Resee is a word that is part of the working vocabulary of fashion weeks, referring to the less glamorous portion in-between shows, when you go and literally “resee” a collection in a showroom. If you were late for the show or couldn’t make it for some reason, then it’s often a see-see rather a resee. The word is therefore automatically associated with work.

During Paris Fashion Week though, I discovered a different side to the word through a new-ish vintage site Resee.com.  Do we need another you might ask?  On their About page, Resee.com describes itself as a “new concept website that fuses rare vintage and the best in second-hand clothing with unparalleled, high fashion editorial style.”  Resee.com is a collaborative effort founded by Sofia Bernardin and Sabrina Marshall, who previously worked at Vogue and Self Service and are able to amass a selection of designer pieces that pick up on key moments of fashion post 1960 from their network of industry “sources”.

For better or for worse, it’s “curated” designer vintage, which has become something of a weak spot for me over the years.  It’s an obsession that has progressed from trawling eBay, to scouring vintage and consignment stores all over the world (with particular attention to Tokyo) and now to persistently browsing sites like sites like TheRealReal, Vestiaire Collective (and a whole host of others).  Or if I’m really looking for something special, Kerry Taylor Auctions and 1st Dibs comes calling too (although I do think the prices for the latter are grossly exorbitant).  It’s the process of the unpredictable hunt in this kind of shopping, that I find the most rewarding, when you emerge with a garment that feels significant and doesn’t necessarily run concurrently with what’s on-trend and in-stores at the moment.

_u6a9428_jpg_7598_north_626x_whiteWearing Chloe S/S 14 dress with vintage Chanel tights (both from Resee.com) and Maison Margiela boots at the Chanel x AnOther 15th Anniversary Birthday party 

Resee.com follows the curated/edited path that many of the boutique vintage stores have gone online with editorial contextualisation, curated picks from industry folk and themed selections.

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Their strength though is really in the selection and presentation of their pieces.  Where possible, everything is dated by season, accompanied by a runway or editorial image and they come with descriptions that also place the pieces in a fashion historical context.   You’re not just buying a Yves Saint Laurent piece but one that’s from the iconic Russian collection of 1976.  The selection pre 2000 is tight, mainly focusing on Yves Saint Laurent, with some stand out pieces by Paco Rabanne and some hard-to-find Gucci by Tom Ford pieces.

resee_pacorabannePaco Rabanne haute couture hat

resee_ysllesmokingSaint Laurent early 80s smoking jacket

resee_ysl1974Saint Laurent 1976 peasant ensemble

resee_ysltfTom Ford for YSL A/W 04 jacket 

resee_guccitfTom Ford for Gucci A/W 96 suit

resee_christianlacroixChristian Lacroix 1989 choker

resee_commeComme des Garçons 80s embroidered shirt

Resee.com is not by any means comprehensive in its overview of fashion history of the latter half of the 20th century but it comes into its own post 2000.  This is the period when my own interest in fashion, fuelled by obsessive message threads on The Fashion Spot and the rise of Style.com, really ramped up.  In the early period of my blogging days when I wasn’t able to physically go to shows, obsessing about the images that emerged on the internet was something of a pastime.  Its selection of Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquiére pieces is particularly broad, with pieces spanning from the beginning of his tenure to his last few collections for the house.  Scrolling through Resee.com’s selection makes me think about the days when I used to click refresh on my browser button on Style.come, waiting for the catwalk images to come through (normally about a 24-36 hour post-show turnaround).

resee_helmutlangHelmut Lang S/S 04 top

resee_rochasotRochas by Olivier Theyskens A/W 04 suit

resee_balenciagang1Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière A/W 02 trousers

resee_balenciagang2Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière A/W 07 collegiate jacket

resee_balenciagang3Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière A/W 10 jumper

Ditto goes for Prada and Miu Miu…

resee_prada1Prada S/S 08 dress

resee_prada2Prada S/S 10 photo suit

resee_miumiu1Miu Miu A/W 02 jacket

resee_miumiu2Miu Miu S/S 09 top

Resee.com also seems to also give you a refresher course on certain epochs that have emerged in the last fifteen years of fashion.  Remember when Stella McCartney, Hannah McGibbon and Phoebe Philo were grouped up as arbiters of female-architected British minimalism?

resee_stellaStella McCartney S/S 12 jumpsuit

resee_chloehmChloe by Hannah MacGibbon A/W 09 boots

resee_celineCéline by Phoebe Philo A/W 11 jumper

The theatrical moments of Marc Jacobs, buttressing a season with both his own shows in New York and his collections for Louis Vuitton in Paris, also live on.

resee_lvmjLouis Vuitton by Marc Jacobs A/W 11 jodhpurs

resee_mjMarc Jacobs A/W 12 skirt

So often when hunting out vintage Chanel, you find a repetition of classic suits and non-descript blouses so it’s nice to see some of the more key catwalk moments on Resee.com.

resee_chanelChanel A/W 12 crystal-heeled shoes

Resee.com’s selection of Alexander Wang and Rodarte for instance buck the trend for proliferation of commercial pieces flooding online consignment stores.  Together, these pieces crystallise that moment in time when Wang made his “downtown cool” stamp and when Rodarte became left-of-field fashion visionaries.

resee_awangAlexander Wang A/W 10 corseted sweatshirt

resee_rodarteRodarte A/W 09 patchwork dress

The most recent pieces on Resee.com are also future collectibles in their own right as seen in this Simone Rocha dress and Loewe t-shirt from Jonathan Anderson’s debut collection for the Spanish house.  They’re moments that are still fresh on my memory having been to the show but look to stand the test of time further down the line.

resee_simonerochaSimone Rocha S/S 12 floral dress

resee_loeweLoewe by Jonathan Anderson S/S 15 t-shirt

>> My blogging game has gone a bit haywire of late due to personal reasons (sadly no Style Bubble bot has emerged to spout off in my place) and will imminently resume normal service.  One cheeky Bank Holiday weekend beforehand though is drawing this fallow period out.  I’ll be venturing up to Lake District for the first time, which according to Weather.com might be experiencing a cold blast of snow blizzards.  Spring is being set on pause and I’ll be digging out chunky jumpers and anything with a hood to roam through the fells and peaks.

One useful garment came duly to mind. The puffer (or “puffa” if you’re wearing it in London and intoning old Biggie lyrics in your head) jacket is the relatively light, waterproof outerwear option that gained significant stead for A/W 16-7 thanks to Demna Gvasalia’s debut collection for Balenciaga.  Like Junya Watanabe and Martin Margiela before him, Gvasalia recognised the shape-shifting properties of a down-filled jacket and its ability to create extreme volumes under a utilitarian and recognisable guise.  The off-the-shoulder versions of the puffer were of course sculpted to echo Cristobal Balenciaga’s own 360 degree vantage point of fitting couture garments on women.

They’re the cropped and oddly sensual counterpart puffer to Marques Almeida’s enlarged collar sleeping bag specimens, seen in their latest show as well as LCF MA menswear graduate Chen Peng’s collection.  Peng’s bubble gum pink puffer was worn by Julia Sarr-Jamois during the March round of shows and the rest of his collection together with its Quaker-meets-deerstalker millinery has been looping around in my head (and of course the giant puffers would be ideal Lake District apparel).  Peng’s collection entitled “Normal-in-Normal” was inspired by the idea of garments, where one size fits all.  Ranging in lengths and deliciously deep tones and pastel shades, the jackets aren’t panelled in linear formation and instead are pieced together with geometric panels.  The shorter ones are pleasingly bubble-like and the longer ones are basically portable duvets.  Either way, they’re begging to be cosied up in.  Peng’s similarly bulbous and volume-heavy hats will be featured in an AW16 project with Liberty in London.  Let’s hope his weather-proof yet striking outerwear goes down a similar path.

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You could already hear the green/eco/sustainable hardcore semanticists baying for blood when Karl Lagerfeld uttered the words “a high fashion ecology” and made statements such as “sustainability is part of our expression of the times”.  Back off you green washing evil high fashion corporation!  You can’t hood wink us into thinking that Chanel’s haute couture S/S 16 collection was for real sustainable.

It of course wasn’t.  The collection utilised some technically recyclable elements such as paper fibres and wooden components, elevating such materials to the highest of aesthetic levels they could possibly go, as well as some use of organic cotton, most notable in the finale wedding gown ensemble.  The wabi sabi wooden house that was central to the zen-like set, apparently will be recycled in some capacity.  But it’s the media rather than the house that grasped at these vaguely eco straws.  “Chanel goes eco”, said Tim Blanks on Business of Fashion.  SMCP describes the collection as “eco-luxe”. As Chanel have not yet put forth a formalised CSR agenda, it’s wise that the there’s been no preachy communication from the house that sets out any sustainable fashion credentials in regards to the collection.

I am revisiting this collection though on the occasion of Fashion Revolution Week (expanded from being just a day), which commenced yesterday with a special Fashion Question Time at the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, hosted and chaired by the MP Mary Creagh and will continue on with people hashtaging #WhoMadeYourClothes as well as up-cycling workshops in London, which I will document.  Because what’s important is that a house like Chanel even mildly touched on a subject that is only gaining pace and momentum within our consciousness – not just high falutin fashion types but consumers at large, who are eager to get involved, even if it’s with the “half-arsed” approach that the likes of me adopt.  The amount of awareness that a Chanel haute couture collection brings to the words “eco” and “recycling” is indicative of the power of the house, even if the technicalities of the collection and the set are cloaked in a wishy-washy standpoint.

Place Chanel’s haute couture in isolation and particularly in tandem with the Paraffection companies, that come under their ownership, and the buzz words “sustainable” and “slow fashion” do apply.  I say this having finally made the pilgrimage to Lesage and Lemarié as well as seeing the Chanel haute couture flou and tailleur ateliers at work.  At all these establishments, you’ll find men and women of all ages in full-time employment, paid decent wages and working in good conditions, creating clothes and working at crafts that are definitely not going to be disposable, given that a singular piece of haute couture costs upwards of hundreds of thousands of euros.  You’ll find people meticulously sorting and filing away threads, scraps of fabrics and loose beads, feathers and sequins because every bit of material is precious.  You’ll see people making every sewn stitch and every cut of a fabric count because what they are making is a source of pride for them.

It’s a luxurious extremity of slow fashion and of course a bit of a lopsided utopia.  Still, the significance of this particular Chanel haute couture collection with its wooden shavings and beads (can you spot some are even covered with newspaper), made-from-scratch naturalistic textiles and the elevation of eco-fashion stylistic “tropes” as it were, should be applauded on an aesthetic level but also for inadvertently sprinkling the vernacular of sustainable fashion on the consciousness of a mainstream fashion and luxury industry, that is still largely ignoring the real movements of tireless campaigners and creatives that are making the likes of Fashion Revolution Week a reality or propelling positive messaging through entirely sound entities such as People Tree or Patagonia.  Chanel haven’t officially taken on the mantle of sustainable fashion through this collection, but when Lagerfeld speaks, evidently the media listens.  You’d hope that his uttering of the words “eco” and “sustainable” ringing around don’t fall on deaf ears.

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0E5A2615Just some stats on this curved-sleeved jacket and skirt –  2,500 hours spent embroidering 435,000 elements comprising oval wooden beads and three colours of glass beads and a trim of wooden baguettes, raffia and crystal beads

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0E5A2592Made-from-scratch wooden sequins created to mimic the two-tone effect of tweed

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0E5A2618A gilet of wooden textures made out of 1,700 square panels

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0E5A2620Granite effect sequins embroidered by the Paraffection umbrella’s lesser-known embroidery house Montex

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0E5A2610Concertina pleated organza created by pleat specialist Lognon

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0E5A2595The most incredible wooden shavings, each individually hand-cut and hand painted on the edges with pastel hues and arranged on the neckline and the hem of the dress in a fish scale formation

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0E5A2576Feathers cut to resemble bees – an animal that Coco Chanel herself related to as exemplified by this quote: “I am a bee, that is part of my sign, the Lion, the Sun. Women of this sign are hard-working, courageous, faithful, undaunted. That is my character. I am a bee born under the sign of the Lion.”

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0E5A2608Floral embroidery contrasted with garlands of wooden disc pailettes

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0E5A2639A dress featuring a lattice of white lace ribbon, cotton and jersey with wood chip embroidery with a hem of ribbon fringe and embroidered tweed strands

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0E5A2633The tones of ecru, ivory, sand, dove, putty, taupe and mocha in the collection echo Coco Chanel’s fixation with beige.  “I go back to beige because it’s natural.”

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This series of photographs were taken in-house by Chanel and focus on the finale wedding gown ensemble of a hooded jacket and strapless dress with a long removeable train, made out of a geometric lace, decorated with crystal rhinestones, leather pieces, pearls, wooden and baguette beads. 

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Two things in the past fortnight have given me reason to peel back the layers and shed light on what goes on underneath.  Body Studio, an all-encompassing space dedicated to women’s lingerie, lounge, sleepwear, swimwear, hosiery and sportswear, opened up at Selfridges.  It’s their biggest department to date and to me felt like a celebration of the facets of a modern woman’s life that are often shunted into hard-to-find corners or boxed into finite fitness niches.  And at the V&A, Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear, the largest exhibition ever to be staged on underwear, opens today.  What’s traditionally been covered up and childishly joked about Carry On-style, comes to the forefront in a comprehensive history of underwear ranging from 18th century whalebone stays to Acne’s gender-netural briefs.  It exposes the thematic purposes of our undies – namely protecting and enhancing the body, and vaguely touches on the ramifications, which is that as garments, they often place both female and male bodies under engendered expectations – constraints even.  The role of underwear in the act of seduction, and in its aesthetic referencing within fashion completes this spectrum.

It’s a straightforward – perhaps even conventional – way of looking at underwear.  There’s a sense of going through the motions when looking at the vitrines of stays and corsets, shapeshifting underskirts and bustles, the evolution of sports-aiding supportive underwear and the eventual emancipation from corsetry with the introduction of bras.  The main takeaway from the ground floor of the exhibition is that right from the start, underwear has been tasked with the role of shifting, moulding and holding the shape of our bodies, something that is still evident today.  Seemingly, little has changed from boosting the line of a woman’s body with 18th century hooped petticoats and 19th century bustles, slimming the waist down with debilitating corsets to the Wonder Bras and men’s briefs by aussieBum that enhance the genitals of present day.  Those changes to the body created by underwear are perhaps less severe today, as the focus has shifted to enhancement and celebration rather than improvement and disguise.

IMG_0834Shape-shifting hooped petticoats, crinolines and bustles

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underwear118th century stays and undershirt

IMG_083118th century homemade stays splayed out

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underwear3Examples of 19th century corsets at their most extreme proportions

IMG_0850Breathable wool corsets

underwear4Waist training corset // Summer ribbon corset

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IMG_0854Stomacher for pregnant women

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IMG_0876Looser and less restrictive underwear once the 1920s-30s kicks in

IMG_0879Garters

underwear21950s bra and girdle

IMG_0883Mary Quant supportive body

IMG_0884Gender neutral briefs by Acne and the first pair of thongs designed by Rudi Gernreich

IMG_08851930s silk chiffon knickers depicting a hunting scene

Upstairs, the exhibition progresses to explore the aesthetic and sensual pleasures of underwear.  The list of designers, who have referenced the appearance and technical construction of underwear is endless.  “Underwear as outerwear” has become a style genre in itself – a vehicle for rebellion as designers seek to blur the lines between the private and public sphere, as well as breaking down the taboo around sex and nudity.  The use of sheer materials, slip-dresses and corsetry worked into evening gowns are things that we take for granted today but once upon a time, shocked and titillated.  With Agent Provocateur being a primary sponsor to the exhibition, the re-classification of  underwear as lingerie is also addressed.  The role of lingerie to be alluring, seductive or playful, whether it’s for the eyes of a partner or for self-pleasure is also demonstrated here with examples by the primary instigators such as Agent Provocateur, Fifi Chachnil and on a more fetishistic level, House of Harlot.

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underwear7House of Harlot // Agent Provocateur

underwear9Fifi Chachnil // Strumpet & Pink

underwear8Liza Bruce metallic slip dress as worn by Kate Moss // Vivienne Westwood corset and fig-leaf tights from 1989

underwear6Bordelle structured dress // Mr Pearl’s Swarovski-encrusted corset designed for Dita von Teese

underwear5John Galliano for Givenchy transparent muslin dress A/W 96 // Dolce & Gabbana wicker crinoline dress from S/S 13

A more subversive and contemporary extension to the exhibition might have included Marie Yat, a new lingerie and bodywear label created by a CSM graduate of the same name, who launched her new website with an gallery installation in De Beauvoir this week.  Dazed called it lingerie that “resists the male gaze”.  Judging by my boyfriend’s reaction to these alternatively titillating images, I’m not sure it necessarily does that, but it is certainly an out-of-the-box take on lingerie that is simultaneously utilitarian and erotic, especially where Yat places features such as thin straps cupping the bum cheeks, cut-outs at the hips and suspenders hooked to ribbed thigh high socks.  Rendered in a strict palette of white, pale pink and black in cotton and silk, Yat manages to carve out a niche in an oversaturated market, and positively, one where stretch marks, slight bulges and imperfections are normalised and elevated even.

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Yat’s work reminds you that there’s a lot to be said about the emotive and psychological aspects of underwear and lingerie.  The intimacy evoked by colour palette and materials often endears you to the pieces.  It’s why over the years, I have held on to antique lace knickers with fraying edges or bralets with covered buttons.  There’s a tenderness to these sort of constructions that is irresistible.  The psychological effects of underwear and lingerie in relation to the wearer and how it makes them feel (as opposed to what onlookers feel) was perhaps not fully explored in the V&A exhibition.

It’s a hard thing to articulate and perhaps those feelings can only remain within a strictly private sphere.  Cue the Body Studio, the impressive all-encompassing department on the 3rd floor at Selfridges Oxford Street, which has been designed as a haven for bodywear, where you could potentially ponder those thoughts about how these most intimate of layers makes you feel.  With the newly created expanse of space, Selfridges has carved out a much more freeing environment to link up lingerie with hosiery, swimwear, activewear, loungewear and sleepwear.  These categories bleed into one another and the clever decision to house it all together, reflects the way women today treat their bodies as temples.  Whether it’s the feel-good factor of a juice from Hemsley & Hemsley’s first cafe, a hair cut from Daniel Galvin’s salon, or the beckoning of a beach holiday or even a night-in for quality ‘me’ time in luxurious pyjamas and cashmere socks – it’s all catered for here.

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Having overly relied on Uniqlo seamless underwear for the last few years (I still love and buy you in bulk…), I thought I’d indulge a little in some of the newer and hard-to-find lingerie labels that Selfridges have brought in for Body Studio.  Established brands like La Perla and Agent Provocateur get their own enlarged shop-in-shops but Selfridges’ own buy of deluxe lingerie as well as unique contemporary brands is definitely impressive.  As lingerie isn’t my forte, I discovered a few brands that really spoke to my own personal tastes, ranging from the functional to the frivolous.  The frills of Fleur du Mal‘s suggestive sets and the romance of For Love and Lemons.  The whimsical florals of LA-label Daydream Nation.  The sustainable bamboo grey marl of Baserange.  My undies drawer has been duly replenished.

I thought about coyly photographing it all, worn over a t-shirt or laid out flat, but that would defeat the original purpose of these pieces crafted with, intricacy and an actual body in mind.  Ten years ago, I’d be horrified at the thought of wearing lingerie on the blog.  That’s what a decade does.  That crippling self-consciousness and habit of nit-picking one’s appearances fades because you’re more mindful of the bigger picture.  The body stretches and softens over time and you kind of don’t care like you once used to.  Commentating and writing online for so long hardens you up to criticism (I’m referring to the needless sort about appearances and the like) to the point where you’re able to say, ‘Frankly, I don’t give a fuck anymore….'”  And at the end of the day… it’s a body… we all have one and it’s no secret that we do.

IMG_6828Stella McCartney bra

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daydreamnationDaydream Nation one-piece

IMG_6859Baserange bra

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IMG_6936aFleur du Mal bra and knickers

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lovelemFor Love and Lemons slip dress worn over Hanky Panky boy shorts