Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Lakme Fashion Week S/S 2013: Why Aarti Vijay Gupta's Map Print Is Bang On Trend

When I saw the catwalk images from Aarti Vijay Gupta's Spring/Summer 2013 collection at India's Lakme Fashion Week, my heart skipped a beat. Not just because I'm a massive fan of her work, for its use of conceptual prints, but because I saw maps and stamps. 

For the designer it was the start of 'I Love India', a clutch of pieces that included references to Mahatma Gandhi, Indian tigers and a coal train. For me, sitting in rainy old England, it was the chance to step into another country and to get a glimpse of it from AVG's perspective. 

 The print looks beautiful on a sari.
[Catwalk images via Lakme Fashion Week].

If there's one trend that's been simmering on the surface of this season, it's a print that relates to travel - from Mary Katrantzou's S/S13 stamp and coin inspired designs and her collaboration with Current Elliott, to Christopher Raeburn's map dress and Topshop's map-emblazoned bikini, swimsuit and scarf that are currently flying off the shelves at a store near you.

Mary Katrantzou for Current Elliott [Image via fashion-law.org].

Christopher Raeburn dress, S/S13 [Image via christopherraeburn.co.uk].

Topshop's traveller trend is in full swing [Images via topshop.com].

Whereas 2012 in commercial fashion was all about patriotic UK flags, with the Union Jack getting a boost from the Jubilee and the Olympics, 2013 is about where you're going, as well as where you're from. That's why cartography has become a recurring inspiration for clothing and accessories, along with travel-inspired jewellery such as beaded glass and thread bracelets.

 Whatever the colour palette, the maps still look edgy and crisp.

It's all about heritage prints and more stamps than you can shake a stick at.
Nice to see AVG's trademark glasses making an appearance again, too.

More than anything, this collection reminds me why I want to visit India; to get out my passport and explore a little more of that world map, but also to see the place that inspires great designers such as Aarti Vijay Gupta. I will be upholding the traveller trend as much as possible this year!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Visual Merchandising in Rome: Shop Window Lust

After last week's Roman Holiday adventure (in which I did not resemble Audrey Hepburn or smash a guitar over a spy's head on the River Tiber, but I did have lots of gelato), it's time to reflect. Naturally I had my VM brain on when I visited the city, as it's so well known for shopping and I'm such a shop window whore, so I've come up with an overview of the best fashion snapshots that I took.

These were mainly in the Via Del Corso and Via Condotti and the surrounding streets. The area is a mecca for anyone with money to burn and it's also a great place just to gaze at quirky displays. Enjoy!

Window display of Valentino in Rome City - mannequin wearing monochrome dress
 Where else to start, but with Valentino?

The atelier that is surely most synonymous with Rome, Valentino remains as chic as ever, despite the man himself no longer running the show. We're still seeing feminine silhouettes and great craftsmanship, with designs that you know would be investment pieces.

Valentino rockstud perspex handbag and studded heels in a visual merchandising display
 It's all about the Rockstuds.

Just as Valentino has previously taken camouflage print and removed it from an army setting (he used it as the basis for a ballgown), his brand continues to push the envelope. Here we see the faddish low fashion trend of studs, which was corrupted from its punk origins and became the embellishment of your average housewife's t-shirt, being used as a high fashion material.

Female shop window mannequins in luxury fashion store, Via Condotti
 Mannequins in catwalk formation.

MaxMara store in Rome, Italy, in the rain
 A rainy view of MaxMara.

Striped Dolce & Gabbana sundress in visual merchandising display, Rome
 Dolce & Gabbana go for deckchair stripes in an oversized doll's box.

Louis Vuitton window display with typewriter and accessories.
 Louis Vuitton goes old skool with a typewriter, a parquet floor and a flurry of paper.

Stacks of paper in menswear visual merchandising display in Rome
 Really simple visuals, but these stacks of paper work well as pedestal columns for menswear.

Fluorescent shoes in shop window, Rome
 Just off the Campo De' Fiori, I found this lurid but fun shoe shop. Love the brogues.

Shabby chic furniture in Rome homeware store
 The hipster contents of Nora P in the Monti district.

Want real shabby chic and artisan cool in Rome? Then you have to head to Monti. My Vespa tour guide, Annie, described it as Italy's answer to Nolita in New York. It's quirky and fun, full of tiny restaurants serving authentic local food, alongside vintage stores and bars. Nora P was a homeware shop that we came across in the area, boasting weird and wonderful furniture and accessories.

Chanel window display with red bob wigs and black and white photos
 Chanel's black and white photo montage got me snap-happy.

Louis Vuitton flagship store in Rome - former cinema
 The other branch of Vuitton is the flagship store and it has a cool back-story.

This used to be Rome's first cinema, so the team at Louis Vuitton decided to use its original features as a starting point for the building's re-design. You'll find a board outside listing screenings of fashion films.

Louisn Vuitton store with vintage cinema screen
Spot the cinema screen at the back.

Okay, so you can't smell the heady mix of popcorn and hormones that your average cinema reeks of, but instead you get cool promotional videos and something a little bit different. Kudos to LVMH for keeping an authentic slice of Rome, rather than glossing over it. This proves it really is the Eternal City, with more reinventions than Madonna.

As for the actual shopping that I could afford, I was more high street than high chic, but I did manage to bring back some seriously good chocolate and a leather-bound notebook. Maybe next time I go, I'll be doing more than window shop in the stores along the Via Condotti... well, a girl can dream!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Five Stylish Reasons Why I'm Visiting Rome

Tomorrow I will be browsing the streets of Rome, preparing for a vintage Vespa trip (woop!) and tracking down the very best gelato that money can buy. However, the city is often overlooked in favour of Milan when it comes to fashion, but Romans certainly know how to dress and how to shop. This is why I couldn't wait to drop in on them...

[Image via Tumblr]. Delfina Delettrez is one of Rome's hottest designers.

1.  I want to check out up-and-coming Italian brands, such as jewellery designer Delfina Delettrez, whose skeleton hand belt is one of the coolest anatomical pieces I've ever seen. She's also part of the Fendi family, so clearly talent runs in the blood. 

2. Up-and-coming districts like San Lorenzo, home to uni students and street art, are worth visiting for style inspiration. I'll be looking out for sharply dressed young Italians and hot vintage shops - apparently Via Dei Volschi is the place to hit.

3. There's a brilliant flea market culture here that means you're never far away from second hand goods. Most of them take place on a Sunday, which I'll unfortunately miss, but one low-key event runs all week behind a church. I'll be popping by to see if I can pick up some bargains.

4. You can't ignore the impact of the great Valentino Garavani on Rome. The man who made the city his catwalk (and held a party at the Colosseum and a retrospective at the Ara Pacis) still leaves his mark here, with his studio continuing to produce eye-catching couture under the watchful eye of two successors, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli. They've brought us the rockstud shoes, which I love. 

5. The Trevi Fountain, one of the most famous sights, is being rescued and restored by Fendi, with Karl Lagerfeld at the helm. I'm expecting the statues to be clutching Fendi Baguette bags in no time at all. 

Besides all of this, I'll be visiting the shopping malls, boutiques and street sellers scattered around the streets and will be keeping my eyes peeled for Roman street style. It's also more than likely I'll be doing a Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love and needing to track down bigger jeans that can accommodate my love of Italian food...

Anyway, I'll be back at the weekend, with a fresh copy of Vogue Italia and loads of photos. Stay tuned.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Three Reasons To Be Excited About & Other Stories Launching

Fans of COS and H&M rejoice: there's a new sister brand joining the family. & Other Stories is the latest offering of Scandi cool that will be making an impact in wardrobes all over Europe, with the launch of a British store on 8th March in addition to branches in Paris, Copenhagen, Barcelona and Berlin, to name but a few.

Not only do they cover clothing and accessories, but you'll also find cosmetics. Look out for the cobalt blue and bright orange eyeshadow. Here are three key reasons why you should be clearing some space to fit the brand into your life:

Lookbook of new minimalist fashion brand & Other Stories
 [All images: & Other Stories, collaged by me].

1. The minimalist cuts are bold and beautiful

It doesn't matter whether you like your minimalism a bit space-age, metallic and sleek, or full of bold colours and soft fabrics; either way, expect cleverly cut pieces combining different textures, such as the iridescent clutch bag with a chunky tassel. I think my favourite piece in the whole preview so far has been the pink long-sleeved dress (£65), which sits on the hips.

Black and white suit, heels and accessories from & Other Stories
Check out those accessories.

2. The price points are pretty accessible

Expect prices that sit more in the region of COS than H&M, meaning you maybe won't be doing a Primark-style Supermarket Sweep, but you'll be able to indulge now and again, with sunglasses at £17 and rings at £12 and a bargain blue clutch at £19, but also there are investment buys such as directional heels for around £80-90. As with COS, the most expensive items tend to be jackets, dresses and shoes, whereas in H&M the rule of thumb tends to see premium knitwear and dresses being more expensive than most shoes or jackets.

Maxi dress, blue clutch and heels from & Other Stories
Flattering shapes from the collection.

3. You'll be able to hide your flaws

Judging by the lookbook, there's not a body-con item in sight. Instead you get pencil skirts that don't cling and tailored trousers that flatter without cutting off the circulation. I only wish that I'd be able to pull off the black maxi dress with the very, ahem, minimalist top panels, but I guess it does help to narrow down my ever-increasing wishlist...

If you want to find out more, pop into 256-258 Regent Street from 12pm on 8th March, or visit stories.com. I already know that my first story will end with me getting out my wallet!
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