Sunday, 31 October 2010

Curing Fashion Fatigue

Image from i-D Magazine issue 304, winter 2009.

I have discussed the things which I dislike about fashion several times before on this blog; every so often they become so prominent in my mind that I get a sort of fashion fatigue and lose interest in fashion altogether. I was having one of those moments recently, but to combat it I decided to list all the designers, fashion houses, photographers etc. which I love, to remind myself that a few rotten elements need not spoil fashion as a whole in my mind.

It was actually quite a useful exercise to consolidate in my mind what I love about fashion. My scanned list is here. I don't expect people to read it through, but I do quite recommend making one. I'm sure there are people/things which I have missed off, and please excuse any spelling mistakes, because I just did it off the top of my head without researching or anything.

Obviously I couldn't resist doing a dislike list too. This will probably be more contentious. Remember, it's just my opinion, which is by no means to be taken as an absolute.

*debating my inclusion of Riccardo Tisci. Love Givenchy HC sometimes..I think it's just his menswear offends me so much. Probably best not to take this 2nd list too seriously.

I say I don't like most magazines which is, for the most part, true. I really like fashion best when it is presented well on blogs, in 'real' life (in shops and on people), in books and in exhibitions/museums. The latter two have always appealed to me particularly because when fashion is treated with the gentleness and intellectual rigour of a talented author, researcher or curator, its greatest qualities can shine through without all the off-putting distractions which often cloud them otherwise.

Most of my interest in fashion is thanks to fashion exhibitions which I have seen in London since a relatively young age: the Armani exhibition at the Royal Academy, an exhibition of 60s-70s fashion at the Barbican Gallery (?) about 10 years ago, shows of young designers' work at the (sadly now defunct) Crafts Council Gallery, various exhibitions at the Fashion & Textiles Museum and, of course, the V&A's permanent displays, all stand out particularly.

More recently, the Hussein Chalayan show at the Design Museum, the Viktor & Rolf at the Barbican, and the Stephen Jones hats exhibition and the Fashion v Sport show at the V&A have proved to be brilliant. The Yves Saint Laurent retrospective which I saw in Paris earlier this year was absolutely breathtaking, and about six years ago I saw a really great Emilio Pucci exhibition in Florence.

I can't wait to see the current Japanese fashion exhibition at the Barbican Gallery, and the Fashion Illustration show at the Design Museum. I have also resolved to read more fashion books, and to set aside the time to go to more of the talks and discussions about fashion which a lot of the museums I mentioned put on. I often wish that I had studied fashion or design history and theory. It might not be too late to change that, but the priority at the moment is work.

edit: thanks for all the great comments. I've posted a brief comment clarifying my 'dislike list'

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Camper by Bernhard Willhelm

As soon as I saw these Camper high tops by Bernhard Willhelm I knew that I had to rush to the Camper shop and get them, because I can never resist a demented shoe. They're about the second craziest shoes ever, after my Raf Simons SS08 'Lego' shoes.

Camper has done designer collabarations before, but the results have never been as striking as this. I like the fact that they look 'high fashion' and they seem to be really good quality, but were priced at Camper, rather than designer, prices.

The problem with shoes like this is that they are really difficult to wear without looking stupid, but I love them as objects in themselves. Becuase of all the plastic and suede they have that new car smell (which various fatuous 'surveys' often claim is the smell that men find the biggest turn-on, usually listed after frying bacon). I find the visuals more exciting than the smell. I just can't get over that crazy zig-zag sole.

I'm wore them today with an Armani Jeans hooded shirt, Raf Simons sweater and Topman jeans. I'm not convinced about this outfit, but the shoes don't exactly lend themselves to many different combinations.

I love this Armani Jeans shirt. It's from Armani's second 'lowest' line and it's six years old, but it is still in perfect condition and I think it looks quite timeless. It's brilliant how Armani's attention to detail and quality extends right down to his Jeans range.

Friday, 29 October 2010


Many thanks are due to Hapsical reader E Morris for pointing out that a Korean eBay seller is currently using a picture of me from January 2009 without my permission to flog fake Lanvin shoes!

It's definitely one of the funniest things that's happened to me thanks to my "online presence," up there with my Facehunter picture being made fun of on Spanish television (3:50 in).

It gets better, though. In this celebrity line up which is also part of the listing we've got Usher, Jay Z, Jude Law, David Beckham, Lanvin designers Alber Elbaz and Nicholas Ossendrijver... and me! Look at me working that Castelbajac coat, worn inside out, and that McQueen knit...

I love how the fake shoe they're selling is like an hideous hybrid of several different Lanvin pairs combined. I'm sure I should be outraged, but it just makes me laugh. It's a nice touch how they've taken my picture without permission and then put their watermark on top! Maybe I need to get a pair, to wear alongside my (real) ones?

In case you missed it, THIS recent Reuters report into the industry of fakes in China is really interesting.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Dover Street Market

Dover Street Market, the Comme des Garçons flagship and multi-brand boutique in London, perfectly sums up what I love and hate most about fashion. I never buy anything in there because the shopping experience is so poor for the price level (of which more later), but it's always interesting to wander around because the stock is brilliant.

It's like some sort of fashion museum, not least because even if you do want to buy something you probably won't be able to, because the staff will be far too busy talking to one another about their weekend plans. Look but, heavens above, don't touch too much or commit the cardinal sin of taking any photographs.

The pictures in this post are from their website. You would never get permission to take publicity photographs. In fact, Dover Street Market has held press days before now and invited journalists and editors explicitly to generate publicity, only to tell them that writing notes, let alone actually taking photos, is banned. It's all terribly fashion.

In the basement there's an area for the Comme des Garçons x Moncler 365 collaboration which is fantastic. The high performance Moncler puffer jackets are reworked into traditional couture shapes, or covered in a blurry forest print. The jackets all look so plump and well stuffed it's impossible to resist being drawn to them and touching them. Street wear brands like Supreme, Original Fake and Visvim are also represented in the basement. I was particularly drawn to the simple blue shirts by Visvim with a small leather patch on the chest, and the plain white t-shirts finished around the bottom hem with just the thinnest band of gaudy decorative trim, or with a small beaded area, not much larger than a postage stamp, just under the collar. The big street wear trend still seems to be for taking classic menswear staples and slightly altering or subverting them with quirky details. There is also an emphasis on high performance fabrics; some of the Visvim jackets were proudly bearing the Gore-Tex label, found more often in outdoors shops.

The ground floor is home to the bland but highly sellable Comme des Garçons wallets and logo-adorned Play line, as well as the Comme des Garçons fragrances which are, to say the least, something of an acquired taste. More interest is found at the back, where the Comme des Garçons Homme Plus range is displayed hanging from red scaffolding. A glass case full of bones and taxidermy, the 'favela' hut where the staff like to hide, and the fitting room styled after a Portaloo add visual interest to the raw exposed brick and concrete space. How meaningful that jackets costing over £1,000 and £400 shirts should be sold from an environment styled to look part construction site, part shanty town.

The main point of interest on the first floor is the Azzedine Alaïa zone which in effect serves as the designer's London store. A trio of austere mannequins show off some of Monsieur Alaïa's immaculately constructed, drop dead stylish creations, while a pair of imposing metal Marc Newson chairs provide stylish perches, presumably for those trying on Alaïa's towering shoes. The Comme des Garçons women's mainline and the cult Japanese street-luxe label Undercover are both housed on this floor too, as is the large Comme des Garçons SHIRT area.

I was particuarly taken by a CDG SHIRT t-shirt which seemed to be constructed from portions of three different t-shirts, dissected and then sewn back together with the seams on the outside, creating a three dimensional pleated effect. Another brilliant shirt consisted of a patchwork of different coloured checks, all on black backgrounds, which almost created an optical illusion effect when sewn together thanks to the mismatched colours and patterns going in all different directions. Some simple button down poplin shirts had been given the Comme treatment by having a collage of different checked and textured fabrics sewn onto the front, like some sort of plaid mash-up bib.

This season Raf Simons is sad omission from the second floor (his collection apparently didn't fit with the "vibe" of the floor, but should be back next season), but Celine, Gareth Pugh, Haider Ackermann and Thom Browne are well represented. The bizarre World Archive corner, with tribal headgear and embellished garments at mind blowing prices, remains as puzzling as ever.

The third floor plays host to Lanvin, Anne Valerie Hash, Erdem, Giambattista Valli, Nina Ricci, Marios Schwab, Stephen Jones and Rodarte, among others, but the personal highlight for me is the Hussein Chalayan corner styled to look like a desert. Among all of the shop's bizarre and sometimes ill-conceived design statements, this somehow stands out as the most successful.

On the fourth floor, there are more Comme des Garçons lines. In total, Dover Street Market sells 17 different CDG ranges. By the time you reach the top floor, they start to have increasingly bizarre names like "Comme des Garçons Comme des Garçons" which is quite different, you must understand, from merely "Comme des Garçons." Behind a 'hardware stall', selling (or possibly not selling) such as things as fly swats, storm lanterns and balls of string, is the Rose Bakery where you can get a pot of green tea, served with a big dose of attitude, for about £6.

The problem with Dover Street Market is that many of the staff are hapless, rude and self obsessed, or at least they do a very good impression of embodying the three. Generally I love the store design and the madness, but it never really strikes me as a luxury store in which you could justify spending the top end prices which they charge. Somehow the shopping environment just isn't comfortable, or conductive to spending top dollar. The fitting rooms are cramped and awkward, the lighting is harsh, and if you do actually buy something they stuff it unceremoniously in a transparent plastic bag. Perhaps treating your new £2,000 jacket as some sort of everyday commodity is all part of the concept, but when a lot of boutiques offer comfortable seating, staff who are keen to serve, sometimes even complimentary drinks, and beautiful packaging, Dover Street Market just doesn't quite cut it.

Saturday, 23 October 2010


I'm really obsessed with A.P.C at the moment. After a long search for the perfect pair of white trainers (sneakers), A.P.C came up trumps. I love these leather tennis shoes by them..

Today I wore them with a DRKSHDW by Rick Owens bomber jacket, Gap t-shirt, Topman jeans and a Tate tote bag from the Chris Ofili exhibition:

The A.P.C men's fall/winter 2010 collection is brilliant; although a lot of it is not really my style, I sort of want it all. Such minimal perfection. I love how it's not really targeted at any particular kind of guy.. people of all different ages and with all different senses of style can probably pick out pieces from the collection. I wasn't actually feeing the women's this season, but normally that's fantastic too.

This afternoon, I also bought the black derbies (pictured above).. this is the problem with actually having a paid! I think they are just modern classic material, really nice leather and relatively well priced.

You can buy everything online pictured here on the APC website. This is not a paid/gifted endorsement; I paid in full for both pairs of shoes (sadly!).

Richard Meier Interiors

Brilliant minimalist interiors by the Richard Meier & Partners Architects.