Tinsel Thrill

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>> It's quite satisfying to know that currently, one of my favourite things that I can't stop looking at/feeling/touching and itching to wear (it's cooled down in London but not quite to jumper weather yet) is a $5 flea market find from my trip to LA.  $5 or even ¬£5 cheap thrills just don't come as easily as they used to, compared to the ye olde days of Style Bubble when I'd swoop in and find something amazing in charity shops and rush home, giddy with excitement and accomplishment.  Excessive travelling, increased workload and admittedly, a diminishing inclination towards the "hunt" for clothes has contributed to the lack of cheap thrills.  Therefore this sweater is being hung up on the wall as a reminder that a) those thrills are still out there if you look for it and b) you can never have enough clothes that remind you of a cheap n' cheerful circa 1986 Christmas complete with dry turkey, electric knife and too many Quality Street chocolates.  I've loaded up on the Eddie Borgo x Beach in the East exclusive cone bracelets here but only incidently because I was using them for a separate shoot.  They're not part of the cheap thrill buzz but they do have a similar Crimbo spirit about them.

Speaking of cheap thrills, here's a not so subtle reminder of the ¬£1 sale I'm having next week in my yard.  Not that you technically can't find clothes cheaper than that but you know… really, does it happen that often?   

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It's All the Same Trip

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A few months ago I remember seeing a well-to-do looking woman outside the Boundary Hotel in Shoreditch, waiting for her chauffeur to pick her up.  I overheard her complaining to her husband/partner about how dreadful the area was and how she couldn't understand why everyone was "raving" about it.  I'm only assuming this lady had read somewhere about how hot Shoreditch was, ditched her usual Mayfair spot and inched her way Eastwards to see what all the fuss was about.  This encounter only serves to remind me that for however much real estate puff talk and persistent rumours that the likes of Prada and Ralph Lauren are sniffing around for locations in Shoreditch, East is still East and frankly, that should be the way it is.  Shoreditch will never be a Bond Street or a Mayfair and rightly so.  Its own distinct identity as it is, is in danger of being eroded by eager developers and dodgy design decisions.  The area shouldn't let slip of the slew of the thoughtful retail and restaurant entities, which have given Shoreditch its admittedly gentrified renewed lease of life over the last decade or so, but at the very least still largely retain character and some sense of locality.  On the new additions front, House of Hackney, recently opened on Shoreditch High Street has brought something quite rooted and characterful to the area.  Ace Hotel (slated to open in September), though an American import, does plug a sorely-needed accomodation gap and will hopefully attract a crowd that potentially will take to the surrounding Leila's, Rochelle's Canteen, Labour & Wait, Sunspel etc like a duck to water.  

High end womenswear in the area is also getting a boost to match up with its male counterparts of Present and Anthem, with Hostem converting its upper floors to stock womenswear in September and now, just off Shoreditch High Street, on Holywell Lane, we have Celestine Eleven.  It calls itself an "alternative luxury store".  I wouldn't know how to come up with a neat category box to put Celestine Eleven.  It is… to put in annoyingly adopted LA-speak, "rad" as in radical.  Founder Tena Strok sees luxury as not just an accumulation of posessions but to have a high quality of aesthetic, spiritual and intellectual well being.  And so it is that Celestine Eleven provides the means to at least attempt to achieve those things.  The tranquil space is dotted with crystals.  One statement wall is etched with a new age interpretation of the vitruivan man.  There's an apothecary selling skincare, vitamins and herban tinctures and soon, Celestine Eleven will be able to offer acupuncture, massage and facial treatments in the basement area.  The well-stocked library aims to feed the brain with universal questioning reading matter, visual fodder and a good dose of Patti Smith.  

You wouldn't have thought designers such as J.W. Anderson, Marios Schwab and  Meadham Kirchhoff would sit alongside crystal healing and teachings of shamanic journeying but as Strok's styling background would ensure that along with a mind at peace, she'd also want to support the designers she personally loves and promote them as "alternatives" (which I suppose they are to some extent) to the mainstream.  Celestine Eleven also goes some way to solving the ridiculous travesty that is that so many London designers, based in East London, don't have a stockist within two miles of their own gaffe. On the accessories front, hats and bags by Wendy Nichol, New Zealand bag brand Deadly Ponies, jewellery by Pamela Love and yay of all yays, the intricate nude leather pieces by Antwerp-based Niels Peeraer.  The result is a selection that is quite off-kilter for London and doesn't run the usual gamut of brand choices.  In any case, I've personally always equated the brush of Meadham Kirchhoff's delicate lace on their signature pin-tucked dresses or the feel of smooth vegetable tanned leather to a therapy of sorts.  So it's fitting that human well-being should be catered to in this way by Celestine Eleven.

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The store has only been open for a month or so and is now into its sale period so observing its ebb and flow of labels over the next few seasons will be interesting to see.  Celestine Eleven will be adding menswear elements, a few more accessories as well as bolstering its womenswear with the likes of Damir Doma.  I'm also excited that Celestine Eleven will be continuing to support Niels Peeraer as his intricate leather accessories ventures into an elephant shade of grey for next season.  

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Year 2033?

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>> It's that time of the year when I get truly excited for new collections coming in.  The notion that we're "bored" by the time collections hit the shop floor (Jan/Feb for spring/summer collections and Aug/Sept for autumn/winter collections) is a tired generalisation wheeled out to illustrate, how fast the world is, how much information we have and how we're all digital avid followers of fashion.  I'm not sure in reality, much of that is actually true.  I'm personally going to be delving into A/W 13-4 collections for a good while yet and so it is that the new issue of Elle Collections – one of the best if not overall best summation of the season concentrated into a bi-annual publication – has landed just in time to whet my appetite for what in my eyes is still the "new" season ahead.

First up, Elle Collections has had a complete redesign under its new editor Rebecca Lowthorpe, as per the main Elle UK publication as well.  The fonts are bolder, there seem to be more sketched-out, illustrative elements (the cover is beautifully collaged and drawn out by Ernesto Artillo) and the structure has changed with a newspaper insert housing all the humorous elements that have made Elle Collections stand out when rounding up the season.  The issue still pays its dues to streetstyle round-ups (this time Q&Aing not just the obvious people but the likes of Vanessa Jackman and Youngjun Koo), evocative mood imagery (now accompanied by an excellent Tumblr page) relating to trends and collection pages, laid out and annotated with colour swatches and texture close-ups.  Then there are special features such as showcasing designers' photocopied hands, putting a spin on the term "petit mains", an enlightening interviews with show music maestro Michel Gaubert and an indepth and quite personal interview with Meadham Kirchhoff, written by the ever-impressive Alex Fury (I hate the term "voice of our generation" but if ever there was one for my generation of fashion lovers, his would be it).

Open up the newspaper insert, entitled The Fashions and it's lol after lol of cute little tidbits – Brit designers sketched out as a Goth band, likening Celine's laundry basket jacket to "corner shop couture", a cheat sheet on how to fake it in fashion, fantasy football pitting Wang vs. Ghesquiere and an obituearies section citing the death of peplums and real punk.  R.I.P. indeed.  More serious pieces such as interviews with hair genius Luigi Morenu (creator of the coloured rosette hair at Givenchy A/W 13-4) and a round-up of art inspirations in collections balance out the light hearted joshing.  

One sole reason though for buying this particular issue is definitely Lowthorpe's entirely imaginary but wonderfully engrossing show report from the year 2033.  It's quite the trip and goes to a place that few people in fashion have the foresight nor inclination to go (there are those in the upper echelons of fashion who have barely grasped the concept of the internet let alone anticipate what might happen in a future twenty years from now).  Lowthorpe imagines a world where collections are presented on a weekly basis, watched through a device called i-Watch and judged by the public through Google Glasses.  She predicts that Lila Moss (daughter of Kate) will be showing her own collection and Teen-A-Porter the collection's backer.  It's a tongue-firmly-in-cheeky, yet scarily possible future where designers will create 52 collections a year and subsequently the biggies of fashion (Alaia, Prada, Simons, Kane, Kawakubo etc.) form a backlash to show Analogue style, totally unavailable online and unrated by the public.  It's partly a comment on the dystopian possibility of the future for fashion and there are definitely home truths in the piece that could potentially come to life.  Whilst cloaked in humour, the piece does make you think about where the fashion structure could go and how it will evolve.  I had to laugh though when Lowthorpe decided to add in extra LOL-factor with this sentence here: "CSM, is of course, now run by the inspirational Susie Lau, whose traditional Style Bubble blog contiinues to provide much inspiration, along with her annual coffee-table book, Susie Says."

CSM students, past, present and future, rest assured, I'm the LEAST likely person to be stalking your hallways as a person of authority.  You can sleep easy on that point.  As for a coffee-table book?  Well, we'll see.  Never say never…     

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