Friday, 24 September 2010

Thursday, 23 September 2010


Backstage at Prada, it just made me think of Carmen.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Graduate Fashion Week 2010

If I knew then ...

Cora Elizabeth Drew's graduate collection from the University of Northumbria

The moment you know you are on the brink of adulthood, is the moment when it’s clear to you, that there are things that you know that you don’t know, and even if you did know those things that you don’t know, no one out there knows you, … and the only thing that you do know with any certainty, is that they know, they don’t know you either! Up to this point of course, you knew it all, .. that happiest of conditions being innocence, and beyond the threshold, simple ignorance.

Anticipating the London College of Fashion's catwalk show

I looked around the hundred upon hundred of buoyant innocents at the Graduates last week, and saw myself at that same delicate place in life, emerging in my case, not from a University but rather into the University of Life, it’s faculty at that point being Vogue Studios in 1950s London.

It was not long into my second year there when I received those glorious words “assignment”, “Italy”, “Henry Clarke” and Elsa Martinelli”  all in the same sentence and found myself blustering towards Sicily on the only airplane I’d ever seen the inside of, my mind racing away to the rhythm of the Dakota’s propeller engines. Excitement had already given way to fear as I disembarked, and I walked off the runway with an outstretched arm thrusting by way of defense my British Passport at any unsolicited gazes, of which there must have been many!

With no one to meet me, I accepted the offer of a taxi, and although surprised took it as normal that everyone these days made their way from airports to Vogue shoots by horse drawn cart….or .. did they?  I was just starting to realise the sheer enormity of those things I didn’t even know I needed to know.

Sophie McKay - Westminster graduate 2010

What of the Graduates? Well, I have to impart here that Graduates Fashion Week has spread over into what now amounts to a Graduates Fortnight. Before the official week began I had already photographed London College of Fashion, Central St Martins and a few others including Westminster. Westminster’s Fashion course is headed up by Andrew Groves, and I must say the standard of his graduates did set the bar before GFW even began.

Faye Chamberlain - University of Northumbria graduate 2010

But the real litmus test for the Graduate vibe, is to get out there and mingle. There is more to the week than just Catwalk shows, each college has a stand in the exhibition hall where potential employers, agencies and press members can chat to graduates or look through their portfolio’s and talk to course tutors. I drifted around and watched the new hopefuls or more importantly what they were wearing.

Nikola Mikolajczyk, Julia Zajac and Amber Upton

Milling about at Graduates Fashion Week
Celebrity support for the up and coming creatives were :

Actor Bonnie Wright, singer Eliza Doolittle and Sugababe Amelle Berrabah

Graduate of the year winner Rebecca Thomson with her mother after receiving her award. She graduates from the Manchester School of Art

I don't recall whether my mother saw me off at the airport, but then there is so much to remember about those few absolutely fabulous days in the Italian sun. Sicily was so exotic to me, and I to it, a young upstart Geordie from Ilford, an incongruous presence in both Italy and the Fashion world, still wearing my ration book wardrobe, singing quietly and spontaneously at the dinner table from the headiness of the wine I wasn't used to.

Ignorance however does sometimes have it's advantages, and not everyone can say they learned to eat Spaghetti under the careful tuition of Elsa Martinelli. Mmmmmmm, would it ever taste the same again?

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


Angels at Alexander McQueen



Making up
Last touches

Almost there

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Make do and mend ... while Hamish wore a green carnation

Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière

The contents of my mini bar - Metro map of central Paris

Hamish Bowles may have had other reasons for sporting a green carnation at the shows, but the colour metaphorically anyway seems to have summed up a great deal of the current thinking at Paris Fashion Week. From recycle and reinvention in designer collections, to the gentle encouragements on discrete notices in my hotel room, asking me to reuse my bath towel and think twice before asking for my bed to be changed. Make-do-and-mend, a flash back to the ration book influence on my war time childhood, wove it's way into the collections as if to darn over the holes developing in the industry's perceived ethics in manufacturing.

Hamish Bowles of American Vogue

At Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquière's collection was lauded by fashion's hierarchy, and rightly so. In anyone else's hands the idea of  wrapping models up in motifs of domestic ephemera (sweetie wrappers and Sunday supplement advertisements), recycled for their somewhat incongruous purpose of personal ornament, might have come off as yet another blast of pop art retro-recall; but there was no feeling here at all that the clothes were made for anything other than a bang on 21st century wardrobe, albeit it for the few who can afford the luxury and exclusivity of Balenciaga's price tags, (sorry Mrs Moore, we're not there yet!).

Salvage chic for Balenciaga's shoes

Balenciaga's macro textured bodices

At Comme Des Garcons, garments had seemingly been unstitched, rearranged and refitted, in an almost absent minded way, with the double facing poking upwards and out, and the raw edges left unravelling, inviting your mind to to do the same at the resulting shapes of a woman's silhouette, developed here not quite as would be usual in stereotypical form. However Comme Des Garcons' designer and creative director Rei Kawakubo would I'm sure, not have been in the least bit unintentional, her challenging but cerebral approach to fashion's frontier has assaulted conventions on the world's stage since the 1980s and to her credit designers new and established still look to her as they did then as a major source for inspiration.

Comme Des Garcons silhouette rethink

Comme Des Garcons

Tao of the Comme Des Garcons group

Tao also showed heavily deconstructed clothes which had the appearance of garments worn for one purpose but hinted at a by gone other; domestic but not necessarily wardrobe! A quirky often charming look but one that only the grace of youth could win over.

Parisian magazine stands, posing the pressing question ...
...Le Grand Bluff?

Interestingly, I failed my darning and sewing badges as a Boy Scout, but in subsequent years did turn my hand to many a domestic repair or reinvention (much to the dismay of my family) . Those vanished days, when time allowed for, and wallets demanded such conscientious pursuits, do appear to be coming back.....well .. after a fashion. ... now where did I put that tube of Araldite .....?

Monday, 1 March 2010

Icons, divas and body politics .. it must be Milan fashion week!

Megan Fox as the new face of Emporio Armani, on the giant ad spot in via Ponte Vetero at the corner of via dell Orso 

Julianne Moore's cover for Vanity Fair
Julianne Moore is all over the place at the moment, not least because she is in Tom Ford's new film 'A SIngle Man' 

International movie diva over here, local election campaign posters over there
No other country blurs the line between Fashion, Celebrity and politics quite like the Italians

At the shows ...

Prada and Dolce & Gabbana

I haven’t stood in a Milanese fashion show before and found myself thinking about my childhood holidays in Tynemouth, northern England, but one such same vivid memory flashed uncomfortably before me at Prada then Dolce & Gabbana as they sent out crabby-textured oversized knitwear reminiscent of those rationed post war days when mother knitted all you needed, from head to hose, and even as in my case, hearty seaside shorts. Fortunately I was too naive for embarrassment (and anyway I wasn’t alone), but I still remember the monastic discomfort of unrefined fibres against pink skin, and the unwelcome surprise that when wet, my shorts became longs, and the extra weight necessitated the gait of the Lone Ranger!

Knitted undies by Dolce & Gabbana

Knit one, pearl one, at Prada


Body Politics
Miuccia Prada's collection has fuelled the debate over what's fashionable for a woman's shape, the clothes were body hugging and accentuated the hourglass figures more commonly associated with 50s and 60s movie divas. Think Kim Novak in Hitchcock's Vertigo meets Christina Hendricks  in Mad Men. Curves, cross-over bras and starched bodices  and all here at least, in a sixties style that  only Prada can manage to make a to-die-for cool.


At Giorgio Armani

Style icon, Anna Piaggi of Italian Vogue snapped here outside Giorgio Armani at the Armani Theatre in via Bergognone


At Jil Sander by Raf Simons ...

before Jil Sander ...

Jil Sander finale

Warren and Casey aka Fischerspooner arriving at the Jil Sander show

These two icons of electronic dance music and über-cool film (forgive me, I had to google! it's a long time since my days at the Ilford Palais) were arriving at the Jil Sander show, when they stopped  and photographed my camera box. "What a great box!" they exclaimed .. I must say I have to agree. We got chatting and they gave me their card, so I could get the spelling right here. "Friends of Raf's" they indicated "invited to see the show". When the rest of the team saw the card it was all "cool", "wow!" "amazing!" etc etc (

My well travelled box, it looks like I feel at the end of a show day, still upright but peeling a bit around the edges.


At Alberta Ferretti

Watch the birdie!


At Bottega Veneta ..

Mariacarla Boscono

One more picture, Mariacarla trying to leave Bottega Veneta!