Long time Style Bubble readers will know that I loves me a good detail shot.  Actually, the whole point of buying a DSLR camera wasn't really to make my mug look better but to really zoom in properly on the clothes and make the fabrics, colours and textures whisper to you through the screen in a strangely inviting way.  Weirdly, it's all of those close-ups that really make you fall hard for my clothes, which is why it's more than likely that I'll be carted off to an asylum somewhere wailing to my future sprogs, "You CANNOT throw away that kimono!  It's got the most exquisite embroidery on it!  No, no, no!  Not the neoprene t-shirt!  It's NEOPRENE!"

Still, twenty odd shots for one item of clothing is excessive, even by my standards.  Steve and I agreed though that J.W. Anderson's collage coat from his A/W 11-12 collection was entirely worth it.  A slight turn resulted in a new detail coming to light in this multi-faceted jigsaw puzzle of a coat.  Reduced until it was a suitably bargainous price in the LN-CC sale, I finally succumbed to the potent combination of quilted nylon sleeves, a silk paisley hood, furry back and dogtooth wool.  As with every purchase, there's legitimate logical reasoning.  Technically it's four coats in one if you add and subtract the detachable box pleat skirt and hood in both combinations.  Who doesn't want a luverly 4-in-1 combi deal?  

It's also what my mum would call a "proper" coat even if it's fabrication make-up is entirely unorthodox.  All I'd have to do is hand it over to her and she'd say "Ah it's a good weight!  It will keep you warm!"  Not sure I entirely agree with her weight:warmth ratio theory but in this instance, the heavy wool lining and thick nylon sleeves do actually equate to a toasty bod.  

Then there are all those elements that make up this collage.  I've never really bought a coat that doesn't have an eye-catching detail of some sort on it because I've always been in fear of the staple coat.  The idea of turning to the same coat over and over again is enough to make me brave the cold in a few heat tech tops.  That's just my shameless stroke of vanity.  Goosebumps and frivolous outfits over warmth and practicality.  This is therefore the coat that is an outfit in itself.  There's no getting away from the rambunctious bulk of it.  It begs for discussion.  Why the furry back?  What's with the skirt?  Is it a semi kilt?  Is that a flash of paisley?  Anything that is underneath it will be muffled to silence.  I'll find it hard to resist the temptation to wear the coat with a clanger of an outfit but I'm going to refer to this mound of pictorial evidence here, just to remind me that there is in fact more than enough going on.

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(Worn with Iena Slobe navy tulle skirt, Madewell Marini√®re top, Aldo x J.W. Anderson loafer/trainer shoes)

>> The silent treatment today has been down to a number of things but for once, I've decided to shut up, shut down a little and zone out in a spot of generation-appropriate collaging.  Unfortunately I missed out on seeing Proenza Schouler's S/S 12 show hence why I can't fully blah on and on like I usually do but a trip to the showroom was a second best solution.  I've mainly been galvanised by my recent solid decision to take the plunge and do the cliched cross-America road trip in the summer of 2013.  There.  It's published on a blog.  I can't go back on my word now.  This trip WILL happen.  The dream tripping started me on a hunt for imagery that seemed to just click perfectly into Proenza Schouler's collection, which frankly was a grower that I haven't fully appreciated until now.      

This series of American motel postcards were the perfect parallel imagery to draw with Proenza Schouler's subversion of mid-century to seventies naff interiors and architecture as well as their Hawaiian derived textures and prints.  Collectively, it's all enough to make me start mapping out a route on Google Maps, pinpointing existing motels that might hark back to these images (my romantic notion is that we MUST stay in motels for at least half of the trip) with the grimiest pools and patios.  A touch of Proenza Schouler's vivid eelskin, raffia or embroidered florals wouldn't go amiss on this trip.  One of the sturdy looking camera bags would be sickeningly picture perfect although I suspect that it's destined for a very high four figure sum, in comparison to what I hope the total of my ambitious trip will cost.

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>> Finito!  This is the final Kay Montano make-up tutorial that the lovely folks at Because magazine enabled me to be in.  I'm waving goodbye to the possibility of any further updates to the Beauty School Dropout unless I drastically change my attitude towards beauty products or rather beauty products that are purely functional – i.e. anything that seeks to cover-up or enhance.  I'll make an effort to talk about the fun stuff, the things that made me smile like a lunatic in these little videos but there won't be an expert like Kay at my side applying it on my face with the hand of a pro.  Still, I'll try and take as much away as I can.  I'll just savour those moments when fake eyelashes, as seen in this video, actually stayed firmly put on my lashes as opposed to making sad face drooping motions.  I'll remember that blue eye shadow and a blue lip might be entirely appropriate for doing the shopping at Waitrose.  And I'm definitely smearing black gunk all over my eyes in manner of a panda bear.   

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If I'm going to go into product review mode, I would like to add that the Paperself lashes despite their prickly paper-based nature, were actually the easiest to wear because of how light they were.  Seeing as I can't flutter my eyelashes properly, blinking slowly with these paperscapes that now depict spiders, birds, Victorian lace and underwater scenes would be the next best thing.  

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There was a time when I could juggle seeing both on and off schedule shows at London Fashion Week and for me, there shouldn't really be a precedent between one over the other as there is a vitality in London's off-schedule that eventually does feed into London's on-schedule.  Still, I'll give it a bash even if it does mean I turn up to shows looking like a rabid, sweaty mess.  Seeing as I can't feign nonchalence, I prefer a trickle of sweat, rubbish hair and creased clothes.  Last Sepember, on the first day of London Fashion Week, I was doing a particularly sweaty back-n-forth marathon between Someset House and Freemason's Hall to try and see the Merit Award and Ones to Watch shows organised by Vauxhall Fashion Scout.

I quite literally scrambled to get backstage at the S/S 12 Ones to Watch show as I couldn't stay for the whole thing just so I could make a mental note of what was going on.  Phoebe English was one of the four participants of the show, with whom I definitely hovered around the most.  English's name is hard to forget.  From her BA collection to her MA, both completed at Central Saint Martins, her work was something that I was eager to see how it would progress.  From the dark and hair-driven knitwear of her MA collection, she turned to an unexpected use of smocking.  In fact, she coaxed something quite beautiful and delicate out of what was essentially reams and reams of heavy calico had smocked and pleated up into a bulky surface texture.

There was a stripped back simplicity to focusing on this one texture which she treated in multiple ways by methods of bleaching, wire brush fraying, dyeing and by contrasting with latex where necessary.  This singularity has now earned her a key stockist in the form of Dover Street Market as well as Vauxhall Fashion Scout's Merit Award for A/W12-3.  Despite my hounding her backstage back in September during a very chaotic show run-up, Phoebe very kindly let me into her studio to find out more about her S/S 12 collection.  She came up with this particular type of smocking so that it was deliberately heavy and sombre as a base material but in the process, she also found ways to create lightness and delicacy with this abundance of calico.  The beauty of the pieces is in the overall effect of them standing away from the body as well as up close when you see the rows of hand stitching and the threads that dangle freely from the tops, skirts and dresses.  Phoebe's method of cutting into this dense smocking means that the edges of the pieces are left unfinished but don't seem contrived in the way that raw edges can be in clothing.  She also cuts little slashes into the smocking to create movement in the piece and to lessen the rigidity.  I especially love all the detailing that can be seen inside the piece – the choice of wooden hook and eyes, the binding and all the little stitches – they contribute to the feeling that Phoebe's pieces from this collection could have been made yesterday or hundred years ago.  The comparisons to Gareth Pugh (formed on the basis of her MA collection as well as her having interned with Pugh) seems unfounded when you look at this collection closely, which shows an obsession with detailing and minutae that is feminine in an esoteric way.  It's definitely a collection to linger over rather than one that hits you with instant gratification in a second.   

To land Dover Street Market after just one season is a great achievement and thanks to Vauxhall Fashion Scout, her solo show in February could potentially lead to more stockists.  Still, in this early stage, Phoebe can afford to really explore who she is as a designer and that'll be an interesting ride, should she make the leap from off to on schedule. 

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