Saturday, 26 December 2009

The Prada Book

I bought myself the newly released Prada book recently, as a sort of self-given Christmas present. Well actually what happened is that I bought it for a friend, but then fell in love with it between bringing it home and gift wrapping it, so I had to go back to buy another for myself! It is a sizeable, heavy book, which covers every aspect of Prada, and it is one of the best coffee table/design books I have seen for a while. It comes in its own special box which is covered, as is the book itself, with the black finish which Prada use on their packaging these days.

I am absolutely obsessed with Prada, and have been for a while. Having moved on (sort of) from an early obsession with anything from their sport line (featuring a prominent red rubber tag!), I now appreciate the design and the incredibly good quality of everything, even when it doesn't appeal to my personal dress sense. Prada is a very interesting brand in other ways too (being by far the most creative and cutting edge of the mega brands), and this book covers all their activities from fashion (including collection and look book pictures, ad imagery, show venues, behind-the-scenes pictures..) to retail to Prada sponsored art projects to the Prada yacht racing team..

One of the pull-out spreads, a timeline of Prada:

The fan club section of the book includes photos celebrity fans, but there are also quotes about Prada from around the blogosphere, and descriptions used by people when re-selling Prada goods on eBay and other sites:

My bad, somewhat out of focus, photos, which only represent a tiny proportion of it, hardly do justice to this book, but I would really recommend it for both Prada obsessives and also for those with a general interest in fashion and design.

You can buy it from Prada stores and online at Prada.com; Amazon have also just got it in stock today, for quite a bit cheaper than the Prada store/online price, which could be a good option if you're not a sucker like me who likes going to the shop (the time I went back to get the second book I was finally asked if I wanted to join their mailing list... all it took was buying 2 pairs of mainline shoes this season, and 2 books!!)

Happy Holidays!

Quite love this cover from the Louis Vuitton Christmas 09 catalogue...

Hope everyone had a great Christmas, and that non-celebrators of Christmas are enjoying the holiday season (as much as I dislike that term, which sounds like it was invented by retailers to get us to buy more stuff!)

I meant to post before about Sketchy Santas, a funny blog with pictures of creepy santas with unsuspecting children, snapped in Christmas grottos...

Sunday, 20 December 2009

New Season SS10 Arrivals

The Givenchy spring/summer 2010 'Op Art' wedges, now available for pre-order at Luisa via Roma.

I am so, so bored of the freezing weather we've been having in London recently. Sure, it's nothing compared to much of the Northern Hemisphere in winter, but we're not used to this sort of weather in London, we don't expect it, and crucially we struggle to cope with it: the slightest amount of snow or ice leads to transportation chaos (as a friend recently found, who got stuck on a Eurostar train for 16 HOURS because of the weather, which included spending the night in a broken down train, stuck in the tunnel under the sea, with no lighting or ventilation - ironically, this came right after my post praising the Eurostar's good service) and the pavements (sidewalks) haven't been gritted which means they're covered in a lethal thin layer of frozen snow which just will not melt. We live in a society where a packet of nuts has to be labelled with 'this contains nuts' to warn allergy suffers for health and safety reasons, yet it seems perfectly fine for our pavements to be left as death trap ice rinks for days on end (seriously, slip over backwards on the ice - as has now happened twice to me - but fail to catch yourself, smash your head on the concrete and that could be that).

With that off my chest, the point of this post is that I though we could derive a little summer cheer by looking at the first arrivals of the spring/summer 2010 collections which are now online at Luisa via Roma (oh how I now regret vowing to maintain my blog integrity, and not putting in sneaky little 'sponsored links' to cash in! The advantage, though, is that I don't have to sugar-coat everything and we can look at the worst of the new arrivals as well as the best).

Bearing that in mind, there's something we need to get out of the way before we can get into the spring spirit, namely Balmain SS10:

Balmain surprises every season, not with original or creative designs, but rather by pushing the boundary of what they think people will be prepared to pay for their pieces. I'm really hoping it's just a typing error on Luisa via Roma (although I suspect it is not), but the crocodile jacket on the left apparently costs a staggering £37,778 (!) Limiting ourselves merely to the scope of fashion, you could get an (entry level) Haute Couture outfit made for yourself for that amount. Would you agree that even the most basic, say, Chanel Haute Couture is about a billion times better than a hideously tacky croc jacket (of which Zara will do a very passable copy within about 10 minutes anyway)?

The leather mini-shorts are a relative snip at £1639, although you don't really get much for your money, and they possibly set some sort of record for highest cost per square inch for any item of clothing. I know it's considered very vulgar and gauche by fashion-y types to talk about prices, but I think you'll agree the ultimate crassness here comes from what Balmain are doing, and what they are charging.

Haider Ackermann's cool cuts. Love what he's doing.

Christopher Kane Resort 2010 print t-shirt dress and t-shirt (love them, and they have relatively accessible prices); these, along with the creepy doll face prints, are the new apes and crocodiles. In the middle is an amazing Christopher Kane SS10 dress.

Killer jackets and some rather cool high-tops for girls at Rick Owens.

Colourful, summery, and glamourous Matthew Williamson pieces, helping lift our spirits.

Pure elegance from Lanvin.

New season Louboutins... rather love Louboutin's cage boot.

D&G's sexy cowgirl hits the stores! (look, Luisa via Roma is an Italian retailer, I had to include a bit of Dolce... and you know my weakness for a bit of sexy, OTT action).

The horrific DSquared2 accessories. The shoes look like they are from simultaneously both a 90s techno rave store and a fetish outfitter, while the transparent backpack with hot pink straps (which seems to have come straight out of Barbie's wardrobe) is so wrong it's almost right...

Op Art, sequins and studs from Givenchy. Time to start DIY studding on that lacklustre leather jacket...

Mary Katrantzou's stunning dresses.

Ah, now this is the sort of summery vibe I was talking about. These print numbers from Roberto Cavalli may not be in the best of taste, but they'll be just perfect for wearing while sipping Cristal on the yacht in St Tropez this summer...!

We're happy to report that some of the extreme tulle action from Viktor & Rolf's SS10 collection seems to have made it off the runway and into reality (albeit in a diluted form)... the centre jacket is rather amazing too.

See all this and more (including men's arrivals, although I haven't included them because at this stage a lot of it is just a big old yawn fest) at luisaviaroma.com.

Fashion + Art: Jean Paul Gaultier Pain Couture

Image source here.

Walking past the Farmers' Market today (but not going in: disapprove as you please, but give me the supermarket instead - or preferably the Harrods food halls - any day!) I suddenly remembered about Jean Paul Gaultier's Pain Couture (Bread Couture) installation which was exhibited in Paris in 2004. Combining two French obsessions, namely bread and fashion, Gaultier designed sweeping gowns, accessories, and even one of his signature conical bras all in bread.

Image source here.

Would have liked to have visited it... unfortunately there don't seem to be any high-res images online either.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

My Day in Paris en BlackBerry

I decided at short notice to go to Paris for the day yesterday, which is possible thanks to the wonders of the Eurostar (of which more later) which takes you from central London to central Paris in just 2 hours 15 minutes. You can do much more than you might imagine in a day, and it's like the perfect mini-break because you don't have to pack or pay for a hotel. Of course at the end of the day I didn't want to leave at all (especially since my friend was staying on for a few more days - lucky!), but because I've been fortunate enough to go to Paris quite a few times before, I now feel under no obligation to do touristy things or rush around trying to see everything, so I was able to relax. It may be just over two hours away by train, but Paris is so different from London, and I still find it totally mind-boggling how you can experience two of the world's greatest cities all within the same day.

Here are some of the BlackBerry pics I took yesterday...

Place des Vosges.

Dropped by my favourite optician in the Marais (more here).

Crystal-encrusted Be@rbricks and Jeremy Scott x Adidas shoes in Colette.

Snow domes filled with Swarovski crystals and €40 Swarovski crystal-encrusted water bottle lids (amazing or what?!!), also in Colette. How under dressed my Evian feels in comparison..

More Colette... quite loved the business card holders shaped like miniature MacBooks.

The Ladurée x Colette window display.

Aww! Don't think we have one of these in London.

The very cool Comme des Garçons perfume store.

Nearly had a coronary when I saw this window display, given my major Acqua di Parma fetish...

Inside the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, where we saw an exhibition of Playmobil (oh yes!)

How amazing?! (We might just have been the oldest people there, without any children of their own, by about 10 years at least, but you can't deny the amazingness of Playmobil, right up there with Lego..!)

The ubiquitous risking-death-standing-in-the-middle-of-the-road tourist shots of the Champs-Élysées.

Ave Montaigne Christmas lights.

Karl badges in the Palais de Tokyo design shop. I am so obsessed with the Palais de Tokyo... if you have no idea what I'm going on about, I did a post all about it HERE.

Palais de Tokyo bookshop.

The amazing Space Invader book which I bought; if there's one thing I like almost as much as Lego, it's Space Invaders. There is a French street artist who puts them up in cities all around the world (including London), but I'm pretty sure they started in Paris and that's where the highest concentration of them is. This book is the guide to the invasion of the first 500, with location maps and photos of them. I'll do a full post about it soon, because its layout and design is really cool.

Love the Palais de Tokyo bookshop bag, featuring (coincidentally) books in 8-bit graphic/Space Invader style..

Chairs in the bar at the Palais de Tokyo.

Cocktails + a big quilted Chanel (not mine!)

Cocktails x 2. These were very strong (no stinginess with the spirits, as is usual in London, here) so that later finding the way back to the Gare du Nord, let alone leaving the building without crashing into anything, became somewhat challenging. Trust the English to come and hit up the cocktails menu (they really are very good in there) with enthusiasm at a time when all the French people in the bar were sipping coffees or small glasses of red wine in a very civilized way.

The restaurant there (bar is around to the left, out of view).

The vintage Photobooth downstairs that produces cool black and white snaps (probably best used sober, as we discovered).

View from the Palais de Tokyo terrace. Doesn't get much more Paris than that..

Very quiet Eurostar home. Travelled in Leisure Select, which is Eurostar's 1st class for leisure travellers. It is exactly the same as the (much more expensive) Business Premier 1st class, except you don't get lounge access and fast-track check in/security at the stations (which is a small price to pay for relative affordability).

You can upgrade for much less than you might expect (especially if you book in advance), and I always feel like it's very good value for money, because the at-seat service is so good:

Free newspapers/magazines (often they have French Vogue and Numéro) and very decent free Champagne. Having just recovered from the cocktails, this was probably not such a good idea because they are very generous with the refills, in fact so much so that I started to lose count...

Eurostar food is surprisingly good (even though this, being chicken breast with romanesco broccoli and mashed sweet potato, is not particularly photogenic). It's just like how flying used to be, how they come around with menus first, how the cutlery is metal, how they bring around the bread basket separately, and then bring hot towels at the end. Could have had wine too, but honestly I wanted to be able to step (not tumble) off the train on arrival so I resisted.

Green tea... let the detox begin! The onboard staff are so good, they even managed to make green tea (on a train! not in Japan!) without over-stewing it.

Back in London at St Pancras International :(

FYI: I know Eurostar did a big PR offensive on blogs recently, giving some bloggers free day returns in exchange for nice coverage. In light of my big rant, I should make it clear that I arranged and paid for this trip myself, with no contact with Eurostar other than their ticket office. I genuinely love the service Eurostar provides, which could hardly be improved upon (although onboard wi-fi would be good). Of course if they want to retrospecitvely give me free tickets in exchange for this publicity then they are more than welcome to, haha (j/k)!