Shop window displays get some particular attention on this blog so I’m a little saddened to say that I’m unable to make it to a whole event DEDICATED to pushing the creative boundaries of window displays.  It’s that time of the year for Vitrine in Antwerp where for 10 days (6th Sept-16th Sept), designers, photographers, graphic designers and fashion students take over shop windows all over Antwerp and have a free rein presenting their work. 

‘Imaginative playgrounds’ is what the website has called these displays.  Well, you can imagine how painful that must be for me not to be able to see.  I urge all people with easy access to Antwerp though to go take a look and perhaps snap some pictures so I can live vicariously through them as if it were’t for the fact I’m swamped for the next two weeks, I’d be booking that Eurostar ticket pronto.  The theme for this year’s Vitrine event is Surfaces, challenging the Vitrine participant to create a new surface within a shop window be it the use of projections, catwalk, backstage, or a pattern or embroidery.  I suppose the vague qualities of the theme does mean that the 71 participants will most certainly come up with a wild array of interpretations in their Vitrine.

Going through the list of participants is a joy in itself as I get to discover/get intrigued by new designers, students and creative forces.  Of course you have the big guns; Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten and Yohji Yamamoto.  But the majority are not internationally well known and are staunchly based in Antwerp, concentrating on their craft there.  Cafe Costume, Romy SmitsSIGI and Ines Raspoort to name a few.  Vitrine also offers the recent grads and students of Antwerp’s Royal Academy to go mad on a window, students like Marc Philippe Coudeyre and Yuima Nakazato.  Ok…really must stop gushing as it’s just peeing me off by the minute that I can’t go…

To torment myself even more, I even had the perfect ensembles in mind to go traipsing around Antwerp in, subtly snapping away and quietly admiring in the still streets of Antwerp (it is a quiet haven with creativity in the air there…).  I’m itching to get my hands on Pepa Delight, a label based in London , designed by CSM grad Hamish Fairfax Ramsey (coolest name I’ve come across in yonks…) but curiously, it is stocked solely in D-Mop in Hong Kong (though I can see why people would take to it there…).  Easy to wear, knitted pieces with inbuilt intricacies that are in tune with the design aesthetic that Antwerp is well known for.  The pieces also fall into my layering habits as well – what a lot of fun fun fun for me to play with!      

I also wouldn’t dream of walking around in anything but flats.  However, I would love to make them the most subtly sumptuous flats there are, being these Lanvin Goat Knot ballet slippers.  I’m assuming by goat, they mean goat hair which I’m sure would be a pleasure to wear for louncing and for traipsing the streets.

Damnit…when you’re planning and imagining outfits for things you’re not even bloody well going to, it’s a bit tragic isn’t it?  Note…to…self….must…get…a….life….

There is good reason why the film Atonement is getting all the hype and hoo-ha that is being generated.  I’ll admit that I’ve been swept up by the PR machine and have fallen for all the critical acclaim the film is garnering.  Whilst I’m not a huge Ian McEwan fan (author of the novel ‘Atonement), it does cry for a film adaptation and if everything I’ve read is anything to go by, the director Joe Wright has done a mighty job.

It also happens to be one of those films that fashion-fiends will get sucked into with Kiera Knightley playing the aristocrat Cecilia Tallis sporting an array of 1930’s period looks which some have said bears much resemblance to a certain Mademoiselle Chanel who Knightley is now set to play (Just how many Coco Chanel films are there in production?  Are we to be bombarded with them all at the same time??).  The smokey close-up picture just about captures a Chanel aura so I’ll be interested to see how that particular Chanel-film fest pans out.

Back to Atonement though, I do believe I have a visual feast ahead of me, both in terms of the gruesome warfare portrayal and Cecilia Tallis’ costumes.  1935 is the year the film begins and we have a sleek sillhouette that Knightley pulls off stunningly, I have to admit.  I also love the starkness of 1930’s bathing attire and I love that symmetry of the film still.  Deco bathing suits over longer sleeved tops and if you dare (which I do) over tights and some platforms would make for a strictly party outfit.

It does seem to be a bit of a coincidence that the evening shot of her in the green gown bears much resemblance to the styling used in the Keira’s new Coco Mademoiselle ad campaign (the new campaign launches on 1st September if you’re interested in seeing Mademoiselle’s ‘universe’).

Cecilia Tallis living in a grand country house and with the scene being set in the hottest summers Britain has seen, you have Keira looking a little dishevelled in a more relaxed 1930’s daywear attire.  I’m really down for wearing worn down tea dresses with Doc Martens or something like that, not wishing to be decked out like I think I have stepped out of the 1930’s.  This reminds me…must…buy…more…vintage…slips..

Then of course, WW2 breaks out and Cecilia is a wartime nurse.  The shoulders have a more definied place and the looks are more functional but the outfit with the navy trench and nurse outfit does have smidges of Marc Jacobs AW07-8 about it.  Call it glamourous functionality if you will.  I now feel like I want to wear my father’s old tweed full length coat belted in with hints of femininity peeking out like seamed sheer stockings.

I could just be overly excited about the film’s release but concocting a fashion task list from some movie stills is an amusing way to pass the afternoon and give me more concrete ideas when out vintage shopping (doing a major haul this weekend for Style Bubble shops…)…

(Film stills from KeiraKnightley.com) 

Many accuse designer diffusions for high street stores as watered down versions of their mainline collection which from the point of view of the designer would seem justified given the price difference.  However, from the perspective of a greedy shopper who tries to bag one too many bargains, she wants a little more.  I realise that you can’t expect too much in terms of quality given the cost restrictions and choices of materials but I do feel if a designer is going to embark onto that path, half hearted, shoddy designs just don’t cut it.  Giles for New Look’s latest collection is something that has really baffled me.  I wasn’t thinking his AW07-8 collection would pop up on the cheap for New Look but lurid floral prints and tacky diagonal stripes?  Not for me thanks.

So then comes the dilemma.  Arcadia Avoidance?  Not even a month has passed and I’m feeling myself waver.  The conclusion of that post seems to be and I have concluded for myself is that it is a wider problem that cannot be pinpointed at Topshop alone.  Very well then…because when you hit me with Preen’s new collection for Topshop that will be in stores from the 10th September, the mind does become very weak indeed.  The infusions from their mainline collection is at the optimum level of ‘Ah, this is REALLY designed by Preen’ whilst balancing with the fact that it is still Topshop.  The patent accents.  The volume created at the hips.  The heavy fabric.  With the focus being on outerwear and heavy dresses and in a limited palette, there does seem to be a certain amount of design ‘weight’ in the collection that you would feel proud to buy on the basis of its design rather than for the sake of it being Preen.

The show was full of vividly coloured cocoons.  Even the dresses looked like they want to protect you from something.  I think that ‘protective’ quality has been toned down a bit for this Topshop collection but something about it all still makes you want to be encased in it.  The one bit of colour they have injected into the aubergine dress happens to be my favourite piece as it has a funnel neck that can be worn as a cocoon hood.  Having just procured a pair of ankle boots in that exact shade of aubergine/deep plum, there is nothing to it but stalk into Topshop on the 10th, nab that dress and get some 80 deniers from Tabio in the same shade and walk out in this block of aubergine.  I failed miserably but a good designer diffusion collection is hard to come by and too hard to pass up. 

Whilst I’m there, Ann Sofie Back‘s line of jersey t-shirts with in-built busts and belts, similar to the t-shirt oddities that Ann Sofie Back has produced in the past will also be hitting Topshop.  Is this the equivalent of harping on about quitting smoking, making a loud noise about quitting, but then nipping outside for a quite ciggie?  Oh dear…

It may be that I was brought up in the house of bad taste or that I had no connotations of bad taste instilled in me.  Reason being that I fully believe that things that are seemingly of poor taste can be taken out of that context and re-emerge triumphant.  Today, I feel like pondering and questioning something that has been hated yet taken to by people of all walks of life (not just fashion lovers).  KoS points out the ridiculous nature of the word ‘Tregging’ (supposedly trousers that have all the physical properties of leggings) but hideous word amalgamation aside, it did get me thinking about leggings worn as trouser.  i.e. sans bum covering skirt/dress/tunic/robe/top or whatever upper garment that serves to see two legs sticking out with those recognisable cutoff points.  This is how they started re-emerging and by around 2005 (waaay earlier in HK/Asia though…), everyone’s onto them and its cousin the footless tight. 

But lets rewind to *shudder* the tregging.  Wearing that as trousers, with nothing covering the butt and hip area, the entire legging glory on display.  GFY guffaws at any attempts to wear leggings sans bum cover.  Many will deem this a ‘faux-pas’ but many of you will also remember that that phrase means zilch to me.  So I will stick my neck out and say ‘Is it such a crime?’   

I won’t leave this question unjustified though but will present a list of questions.   
If skinny jeans are getting to the point of the same amount of tightness and body-moulding proportions as leggings, is that not the same as wearing leggings as trousers?

So if it’s a body confidence issue, we have body-con dresses coming all over us.  Those can be pretty unforgiving.  Is it that revealing the shape of the bum, hips and *ahem* front bum all a little too much and disconcerting for people to see? 

Is this a ‘Only skinny people can pull it off?’ thing?  If so, how does that explain the LA celeb sticks getting boo-ed for donning leggings without any bum protection?  So then we’re back to looking at this as a matter of poor taste.

oh well, in which case, like I said before, having no connotations of what is bad taste, and not really having too much of a disregard for giving the illustion of my body in its skinniest form, I enthusiastically pulled the leggings on and wore them not even with short loose tops but short tight tops that basically give the effect of me wearing a unitard.  There we go again.  ‘Unitard?  What the F is she thinking?’.  Given that this question floats over your heads most of the time when looking at this blog anyway, I guess it doesn’t really make a difference if I go and present you with more bad taste. 

There’s something very liberating revealing the contours of your body in that way and it does force you to take in everything at one time.  Thought process being ‘Ick… my lack of waist, urgh, my bum, ack, my thighs *turns to the side* good lord!’.  But once you get past that, you sort of think ‘Eh…well there we go, that’s my bod!’.  You will all agree that I’m in no way skinny skinny but then again, is that how I wish to be seen anyway (previous protestations of big ass was more anger in lieu of not obtaining those coveted DH jeans than actual anger at myself…)?  Despite the amount of body-con incorporated into these outfits, to me, they don’t really look purposefully sexy either (a good thing me thinks!).  I quite like the bump free sillhouette, the lack of ‘stuff’ going on, which is rare in my outfits. 

Which for me concludes that at the end of the day, leggings are just another form of trousers and no, I’m not saying it’s for everyone but for those that don’t have those qualms about their bod, there is no need malign them to just a piece of layering.  It points to a bigger issue that I have no time to blah on about here about an obsession with hiding ‘flaws’ in the way we dress that I’m increasingly pondering (as to whether this is entirely healthy…) but for now, you can jeer, jibe and hate at the ‘tregging’ effect (last time I use that word…promise!).