LONDON--Let's say you have haute-vintage taste on a bric-a-brac budget. What's a girl to do during the busy party season with nothing (new) to wear? Enter UK popstar Lily Allen and her sister Sarah Owen. The duo's London shop, Lucy In Disguise, will rescue you with rare vintage garments and accessories, including mint condition gowns by Ossie Clark, YSL, Chanel and Alaia and Biba. The twist? They're rentals, starting at just £35. (About $55.) But if you do you fall in love with it on the first date, everything is for sale, too. (Of course, the prices are much higher.) Now, the Covent Garden shop, which launched in September, has opened a private boudoir called With Diamonds, where you and your besties can get retro nose-to-tail with a hair, makeup and nail salon, not to mention an era-inspired private bar. That means you can gather a few friends for tea a la Marlene Dietrich--or for a champagne and strawberries pre-party--while you get your Stevie Nicks alter-ego into a wide-leg pantsuit. Fashionista chats with Sarah Owen about the idea behind Lucy In Disguise...and With Diamonds.
LONDON--The Empire in Leicester Square played host last night to the UK premiere of Burlesque, a so-so sparkle-n-sequins musical starring Cher and Christina Aguilera and an army of gorgeous Swarovski-dripping bustiers designed by Michael Kaplan. The BAFTA award winning costume designer is to thank for trend-spawning films like Flashdance, Blade Runner, Pearl Harbor and the Versace and Marc Jacobs-influencing Fight Club...the man's got range. The sparkly, indoor-use-only outfits, aside from Christina's undeniable set of pipes, were the glue-gun that kept the film together. The true stunners included: six variations of delicate hand-linked gold chains with tiny Swarovskis whipping around in the finale; Christina's high collared string of pearls "dress" that whipped right off her in one number; black velvet bodysuits with 1930s-inspired sequined hands over the bum and boobs. The costumes, like the score, drew inspiration from every era from the '20s to the '80s and will undoubtedly boost sales at Agent Provocateur. We also wouldn't be surprised if some girls abandon the acrobatics of pole-dancing lessons for the glam athleticism of burlesque.
Fred Butler's origami accessories have landed her commissions on the pages of i-D, Dazed & Confused, Vogue and V magazine not to mention onto Lady Gaga's head in the diva's video for "Telephone." Photographed last year by Nick Knight, the soft-spoken prop stylist turned accessories designer is a longtime London fashion scene standout with her unwavering head-to-toe monochromatic outfits. Launched in 2008, Butler's line of colorful op-art mutations have been worn by musicians Patrick Wolf, Little Boots, Beth Ditto, La Roux and Skunk Anastasie. Stocked at London's jewelry cache Kabiri and with a hush-hush high-street collaboration in the works, Fred takes a few minutes to talk to Fashionista about her music-fashion collaborations, designing in London and a new era of dressing.
LONDON--Now 18 years old, Miu Miu--Prada's jaunty little sister--has just moved into her new address on London's New Bond St. alongside YSL and McQueen. Celebrating the two story flagship's Roaring 20s-themed makeover were stateside celebs Jessica Alba--in a sequin caramel and citron silk shift--Twilight star Jamie Campbell and his fiance, Harry Potter actress Bonnie Wright, as well as fresh faces like Chloe Moretz and Emma Roberts. The space's new look takes its cues from the Mayfair neighborhood's original tenants of art and antiques dealers, completing the grown up glamor with pink flamingos and dirty martinis by Peter Dorelli of the Savoy, the UK's oldest luxury hotel, which itself recently underwent a £220 million restoration. Catwalk looks occupied the second floor with Miu Miu's covetable bags and accessories on the ground floor replete with a limited edition six-piece range of satchels in everything from faux fur and snakeskin to leather and studs.
LONDON--Nick Knight, legendary fashion photographer and director of medium-shattering SHOWstudio gave a rare, live-streamed interview with the Business of Fashion's Imran Amed at London's members-only Hospital Club on Friday, the eve before SHOWstudio's 10th birthday. In the third installment of BoF's "Fashion Pioneers" interview series, Knight explains how he grew from an underachieving pre-med schoolboy into an arrogant box-fresh fashion photographer, dead set on turning the entire medium on its head.
LONDON--Usually when you turn 40 in the fashion business the only one in the know is your Mom--and you've got her protecting that little gem of a factoid like it's a government secret. Those rules don't apply though, and rightly so, when you're Parisian fashion label Kenzo. Four decades after Kenzo Takada became the first Japanese designer to bring his sensibility and sophistication for textiles to the French capital, the maison Kenzo is celebrating its coming-of-middle-age at every chance. In London Friday, the Victoria & Albert Museum played host to free and public live catwalk shows of Kenzo's SS 11 collection in the fittingly dramatic Raphael Gallery. Their Fashion In Motion series has previously presented shows by Jean-Paul Gaultier, Giles Deacon, Christian Lacroix and Stella McCartney.
LONDON--Fashion East, the London launchpad for raw young talent, celebrated its 10th year with the launch of a 10-piece range under new label Lulu & Co. Each look, some of which were only seen on the runway--never in stores--were handpicked by Fashion East founder Lulu Kennedy from the archives of alum like Richard Nicoll, Roksanda Ilincic, Jonathan Saunders and Henry Holland. To mark the occasion, the East End fashion pack brought the party West to Harvey Nichols in London's posh Knightsbridge neighborhood for a Mexican-themed disco replete with fish tacos, hibiscus margaritas, and wonderfully kitsch gold palm trees. Everyone from Roisin Murphy and Pixie Geldof to supermodel/presenter Jade Parfitt spun around in their favorite pieces from the range, while a tagteam set was DJ'd by Princess Julia, House of Holland and Hazel. We nabbed the ageless fairy godmother of London fashion, Lulu Kennedy, dressed in a fiery organza gown by Jonathan Saunders, to talk disco and a decade of designers.
LONDON--Last night in London's Soho district, avant-garde concept store Machine-A hosted the launch of an exclusive knitwear collection from NewGen designer Craig Lawrence. Using black for the first time, he created metallic laddered biker shorts, crop-tops and fingerless gloves with the aim to design something quintessentially London. Located in an old tailor's shop in what remains of London's minuscule fabric/garment district, Machine-A has raised more than a few eyebrows with its stable of edgy designers and their shop window exhibitions, the first of which involved a "life-size knitted masturbating man spurting over a pile of knitting magazines." Founder and creative director Stavros Karelis has gone beyond simply creating a platform for emerging designers by purchasing outright the majority of his stock and even funding the production of a handful of cash-strapped talents. Future plans include a 10 person workstation providing designers the tools and expertise required to produce their collections. The party, spilling out onto Berwick St. included towering trannies in Craig Lawrence dresses dancing in the balloon-filled vitrines and was attended by The Guardian's Sarah Mower, wigged-and-bearded expat Andre J (fresh off a shoot with uber stylist Nicola Formichetti for Arena Homme for which he wore a gold Balmain gown) along with bloggers Susie Bubble and Yu Masui.
LONDON--A recent flood of fashion films is promising to bridge the velvet-roped gap between front-row editors and the glossy-buying populace while giving designers yet another medium through which to express and control their brands. At London's City Arts & Music Project the public was invited to a S/S 11 Video Re-See of films by handful of London Fashion Week's most promising young talents including knitwear designer Craig Lawrence, art deco printmaster Holly Fulton and Alice Dellal collaborator and jewelry designer Dominic Jones. Here are the highlights, as well a word with Craig Lawrence on being a fish out of water:
PARIS--Days after Brit expat Gareth Pugh's Mercury and Ebony S/S 2011 collection was presented on an 8 x 15 meter Imax screen to a warehouse full of buyers and press, the avant-garde designer sits for an informal Q&A at the Louvre's Apple Store. The avant-gardeist snapped up France's ANDAM award in 2008 and was rumored as next in line at McQueen and Dior Homme. The last in a series presented by Dazed and Confused called "Meet the Designer" the magazine's co-founder Jefferson Hack talks with the young designer about the tentative future of catwalk shows, his sold-out shop in Hong Kong and why Saint Martins does not a star make. Jefferson Hack: Gareth's first store opened in Hong Kong in July. It was designed by Iwan from from Daytrip Studio who is super young, like 25. What was it like working with him? Garreth Pugh: I've known him since he was 18 and we're very good friends, I think that helps. My two stipulations were that I wanted it to look like a black box inside and that one wall could control video.
LONDON--Possibly the only thing more death-defying than the leap from model to actress is the rarely attempted feat of fashion designer-turned-artist. But for two time "British Designer of the Year" and creative director of PUMA, Hussein Chalayan, these acrobatics are child's play. The Cypriot-born, London-raised designer first came to fashion by way of architecture, not surprising for those familiar with the tremendous technical construction and futuristic materials he is best known for. Think airplane wings, folding table, foam molded car crashes and yes, I am talking about dresses. Chalayan's firs solo art exhibit entitled "I am Sad Leyla" is currently showing at London's Lisson Gallery through October 8. (Definitely stop by in if you're in town for London Fashion Week.)
LONDON--It was 1955 and Dior had just brought us the stiletto. A 14 year old Vivienne Westwood, who had already been wearing high heels for a year, bought her first pair and brought them to school, sitting them on her wooden desk for all to admire when her history teacher came in and said, "Vivienne Swire if God wanted you to walk on pins he would have supplied them." Vivienne Westwood Shoes: An Exhibtion 1973-2010 opened yesterday at The Ultralounge, a permanent exhibition space in the vast belly of Selfridges. Voted "Best Department Store in the World," the class favorite figured that wasn't a big enough feather in their hat, so the people at Selfridges will be launching "The Biggest Shoe Department in the World" next month and have chosen Dame Westwood's fetish for shoes to whet our appetites. Supported by rubber shoe designers Melissa, some 200 of the designer's shoes dating from 1973-2010 are displayed like fine jewelry in a chronology of footwear. Britain's Queen Mother of Punk has found inspiration in everything from British colonialism to the Victorian dandy to down-and-dirty S&M. The show is a knuckle-rapping reminder of the true origins of the oft-repeated pirate boot, court shoe, 'rocking horse' ballerina, three tongued trainer and the mighty Naomi-Campbell-tumbling-platform of '93. "She looked like a gazelle in slow motion," Westwood later remarked of the infamous fall. "She's a very proud woman of course, and so when she got back stage she was so angry with me."
One of the few start-ups to have emerged from the carnage of the dot-com implosion of 2000, Natalie Massenet's vision of an "online magazine-you-can-shop-from," now the luxury fashion version of Amazon.com, just earned her a neat £50m when she sold her shares of Net-A-Porter to luxury giant Richemont this spring. The reasons for her success and perhaps the failings of others is that in the world of fashion, more than anywhere, "people don't trust who they don't know". As former editor at WWD and Tatler, Massenet put her intimate customer knowledge to use and created the ideal balance of commerce and content. Following a behind-the-scenes video of their chasmic new headquarters (where 90% of employees surveyed found their boss to be "inspiring") the lady in red answered questions from The Business of Fashion's Imran Amed. Topics included Net-A-Porter's iPad app (launched that day), her prescription for the breakneck fashion cycle, the best and worst way to get your products on their site, bricks and mortar vs. e-commerce and their soon-to-be-launched menswear site Mr.Porter. The highlights:
LONDON--Fashion photography legend and multimedia pioneer Nick Knight opened the doors to his London-based creative lair once again last weekend for Showstudio's exhibition Inside/Out, a look at the use of abject imagery as a way of externalizing what goes on within us. Knight's endless collaborations with stylists, artists, musicians and designers continues to tear at the barriers between fine art and fashion, the process and the consumer, this time throwing a piercing eye at the human experience. Curated with the help of London newcomer Carrie Scott, Inside/Out includes works by fellow visionaries and fashion frequenters Marilyn Minter, Terence Koh, Arianna Page Russell, and Alister Mackie, among others. On display were photos, video, and sculptural artifacts from Knight's previous shoots including glass orb slippers, men's lace lingerie and a urinal displayed on a windowsill, which Lady Gaga promptly put to use to the surprise of passersby, then thoughtfully signed before making her exit.
Six months after the announcement that "fashion's invisible man" would be walking away from his eponymous label, Maison Martin Margiela 20: The Exhibition opens at Somerset House, home to London Fashion Week's catwalks. The retrospective showcases 20 years of the label's groundbreaking work and originates from the Mode Museum in Antwerp. The Belgian designer was unanimously considered to be the 7th member of the Antwerp 6, a group of avant-garde designers (including Ann Demulemeester, Dries Van Noten and Walter Van Beirendock) who literally turned the '80s power dressing cliche inside-out with deconstruction and innovative pattern cutting. Curator Kaat Debo worked in tandem with Maison Martin Margiela to illustrate for the public the basic principles behind the highly conceptual brand, whose ethos has been at odds with the mainstream, often alienating all but fashion's illuminati.
LONDON-- The most highly anticipated graduate show in fashion, London's Central St. Martins College of Art served up 40 of its most promising talents to industry recruiters, buyers and press last night. With inflating Helmut Newton inspired pieces and a show-closing collection modeled on stilts, this was undoubtedly one for the books. Alumni Gareth Pugh and Jean-Pierre Braganza sat shoulder to shoulder with art world heavies including the ever-colorful Grayson Perry and even Met Costume Institute director Harold Koda was caught wide-eyed and grinning. Judges included designer Marios Schwab, Hilary Alexander from The Telegraph and fashion film maker Kathryn Ferguson. Winners were presented with cash awards up to ₤1,000 from Fashion Fringe, now in its seventh year supporting emerging designers. L'Oreal was also on deck celebrating its 10th year in collaboration with St. Martins.
Whether it was from exhaustion or elation, a few tears were shed and a tantrum or two thrown inside talent incubator Central St. Martins this past Monday. Why the brouhaha? The 40 graduates who'll make it into the final press show next Tuesday--the one that's covered by everyone from Fashionista to Style.com to Vogue UK--were chosen. And while about 80 students were left behind, most of the creations shown in Monday's preliminary trial were anything but forgettable.
LONDON--Designer Osman Yousefzada claims to accomplish with pattern cutting what plastic surgeons do with scalpels. On Friday afternoon in the chasmic Raphael Gallery of London's trove of ancient art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, he aimed to demonstrate just that. Applauded for his graceful draping and masterful cutting, the designer was tapped to showcase a taster of his past collections in the V&A's public Fashion in Motion series. Previous homegrown talents showcased in the triannual events include the late Alexander McQueen, Gareth Pugh and Vivienne Westwood.