I don’t think I’ve told you this but recently I’ve been doing a spot of presenting on the newly relaunched Clothes Show TV! It’s a pretty new venture for me so please excuse any major bloopers but here I am chatting to the wonderful Hilary Alexander at Graduate Fashion Week…
You can subscribe to Clothes Show TV’s YouTube channel here, Facebook here and follow them on twitter @ClothesShow
Throughout my six seasons of fashion week-ing I’ve been lucky enough never to go into it ill. Hungover, sure. Stressed, of course. But actually, genuinely, doctors trip worthy ill? Never. Or at least I hadn’t until LCM SS14. Somewhere between end of term deadlines, doing all the various work-y things I’d been putting off until meeting said deadlines and partying like it was 1999 purely because the sun decided to make a (very brief) appearance, my immune system failed me. As LCM approached I was a snivelling wreck with a mouth full of ulcers and a handbag full of assorted antibiotics and painkillers. But of course, the fashion calendar cares not a jot for lurgies so come Sunday morning I was clad in my Peter Pilotto pencil skirt and off to the shows. Deathly though I felt, I did get some satisfaction from the fact that unlike everyone else I was not suffering the after effects of the previous evenings opening parties, thank god for small mercies eh?
I wore: Skirt: Peter Pilotto, Jacket: Gap, T-Shirt: Zoe Karssen, Necklace: Anne Bowes Jewellery, Bag: Mulberry, Shoes: Vince Camuto, Plasters: Corner shop
After spotting a few of my favourite fashion fellows loitering outside the Hospital Club, we all headed inside for the opening brunch hosted my Dylan Jones and Dermot O’Leary. There’s nothing like a morning mingle to lift the spirits and by the time we set off for presentation number one I felt almost human again.
John Smedley SS14
Menswear expert I’m most certainly not but I know which labels I love and John Smedley is one of them. Last seasons funky fair isle knits went straight on the wish list and the latest collection contained an endless array of striped tees in kalaidescopic colours. The models were suitably gorgeous in that wholesome, clean cut, preppy way I personally adore. Staged around retro gym equipment, the collection was a chic reimagining of old school sports gear with cute polos and two tone joggers a’plenty. There was a fair amount I fancied taking home with me, and I’m not (just) referring to the models.
John Smedley SS14
One of the nicest things about LCM is how totally relaxed it is. Much as I adore the dizzying, adrenaline pumping pace of women’s fashion month, three days of casually strolling from show to show with plenty of time to stop for coffee and gossip is a total treat. After a lunch that should have been leisurely but was in fact extremely painful thanks to my ulcer sitch, I tottered through Covent Garden to the St Martins Lane hotel. As you may remember, I adore the place and have spent many enjoyable evenings wining and dining there. For the duration of LCM the hotel had joined forces with MR PORTER to host a mini oasis of phone charging facilities and fabulousness AKA, a blogging suite. With my iPhone battery depressingly depleted I made straight for the suite and indulged in a spot of down time lounging on the king sized bed. Tempted though I was to call it a day, slip into some MR PORTER pyjamas and order room service the next show on my schedule was one I wouldn’t miss for the world, Ada + Nik.
Ada + Nik SS14
Nik Thakkar is not only a great friend of mine but one of the most multi talented, insanely driven people I know. Not content with owning his own branding consultancy, Nephew London and cult blog, KARL IS MY UNKLE as well as presenting, judging and doing about a zillion other very impressive things, Nik decided to team up with Ada Zanditon to design a menswear collection. As for the collection itself, well, Ada + Nik outdid themselves. Luxe, directional and super sexy without even hinting at tack, every luscious leather piece or slice of razor sharp tailoring was the epitome of fashion forward modernity. A while back I heard rumours that the collection would feature “ethically sourced human hair”. Naturally I’ve been pestering Nik to tell me more ever since (he didn’t) but having finally seen it adorning a jet black tee I can assure that while it may sound weird, it certainly works.
Judging from the responses I spied around the fash packed presentation, I wasn’t the only person to be seriously impressed. Huge congratulations to Nik and Ada, I predict great things ahead.
Up next was my first catwalk show of the day, MAN at the always awesome Topshop venue. For those who don’t know, MAN is the menswear equivalent of Fashion East, the emerging designer support initiative responsible for launching the careers of Jonathan Saunders, Gareth Pugh, Richard Nicoll and Simone Rocha to name but a few. As one would expect, the FROW was a veritable “who’s who” of industry insiders and I immediately spotted Paula Reed, Natalie Massenet, Dylan Jones and Caroline Rush. But my people watching was soon to be curtailed as the lights dimmed, heralding the first of this season’s chosen three, Bobby Abley. One of the many brilliant things about watching a MAN (or Fashion East) show is the experience of seeing three collections as diverse in style as they are similar in innovation. This was certainly the case with the SS14 line up. Ravensbourne graduate, Bobby Abley kicked things off with a collection that combined kitsch, cartoon prints with high tech fabrics and sportswear silhouettes. Sugary shades and teddy bear prints gave things a playful, pyjama esque feel all the while underpinned by the kind of skill that allowed gossamer fine sheer jersey to come adorned with tweetie bird motifs as if by magic.
Bobby Abley SS14
Designer number was another newcomer to the MAN catwalk, Dublin born Alan Taylor. A glance at the show notes promised an exploration of “how we perceive the world around us”, a tall order but one that Taylor was evidently more than capable of. At the LCM Opening Brunch that morning, GQ Editor Dylan Jones had described London as the “global home of menswear” and designers like Alan Taylor are proof that might bold statement might have some truth to it. The young Irishman’s SS14 offerings consisted of incredible, reworked tailoring. Classic tweeds and hand painted linens came crafted into a series of oh-so-stylish contradictions; rough hewn yet sleek, clean cut yet unfinished, traditional yet powerfully modern. Taylor’s designs were organic, imaginative and experimental but so skilfully executed it appeared effortless, any menswear designers reading should watch out for this one!
Alan Taylor SS14
Last but not least was Craig Green. I don’t know whether you remember my post on Craig’s AW13 collection back in January (how time flies!) so to recap briefly, it was bold, brave and brilliant involving sculptural and slightly scar head pieces. Based around the concept of “chaos and control”, Green’s SS14 show took things to the next level. Head dresses were bigger, colours brighter and the designer’s trademark focus on DIY had resulted in an incredible fusion of digital printed and hand-dyed fabrics. Masterful material manipulation and textural juxtaposition married with mesmerising originality. The jury’s still out on whether anyone will or indeed can wear most of it but Craig Green’s sheer talent is undeniable… Budding Gareth Pugh of menswear perhaps?
Craig Green SS14
By this point my deathly, lurgi situation had made a comeback so I headed to Boots where I demanded the strongest painkillers money could buy (they didn’t help) before making a much needed Starbucks trip. I’m also going to leave this post here in the interest of not actually boring you all to death, more show reports (and pictures of hot boys) coming your way tout suite!
You’d have had to be living under a rock (or at least, somewhere without WiFi) not to have heard about what went down at the DKNY Artworks party last Wednesday. If for some unfathomable reason you haven’t then *spoiler alert* I’m about to tell you. New York fashion legend, Donna Karan’s cool little sister label held a great big bash here in London. Cara Delevingne hosted, Rita Ora performed. Mid way through the performance Cara, I kid you not, stormed the stage where she proceeded to bump n’ grind with her bestie before grabbing the mic and singing a few lines herself. Apologies for skipping right to the end of the evening in my first paragraph but seriously, how nuts is that!? But let’s rewind a few hours.
Having spent a fabulous day playing and watching polo with Avenue 32 I attempted to sleep off the after effects of a very boozy lunch on the coach. I certainly didn’t have trouble nodding off but had more than a little trouble waking myself back up. Once home, I almost gave in to the temptation to crawl into bed but I had an inkling that I’d regret skipping that evening’s event and given the Cara stage storming incident, I think it’s safe to say that following my hunch paid off! Several strong coffees and a make up touch up later I felt just about energetic enough to hit the town, climbed into my waiting Addison Lee and headed to the Mayfair Hotel where Negarin London was hosting an evening preview of her divine Resort 2014 collection. After reminiscing on the Glamour Women of the Year Awards with Laura Whitmore (DJ for the evening) and scooping up my party pal, Colin it was time to head south to Lambeth for the DKNY bash.
It’s a pretty rare occurrence that a fash bash is held in South London especially on a Thursday when there are guaranteed to be about ten different do’s on. People, myself included, are lazy and probably wearing ridiculous shoes so asking them to cross multiple postcodes is generally a foolish move. But this is DKNY we’re talking about, and a party involving one model-of-the-moment and two of the hottest music acts around right now, so regardless of the rain or the distance even the laziest of industry insiders refused to miss out. To give you a bit of background as to why the brand decided to hold this party (not that anyone should need an excuse), DKNY Artworks is an awesome project taking place all over the world this Summer. From 1992 to 2002, the iconic DKNY mural on Houston Street stood as an iconic symbol of New York. DKNY Artworks was launched to bring the logo back with a fresh new look. The brand has commissioned ten contemporary artists in ten different cities to re-imagine the mural by creating their own original artwork framed within the letters of the logo… And a seriously cool idea must have a seriously cool party to celebrate it, right?
Colin and I pitched up at Lambeth Fire Station to see a gaggle of paps and pedestrians by the entrance, jostling to grab a snap of any famous attendees. Once the rumble of Nik Thakkar’s jeep announced his arrival we headed inside to find the vast venue bedecked in neon lights (of the non-tacky variety) with beautiful people sipping from miniature Moët bottles as far as the eye could see. It soon transpired that DKNY’s bash was the place to be in London that night. Besides hostess with the mostess, Cara Delevingne and headliners Rita Ora and Iggy Azalea I also spied the ever lovely Henry Holland, Jade Williams, Tallulah Harlech, Professor Green, Wretch 32, Nick Grimshaw and Jourdan Dunn rocking an awesome cropped basketball tee.
As fashion parties go, it was a messy one, with an abundance of stiff drinks resulting in everyone letting loose on the dance floor… If anyone from DKNY HQ is reading, please come to London more often!
Firstly yes, I am currently in the thralls of a denim shirt obsession. A couple of years later than everyone else I admit but aren’t they just the best thing ever!? I donned this ensemble last Friday not for a fashion event but in fact for a first date. Having not been on any sort of date in FOREVER I was unclear on most of the details, not least what in God’s name to wear. On the one hand I didn’t want to look like loony fashion fanatic, on the other I did want to look chic beyond belief. In the end I settled on ice white skinnies (boys seem to love white jeans, am I wrong?), the aforementioned denim shirt paired with a holographic clutch and two strap sandals AKA seriously on trend SS13 accessories. I’m fairly sure I screwed up the rest of the evening but at least my outfit seemed to go down well.
Aren’t British Summer traditions just the best? Admittedly they would be that bit better if the weather wasn’t quite so *ahem* unpredictable but drizzle aside, few things beat an afternoon spent watching tennis, cricket, racing or as is the subject of this post, polo. A couple of weeks ago a very exciting email arrived in my inbox, inviting me to spend a day enjoying that poshest of pursuits courtesy of cooler than cool designer e-tailer, Avenue 32. But, as I soon realised, this invitation wasn’t just to watch polo, oh no, Avenue 32 would be treating us to an actual polo lesson at Guards Polo Club too!
As you may or may not know, I spent most of my childhood and early teenage years clad in jodhpurs and aboard (or not aboard) various stroppy ponies. So when the opportunity arose to get back in the saddle, I didn’t need to be asked twice. In fact I got so over excited about the whole thing I even dug out all my riding gear and felt pretty profesh and generally smug as I set out for the Karla Otto offices (where we’d be meeting to get our suitably posh coach to Windsor)… Until I arrived that is. I don’t know whether you ever had the experience of dressing up to the nines for home clothes day at school only to discover that the older, cooler girls didn’t bother and subsequently feeling like world’s biggest fool in your spangly frock. Well, I had the unpleasant experience of re-living that feeling of mortification when I arrived clad in head-to-toe riding gear (including a “Keep Hunting” polo shirt… cringe) to discover that everyone else was wearing Current Elliott jeans, flat sandals and leather jackets. Add to that the fact that my fellow polo goers included journo’s from Grazia, Vogue, i-D and POP Magazines and it should come as no surprise to hear that I felt like a prize idiot. Still there was no going back so I decided to just try not to give away how embarrassed I was. After forty five minutes of merry chatting on the bus I’d almost forgotten about my attire and arrived ready and raring to go.
We drew up alongside the immaculate polo pitch to be greeted by a line up of equally immaculate ponies and two tables laden with coffee, croissants and bacon sandwiches. Once we’d all re-caffeinated ourselves three dashing chaps (who, it transpired, were in fact England team polo coaches!) appeared and it was time to get the lesson underway.
After kicking off with a bit of on-foot hitting practice we progressed to wooden model horses (so we could practice using full size clubs without risk of knocking real life nags unconscious) and then finally to the beasts themselves. As one of the few of us with much riding experience, I was assigned “Black Bird”, a gratifyingly up for it animal who lept to attention at the slightest squeeze of my heels. The horsey ones among you probably know this already but for those that don’t, riding polo style is totally different to other types. With one hand devoted to holding the wrist achingly heavy stick, steering, stopping and starting is done solely with the other hence why, as one of the dashing coaches told us, polo players are dubbed “cowboys” by the rest of the equestrian community. This one handed riding style means that the ponies have to be insanely well trained and riding Black Bird was like cruising in a well oiled automatic sports car. But while I loved being able to turn my steed with a subtle flick of the wrist, actually trying to hit the ball was another thing. I did manage a couple of decent shots but there was a lot more random flailing than stick/ball contact. Flailing aside, by the time our hour was up I was hooked. Black Bird better watch out as I may be returning soon!
After a couple of semi-successful attempts to get a group shot of us all on horseback we dismounted and piled back onto the coach to hit the spa for a little post polo beautification. Much as I love riding gear, I was pretty relieved to change into something that a) didn’t smell of horse and b) wouldn’t make me feel like quite such an over keen loser. Given the murky weather, even I didn’t feel brave enough to attempt bare legs so opted for the paisley trouser suit I bought in Topshop last september. Once everyone was suitably groomed it was back onto the bus (didn’t actually have to walk all day, awesome) and off to the Avenue 32 pop up boutique AKA the reason we were enjoying a lovely day at Guards Polo Club. I can’t imagine that recreating a store ambiance online is exactly a walk in the park but translating a slick website into an actual, 3D “thing” must be seriously difficult. The fact that the hub of stylish cool that is Avenue 32 managed it perfectly was both impressive and entirely unsurprising.
It’s basically an unwritten rule that no matter what time a fashion event is held, large amount of champagne must be served. Generally speaking, I steer clear of the booze until at least 6 o’clock but decided to make an exception on this occasion and accepted a glass while we cooed over Avenue 32′s exciting new designers. Over a long and extremely delicious lunch in the exclusive Guards Club House conversation expanded to cover everything from love lives to leather trousers. It’s not that often I get to sit down and have a good, long chat with the editors behind my favourite fash mags and the founder of a hotter-than-hot designer emporium so it was a real privilege to get to last week.
By the time we’d polished off pudding (a delectable fruit parfait type thing) it was time for the Cartier Queen’s Cup Semi Final to begin and we headed, or rather waddled, out to take our seats alongside the pitch. As with any sport, professional polo players make it look like an absolute piece of cake. Having experiences how impossible it is to hit a ball while sitting on a walking horse just hours before, I was truly awestruck by the handsome chaps galloping around the field. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t entirely understand what was going on or who was who but still got stuck in whooping and cheering until it was time to go home.
Thank you Avenue 32 and Karla Otto for a fantastic day! Watch this space for my potential career change…
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