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My Review Of The Labels, Pre-London Fashion Week Catwalk 2011 Show

thelabels

 

On Friday 19th August 2011, I was invited to see the work of six emerging designers showcase their collections at 1 Rivington Place, London, EC2A 3BA.

As much as I love seeing the new work of designers, learning about the new talents coming out of London, I am always a bit wary of emerging designer fashion shows.  Reason being, I often see important mistakes that affect the overall lasting impression of the show or mistakes that harm the designer’s collection.  I understand that with an emerging fashion show, this one included, that it is the designers that contribute toward the budget and funding of the show.  And as well as dealing with their individual collections, they have to be heavily involved with other factors of the show which include- invitations, press, models and so on.  But the thing is, when press are watching a show or looking at an image from a catwalk show- more often than not, they don’t have all this background prep information so they can sympathise with the designers and more importantly the fashion industry is hardly known for its compassionate and forgiving nature.

I have to admit that my experience at the beginning of the Labels show didn’t start so well for the following reasons-

1. Having arrived as Press, in the seating arrangements of the show, I did not see any clear indication for Press to sit.  This is an important mistake because in fashion shows, press are supposed to have seats that can give them the best visual access to the show, as they are the ones responsible for writing and promoting the show afterwards.  To do that, we need to be able to see the intrinsic details of the collection.

2. There were no press packs on the seats at the start of the show to give an indication of the order of the show, the designers collections and so on.  Press packs were given at the end of the show, but again, it was a bit of a mission for me to get them as I had to do a lot of asking and running around.  Many fashion editors and fashion journalists would not do this.  Furthermore, upon receiving the Press booklet which gave details about each of the designer’s collections, I discovered that the collection details of one of the designers was missing.  The Press bag did have that designer’s card, but this meant that Press had to do more work to get the collection details of the omitted designer.

3. As the Labels show did not have press packs at the start of the show, a guest speaker led the audience through each the collections.  At this point, I have to say that fashion shows should really stay away from guest speakers/wannabe comedians at fashion shows.  And if you absolutely must get one, get one that is educated.  I couldn’t believe it when this particular guest speaker was introducing a designer’s collection, and after stumbling and bumbling the words uttered, ‘there are words here I can’t pronounce’.  Or when he said, ‘the toilets are…actually, I don’t know but I’m sure you will find them!’  With an emerging designer show there is extra onus to prove yourself and to present a particular high quality (which you want to be associated with your brand) and professionalism in every aspect of the show from start to finish.

I was particularly irritated that the guest speaker could not describe the designer’s collection in a fluent and coherent manner because with no press packs given at the beginning of the show, there was extra onus on the guest speaker to educate guests (and press particularly) on the background, inspirations and fabrics in each collection.

4. Models are often the bane of an editorial fashion shoot and fashion show, especially when there is no models budget as such.  Having said that, models can break or make a fashion show or shoot.  The sad truth is, when it comes to a fashion show, no matter how great the hair, makeup, and the pieces the model is wearing are.  If he/she cannot walk properly, is too short or has picked up cliché catwalk bad habits like – excessive jiggling, exaggerated posing at the end of the catwalk run, putting their hands perpetually on their waists-this can cause problems because it can be hard to get a picture that can be sent to established blogs and magazines.  Also whilst watching the show, these defects harm the overall impression of each ensemble the model wears, and as a result the designer’s collection is not seeing in its best possible light.

Overall I have to say that The Labels fashion show and everyone who took part in it are to be highly commended for the efforts they put into the show.  Throughout the event, I was torn between judging it as press and judging it as a guest/spectator. As the latter, I liked the innovative venue that was chosen, the idea of having a summer barbecue afterwards, the great tunes the DJ spun after the show and the fun people I met that night.  But as Press, I feel that the above negative observations I wrote about, have to be mentioned because partying and eating aside, having asked one of the designers why she chose to take part in the Labels show she mentioned that it was to, ‘establish her brand and build her client base’.  At the end of the day, the Labels fashion show was a business venture, so I hope that the organisers take my observations on board, as the better and more professional a show, the more likely its designers are likely to be promoted, creating a higher possibility of recognition and sales.

Sounding Off..., This & That

This A/W 2011,Topshop’s Mannequins blaze a style trail

One of the things I was greatly looking forward to seeing during my very short trip to London last week was the Topshop (Oxford street) window, and to be more exact, the Topshop mannequins.

My fascination with mannequins began when I was ten years old and saw the 80’s iconic film, ‘Mannequin’ starring Kim Cattrall and Andrew McCarthy.  In fact back in the SATC days when people would often debate who was the prettiest out of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte (the popular choice) or Samantha;  I always thought that for anyone who had watched Mannequin and seen Kim Cattrall in her heyday ‘Samantha’ won that beauty (and body) race hands down.  Don’t believe me?  Watch this video and pause on that fur peekaboo moment-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=agxwOaTVnCY

The film Mannequin taught me the importance of a shop window and how the creative use of fashionably styled mannequins could attract crowds, generate press headlines, increase footfall and lead to high sales for a department store.  It also showed me how a dwindling department store could use their shop window to become  ‘relevant’ to the public again.  Then I didn’t know that decorating a shop window and styling mannequins was called, visual merchandising.

Due to Mannequin, I often use the a store’s window display to determine whether I enter a shop or not.  In London, with so many great high street, vintage shops, boutiques et al- stores really up the ante to make sure they pull out all the stops to catch and keep a potential customer’s interest.  Time after time, Topshop’s windows have cast a spell on me and even when my purse strings have been tightened, after gazing at their amazingly styled mannequins, I find that they cast a spell on me luring me inside.

Furthermore, if you are feeling strapped for cash and you can’t afford to buy a magazine to let you know what the trends are and you want a more entertaining experience than looking online- Topshop’s mannequins are styled to let you know what the seasonal trends are and how to work them.  In fact, I found them so inspiring that for the next couple of weeks I am going to write posts dedicated to A/W 11 trends and I will be using  mannequins (from various high street stores) to illustrate my point. And P.S if you haven’t worked it out already- that top shot illustrates that one of the key accessory pieces to invest in this season is a fedora.  Pair it with an oversized fur coat to add a touch of nonchalant glamour to your overall look.

Topshop’s attention to detail and their creativity is just incredible, I love the ‘cry baby’ effect of this mannequin.

Can someone please buy me this black leather jacket with silver spike embellishment please?  This is the perfect jacket to brave fashion shows, parties and festivals with as any queue jumper or pusher is likely to feel more than your wrath when they attempt to shove you out of the way.

Topshop mannequins show that black is still the most effective colour to contrast gold with.  I wonder if transgender icon, Amanda Lepore was the inspiration for the mannequins exaggerated lips as they sure remind me of her.

Amanda Lepore

The razzle and dazzle effect didn’t end there-

Another reason I love Tophsop mannequins is because of the makeup and hair styles they sport.  I’ll never understand stores that cut their mannequins heads off.  Topshop gives you the full package- the clothes, acccessories, hair and makeup, thus humanising their mannequins and making them more relevant.  In fact, I want to come to the Topshop, Oxford street store one night, sprinkle some fairy dust on my favourite mannequins to bring them to life and go partying with them. They just look so damn cool.

At this point a rather surly shop assistant told me that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the store.  When I apologised, she ordered me to delete the images whilst she watched.  This I did- or rather pretended to- I’ve been in the game far too long to not get the story I want dearie.  That being said, I guess in some way I can understand why Topshop don’t want to let their genie out of the bottle, a store with mannequins that look this good must be protected at all times.  So does that mean that with this post, I’ve let the cat out of the bag, oooooh…

Amanda Lepore image courtesy of contactmusic.com

Sounding Off..., This & That

Desperately seeking a fashion illustrator

Fashion illustration is not an art form that I have concerned myself much with in the past, in fact, I only really began to sit up and take note of fashion illustrators when I began writing for Glossy magazine about two years ago.  Reason being, the editor always found different ways to incorporate illustrations into each issue resulting in attention- grabbing front covers and quirky editorial concepts. But even then, I still couldn’t and can’t reel a list of my favourite fashion illustrators like I can with say, my favourite photographers, makeup and hair artists, journalists, designers and the like. 

However, with the setting up of this blog all that is going to change because I need one to design a header for my homepage.  I really don’t like the one I currently have because it’s a model template, which means it’s shared by thousands.  And I hate that.  There is a reason why I am a vintage junkie- I thrive on having one-offs and owning things that are one of a kind.

This is why when I was setting up my website, and I was told by the web designer that there was a Gold, Silver and Bronze standard package, I quickly told him that I would be having the Gold package and there would be nothing standard about it.  I then proceeded to take great pains in making my website as ‘me’ as possible, and in the process making it less like everybody else’s.  It’s still not even close to the way I want it but that’s for another post.

Moving back to the subject of my blog, here are the illustrators (in no particular order) that I would love to collaborate with in customizing my home page-

Phoks

To see and learn more about Phok’s work, go to www.phoks.fr

Nicole Jarecz

To see and learn more about Nicole’s work, www.njareczillustration.blogspot.com

Hayden Williams

To see and learn more about Hayden’s work, go to www.haydenwilliamsfashionillustrations.blogspot.com

Phok and Nicole’s images are courtesy of Glossy-mag.com

Hayden’s images are courtesy of Hayden Williams

Sounding Off..., This & That

Art’otel,Berlin- The 4* imposter

Last weekend I was super excited at the prospect of staying in art’otel, Lietzenburger Strasse with one of my friends who was coming from London.  The joys of catching up with my friend aside, I was looking forward to having my every whim and desire taken care of by the ‘4* hotel’.  Furthermore, I was to enjoy this luxury for free as my friend had got a weekend Groupon deal, which meant I could be her free-loading groupie.

Before I skipped out of my house to go to the hotel my flatmate, X, mentioned how silly the name of the hotel was but I ignored the derogatory comment- no one was going to rain on my parade, I was spending the weekend in a luxurious 4* hotel.

Now ladies and gentlemen of the jury I want you to keep this rating in mind, as I proceed to tell you the rest of the story.

As I rounded the corner, I was greeted by this silly and decidedly ugly ‘piece of art’-

At this point, I was still naively hopeful that my 4* experience was yet to come, so I was rather surprised when the receptionist gave me the directions to my room and did not offer to call a concierge to take care of my luggage.  Now don’t get me wrong, under normal circumstances I am perfectly able to carry my luggage,  as a stylist that is part and parcel of the job.  But I wasn’t on a shoot, I was in a 4* hotel.

After a ride up the dingiest, smallest lift ever I made my way to my friend’s room.  Upon seeing my friend, I could see that she was not a happy bunny.  And how could she be?  With the Groupon deal, we were entitled to a free packed lunch, here is what this 4* hotel gave us-

And yes, you really did see that miserable looking sandwich-

I wanted to marvel at the various illustrations on the bedroom walls, like this Marilyn Monroe picture-

But not even the beautiful sight of Marilyn could detract my attention from the shrunken, sad-looking TV in this supposedly 4* room.  It was most decidedly not the ‘modern offerings‘ the hotel promises.

Upon entering the bathroom I saw the TV was not the only minature-sized object in the room, the towels could just about wrap a new-born baby and there was no bath.  Now in the days leading up to this visit, that was what I had dreamed about- singing ‘Kiss’, Julia Roberts/Pretty Woman style in my jacuzzi, instead I was greeted by this narrow sight-

And since when did 4* hotel beds get made like this?  Hello, did I unwittingly enter a time tunnel and travel back to my uni dorm, or am I am in a ‘4* hotel’?

I pity the couple that book their honeymoon in this room.

Art’otel’s strapline is, ‘original art, unique hotels’, and to illustrate their devotion to all that is ‘art’, almost every inch of the hotel is splattered with Andy Warhol images, which as the quote goes- was an attempt of the hotel ‘to adorn itself with borrowed plumes’.

 The thing is the hotel should be more concerned with its basic presentation, if it had been, less time would have been spent hanging up the ‘oh so cool’ image of Warhol photographing Debbie Harry, and more time finishing the paint job on the walls.  It is supposed to be a 4* hotel after all.

I really wish I had been in the meeting room when the interior designer was getting briefed on how to decorate the dining area.  I have a feeling ‘pop art’ was written in bold, repeatedly in his/her brief.  But even though I have no interior design training, I have a feeling that splashing bold ‘pop’ colours on the ugliest shaped chairs e-v-e-r does not equate to pop art.

And I really must commend the staff on their 4* way of setting and presenting a breakfast table.  At this point, I guess I should be grateful that the cutlery wasn’t plastic.

By the end of the weekend, after having our senses assaulted  my girlfriend and I lay in a daze on our ‘hard as nails’ hotel bed, when suddenly all the lights went out and wouldn’t come back on again.  On reflex, I almost felt like reaching out for a torchlight and alerting my home security guards to put on the generator.  But wait a minute, I was not in Lagos, Nigeria.  I was in Berlin, and in a 4* hotel no less.  After much fraffing about by the staff, my friend and I were ushered  into another room and our ugly journey began all over again.

If I could speak to art’otel, I would tell them that their service and accommodation are perfectly satisfactory…for a 2* hotel.  I really can’t believe that this hotel sells itself as a 4* hotel and hasn’t being reprimanded yet because I feel it is false advertising at its worst.

Andy Warhol would be turning cartwheels in his grave if he knew his name and images were being used to entice innocent guests into the ugliest and most pretentious hotel in the world.

Personal Style

The Style of ‘Men Who Lunch’

High Street clothing for men has come a long way.  I remember shopping in the women’s departments of stores like Topshop, H & M and Zara, and upon entering their men’s department, wondering why their design team had pulled the short straw.  Case in point, in Topshop I would see vintage-inspired pieces from independent designers like Oh My Love, then there is their boutique section which stocks experimental brands like Kokon To Zai.  But in Topman, I would always feel like I had wandered into the changing room of a very try-hard, really bad boy band.

So during lunch the other day, after admiring the ensembles of my male friends and asking them where they got their outfits from, I was very surprised to hear the list of High Street stores that came tumbling out of their mouths.

Tio’s (aka Mr Cheekbones) jeans and trenchcoat are from Zara, his cardigan is from COS, the statement frames hail from Mykita and his bag is Gucci darlings.

I adore Tio’s pimp,’ Hugh Hefner-esque’ navy blue velvet slippers which he purchased from H&M.  Accessories like this give his ensemble a chic, effortless vibe.

When dressing up men (unless they dress in drag) don’t have a lot to play with, so to me one of the secrets of how to look stylish for a man, is  knowing how to play the balancing act with your body proportions.  Tio does this by wearing slim fit jeans while he leaves his loose-fitting trench coat open, and with his body proportions, this style works for him.  Below Guan plays with his proportions by wearing a functional loose-fitted jacket over his slim-fitted slate-grey jeans.  The tucking of his jeans into his rounded-toe leather boots toughens up his look. 

Guan’s boots and jacket are from Zara, his cashmere jumper and t-shirt are from H & M.  My favourite piece from Guan’s ensemble are his slate-gray wax jeans, or as I like to call them ‘S&M jeans’.  I call them that because when the wax catches the light, the jeans adopt a sheen that creates a sexy,  leather-like appearance.

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