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.

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