>> Disneyrollergirl has already made the unsurprising connection between 90s Helmut Lang collections and A/W 11-12.  From the comparison between the high white polonecks that pepper Celine's A/W 11-12 and the ones seen in Helmut Lang's A/W 98 collection, I then found myself on a much MUCH older tangent… 

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Photos from Celine and Vogue.com

Celine's tight white high-cut polonecks seem to raise the stance of the models – like a much more refined neck brace.  Me with my slouchy mc slouch posture can only peer up and admire the 'hauteur' instilled by what is basically a well-fitting poloneck.  Then I did my catch up of BBC4 (I say BBC4 needs to be on 24/7…) and found myself watching the part-irritating, part-endearing Lucy Worsley presenting a series about the Regency period (loosely defined as between 1795 to 1837).  As she touched on the subject of Regency Dandyism, she delved into the strict and elegant attire of Beau Brummel, the man credited with introducing the man's modern suit.

As the twinkly-eyed Worsley jibes about Brummel's daily routine of taking FIVE hours (he also polished his boots with champagne…) to get dressed, the dandy historian Ian Kelly demonstrates how to tie the perfect Brummel cravat, termed so because Brummel was so meticulous about tying this rectangular linen cloth around the neck so that you get a taut unrumpled cylinder around the neck with a neat tie at the front.  The Celine A/W 11-12 polo neck seems to me a modern convenienced version of this more arduous predecessor.  

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The self-importance of the cravat meant that even in its day, it was made fun of, most famously by this illustration here.  On the other hand, some people took it DEATHLY seriously and there's even a penned book published in 1828 entitled 'The Art of Tying the Cravat'.  According to its reasoning for the importance of the cravat…

"When a man of rank makes his entree into a circle distinguished for taste and elegance, he will discover that his coat will attract only a slight degree of attention, but that the most critical and scrutinising examination will be made on the set of his Cravat.  Should this unfortunately, not be correctly and elegantly put on – no further notice will be taken of him."

Gotta love the way men get bitchy in the 19th century…  

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Worsley spoke of 'hauteur' when talking about the cravat how it forced her to raise her neck and lift it up with deliberate haughtiness.  I had to then reference these Cecil Beaton images taken in the 1920s (Beaton himself is in them too…) where a group of Bright Young Things have taken to interpreting Regency dress in their own foppish way.  I've been looking at the incredibly dilligent set up of these photos a lot, thinking how they were bothered to go to these lengths to stage these photos… 

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My cravat Google search led me to a period clothing website that is a little bit on the shonky side but here is a page of collars that are all incredibly tempting to buy as neck layering devices that nod to Celine's pop of white at the neck in a more interesting way.  At ¬£10-20 a pop, even though they're sized for men's necks, I've bought a few to see how they will sit on top of shirts and jumpers.  I have Worsley to thank for this historic tangent that has bought me to an unlikely shop source.  A report on whether they're A/W 11-12 neckbrace material will come as soon as they arrive… 

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>> Today, it's all about itty bitty 'Hey, look at me!  This is what I'm up to!' posts.  Well actually, one of them is not so itty but this one I promise is fairly painless.  I blame all of these announcement-type posts on the coming of September when people have woken up from their holiday stupors and suddenly shift up a gear to 'LAUNCH' everything.  

Here's one that I'm simultaneously excited and petrified about.  Why did I travel to Guimaraes in Portugal a few weeks ago?  Pretty much all is revealed here in the video.  There needs to be an explanation though.  From the video alone, you might think that I have eaten my own words.

For the very first proper time, I will be collaborating with someone to design something.  Not just any old 'thing' but a shoe no less.  I've done basic t-shirts before but a shoe is a very different beast.  

I've always deliberately shirked away from assuming the role of 'designer', something that everyone magically seems to be without any credentials or qualifications.  I'm absolutely a firm believer in NEVER being presumptuous when it comes to fashion design.  It is a skill that I have seen nurtured in so many people, and part of the reason that I've always avoided any brand/blogger collaborations that involved design was the fact that I'd feel like I was cheating the designers that I write about, the people that have put in a lot of hard slog at schools to get their design degrees, to grow their labels and to create a business.  To observe all of that and then go out and presume that I can do the same thing myself would be embarrassing.

Therefore when SIX London, the shoe whizz company that makes all of your bStore and Opening Ceremony shoes approached me, there was definite trepidation.  I breathed a sigh of relief though when they proposed that I come up with my DREAM shoe and that only twenty pairs would be produced.  This isn't the case where six bloggers (Style Salvage Steve, The Man Repeller, Stockholm Streetstyle, The Cherry Blossom Girl and The Facehunter are the others) are putting out thousands of shoes out there in some mahussive blogger shoe takeover.  They'll be available to buy on Far Fetch but effectively it's not a profiteering thing given the numbers.  It's simply Six London facilitaing the means to create my bonkers shoe.  I have a long-ass post coming up that will reveal the ins and outs of what was surprisingly a brilliant factory in Portugal and the wonder that is a man called Caesar who scratched his head when he looked at my sketch.  

I can't really reveal the level of bonkers-ness of the shoe yet as it is launching in November, but erm… let's just say that I'm pretty sure my twenty pair of shoes will probably be going to my friends who would place it on their shelves, look at it and go "That Susie… she's a real nut job…"

>> I'm not trying to flag up every single blooming thing I've been doing outside of this cubby hole blog but I thought this might be genuinely useful seeing as on a daily basis, I get twenty emails or so asking for 'Guides to London' as though I was a comprehensive walking encyclopaedia on all things London-plus-fashion.  Well ok, that is actually what I secretly strive to be – to be encyclopadic on the ins and outs of shopping for fashion in London but that's not the point.  My paltry efforts to construct a London shopping Google Map two years ago has been neglected lately and is a tad confusing for those that need a rough starting point.

Therefore for the latest issue of H&M magazine (it's freeeeeeeeeeeee to pick up in stores), I've done a more specific East London one with vintage stores, boutiques, a few eats and other bits and bobs.  Apparently East London is where it's happening… didn't you know?  Gee whizz… it was a news flash to me…. 

Seeing as I've unhelpfully taken photos of the guide so that you can't actually read it, I wanted to point out that it's online on the H&M Life website, albeit a bit on the buried side if you're on a H&M home page.

Disneyrollergirl and Fashion Editor at Large aka Melanie Rickey have also contributed some chunky stories to the issue that aren't online but definitely worth picking up the issue for as a train read… 

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>> I've emerged from a weekend of mind busting work of epic proportions which should hopefully yield results this week.  Apologies if posting has been erratic.  That's erratic by my weird standards by the by.  A sure fire way to remedy wee little tired eyes is to be faced with as many shades of colour as possible.  Repetto's L'Atelier service at Selfridges in London, a near replication of the same service they offer in their Rue de la Paix store in Paris, was the perfect opportunity for this rainbow confrontation.  A rainbow of 250 shades to be exact, available for you to choose the perfect combination for your Repetto ballet flats.   

You'd have to be extremely adverse to colour if you DON'T like the sight of things placed in rainbow order in manner of a box of colouring pencils or paint swatches.  Repetto's famous ballet flats are not the exception to this rule.  A circle of them with contrasting coloured grosgrain trims and lace ties  looks delicious enough… 

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… but then you hit me with this.  The woodwork appreciator in me loves this whole 'L'Atelier' as a beautiful object in itself.  I was about to attack it Antiques Roadshow stylee and start testing hinges and lifting up panels to see whether it would indeed live up to its veneer.  In this instance though, what's in the box is far more important as it houses all 250 shades of lambskin leather swatches which gradiated from the palest of pastels to the deepest of dulls.  That's not 'dull' as in 'blah' by the way.  I found the dark navy, grey and deep tan just as alluring as the powder puff candy shades.  

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I'm sure the Repetto staff at Selfridges have to tidy up this swatch house everyday because annoying people like myself feel compelled to go about pulling every swatch out jut to have a feel of it.  Even as I was standing there pulling out the shades, a gaggle of people surrounded the L'Atelier expecting the wooden box to do some sort of a magic trick or something…   

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On the side were the selection of grosgrain ribbon that would be stitched onto the edge of the shoe… again more instant colour gratification…. 

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The laces… 

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I first tried on the base shoe just to check my size, something that is annoyingly not finite.  I'm anything from a 37 to a 40 but in Repetto land I'm the halfway house between that with an exact 38.5.  They can also take into any consideration that one foot might be bigger than the other.  Crystal from Repetto who was guiding me through the process asked me "How well do you know my feet?", a question that stumped me.  Now I feel somewhat deficient because I don't know my own feet very well at all.  Another thing to needlessly obsess over.  

The order is then sent to Repetto's workshop in Saint-M√©dard-d'Excideuil where the shoe is made up with the exacting techniques pioneered by Madame Repetto in the 50s – the 'stitch and return' technique where the stitching is done under the sole and then turned inside out so that the shoe is sturdy, comfy and flexible.  Despite the lightness of a Repetto, I've always marvelled how 'weighty' they feel on the ground.  You don't feel like you're wearing a flimsy piece of cardboard that might break any minute.  I've been through one too many cheapie ballet flats (erm… 15?) to know.  

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I was feeling decisive and didn't want to dither about so I picked out a trio of colours (you didn't think I'd do matchy matchy right?) which unfortunately don't photograph well here but it's a shade of blue called 'myosotis', after the Latin name for Forget Me Not, a bright neon pink and a turquoise blue that incidentally matched the nails of Crystal.

Three weeks from now and I'll have a pair of shoes that won't match anything I own.  Yay!     

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L'Atelier Repetto service available at Selfrides in The Shoe Galleries until September 12th.  It may live on at the store elsewhere though beyond that… 

**EDIT** Forgot to add the small matter of pricing.  Yes, it's ¬£345.  It is the upper crust of ballet flats.  I don't want to get haughty and breezily say "But you're paying for the creme de la creme…".  I don't know whether they are the 'best of the best'.  They are damn lush though and I suppose the level of customisation is a good chunk of where the money's gone…