'A ball gown is your dream, and it must make you a dream... I think it is just as necessary in a woman's wardrobe as a suit. And it is wonderful for morale...' Christian Dior

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Fashion rocks

If ever you needed more proof than Alexa in her Barbour trench, Sienna in her boho skirts and Kate in her teeny tiny hot pants that festivals are a fashion fest, then look no further than last weekend's Latitude .  Because if, like me, you're bored with boho and think Barbour should be left to the boys, you would have been very pleasantly surprised when Central St Martins and Chelsea College of Art showcased their graduate fashion shows on a floating catwalk on the lake.

Despite head scarves, bold jewellery and jump suits making festival dressing more fun and inventive than ever, it's hard to feel that, how should I put it, well turned out when you know you haven't showered for days and your nails look like the kind of tools you would take to an abstract art class. Watching a runway of porcelain-faced picture-perfect models ought to make you feel pretty crap. But the collections from the colleges that have given us everyone from Alexander McQueen to Christopher Kane were, like the offerings from the fashion forces that came before them, utterly inspiring.

My favourite was Shawana Grosvenor whose 'White Set' is described as 'an exploration into the relationship between two pure forms; shape and colour. Focusing on white and circles; inspired by space and "white" by Kenya Har.'

Here's more from a designer I didn't catch the name of, but that I loved. And yes I call myself a journalist... But maybe I've found my calling in fashion photography?

Secretary meets volume. There was a definite structured lady-like thing going on which was echoed throughout many of the collections...

And seemed, at the risk of sounding unimpressed, almost too wearable. I was expecting more radical. This is more like it...

And stilts, what about models on stilts? Enough said.

Monday, 5 July 2010

I wanna be on top

As I begin to write this, you should be watching the new series of Britain's Next Top Model. And if, at 9pm on Monday 5th July, you're not, why the hell are you sat here reading this when you could be? Step away from the laptop and switch on Living TV! I have no vested interest in publicising the programme by the way, I merely, from my reluctant erm, TV critic stance, think the new series, hosted by Elle 'The Body' Macpherson, is hilarious.

Note the word 'hilarious' instead of 'brilliant.' Of course it is brilliant in its own way but brilliant is a dangerous word, I'm not going to get into a debate about brilliance. Brilliance suggests a masterpiece. Brilliance suggests uniqueness. There's nothing unique about this series of BNTM, because it is so obviously modelled ('scuse the pun) on the American counterpart. Before Elle came along, the UK version was flat, it had no big name hosts or judges (sorry, Lisa Snowdon), it paled in comparison. The whole point of the Top Model franchise is that it is as funny, over-the-top and fabulous as possible. In short, it's so bad, it's (and there's that word again) brilliant.

Anyway, I'm digressing - this will be dress related if it kills me! - one addition to the new series that guarantees the show hilarity is designer Julien Macdonald. He's so welsh, so dry, and so bitchy, you'll love him. I interviewed him for TVT a few weeks back and he had something to say about everything – short models, fat models, ugly models... It was one of those interviews where I knew he was trying to be provocative so by the end I wouldn't have flinched if he had told me I was fat and ugly.

Instead, when I asked him who he'd love to dress, he replied: 'Well, I haven't dressed you yet, you can be top of the list!' If anything was going to melt away my steely journalist facade (not that I have one but I like to pretend I do). Sigh.

Respect to Julien for bringing high end to the high street all those years ago with his 'Star' collection for Debenhams, and respect to him for believing we should all have a little bit of glamour in our lives.
'I think that old kind of glamour is coming back into fashion. Now women can be whatever they want,' he told me. 'You see more realistic women on the runway, more real women, more real clothes, much more dresses, the trouser suit has gone, thank God.'

Erm, Julien, the trouser suit is alive and well! Well, it is in my book. As my relentless pursuit of the perfect Ossie Clark two-piece continues...

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Somebody call a stylist

Sangria, sunburn, STDs... *shiver*... you can pick up a lot of things on holiday in Spain. Course, there was nothing of the sort in Cadaques, Northern Spain, where I was just content with a new sun dress. And, if we're keeping to an 'S' theme, my stylist, too. Kate and I had gone away to the little fishing village to sort out my post-break-up head, and as it turned out, my wardrobe too. I set her the challenge of choosing a dress from her Liverpool-based vintage shop, Little Red, that would both fit me and suit me, that I had to wear. I think she did pretty well. But then I don't call her my stylist for nothing... 

pale blue cotton sun dress with ruffles, nipped in by matching 
waist belt covered in cream satin flowers

An understated look for shopping at dusk, but also one that could carry you through til dawn (if like us, souvenir shopping leads to sea bass, which leads to a locals' lock-in and a very wobbly walk back up the mountain to the hotel at 4am.)

We were positively gawped at everywhere we went. This often happens on holidays: the locals wear plain t-shirts and flat tan sandals to saunter down the side streets, while, ahem, 'tourists' like Kate and I don our highest heels to strut our stuff. But heels weren't an option in such a hilly town as Cadaques, so maybe we over-compensated with our outfits...

Royal blue jumpsuit, TopShop. Gold bolero, Portabello Market, 
butterfly belt, Portabello Market, Flower, Mikey.

It was as if the more we were gawped at (and this was literally every single person who walked past us) the more fun we had with our outfits.

Considering Cadaques was home to Salvador Dali until his wife died in the early 1980s, you'd think the village people would be used to some surreal sights. Such as, the highest point of his house....

And the little friend we made in his garden...

Yet, we were gawped at everywhere we went! Kate's been talking about opening another branch of Little Red for some time. Forget Brighton, I think Cadaques is crying out for a vintage boutique. And if that means losing my stylist, then at least I'll get some holidays out of it.