"It's a vision of what's happening in the world right now with women.  On videos and TV all of the women look fake. I wanted to show this plasticized vision, but filtered through classic pieces and sticking to tradition."

So said Miuccia Prada to Style.com after her A/W 07-8 show, which used fabrics to express the dichotomy between the natural and the unnatural – wool against nylon, silk mixed with polyester, leather lined with neoprene.  Let's give it up for this Fake Plastic Trees ideology once again as I've recently rediscovered this collection through the mighty power of my favourite online hunting ground and designer consignment shopping.  Two lucky finds on Yoox.com and a Rag Tag in Tokyo meant that this quilted nylon/silk/poly blended pink poloshirt and pleated A-line skirt could be reunited together in my wardrobe.  I couldn't help but bring this union together with Miuccia's much-loved shot of camel courtesy of a well-worn (and evidentlly well-pilled) Marni coat, the all-natural wool socks of Ayame and a pair of Jason Wu's Terese patent oxfords.  Another chance encounter with Miu Miu through a patent sou'wester hat, meant that I could conjure up images of a Mei from My Neighbour Totoro meets fisherman slash explorer character in my head, as often happens when I get dressed.  Today, thanks to an outing to LN-CC in Dalston, I also got to match this outfit with the perfectly unvarnished wood of Gary Card's amazing set build inside the concept store that needs to be on every London visitors' to-do list.  Naturally (or unnaturally?) other Miu Miu campaigns and a few other bits of miscellany cropped up when I was editing these pictures down…    

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This Miu Miu memory also happens to coincide with a Miu Miu occurence that is coming to London next week, which I'm frizzling with excitement over.  Miu Miu is opening up a temporary female members club, based in the legendary Caf√© Royal on Regent Street, and it will only be there for a fleeting three days only (27th-29th Nov).  We're promised days of shopping, cinema, culture, food and discussion thanks to a pop-up store selling the resort 2013 collection, food residencies featuring female chefs such as Margot Henderson and April Bloomfield and conversations from journalists like Alice Rawsthron and Penny Martin and the Harry Potter actress Bonnie Wright.  Plus afternoon tea and drinks (the hard stuff) until 2am in the morning.  All of this information revealed itself in a beautifully produced mini dossier which is a definite keepsake.  The Miu Miu website has also been taken over with all things relating to the The Miu Miu London club as a mysterious Girl in London is blogging away the little tidbits about this inspired temporary happening.  A live stream of the conversations will also play out on the site.  I'll be down there in person as much as I can, hanging out, pigging out and hopefully enrichening my brain.  Or at least that's the lofty intention.  I'll leave you with The Miu Miu London manifesto… 

The answer to the simple question ‚ÄúWhat will I wear today?‚Äù has deep implications, and in that choice is power.
The power to control who we are and how we are perceived.
The will to construct identity — to recognize, play with, and bend the conventions of fashion to our own ends – is the prerogative of the intelligent woman.
We are not manipulated, we set our own agendas. 
Fashion is but one of our many interests. 
The MiuMiu is our club.
The MiuMiu is a roving members club where the often-contradictory elements of the fashion system co-mingle: 
creativity and shopping, 
conformity and expressiveness, 
intellectualism and frivolity. 

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(Miu Miu A/W 07-8 campaign photographed by Mert & Marcus modelled by Laetitia Casta, Miu Miu A/W 95-6 campaign photographed by Ellen von Unweth modelled by Drew Barrymore, Miu Miu S/S 00 campaign photographed by Unk modelled by Jenny Vetheuer all from The Fashion Spot, Still from My Neighbour Totoro, Sondra Peterson photographed by Irving Penn from American Vogue September 1962,  "Learning by Heart" painting by Nikolaos Gyzis (1883), Fisherman in sou'wester c. 1910-11 from National Maritime Museum, Hand painted merino wool from Etsy, Q-Pot ice cream ring from Opening Ceremony, Scans from Nancy Honey's Woman to Woman monograph)

What would cheer me up in a heartbeat?  Seeing a Meadham Kirchhoff gift-wrapped cab whizz past and then hailing it to have a good chat with an invariably grumpy cab driver (I have a secret love of partaking in London cabbie moans – the traffic, the football, the government… ).  Meadham Kirchhoff delighted us with lovely hand painted jackets for Net a Porter that I'm still eye-balling at the moment, and now they're spreading some early Christmas cheer with an exclusive wrapping paper design for FarFetch.com, which has currently taken over their home page.

I don't think you could have found a duo more enthusiastic about their gift wrapping etiquette than Ed Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff.  Ed gets particularly excited about all things to do with wrapping and if you're lucky enough to be a recipient of a gift, you can expect a mass of ribbon and antique wallpaper.  I share their love although I veer more towards the anal end of the gift-wrapping scale, where every year, there's got to be a certain theme to my wrapping and EVERY gift must stick to said theme – one year it was "French rustic", another it was "Sanrio Mad" and this year I think I might pick up on Ben and Ed's vintage decal route, which partly inspired this wrapping design for FarFetch.  You can see certain elements such as the check and ribbon writing, taken from their ridiculously beautiful S/S 13 collection, where decadence, pomp and haberdashery awesomeness ran wild.  In addition, they took horses from a 1940s fabric decal design, something which Ed obsessively hunts down (there were decals that are so precious to him that he wouldn't even allow them to be photographed) and scattered them along the edges of their wrapping design.  I especially love the jolly instructions on the back of the decal – all exclamation marks and upbeat phrasing – all the better to add to this cheery mood that Meadham Kirchhoff's gift wrap induces.  

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A visit to Meadham Kirchhoff's studio inevitably makes me feel like an intrusive Japanese tourist as I can't help but snap away at every bit of minutae that is going on – in the furnishings, in the scattering of objects on their desks, on the walls.  Courtney Love, Barbies, bras, witches, Hello Kitty, Minnie Mouse and other doe-eyed creatures all make up a little bit of Meadham Kirchhoff's world and they feel like constant forces that are on the back of their minds, quietly (or very loudly?) influencing their work and aesthetic.  It's achingly personal which is why I feel like an intruder showing these pictures but ever so telling of why the duo have garnered such a hardcore following.    

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You know that old industry chestnut defending the fashion show experience as something that is still sacred in this digital age; where the general consensus is that seeing the clothes in person, in motion, in situ and soundtracked can't be compared to the plethora of viewing options available to us – live streaming, instant images via Now Fashion and Twitter feed imagery/commentary?  It's a line of defence that I do by and large, agree with, which is why I rarely talk about collections (from the main fashion weeks) that I haven't seen in person or have some background information on.  Yet that belief often comes at odds with my fascination with what the general public think.  I don't think people's opinions should be snuffed out with this attitude of "Well, I was invited to the show and therefore I have a more valid and worthy opinion than you all."  What people say on Twitter, on Facebook, The Fashion Spot and on their blogs does collectively matter in the sense that you can gauge a very different sort of opinion that doesn't come with industry baggage.  They're potential consumers.  They could be diehard fans of the brand or completely indifferent to fashion.  Their views come informed or uninformed at all different levels.  To write off the lot of it is a extremely closeted attitude.  

When Raf Simons debuted his haute couture for Dior in July, I along with the rest of the fashion loving community joined in on the banter as an outsider, not having attending the show.  I was just another person viewing the images on Style.com, applying a very strict and cautiously optimistic viewpoint to looking at the collection.  Even then I felt I was infringing on territory that didn't feel quite right without having seen any of it in person, but at the same time, I couldn't tear my eyes away from all the opinions coming in from all arenas.  I couldn't stop reading all related comment threads, Tweets and followed the The Fashion Spot thread for a good week or so.  It was divided and ranged from love to hate.  It was interesting to see how the "hate" opinions were tinged with nostalgia for John Galliano.  It was also interesting to see the "love" opinions doused with a knowledge and cult-following of Simons' menswear work through to his tenure at Jil Sander.  I think I was sitting somewhere in the middle, with full belief in Simons as an innovative visionary, who needed time to settle into a house like Dior.

Then the ready to wear show came around at Paris Fashion Week and I was there in person, soaking up the blue room (that was where I was seated) with its well placed panes of transparent curtained windows.  That middling opinion instantly veered sharply into "love", just two silhouettes in.  The idea of Detroit House god Carl Craig as a soundtrack for a Christian Dior show was another factor in getting the thumbs up from me.  That already chipped away any balanced opinion of mine.  Every fabric and silhouette moved with a purpose that felt like the codes of Dior were undergoing 21st century shifts before our very eyes. 

I was fortunate enough to watch the models turn twice so that I could see different angles of each outfit from my vantage point and so it was that every outfit felt powerful to me.  Every waft of organza bubble, pleat and lightly sequinned chiffon looked masterful.  The other simplistic thing that I though about during the show was of course that I wanted to wear the lot of it.  When that selfish point of view comes into play, you can wave goodbye to unbiased perspective.

I wasn't even thinking about the significance of the bar jacket and A/H-lines.  Or even the significance of Simons exploring this notion of "anti-sex".  Deepened analysis of the motives and historical/cultural significance of the collection came much later, maybe up to five minutes after the show when you're in a throng of people backstage waiting to speak to Mr Simons.  

I'm talking about the instant visceral thoughts that go through your head during the show.  It was a pleasurable crescendo build up to see from the subtlety of tuxedo jackets and dresses to bubbling organzas cocooning the body to more jackets embedded with pleats and then finally to a whole passage of well-judged fabric experimentation.  I predictably got very excited by the technical lace, the layering of iridescent organza over satin and the embellishments that looked like sea creatures swimming in an inky black jacket sea.  These are personal likes that I hold and are in tune with my own taste – yet another sign of my lack of objectivity slipping away.

Of course, in my giddy excitement I logged onto all the sites, comment threads and Twitter searches expecting unanimous positivity.  Again, the opinions were as divided as they were for the haute couture show.  In a strange insecurity of my own opinion, I questioned where being present at the show, listening to that Detroit house thump at that volume and seeing the girls walk twice before my eyes and seeing a very emotional Raf in his endearing Helmut Lang denim jacket had flooded my perspective of wanting to root for its success.

Then upon visiting the showroom to see everything up close and a thorough inspection of the photos that you see here and rigorous editing of over 500 shots (always a handy indication of whether I got really excited at a show‚Ķ), it all came flooding back.  The movement.  The feeling of something renewed and refreshing happening before our eyes.  The seeds of a new epoch at a fabled house.   A new chapter to recall years later when hopefully, I'm considered to be part of the "old guard".  A feeling of vindication in my own opinion.  

Still, I'm mindful that seeing it in person had indeed altered my objectivity.  Mine is but one opinion out of potentially millions and those millions will ultimately count.  Once I have acknowledged my own inevitable bias of having seen something in person, it makes it even more interesting to delve into those comment strands and countless Tweets to get that bit of perspective.  I'm fully satisfied in knowing that whatever I see comes with personal judgement, opinion and taste.  Perhaps that will help us get over the ever-boring, ever-tedious "Are bloggers fashion critics?" bollocks.  I'm not.  And I don't think I want to be.  Instead I want to love what I love, in the way that I love things.  Which is why I'm happy, safe with the knowledge that my minute expression of adoration for this collection is part of a much bigger picture.

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>> I realise the title is not exactly going to win any awards for intellect but there are times when over-analysing, deep chat and profound thoughts need to be put aside and they often coincide with press days.  Press days are officially speaking for stylists, editors and writers to review the collections in person as you get to see things you might not have seen during fashion weeks (or they weren't ready then) and plan out stories, shoots and call-ins for the upcoming season.  In reality they become a girly gasp fest of "I want that!" because when faced with product on tables and rails, it's a little like doing a spot of pre-season preview shopping.  Discerning journalists and stylists can tut tut at that all they like but hey, I'm a unabashed shopper first and foremost.  

Therefore here are some tasty treats that all together in one post look and feel tasty and they come courtesy of Delfina Delettrez's S/S 13 Infinity collection and Kenzo's S/S 13 jungle mania.  It's quite clear that Delettrez has moved away from her own defined language of eyeballs and animalia in this collection, perhaps wary of overstating her own aesthetic.  She uses rubber for the first time and mixes them up with precious stones and pearls to form cuffs and chokers that have a spot of kitsch.  What was even more surprising were the cartoonish pop-art inspired rings from the collection, spelling out "Gulp!" and "Yeah!", which feel like Delettrez is wading into more playful territory.  Her sense of the surreal still pervades though when you look at a piece like the infinity ring where a pearl has been placed inside a pyramid of mirrors only to be reflected over and over again.  

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Then we go over to Kenzo's fun exotica for S/S 13, which plays out in these tri-coloured snakeskin bags.  Skins don't feel so "animal" once they've been rendered in sherbet orange, mint green and lemon yellow

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They shoes were also a multitude of fun mixing up brights and pastels, animal prints and metallic embroidery in both chunky heel-ed and flat sandal form.  As you know, I'm a fan of a sturdy shoe and better yet that sturdiness can also be combined with flamboyant embellishment.  

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Kenzo accessories continue on a high with these sunnies where "Kenzo" has been spelt out in a font that kind of reminds me of those novelty straws from the eighties (you know the ones where you couldn't actually drink anything out of because of the complicated bends…).  Along side parkas with tigers on the back and more of those sweatshirts, I predict these sunglasses will be a hit with the streetstyle pap crowd.  

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EOS_M_Default_tcm14-945146Note of Disclosure: Pictures above taken with Canon EOS M, my new camera that has fast usurped the bulky 60D.  Still trying to work out what are my camera allegiances.  In any case, I can't sing its praises enough when it comes to taking stills in a press day situation.  The real test will come at runway shows though.