Another day, another fashion capital

30 September 2009

I'm back from my flying visit to Milan! It was very much needed after the madness of fashion week, and it was great to see my friend from Uni again (we're all so spread out at the moment). I'd already visited Florence earlier this year, so I knew vaguely what to expect (total confusion at the Italian language, small pasta starters and annoying exchange rates) but in reality, the experience more than lived up to my expectations. For starters there was a fashion show the night I landed in the Piazza Duomo for the streetwear brand C'N'C, bringing fashion to the masses (though I think a few oldies were there for the questionable support acts). I wasn't in the best place, stuck in a crowd of 10,000 (all the tallest people, with large hairstyles seemingly blocking my view) but I managed to soak up the atmosphere, and was surprised to see Daisy Lowe and Pixie Geldof modelling (I guess they're following me around). I managed to film a small part, the quality isn't very good, but hopefully you can get an idea of things.

There's a far better video here at the official site, so you can actually see the clothes properly. I couldn't see much from where I was in the crowd, but could tell I liked the grungy separates and swirly prints from afar. It was great to see a fashion show in such an unconventional setting, next to a cathedral that took hundreds of years to build. By day, the amazing structure can be fully appreciated; we climbed hundreds of steps to get to the top (there is also a lift, for more sensible people), and I took pictures from every angle, seeing inspiration around every corner.

It goes without saying that Milan has shops galore; where else can you see a Prada opposite a Mc Donalds but in the Galleria? You definitely need a lot of Euros to make it your shopping haunt, but despite this, I enjoyed wandering around and seeing members of the fashion elite go about their business.

So glad Sonia Rykiel's doing an H&M collection, I hope to see some of her signature quirky knits.

Not normally a Ralph Lauren fan, but loved the romantic window display

Breathtaking Iceberg knit with an unusual petal structure

Totally random vase

A picture by one of the many specially designed Coca Cola bottles decorating the city. Designers such as Etro, Fendi, Marni, Missoni, Moschino stamped their signature aesthetic onto the iconic bottles. Stupidly, I forgot to note down who designed this one.

Another dream shopping destination was 10 Corso Como, a small concept store with Italian flair. From the outside, it looks pretty ambiguous, and once you explore behind the facade it appears to just be a botanically diverse outdoor restaurant, but don't give up. Wander upstairs and you'll see thousands of inspiring design books that you never knew existed (I'd love to adorn my non-existent coffee table with the biographies of Balenciaga and Chanel) and even a gallery. The relaxed pace of the store is continued in the womenswear section downstairs, where I was haunted once again by gorgeous Christian Louboutin heels and Alaïa fine knit dresses.

There's also a nearby outlet, complete with a bargainous 10 euro rail of white jeans and random bits of Kate Moss Topshop from yesteryear. My friend was tempted by some Manolo Blahnik's for 150 euros, but I quite fancied the above Alaïa ankle boots. I think they were still a few hundred euros, so I guess I can keep dreaming.

As my budget didn't quite stretch to Prada, I had to seek solace in the Milanese high-street. There wasn't really anything unexpected, as we have many of the same stores in the U.K for less, so I tried to go for things that were close to the price they'd be in pounds. I hadn't seen the floral top in H&M before, and really liked the contrast in the print, so that was quickly snapped up. The grey zip top from Bershka was needed to go with my many pairs of leggings, as was the oversized striped Pimkie tee, with a sleeve that can be ruched up easily. There was a lot of stuff I was tempted by in the grandest Zara store I'd ever seen (a possible structured shoulder jacket to start the bandwagon jumping) and Mango, which I will try and hunt down when I hit the West End shops again.

What I can rate however, is the tights extravaganza that is Calzedonia. Fabulous tights in every colour imaginable for a reasonable price. I've been searching for pale grey tights for a while to replace the pair I bought in Florence earlier this year, and I hadn't been able to find the specific shade I wanted back at home. After much wandering to find another branch, I was able to pick up the last pair in my size, and also some tartan tights that I fell in love with in the window. Very Gossip Girl.

After a Twitter recommendation suggested going to the Navigli district for vintage, we decided to make a Sunday afternoon trip to the area on my last day. Feeling slightly worse for wear, we staggered onto the Metro not quite knowing where to go once we got off, but luckily our instinct led us to a busy street filled with stalls. Upon closer inspection there were some amazing finds; rails of Burberry trenches, fur coats my mother would adore, cashmere knits and embellished eveningwear suitable for any festive party.

Vintage clothes shopping is slightly frustrating for me, as the bits I like are either too expensive or don't fit (damn the €40 Moschino skirt not fitting over my pasta bloated waist), but luckily I had a bit more success with the bags. Amongst the stalls of vintage Chanel and recent Balenciaga, were some reasonably priced leather bags. I swept up this chocolate brown number, a lovely messenger style for my streamlined possesions and only €10.

The antique stalls by the canal were truly beautiful, and went on for miles.

So there you have it, my whistlestop trip to Milan in a carefully edited photo explosion, and I'm still insanely jealous of my friend for getting to explore such a wonderful city and different way of life. Jealousy aside, It has got me excited for my placement in New York and (88 days until I go, the clock is ticking) and has hit home that I really need to start organising things. Expect lots of New York anticipation posts, and I'll be happy to have any suggestions you can give me as I want to visit EVERYWHERE.

Now back to being blog obsessed; I've bought a domain name to lose the 'it' ( and will be switching it over as soon as I work out how, so be ready to update your links and subscriptions in the next week or so.

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LFW Day 5: Too much fun on the runway

23 September 2009

After a first few eventful days, things had definitely started to wind down at Fashion Week. Though tired, I was determined to make my last show at 180 The Strand, to see the much anticipated KTZ (or Kokon To-Zai). I vaguely remember having heard of the shop in Notting Hill a while ago, but the most recent thing I'd seen was their Topshop collaboration. Obviously this was true of much of the crowd, as the queue was crazy (think the opening day of a new Primark store) and I almost didn't get in, but luckily I'd printed the entire e-mail confirmation which explained that my ticket was in the post. For once I was on the list, so was granted entry and scurried on down to the show.

Foxy leotard alert!

I loved the look in the centre, androgynous with a twist

So many ways to don an LBD

KTZ obviously likes to do things differently. The models each seemed to take on a certain persona; some growled at the end of the runway while others looked gleeful. You never knew what was going to happen next (I didn't anticipate a rather shorter male model, reminiscent of a wrestler), but I appreciated the departure from the typical stony-faced model. The clothes were a mixture of body-conscious dresses, bold jackets and casual sportswear, of which I preferred the former. Although KTZ likes to have fun with it's designs, the logo covered designs weren't always to my taste. However, I appreciated their take on the parka-style jackets (reminding me of comic-book heroes), and of course the crazy leggings. It was great to see a mix of clothes you might actually wear, albeit in a different way to how it was styled; they were brash, bold and definitely not for the faint hearted.

I hope you've enjoyed my Fashion Week ramblings (hurrah to over 5 posts in one week)! It's certainly been a fun week that I didn't expect to have, and although I didn't have back to back shows, I've met a lot of interesting and friendly people between shows, as well as discovering some new designers. Surreal doesn't quite cut it as a word, seeing stars of screen (TV, laptop) and print just casually wander past to make their next shows in time. I've seen so many people dressed to the nines, and many more trying perhaps too hard to stand out (the Lady Gaga wannabe was everywhere, apparently one PR agency had her blacklisted). There's a definite hierarchy in place, and I did feel quite out of place at times, but I've realised there's plenty more years for front rows and goody bags (I say plenty, it could take a lifetime to reach such heights) and to just make the most out of the experience. Now I need to get some concealer under these bags and prepare myself for some foreign travel, I'm off to Milan!**

Fashion Week: There's a lot of fluids and not enough food.

* It was great to hang out with Nicola, Bianca, Tor, Ozzy and Reena and meet Yishyene, Patricija, Cfst, Marian, The Style PA and Gemma!
** Not going to Milan for fashion week, I'm visiting a friend on her internship. I hope to come back rested and inspired. I will be uploading some short catwalk videos when I return, and I'll also reply to all of your lovely comments!

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LFW Day 4: More surprises on the blogger treasure trail

It's tricky to express how the last few days have been, for they've felt like a lifetime away in a parallel universe. However, Monday mornings are always the same for me, and I had to pop back into normality for a few hours to go to work. Shift over, I quickly rushed home, and got ready for another fashionable day out at the Avsh Alom Gur show. Well, I had thought it was a show, instead it was a presentation, so at least my standing ticket made no difference to my status, while I wandered around. It's interesting to see how the presentations differ; here the setting was a smaller room at 180 the Strand, with a definite buzz due to the many people milling around. The clothes were displayed on mannequins, with a live model posing towards the back of the room.

She seemed rather friendly.

Something for Lady Gaga next summer?

The clothes were floaty, print-heavy pieces, and the use of wind-machines illustrated his vision of giving movement to usually static black and white prints. I really liked the extensive beadwork on some of the pieces, bringing a more exotic 20s flapper style to mind, as well as how he reworked the prints in each piece, by repeating and adding certain elements throughout the collection. Although I would have liked to see a show, as there was some impressive stuff in the lookbook that I never got to see in real life, the presentation was a worthwhile experience. I enjoyed studying the pieces up close (if I were braver, I might have even done some networking) and absorbing the Fashion Week atmosphere. Sometimes shows can go too quickly, and you regret trying to record the experience on a dodgy camera, rather than just living it and taking it all in.

Some photos are courtesy of Yishyene, thanks!

The next stop was much later on, so I took another Covent Garden cupcake break. I was slightly worried, as I was due to meet some people but had a phone devoid of battery, thanks to silly amounts of mobile internet usage. Luckily I recognised Yishyene in the queue (could have been quite embarrassing if it was someone else) and we quickly hit it off and got chatting about our fashion week experiences. The show in question was devised by the good old BBC, giving young people (far younger than me, 'sobs') a chance to organise a fashion show from start to finish. 1.WO/MAN was presented as an 'egalitarian collection for men and women' promoting experimentation and personal expression. I noticed that Julian Roberts was mentioned in the credits, a designer who once gave a lecture during my foundation course, and his pattern cutting methods of subtraction were certainly present. I love a bit of draped deconstruction, and there were some promising pieces in the collection. Definitely a worthy first attempt for the people involved.

Extremely blurry pictures due to models walking at the pace of Usian Bolt.

The show also featured some t-shirts which will be sold on their site in aid of Children In Need.

Yishyene and I strike a pose.

Also met Patricia on the front row, of all places.

Jak and Jil style pic of Patricia's DIY shoes. Too cool.

I've accepted that I will never be street-style snapped, due to not wearing some kind of fur coat or bow tie, so ditched the heels and embraced the Docs to let my feet recover.

Bloggers Unite!

There was a drinks reception afterwards, where I chatted with my new blogger pals some more (joked about domain names, blogger sightings and our, well my, total lack of business cards). I think September is the month of the blogger; I'm meeting them on an almost daily basis!

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LFW Day 3: Going with the flow and around in circles

22 September 2009

Sunday is usually a day of rest for me, but this concept doesn't seem to exist during fashion week. I was up bright and early to whisk myself away to Liberty for the Marcus Constable show. His CV is certainly impressive; his collection was scooped up by Liberty and Koh Samui soon after graduating and he has consulted for Claude Montana in Paris among others. Now he's back showing a clean, cohesive collection full of detail and styled whimsically with oversized brogues and windswept hair.

The clothes were quirky enough to be interesting, and layered in a gamine style with plenty of breton-esque stripes. The Liberty store was also a great setting for the show and really helped create the sense of occasion. I should visit more often.

I liked how he reinvented traditional shapes, yet really manipulated the clothes using tucking, pleats and drpaing. I am sure I will be attempting elements of this style in Summer 2010.

The next stop was Qasimi further down the road at the Red Bull Fashion Factory, where I saw an opulent show full of soft Grecian draping contrasted with extreme embellishment. I didn't manage to get decent pictures of the more colourful parts of the collection, but I liked the variety between regal elegance and 80s glamour. I filmed some bits of the shows, and will pop them up at some point.

Thanks to Tor of Fabfrocks, I was able to head to the Louise Amstrup presentation back at Vauzhall Fashion Scout. The setting was a room of glass and mirrors, which I found almost as inspiring as the clothes. There was structure, in the form of jersey tops with reflective panels and gauzy layers, and draped skirts.

Live models were there to show off the clothes, and were constantly appearing out of nowhere and swapping amongst themselves.

After this, it was back to the Red Bull Fashion Factory, to watch a live stream of the Vivienne Westwood show, within the same building! There were live artists sketching away, random celebrity sightings such as Geri Halliwell (and a BNTM finalist) and a nice bar serving Red Bull in a cocktail form I could get used to.

Though the coffeee was quite nice too.

It was great to watch the show as it happened, and to see the drama unfold with models stomping down the runway in Westwood's finest. There were the signature tailored elements, yet also candy cane style stripes, preppy layers and some references to her political views. The model choice was random, Coco Rocha (who I saw getting into a cab after the show), Pixie Geldof and Lisa from Big Brother, but somehow it was something that I expected from the original fashion rebel.

Outside after the show, the paparazzi were abuzz, and I tried to join the best of them. I only managed to catch the back of Joss Stone, but I think it nicely shows off her tailored suit that could only be Westwood. I also saw Alexa Chung around the corner, but was too bewildered to take any kind of picture.

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LFW Day 2: With a little bit of knit...

21 September 2009

For me, Saturday at London Fashion Week was knit central. I was working at the Cooperative Designs presentation, which saw us turning a room in the Freemasons Hall into a replica chess set, in just over an hour. There were some gorgeous cakes by Lilli Vanilli that seemed to disappear within a very short period of time. Remember I said that I would marry one of the Ella's Bakehouse cupcakes here? Well these would have to be my bit on the side.

Mints, cupcakes and macaroons, what more do you need?

Anyway back to the knits. The items of the collection were scattered around various squares on the 'chess board' and the geometric patterns continued throughout. I loved how things were layered, knotted and spliced together.

There was also statement jewellery to complement the pieces. It was really great to see the collection finally come together, after watching parts of it being made in the studio.

Loved this skirt from the current Autumn Winter collection that a PR person was wearing. I have a thing for unexpected materials knitted together.

The black cardigan on the mannequin was made by yours truly!

The next stop was downstairs at the Alice Palmer show, who creates sculptural yet draped pieces out of finely knitted fabric. I was amazed by the origami-like structures she has managed to create, and I liked how the latter pieces had the harness-like jewellery of Fannie Schiavoni to contend with.

Looks like statement shoulders are here to stay. Another trend I have to try and get used to...

As you can imagine, I'm having a lot of fun at fashion week and meeting lots of people (especially bloggers) all over the place. However there are some definite hierarchies in place, which I will try and go into more detail about in a future post. Thanks for reading these very quickly-written ramblings.

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