>> I'll have to refrain myself from speaking of the Jil Sander A/W 11-12 collection that's just been shown today other than to say it's still the magnificent and thought-provoking take on mid-20th-century couture curvature that we saw from last season.  Instead, I'll focus on some show-related filler with a touch of the S/S 11 collection that is of course fully resonating now that a lot of the pieces are available to buy as well as that vivid palette trickling down into reality when the sun begins to turn up.  It's a bit lame to be stuck on the season gone when I've supposedly got my fashion show circuit cap on and I'm meant to be looking ahead to A/W 11-12.  That said, I'm determined to get my full enjoyment out of the stuff that we'll be wearing when it ACTUALLY gets above 10 degrees celcius and refuse to concede defeat even if the cries of "You're so last season…" comes knocking on my door. 

Filler has been lite of late but that is because my time in Milan has been lite show wise as I've chosen to do just the shows that I know will get my heart-a-racing and not the rest that will draw a blank expression.  Jil Sander was one of those heart-a-racing shows and so for the occasion, I resurrected this skirt made out of that WTF fabric that I queried about three years ago, testament that I don't chuck things away.  It's a sheeny shiny floral that on the rail still looks WTF but on and toned down with a chunky cable knit has just the right amount of 'wrongness' for it to be ever so slightly erring on the right side?  I'll leave that as a question as of course, not everyone will agree.

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(Vintage cable knit sweater, vintage satin quilted skirt, Anastasia Radevich shoes, Monki belt)

The focal point beyond the sheeny shiny quilted in-yer-face floral lies within the Jil Sander market bag printed with that floral that has been ingrained in most fashion-nuts' heads only because that collection has had such an impact.  I can't say I wasn't the tiniest bit jealous when I started seeing people carrying the transparent rubber bag in a bright highlighter red/orange as the S/S 11 collection is now fully in stores.  I'm now more than sated though with the floral version which I suppose will conceal the grubby bits in my bag (old chewing gum wrapped up in paper, receipts, broken make-up cases…). I hear the leather handle which it came with also comes in other colours at the store so you can switch them up – I'll investigate this in Paris. 

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On a last note, several people asked about my lip colour and I can finally offer up some sort of worthy beauty tidbit – a make-up artist on the Outnet shoot used a Barry M orange kohl pencil on my lips and like the clueless beauty sheep that I am, I followed word for word.  If it's a tad dry, then a bit of lipbalm sorts it out but the shade of orange is pretty much spot on for me.  I'll have to excitedly tell Emily of Into The Gloss (aka the only beauty blog I read…) about this when I see her in Paris only for her to go "Well…erm… DUH!"  (P.S. Thanks for the orange lippie suggestions on my previous musings on orange…)

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I've been keeping tabs on Michael Herz (womenswear) and Graeme Fidler's (menswear) transition from Aquascutum to Bally because I loved what they did for the former and hoped that a similar rejuvenation would happen to the Swiss luxury label that perhaps had no real sense of direction beforehand.  Their first collection for Bally was naturally a starter-portion taster of what was to come and for A/W 11-12, it's been taken up a notch and suddenly I feel like I'll be in for a treat whenever the name Bally pops up. 

In a setting made to look like we were in a Swiss ice cave, I saw some of the most interesting takes on leather incorporated into outerwear that sends some of the pieces flying high into the Top of the Coats chart that is rapidly being amassed over the past few weeks (I've been leaving most shows and thinking "!!!Want.That.Coat!!!", with emphasis on the exclamation marks).  These are the sort of coats that I'd be happy to have to cover up the mess of an outfit going on underneath, something I'm normally vainly reluctant to do.  If Herz has taken his cue from Bally's 160 years of crafting beautiful shoes, then he's taken leather from those lovely uppers and applied them in all sorts of innovative ways in the clothing – laser-cutting, textured sheepskins as padding in a duffle, ostrich parkas – all in a muted but striking palette.  The tweeds have also benefited from a techno rethink with a digital print that adds a subtle sunset gradiation that makes me think of felt wadding or of course the process of making a Harris Tweed where a bajillion different colours are woven to form what appears to be a solid shade. 

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Flashes of less wintry pieces such as this crinkly pleated skirt spread out over a display block soften the leather onslaught a bit…

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In addition a touch of red like these opera furry leather gloves (revival of the super long winter glove is more than welcome… ) also prevent the collection from becoming an excercise in pragmatic excercise in winter gear…

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As I said about Acne's A/W 11-12 collection, shades of unusual leather are always appealing… this shade is weirdly exactly the same as a strange Neil Barrett mens jacket I bought in New York that I'm hoping to break out soon…

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Surely this needs to be made for Paddington Bear's flashier cousin (who also hails from Peru)?

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The talking point was of course this sooooouped-up take on the curling shoe that couldn't possibly go anywhere near ice which only makes the use of hiking ropes, toggles and textured shearling purely based on aesthetics.  It's a fantasy shoe on some levels that may not get to see the light of day (I think the spindly sculpted metal heel was the length of my handspan…) but as an object that makes a point about Herz's intent with Bally, it hits the right spot…

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Likewise, this take on the "mountain boot" is equally buzzy with ski-fasteners and a lug sole again bending the ski/snow/ice thematics at hand…

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Bally's rejuvenation also goes hand in hand with its collaboration process which saw them picking out students from the MA Fashion Design course at Central Saint Martins and working with them to produce womenswear shoes that actually went into production.  The same has been extended to menswear and this was presented on the last day of London Fashion Week on menswear day.  Craig Green, the ultimate 'winner' will have these shoes produced and going into stores in June.  Inspired by the ancient wicker man effigy, Green's material collaging techniques makes for shoes that stand out from the Bally norm but still retaining the quality that Bally can offer.  I'd ask for them in womens' sizing but that would be greedy seeing as the womenswear mainline offering is looking to be a treat all by itself…

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After yesterday's word-up jaunt at D&G where I started digging around my brain for memories of C&A letter clothing and jumping about to Kriss Kross, I now go back a bit to a rather more refined aesthetic memory, which I only saw depicted on soap operas and films where earrings were big and shoulders were bigger.  LFW saw the return of Danielle Scutt back to the runway with a collection that focused largely on a jewellery collaboration with Freedom at Topshop.   I'm of course elated that Scutt is back as her ferocious approach towards power dressing is always slightly intimidating to me and challenges my own perceptions of clothing that empowers women.  This time round, I even have more cause to be scared because despite the fact that the jewellery has teapots, lipsticks and ears dangling about, of course the barrier is a) I don't have pierced ears and b) metal that isn't pure silver/gold gives my skin a rash. 

So this is entirely a selfless post for those whose ears can jingle and jangle with this range of jewellery that will be hitting Topshop stores on the 1st April which in essence means that the focal point of Scutt's A/W 11-12 collection will be available to the masses fairly soon.  I find it quite refreshing to see these collaborations become the centrepoint of a collection and that the selling date is closer than the normal 5-6 month lag. 

Not that Scutt's clothes aren't the perfect backdrop for the bevy of bling.  Hot pink, lattice work, crushed velvet and gold lame make up the textures that will have you recalling the 80s but they make a welcome return in Scutt's context where she is referencing anything from Frida Kahlo to Ray Petri's 'Buffalo' style.

I bunged in the video at the top as well as some of my catwalk images just so you don't mistake the earrings for being wimpy sized.  These are MAHUSSIVE earrings that properly dangle. 

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There are a few pieces I can get on board with without my ears pussing such as Scutt's intention to bring back the chain belt, which when paired with an excess of other jewellery can only recall that slinking image of Ines de la Fressange walking Chanel, holding a cigarette looking intimidatingly angular. 

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Yup, these are platinum lock earrings…

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I'm also intrigued by the shoe clips which I saw on the catwalk though in the production process, these could have turned into another pair of earrings.  If they're clip on maybe I can still fashion them into shoe clips for a pair of lippie adorned shoes…

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>> Didn't think I would get such a head bangin' start to my short jaunt to Milan to go with my banged up head caused by a stupid o'clock early flight from Gatwick.  The former head banger though is a positive one thanks to D&G's A/W 11-12 letter play.  I hesitate to say 'word' as to me (and I was looking VERY hard all throughout the show as if I was solving a crappy wordsearch puzzle…) none of it spelt anything significant other than the words D&G floating about on the plastic charm jewellery, but instead, letters and combinations of different typography came together to be merged as a geometric pattern.  A letter jumble that fell into pattern formations that started off as a monochrome print and a discreet rainbow lining and progressed into neon tones reminiscent of zines printed on fluro paper.  Well I think my highlighter/fluro addiction is pretty well documented so you know which direction I'm heading towards.  It's difficult to shake off the references to the likes of Bodymap and Stephen Sprouse and hopefully the duo are aware of that enough to take that 80s/90s slouchy/shruggy silhouette and add their own injection of chiffon flou-filled dresses and skirts as well as fur-lined parkas that might lessen the comparison to a certain degree.  I haven't had my dose of kitsch yet and this might just be the ticket especially when I SWEAR I owned a C&A Clockhouse tracksuit bottom suit that had a collage newspaper letter print all over it, which although can no longer be resurrected, could well find its new gen version in this collection.   

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Another flashback were these wedged up trainers which I think I may have bought a similar pair when I was in Hong Kong and they were advertised as 'Hi-Converse' even though they were totally non-legit…

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Oh, and nothing like a bit of ostrich feather balled up into skirts to clear the head…

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