>> Tokyo's sprawl of designer showrooms or "exhibitions" as they call them is the beast that keeps on giving.  It's impossible to see every collection within a season without staying there for at least a month in Oct-Nov or in Mar-Apr.  There's a must-see list though that I keep if I'm ever in Tokyo during collections exhibition season and Kentaro Tamai's label Aseedoncloud is high up there.  Tamai does the sort of clothes that fit my countryside fantasy.  It's all Labour & Wait, Aga ovens, The Good Life, Nigel Slater-esque cooking, farm to table ingredients, perfect allotments, Picnic on a Hanging Rock dresses and just all things lovely.  In fact, "Lovely!" is exactly what I exclaimed when I walked into Aseedoncloud's S/S 14 presentation as Tamai had beautifully set up an artist's workspace complete with paint dabbed palettes and pots of brushes and wild flowers to illustrate his "worker" of choice this season.  

Every Aseedoncloud collection is named after a "Workpermit" be it the role of a gardener or a writer.  Don't equate this with the usual pseudo-macho workwear bollocks though.  Tamai is merely using these occupations as a loose guiding hand to exercising his masterful prowess of beautiful fabrics and delicate and nuanced clothing.  The painter that Tamai imagnes for this season is no lofty serious artist.  She's a village painter going about her way in a white coat that builds up with paint stains as she decorates people's houses following her grandfather in this tradition.  It's a quiet respect for the humble occupations that are fast being erased away.  Tamai's painter walks around with her canvas rucksack and is given an appropriately balanced wardrobe of cotton shirt dresses, dainty smocking on blouses and only a slight nod to an apron on a window pane checked pinafore.  

The usually restrained palette of Tamai's work is also literally given a fresh lick of paint with a series of one-off jackets that have been smudged, sponged and brush-stroked to painterly perfection.  They're not for sale but gave license to Tamai to have a bit of fun.  

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>> The expression on a well-to-do French couple's face yesterday as they walked into the almost unrecognisable interior of the Herm√®s store on 155 New Bond Street was priceless.  They looked confused and befuddled as they surveyd the temporarily clinical white space designed by Studio Toogood, dotted with islands of repurposed red leather and built up layers of scarlet painted foam.  "I just want to buy a tie," scoffed the man.  The time-poor cash-rich customer with no imagination can still head up to the first floor for all the normal Herm√®s goods.  However for the next fortnight, Herm√®s staff will probably have to face similar responses from their normal clientale, as the ground floor of the store has been taken over by a truly dramatic installation by Faye Toogood and her team, to launch petit h in London – the upcycled arm of Herm√®s, which I had the opportunity to discover when I went to their atelier on the outskirts of Paris a few weeks ago.  

I was eager to see the final fruits of labour where petit h would be displayed in a less-than-conventional way.  Toogood sought to bring her own take on the "slickness" of luxury retail by literally applying a slick surface to everything – by dipping Herm√®s silk scarves in rubber for the windows, painting layers of foam in a glossy red with paint drips fully visible and even the Herm√®s staff got involved by wearing upcycled leather aprons, rubber dipped garden gloves and matching silk sleeves.  Toogood knows a thing or two about respecting craftsmen as her own debut collection of coats pay homage to the people that truly graft.  So the neon light shapes hanging in the store echo the shapes of Herm√®s bag pieces and Herm√®s crafsmen' tools are displayed in a decorative formation.  

In amongst this striking and purposely unorthodox store fit lies petit h's special menagerie of playful objects.  As I found out at the petit h atelier, every object must emerge with a proper use, be that a flying tea cup that is also a lamp or a leather covered dog sculpture for holding newspapers.  Call it useful whimsy.  If I was the sort of person that frequently graces Herm√®s stores to drop a wad, I too would consider a giant calfskin leather stuffed bunny rabbit head to prop up on a sPublishilk covered stool.  After the store had opened to the public, a curious gaggle of Chinese customers came in pondering whether to buy a croc-clad toy motor car.  How the other half live, eh?  

The reuse and repurposing of Herm√®s' famous silk scarves are probably your best bet for something vaguely affordable with lattice cut bags, braclets and necklaces in the ¬£100-¬£300 bracket.  Purchase or no purchase, it's definitely  worth popping into the store just to see how customers react to Toogood's daring antidote to West End posh.

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0214_HERMES_Petit_h_low_res_09Photos above from Studio Toogood

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I've been packing like a mad woman but the apartment still looks like I haven't made an actual dent into the mounds of stuff I've accumulated over the past five years.  In a painful process of discarding things, a folder of Meadham Kirchhoff invitations and press releases have been saved from the fate of the paper bin.  Although in reality, it's only been a one or two years since some of their seminal shows such as the pastel froth S/S 12 A Wolf in Sheep's Lamb's Clothing or their witchy A/W 11-2 "I am a lie that tells the truth" but looking back at their A Cosmology of Women series of collections (from A/W 10-A/W12) already feels like "vintage" Meadham Kirchhoff.  In a short space of time, Ben Kirchhoff and Ed Meadham have established a lexicography, a language and a devoted fanbase that have come to associate pastel frou for, witchy frocks, Lisa Frank-esque cartoon motifs and above all, don't-give-a-fuck what people think attitude with the duo.  Since then they have turned a corner and turned their attention to unadulterated and whimsical craft on their own terms and recent seasons have seen them perhaps shift away from those earlier tropes.    

Meadham Kirchhoff's second and latest collaboration with Topshop, which has just gone live today, therefore represents something of a diffused greatest hits collection.   Ben and Ed have always said they have no qualms with their younger fans recreating their looks and aesthetic on the cheap because their price points are admittedly out of their reach and so it is that Topshop have enabled them to give their Tumblr-clicking and dip-dyed tressed devotees a chance to buy into all the aesthetic strands of what Meadham Kirchhoff have built up.  The premise is that there's this fictional girl band, The Cherrys and that each of the four members represents a particular MK genre.  There's Cherry Cherie and her flouncy and dainty printed chiffons and 70s Gunne Sax vibes.  There's Cherry Satanika who loves a slick of red leather a show of lace-edged slip.  There's Cherry Pika and her fabric mash-ups of granny crochet and and frilled PVC.  Then there's Cherry Blossom, possibly Meadham Kircchoff's most widely recognisable visual trope, originating from their S/S 12 collection and has every subsequent designer doing pastels, fondant fancy fabrics and girly girly sugariness being compared to the duo.  

When playing around with the samples, it was all too tempting to go for the obvious with the Cherry Blossom looks.  My trip to Tokyo yielded a whole bag of pastel coloured wigs, which have been endlessly hilarious to try on.  Although Ben and Ed have never purposely referenced Tokyo Harajuku Lolitas, you can't help but make the comparison.  And so I present you with my quad tiered iced cake look, complete with powder blue wig, the obligatory peace sign and a mega dose of KAWAII.  The other star pieces for me such as the PVC frilly apron dungarees, the pentagram patchwork San Fran leathers and the multi-coloured chubbies are all there to be mixed, matched and mashed up in whatever way you fancy.  Hopefully The Cherrys aren't going to be too prescriptive.  Judging by the online stock availabilities, a lot of it is selling out fast, and in particular the very excellent, very me-me-me shoes (who is going to rock the green monster shoes with me‚Ķ say YES PLEASE!) seem to be popular.  That said, as with the J.W. Anderson Topshop collabs, quantities have been upped and so hopefully there'll be enough of it to go around the world over.  I look forward to seeing this stuff worn with gusto and rabid enthusiasm.  Expect rampant use of heart and stars emojis when people wearing the collection starts to filter through on Instagram.  

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IMG_0219Meadham x Kirchhoff Topshop PVC frill mac, rainbow frill blouse, fur-edged skirt, stripy lurex tights, pastel mary jane shoes

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IMG_0094Meadham Kirchhoff x Topshop red PVC apron dungarees worn with Meadham Kirchhoff chifon shirt, vintage patchwork puffer body warmer and Valentino rock stud shoes

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IMG_0135Meadham Kirchhoff fo Topshop pentagram leather bomber jacket, leather trousers, monster face jumper worn with Nike liquid gold Air Max 1's

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IMG_0153Meadham Kirchhoff x Topshop muli-coloured mongolian stole, star tunic, navy slip skirt worn with Marc Jacobs shoes

>> "My pictures walk a tightrope.  They never know.  The photographs are like the women you see in them.  A little out of balance with their surroundings, waiting anxiously for the right person to find the, and thinking that perhaps they are out of their time.  They move forward clutching their past about them, as if the ground of the present may fall away.  Their exeriors seem walled up and introverted; the interiors endless… airless.  The very print wuality reflects something in the women that is hesitant, a little faded and scratched; or that, having emerged into a light too harsh, stand frozen in space, overexposed."

"It is interesting to me that the definition of the rather old-fashioned word Wallflower is: a pale yellow or brownish-red flower that clings, wild, to the sides of walls – and someone who choose not to, or is not chosen to, dance; a spectator."  

Deborah Turbeville, 1978

I was trying to root around for this "Wallflower" monograph book by Deborah Turbeville, when she passed away a few weeks ago.  Now that I'm packing up all my belongings into boxes, I found it lodged behind two other heftier and brassier fashion tomes, much like its clinging but unassuming namesake flower.  I'm afraid that I'm just here to proffer up a selection of images from this beautiful book as renovating new Casa Bubble is slowly taking over my life.  Still, no pithy words of mine could do justice to Turbeville's delicately nuanced photographs.  Best to defer to Turbeville's words above.       

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