IMO, IRM

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>> I've been catching up on all the various fashion prizes that numerous designers go for at this time of the year when it feels a little like fashion funding lottery.  Who can scoop the various prizes worth up to hundreds of thousands of Euros, that are now sponsored by anyone from a famed hotelier to LVMH to eBay?  ANDAM recently announced its winners with the very talented and ultra-nice Julien David quite rightly grabbing the grand prize.  A few months ago, Wisharawish Akarasantisook, who I knew as a Hyeres finalist from many moons ago, won the Mango Award.  Louise Gray, Mary Katrantzou, Henry Holland and James Long have all just received their Fashion Forward sponsorship, which is now oddly sponsored by eBay.  Woolmark have also just announced all of their finalists from five world regions including Dion Lee from Australia, Christian Wijnants from Europe and Sophie Theallet from USA.

The latest shortlist for the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize, a fairly new initiative started by fashion writer Bronwyn Cosgrave together with the Dorchester Hotel Group, has just been announced.  This year's criteria stipulates that designers have to be based in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland or Netherlands, which I knew would throw up a few unfamiliar names.  One of the nominees IRM Design caught my eye with their blend of accessories and fashion that is based on the idea of collaboration and experimentation.  The IRM Design team consists of Marion Lalanne and Pierre Alexis Hermet, a pair of friends who met at ESMOD Lyon and are now based in Paris.  They seem to be bursting with ideas, and as such haven't quite established a consistent signature yet, but show promise in the few collections they have done.  For A/W 12-3, they've done a collection of neck pieces, cuffs and a few bags entitled "Galactica" that macrame cord with stones, placed on palladium or silver foundations.  There's also a geometric backpack involving yellow fun fur and olive leather which feels strangely good in its texture mash-up.  It's a sweeping generalisation but the bottom line is that none of this feels stereotypically "French" which is a good thing in the scheme of pushing ahead with younger designers coming through in France.   

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Their S/S 12 fashion collection saw them collaborate with French painter Fran√ßoise Nielly, known for her neon streaked painterly portraits.  On a series of silk organza dresses, Nielly paints swashes of vivid colour with a knife directly on to the fabric leaving parts of the organza transparent.  Every dress was therefore a one off and one of them is still available on French e-boutique L'Exception, where the collection was exclusively sold.     

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Etiquette Compared

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>> I didn't plan for an Olympics-related post to pop up on the day of the London 2012 opening ceremony but this one is merely a passing comment rather than anything that's actually relevant to the feverish fervour for the extravaganza that is supposedly going to be unveiled tonight.  I couldn't resist the way Nike has referenced an old-fashioned etiquette book in this hardback bound lookbook showcasing their designs for the USA team's medal stand looks and attire for lounging around in the Olympics Village.  It covers the dos and donts of how to wear your kit when on that sacred medal podium such as tucking in untidy t-shirt hems, turning up tracksuit bottom cuffs up once to prevent unsightly bunching-up and perfecting the perfect tuck n' roll on a long racerback vest.  The book is the work of New York-based creative agency ceft and company and was photographed by Max Farago and for me, is one of the more impressive bits of printed paraphernalia to have come out of all things Olympics-related that have started flooding into my snail mail cubby hole.  It's suitably light-hearted and laden with tongue-in-cheek wording.  Still whilst  I chortle at sentences such as "From the stand-up collar to the satin finish, this medal stand look takes a minimalistic approach to eleganc.  And yet when flashbulbs pop, subtle bands of reflection will be revealed, adding accents of silver light to the classic navy base and a dash of shine to the victors," real athletes out there will be dreaming of their medal stand moment over the next few weeks.  I'll be witnessing some of those moments as I've luckily scored tickets to see all the events including the 100m womens final on 4th August and yes, I am actually genuinely excited.  To think I was bah humbuging all of this Olympics stuff a year ago. 

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After looking through the Nike athlete etiquette book, I had to reread this Manners for Women book, first published in 1897 and written by a certain Mrs Humphry.  It's part truthful and part ridiculous in its advice for us women.  Telling us to have brocade silks running down the centre of our dining tables for dinner parties may be outdated but some of the style advice actually isn't that antiquated.    

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"The object of a fashionable woman in dressing, is to make herself distinctive without becoming conspicuous – to excel by her union of graceful outline and fidelity to the fashion of the moment (no easy task), and while offering no striking contrast to those around her, so to individualise herself that she is one of the few who remain in the memory, when the crowd of well-dressed women is recalled only as an indistinguishable mass."

"There is intense vulgarity in dressing in loud colours and glaring styles in order to attract attention to oneself.  There is an immense difference between this sort of thing and the desire to look one's best, and to be as becomingly and suitably attired as one's means allow."

"A widow when marrying again, wears grey, mauve, heliogrope, lavender, biscuit or deep cream-colour, or any tint not mournful or lugubrious."

"Travelling costumes consist of tweed, serge, Irish frieze, homespun, and other all-wool materials, and are of the class of tailor-mades.  In hot weather, white muslins, piques and flowered or pale muslins are worn by the sea, with open worked white stockings and white shoes.  Glittering bead trimmings and elaborate embroideries are quite out of place."

"Women dress irrationally.  The only time that we don't grumble about modern dress is when we see a sister-woman attired in 'rational' costume.  it is then that we hug our faults and follies to our breasts, and delight in our delinquencies.  We compare those heel-less prunella shoes with our own neat patents – wicked things they are with their pointed toes and narrow soles.  We contrast their shapeless figures with our own smart outlines, and we are so lost to a sense of our sartorial sins as to congratulate ourselves on our sumptuary superiority."