accessories

Millinery madness



Milliners are like buses, nothing for ages then a whole procession of them arrive at once. Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy were for a long time the only hatters worth knowing. Philip Treacy’s fashion shows were a huge fanfare with fabulous models like Susie Bick and Grace Jones cavorting on the catwalk, dynamic music and an overall party-party atmosphere. Meanwhile Stephen Jones has been busying himself for years, nay decades, without quite so much pomp, yet fashioning hats season after season for Galliano, Dior, Comme and a fleet of other designers to boot. This month he is curating his two-years-in-the-making exhibition, Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones and there is certainly a buzz around it. But there’s also a buzz around millinery in general.

When I saw Grace Jones at the Roundhouse last week it was an all-round gobsmacking experience. From the people-watching (Judy Blame wearing a bra…on his face) to the music (I literally swooned during La Vie En Rose) to the showmanship, but the star attraction was the Philip Treacy hat-fest – a different one for each outfit change. But the end of the noughties has coralled in a whole new generation of bonce-beautifiers…

Justin Smith Esquire is an ex-hairdresser whose star is on the rise. His vintage-referenced hats have more than a touch of English eccentricity about them – how special are these bespoke numbers?

I love the theatrical grandeur of Louis Mariette’s fanciful adornments. Not only does he make hats but also jewellery, belts…even eyepatches dammit!





Piers Atkinson makes sometimes-macabre-sometimes-cartoony hats. Last season he did a Mickey Mouse ears theme including a neon headpiece in collaboration with Darren West. This season I’m loving his brilliantly bonkers stuffed-toy hat. I’d wear one! Atkinson tells me he has two hats in the V&A exhibition and is currently working on the hats for the Ashish show so I’m hoping for colour and maybe a bit of sparkle.


Finally, my favourite. Soren Bach is another hairdresser-slash-hatter (how many more are there I wonder). I saw these amazing multi-coloured fur hats a few seasons ago at London Fashion Week and have never forgotten them. I think they were from his RCA graduate collection but I’d love to see more from him.



Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones opens on 24th February at the V&A



Much ado about M&S



Being something of an outsider, I have a tendency to defend the underdog in most situations and when it comes to fashion, M&S is the underdog du jour. While recent figures show they have suffered their worst sales for three years with shares dropping by almost 25%, I say, give them another chance. (more…)



Swayed by suede, a cautionary tale





Thinking of buying a suede bag? Perhaps YSL‘s mock-croc print number or 3.1 Phillip Lim‘s reversible tote? Well take my advice, don’t do it. Unless you have a full-time driver or live somewhere with extremely agreeable weather. I lusted after Baleciaga’s cherry-red suede slouch bag for, oh months, before I finally came face to face with it in a boutique and did the classic ‘if I don’t buy it now it won’t be here next time’ panic splurge. It first gave me come-hither glances from the back page of US Vogue which I subsequently tore out and carried around with me. I fantasised about what I’d wear it with – a bit Frankie Rayder I fancied, in gently faded Levis and a just-fitted-enough white tee – and what it would smell like (I have an unhealthy obsession with sniffing leather and suede). When you see something like that in the flesh after investing so much time and energy in the fantasy, your real-life logic doesn’t stand a chance. I gave it a cursory try-on in the shop before the adrenalin got the better of me and seconds later it was in the carrier bag and in my hand.

A few years down the line and I can count the number of times I’ve used it on three fingers. The simple fact is a suede bag and unpredictable London weather do not a good combination make. Time after time I’ve rediscovered it, tenderly unpacked it from its dustbag, given it a gentle stroke and a sniff and vowed to use it the very next day. Come the next morning, sensing a hint of darkness in the sky and the threat of a downpour it’s back to the PVC Marc shopper and boring reliability.

We all know that the fashion industry is based on fantasy and this example goes to prove it. Every time I see the poor bag it’s an expensive reminder of that seductive back-page-of-Vogue photo and the promise that it would change my life. Sucker! So what now? The bag has been unpacked for the very last time and tomorrow it makes its way to Rellik, the queen bee of vintage stores. It’s not an It bag and it’s not strictly vintage but it’s Balenciaga so Stephen Rellik has hinted he might be up for a swapsies consultation. We can but wait and see.



Headbands vs hairbands



Hair accessories have been a big trend for summer 2007, there’s no denying it, but I do have one issue with them. As a pendantic Virgo I’m frequently irked when people use the incorrect haberdashery term. As I understand it, a hairband is something worn halfway across the head. Whether it’s made of fabric or something stiff like plastic or metal, it’s essentially channelling the neat and sweet Alice In Wonderland look.

A headband on the other hand (or head) is something different entirely. (more…)