Now this is the story all about how
A girl's life got flipped, turned upside down

And so Kim Trager and Lowell Delaney just sat right there
To tell me how this girl became rebel deadbeat of a ski-lair

A super posh house in Aspen is our tale's base
Where a tearaway girl whiled away her days in a daze

Bored and frustrated with her loopy rich relations
Nothing to do but don her grandma's wardrobe revelations

When a couple of guys, they were up to no good
Started making trouble in her neighbourhood

Bill Cosby's drug dealer happened to be one of this gang
Our Aspen Princess ran with them, getting high and not giving a damn

She liked their fresh hip hop style and their old school Biggie beats
And so she plotted to run away from her family of creeps

One day she whistled for their Volvo and when it came near,
She said "So long rich suckers, I'm long gone out of here."

Apologies if the rhymes and flow are a little off.  Novelty rap isn't my forte.  But it helps to have a patter when getting London-based designer duo Kim Trager and Lowell Delaney's inspiration tale for their A/W 13-4 100% down.  I happed upon their brilliant collection at the London Fashion Week exhibition (I trialled some of their pieces for The Daily) where Kim and Lowell began to tell me about their crazed Aspen rebel, but I had to rush off.  Then at a Matches cocktail celebrating Trager Delaney's exclusivity at the store, they tried to tell me again but champers and V.I.P. fash ppl got in the way.  So finally, I had to go over to Kim and Lowell's studio in Soho so that I could get the story spic and span in my head.

Fear not.  I haven't allowed the tale to overtake the real matter at hand which is a truly confident collection, that just happens to have a refreshing angle behind it.  It just goes some way to illustrating how random (meant in the best way possible) and awesome the duo are in their carefree spirited ways.  You could start the convo with them talking business strategies and design background and wind up very quickly on a tangent talking about the merits of Honest Burgers and how girls running around in cornfields in fashion films suck.  The sarcastic banter and quick quips between are evidence of their solid friendship.  Kim, from Denmark and Lowell, a Londoner, became fast friends on the BA knitwear course at Central Saint Martins (something they weren't sure why they ended up doing) and after a few internship stints at Haider Ackermann and Celine, and deciding that doing the MA was an expensive stretch too far, they literally just said "Fuck it!" and started their own thing.  It's not exactly a tried and tested path nor is it necessarily sound as a business idea but Kim and Lowell were guided by intuition and a sense of winging it, which has proven to work for them.

Along the way they'll admit that a a heavy dose luck and meeting the right people has helped.  Instances such as Vogue editor-at-large Fiona Golfar placing a huge personal order with their debut S/S 13 luxurious take on skate collection, in-stores now.  Or how they met Arizona Muse randomly at a Queen's Jubilee party and bonded over shared sarkiness and so Muse offered to model their collection for them and has now appeared in both of their lookbooks.  Somehow, Trager Delaney quickly became a name to whisper around buyer's circles at the shows back in March and so now they've gone up the rungs rapidly, having only just done two seasons, and they've even had to say no to department stores just to keep a lid on the pace of things.  Their A/W 13-4 collection will be going into Matches and Joseph and there's much buzz about they're going to be doing at LFW in September, and they'll be the first ones to say, they have no fucking clue how it all happened.

Their "This is where it's at" A/W 13-4 collection is a mash-up of the highest and most luxurious order.  Rich wool coats with face-shielding collars to pull up to reveal a surprising flash of rainbow furriness.  Protective fleece jackets and further reinforcement from flame-proof, winter-ready textiles such as Schoeller and Kevlar form the fabric backdrop to our tale in Aspen.  When our girl starts hanging out with Bill Cosby's drug dealer, she takes on his crazed sweaters as well, only here, they are patchworked waves of shaved mink (Saga-sourced) and nappa leather.  The unexpected colours are also fitting to this loopy backstory – bright red, petrol blue, mint green and deep burgandy are unexpected in their combos, especially when a marble print is also thrown into the mix.  

But despite the technical references and vintage-feel color palette‚Äîfresh mint, deep burgundy, vermilion, and navy‚Äîthe clothing itself is uncomplicated, beautiful, and strikingly modern; but not without its playful twists. Pop the collars on an Austrian wool double-breasted coat, and a nappa-and-mink rainbow lining is revealed, ‚Äúfor when you spot a blogger ahead!‚Äù jokes Trager. A funnel-neck microfiber fleece, meanwhile, can be reversed and worn silk-crepe marble-print side out.  The ubiquitous words "ease", "relaxed" and "modern" crop up when describing Trager Delaney's aesthetic, which should make me wary but thankfully, one look at their lookbook and also at their moodboards and you can see that their particular route to easy/luxurious/relaxed/spare/contemporary/delete as appropriate type of chic, is anything but banal.  

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If you're strolling along South Molton Street in London you might have noticed that the Browns Focus store, the "younger" sub-store of Browns boutique, has been amalgamated within the number 23 – 27 stretch of the street.  Effectively you can now walk through the menswear store, through to Focus and then on to the main flagship Browns store inside, which makes a lot more sense to me than traversing between different store units on the same street.  What I found most interesting on the revisit to the newly refocused Browns Focus was its drastic aesthetic change-up.  Browns Focus has always had a blacked out interior but with the new store's interior concept and styling created by Studio Toogood, under the brilliant Faye Toogood, where the contrast between black and white is even more pronounced.  On the ground floor, the midnight blue interior slick with black rubber and post-industrial elements, is where Ashish's sequins can shimmer and Christopher Kane's brain scan prints can glow.  Then downstairs, the walls of white mesh and mix up of textures in the timber display units and Morccoan rag rugs compliment the noticeably casual shift in Browns Focus wares.  

In fact, the selection of labels at Browns Focus seems to have have honed in on one particular niche that is dominating our chests at the moment.  Why it's my oftdiscussed friend, the subverted logo or to put it in a general aesthetic umbrella – the shouty wear-it-on-your-chest approach.  Downstairs, Brian Lichtenberg's Homies/Hermes sweaters, Conflict of Interest's label wordplay, Les Plus Dores' team designer football jerseys and Filles a Papa "Tomboy" branded merch grab your eyes from every corner with their text based delights.  The newest kid to this tongue n' cheek brand adulation and look-at-me sloganising is Enfants Riches D√©prim√©s, who Browns Focus have exclusively, so that you too can knowingly chuckle at yourself for wearing a sweater that pokes fun at Depressed Rich Kids.  

Upstairs, Ted's Draws aka Ted Pearce who has been illustrating people that he likes and selling them as tees and prints has been given an installation where Missy, Steve Buscemi, Grace Jones Christina Ricci (as Wednesday Adams) and Snoop Dog are all hanging out in one big happy family.  Ted's Draws' tees are another strand of this to-the-point, in-yer-face category of casual wear, which has become so popular, but perhaps merit more praise because they are at heart, also great caricature drawings.  What is fascinating about all of this is that Browns have chosen to capitalise and focus in this genre of clothing precisely because of their sale appeal.  They can't keep Kenzo Tiger sweatshirts on the rails for long enough and likewise, their selection of all the aforementioned labels taps into the current fashion zeitgeist of smirking at each other on the street in clever sweatshirts, as we collectively appreciate the wit and humour of perfunctory slogans, cheeky words and distorted branding.  Who knows how long that will last but no doubt Browns Focus will perform season change-ups to reflect the inevitable changes.

Outside of word play on sweatshirt/t-shirt, other pieces which caught my eye were exclusives by Simone Rocha, whose A/W 13-4 prim n' proper grandma-inspired collection has just arrived.  Yes to anything in Rocha's signature fabric for the season – spongey mesh in bubblegum pink.  I also discovered Bangkok shoe brand Croon at the store with their glitter bows on sandals and brogues.  I'll be learning more also about brand new London-based print designer Holly Fowler, who has created some hand-painted leather jackets exclusively for Browns Focus and thus continues Browns' longtime tradition of picking up designers from graduation and giving them a platform.  

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>> If you've ever flicked through Peter Jensen's 10 year anniversary book or are familiar with his work, you'll know that his choice of muses for his collections have always been decidedly leftfield.  Sissy Spacek, Christina of Denmark, skater Tonya harding, The Shining star Shelley Duval, artist Laurie Simmons (weird but true anecdote – I remember having a convo with Simmons about her daughter, the then "struggling" writer Lena Denham), novelist Dame Muriel Spark and John Waters face Mink Stole are just some of the women that have seen some equally unlikely clothes spring up from Jensen's head.  Unlikely in so much that Jensen has a evocatively wearable design language that manages to marry up oddball muse with all-girls-will-heart-this type of clothing.  

Therefore we come to his take on the obligatory sweatshirt, a category of clothing that has exploded everywhere with Carol Lim and Humberto Leon at Kenzo having much to answer for.  His A/W 13-4 collection of vaguely 1960s dowdy/glam interplays was inspired by an even more unlikely lady – Viv Nicholson, a British woman who won ¬£152,319 in 1961 at the pools and was famed for saying she was going to "Spend, Spend, Spend" hence the slogan.  That sum, which was a tidy fortune at the time, soon diminished as she found herself bankrupt four years later and then attempted to capitalise on her "fame" by coming out with a novelty single, appearing in a strip club singing Big Spender and finally writing an autobiography that became the basis for a musical.  Nicholson's tale is therefore a blueprint for the fast fame stars that get churned out of today's reality TV culture and media landscape.  It's a fascinating one to dissect on an aesthetic level and so it is Jensen investigated the layers of a rags-to-riches trajectory and gently mocks Nicholson's carelessness.  

The slogan "Spend Spend Spend" is a strange one to don in London where you could be cris-crossing through all walks of life and happing upon somebody who might be in a less fortunate financial position.  "Oh, irony," as one would knowingly say.  It obviously isn't a prescriptive message but more like a succinct parable that points out the pitfalls of actioning the statement.  Says the fashion blogger, she sniggers.  I'm going back and forth with this.  I'm just going to run with it.  It's a sweatshirt with cheeky backstory and it's available now on ASOS or on Peter Jensen's e-commerce site in both a unisex loose fit or a "mini" tighter fit (the one I'm wearing).  Do as the sweatshirt says.  Or not.  The choice is your's.  

Couture-Street-1-37_15461265242-(1)Photograph by Phil Oh for Vogue.com

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Speaking of spending, I've spent the weekend tidying up the wardrobe in preparation for what I *think* and hope will be a house move (but as I've learnt the hard way – basically, estate agents and some vendors are bastards), and have six heaving Ikea bags of clothes.  Sorry to be a buzz killer but I haven't really got any time or energy to put together a full on yard sale so I'm just going for a simple concept, inspired by another overnight star – one pound fish dude from Queen's Market.  "¬£1 skirt, ¬£1 skirt, very very nice, ¬£1 skirt."  Just practising my song for the sale.  Doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?  It's unlikely people will be coming over for my singing skills so come and bag a bargain instead.  It's mostly high street, vintage *some* (emphasis on that word) designer (indie/established) and more importantly, cheaper than London charity shop fare.  Steve from Style Salvage will have some stuff for guys, but not in huge quantity.  In the words of London's market criers – everything must go.  That's why I haven't set an end time.  We'll be pitching up at 11am in my yard and y'all welcome to come and have a hunt.  I might even do as the fish man sings and offer a six for a fiver deal.  We'll see how the day goes.  There is no contingency plan if it decides to rain other than huddling under umbrellas.  Like the price, there's nothing fancy about this at all.  Just a good old fashioned bargain.   

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>> I'm not going to lie.  There are times when I will sulk an evening off because I've missed out on a score on eBay.  Normally that score revolves around past season Miu Miu.  My top Miu Miu targets at the moment are anything from the scuba lattice cut-out collection of A/W 08, anything bird/cat/naked woman printed from that over-blogger and over-loved S/S 10 collection and a knitted body or bloomer short from the S/S 07 collection.  I've rinsed out the scratchy textures in beige and pepto bismol pink of A/W 07 so that box is duly ticked.  It's safe to say that Miu Miu along with big sister Prada instills a collector's urge in me.  Their time period might be instantly recognisable to the hardcore fashion person but their appeal is ever lasting.  Not in that boring "Oh it's a timeless classic!" kind of way.  No, Miu Miu does timeless oddity – the sort that you don't tire of and the why I'm constantly hunting for pieces that have made significant indents on my brain.  

This latest feature archive shoot entitled 'The Miu Age" from Dazed & Confused's August issue (with some extra shots on Dazed Digital) isn't going to help that addiction.  Dazed & Confused have always excelled at reminding people of the past with their archive pages of long forgotten designers but fashion director Robbie Spencer has done something extra special with Miu Miu's archive from the last decade (the label began in 1993 but it's safe to say their directional prowess didn't really kick in until later).  Shot by Ben Toms and styled by Spencer, the 16-page editorial is an ever-pertinent reminder of how pervasive Miu Miu is – new or old, brimming with ideas that could still be exploited today by Miuccia to great effect.  It says something when recycled ideas in a collection are still hugely palatable.  I fully expect to STILL be loving the Olive Oyl polka dots of this season in a few years time and if anything, my appreciation will only become stronger in ardour. 

1042156Vlada wears satin gabardine dress, jersey overalls and knit cap from AW08

1042163Anne-Catherine wears burgundy blouson with patch insert, cotton sweater, burgundy pleated skirt, red knit belt, fantasy plex brooches and red plex headband from SS05

1042150Irene wears orange wool dress with metal embroidered flowers and bag from AW11

1042148Jamily wears crepe dress with mink shoulders and sequin swallows from AW11

1042153Jamily wears mosaic cameo top and mosaic patch skirt with attached black overskirt from SS09

1042158Irene wears printed candy silk dress from SS10

1042160Anne-Catherine wears nylon sweater and skirt in camel colour from AW07

1042161Vlada wears double wool coat with glass beading embellishment and astrakhan collar with taffeta skirt and scarf from AW13

1042149Anne-Catherine wears suede patchwork skirt with cashmere jumper and cotton shirt from AW05

1042154Irene wears jacquard argyle yellow top, pink coat and orange skirt with camel wool socks from AW07

1042151Vlada wears silk patterned kimono top and skirt from SS03

1042155Delfine wears nude and blush pink wool dress with crystal embroideries, bra and socks from AW09

1042162Vlada wears tweed and fur dress with coyote stole from AW09

Photography Ben Toms, Styling Robbie Spencer, Film Amy Gwatkin

Speaking of which, it does make it easier to go on an archive Miu Miu hunt when their distribution is such that pieces always pop up on eBay as well as the growing used designer site Vestiaire Collective sometime, somehow.  A few of the pieces featured in the shoot above are currently on eBay should you wish to relive those seasons.  At the very least, the hunt isn't as difficult as say, S/S 03 Balenciaga.  That's another sulking matter altogether.  

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