There’s no escaping it, those clumpy clogs are going to be all over the
market stalls high street when the clock strikes 2010. Shall we have a look at who has the scariest fright-clogs for next season?
The ss10 press days are all but over and I’m still processing the information (tip: it’s all about bumbags and summer skins – leather, suede and er, fur). But my favourite mini-trend was found at the Bally press day. Creative Director, Brian Atwood has based the collection around neutral make-up tones. Imagine a perfect glossy carmine red lipstick from the Armani counter, a creamy stroke of caramel-hued Nars foundation, the sleekest flick of Dior black liquid eyeliner and Chanel’s already-iconic-and-it’s-not-even-out-yet Particuliere nail polish. Translate that lot into silky trench jackets, suede paper-bag bootees and patent D’orsay peep-toe heels and you have the Bally collection pretty much nailed.
Top marks to Topshop for their latest innovation “Dress Me Up” dress hire. Kicking off in the Topshop flagship today, it’s a short n sweet retail concept that allows customers to hire – and possibly buy – a one-off dress for the party season. Between now and 6th December, you can browse the rails and drop the hangers all over the floor try stuff on before booking your chosen piece to hire between 7th and 23rd December. All dresses have been donated by designers and celebrities* and can be hired for two nights for a pretty reasonable £40 although a bigger deposit will have to be left in case you run off with them of damage. All dresses will be auctioned at the end of the event. (Can I just say before anyone gets any funny ideas that I have first dibs on the Richard Nicoll. Thank you.)
As much as I like the idea, I’m most impressed with Topshop’s choice of charities set to benefit from this initiative – proceeds from the hire fees and auction will go to Help The Aged and Age Concern. I love that Topshop, the brand that’s synonymous with youth, has decided to raise money for our elders. Nice one Toppers!
In a similar vein but without the fanfare and charity donations, is Dresseduptothe9s, a site where you can hire high-end dresses or rent out your own posh frocks to make some extra pocket money. It all makes perfect sense to me, why not give your dresses a second life if you’re not going to wear them but don’t want to throw them away?
*PS, word is that Lady Gaga has donated a dress to Topshop …. Let the bunfight commence.
Back in the pre-Mert & Marcus days before ultra-sophisticated fashion, when it wasn’t all about It bags and It shoes, Elaine Constantine was one of the most in-demand photographers around. Her peak was the late nineties when every other photographer tried to imitate her energetic, brightly-lit compositions. Her commissions included ad campaigns for Jigsaw and endless editorials for Italian Vogue and The Face with Big, Arena Homme Plus and US Vogue coming later. Youthful energy – complete with flowy hair and open-mouthed laughter – was her main trademark and the one that brought her to my attention. Her shoots involved a mix of models and ‘real people’ (often her friends) crowd-surfing, dancing, cycling and having pillow fights – in essence, simply having a good old time. The result was a hyper-real, action-packed style that wasn’t often found in fashion photography. These days, sadly it’s all about pandering to the advertisers, so statue-still studio shoots take precedence over location shoots which also keeps the budget reined in.
Remember what I said about not shopping online? Scratch that, I’ve just seen this Marc by Marc Jacobs laptop case at the Net-a-porter Cruise press day. Sorry Mulberry/Apple, you’ve been demoted from the Christmas wishlist…
This is turning out to be quite the month for books. I have just opened my Ebay copy of Kate Spade’s ‘Contents’, a book I have wanted for years but is now out of print. The concept is simple; photos of the contents of people’s handbags follwed by the identity of the owner and a list of said contents at the back of the book. A voyeurs’s dream. Aside from the lovely unstyled quality of Dan Bibbs’ photos, it’s a telling historical study. These snaps were taken in the days before everyone had iPhones and BlackBerrys. Oh how things change – just look how many leather organsisers there are!
Another visual treat is Audrey Hepburn, International Cover Girl. This was a review copy that I was sent on spec. Now I like Audrey as much as the next person but I’m not obsessed so I expected a pretty nice coffee table book of the ten-a-penny variety. But actually no, the book is stuffed full of cover shoots from 1951-1993, most I’ve not seen before. Not only is it a great insight into Audrey and her many styles of eyebrow (count ’em) but it’s also a good opportunity to study magazine covers through the ages.
Two loosely complementary trends emerged at September’s LFW which used African style as a jumping off point. Paul Smith (above) was inspired by the Congolese ‘sapeurs’, (well turned out gents of the Society for the Advancement of People of Elegance) who have recently been documented in a rather lovely photography book for which Sir Paul himself has written the preface. As luck would have it, an invitation has come my way to the exhibition preview next week. Gentlemen of Bacongo is on for two days only from 27-29 November (12-8pm) at Londonewcastle Project Space, 28 Redchurch Street, E2 or you can buy the book here.
Also on the African fashion tip, Aquascutum’s Michael Herz told me he was channelling Malick Sibidé’s legendary portrait photographs of Malian youth when dreaming up the SS10 collection, deliberately clashing it with the utilitarian Britishness of Aquascutum’s heritage. As a lover of a certain type of energy in photography, whether that’s from searing colour as in the Bacongo book or a general upbeat mood as in Sidibé’s monochromes, these images are always an absolute pleasure to behold.
A few weeks ago I did some work with an online retailer. In the course of my work, the subject of online shopping came up and my colleague was aghast when I told her I don’t shop online. It’s true, I don’t. Apart from the odd book from Amazon – which by the time you’ve factored in delivery charges isn’t that much cheaper than the high street – I do all my shopping in bricks-and-mortar stores. I prefer the in-store experience and when it comes to clothes shopping I want to know I can return them with no hassle. It’s also why I feel happier buying from department stores rather than ‘no refunds’ boutiques. But news reaches me today of a new initiative from ASOS called ASOS Premier. For £24.95 a year you get free next day or ‘nominated day’ delivery and free returns which are collected from your house! Now, forgive me if this is common practice with online retailers but I’ve never heard of it and I think it’s bloody genius. I was so gobsmacked, I had to get someone to check that I’d read the blurb properly and got the right end of the stick. This is something that would seriously make me rethink my ‘no online shopping’ stance. It means you can order the item you want in a couple of different sizes, try them on at home playing dress-up with all your other things, then return the non-fitting item without hauling your ass down to the post office and paying for the privilege. Duh, they should have done this years ago!
At this week’s Fashion Summit, one of the main messages coming across was the importance of customer service. When business is tough, a good product, a good price and good customer service will see you through. If anyone knows how to succeed in online retail it’s ASOS and we all know that they are doing very well with product and price. It’s great to see customer service being addressed like this, let’s see if others follow suit.