IMG_6902 Dolce & Gabbana's strategies concerning the world of online can claim to put a notch on the timeline of the rise of fashion bloggers if there ever was one with their move to place a row of bloggers in the front row and it seems to me that it continues to engage with the world of online in a variety of ways that included live commenting during the show that were logged onto screens suspended in the show venue so that the audiences' eyes kept on being diverted from catwalk to screen.  It will probably take a BoF style interview to get to the bottom of where all of this is going and what are the ultimate benefits but for now, I'm happy to partake when asked especially when it's an opportunity like styling the window of the Dolce & Gabbana store on via Della Spiga 26 in Milan.  Bloggers styling windows – not a complete novelty perhaps (*ahem* COS) but I suppose it's the Dolce peeps wanting to claim another first – a superbrand, high-end designer muscling in with the bloggers via their windows.  Is the love reciprocated? 

Well I said yes, because the S/S 11 collection, which we were using to style the windows luckily happens to be one of my favourite Dolce & Gabbana collections of recent years – bingo on the timing.  Does it mean I'm a Dolce girl?  I'm not sure that's the objective to mould me into one, as Dolce said that what they were after were different perspectives in their visual merchandising, something that was out of the Dolce & Gabbana norm.  I think I may have achieved that with one outfit in my window where Barbara, from the Dolce & Gabbana visual merhandising team, couldn't stop chuckling at the fact that I had put lace bloomer shorts over polka dot trousers.  I'll err… take that as a compliment?

Anyhow, I couldn't join in on the festivities last night that took place with Bryan Boy/bryanboy.comDenni Elias of The Chic Muse, Ingrid Chua-Go of The Bag Hag Diaries and Kristin Knox of The Clothes Whisperer doing their windows at night, hob nobbing with Domenico and Stefano as well as Anna Dello Russo (I officially love her more having spoken to her as opposed to admiring her outfit chutzpah from afar…) as I was flying back to London to prep for Paris.  So instead, myself and Kelly of The Glamourai did our windows on Friday afternoon. 

There wasn't too much time/resources to do an elaborate window set-up so we set about dressing mannequins and frankly Dolce & Gabbana's showpieces alone had enough to play with for visual effect so I wasn't too unhappy about not being able to say… do an artistic video installation as a backdrop… because that's just the sort of thing that I can whip up in no time. 

I arrived to find my mug (mostly shots by Phil Oh) on a screen which each window had dedicated to every blogger…

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Evidence of the brand's love of gadgetry is embedded throughout the store…

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Yet respect for the past is also emphasised with archive pieces such as these corsets/basques from the mid-90s displayed in glass cases throughout the store… 

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It was these crystals on this archive piece that started the onslaught of me grabbing the statement pieces of the S/S 11 collection for my windows, ignoring my initial ideas to really play with prints…

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Such as this heavily crocheted skirt with crystals sewn on so heavy that my one wrist struggled to hold on to it…

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Then came another with this skirt embellished with the biggest sequins I've ever seen in my life… it's the magnified Gulliver's Travels' version of a sequin because each one is about 10cm in diameter.  I believe the piece was custom made for somebody as opposed to one that featured in the show.

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(Pics above by Dennison Bertram)

I also picked out some other white lacey bits and bobs from the S/S 11 collection as well as some polka dotty bits and pieces for a rail that was part demure, part extravagant given that I had some serious shiny bling going on with the two skirts above…

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The resulting outfits kind of formed a trio of a weird day to night transition with not too much cohesion other than a love of piling on stuff that included lots of medallion necklaces, scarves, two bags worn across the body and then just an appreciation of the lace, the detailing and the craftsmanship of the pieces particularly in the two statement skirts and the beautiful embroidered sheer blouse that ties at the back…

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Gosh, I really hate impromtu signatures – "Write anything you want!" they say and my mind draws an instant blank…

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I believe one of the skirts (probably the mahussive sequinned one…) has already been sold within a few hours of my window being done so it will look a little different right now if you're passing by in Milan.  I hope it's gone to an owner who appreciates sequins the size of a biscuit…

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(Pic above by Dennison Bertram – Wearing Arnsdorf trenchcoat, Whistles lightning bolt shirt and matching trousers, Forever 21 shoes, Alexander Wang clutch, Sarah Frances Kuhn camera chain – more about that later!)

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I couldn't shake the thought out of my head in about the first ten looks of the Versus show today that Christopher Kane was shaping up to become the natural heir to the Versace design helm should Donatella decide to concentrate on just being the 100% endearingly OTT fashion persona that she is.  The exposed corset detailing worked into leather dresses, tailored so immaculately bringing a quietly seductive edge that distinctly contrasts with last season's playground ditzy floral-wearing girl.  It was rigorous to the point where it started to feel more like the muted foundations of a Versace collection rather than a Versus one (even if the tailoring did have its origins in an archive Versus piece…) 

Then the sparkle dust fell.  Into triangular geometric patterns, in purple, silver, turquoise and grey glitter that drew light on the body and probably was another texture resurrected from Kane's memories – another one of those pencil cases perhaps?  A cheapie glitter trainer that made up for not being from a sports brand by being sparkly?  A trinket from Claire's Accessories?  Glitter surface sticky back plastic that covered my excercise books?  Some dodgy t-shirt with glitter applique logos/motifs?  I'm just completely pulling them out of my own memory box here but I'll take that imagined bit of whimsy from this collection – the one element that pulls it back  to what I feel Versus is about – a sexy laugh that isn't too formidable and one that can afford to trip up a little, in a way that Lindsey Wixson did at the end of the catwalk today when she took her turn.

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The shoes are the natural sparkly port of call that wouldn't be too shabby to trip up in…

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(Pic from Vogue.com)

There are always many heart-thumping moments during London Fashion Week and before I suspected that it was because of will to want to love everything that comes out of London Fashion Week, my biased feelings towards designers who I've seen from day 1 at their graduate collections and just my general patriotic ties to London itself.  Now, I'm confident that those feelings are being stripped away and that I can stand a little further back to see these collections for what they truly are.  Let's stop swaddling London fashion week designers with praise because we are willing LFW to become an equal to their NY/Milan/Paris counterparts and give it where it is due.  Case in point, I can genuinely say there can't be enough shouting and hurrah-ing over Mary Katrantzou's latest A/W 11-12 collection. 

The bias is admittedly lingering but as a designer whose prints could easily have placed boundaries upon her from the get-go of her CSM MA collection, it's actually been astonishing to see it mature and develop in the way that it has done in the past two seasons and this one in particular is definitely a major gear stick shift up (similar to what Meadham Kirchhoff have done).

At first glance, taking the objects of art that inhabited the rooms that featured in the last collection and zooming into them, seems too simplistic a concept but it's the fantastic scope of opulence, richness, depth and ultimately, fantasy that makes it work and the fact that the prints never look flat or 2-D because as always, Katrantzou's print placement is spot on. 

Let's get the main event out of the way first.  Katrantzou does KNITWEAR, a prospect that had a lot of people getting very excited about loosening their purse strings.  It's not yer' average lazy jumper or cardi though as the momentary injections of lurex yarns as well as the intricacies of the prints make these pieces stand out before any of the statement dresses have even gone over them.  Might seem a little silly to get so excited over a cardi but Katrantzou's mainstay of dresses have in the past limited her offering and now her collection has that extra shade of depth, which perhaps she was missing before.  

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If you thought I was going to quibble about the Chinoserie passages that crop up in the collection, you'd be mistaken given that the context as well as application completely takes you away from the misapproprating zone and in fact I fully welcome Chinese poets under a tree watching the world go by with blooms all around them.  The William Morris-esque prints that don't seem to be shying away from this season, also make their way into Katrantzou's collection…

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…with the best use of them on this satin biker jacket paired with a contrasting shirt, again broadening the application of Katrantzou's prints to a more accessible piece than say a cocoon-skirted dress…

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Not that, cocoons aren't appreciated.  I'm still blubbing about the fact that I missed out on the S/S 11 lampshade boat…

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The precision of Katrantzou's print application can really be seen here in this bonded satin coat, an elegant rigidity that she has perfected since day 1…

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Koi carp lovers behold…

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The last few pieces strayed from the short and stiffened cocoons with the injection of chiffon skirts and dresses that flared out with the help of several crinoline skirts underneath which I suppose completed the buildup from daywear to extravagant showpieces, again, emphasising a range that Katrantzou perhaps didn't have before. 

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Let's talk about the shoes which area  collaboration with Christian Louboutin who went all out this season in making magic with Katrantzou's prints.  I also like the styling point of pulling the knitted leggings over the boots to make it more fluid…

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The digesting time of having these pics sit on my computer whilst I type this in between Milan and Paris fashion weeks is useful to see that my heart was thumping for a reason when I saw this collection.  Fluttery moments haven't been coming thick and fast (not has anything been terrible either…) this season but the ones that do have stuck around in memory.  And it's not just because I Heart London. 

>> My hotel roomie Phil Oh who's shooting streetstyle for Vogue.com says he's spotted these shoes on every third person – a slight exaggeration perhaps but yes, in the solid black, brown and burgandy, I have seen them on A LOT OF people.  You know when sales people tell you they're 'FLYING out of the stores', and you cynically think they're just trying to give you the final shove into handing over your credit, I do think in this case, they are zooming out of Prada stores all over.  It's a bit of a no-brainer shoe for me – the style of a Church's shoe combined with a slightly raised platform combining espadrille and coloured rubber – a potent pairing for a flat lover that wishes to 'clomp about' as opposed to 'walk elegantly'.  Shopping in that via della Spiga/Corso Venezia/Montenapoleone drag in Milan is just that bit shinier – the Italian superbrand flagships look more enticing and there's a feeling wafting about here where economic crisis doesn't seem to have touched it and dangerously, a freefall motion of shopping where you just hand over your card at a whim at any given moment without too much thought.

Last season, it was a giant pink sweater and this time round, it was a pair of these shoes at the Corso Venezia store where these colour combos are exclusive.  I'll go on thinking "Hey…I've worked REAL hard for this…" and hope for the best. 

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Eeny meeny miny… green/orange/brown with an orange sole? 

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It'll be four to five weeks wait before I start anxiously looking around my letterbox going "Oh crap… nothing's arrived yet.." (mail is notoriously hard to get through my fort knox flat) but sheathed in an initialled shoe-bag (yup, little personal touches like these really do tickle me despite their simplicity…), will be my clomping ground shoes…

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P.S. And yes, Bryanboy and I will be doing a Shoe Snap