COS: Would you like to style the windows of our stores? 
Me: Errr…. is this a convincing prank coming from a totally legit-looking domain email?
COS: Nope, we'd like you to style windows at the Regent Street, Covent Garden and Westfield stores.
Me: YES, yes, YES!  *Emails boyfriend in excitement as we are both COS fanatics*

The gist of that imaginary convo there is pretty simple.  I have indeed expressed my love for COS on numerous occasions and somewhere in COS' lofty head office, someone picked up on this.  "Hey take a look at this chick wearing our clothes in a strange and misshapen way!" 

I'm hoping they're not regretting their decision and whilst I had pretty much a free rein on the windows, I wasn't going to let the idea of 'carte blanche' go to my head.  While budget and time didn't allow for say a Tim Walker-esque set, in a way, that was a good thing.  In the end, it seemed simpler for me to look at COS really means to me as a plain old consumer which is a simple and direct message that speaks to me without too much of a backstory.

Going through the stores and picking out my favourite pieces, I decided to reverse mood-board it up, in the way that bloggers put together beautiful (not I alas‚Ķ) collages, paying ode to their clothes and funnily, inverting the design norm where it's the moodboard that comes before the clothing.  It also tied in with a set of photographs that I have been gathering up from vintage fairs, ones that have no personal meaning to me but seem to hold stories that are worth pondering.  I especially love the ones with pencilled captions on the back.  A simple "Marvin and I down at the docks" makes the intrigue bug set in even more…

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It seems naive and probably a bit overly basic to break down the clothes by stores into knitwear, leather and shirting.  Yet, the great thing about COS is that beyond thematic trends, great items in their own physical categories jump out at you as a 'great jumper', 'the perfect white shirt', 'THE leather dress'.  Sure, I could spin some airy fairy theme.  Like, this dress made me want to go sit on a hill and read Byron (not to say a COS dress CAN'T do that‚Ķ) but that would be a treacherous path to embark on with clothes that are as direct as these.

Styling wise, in reality, I'd of course mix up different labels with the clothes but for the windows instead, I definitely wanted to play with layers, more so than normal COS displays usually do without going too far outside the box that makes COS attractive to messy me in the first place.  Cue the normal tricks I normally favour – jumpers as shawls, cardigans as skirts, shirt over shirt, any headwear I can get my hands on (worked in my vintage aviator leather hat in the Covent Garden window‚Ķ ).

Westfield Store – I actually had NEVER been to Westfield before embarking on this project.  Too far west for me but I'm shamefully finding myself a bit of a convert.  Not as far as I would go there every week but I'm definitely up for the occasional rainy day where I can go drown my sorrows in my beloved mix of Apple store, Foyles, a non-ransacked Topshop/COS, a huge Prada store and best of all… a handy Comptoir Libanais. 

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Covent Garden store – Weirdly (and this is probably fed from my devotion to the Regent Street store) this was the largest window to fill hence why there are four mannequins. 

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Regent Street store – Ah, the one where I'm most likely to pass by with my mum and go "Look mum, my name (well… nickname…) is there! I've achieved something with my life – you can cease all your incessant worrying and lead the rest of your life in satisfied peace."  Ha – not. 

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Anyhow, I'm chuffed that it's all out there for a week or so‚Ķ (or will it go the distance‚Ķ?)  Thanks to all the visual merchandising people at the stores for helping me with disjointed mannequins and hosiery problems.

Disclaimer: I'm anticipating that there be many a jaded/weary eye, the lo' "Oh this is clearly a paid for post‚Ķ" outcry that pervades at the oddest of times.  I'm therefore disclaiming here that, that is the case.  It wasn't.  I did it because of exactly what it says in the first half of the statement "Susie Bubble loves COS."  So um‚Ķthere!  Wow, that felt good – yay me with my childish playground antics‚Ķ

P.S. Apologies if this is all completely IRRELEVANT to people living in countries that haven't been COS-ified.  As most of you know, COS is part of the H&M empire.  Here's hoping that a) an online shop is on its way and b) international shipping will be offered.

>> I've been ploughing through some fashion film projects that have inevitably cropped up in the last few years either because I missed it at the time or because I was too lazy at the time or it hadn't been Tweeted to death.  3.1 Phillip Lim's recent project with Asia's leading department store Lane Crawford has sort of gone under the radar probably because most of its proceedings happened on the other side of the world and because you don't normally associate Phillip Lim and fashion film together.  So here we have 4 x 3.1 where Lane Crawford and Phillip Lim asked four young creatives/artists to present the energy of their respective cities (New York, Hong Kong, Paris and Beijing) through their eyes with a custom made Phillip Lim outfit and a symbolic red door cropping up as the common demoninator. 

I have to admit, my daily fash film intake has mainly been overrun by Because Magazine because I'm a easy-breezy-airhead that likes 30 second clips where jackets, shoes and dresses spin around in sassy ways.  They have two (1,2) prime examples of Phillip Lim pieces moving in all the right ways.  Whilst Lim's design philosophy has always gone with an intuition for "confident, unidentifiable, chic" which could sound a bit waffly but in essence, breaks down to "clothes that you wanna buy straight up and wear straight away."  How this transfers to the murky waters of fashion slash art films is answered here through deliberately moody soujourns through the four cities…

Elle Muliarchyk, an ex-model who is now a New York Times-published photographer took her subject through the buzz of Manhattan and then out into a Coney Island-esque beach for a random round of poker that lasts into the night…  

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Rain Li, who has worked on cinematography for Christopher Doyle, Gus Van Sant and Jim Jarmusch, places her heroine in a heartbreak scenario as she travels through Beijing, reminding me why an UPDATED trip to a city I've not been to in years is much needed…

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Photographer Victoria Tang, who has shot for the likes of Dior Homme and V Magazine deliberate juxtaposes the stereotypes of Hong Kong – the traditional/colonial/slow vs. the fast pace/neon/cosmopolitan with Siouxsie and the Banshees's Hong Kong Garden track completing the purposeful cliche.  

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Multimedia artist Yi Zhou has simply animated an imaginary Paris landscape with the Phillip Lim white trenchcoat flying across and finally into a mail box along with the cream silk tunic and stomping black platforms. 

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For a brand like 3.1 Phillip Lim, it seems the end result of this film project is that whilst there are four different heroines and situations, the selling point is still the "clothes that refine instead of define" which makes think that we've probably come to a point where fashion films have come to a point where we can start categorising them and creating sub-genres beneath what is I think a huge umbrella term…

Case in point, instead of looking out of my window, all pensive and misty-eyed post film watching, I immediately sought out A/W 10-11 pieces that are floating my boat, all of them involving some sort of animal print or another.  To buy the leopard berry wristlet or not seeing as I'm sticking to my BBerry?  Which Atomique 'mixed-media' trainer am I to pump for (hurrah – Mr Lim prefers to call his 'sneakers' trainers…)?  When will I STOP going into Browns Focus to stroke the giraffe print biker jacket?  All EQUALLY important questions to ponder…

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(3.1 Phillip Lim items from La Garconne, Browns Fashion, Neiman Marcus, Aloha Rag and Net a Porter)

Funny that this post title hasn't cropped up before but then again, 2010 I think marks the shirtiest year I've seen since the blog started.  Shirty how so?  Be it minimalism, a pervading desire to neaten or smarten up or a sustaining influence from menswear, a buttoned up white shirt as a layering device or just tailored shirts or neat blouses in general have flooded the streets and runway and is probably more of a two way conversation between what women want to wear, what designers put out there and of course what drips down through the chain stores.  The culmination point of this shirtiness is probably Viktor & Rolf's S/S 11 'Shirt Symphony' collection, which seemed to me a surreal take on the resurgence of the white shirt.  By warping, enlarging, deconstructing, embellishing and basically thrusting all elements of the white shirt into all different directions, it became a dramatic antithesis to one's pre-conceived idea of the white shirt.  But beyond the riotous mantua-esque gowns with collars and cuffs jutting out like a Marcel Duchamp cubist painting there were simpler riffs such as the much-talked about groom's shirt with en elongated shirt tail that gets my sheep-like vote…

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(Backstage photography by Morgan O'Donovan for Dazed Digital)

Romina Karamenea earlier also did her own take on the elongated shirt tail at the back albeit through a more messed-up snapper and cut-out route.  London-based Karamanea has channelled her love of sculptural clothing into the white shirt and has somewhat simplified things to allow the shirt and its widened sleeves, midriff cut-outs, wrinkled tulle overlays and sharp tailoring do all the talking. 

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Then we come to a London Fashion Week newcomer Masha Ma, a Central Saint Martins graduate who in a way has elevated her almost-puritantical MA collection and lightened it to come up with this 'Icebreaker' collection influeced by an industrial building in the Meatpacking district in New York.  Shirting gets shifted around, broken apart and layered up with sheer skirts, silver foil and icy tones of peach, pale blue and grey that break up the white.  I like that there'a suggestive air of a state of undress in the way the pieces are layered over each other whilst still retaining steely primness.   

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Through work, I borrowed a few Masha Ma pieces and couldn't resist playing around with it, using a Uniqlo J+ pocketed shirt as a base (it's sold out now on the website but I'm eager to try on the wool duffle that's out soon…)…

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On goes Masha Ma's flat-pleated collar and a shirty pelmet…

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…and then a cape-like shirt where the sleeves are built into it but allow a waft of fabric to flap around…

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…and the shirtiness could have gone on…and…on… aided by Ma's creations, building it up to V&R proportions if you so wish…

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Though the easiest shirty options are also out there in the form of this COS white shirt bib that has a pussy bow front (left) and this Carven Peter Pan collar silk bib (right) that Start has cleverly bought in for the growing legion of Carven-ites that I predict may grow to Wang-ite proportions. 

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I have much to learn by way of street wear.  No amount of surfing on Hypebeast or High Snobiety is going to better educate me.  Worse yet, if I find myself on one of those obsessive street wear forums that starts discussing the differences between a fake Ice Cream BBC top and a real one, I find myself getting even more confuzzled.  Still, I have no intention to jump into those murky waters.  

I'm just glad to see that there's a happy medium where a designer like Julien David can make me enthusiastic for all things street wear and I can nod excitedly whilst still not understanding a single thing.  Kind of like a dumb teenaged girl trying to impress a prospective boyf.

Julien David, who is French-born but worked for Narciso Rodriguez and Ralph Lauren in New York for a bit, got enlightened in Japan and since 2007 has embarked on his own line with a tentative foot.  First it was a set of pill-popping, sneaker-lovin, bandana-pattern scarves in a fine silk twill that David manufactures in a factory in Japan and then it was a set of black coats that I still think would be winter coat 2010 material.  Now he has taken the leap into a full collection for S/S 11 which I discovered on behalf of Dazed Digital where his admiration of street wear even had me saying "Yes!" to the list of brands that he thought worthy/equal to say a French fashion house…

"Nowadays, it's quite amazing to see how sophisticated and thought out streetwear items are; I can spend as much time looking at a down-jacket from a street brand than at a beaded intricate piece from the most classic fashion house. I would like luxury items to stop looking so conservative; even though we can see some amazing things, I believe most people who spend a large amount of money on high end clothing are still very contrived by the general offering and by what is commonly accepted. I am interested in challenging the perception of what a luxury product is, and referencing streetwear is for me a nice way to initiate this dialogue."

In a less knowledgeable way, I guess I share the same sentiment.  I may not know the ins and outs of brands that he cites as faves such as New Era, Supreme, Undefeated, Alife, Visvim etc… but I feel like the attention to detail, branding and aesthetic is worthy of commendation.  When the aesthetics of this genre is mixed with David's intuition for what we know as 'high-end' fashion, it becomes an even more potent mix, demonstrated in this collection inspired by BMX bikes.  The loose silhouette that has dominated S/S 11 gets a new spin here with the influence of biking gear (loose shorts, oversized shirts, helmets) and outdoor parkas and cagoules.  Touches like drawstring pulleys and the actual fabrication of everything doesn't feel like David has 'loosely' been influenced by streetstyle but instead he takes the genre seriously and gently elevates it with for instance, immaculate tailoring seen in the cut-out shirts or a boxy shoulder low double breasted coat and jacket or the drop crotch in a trouser that is just so and not sublimely ridiculous.  The BMX of course makes its way into the collection quite literally in tyre treadmarks over shirts or printed on scarves and shirts as a motif. 

If I'm going to tread gently into the realms of street wear then Julien David's collection is the point where I wouldn't mind stopping at, without going beyond.  Hopefully he won't mind terribly if I don't delve any further.  Afterall, I'm just the dumb chick who likes pretty clothes.  In all seriousness though, the unexpected genre mix renders this collection right up my alley and as someone who loves that XXL proportion and doesn't mind being swamped in clothes (and I'm sure there are others out there too…), David has hit a fresh chord me thinks with this collection. 

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A closer look at the tailoring up close reveals that the lines of the shoulder mirror the hexagonal shapes in the 'cage' helmets (which are actually made out of strands of human hair bonded together to make a fibrous wood like material…)

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Shirty capes galore for those that like making wild arm gestures…

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Touches such as yer average velcro surf wallet made up in bright pink and blue ostrich leather as well as ostrich leather shin pads and tongues that go over trainers all help the 'elevated street wear' cause that David is so passion about…

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