Denim Trials


From stupid to sensible is the trajectory this weekend.  Supposedly Hawaiian florals and a grey bit of tulle was a bit too much for some people so I've done a 180 and turned to the mundane wardrobe beast that are jeans.  I say beast because since this blog has been going, I've dropped post titles such as 'Denim Challenge', 'Denim Difficulty' as well as countless anecdotes about grappling in the changing room with x labelled jeans, feeling embarrassed, red-faced and generally looking upon jeans as evil condoms for the legs.  Since those days, I've resolutely eliminated jeans from my wardrobe, until I found the Liberty printed MiH collaboration, a validexcuse to dip my toes back into the jean pool (Did I partake in Jeans for Genes day at school?  I substituted with a denim skirt…).

Recently I've gone further down the line to confront two specific jeans pet peeves.  This is my way of cartharsis.  The point isn't to purge the pet peeves entirely but to face up to them and go "Hey, isn't it great that you don't disgust me anymore?"   I might loathe something to the point where I begin to wonder that loathing and then slowly eat my words until that loathing no longer exists and all is resolved.  That's how I got converted back to eating tofu and cauliflower.

Therefore, my tofu and cauliflower equivalents in denim to overcome today? 

1) Super low-rise, hipster/bumster jeans.  The sort where colourful G-string straps used to poke out at the sides where lady lumps would curve into a teensy tiny waist or erm… cause a bit of overhang.  I suppose my own straight-up-and-down hips and slight muffin top never really gave me cause to suddenly don a pair trousers that would point those traits out.  Their prevalence in the 90s/00s means that their re-appearance in fashion isn't quite due yet but McQ by Alexander McQueen can lord it over the bumster and revive it with correct timing.  McQueen of course famously showed his own 'bumster' trousers in 1996 in his 'Dante' collection, which trickled down into the G-string revealing entities of later years.  McQ have therefore taken this bit of bumster history to inject in their jeans. 

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I'm generally a firm believer that my trousers should sit between my belly button and two inches below – anywhere below and I start to feel like I might not be able to eat properly (for fear of the post-meal bulge) or bend down.  These are a good six-seven inches down the belly button.  Pulling them up would surely cause some sort of internal damage.  The trick was to get over that normal trouser urge and instead revel in a shape that inherently makes you want to push your fingers through the beltloops to tug them down.  Revealing a bank of midriff isn't my normal cup of tea but then again neither was tying up shirts into knots and rolling skirts down to make them shorter and somehow these jeans have tapped into that distant memory lane.  As long as coloured G-strings and builder's bums don't make an appearance, McQ's take on the bumster could very well cause more flesh flashing. 


(Worn with COS top, Beau Coops wedges)

2) My second denim shortcoming?  Bleached out washes and deliberately positioned holes and rips, again the sort that was rife in the 00s.  It hit a new pinnacle of head-scratching for me, when holes and bleach ran riot on a pair Balmain jeans that hit four-figure sums.  Why not just let the denim take its natural course and get holey and faded all by it self?         


Weirdly though from a choice of three washes for Diesel's new Jogg jeans, the most bleached out, ripped up wash appealed the most.  A mysterious sounding 'secret laboratory' at Diesel have developed a hybrid between jeans and jogging bottoms to create jeans with none of those bits that feel a bit 'crusty' at first.  Instead these are jeans for people that want to pull them up without the awkward 'Oh, crap, I can't pull the zip up…' feeling.  In effect, they're not jeans at all but jogging bottoms that look like denim.  Anyhow, it's all denim techno mumbo jumbo to me.  The main point is that bleached out bits and deliberate holes aren't making me want to shake the person who created those holes and bleached out bits by the shoulders going "Why why why?!" 


(Worn with Krystof Strozyna jacket, vintage shirt, Stella McCartney heels)

On another denim note, I'd like to thank Glamour for starting this denim trail by winging over some denim pieces by Junya Watanabe – a fleece-lined biker jacket and a deconstructed fishtail skirt – that has roots in Watanabe's earlier denim dabblings (most notably S/S 02 and S/S 09) and letting me have a play with them for their August denim issue.  Again, deliberate distress marks are all over the joint on the skirt but the cut of it reveals Watanabe's mastery in experimental pattern, warming me to a skirt shape that I'm not usually enthusiastic about.    

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(Worn with vintage shirt, vintage Loewe leather trousers, Prada brogues, Suelly bag, Moscot sunglasses)

(Worn with Limedrop blazer, Goodhood x R. Newbold shirt, Mulberry bag, Nicholas Kirkwood shoes)

Hot Tropic


I was told by my old assistant at Dazed, Flora, who is a proper 'muso-head', that music that young ppl listen to was getting very tropical.  I shrugged and said "I dunno?".  That was nearly a year and a half ago.  I still don't really know whether music got tropical but it's definitely come bursting into fashion.  The seeds were somewhat sewn last summer with Stella McCartney's citrus fruits and House of Holland's palm tree prints.  Then Maarten Van Der Horst came storming out as one of my top picks from the Central Saint Martins MA show earlier this year.  Now it is thrusting through in the men's and resort collections shown last month.  

Back in February though, in amongst a lot of apocalyptic oversized cut-and-paste silhouettes came Van Der Horst's refreshing take on the typical Hawaiian shirt, "dragifying" it with pastel vintage nylon petticoats.  A low budget means to an end meant that Van Der Horst stumbled onto something that got a lot of hearts racing – Hawaiian Frill.  Unsurprisingly, John Waters is a huge influence for Van Der Horst (Waters' book Role Models is my plane read this summer…). 

I have been harassing Van Der Horst in the manner of a possessed Fash Bitch, to see if any pieces from his MA collection are up for sale.  I'm still hoping my incessant wheedling will result in some tulled-up Hawaiian print on my back.  Either way, I'll be looking forward to his debut at next season's Fashion East lineup.

For now though, I've gone down my own low-budget route and dug up an old Topshop tulle skirt and picked up a shirt dress of genuine Hawaii print (Made in Hawaii label verified…) from my favourite haunt The Shop on Cheshire Street for a slightly incongruous pairing of silhouettes.  The ante is upped with a vintage Hermes light trench from Strut, my latest vintage shop obsession.   I've pegged it as a 80s-90s find but whatever decade it is, it simply is a piece that makes the action of 'slipping' on a coat a pleasure in itself.








An assembly of Maarten Van Der Horst's MA collection…     

i-D Online: Mind Over Pattern – Photographed by Justin Borbely, Styled by Anthony Stephinson

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Fashion 156 Couture Gardening Issue - Photographed by Shiba Huizer, Styled by Guy Hipwell, Fashion 156 Beauty Colour Clash - Photographed by Shiba Huizer, Styled by Luke Raymond

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i-D Online: Introducing Maarten Van Der Horst - Photographed by Greta Ilieva, Styled by Margaret Crow

Dazed & Confused July Issue - Photographed by Amira Fritz, Styled by Elizabeth Fraser-Bell

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i-D Hedonist Summer 2011 Issue with Billie Turnbull – Photographed by Ronald Dick, Styled by Hanna Kelifa

Standing Firm


>> Those who follow the other half's blog Style Salvage or remember this swooning post here will be familiar with the surreal curved luggage of Sarah Williams, an LCF MA graduate who has gone on to set up her own company Williams Handmade, set up to challenge the statement that "Historically exceptional craftsmanship was the norm, now it is the exception."  Williams sees craftsmanship as something that should flourish.  Of course she did admit in an interview with Steve that the only impeding her bespoke hand crafted pieces of luggage is the fact that it can become rather elitist.  There's no getting away from the fact that just looking at the pictures of the pieces from her initial MA collection automatically makes me think that there's much ¬£¬£¬£ involved.

Williams stated that in her next collection, facilitated by winning the Absolut Accessories prize at ITS#9 in Trieste last year, she aimed to alleviate this problem of cost.  I'm not sure whether she has achieved this or not but certainly, this new collection which was presented at this year's ITS#10 competition is less complicated, whilst retaining her eye-catching signature.  With less undulating and obtuse curves in the collection, Williams has instead turned to Tetris-esque cases that fit together, semi-circles and cylinders and her own take on the traditional doctor's bag.  I see a whole host of collaborative and own-brand opportunities for William's particular style of dramtically sturdy luggage and leather goods.  The appeal is the same as when I go past Globetrotter in Burlington Arcade, pressing my nose against the window going "Ooooh…." and in Williams' case (no pun intended…), there's an even higher sense of luxury and craft involved in the making of these pieces.  "Luxury market surges…" according to Atlantic Wire and British goods (via the as ever informative BoF).  Good news then for the likes of Williams who instead of filling a market gap, creates her own special niche.  Let's hope Williams British Handmade flourishes in this wake of luxury boom.  










1. "The Spring collection ofÔªø Rodarte, featuring undefinable silhouettes,Ôªø bodice hugging mud skirts, and rusted razor belts."

2. "Fashion is full of black, but rarely does it (Rodarte) invent blacks so specific and tactile that you can almost smell them.  Sometimes it's like dressing in burns."

The first quote is in fact a spoof-reference to Rodarte in Drew Drooge's Chloe Sevigny impression videos that have had me wanting to eat 'to-ast' and mind my 'manniers' all wekk long (thanks to Anastasia and Duck)

The second is taken from John Kelsey's introductory text that accompanies Rodarte's first monograph in collaboration with photographers Catherine Opie and Alec Soth (I bought it in Artwords and it's on Amazon UK but not yet)  I can't deny there are some slightly hilarious parallels between Droege's hammy joke and the lofty poeticism of Kelsey's text.  That said, in this instance, with imagery this powerful, if I was writing the foreword, like Kelsey, I probably would also start rapturing about the "space of mutation between dyed tulle" or likening dresses to charred trees.  The main point to take away from the text is that Rodarte see a world beyond their dresses which inhabit the body.  The link between surroundings and landscape, particularly that of their homestate California and their work has been made apparent time after time and this monograph with the help of Opie and Soth visualises that in a way that is far more moving than a catwalk show.  According to Kelsey, "The fashion runway is a desert where design loses its bearings in order to invent a way of walking in and out of dead ends."  Mapping, scavenging, cartography, topological – this is the kind of vocabulary that pervades the text as Kelsey sees the Mulleavy sisters as designers that navigate and 'mine' their environment in order to create.  For the book, Rodarte provided Soth with a map of California and he goes and does what he does best which is portray both the gravitas and ickle details of a place.  Opie was tasked to photograh a mixture of friends, models and strangers in Rodarte's clothing, which is almost eclipsed by the people wearing them.  Opie is of course a master at bringing out strengths in her subjects, as though she has known them forever and is a dear friend to them.

The book winds in and out from portrait to landscape, landscape to portrait and works at its best when portriat sits side by side with landscape, where you can really draw direct lines between the flow of Rodarte's chosen materials and the pacing of California's outdoors.  By the end of it, I fully concur with Kelsey despite the initial hiccup – "Fashion keeps getting away from itself, losing itself"  That's no bad thing either. 









Speaking of California, for a few days next week, I'll be out in California for the first time in forever.  I'll be most at Huntington Beach watching Nike's US Open of Surfing (all shall be revealed…) but can get away somehow with the help of a driver.  I am of course not naturally programmed for California roaming as I don't drive.  I won't let that become an impediment though.