Mr Lagerfeld, You Are A Bit Late To The Party

(Image: style.com)

(Image: style.com)

Just when you thought things at Chanel couldn’t get any more ludicrous after last season, the ‘Fashion Pope’ staged a mock protest with Cara Delevingne, Kendal Jenner and Gisele acting as protestors. All of this was surveyed by Kris Jenner, who managed to bag herself a front row seat. Like grandmother like grandaughter.

Karl Lagerfeld, who is the last person to be associated with feminism in fashion, made a superficial attempt at injecting meaning into a collection in the form of a women’s rights movement. Eyeing up the 70s for aesthetic inspiration, an important time for second-wave feminism, models donned oversized collars, flared trousers and psychedelic prints. Such innovative styling.

Equipped with placards inked with messages such as “FREE FREEDOM” and “HISTORY IS HER STORY”, the faux protesters walked to a soundtrack of Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman broadcast from transistor radios. These radios hung from classic Chanel gold chains similar to those on the signature 2.55 bags.

The 81-year-old took up the position as Chanel’s creative director in 1983. Since then, Lagerfeld has had continual success in selling women a false perception of wealth, weight and beauty. Never one to miss an opportunity to send Instagram feeds into a frenzy, Lagerfeld unofficially joined forces with Emma Watson and attempted to promote her HeForShe campaign. This ploy might have been commendable if it weren’t for the routine parade of thin models who were largely white. Someone needs to rain on this parade – Streisand style. Considering his status and the influence he has on people, if he really wanted to bring about a significant change, he could.

Making a quick buck out of treating consumers like fools and taking advantage of an issue that is the brunt of countless jokes already is difficult to accept.

Is feminism now a trend?

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Germaine Greer isn’t the sole definition of a feminist, you say?

(Image: wallpaperseries.com)

(Image: wallpaperseries.com) 

The buzz surrounding Emma Watson and her game-changing speech on feminism at the UN continues to amplify. The actress became the UN GoodWill Ambassador six months ago. Now fronting a new campaign entitled HeForShe, Watson aims to unite men and women in the battle for gender equality.

The word feminism, more often than not, comes with negative connotations. As soon as the word is uttered, countless men and women – some women even choose not to be affiliated with it – go on the defence saying that it is a ‘man bashing’ concept that is redundant in our modern day society. So why, in a modern day society, are female bosses being paid 35% less than their male counterparts? Why are 1 in 3 girls, living in a developing country, married by the time they reach their 18th birthday? And why is female genital mutilation a reality for so many? As Watson states, “I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body.” Sadly, it is a basic human right that is lacking for a great deal of women and girls.

In her speech, the Harry Potter star also addresses the male population, aiming to get their support in the fight. The truth is, women have been trying to get men on board for years and never fully succeeded. However, her observations are that of a woman wiser than her years and seem to have struck a cord in many, “Men…gender equality is your issue too. Because to date, I’ve seen my fathers role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mothers.” she said. “I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness, unable to ask for help, for fear it would make them less of a man. In fact, in the UK, suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20 to 29, eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.” Watson proves that feminism is not about hating men or women wanting to be treated like a man. It is about equality – and that doesn’t only mean for women. Does it really take a 24 year old woman with a public profile to educate others on the proper definition of movement that has been around for centuries?

But, of course, there was a knock on effect for Watson. A site cryptically named ‘emmayouarenext.com’ played on the recent celebrity nudes scandal and brought her into the saga as a prank. The site, now inaccessible, featured a clock counting down to the leak of her alleged naked photos and vulgar comments posted by the public. It is unfortunate – and exteremly embarrassing – that, in the 21st century, a woman is penalised and threatened for speaking out about issues that impact a large proportion of the world.

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Meadham Kirchhoff

(Image: dazeddigital.com)

(Image: dazeddigital.com)

‘Reject everything!’ read the invitation to Meadham Kirchhoff’s S/S15 show. This phrase certainly foreshadowed things to come.

The designers used an open casting to select their models, celebrating diversity and breaking free from the conformist attitude towards models – 80% of them had never walked in a runway show before. The collection, designed to be alienating, was punk in every sense of the word. From the latex, Stephen Sprouse inspired graffiti pieces and hairy knee-highs to oversized jackets made out of old towels, everything rejected commodification. Vivienne Westwood eat your heart out. Their signature chiffon dresses made a comeback, albeit slightly more dishevelled.

(Image: vogue.co.uk)

(Image: vogue.co.uk)

Placed on the seats at the show was a Hate list, next to a Love list, which included points such as “men in white vans”, “straight men”, “fathers”, “brothers”, and “teachers”. All of these things, according to Meadham, add to a society where men like him are confronted on the street on a daily basis. “We’re really affirming how there’s no such thing as equality, there’s no such thing as actual freedom,” Ed Meadham, who has a ‘unique’ male dress sense himself, told i-D subsequent to the show. “It’s a complete lie, and everybody sort of exists in this f***ing sick way and culture where it’s still okay to harass people like me constantly — and women — and there’s no actual equality. It’s all a pile of shit.”

Audience members were also faced with bloodied tampon earrings which were not for the squeamish of souls. It’s anybody’s guess as to what they were trying to achieve with this particular element. Was it to banish menstrual shame or used purely for shock factor? Take it as you wish.

Fashion Week can often be mind numbing if several designers are going for the same look. Being challenged to think about the deeper meaning behind a collection rather than just an era/trend reference is refreshing. The basis of the collection was so personal to Meadham that it was more than just a runway show. It was a protest, a movement, a battle cry.

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Is This The End Of Fashion Week As We Know It?

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With New York Fashion Week here and ensuing Fashion Weeks only days away, talk of whether shows should be open for public consumption has reared its head.

The purpose of Fashion Week is to provide an outlet for designers and brands/houses to display their latest collections for buyers and the media to look at the latest trends, as well as educating the industry about what is ‘in’ for the season. This idea has esentially been made redundant due to use of social media platforms. You only have to scroll down your Instagram feed to see masses of photos from shows, backstage and parties. The majority of shows are live-streamed and uploaded to YouTube, too. In a sense, runway shows are already open to the public. So why ask to have the right of an industry professional when you are not an industry professional? 

Rendering shows open to the public would not only undermine the access given to people in industry – those who have worked for the opportunity – but it will erase any meaning or integrity linked to the shows themselves. Journalists, photographers, editors and buyers, who’s job description is to inform us of the goings-on in fashion, would be robbed of their purpose. The public would not be interested in what the experts have to say if they have experienced it with their own senses. 

Exclusivity is vital in this day and age; an age where anyone can comment on topics that are outside of their field of expertise via blogs, Twitter and Facebook. It is important to maintain an element of privacy wherever possible. 

In sitting through a show, you are witnessing a creative process manifest itself into an end product. The general public aren’t permitted to go and sit in the recording studio when Beyonce lays down tracks for her album so it should not be any different for fashion designers. It is such a sacred practice that, in some cases, designers have even banned the press from their shows. It is not something to be taken lightly.  

If presentations carry on being invite-only, the charm and excitement of Fashion Week will remain. If it turns into a free-for-all, who knows what will become of it, but it ain’t gonna be pretty.  

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Older Models Reign Supreme: Anjelica Huston X Gap

(Image: huffingtonpost.com)

(Image: huffingtonpost.com)

It seems as though the fashion world is finally realising that the older model is not just for Christmas.

Big brands are continuing to use more mature faces in their advertising and the latest company to get in on the action is Gap. Gap’s Fall adverts, dubbed ‘Dress Normal’, feature a whole host of famous faces including Mad Men actress Elizabeth Moss and Girls cast member Zosia Mamet. But they can hardly be labelled as older models.  

The real star of this show is 63 year old Anjelica Huston. Huston is a style icon in her own right. Known as an influential fashion model in the 70s before she became an actress, the statuesque beauty worked with the likes of Richard Avedon. She eventually landed roles that put her front and centre on the big screen and thus became Jack Nicholson’s partner in crime. They could, in fact, be the most stylish couple…like ever. 

Accompanying Huston in the older model crew is Michael K. Williams from the award winning series Boardwalk Empire. How refreshing to see a man without an oiled up six-pack on show. Many would disagree. 

(Image: huffingtonpost.com)

(Image: huffingtonpost.com)

The campaign focuses on the black denim trend, and “celebrates dressing for yourself and finding those perfect items… to be your most authentic self,” Gap Global Chief Marketing Officer Seth Farbman stated in a press release. 

A series of cinematic film adverts, shot by Academy Award nominated director David Fincher, will air on T.V but do not contain any of the celebrities used in the print ads. Shots of Anjelica Huston stationary are all we get. Shame. 

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The Devil Wears Prada makes a valid point?

(Image: nytimes.com)

(Image: nytimes.com)

The Devil Wears Prada, i.e. the film that is loathed by the people at American Vogue for portraying an ill-informed version of Anna Wintour – one could disagree – and her staff. Whilst it may not be the most poignant of films in the history of American cinema, some of the dialogue might actually hold some truth. 

In the famous scene about contrasting shades of blue, Miranda Priestly explains to her assistant, Andy, that fashion is a part of everyone’s lives, even if they don’t want it to be/fails to realise it.  She says, “‘This… stuff’? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.” Kudos to Meryl Streep for remembering all that and delivering it perfectly. 

Fashion matters to the economy, our society and to us personally. As mentioned in the film, it is a multi-billion dollar industry that employs a plethora of professionals with varying roles which must mean we are buying into it, and have been for centuries. All of us make a conscious decision about what we clothe ourselves in so to inform the world of who we are and what we represent. We may be instructed to wear a certain colour or specific piece, but as individuals we wear it in different ways. Potentially, some people’s style may leave a lot to be desired, but it is still style, regardless. Fashion is the fastest form of self expression we have. 

Some argue that there is a significant disparity between liking fashion and liking clothes, which is true – how many people can tell you the history of Dior’s Bar jacket? – but it all comes under the same category realistically. Fashion should be taken seriously just like any other creative profession such as acting or art. 

And we shouldn’t have to explain to people that yes, fashion journalist, stylist, trend forecaster, etc, are all actual jobs. 

So, next time someone tells you that they don’t care about fashion, just regurgitate Miranda Priestly’s monologue and watch the growing confusion on their face. 

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Battle of the Bouvier sisters

(Image: Pinterest)

(Image: Pinterest)

If you were asked to name a stylish woman with the surname Bouvier, you would probably be inclined to say Jacqueline Bouvier – or Kennedy/Onassis to most. She rightly deserves to be acknowledged for her impeccable dress sense that continued to evolved throughout the decades. Her double-breasted strawberry pink Chanel suit will eternally be an iconic ensemble for it’s design and for what it endured on that fateful day.

However, there is another Bouvier woman who arguably trumps Jackie O’s stylish ways. As the younger sister of the former First Lady, it is not surprising you would be overlooked by the general public. But Caroline ‘Lee’ Bouvier, best known as Lee Radziwill, wasn’t overlooked by the people at The International Best Dressed List. The list, founded in 1940 by Eleanor Lambert, was an attempt to boost the reputation of American fashion at the time. Radziwill was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1996 joining the likes of Margot Fonteyn, Audrey Hepburn and Anjelica Huston. She was also named in the Guardian’s 50 best dressed over 50 list in 2013.

(Image: Pinterest)

(Image: Pinterest)

Radziwill’s enviable wardrobe and perfectly preened hair has served as inspiration for many a designer including Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors. Kors even dedicated an entire collection to the socialite’s ‘look’. Mix furs with cashmere, kitten heels, simple jewellery, and minimal makeup, and you’ve got yourself the perfect Lee Radziwill concoction. The 81 year old beauty has a knack for chicness that defies age and sets an example to women everywhere who are looking to age gracefully. Now a regular sighting at shows in New York and Paris, she has been outdoing women several years her junior in the looks department.

(Image: Pinterest)

(Image: Pinterest)

Friend to Andy Warhol and Truman Capote, Radziwill paved the way for many career paths. From acting to writing, her most successful venture has been interior design. She decorated several homes belonging to her acquaintences and many of her creations have been featured in magazines. As famous figures in popular culture, 2006 saw a Broadway musical tribute to Lee and Jackie Bouvier, entitled Grey Gardens. The musical was centred around the sisters as children visiting their aunt’s house to attend an engagement party. It was based on the 1975 documentary of the same name.

Real Housewives of New York fans will be familiar with Carol Radziwill, a New York Times bestselling author, and the daughter-in-law of Lee. Carol married Radziwill’s son Anthony Stanislaw Radziwill in 1994 but after a five year battle with cancer, Anthony died in 1999. His death came less than a month after Jackie’s son JFK Jr and his wife Carolyn died in a plane crash. Lee was reportedly horrified at Carol joining the cast of the reality series and resented the family name being brought back into the public sphere. You know you’re supposed to stay in your mother-in-law’s good graces, Carol.

Follow Lee on twitter to learn some fabulous #LifeLessonsWithLee

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Schiap

“In difficult times, fashion is always outrageous.”

(Image: thejewleryloupe.com)

(Image: thejewleryloupe.com)

Regarded as one of the most influential figureheads in fashion between the two World Wars, Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli was a true nonconformist. Strong shoulders, pleats inspired by Fortuny and trompe l’oeil – literally translated as fools of the eye – all became trademarks for the Schiaparelli house. Her 1927 Hand Knit Sweater with Bowknot, featuring the trompe l’oeil technique, secured her fame. Schiap cottoned on to the fact that the sweater was a key item for the modern 1920s woman, who would rather play tennis than sit in a parlour. Practical yet chic, she understood that clothes are made to be worn but do not have to be lacklustre.

(Image: vam.ac.uk)

(Image: vam.ac.uk)

She was dismissed by her biggest rival Coco Chanel, who referred to her as “that Italian artist who makes clothes.” But Chanel wasn’t wrong in her unintentional backhanded compliment, as Schiaparelli was an artist. Collaborating with surrealist Salvador Dali on the Shoe Hat and Lobster Dress, the duo created exquisite, playful pieces of clothing. Dali had been using lobsters in his artwork for many years; the Lobster Telephone from 1936 being arguably the most famous piece. In the Spring of 1937, Schiaparelli asked Dali to design a lobster as a decoration for a white organdy evening gown. The oversized lobster feels so out of place on such a feminine gown but the juxtaposition between gown and sea creature was not accidental. The dress was made famous when it appeared in Vogue magazine modeled by Wallis Simpson, The Duchess of York.

(Image: vandoak.com

(Image: vandoak.com)

Schiaparelli’s 1937 Shocking perfume, contained in a bottle shaped like Mae West’s silhouette, was stolen by Jean Paul Gaultier and used for all of his fragrances. And the Nars lipstick in the colour Schiap? A tribute to the designer, who’s signature colour was shocking pink.

From inspiring Martin Margiela, Dolce and Gabbana and Rodarte to DVF, Lanvin and Moschino, Schaiaparelli’s influence lives on. Now that the house has been revived after ceasing to exist for 50 years, expect to see Schiaparelli references aplenty.

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Mannequins of the Kim Cattrall kind

(Images: own)

(Images: own)

Walking through 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 RTW 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 the garments housed on two floors.

His career spanning three decades has been filled with aspects not generally identifiable with high fashion, with humour being one of them. 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 stop being fashion and 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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