>> The last time I was in Limelight in London, I was necking overly-sweet WKD drinks,  dancing to the Artful Dodger and thought my Miss Selfridge paisley polyester top was awesome.  Who knew that more than a decade later, I’d be back inside this former nightclub, that’s yet to be converted into an arts centre, and be flung into a topsy turvy world of circus freaks – or as Sophia Webster has dubbed it – her “Cirque du Sophia”.  The instant reference of course for Webster and set designer Shona Heath, who transformed this derelict church space, has to be the Bauhaus classic, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadisches Ballett.  It’s a familiar reference, influencing the likes of Jean-Paul Goude and winding up on countless designer mood boards.  The costumes of the Triadic Ballet are singular and their costumes pointed to a far-far-away future that hasn’t actually quite happened yet, even nearly a hundred years down the line from when the ballet was first debuted.  It was an ambitious mise-en-scene for Webster to attempt.  To put this much effort in to the models in their bulbous and cuboid statement costumes which are after all, a vehicle to allow you to see the shoes and the bags, shows Webster’s commitment to her theme.

Webster cleverly combines both eyeball-grabbing set and product so that, the former doesn’t overshadow the latter.  These surreal humanoid beings with their spherical curves and hard-edged boxy angles can join Webster’s past gatherings of human Barbie dolls, garden fairies and jungle raver chicks, and all the other mini-universes that collectively spin out shoes and bags in Webster language.  This season that includes rave-meets-circus motifs, sassy slogans a-plenty and a capsule collaboration with Coca-Cola.  Webster, having had her first child, has also expanded her range of baby shoes.  Even though a Leigh Bowery-esque catsuited acrobat was doing “freakshow” type body contorting as you entered the space, there definitely isn’t anything that would freak people out about Webster’s collection.

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Triadisches-Ballett-23Screencaps of Triadic Ballet from Interiorator

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With thanks to Mercedes-Benz for providing transporation

>> A few weeks I caught up with Nicholas Kirkwood on set of his new film “Pearlessence” directed by Marie Schuller, to celebrate his signature Casati Pearl pump.  It struck me then how far Kirkwood has come on since I was a little young un’ blogging about his editorial sky high wedges back in 2006.  Shoe signatures, glossy new website, flashy fashion films and multiple stores around the world (Beijing is Kirkwood‘s latest shop location) – these are major milestones that Kirkwood has fully earned as he approaches the ten year anniversary for his brand and of course since LVMH came onboard as a majority investor in 2013, brand Nicholas Kirkwood has only propelled further.  They have built up a shoe language where there now exist “classics” like the Casati Pearl pump, featuring a pearl lined platform, which he debuted back in A/W 08-9, inspired by Marchesa Luisa Casati and her penchant for floor sweeping strands of pearls.

Kirkwood celebrates it with a festive film that combines two of my favourite things – anything resembling “bubbles” and never ending reflections with the mirrored set.  More significantly the film represents a shift for Kirkwood to go beyond product.  In a recent interview with Business of Fashion, Kirkwood said “Brand awareness has to be right at the top of the list right now.  I think we’re getting to the point now where the product’s there, we have an image for our retail; there are a lot of things that are in place. It’s just about passing that message on.”  Creating visuals like these films will be key to taking Kirkwood’s image from just shoe cut-out stills to something that is part of a brand “universe”.  

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>> The title of the post is how the imaginary postcard would have gone if I had gotten my wish to stay on… and on… and on… It will surprise nobody that I’ve returned from my too short first-time trip to Marrakech in Morocco longing to go back.  The natural oohs and aaahs that the intensely vibrant yesteryear city incites are fully warranted.  I’ve just had to wait a while to experience it.  Despite my tardiness to the joys of Marrakech, I’ll still be rounding up my three day stay, with much thanks to Black Tomato Travel, with a hefty post once I’ve sorted through the bajillion of pics we took.

05_STOLEN_MOMENTS_Yves_Saint_Laurent-4Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakech in 1969

For now, I’m keeping it short and sweet.  Let’s kick it off with “Love”, the theme of Yves Saint Laurent’s greeting cards, which he would create out of collage every year to send to close friends and clients to ring in a new year.  Their designs are on displayed at the Galerie Love Saint Laurent within the beautiful Jardin Majorelle, which Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé rescued in 1980 and used as his Marrakech bolthole.  It felt like a pilgrimage of sorts, visiting the beautifully landscaped gardens on Rue Yves Saint Laurent, a tranquil world away from the dusty bustle of the Medina, where Saint Laurent’s ashes were scattered when he died in 2008.  Except instead of feeling sombre like you would at a grave, it was celebratory of Saint Laurent’s love of this garden, carefully restored, cultivated and maintained by Berge and Saint Laurent, and of his overall love of this mysterious city, where he felt the creative freedom to dive into an extremely colourful oeuvre in the 1970s, furiously sketched out in felt tips, and fuelled by his tight knit circle of muses wafting around.

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The exuberant and often witty graphics that Saint Laurent designed as greetings cards, exploding with colour and fun, moments of frivolity captured in his turbulent emotional life.  The beautiful merchandise in the Boutique Majorelle (no normal souvenir shop) – took inspiration from the cards and so it is I came home with a pair of embroidered leather slippers, spelling out LOVE, the only emotion I was ever going to feel for this city.

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When Mary Katrantzou was designing her SS 14 “Shoes” collection, unbeknownst to people at the time, her first collection for adidas Originals was just coming to fruition in the research stage.  Looking back, that passage of trainer dresses in that collections makes a whole lot of sense as similar prints have made their way into the newly available collection with adidas that just dropped into adidas Originals stores and onto Mary Katrantzou’s website over the weekend.  “It was very serendipitous as adidas approached us when we were doing this collection based around the shoe.”

The result of this one year process of Katrantzou delving deep into adidas’ archives in Nuremberg in Germany was that she took adidas iconography like the trefoil and worked it into blown up prints of running shoes from the 1970s and 80s, honing in on the laces, outsoles and the spikes on a shoe – all digitally rendered in a way that is by now signature to Katrantzou.  Her mainline collections might be on an experimental trajectory that is taking Katrantzou away from print but this adidas Originals cements what we know and love about her work.

“It’s like a resurfacing of print!” said Katrantzou.  “I like that I’m at a place where I can do certain things that are different from what people initially knew of my work and I like that I have the flexibility that I can bring without feeling it’s not relevant.  It gives you a bit of freedom and given that I’ve only been designing for six years, I’m still evolving but that doesn’t mean the path of print is cut off from me.  It’s about where is it relevant and when it right and for adidas, it was absolutely right!”

What drew Katrantzou to collaborating with adidas was the fact that, their fashion collaborators have all created very distinct products that are true to them be it Raf Simons, Rick Owens or Stella McCartney.  It’s no surprise that Katrantzou focused on print as opposed to performance, especially as it’s an adidas Originals collection, designed to be worn by anyone as opposed to having a specific functionality in mind.  “The sportswear element was less bout how well the materials performed but more about what is the iconography that signifies adidas,” said Katrantzou.  “I know what they do with performance and what their capabilities are.  adidas’ objective for me was to design a collection under Originals which can be worn by anyone.  Something that fits within the aesthetic of adidas but also a true collaboration between myself and the brand.”

Katrantzou delivers on high octane surface factor as well as on a collection that is perhaps the most “fashion-y” of adidas collections we’ve seen.  The dresses, t-shirts and bomber jackets at first glance look like they could have sprung out from under Mary Katrantzou’s sporty umbrella and I doubt you’re going to be seeing the collection sweating under the gym lights.  What adidas gives Katrantzou though is the mechanisms and know how to create impactful product within a price bracket, which she can’t do herself.  The prices aren’t rock bottom cheap but are a fraction of Katrantzou’s increasingly embroidered, almost demi-couture pieces and Katrantzou aficionados of which there are many, will find the collection an exciting prospect.

“It’s an opportunity to offer something that will have a much wider audience,” said Katrantzou.  “When we came back from Nuremberg, we counted on the way back from the airport to the studio, over 70 people wearing adidas, which is shocking.  It’s something that I wouldn’t be able to do within my own collection.  It’s a vehicle to be able to say, “Yes, you can buy this!”

For Katrantzou, the collection is yet another impressive milestone in what has only been six years of designing and it’s a project that has been chosen strategically at an exiting moment when the brand is on the precipice of further expansion.  “I’m not somebody who believes in collaboration for the sake of a collaboration,” said Katrantzou.  “It has to challenge you or you have to be learning something new.  We’ve been approached by different companies by lots of different things and in the end you decide to do the things that excite you the most.”

0E5A0149adidas Originals x Mary Katrantzou Track ZX 5000 shoes 

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0E5A0004adidas Originals x Mary Katrantxou tank dress, fitted t-shirt and Bomfared Equipment shoes

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0E5A0034adidas Originals x Mary Katrantzou mesh top and skirt worn with Dries van Noten shoes and Junya Watanabe biker jacket

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0E5A0094adidas Originals x Mary Katrantzou bomber jacket worn with Mother of Pearl dress and Marc Jacobs shoes

P.S. I’m starting to think I need to put together a This Collab is Dropping into Stores Google Calendar for everyone to peruse because they’re coming in so thick and fast at this time of year.  Would you be interested, somewhat interested or not interested?  Which one?  Which one?