>> I've been holed up in a hotel in Hong Kong where the rooms have oddities such as a rocking horse and a King Charles spaniel dog lamp base. It's all "surreal", Surrealist nods and being in Hong Kong led me to dig up these images by HK-based sock label Da Sein. We're not short of quirky socks thes days – Happy Socks will meet most graphic and bright sock needs, Ayame has the beautiful fabric experimenations covered and Tabio is my go-to place fo all types of hoisery. Brother and sister Jessica and Carson started Da Sein last year, in a bid to turn away from the conventional sock and create something altogether more eye-catching poking from underneath a skirt or trouser length. When paired with Rene Magritte's paintings as seen here, it's diffiuclt to write off Da Sein's designs and brand outlook as just another run-of-the mill cutesy sock label. Magritte's paintings inspire Jessica and Carson to look at time and space in a different way and even if the bold patterns they draw on their socks aren't directly surreal, there's definitely a painter's touch in the composition and colour combinations. Da Sein are selling via Facebook at the moment and are one to add to boost the list of names to call on when I get asked about the Hong Kong fashion scene, something that happens when people recognise me here and I fumble, blush and generally make a tit out of myself.
>> Designers that are concentrating on a singular garment are having a moment. I just need to find one more to make it three, which according to the old wive's tales of fashion, makes it a trend. So far, I have Palmer // Harding, who have chosen the white shirt as their label schtick. Here we have Lahssan, aka designer Dryce, who has turned to the almighty trenchcoat as his singular garment to focus on. Choosing a wardrobe cornerstone to tackle as the sole focal point of your label can be dangerous territory and avoiding the pitfalls of monotony is key. However, the singularity of the task at hand, means that you set yourself up with some boundaries – lines that you don't colour outside of if you will. "I am the kind of person who does almost too much thing at oncee and go in all direction,
so focusing on a single product, with very codify caracteristics and codes is a real "exercise in style" that forces me to be very focused and clear," explains Dryce when asked what made him decide to focus on one type of garment.
"I have said in the past that the trench coat is like those all-terrain vehicles that can go everywhere and always do the job. It's a piece of clothing where in the morning you to go get your croissant in, with your pyjamas underneath or at night to go meet your lover… with nothing underneath… and still nobody can tell. A trench coat is THAT versatile, hence essential." Well said, Dryce! I'll admit that I've done both those things with my trusty Burberry trenchcoat that my mother gave me.
Dryce started off by turning the trench coat inside out, examining the interior and giving them his own twists – last season, this involved applying metallic foil to sections of a trenchcoat, inspired by post-marathon blankets. For A/W 12-3, the collection grows steadily to include "evening" pieces such as the black trenchcoats with silk crepe pleats in the back (they come in three different lengths from opera to cropped jacket). The more versatile pieces are the two tone beige and cream trenches that look like two jackets have been spliced together. Dryce also continues his work with Saga Furs with two exceptional show pieces that turn the idea of a fur-lined coat on its head. I don't normally quote celebrity endorsements but Glee's Dianna Agron (I'm quite impressed by her site FYI) is a fan of Lahssan's trench coats. She says "I am positive it is something I am keeping for as many years", which is the sort of reaction that you'd expect to hear about a hardworking trench coat but Lahssan's interpretations of the classic definitely warrants high praise.
NOTE: The Loewe post that was previous to this one has been taken down temporarily as it conflicted with print magazine schedules. My mistake. Apologies for being a renegade blogger. Yay, there's my reckless side.
>> It feels like a lifetime since I ventured into vintage pyjama territory back in 2010 causing poor Lesley at Tin Tin Collectibles to receive a deluge of requests from people ("Do they come in other colours?" was one slightly blonde question he got. Errr…. no, they're VINTAGE). Since then the pyjama (or pajama if you're on the other side of the Atlantic) has risen up through the ranks from maligned to mainstream. I don't want to say I called it first. I didn't. I believe Coco Chanel back in the 1920s was the forerunner. Still, the pyjama fest that has unfolded on the catwalks and on the streets since my lucky find at Tin Tin Collectibles has been a joy to watch for people like myself who now have a legitimate excuse to look like I've literally rolled out of bed when I'm out and about.
The pyjama presence on the high street though hasn't been rampant and a quick search on ASOS and Topshop right now doesn't yield too many pyjama-inspired artefacts. Instead, I turned to Topman Design's range for a vaguely more masculine take on the pyjama and found myself hitting the "Add to Cart" button faster than you can say "Jim-Jams". Borrowing from the other sex is not big news given that in my household, the norm is that if say my blue oxford shirt is in the wash, I'll go and grab from Steve's stash of shirts. Topman Design's S/S 12's collection, inspired by the British Gentleman that might have done a grand tour, picking up prints and patterns from Morocco, Egypt and other sunny climes delves into bygone loungewear and pyjamas a fair bit. In addition to the gold silk pyjama shirt and the teal silk pyjama bottoms as seen here, you'll find paisley print shirts and geometric shorts, injected with 70s bohemia. Nab yourself a size small if you're a UK8-12 (US4-8) and you should be good to go in indulging in a cheeky Topman purchase. Incidentally, Mad Men's returns and its onslaught of geometrics both in the interiors and the costume hasn't escaped my mind when wearing this ensemble. Plus, I think my grandpa padded around in pyjamas that were like this which is a more personal memento to retain when I roam about town, justifying to people why exactly it is that I've ventured out in men's PJs.
ASOS Revive, one of ASOS' sub-collections that lifts elements from a past decade and brings them bang up to date has only been going for a few seasons. I thought I was going to see some 80s sequin frocks and 60s Twiggy a-like dresses for a few more seasons yet. I get to the S/S 12 presentation and find myself faced with a UV-light flooded space, enhancing the loose, white ensembles on the mannequin. These are the vaguely sporty and puffer-infused clothes that I remember older girls in the early-90s wearing on their way out to raves but obviously I was just a dorky eight year old looking on with my Mickey Mouse tracksuit set. Accessorised by chunky flat shoes, backpacks and utilitarian bags, high ponytails and giant hoop earrings, they were the girls that were too cool for school.
Guest designer Ebru Ercon brought all of that back with this S/S 12 ASOS Revive collection, which is launching on 23rd April. The film directed by Zaiba Jabbar gets an exclusive premiere here on the blog and I'm urging you to delve into it and all its accompanying background references just because it is a very specific energy of the late 80s/early 90s, something that perhaps many of us aren't familiar with. Certainly, given my age, I only caught the tail ends of this era when going out in London felt like a second "Summer of Love" and err… there was a lot of happy pill-popping. Watching the video gave me inklings of an energy that I think people tried to hold onto when I started going out but it was never as raw as what these videos convey. I feel like I've missed out somewhat but I'll stop short of going into rose-tinted retrogazing. I had a great time at my Ash/Charlatans gigs too. Not sure I ever danced as energetically as this though. Damn my awkward feet shuffle.
Ercon showed collections under her own name in the early noughts but has since focused on creative consultancy, becoming head designer of Adidas by Stella McCartney and helping Hussein Chalayan develop his range for Puma. Interestingly for ASOS, they haven't gone for a starry designer name to do this open collaboration with and instead have chosen someone is the real deal when it comes to sportswear. She also happens to be well versed in the period she is referencing in the collection so I asked her a few questions about reliving the delights of late 80s dance acts such as Inner City and Yazz through the video and the collection.
What visual references did you have for this ASOS Revive collection and for the accompanying film – I imagine there must have been a fair bit of 80s-90s YouTube searching going on?
Ebru Ercon: Yes! Lots of YouTube, my own record collection, and my memories of the time. The film was definitely inspired by music videos, most notably Inner City‚Äôs 1988 "Big Fun". My main influence was Mark Leckey's "Fiorucci made me Hardcore". It‚Äôs such a brilliant film. It gives me shivers. It depicts the raw energy of that time when you‚Äôre in your youth. You watch it and think about how annoying that youth culture has been appropriated into mass "Trends", Leckey's film really communicates this transition. The early 1990's was the last teen revolt as such.
Do you think this aesthetic of 90s fusion of trainers, mini backpacks and sportswear-fused clothing can be considered as vintage in the conventional sense of the word (given that the 90s wasn't that long ago)?
Ebru Ercon: I think vintage seems to be more "retro", really vintage is just a posh way of saying Second Hand. In its heyday, saying something was Vintage was a justification for paying more for something because it had been edited/sourced by designers or stylistsinto an "important or relevant piece". With the 1990's, because the clothing was accessible, cheap, bright, sporty and unisex in most cases it's really hard to think of a Benetton top or a Chipie Trainer in the same way as a 1940's Dior dress.
What is it about that period that you love?
Ebru Ercon: Well being a teenager in the late 80s and early 1990's means I am a bit nostalgic! It was really the energy and non branded aspect of everything. It was about people just doing something purely about music and dancing. Before the Criminal Justice bill you could pretty much set up Speakers anywhere and start a party. Girl's sexuality was also about attitude, you might have worn hot pants but with Nike Air Max and a baggy t-shirt, so it was a different kind of sexuality to now. You needed to dance and move, in warehouse spaces or fields, you definitely can't do that in 6inch heels and carrying an "it‚Äù bag! That created a lack of "preciousness". The clothes were about night time and worked with the lights and lasers at the raves. Then you had to get on coaches or night buses home so you would have hoodies or sweatshirts that could be tied around your waist or necks while dancing and then worn home. People talked about it being the Second Summer of Love-but really it was very different to the 1960's hippy movement. What I miss about London clubbing that definitely was there at that time is the mixture in the crowd. Now things can be quite "scene" based. At raves you would have all sorts of people, very mixed and that is what created the energy.
What was working with ASOS like, as someone who has mainly worked in high-end fashion?
Ebru Ercon: Loved it. The immediacy of Online is great. It's about a real girl that plays all sorts of characters on a daily basis. High end Fashion can be very "staid", too serious and forgetting about the actual girl in the clothes. You can get caught up in creating a vision that is very ego based. I loved working on something that had to covey an idea of an era, plus be contemporary, be worn and especially to be danced in!
ASOS Revive S/S 12 pieces available from the 23rd April and you can register interest here.
(CREDITS: Art Director/Producer – Anna Walker, Director – Zaiba Jabbar, Stylist/Casting – Madeleine Ostlie, DOP – Sara Deane, Sound design – Nic Nell (Casually Here), Set – Josephine Chime, Choreographer – Ianthe Wright)