When we heard that buzzy up-and-coming designer Calla Haynes was collaborating with Parisian staple Comptoir des Cotonniers on a capsule collection--at contemporary price points--well, let's just say we were excited. Now that we've actually seen the collection, in all its oh-so-pretty, French ingenue glory, it's possible we're even more stoked. Paris-based Haynes took time out of researching her next runway collection to talk us through the range, in stores on May 2. See our conversation below, and click through our exclusive gallery of full collection looks. Because spring is finally in the air…
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LONDON--New York Fashion Week has come to a close, and now it's time to switch gears and move to London. But what to expect? New venues, for one. Although Somerset House remains show central, Topshop has moved its showspace to Old Billingsgate Market, a fish market, following a successful season at the old Eurostar terminal. Vivienne Westwood will show her anarchic Red Label wares at the Royal Courts of Justice, and Temperley London will become the first brand ever to mount a fashion show at the British Museum. Look out for warring fashion parties, with AnOther Magazine’s tenth birthday bash at The Box (which just opened its London outpost on a suitably seedy Soho block) going head to head with the Love Magazine Party for Alexander Wang at Liberty on Saturday night. Temperley’s after-party takes place at the Groucho Club at the same time as Mulberry’s Claridges fete on Sunday. We’re keeping a cabbie on speed dial. Walk? In these shoes? Still, our favourite parties are the shows themselves.
We know it can be tough to choose favorites in fashion. So we understand why, for the first time, the British Fashion Council chose to award not one, but three promising labels under its Fashion Forward sponsorship scheme. Congratulations to Peter Pilotto’s Christoph and Peter, Meadham Kirchhoff’s Edward and Ben, and Todd Lynn’s…Todd Lynn. We caught Todd on the phone to ask him about his triumph.
LONDON--Brits love a good bet. Beyond standard sports and horse races, high-street betting chains like Ladbrokes and Paddy Power invite "punters" to wager on which will be the next volcano to erupt, which book will top Ireland’s bestseller charts, and now, who will design the royal wedding gown. Now I’m no gambler--and I'm an American living in London, which means betting like this feels pretty, well...foreign to me. But when I saw the list of odds online, I shook my head and reached for my credit card. I can justify the outlay: I work in fashion, and I’m familiar with the British bridal market. I also spent a decent part of Tuesday afternoon seeking designer comments on what Middleton should wear. The monarchy’s commitment to discretion suggests that only those who hold their tongues are likely to find themselves on a shortlist. Factors that guided my wager were nationality, design signatures and reputation/prestige. National pride (this is a taxpayer-funded event, after all) means the designer will almost certainly be British--that cuts out bridal mavens like Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Monique Lhuillier and Carolina Herrera.
LONDON--There’s something furtive-feeling about taking public transportation to the Dorchester. The storied Park Lane hotel is more a chauffeur kind of place, you see. But last night, a clutch of East London’s hardest-working young designers looked wide-eyed and happy to have made it there any way they could, as they sipped Laurent Perrier and hobnobbed with Daphne Guinness to celebrate their status as finalists in the first-ever Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize. Guests of honor included Louise Goldin, Mary Katrantzou, Chau Har Lee, Hermione de Paula and Thomas Tait. It was the judging panel, though, that really brought the star power: there was Guinness, resplendent in a floor-length sequin gown and a cream lace headpiece that she drew across her face like a veil; Yasmin Le Bon in a flippy little Alaia dress; Manolo Blahnik looking natty and correct in a grey suit and evergreen velvet slippers with swimming-pool-aqua bows; and milliner Stephen Jones, wearing a three-piece suit and green cap (dream client: Michelle Obama, because, “she’s not really a hat person”).
LONDON--Ask any 20-something about her first handbag memory, and chances are it involves Kate Spade. That bright polka dot or stripe-printed canvas! Those simple shapes! And most of all, that small black label (!) cued covetousness in many a suburban middle school girl (not to mention a slew of Canal Street searches, but...that was before we knew it was wrong). Lately, the brand has been striding back to prominence with fashion and lifestyle shops across the US, and its latest move is a 'pop-up apartment' in London's Covent Garden. The Kate Spade team conjured a dream home for its gal-about-town muse, complete with gorgeous clothes, accessories and objets. It's full of Spade-y signatures and clever decorative touches, such as wallpaper-backed closet doors, crisp, grass-green walls, a painted black-and-white floral "rug" and some rather glorious mid-century modern furniture.
LONDON--As the lights went down at Issa, one man shouted, "Last fashion show in London!", and everyone cheered... until a meeker voice answered, "Men's day tomorrow!" With most in the crowd skipping the menswear to make way for Milan (or, you know, get some sleep), the Issa show definitely had a last dance atmosphere. The party feeling was further enhanced by some familiar faces in the front row: Lily Allen and sister Sarah Owen, partners in a new vintage fashion venture; Poppy Delevigne, and the ubiquitous Amber Rose all turned up. The clothes? They were pretty much what you'd expect from the figure-friendly designer's Indian Summer theme.
I'm still not sure what to think of Meadham Kirchhoff's S/S 11 show. Focusing on the clothes, I can say that the boys presented an impressive collection of vivid chiffon and lace-spliced dresses in cotton candy pink, Peeps-chick yellow and Slurpee red. Carnival food coloring continued through the hair, which featured rainbow streaks, and in the funhouse floral constructions that unfurled down the catwalk. But it wasn't at all sweet. Styling that saw red velvet ribbons take on garotte associations and angry, heavy makeup seemed sadistic. The low, glittery sandals--which may as well have had velcro and My Little Pony appliques, they were so juvenile--invited JonBenét associations.
LONDON--Through a scrim we could see the models for Clements Ribeiro’s S/S 11 show assembling--an array of reedy girls in shifts and A4 paper hats. We knew it was time to begin when the lights dimmed and a spotlight threw models’ silhouettes onto the thin muslin screen, creating what was surely one of the week’s most quietly lovely images. From that beautiful beginning came a parade of palette-cleansing clothes, a fashion sorbet of ladylike dresses in gorgeous original prints. First down the catwalk was a purple and green hydrangea-print shift, followed by a shirt with boughs of jasmine in white on a red background. This same print in a skirt looked perfect when paired with a fine gauge Breton-striped sweater. Best of all, though, was a nipped-waist v-neck dress with browns, peaches, aubergines and lemon curd tones applied to those same hydrangeas, prompting instant covetousness and some magical budgetary thinking on my part. When the print disappeared, ensembles briefly veered into less interesting territory. An off-the-shoulder navy blue embossed silk dress with an obi waist tie and wide sleeves would have been stronger without the large paillette flowers (sequins fell off of other heavily embellished garments). But a navy cardigan the same length as a short lace dress in the same color read as flirty and young.
LONDON--Once the last piece of mirrorball confetti hit the floor at Burberry, showgoers blinked their way into the sunlight smiling. It seemed to many that the crescendo of the week would also be a good place to end LFW—but anyone who continued down the show roster to Ashish was in for a treat. If Giles flew the flag for kitsch Britannia with his show, Ashish answered with a Gaga-‘n-Beyonce “Telephone”-video vision of the glitzy American West. The opening salvo of, “Don’t f**k with me, fellas!” set the tone, telling us to expect to meet a good-time gun-slinger of a gal—someone ready to ride anywhere in her sequin-emblazoned bandanna top. With the cow-print blazers, oversized paisley basketball shorts and flame-grilled motifs ALL in sequins, as well as boots hand-painted with cacti, horseshoes and McDonald’s and Coca-Cola branding; and even tall Native American headdresses, the show was wild, but that was the point. Ashish always puts on a fun show—the models looked like they were having a great time, and front rowers’ feet didn’t stop bouncing to the tunes through the entire show.
LONDON--Judging by the sparse front row, 9:00 am must have felt a touch early for the explosive print clashes we’ve come to expect from the boys of Ba
LONDON--Anna Laub once flagged down an old man in a pub to ask him where he got his glasses. By then, she’d been on the hunt for the perfect frames for long enough to know that she shouldn’t let another good pair get away. Besides the pub, she had searched through markets and specialty stores in London, Rio and Tel Aviv, and still couldn’t find her ideal pair. So she decided to make her own. “If I was looking for it, then other people must have been looking for it too,” she reasons.
Prepare for a Chanel-inspired stampede. This autumn, Saks Fifth Avenue will become the first major US retailer to stock plus-sized clothing from all of its high fashion brands. Goods from Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, and yes, Chanel, will soon be available up to size 14, with some brands extending to size 20. And rather than being segregated into a different section, plus-sized garments will be displayed on the same rails as straight-sized stock on Saks’ high-end third floor. It’s astonishing that something so obvious, lucrative and longed-for could take this long. The plus-size clothing sector is worth $27 billion globally, according to data from New York-based buying firm Global Purchasing Group. That’s partly due to prevailing health trends, but also a result of increasingly arbitrary sizing—the US doesn’t have any clothing size regulations, so a woman who wears a size 8-10 at a mainstream store might find that McQueen thinks she’s a 12 or 14.
Yesterday, London’s New West End Company (a business advocacy group) published a report forecasting that London will soon overtake New York as the city with “the largest concentration of international retail brands in the world.” Naturally, UK media outlets quickly positioned the report as yet another London versus New York showdown—and this time, it’s about shopping. “In some ways the West End already outstrips Fifth Avenue, for example in terms of edgy fashion,” Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, New West End’s chairwoman., told the Evening Standard, contrasting New York’s 194 chain flagship stores to London’s fast-growing 179. Having landed back in London after a week in New York just this morning (my luggage, apparently, would prefer to stay in Manhattan), Jonas’ comparison struck me as something of a brow wrinkler.
LONDON--We all know the economic downturn has been tough on fashion—the past year alone has seen brands like Lyell, Phi, Tracy Feith and Abaete close in the wake of funding difficulties. But there are bright spots as well, and we’ve found one in Chelmsford, England, where a group of staffers from the recently closed Faith shoe store are reopening as an independent shop. Even sweeter: the new incarnation of Faith… is Hope! That’s right. The employees laid off when Faith closed earlier this year are reinventing themselves as the retail entrepreneurs behind Hope Footwear Ltd.
LONDON—We love when serious museums turn their curatorial eyes to fashion, but all too often, the rigid display protocols and protective measures can make style exhibitions as stiff as a mannequin’s port de bras. So it was with a mix of excitement and curiosity that we headed to Kensington’s Blythe House for The Concise Dictionary of Dress, a special collaborative fashion exhibition concocted by a costume curator and a psychologist. The exhibition is organized around eleven ‘definitions’ (more like evocative associations) of the words armored, comfortable, conformist, creased, pretentious, fashionable, tight, measured, essential, plain and loose. Guides lead small groups on an hour-long journey through the building, pausing at installations that illustrate each word. We began on the roof and spent the next hour descending through the floors.
LONDON--British department store Debenhams launched a new in-store swimwear campaign today using un-airbrushed photos—a move the retailer says is a step towards banning retouching across its catalogs and ad campaigns. The campaign features three versions of the same photograph on display in the windows of Debenhams’ London flagship: An image of an un-retouched bikini model, a copy marked up with requests for fixes, and a digitally enhanced version of the ‘before’ shot showcasing slimmer thighs, dramatic cleavage shading, and a rather impossible-looking wasp waist. The most striking aspect of the images (and the non-Photoshopped Fashionista exclusive pic) is how incredible the model looks without the airbrushing—better than after all those body-warping tweaks. “She's perfect as she is—there’s absolutely no reason to airbrush her,” says Debenhams spokesperson Carie Barkhuizen. “Unfortunately, everyone seems to think that airbrushing is where we need to be.” Debenhams has stepped into the body image arena in the past. In January, the retailer populated its window displays with UK size 16 (US size 12) mannequins; in February, it cast disabled model Shannon Murray for the ads that launched Ben de Lisi’s Principles line. Both stunts got press. So is this latest anti-airbrushing crusade a gimmick?
LONDON--Over the weekend, 55,000 people flocked to England's Isle of Wight for its annual 3-day music festival. Storms on Thursday night meant that the mud seemed knee-high by the time the festival kicked off, but it couldn't stop Florence and the Machine, Vampire Weekend, Paloma Faith and Jay-Z from mesmerizing the crowds all weekend long. Attendees kept festival fashions distinctly British, with acres of denim, over-sized floral prints, white-gray hair, vintage pieces, headbands, and obligatory Hunter boots. As for the mud? The better to make your wellies look more authentic, my dear.... Click through for images of--and interviews with--some of our favorite (civilian) concert-goers.
Ever wonder where great vintage comes from? In some cases, it surfaces at auctions, where dealers can acquire trunk loads of frayed 1930s chiffon dresses for pennies against the final retail price. But there’s another side to clothing auctions, one in which London-based fashion auctioneer Kerry Taylor specializes—museum-quality vintage and haute couture.
The Big Smoke put on a sunny smile just in time for the grand opening of Mary Portas' Living and Giving shop this past Saturday morning. Portas, a retail guru and brand consultant--well-known in the UK as the Queen of Shops--teamed up with international children’s rights foundation Save the Children to overhaul the charity shop concept. By appealing to designers and hot brands for donations (think past-season samples), her team has created a thrifting experience that’s less Primark and more Prada…just the way we like it.
Tonight, 80 guests including Oscar de la Renta and Eva Herzigova will meander through the Browns: 40 Years of Fashion Innovation exhibition in London'