Friday, 29 February 2008

Sonia Rykiel's Gallic wonderland

Sonia Rykiel is, as far as I'm concerned, the queen of quirky, beautiful, enduring chic. The SS08 show in particular has mood-elevating qualities that have until now been limited to large doses of pills/sugar/retail therapy (you pick). I know the fall collections are already out, but with the weather getting warmer these shows feel more... appropriate.

I often look at show pictures/footage and lust after items of clothing, I sometimes am particularly impressed by a collection, but I never look at images and Rykiel sent out models in peachy chiffon and silk confections, who positively skipped down the runway, their lips a peachy tangerine and their pre-Raphaelite curls flowing behind them. They have never looked lovelier.

A strong start to the show, with full-skirted macs that chanelled ingenue-chic, which progressed into high waisted cotton skirts, dotty cancan dresses and matching bikinis and swinwear with the lustre of pearls. The glitterey eye shadow and hairbands provide an accessible way to channel Rykiel's vision. Delicious French eccentricity was displayed in all it's glory at the climax: d
iaphanous nightgowns accessorised with feather chubbies, softly curled hair and Peggy Guggenheim sunglasses.
Giddy, beautiful froth.


After the last couple of years where hemlines only seemed to get higher, and the general mood in fashion was playful and youthful, it feels a little like the mood has flipped on it's head with longer skirt lengths and all all-pervasive feeling of sobriety. Even the Sonia Rykiel show (for spring summer), while the prettiest I've seen in years, was charming and enchanting in a demure and beautiful way, rather than in-your-face sexy exuberance.

As a petite woman, I've embraced the higher hemline for it's ability to make my legs look longer and more lissome, and I feel a little apprehensive about the new skirt-length, worrying that it will swamp my wee frame. But after looking at the new season collections, I don't think the move is towards frumpy or dowdy, but more about best reflecting the times. The womanly silhouette is strong in these clothes, a strong endorsement of femininity. These are clothes that showcase the body, but not in the fetishistic way of body-con. Sophia Kokosalaki sent out dresses that still remained on the right side of flirty, short and swingy, but in more subdued metallics. You don't have to break out the nuns cassock just yet, it's just that the little black dress is looking fresh for the first time in years. (see the Balenciaga dresses below)

Designers are grappling with encompassing the prevailing mood (in both the economies and in fashion) in their collections. Gloomy economic prospects have always triggered sensible chic, and that is what we've seen this season. But is it just me or does austerity chic look very appealing this time around? If the economy's in a downswing, perhaps this isn't the best time to be investing in new clothes; what appeals to me right now is long and lean silhouettes, fitted black lace shifts, neat silk skirts and prim white blouses. It's the idea of sombre grandeur – harking back tot he time when women dressed up everyday, but twisting it so you don't actually spend all morning clipping yourself into suspenders.

I'm still waiting for Chanels' take on the new season, but I've drawn up a wishlist of what I love this season:

Andrew Gn:Sophia Kokosalaki:

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

I want: Sportmax Hair Bows in every colour.

I mean, i LOVE them.

I love them so much I just want to roll up in a little bundle and cry, because I cannot for the life of me locate a shop (online or otherwise) that sells them.
The misery. Sportmax has nailed this bow thing as far as I'm concerned. Winehouse's bows are too skinny-skiffle-rockabilly for my liking, Chanel's are too ingenue, and VV Roleaux just doesn't have anything in at the moment that catches my fancy ( a feat in itself- I could live at that haberdashery).
So when I saw these petal-soft, sumptuously coloured beauties at the Sportmax show I thought, 'sod the shitty salary, I want one of those', and away (online) I went, card in hand, determined to nab one for myself.

I saw some lucky ladies wearing them at London Fashion Week the week before- and they're as lovely in person as they appear on the runway. I now regret not running up to them and sitting on them til they told me where they'd bought them (or given me one, out of fright).

Which brings me to now: Sportmax, why hast thou forsaken me? And where can i buy your bows? It's no good putting something on the runway if you won't let us have it!


Friday, 15 February 2008

This Week:

...was London Fashion Week, where I worked/attended shows and picked up a nasty chill, which brings me to where I am today, in bed at quarter to four in the afternoon on a weekday, in my sloppy clothes, on a 7 hour tv-marathon. Thus far I have imbibed multiple episodes of Greys Anatomy, one splendid episode of Brothers & Sisters, and a couple of not-so-spectacular episodes of Cashmere Mafia (seriously-what is that show?).
The last week was fun though; highlights included my VIP pass, giving me access to all parts of the Fashion Week site, free food and drink, a free haircut, and a fantastic masquerade ball last night (thank you Aganovich). The other thing that kept me going all week was my rediscovery of Blur's Modern Life is Rubbish album, a classic and perfect in every way. I listened to it every day on my journey both to and from the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, and found me listening enjoyment undiminished even on repeated listenings.

Blur's second album saw them finding their feet just before they suddenly became Britpop's poster-boys, and in songs like Chemical World they started to develop those themes of everyday British life that would become their trademark. (Damon Albarn's delicate ballad Blue Jeans has always been one of my favourites, along with Miss America) If you haven't heard this album, buy it, buy it now.

Friday, 8 February 2008

I'm a Lover, not a fighter.

Australian fashion brand Lover, founded by Susien Chong and Nic Briand in 2001, inspires devotion in their fans. The muses that inspire Lover's strong and feminine collections – Patty Hearst for the 'Black Rose Army' (Spring/Summer 06/07); Rolling Stones groupies and biker babes for 'Altamont' (Winter 07) – probably strike a chord in fans of the label.

Their newly launched Spring/Summer line also includes the label's first foray into swimming cossies, and their collection (entitled Electric Ladyland) is inspired by that period in musical history, and the women who were a part of it: female punk poet pioneers, Marianne Faithfull, Patti Smith, The Slits, Poly Styrene and Chrissie Hynde.

Nic Briand had said in interviews of his other half that, "We always describe ourselves as the same record, different song," and it's this meld of different aesthetic sensibilities that dictates the label's blend of temptress and Lolita, siren and separatist. He goes on to say, "We both come from different backgrounds, but we share a similar sensibility and taste level. I like things heavier, Wu Tang Clan, comic books, Hendrix, and Susien is softer, Picnic at Hanging Rock, ballet, Roberta Flack."

They're clearly strongly influenced by the late '60s/early '70s, and their opposing individual influences add to the mix. The duo have produced a collection with a strong, independent presence of restrained whimsy that's sexy (but not overtly sexual) and is littered with irresistible pieces, from a pair of high-waisted denim shorts to a lovely western shirt. Have a look at their lovely understated, but marvelously flirty, swimwear below. Witty, pretty and with a definite narrative, this is a line to love and to fall in love with.

For more information about Lover, go to

Thursday, 7 February 2008

I heart Lula.

Lula's summer issue is out! Published in the UK by ex-Voguette Leith Clark (but it can be found at international magazine shops, or ordered online), this dreamy tome is chock-full of dreamy, color-soaked photography, whimsical fashion and minimal copy. It doesn't hurt either that the magazine has already featured all my favourite girls: Kirsten Dunst guest-edited Issue#5, Zooey Deschanel was featured in a fantastic shoot, Jenny Lewis was interviewed, Ellen Von Unwerth shot a story for them, Valentine Fillol-Cordier's been on the cover and Chloe Sevigney has made an appearance as well (page scan below).

Leith Clark appears almost to have tapped into my brain and put down on paper my exact aesthetic; she once said in an interview of her style, "Lolita is the wrong word, but I guess it's quite playful and eclectic. If I want to buy something, it's usually for some sort of nostalgic reason - because it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland or Little Orphan Annie. I think we are most true to our tastes when we are young and before anyone has told us what we should like."

Packed full of juicy, gorgeous, dreamy fashion editorials, and hardly any adverts, I can't wait to get my hand on this new issue. My only grievance is the spelling, OH the spelling! If something's going into print, you'd think a sub-editor somewhere might cast his/her eye across the text? That's the difference between a magazine edited by a stylist and one edited by a journalist. There's errors galore, something I'm ordinarily a stickler for, but I might let this one slide.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

A little winter sun.

It is the most lovely day in London today; it's the 6th of February, but it feels more like early April. I walked past Cavendish Square this afternoon, on my way to the John Lewis food hall to pick up some cookies for the meeting in the office today and gazed wistfully at everyone who'd spread themselves out across that little patch of lawn smack-dab in the middle of W1.
It took me back to the summer at the end of my first year of university, where every other day saw us (me and the then-boyfriend) on the lawns of Hyde park/Park in front of the Indian YMCA in Goodge street/any little bit of green. It's my idea of bliss, and yesterday I planned my perfect picnic (if London weather obliges it may come to pass quite soon):
Hampstead Heath + bottle of lovely vino + strawberries, grapes and nibblies + a little music & a copy of Lula.

My perfect picnic playlist:
Blur's Modern life is rubbish + Think Tank - the entire albums
Snippets of The Smiths
Maybe some Kooks - they always evoke summer for me

This is a work in progress clearly, sitting indoors at a desk isn't helping. What would be on your list?

Monday, 4 February 2008

Laura Marling

I'm going to see Laura Marling perform an in-store at Rough Trade's Talbot St. branch this evening; if you haven't heard her yet, never fear, you will. Her myspace only has two songs up right now (although they're my favourites), so go have a listen.
Her voice has that trembly but clear texture of a french chanson, and her brand of alt.folk melds old-folk wisdom with modern troubadour lyrics.
Marling's debut album Alas I Cannot Swim is produced by Noah and the Whale frontman Charlie Fink. Destined to be a future classic, this is a strong first album, with warm, inviting arrangements for guitar, sweet horn accents and gentle male vocals backing Laura's own melodic warble. The album is infused with a real intimacy and maturity that belies her young age.

I love in-store gigs (as completely different experiences from proper out-at-night gigs clearly), and I particularly love that you can go pick up the album you've just heard and there isn't any of that restless anticipation that usually follows a great gig.