AW 09-10 trend report: Today’s press day highlights

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Today was a nice gentle start to a week of press days before everything kicks off tomorrow – a combo of press days and (possible) G20 riots, what fabulous timing!

Best gift
Manish Arora for Swarovski CRYSTALLIZED T-shirt with Lakshmi – the goddess of beauty and luck – portrayed in a glitzy arrangement of crystals

Best discovery
Jessica McCormack jewellery – especially her foxy fox ring. Each piece is a one-off.

Best accessories
Oxfam’s press loan service -particularly the stack of Princess Di-era Alice bands that have been donated by an on-trend do-gooder. Expect to see them adorning the pages of Vogue, Elle and Harper’s from August onwards.

Best goss
Diesel’s ‘Black Friday’ concept. No clue when it’s happening but apparently, a stash of golden tickets a la Charlie & the Chocolate Factory will be secreted around the globe. The lucky punters who find them can redeem them in the form of a hefty discount on Diesel merch like this distressed denim boa…Snazzy! I’ll keep digging for more info.

Best shoes
The new footwear range by American Retro – I’m all about the studded Desperately Seeking Susan boots, aren’t you?

Quote of the day

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‘When people worry they should be wearing only jeans and a top from Zara in these difficult times, I say “nonsense”. After a rose, and maybe chocolate, a pink dress is the only thing guaranteed to make us happy.’
Alber Elbaz, Grazia

*Update: Matches blogger Ruth also loved Alber’s quote but went one better and posted a pic of one of his fab pink dresses… How beautiful?

Quote of the day

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“There will be queues. I’m telling you. The billboards have been up, the word is out, and I expect them to be camped out in the streets from the night before.”
Faith Hope Consolo of TopShop NYC’s real estate company Prudential Douglas Elliman

Alex says…

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Last Thursday I attended the Fashion Business Club talk where editor, Dolly Jones interviewed Vogue editor, Alexandra Shulman. Shulman is under intense pressure to deliver a magazine that’s still relevant in the current climate – challenging when your target reader is the person being hit hardest by the recession and advertising revenue is in the doldrums. Yet the lady seated in front of us did not look stressed at all. In fact she came across as extremely likable, good at her job and knowing of her audience, despite having never edited a women’s magazine before arriving at the helm of Vogue 17 years ago.

I’ve condensed her most insightful answers into soundbites, but you can read more here.

On getting the Vogue editor job 17 years ago: “It was the last thing in the world that I wanted to do.”

On fashion as a scapegoat for the world’s ills: “Fashion has become a whipping post for everything from body image to celebrity culture to the economy. The media picks on fashion because it can use fashion pictures to illustrate their stories. A fashion picture looks good so makes you more likely to read the story.”

On how the recession affects Vogue’s shoots: “The emphasis has moved to styling as opposed to photography. I have a great team and their styling tips have become more useful for our readers.” [This is so true, I loved the styling feature in the current issue…]

Tips for up-and-coming designers and what a small business needs to survive:
*Product is key – make your message clear
*Be consistent in your offering
*Press is important but needs to be focussed, it’s not necessary to get celebrity endorsement from the outset
*Find a business partner to work with (“if you are going to be a designer, it is a business. You can’t just be an artist.”)
*Accept it takes time

On supermodels: “They became too powerful. When the models were getting more attention than the designers, the designers started sourcing Hollywood”

On interns: “I can’t tell if an intern is good at styling or writing from just seeing them around the office but the successful ones are smart, efficient and make an imprint on you without getting in your face and being irritating.”

On the future of fashion magazines: “There’s a lesson to be learnt from what’s happening with newspapers – they’ve killed off the papers in favour of putting content online, yet online isn’t making the money.”

On the magazines she reads: “I read the New Yorker for unbeatable journalism and I love interiors magazines. I get all the magazines so I don’t need to buy them but I look at them to see who’s copied us! I noticed Grazia used our ‘More Dash Than Cash’ idea but called it ‘More Dash, Less Cash’.”

On LOVE: “We were very competitive with Pop so when Conde Nast took on LOVE I wasn’t sure how it would play out. But it’s very different. Its focus is fashion and celebrity, it’s industry-insidery. Ad-wide they’re a lot cheaper than us, but our circulation is 220,000 and they’re aiming for 40,000 so it’s very different.”

On the importance of fashion shows: “Fashion shows are a good marketing tool yet different clothes work in different ways. Sometimes doing catwalk collections sends things on the wrong tangent. It drives me crazy, putting clothes in the magazine that people can’t actually buy.”



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Been catching up on the last few WGSN daily newsletters. What to make of this?!

Music industry veteran Simon Fuller and Sojin Lee, formerly of Net-A-Porter, are to launch a new non-retail fashion website later this year, hosting style-focused entertainment, education, and news content plus a social-networking function.

Fashionair will feature a weekly live news and pop culture show including behind-the-scenes footage, spotlighting the best-selling fashion products and include one-on-one interviews with designers, photographers and make-up artists.

A styling show hosted by industry names will also help viewers “master and adapt” the latest trends to their own wardrobes. Site users will be given the chance to interact with the experts, submitting their own personal video style diaries for potential airing on the site.

It will also offer the opportunity to create personal profiles with mood boards, wish and gift lists, and other fashion files with content from the site.

The company said that rather than sell merchandise, “the goal is to drive users to 500+ e-tailers from around the world through fashion-specific trend content, style information, and brand integration”.

Most of the merchandise discussed in the style segments will be showcased on the site with photos and other detailed information, including where users can find the items, as well as suggestions on the luxury and budget versions of each item.

Bits and pieces

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On my way out of the Paul Smith press day, I couldn’t resist taking some pictures of the Paul Smith HQ reception (above and below). Behind the reception desk is a cabinet of curiosities and opposite it is a wall of framed pictures.
Earlier in the week I’d taken a photo of the b Store window (below) which is showing the work of multi-media artist BEST ONE. There’s something about a collection of objects or images that always stops me in my tracks but more so at the moment as I’m working on a mood board project. I’m always being reminded of ways to place or layer the pictures and different elements to add.

AW 09-10 trend report: Paul Smith press day

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If you’re a fan of the Paul Smith ethos – attention to detail, witty touches, clever merchandising, you’d have enjoyed the Paul Smith AW09 press day. The highlights:

1) Unisex plaid raw-edges scarves

2) My favourite khaki-and-red colour combination

3) Details: Epaulettes, piping, plastic chain necklaces

4) Bags: Plastic chain handles, florals, flat suede handbags

5) Vintage chairs – these are French 1040s garden chairs, £400 for a pair

6) Flask – if you can’t afford a vintage Hermes flask, get this map one instead

As you’d expect, the styling of the venue and outfits were spot on. I loved the Paul Smith vintage-look cameras, dapper bow-ties and necklaces as epaulettes. And don’t miss the gilt chairs with Paul Smith-print seat pads. When you’re attending twenty-odd press shows a day for the best part of a month, you need things to stand out in order to remember them. Otherwise, however beautiful the individual pieces, all the statement shoulders, print dresses and crazy-heeled shoes start merging into one. By making the press day experience a unique one, the collection as a whole is more likely to stand out.

Earl Grey and Architecture

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To say Thursday was a whirlwind of activity would be an understatement of preposterous proportions. As well as press days, the Alexandra Shulman FBC talk, a whizz across town to a digital lab and an ICA charity gala dinner, I somehow managed to cram in tea at the RIBA. The Royal Institute of British Architects is a building I have passed dozens of times but never had time to venture inside. Big mistake. Aside from its elegant interior and charming cafe (where we had tea and brownies surrounded by textbook architects complete with Mac laptops and Moleskin notebooks) we browsed the Le Corbusier exhibits which comprised various classic chairs, tables and sofas from the Cassina I Maestri collection.

On the first floor was a reconstruction of the famous Le Corbusier Cabanon. The architect designed and built this sexy little hut in 1952 as a holiday home for him and his wife Yvonne in Cap-Martin. The outside is pretty basic and anonymous while the interior is widely recognised as a superb example of micro architecture. (Did I impress you with my knowledge there? Don’t be fooled, I totally read that in the notes. However, I’m determined to sneak the phrase ‘micro architecture’ into everyday speech…) After donning the comedy showercap-chic shoe covers, we explored inside the Cabanon and took a few sneaky snaps. You would never think to look at this now, that it was designed over half a century ago. All its nifty nooks and crannies and built-in storage ideas are now commonplace in day-to-day living but were the height of innovation 50 years ago. The building itself is not that big (15 square metres) but you really get a sense of space and function. This Le Corbusier mini-exhibition is on until 28th April so if you like a bit of culture with your elevenses, I highly recommend the RIBA (and the bookshop is rather tasty too).

Blow PR – the hit factory

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Last week I managed to get a final look at Blow PR‘s SS09 collections before they get bagged up and sent back to make room for the new stuff.

Blow has become known as the go-to PR for nurturing fresh talent and as well as promoting the now-established Basso & Brooke, Ashish and Manish Arora since their early days, also looks after some of London’s most promising bubbling-under names. Touring the showroom is like entering a ‘what’s cutting edge now’ exhibition. Elaborate samples are hung around the place as casually as a loveworn denim jacket and there’s a little story behind each piece or designer. The lone pair of work-of-art shoes with exquisite carved heels? Why, those are the Raouda Assaf for Basso & Brookes that garnered more column inches than Jourdan Dunn at the SS09 shows. The funfair-fabulous frock hanging like an exotic lantern? A Manish Arora special of course. A sequin jacket with bunch-of-banana-shaped shoulders? A highlight from the Jo-Jo & Malou collection – fun, fun, fun! I also loved the Smiley bags by Disaya and the big-as-a-house plastic party dresses by Craig Laurence – you could literally wrap yourself up like a present!

I was somewhat surprised to see a rail laden with rather elegant tailored trousers and silk blouses  in sedate office-friendly colours (below). Was it someone’s drycleaning? No, it was the collection of Delia Covezzi – “Something commercial for us that we’re trying out. What do you think of it…?” (I think it bridges the gap between commercial and creative very well – clearly the bug for new designers to create wearable collections yet with strong, unique handwriting is catching on.)

Alongside the grown-up tailoring and statement pieces, Blow also looks after a number of streetwear labels including Nobody jeans who are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year with a jeanius genius bespoke idea that I can’t reveal quite yet. My favourite collection of all however was Little Shilpa, the work of Mumbai-based designer-slash-stylist Shilpa Chavan who rummages around for found trinkets and reimagines them as beautiful romantic accessories – I’m sorry but how lovely are her pin-on epaulettes?

Breaking news…

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Spotted outside Albam in Beak Street. Who knew the tapered chino was in such demand?