Thursday, 30 October 2008

Seven New York Fragrances

Our favourite New York store has just launched something rather exciting, namely six scents, in a series imaginatively named Six Scents, which is an ongoing project whereby each year six prominent designers are asked to design a fragrance which is then sold in limited numbers to raise money for charity. What’s really amazing is that among this year’s designers are Hapsical faves Jeremy Scott, Gareth Pugh, and Bernard Willhem. Now, if Raf Simons had done one we’d actually be leaping on a plane right this minute to be the first in the queue when they are launched, but still it’s an exciting range of designers and we’re so curious to know what they’ll smell like.

How do you think Gareth Pugh’s aesthetic translates into fragrance? It’s apparently “a struggle between lightness and darkness,” and containins dill, black pepper, (both great on smoked-salmon), nutmeg, palissander, black tea, amyris, white amber, and musk. This will be a rare opportunity to get scents from these designers because it’ll be a long way down the line, if at all, when they launch their own commercial perfumes. Each one costs $85 and is numbered 1-2,000.

All we’re smelling right now, however, is the bitter stench of envy, since a trip to New York won’t be on the cards for us for quite a while, by which time these will probably all have sold out, meaning we’ll never get to know what Jeremy Scott smells like…

What happened to Bond girls?

Gemma Arterton at the Quantum of Solace premier in London last night, wearing Balmain:

Unspeakable. And let's not forget Eva Green, who had one of her characteristic 'frock horror' moments at the Casino Royale premier a year or so ago:

Since when did 'Bond girl' become the byword for bad taste? We don't usually fall for nostalgia, but taking note from the good old Bond girl days would be the best way to go for these two contemporary style reprobates...

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Five Things

1) Spot the Prada

Clockwise from top right: lace dresses from LK Bennett, House of Fraser, Topshop, and Prada :)

2) Jil Sander on Bond Street

We were shocked to see a Jil Sander store on the Oxford Street end of Bond Street (which is otherwise a bit of a wasteland, full of those crappy cut price designer suit shops) which has apparently been there for six weeks, though we think they need to hire a new PR firm because we hadn’t read or heard anything about it. They used to have a store on Savile Row, which closed a few years and turned into (horrors of horrors) Abercrombie, so it’s good to have it back.

As you would expect the store is very minimalist, nothing special though, but some of the pieces are really nice in person, and you can really appreciate the quality of the materials and the construction: there were some very interesting jackets and dresses with 3D patterns in the fabric:

The Jil Sander look is very hard to pull off (you really have to go all out and do head-to-toe minimalism, or else some of the pieces can end up looking pretty bland), but it’s stunning when it works and this shop is well worth a look.

3) Big Baby

Dover Street Market is decorated with a exhibition exploring 40 years of CDG graphics because, according to the website "Rei Kawakubo has never only designed clothes, she designs the company called Comme des Garçons. This company has therefore never wavered in its quest to express its core values of creation by whatever means it can" which in reality translates into a scary big baby looking out by the entrance, and various other over-sized graphic installations.

4) 16 hours and 42 minutes…

Until the much-hyped Westfield mega-mall opens in an unassuming corner of West London. It will be interesting to see if the luxury brands are successful: Prada, Miu Miu and Gucci seem to be on hold, despite indication that they would be opening, but there is going to be Louis Vuitton, Dior, De Beers, Jo Malone, Mulberry, Versace, and Tiffany’s. The shopping mall concept hasn’t been tried with luxury retailing before in the UK (it’s commonplace in Asia and the Middle East), possibly because Bond Street, Sloane Street, and West End department stores already cater well for luxury shopping needs, and UK shopping malls have always had a rather tawdry, run-down image. Westfield is aiming to change all that, and we'll be interested to see how it goes (although it perhaps isn’t the best of omens that the Evening Standard’s architectural critic has said the luxury area looks about as classy as Bahrain airport Duty Free in the 70s…)

5) A Child of the Jago

Shop of the moment: long known by us as ‘that shop on Great Eastern Street,’ we’ve now discovered that it was conceived by Joe Corre (co-founder of Agent Provocateur and son of Malcom McLaren, the Sex Pistols’ manager), Vivienne Westwood and designer “Barnzley." A Child of the Jago sells an eclectic mix of clothes, jewelry, books, records and curios, much of it vintage and antique. Everything is either one of a kind or unique to the shop, and we rather like the house print, done on bomber jackets ,which is apparently re-worked 19th century Victorian pornography.

It’s at 10 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3NT. More here

Gareth Pugh - part 2

When we wrote the Gareth Pugh rant (post below), we had forgotten one of modern life’s rules: don’t always necessarily believe what fashion PRs tell you. They may well be too busy drinking free cocktails at fashion parties to give out totally accurate information all the time (and yes, we're jealous!).

Thus we found ourselves in Dover Street Market this morning standing face-to-face with a rail of amazing Gareth Pugh creations, including the jacket and jeans with the triangles on (even though we were told it was not commercially available) which he’s wearing himself in the picture below, and some very runway-looking crazy pieces with fur on (much more interesting than the range at Browns).

We’re still sadly Pugh-less (the outfit he was wearing in the picture is women’s – he must be super slim – and sadly there was no way we were going to get into the tiny women’s sizes they had it in at DSM, and none of the other women's stuff looked unisex), but we’re happy that our earlier rant no longer applies in full to this supertastical designer.

Afterwards we went to cheer oursevles up in the Lanvin Savile Row men's store which feels so luxurious it's borderline inappropiate in the current economic climate, but there was so much to lust after (particularly the shoes) we know where we'll be camping outside come January, before the sales start..

PS. the Pugh jeans with the rubber triangles cost £945, so it's probably a good thing nothing would have fitted...

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

UHU GARETH PUGH

Although we adore Gareth Pugh’s designs, we’ve got an issue with his product distribution. Hapsical recently decided that what we really wanted was something (preferably a jacket) by Pugh, with this season’s rubber triangles on - rather like the one he's wearing himself in this picture from Jak & Jil:

Dilemma: Pugh’s designs are hardly produced and sold commercially, and the stuff that you can buy from the shops is pretty dull compared to his runway creations. Obviously his most extreme pieces couldn’t be manufactured commercially, but there is a happy medium. Anyway, always hanging above Gareth Pugh is the discussion about whether he can ever be a commercially viable designer with his own brand: his studio apparently has no heating because cash is so limited, and he produces his incredible outfits on very tight budgets. Now we’re not business experts, but surely selling people what they want to buy (i.e. his designs – which get so widely praised and admired, quite rightly) would be a good place to start?

The range at Browns - good stuff, but not as exciting as we'd like.


We would even go so far as to say that people are going to lose interest in Gareth Pugh if they can’t get their hands on stuff by him which at least slightly resembles what he presents on the runway: the period where the non-availability of his designs leads to greater intrigue and desirability is fading a little. We were reading an interview with a hot new London designer called Emma Bell recently, and she says “I think it’s incredibly important to always maintain an awareness of commercial value... if people want to be able to get slinky in your stuff they have to be able to get their hands on the goods or it becomes frustrating,” and frankly we agree. Pugh’s other Brit desginer contemporaries have got the commercial side of things sorted (Henry Holland’s t-shirts were partly so successful because they were covetable, yet readily available and affordable; Giles Deacon reaches out to people through his Mulberry and New Look collaborations and his own Giles line is available; Christopher Kane runway outfits can be purchased, and he did Topshop too..) so why can’t Gareth Pugh get it sorted too?

In the meantime, we feel a DIY project coming on… how hard can it be to attach lots of rubber triangles to a skinny black jacket?

Those who managed to cop the rubber-square stuff:

Top: Grace Jones, Observer Music Monthly magazine. Bottom: Daphne Guinness, Evening Standard Magazine. Bah!

\Rant over. (it's mighty tempting here to end "That's All," but I think there is only so much Devil Wears Prada quotation blog readers can bear..)

Monday, 27 October 2008

Fashion Porn

If you didn’t already know about Jak & Jil, you should get to know it without delay because fashion photographer Tommy Ton’s site and blog is about as hardcore as fashion porn gets, and it’s one of our top sites ever. As great as ‘real’ street style pictures are (from the likes of The Sartorialist and Facehunter), sometimes you just want to see how the pros do it, clad in the most incredible outfits from Balenciaga, Balmain, Margiela, Givenchy, Alaia… which is where Jak & Jil steps in, with its beautifully shot pictures of the fashion elite (it’s actually terrifying how chic the Paris Vogue team are) captured attending the fashion shows.

There’s something quite exciting about seeing high, high fashion clothes, which exist primarily in magazine editorials and adverts, being worn for real, and we love the fact that there are several sections dedicated to shoe porn – again, extreme shoes are more exciting when they’re actually being worn instead of just gracing the pages of magazines and the feet of models at shows. We’re glad there’s someone else who shares the mini-thrill we get at sighting someone wearing something super-covetable, fresh off the runway. We also love the layout of the site and the blog, and how he states who each person is and lists what they’re wearing.

As if all that isn’t enough, we also salute Jak & Jil for having many a photograph of Carine Roitfeld (editor of French Vogue, and embodiment of the word ferocious) who we believe is one of the most stylish people ever, with her intoxicating mix of French style and attitude, slightly subversive sexiness, and unbelievable clothes from top Paris fashion houses (mostly worn a season before they hit the shops):

Enough of this waffling: these pictures really do all the talking.
Blog here
Site (with archives and categorised images) here

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Berlin

People had been telling us for so long that Berlin was *the* place to be for fashion and general hip-ness that we had to go and check it out, and we weren’t disappointed. Berlin is an odd mix of styles and vibes and it isn’t somewhere you immediately fall in love with (and it’s not somewhere like Stockholm where everyone and everything is ridiculously beautiful and well dressed) but when you find the right neighbourhood, away from the soul-less wide avenues and modern commercial developments, things get interesting.

Here, we’ll focus mainly on fashion/style. The most exciting fashion action is concentrated in former East Berlin, in Mitte and southern Prenzlauer Berg, where exciting small boutiques, cafes, and galleries (all decorated with Hoxton-esque street art and stickers) jostle for space on the streets around Kastanienalle and Zionkirchstrasse, then in the area south of Torstrasse and west of Karl-Liebknechtstrasse. Around here you get a more interesting atmosphere than in other parts of Berlin with more character to the streets and better people watching. It would be pointless to go through every shop we visited (and there are loads: because rents are so cheap in Berlin compared to London anyone with a cool retail idea can set up shop), but a few are extra-worthy of mention.

The Apartment on Memhardstrasse is something increasingly rare (in London, anyway) which is a unique retail concept. When you go in you find a big white empty space, until you descend the small spiral stairs in the corner into the small black basement where staff (who were amazingly friendly) preside over a well-edited range of edgy high fashion (Raf Simons, Martin Margiela, Rick Owens..), smaller brands like Victim Fashion Street, and more affordable stuff like Cheap Monday. It was also the first place I’ve seen WKND by Cheap Monday – think interesting graphic photo t-shirts – whose website we were stalking last week.


Star Styling on Mulackstrasse sell their own designs (below) which are like Gareth Pugh meets holographic fabric transfers – well worth a look, and we rather love them for making some new strand of ‘nu rave’ still seem exciting. On the same street there’s also an A.P.C boutique which we sadly lack in London, and a Bless (hip Berlin brand) store, which is also worth a visit.


Special edition Adidas stuff is available in the ridiculously hip No. 74 on Torstrasse (similar to No. 6 on Newburgh Street in London), while nearby men’s store Darklands (on Gormannstrasse) sells cool brands nobody’s heard of from a grimy-yet-so-chic undecorated looking shop. Unsurprisingly there’s also a Comme des Garcons guerrilla store, Lil Shop, nearby on Brunnenstrasse, which was so popular it became a permanent store which sells vintage CDG and Junya Watanabe, as well as current collections, fragrances etc. Extra Fein on Kastanienalle sells covetable jeans from Acne, April 77, and 2 Blocks South, as well as other interesting brands like the colourful and hard-to-find ‘Marios’ which we’ve only seen before in Brick Lane. The Berlin outpost of Copenhagen store WoodWood sells upmarket streetwear from the likes of Henrik Vibskov, Bernard Willhelm, Maharishi, C-Neeon, and Rockers NYC.


This post is just a very small taster of what there is in these areas (there are probably other exciting areas too that we didn’t have time to visit, and we haven’t even mentioned places to eat and drink, design shops etc.)



High fashion shopping is in the west of the city, concentrated around Kürfurstendamm and in Le Quartier 206 shopping centre where you’ll find most of the usual suspects (Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo etc.) which we didn’t bother to visit because they’re not unique to Berlin, though native Jil Sander on Kürfurstendamm is a more interesting prospect, not only because we’re obsessed with Raf Simons but also because London’s Jil Sander store mysteriously vanished a few years ago.

There’s also a branch of Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette, while the native department store Ka De We may be dull fashion wise but it’s a rather spectacular shop overall, especially in the toy and food departments which are so bright and well-stocked your practically guaranteed to get a twinge of that giddy pre-Christmas childhood excitement again, despite it only being October.

Some other random things we did: marvelled at a huge giraffe made out of Lego near Potsdamer Platz, queued up to go up the iconic Fernsehturm TV tower, felt sad that a Jeff Koons exhibition was set to open a few days after we left (but still admired the Mies van der Rohe architecture of the Neue Nationalgalerie), felt happy surrounded by good design in the Bauhaus Arciv, took touristy photos of the Brandenburg Gate and Berlin Wall, and enjoyed seeing a giant panda eating half a watermelon in the zoo.

Wrap up extra warm against the cold and go to Berlin now... go, go!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Hapsical is going to...Berlin

We're so excited, we're off to Berlin until the weekend (which probably means no new posts til saturday, cos we're not hauling our clunking great laptop along too), but hopefully we'll have a good dose of Germanic cool to post when we get back.

In the meantime, let this keep you entertained for all of five minutes: The Shamorialist is an evil, French take on The Sartorialist, combining pictures of badly dressed celebs and people spotted on the street with mean commentary, and a proposed style solution. Don't worry if you don't speak French (in fact here it probably helps if you don't), there aren't many posts and there are plenty of pictures and the commentary is oddly littered with slightly cryptic English phrases like "This is not Paris, this is Hell," "Here she goes again," and the old favourite, "WTF?" which, come to think of it, is rather how we feel about The Shamorialist.

See you soon.. with hapstastical new posts :)

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Oddbox

When we were putting together our fashion-inspired-by-art story, we came across this Giambattista Valli coat, and it's been mildly troubling us ever since:

The first point of contention is the shape: does it really give you that almost Action Man silhouette, with the tiny waist and over-developed arms and shoulders, or has the background been cropped out badly, taking some of the coat with it? Things get odder still since this is not a fur coat (despite the €2,000 price tag) but is rather a 'fox fur print' coat, filled with feather down. In other words, it's a Moncler-style puffer coat, masquerading as a fox fur coat.

Aside from whether printed-on fur (granted it's a fun idea) looks good, we're a bit confused about who'd buy this: if you're anti-fur or after a non-fur winter coat it seems unlikely you'd spend €2,000 on something that promotes fur wearing, yet if you don't mind fur and have several grand to drop on a coat surely you'd go for the real deal (or at least for something that doesn't make you look like the Incredible Hulk gone fluffy?).

Available here.

Edit: we'll have to take back that last bit about nobody wanting it: apparently there's only one left in stock, in size 42. Hurry, hurry!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Michael Roberts Collage

Ok, ok, it's time for our weekly love-in with Michael Roberts again. As well as style directing for big magazines and writing satirical fashion poetry, MR is also a talented collage artist who a few years ago produced a very appealing large format book of his work, The Snippy World of New Yorker Fashion Artist Michael Roberts, which is so big and bright and colourful it is bound to cheer you up if you're having a rubbish day. Striking fashion images (sometimes general, and sometimes of specific pieces from designers' collections) which originally appeared in The New Yorker, and general multi-coloured madness, have been created by cutting out vast amounts of coloured paper, extraordinarily neatly, and then putting them all together into collages. The result is a unique and visually-pleasing take on fashion illustration, which is subtly humorous and backed by an incredible degree of skill and, presumably, patience.
All star cast:
"The Height of Fashion"
"Chanel, 2004"
"Versace, 1991"
"Donna Karan, 2002"
"Logo, Oh, No!"

"Tasty Snap" Unfortunately these pictures don't really do justice to the colour, the detail of the collage or the fact that the book feels really nice and is printed on a thick textured paper.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Good Enough to Eat

Click image to enlarge
A selection of fall's tastiest accessories: (clockwise from bottom left) Chanel triangle bag, Martin Margiela gift bow wallet from Browns, Topshop clutch, Kenzo candy clutch, Mulberry bag and Fendi cosmetics case both from Net-a-Porter, Zagliani bag from Browns, Miu Miu bag from Net-a-Porter, Chloe bag from Browns, Miu Miu wallet and orange Fendi bag both from Net-a-Porter.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

News

Inject some glamour into your obsessive America’s Next Top Model/Make Me a Supermodel/Project Runway viewing with Sky’s latest designer collaboration Sky+ boxes. This time round London brands House of Holland, Erdem, Julie Verhoeven, and PPQ have got involved:

London fashion illustrator Daisy de Villeneuve and Absolut Vodka have collaborated to produce a temporary pop-up vintage store and vodka bar on Redchurch Street in Hoxton, which will be open in the evenings from 24th to 28th October only.

In other vodka related news, Grey Goose have teamed up with Elton John’s AIDS charity and invited various fashion world luminaries, including Giles Deacon and jeweller Theo Fennell, to design their own ‘ultimate’ cocktail bar and matching cocktail, which will then be auctioned off by Sotheby’s to raise money for the charity. Our favourite is shoe designer Patrick Cox’s disco bar:

You have until midnight tomorrow to enter a prize draw for tickets to the event on the Grey Goose website.

Barking Mad

We’re trying just to see the funny side of this, and not to think too hard about what it says about the state of humanity, which isn’t too hard because it is very amusing, albeit in a sort of disturbing way. Your dog will never be able to thank you enough for a Sniffany and Co or Chewnel No 5 bed, or for a Chewy Vuitton squeaky toy. And don’t miss the Jimmy Chew, Bark Jacobs, and Dolce and Grrbana shoe toys, the Ruff Lauren aftershave (“sure to impress the ladies” – their words, not ours..) and the Dog Perignon champagne.

Available here

Friday, 17 October 2008

Putting out the trash, Mayfair style

Wandering up a strangely deserted Bond Street this lunchtime, it seemed as if the credit crunch really is starting to bite the luxury sector. We felt a twinge of sadness that the rabid purchasing of luxury goods by the nouveau riche, so strongly associated with Mayfair, might be over. That is until we saw this rubbish (trash) pile awaiting collection outside a smart townhouse.

The half concealed bag is from Browns boutique. We think it's a particularly nice touch how this lot was put out on the street like that for all to see, rather than inside a black plastic sack.

A bit later on we spied one of the Royal Rolls Royces outside an embassy:

I mean, screw the Raf Simons car were speculating about, these wheels are the real deal: note the little crown motif and the absence of license plate. We didn't see who got out, but it was preceded by lots of police, a small crowd of over-excited tourists, and, oddly, two ornate horse drawn carriages, presumably to add some decorative glamour to proceedings.

WKND website

We think this might have something to do with Swedish brand WKND (which is related to Cheap Monday) but we're not sure. What we can tell you though is that it's just the sort of hallucinogenic madness we like on a friday afternoon.

Click to be mesmorised: http://www.wknd.se/

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Vuitton Mania

Universally known and widely imitated, the Louis Vuitton Monogram Canvas is an odd emblem of the times. The French luggage maker’s website lays out the Romantic version of the brand’s history (“Louis Vuitton, a trunk-maker in Paris since 1854, became a legend in the art of travel...a century and a half later, the legend lives on.”) but doesn’t mention when it became utterly ubiquitous, almost a victim of its own success, the Coca-Cola or McDonald’s logo of luxury goods – instantly recognisably and instantly associated with a certain lifestyle, in this case one of supposed elegance, money, power, and good taste.

The power of the monogram is not to be underestimated, both commercially and culturally: Vuitton leather goods turn in vast amounts of money – something which the frequent queues of tourists outside the Paris Champs Elysées store or rapid opening of new stores in China bears testament to. This commercial success partly comes from the fact that the Vuitton monogram is deeply ingrained in popular culture and is aspired to by many, which often manifests itself in the amusing Vuitton-esque designs in the photomontage (there is little the Vuitton monogram hasn’t unofficially graced, from wedding cakes, to iPhone themes, to SARS masks) or the more studied counterfeits of real LV goods. Unsurprisingly, LV takes a dim view of such activities and devotes a lot of resources to cracking down on it: the caveat is that the more the monogram is imitated the less exclusive it becomes (making people less inclined to shell out for the real deal), although ironically if the brand image became less exclusive it would probably be faked less, since it would be less of a byword for sophisticated luxury, which so many people want to get their hands on on the cheap.

It would be interesting to track exactly what commercial decisions and other twists of fate made the Vuitton monogram, originally the preserve of an exclusive luggage maker, become so widespread (while others, like Goyard’s, remained more exclusive) and what still makes it so popular even today (more so than the Gucci and Dior monograms and the Fendi interlocking F’s, which seem to have faded outas the 80s vogue for explicit branding diminished). It’s also interesting how LV manage to keep an astonishingly high level of brand exclusivity given all the counterfeit activity, and can simultaneously please wealthy customers who travel with vast LV luggage sets, and suburban kids who save up to buy the smallest ‘token’ LV purse; even amongst the fashion elite the brand is widely accepted, despite the fact that in a nondescript shopping mall parking lot somewhere there’s a clapped-out old car with the monogram of sorts clumsily stencilled on.

More recently this commercial obsession with luxury has come to the attention of designers and artists who have parodied the fakes themselves: witness Peter Gronquist’s Vuitton electric chair, the kitsch over-size photograph of a woman in an obviously fake Louis Vuitton hijab outside the Bogayo Moroccan restaurant in Hoxton in London, or Year Zero London’s trendy Vuitton-ish bags customised with neon graffiti designs.


Fashionable Living

A rare opportunity to live in the London Fashion and Textile Museum has arisen. Zandra Rhodes’ orange and pink south London landmark houses a few residential units in addition to the museum, and currently a one bedroom apartment could be yours for just under £350,000.