I'm not going to lie.  Before I acquired enough brain cells to understand the point of going around museums and galleries, the bit I looked forward to the most was the gift shop.  If I wasn't allowed to snap away on my Fisher Price camera, at least let me buy a cheap keyring or novelty pen to take home as a momento of yet another visit to the bloody tank museum (dad has an unhealthy obsession with tanks that was usually met with bawling moans from disgruntled me and a weak smile from mum). 

Of course, museum and gallery shops have moved on from rainbow printed rubbers that don't actually erase anything and poor selections of postcards.  The selection of items that go into the stores are heavy with curation much like the exhibitions themselves.  I've expressed my love of the shops like the V&A in the past but now a bigger beast has risen.  Culture Label is an amalgamation of gift stores from over 60 cultural institutions… the list is pretty comprehensive… V&A, Tate, ICA, Royal Academy of Art, Natural History Musuem, Imperial War Museum etc etc as well as smaller places like Whitechapel Gallery, The Vinyl Factory… with more to come as it only launched quite recently. 

I did a bit of initial scouring and I've got gifts sorted for a few people as well as coming out with a fair number of fashion-related goodies…and in some case, oddities.

Let's talk about these Anne Boleyn pants for instance, that were apparently created for a Betty Jackson show last year.  I might have to scrap my knickers as outerwear rule for these.  Or perhaps Tudor devotee Wendy Brandes would like to do the honour.  Worn over rights with a backless leotard under a sheer black trench/jacket and some big chunky boots?  Ok, that might have been the hypnotic sway of bewitching Boleyn talking…


It's a bit of a toughie to follow a post with THAT stupendous jacket but thankfully a fashion student from Chicago called Danny was here to save the day from becoming a roomful of tumbleweed in Style Bubble HQ.  He tipped me off about Chicago-based duo Creatures of the Wind. Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters started their label only a few seasons ago but have already picked up the support of stockists like Stand Up Comedy and Chicago-based Hejfina.   Actually this tip-off comes well-timed with Jennine from The Coveted, who I FINALLY met in Amsterdam, telling me she's moving again from Germany to Chicago.  With a gust of wind, she can float away in Creatures of the Wind's A/W 09 collection of sheer black sweeping ruffles of chiffon and dresses that are longer in length (a current gripe of mine that there aren't enough past-knee length things…). 

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I found it incredibly difficult to start this post given that I've long admired the subject of the post for so long and self consciously, I'm thinking about the most perfect way of presenting her and her work to do it proper justice. 

Well for a start I've failed miserably on the image front given that the subject is known for a precise application of hard-hitting images.  Except my camera skills are lacking in finesse and thus I feel I've already failed without having even typed out her name! 

Onwards and upwards.  So as per the first image of this post, I'm delving into the subject matter of Luxirare.  Qui est Luxirare you ask?  I'm hoping a good majority of you have stumbled upon and become hopelessly addicted to her blog
If not then, I ask you to click and click again through her archives to
delve into the stupendously pristine and stunning world of "killer
clothes" and "fine cuisine" that she has been creating and posting about.  I was turned on to her blog by the wonderful Gnarlitude and haven't looked back since.  Unlike a
rampant posting rabbit like me, she selects carefully and posts images
that literally sear in to your brain the moment you clap your eyes on
them.  She has ALWAYS been fond of the wide format blog daring to go where few blogs go… 900 px wide I tells ya.  Deliciously dangerous frontiers, no? 

Alongside the blog though, Luxirare is a testing ground for her own clothing label that she doesn't actually sell to anyone but with all the physical branding that she has ready to go… I feel quite honoured to be the first recipient of a Luxirare piece but before I even got to the garment in question, I was firstly surprised by the level of detailing that had gone into the packaging and the overall perfectionist presentation.  Like I said she sells to nobody but is clearly keen to present her wares in the ultimate and correct way in her eyes, even if it is just the one person (little old me…) seeing it all.  And yes, that is a jar of truffle honey kindly prescribed by Dr. Luxirare, that I'll be having on my crumpets this weekend. 

When I first discovered her posts that contained her own label clothing, it was clear that this was a girl who is making clothes purely for herself and for the love of crafting clothes that she can't find elsewhere.  There's no Etsy shop, no online stockist and nothing else to motivate her other than the desire for the perfect bias-cut ruffle, or the need for a square cut mesh dress or the right accompanying ensemble for her carefully curated wardrobe (please promptly weep at her Chanel, Margiela and Christopher Kane).  The pieces are all 'killer' of course but there's something in them that makes you want to delve deeper and I did continually question why this girl hasn't established herself with a label yet.  It was here that I decided to be a bit pushy and see if I could have my way with this particular biker jackdet that's made up of three different shades of nude mesh.  Luxirare thankfully said yes and so the wait began for…

…what is the jacket that will from this moment in time be known as the "the talking point."  One day on my back and it has already struck a slew of conversations with random strangers on the way to work and around town who would otherwise be reserved in the way most Londoners are.  Of course, explaining one's favourite blogger is a bit of a mouthful for the general public who aren't blog-consuming geeks.  So I just let them touch it instead.  Shut up and touch my patchwork zippered boob, I say. 

I can't quite explain how wonderful this jacket is and have been thinking of different metaphors, similes and hyperboles that all sound pretty dorky and not worthy as descriptions.  This was the ultimate cheesy one.  It's like that scene in Clueless where Cher is being mugged and is made to lie down and she pleas "You don't understand, this is an Alaia!"  Similarly if I was being held at gunpoint and being made to lie on the ground (especially on the spit-infested, chewing-gum pock marked streets of London…), I'd be quivering and murmuring "But this jacket is Luxirare!".  It's the nude mesh really and the silvery grey satin panels that really wouldn't take well to being battered or beaten up in any way… and for once, I'm being forced to keep something in pristine condition just because it's err… lux and rare…

I'm not going to attempt to be descriptive about the jacket because I already gave a ridiculous simile so I'll let the deet pics do the talking…

Today, knowing that I was going to photograph the jacket, I thought long and hard about the outfit, something which I haven't done in a long time and in the end, the gut feeling that something as magnificent as this jacket doesn't need all kinds of jazz going on alongside it.  So on went a pale green sheer Topshop dress (still obsessed with that Ohne Titel S/S 09 palette…) that I keep for sentimental value even though it's torn and ripped, the Tao knitted shorts, a black layered sheer top underneath and some Primark flats that were a forced gift from the boyf's nan.  Killer heels would have been the obvious choice with the 'killer jacket' but somehow I didn't feel like being overly 'killer' today.  Of course the gloves and Fannie Schiavoni glove had to figure in somehow…

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I accidentally fell into a flamenco pose here whilst trying to adjust my hair…


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I may have lavished a lot of typing and images on one jacket but I guess the crux of the matter is that after consuming Luxirare's blog for months, having clapped my eyes on her sewn label and experienced her superbly made clothing in person, there is only one clear conclusion for me.  I'm seeing a Luxirare concept store that's already got a headstart what with her own packaging ventures.  I'm seeing a restaurant/food store in the basement urging us to try sea urchin, buy a blue pistachio cake or eat truffle honey on toast.  I'm seeing careful racks of clothing that aren't made in large quantities.  I'm seeing an in-house magazine.  I'm seeing in-house compliation albums.  I have an overactive imagination and hopefully Luxirare will forgive me for that.  Perhaps a slightly less intrepid move would be to offer her clothes to what I think is a welcoming public, judging from today's reactions.  I may be the first Luxirare wearer other than Luxirare herself but I'm hopefully not the last.   

Going to Amsterdam provided me the perfect opportunity to go and stalk Jan Taminiau, one of the earliest Dutch designers that I had heard about other than the obvious names.  I like that he says he is resolutely Dutch whilst still being able to present his couture collections in Paris.  So the HTNK agency in Amsterdam very helpfully set me up with a stalking opp by allowing us to venture into his studio in the red light district where Taminiau and his busy-bees were working away on custom orders for his clients.  First we were confronted with a dress from his Check Check Mate collection which I've been meaning to post about but somehow in the back of my mind, I had predicted this predatory stalking opp so I've waited until now to talk it up.  Tis' a good thing that I did wait because from the images, I didn't realise these silver embellishments were poppers and that they functioned to make the garments shaped differently dependong on how you snap them together.  Basically what looks like a simple shift dress could ensue in hours of joy by just the snap of a button… and the noise is of course a joy in itself…   

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I did some snooping around his moodboard too… I have an unhealthy obsession with designers' moodboards and was pleased to find an array of visual references… the Elizabethan paintings of course  directly led to Taminiau's huge checked ruffs…


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Taminiau and his team were also working on these fabric experimentations with cut-out silk petals…


He also created a fragrance specifically for this 'Check Check Mate' collection… took a wee sniff… quite a heavily sweet scent…


This collection was actually presented online through a 360 degree-view video which is the perfect medium for looking at these giant dress/ruff structures.  Now I can actually spot the snap buttons, which leaves me with an unhealthy urge to snap the ruffs into different shapes…