>> I've lucked out with gifts this year with the usual double hit of birthday slash Christmas but in particular, peers, friends and family this year have somehow gotten the balance between the meaningful and matters of taste just right.  It took a few years of giving/receiving lazy gift vouchers and bath sets from Boots to get to this point. 

So if it feels like over the next few days until the 4th January (that's when I feel like my official 'working' year begins) I'm excessively coo-ing over gifts on the blog, apologies in advance.  It's these little bits of joy that will keep me going for what is to be a looooong January, when I have fiscal matters to deal with that will keep me from the shops for a bit. 

I used to be in the habit of carrying a Stella McCartney solid perfume habit on the commute which comes in handy in the summer when several varieties of armpit whiff come to attack your nostrils.  Don't THINK I have told anyone of my odd habit but Steve's sister and her husband were kind enough to supply me with this Artemesia solid fragrance from Penhaligon's which comes in a lovely compact as well as a 'Keep Me' label that reminds me of the first chapter in Alice in Wonderland where she haps upon the 'Drink Me', 'Eat Me' tags. 

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Spending too much time with the mother has clearly affected my dress choices, with the upper half here resembling a 70s secretary, or just an outfit that my mum would have worn in the 70s.  Thankfully, the bottom half is wrecked by these Les Queues de Sardines cyclops tights that my sister got me.  I expect some stares from eyeball to eyeball…

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(Worn with Lauren Moffatt dress, vintage Celine shirt, Krystof Strozyna jacket, Nicholas Kirkwood flats, Ki:ts belt and leather bracelet)

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My recent ravenous appetite for bags that makes up for about six years of not being into bag-buying have been answered with a few recent gifts/acquisitions including this cable knit Mysuelly bag from Urban Outfitters (sold out I'm afraid!).  A bout of Googling reveals Mysuelly to be a French bag label that apparently French fashonistas are digging – who knows whether that was just a breezy sweeping statement to fill a few pages in a magazine.  The point is, Mysuelly have pitted lush cable knit against a 'proper' structured bag along with a lovely red suede lining, all big enough to fit all the essentials.  The Bags-for-Susie cause is somewhat uplifted but in part II, it gets a huge surge.  Allow me to cheesily end this post with a "Watch out for the next part!". 

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Right, I've had my Crimbo fill of roast potatoes, cake, gravy, brussel sprouts, chocolate and cold cut meets (not necessarily all of that in one go…) but in addition, I've also immensely enjoyed three days of living like a five year old – sitting around in Kigu animal suits with my sisters, around the twinkling Christmas tree, watching The Nutcracker, anything made by Disney or most things with a PG rating and generally regressing to a time long ago when all I needed to do to be fed was point to my mouth and my mother would immediately be able to satisfy hunger with several options of delish.

With all that in mind, I kick off post-Christmas-gluttony posting with something that draws out this period of childlike merriment.  I loved everything about Xiao Li's graduate collection seen at the London College of Fashion BA show – her use of beading, embroidery, chunky knitwear combined with Willy Coyote motifs was all seamlessly put together.  Xiao Li has since been back to her native Beijing and competed in a Project Runway-type competition (apologies – my Chinese Googling yielded nothing… !) and ended up as a top five contestant who was asked to create a mini collection. 

Xiao Li was inspired by tin toys for her collection and weirdly enough, from her wearable (well relatively speaking…) graduate collection, she deliberately went in an opposite direction to do something that was more creative/conceptual, which I suppose is an unusual trajectory for a young graduate yet right for a fashion design competition especially ones like the Festival of Hy√®res or ITS held in Trieste (though I can't ever imagine anything like this appearing in Project Runway…boo hiss to that…).  On mannequins, Xiao Li's collection does take on a sculptural identity rather than one that is discernible as fashion and the surrealist plays on proportions are made even more apparent when standing static.  In particular the white outfit clothed over a cuboid structure with the bucket robot head could be a standalone artistic statement in itself – a commentary on machine drones or the symbolism behind the amalgamation of corporate entities and toy makers perhaps… …

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On living people however, Xiao Li's collection takes on a different life.  I especially love this stark shot taken from Vogue China's January 2011 issue where a triangular plane warped jacket creates some dramatic lines that look boxy and limp on a mannequin but is amped up to a visually stunning degree on person (helped of course by the beautiful Du Juan).  Actually the issue also features the other four finalists in the competition and it's safe to say that Xiao Li's collection is probably the most mind bending of them all…

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When seen in action on the catwalk for the competition, the collection's playfulness kicks into gear with the knitted elements coming to life and the cartoonish beading also popping out more, along with the actual in yer' face silhouettes themselves.  The zimmerframe supported robot head piece also makes more sense with a person inhabiting it, reminding me a little like an updated version of Oskar Schlemmer's Triadic Ballet costumes.  Beyond the deliberately unwearable statements though, it's Xiao Li's eye for palette composition, beading and her childlike take on surreal fashion which is so often a little bit too 'cold' that make me think that she could well adapt her cartoonish extremities to pieces that people can wear. 

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As a starting point, I'm already loving her accessories which include beaded Caterpillar boots and chunky gloves with rings, bracelets and errr…fingernails knitted or embroidered into them… all fitting in nicely into these past few days of Christmas childs play. Though I guess if I've been loving it so much, I might just take it upon myself to incorporate a few more days in the year where I veg out like a five year old. 

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>>…

I'm leaving it to a few fashionable and highly personalised paper offerings to say the thing that everyone is saying right now…

From Nicholas Kirkwood who may want to make candy cane heels into a reality…

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From Cooperative Designs (aka Dorothee Hagemann and Annalisa Dunn who quite literally got involved in this card…)

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From milliner Piers Atkinson and Soho store Machine-A

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From menswear label E. Tautz

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>> The real nighty night antics intended for my vintage pyjamas are in full swing now that I'm back at the safe nuzzle of outer suburb London where there's not a lot to do except curl up, eat Ferrero Rocher layer by layer with a Foysyte Saga box set (the original 1967 BBC production) comparing the eyelash length of Susan Hampshire's with Nyree Dawn Porter. 

That original cocktail pyjamas set has wet my appetite for more and it looks like homing and louging in a rotation of languid shirts and palazzo style trousers will be entirely possible.  Topshop's S/S 11 floral lounge pyjama set here will surely get the ball rolling as relaxation wear that isn't tinged with the lingerie inflexions that previous under/inner wear as outerwear affectations sweeps in quietly… 

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