Wednesday, 30 June 2010
As I said before, I was unfortunately unable to stay for the whole of the Qasimi Homme show because I had booked an early Eurostar (although I still didn't get home until roughly 1am...). It was really a shame because it looks like the show was a cracker. However, I did have a chance to come early and take backstage shots, and Khalid himself facebooked me the official runways photos from the show from Cristofoli press, so we have some images to drool over. On arrival I got a nice view of the models Khalid had picked out for the show, and couldn't help myself from taking some action shots...
The backstage area was minute, but packed with sartorial gems, and the photos helped me get a good idea of what the collection would look like on the catwalk. This season, Khalid turned his attention to an enigmatic nomad travelling across the beautiful but barren terrain of his Middle Eastern homeland, and produced quite a well-rounded collection of relaxed trousers, sleeveless shirts and jackets, graphic sweaters and the odd all-in-one.
I really liked these black booties I spied - just the right combination of dessert boot and high-top that many a Londoner would be proud to wear with skin-tight trousers or some cut-off denim shorts.
The venue was the same as for Petar Petrov, but they had rearranged the seating to form a spiral maze. From above, it kind of looked like those geometric patterns for which Middle Eastern cultures are famous.
From the runway shots, I have picked out some of my favourite looks. Above, I love these two jackets - the first, for its relaxed simplicity and the second, for its novel architecture and intriguing use of zips. Are they washed leather? It looks like I could have a lot of fun with these! I also like the playful side to the two looks below. It's always good to see an injection of colour, especially in Paris where the fashion crowd favour black, black, black. The semi-transparent coat over a sheer shirt is fun, and very sexy...
As mentioned previously, Khalid introduced abstracted graphic prints for the first time, with both geometric patterns and organic shapes and faces. The yellow, grey and white sweater on the left resembles the ancient cave decorations you might expect to find when trecking through the Biblical wilderness. The bright colours can be worn to attract attention either on their own or under a waistcoat, or can be used to subtly update a more traditional suited look.
It is difficult not to draw comparison between the sleeveless shirts and draped waistcoats below with what we saw on Dior Homme's catwalk, designed by Kris van Assche (who drew his structural inspiration from the neighbouring cultures of North Africa), but the two collections differentiate themselves in their uses of colour and texture, and somehow Al Qasimi's line takes a more relaxed approach to styling. The grey sleeveless jacket/shorts combination is one I will definitely be trying to get my hands on come next season...
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
The drama surrounding Estrella Arch/Lindsay Lohan's departures from Ungaro and their subsequent replacement with Giles Deacon (whose upcoming collection in October is hotly anticipated, by this fashionisto at the very least) is well-known in the fashion world, and beyond, but it overshadowed the changes going on in the menswear division where head designer Franck Boclet had decided to move on to create his own line. This has left the classic brand without a menswear designer for the time being, but has also enabled Franck to create a new personal collection for us filled with affordable (a pair of trousers retails for around €200) but extremely high-quality designs. I had the opportunity to view the collection last week at a very glamorous presentation at their showroom in Paris. The pieces were explained to me one-by-one (believe me, there was a lot of detail to discuss), and there were also several models wandering around wearing the collection, who paused every so often in front of a screen for photo opportunities.
Franck has designed a capsule wardrobe for the modern gentleman - a man who might work in an office during the day, but doesn't want to dress like his father did, and likes to have a little fun in his spare time. The colour palette was black and white, and as always when a designer chooses to go monochrome, he needs to incorporate interesting details in the shape and finish to keep it looking fresh. A feat which Mr Boclet has achieved with aplomb.
There is a full wardrobe here, including suits, shirts, relaxed leather jackets, the currently ubiquitous dropped-crotch trousers and accessories such as footwear and a selection of ties. There are also both daywear and evening wear looks.
To break up what could be seen as quite a conservative colour-way, the designer also introduced some spray-painted knitwear, each of which has a unique pattern and so is special to the customer. In fact, this is a trend throughout the collection as many of the more expensive pieces, and all the tailored suiting, come with personalised name tags for that added touch of exclusivity.
And now for the details... Some of the leather jackets and suit jackets come with a special metallic thread within the hem, so that they can be twisted fluidly into a crumpled, modern shape or smoothed out for a refined, classic line. The materials scientist in me wants to ask if this is a shape-memory alloy? Perhaps, perhaps.
The detailed thought process was applied to the choice of buttons, with one highlighted in white while the others blend into the background of black. Even the button-holes are slanted, giving the jackets an unusual off-kilter appearance. It is these subtle details which allow you to recognise a Franck Boclet design on the street.
These interesting shoes have been designed to replicate the shape of an eagle's beak in profile...
...and some of the accessories are shown below. I particularly liked the knitted bow-tie.
I really enjoyed experiencing Franck's world, where small details in the construction are the most important aspects of his menswear. This is a concept I have also discussed before with Khalid Al Qasimi, the designer of Qasimi Homme, who believes that menswear can, in actual fact, be more interesting for a designer to produce than womenswear, because the restrictions on shape, proportion and even fundamentally which items we can wear (most men don't don dresses and skirts on a regular basis, even if I do) give you more boundaries to work within - it is a constant struggle in menswear to produce something new for the customer. I do hope, however, that future collections will include a little more colour, as my fingers are crossed that fashion's current obsession with the dark side will be over soon...
Monday, 28 June 2010
I have been going through the photos I took at Gaspard Yurkievich's Spring/Summer 2011 show and picked out what I what were some of the best pieces. The collection combined smarter suited looks with an almost boyish, care-free attitude. Think a dapper grown-up boy-scout - neat jackets and slightly too short trousers are topped off with those caps posh little boys wear to prep school...
And of course, any modern school boy needs somewhere to put his books, slingshot and an apple for the teacher (or more likely an iPad nowadays), which is why Gaspard teamed up with EastPak for their latest designer collaboration. There are some classic backpacks made in steel grey techno-fabrics, which come with those chest-straps which I do so love. There is also a duffel bag, and a black oversized briefcase/clutch which is particularly stylish.
Shorts, trousers and suits came in a cool dappled blue graphic print which reminded ever so slightly of these orange shorts below which I have been considering, designed by James Long a few seasons ago (image taken from ASOS). I especially liked the transparent navy fabric used on the shirts, although I didn't really understand what it was doing as a long under-short garment :-S
The colour palette of grey, tan, blue and navy lended itself to some very nice colour-blocking as well, which felt a little bit Comme/Junya...
More pics from Paris to come...
And on the fourth day of Paris fashion week, it was a Sunday, and our Lord Karl Lagerfeld said that we might rest. Well, not quite. The fashion world never rests, don't you know, dahhhling? But I rested a little bit considering I had a compounded hangover from the Grazia and Stüssy parties, a very swollen ankle from running around the city in boots whilst recovering from my torn ligament, and a total of about 10 hours sleep in 4 days. I took the morning off to relax, and enjoyed a delicious millefeuille de chèvre et son caviar d'aubergines just around the corner from the Palais de Tokyo, where some huge music event appeared to be occuring. I couldn't get close enough to see what is was and Google has failed me this morning.
But later, just a few blocks away, I enjoyed my own little soirée at a private view for the new collaboration between French power photography house Harcourt and the avant-garde designer Romain Kremer. It was held in the legendary Harcourt studios – a place where all the great movie stars, musicians, politicians and sportstars have been photographed in classic film noir style. I decided on a hair of the dog cure and had a glass, or two..., of champagne while snapping the photographs. The style of shooting really suits the Romain Kremer look, whose clothes often go down that monochromatic path. It was quite amazing to be allowed into this studio – I even sat in the chair where Marilyn Monroe had her make-up done!
In the afternoon, Khalid Al Qasimi invited me along to view the set-up for his Qasimi show on the Rue Commines, the same space Petar Petrov had used, because I had to miss the show itself due my stupid train schedule... On arrival, I spotted the models smoking outside as per usual (who were later chastised by Khalid himself for trying to smoke once they had been dressed – very amusing!) and then went backstage to get a close-up view of the collection and the photographs of the total looks.
It seems like he has gone for a slightly more wearable look than his Spring/Summer collection for 2010, while retaining the high quality production values that his couture approach to dressing demands. I particularly liked the introduction of quite bold, abstracted prints, which add another dimension and help to break up the otherwise slightly subdued palette. I look forward to Jenny from BLOW sending me some images from the show itself so I can share them with you today or tomorrow.
I also met this fabulously cool artist/journalist, Clarisse Larousse/Caroline Lauzain (I haven't worked out yet which is her real name and which belongs to her cartoon alter-ego), who bears a striking resemblance to my good friend from undergrad days, Anna Horakova. I wonder if they are related...
Sorry that was meant to be on the third day of Paris fashion week, but in some ways it really was like Christmas for me. And why? Because I got to spend the morning luxuriating in the wonderful world of Viktor & Rolf, who allowed me to visit their showroom for a good hour or so to view their latest collection up close. And what a gift it was! There were delicious fabrics and colours used to create an almost paradoxical combination of the relaxed and the formal, such is V&R's personal aesthetic. Signature twists included a bathrobe-style tuxedo blazer, graphic prints of the pair's little doggies and their infamous spectacles, as well as the use of novel materials and plastic crystals to create a very pleasant frosted look. It was totally chic and elegant, with just a smattering of wit. I was a little bit disappointed that there were not any showpieces we would expect from their womenswear line, but it was all very beautiful and very, very wearable. I have to point out that Karla Otto, their press company, was very helpful and refined – I have never been to a showroom before where everything was so slick and perfectly balanced. They even had two (pretty damn cute) male models come out for me to photograph, and I could dress them in any elements of the collection I liked! Heaven!
Later in the day, I attended the Petar Petrov show on Rue Commines, where the models had clearly been told to SMILE, because each one of them came out into the bright white glasshouse space with a cheesy grin plastered across his face. To me, the collection was very well balanced and relaxed (there's that word again...), if a little bit repetitive. I was glad to see colours on the models, since the colour of the day the audience had chosen was clearly black. Ah, you fash-hags... (I'm determined to make this a real word).
Unfortunately, because Petar's show ran late, and because Modemline got the presentation timings wrong, most of us missed Bernhard Willhelm's happening at the Tranoi garden showspace. All that remained was this mysterious mound of foam... I would recommend checking out A Shaded View On Fashion for some photos of the presentation by Shoji Fuji.
Et le soir? A party at Divan du Monde with my French friends Guillemette and Alice, to celebrate thirty years of the brand Stüssy. There were surprisingly cheap drinks and lots of hip-hop playing until our party was brought to an end after Guillemette had a tad too much of the old sherry...
I have just got back to London this minute, so I will be waiting until tomorrow to make a post about my final day in Paris because I'm knackered. And then of course, I can share with you all my detailed notes and photographs over the coming weeks :-)
Saturday, 26 June 2010
I realise I didn't post any info about my day yesterday but it was pretty action-packed and didn't finish until the small hours of this morning, so I am making good use of the free time I have this afternoon before the Stüssy party by uploading all my photos and writing to you wonderful people.
The morning kicked off with Gustavo Lins' show just off the Rue Charlot, an area full of designers' and artists' studios as well as showrooms and sample-sale stores (Gaspard Yurkievich 70% off!). The venue they had chosen was far too small to accommodate all the guests, so only those with a coveted front-row ticket were allowed entrance. The rest of us formed a semi-circle in the street outside, and the models walked out amongst us right into the road. In typical French style, the traffic was stopped for a good 15 minutes with no permits or help from the police... The collection was relaxed, artistic and elegant. There was a range of textures and colours on show, including a neon yellow, and some more daring backless outfits for the adventurous gent. It was also the spot of my first sightings of Tim Blanks and Suzy Menkes for the season.
I had lunch in a little café on the gorgeously French Place des Vosges, my mother's favourite square, where I had my first salade chèvre chaud of the season and a selection of dainty macarons. Yum scrum. Later in the day I caught up with my friend from university, Antonia Eraud, who is working in publishing (recently, she helped with Luella Bartley's new book on fashion tribes – hopefully it will be more financially successful than her ready-to-wear brand). She took me to the librairie de la mode, a fascinating book and magazine store dedicated to all things fashion. They had every fashion magazine imaginable, books on style, and hundreds of trend collections. It really is a place you could spend a very long time indeed...
Romain Kremer held his show in an old theatre, and used a raised runway which is actually quite a rare thing nowadays, despite what all movies and TV shows about fashion portray, because it makes harder to get a clear shot of the models and the audience often can't see very much. The clothes were typically futuristic, with lots of strapping and blocked colours, and, as usual, the footwear was particularly strong. I really love his take on the sandal. I was surprised by the variety of colours which also included a few fluoros – perhaps this is going to be a new trend in menswear next year? Generally, it all felt fresher and as if Romain is trying to take the brand somewhere new.
The Viridi-Anne is a designer I had not heard of before, but their presentation in an abandoned church tower was very entertaining. The ominous surroundings suited the ninja-goth aesthetic of the Japanese brand and the models were styled as pseudo corpses/vampires/ghouls. It's not exactly my style of dressing (…), but I can see the appeal, and I always love a good show!
I finished the night off at a party held by Le New Black, Thomsen, and French Grazia, where we drank vodka and citrus Schweppes in a stunning old apartment building and garden. It was like a very glamorous house-party. Antonia recognised several French actresses, but naturally I had no idea who they were. Our other friends, Guillemette and Alice, came too and we eventually took the party back to Antonia's apartment, along with several other guests and some Moet et Chandon which Guilemette had brought with her (she works for them!). As you can see, we had a lot of fun, and I got to wear my new Castelbajac t-shirt, although I'm paying for the fun a bit today...
Hot and hungover loving from France,
Thursday, 24 June 2010
I just made it back to my eensy-weensy room after my first day at Paris fashion week. As I said yesterday, I'm going to wait until I get back home to upload all my pictures and videos and do a full analysis, but I will be trying to share with you the highlights of my day throughout the week. After all, isn't blogging meant to be all about the voyeuristic instantaneous gratification?
I was very excited this morning over breakfast to discover the rest of my invites for the day had arrived, and I also had a free morning to enjoy Paris. I did a bit of exploring to get my bearings, and to get stared at by a lot of French people. I'm used to being stared at a little bit in Oxford, although certainly not in London, but here it was at an extreme level. And I was wearing what I thought of as my chic-est outfit... Then again, the French for the most part dress very similarly (that slightly annoying 'classic' style, which always looks elegant but a little bit boring). I will never be able to achieve the chic French look, with my electic ways, so I might as well give up and let rip with my cray-cray.
Anyway, the morning was spent perusing Colette (HELLO amazingness!), and mangeing at Ladurée. Colette is a bit like a fusion of Dover Street Market and Browns Focus, but super cooler and a lot smaller. I didn't buy any clothing (budget), but I did pick up a copy of Industrie magazine, which I have been lusting after ever since I saw the cover with Anna Wintour online. At Ladurée I treated myself to a black truffle omelette and salad (the only vegetarian things on the menu), followed by Granny Smith and lemon-citronella macarons. I strolled up and down the Rue Saint Honoré (think Bond Street) in my Marc Jacobs shorts, sweating it out in the insane heat. And then I made a sneaky purchase at Jean-Charles de Castelbajac (more on that another day).
The first show I had been invited to was Gaspard Yurkievich. The venue was in the French institute of metallurgy (ironic since my first degree was in Metallurgy and the Science of Materials), although getting to it required navigating a huge demonstration on all the roads surrounding the Place de la République. Is striking truly the Franch national pastime? The collection was like a very grown-up school boy's uniform – cute jackets, cut-off trousers, and back-packs designed in collaboration with EastPak. I met a fabulous filipino buyer there, JP, who will hopefully be emailing me soon... JP, if you're out there, get in touch about London next week!
I also had the chance to check out Franck Boclet's brand new collection up close and personal, with a running commentary by a press lady who had recently graduated from London College of Fashion and had seen this blog as part of a project for her course. Hello!!! Does this mean I'm famous now??! Maybe not... The monochrome palette of the pieces masked a great wealth of detail in their construction, including shoes designed to replicate the shape of an eagle's beak in profile, and flower holders in the lapel (very useful for my upcoming viva in Oxford, no?). All the jackets come with your own name stitched into them too. Hmm, is everyone doing the schoolboy thing now?
After a quick dinner in my bedroom while getting changed (a salad from the health-food shop round the corner, wolfed down with half a bottle of white), I hurried over to an old lycée building for Henrik Vibskov's show. I shouldn't have been in such a rush – it started almost 30 minutes late, and it wasn't exactly the most exciting of shows, even though it did involve men in blacked-out goggles pushing giant wooden boats around a courtyard. The most exciting point of the evening was getting to see Diane Pernet again (it really isn't a proper fashion show if Diane doesn't turn up), who let me take a picture :-D OMG, I almost forgot, I also saw Daniel Brühl, my favourite German actor. Even hotter in person... Back to the clothes: I used to like Henrik's work, but right now it's really not doing it for me. Is this what they call maturing? Maybe not, given that I was wearing a Katie Eary ribcage-print t-shirt in bright red.
Hmm, like they say over here, plus ça change...