heritage

Oh la la Lesage

inside Lesage couture embroidery studio with Chanel

“There is only one person who knows how to make this piece; this lady has been working here for thirty years.” This, and many other such factoids are the type of geeky nugget one gobbles up on a visit to the Lesage couture embroidery workshops on the outskirts of Paris. On an industrial estate that’s a step up from your average (think sun-dappled and tree-dotted), it’s where the hands of dedicated embroiderers stitch and bead Chanel’s finest couture showpieces. (more…)

Louis Vuitton’s Final Fantasy

Louis Vuitton Final Fantasy Lightning Square Enix

High fashion is going all sci-fi and I don’t know how I feel about it. Current example: Louis Vuitton’s Series 4 ad campaign just launched (on Nicolas Ghesquiere’s Instagram of course), featuring Lightning from Square Enix’s Final Fantasy game* (above). Readers, Instagram exploded.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen a high fashion brand presented as Final Fantasy video game characters; remember this Arena Homme+ Prada editorial from 2012? It was a menswear editorial to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Final Fantasy series, but female favourite Lightning also made a cameo…

For the Vuitton campaign, the brand went one better with a fully animated Insta-video made in collaboration with computer game company Square Enix’s director Tetsuya Nomura. It’s all very dynamic and cool, and definitely something different. And it taps into the merging of fantasy and reality that Generation Y is so obsessed with (related: the rise of Cosplay).

It’s interesting because it’s so far removed from the origins of Vuitton, a heritage trunk-making company at heart. Yet, Ghesquiere is a known sci-fi geek, who has worked hard to modernise what we know as Vuitton. The entire Louis Vuitton SS16 show was, after all, an homage to all things futuristic and anime. And for pushing those boundaries, he should be applauded.

So  although I’m firmly rooted in the reality camp, I’ll reserve judgment for now. Just don’t hold me to it if you see me sporting a Sailor Moon tiara come Spring…

Louis Vuitton Final Fantasy Lightning Square Enix
Louis Vuitton Final Fantasy Lightning Square Enix 2

*man, that means nothing to me, just had to Google the lot

WORDS: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl
IMAGES: Louis Vuitton Final Fantasy Series 4 ad campaign for SS16; Louis Vuitton ss16 collection

Chez Chanel, the rise of fine jewellery is a lucky talisman

At Chanel, the rise of fine jewellery is a lucky talisman

If you saw the 3-week exhibition Mademoiselle Privé, you’ll know that Chanel straddles the past and present exceptionally well. One of my highlights was the short film shown towards the end, written and directed by Karl Lagerfeld in which he finds himself face-to-face with Chanel’s ‘ghost’ brilliantly played by Geraldine Chaplin. “What do you think you’re doing!” she asks Karl, highly unamused. “I’m keeping you alive,” is his answer, explaining how he has reinvented the brand while keeping the house codes top of mind. The film is actually quite a hoot, but the sentiment beneath it is serious business.

Chanel is the most famous luxury fashion house in the world. Its stable of couture, ready-to-wear, accessories, fine jewellery and beauty have been coveted for decades, from the Chanel no 5 perfume worn by Marilyn Monroe to everybody’s favourite 2.55 handbag. And so, while London’s creative and curious queued in a never-ending snake for the Saatchi Gallery exhibition a few weeks ago, I was busy being treated to my own Chanel education, in a guided tour of the actual Chanel apartment in Paris, on a two-day trip hosted by Chanel. (more…)

Factory visit: Elgin calling

 Johnstons of Elgin Factory

When a brand invites you to visit their factory, it’s a sign they’re proud of their craft and story. And one of the biggest perks of being a fashion writer and blogger, is having that access. Not just getting down to the nitty gritty of how things are made, but understanding the real history of the brand and the provenance of its products. Hence my delight at getting the chance to head up to the Johnstons Of Elgin factory and design studios near Aberdeen one September morning, where the 218-year-old Scottish brand produces woven fabrics and scarves for its own line as well as an impressive roster of luxury brands.

A 7am Heathrow call time was followed by a swift BA flight to Aberdeen, where we were met by the sprightly George, who ferried us along scenic roads of lush Scottish landscape. Despite being braced for freezing gales and gloomy skies, we arrived at the picturesque Johnstons of Elgin HQ in a blaze of autumn sunshine and brilliant cobalt sky.

 Johnstons of Elgin Factory

While Johnstons of Elgin’s coveted cashmere knitwear is made in Hawick in the Scottish borders, the Elgin factory is reserved for wovens. From here it supplies Savile Row tailors with their suiting cloth and the world’s best luxury brands with shawls and scarves, including one famous for its monogrammed check ponchos and another for its equestrian motif blankets. (more…)