Mary Katrantzou

LFW AW14: Day 3 Pt 2

I’m not sure why LFW seems to have been even more back-to-back this season but despite my raging blisters and multiple bruises, I’m not complaining, so many of the shows I was lucky enough to see were seriously excellent. Temperley London was certainly up there with the best of them. After Mulberry’s presentation of the Cara Delevingne collection, Naomi and I legged it for the door, leapt in her car (huzzah friends with cars! Especially those of the chauffeur driven Mercedes variety) and hurtled in the direction of The Savoy. Or rather, we attempted to hurtle but actually just crawled along in hideous traffic getting increasingly stressed out about potentially missing the show. The we took a selfie, and suddenly life didn’t seem half so bad.

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Cheeky car #selfie with Naomi Mdudu

My feelings for Temperley London are no secret. I love, adore and covet every deliciously feminine, lace-and-embroidery strewn confection Alice offers up and for AW14, this is perhaps truer than ever. From my front row seat (not that I’m smug or anything) I was afforded an incredible view of an even more incredible collection. A brief glance at the show notes had me worried. “The start of a new and exciting era for Temperley”… a “sexier and savvier” attitude for Winter? But I like the old attitude, I sulked to myself. Luckily my fears were unfounded. While Alice did definitely offer up something fresh the DNA of the collection remained the Princess worthy gorgeousness we all know and love, albeit in a manner that felt like a departure from previous seasons.

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Temperley London AW14 (images via Style.com)

Print, texture and colour had been taken to knew heights for AW14 with mosaic inspired patterns in shades of cobalt, navy and grey adorning immaculately layered ensembles. Light-as-air chiffon was given new depth with the addition of elegant overcoats and wrap around scarves cinched at the waist by neat leather belts. Temperley may be renowned for her gowns but this collection proved she cuts a dashing separate with the best of them. And dashing those separates most certainly were. In fact I’d go so far to say they had a dandyish quality that appeared through smoking jacket esque quilted coverups layered over immaculately tailored, flared hem dress coats. Indeed, there was an air of opulence than conjured up thoughts of English country houses and velvet slipper clad aristocratic old Gentlemen. As for the dresses – because of course there were dresses – those were positively regal. Were talking ornate florals on silk in sumptuous shades of ochre and rose, semi sheer, billowing skirting and endlessly delectable thigh skimming hemlines styled with OTK boots in stoke-me-now suede. It was, as the show notes claimed, “funkier” and “very wearable” but in a way that was inimitably Temperley London.

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Temperley London AW14 (images via Style.com)

Next up, another attempted high speed dash over to the Tate Modern for Topshop UNIQUE. We arrived to be greeted by a mob of paparazzi, street style photographers and regular folk, unsurprising really since this show always boasts one of the most celeb-tastic FROWS on the schedule. Once inside I got stuck into a champagne-and-catch-up sesh with rainbow haired babe Chloe Norgaard and the lovely Amber Atherton while surreptitiously keeping my eyes peeled for Kate Moss or Harry Styles. Naturally they were both in attendance, as well as everyone from Chelsea Leyland to Anne Wintour (presumably recovered from her Newcastle ordeal by this point). And the show it’s self? I wasn’t expecting to, but I loved it. Don’t get me wrong I heart toppers as much as the next girl but feared their catwalk offerings might err on the side of nineties/sports/grunge/rave and therefore not be my cup of tea. Admittedly there were hints of all the above but in a was that was, for want of a better word, downright good. Oversized outerwear played proportion distortion with shrunken knits and flared hems.

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Topshop UNIQUE AW14 (images via Style.com)

Embroidered mesh and utility (well, ish) puffa jackets sat alongside glossy olive green and butterscotch leathers, delicate lemon yellow numbers with embroidered collars and hazy hibiscus florals. There was a distinct 3.1 Phillip Lim AW12 vibe which could never be a bad thing. Standout pieces included one fabulous python print trench and an array of patchwork faux furs I need in my wardrobe, like, yesterday. It’s also worth noting the amount of blue looks on the catwalk, evidently the colour to be seen in come AW14.

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Topshop UNIQ AW13 (images via Style.com)

Two shows left to go but bear with me mon amies, they were good’uns. After a quick gossip with Betty Autier – mega blogger, mega babe and one of the ladies I’ll be going on an insanely exciting trip to Paris with next month… Watch this space – I decided to leg it home for a quick outfit change before the evening.

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With Betty Autier at Topshop UNIQUE

Walking in precisely the wrong direction for the best part of half an hour left me all of ten minutes to slip into my Matthew Williamson number (so, so divine, can’t wait to show you properly!) and order an Uber. No way José was I going to risk missing my penultimate show, the ever inspiring Mary Katrantzou. Mary’s shows are always a seriously hot ticket and this season was no different. The FROW played host to everyone from Miroslava Duma and Olivia Palermo to Natalie Massenet, Anna Wintour and just about every other fash pack big hitter you could imagine. Was was rather different this season however, was the collection. I don’t need to tell you that Katrantzou made her name with mesmerising digital prints and sculptural shapes which have since become her trademark. But did those kind of looks flood her AW14 runway? Nope, not even one. It takes a brave designer to eschew the stylistic motif that has made her one of the most coveted in the world but in Mary’s case it paid off. Big time.

Mary Katrantzou LFW

Mary Katrantzou AW14 (images via Style.com)

Somewhat paradoxically, the collection that saw Mary Katrantzou move away from the prints and silhouettes that have become symbolic of her label drew its inspiration from the language of symbols. The uniforms of scouts, butchers, city boys and even construction workers were translated into sleek, long line shapes, asymmetric pleats and masterful layering adorned with intricate laces, painstakingly detailed embroidery, shimmying metallic chainmail, brocades and appliqué. As you might have guessed, texture was both key here. Between the razor sharp laser cutting, embellished fur sweatshirts(!) and silver jacquard tailoring the whole thing was both exquisite and a mind boggling feat of design innovation. It was a bold more for Mary Katrantzou but one hell of a smart one.

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Mary Katrantzou AW14 (images via Style.com)

My final show on LFW day 3 was Matthew Williamson. Yep, day three was a great one for me. So many of my favourite labels showing within the space of ten hours not least the ever wonderful Williamson. As a lover of all things glittery, girly and eye poppingly bright it’s not exactly a shocker that I heart his work. The show notes promised a reimagining of “the optimism and high glamour of the 1970s” and boy, did Matthew Williamson deliver.

Matthew Williamson LFW

Matthew Williamson AW14 (images via Style.com)

This season also saw a new found emphasis on tailoring and day wear in the form of chicly tailored coats, separates and shift dresses. Of course, this being Williamson, they came covered in jazzy graphic prints and embellishment, after all, why sacrifice sparkle for the office? I felt this collection particularly showcased Matthew’s knack with fabric. From the brocade tapestry’s to the sumptuous crystal appliqué sweaters to the gleaming metallics and sequin showers that formed the finale, it was a delectable combination of look-at-me exuberance and flawless quality. On the subject of said finale, oh it was excellent. We’re talking Ostrich feathers, purple furs, multi coloured star motifs and an A-MAZING glittering floor sweeper that matched the black and white striped runway. The mood was a celebratory one and, as his AW14 offerings prove, Matthew Williamson has a lot to celebrate.

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Matthew Williamson AW14 (images via Style.com)

I left the venue feeling uplifted by the show, not to mention the splendid seven I’d attended before that, and leapt in a car to Soho House for a girly dinner with Serena and Millie to fuel up for a long night of parties.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Week 1 Comment

LFW SS14: Day 3

Despite the weather being – for want of a better word – completely crap, LFW day 3 was an excellent one. In fact they all were to be honest, but anyway, I digress. My morning kicked off bright and early with the Smythson presentation at their Bond Street store.

LFW SS14

I Wore: Club Monaco jacket & shirt, Tibi shorts, Whistles sandles & Mulberry bag
Image by Holly McGlynn

I’ve often thought that fashion would be the ultimate career for an alcoholic as regardless of whether its 9am or 9pm, champagne is served. I was rather tempted by the bellinis on offer at Smythson but with a will of steel, stuck to freshly squeezed juice instead. A good call as aside from anything else, I needed my wits about me to fully appreciate the gorgeousness of their latest accessories. Whether it’s a notepad or a briefcase, everything Smythson does is flawless and just about the ultimate in tasteful luxury. The latest edition to their handbag family, the x, is a perfectly formed top handle tote with contrast colour side panels, definitely a future classic. Their Panama range was truly a joy to behold with camera bags, clutches, iPad sleeves and basically everything else your heart could desire in the highest quality leather imaginable and a range of eye popping colours. It remains my lifelong dream to own a full set of, preferably monogrammed, Smythson gear… One day! I was delighted to run into Naomi in the store but then, as we were munching granola pots and shouting at each other we had the out-of-body experience of running literally smack into Anna Wintour clad in ice blue leather and enormous sunglasses. In that situation it’s hard to know what to do. We opted for averting our eyes and flattening against the wall while employing every modicum of self control not to whip out our iPhones and take a picture.

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Having just about recovered from our literal run in with La Wintour, we trotted across the road to the Halycon Gallery where Emilia Wickstead was showing. This was definitely one of my favourite shows on LFW SS14, if not ever. Opening with an exquisitely elegant full skirted look in palest blush textured cotton, Wickstead’s latest offerings were the very epitome of timeless elegance. Edible candy colours ranging from tangerine and turquoise to mint green, chocolate brown and ruby red.

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Emilia Wickstead SS14

Swing coats and crisp pleats exuded a demure, old world feel styled to perfection by Mark Cross box bags and Manolo Blahnik heels. Sculpted, couture worthy silhouettes complete with cinched waists, wide hems and voluminous, ankle grazing skirts were given a contemporary edge by way of bold horizontal stripes, piano prints and the surprising use of fabrics such as white denim. Emilia Wickstead’s SS14 collection was so mouthwateringly beautiful a challenge anyone not to go weak at the knees just looking at it, irrefutable proof of just why she’s being hailed as one of the hottest names in fashion right now.

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Emilia Wickstead SS14

Whereas on day two the scheduling of shows had provided something of an obstacle, the day three line up worked in everyone’s favour. After recovering from my Emilia Wickstead induced awe stricken reverie I joined my fellow fashion week-ers for the five minute trot up the road to Claridges. This venue can only mean one thing, Mulberry. As per always, the street was lined with photographers, some doing street style, others waiting to pap the guaranteed A List attendees. Mulberry is a brand that’s not afraid to reference it’s English heritage and on this occasion, Claridges had been transformed into a country manor complete with flower daubed wrought iron gates at the entrance, daisies on the grass carpeted stairs and a full afternoon tea spread once inside. Given that our invitations had been adorable miniature Wedgewood tea cups, I probably should have guessed this would be the case. The FROW featured a bevvy of celebs including Alexa Chung, Brit Marling, Douglas Booth,  Juno Temple, Lea Seydoux, Rebecca Hall and Tallulah Harlech plus Anna Wintour, Alexandra Shulman and every other important fashion figure this side of Antarctica.

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From left: Brit Marling, Lea Seydoux, Rebecca Hall, Alexa Chung & Douglas Booth

As this would be Emma Hill’s swansong collection for the brand, I was both excited and a little nervous to see the collection. What if, after God knows how many stunning seasons Emma got it wrong this time? But of course, she didn’t. In a delightful homage to all that is English, Mulberry’s SS14 offerings were a delightful fusion of countryside inspired chic and swinging sixties cool in shimmering grey floral jacquards, pop art prints, modish leathers, fiery red silk twill and embroidered cream cotton. Cara Delevigne, who had been noticeably absent up until this point, made one of her rare SS14 catwalk appearances to open the show and a wayward bulldog tugging his poor model minder down the runway bought a smile to everyones lips.

Mulberry SS14

Mulberry SS14

Mulberry always put on a beautiful show and the collection felt like a celebration of Emma Hill’s revival of a beloved British brand, offering something fresh for the new season while reminding us all of the designer’s signature playful style we’ve all fallen so hard for. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we’ll be on tenterhooks to see both what Emma does next and whether her replacement can continue Mulberry’s reign of excellence.

After an Itsu pitstop (they don’t have them in NY so naturally I’ve been having an Omega 3 Salmon Supreme bonanza since arriving home) I headed to The Savoy for my fourth show of day three, Temperley London. The hotel ballroom provided a fittingly regal setting for a collection fit for a princess. If recent high profile fans of the brand (AKA the Duchess of Cambridge) are anything to go by, adorning royal frames is probably where a fair few of these dreamy dresses will end up. For there really is no other way to describe the unbelievable beauty of what Alice Temperley served up this season. The designer treated us to an array of duchesse satin creations in a rainbow of delectable shades ranging from rich purples, pinks and mauves through to soft blush, ladylike lilac and peachy hues, midnight black, cream, ice white and palest mint green.

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Temperley London SS14

It was every girly girl’s fantasy realised in organza and brocade with floral embroidery, appliqué blooms and intricate lace cutwork. Combining delicate cherry blossom print with leopard while keeping things classy is no mean feat but Alice pulled it off with aplomb. Overlay skirts featuring hundreds of tiny ribbon bows had my jaw hitting the floor and wasp waisted creations were taken to the next level of red carpet glamour with shimmering crystal embellishment. I don’t know how else to describe Temperley London SS14 other than stunning for that is exactly what it was.

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Temperley London SS14

I wandered out of The Savoy fantasising about swanning around town in one of those Temperley gowns and was unceremoniously jolted from my daydream but the fact that it was raining and I had precisely 5 minutes to get across town for my Gap event. Luckily I made it just in the nick of time for a few hours of official “hosting” duties before re-entering the fray for my final show of the day, Mary Katrantzou. I’m a die hard Katrantzou fan (who isn’t!?) and have never before seen her work on the catwalk so excited doesn’t even begin to cover my pre show emotional state. Fearful that the appalling traffic and multiple road closures might make me miss the show I badgered my poor driver incessantly about his route. So desperate was he to get me out of his car, we made it with enough time for me to take my seat and enjoy the excellent people watching opportunities. As expected at such a hot ticket show, the FROW was strictly A* List with Olivia Palermo, Natalie Massenet, Ruth Chapman, Mira Duma, Elena Perminova, Anna Wintour (in a new and even chicer ensemble than the morning’s), Suzy Menkes, and Cathy Horyn gracing it to name but a few. Those who had been allocated standing spots were left virtually wrestling one another for space, proving just how much the world wants Mary. Having spent that trip to Doha in her charming company I can attest that such adoration couldn’t happen to a nicer and more deserving person.

Mary Katrantzou

Mary Katrantzou SS14

A peek at the show notes informed me that this seasons inspiration was footwear and I was very intrigued to see Mary work her magic and spin it into something extraordinary. “Shoes” is a fairly expansive field so Mary cleverly narrowed down her collection to three sections based on three distinct styles. First up was the humble brogue inflated and distorted to form voluminous, digital printed concoctions complete with punched leather detailing, lacing serrations and pleats in moody shades chestnut, deep blue and olive green.

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Mary Katrantzou SS14

The second footwear style du jour was sports shoe, fitting really considering fashions ongoing fixation with trainers. But this, my friends, was like no other manifestation of athletic inspiration (thank God). The oh-so-talented Miss Katrantzou took the idea of gym kicks and transformed them into cropped and extended bikers, form fitting bandeau dresses and mini skirts crafted from neoprene, rubberised leather and mesh in neon bright shades complete with velcro straps and rubberised detailing recalling shoe soles.

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Mary Katrantzou SS14

Last but certainly not least came the evening heel, but not as you, I or anyone else have ever seen it before. For the second consecutive season Katrantzou worked with legendary French embroidery house, Maison Lesage, resulting super size gobstoppers of embellishment decorating the final array of architectural, rococo coloured creations. If I ever have the cash to splash on a Katrantzou frock I would consider it an investment on par with a priceless work of art because in all honesty, that is precisely what each and every one of them are.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Week Leave a comment

Creativity V Commerce

creativity commerce

Gareth Pugh & J.Crew SS13

As you no doubt gathered from the million and one times I’ve mentioned it, the issue of creativity V commerce has been a hot topic in fashion circles of late. Admittedly I’m pretty new to the industry but I do get the impression that, not so long ago commerce was something of a dirty word for designers and journos alike. To call a collection ‘commercial’ would be to insult it. No self respecting Central Saint Martins graduate would want their creations referred to in tawdry terms lie that.

Looking back at the tradition of “visionaire” designers-slash-artistes and the age old struggle between “creatives and suits”, it’s easy to see why design ingenuity and business acumen aren’t necessarily viewed as going hand in hand. But, during the course of the two years I’ve spent studying Fashion History and Theory at the aforementioned arts school, I’ve learnt that in fact this is not, and never had been, the case. Contrary to what I previously believed, many of the great Haute Couturiers – especially those who’s legacy lives on today – owe their success as much to intelligent business and marketing practice as they do to their talent for design. Charles Frederick Worth has been hailed both as the father of modern fashion and, by many accounts, a marketing genius. Almost seventy years after it’s inception, Dior remains be one of the most prestigious and profitable fashion houses in the world, were it not for the aggressive expansion strategy insisted on by the young Monsieur Dior’s financial backer, Marcel Boussac would that still be the case? I doubt it. A combination of carefully executed licensing deals, sophisticated international marketing strategy and customer driven production enabled Monsieur Dior’s exquisite creations to transcend the elite world of Parisian Haute Couture and create a global brand. I won’t bore you by regurgitating more of my thesis research but trust me there are infinitely more examples besides.

It seems to me that innovative design and sound business practice have always been equally important ingredients in ensuring the success of a fashion brand. So why, somewhere down the line, did “commerce” get such a bad rep? I suspect the myth surrounding the design genius who creates whatever he fancies, irrespective of press, customers or production lines is to some degree just that. Couple said stereotype with the fact critics started using “commercial” as a byword for boring, and its easy to see how the confusion happened.

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Mary Katrantzou SS13

Because of course, appreciating and understanding the commercial aspects of fashion doesn’t necessarily make for dull clothes. As everyone from Natalie Massenet to Victoria Beckham drummed home at Vogue Festival, that’s not the case today at all. UK designers in particular have traditionally been praised for creating fantastical collections that thrill the critics but pay little heed to what consumers want to, or in some cases can, actually wear. But in fact it seems to me that today’s Brit taught talent know full well that they need to be business minded and aware of everything from budgets and brand management to retail environments, social media and visual merchandising if they want to have any hope of surviving. Mary Katrantzou may concoct mesmerising tromp l’oiel masterpieces tantamount to wearable works of art. But she counterbalances those wondrous runway-to-red-carpet creations with mega hit separates and collaborations with Topshop and Current X Elliot, slowly but surely growing her label into a global fashion player. London’s Centre For Fashion Enterprise is entirely devoted to teaching the city’s newest design talent in the ways. With programmes ranging from “New Market Entry” to “Building Brand Equity” and alumni including Marios Schwab and Simone Rocha, it stands to reason that besides being undeniably talented, our up-and-coming sartorial stars are also spread sheet savvy.

In the end it’s not even about the clothes, it’s about the fact that designers can no longer afford to solely be creative and it appears that both they, and the industry is appreciating and emphasising this as never before. Ultimately I don’t think it matters whether you’re J.Crew or Gareth Pugh. It’s not about whether you’re creating plaid cigarette pants or rubber masks, it’s about running a fashion brand as a 21st century business and understanding everything that involves. Like so many of my recent posts, this isn’t a straightforward conclusion kinda thing (sorry!). I just find it very interesting that fashion forerunners ranging from Peter Pilotto to Alexandra Shulman are acknowledging the importance of commerce, and specifically designers embracing it, like never before. Given the financial shit storm difficulties of the past few years, I reckon this bodes well for the future of fashion, especially here in London. But then I may well be talking total rubbish, what do you think?

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Leave a comment

Weekly Wish List: 23/11/2012

weekly wish list

1) Preen Tyler Leopard Jacquard Top, £580, click here to buy
2) BLK DNM Biker Style Leather Trousers, £675, click here to buy
3) 3.1 Phillip Lim Carmen Leather Sandals, £550, click here to buy
4) Pink Tiger Pattern iPhone 4 Case, £24.99, click here to buy
5) Charlotte Olympia Moonshine Bag, £385, click here to buy
6) Miu Miu Shearling Trimmed Wool Duffel Coat, £1820, click here to buy
7) MaxMara Bu Bowling Bag, £495, click here to buy
8) Nicholas Kirkwood Suede Ankle Boots, £595, click here to buy
9) Mary Katranzou Anchorino Crystal Jewel Print Dress, £540, click here to buy

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Shopping Leave a comment

Unexpected Trend: Trouser Suits AW12

trouser suits

While the gothic luxe trend may not exactly be a shocker for Autumn/Winter, I challenge anyone to claim that they seriously expected to see trouser suits returning to the fashion fore during their lifetime. I don’t know about you, but until recently the phrase “trouser suit” conjured up of ill-fitting nylon, sloppy tailoring and sludgy greys. Well, after spending God know how many seasons banished to bargain bins and middle management, they’re back on the sartorial menu.

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