Sunday, 25 September 2011

Armani's Monochrome Army

Hello! Me again - ok, so unfortunately I was going to blog today's outfit, when my unofficial photographer went on strike (otherwise known as: my sister went around to her friend's house with the promise that she would take the photos later, even though she had promised to do them at two o'clock in the afternoon, at a time when I was certain I would be awake. Typical twelve year old irritating sister who does not understand the importance of keeping to a deadline and doing exactly what I ask her to do since, in the long run, it will mean that I will feel more disposed to being kind to her, and will get her a more expensive/better present for her birthday/christmas. Anyway, even if she wishes to do them later, I am not available anymore. She really should be less selfish and think of me once in a while. Rant over.) So instead, I am just doing a brief analysis of Emporio Armani Spring pret-a-porter 2012, and although generally Armani is not high on my favourite designers list, I see it as a very significant brand when looking at the world of fashion as a whole.

Spring pret-a-porter 2012

 - Georgio Armani's latest offering for Emporio Armani. Not unusual for the designer, a monochrome Army of Black and Whites strode down the catwalk, momentarily punctured by soft creams, warm beiges, icy blues, mint greens and light lilacs. Almost every model had a hat, low brimmed at a jaunty angle, white with a thick black band.
There is an air reminiscent of the 20s and a suggestion of the SciFi - as much in the name of the collection, Neodesign, as in Black 2d lines and bright whites creating an impression of uniformity.

In line with the Spring 2012 Fashion, there was an abundant supply of chokers, each one identical - black, collar-like, softened slightly by a ribbon.

Every single one of the models was in a blonde wig; a cool blonde wig in a sharp pixie crop which (under the hats) was again reminiscent  of the 20s.

Monochrome suits, black on white and white on black. Large, folder-like bags swinging. Camel Shoes making a soft contrast.

Black and White flowers made an appearance at the end - On the shoulder, in hair or directly in the

centre of the chest.

*** 10 minutes after I had finished writing this, I went down to the Kitchen to get a Pepsi Max before coming back up to post this. My unofficial photographer had returned. Oh. Sudden change of plan. I quickly asked her to spare five minutes of her precious time to take a few photos. I change into an outfit inspired by this collection and she takes two or three snaps. So... here it is. ***

 >>> The Jacket is a vintage find... another one adopted from my Grandmother's. The Trilby (I do not own a boater, I am afraid) is a present from the Director of a play I was in. The Trousers were my Mother's (vintage 70s/80s I think) The Shoes were bought last year, from High Street Brand, Dorothy Perkins. The belt and Necklace... no idea. 

PS: I do not think this is a look that is going to become a keystone in my wardrobe. It was fun to try it out, but I prefer not permanently looking like a strange sort of gangster. I might wear it once or twice, though it's not a promise.

Unfortunately, not a great photo of me. I had forgotten to make sure my sister had taken flash off... and you know what it is like when it's five o'clock on a Sunday Afternoon, tired, without make-up and with the prospect of school tomorrow.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Silence in the Library!

Hello! Me again, and this time wearing a beautiful white blouse and eye-popping pink Yves Saint Laurent lipstick... not that you can really tell in the dismally poor Photos. 

This was originally going to be about my five favourite books. Full Stop. Then the voice of reason in my head (not that he is often at home) murmurs quietly, 'Is this not supposed to be a Fashion Blog?'
So, after a little thought, I came up with a better idea. My five favourite fashion-orientated books! The truth is: there are more of them in my life than I could have ever thought. Books about individual designers, Hats, Handbags, Shoes, Japanese Fashion (the one I can not find) Vintage Fashion with sub-categories including books on Art Deco, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s... bref, the list goes on - and it can only grow bigger! I am currently saving up for, among a very wide range of other things, an enormous book on Dior from 'Waterstones'. I am certain it will be worth the cost, considering that I am a huge fan of Dior.

Anywho, let us start the list, counting down to my all time favourite.

5) - Fifty Fashion Designers you should know.

First and foremost, this is not a collection of obscure or niche designers. In fact, it is basic beginner level with all the mainstream designers that everyone really should know, regardless of whether they are interested in fashion or not. These are the movers and shakers, those who created a new way of thinking and looking at Fashion... mostly rather obvious - such as Chanel, Dior, Armani and Versace - with some variety including the greats - Madeleine Vionnet (A favourite of mine) Elsa Schiaparelli (photo above, showing the famous lobster dress based on Salvador Dali's lobster phone) - and even the avant garde (Yohji Yamamoto and Hussein Chalayan) 
Bref, for a first insight into the world of fashion, accompanied by brightly coloured photos and a timeline going from the second half of the 19th century to the present day, you can do no wrong with this number.
Warning: The Book is slightly out of date, 2010, and harking back to happier times when John Galliano was not fired from Dior on anti-semitic charges  and Alexander McQueen had not commited suicide.

4) So, in joint fourth position, 'Manolo Blahnik drawings' and 'Vogue Covers: On Fashion's Front Page' Both of these books are simply rife with glorious images. In the case of the latter, starting with a Vogue Cover from 15th September 1916, it leads us on a whirlwind of colour and a myriad of eclectic designs to finish with a sleek Kate Moss for September 2006. Ninety years between these two Vogue covers and oh, how much life has changed. Not only fashion, but morals and what is socially acceptable, even what is considered beautiful. Included within the pages of this book, a treasure of a cover from early August 1917 depicting a woman in full winter gear spearing to death a polar bear (On a more serious note, I do not in any way support or defend the spearing to death of polar bears or any other animal)  The only reasonable criticism is the overly large amount of Kate Moss Covers; half the amount could have been used to prove the same point.                       In the case of the Manolo Blahnik book, I am afraid that the small size of the book, pocket-sized if anyone is interested, means that I was unable to take a photo of the inside of the book. I hasten to assure you that the book is well worth it, and that the drawings portrayed within are very vibrant and thought-provoking images of shoes.

3) Fashion Algebra de Anna Piaggi. This book by the legendary Anna Piaggi (flamboyant Italian fashion writer and style icon, having written for fashion magazines such as Italian Vogue and, in the 1980s, the avant-garde magazine Vanity) is 'The logic of Fantasy and the careful deciphering of all the essential elements of today's style.' and done to brilliant effect, touching on every aspect, every possibility of Fashion in an eclectic and wholly creative way brimming with mischevious wit and years of experience. Let me but assure you that each double page spread is a work of art (and those who have seen some of Anna Piaggi's double page spreads for Italian Vogue will have little trouble believing it)
No aspect has been left untouched and delving into the pages of this book, is like diving into an extravagant and beautiful dream. There is nothing more vibrant; more mind-opening than these pages upon pages of spellbinding designs. This book is a treasure... but I also borrowed it from my School Library.


2) 70s Style and Design
- Oh, the Horror of the 70s. The so-called terrible costumes that your parents were photographed in - pastel green jumpsuits with sequins and flares while their hair is curled into a wild submission. Oh yes, not everybody looks back on the clothing of the 70s without embarassment, and even disdain.
However, with the rise of retro, the 70s are experiencing a resurgence of cool, though some people may not believe it - surely going there once was bad enough?
I am not one of those people.
I have always liked the 70s. The colour, the madness, more freedom of sexuality. An era that united such defining trends as 1920/1930s Art  Deco and 1960s pop movements. An era that saw the rise of Ethnic designs, nudity to sell a large range of products - Levi's Jeans being an example - and a love of the natural.

Punk, Avant-Garde, neoclassical and, a favourite of mine, new romantic. Each aspect is explored in detail with quiet respect and sparkling wit.

Androgyny, freedom of sexuality and sexual ambiguity... the cult phenonemon that was 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' and, another favourite of mine, David Bowie.... this book gives so much and even those who are not altogether interested in Fashion could not fail to find this book interesting. Some may be shocked, some may be amused, some may look at certain shoes within the book with a small sigh. Either way, it will not fail to make an impact, if only for the highly vivid images.


1) Swinging 60s Fashion Style.
    - 'From elegance to individualistic casual. The 1960s was a cataclysmic period in fashion history. The world underwent significant political and economic upheaval, and so did the world of fashion. Early 1960s fashion had inherited the elegance of the 1950s, where clothing was refined and somewhat conservative. By the middle of the decade, however, the flashy mods and the freedom-loving hippies had emerged and fashion moved in a more hip and cool direction. Fashion in the 1960s was a veritable treasure trove of styles.' - and there is no better book to demonstrate this. Perhaps the contents of the book are minimal if you are looking for facts and information, but the photos inside are bright, colourful and, in their multitude, offer a wide view of fashion in 1960s. From Swimming costumes to suits and hairstyles, every detail tells its own story.  The story of why the 60s is seen the way it is within the world of Fashion.
It is a book that inspires, that gives one a base when looking at the 60s. Starting from the front cover, so enveloped in bubblegum pinks and baby blues that one cannot fail to be reminded of a barbie, or at least of Katy Perry's California Gurls video, and all the way through, crossing tartans, furs and corals in all manner of guises.
A psychedelic mess but a truly enjoyable one, gripping you to each page as you float dream-like through a veritable Aladdin's cave of colours and delightfully Kitsch patterns.

Once again, thank you for reading. Follow me if you like. Comment.

 << A note on the clothes. The Blouse is a beautiful Laura Ashley piece adopted from my Mother (Go recycling!) The Black Scarf is one of those many accessories that I feel like I have had forever though, on second thoughts, have probably had less than a year. The Belt is a lovely light grey/cream affair with a little bow. The skirt is actually my school skirt. Though I was intending to wear a pencil skirt, stolen from a large black binbag of interesting clothes chez my grandmother's, I could not find it so instead opted for my school skirt. The Shoes are beautiful, bought for a third of the original price (£25 down from £75) and, if you would like to know where you can buy them online, you need only leave a comment and I will reply.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Geek Chic

I rush down the stairs with my sister, a very long wool scarf wrapped around my neck and a favourite manga in my hand. "Come on!" I coax her while simultaneously pulling up my knee-highs (lovely but, let's face it, wholly irritating) "I need these photos. Now."
Ignoring her grumblings about going to bed, the lack of light and the need to tidy her room, I lead her to the relatively well lit kitchen. True, I had been planning to take these photos in the Library, but at this late hour, the light in there was very poor. Eventually we manage to take a few photos and I can return to my room, less than satisfied but with enough material to not make this into a complete shambles.

Right. So this is about a look that has long been a favourite of mine, a look I have always had a soft spot for, Geek Chic. Characterised by the typical, heavy black-rimmed glasses which, for much of the press, seems to be the only defining feature. In my strange mind, there are then two directions that feminine geek chic goes in and it is as simple as 'trousers' and 'skirts'... of course, they are so absolutely interlinkable that it is possibly a waste of my time trying to explain how I separate the two... I will try anyway.

A) Trousers. Characterised by T-Shirts with geeky in-jokes, Jeans (often tight, since it makes the look that bit more alluring), trainers such as converses. More detailed jewellery - Mario Watch and Scrabble Necklaces. Bags more likely to be colourful rucksacks or large, practical shoulder bags, maybe with more in-jokes - I found a very nice one with a picture of a Robot.

B) Skirts. Characterised by above the knee skirts, knee-high socks, woolly jumpers, blouses, bow ties, braces (known in the USA as suspenders), plastic jewellery, bows... japanese schoolgirl vibes and, if you want, heels. Messenger Bags and cute accessories.

> Oh, if you are interested, these shoes are Irregular Choice, which is one of my two favourite online shoe brands.

Definition of the word Geek:
"A person with a devotion to something in a way that places him or her outside the mainstream. This could be due to the intensity, depth, or subject of their interest. This definition is very broad but because many of these interests have mainstream endorsement and acceptance, the inclusion of some genres as "geeky" is heavily debated. Persons have been labeled as or chosen to identify as more commonly physics geeks, mathematics geeks, engineering geeks, sci-fi geeks, computer geeks, various science geeks, movie and film geeks (cinephile), video game geeks, roleplay geeks, comic book geeks... and less commonly as theatre geeks, history geeks, music geeks, art geeks, philosophy geeks, literature geeks, historical reenactment geeks."

Bref, the list goes on - I am even thinking of becoming an official Fashion and Style Geek. Apparently, you can even be a Sports Geek, which is slightly at odds with the image I have of geeks in general.
Lastly, a warning. Be very careful, dare I even say 'do not', try geek chic if there is really nothing more to it, for you, than a fashion statement. That is called following the crowd and it is pretty irritating to proud geeks. After all, there is nothing more annoying than seeing someone wearing an in-joke t-shirt and immediately thinking they would be company, just to realise that they are only wearing it because they want to 'try' a little geek chic. If you are not sure whether you are a geek or not, try this: Imagine that you have gone to a large geek convention, and you are talking to other geeks about your interests. I would say "I am interested in Doctor Who and, although I would not go as far as to call myself an Anorak, Star Wars and books by Terry Pratchett."

- Anyhow, although I am not an obsessive of anything in particular and definitely not living a geek-orientated lifestyle, the truth is that I am so completely surrounded by them that there is no escaping it... there was never any escaping it.

<< A note on my outfit, excluding the amazing shoes which I have already mentioned... oh, and the glasses are prescription so that is not really an issue. There is a pencil keeping my hair in a bun (there are tutorials on Youtube if you wish to know how to do this) which  is very geek chic not to mention, very satisfying to know you are able to do and useful when they are no other hair accessories in the surrounding areas. The very long scarf around my neck was also supposed to be reminiscent of Doctor Who, though admittedly a Doctor I have not watched much (I am more of a David Tennant fan)

So, I know this post was not brilliant - I am completely blaming my lack of unofficial photographer, and the fact that I am writing this late, rather than any weakness on my part - but do keep reading, follow, comment and tell your friends. Thankyou. xox. :)

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Charity Shop Shopping > a Myriad of the eclectic, colourful and bizarre.

So today I went on what one could call a Charity Shop crawl. Charity Shop Shopping has long been an interest of mine. I suppose it is the thrill of the thought that one might find a hidden treasure for a fraction of its original price... and buying it will help a charity for a worthwhile cause.
My French Mother has often said that in Britain, Charity Shop Shopping (I think from now on I shall call it CSS) is something of a national sport. My English Grandmother buys a large amount of her clothing from charity shops. Indeed, I have seen very little to disprove this claim, especially if the amount of charity Shops around is anything to go by. It also seems to me that no other country in Europe, at least, has Charity Shops in the way we have. Perhaps I do not pay enough attention, but I do not recall ever having seen a Charity Shop on the continent.


The Location of the Charity Shop in Question is often important - it makes the difference between second hand Designer and second hand Primark... Where I live, it is not always as bad as could be expected. Although the place itself is not a prime location and the area itself is not always picturesque and charming *cough* the villages are mostly relatively well off areas. So, you get a wonderful blend.

I have always liked CSS. I do not care how many times I repeat it, and if those of you out there who have never done it before could only take the iniative to do so, you will find that it is worth it. From the point of view of someone who edits clothes, and creates some of my own clothes, Charity Shops are also excellent for finding the base for creation. Currently, I am working on a concept for a Patchwork Coat. When I do eventually start creating it, the local charity shop will be one of my first stops to pick up cheap, and varied, materials.

 I love Shoes. Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I am the owner of many pairs of wacky heels. I found some brilliant pairs too while I was out and about. Just look at the beading on the shoe on the top - and the boot I am holding in my hand above this inscription would currently be in my possession had the pair been size 6 instead of Size 4.

The Shoes on the left here also screamed out at me 'Wizard of Oz!; and let's face it, who does not want their own pair of ruby slippers? Oh, and remember that iconic brands such as Dr. Martens can be found in charity shops too. Though obviously worn and perhaps, much loved, I think there is something most charming and characterful about this pair. Sort of like the old, holey Barbour Coat I went out in today. :)

 Of course Charity Shops do not only sell Clothes and Shoes - they sell a wide range of kitsch, even quaint, objects - bejewelled Buddhas and China Cats with big blue eyes and baby pink tongues hanging out (licking the air?)

Although these are generally objects I would never let anywhere near my house, in large quantities they do have a sort of charm. Anyway, they are always great fun to look at - and among the shelves full of china figurines, the odd treasure can sometimes be found. For example, today I came very close to buying a thimble with the picture of an owl  engraved on it. Then again, I have always had
 a weakness for items with depictions of owls engraved or painted on them.

<<< This was a Velvetine Black Jacket. It had an absolutely beautiful Texture - an excellent purchase... but it was also a size 18, and though I do sometimes wear large clothing, it did not strike me as something that could easily be made more fitted by adding a coloured belt, the material did not seem very flexible.

Delightful Trinkets can also be found of course. Button Bracelets, silver charms and the like. >>>
Myself in a most Charming Hat. Oh, how I adore hats...

Friday, 16 September 2011

Downton Abbey (or why I love Lady Sybil's Harem Pants)

Most of you out there might have seen, or at least heard of Downton Abbey – winner of both BAFTAs and Emmys – home to Brilliant acting, gripping storylines... and Fabulous Costumes! Alright, so this Sunday (18th September) the period Drama is coming back with another series. The second series will be composed of eight episodes, running from the Battle of the Somme in 1916 to the Armistice in 1918. In between those dates, other historical events the second series will cover is the Battle of Verdun, the Russian Revolution and the British capture of Jerusalem. One thing I shall be keeping an eagle eye on is how Lady Mary’s complicated love life will unfold, and a second thing I will be watching eagerly, are the costumes.
Bearing in mind this will be a war scenario, I am sure there will be less of the lavish, and since Lady Sybil has defied her aristocratic origins to serve in Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corp, we may see less Harem Pants.
A note on the Harem Pants.  Paul Poiret was the inventor of the Harem ‘Pantaloon’ as an article of clothing in Western Culture. For one of his famous parties, on 24 June 1911, "The Thousand and Second Night" (based on The Arabian Nights), he required his over 300 guests to dress in Oriental costuming. Improperly dressed guests were requested to either outfit themselves in some of Poiret's 'Persian' outfits or to leave. However, though it had been done, it was still avant-garde, and even shocking to some people, to wear them. In Downton Abbey, this is seen delightfully when observing the facial expressions of the astounded family as Lady Sybil enters the room.

THAT is my favourite scene in the entire series. Although I think the ‘habit’ itself would have suited a long flowing dress better, it would not have had the same effect. It is a scene that shows a new world – a future and new ideas, impersonated by the feminist Lady Sybil. It is an idea that foreshadows the looming liberation of the 1920s... it is a scene I could watch over and over again.
Bref, I want a replica of this costume.

What else to say since I promised myself to keep this under five hundred words?
A)     Dressing for Dinner. Why do we not do that anymore? I am afraid that my future family may be quite, quite miserable but I think I shall do nought but insist on them donning a dinner outfit at least every Friday, Saturday and Sunday Night. If it is not an excuse to buy more clothes, then it is an excuse to display all those formal dress one never has the opportunity to wear. Cross my heart and hope to die.
B)      Lady Edith – I cannot wait for the third series. I think that the Edwardian cuts were not that flattering to Lady Edith. I may be miles off the mark, which would not be the first time, but I think she will be more successful in the 1920s. I would love to see her in a red Madeleine Vionnet bias cut with her beautiful strawberry blonde locks, neatly bobbed... and a lot more confidence. After all, she is not at all bad looking.
Here are my three other favourite outfits (worn by Lady Mary) from the first series, and brief explanations.

All three of these dresses are absolutely gorgeous, though admittedly the red one was only because I could not take an accurate picture of the dress I wanted. The Black Gown on the upper left is so elegant, so stylish... made of original beading so delicate that it could not be worn again (which is a crying shame - worth crying about, if there was any gown ever worth crying about) The Daydress on the right has given me so many ideas. Firstly, I love pearls and how they can make such a diverse range of outfits look more sophisticated. Secondly, the gloves and hat are to die for. Thirdly, the Dress is so light and fresh; there is something very calming about it.

Remember to check back tomorrow for an update of my blog. Do Comment. Please Follow me (on Blogspot, this is not an invitation to stalkers to follow me without fear of redemption *Smiley Face*)


Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Kaftan - a wardrobe essential?

This Summer I fell head over heels in love with the Kaftan, and since the beginning of September, my adoration of this item of clothing has hardly wavered. On Holiday, the Kaftan is the answer to ‘what to wear between the Beach and the Hotel?’ if you wish to avoid travelling through the restaurant, bar and children’s club in a Bikini - something I have unfortunately seen people do. 
The Kaftan is a light and easy way to feel covered, but not overdressed or clammy, while sitting on the beach, admiring your fine white legs (why do they refuse to tan?) like the strange roots of an unknown tree growing in the sand. The Kaftan is an excellent tool for when you are feeling bloated and surviving the awkward Summer *cough* scarlet wave, not to mention the lovely feeling you experience when (if) a rare gust of winds hits you, flinging your hair wildly around your face and causing your kaftan to stick to you like glue – without intending to sound dismally cliché, it is a magic moment. Similar to something out of Arabian Nights, without the ‘Arabian’ part
How does the Kaftan find its value in an Autumn Wardrobe? It is an excellent asset on those lazy Sundays when it is too warm to wear a jumper, you are too proud to wear jeans and t-shirt and too civilized to spend the day in pyjamas and negligee.  They are so easy and, if you can get your hands on the right one, manage to be so stylish at the same time. Pair your Kaftan with a loose bun – already you look the height of chic ‘au repos’.

A note on my Kaftan and here, dear Ladies and Gentlemen, is one of the Keys to dressing well. This Kaftan was bought approximately twenty years ago (so a few years before I was born) by my Grandmother while on Holiday in Tunisia.

Genuine, Vintage and Ethnic - it does not get much better than that.

These Photos were taken by my ten year old brother for me, in the ten minutes we had between my asking him to do them, and the arrival of his tutor.