Are you an Anna or a Phoebe?

Anna Dello Russo

Image via Stockholm Streetstyle

In the cycle from brain to blog, this post has undergone several working titles. The first was “Why I’ll Always Dress Up For Fashion Week.” That got scrapped partially because my dear friend Naomi just published a really excellent piece stating the exact opposite so doing so would have felt a little pointed. Plus, who knows whether I’ll cave in a couple of seasons a take to show going in UGG boots and a cashmere onesie. Another was “Sneakers V Stilettos” but that seemed redundant. Everyone knows trainers are the show footwear du jour for cool kids and those with an aversion to blisters these days… I mean duh, we all have Instagram. I felt that the best way to broach this was to compare two opposite types of fashion week females that seem to have arisen in recent seasons, or as I like to call them, the Anna Dello Russos and the Phoebe Philos. It’s worth stating here that I know Phoebe ain’t no fashion week-er. But her style is one aspired to by so many show goers it just seems simplest to use her as my example here. My brain has also been reduced to the mushiest of mush by a week of 13 hour working days in the library and doesn’t have the capacity to be more imaginative right now.

I probably don’t need to explain the differences between these two sartorial specimens but just in case, here goes. Anna Dello Russos adore, nay, worship at the alter of flamboyant, ebullient fashion in all it’s embellished, multicoloured, look-at-me glory. They show their support to designers by wearing a full catwalk look on the FROW at their shows, or at least the absolute bloody closest they can get to doing so. Bare legs in January and multiple changes per day are de rigueur and if you suggested swapping their six inchers for Stan Smith’s the ADR woman would laugh in your face, or possibly faint, she does love a spot of drama.

By contrast, the Phoebe wouldn’t dream of forcing herself to wear footwear that could double as weaponry for umpteen days straight, regardless of the fact she has multiple minions and a driver. Admittedly most Phoebes-who-aren’t-actually-Phoebe probably have to run around like headless chickens and maybe even, shock horror, mingle with non fashion folk on public transport making comfy kicks all the more justifiable. Ms PP is stylish don’t get me wrong, effortlessly, achingly so. But hers is an understated, “I woke up like this” chicness involving vaguely weather appropriate clothing and denim. Does she pose for street style photographers? Good God no. Save for the occasional “ok I’ll indulge you this once” distracted stationary snap (most likely while on her phone), the Phoebe is always captured in motion while the Anna stops, poses, twirls and revels in showing of her finery to her adoring public.

anna dello russo

Image via Style.com

Ok, I got a little carried away with that “brief” description, but you get my point. Or if you didn’t and suspected I was enjoying a bit of a self indulgent ramble (which tbf I kind of was) then here goes. When fashion months arrive, different people choose to adopt different styles for the shows. For some, dressing up for the shows is as much a part of the experience as what they see on the catwalk. For others, their own attire serves as something to keep them chic yet crucially, comfortable while they survey the new collections. But at the end of the day, the vast majority of people at fashion week are there to do a job. Whether that is to feature what they see in a publication, decide whether to stock a designer’s work or support them by sharing their show with a vast social media audience, it’s work, albeit an amped up and (in my opinion) exhilarating and hugely enjoyable part of it. Some choose to do this work in sensible shoes and low key ensembles – which I admit, often look seriously cool – others embrace the opportunity to spend however many weeks getting their FASH on.

In recent seasons there has been a lot of talk about street style induced “peacocking” and whether the spectacle outside the tents distracts from the magic within. Much of this has been aimed at bloggers with IMG planning to enforce a clamp down over forthcoming New York Fashion Weeks. I discussed this last year in response to Suzy Menkes’ piece on the circus of fashion so I won’t regurgitate that argument (you can jog your memories here). But I stand by what I said then and while the Anna V Phoebe dichotomy is, on one level about personal style and pain thresholds, it is also indicative of a wider debate. Should fashion week be strictly business; conscientious journos, buyers and editors shuttling from show to show? Or does the decision of some people, be they a blogger making their debut or a seasoned pro running a global business, to get their inevitably impractical gladrags on add to the atmosphere of excitement, inspiration and self expression that fashion is fundamentally all about?

Personally, I think both are equally valid and indulging in the sheer joy of dressing up, regardless of the potential health risks involved, or admitting that you don’t actively dislike having your photo taken for Vogue.com doesn’t reduce one’s validity as a fashion week attendee. Provided, of course, that you still do what you’re there to do. If forcing yourself into mini dress and Manolos will stop you making Burberry on time then it would be downright ridiculous to do so. But if you want to rock a chiffon cocktail dress at 9am on a chilly Sunday morning and feel confident that coldness will only spur you on then why the hell not! A while back I was lucky enough to interview Paula Reed, a woman whose career, kindness and style I admire hugely. When discussing fashion week she told me that everyone had to ‘earn their seat’ at the shows by essentially providing something in return; an honest review, social media buzz, the potential to get their gear into a fabulous shop. Surely if you’ve earned your seat through hard graft, you’ve earned the right to dress up (or not) and maybe even stop for a street style shot in between shows. Plus, if no one peacocked it would put a lot of photographers out of business and a lot of writers out of article fodder.

So, only one question remains, which fashion week woman are YOU?

Love Ella x

Ps) this question is hypothetical and goes way beyond the small proportion of the population that are active show goers, I’m pretty confident that Anna’s and Phoebe’s exist in all fields… And I suspect you know which camp I fall into.

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 2 Comments

Paris With H&M Studio

Paris H&M

I probably don’t need to tell you that last week I took a short but oh-so-sweet trip to Paris with H&M. It was plastered all over my Instagram! Perhaps I could be accused of having shared more snaps than strictly necessary but between the divine Parisian surroundings, the wonderful company, the ‘slebs on the FROW and of course, the show, can you really blame me?

No matter how many times I take the Eurostar – and I seem to be taking it a LOT at the moment – I can never get over how bloody brilliant it is. Little more than three hours door to door, no endless loitering in duty free, baggage restrictions or water bottle confiscations, genius! Kind of off topic I know but it was the Eurostar journey out to Paris that set the tone for this particular excursion. Rather than spending the journey solo, trying to muscle up the self discipline to work instead of wandering off to buy a cup of tea every ten minutes, Look Magazine fash ed, Lucy Wood, Elle Magazine’s Harriet Stewart, the lovely Victoria from H&M and I took over a large area of the business class section for a lengthy bout of leisurely lunching, champagne drinking, chatting and categorically not working. Relaxed, convivial and fun with a capital “F”, add chic into the mix and there you have a succinct summary of the trip. But you know what I say, why write one word where you could write twenty?

Paris H&M

We arrived to be greeted with blue skies and sunshine, which was especially lucky for me as I was in very short suede shorts and planning on wearing a whole lot less for the evening (wa-hey!). Also, you know, it’s nice to have a few days that don’t involve damp feet, wet dogs smells and puddle dodging. And where better to be soaking up a spot of decent weather than the Paris?

As is so often the case on these kind of trips, a part of me was sad not to have an extra few hours just to spend at the hotel! Comprising a huge, magnificently imposing building in the heart of Opera, the Intercontinental LeGrand was old school luxury epitomised. It was utterly fabulous and the polar opposite of the also fab hotel I stayed in on my last trip to Paris.

Paris H&M

Paris H&M

Paris H&M

Paris H&M

Paris H&M

But no matter how deliciously comfortable my room I was dying to get out and about so Stateside super blogger, Kim Pesch of eat.sleep.wear and I grabbed our sunnies and cameras and hit the streets. Between hunting for macaroons (not exactly tricky in central Paris), chatting about everything from jet lag and Hawaii weddings to the business of blogging as well as joining up with one of my fave street style photographers, Lord Ashbury, to snap a few looks the afternoon seemed to pass in a flash. Before I knew it, darkness was falling and it was high-heels-and-wine time.

Paris H&M

Me & Kim on the streets of Pareeeeee

Once suited and booted, or rather semi naked and open toed, we headed to the Westin Hotel, which H&M had basically taken over… As well as the Grand Palais (!) but that’s coming later. If the evening’s events confirmed anything, it was the scale of H&M’s international clout. Obviously I’ve always known they were a high street giant with stores in every city and legions of devoted fans but the coming together of H&M teams from literally all over the world accompanied by their press and bloggers to host a catwalk extravaganza that kicks of Paris Fashion Week for me really highlighted their influence both within and beyond the industry. This also ties into one of the main points of the trip – told you it was “work” – the launch of H&M’s global Pinterest. Brands that operate on a vast, global scale like H&M tend to have separate marketing teams and social media accounts for each country otherwise the whole thing would become an organisational and linguistic disaster. However, at the end of the day, they’re all sharing the same message, the same excitements and the same collections. That’s where their Pinterest comes in. It’s definitely worth checking out but for now, let’s go back to Paris.

Paris H&M

Me & Pandora Skyes, Fashion Editor of The Debrief

Paris H&M

Paris H&M

After a delicious dinner and a lot of largely non-fashion related lols, the Brit contingent gathered up our impractically sized clutch bags and non insulating coats to make out way to the show. Judging from their previous Paris shows, I knew I was in for a spectacle and H&M Studio most certainly did not disappoint. Upon arrival at the spectacular venue – the Grand Palais, major – we were presented with champagne and (more) scallops. Inside the space had been transformed into an abstract cityscape complete with graphic architectural lines and enormous billboards. Every inch of the place was packed with immaculately clad fashion weekers, jostling with photographers to snap the A-list line up on the FROW. And what a line up it was! Think Jordan Dunn, Miranda Kerr, Solange Knowles, Olivia Palermo and Jessica Alba to name but a few.

Paris H&M

C’est moi!

Paris H&M

The venue!

Paris H&M

Miranda Kerr

H&M Paris

Jessica Alba & Solange Knowles

Eventually the hubbub was halted by a firm French accented announcement that it was time to take our seats for the show. Once again, my unfounded dubiousness about high street brands entering the fashion week arena was dispelled. The collection was strong, seriously so. Opening with a fantastic army green overcoat with a military chic elegance about it layered over a semi sheer knit, we were treated to an array of looks that fused androgyny with sensuality par excellence. Slinky, lace trimmed numbers were layered under ribbed jumpers and oversized outerwear, styled with knee high boots for extra sass.

H&M AW14 1

H&M Studio AW14

There were luxe leathers in the form of slouchy caramel trousers and shirtdresses and high shine PVC in shades of olive and tomato red. The aviator jackers and chubby faux furs oozed winter casual cool while sleek, backless jumpsuits and slinky silver slip dresses with asymmetric hemlines provided understated after dark options. Less understated were the sequinned pieces, which I adored all the more for their in-your-face pazzaz. And let’s not forget the models who rocked those clothes. We’re talking Lindsay Wixen, Joan Smalls, Saskia de Graw, Malaika Firth, Andrea Diaconu and Magdalena Frackowiak. Seriously super supers in all their glossy locked glory.

H&M AW14 2

H&M Studio AW14 

After said supers took their final strut, serenaded by French artist-of-the-moment, HollySiz we made our way out of Le Grand Palais and into the Parisian night. Not that we were about to head back to our beds of course, perish the thought. An evening like that deserved seeing off in style and that’s precisely what we did, until the wee hours, at one of my fave Paris spots Hotel Costes.

A huge thank you to H&M for a spectacular show and a fabulous trip!

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Travel 4 Comments

LFW AW14: Day 5

Ella Catliff LFW AW14 outfit 3 by Holly McGlynn_002

Wearing Club Monaco jacket (c/o), French Connection jumper, Anne Bowes Jewellery necklace, Erdem at THE OUTNET skirt (available here), Nicholas Kirkwood for Erdem shoes (sample sale purchase) & Anya Hindmarch bag (sample)
Image by Holly McGlynn

Last season, by LFW day 5 I felt like a dead person walking. Ten plus days and nights of NYFW madness followed by four in london had, unsurprisingly, rather knocked the stuffing out of me. This time however, I felt energised to the point of being really quite irritating. The fact that the lovely folk at Birchbox had given me one of their fabulous taxis for the whole day only added to my smugness. I must say, having the use of my own car (with the bonus of world’s most charming driver and Birchbox beauty treats inside) was absolutely amazing, oh if only this could become a fashion week habit, here’s hoping. My look for the day felt very AW14 in the fact that it revolved around the colour blue which, as had definitely been established by this point, is set to be the hottest hue (or “warmest colour” one might say… Sorry) come autumn.

LFW Birchbox

My ride… 

First on the agenda was Anya Hindmarch, a show I always look forward to. How Anya creates quite such catwalk spectacle to display her handbags is a true testament to the creative flair that keeps her global brand at the top of the accessories tree. Last season saw models suspended from zip wires, floating among an outer space installation, the season before an animatronic extravaganza based around board games. Yet, despite all that awesomeness, I strongly suspected Anya Hindmarch wasn’t about to rest on her laurels. And of course, she didn’t. A glance at the show notes revealed that AW14 would be all about elevating the ordinary, something Anya is undoubtedly adept at. This is a woman who sends the notoriously hard to wow fash pack into a frenzy over coin purses and phone cases after all.

Anya Hindmarch AW14

As a smile inducing soundtrack struck up the runway, painted to resemble a bar code, began to move and out came models clad in ice white mini dresses clutching accessories which sent us into paroxysms of over excitement. Along Anya’s supermarket conveyor belt came clutches bearing all manner of would-be mundane motifs from Daz’s to Kellogs by way of Swan cigarettes. Hindmarch’s classic Bathurst bag saw the addition of Tony the Tiger and I reckon the Coco pops box clutch will be next season’s instagrammable “it” piece. With playful, pop culture references in flawlessly high quality leathers and the retro mood kept modern with clean lines and understated styling, the show exemplified Anya’s knack of fusing cuteness and craftsmanship to make luxury a whole lot of fun. As a troop of braces clad male dancers performed a choreographed finale, there wasn’t a sombre face in the house.

I left the venue with a spring in my step, regardless of the truly agonising footwear I was rocking (the old adage that expensive heels hurt less? Absolute rubbish), leapt in my waiting Birchbox car and sped across town to Somerset House for OSMAN. Through a combination of back to back scheduling and personal incompetence I’ve managed to miss OSMAN show for several seasons in unfortunately succession. Well, I cannot tell you how happy I am to have made this one. It was utterly sublime. The show notes informed me that Mr Yousefzada would be introducing a “jet-set Bohemian” for AW14 I was a little dubious, after all, you know how I usually feel about all things boho. But this, my friends, was a million miles from the peasant skirts and hempy tops that make me want to spend the rest of my days clad head-to-toe in black leather in protest.

OSMAN LFW 1

OSMAN AW14 (Images via Style.com)

The immaculately precise cuts, bold colour blocking and city chic sophistication that constitute OSMAN’s calling card were all in place but, as promised, they had been given a joyful, jet set twist inspired by the travels of Talitha Getty. Shimmering floral brocades came combined with super bright separates in cobalt blue and sunshine yellow, further enhanced by equally eye popping fur scarves, intricate beading, Ottoman tile brocades, clutch bags with pop art hand motifs and playful fringing. As the show progressed, the palette did too, into delectable blush pinks, rich grey velvets and burnished golds culminating in a Red Carpet ready finale of sleekly tailored ensembles adorned with embellished cobweb esque overlays. Razor sharp asymmetric hemlines and one shoulder tops and dresses drummed home the message, OSMAN may be feeling footloose and fancy free this season but his articulation has lost none of its covetable crispness.

OSMAN LFW 2

OSMAN AW14 (Images via Style.com)

For the last day of LFW, this was rather a busy one, and the second OSMAN took his bow I had to leg it if I wanted any hope of making Fashion East. Going to completely the wrong place put a spanner in the works (entirely my own fault, I was to busy Instagramming to pay any attention) but I made it just in the nick of time and was rather pleased to find myself on the FROW. This season’s all female line up kicked off with the debut collection from recent Westminster graduate, Louise Alsop. Between the grungy layering, mega frayed hems and plimsols plus shredded socks styling, this was certainly not a collection for girly girls and Kate Spade aficionados. That said, Alsop pulled off this moody, rebellious aesthetic perfectly but her punkish attitude had an underlying technical precision. Louise Alsop’s frayed edges were underpinned by sharp cuts and those minty pastel greens were as alluring as they were badass. These were thoughtfully crafted clothes for the girl who parties hard, refuses to wear heels and definitely couldn’t care less about ripped stockings.

Louise Alsop LFW

Louise Alsop AW14 (Images via Style.com)

Next up came Central Saint Martins alum and Craig Green collaborator, Helen Lawrence. Lawrence’s AW14 offerings were as avant guard as one would expect, think thick wools sculpted into extraordinary, oversized shapes and natural fabrics distressed, deconstructed and reworked almost unrecognisable from their former selves. High shine PVC, neoprene and vinyl in an urban palette were softened with shades of powder pink and jean blue, further adding to Helen Lawrence’s fascinatingly contradictory aesthetic.

LFW

Helen Lawrence AW14 (Images via Style.com)

Last but most certainly not least was Ashley Williams. An A-list fave already and, I have to admit, her work couldn’t be more up my street. Inspired by “Mississippi country girls, Calamity Jane and trouble in Prairie Land” Williams delivered an unashamedly, deliciously fun collection that bypassed bad taste by the skin of its teeth and I wish could have landed straight in my wardrobe. There were patchworked jeans, scaredy cat motifs, fabulously tongue-in-cheek horse detail leathers and fringing in neon brights and space age metallics. This was Little House on the Prairie on an acid trip, in the best way imaginable. It may have been tongue-in-cheek but there was mastery behind the mischief and an excellent array of fabric combinations including sumptuous silks juxtaposed with rawhide leathers, metallics and snakeskin.

Ashley Williams LFW

Ashley Williams AW14 (Images via Style.com)

Bright, punchy, patterned and kitcsh underpinned by remarkable technical talent, Ashley Williams deserves all the hype she gets and more. Oh those pig shaped clutches! I’d pair them with Sophia Webster pom pom heels and non-fashion folk would think I was completely unhinged!

My penultimate engagement of LFW day 5, after a much needed itsu pitstop, was Tata Naka. As a lover of all things involving lashings of print and colour, it’s probably not a shocker that I heart this label. Inspired by interior designer, the Surguladze twins’ latest offerings boasted prints and appliqué in rainbow shades paying homage to the paintings of Matisse, Persian rugs, Aubusson carpets, hand-painted wall papers, ceramic tiles and porcelain china.

Tata Naka LFW

Tata Naka AW14

Tata Naka LFW

Fabrics were a carefully crafted and wonderfully sumptuous combination of georgette, silk crepe de chine and luxurious wool crepe given an edge by the introduction bonded silk neoprene. As always, there was a lot going on visually, but the elegant modernity of Tata Naka’s silhouettes renders AW14 another beautifully wearable collection.

LFW

Meadham Kirchoff invitation

What better way to bid LFW adieu than with a show from Meadham Kirchoff? I certainly can’t think of one, so it was a treat to see off another season with another of their riotous catwalk extravaganzas. Having produced umpteen critically acclaimed collections in a row, released a sell out Topshop collection and more recently, a fragrance with Penhaligons, Edward Meadham and Ben Kirchoff are undoubtedly on something for a roll. Judging by their AW14 offerings, this roll looks set to continue for the forseeable future, if not forever. A catwalk decorated with supersized hearts and metallic streamers played host to a collection that was both wonderfully pretty and a true testament to the designer’s technical prowess. There were pinks, purples and sparkles a’plenty but those sugar sweet boucle and scarlet check skirt suits came fully hand embroidered.

Meadham Kirchoff LFW AW14

Meadham Kirchoff AW14

Frothy tiered dresses in delicate French lace and semi sheer chiffon, luxurious crystal trimmed velvets, midnight dévoré and painstaking hand-embellishment all added to the sense that things may have looked like sweetness and light but there was some formidable craftsmanship behind it. As always with Meadham Kirchoff, there remained a hint of saccharine subversion, this time around in the form of a fucked up Park Avenue Princess vibe. That said, it was a rather more wearable take than in previous seasons and I suspect those graphic patterned velvet numbers will fly off the shelves. God knows if I can get my grubby mitts on any of it, I most definitely will.

Meadham Kirchoff LFW AW14 2

Meadham Kirchoff AW14

So there we have it, another LFW over and out! I hope you’ve enjoyed my daily diaries. Until September…

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Week 1 Comment

LFW AW14: Day 4 Pt 2

Firstly I must apologise for these essay length posts, I just can’t help myself! When the shows are as stellar as so many of them were during LFW AW14 it’s hard not to go on and on… and on. Having seen three really cracking collections already by mid afternoon on day 4, I still had a fair few to go so I’m now going to render that apology redundant by describing them in detail, soz.

After leaving Burberry and very, very nearly getting trampled by paps stampeding through the park in an attempt to snap Bradley Cooper I made the attempted high speed journey to Somerset House for David Koma. I’ve long adored David, both as a person and as a designer. Many moons ago he interviewed me as a potential intern. Luckily that never happened as my lack of I probably would have been useless but every time I’ve seen him since I’ve been struck even more by David Koma’s charm, dedication and talent.  When he was announced as Artistic Director for Mugler in December (at just 28 years old!) I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought “about time too!” Recent seasons have seen the welcome introduction of real experimentation within Koma signature body conscious aesthetic and his AW14 offerings were an example of a designer who perfectly nails his niche without becoming imprisoned by it.

David Koma LFW 1

David Koma AW14 (Images via Style.com)

Razor sharp cuts and silhouettes almost severe in their precision were softened by glossy ponyskin and flirtatiously flared hemlines. But of course, strong shapes are what we’ve come to expect from David Koma. What really wowed me was the extreme, flawless detailing and ingenious fabric use. Leather came intricately laser cut, woven into sculptural corsetry and crafted into immaculate accordion pleats or softly falling A-line minis. The colour palette flowed seamlessly through inky noir hues and vivid purples to ice whites and dove greys before reverting to black and cobalt combinations for a fearsome finale. Whether his girl is unleashing her inner vixen in form fitting leather or embracing full skirted femininity, she’s certainly not to be messed with.

David Koma LFW 2

David Koma AW14 (Images via Style.com)

Next on my LFW day 4 agenda was a show I was VERY excited about, Peter Pilotto. Having enjoyed the week of Peter Pilotto not so long ago, I couldn’t wait to reacquaint myself with their particular brand of design brilliance. Having scooped up this year’s BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund Award and collaborated with Target on a collection that sold out globally in seconds, Christopher De Vos and Peter Pilotto are undoubtedly the men of the moment and as such, their’s was a seriously hot ticket show. To be honest, it usually is, and rightly so. Basically everyone who’s anyone was in attendance, from Business of Fashion Founder, Imran Ahmed, Natalie Massenet, Ruth and Tom Chapman of Matches and basically every Editor under sun to a strictly A list line up of sartorial ‘slebs on the FROW. The venue was certainly something, black glass all around, blinking fluorescent strip lights and only two rows affording us an incredible view of the show. And this was the kind of show you wanted to get a seriously good look at.

Peter Pilotto LFW 1

Peter Pilotto AW14 (Images via Style.com)

After a bit of drama involving one of said black glass constructions almost falling on Hilary Alexander and Suzy Menkes (oops) the show began with a bang and there was a collective drawing of breath as the first models stormed out. Inspired by “hybrids and fusion”, Peter Pilotto offered up a play on contrasts and extremes to create a collection compelling in terms of both aesthetics and complexity. It was one of those collections that had me asking myself how on earth they possibly dreamed it up, let alone turned that dream into a wearable reality.

Peter Pilotto LFW 2

Peter Pilotto AW14 (Images via Style.com)

As promised, there was fusion a’plenty in the form of mesh and nylon banding, neoprene and an assortment of other tech fabrics juxtaposed with delicate head-beading, mother of pearl detailing and Linton tweed. From the contrast coloured fur trimmed knits to the kaleidoscopic cocktail dresses adorned with architectural embellishment, no surface was left unworked. Sleek silhouettes allowed for vivid pattern, abstract panorama prints in a riot of clashing brights providing a visual feast for us show goers. I think it’s safe to say that the future of De Vos and Pilotto looks even brighter than their AW14 offerings (sorry).

Very very long term LPA readers may remember, back in my early blogging days I wrote a piece on up-and-coming designers featuring the talented Michael Van der Ham. Three and a bit years on, Michael has most certainly arrived and if there remained any doubt in anyone’s minds about that fact, his AW14 collection would have put paid to it. One thing that really struck me over LFW AW14 was how so many younger designers, like Van der Ham, David Koma and Peter Pilotto to name but a few, expertly manage to convey an aesthetic that is recognisably “them” while still evolving, innovating and surprising us each season.

MVDH LFW 1

Michael Van der Ham AW14 (Images via Style.com)

Establishing a trademark aesthetic while continually pushing the envelope in terms of creativity is a delicate balance but this lot nail it and produce collections that are commercially viable, it’s inspiring. Michael Van der Ham achieved this beautifully for AW14 offering an updated version of the appliquéd collage that has become his calling card on sleek separates in bright silk jacquards. Intricate lace layered over contrast coloured silks, velvet trimmed chiffon and exquisitely embroidered gauze added to the textural brilliance of it all. But for all the sophisticated fabrics and the painstaking techniques involved, Michael Van der Ham’s AW14 collection had a light, playful air and was all the more delectable for it.

MVDH LFW 2

Michael Van der Ham AW14 (Images via Style.com)

Last but not least on that very long afternoon was Giles, a seasoned LFW fixture as I’m sure you well know. He arguably provided one of the most instagrammable performances of the day, what with Cara Delevingne’s mid catwalk selfie and Kendal Jenner’s cameo. There was certainly a spot of spectacle, which I never think is a bad thing in a fashion show.

giles LFW

GILES AW14 (Images via Style.com)

As for the clothes themselves, the collection kicked off with an array of ensembles featuring a Hummingbird motif splashed across silks in a mouthwatering palette of orange, blue and grey. An array of sculptural monochrome dresses with tumbling swathes of satin were a masterful example of Giles doing what he does so well, and I have to say, Miss Jenner looked pretty hot. As for the tougher looks – low slung motorcycle pants, enormous knits and leather all over styled with wool tights and clumpy kicks – I wasn’t convinced.

giles 2 LFW

GILES AW13 (Images via Style.com)

Having since read Maya Singer’s Style.com review pretty much stating the opposite of what I’ve just said, this is no doubt reflective of my personal taste rather than any actual fault. Regardless of one’s views on grunge V gowns, combining both in one collection and doing so cohesively is no mean feat, I’ll say that much.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Week 1 Comment

LFW AW14: Day 4

Ella Catliff LFW AW14 Whistles by Holly McGlynn_001

Wearing Whistles Jacket, Skirt & Jumper, Sophia Webster shoes, Marc by Marc Jacobs bag, Anne Bowes Jewellery Necklace & AllSaints Scarf
Image by Holly McGlynn

Here we have LFW AW14 Day 4, and only a casual fortnight late, result! Let’s ignore my tardiness and crack on with the matter at hand… the shows. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that LFW day 4 is “the big one”. We’re talking big shows, back to back, non stop from 9am. This season it was also the day that I had to submit my thesis 2nd draft (always during bloody fashion week, I swear they do it on purpose!) and I may have spent the previous night dancing until the wee hours at Matthew Williamson and Jonathan Saunders’ after parties, which made the 7am thesis editing particularly unpleasant. My spirits were soon lifted though as, triple shot (caffeine was much needed) Starbucks skinny latte in hand I leapt on the Piccadilly Line and headed to my first show of the day, Roksanda Ilincic.

Roksanda’s collections have been stellar since her LFW debut back in 2005 yet somehow, she manages to outdo herself time and again. AW14 proved this. The past couple of years have seen the designer moving away from the covetable, easy-to-wear cocktail dresses with which she first made her name. Don’t get me wrong, Roksanda Ilincic still does dresses and seriously great ones at that but she’s not afraid to challenge both herself and her customer. The fact she manages to do so while still creating pieces compelling enough to entice everyone from the Duchess of Cambridge to Lily Allen is a true testament to her talent.

Roksanda Ilincic AW14 LFW 1

Roksanda Ilincic AW14 (Images via Style.com)

AW14 saw Roksanda building on the artistic inspiration which underpinned her also awesome SS14 collection, offering up sculpted felted wool confections with abstract patterns in wrong-yet-right contrasting colour combinations. Making pointedly uneven hemlines appear the height of sophistication is no mean feat by any account yet in Ilincic’s capable hands, lopsided skirting smoothly bypassed bizarre and simply felt elegantly unusual. The same goes for her colour palette; neutrals, burgundy, plum, orange, cobalt and ice blue all thrown together amid , surely that should be a disaster? Yet, it works, brilliantly. As for the textures, Roksanda really pulled the stops out here. Having begun her experiment with off kilter fabrics some time around AW13, the designer’s latest concoctions involved intricate PVC woven with tartan and 3D plastic embellishment, perfectly counterbalanced by luscious furs, shearlings and lambswools.

Roksanda LFW AW14 2

Roksanda Ilincic AW14 (Images via Style.com)

Buoyed up by Roksanda’s show I trotted off up Tottenham Court Road for a presentation I was very, very excited. You’ve guessed it, Whistles. Holding a presentation in a stunningly elegant townhouse on Fitzroy Square is to some degree a risky move, especially for what is technically speaking a high street (albeit very high end high street) brand. Didn’t Jane Shepardson worry that the understated expensiveness of the surroundings might detract from collection itself? Not a bit of it, and with good reason. For AW14 Whistles delivered an array of ensembles so exquisitely perfect in their simple chicness one would have been forgiven for assuming they were the wincingly pricey produce of a bonafide luxury label. This is not to say, of course, that the pieces on show were flash. In fact they were the antithesis of bling and that was what made them so incredibly impressive. It’s easy to distract from non-designer-brand fabrics and imperfect cuts with oodles of colour and prints, but Whistles AW14 was a masterclass in polish. Delectably enveloping overcoats in tactile wools, soft shades and oversized checks tempted you to snuggle stylishly inside them. Whistles always gives good knits and this seasons jumpers came roll necked and ribbed, tucked into simple black midi skirts, worn loose over wide leg tailored trousers, and with lashings of nonchalant slouch.

LFW Whistles

LFW Whistles

After marvelling at the precision with which they had cut their pleats (seriously, it was mind boggling) I found my way into the eveningwear room and that, my friends, was the moment I knew I was done for. Thick pelted faux furs, delicately embellished tunics and peek-a-boo jumpsuits all in the most delectable shade of lilac! As for the off the shoulder, almost Dior esque sculpted co-ords and glossy navy satins… I fell hard and mentally kissed goodbye to financial solvency come August. This season Whistles had the exact same effect on me as every Phillip Lim show I attend inevitably does; it made me want a whole new wardrobe.

LFW Whistles

LFW Wistles

After the joy of seeing two excellent collections all thoughts of “headaches” were long forgotten as I loitered in itsu, munching on salmon sushi while hating myself for wishing next Autumn would just hurry up and get here until it was time to head West for Burberry. I will be forever grateful to the generous folk at Burbs for giving me the benefit of the doubt back in 2011 and inviting me to their shows ever since. It’s always one of my major fashion month highlights and I suspect that will remain the case for as long as I’m in the biz. This season was no different and from my usual seat next to Reem Kanj of Five Five Fabulous and Emily Johnstone of Fashion Foie Gras I witnessed a whole lotta spectacle. First up, there was the thoroughly enjoyable experience of watching Anna Wintour and Bradley Cooper lolling on the FROW. Far from seeming traumatised her unplanned trip to Newcastle, La Wintour was positively beaming every time I saw her! The mind boggles… But anyway, let’s talk clothes.

Burberry Womenswear Autumn/Winter 2014 - Front Row & Show

Anna Wintour & Bradley Cooper

Burberry Womenswear Autumn/Winter 2014 - Front Row & Show

From left: Felicity Jones, Naomi Harris, Tini Tempah, Harry Styles, Alison Mossheart & Mario Testino

As Ed Sheeran’s melodious tones filled the venue (live, no soundtracks here, obvs) the first tousle haired, fair skinned model took to the catwalk adorned in a captivating abstraction. How many variations can one man conjure up based on the classic trench? In the case of Christopher Bailey, it appears the answer to that is infinite. Deconstructed, loosely flung over shoulders and adorned with painterly florals I’m not even sure you could call the latest coverups “trench coats”, they were almost too bohemian for that.

Burberry LFW 1

Burberry AW14

Flowing, barely-there silk and chiffon ensembles evoked images of carefree yet cultivated beauties, just as Bailey’s show notes citing the “Bloomsbury Girls” as his latest inspiration suggested. Silhouettes came far softer than recent seasons (remember last Autumn’s foxy homage to Christine Keeler?!) with teddy bear textures and slouchy shearling adding a sense of warmth to flimsy slips and delicately ruched evening dresses.

Burberry LFW 2

Burberry AW14

Admittedly, it was less up my sartorial street than Spring/Summer’s cinched waists and sweet pastels but that didn’t stop the show, the collection and the entire experience being anything less than magical. The ever impressive final saw Paloma Faith serenade the cast of supermodels all clad in personalised blanket coats drumming home the message that Christopher Bailey had in one full swoop delivered both his most daring, and his softest collection for Burberry yet. No one marries creativity and commercial viability quite like he does.

LFW

LFW

More from day 4 coming your way soon! For now, I’d love to hear what you think of these collections?

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Week 2 Comments