Resuscitating blog in action.  Pump.  Pump.  Pump.  The faintest of heartbeats can just about be detected.  It just might make it past this restful summer…

On the subject of life resuscitation, some of you might know that the reason why the blog has gone into a coma-like state for the past month or so.  I now have two heartbeats coursing through my body – my own plodding one, and a much faster pulse drumming away in my lower belly.  Steve, my partner and I were surprised and excited to find out that we’re going to be expecting a young arrival sometime in next January.  To say that it has made me rethink work, home and life in general is an understatement.  As a result, since the haute couture shows in July, I’ve given myself some time off to take my family to California in keeping with my annual love affair with the Golden State, gorge on a combination of Monster Munch, hash browns and Marmite on toast and most importantly give my brain a bit of space to process the fact that there’s a little being growing inside of me.

August has of course brought about its own inevitable slowdown but it’s also time to ease back into things.  And ease, is exactly what comes to mind when Port Eliot comes around.  This year marks my fourth time at the festival in Cornwall.  It felt like the “biggest” in terms of attendance and the “star” power of speakers.  Gloria Steinem!  Noel Fielding!  Kim Gordon!  Dawn French!  They were the buzz talks of the festival that had the tents all packed out.  It was a little surreal to see for instance Steinem, speak about how wonderful it felt to be a Port Eliot.  She too was probably seduced by the idealised bubble that the festival has come to be known as.

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And fortunately, you lost none of that free-spirited intimacy that has come to define this annual gathering of ideas.  Especially where the Wardrobe Department was concerned.  This has come to be the domain of Sarah Mower, contributing editor of American Vogue and all-round champion of British fashion, tucked away in the Walled Garden of the Port Eliot house.  The number of talks and ‘happenings’ here have slowly been on the increase since my first time at the fest, and although it’s still dedicate to the best of London’s grassroots fashion, this year French house Chloé ended up being this year’s official fashion sponsor at Port Eliot.

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Port-Eliot-35Feminist icon Gloria Steinem speaking with Cathy St Germans

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IMG_8066Inside Piers Atkinson’s flower headgear workshop

Hashtag Chloé Girls in their wafting white dresses and flowing tresses of course fit right into the festival’s lush surroundings of woods, riverbanks and rolling hills.  The house’s signature ease-led white dresses, spanning over four decades of the house’s history, sat pretty in the duck egg blue Drawing Room of the house, remodelled by Sir John Soane, next to vitrines of antique lace.

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My own attempt to channel the spirit of a Chloé Girl was aided by this floaty number from their S/S 16 collection complete with daintily dyed tassels, as well as my abode for the weekend, the tried-and-tested Yurtel yurt.  On the day that creative director of Chloé Claire Waight Keller came to do her talk in the Wardrobe Department, the house’s oversized Carlina sunglasses could be seen dotted everywhere.  All the better to go all hazy eyed as we lay around on hay bales, sipping gin (or a delicious frozen Rocktail in my case) and listen to Waight Keller talk creative freedom, the fluidity of a house like Chloé and festival antics with Mower.  Their talk was brought to life of course by the faces of Port Eliot – Bea, Imogen, Aggie, Lulu and Octavia Warren wearing the festival-inspired S/S 16 collection where 90s hoodies collide with ditzy florals and vibrantly dyed chiffon.  Musician Flo Morrissey was Chloé’s choice of artist, who gave both a poetry reading a musical performance.  A mega brand zooming in on a festival can often feel like an overly orchestrated endeavour.  Chloé’s involvement felt… natural… precisely because their clothes fit the meandering-in-the-meadow bill.  At least that’s what I thought as I tumbled about in a Chloé peasant tunic.

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IMG_8286Octavia, Lulu, Imogen, Aggie and Bea Warren

Port-Eliot-52Sarah Mower and Claire Waight Keller

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Port-Eliot-75Flo Morrissey

Their involvement was a contrasting foil to what was going in the rest of the Wardrobe Department, as thematically we were submerged into the eighties.  That’s the !!!Eighties Now!!! collaged in newspaper font and printed on neon poster paper.  The broader umbrella though was London’s youngest generation of riotous creativity.  First of all, roll up, roll up for recent CSM MA graduates Luke Brooks and James Theseus Buck’s new collective project, the Rottingdean Bazaar, launched during LC:M in June.  They were selling temporary tattoos and badges that celebrate the amazingly ordinary.  A Nokia 3210 tattoo?  A balloon badge that looks vaguely like a nipple?  It’s your local high street market coming alive on your body.  By the end of the weekend, I had a Colgate toothpaste, a counterfeit handbag, a broken doll and a pair of false teeth adorning my arms.  Their “bazaar” is definitely a sign of things to come from the duo as they continue to think up ways of elevating the mundane.

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IMG_8073Designer Claire Barrow getting dolphin happy

In the Special Special tent, Mower has gathered up trinkets and lovable clutter from young designers to sell to festival goers, with all sales going to the British Fashion Council Education Foundation (you know, for those ever-spiking uni fees).  Highlights included Ed Marler’s bungee cord handled carpet purses, Sadie Williams’ lurex patches, Claire Barrow’s ghoulish charm bracelets and the most awesome neon jewellery by Matty Bovan and his mum Plum.

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IMG_8030Jewellery made jointly by Matty Bovan and his mum Plum

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Returning to Port Eliot with M.A.C. were drag group DENIM – this time not only to entertain the Port Eliot crowd but also to talk about the act of transformation.  How for instance, Amrou becomes Glamrou or how Tom becomes into Shirley.  Their backstory incites interest primarily because the group formed when they were undergraduates at Cambridge, creating the first drag night at this unlikely institution.  Their act is more than just comic relief but rather a representation of a beacon of inclusivity and open-mindedness.  Seeing them speak about their experiences definitely gave DENIM a more shades of depth.

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The riot of colour carried on into the introduction of Michael Halpern’s Central Saint Martins MA collection at Port Eliot.  Halpern was one of my personal favourites from this year’s crop of MA graduates and it was interesting to discover the backstory behind the asymmetric assemblages of glitz.  I’d never heard of the spectacle of horse-diving, a now illegal spectacle that involved horses diving off of into piers, that was popular in America in the 1880’s.  Halpern’s collection was inspired by the elaborate costumes worn by the female riders that performed these dangerous stunts.   What appeared to be surface-driven disco dollies on the runway were in fact daredevil women in carefully contoured ensembles, involving hours of handworked sequins.  His collection has landed Halpern a gig at Versace, working on the couture Atelier line but he’s also in the process of launching his own line in London.  A new kid on the sequinned block is born.

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In stark contrast to Halpern, was John Alexander Skelton, another standout MA graduate from Central Saint Martins, who was in conversation with Alex Fury to talk about the “Mass Observation” survey of Bolton in the 1930s, which formed the roots of Skelton’s collection and the North/South class divide that is still very much at play today.  Upon discovering that only 3% of so-called British woven wool is actually made out of British fleece, Skelton’s collection also utilised yarns from British sheep.  Skelton is part of the newest wave of sustainable designers that are seeking new methods of working and creating and as he begins to start his own label, I’ll be looking forward to seeing how his trajectory continues.

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It ain’t Port Eliot without something elaborate going on, on top of people’s heads.  This year, we got not one but two milliners displaying their wares.  Piers Atkinson talked us through his iconic pieces, which have graced many a celebrity head.

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Then the inimitable Stephen Jones entertained a crowd with his hat-led rundown of the eighties, aided by hair support from Bumble & Bumble.  Jones of course knows a thing or two about the subcultural havens that remain for me, the most interesting facets of the eighties as a stylistic period.  New Romantics.  The Face.  The Blitz kids.  “Boy George” was undoubtedly the star of Jones’ show.  I was chuffed to be a part of this eighties cavalcade, by throwing my best Wuthering Heights moves and attempting to channel Kate Bush, with thanks to a voluminously crimped up mane, conjured up by Sven Bayerbach from Bumble & Bumble, a gothic visage by Terry Barber, director of make-up artistry at M.A.C and a crowning crescent of silver courtesy of Jones.  My Stars in Their Eyes was complete.

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IMG_8319Siouxsie Sioux, is that you?

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IMG_8365The Lady Di demure smile

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IMG_8375Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be…

In the Wardrobe Department’s most ambitious show yet, Mower had gathered up a treasure chest of fashionz to bring the Eighties Now theme to life, in a show-and-talk, styled by Matthew Josephs and Ed Marler and explained by Alex Fury, Sandy Powell and Terry Barber.  The theme was prompted by J.W. Anderson’s AW15-6 collection and the sheer chutzpah of those giant leg of mutton sleeves and Sprouse-esque squiggles.  Calling in the latest Kenzo collection, a feathered frock from Gucci, some Sloane-appropriate archive Roksanda as well as a few pieces of vintage Zandra Rhodes and Bodymap, the best of the decade was refracted into the here and now.  Fury and Mower prompted some intriguing questions in the accompanying talk.  What does it mean when fashion is looking back at a decade that saw the rise of excess and wealth, and the political stranglehold of Thatcherism in the UK?  In our post-Brexit state, is it about escapism to a no-holds-barred era of sartorial expression or a darker reflection of the poor-rich wealth gap, with the positive outcome being that from crisis comes a creative upsurge, as evidenced by the participating young designers in this year’s Port Eliot line-up.

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One of them in particular is partying like it’s 1980 in Billy’s nightclub.  Charles Jeffrey‘s work and regular party nights Loverboy, represents the newest gen of London’s out-there club scenes.  On Saturday night, we got ready for weekend revelry by ransacking the M.A.C. tent in an unprecedented fashion.  Pots of glitter and smears of bright pigment went everywhere.  Evidently I went overboard by diving in with with turquoise and orange combo, partly inspired by extreme Japanese ganguro girl make-up.  Jeffrey went one step further by diving into the muddy banks of the on-site estuary to go full on Cornish native.  Sadly he didn’t factor in the freezing state that the mud would leave him in, so he washed it all off and emerged kabuki faced for his DJ set in the Ace of Clubs tent later.

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The next morning, the M.A.C. tent underwent another transformation with Matty Bovan‘s artwork adorning the exterior.  Bovan has just been announced as the newest addition to the Fashion East S/S 17 line-up for London Fashion Week, which comes off the back of Bovan spreading his rambunctious energy through his work on the mannequins at the Miu Miu resort presentation last month in Paris.  A fearless approach towards colour and bold strokes define both his aesthetic and his own personal styling.  We were given the opportunity to strike a Bovan pose with some cleverly drawn perspex sheets and mirrors.

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Before we departed Port Eliot land to head back into the real world, we caught the beginnings of Molly Goddard‘s second life drawing lesson, giving everyone the opportunity to observe and sketch out a selection of her frocks from past and present collections.  It was the final component to Mower’s well-curated snapshot of fashion now in London and for me, perhaps a due reminder that fashion month isn’t far.  From the dreamscape of Port Eliot, it’s back to reality for me, my bump and I.

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The excitement in the run-up to this particular edition of Pitti Uomo was palpable.  The line-up of designer projects at Pitti have always been impressive but perhaps it was the combination of a) one of the most significant menswear designers to have emerged in the last twenty years and b) potentially one that will follow in the former’s path to become significant in the next twenty years, both announcing that they would reveal their S/S17 collections in Florence, which caused a somewhat feverish enthusiasm.  The crowd was certainly beefed up and the mood more giddy.  Gosha Rubchinskiy on one day?  Raf Simons the next?  Fashion ‘fuccbois’ the world over were most definitely salivating.

Ok, I jest.  Gosha Rubchinskiy and Raf Simons are of course on higher planes than the normal fucc’boi streetwear staples like Supreme or Palace, but the sort of geeky anticipation for their product often feels like it’s borne out of the same place, especially when you look at how men specifically buy clothes.  I’ve seen young lads – maybe 15, or 16 years old – emerge out of Soho multi-brand store Machine-A, excitedly asking each other “Did you get the Raf?” “Nah, I got the Gosha instead… might save up and get the Raf next month.”  (this is a verbatim convo I might add).  They talk about Raf and Gosha t-shirts like they’re collecting Premiere League football stickers or new editions of trainers.  Their design and referencing spheres are of course worlds apart but it’s testament to the way progressive and forward-thinking menswear has been embraced, that people buy both these labels in similar ways.

Gosha and Raf’s shows also formed a contrasting foil to what Pitti Uomo is generally about on first appearances – dandy suits, traditional tailoring and a contentious attitude towards what is “proper” menswear attire.  That’s precisely what makes these special projects at Pitti feel… well, special.  They’re given ample space and time for both the designer and the on-looking audience to create and see something memorable.

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Rubchinskiy rebuffed the platter of palazzos on offer in Florence and instead took us to a Fascist-era tobacco factory.  So very Russian, you might say but what actually ensued was perhaps Rubchinskiy’s most outward looking collection yet.  I have sometimes found it troubling that the fascination with his work often stems from the exoticising of his Russian roots and that his clothes are constantly seen through this lens of “post Soviet youth”, precisely because the West have never experienced communism.  That can feel like a narrow sphere to frame Rubchinskiy’s work.  Therefore, it was pleasing to see him take a leap from Russia to Italy, beginning with the ‘Gosha’ take on tailoring (slouchy, relaxed and incredibly appealing) and ending with a heartfelt resurrection of much-loved, slightly-forgotten Italian sportswear brands like Fila, Kappa and Sergio Tacchini.  Rubchinskiy has of course dabbled with logo plays before but here, these garments were official collaborations pitted with his logo in Russian.  This was Gosha in Italy, marking a more internationally minded stylistic shift for the brand that steps outside of the underground skate parks and nightclubs of Moscow.  And yet, his nods to Italian culture didn’t feel parochial.  Fila and Kappa in particular resonated everywhere and will regale

It’s odd that as the tragically killed Labour MP Jo Cox’s words from her maiden speech have been ringing around my head (“We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”), that Rubchinskiy, a Russian, should come to Europe and echo those thoughts.  “This is the time when people need to collaborate and connect with each other, because we have the internet – everyone knows what’s happening around the world so it’s stupid to be isolated. Let’s try to find words and ways to speak and live with each other.”

That spirit of collaboration extended to the film and accompanying book and exhibition entitled “The Day of My Death” directed by cult Russian director Renata Litvinova.  This odd surreal neo-nbir, filmed in the same tobacco factory where the show took place is dedicated to the famed Italian author, poet and director Pier Paolo Pasolini and the strange circumstances around his death.  Rubchinskiy has always shown more strings to his bow than just designing clothes.  In fact, arguably, his clothes are anchored to a spirit expressed through exhibitions, films and imagery that means taking it all in makes the end product more meaningful.

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I never saw Simons’ collaborative exhibition with Francesco Bonami or his 10 year anniversary show in 2005, both staged as part of past editions of Pitti Uomo.  I did get to see his Jil Sander show up in the Tuscan Hills in 2010, where rain dramatically fell as the last model took his exit.  That was a shiver-inducing moment in my years of show-going.  I highly doubt anyone who did experience of all four of Simons’ shows in Florence, would have felt deja vu on Thursday, as we stood outside the Stazione Leopolda, excited to see what lay inside.  Mannequins perched on the roof of the building loomed over us.  Like Greek statues communicating power, they set the tone for what would be an all-encompassing celebration of Simons’ work – past, current and future.  At 8.30pm, the doors were flung open and we were plunged into red-tinged darkness.  A throbbing maze of mannequins, scaffolding bars, sound equipment, where Soft Cell and New Order would soundtrack our feasting of Simons’ vast body of work.  Curiously, his seminal menswear were displayed on mostly female mannequins (reportedly from his own personal collection), painted and customised in some way or another.  That seemed to reflect the fluidity of Simons’ work appreciated and worn by both men and women.  The mark of a strong designer is when you can do away with museum-standard labels and captions.  You could easily point out the Sterling Ruby’s.  The Peter Saville’s.  The Manic Street Preacher patches.  Or the period in time when his non-conventional tailoring and repurposing of bomber jackets and wide legged combat trousers came to fruition. 0E5A00630E5A0072

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Once again, the audience were asked to stand or sit where they like, choosing their own view of Simons S/S 17 collection.  The choice of view would be crucial in this instance as Simons unveiled a fully fleshed out collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, choosing, placing and recontextualising a vast array of the photographer’s images.  Both familiar and unfamiliar squares of Mapplethorpe’s work hit you as they emerged printed on the chest, hems and backs of oversized shirts.  They were like billowing vehicles to Mapplethorpe’s portraits, still lives and graphic work.  Faces both famous and otherwise, bored their eyes into you.  Flower still lives made their impression.  Photographs of erect phallus peeked from beneath layers of slouchy sweaters and outerwear.

It was a fully fleshed out collaboration instigated by the foundation and so it was that Simons ensured the collection wasn’t going to just slap-dash place a few images here and there on some lazy tees.  Simons turned his garments into a gallery, positioning each one with precision and also printing the images with care.  The nods Mapplethorpe’s own personal style gave the collection more credence as skinny leather belts around the neck, skinny trousers and leather bar hats gave a newfound sensuality to this collection.  Still, what struck me about the collection was Simons’ ability to interact with the art.  There’s no shortage of examples where artwork has been placed cynically into a fashion context.  Simons’ collection felt like it was borne out of a genuine fascination and respect.  And beyond the fashion show, Simons has created a clever conduit to further disseminate these images that might well be unknown to a younger generation.

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What ties the two collections together is the panache of recognisability – Rubchinskiy with his revival of old-school Italian sportswear and Simons with his reframing of Mapplethorpe’s most famous imagery. Once again, I’m thinking of those lads going into stores like Machine-A six months down the line, eager to snap things up. Good for them. They deserve snapping up. Despite, the generation gap between the two, both have managed to tap into that intangible quality of collectible permanence in their work that resonates with an audience of all ages.  Pitti Uomo bagged themselves a triumphant edition that is unlikely to diminish quickly in people’s minds.

When Alessandro Michele presented that first menswear collection under what were tension-filled and uncertain circumstances back in January last year, reportedly it was the British press who were cheering the hardest when it came to the finale.  They were natural cheerleaders for the rejection of Gucci’s conventional gloss and the two fingers up at what was the Gucci status quo.  It’s somehow wired into (let’s say most…) British fashion industry folk to root for the subversive, the ironic and the unabashedly OTT.    Therefore, a year and a half later, after the complete and utter transformation of Gucci, to be able to witness a ninety-four looks stuffed show dedicated to Michele’s spiritual happy place of England, or more specifically London – in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey no less – didn’t feel like a strategically devised market-driven ‘destination’ cruise show.  It felt more like a genuine gesture of gratitude on Michele’s part, as backstage after the show, he paid tribute to British sub cultures or in his words “You can be a punk and drink tea.”

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When you travel around the world, almost a representative of your country’s style, you often get asked to trot out with defined nutshells describing a country’s style.  However eye-wincing it is to fall into generalising guff, there are a few things that you can’t run away from and Michele hit them on the head in this show, by honing in on stereotypes and maximising them until there is no more maximising to be done.  Punk, as gestated on King’s Road by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, and later repeatedly refracted and filtered down in wider culture.  Check.  Almost jingoistic signifiers of royalty – the pearls of Elizabeth I (who Michele cited as the “original rockstar” of her day) to headscarves and appliquéd corgis of the present day Queen.  Check.  Eclecticism as displayed in the clashes between Oxford boaters, glam rock metallics, Buffalo-esque rainbow platforms and debutante gowns.  Check.  LOLz irony in the form of real/fake Gucci hoodies and t-shirts that reclaims ownership of the much counterfeited logo.  Check.  The loudness.  The naffness.  The poshness.  The madness.  All there pulled together into an astonishingly long show that pushed every button of polite taste.

In the styling, there was something deliberately brasher about the collection.  The Siouxsie Soux lace leggings.  The turbans shiner.  The earrings larger and more gem-tastic.  The sunnies zanier with their flip-up double shades.  All the better to contrast with staunchly traditional garments like kilts, trench coats, collegiate-nodding cardigans and Victoriana blouses.

The setting may have been elevated with the tombstones and memorials of Chaucer, Shakespeare and countless English monarchs nearby but the point was to bring Michele’s natural vintage-scouring, magpie maving and history-revering sensibilities to the city, where they were nurtured.  Is there a danger in an intrinsically Italian house like Gucci waving the flag so enthusiastically for the UK (literally the flag was flown in the form of a Union Jack jumper and metallic brothel creeper shoes)?  Those aforementioned Brit-style attributes of course aren’t exclusive to this country alone.  They’ve had a century plus to spread their wings around the globe through various machinations.  Like English punk that has found itself a third life in Japan, thrashed out in an altogether different sub-cultural genre.  Or the Scottish kilt that is less a code of national dress but more a signifier of rebellion-laced preppiness.  The English eccentric has crossed the borders and exported itself as a genre for any would-be fashion mavens to adopt, which is precisely why Michele has unlocked a goldmine for Gucci.  Anything, something, one thing will take your fancy as everything you see below will be produced, made and hang on the racks.

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The afterparty at 106 Piccadilly similarly had 1950s rock ‘n’ roll playing on one floor and Italo disco on another with the modern day equivalent of club kids and posh girls in frocks mixing it up.  No wonder the British press contingent were such early fan girl/boy adoptors of Michele.  They could already see the good times that lay ahead.

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IMG_9629Wearing Gucci dress, Miu Miu shoes and J.W. Anderson bag

I’ve not yet written about the Dior collections by interim/stop-gap/supposedly temporary leaders of the in-house design team, Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux on the blog.  I have done for Dazed and my initial thoughts after their couture collection were that a house as big and prestigious as Dior felt hollow without the guidance of a visionary creative director.  I’m not retracting that opinion but it has to be said that Dior are certainly doing their best to make a ‘hollow’ house feel full and happening.  What to do when the narrative at a house doesn’t centre around the creative director and their output?  You redirect that narrative so that the focus is on brand DNA and history instead.

It doesn’t get more historically significant for Dior than Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill and the lavish pile of the dukes of Marlborough in Oxford.  Monsieur Christian Dior of course staged a spectacular haute couture show at Blenheim in 1954, in aid of the British Red Cross and in the presence of Princess Margaret and then in 1958, Dior’s successor Yves Saint Laurent returned to the palace with another haute couture collection.  Unlike the more far-flung locations of cruise resort shows that we have seen over the years, the ties between England and Dior are veritable and believable.

And so regardless of creative direction – and whether there’s a starry designer or not – Dior’s jaunt in London and Oxford was always going to be stuffed to the brim with pomp, Brit-kitsch and on-theme touches that captures the hearts (and also the wallets) of the all-important clients.  They’re the primary audience of these resort and pre collections seeing as they generate up to 60% of a brand’s retail business.  Not that us journalist/editor stragglers aren’t immune to Dior’s charm tactics.  How can you not smile when you see a pub made over as The Lady Dior, with themed bunting, beermats and lager glasses?  Or coo at the New Look sculpted topiary underneath the canopy of Scott’s?

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IMG_9527New Look topiary at Scott’s terrace in Mayfair

IMG_9524Outside The Lady Dior pub

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That was just the warm-up action before the day of full-on Dior-ama.  Or Dior’s version of Disneyland, as we began our journey in the newly revamped Dior Maison on 160 New Bond Street, peering at children’s haute couture (yes there is such a thing), Ron Arad sculptures and intricate porcelain.  Then came the big Insta-squeal generator.  We were to board a specially chartered Orient Express train from Victoria Statio , decked out so that it became the “Diorient Express” with branded table settings, menus and uniformed wait staff silver serving us custard and crumble.  All the while, sitting in Poirot-appropriate upholstered chairs, watching lashings of rain outside, as we chugged past the lush green of the Cotswolds.  It’s always interesting to see how international guests view these manifestations of ‘Englishness’.  On home turf, you wind up being needlessly apologetic about the weather, the lumpy custard and the nan chairs, only to be met by choruses of “Nooooo… this is all so cuuuute and so English!”  Little do they know…

newbondstreet_image_2Inside the newly revamped Dior flagship maison at 160 New Bond Street

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The pomp increased substantially when we finally got to Blenheim Palace (true to National Rail form, our train was forty minutes late) as a brass band struck up with fanfare to greet arriving guests.

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Inside the entrance hall were the roots of the Blenheim connection, as dresses from that first 1954 show, were on exhibition.  There would be little to link the nipped in, A-shaped cocktail dresses to what Ruffieux and Meier would show.  This resort collection was I think the least stiff of their output for Dior thus far.  It was less about ticking off house codes or doing Raf Simons by numbers and more of a homage to where it was shown.  In the Long Library, flanked by a statue of Queen Anne and under the contemporary word art by Lawrence Weiner, this was Ruffieux and Meier’s interpretation of ‘English Eccentricity’.  Just as Brits up and down the country are contemplating our identity, possibly outside of Europe, we had Englishness refracted through the lens of two Swiss designers at a French house.  That quintessential Englishness included a fox hunting scene jacquard, English country floral embroidered tea dresses, flailing scarves knotted up with D logo revival bags and a sense of layering and styling where you can draw parallels with Jonathan Anderson or Phoebe Philo at Celine.  They wore stompy gold boots and their bar jackets were less structured with draped hips and basques.  The eclectica was fleshed out with well-travelled prints and rich embroideries.  I thought Meier and Ruffieux injected a bit more energy into what could have been a by-the-book English-themed collection.  Though the general review consensus seems to be that innovation and directional design are still lacking.  That’s down to the media salivating for a new creative director to come in (it is rumoured that the announcement will be imminent).

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On the train, another journalist pondered the notion that houses like Dior might well carry on with a non-starry overarching creative director because the branding and history of a house is more powerful than any one talented individual.  Dior is certainly one of the few houses in the world hat has an array of recognisable tropes, symbols and signatures to draw from.  Even the typically English grey sky could be seen as Dior grey.

It’s still likely of course that Dior will bring in a named creative director but they have also proved that the boat doesn’t really get rocked in the absence of that central creative figure.  Judging by the satisfied clients at the after party who queued up to have their fortunes read (with Dior-themed tarot cards), it seems Dior CEO Sidney Toledano might have a point when he said himself that customers don’t care who designs Dior’s clothes.  If it’s a theme park experience of Dior complete with flower-trapped lollipops, novelty train rides and tea parties you’re after then Dior nailed it.  Those that were searching for design-led heft in the actual collection might have to wait that bit longer.  For now, the Dior train runs with full steam ahead.