Thursday, 26 April 2012

Fashion Collaborations 2012

Published on The London Word

If Snoop Dogg can jive with a resurrected Tupac, really, anything is possible. Cook up any kind of wild pairing, and it seems that 2012 will deliver. First, it was fashion power house Missoni with Target. Then Karl Lagerfeld landed in Net-a-Porter. Now it is Marni and H&M. How can this be, you say! Is the world going mad? Couture lines – hit by the recession – opening their arms and legs to the highest bidder? High street brands laughing silently at their good luck! Whatever next? Primark and Dior? Urban Outfitters with the Queen? Chocolate ice-cream with wasabi…oh, wait, I think that one’s been done already…

July 2012: Yayoi Kusama ♥ Louis Vuitton
So, talking of the Queen, 82-year-old Yayoi Kusama has polka-dotted all over Louis Vuitton’s leather goods, accessories and jewellery this year, to launch a new frothy line that is quintessentially Kusama and yet follows the business acumen of Marc Jacobs. Following on the Young Arts Project (launched in 2010 to give underprivileged youngsters in London a peep into the arts community) and Kusama’s Tate exhibition – both sponsored by Louis Vuitton – the line will be available in stores this summer.

May 2012: Dr. Martens ♥ Liberty
The wild-nature trend of 2012 is clearly having an adhesive effect. Even Dr. Martens – who surely invented androgyny in granny boots – have gone a little floral. This year, they’ve paired up with the mommy of Oxford Street fashion houses – Liberty – to produce a range of baroque-style shoes and satchels. Prints called “Strawberry Thief” and “Martens Flower” bring a carnival air to their classic 3-hole and 8-hole boots. The collaboration hits Liberty shelves on Labour Day.

March 2012: Marni ♥ H&M
When H&M launched their blink-and-you’ve-missed-it Marni line back in March, they gave shoppers wrist bands for strictly policed shopping slots. Twenty excited shoppers were allowed into the Regent Street flagship store at one time – no matter if they had been camping outside since 9pm the previous night – and each had no more than ten minutes to dash in and grab whatever they could find. The hysteria on British and Ireland’s Top Model when girls are let loose at a chippie’s has nothing on the mayhem that ensued. The preppie blazers and spotty frocks were sold out by that afternoon – only to reappear hours later on ebay.

February 2012: Mary Katrantzou ♥ Topshop
If you can spend £5000 on a dress, you can – like Keira Knightly, Jessie J and Alexa Chung – wear unique Mary Katrantzou graphic gear. Her ditsy florals are at your beck and call. Her Rorschach ink blot prints induce acid trips on lonely nights. And if you can’t spend £5000 on a dress? Well, then you can find a Mary Katrantzou dress for $350 at Topshop. And if you don’t want to spend three-hundred pounds on one MK dress either? Sorry, then I’m out of ideas.

January 2012: Karl Lagerfeld ♥ Net-a-Porter
Net-a-Porter – the giant of online retail – went a little Battlestar Gallactica on us this January when it opened its doors to Karl Lagerfeld. It was skewed silver jackets, S&M-style chokers and fingerless leather gloves all the way as the Chanel designer launched his ready-to-wear collection. Eager fashionistas dressed all in black for the day (including oversized dark sunglasses, despite the cloud cover) and waited hungrily in Covent Garden for the launch.

So, that takes us till the summer. As we already know, Stella McCartney has designs on the London Olympics this year. And we’ll just have to wait and see what the rest of the year will bring.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Picasso Exhibition at the Tate

Published in The London Word

If you saw the nature-inspired prints of Mary Katrantzou’s S/S 2012 collection at London Fashion Week and Issa’s silken fabrics, you may be forgiven for thinking that colour blocking is so 2011. Only die-hard enthusiasts of geometric fashion, like Yves St. Laurent, would keep on rehashing those stiff-point collars and pair colours like navy blue and purple, after all.

And you wouldn’t be wrong. The relentless trapezoids and octagons of 2011 – Prada, Celine, Balenciaga all followed where YSL led – have given way to the Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa feel of 2012. It’s exotic birds, clashing swirls, and exploding bubbles all the way this year. And in fact, even YSL can’t help going a little floral in their cruise line.

But if you think geometric prints are a throw back to the 1970s, look further into history. It was just over a hundred years ago in 1910 that the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso first exhibited his cubist paintings in the U.K. The reception from the art community was chilly. Only Picasso could look at a set of orange and yellow triangles and call it The Three Musicians. Only he could reduce nature and character to cylinders, spheres and cones.

Even as the avant-garde went into a fizz over Picasso’s insight into the human condition, the art critic GK Chesterton said of Picasso’s Portrait of Clovis Sagot, “a piece of paper on which Mr. Picasso has had the misfortune to upset the ink and tried to dry it with his boots.” Winston Churchill promised to give Picasso a kick in the rear if he encountered the modernist, and Evelyn Waugh ended letters with the words “Death to Picasso!”

Yet, Picasso’s odd ability to reduce the world into its most basic form continues to inspire art and what many would call art’s cheap younger sister – fashion – today. From Antonio Berardi’s relentless monochrome to DKNY’s horizontal stripes, 2011 runways were a cubist artist’s wet dream. Even 2012 trends with their exotic swirls recall some of Picasso’s later, more African-inspired paintings, like the Women of Algiers series with its interlacing of conical shapes with giant boobs.

Picasso himself took an interest in clothing when he designed the costumes for Sergei Diaghilev’s The Three-Cornered Hat or Le Tricorne in 1919. You don’t have to look further than Picasso’s costume for the Chinese Conjurer to see asymmetric blocks of colour. His Le Tricorne (1920) is the perfect mix of Victorian flounces and vertical stripes, while another costume for Diaghilev, with its red-and-black striped skirt and its tiered-cake hat, would not be out of place in a YSL collection.

Check out these and other paintings by Picasso at the Tate Britain this season. The exhibition, though it does not include some of Picasso’s classic paintings of musical instruments, does include a panorama of works by many artists – David Hockney, Duncan Grant, Francis Bacon – who are inspired by the great modernist.

Picasso and Modern British Art
Tate Britain
Till July 15, 2012

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair

Published in The London Word

When I enter Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, I want to run through the rails of clothing in joyful slow-mo, flinging clothes hither and thither, throwing oversized rings and itty-bitty lace in the air, and basically drowning in an orgy of period goodness. This vintage phenomenon that started in 2005 travels from city to city, peddling delicious Macks, the odd velvet gown from the 1920s, and rare Biba finds that lurk in the depths if you have the patience to look.

The stalls of clothing, accessories, sometimes furniture and other goodies, are a mixture of vintage ware, re-worked knick-knacks and hand-made goods. If you like shopping in charity shops in Kensington or Hampstead, the words “Affordable Vintage” may seem something of an oxy-moron, but Judy’s isn’t kidding around. No matter if you’re more of a goth than a 1950s housewife, or if it’s really Miss. Marple that curls your toes, this gem of a fair will find you rare treats at very reasonable prices.

Kieran Leckey, the Marketing Manager, one of a young and friendly team of dedicated vintage fashion hounds, describes their Bethnal Green Affordable Vintage Fair. “We founded the fair in 2006. It was a HUGE hit, one of the first London fairs. Daisy Lowe and the Pierces even used to come shop. But cut to 2012 – soooo many vintage fairs out there. We wanted to shake things up. York Hall in Bethnal Green is a gorgeous venue and we wanted to create an event where people could stay all day.” So they created “an east-end haunt” with music and cupcakes where committed shoppers can spend an entire Sunday just hanging out and sorting through the racks. What Kieran doesn’t say is that York Hall gives the fair a long, warehouse kind of venue, very hip, very retro, and very quintessentially vintage.

Judy Berger, the founder, says that the fair was born in Leeds through “love, lust and a little frustration. I had nothing to wear and vintage was through the roof!” The fair now sources vintage traders from all over the UK and checks all the stock for the affordable and the wearable.

If clothing doesn’t knock your socks off, then check out the vinyl and the taxidermy and the stocks of furniture. The Kilo sales give you a bagful of clothing at just £15 and Spitalfields Market hosts the fair every month. Don’t forget to check it out on April 7th and 9th. In honour of the 2012 Olympics, fashion scouts will be handing out medals and vouchers to the best-dressed customers!

Old Spitalfields Market
65 Brushfield Street
E1 6AA

Sunday, 15 April 2012

How to Dress for a Job Interview OR What Not to Wear to a Job Interview

Karl Lagerfeld, Net-a-Porter

The question of how to dress for a job interview seems apropos in these days of redundancy and generic all-round panic about losing your job, your mortgage, and your mind. Of course, you might be one of the many who look at this article and say, “Job interview? What job interview?! *Add suitable expletive.* I’ve applied for a hundred and twenty-seven jobs found on Gumtree, Craigslist, Monster, TotalJobs. I spend all my time on these sites, twitching like a crazy person on amphetamines. The incredibly complicated application forms fill me with fear and loathing. And I haven’t been invited to one single job interview!!” In that case, what are you doing here? You need to read How to Get a Job Interview, and also perhaps The Twelve Step Plan to Ending Your Addiction to Applying for Jobs.

Here are some general rules for what to wear and how to look when you’re applying for a job. Remember, in the end, these are just rules. Feel free to ignore them all. If you’re Lisbeth Salander, do go in with punk haircut, gothic make-up and a tattoo on your neck. If you’re Dr Gregory House (why has that show come to an end?! Why God, why?), then go ahead and be rude to everyone you meet. But unless you’re the bee’s knees of your profession, you can’t afford to do that.

Dress for the job
Imagine this scenario. You’re interviewing to be a fashion blogger at a trendy start-up and you show up in a black pin-stripe suit, black pantyhose, neat pumps, and a briefcase. You may lose them even before you’ve started. You could carry off a vintage suit (ideally some crazy colour, in velvet), with cream-coloured polka-dot tights, and kooky sandals, but a conservative outfit here won’t really work for you. Same if you’re applying to be a customer-facing secretary in the City, and you show up in jeans. Guys, a fitted suit work best. So, think about the job you want. And that may be the only rule you need to follow.

Personal style
If you’re determined to wear that pinstripe, say, you’re a banker or an accountant (get a different job! Just kidding…), then add a personal touch. An oversized necklace, colourful pumps, a colour-block dress, a cool tie – do something that doesn’t look like you’ve just stepped off an assembly line in Canary Wharf. That assembly line exists, I tell you. You just have to travel on the Jubilee Line at rush hour to see its produce – everyone looks exactly the same. It’s like being in the Matrix.

Talking of over-sized necklaces, avoid clunking it up. Bling is not a bad thing, but you don’t need the necklace, the dangly earrings, the chunky bracelets, the too-cool anklet you picked up in Rajasthan, and the three rings on each finger. Choose a signature piece of jewellery, and keep the rest understated. And I’d avoid the anklet, in any case. It wouldn’t work with your polka-dot panty-hose. (Wait, I’ve lost track of which outfit we’re discussing here…)

Avoid the Katie Price or Lil Kim look, please. This is true about all times, and not just for job interviews. Be clean. Take a shower. Please don’t look orange from your cheap tan. And don’t do too much make-up. A little foundation or powder, a bit of mascara, a light layer of eye-liner or eye-shadow, lipstick that’s not drawn outside your own pair of perfectly beautiful lips (oh, and ideally one that doesn’t cake and give you lipstick globules), that’s all you need. Don’t weigh down your face. Keep it groomed and radiant. Do your usual eye-brow wax or whatever, so that you’re not trying to cover up your moustache with your soy latte the whole time. Guys, keep that facial hair under check.

Avoid flyaway, frizzy hair. Avoid hair extensions. Avoid home-grown bleaches. Comb and condition your hair so that you don’t have a spontaneously-erupting dreadlock sticking up at right-angles to everything else. Keep it clean, keep it looking organized. Avoid running in, looking sweaty, red and out of breath. Don’t do the over-gelled look, boys, please. And please look for dandruff on your shoulders. Keep it low maintenance when it comes to hair, in case you don’t get the chance to do the last minute run to the loo once you’ve arrived for your interview.

You can get away with bare legs if the weather is really, really hot. Otherwise, a nice pair of translucent tights works well. Keep an extra pair in your bag in case of accidents. Boys, avoid bare legs and pantyhose. For shoes, pumps are the usual favourite. Open-toe is acceptable. Boots can work depending on the job and the weather, but pumps, or loafers (for men), are better. Don’t go in with scruffy shoes or smelly feet.

Can you be sexy?
Unless you’re interviewing to be a hostess at a gentleman’s club, the answer is no. No peeking, frilly bras or overbearing cleavage. No itty-bitty skirts. No see-through tops or shirts whose buttons pop open if you breathe. Try not to cross and uncross your legs the entire time. Don’t lean over and fondle anyone. Don’t keep licking your lips and playing with your hair. This is a job interview, not a seduction.
Other than that, wear some light deodorant. Be friendly, polite, honest and confident. (Unless you’re Lisbeth Salander – in which case, I love that you’re reading my article.) Always, always arrive a few minutes early.

Published on The London Word