Mannequins of the Kim Cattrall kind

(Images: own)

(Images: own)

Walking into the first part of Gaultier’s exhibition, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, is the stuff of nightmares for some. Mannequins with moving, talking faces stand proudly on their podiums as if what you are witnessing is something of the norm. They sing, they speak French, and they smile and blink in a psychotic kind of fashion. Jean Paul Gaultier even got in on the action and made himself into one. This futuristic, innovative idea makes for a more interactive viewing experience, even if it is slightly unnerving.

The retrospective is the first of its kind dedicated to the ‘enfant terrible’. A grand total of 165 outfits from Gaultier’s ready-to-wear and Haute Couture collections are on display. Among them are Madonna’s conical bra from her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour along with other elements that make up Gaultier’s house codes: Breton tops, mermaids, virgins, corsets, and femme fatales to name but a few. Video footage, sketches and photography by the likes of David LaChapelle, Richard Avedon, Mario Testino and Inez and Vinoodh, accompany garments housed on two floors.

His career, spanning three decades, has been filled with aspects not generally identifiable with high fashion. Humour has played a fundamental part in his work, making him a well loved and respected designer. However, there might be such a thing as too camp or too theatrical and this may be the case for many of his designs. When does fashion become costume?

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is at the Barbican until August 25th.

 

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Dior Haute Couture 14

The collection, shown in Paris last week, should really be renamed Dior Wearable Couture. Raf Simons stripped down to the basics focusing on silhouette and structure rather than the extravagance of typical Haute Couture collections, presenting us with a minimalist approach.

Not one to look back, Simons reverted to reliving several eras to enforce the way different time periods educated ensuing ones. The 1950′s Bar Jacket from Dior’s 1947 New Look crept onto the runway, reinvented for the modern woman.

(Image: style.com)

(Image: style.com)

The majority of the collection proved to be suitable for every day wear, incorporating Edwardian long-line coats paired with trousers and a sickly sweet icy pastel colour palette on top mixed with brightly coloured shoes for a less polished, younger vibe.

(Image: style.com)

(Image: style.com)

(Image: style.com)

(Image: style.com)

You don’t have to pile on the embellished pieces until the cows come home to be a part of the Haute Couture crowd anymore.

 

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Alternative Style Icon: The Marchesa Luisa Casati

castasi

Born in 1881, this eccentric Italian heiress had one goal in life – “I want to be a living work of art.”

For the first half of the 20th century, Marchesa Luisa Casati was the most popular, and most scandalous, woman in European society. She wore snakes as jewellery and was often nude beneath her furs whilst parading cheetahs that she kept as pets, on diamond-studded leads through the streets of Venice. Casati lined her eyes with thick black kohl and dilated her pupils with atropine, a naturally occurring tropane alkaloid extracted from deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) and other plants of the family Solanaceae. In other words, it was a dangerous move. Everywhere she went, she set trends and caught the attention of many. All of this made her the muse of choice for Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau.

To go with her image, the heiress acquired a crumbling palazzo on the Grand Canal of Venice, the place where her parties became the stuff of legends. And of course, when you are a crazy heiress with a palazzo for a house, you also need a private zoo. Albino crows and snakes filled the zoo, often roaming the grounds freely. Naked servants in gold leaf attended to her while curious wax mannequins sat as guests at her dinner table, some of them allegedly housing the ashes of past lovers – how romantic.

Feasibly the most artistically portrayed female after Cleopatra and the Virgin Mary, Casati’s excessive lifestyle, wacky personality and scandalous escapades enchanted and inspired some of the most influential artists of the time such as Giovanni Boldini and Romaine Brooks. Even Cecil Beaton photographed her. However, Casati went broke and even worse than that, she went out of fashion. By the 1920s, aesthetics had changed and her style was no longer desirable.

21st century designers, photographers and artists continue to use The Marchesa as inspiration for their work. Casati, without question, succeeded in achieving her goal even if it was just for a while.

Tilda Swinton by Paolo Roversi

Tilda Swinton by Paolo Roversi

Marisa Berenson, Rothschild Ball 1972

Marisa Berenson, Rothschild Ball 1972

Alexander McQueen A/W 08

Alexander McQueen A/W 08

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Run, Hillary, Run!

Image: thedailysheeple.com

Image: thedailysheeple.com

The number of people climbing onto the Hillary Clinton bandwagon is rising by the day. She has yet to declare officially that she is running for office in 2016, but those of you who want to put a bet on it will most likely end up being quid’s in.

At present there are 19 female world leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, South Korea’s Park Geun-hye and Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff. However, America, a country with one of the largest economies in the world, is not part of the status quo. Since women gained the vote in 1920, only 27 of the 400 US cabinet secretaries since then have been female. Mrs Clinton is ready to take charge.

Fashion and politics go hand in hand. Their relationship is a long and multidimensional one. As individuals, communities and tribes, we articulate our voices through what we wear. The communicative power of fashion’s creative practices can challenge a political consensus and influence opinions.

Political standing and policies aside, Margaret Thatcher integrated fashion and politics seamlessly, setting an example of how women in power should dress. Admitting that her image became ‘part of the job’, Thatcher made famous her power dressing suits, pussybow blouses and her treasured pearls. When it came to the colour of her attire, she was always keen to promote the party, stating that her favourite shade was always ‘my party’s colour’ sapphire blue. Her styling strategies must have aided her campaign, as in 1979 she became Prime Minister.

"You do not lose your feminine qualities just because you are a Prime Minister."

“You do not lose your feminine qualities just because you are a Prime Minister.”

Rewind a few years to America in 2012 when Mitt Romney and Barack Obama – plus their wives – battled it out in the US elections. Audiences were not only invested in the politics, but they waited with great anticipation to see what the other halves would wear. Ann and Michelle went head to head in a fashion face off.

A printed Predicament...with similar hair, too

A printed Predicament…with similar hair, too

Bright, Bold and Blue

Bright, Bold and Blue

Pretty in Pink at the 2nd Presidential Debate

Pretty in Pink at the 2nd Presidential Debate

Nuclear Wintour even waded in. She allegedly told designers not to dress Mrs Romney and silently threatened their standing should they endeavour to do so. Ms Wintour probably felt it was her right, since she pumped so much money into the Obama campaign and promoted the heck out of it. Romney actually declined an interview with Vogue and obviously Anna was not just going to take that on the chin.

Hillary’s hair is a national treasure in itself. In many of her speaking engagements, she has joked that her memoir should have been called The Scrunchie Chronicals: 112 Countries and It’s Still All About My Hair – the timing of her book is no coincidence. Being the former President’s wife, she has most likely got the ‘looking the part’ bit figured out by now. She is also good friends with the Queen of the big screen, Meryl Streep, so that puts her in good stead already. Clinton just needs to persuade Americans that she is different from the woman they rejected six years ago in the 2008 elections. Clinton had voted in favour of the Iraq invasion in 2002, shooting herself in the foot so to speak. She also played up to the stereotype that a woman in power had to act like a man to succeed. Following her lost potential Presidency in 2011 she said, “We need to unlock the vital source of growth that can power our economies in the decades to come. That vital source of growth is women.” This could, and should be the case.

Are you ready for #Hillary2016?

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Valentino A/W 14 Campaign

(image: graziadaily.co.uk)

(image: graziadaily.co.uk)

In true Voldemort fashion, He who shall not be named – well, his arm – has been featured in Valentino’s campaign for a third season in a row. The infamous photographer’s inked sleeve showcases a bag from the Italian brand’s Camubutterfly bag and accessories collection. It’s a move that will undoubtedly cause conflicting opinions considering Richardson has faced allegations of sexual assault, although the most recent claims were false.

Having Richardson’s arm in shot gives the feminine look a slight edge. And that’s all on that one.

To sign Change.org’s petition aiming to stop big brands using Terry Richardson as their photographer, click here

Yes, that is Liza Minnelli. Odd, isn't it?

Yes, that is Liza Minnelli. Odd, isn’t it?

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Moschino A/W 14 Campaign

(image: thelovemagazine.co.uk)

(image: thelovemagazine.co.uk)

The 49-year-old, 80s/90s supermodel Linda Evangelista is front and centre perching on a simple wooden stool for this A/W campaign. Steven Meisel is responsible for the black and white shot above which just screams iconic 90s photography. Jeremy Scott’s ‘pop culture’ runway collection, that got everyone in the fashion world talking, meets sophisticated elegance. Scott has certainly earned his place at this Italian brand.

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Pradasphere

(Image: own)

(Image: own)

A large room on the fourth floor of Harrods is home to Pradasphere, an exhibition showcasing the work belonging to one of Italy’s most influential, innovative and sometimes esoteric, fashion houses. Putting the spotlight on Miuccia Prada’s fearless approach to fashion and the effect she has had on design, Pradasphere features pieces from several collections that illustrate Prada’s thought process and techniques. The exhibition holds heritage items from the Prada archives, exquisite shoes and bags from past collections, a Prada history wall, runway footage and various literature on the brand.

Iconic pieces, which include the shearling coat from the A/W 14 show and a banana print shirt that was sported by none other than our favourite red head Grace Coddington, are encased in glass displays. Ample printed numbers that were meant as a blatant act of superficiality – thank you to the staff member who was talking through each display for that glorious phrase – and more simplistic, elegant pieces that screamed modernity were on show.

Michael Rock, the co-curator who has worked with the brand for 15 years, spoke of Muiccia, “While a lot of brands try to erase any ambiguity and present one identity, she does the opposite,” he says. “Questions that she has – whether they’re about the importance of fashion, being a woman designing for women – become the subject of what she designs. People can identify with that.”

There is a reason why Prada has stood the test of time. To discover that reason, head down to Harrods.

Pradasphere shows until the 29th of May

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Is John Galliano Back?

(Image: moviecitynews.com)

(Image: moviecitynews.com)

Last year Galliano was spotted with the brains behind American Vogue, Grace Coddington having lunch in New York. Since his reprehensible fall from his fashion cloud after making anti-Semitic comments in 2011, Galliano has been trying to make amends and re-build his career. His Paris runway show and collaboration with Oscar de la Renta in 2013 both went down well, along with teaching a masterclass at the famous New York fashion college Parsons, but his endeavors didn’t seem to be enough.

(Image: dailymail.co.uk)

(Image: dailymail.co.uk)

According to the website of Russian perfumery L’Ètoile – similar to Sephora – Galliano has returned. He has allegedly been appointed to serve as creative director for the brands line of cosmetics. However, this is not the case. The designer has been acting as a consultant for the last few months, according to his New York–based spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg. Further details of Galliano’s plans are expected to be made public within the next few days.

Galliano has been absent from the fashion scene since he was fired from Dior, removed from his own label and slammed by press. The Gibraltar-born British designer attributed his appalling behaviour on his addiction to alcohol. Looking back on the anti-Semitic rant, he expressed to Vanity Fair last year that he threw up when he saw the video. “It’s the worst thing I have said in my life, but I didn’t mean it.” He told the magazine. “I have been trying to find out why that anger was directed at this race.”

“I now realize I was so f****** angry and so discontent with myself that I just said the most spiteful thing I could.” After a period in rehab and two years of laying low, he took on a month-long position at Oscar de la Renta’s studio in January of 2013, a move observed to be his definitive ‘second chance’ in the fashion world. Galliano, who designed costumes for Stephen Fry’s stage adaption of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, made a more public re-appearance in October last year, when he was a guest fashion editor for the December issue of British Vogue; perhaps a risky move for the very traditional Alexandra Shulman.

There’s something about being in the public eye that makes some people think of themselves as untouchable. Thank goodness for Raf Simons maintaining Dior’s reputation, but there is a sense of sadness about the whole situation, even today; a talented creative crashing and burning in front of the eyes of the world. Galliano has the ability to create eccentric collections void of tackiness, which is hard to achieve or match.

Maybe try a bit harder to think about what you’re going to say before it comes out of your mouth…and ease up on the Botox, Mr Galliano.

Dior Spring 2009

Dior Spring 2009

Dior Spring 2011 haute couture

Dior Spring 2011 haute couture

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Chanel Cruise 2014/15

The Chanel Cruise collection inspired by the Middle East was shown yesterday in Dubai. Harem pants, ghutra-pattern-inspired jackets and sheer jumpsuits layered with tweed-mix tops along with dress coats and mosaic skirts were key pieces featured in the collection. Hints of the 70s and Arabian Nights were plentiful.

Seated on cushions around lantern-lit low tables, the audience was surrounded by sand and palm trees inside a custom-made, glass-skirted building. Dakota Fanning, Vanessa Paradis and Tilda Swinton were flown in to view the showcase. On Dubai, Swinton commented, “I don’t know if I’m truly experiencing Dubai, but I’m having a very nice 24 hours.” Anyone else slightly freaked out by her?

Crescent-moon diamond hair brooches were under investigation. “I like the idea that you have no way of knowing whether the diamonds and pearls are real or not,” said Lagerfeld, who used lashings of both, plus costume versions in the show. “That’s very Coco, no?”. Oui, Karl.

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20140514-230346.jpg

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Can we all just dress in Chanel Cruise for the rest of our lives?

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“Can you please spell Gabbana?”

(Image: willdomedia.com)

(Image: willdomedia.com)

A month after the opening of The Glamour of Italian Fashion exhibition at the V&A, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have been found guilty of tax evasion. The luxury fashion house is one of the main contributors to the exhibition having several pieces on display, including a pair of embellished ankle boots from 2000. Timing could have been better.

(Image: vam.ac.uk)

(Image: vam.ac.uk)

Dolce and Gabbana stood trial for suspected tax evasion linked to the sales of their Dolce & Gabbana brand as well as their D&G brand in 2004. The pair was given a prison sentence in June 2013. It was assumed that the duo would be cleared of any offence when they appealed the preliminary verdict. Yet, the three judge panel that revised their case still found them guilty of the crime, which has in turn lead to in a compulsory 18 month-long prison sentence.

However, they are not alone. There have been several other designers whose financial transactions have been reviewed. Roberto Cavalli was cleared of all charges, Valentino was fined, and taxing authorities became seemingly suspicious of Miuccia Prada and her husband, Prada Chief Executive Patrizio Bertelli. We all know there is money to be made out of designing, but does that mean that brand integrity goes out the window? Former Italian greats such as Schiaparelli and the Fontana sisters would surely frown upon their successors.

There may be no questioning the craftsmanship and quality of Italian design, but you can’t help but wonder about the sincerity and morality of these modern day iconic Italian designers.

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