Last of the Croisière

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The arrangement of flowers set into wooden geometric vases placed on the mirrored circular dinner tables at the Miu Miu cruise resort croisière (errr…just French for cruise…) show last night said almost as much as the clothes on the runway.  It may be the first time that Miuccia Prada has joined in on the cruise show circuit, as she opted to show Miu Miu’s latest resort 2015 collection in Paris last night, just as haute couture is about to kick off this week.  But of all the designers who deserve to take people into their world on themed or one-off extravaganza shows, Miuccia has certainly earned that right.  She is a dab hand at the methodology of creating a “brand universe” where everything from the carpets on the floor (blue, geometric and as always, h) to those aforementioned vases (seriously, can anyone ID them?) only serve to strengthen their persuasive sway over you.

The Palais D’Iena is one of my favourite show venues in Paris because to me it’s the Miu Miu la la land, which signals that the end of a gruelling fashion month is nigh (Miu Miu is normally on the last day of Paris fashion week).  Together with OMA, Miuccia always manages to change the space so dramatically that the interior is unrecognisable from one season to the next.  For “croisière” (that’s what Miuccia has opted to call it and I’m inclined to go with it even if I can’t get my rolled R’s down), it’s an intimate affair with mid-century modern chairs and mirrored cubes set up in first-come-first-serve seating along the carpeted runway.

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The girls would descend down the sweeping dramatically lit-up main staircase and then detour into this cosy lounge set-up, preceded by an acoustic set by soul singer Josephine Oniyama.  Her smooth vocals gave way to… why… none other than Deee-Lite’s classic What is Love.  That would clue you into the retro-but-not-really late sixties mod slash psychedelia vibes of the collection.

They’ll hate that I’m tarnishing their original imagery with “current fashion” but the collection did send me on a vintage image hunt, aided primarily by the supreme archivists/historians Sweet Jane and Liz Egglestone of Miss Peelpants.  It’s hard not to make the many many vintage link-ups that a collection like this stirs up.  In fashion Thea Porter, Pucci and Ossie Clarke come to mind.  In music, it’s the yé-yé French pop girls of the sixties meets Jackson 5’s colouful ensembles that might have featured crochet.  In pop culture… well Alex Fury went for Endora in the series Bewitched and I said Jamie Lee Curtis’ character in My Girl.  It’s of course all of that, more depending on how you see it.

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rykielSonia Rykiel look in Harpers Bazaar March 1969

thea-tulipsThea Porter outfit in 1971

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stamp6Daily Telegraph, May 5th 1972

Shelley-DuvallShelly Duval

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panspetticoat2Pan’s People in Petticoat Magazine May 1969

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verushka-pour-emilio-pucci-1964Verushka in Pucci 1964

walesgypsyjuly1969-susansmallVogue July 1969

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THE PROPERTY OF THE SWEET JANE BLOG-ANTONIO PAGE 2 (1)

_md0urzIM0D1rd1m63o1_1280Antonio Lopez illustrations in Intro Magazine 1967

sweet jane blog milton glaser (2)Milton Glaser illustration in Gebrauchsgraphik International Advertising Art, January 1971

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Some will say it’s one step too far in retrogading.  It struck me though whilst going through those vintage blogs, that the original artefacts of that era are now mostly shored up by collectors and auctions and that these scanned images are for most people, about the closest we’ll come to these clothes.  Miuccia’s recycling and updating process with her myriad of references is an opportune way of making that period tangible and wearable again.  That ’70s Show has moved on.  With trailing chiffon scarves, drawstring embellished leather bags clutched in the hand and a vivid colour combo of pale blue, bright orange and apple green, the lurid scratchy polyesters of that era are duly given a slap up the arse.  Strictly meant in a non-pervy way of course.

After dinner and with the venue lit up in blue, Jack White took to the stage to perform tracks from his new solo album Lazaretto.  As starlets like Stacy Martin and Lea Seydoux swung their hair in the audience, they already looked like they had absorbed the spirit of the collection.  The highlight of the night though was definitely the way Miuccia Prada took her exit bow.  To affirm the more intimate nature of a cruise show, instead of just sticking her head out for a nanosecond at the top of the runway, she came out walking all the way down alongside the chairs, smiling as though she was in the company of close friends.  I wish.  Like Rei Kawakubo and Nicolas Ghesquière, I haven’t quite worked up the cahoonas to go up to Miuccia and say “I admire what you do deeply”  (and yes I would have to put on my most uppity formal voice to speak to these people).  I probably never will.

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Inspa Outfits

>> As if procrastinating over lapsed deadlines on all fronts isn’t bad enough, I’ve now turned my fixations on finding new ways to recycle old photos. It’s a dangerous quagmire when you start yourself off on Google searches, leading from one photo the next.  However, I’ve been meaning to find a way of adding context to old outfits, which might sound like an arse-y pretentious thing to do but is actually aiding me through this whole book/inspiration/why-we-dress-the-way-we-do thought process thing-a-ma-jig.  Confused?  I am too.  All I do know is that image searching and picking out tunes sure beats staring dumbly at my Word screen typing Carrie Bradshaw-esque intros out, deleting and then wretchedly turning on Wimbledon to yell at players I hardly know.  I’ve dubbed them  Inspa-Outfits – as in inspiration and Insta mixed together.  I know.  Hybrid words are loathsome but it’s a temporary holding title until I can get out of this brain fog and think of something cleverer.  A few of them have gone up on Instagram but I thought I’d upload a few more here through Vimeo (so much prettier) as well.  In the spirit of being Tumblr-esque, I won’t listing out credits for each individual image but am happy to give them if you ask.  The point is to give a 15-30 second mind blur of what goes into an outfit.  Or something to that effect.  I’m already feeling like a prat as I’m typing this up.  Maybe I should stick to sorting out socks into colour order.  Fortunately, Paris has come-a-calling where haute couture will be the major distraction for the next few days.  You’ll get more sense out of me then hopefully.

Outfit: Cynthia Rowley x Roxy wetsuit, Topshop dress, Stella McCartney shoes, Music: Max Richter – Recomposition of Vivaldi’s Spring 0

Outfit: Molly Goddard x ASOS dress, Merchant Archive trousers and top, Nike Flyknits, Filles a Papa clutch, Music: Postiljonen – Supreme, Streetstyle photos by Flow On The Street and On Abbot Kinney

Outfit: Topshop x Meadham Kirchhoff floral top and silver tinsel skirt, vintage dress underneath, Makin Jan Ma striped leggings, Prada sunglasses, Miu Miu shoes, Music: Tomas Barford – November Skies feat. Nina Kinert

Outfit: Ostwald Helgason dried flowers sweatshirt, Diane von Furstenberg sequinned skirt, vintage cashmere jumper, Six London collaboration shoes, Benah clutch, Music: M83 – You, Appearing, Streetstyle photos by Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21ème Arrondissement

Bold Stroke

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WOOF!!  That’s normally footie (or soccer to the Americans) speak to accompany a stonkingly good goal.  In this case, it was my reaction to Anthony Vaccarello‘s debut campaign for his A/W 14-5 collection, shot by Inez and Vinoodh and starring Anja Rubik and a separate entity known as Anja Rubik’s never ending legs.  It’s an ace combination all round as Vaccarello chose to kick off his campaign cycle with a bold stroke, in homage to the key inspiration of the A/W 14-5 – the vibrantly energetic illustrations of Tony Viramontes.  Long time Style Bubble readers will know that Vaccarello and I go way back.  Way back to ye olde blog days.  And since then, I have slowly resigned myself to being a silent cheerleader given that he now has far more powerful and effective champions of his work (Anja Rubik’s legs for one…).

That said, I was happy to be punched in the face with that emboldened red font.  It’s the sort of font that says Vaccarello has truly arrived and his future ascent looks assured as he has a (what I’m told) will be an exciting collection for Versus Versace still to come later in the year.  And so I thought I’d take this opportunity to indulge in all things Viramontes and Vaccarello – bold brush strokes matched up by bold body draping in leather, chainmail and red patent.  It’s tickling my secret desire to channel the chicks in that Robert Palmer video.  It seems appropriate that Viramontes is having a bit of a moment as his assertive illustration style and fast-paced paint strokes key into the way we see fashion today – scrolling through images on the screen with eyes gathering an impression of a silhouette rather than taking in all the subtle details.

Vaccarello has long been going into Viramontes-esque impressionistic territory as he has always sought to drape fabric on the body and make it stay in place in an unexpected manner.  For A/W 14-5, your immediate take-away is the oversized jacket worn with the shortest of minis – an upscale version of the way you might have borrowed a boy’s jacket at the end of a heavy night of clubbing or shrugged on a coat to hide the hemlines from disapproving parentals.  High chunky polonecks conceal in tandem with the revealing skirts.    Viramontes’ red and black illustrations paid dividends in the flashes of red patent and metal grommets shaped to look like an abstracted version of a leopard print.  Vaccarello is shy of colour but it’s hugely effective when used in small doses against all of his trademark textures of black.  As always, Vaccarello is a fastenings nut – taking the time to source the right ways to keep his body conscious draping in its correct position.  This time he uses exaggerated Mod-esque button straps to run up a thigh-slit black satin dress and zippers on skirts.  He also returns to the ruffle that graced his first standalone collection which was showcased in the windows of Maria Luisa.  It’s minimised now but mimics the flourishing pen strokes of Viramontes and is used to introduce Vaccarello’s beloved metal chainmail.  Hard.  Soft.  Covered.  Exposed.  Sexy.  Cerebral.  These are the contrasts that Vaccarello traverses to and fro.  They’re the fine lines that intrigue and pique the likes of covered-up, distinctly unsexy me.  There’s an allure that you definitely want to succumb to.  One day…

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Playground Antics

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Some of you who follow me on Instagram will be familiar with this little one but allow me to formally introduce you to Lily…

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…. She is the niece of my boyfriend Steve and is objectively speaking one of the cutest and prettiest babies I’ve come across ever (and I’ve had a lot of baby experiences what with my many many cousins).  She’s coming up to her 2nd birthday and because I will be in Paris next weekend and will miss her party, I thought I’d give her an early pressie – a Roksanda Ilincic patent raincoat from her Blossom childrenswear range, which I had bought at a sample sale.  Actually you can add that pressie to the many indulgent gifts, which I have given Lily because I have gotten into this naughty habit of playing dress-up with her.  And so it is that I have shamefully succumbed to the thing that I used to vehemently scoff at – designer childrenswear and to some extent the parents who buy these clothes for their blessed children.  I scoffed for the usual reasons.  Babies and children grow and they grow fast (young Lily is actually wearing a coat made for a 4 year old because she is incredibly tall for her age) and there is no sense in paying over the odds for clothes that they will outgrow in a matter of months and will undergo regular wear and tear.  Others will weigh in with their own more moralistic reasons of objection – that kids shouldn’t be exposed to brands and rampant consumerism and that what they wear shouldn’t dictate their sense of self worth so early on.  This article on NJAL makes a point about contemporary childrenswear becoming more “adult-looking” – is that right when we hold this wafty moral judgement that “kids should be allowed to be kids.”  Or that the sanctity of childhood shouldn’t be tainted by concepts such as child models and unrealistic beauty ideals (although arguably you see a greater diversity in children’s modelling than you do in their adult counterparts…).

I liked this piece that Vanessa Friedman wrote last year, reacting to the launch of Global Kids Fashion Week in London and the rise of the childrenswear sector in amongst fashion brands.  She doesn’t necessarily object to designer fashion for children for the aforementioned reasons.  Instead she points out that there is value to learning about the way clothes are a form of expression.

Childhood is a time for learning that clothes serve a purpose (beyond warmth and protection); that they are effective ways to telegraph who you are: jeans-and-T-shirt tomboys, tulle-skirted princesses, spotty/stripy originals – all selves that my own children have, literally, tried on  When children appear in head-to-toe pink, or clashing patterns, it’s not because they don’t know how to dress; it’s because that’s how they have chosen to dress. That said, learning that choice has an effect on those around them is a key lesson, now more than ever, as image becomes a crucial tool in communication.

That may apply to older children with a better understanding of their peers, actions and surroundings.  It’s a weaker case when it comes to babies at Lily’s age.  Still, that hasn’t stopped me from going into Bonpoint in Bicester (I will let it be known that every piece of “designer” childrenswear I’ve bought for Lily has been heavily discounted…) and picking up little Liberty print dresses, being increasingly tempted by Stella McCartney’s persuasive kidswear and gorging over the cuteness-laden images in Milk Magazine.  The truth is I have succumbed because it is deeply satisfying for me to project my own tastes in childrenswear (and to some extent adult clothes – I mean, OBVIOUSLY I would wear all this stuff in adult sizes) and to have a little person, who is acquiescing to this dress-up routine by laughing and squealing whenever she tries on new things.  Case in point, after trying out the Roksanda raincoat in the park and picturesquely jumping in puddles, the next morning she wanted to wear the coat again.  Yikes – sartorial smart cookies are getting younger and younger.  Clearly Lily has already developed a taste for a well-judged trapeze volume and a perfect peter pan collar.

It may still be far, far away but it’s hard not to think about the choices I would make with my own offspring in the future, given how easily I’ve waded into designer childrenswear, against my better judgement – for a little girl who isn’t even related to me by blood.  No use in blaming the brands, who have capitalised on the growing demand from well-off folk to kit out their sprogs in designer togs.  Then is it a matter of making the right judgement calls when it comes to aesthetic and price?  I’m probably still unlikely to swan into Harrods childrenswear department and buy up Chloe baby-gros and Baby Dior nappy bags nor will I sniff at those that make the choice to do so.  In my head, I’ll be making concessions for occasional on-sale pieces from the likes of Petit Bateau because they are aesthetically charming and they errr…. wash well (Steve’s sister makes the same justification for her Petit Bateau purchases for Lily, which apparently wash better than H&M or Zara).  And of course working in the biz with perks of sample sales and discounts, the likes of Roksanda’s Blossom range as seen in this outrageously cute A/W 14 lookbook will be in all likelihood, immensely difficult to resist.

Scoff away people…

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