Jane at The Beauty Plus (new blog! Do visit!) recently raved about the merits of a boxy tee. I wholeheartedly concur. My boxy tee of choice is from Agnes B, I have been buying these for a least 15 years and as far as I know, the design hasn’t changed. The merits are thus: they’re loose enough to circulate the air in a heatwave, yet they’re not so oversized as to look sloppy. And I can easily wear one under a blazer and feel a bit dressy (that’s about as dressy as I get I’m afraid). I size up as they do shrink slightly and I alternate between the black and white versions. These also last really well, a good investment at £35.
My Agnes B tees are nicely accessorised with NUXE Huile Prodigieuse dry oil. (Please don’t ask me to pronounce it.) This is one of the original dry oils. It’s made of natural plant oils and vitamin E and has the most amazing, very sophisticated beachy smell. I use it as a body moisturiser but you can use it on hair and face too. The square glass bottle looks extremely chic on the dressing table. IMPORTANT: The small bottle doesn’t have a spray nozzle which I think is nuts – it’s too easy to pour out too much or just knock over. Far better to go for the bigger, 100ml one with the spray. If you want a bit of iridescence, there’s also a golden shimmer version available and if you buy from the NUXE site, there’s currently 20% off.
One of my highlights of Paris Fashion Week was the Lanvin AW14 re-see. On a huge scale, this is where you get to see the commercial workings of Fashion Week at play, where buyers view the pieces they’re really going to stock, and write their orders on the spot. The vast space (a 1920s former railway depot) was a hive of activity, it even had a pop-up café to keep the buyers and clerks fed and watered while crunching those numbers.
I was guided through both the catwalk collections and the commercial collections so I could see the pieces close up and learn what sells and what doesn’t. The theme for AW14 was extremism, experimentation and extravagance, shown on the runway with Edwardian-esque styling of romantic picture hats and elbow-hugging gloves. With a dark palette, it was useful to see the myriad fabrics and textures at close quarters; fake and real furs, loose salt-n-pepper tweeds and sheer gauzes designed to suggest movement and lightness.
A shaggy wool fringed coat from the runway collection had shaved sides while a ‘leather’ trench turned out to be fake leather “for better movement”. Fabric experimentation here is the key – think a sheer gauze shell top with wool and tinsel woven into it and feather and knitted wool transformed into a tactile mini shift dress. The colour-block fringing was one of my standouts, expertly placed on dresses in varying lengths to keep the eye travelling.
After being walked through the catwalk collection on one side of the room, we switched over to the commercial collection where I was surprised to discover that a pair of posh jersey track pants are a perennial best seller. This is the interesting part of re-sees, you get to look at a collection with commercial eyes and appreciate how a designer balances dreams and desires against what people really wear. In that sense, it’s kind of true what they say about ready-to-wear being more like couture while the commercial and pre-collections do the job of ready-to-wear. The experimental pieces may not surface much further than the rails in this showroom but they do the job of delivering the brand statement loud and clear. That said, Lanvin has the freedom to be risk-taking in its commercial offer too. “As an independent, we can produce things like fur without worrying if it will sell,” I was told. Less polarising were the twisted ribbed knits, especially one in deep magenta, a welcome splash of colour.
As with many RTW brands, bags and shoes are a big old deal for Lanvin so naturally there was a huge area dedicated to them (alongside those dreamy feathered hats and some impossibly elegant gloves). I made a beeline for the cutaway pumps and flat ankle boots, while the multi-way bag was flagged up as popular with the buyers. I suspect the theatrical hats will wend their way into a few order books too, we all had a go at trying them on. Extremism, experimentation and extravagance may well be the look for Lanvin AW14 but underscoring that is a cache of pragmatic, crowd-pleasing product that promises to move swiftly on the shop floor.
CLICK BELOW TO SHOP AW14 LANVIN
Here’s the latest weekly DRG STYLE INDEX ranking, a round-up of the brands currently buzzing on my radar…
1. JEFF KOONS FOR H&M
So did you? Get your hands on the much-coveted Jeff Koons for H&M handbag? To celebrate the brand new H&M NYC flagship and the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney, a one-off handbag adorned with Koons’ famous Balloon Dog was produced last week, sadly to the US market only. I wrote about it here. (And if you missed it, well you can always buy this signed bag for $1,500 on eBay… or, um, this empty carrier bag for $39. Yes, the world has indeed gone mad.)
2. EBAY TO STREAM SOTHEBY’S AUCTIONS
At last! Some credibility to eBay’s luxury auctions, in the guise of a new hook-up with Sotheby’s. This autumn, eBay will live stream most of Sotheby’s New York auctions, allowing online bidding from eBay’s customers, with an aim to extend the partnership worldwide. With rival auctioneers Christie’s upping its own reach (it regularly reports from its auctions on Instagram), this is another sign of high art and fashion opening up to the masses.
3. SACAI X VANS
Just in at Dover Street Market, this season-inappropriate collab between Vans and Sacai. I love the low-key styling of neutral-coloured suede on a low-top or hi-top skate shoe. The furry lining I like too, just maybe not quite yet…
4. CALVIN KLEIN JEANS X MYTHERESA
Clearly it’s not just me who’s feeling the waves of Calvin Klein nostalgia. Last week saw MyTheresa’s capsule line of CK Jeans classics land onsite, as modelled by Kate Moss’s wee half sister. You can shop my edit below…
You’d think a couture gown or Savile Row suit was the ultimate luxury but I can think of something even better. Stationed at the back of Levi’s London flagship store is its recently introduced Lot No. 1 made–to-order jeans service. The answer to every denim connoisseur’s prayers, it’s a meticulously executed personal service that puts the customer at its heart. And I imagine it could become quite addictive.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that however vast the choice of jeans available to us, the search still continues for The Ones. That’s certainly true in my case – however close I think I’ve come to perfection, I’ve still not quite reached denim nirvana. So Lot No. 1 exists for denim nitpickers like me. Let’s be clear, this is for lovers of deep detail, choice and provenance. (As such, it’s also reserved for those with deep pockets – the service comes at a flat cost of £500.) You start by choosing your denim from beautifully presented swatch books. “The real denim heads tend to choose Cone Mills denims (a raw selvedge American denim), that’s the choice of the denim purists,” explains my host, master tailor Lizzie Radcliffe, a Savile Row transplant whose love of utilitarian clothing brought her to Levi’s. “Our Japanese customers go for the heaviest weights, they like breaking them in.”
For each swatch you can see what it will look like after a certain number of washes, a crucial detail in the first stage of choosing your denim. Next you select your rivets and buttons, again the choice is yours (from seven colours and two styles), followed by colour of threads. There are 20 thread colours to choose from, with navy thread on navy denim considered to be the smartest option. And yes, you can even choose your colour of leather patch from a choice of twelve, including one vegan. I absolutely loved geeking out over all the finer details (four different choices of cotton for the inner pockets – because hey, these things matter!). I think the one-to-one learning process and the unhurried method of choosing your components are as much part of the package as the finished ‘made for you’ jeans.
Having chosen the denim, threads and buttons, it’s time to work on the actual cut and fit of jeans. For some, this is the crux of the service. There are samples available in all waist and rise sizes, which can be tried on and then adjusted. “Slim, straight jeans are the most requested cut, although carrot jeans are popular too,” says Lizzie, who also points out the importance of discussing how they’ll be washed and worn because that affects how the jeans will sit on your waist. (“Most people say they won’t wash them for the first two months.”) The higher the rise, the lower the size seems to be the rule of thumb, and although clients are encouraged to try on all the different sizes, Lizzie is more than adept at sizing them up with a precision glance.
Surprisingly, the ratio of men to women using the service is a massive 95% male majority aged 25-40. “It’s men with sporty thighs, short guys, wider men,” says Lizzie. Which is understandable; if you’re a non-standard size, why wouldn’t you want made-to-measure jeans that you know will fit you perfectly? Of course, as well as money, you need time; this is no overnight rush job. Working mostly on her own, Lizzie takes 4-6 weeks to turn around a pair of jeans depending on how in demand the service is.
One friend pointed out that Levi’s is supposed to be egalitarian. It’s the ultimate in utility workwear after all, so doesn’t it go against the brand ethos to make elite £500 jeans? It’s a valid point but I don’t see it as a frippery. From the fabrics sourced from the best mills globally, to the vintage machines – stitching machines, overlockers, rivet and button attachers – you’re looking at the best of everything to do the job. As such, these jeans are made to last so aren’t a ‘fashion’ buy so much as a shrewd investment. One that will earn its keep cost-per-wear, and improve with age for years to come.
Levi’s Lot No. 1 is available at Levi’s Regent Street, London. For an appointment or information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Right, I’m making it my mission to find out who’s behind the Paris-based label, Vetements. Apparently a collective of designers who have to be anonymous due to commitments at other brands (they’ve all served at Maison Martin Margiela while some have also worked at Balenciaga and Céline), it’s a label that dismisses the concept of ‘fashion’ and theme-y collections for timeless wardrobe pieces that are anything but basic. Continue reading
As we all know, a decade doesn’t really hit its stride until it reaches its mid point, which is kind of where we’re at now – summer 2014. In fact, it feels to me like we’re only now properly embracing the 21st century, ready to leave the security of the past century behind and boldly go forth. If you want a crystal clear sign, then look at the death of the hipster. Ruling the fashion landscape since the early 2000s, the combo of vintage pastiche, emerging technology and ironic, ugly-on-purpose styling defined the first decade of the millennium with one foot in the past and one foot in the future. Now, having exhausted every ironic retro reference, we’re ready to go full speed into the 2000s. Continue reading
Keep an eye on Aries, the newish brand by dream duo Sofia Prantera and Fergus Purcell – it’s growing. The idiosyncratic street-fashion label is now stocked by Matchesfashion, with an exclusive capsule collection of boilersuits landing in store today.
I can’t put my finger on what I like about Aries. I think it’s because it comes from an honest place, it’s completely their aesthetic and not too polished. Continue reading
“Women are the future of watches, there’s huge potential in women’s watches that is only half exploited today.” So said Jean-Claude Biver, head of LVMH’s watch unit earlier this year. He must be rubbing his hands this month as the summer influx of middle-Eastern customers arrive to shop up a storm at our luxury department stores.