AW 09-10 trend report: Helmets, fancy boots and going for gold

Wow, what a marathon day of press days. All the big agencies decided to show on the same day (thanks guys) and even worse, three of them were on the same block so I hit the ground running at 10am and just kept going, and going and going.

Best venues
There was an arty theme running through today with Relative PR showing at the Elms Lester painting rooms where the walls are daubed with creative sploshes and Halpern PR relocating from their usual home in SW3 to the Royal Academy Schools. It was novel looking at sunglasses and knickers surrounded by easels and artists’ statues but there’s no doubt that an interesting environment helps make the press day more memorable than riffling through endless rails in a showroom.

Best discovery
Halpern came up with the goods twice. I got chatting to the charming Lisa Tstang whose luxury label LisaT is on a mission to use cashmere for every area of living and keep it (relatively) affordable. I loved the understatement of her tunic dress with all-enveloping detachable scarf.

Meanwhile, I’m finding myself fascinated by eyewear at the moment and opticians Auerbach & Steele were a new discovery for me, even though they have been in the King’s Road for 15 years. Barton Perreira is a new sunglasses name to know from two Oliver Peoples veterans, while an unusual pair of Alain Mikli visor-esque shades are evidence of their avant-garde taste. Auerbach & Steele only sell the limited edition Miklis so it’s worth a look if you’re ever in the area and fancy something different from the usual Raybans and Guccis.

Finally, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I clapped eyes on the WANT, Les Essentiels de la Vie travel range at the Harvey Nichols press day. I have some sort of weird fascination for masculine, minimalist man-baggage and these bags, ipod cases and laptop cases have all the necessary elements – slender proportions, neat compartments and classic colours – to pique my interest.

Best micro trend
What the hell is going on? In two days I’ve seen a bunch of these retro helmets in three different places – at Diesel, G Star and Bally. If that’s not a mirco trend I don’t know what is…

Best fancy boots
Now there’s no way I could just pick one so I’ve picked my top 4:
1) Raf Simons’ metallic Dr Martens are a stroke of sheer genius

2) These Willow boots are just so ugly, I love them! And I know they’d look killer on (if you could get them on, that is)…

3) These See by Chloe boots are apparently only £100. Go figure…

4) “I can’t believe I’m photographing a pair of Versus boots and liking them!” I exclaimed to my friend A, until she pointed out these jodhpur boots are the ones Christopher Kane designed for Versus. Oh.

Best Jim’ll Fix It jacket
Gotta love this Wrangler bomber – isn’t it camp?!

[Pics: Top to bottom
Elms Lester Painting Rooms
Royal Academy Schools
G Star
Raf Simons for Dr Martens


Alex says…

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.”


I’ve got very beautiful lips*

Lulu Guinness showed off her lovely lips in bag form at the first proper press day of the season. I’m glad to see the perspex lips clutch is back for another innings, in fact the lips have become something of a permanent fixture and ss10 will see the introduction of a clutch of neon er, clutches. For aw09 though we saw sleek patent lady-bags, black-on-black flower pot bags (to celebrate Lulu’s 20th anniversary) and the cutest kitty-shaped bag I’ve ever seen. I literally snatched it off the PR’s shoulder to take it’s picture.

(*With apologies to Alison Steadman)

Cool to be kind

Had enough of killer heels that you can’t walk (let alone dance) in and handbags so heavy that even She-ra would have trouble lifting them? Me too. But hang in there because the totes they are a-changing. After the giant bag trend came the absurdity of the superclutch and then the even more ridiculous micro-clutch. But now designers have finally decided to give us something that we actually want: lightweight, roomy and practical bags that do a job and look good.

Mulberry’s creative director Emma Hill is at the forefront of the movement, telling Vogue, “When I pick up a bag that’s heavy when empty, I don’t want it,” and creating a line of lightweight bags for spring-summer devoid of weighty hardware. Alexander Wang’s soft-n-slouchy suede Dorothy sac (below) marries his signature laidback luxe look with a utilitarian twist – my litmus test is whether it will take a copy of Vogue as well as my umbrella, diary, sunglasses and purse without slopping out of shape like an unwieldy sack of potatoes. It passes with flying colours.

The luxury leathergoods-makers Valextra are keen to join the party. Valextra have softened the lines of their trademark bags and introduced the half-moon Namasté which weighs in at a featherweight 600g and can carry up to 15kg without putting your back out of whack. “We worked on it for months to balance it so the weight falls on your hip,” chairman Emanuele Carmiati Molina told the FT, “We threw away over 25 prototypes”. (The price is also less painful at under €1000, that’s cheap for Valextra.)

Not to be outdone, everyone’s favourite Marc Jacobs muse, Sofia Coppola has unveiled her capsule collection for Louis Vuitton consisting of predictably fuss-free day bags and classy clutches. She also rejected the first prototype for being too heavy, finally signing off a collection that is classic, chic and ultimately useful.
Now to swap those plat-heels for something a little more manageable, perhaps these Sofia-for-L-V wedges for starters…

Alexander Wang, Dazed Digital, The Fashion Spot