dover Street Market. Tweed and leather shoes, Chanel. Socks,  Piob Mhor of Scotland. Necklace, Stephen Dweck, New York. Ribbons, in hair, VV Rouleaux.

(12) Feathered silk dress, Burberry Prorsum. Swarovski-crystal necklace, Philippe Ferrandis, Paris. Leather gloves, Causse, Paris. Tweed and leather shoes, Chanel.Cashmere tights, Dolce & Gabbana. Socks,  Piob Mhor of Scotland.

Editorial: ‘Dream a little dream,’ Vogue UK, October 2013

(Styled by Bay Garnett, photographs by Venetia Scott, model Georgia May Jagger. Hair by Tomo Jidai. Make-up, Sharon Dowsett. Production, 10-4 Inc. Location: Great Dixter, East Sussex. Digital artwork, Ben Pickett at Touch. Click on/tap images for captions and gallery view.)

After the particularly glittery, jet-black, dark-star vibe of Hallowe’en 2013 (thanks to Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton SS14 and to the last-minute make-up suggestions of Harper’s Bazaar and Into The Gloss), returning to the ‘Dream a little dream’ editorial in Vogue UK’s October 2013 issue seems a breath of fresh air in more ways than one.

Shot on location in the gardens of Great Dixter, East Sussex, by Venetia Scott whose work has inspired for many years (and to whom I will return in future posts), ‘Dream a little dream’ captures the innocent insouciance of dreamy October days, those days which surprise with their warmth and mists… in this season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. The editorial story begins: ‘The winsome heroines of Victorian literature inspire the romantic return of opulent, feminine pieces that will continue to tell stories for seasons to come.’

The pieces featured certainly have a timeless quality, as does Georgia May Jagger here, thanks to  Bay Garnett’s styling (which often has a quietly bohemian quality), and Jagger’s own inner resolve, with her hair slightly mussed, and the unselfconscious air of a girl who has had to amuse herself and fill her hours in this garden, with flowers and her white horse for company, and if the first image is anything to go by, a longing for life beyond the garden walls.

Hands in pockets (a very modern pose), looking off to the right and out of the frame, she is inaccessible, apparently lost in her thoughts, as Victorian literary heroines often are. She is mostly captured in moments of restfulness but more than capable of action (running through a field in a Valentino silk-chiffon dress for example); is perfectly at home amongst the flower-filled meadows and orchards and yet yearns for something more.

A gorgeous editorial, it is also refreshing for its discretion,  its mix of innocence and knowingness: Jagger’s heroine mostly ignoring the viewer (appearing lost in thought, entranced by her surroundings or the company of her clearly beloved horse) and only in one remarkable shot gazing out of the frame, directly to us, through iris heads, in an image of Indian-summer laziness, both candid and sensuous in its soft-focus. In this image we see the woman in the girl.

The strength of the shoot means that we can imagine our heroine jettisoning her precious wardrobe and setting off on her horse on an adventure, hoping one day to return to her home; to the cherished garden and her favourite coats and dresses as pictured here; but she is not a girl to be bound by them.

The images are grouped in pairs sharing similar tones; the opening grey-blue early-morning misty garden (1 and 2); the blue-accented shots of orchard and flower-filled meadow (3 and 4); the rose-inflected sense of time standing still while the heroine looks up the path for something or someone and stands in the rose garden (5 and 6); the white and gold fields (7 and 8); the dark navy and purple-iris notes of  images 9 and 10;  and the white, gold and blue-grey of images 11 and 12.

Ending with the carefree radiance of a sun-warmed smile, lying amongst the oversized daisies in Dries Van Noten’s floral patterned duster coat (the caption references William Morris’s first print, ‘Daisy’ from 1864), this is a girl who is at one with, and at one with wearing, her flowers. And, we have little doubt, is about to experience  life’s beauty beyond the garden walls.

What do you wear for a walk in the garden or park? And would this inspire you to add a little Victoriana to your look?

A la prochaine, bisou!

Sinéad

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From top, left to right: flocked wool-mix coat, Emporio Armani. Cotton/silk dress, Giles. Vintage cluster brooch, Ting’s, at Gray’s Antique Market.

Organza blouse, Lanvin. Denim skirt, Ashish, at Browns Focus. Wool belt, Luisa Beccaria. Leather brogues, Bally. Printed silk dress, Rochas. Vintage lace blouse, Elizabeth Avey. Resin and crystal ring, Miriam Salat.

Silk coat, Louis Vuitton. Embroidered silk-chiffon blouse, Alberta Ferretti. Silk/cotton shirt, Claire Barrow. Vintage ribbon belt, Elizabeth Avey. Lace dress, stretch satin bra, satin knickers, all Dolce & Gabbana. Pearl pendant necklace, Laura Lee Jewellery.

Cotton blouse, Chloé. Wool-lace skirt, Eudon Choi.Wool belt, as before.Crystal Brooch, Linda Bee, Gray’s Antique Market. Vintage brogues, from a selection, Vestiairecollective.com. Silk-chiffon dress, Valentino.

Embroidered silk/wool coat, Céline. Wool/cotton blouse, Paul & Joe. Wool belt, as before. Coin pendant necklace, from Laura Lee Jewellery. Lace shirt, Paul & Joe. Silk skirt, Rochas. Vintage brogues, as before.

Patchwork lace dress with peplum, Alexandra Rich, at Selfridges. Wool/alpaca coat, Dries Van Noten. Lace dress, Emilio Pucci. Coin pendant necklace and pearl necklace, as before.

Harper’s Bazaar’s Hallowe’en Beauty Inspiration from the AW13 Shows

(Images via Harper’s Bazaar US. Click on images for captions and gallery view.)

Happy Hallowe’en all!

For the night that’s in it, a quick beauty post of two images from Harper’s Bazaar’s inspired Hallowe’en slideshow of the AW13 collections entitled ‘Freaky Chic: Hallowe’en make-up ideas straight from the runway.’

Of all the looks, mine would best be described as two parts ‘Vampire Diaries’ (Oscar de la Renta AW13), on the left, and one part ‘Night Walker’ (Gareth Pugh AW13), on the right.

Which are you favourites?! And what are you dressing up as?

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(Oscar de la Renta, AW13 and Gareth Pugh AW13, images via Vogue UK.)

Bisou! Bonne soirée!

Sinéad

Editorial: ‘Dark Star,’ Harper’s Bazaar UK, September 2013

(Styled by Cathy Kasterine, photographs by Tom Allen, model Iris Van Berne. Hair by Raphael Salley. Make-up, Thomas de Kluyver, using Chanel. Production, Johnny Bamford. Stylist’s assistants Benjamin Canares and Vincent Pons. Location: Dartmoor. Click on images for captions and gallery view.)

I had intended to feature a different fashion story as my first editorial post (which will follow) but then came to the realisation that since so much of this blog hinges on the Harper’s Bazaar UK ‘Dark Star’ shoot (as I explained in my first post) and since it was so beautifully done, that it would be good to include it here in full. The story begins: ‘Part governess, part queen of the night, this season’s heroine is a vision from a gothic romance on the wilds of Dartmoor.’ And you can be sure that its influence will be felt from exclusive department stores to the high street this season.

I always think there is such an ephemeral quality to fashion editorials: they are published, are circulated for a month, and then often disappear from sight; the best ones leaving their imprints on the imagination. Of course magazines are kept like treasures by some readers, and some of their images are available online for others who go looking; but often when photographs appear online the full styling credits are lost, so you have to guess as to what exactly the model is wearing.

So in case any of you who read my first post were wondering who created the incredible billowing black dress (Gareth Pugh: one of his ‘bin bag’ dresses, with a raffia-like quality) or pearl-studded coat (to order from Alexander McQueen), here are the styling (garments, accessories) credits to accompany the photographs. If you click on each image, it will bring up a gallery view and caption. All styling credits are also listed below.

Enjoy!

Bisou,

Sinéad

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From top, left to right: black wool and angora dress, Rochas. Black leather boots, Manolo Blahnik. Gold and ruby earrings, Stone Paris. Sequined and beaded silk dress, gold-plated metal crown, both Dolce & Gabbana.

Silk blend dress with Swarovski pearls, Emilia Wickstead. Boots, model’s own. Embroidered dress, suede belt, both Prada. Silver tiara, Maria Nilsdotter. Gold and ruby earrings, Stone Paris.

Cotton shirt, flannel skirt, cashmere and leather cape, all Hermès. Boots, model’s own. Black viscose and polyester dress, matching jacket, and resin necklace, all Christopher Kane.

White silk poplin shirt, black crepe skirt, both Balenciaga. Gold and ruby earrings, Stone Paris. Bin bag dress, Gareth Pugh. White gold and diamond earrings, gold and diamond ring, both Stone Paris.

Taffeta gown, Ralph Lauren Collection. Rose gold and diamond earrings; rose gold and diamond ring, Stone Paris.

Wool cashmere sweater, knitted flannel skirt, silk coat,  all Céline. Gold and ruby earrings, Stone Paris. Boots, model’s own. Black silk and lace dress, Gucci. Gold and diamond earrings, Annoushka. Black grosgrain ribbon, VV Rouleaux.

Silk blouse, Francesco Scognamiglio. Silk blend dress, Roberto Cavalli. White gold and diamond earrings, pendant, rings, all Stone Paris. Leather coat with pearls, chiffon and organza shirt with pearls, both Alexander McQueen.

Dries Van Noten’s Golden Moment SS14

(Images via Vogue. For all images, click for caption and gallery view.)

To the Halle Freyssinet in Paris, a huge industrial railway space built alongside the tracks of the Gare d’Austerlitz in the late 1920s, Dries Van Noten brought both sides of the bright-dark spectrum with his SS14 collection. He gave us a sense both of refined warmth and edginess, and as always exquisitely wearable clothes.

Clothes that we want to wear now: gilt ruffle down the side of a white dress, yes please! Ruffles on a sweatshirt; again, yes! Sleek tailoring in black, dresses with a sense of evening drama, brilliant separates that could be mixed and matched for night or day. An amazing barbed wire print that managed to look delicate yet dangerous.

(Images via Vogue.)

To the sound of Colin Greenwood (of Radiohead)’s bass solo, in this vast industrial, golden-hued set, the palette stretched from white to black, with reds and ochres the principal colours besides. Embellishments of gilt edging and ruffles on (and in) brocades, metallics, textured knits, guipure lace, silk, linen, cotton and voile, were matched with folk references and floral patterns.

The prettiness of opening looks in white and gold was built up and then contrasted with a trouser, a blouse, a blazer, an embellished tunic, and then full looks, in black. Hints of gold were found in the models’ hair partings and on their eyelashes. The understated and unexpected barbed wire print in black on ochre on a hip-skimming Fortuny pleated skirt, where it seemed like a motif of reeds or bare branches, was seen again on a skirt made entirely of ruffles; the barbed wire only becoming clearly apparent when the print appeared again on a beautiful ruffle-embellished dress.

(Images via Vogue.)

After ochre, came red: the introduction of red on black, and the picking up of SS13‘s floral motifs, in this collection frequently embellished with sequins and instead of ‘grunge couture’ pastels the bold contrast of red on black (which usually seems so 80s, but here, just seemed, well, striking). (Tim Blanks coined the phrase ‘grunge couture’ very aptly after the SS13 show, which I loved and will write about in another post:  it spoke to my inner haute-bohème grungified teenager (I know, I know!), still present in spirit if not in sartorial choices. I was also a teenager who favoured white Peter Pan collars and cuffs on black minidresses à la Valentino AW13 – still do – but that is another post in the making.)

(Images via Vogue.)

In the post-show video piece for Vogue, Dries speaks of pushing the idea of embellishment and seeing how far he could go. Ruffles were the dominant embellishment, from neat frills in unusual places (the side seams of the first look for example)  to multiple rows in a skirt made of ruffles. The romance of peasant-blouse shapes mixed with folk references: re-imagined Peruvian, Moroccan and Indonesian textile embellishment and cowrie shell detailing (which appeared again on sandals); prints encompassed stars, again on an ochre base, tiny dots, red on black, and the branch-like barbed wire print, black on ochre.

The colour palette and print theme extended to accessories, with Chelsea boots, and flat and heeled sandals, in python and alligator, red-on-black, ochre-on-black. Stars also featured in jewellery, strewn around wrists and on collarbones. From the graphic floral motif seen in SS13, to the exploration of tulip references which appeared more like seventeenth-century botanical prints, and at which point the palette expanded to encompass other colours, other tones, there was a clear nod to the SS14 menswear collection shown in June, and references to the collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, which will (excitingly) showcase the designer’s work in its forthcoming Dries Van Noten exhibition, to be held in early 2014.

(Images via Vogue.)

The alternating of dominant white and dominant black was striking, moving between prettiness and edginess throughout the collection, as Dries explained in the Vogue post-show video, and effortlessly between day and night. The ruffles theme was extended to sportswear elements, with embellishment over shorts, then ruffles on sweatshirts.

Always thinking of the customer and the wearability of his garments, black, white, grey and gold were the dominant colours of the final looks, simplifying and distilling the essence of the collection, while pushing embellishment to fantasy limits, for a clear message to the buyers, editors, assembled media and beyond them the customers; with the final look seeming celebratory, almost bridal in its effusion of ruffles; looks set against a gold background, sent out to the sounds of Colin Greenwood’s bass. Stripped back as a soundtrack – echoing the menswear show’s solo drummer – but highly charged, like Dries’s beautiful want-to-wear-(or customize-what-I-have)-right-now SS14 collection.

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(Images via Vogue.)

What do you think: to ruffle or not to ruffle?

A la prochaine, bisou!

Sinéad

================================

For SS14 show video, see Dries Van Noten.

For full show looks, close-up and  backstage details, and post-show commentary from Dries, Cathy Horyn, Valerie Steele and others, see Vogue (scroll down for video).

For Beauty Report, and details on ‘gilded accents’ in hair, and on eyelashes, see US Vogue.

Retrospective Look, Carousel, Louis Vuitton SS12

Louis Vuitton SS12 via Harper's Bazaar UK

(Image via Harper’s Bazaar UK. For all images, click for caption and gallery view.)

I wasn’t intending to do an entire post on the Louis Vuitton SS12 carousel show (or at least, not immediately) but since Paris Fashion Week have been thinking a lot about Marc Jacobs’s ability not only to surprise his audience but to create clothes that reflect different aspects of the bright-dark spectrum. Of course, he is doing this at the highest end of ready-to-wear, but the impact filters down to the high street and to street style, which saw a new focus on confectionery-like dresses and blouses for spring in the wake of this show, not to mention bouffant up-dos held in place by sparkly Alice bands.

The SS12 carousel show came after the AW11 fetish collection, and both shows placed Kate Moss in star position, the last model to exit, in AW11 controversially smoking a cigarette as she walked, in laced-up fetishistic black knee-high boots, high-waisted tailored pants and an embellished jacket with guipure-like cut-out leather bodice, Peter Pan collar, large buttons and oversized textured fur sleeves emphasising her waist, tiny leather gloves, and the ubiquitous Alice band-mask in her hair (which reappeared on Edie Campbell’s cap for SS14). With its Peter Pan collars, big buttons and 1960s shapes, the SS12 collection was not as far removed from AW11 as might be thought at first glance, even though the palette, fabrics, embellishment and overall aesthetic was so different (more Mary Poppins than The Night Porter).

(Images via Vogue)

In a telling short Vogue video piece in which they discuss the SS12 collection, Jacobs and his right-hand woman, stylist Katie Grand, both discuss wanting to explore the idea of ‘sweetness’ after AW11 (Grand also notes the idea of doing the opposite of what had come before, which Jacobs talks about in ‘The Louis Vuitton Woman’ interview, which I refer and link to below.) In the Vogue piece, interviewer Tim Blanks tells Jacobs that recently he’d had a conversation with Miuccia Prada in which she’d said that fashion is scared of sweetness. Jacobs responds: ‘There’s no-one I believe in more than she’… acknowledging that sweetness and niceness are disparaged, and mentioning the words fragile, vulnerable, tender, and how those things are not thought of as strengths but weaknesses. He discusses how they started the collection by thinking about light, airiness, ‘colours that are pleasant and kind,’ and what that could mean in terms of dressing for spring. The carousel idea reminded him of  the fair held in the Tuileries garden in springtime, a moment when things seem possible. (So why not, in terms of sweetness in fashion?)

An astonishing show, theatrical and magical, as Tyrone Lebon’s short film, ‘Louis Vuitton SS12, Backstage for Love Magazine’ captures; with the carousel and forty-eight models seated on horses all hidden until the start of the show under a white curtain, which was raised to the sound of crystalline music (which also featured at the very start of the SS14 show). The clothes and accessories were exquisite garments of ice-cream coloured pastels with navy accents, but if you looked closely, hadn’t lost the established Vuitton edge: pointy silver capped shoes,  alligator biker jackets with zips, and the high-waisted pants still present, this was the antithesis certainly of the provocative AW11 collection, but the sixties aesthetic, in oversized sleeves, Peter Pan collars, Alice bands, heavy-lidded make-up and pale skin, was still a feature, and gave the collection its reference point in terms of era.

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(Images via Vogue)

I would imagine that for many of the buyers, editors, photographers and journalists present, this aesthetic probably made them think of photographs from the 60s of their mothers in spring- and summer garb, on beaches and in the countryside, whether in Europe or further afield, with kohl-eyes and bouffant hair in headscarves chicly and nonchalantly tied. Looking at such photos, which always seem so carefree, it is easy to imagine an apparently more innocent time. Or at least, this is what the SS12 Vuitton collection made me think of, at first at least.

The ice-cream palette, with its navy additions, in dresses, coats, shirts and playsuits, with elements of broderie anglaise, guipure lace, transparent layers, appliqué and laser-cut patterns, sequin and feather embellishment, was (as widely noted at the time) more couture-like than ready-to-wear. In a revealing pre-show interview from October 2011, ‘The Louis Vuitton Woman,’ Jacobs speaks of the need for change in fashion, and of many ‘really interesting and… sort of challenging’ conversations with Mr. Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH; attempts to establish who ‘she’ was, this Vuitton woman, within the pattern of seasonal changes in fashion. When pressed, he reveals that he didn’t design for or think of any one ‘Vuitton woman’  (of course there is an element of PR in this) but said that rather he imagined her as a woman ‘who wants to be seen, wants to be noticed, an extrovert certainly, and strong, whether she’s gentle… youthful or mature,’ and this is something we saw again with SS14 and the appeal to women across the age spectrum.

He also made the point (when referring to the fetish theme of AW11 in the Vogue post-show interview), that ‘it’s not who we are, it’s just how we dress.’

When you apply this to the idea of dressing up, from high end to high street, it shows just how transformative clothes can be.

It will be fascinating to see how he brings this capacity for apparently boundless imagination and re-invention to his eponymous brand, with greater investment planned for the years ahead by LVMH. Certainly, whilst at Vuitton, the fashion-week world was his (and our) playground.

Bisou!

Sinéad

===================================

For full Louis Vuitton SS12 show, see Dazed Digital, ‘Marc Jacobs’s Vuitton: A Visual Journey’ (scroll down).

See also Tyrone Lebon’s atmospheric short film, ‘Louis Vuitton, Backstage for Love Magazine.’

For pre-show interview with Jacobs, see ‘The Louis Vuitton Woman.’

For post-show interviews with Jacobs, Grand, and others, see Vogue (scroll down for video).

For post AW11-show interviews and commentary, see Vogue (scroll down for video).

Dark Star Showgirls: Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton SS14

(Images via Vogue. For all images, click to enlarge and for gallery view.)

Marc Jacobs’s final show for Louis Vuitton on Wednesday 2 October was a spellbinding nocturne fantasy in jet-black and navy. Showgirls in extraordinary peacock- and pheasant-feathered headdresses by milliner Stephen Jones walked to what felt like a Philip Glass soundtrack (details yet to be released), funereal to begin with, then insistent and uplifting, on a set which brought together elements from past Jacobs-for-Vuitton shows, now painted lacquered black. A Place de la Concorde-like fountain, carousel, hotel doors opening onto an upper landing, escalators and ornamental caged lifts with obliging doormen: all present.

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Edie Campbell opened the show, with incredible poise and arms held aloft; strings of jet jewels attached to her wrists, with more than a nod to the AW11 Fetish Collection. Almost completely naked but adorned with glittering black Stephen Sprouse-graffiti body paint spelling out Louis Vuitton Paris, this look jubilantly declared the success of the Jacobs-Sprouse collaboration, beginning in 2001, which saw Vuitton’s classic bags splashed in Sprouse’s graffiti logo. The logo now stands for many things: Jacobs’s irreverent approach, his moment of  ‘arrival’ and the beginnings of cult-brand success for Vuitton.

A navy and black chequered sheepskin-covered set gave the impression of an abandoned grassy Belle Epoque fairground, or a neglected corner of demi-monde Paris and cleverly referenced the classic Vuitton Damier (chessboard) pattern; also of course the ready-to-wear SS13 collection.  A scaled-down version of the SS12 carousel, in glittering black, revolved in the background, with more headdress-wearing, sheer-and-jet-black clothed showgirls sitting on the horses, holding ostrich-plume fans. The Place de la Concorde-like fountain (a theme of AW10) took centre stage, somehow reminiscent of the ballet-finale set of an American in Paris but in monochrome, with the isolation of iconic Parisian images in the service of this classic luggage brand, totally re-invented during the sixteen-year tenure of Jacobs as a fashion house both achingly cool and exquisitely wearable.

(Images via Vogue)

In front of the fountain, Jacobs’s models, in cutaway lattice tunics, sheer body suits and tank dresses overlaid with jet embellishment, delicate art deco panelling, embroidery, petit pois voile, and full-length bias cut dresses straight from the 1930s brushed against girls in jeans and luxe sportswear, with neat boxy or military jackets cropped close to the body and embellishments of jet, stones and feathers, as if the girls had discovered vintage gems in their grandmother’s trunks in the attic and tried precious pieces on over the top of their jeans. And now didn’t want to take them off. Like, ever. The girls carried mini drawstring bucket bags, and wore flat alligator-skin ankle and biker boots. In certain looks, delicate Victorian jet embellishment gave way to punky chains attached to waistbands, and again, the fetish theme resurfaced in the lace-up fastening of one pair of trousers where otherwise would have been placed a zip or buttons.

(Images via Vogue)

Embellishment was everywhere: feathers, beading, stones, on shoulders, sheer panels, over voile and on crepe. If the sense of time passing in reverse was clearly apparent from the backwards-ticking Vuitton clock (Jacobs’s departure from Vuitton had been strongly rumoured in preceding weeks, and was confirmed immediately after this show), then Jacobs was hurtling with his 1930s showgirls into the future, bringing with them timeless embellishment, the traditional jet of Victorian mourning and the patterned Art Nouveau wallpaper decorating the upper landing. The entire lift sequence was evocative of such mixing of references and eras: girls rising in a caged lift, a lift only opened by doormen, then descending to the fairground again, independently, on ultra-modern escalators.

There were homages to Miuccia Prada’s jewel-embellished black dresses, coats and jackets; to Chanel and Schiaparelli; I also thought of the first half of Alexander McQueen’s AW08 show:

Macio Madeira VOGUE.com aw08

(Image via Vogue)

This was a show which not only showed off the superficial, the decorative approach, which Jacobs insisted on in his show statement, but went much deeper, in spite of Jacobs’s nonchalance. Design traditions, hand-stitched jewels and beading, deco cut-out patterns, 1930s style evening gowns, tunic dresses with epaulettes, cornflower-blue jeans, both fitted and boyfriend style, slouchy pants, biker boots, luxe sportswear, cropped leather jackets:  all were brought together through Jacobs’s sombre palette and celebratory approach to embellishment, Katie Grand’s impeccable styling, Pat McGrath’s gorgeous fresh-faced but dark-browed make-up, Guido Palau’s un-fussy hair styling with messy buns and wisps of hair caught in the headdresses, and  by Jones’s extraordinary feathered creations, which according to Vogue, required a 2:30 a.m. call time (for a 10 a.m. show).

Jacobs’s written statement also highlighted his female inspirations for the collection, past and present; the collection was dedicated to them ‘and to the showgirl in every one of them’: Schiaparelli, Chanel, Vreeland, Piaf, Garland, Streisand, Cher, Wintour, Coddington, Prada, Alt, Coppola, Moss, Grand and many others, thirty-four in total. This list illustrates the thinking behind the collection’s very wearable and beautifully cut pieces. Aimed both at potentially conservative mature clients (beautiful full- and bracelet-length, sleeved, tunic-style, below-the-knee dresses, Kate Hepburn trousers, boxy jackets) and the younger set (cropped navel-baring jackets, sheer embellished panels, biker boots, jeans, slouchy trousers; the fetish references), it also transcends categories and age brackets by giving us what we always came to Jacobs’s Vuitton shows to see: a fantasy moment, signalled here by the set, the soundtrack, the extravagantly poetic, almost fairy-tale, headpieces and stunning embellishment of the collection itself.

(Images via Vogue)

Jacobs’s showgirls circulated proudly, like creatures belonging to another world, but  – as Jacobs and Vuitton know only too well – it is one that can be accessed in an imaginary way through dressing up. Celebrating fantasy-through-dress, the final look of the show included a bustle made of pheasant feathers, as if a tail was emerging from the back of a jacket. (This was not captured in the catwalk photographs, but can be seen in the show video, linked to below.) This look seemed to suggest a metamorphosis of sorts, as is so often the case in fashion, and certainly now for Jacobs as he leaves Vuitton to focus on his own brand (which is owned by Jacobs, long-term business partner Robert Duffy and LVMH), in advance of its IPO in the next three years.

This show was firmly focused on a fantasy of dressing up and embellished luxury mediated through the theme of the colours of mourning. It was the through-the-looking-glass reflection of SS12 ‘s carousel of bright star Alices: Jacobs’s dramatic, jet-black, peacock-feathered, dark star moment.  For Jacobs it was a fantasy on a theme; the theme: his personal showgirl let loose in the Vuitton fairground.

Before the next adventure, his final dedication?

‘To the showgirl in all of us.’

A stunning exit.

Bisou!

Sinéad

==============================

For full show video, see Louis Vuitton SS14.

For short video featuring post-show comments from Marc Jacobs, Stephen Jones, Katie Grand, Susie Bubble and others, see Vogue.

For beautifully shot short film ‘Love presents Louis Vuitton SS14, Behind the scenes’ see The Love Magazine.

Below: Photos, Lea Colombo, via Dazed Digital.

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