Without naming names, when I'm speaking to certain "industry folk" and they pass comment on the amount of travelling I do by saying "So where have you been this week?  Fashion week in Oman?  Auckland?  Pakistan?", you can almost visualise the sneering tone that is coming off those words.  The belief that nothing matters beyond the big four (sometimes New York and London gets bumped off that list), is still going strong. 

The curiosity can't be killed though.  The drive to go out and find out what's going on outside of your own city and all the usual suspect websites, to see things with my own eyes, is still potent.  To continue to visit a city on a regular basis has even more rewards, as you can follow the trajectory of a designer through seasons rather than seeing them on a one-off occasion.

Therefore Stockholm has become a regular destination for me.  Once again, I've been waving my mics in people's faces for Bon Magazine's video reports (Steve is also here too, doing the same with menswear designers).  I doubt that Stockholm would illicit any sneering though.  The designers it produces have made somewhat of an impact in a contemporary market of wearable yet interesting clothes at more than decent prices.  It's hard to argue with a proposition like that.

Still, the few that are bucking that trend are keeping me coming back.  Altewai Saome is definitely one of them.  I expressed some shock when I first saw them last season.  The duo of Natalia Altewai and Randa Saome have been feted in the Swedish fashion circles and their latest A/W 11-12 collection definitely hasn't derailed their upward rise.  Their embellishment has come down a notch to grace one statement skirt of the cuffs of a shirt with extra-long arms and shirt tails.  More surprisingly, they've introduced menswear into the mix and their intricate beadwork and embroidery appears subtly on the sleeves of a t-shirt.  It still pays to get up close with their detailing which they admit has become something of a signature but the focus has shifted to the overall silhouette and some of the looks become lighter and lifted as a result of paring back on the beading/embroidery. 

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Altewai Saome don't do themes.  They talk of a strong woman but in their minds, she can be clothed in anything they're "feeling" for the season.  They'd rather expressing their mood with a silhouette and this season, it begins with a swing in an elongated shirt-tail or a flared out skirt and ends with a sharp taper in zip-fronted tailored trousers.  Hardy leather and wool, a subtle sheen from brocade in a range of grey shades all reinforce this "strong woman".   Still, there's something a bit "off" about the proportions.  The shirt sleeves drop down a fair bit, the coats are mannish in shape, the trousers hems touch the floor at the back and the peplums are super exaggerated.  It's as though a little girl is trying to fit into her mother's 60s era Cristobal Balenciaga coat or skirt suit but the ill-fit turns out to be a happy accident.  In the case of Altewai Saome, the abundance of grey tailoring could so easily have aged the clothes.  The heaviness is overturned by the vitality of the shapes though.  Maybe it was the hip hop soundtrack but I definitely felt the "swagger" in the clothes.

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Speaking of swagger, the professionalism of Altewai Saome, a label that is only three seasons in, can definitely be seen on their website exemplified by this campaign imagery from their current S/S 12 collection, as well as on their branded paper bags seen backstage, embossed with their logo.  It's a welcome dose of slickness and ambition.

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It's been a slow burning winter and beyond my private fist-pumping because I get to go out and about town without a coat, it also apparently means piles of jumpers and coats still lie heavily reduced on rails, causing shareholders to quake a little in their expensive boots.  It has also rendered the number of articles in the past few months, dedicated to The Killing's Sarah Lund and the joys of an "ugly" chunky jumper slightly annoying, when it's not been cold enough to wear said jumper.  Perhaps I'm the only one who has only just started to get stuck in to taking knitwear down from their dusty confines.  The below zero temperatures right now (and in Stockholm/New York where I'll be over the next two weeks) call for serious Sarah Lund-gauge knitwear. 

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Therefore after the months of media cajoling and coaxing us into thick jumpers with questionable motifs and patterns, does it suddenly seem appealing and season-appropriate.  I have to thank EJ of Style Salvage for once again earning her Queenz of the Internetz crown, by unearthing this Etsy gem.  Amarinalevin Handknits is essentially children's wear but the detail and imagination of her knitwear patterns is such that, it would be criminal to ignore the possibility of wearing them as a legitimate adult-sized sweater, even if it might induce a few sniggers on the tube.  I like her honest bio about her knitting.  There's nothing gussied up about admitting "I didn't think I could handle sleeves!"  There's something gapingly unpretentious about her site and her approach and she probably didn't intend for her Nordic/Scandi motifed jumpers to slot perfectly in to this winter's hailing of the "ugly" jumper.  The high street and higher end designer have all stabbed at similar patterns in their knitwear offerings but none will look half as laboured with affection as these jumpers do. 

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It's when nativity scenes, girls on horseback and Moomins show up and that's when you start asking yourself "Is this novelty of the creepy or charming ilk?" I'm going with the latter, but if I'm still wearing it twenty years down the line, when I've inevitably gained weight from all the fried chicken I've huffed, and I cling onto it like a weird safety blanket that stretches over my rotund body, then I think it's time to call time on the novelty knit.

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For now though, I've started up an Etsy convo with Kerry, this diligent hand knitter to see how to get Totoro on to my chest before the weather does another upward temperature turn.  As with any other custom Etsy purchase, I'll of course report back on the results, though I'm fairly confident I'll be bearing a Cat Bus style grin at the end of it.

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>> Don't be alarmed if over the next few months, the sidebar to the right hand side gets a bit busier.  I'm just a fiddler who can't leave things alone and the bare and spare look of the sidebar was making me all fidgety.  You'll already see some reminders of past posts moving about in a nifty JScript carousel.  I heart JScript.  That will become evident soon enough.  You'll be crying out for a calming still and static space soon enough and I probably won't relent.  

First off, here's a regular thing I'll be doing which is yer' basic video flick through of a magazine every month.  I'll try and mix it up so that it's not just the obvious titles but to start us off, I've flicked through the ever-brilliant Elle Collections, which just came out last week.  Once again, they've done a stellar job of rounding up the season in a visually stimulating way.  There's a bit of a font change in this issue which suits the delicacy of the season but all in all, it's got all the little Elle Collections tidbits that we've come to grow fond of.  I won't be doing a post on ever single monthly Mag Flick but you'll just see it changing in the sidebar and they'll all be stored on this page here.  Enjoy and beware of a lot more movement going on to your right hand side.

P.S. The soundtrack is Dream Analysis by Jesse Ruins.

February 2012 – Pop Magazine S/S 12
Music: Elite Gymnastics – “Here in Heaven 4 and 5 (Remix by CFCF)

January 2012 – Elle Collections S/S 2012
Music: Jesse Ruins – “Dream Analysis”