Thursday, 30 April 2009

Bad Hapsical

Naomi Campbell in the FW08 Yves Saint Laurent ad campaign - image from Frillr.

"Sorry for lack of updates," has become something of a Hapsical catch phrase this month, and for that we apologise. Don't worry, we're by no means giving up on the blog, it's just there's just a lot going on at the moment, including some rather exciting work we're doing, not to mention a DIY Gareth Pugh-esque jacket we're trying to make in our spare time (we'll update you if it happens). Don't worry, don't give up on us.. we'll be back to normal in no time at all, and a proper level of blog updating should resume this weekend.

The reason for the Naomi pictures (as if we need an excuse to post pictures of our favourite phone-thrower, looking Fierce, with a capital 'f') is that we are about 75% sure we saw her last Sunday in a car in Mayfair. We had been enjoying the sun in Berkeley Square, and when we were crossing the road to leave the square we saw a woman driving a Porsche 4x4 who looked so like Naomi. Instead of crossing, we walked alongside a little because we could see she was about to have to stop to let someone else cross (stalker much?!), but we really couldn't tell. We weren't sure if Naomi even drives herself around (though it was a Sunday afternoon - chauffeur off, perhaps?) and also there's the fact that she doesn't seem to live in London much any more... Still, should we have risked having a Blackberry hurled in our direction, in order to have another Paparazzi Hapsical moment..?

Image source: designscene.net.

The furry hat is by Søren Bach.

Monday, 27 April 2009

PAC Attack by Sølve Sundsbø

These stunning photos by Sølve Sundsbø, featuring the Stephen Jones for Giles Deacon Pacman hat, have been doing the rounds on the net just recently. We absolutely love both the photography and the hat (which featured in the V&A Stephen Jones Hats exhibition, which we blogged about here), although we're having difficulty working out where these pictures originally appeared and when. The hat featured in Giles' spring/summer 09 collection (below), so it's probably a fairly current editorial, but does anyone know which magazine or publication these are from?

Giles SS09 runway pics from Style.com - click to see the entire collection.

Apologies for the rather slow pace of blog updates recently, we're working on it..

Shop Talk: Westfield

Back in October when the Westfield mega-mall opened in London, we blogged about this event without much enthusiasm (to say the least). Now, almost six months later, we've finally got round to visiting it and we were really impressed. So impressed were we by the immaculate interiors and the large, calm (near deserted) shops, that we ended up buying things, totally uncharacteristically, from Uniqlo, and a couple of other 'high street' stores. All the usual high street suspects are there, along with several supermarkets and department stores, and lots of places to eat, and there's a large range of mass market fashion shops (ranging from H&M and New Look, up to the more exclusive ones like Reiss and Cos), while the shopping environment is infinitely preferable to battling along a crowd and traffic infested Oxford Street to get to these brands' flagship stores. Inside Westfield everything is there within close proximity, it's bright, it's climate controlled, it's peaceful, there's a lot of polished stone everywhere, there's smart furniture to sit on if you get tired, and the lavatories are really nice. Yes, it's a bit bland and soulless (but Oxford Street isn't?!) and, yes, it's a bit tacky in a sort of Dubai-esque way (it all feels very 'non British'.. far too polished and customer-orientated), but it is much smarter than other British shopping malls, and it puts a whole different spin on shopping for 'high street' clothes, and experience that is normally associated in our minds with battling along a heaving, dirty street to get to an equally packed store that resembles a bomb site, with merchandise spread everywhere.

The quietness, of course, is a bit of a problem for Westfield, even though it's partly why we liked it so much (seeing places like Topshop and Uniqlo calm, and orderly, with space to breath and a good staff-customer ratio is quite novel, and it completely changed the way we perceive the whole experience). Granted, it was around midday on a rainy monday when we visited, but there have been reports that Westfield hasn't been attracting as many customers as they would like, with a few of the shops struggling to stay in business, and in some ways the timing of their opening couldn't have been any worse given the current economic state. Still, there was definitely life to it when we visited - just not too much, as is the case on Oxford Street - and a £1.6 billion project has to have a fairly long term outlook.

We were also surprised by 'The Village,' the luxury shopping area. We had rather assumed it wouldn't take off, but nearly everything was open (although Louis Vuitton, Valentino, and M Missoni were still under construction) and there were people browsing who looked like potential customers. There were very glossy Prada and Miu Miu stores, and others include Versace, Dior, Mulberry, Salvatore Ferragamo, De Beers, Tiffany & Co, Jo Malone... the designer fashion stores predominately sell accessories only, with a few pieces of basic ready-to-wear (no outlandish runway pieces), but that's what seems appropriate for the location, and we thought it could definitely work (if only people still had the money to spend!) as an alternative to Bond/Sloane Street and the West End department stores for buying luxury accessories.

Prada at Westfield. Image from Sfilate.it.

Westfield is never going to replace Liberty and Selfridges, and various small shops in Soho and East London, as our primary shopping destination, but when we are looking to go to chain stores (and not just for clothes) we'll probably head there first. Personally, we're not convinced about spending in the luxury area ourselves (aside from the fact that the designer brands we like best aren't featured, when we stretch the budget on designer stuff, which really isn't that often, we like to get full mileage from our purchases by going to the 'proper' central London boutique/department store), but we can imagine others will, particularly those who like branded luxury more than creative runway pieces, and who buy more frequently than we do.

Westfield website is here. Westfield did not pay us to write this. We actually visited rather hoping it would be a real stinker, enabling us to do a deliciously mean hatchet job on it, but not so.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Prada's SS09 Look Book

Prada always produce cool look books, and their latest one for spring/summer 2009 is no exception. Designed with input from Miuccia Prada's long time architectural collaborator, Rem Koolhaas, the look book shows off the women's and men's collections to good effect. As ever with Prada, an obvious interpretation of the style doesn't exactly spring to mind, but we love some of the effects, like the creepy half-model, half-statues, the collages and the pattern continuation. We recommend clicking the link at the bottom of this post to see it in its entirety.


Click here to view the entire SS09 look book.

PS. Love this portrait of Miuccia Prada, by Brigitte Lacombe, lying on an Arne Jacobsen sofa:

Image from NY Magazine.

Shoe Moment: Raphael Young SS09

Korean shoe designer Raphael Young focuses on "urbanising haute couture shoes" which in practice leads to rather cool shoes, as his spring/summer 2009 collection demonstrates. Interestingly, Young's initial background was in mathematics, physics and engineering, and he also hand produces every single shoe himself from start to finish, having been taught by his uncle, a shoe designer for Yves Saint Laurent. A few of the designs look a little too hard and industrial in their styling for our liking, but mostly we like the aesthetic and the proportions, and the story behind this exciting shoe brand.

See more on his website.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Kate Moss in FW09 Balmain

NB. This image does not belong to us and we are using it in a non-commercial way for the purposes of commentary only. Image source: Metro.co.uk.


Breaking every Hapsical rule about featuring celebrities, we couldn't resist posting this, partly because it's Kate Moss and partly because it's about time we addressed 'Balmania'. Frankly, we are sick of Balmain, with the ridiculous price tags, the absurdly bad men's collection, the silly wide-shouldered silhouette, and the fact that almost everyone seems to have fallen under the spell (No!, we want to scream, The French Vogue team did NOT look good in their Balmain in Jak&Jil pics! A trashy £8,000 denim jacket seen on Rihanna is not something to aspire to! See the light people!). It speaks volumes that, thus far, our favourite 'Balmain' has not been Balmain at all, but rather Balmain-esque looks done on the cheap by young people on street style websites, using DIY acid washed jeans, vintage military jackets or high street copies of the real thing, and DIY studded sandals or those Zara or Aldo ones. These people are the right age to be wearing this trashy, rock aesthetic (as opposed to those who can afford the real stuff, who are significantly older on the whole), and when it's not costing more than something genuinely beautiful from Chanel or Balenciaga it is, in our eyes, more excusable.

Anyway, all this was until we saw pictures of Kate Moss, already wearing fall/winter 2009 Balmain, and we slightly warmed to Balmain again, because she pulls it off so well. Trust Mossy to get in there with the FW09 already, making Victoria Beckham, Rihanna, Beyoncé and the like look decidedly 'old news' in their SS09 jackets. Even Anna dello Russo, queen of Balmain, whose style we love otherwise, hasn't got in there yet with the fall/winter collection.

NB. This image does not belong to us and we are using it in a non-commercial way for the purposes of commentary only. Image source: Myfashionlife.com.

We love the glamour of it, the sparkle, the fact that it's like a polished up version of Kate Moss's 'rock' style.. it's sort of how Balmain should be, and it works on her, we think, because it fits with her usual style, unlike some of the other celebrities who are just throwing it on because it's Balmain and it's now, regardless of how ridiculous it makes them look, particularly in relation to what they normally wear. Just throwing on an expensive Balmain jacket doesn't necessarily give you the attitude to make it work, but Kate Moss has the credentials (drugs scandal, rockstar boyfriends, party lifestyle..)

What are your opinions? Does Balmain have greater cool cred now Kate has rocked it? Did you love it all along anyway - or has this done little to improve your opinion of it?

On the autumn/winter 09 runway:

Runway picture from Style.com - click to see the entire collection.

Designer: Yegang Yoo SS09

We're particularly impressed that this spring/summer 2009 collection by Korean born, Brooklyn based, young designer Yegang Yoo is just her second ever official collection. Yoo is a graduate of Parsons in New York, and in this collection we love the subtlety of the draping and tailoring, with unexpected twists like the asymmetric cut-out on the back of the white waffle material dress, or the tailored jacket lapels on the asymmetric white wrap dress. There's a soft beauty to the collection, but the minimalist aspect, the elements of sharp tailoring, and the monochrome colour pallet keep it feeling sharp at the same time. A very promising start from a designer whose name we will be listening out for more in the future.

See more on her website.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Trend Alert: Bold Floral Prints & Valentino Rose Bags

Click image to enlarge. From left to right, top row to bottom row: Oscar de la Renta sleeveless coat, Christian Lacoix dress, See by Chloé dress, and Moschino Cheap and Chic dress, all from Net-a-Porter; Marni flower necklace, from Net-a-Porter, Valentino wedges from Luisa via Roma, Christian Louboutin petal clutch bag, Fendi rose clutch, and Matthew Williamson print bag, all from Net-a-Porter; Etro top, from Browns, Luella top from Net-a-Porter, House of Holland vest from Browns, and See by Chloé skirt from Net-a-Porter; Missoni dress and Moschino dress, both from Net-a-Porter, Marni strapless dress from Browns, and Maje strapless dress from Net-a-Porter.

One of the big trends for spring/summer 2009 is floral prints, particularly big, bold, bright prints, often in acid colours. Since spring is finally here, and it's put us in the mood for flowers, we've created the collage above with SS09 floral pieces that caught our attention.

We're also rather loving the SS09 Valentino flowery bags, which have three dimensional fabric and leather roses attached (the last clutch bag is particularly fabulous, positively dripping in flowers and jewels.. what more could you want?!). Valentino may have been criticised quite a bit recently for lacking creativity since the master himself retired, but if these bags are anything to go by there's still life yet in the venerable Italian fashion house:


All bags are available from Browns, except for the last bag which is from Colette, and the pair of red and black bags which are from Luisa via Roma. What do you think? Fabulous, or a little too over-embellished? Or at the time of the 'It shoe,' is bag gazing a little, um, 2007..?!

Scandinavian Designer: Obscur

Richard Söderberg is the Swedish designer behind cool menswear brand Obscur, which has a very dark aesthetic (with the inevitable comparisons to Rick Owens). For the SS09 collection (above), Söderberg stuck with dark colours for the most part, although he constructed the pieces with incredibly light fabrics to make the clothes practical for summer. We like the subtlety to it, and we always salute men's designers who manage to do something a bit different, without veering out of the territory of what men are prepared to wear.

We rather love the AW08 collection (below) too, especially the subversive coat with the zip up the back, and the interestingly constructed black jeans:


See more at Obscur.se.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Obsession: Undercover SS09

Images from Style.com - click to see the entire collection.

Right now we're loving Jun Takahashi's spring/summer 2009 collection for Undercover/Undercoverism. We adore the melancholy, haunting beauty of the collection, which is played out exclusively in shades of white, and which boasts incredibly subtle, elegant construction and shapes. There are some outfits which look like an edgier Chanel, with that intellectual, deliberately slightly offbeat, Japanese style. We're particularly impressed by how Takahashi has mastered both the 'intellectual' and the aesthetic side of things: Chanel may produce supremely elegant clothes, but there tends to be little evidence of deeper thought behind the collections; Comme des Garçons collections always provide evidence of plenty of thought (besides the basic 'let's make this look good'), but often they leave us confused from an aesthetic point of view. Takahashi, on the other hand, manages to incorporate both.

What exactly was playing on Takahashi's mind is hard to pinpoint (particularly having neither attended the presentation nor received the accompanying literature), but one senses that Takahashi was definitely going deeper than simply trying to produce pretty clothes (although, in the event of things, that's exactly what he succeeded in doing). Another extraordinary aspect of this collection is what we can probably best describe as a sort of luminosity that the outfits conjure up, with their varying shades of white. Once again, one of our favourite artists, the little known Vilhelm Hammershøi, who painted almost exclusively empty rooms, sometimes with an often partially obscured single figure dressed in black, is brought to mind.. it's something about the eerie stillness, the very slight sense of unease, all bathed in a very pure, white light:

Top: Sunbeams, Vilhelm Hammershøi, 1900; Bottom: Woman Sewing in an Interior, Vilhelm Hammershøi, 190?.

We appreciate that to a lot of people, who like their 'fashion' glossy, and fun, and non-thought provoking, this will sound like a load of nonsense, but Undercover SS09 is one of the relatively few collections which we had some sort of deeper reaction to, and we thought it would be interesting to explore why.

We would direct you to the Undercover website to find out more, but it is equally enigmatic.

Evolution: Fashion Websites

Style.com today (April 2009):


Style.com in March 2005:


Style.com in March 2002:


Vogue.com today (April 2009):


Vogue.com in February 2005:


Vogue.com in February 1998 (image/images missing...):


WWD.com today (April 2009):


WWD.com in April 1999:


Prada.com today (April 2009):


Prada.com in December 1998:

You may recall the Prada website stayed like that, with just an image and the logo, until about 2007...

The internet has evolved at such a rate over the past ten years or so, and it's curious how we don't really clock these changes unless we look back. Obviously we remember the days of predominately text webpages, and when probably the first internet 'viral,' Hamster Dance (remember that?!), was about as advanced as things got, but even if you look back at a site from about 3 or 4 years ago, the design and typeface all look rather dated. Partly we don't notice this progress much because when sites are updated to newer versions, the old ones are replaced so we quickly forget about them. This is why we love archive.org (it's where we got the above screen grabs from) because you can feed in a website address, and it will take you back to snapshots of that site from various points in the past. Sadly it doesn't bring up a fully functioning website from the past (it would be amazing to now be able to see, say, what Net-a-Porter was selling in 2000, but regrettably it's not possible), but it's still great for looking back with a degree of nostalgia (is the internet now old enough to induce feelings of nostalgia about its early days?), and remembering when Google looked like this.

There's also the interesting question about the future of the internet. At present, most people's online 'profiles' don't stretch back much further than about 2002, when the more personal 'web 2.0' with blogs, discussion forums, and social networking started to take off, but in future do you think we'll see members on internet forums who have been posting for, say, 20 years? Blogs that have archives going 30 years back? People with 50 years worth of eBay feedback? Or perhaps people will lose interest in current internet activities and we'll all be hooked on something totally different. In the future, when people of the prime 'online generation' pass away, as well as leaving memories, physical possessions, and the like, they'll also leave a huge stream of online information too, floating about on the web... blogs, social networking pages, website accounts, photos on Flickr, reviews on TripAdvisor, Twitter updates, comments on discussion boards, videos on YouTube, and so on, and so on... it's all rather mind-boggling.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Style Snippets: Balenciaga Jackets, Walking in Nina Ricci, Marc Newson for G-Star, and more...

1) Balenciaga SS09 Runway Jackets

Runway images from Style.com - click to see entire collection.

For spring/summer 2009, Nicholas Ghesquière produced an extraordinary collection for Balenciaga which, aside from being a visual adventure in sci-fi, displayed lots of innovation in cut, structure, and material. Along with the eerily beautiful, softly layered metallic dresses, the metallic, pleated, 'robot' jackets were easily the most covetable (and extreme) of the pieces shown on the runway. Brown's has just got in stock two variations of this jacket, which we've been marveling at:

They're totally extraordinary pieces (despite the structured, metallic look they are, in fact, 100% silk), and you really can't help but marvel at them, but we're not sure if we're totally converted to the rather boxy silhouette, which isn't the easiest to wear. Don't get us wrong, we're big fans of extreme fashion, and we certainly don't expect everything to be dull and wearable in the way that a cropped black trench coat is, but with a price of £3,260 (approx $4,800 - but probably a little less because of the exchange rate) you really would have to consider buying this jacket as an "investment piece" (as the magazines would say), something that you'd treasure and wear for years, yet there's something about the cut which rather throws us.

As stunning as this jacket is, with its simultaneous allusions to Art Deco glamour, 1930s visions of the future, and indeed a sci-fi vision of the future itself, and with its groundbreaking design and incredible craftsmanship, when it all boils down to actually wearing it, the cut still gets to us a bit, which is a shame really, considering how otherwise amazing it is:

What do you think? If you had the cash would you dress as a sort of humanoid version of the shiny Chrysler Building? Admittedly it isn't styled very well in the picture above, so perhaps we're being unfair - how do you think it could be worn better? Or do you find the shape problematic?

Those dresses also from that collection, though, those dresses... flawless!

Jackets available from Browns.

2) Walking in the Nina Ricci FW09 Shoes

Images from Style.com - click to see the entire collection.

You'll undoubtedly remember the ultra-extreme, lethal, fetishistic, sky-high, skyscraper platform, partial heels (phew! - and that description hardly does them justice) from Olivier Theysken's final collection at Nina Ricci (fall/winter 2009), and like us you may have wondered how on earth the models managed to traverse the runway with no accidents/fatalities, and also whether the shoes would ever be available to buy.

A fun video just posted by the team of the wonderful Grazia magazine addresses the first question:



On the issue of whether we'll be able to buy them, the accompanying article (link here) seems to suggest they will be sold come autumn (also backed up by a recent post on the Love Magazine blog about them), so good news all round for fans of extreme footwear.

3) Marc Newson for G-Star

Contemporary product and furniture design star, Marc Newson, famous for his use of fluid, organic forms, has once again teamed up with Dutch denim brand G-Star to produce a small collection of limited edition pieces. And what's more, unlike certain other architect/product designer - fashion collaborations, like Zaha's Hadid's bizarre shoes for Melissa or Philippe Starck's odd sneakers for Puma, the results are actually pretty cool, and we're not left with a should have stuck with what you do best (buildings/products) type feeling:

Recently we've become increasingly interested in 'high fashion sportswear' where designers take ideas and elements from sports and athletic gear and incorporate them into their own designs, often with a reconstruction/deconstruction element, adding a luxe edge in the process... names like Yohji Yamamoto/Y-3, Dries van Noten, Undercover, and Junya Watanabe spring to mind.

Only 100 of each of these pieces, and a few more (not pictured), will be manufactured, and prices will range from €1,000 - €4,000; they'll be sold at stores like Colette and 10 Corso Como this summer. Images are from Wallpaper* - click for more information on the collaboration. See also G-Star.com.

4) Alexander McQueen SS09 Geometric Print Clutch Bags



Like us, you may have become slightly obsessed with Alexander McQueen's incredible multi-coloured geometric 'crystal' prints for spring/summer 09 (post we did about them - complete with lots of lovely pictures - here), but there's no escaping the fact that the prices for the full-on pieces are not exactly credit crunch friendly. That's where these rather fabulous clutch bags step in, for those who want to get in on the print action at a rather less wallet busting price of £255 (ok, so not exactly cheap, but a snip compared to the £1,000+ for the jackets and dresses). Available from Net-a-Porter.

5) The Smell of Summer...

Image source here.

For reasons not fully to know to ourselves, we've always rather loved summery, orange fragrances, specifically Acqua di Parma's Blu Mediterraneo Arancia di Capri, which never fails to transport us (in our minds, at least) from rainy London to sunny Italy with its light, zesty citrusy aroma, but recently when we were on holiday we discovered the lovely Eau d'Orange Verte by Hermès (because there were miniatures in the bathroom at one of the hotels where we stayed) which is just as good on the citrus front, if not a touch more sophisticated overall. We're not sure if we'd ever have discovered it otherwise because it's not one of their big fragrances which is advertised a lot, like Kelly Calèche or Terre d'Hermès, but it is a very pleasant, fresh, summery fragrance and we recommend you check it out if you like that sort of scent.

The full range, including soap, body lotion, hand wash, and even perfumed wet wipes, in addition to Eau de Cologne, is available online at Hermès.com... we'll inevitably be stocking up (once we've depleted all the mini hotel toiletries we, um managed to appropriate!)