New York Fashion Week Favourite: Marc Jacobs a/w 2012

For my first fashion week review I thought it would be appropriate to deviate from ordering the shows as to the date they were shown and jump straight to New York’s darling: Marc Jacobs — he’s always been an absolute favourite designer of mine as he, alone, sparked my initial interest in fashion & was the first luxury designer handbag I ever invested in.. I guess you could say he sort of has a sentimental value in my heart.

His autumn/winter collection more than proves himself worthy of such admiration and talent; starting off with an outer-worldy set of an icy, warped, wintry village – designed by renowned artist friend Rachel Feinstein (who is one of the features in the latest LOVE Magazine) – Marc restored the subversive elements to the world of fairy tales.

It was like being Alice in a Marc Jacobs Wonderland (complete with mad-hatters and exaggerated everything) mixed with Little Red Riding Hood, lost in an enchanted forest.

The colourful parade of furry Dr Seuss hats (designed by Stephen Jones) combined with holographic-looking appliqués, paisley-prints (which are continuing to be on trend so it’s a perfect time to invest now for both spring and fall!), oversized safety pins holding in place the draped fur shrugs with chunky crocheted stoles around the shoulders, and unique Ostrich shoes gave the audience a less traditional Disney-esque feel of fables

Layered wraps & capes reigned supreme with a piled combination of textures, colours, and patchwork present in every outfit. Silhouettes included hourglass shapes and exaggerated hips, and were bulkier and looser with expert box pleating for cropped jackets & loose dresses worn over cropped pants.

I loved the Oliver Twist sentiments of basic fabrics and colours contrasted with rich and luxurious embellishments and embroidery (another ongoing trend seen on the New York catwalks — see Altuzarra for example). The juxtaposition of the most elemental fabrics with the most affluent produced dramatic and absolutely beautiful, albeit unconventional, looks and is seen as a continuation of the past 2 season’s fascination of contrasting fabrications…

Although it wasn’t his usual kind of beautiful, this collection showed something else — it was a somewhat daring and ornate kind of beauty, which evoked a sense of curiosity and fun into fashion… poetic & magical — Master Marc does it again!

French Vogue Fashion Week Journal – New York #1

This is such a cool alternative video showcasing New York fashion week so far… models off-duty, street-style looks of the moment as seen on socialites, editors and style ambassadors, and great shots of the action on the runway and behind the scenes…

The runway set design at Lacoste was wintery and exciting, Prabal Gurung names Joan Smalls as his model of the moment and his colour Blue, and the video also features one of my favourite shows of the season – Moroccan inspired Altuzarra – providing a preview of my upcoming post talking about one of the recurring trends hitting the runways in the Big Apple this autumn season… Can you guess what it is!?

I know the anticipation may be too much to bare…. Stay tuned!

French Vogue Fashion Week Journal – New York #1

Best of Paris Couture: Valentino s/s 2012

It was a bouquet of flowers á la Valentino by Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri — romantic & girly, légère & luxurious, and yet refreshingly different compared to the other couture shows.

Consistencies of feminine floral patterns on layered chiffon, and heavy silks & satins with prim & proper silhouettes, gave us a “Jane Eyre-esque” vibe with the high Victorian necks and long sleeves.

The collection evoked an element of couture modernity with white woollen trousers (very wearable and rather informal for traditional couture!) and had with it a sense of understated sexiness (you know that’s my favourite!), ending the show with lace covered in embellishments of pearls and crystals  – showing some skin yet keeping things hidden underneath sheer fabrics.

Vintage shoes in matching florals topped it all off and the models looked so fresh, simple and elegant with that one flick of winged kohl, lining just the outer edges of the eyes whilst keeping the rest of the face neutral — always one of my most favourite couture shows — it never fails to impress, astonish, or leave us fantasising in awe…

Colour-pop & Back-Impact

There are subtle and simple ways to make an outfit POP. One of my favourites is through teaming a single-coloured outfit of grey, black, navy, or white with an eye-popping print. The understated colours work to make the graphics of the prints really stand out, without forcing a full off-the-runway statement (because let’s face it, not all of us can pull off head to toe D&G on an every day basis like Anna Dello Russo…).

If you aren’t a prints person however, you can make the same statement by using pops of brights – teaming them with the same understated colours mentioned before.

Spring is on its way, so what better way to welcome the warmth (I, personally am ready to get rid of these freezing temperatures!) and embrace the neon spring 2012 trends than by adding a bit of colour to your wardrobe? Pinks, oranges, yellows, neon purples and cobalt blues…

Oh, and for lovers of the understated sexy look (like myself) — why not go with a cut-out cashmere for a little back-impact… showing a little skin never hurt anyone right?!

I’m wearing: Wilfred Cashmere wool-blend jumper, forever21 necklace, Zara skirt & heels

An Evening with Stella McCartney & Selfridges

So i had the amazing opportunity to attend the launch of Stella McCartney’s new fragrance, L.I.L.Y., at Selfridges the other night and let me tell you it was definitely worth bearing the freezy cold in my oh-so-thin Wilfred dress, holey TopShop jumper and sky high Jigsaw shoe booties for the champagne, to-die-for Red Velvet Lola cupcakes and an evening with Selfridges’ finest…

Alexandra Schulman, editor of British Vogue, conducted an intimate interview with Stella (who – of course – looked effortlessly chic in a signature blazer, white shirt, impeccably tailored trousers and a simple high heel)… here’s how it went:

AS: When you first started designing, you centred around lots of pale blues, bare arm knits and little cardigans … things have changed so much as now you’ve built yourself into such a big brand so where does the starting point of a collection come from — is it still the same as when you started, do you go through the same processes as before?

SM: My process has slightly shifted as when I started, the things I designed were more or less inspired by argyll knitwear; and I had more time to think about and reminisce and look back at pieces from memory and family etc…

Now i’ve moved on from that. It is very much a journey as I takes the last collection as the starting point to the next one and build upon it each season.

I work in a similar way now but I also work less with vintage… there was once a point in the fashion industry where no one was really working on that kind of stuff and I really loved vintage clothes so that was what I was doing – I got the contemporariness and modern language out of my system. Now I work a lot more in ways where I really think about what women want and what they need in a wardrobe

AS: I think what is so clever about successful designers is that although every collection is completely different, it’s got kind of a sameness to it in the sense that you know it is a collection by you, are you sort of aware of what those pieces are in your collections, the ones you know you’ll refer back to, to have a sense of completion to the collection?

SM:  I’m not really aware but i do know that we have a type of language and i feel very lucky to have it. It seems very effortless in a way and that comes very naturally and i guess i love the things that i come back to so I try to formulate pieces that change here and there; but for me think that i’ve learned if you try and be something you’re not it just doesn’t work; so i guess the pieces you can recognise are those which are honest to me.

Stella on finding inspiration… 

SM: With some seasons where I have less time I start off on a sort of journey…  so if i’m working on a summer show i’d wake up thinking about an autumn show and they may trickle on to each other in a sense… and then another time i might be riding a horse in the country and i might look down and see, a leaf and it might just be the colour and so the oranges would be the turning points of the collection…it can just be anything, it can be watching a film you just see a shot of bright pink peaking in the background or on a piece of art so it’s very abstract things

AS: Women designers almost always look great in their own clothes, and in fact I find that I mainly buy my clothes from women designers as I think they are kind of more understanding of women’s bodies; Do you think of yourself (i’m sure you don’t think of yourself as a template), but are you aware that the things that you do sort of suit yourself?

SM: I think the one great thing about being a woman designer is that you can wear the things that you make so i think i’m sub-consciously aware of that; but I don’t use myself as a template. I do think it’s unavoidable, I mean I think it would be silly to pretend that I don’t think about what I find interesting or what I find lacking in my wardrobe and what I sort of desire… 

…But at the same time i’m really interested in the psychological side of being a fashion designer; i’m really interested in what’s inside women’s brains of different ages and what their needs are and even sometimes what they aren’t even aware that they need. If they don’t think they can wear something then i’m always thinking about why don’t they think they can wear that, because i think, “yeah you can wear that!” and i think that really kind of drives most of my designs with women. 

AS: What do you think the most useful things to have in your wardrobe are generally?

SM: I think you need a great t-shirt, preferably a really old one, you know like i’ve got one t-shirt that was my husband’s and i’m obsessed with it and I take it into work and every collection i go “can we please do this t-shirt” and everyone’s just like, “no!” So i think you need a great t-shirt, I think you need a great pair of jeans but see, then I just go through every part of a wardrobe because I think you need a great shoe and you need great underwear… 

It’s funny because people always say you start an outfit with a great shoe but actually I think you start an outfit with great lingerie.

AS: How do you feel about the high street?

SM: I think the high street is great for kind of presenting a broader side of fashion and I think it’s great as long as they are honest retailers – as long as they are making the clothes in the right way and educating their customers on how they do this.

AS: How do you research the materials you use as everyone knows that you don’t use real leather, do you have a person where that is their job to produce that fabric?

SM: well we have a fabrics girl and we have an accessories department so they know the drill and they’ve worked with me long enough. You go to fabric fairs and it’s really tricky. and it’s actually one of the most interesting things we do and it really is very challenging but i find that is the most exciting; i find that i like the challenge of stuff like that. 

AS: Is it strange to you and how do you deal with being highly recognisable wondering around and loads of people knowing who you are?

SM: You know it’s funny because I don’t really think many people recognise me in that I try and keep a fairly low profile and I sort of do PR but it’s fashion related pretty much and if people are interested in that then they probably know about me and not if they aren’t; And i mean i’ve sort of grown up with one of the most famous people in the world so for me i don’t think i’m that interesting! i don’t think i really see it like that. 

AS: What ambitions do you have that you’d like to do sort of right over the horizon like kind of travel more with your kids or have a home in Italy or write a book or… 

SM: All of those things! But i’m good you know, I just want to try and live in the moment and enjoy things right now.

AS: What motivates you and makes you get up and carry on and to decide not to just pack it all in?

SM: I genuinely enjoy my job so i’m motivated by that; but I also get motivated by doing things like this as well, I really enjoy meeting my customers as it really gives me something I don’t get on a daily basis and reminds me of what i’m doing – i’m very motivated about trying to make a tiny bit of change in the fashion industry —

… if i wasn’t trying, for example, to not make things out of leather I think i’d have less motivation because it just feels like you have a little bit of reason behind it other than just making a nice dress – so i’m more and more motivated by that because I find it very interesting and quite modern… I find the fashion industry quite old fashioned in that sense so I find that really interesting and I find that there is a lot more there to do in that area of the industry that people are really quite afraid of…  and that they just tend to hide under the carpet. 

I’m motivated by having a responsibility to my team and my brand and having great people around me.I then had the opportunity to ask her what she would be doing if she hadn’t become a designer… 

SM: I would love to find myself doing landscaping and garden designing — I don’t really find it very different from fashion designing because you have different colours and textures and it’s got cultural form; and the other thing is the the technological side to that…  I like the soil and the dirt and I find that they’re quite similar. 

Is there a menswear range possible?

SM: I would love to to mens, but we do a lot at the moment and we have the Olympics coming up and i personally would like to have all of these different things covered off. I’d like to make sure one range of Stella is comfortable and strong on its own before I start off on another. But there will be a moment where I will think about menswear because I love menswear, i used to work on Saville Row for 3 years so i would love to do it! 

How did your adidas collaboration come about and why?

SM: I’ve never been into the “designer sneaker” because to me I always thought sneakers were designed better by sports companies, so I wanted to do sneakers and we did them through a collaboration. The next season we did sports in the performance side because I found it really interesting – and I always felt that women’s sportswear was very much an after-thought, that men always got the really cool stuff and the good colours and we only had “my little pony pink” and you know it never looked good. I always got embarrassed if I ever got caught on my way to the gym by someone I knew and i just really wanted to challenge that.

I also found that women sort of work out in anything other than sportswear like in a free t-shirt and the guys would be there in their sportswear and I just couldn’t understand it, so I get really excited about trying to educate women on what they can work out in and I just don’t think you should have to sacrifice style in sport. 

What made you add a fragrance to your collection and L.I.L.Y. in particular?

SM: I found a flower that I love and chose Lily of the Valley because I find it really unfashionable. It’s sort of a flower that has disappeared in the world of fragrance. I love that its a seasonal flower and it’s amazing how it only comes out once a year and then it’s gone and I think there’s something really precious about that and I love that the smell is really fleeting because you smell it and then it goes and it’s really hard to capture. 

I wanted to try and channel that emotion and I wanted it kind of feminine and girly but not too feminine and too girly so against that I combatted the feminism with truffles and moss which to me were a lot more sensual.

How has the work with Adidas and the Olympic collection influenced your main line?

SM: I think the reason I do sportswear is because I really love it and it’s really a part of my designs and the ethos of the brand so I always tend to have little touches of sportswear in my collections which are both feminine and masculine. I don’t think it’s because of any of the sports collaborations; I think it’s because I just like it and the way it sort gives a kind of edge to the collection and sort of takes it down from being too fancy on the runway. Sportswear for me is just a great way of bringing down a collection.

Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?

SM:My advice would be to work hard as there is no way to avoid it, and also to be committed and be true to yourself – 

Don’t try and be cool if aren’t cool and don’t try and do something that doesn’t come naturally to you just try and be yourself and people will respond. 

Spending an evening with Stella was inspiring, she is so down-to-earth and such an engaging speaker… I could have sat there listening to her for ages I just didn’t want the interview to end! The evening itself was lovely and LILY smells beautiful – if you haven’t gotten your hands on it yet, do so (yes, Valentine’s Day is next week so it’s perfect)!