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Sunday, 16 June 2013

Hello Again


Francis Bacon + Fashion = Well done Shortlist.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Moko


Y'all better be ready for the ferocious talent that is Moko, because this lady is ready to take over. Emerging from the darkness on stage at Birthdays in Dalston, Moko was hypnotic. Her silhouette a pendulum swaying in time with her honey coated, soulful voice. Oh that voice. Rising and falling as if singing comes as easily as breathing. I was taken to church, baptised, married and given the last rites. Her leading track 'Summon the Strength' is intoxicating. It begins with mournful husky vocals, a woman wounded and dejected. As the track progresses the minimal backing beat rises, coaxing Moko's voice to reveal its true power.


The track is emotive and raw but Moko herself is enigmatic, an intriguing veiled figure. A fusion of soul, gospel, lounge, electronic and dance, the sound is new yet nostalgic. Moko has released two more tracks online, 'Reach High', think 90s dance with a modern beat, as well as my favourite 'Freeze', a dramatic edgy power ballad. Check out both tracks after the jump.

If you want to catch Moko live she's playing in London and Brighton soon. Click HERE for more info.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

YYY

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are back! I was a carefree teenager with Fever To Tell, lived on vodka and strobe lighting with Show Your Bones and my university years were sound tracked by It's Blitz! I'm pretty excited to see where their upcoming album Mosquito will take me. So far only one single has been released and it's been stuck in my head ever since Karen O's angry ethereal voice emerged from my dilapidated MacBook. The track titled Sacrilege now has a music video featuring Lily Cole as the Jezebel of a Lynchian town. I'm already planning a drag homage to this song. I'm thinking... 80s meringue wedding dress, think Lady Di on steroids, with Miss Havisham hair and I'll pelt the crowd with condoms whilst brandishing a crucifix. Where can one rent a gospel choir?

Monday, 25 March 2013

Serving Sahara


I enjoyed Louis Vuitton's Spring collection. That being said, I must admit that the collection sticks in my mind more for the show than for the clothes. If you didn't see the show, the set comprised of four escalators which carried models that were paired and styled as twins onto a white and yellow chessboard platform. A lot of print on print and a very editorial runway presentation. The clothes themselves were pretty simple. Chessboard prints in various colours and sizes were applied to clean cut dresses, skirts and shirts. A basic concept that was elevated by a phenomenal show.

What confuses me is why these pretty simple garments are featured on the cover of so many magazines. Walk into a newsagents in Britain this month and you'll be greeted by a sea of chessboard print. The April covers of Red, Elle and Glamour as well as the lastest issue of Pop all feature Louis Vuitton. It's not uncommon for the same designer to supply clothing for a couple of covers, but it is strange all four magazines were released in the same month, to the same market, featuring the same monochrome version of the chessboard print.

Now I'm not naive. Obviously Louis Vuitton has money to burn and lord knows the magazine industry needs advertising revenue. But surely a news stand awash with the same print slightly diminishes the items supposed exclusivity. It may be worn by a host of famous faces but the seed is sown in the minds of the fashion forward that this trend has exploded, it's been done, it's over.

The chessboard print of this season reminds me of Louis Vuitton's broderie anglaise collar last spring. A £360 lace collar that dominated the pages of fashion magazines for six months. 


One could argue that the lace collar was used so frequently because it was recognisable and versatile. A stylists dream. This argument would stand were it not for the sad fact that nine times out of ten the collar was paired with yet more Louis Vuitton. The above chessboard covers required no styling. OK, to be fair to Pop magazine, Ms. Swift is holding a bag.

My point is, in an industry that is supposedly facing tough times, many magazines don't seem to be trying very hard to stand out from the crowd. As my addiction requires me to spend at least £10 a week on magazines that are generally two thirds advertisements, I expect my remaining third of content to be somewhat original and distinguishable from the stack of glossy paper I have already purchased that month. Shoot some new designers, stop relying on black and white photography and stop paying fusty aristocrats to write articles about how they butter their toast. You are a fashion magazine. Serve me fashion. I am tired of this desert of creativity.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Flash


When I think of Clarks, I don't think of fashion. I envision screaming children in foot measuring devices that resemble office guillotines. I see cream walls, 80s carpet, ceiling tiles and unforgiving strip bulb lighting. Tired mothers and OAPs investing in orthopedic shoes. Clarks was a place fashion had abandoned. Even a fake Chanel handbag would quiver when taken onto the premises.

Don't get me wrong, Clarks has a lot going for it. It's a household name, it's reliable and the brand is synonymous with good quality shoes. It's just not a shop I would personally visit. Someone at Clarks is clearly hoping to change that, and what better way to eliminate the fusty elements of the brand than with a collaboration with hit print makers Eley Kishimoto. The above monochrome flash print may seem familiar as it has been instrumental to Eley Kishimoto's success. From Eastpak backpacks to Ipad cases touted by Susie Bubble, the print is no stranger to style blogs. Within the collaboration the print is available in Clarks' signature desert boot, a mid heel and a 90s wedge. All of the shoes in the collection are between £70 - £90 which is a steal if you love the print as a pair of Flash high-tops from Eley Kishimoto's webstore will set you back £168. There are also two different colour combinations of a geometric print in the collection which work particularly well in the wedge style. I love the shoes in this collaboration but I wish they'd done more with it. A few shoes for men wouldn't have been a bad idea, the Flash print is unisex and would look fantastic on a boot or embossed on a leather shoe. I also think another women's shoe with a larger heel would have caught the attention of the fashion crowd. Although flash is monochrome, it is a statement print, and I don't know many girls that make a statement with a kitten heel. 

Putting my moodiness aside at not being able to buy any of these shoes, the collaboration is a hit. It also whets the appetite for future collaborations. Could we be seeing Tabitha Simmons x Clarks? What about Liberty x Clarks? Dare I say... Ferragamo x Clarks? We can dream.

The collection is due to go on sale in March. To see it in it's entirety click here.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Monster Mash


Christopher Kane knows how to sell clothes. A company that has 26 employees and is worth an estimated 20 million euros seems like a pretty solid investment. It is not surprising then to hear that PPR the French multinational that owns Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci have just bought a majority stake in Christopher Kane. PPR have a habit of acquiring British labels like Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. These acquisitions allow brands to expand with increased distribution, large advertising budgets, a wider variety of product range and the opening of shops. Soon you will not just wear Christopher Kane, you will also smell of Christopher Kane, and will have Christopher Kane on your face.

So how did Kane stand out amongst the sea of British talent? His latest collection of menswear is a good example of Kane's business sense. Fashion obsessives may experience deja vu when looking at the above designs. Frankenstein's monster made an appearance in Kane's Spring 2013 womenswear collection and the Creature from the Blue Lagoon, Dracula and leopard print featured in his latest Pre-Fall collection.


Kane noticed that men were buying monster t-shirts from his womenswear range, so he capitalised off their success by giving men a range of their own. Risky but clever. It is the shape and size of a garment that genders a print. Take for example Prada's Fall 2012 optical prints. A defining womenswear trend for Fall 2012, Johnathan Saunders offered his own optical prints, but in his spectacular Fall 2012 menswear collection. It makes you wonder, as menswear is gaining prominence in fashion, will it soon share the runway with it's female equivalent? After all, it would save houses money as well as creating a harmonious brand identity. 

Kane's latest menswear offering shares the hallmarks of streetwear. Brands like Rogue Status and Mishka perfected and popularised the pop culture, high resolution, digital print tee. Kane pairs these statement prints with gothic details. He borrows from classic goth with sharp shirt collars and a black coat cut to look like Dracula's cape. A muted leopard print is used on coats, tops and shorts. I imagine the print as a sophisticated reincarnation of the leopard print found on creepers, worn by 90s goths that wrote bad poetry, and revived by the Tumblr generations 90s nostalgia. Slim velvet trousers and embroidered velvet slippers continue the upmarket homage to 90s goth and contribute to my image of our 90s goth. His name is Viktor (real name Steve). He frequents a bar in which the air is thick with clove cigarette smoke and candles reflect in goblets of red wine. He writes poetry about blood stained kittens and broken mirrors... 

Kane is clearly switched on to what the Tumblr kids are obsessing over and what London new media types will buy. By reusing old designs he risks being seen as overly commercial yet he is at the vanguard of British designers experimenting with menswear, closing the gap between what women and men wear. The collection is inoffensive yet interesting. Men who fear fashion can be comfortable in Kane's clothes. The only thing I fear is sickly sweet couples in matching Dracula t-shirts.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Knitwear Is Punk

Fashion shows are greeted with the same antipathy as the Turner Prize by the British tabloids. Culture in general is derided as is any supposed deviation from the norm. These newspapers sell sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia to the masses, with rehashed scare stories featuring immigrants, benefit scroungers and Muslims. I understand that a critique from these newspapers of the latest menswear collections is trivial, and is only a minor drop in their ocean of bile. However, it is still irritating to see an article published that exists merely to insult young British talent. In this Daily Mail article titled 'Is there a prize for the stupidest outfit at Men's Fashion Week in London...?', we are told of the supposed 'humiliation of the models' having to wear 'outrageous', 'outlandish' and 'bizarre' designs. One helpful caption tells us that we are viewing a model wearing 'huge knitted gloves several times the size of his actual hands'. It is good to know that the Daily Mail feels it is necessary to explain body proportions to it's readership. Mind you, given the spectacular amount of images contained within the article, one can only assume that they cater for the illiterate. The creators of the huge gloves in question are London knitters Sibling. Instead of taking the Daily Mail's insults to heart, they are wearing them as a badge of honour.  
We need only look back to a 1988 episode of Wogan to see the matriarch of British fashion Dame Vivienne Westwood being treated in a similar manner.


The jeering crowd now receive Vivienne Westwood gift sets for Christmas and lust after bags featuring her golden orb. Pieces from the Time Machine collection are sold in auction houses, regarded as seminal pieces of British fashion history. Westwood has been accepted into the fold. The unnerving truth about the majority of Daily Mail readers is that they do not question what they are told. Like this, hate that. Scan through the comments of any given Daily Mail article and you will be hard pressed to find an opinion differing to that of the journalists. These rags do not act as taste makers but as taste dictators. Working to suppress individuality they cajole their readers into fearing difference. Hence their inherent dislike of minorities and culture and their ardent nostalgia for a Britain that does not, and never did exist.


Serendipitously Sibling's collection has it's roots in punk, specifically the punk who challenged punk Jayne County. The models wore oversized knitted hats in homage to the singer and Jayne's music was the soundtrack to the startlingly quick show. Emblazoned on the backdrop of the runway in a funeral floral tribute were the words 'please kill me', a reference to another influential punk Richard Hell. Much like Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood before them, Sibling were inspired by New York punks. Straying far from the usual uniform of safety pins, studs and leather, the models looked soft and cuddly. They wore garments made of knitted yarn in pale pink and blue. Their hands were encased in oversized gloves and the opening jumper was embroidered with flowers. 'Flowers and pink are not punk!' I hear you say. Let me argue my case.

As fluffy fabrics in baby pink and blue were featured throughout the collection and Jayne County was an influence, it would appear Sibling were delving into the complex world of gender. Before transitioning Jayne County was Wayne County, finding success in the band Wayne County and The Electric Chairs. One of the bands most recognizable songs as well as the title of Jayne's autobiography is Man Enough To Be A Woman. Jayne laid down the gauntlet to punks by showing it was more punk to be a woman, and dress as a woman, than to assimilate by donning the typical hyper masculine punk uniform. In Sibling's show this idea is extended. We were treated to muscular teddy bears wearing the colours of the gender binary, their fists softened by woolen boxing gloves. The icing on the cake for this fantastic collection is the vitriol from the press. Punk aimed to ruffle feathers, to be subversive, to challenge authority and Middle England. Initially punk achieved this but quickly the music and style of dress were absorbed by mainstream culture. Walk down the street in a leather jacket adorned with band patches, a mohawk and tartan trousers and no one will bat an eyelid. Wear head to toe Sibling however and rile those Daily Mail readers for looking different. A member of staff for The Independent did just that and was called a "Queer!" by a 'white-van man' during his brief excursion wearing Sibling's latest collection. Ironically the title of the article in which this investigative journalism has been documented is 'Real men don’t wear spots... or do they?'. The article leaves me with many questions unanswered. What constitutes a real man and how can I spot a fake? Are their seams finished in a shoddy manner and their zip pulls not weighty enough?

Anyhow, back to the collection. The oversized theme continued with thick knit scarfs featuring pocket details the very sight of which warms my freezing hands. Sibling love a bit of leopard print and this seasons offerings come in red and pink. Leopard print also finds it's way into their signature collage style Fair Isle print along with zigzags, polka dots and acid coloured kaleidoscope prints. I love the complexity of these knitted collages and I hope it remains a staple in Sibling collections.


Of course there is humour in Sibling's clothing but there is also intellect and craftsmanship. In my opinion this is a hugely successful collection and I must again applaud Sibling for creating delicious pieces of knitwear and pissing off the media in the process. You've done Jayne County proud.