Fashion week: the biannual sartorial circus where buyers, press and fashion folk descend on Aldwych for five days of chaos. This season we were excited to see the fresh wave of design talent emerging from the UK, as well as some of our favourite established brands. Here are our highlights from days one and two of the Autumn/Winter 2014 collections:
Jamie Wei Huang kicked of precedings on Friday with a utilitarian wartime collection updated with some hella fierce, white stomper boots. Oversized military coats and tweed dresses embellished with all manner of buckles and pockets, inspired by The Pianist, had a subtle, austere functionality to them. Napsugar Von Bittera’s eye-popping presentation was a homage to Pop Art’s greatest alumni, all set to a French electro-pop soundtrack. Lichtenstein and Warhol-inspired props (think giant popcorn buckets, half eaten popsicles) were used as resting posts for models adorned in the designers signature laser-cut jackets and school-girl pop socks.
Fashion Scout’s ‘Ones To Watch’ always sets the benchmark for rising talent, with past winners Peter Pilotto and Eudon Choi all graduating from the hallowed halls of OTW. George Styler had the collection that stole the show: richly embroidered one pieces and heavily embellished jackets finished with Cleopatra-style headwear. Our favourite fizzy haired, punk charlatan Pam Hogg returned with her trademark sexy thunderbird catsuits, with an anarchic collection dedicated to TRR favourites Pussy Riot. Chinese designer PINGHE showcased plastic fantastic skirts and dresses with 90’s leather backpacks, gold sneakers and logo prints.
Our first show of the day, John Rocha was a lesson in how to really experiment with layers. Mid-calf length dresses with 3D flower appliqué had a delicate, baroque aesthetic, along with oversized velvet coats in rich burgundy tones. Zeynep Kartal channeled classic Hollywood and screen sirens of the past with her Rita Hayworth inspired collection. Flesh tone dresses and amazing, sequined one-pieces served as some of the standout pieces from a collection saturated with rich autumnal tones, sumptuous fabrics and feminine silhouettes.
We then hot-footed it to the Royal College of Surgeons for our final show of the evening, Sorapol, which was a theatrical and spellbinding collection that really showcased the designer's skill for couture-level craftsmanship. Exploring the common ground between surrealism and necromancy, the designs had a darkly romantic aesthetic and our favourite pieces were billowing dresses with transparent trains sweeping the flora-laden catwalk. Also, props to Sorapol for possibly the most glittery dress we have ever seen in our lives – sunglasses were needed.
Paris we love you, but you’re bringing us down. Hot on the heels of Men’s Fashion Week, Spring Summer 14 Couture Week seems sent thoroughly depress us mere mortals with its obscenity of fantasy frocks and wanton wealth. So whilst the rest of us scrimp together the last of our December paycheck together in shrapnel at till points across the country, the City Of Light ferries the rich and famous from show to show in a week-long oniomaniac binge with no sign of an intervention in sight. Recession? What recession.
Luckily, there’s a few looks that us austere onlookers can DIY at home. Whilst the Chanel show is always the benchmark for insane excess, it was dress-down-Friday at camp Largerfeld as models skipped down the runway in fabulously feather-light haute couture sneakers. Ok, so not your average pair of kicks, these babies are hand-stitched with python, pearls and tweed and not to be found in your local Foot Locker.
John Paul Gaultier proved he could still make the look mundane idea look shit-hot as his lepidopterology theme saw Dita Von Teese take to the catwalk in a midnight butterfly inspired basque that we won’t be attempting at home. The Versace show managed to pull Lady Gaga out of her Artpop coma and on to the front row for their couture show which was your typical Donatella mega-bucks-luxe affair feat. fluid draping and Grace Jones-eque hoods in monochrome and jewel tones that rather reminded us of the #Mipsterz viral video.
Elie Saab showed a floral, ethereal and down-right spectacular collection of bridal gowns destined to be re-pinned on ‘fairy tale wedding’ Pinterest boards the world over. Romantic pallets of confectionery pastel colours through to midnight blue and black transpired through a variety of shapes, constructed in bejeweled sheathing and chiffon. "Women often ask me for dresses like the bridal one I showed today," said Saab after the show. "They want their dreams to come true and that's what we try to do."
Fragrances. Everybody loves a Yuletide bottle, but failure to nail the perfect person-to-perfume combo will mean only an epic Xmas fail and a swift banishment from the dinner table. No, granny did not want TOWIE'S Dazzle, nor did little brother want Old Spice. With this in mind: Welcome to TRR’s Annual Christmas Fragrance Gift Guide! Let it be said, this is the indispensable, failsafe manuel au parfum to take you by the nose and lead you to exactly what to buy and for whom – including yourself. As usual, each year we wrap our nostrils round 2013’s highlights along with a soupcon of enduring classics that have kept our olfactory senses aroused over the years.
FOR HIM - Murdock Avalon
If your fella (or father) fancies himself as a quintessential English gentleman, then Murdock London's complex and citrussy wonder, Avalon will be sure to delight him. Created around the image of "a sharply tailored man leaning on a palm-shaded terrace at the Hotel du Cap, drinking a sloe gin cocktail, it truly is a go-to sent for the discerning dandy.
Murdock Avalon from 70 pounds for 100ml available at Murdock London
FOR HIM - Burberry Brit Rhythm
Burberry have no stranger in showcasing their alliance with rock n' roll for some years now and their latest olfactory offering, Brit Rhythm certainly cements their love of live music. The leathery middle accords meet head on in the moshpit with notes of basil, cardamom, patchouli and styrax, making for a rebellious and fun fragrance.
Burberry Brit Rhythm from 44 pounds for 50ml
FOR HIM - Comme des Garcons Blue Cedrat
Well ideally for him, but feel free to generously douse this new unisex fragrance from Comme des Garcons all over yourself. One third of their Blue collection, Blue Cedrat uniquely harmonises fiery Virginian cedar wood with metallic rose and a zesty, bitter, quinine accord. The result is a captivating blend of luxurious warmth with searing coolness.
Comme des Garcons Blue Cedrat from 75 pounds for 100ml available exclusively at Selfridges
FOR HER - Penhaligons Iris Prima
Inspired by the beauty and grace of a Prima Ballerina, Penhaligons' latest offering Iris Prima is a love letter to the spirit of the ballet. We just adore the stunning glass flacon replete with suede label and the powdery heart notes of iris absolute, jasmine and sambac dance a perfect pas-da-deux with base notes of leather, vanilla and sandalwood.
Penhaligons Iris Prima from 85 pounds for 50ml from Penhaligons
FOR HER - Kiehls Patchouli and French Rose
Blending the delicacy of roses with the woody, spicy warmth of patchouli, Kiehl's Patchouli and Fresh Rose (see what they did there?) makes the perfect everyday scent your giftee won't be able to stop spritzing liberally. The top notes of mandarin orange and bergamot joyfully inject a modern, fresh uplifting zing.
Kiehls Patchouli and French Rose from 26 pounds for 30ml
FOR HER - Marni Rose
Building on the core black rose theme of their signature perfume, Marni's new for 2013 scent is like dive bombing into a blossoming bouquet of roses head first. Whilst indeed floral and powdery, sweet and cloying it's not - focusing on spicy and dark aspects of Bulgarian Rose and woods. The oh-so grab-able polka dot bottle will look divine on any discerning dressing table.
Marni Rose from 48 pounds for 30ml EDT
FOR HER - Jo Malone Pomegrante Noir
Inspired by the sensuality of a daring red dress, Pomegranate Noir is a deliciously dark yet juicy infusion of ruby-rich pomegranate, raspberry and plum juices. Heady enough for after dark romancing but light enough to spritz in the day, it's the perfect gift for the lady who loves to make a lingering statement.
Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir from 39 pounds for 30ml
FOR HER - Acqua di Parma Gelsomino Nobile
Like its name, this scent is certainly of a rather noble persuasion. AdP perfumes are less pretentious concoction, more Seriously Delicious Refined Smells. Gelsomino Nobile is a glorious rich honey-coloured tonic for women. Both gentle yet intense, it masterfully harmonizes jasmine of Calabria with joyful top notes of mandarin, pink pepper and seductive tuberose.
Acqua di Parma Gelsomino Nobile from 65 pounds for 50ml
FOR HER - D'Orsay L'Intrigante
With a black pepper and musk opening, camelia in heart and vanilla and white musk in the base, one whiff of this superior scent and you're whisked back to 1920's Paris - or thereabouts. Created in the image of a 'beguiling temptress who harnesses her charms for ambitious seduction,' we say: it's a perfectly powdery warm and sensual vintage scent.
D'Orsay L'Intrigante from 46 pounds for 50ml
FOR HIM AND HER - Dsquared2 Potion
As the alchemical name and flacon suggests, these dynamic duo of scents have been distilled to perfection. Aromatic and woody with a distinct background of amber, the men's is a heady, animalistic tool of seduction while the women's is a powerful oriental medley of musk, vanilla, wild blackberries and bergamot. Be sure to treat yourself to that when you're buying his!
DSquared2 Man Potion from 46.50 pounds for 50ml, DSquared2 Woman Potion from 40 pounds for 50ml
If the mere thought of fighting tooth-and-nail at Selfridges cosmetics hall for a look-in at the Mac counter has you putting Christmas shopping on the back burner, TRR may have just found the antidote to beat those annual last minute gifting sweats.
Last night the team braved the elements and joined Handbag.com creator Nancy Cruickshank and Telegraph beauty editor Kate Shapland for an exclusive pop-up event, marking the Winter edition of MyShowcase; a brand new online beauty destination. Its aim? To bring you the cream of independent brands, hand-picked by the duo and championed by their network of super stylists. As well as boasting a whole catalogue of cult kit, the brand encourages budding entrepreneurs to promote the range at their very own home-hosted MyShowcase parties with friends (a little party never hurt nobody, right?)
The site’s portfolio lists 25 brands that has been expertly curated using Kate Shapland’s extensive knowledge as Beauty Ed of the Telegraph for over a decade. From Neom’s heavenly organic candles to De Mamiel’s seasonal skin oils, the My Showcase roster is a one-shop stop for beauty needs. Guests were treated to a one-on-one introduction to the brand’s incredible roster, with all manner of lotions and potions to keep team TRR looking supple and sprightly throughout the winter season. It’s difficult to choose a favourite product, but we were particularly buzzing about the incredible range of perfumed oils by Sage LA - incredibly distinctive scents in gloriously cute trinket bottles.
To find out more, visit www.myshowcase.com
Ever since heiress Daphne Guinness scooped up Isabella Blow's entire archive at auction back in 2012 fashion fans have been waiting for bated breath for its first public outing. Finally, Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! has arrived at Somerset House showcasing over a hundred items from her delightfully bonkers collection.
Beginning her 30 year career as as assistant to Anna Wintour in the 80's, Isabella Blow grew to become one of fashion's most formidable, eccentric characters - not only for her zany, conceptual outfits (truly, Lady Gaga has nothing on her) but her exceptional nous for spotting and nurturing up-and-coming creativity. The talent scout extraordinaire's eagle-eye was responsible for birthing some of the biggest names in fashion. No Blow? No Alexander McQueen, milliner Phillip Treacy or models Sophie Dahl and Stella Tennant. Sad times.
Whilst the exhibition is like joyfully rummaging around your crazy aunt's exquisite dressing up box, it's far much more than simply a showcase of her wardrobe, moreover a celebration of her life. Childhood photos and ephemera offer touching glimpses into her past, while exclusive new work from legendary fash-snapper, Nick Knight plus a jaw-dropping silhouette scuplture of her head by Tim Noble and Sue Webster remind us what a powerhouse Blow was.
The ultra-rare MA collections of McQueen and Treacy are on display as is Erik Halley's iconic lobster hat (thankfully, lovingly restored post-car crash en route to a Julien MacDonald show) which sits alongside Treacy's infamous ship hat within an awesome sub-aquatic installation. A video of a beaming Blow alongside glum-faced editors at McQueen's breakthrough 1996 show only reinforces how much fashion delighted and inspired her.
If you think Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! is only for the diehards though, think again. Even the fashion-phobic or just sartorially curious will find the astonishing design and artistry on view seriously gawp-worthy. Blow's tragic 2010 death left the fashion landscape a bleaker place but the provocative aristocrat's colourful, bewitching legacy lives on courtesy of this exhibition.
Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! at Somerset House runs until 2nd March 2014
Image source: Time Out
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