Sunday, 24 February 2013

Lakme Fashion Week: Designers to Watch in 2013

Although the fashion world is currently revolving around the Big Four (New York, London, Milan and Paris - we're currently still on Milan), it's worth noting that another important showcase is just around the corner. Lakme Fashion Week will be held in Mumbai from 22nd-26th March, where we'll get to see Spring/Summer Resort collections for 2013. As a bit of an Indiaholic (I've seen a fair few Bollywood films, I'm saving up to go to India and I love reading the Vogue India website), I couldn't resist bringing you a taste of Indian style.

The organisers of LFW Mumbai (don't get it confused with London's LFW) listed their Next Gen and Emerging Designers back in January, so I've picked a few of my favourites that I'll definitely be looking out for next month.

Ilk, by Shikha Grover and Vinita Adhikari - from Noida

Lakme Fashion Week designers Ilk - cream textured clothing with drapery
[Images via Ilk's website]. 
Dreamy textures and drapery make up Ilk's latest offering.

You may have spotted Ilk on the independent online boutique, Not Just a Label. Their most recent collection was called I Lose Myself and featured deconstructed threads, layers of different textures and pops of neon in accessories. They really push themselves to experiment with forms and with influences when they are designing (for example, I Lose Myself was based on ideas about 'what metamorphic thinking is not' and 'anatomical exploration'). Expect big ideas and wearable pieces.

Nikhil Thampi - from Mumbai

Nikhil Thampi fashion at Lakme Fashion Week and worn by Evelyn Sharma
[Images via and Google Images].
Nikhil Thampi's vampish designs are irresistible and flattering.
The dress in the centre is completely backless except for two leather straps and was worn with leather leggings by Evelyn Sharma.

Since 2011, Thampi has been charming India with his designs, which have been seen on some seriously glamorous celebrities such as Anoushka and Evelyn Sharma. His dresses tend to involve sweeping folds of fabric, open backs and clean lines without busy patterns, making them a popular choice for red carpet events. However, there's also a quirky side to his work - see his chainmail and leather corset and a velvet dress with leather straps as examples of something a little less traditional.

Thampi always wanted to be in fashion but was set to join the family business instead. What changed his mind was when he helped out a friend who was preparing to show at Lakme Fashion Week, bringing him back into the industry. Although he isn't formally trained, his work shows that he obviously made the right choice in becoming a designer.

Aarti Vijay Gupta - from Mumbai

Aartivijay Gupta - chromatic prints, doodling and colour charts
 [Images via].
Gupta's creations are clever and make brilliant use of her print skills.

I've written about Aarti Vijay Gupta at LFW before, as I was so impressed by her A/W 2012 collection based on colour charts and technical patterns, mixed with black and white doodles. People have also compared her work to that of Masaba, a label which has recently focused on repeat patterns of symbols and objects, such as hand prints, cows or letters (as seen in Permia's Pop-Up Shop).

It's also worth noting that Aarti Vijay Gupta's Pantone-esque exploration of colour also saw her creating a print of shirt templates, which was echoed by Lacoste's recent use of shirt print fabric in their S/S 2013 line. Clearly conceptual ideas such as this are not exclusive to one brand, and it's great to see the trend spanning continents.

Which Lakme designers get your vote? Do you keep an eye on Fashion Week around the world? Let me know. Oh, and if you need even more persuading that India is where it's at, check out this brilliant feminist commentary from (male) designer Sabyasachi on female beauty laws.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Gucci A/W13: Power Dressing with a Burgundy Glare

If you're always longing to look a bit more stylish in winter - think knee-high boots, a bit of snakeskin, loads of plum and teal; chuck out your terrible chunky gloves, static hairstyles and sensible shoes - you need to see Gucci's take on the season. Break out the burgundy eyeshadow (try MAC or Illamasqua) and get ready for a makeover.

Leather dresses and boots at Gucci A/W 2013 in Milan
 There was plenty of high gloss black.

No, it's not the Matrix Reloaded, it's Frida Giannini's view of Autumn/Winter. The designer may be pregnant, but she was ready to unleash some fierce visions of femininity on the catwalk. I especially enjoyed the distressed dress (on the right), where the leather was cracked and softened like a 20-year-old biker jacket. The cocoon coat in the centre was a great example of leather panels used in moderation.

Houndstooth digital print on a skirt, trouser suit and dress at Gucci, Milan Fashion Week
 Houndstooth was digitally printed onto different pieces.

This digital print worked really well as a recurring motif, teamed with snakeskin and a ladylike bag. Rather than channeling the British heritage trend, this was a more new age use of houndstooth that brought it right into the 21st century. The dress (on the right) will look amazing on the red carpet.

Fluid lines and strategic folds at Gucci A/W 2013, shown in Milan
 If in doubt, fold.

Each of these ensembles uses a simple fold to add shape and character to what would otherwise be fairly standard pieces. The v-neck black dress becomes a wrap-over; the high neck coat gets a fluid curve that really makes it stand out. 

Silk, feathers and leather at Gucci A/W 2013, part of Milan Fashion Week
 More is more.

The last trend I spotted was all-out excess - whole outfits in the same shade of blue; a feathered skirt under a batwing silk blouse; a feathered top with a sheer front section (only to be worn by flat-chested women, I assume).

This was a classic Autumn/Winter collection, with familiar textures like velvet, which keeps reappearing every A/W season for the last few years with no sign of losing popularity, leather and pony hair (without the rainbow finish, a la Jeremy Scott). There was just the right amount of floral pattern on dresses and plenty of fail-safe black to make it easy to imagine incorporating into your wardrobe. Molto bene, Gucci.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Jonathan Saunders A/W13: A Whole New Meaning to Squeaky Clean

Proving that London always adds some much-needed quirk to the Fashion Week proceedings, Jonathan Saunders delivered an A/W2013 line that balanced bondage a la Fifty Shades of Grey with more respectable (read: you could wear these to a cocktail party) vintage-inspired dresses.

Dresses by Jonathan Saunders at London Fashion Week, with PVC detail
 [All images via].
How much gloss would madame like?

Saunders gave his audience a lot of flexibility when it came to choosing how much PVC they would like and where they wanted it to sit, whether it was a tight waist piece or a full-on white PVC dress with a billowing skirt. The differing levels meant that the Saunders woman could be as obvious or as subtle as she wanted.

Sweetheart necklines and off-the-shoulder dresses at Jonathan Saunders, LFW
 Goodnight sweetheart

These sweetheart necklines worked well, in either soft khaki, black PVC against duck egg blue or more blatant bright red. The multi-strap leather heels also hint at something less than innocent.

Black PVC dress, jacket and waistband on the Jonathan Saunders A/W13 catwalk
 Restricted style

The dress on the right and the jacket in the centre show how well the PVC works against more voluminous fabrics in earthy colours, whilst the dress on the left is much less forgiving. The only neutral tone left is the brown of the shoes and the model is barely visible against what she is wearing. I like how Saunders has played with nipped in waists and wide skirts, but also how he has attempted a fuller skirt with the synthetic fabric.

Red and black dresses by Jonathan Saunders
From innocence to experience

These three looks are unashamedly full-on; you couldn't conceal their intentions if you tried. The flashes of red on the shoes and the top of the dress, and the leopard print, are adding signals for you to look at the models - they're Kat Slater trademarks that somehow work brilliantly in high fashion as well.

Saunders has created a collection that goes against the stereotype of the British prude and instead gives us an assertive woman who isn't afraid to be looked at; in fact, she's looking right back.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Eudon Choi A/W13: Let's Get Waisted

I was really impressed by Eudon Choi's Autumn/Winter 2013 collection - it had a nice blend of quirky accessories and really wearable pieces, from structured jackets to chunky knitwear in pink and turquoise - but the main draw for me was the waist detail. Say hello to next season's focal point - waist belt not necessary.

Eudon Choi A/W13 Dresses - London Fashion Week
 [All images via]
Dresses were gathered at the waist or drop-waist and sat beautifully.

It was all about femininity here, but with a touch of toughness on top of the sugar coating. Dainty shoes with pom-poms sat below long-sleeved dresses in several different styles, meaning there was something for every body shape. 

The leather version on the left flatters boyish figures and gives the illusion of wider hips, whilst the v-neck in the centre has a higher flaring and means that women who have 'child-bearing' hips would be able to emphasise their waist. Lastly, the version on the right suits top-heavy women who can't get away with the deep v in the centre but still need a mid-waist cinch.

Eudon Choi A/W13 Trousers - London Fashion Week
 Skirts aside, there was still plenty drawing attention to the mid-section.

These coats (left and right) show how effective a simple coloured panel can be. As before, the panel that sits lower is perfect for those of you who want to emphasise your hips, whereas the higher cut disguises the hips and focuses on balancing the top half out. The top and trousers in the centre add height because of the continual pattern and the slimming vertical stripes, so it's a perfect combination if you're petite.

Eudon Choi A/W13 Skirts - London Fashion Week
No more skirting the issue... here are the easy pieces you need.

Stand-out skirts were paired with effortless basics like these billowing white shirts and this navy coat with what looks like a shearling trim. There was a nice symmetry between the floral headpieces and the pom-poms on the shoes as well.

This felt like a collection that wasn't just designed for the typical fashion industry silhouette; it would work on anyone with curves, too - whether they come from the hips or the chest, or indeed both. Eudon Choi added a great blend of sugar and spice to next season, accessible to all.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Inside the BFC Showspace at London Fashion Week - A/W13

LFW Somerset House - BFC Showspace
 Organised (but always fashionable) chaos.

 I popped into the BFC Showspace in Somerset House for Vodafone's Mary Katrantzou showcase, which gave us a chance to look over two of her previous collections and see what makes her designs so unique. 

As ever, the Showspace lounge was cutting-edge, with cool seating areas, vending machines full of Vitamin Water and a super-cool VIP area.

Plant-filled glass table at Somerset House for LFW
 Anyone for a spot of gardening?

The BFC Showspace in Somerset House - LFW A/W13
 It's always easier to queue with a glass of champagne in your hand.

Unfortunately my photos of the catwalk didn't come out very well (it's the luck of the draw as to where you sit), so I'll spare you the results, but it was great to see Mary's work on the models. I've only seen it previously in the designer exhibition rooms, when it's on the hangers, but you get much more of an idea of how things hang on the body when you see them in motion.

LFW A/W13 Somerset House - Manolo Blahnik Illustrations at the BFC Showspace
 Manolo Blahnik's beautiful illustrations brought the courtyard to life.

Here's to a great Fashion Week.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Thom Browne A/W13: Alice in Wonderland, set in the 80s

I've had my eye on Thom Browne's quirky designs for a while now, but this collection made me stop in my tracks. It's as if he made up a recipe with equal ratios of Lewis Carroll, Gwen Stefani, Russian dolls, 1980s power dressing and an angry Miss Havisham, then added an extra sprinkling of rose petals for good measure. My favourite parts of the concoction, including one of the best girl-with-attitude pouts yet:

Thom Browne Fall 2013 Red Roses and Pintucks
 [All images via, except where credited]
Excess All Areas

Browne's love of full volume design is always at the forefront of what he does - there's rarely any subtlety involved. That means an entire outfit in red, a pintuck-upon-pintuck dress with a corseted waist or a rose-strewn tulle gown with co-ordinating headpiece.

The typical Browne girl, if there is such a thing and she can be pinned down to a mere stereotype, is someone who refuses to be a wallflower. She probably loves cupcakes and Tim Burton films and wanted to be a horse when she grew up.

Thom Browne Fall 2013 Red Lips and Roses
 Roses Are Red

It's all about the 1980s bouffant, even down to the frizz. Backcombed to seemingly impossible heights, it then has corsages pinned carefully into place, teamed with groomed brows, a pinch of blusher and a geisha-style lip in vibrant red. The overall effect is that of a Russian doll who's been listening to power ballads and works in an office. Makes perfect sense to me...

Thom Browne Fall 2013 Grey
 The Lady is a Vamp

These shoulders are markedly different from the Henry VIII shoulders rocked at Burberry last season; they're more elegant and often angular rather than solidly inflated in appearance. If you've seen Browne's work before, you'll know he loves to exaggerate the silhouette like this, with American footballer shapes for men. 

These images also remind me of the micro-trend on street photography websites, for fashion editors and celebs to wear their jackets balanced on their shoulders, rather than putting their arms through the sleeves - the shapes here look very similar. Perhaps this is a case of the street influencing the catwalk?

Thom Browne Fall 2013 Red Embroidery and Embellishment
 The Gathering 

Hitch up, look sharp, as Dizzy Rascal didn't quite ever say. Gathered layers of fabric were heavily embellished or accessorised with everything from fur trims (though I hope they're not real) to Edwardian ruffles. The nipped in waist is a great antidote to the effect of wide skirts and fussy sleeves.

Thom Browne Fall 2013 Geisha Pout
 A Pout To Rival McKyla Maroney's Meme

This is a look that says, "I don't care if you hate what I'm wearing, because I bloody love it." Topped off by power brows, obvs. 

McKayla is Not Impressed at Fashion Week
Sorry, McKayla.
[Image via]

Thom Browne A/W 2013 Grids and Tweed
Squaring Up

Again, these are not Henry VIII or American footballer shoulders, but they're something else. In this case, more of a masculine shape, but made to seem all the more square and grid-like thanks to the choice of geometric tweed fabrics. There's also a sort of Alan Titchmarsh twist (yes, really - I haven't gone totally mad, but it is a tenuous link) in that the square patterns work really well with the climbing roses. Sort of like a trellis - see? Just me? Oh well. Maybe I've spent too long analysing this one. 

Still, Thom Browne's Autumn/Winter outlook is rosy as far as I'm concerned. Just get me some 80s tunes, a can of hairspray and some roses and I'll be desperately recreating the look in no time, though maybe not without the set designer's additions of men tied to hospital beds.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Stockholm Fashion Week: Ann-Sofie Back's Grunge-Tinged A/W 2013

My first foray into Stockholm Fashion Week is to marvel at the Höst/Vinter (or Autumn/Winter) 2013 collection from big-name designer Ann-Sofie Back, as part of her cheaper second line, known simply as Back. There's a tongue-in-cheek grunge elegance about it, with elements of charity shop chic, mis-matched fabrics and textures and some very well-placed industrial tape - ladies with boobs bigger than a B-cup need not apply unless they're going for the Jodie Marsh effect. 

The multi-talented designer has achieved a hell of a lot in the last few years, from scoring a capsule collection at Topshop to becoming Creative Director at Cheap Monday. Here's her vision for next season:

Grunge trend at Ann-Sofie Back - industrial tape and slogan fashion
 Acid yellow accents on tape and on baggy clothes helped to shape this collection.
[Images via]

Back for good slogan - Ann-Sofie Back Host/Vinter 2013
 There was a recurring pun on the designer's name and that of her offshoot brand, Back (not sure there was supposed to be a Take That connotation, but I enjoyed that as a bonus).
The use of bold text reminded me of Barbara Kruger and Vivienne Westwood.

Denim jackets by Ann-Sofie Back
Welcome to the 90s - denim cropped jackets, wide denim skirts with visible buttons; chunky zips and lashings of khaki with blinding white shoes.

This was a confident collection that has been perfectly timed to ride the wave of 90s nostalgia, with the sound of the Spice Girls clashing with Nirvana, Take That and Blur. Although Back was born and raised in Stockholm, she studied at Central St. Martins in London, graduating in 1998, most likely giving her first-hand experience of the London grunge scene, Brit-pop and Spice mania. I'm sure that her A/W designs will prove popular, especially with some of today's London IT-girls like Cara Delevigne, Daisy Lowe, Pixie Geldof and Rita Ora. Girl power!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Stop (Trouser) Press: Parisian Women Can Now Legally Wear Trousers

Here in Britain, we're used to some barmy antiquated laws, from the one where you can kill a Scotsman in York with a bow and arrow to the one about slapping people seen willfully wearing Crocs (okay, so I made that last one up, but it should be enforced). But the Parisians have just outdone us with their 200-year-old piece of legislation, stating that women should not be permitted to wear trousers

 Jane Avril, as depicted by Toulouse-Lautrec, secretly wishing she was wearing jeans.

When the law was enforced in 1800 it was designed to limit the number of professions that a woman could take on, but it became more and more outdated as bikes soon proved popular and then women had to take on men's jobs during World War I. However, without it being officially overturned, there was theoretically nothing stopping a police officer from arresting and detaining a woman just for wearing trousers - until today. 

Strangely enough, it was a conservative politician from France's UMP party who applied for the law to be revoked; it was then championed today by the Minister for Women's Rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. She pointed out that the old-fashioned law didn't fit with the constitution and equal rights principles, so it was thankfully ditched in favour of common sense. 

Vive le pantalon (think I've got that one right - because it's singular in French, like when you read about 'a great pant' in fashion magazines) and here's to some serious trouser displays at Paris Fashion Week later this month.
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