One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art - Oscar Wilde

Saturday, 19 June 2010


Festival season is upon us: Sonar this weekend, Glasto next, then Exit, the Secret Garden Party, Latitude and Bestival....the list could go on and on.

In the past couple of years, 'festival chic' has become part of the fashion world's consciousness. I don't know if this began as a clever marketing campaign or whether it was spawned from the numerous pictures of stylish off duty models caught on camera but designers have seen the potential and festival dressing has become almost a season in itself, like cruise. This is to the extent that DSquared2's Spring/Summer '10 was based entirely around the concept of 'glamping', or glam camping.

To hardcore festival goers and hippies, glamping probably goes against everything true festival spirit stands for. However clever designers like Dean and Dan Caten have tapped into a new spirit: an almost competitive urge to look photo ready and uber stylish (yet 'naturally' so) from the moment you enter the campsite until the moment you leave.

What first struck me about the collection were the pops of colour, whether it was a parka in a primary shade or a glimpse of a tangerine knee sock peeking out from above a gumboot. Secondly, there was the fact that inspiration came directly from the campsite itself: the vermilion dress (pictured above) clearly mimics the structure of a tent.

Finally there was the injection of humour and irony that underpinned the entire collection and this was perfect for the paradox of a fashion show based around camping. My favourite touches were the 'I Heart Camping' hoodie, the picnic rug dress and the anti-fashion baseball caps jammed onto the models heads as they glamped down the catwalk..... about tongue in chic.

Friday, 18 June 2010

French Fancy Number 3 - White Hot

Oh to have been in Paris last night.......

Every year in June, one midsummer's evening is chosen for the renowned 'Diner en Blanc', where, at an appointed time, 1000s of people clad head to toe in white simultaneously descend upon a given location in the city centre to enjoy what can only be described as a picnic with an extremely unusual twist.

The event has to be planned with absolute military attention to detail. For starters, it is entirely illegal so it is kept a total secret until the very last minute to avoid alerting the authorities in advance. Only a handful of people are privy to the information about when and where the actual event will take place before the night itself. Otherwise you have to be invited by word of mouth and wait to receive your instructions about where to be via text or e mail on the night itself.

Like any picnic, the guests bring their own food, (white) wine or champagne and a table to be covered with a white tablecloth.

The event originated about 23 years ago among a handul of aristocratic friends and has increased in size every year. Nowadays it is less haute-society; more bourgeois boheme but the spirit of magic, mystery and bonhomie still pervades. Last night's spectacle took place between the Louvre and the Tuileries. As well as being part of what is essentially an super stylish dinner party on an enormous scale, guests also enjoy a variety of musical performances and at 11 pm when it gets dark all the attendees light sparklers to enhance the fairy-tale quality of the evening and to mimic the twinkling lights of the stars.

A chic pique-nique indeed!!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Under the Radar

Yesterday I inadvertently found myself going into Aldo on a quest for a pair of insoles and I emerged 20 minutes later with armfuls of accessories. Love when you visit a shop and you are pleasantly surprised by an unexpected discovery. I had been looking for cheap quick-fix accessories for the summer which I could take on my beach holiday next week without worrying about them being irreplaceable. There was a huge range of sunglasses and I particularly liked the interesting selection of rings on offer too. This is like the shopping equivalent of a sugar hit: you feel a slightly sick afterwards but at the same time it's pretty darn satisfying!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Today.... art deco necklace by Fiona Paxton; Dress by Alexander Wang; Leggings American Apparel.

These pictures are a little bit grainy as they were taken on my old Blackberry (I dropped my phone into a saucer of milk yesterday and my camera is AWOL) but when I put them up they reminded me of some Corinne Day photos from the 90s.

Photography: Caroline King

Pack a Punch

Adorning your hands with statement rings is like adding a final piece of armour to your look in a way that can be beautiful and almost lethally fierce at the same time. Certain jewlery designers have played with this dichotomy when designing their collections and wearing a bold ring (or several) can add a sense of drama to any outfit. Wearing such a ring in contrast to a super-feminine look is a more subtle and unique way to achieve that ubiquitous chic of biker jackets or heavy boots worn to toughen up a pretty dress.

(Pictured above: recycled plastic knuckleduster by Ada Zanditon; raven skull ring by Pamela Love NYC; bear trap ring by Eddie Borgo)

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Step Inside: Taschen

Going into Taschen is akin to entering a Narnia-esque fantasy of fashion, photography and art, so it is easy to lose yourself inside for hours at a time. Taschen publications are sold, of course, in bookshops across the world but what makes the atmosphere of visiting the store itself so special is that it is both shop and showroom to the limited edition opuses and collector's editions that line the shelves. Downstairs, the small gallery exhibits original prints which are available to buy alongside the books, and which provide any conoisseur a wonderful way to own a piece of art as well as a unique coffee table tome.

The newest publication is the stunning 'Rose C'est Paris' by Bettina Rheims et Serge Bramly but my personal favourite has to be the recently released 'Fraulein' by Ellen von Unwerth. When I view a photograph I like to feel as though I could be a part of the scene; as though the reality is just out of reach, and Von Unwerth creates this sense of intimacy perfectly. In addition to this the sheer variety and range of her photographs is breathtaking: sometimes her subject might be shot in black and white with a slightly out of focus lens which creates a 1930s ambience, and at other times household names are captured in vivid colour for a more modern feel. Underlying each photograph is a life force, sense of character and even intellect as her subjects are the opposite of vacant.

Taschen, London is situated on Duke of York Square, Kings Road, SW3

Photography (above): Ellen von Unwerth

Perfectly Defined

Apparently it was the ancient Egyptians who first started wearing black eyeliner in order to ward off evil spirits, as they believed that by defining their eyes the good spirits would be able to see them better. Today, most people do not take such a superstitious approach when it comes to their makeup choices; however the appeal of black eyeliner has endured throughout the ages, simply because it looks so good.

My personal favourite is the appropriately named 'Smolder' by M.A.C. A friend of mine recently told me that his teacher used to say before exams: 'Sharp pencil, sharp mind'. I have applied this classic advice in relation to my eyeliner pencil as the sharper the pencil, the more precise and perfect your application will be although I am not sure that it would be so enthusiastically endorsed by teachers across the nation. However, do start sharp for a dramatically defined effect and then you can always smudge and soften post-application depending on the look you are trying to achieve.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Fix Up, L'echarpe

When in Paris, whether you are a boy or a girl, there seems to be a unspoken understanding that no outfit is complete without a scarf of some description draped casually around your neck.

In Milan, if you walk down the street without sunglasses on, thanks for coming but you might as well not have bothered.

London however does not abide by rules and over here, anything goes. To New Yorkers (Manhattanites, not the more 'alternative' folk who live in Brooklyn), we are a scruffy, unkempt bunch with drastically bad teeth and nails. However I think the diversity of London is it's own defining feature and that is what makes it so exciting.

I write this in the wake of Graduate Fashion week. Such an event only goes to show the extent to which the London fashion scene welcomes innovation and fosters creativity. Our own traditional brands are constantly reinventing themselves; there is no tried and tested formula. One of my favourite campaigns this year featured Tilda Swinton for Pringle of Scotland (where I was lucky enough to do an internship as I learned about the history and tradition of this quintessentially British label). Tilda Swinton is no underage, cookie-cutter model but this undoubtedly made the campaign even more visually stunning and brought out the character of the clothes as well as the stylishness.

Why should I be an usher....

.....I'm Chuck Bass (and I look ridiculously good in a suit).

When I was on my Gap Year, I spent 4 months working for Tiffany and Co and I developed a complete and utter (style) crush on one of the boys who I was working with who came to work one day wearing the most beautiful handmade bespoke pale grey suit. I think the image will be imprinted on my memory forever, such is the impact of a well-cut suit. Suits are undeniably the very essence of masculinity.

Although a suit would seem to be a fashion no-brainer, a man in a good suit is hard to find and for this I blame one thing: mass production. When you look back on the pre-industrial revolution history of suits, each was created made to measure, by a tailor who was highly skilled in the art of suit making (it is an art, as anyone who works on Savile Row will know). However this does not mean that for a man to wear a suit well that they have to employ such lengths (or expense).

Firstly, the cut is vital. Often I see men in suits that are too big at the shoulders and therefore the drape is completely wrong. Secondly, the material: if it is not shiny, then you are half way there (seriously, I've spotted a lot of men on my daily commute who look dangerously flammable). Finally, well placed accessories can make a vital difference. Personally I love the flair of a suit worn with a cravat, or a well placed hankerchief in the upper breast pocket, but I understand that not every man has got what might be regarded as dandy-ish inclinations. However simplicity and a good, pressed shirt and well-knotted tie will never fail.

Trend Forecast: the 90s

Fashion, they say, goes in 20 year cycles so that means that the time is ripe for a 90's revival. We can already see this creeping into designers mentalities: firstly, parkas began to reappear on the catwalks and are being marketed at the moment as an essential festival cover up. Then we have the new black and white Calvin Klein advertisements starring Lara Stone, which are a direct echo of the iconic CK1 campaign which featured Kate Moss at her heroin chic best. Finally, the models for Alexander Wang's latest collection sported greasy-look slicked back hair....anyone remember grunge?

The kids of the 90s grew up with Brit pop battles (Blur v Oasis); a grunge aesthetic (Marc Jacobs, Nirvana) and plenty of teen drama (Dawson's Creek, My So Called Life). Let's take Dawson's Creek, so far removed from the polished glamour of Gossip Girl. What happened to the teenagers we grew up with? Well, there was Dawson (the geeky, repressed one) who let it all out in the film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's 'The Rules of Attraction'. Then there was little Joey Potter (the hot tomboy unaware of how smoking she was even though she hooked up with all the boys in the cast at some point-even the gay one) who went on to marry her childhood pin up. All the girls loved Pacey (the hot one) and of course he is now dating the uber stylish Diane Kruger. Lastly there was Jen (the quirky indie one) whose success has been overshadowed by the death of Heath Ledger, with whom she had a child. Stylish they were not, but what they lacked in fashion sense they made up for with plenty of angst: the ultimate 90's style accessory

It hasn't quite made a full comeback yet, but it is on its way so Watch this space!!!!!

Positano, per favore

If you have been blessed with a peaches-and-cream complexion (or 'mozzerella' as the Italians rather charmingly say), working it on the beach can be difficult: without glowing bronzed skin,
the Brazilian beach-babe fantasy is not really an option. However, you can still be a bombshell. This summer holiday I will be working a new angle, taking my inspiration from the styles of the 1950s: think Gwyneth Paltrow in the Talented Mr Ripley and Amalfi Coast allure.

There is something delectable about looking demure in a swimsuit or bikini and often these more classic cuts have concealed panelling or super flattering ruching details to enhance boyish figures or to accentuate curves.

At cocktail hour, when the sun is setting, cover up with your boyfriend's frayed white linen shirt, which will offset the sweetness of this look to perfection.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Danger! High Voltage

When Bianca Jagger made her Lady Godiva inspired entrance by riding into Studio 54 on a white horse on her 27th birthday, she cemented the status of the jumpsuit in the annals of style forever. The jumpsuit in question was created by Halston and of course it was the perfect choice for making such a dramatic entrance.

A jumpsuit is bold, it is confident, and it is a guaranteed head-turner. They are, however, tricky to negotiate in all sorts of ways. Boys are confused by them, not least because they are tricky to remove. Such a style statement can be intimidating: a jumpsuit is less 'come-hither'; more 'stand back and admire me'. For the last few years, the high street has been littered with them, but remember that there is a fine line between a jumpsuit and pyjamas, so good quality material is essential. Lastly,the cut of the jumpsuit has to be just right. The perfect jumpsuit will be just loose enough to skim the body and then either taper at the ankles or flare out gently for true 70s glamour.

Accessories are not necessary here: a jumpsuit speaks for itself. Heels add stature and think elegance, elegance, elegance! This can be achieved by nothing more than perfect posture and natural muted makeup; think matte lips and black eyeliner rather than false eyelashes or sparkly body shimmer.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

LSD* - my drug of choice

*LSD - Little Summer Dress.

What more do you need on a balmy summer evening than a great dress and a tan? There are definitely some psychedelic options out there but my favourite is this perfectly mouth watering See by Chloe creation, it's muted sorbet block colours will go perfectly with bronzed skin and tousled hair and it looks a bit like a Neapolitan ice you will look good enough to eat!

French Fancy Number 2

When I was last in Paris, I stumbled across Claudie Pierlot in the Allison boutique (near Odeon metro). This collection defines insouciance and that is what I loved most about it. My particular favourite piece was the super flirty mini dress (pictured above) which I bought in the flesh-rose colour and which looks fantastic paired with nude open toed high heeled ankle boots.

Monday, 7 June 2010

French Fancy Number 1

Karl's 'beautiful' muse Baptiste Giabiconi

Statement Bags

As a child I always preferred my Etch-A-Sketch to Paint by Numbers, and I have a similar outlook to fashion. Fashion should always be a creative force, not about having a 'look'.

Check out this clutch bag by Luisa e Tine (above): it is literally a blackboard, you can decorate it yourself and then rub it out and start again. What fun on a night out to have strangers write you a message on your bag to read when you wake up in the morning.


I remember as a child being awestruck by the then relatively unknown Cameron Diaz in 'The Mask'. What I noticed the most were her perfectly groomed eyebrows, they were immaculate arches which accentuated her beauty.

High fashion, however is all about extremes and the recent trend for brows has been either all or nothing: bleached brows a la Lara Stone or dramatic Brooke Shields style statement brows. No brows are a totally blank canvas and heavy brows create a frame. Following beauty trends can be extreme or even intimidating off the stage/catwalk however so approach with caution or ensure that you have a large pair of sunglasses to hand.

Anchors, anchors!

Each year without fail, some variation of the 'nautical' theme crops up on the catwalk or filters down into the high street. Inevitably, designers have referenced the iconic Breton fishermen when invoking this perennial favourite. Often underestimated however is the sartorial impact of the Venetian gondolier, a romantic figure who traverses the watery crossroads of this historic city. This look is perfect for those with a boyish figure as the streamlined silhouette suits only those with narrow hips and shoulders.

An enduring love affair with lace

There is something about lace, that by it's very wispy nature, eludes simple definition. Coco Chanel said of the fabric:

"I consider lace to be one of the prettiest imitations ever made of the fantasy of nature; lace always evokes for me those incomparable designs which the branches and leaves of trees embroider across the sky, and I do not think that any invention of the human spirit could have a more graceful or precise origin."

The appeal of lace lies in a feminine fantasy of being at the same time both delicate but durable. In the same way that a spider spins a web to trap its prey, a woman who is adorned in lace is capable of attracting and even trapping a man, such is its allure.

Lace can be worn in a myriad of different ways. Consider this for day: a pair of fitted military style utalitarian trousers set off by the contrast of a pretty lace top. Or skipping around town at night clad in a scrap of lace: I would pair a baby doll dress, with a sleeveless lace bed jacket over the top, belted at the waist for structure. Complete the look with lace tights, skyscraper ankle boots and lashings of black eyeliner to toughen up the look. Lace can be paired with almost any material, for example a hint of lace could be seen in a lace vest worn underneath a low cut, draped neck jersey dress; or it can be added to offset it's rebellious sartorial opposites: denim or leather.

Like shoes, lace appeals to women of all ages, sizes and shapes, as you can add merely a touch of the fabric or you can clothe yourself head to toe. Lace can definitely be all things to all women, and it could be described more provactively as the Madonna-whore of fashion. Lace can make you feel oh so innocent, like the ethereal Cecilia of the 'Virgin Suicides' who first attempts to take her life ironically wearing a white lace wedding dress; or it can be infinitely more seductive: by its very construction lace is the ideal fabric for underwear and for showing off almost everything without being completely exposed.