>> Who (in the UK or illegally accessing the BBC from abroad…) watched the mesmerising BBC4 documentary about the photographer Vivian Maier, crudely dubbed "Mary Poppins with a camera" and then went on a rampant search only to discover that the internetz had worked its viral magic already and in fact, I had already seen Maier's work numerous times without knowing the source of the imagery.  Credit where credit is due as Maier's thousands and thousands of photographs taken during the 1950s-70, mostly on black and white film on her discreet Rolleiflex camera, demonstrate the skill of accute and beguiling observation, without displaying any traits of searching for attention (Maier's work only came to light after her death and is enjoying posthumous fame).  

On that black and white observational tangent, I'm tying in the latest collaboration of Patternity, who have been so adept at observing beauty in the mundane.  They've paired up with cashmere label Chinti & Parker for a 28-piece capsule collection that launches next Monday 1st July on MatchesFashion.com, Net-a-Porter and their own website.  Tap in a few words such as "grid", "black" or "triangle" into the exhaustive archive of rich imagery, which Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham of Patternity have accumulated over the last few years, and it's clear where their inspiration has come from for these graphic check, striped, polka and triangle knits.  The key to their enduring loveliness is the simplicity and the combination with Chinti & Parker's super soft shapes, with one of the more complex patterns being dots and checks combined together into a segmented V-fronted sweater.  When the world in black and white can be conveyed in the richly textured and magnficently storied way that Maier has done through her photographs, it's no wonder you want to turn to Patternity's collaborative knits, which manage to say a lot by doing very little.  

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Architecture photograph backgrounds from Rob Cartwright Photography and Albireo2006 Flickr


Video directed by Zoe Hitchen. Lookbook and video art directed and produced by Patternity Studio.

>> Seven giant bulging bin liners plus what felt like 1,000 kilos of magazines.  That's what went into the communal bins last week, when I attempted to clean the apartment up in a bid to banish the blues of #firstworldproblem of flat buying falling through.  The first thing anybody ever says when they walk into my N7 hovel is "Wow…erm… you have a lot of stuff…"  If I was thirty years older and my apartment had started smelling like mildew, they would surely have hauled me on to Britain's Biggest Hoarders.  At the very least, it wasn't heart-wrenching to see all that stuff go and now I can finally see semblance of order in amongst the remaining bits and bobs as seen below.  I can't promise that the edit of the STUFF is a finely-tuned one but at least there's some sense in keeping it all.  Until that is I lose another flat and decide that the only way to get on the property ladder is to live in a self-contained box on the grounds of an allotment.  When that happens, someone will be scoring big time when I haul everything out for good…   

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(Pic 1: Hot and Cool magazine, Olympia Le-Tan "The Damned" 7inch record bag, Matches packaging, Urban Ears headphones, Special Request magazine, Topshop belt, Missoni document holder, Carven Le Parfum, Nike ID x Liberty Air Maxes, random fan)

(Pic 4:  Tsumori Chisato umbrella, Romance was Born x Maison Balzac candle, Smythson camera case, Calla paint-splattered hat, Cheap Chic by Carol Troy and Caterine Milinaire, Kirsty Ward necklace, Christopher Kane clutch, Karen Walker sunglasses, Fashionary pad, pink iPad pen)

 

Of late, my most repeatedly visited e-commerce product link goes to a matching outfit of Martina Spetlova shorts and jacket with vivid strips of ribbon woven in and out and distinctive pleated leather sleeves, both on LN-CC.  The shorts happen to be culottes, a shape which I'm personally obsessed with just because you know… the bigger the shorts, the errr… bigger the brain?  Ok, I'm making that up.  I like big shorts and I cannot lie.  On a more serious note, I've been struck by the ostensibly simple yet highly effective ribbon weaving technique, which Spetlova has honed in on for a few seasons now and so I went to see her studio, just as she was in the middle of production for her A/W 12-3 collection, which centre around that eye-catching motif of bias binding slotted in and out of leather.  Ever since her memorable Central Saint Martins MA collection of bricolaged pieces of pleated leather stacked together like Lego blocks, Spetlova has been crafted away (often with her hands) at her label, experimenting with texture and textiles – Issey Miyake-esque pleating, zipper constructions, patchwork leather and now laboriously weaving satin ribbon through leather – all with the purpose of changing the structural properties of the original fabrics.  When I got there, I found Spetlova and her assistant using a bent coat hanger to push strands of pale blue ribbons through leather pre-cut with positioned slits.  It's lo-fi but more importantly it works.  

Spetlova turns to her favoured A/W season with a collection entirely consisting of leather and knitwear pieces.  There isn't a hint of monotony though.  Her nappa leathers are cut up into graphic zig zag patterns providing an even more dynamic background to the satin tape woven in and out of coats, jackets and shorts.  She turns to her trusty fabric pleating factory up in Edmonton (who knew such an industry existed in this area of North London suburbia) to add accordion pleats leather tops, jackets and skirts, often in unusual colour combinations and also knitted polonecks made out of a soft twisted stretchy yarn.  Further texture is added with fish skin leathers and sheepskin worked into jacket collars as well as pleated silks as linings.  Rather than go for lofty theme or far-removed source of inspiration, Spetlova has turned to technique as the basis for her collection, playing with the different elements as though it were a jigsaw puzzle to put together in some order of semblance.  In her eyes, mustard yellow and pale blue pleated leather absolutely do go together as do pistachio leather cut with slits and black and white zig-zag patterns.  In that respect, I can only heartily agree that the things that aren't supposed to work together, somehow do in the end.  The jerky juxtaposition of the collection can be further seen in this video on Volt Mag, where you move the cursor to break up the movement of the model as well as the rock n' roll soundtrack.  

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Whilst we await the arrival of those A/W 13 pieces, her S/S 13 collection is on sale at LN-CC.  I think I'll finally bite the bullet and go in this weekend to physically try things on instead of obsessively clicking away at the pieces, adding them to the basket and not proceeding to checkout.  The houndstooth sheer knits made out of minofilament and lurex yarns are also a textural delight.    

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Check me out, striking a pose at the Selfridges #DenimLovers party, wearing… well, not a single patch of denim.  Check Steve out v-signing it up, also not wearing a smidge of denim.  Double denim doh!  To drown my embarrassment for not partaking in what in theory is a ridiculously easy-to-participate sartorial themed party, I downed lethal margherita slush puppies instead and used the Say Fromage! photobooth one too many times.  We were gathered in the suitably derelicte Selfridges Hotel to celebrate the denim onslaught that has flooded the department store, in lieu of the opening of its Denim Studio – a denim department like no other.  Selfridges really doesn't scrimp on celebratory showmanship and so photographer Tom Craig oversaw proceedings in what was to be the first ever composite co-created fashion campaign featuring Jordan Dunn and Rosie Tapner.  A photo studio was set up at the venue, and whilst Craig was shooting the campaign, we, the audience were encouraged to snap away as well on our phones, and to submit the images so that they would form a composite image with every submission credited and linked up.  It descended into selfie mania with Jordan and Rosie being papped from every angle and the stages flooded with eager iPhone/Android welding people, ready to get a snap of themselves with the models.  For better or for worse, Selfridges and Craig's concept for the #DenimLovers campaign summed up 21st century photo sharing culture perfectly and the results at the very least give credit to everyone who happily and excitedly participated.  

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Well now I have a place to remedy my denim deficiencies. The New Denim Studio at Selfridges is a triumph that would convert even the hardiest of denim shirkers.  It's a triumph that deserves a two month celebration, starting with a denim makeover that even the famous Josephine Baker statue in the central atrium can't escape.  You might have noticed that the summer sale windows were up for only a week as the windows have also been completely denimified to reflect the seven tribes (Superskinnies, Workwearers, Fashion Fanatics, Tough Lovers, Tom Boys, Retrovists and Extremists), which loosely informed the buy for the new department.  Whilst I'm not generally a fan of pigeon-holed categories, the windows do reflect quite recognisable styles, particularly the girl and boy workwearers or tough lovers, and interesting to see that denim as a singular material has developed to the point where every aesthetic has their own lifestyle connotations.  On a side note, what fun for the Selfridges visual merchandising and styling teams to get stuck into creating these characters and getting every nitty gritty detail spot on in the windows spot on, down to a scuzzy half drunk mug of tea belonging to one particular male punked n' ripped-up denim wearing tough lover.

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Up on the third floor, the 26,000 sq foot Denim Studio awaits your perusal and I say this as a former denim-ditherer, it's 100% worth your time.  I'm no longer someone who shirks away from denim, especially since discovering the joys of J Brand's boyfriend fit jeans and being thoroughly addicted to a customised Levi's jacket by Joe Duke, but I do remember a time when I would walk into denim departments and be instantly put off by the uniformity of jeans and confused by the associated jargon. And that's even before we have touched the thorny issue of sizing. The Denim Studio rectifies those sore spots and more.

First off the buying and creative team have addressed the idea that the Selfridges customer is price point flexible. Like their shoe department which spans the breadth from high street to high end, the Denim Studio sells everything from ¬£11 jeans from Primark complete with supermarket style self checkout machines (about the only redeeming thing I can commend Primark for alas…) to diamond embellished ¬£11,000 Paige jeans.

Everything in the middle is where they have gone denim mad with a mixed up and unexpected brand composition.  The established likes of J Brand, one of Selfridges' top selling brands, of course gets top billing with a dedicated shop in shop. The usual suspects such as Citizens of Humanity, Current Elliot and Levi's also in there.  Selfridges have secured many an exclusive so that immediately your attention shifts from the normal black, white and blue stacks of jeans the Hudson's digital printed denim or Paige's paisley patterns or wrinkled effect denim.  On the cult denim front, they've scoured LA and New York for a clever mix which includes Tripp NYC (the folks who made Julia Roberts ho-ho-cut-out dress from Pretty Woman), 3X1, Kill City and The Laundry Room, with whom you can customise denim cut-offs with printed patch pockets for an extra pound.  They will also be pulling in all the denim offerings from Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Victoria Beckham and Junya Watanabe to further boost this department.

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Where it gets even more interesting is the DIY and thrift element that truly adds another dimension to what could have easily been a standardised and safely glossy denim department.  East End Thrift Store have come in to set up a denim by kilo store, where you can buy vintage denim floral-patched shirts, shearling jackets, dungarees, ripped up waistcoats and of course piles of jeans, all for ¬£25 a kilo.  British denim also gets a shout out with MiH styles on offer for the first time in Selfridges and new customised denim label Hyena, who cover their jackets and cut-off shorts with badges and studs.  This strand of denim will be supported by a programme of in-store events encouraging people to sew over, paint and rip up their denim.  

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Sizing should be a joy rather than a headache with the in-store Denim Tailor who can do two hour alterations across every single brand to ensure every pair you buy will fit like a dream.  I've never seen so many head-to-toe denim dressed sales staff roaming around ready to pounce on anyone who walked into the eighteen fitting room suite.  Apparently there are thirty of them on the team, manned with specific denim expertise.    

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My favourite part of the Denim Studio was the "Jeanius Bar", an interactive table scrolling with denim brand videos, street style images (all tirelessly photographed by Gar√ßonJon), facts and figures and general denim inspiration images for you to drag across the bar and enlarge on the screen.  It's a clever diversion for the other halves and kids tagging along on denim shopping excursions as well as being genuinely informative.

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What I found particularly useful was the shifting and separation of casualwear away from contemporary brands.  For example Markus Lupfer makes great sweaters that could well go with the jeans that you're buying and so Selfridges have united these elements with their denim offering to create a casualwear shopping experience.  Same goes for moving tee brands like James Perse, Play by Comme des Garcons and Cecile and the more casual elements of Christopher Kane and Proenza Schouler's collections to the Denim Studio.  

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What's a celebration at Selfridges without some product exclusives?  In the past they've painted things yellow, created 'no-branded' product and so it is that their denim-themed exclusives include oddities such as a special pack of blue Tic-Tacs as well as a slew of fashion product that have been denimified.  This certainly isn't lazily conceived product either.  Especially when it comes to pieces like the Maison Martin Margiela spray-painted denim print top and leggings or the embroidered Maison Michel headgear.  J.W. Anderson, Richard Nicoll and Erdem have dived head first into the indigo with their exclusive dresses.  On the shoe front, Robert Clergerie's flatform shoes, Toga's Cuban-heeled boots and Sophia Webster's neon polka fest are the definite highlights.  Even the prim n' proper Belgian luxury brand Delvaux have dipped their iconic Brilliant bag in white and blue denim, illustrated playfully below.  

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