Keep your ‘lectric eye on me babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream oh yeah!

David Bowie’s lyrics of Moonage Daydream provides the perfect lyric prism in which to view the latest Dior show.  It’s why it was one of the tracks used in the Bowie medley that soundtracked the show.  You can be an alligator, a mama-papa, a space invader or more fittingly, a rock ‘n’ rolling bitch in these clothes.  This show was so full in every way possible – full of eras, identities and ideas – I said in my Dazed Digital review of the show, “Too much of a good thing… is something amazing.”  I with more designers would just go and do something that was “too much”.  Then again, few have the bravada and the resources that Simons has to make everything work successfully.  You could see it all as overbearing randomness or rather it was a freeing of haute couture that Simons so brilliantly expressed with this show.

I was always thinking of the future for so many years and I was always anti-romanticising the past, but the past can be beautiful too, ” says Raf Simons. “There is a sense of the romance of the fifties, with the experimentation of the sixties and the liberation of the seventies in the collection – both in its materialisation and attitude. But I really wanted to express something that felt relevant for today, learnt from then, from the point of view of now; something wilder, more sexual, strange and certainly more liberated for the haute  couture and for women.”

Wild and strange is exactly what we got as we entered this never ending mirrored maze of white scaffolding and strangely sensual deep pile dusky pink carpet.  It was a time travel vehicle where Simons’ multi-decade, mucho-clashing, more-is-more vision for Dior could traverse through, going first around the hexagonal upper tier and then descending down the stairs.  If you looked up at the ceiling, you saw these strange creatures reflected repeatedly into infinity.  Sometimes there would be verbatim moments – like psychedelic catsuits taken straight from body painting editorial that might have appeared in late ’60s/early 70s Vogue under Diana Vreeland.  Most of the time decades collided with one another – as seen in the ’60s PVC printed with Dior’s femme fleur and made up into ’50s opera coats, worn over short crystal shifts as well as early punk tattoo body suits.  Bowie might have taken a liking to them in his Ziggy Stardust days.  Or when a full skirted New Look era skirt collided with an O-ring cut-out bodice straight from a go go booted dance club.  Speaking of which, the mere presence of those PVC slicked thigh high gogo boots in bright colours with metal cage heels, was more than enough to inject a kink in proceedings as well as a kick to the mainstream perception of what haute couture is supposed to be.  Cue detractors decrying “This is not couture!”

I’ve literally just come been inside a couture atelier today (more about that in another post).  The head of one of the ateliers said that she loved working in haute couture because there were no limits – in price and in ideas.  If that’s the case then Simons has really understood this sense of freedom.  Exploring its outer possibilities in materials and techniques as well as themes is how Simons has chosen to work with these ateliers, limitless in skill and resources – and that should be commended.  The collective gushing post show was genuine and heartfelt.  “So many ideas!  So rich!” was the general consensus.  Some can take what they want out of it  – a grosgrain ribbon heavily pleated skirt here, a guipere lace dress there – indeed, clients are currently clustering around the racks right this moment, taking their pick.  For us mere mortals, it’s the entire experience of this sensory overload that was so glorious to witness.

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Metallics.  Iridescence.  Sheeny shinyness.  Layers.  These are the components that make up the outfit equivalent of Shangri-La for me.  The main facilitator?  A Miu Miu jacket from the current A/W 14-5 collection, looking all delicious and tempting in-stores and online, stuffed with pastels, parkas and plastic brilliance.   How did I get it?  I was very honoured to be asked to be “Girl in Miu Miu” for a few days, leading up to Miu Miu ‘s S/S 15 show in Paris, taking over their Girl in Miu Miu Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr accounts.  Francesca Burns, fashion editor of British Vogue, was the previous Girl in Miu Miu in Venice, and a definite hard act to follow.  I did my artsy-fartsy best to put up some lush Girl in Miu Miu moments.  The reward?  The jacket, which when paired with other equally shimmery things such as Marques Almeida x Topshop‘s collabo taffeta trousers (I know everyone is falling hard for the shredded denim but don’t ignore the awesome 90s silk taffy bits!) and Alexander Lewis’ Palm Springs-inspired resort mermaid tail shirt dress, then becomes my kind of outfit alchemy.  Emphasis on the “my”.  Add a bargain £40 Tao by Comme des Garcons find from Rag Tag (from her debut solo A/W 05-6 collection no less) and some belatedly bought Meadham Kirchhoff x Nicholas Kirkwood glitter wedges from that most beloved SS12 collection (from a recent Nicholas Kirkwood sample sale… ) and there you have all the things that make me beam, beam, beam.  Oh, and thinking I’ll be able to easily convert these Ek Thongprasert bejewelled silicone peach danglies from pierced earrings to clip-ons, they’ll be the final finishing touch to this overly decorated layer cake.

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0E5A9311Miu Miu A/W 14-5 metallic jacquard jacket, Alexander Lewis resort 2015 iridescent dress, Marques Almeida x Topshop taffeta trousers, vintage Tao Comme des Garcons knitted top, Meadham Kirchhoff x Nicholas Kirkwood SS12 shoes, Miu Miu sunglasses, Ek Thongprasert earrings

The past is filled with violent joys and broken toys,
Laughing girls and teasing boys.

But don’t try to touch me, don’t try to touch me
Cos that will never happen again.

Tomorrow? Well, tomorrow’s a long way off.
Maybe someday I’ll have somebody’s hand.

I referenced Shangri-La in the title of the post as a nod to the main soundtrack component of Miu Miu’s S/S 15 show.  The American girl group trio Shangri Las and their 1966 spoken word track about teenage heartbreak “Past, Present and Future”, layered over Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata is one big telling clue into Miuccia’s mindset for Miu Miu’s latest collection.  As is the way she threw in other jarring sounds from Norwegian noise rock outfit Moon Relay as well as the soundtrack from John Waters’ 1974 classic Female Trouble.  How else to decipher what seemed like a medley of Miu Miu classics – remixed of course.  Cinched in plaid belts and pencil skirts, 1950s housecoats and 18th century Bucol floral silks were prim.  Ruffled lingerie-inspired crop tops, exaggerated bow mules and a drawn on brow courtesy of Pat McGrath were not.  In fact they were decidedly bad.  These ladies slash vamps stalked down the OMA-designed runway underneath misleading church-like wooden arches, with a knowing look in their eyes revelling in their “female troubles” (“They say I’m a skank but I don’t care… I’m a jerk – I like it fine!” so the song goes) The juxtaposition between the two made me think of vintage glamourous mugshots, yesteryear girl gangs and teenage rebellion of every era.  In other words, well versed tropes for Miuccia.  After the questionable faux-feminism of Chanel, seeing Miu Miu the next day was like being brought back on to more stable feminist ground.  It’s almost default for Miuccia to think about the complexities of female empowerment or on the most basic level, be cleverly empathetic to how clothing can make a woman feel.  It’s why Miu Miu and Prada collections are often loaded with subjective references, for the onlooker.    Something is always simmering beneath the surface, which is why I so enjoyed my temporary stint as a Girl in Miu Miu.  At the very least, I was within a five metre radius of the woman herself backstage at the show.  Still not said “Hi!” yet.  Maybe I never will.

Was I ever in love? I called it love…
I mean, it felt like love,
There were moments when…
Well, there were moments when.

IMG_20141006_155510Last day as Girl in Miu Miu in Paris

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IMG_20141001_125556From my stint as a Girl in Paris

0E5A0955OMA designed set of wooden arches for Miu Miu SS15

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IMG_20141002_062747Taken backstage at Miu Miu S/S 15 – thin brow action created by Pat McGrath

vintagemugshot1955 mugshot

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1980scholagirlsHoyo Maravilla gang girls, East LA, 1983 photographed by Janett Beckman

pachucaA “Pachucha” (Mexican-American women in zoot suits) Rosie From Boyle Heights In The 1940s

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01175568.JPGWoman in a plaid skirt, 1946 photographed by Nina Leen for Life Magazine

00569797.JPGFrom an April 20, 1942, LIFE story about proper skirt-hem lengths, photographed by Nina Leen

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115019426.jpgTeenager in Tokyo, 1965 photographed by Michael Rougier for Life Magazine

hellsangelsHell’s Angels in a bar 1965 photographed by Bill Rey for Life Magazine

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teenagegirlgunsGirls with guns c. 1920s

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John Stezaker: Pair IVPair (IV) The Approach (2007) by John Stezaker

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shangrilasThe Shangri Las

Jamie xx’s track All Under One Roof Raving has been doing the soundtrack rounds at NYFW.  Steel drums, good beats and a feel-good summer vibe – what’s not to like?  Moreover, its golden age of rave references have been reflected in one notable show – Marc by Marc Jacobs or MBMJ for easier MC rhyming.  Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley’s sophomore show had a lot to live up to.  I still remember the soaring feeling of “YAAAAAAAAYYYY!” when I emerged out of the Marc by Marc show last season.  It was a resounding triumph and the fruits of that labour have already started filtering out on to the streets (love spotting MBMJ par Katie and Luella on the streets at NYFW).

Whereas Jamie “xx” Smith was too young to remember the UK rave scene when it was happening, Hillier and Bartley do and are also canny enough designers to know how to extract the best stylistic references from that hedonistic music genre, and work them into a collection that is meant to resonate with Smith’s generation and younger.  Funnily enough I had been rewatching Mark Leckey’s 1999 video collage Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, the primary sample track for Smith’s track.  The  gritty and ethereal exuberance of it definitely could be felt at the latest MBMJ collection.

In da club is where we were at but the rainbow triangular neon structure throwing mad light shadows around the room was more euphoric than hardcore.  Even as models came stomping out in cloaked in edgy latex leggings, polka dot skirts and twisted bikini tops over t-shirts, courtesy of House of Harlot, there was a joy in all of it that erased any connotations of kink or darkness.  Consciously or not, there were echoes of Marc Jacobs’ own A/W 11 collection, with the strictness and severity taken out.

In its place was another style tribe in the making with knotted hair (note on the hair, the reference could have been either Miley Cyrus or Bjork – we know who did it first but the question is will the new MBMJ customer?), slouchy silhouettes, bolshy pastel-dipped boots and abstract pod-like bags.  Illuminati symbols and New World System slogans winked at you and like the Fergus Purcell graphics of the season before will slay people at first sight on the rails.  Even when Hillier and Bartley worked in more concept with layered pleated skirts, origami folded crossed over with demi-corsets, there was still a feeling of youth-propelled insouciance.

When designers talk about their “girl”, that can sometimes seem like an abstract concept.  Or just pure drivel-esque bullshit.  Hillier and Bartley however have nailed their MBMJ girl.  It’s so clear.  Not even twenty years-plus old UK-centric club scenes or obscure artist references can derail her.  She’s stomping along swiftly to her own beat of her own drum.

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>> Following my mammoth Port Eliot post, I thought I’d follow up with something short ‘n’ sweet.  This is basically an excuse to post Jamie xx’s new All Under One Roof Raving track, which samples Mark Leckey’s 1999 all time awesome art short Fiorucci Made me Hardcore and an excerpt from the raving episode of Spaced.  Fiorucci.  Spaced.  Jamie xx – all good things.  But obviously the subject of this video are these most excellent white leather Ashish and Topshop sliders, made by Buffalo.  Again, all good things.  The low-top trainers sold out in nano seconds but for some reason, the sliders are still available in a range of sizes, which I preferred anyway.  I reserved them in my size about a month ago and then promptly forgot about them but the lovely folks in personal shopping in Topshop Oxford Circus kept them for me until I bothered to pick them up today.  Thumbs up personal shoppers!  What makes these the utmost of ace-ness of course are the LED lights embedded into the soles.  Not just one tiresome pattern of blinking lights, but a remote control that goes through about 10 different modes of blinking rainbow lights, with the ability to control the colour selection and brightness.  I’m basically going to be making like Tyres (please watch Spaced if you haven’t done so – you won’t regret it and I can drop more gratuitous references) and bounce around my home raving it up to anything from the telephone to the screaming kids next door.