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Miu Miu has permanently ensconced their shows at the Palais D’Iena in Paris since… I don’t remember when so travelling to some far-out location for their resort (or croisière as the folks at Miu Miu like to call it) show was never going to be on the cards.  Entering the space last night, and beneath the seedy clear plastic stripping, industrial rave scaffolding and neon lights was the Miu Miu Club, a starkly different affair from the Miu Miu London club from a few years back.  In fact from start to finish, it was a very different affair from most Miu Miu events where plush carpet, a few quiet drinks and unabashed girliness reign supreme.  There was a bit of plush carpeting in one of the adjoining rooms where the debut of their first perfume was played out with a muse, a kitten and the prettiest of powder blue bottles (Quickfire verdict on the fragrance?  Fresh, sweet but not overly so).

Beyond though and Miuccia was setting us up up for a rager with Prada sound meister Frederic Sanchez, tech house DJ Craig Richards and American producer Seth Troxler on the decks.  RuPaul’s Drag Race and Club Sandwich divas and queens mingled amongst guests.  Despite the faux “reserved” seating signs, the best view in the house wasn’t from those VIP suede couches.  Instead, we all gawked up at the raised scaffolding platform where the most banging of Miu Miu remixes strutted out – both on the soundtrack and on the clothes.  You could spy a bit of S/S 10 swallow and nudie prints, a rehash of the S/S 12 cowboy boots, the Western-style inlaid jackets, the metallic leathers, the crystal embroderies – all recognisable Miu Miu-isms.  But it was all slashed and cut and pasted in a way that felt more energetically menacing than the Miu Miu of late.  The DIY fronds of fabric hanging off the ears.  The Miu Miu club flyer plastered over skirts.  The prints depicting dancing legs.  No simpering pretty-in-pink Miu Miu girlie girl here.  This was a cheeky wildchild raver ready to rip up the past and mash it up differently.

Perhaps that was down to that injected whiff of London Blitz Kids or McLaren and Dame Viv’s early 80s collections.  It was a remix that might even have surpassed the original, and it was one that fell right in line with how Miuccia summarised her last Miu Miu collection.  “It’s about fun and fashion!” was what she uttered back in March.  This resort collection, and the subsequent afterparty WAS wholly about fun.  But there was nothing throwaway about it all.  The post party headache lingered on today and the clothes will endure some rambunctious times when they hit the rails a few months down the line.

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>> I couldn’t conceivably title yet another post with “The Hills are Alive…” but it’s just about ok to shove another Julie Andrews-related lyric in there just to illustrate how happy I was to venture up into the hills by Wattens, where Swarovski’s headquarters are, back in April when they held their 120th anniversary event.  Just before I left Austria, I went up there armed with pieces from Swarovski’s archives and a selection of their Atelier pieces – including collaborations with the likes of Masha Ma, Maison Margiela and Viktor & Rolf – to catch the meadow dew, mountain mist and the alpine spring bloom.  If it looks like I’m about to break into Sound of Music song in every shot, that’s because I really did belt it out up there.  In lieu of summer’s rays pelting London, Paris, New York… well, most places really, I thought I’d celebrate with this sparkle-filled, smiley happy fest.

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IMG_0645 Worn with COS jumpsuit throughout, Vans x & Other Stories slip-ons and Marques Almeida x Retrosuperfuture sunglasses

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A few weeks ago, I downloaded Face Tune on to my phone for the first time.  Quasi Luddite that i am, and not quite knowing how to use this beautifying, selfie-perfecting app properly, I played around with the extremities of pinching in my cheeks to get rid of my Chinese “moon” face, elongating the body and shrinking the bingo wings and the thighs.  I’ve not yet been able to bring myself to actually post one of these tuned-up photographs and yet the fascination with the meta-morphing process persists.  Sure – retouching be it with clever scapel cut-outs and ink since the beginning of photography or Photoshop in the latter part of the 20th century is nothing new but to have those tools at your personal disposal and to physically see how a finger swipe here or there can dramatically alter your online persona is at once intriguing and terrifying.

It’s with these Face-tuning, auto-tuning and plastic-driven thoughts that I look at Prada’s A/W 15-6 collection, soon to come into stores and be mauled by my grubby paws.  For a few, it was a sugar overload too much.  For others, it felt like longtime Miuccia tropes rehashed yet again –  debutantes gone “off”, our ideals of girliness subverted and what are the fine lines between the fake and the real.  But the world has changed dramatically since Miuccia first debuted her nylon backpack in 1984, making the most industrial of materials feel like luxury.  The ability to ‘fake it to make it’ has never been more available to us.  Plastic driving up our disposable and debt-fuelled income.  Plastic on our faces and body.  Plastic masquerading as eggs.  Plastic devices in our hands 24/7 backed up with plastic-constructed servers delivering information so that we might assume knowledge.

And so Miuccia used the more-than-familiar tools at her disposal to pass comment on what is an increasingly “beautfiable” (made-up word for a made-up world) environment.  The faces had an eerie Stepford Wife glow about them.  The hair was bouffant but also lopsided in its backcombed pony and held in place with paste gemstone ornaments.  The fabrics had an away-from-the-body matte quality achieved with double bonded jersey and then echoed in the rubber soled loafers and space boots.  The colour palette seemed to be derived from Fantasia’s Pastoral Symphony passage – powdery pastels of a cartoonish foreground mixed with muted hues of the background.  Upon closer investigation, Miuccia’s methods of decoration were further comment on the mutating genes of today with molecular structure prints and embroidery, the highly visible and surgical top stitching and the more-is-more arrangement of bows, oversized perspex brooches and crystal encrustations.  Tweeds – both real and printed, and ostrich skin – authentic and abstracted – are all available as are the options of modification to our bodies and our minds.

The cleverest thing about Miuccia’s views on the shifting parameters of artificial beauty, embedded into the collection is that there doesn’t seem like a passing of judgement, for or against.  After all the women who can afford regular doses of Prada might also be getting regular doses of Botox.  For the likes of me – scared even of an innocent Face Tune-up and doubly wary of invasive surgery to enhance one’s self – delving deep into Miuccia’s inquest into superficiality is perhaps a better way of engaging with our increasingly plastic world.  At least you can take the clothes off at the end of the day.

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Have they invented the ability to be able to split one’s body in two and be in multiple places at one time yet?  No?  That’s my pressing question for Silicon Valley peeps to ponder over in the near future.  Seeing graduate collections, more so than established designers, takes a fair amount of in-person vision because you’re trying to understand a something you’ve not seen before and grasp at what might the designer be thinking.  Still, in my absence in New York, photographer Russ McClintock was able to attend both the Royal College of Art fashion show a few weeks ago as well as the private view of portfolios of the graduates.  From his beautiful and comprehensive photography, I was able to glean a sense of optimism emanating from the students’ work – primarily in their use of colour, textiles and innovative materials as well as in the ideas themselves.  It’s a visual feast that requires closer inspection beyond the performance choreography of the show – a major change-up instigated by new head of fashion Zowie Broach, formerly of the label Boudicca.  I might not have gotten the gist of these clothes in movement but in stills, in inspiration imagery and in the details, these particular students for me encapsulated an uplifting energy that needs to be harnessed – especially because at this particular moment in time, when it feels like such a precious privilege to be studying the creative arts.


For most publications and journalists, Hannah Williams was a stand out from this year’s batch of students.  That’s no surprise.  I remember her silicone-dipped trompe l’oeil BA collection from when she was at UCA Epsom.  Her investigation into all things plastic and shiny continues into her final MA collection, which was inspired by the sculptor David Altmejd.  Williams eschews garment making norm by creating these pieces live on the models, adopting a sort of live-sculpture approach, where both clothing and body are doused in liquid latex that feels spontaneous and of its moment.   It’s basically the prom scene in Carrie re-enacted with a more nuanced consideration of colour palette.  And the results?  A beautiful sort of mess.  

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“If it doesn’t sparkle, don’t buy it.”  That’s a phrase that knitwear designer Sarah Isabella Sweeney overhead in her home town Liverpool.  It’s also a mantra that I’m more than familiar with.  As Sweeney delved deep into sparkle, into 1970s glam rock culture and styles of icons like David Bowie, Mark Bolan and Patti Smith, her ombre-dipped tactile knits take on a glittery bolshiness.  This is one of those collections that does exactly what it says on the portfolio cover.  Sparkle magpies unite!

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Hanging out with my erm… excuse the un-PC term… “gaysian” friends has taught me one or two things about Grindr.  I therefore had to laugh out loud when I saw that the title of Hong Kong-born Ka Wa Key Chow‘s collection was called “No Asians Plz” – a profile description that prompted Chow to use innovative and beautiful textiles to start what he calls a “Rice Queen” revolution.  You can ignore the mildly offensive terminology if you have a gander at Chow’s Monet-esque collaged knits and painterly pastel fabrics.  Dating apps basically still baffle me but I can certainly get down with Chow’s textural vision.

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Turkish graduate Tuğcan Dökmen did a very abstracted riff off his own culture as he looked at the popularity of the lined polo shirt in amongst Turkish men, combining this masculine garment with traditional female-focused Turkish bead work.  Dökmen used 3-D printing to create his own large scale beads which were then spray painted in vivid colours to snake around the body along with undulating waves of layered tulle.  It’s a delicate balance between hard and soft with a clever colour palette used to define the silhouette as well as decorating it. 

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It wouldn’t be a graduate fashion show without some unfettered commentary on society and designers Nan Li and Emilia Pfohl have opted for the 2-become-approach to put together their collection for joint label Namilia.  Their collection “My Pussy, My Choice” is a celebration and exaggerated representation of female icons who have used social media to put unapologetically put themselves out there.  Li and Pfohl cite the likes of Miley Cyrus, Arvida Byström, Nicki Minaj and Kim Kardashian as pop culture leaders that put themselves “out there” and so quite literally, every silhouette comes engulfed in phallic inflatable shapes – brandished with slogans like “Think Outside The Cocks”.  It brings to mind some of the reversed gender jokes in films like Pitch Perfect.  He’s a hunter” says man-eater Stacie or the main character Beca referring to her “toner” as her “dick”.  This is the kind of vernacular that makes Namibia’s collection a) timely and b) engrossing  as feminist-fuelled expressions in fashion takes on quite literally, new forms. 

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Finally Morwenna Darwell also has something to say about representation of women in mainstream media.  She says her work is about celebrating “the beauty possible in the mundane and the everyday” but the older women she opts to portray in her lookbook and in her research are anything but mundane in their glamour-laden animal prints, worthy of Advanced Style attention.  Darwell uses her collection to debunk these “glamourous” style tropes though by deconstructing her fabrics to reveal the “real” skin underneath the faux animal one.  After all wild cats evolved to obtain their spots and stripes as a form of camouflage for their environment and so it is that Darwell’s collection unfurls on the body so that we might look beyond the surface .

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All photography of portfolios and of the RCA Show by Russ McClintock