Colour Me Bad

Super stellar fashion editors such as Annas Dello Russo and Piaggi have long subscribed to the manifesto of the bright and bold.  Now it’s time for the rest of us to follow suit…

 
 
 

Christopher Kane S/S 11

 

There is a pure, riotous poetry in the colour-drenched kaleidoscope of the coming season.  Spring collections feel lavishly carnivalesque and psychedelic; has fashion has raided Wonka’s candy-shop, or siphoned the Technicolor from Dorothy’s Oz?

 On SS/11 catwalks, colours sweet enough to eat stacked up like so many ice-cream flavours: pistachio and spearmint at Burberry, lemon sherbet at Chanel and glorious rhubarb-and-custard at Giles.  Migraine-inducing, retina-taxing hues zipped down runways like frenetic fireflies – Proenza Schouler showcased souped-up cerise and fizzy pumpkin.  Cerulean at Gucci and cobalt courtesy of Jason Wu were the kind of intense pigments more commonly concocted in phials of chemical laboratories, or plundered from souks and spice markets of tropical bazaars.  Further forays into the Far East saw exotic Geishas at Galliano and Kenzo compete, butterfly-like, with rainbow-hued Harajuku dolls at Meadham Kirchhoff and Junya Watanabe.

Meadham Kirchhoff S/S 11

So tread bold, but banish clownish overtones by investing in translucent peek-a-boo fabrics looted from romantic heroines of yore.  Juxtapose with mean, lean silhouettes sharper than Lagerfeld’s suits.  Splice with a horde of tribal, tattoo and trompe l’oeil prints, sneak in a dash of sport-luxe, and you’ve got yourself one seriously stupendous wardrobe for spring, summer, and that bright beyond…

Dreaming in Dance

Ballet.  With a swish of tulle and a tiptoed flourish en pointe, the theatrical fantasy world of the dramatic, dream-like dance is set to sashay back into the fringes of fashion.  Designers right, left and centre are utilising shimmering embellishment, flounces and feathers; fixing their fashion focus upon the starry otherworld arenas of costume and ceremony. 

Paris catwalks of SS/11 twinkled with fronds and fairytale fabrics; the very life-stuff of the magical creations adorning characters of traditional ballets such as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.  Ostrich feathers at Chanel.  Towers of tulle at Alexander McQueen.  In London, Erdem invoked the spirit of the ballet russes in a sweetly romantic and somehow sartorially very European collection.  Milan, too, was not all sophisticated Italian hauteur; some girlishness emerged in the form of debutante coyness and light, pretty palettes.  The rash of minimalism and monochrome across many fashion houses’ spring ouevres has been combated and offset by some enchanting forays into romance and decadence.

Chanel S/S 11

Alexander McQueen S/S 11

Tutus at Felder Felder, S/S 11

Sugar-plum sweetness at Giles, S/S 11

Frou-frou at Mark Fast, S/S 11

Ethereal and doll-like at Dolce & Gabbana, S/S 11

Dramatic gilt plumage at Gucci, S/S 11

  The approaching party season is the perfect excuse to team lavishly decorated ballerina pumps with a sleek cigarette pant or fabulous frock for all-out impact. 

Tory Burch, £255

 

Carvela. £65

Timely ads for Repetto, the historic French ballet shoe company, are currently spashed, in glossy finery, across a raft of fashion magazines.

Diane von Furstenburg has even been coaxed from her trademark territory of the womanly wrap dress to deliver enchanting party dresses in new, lissome shapes.  Anna Sui has woven fairy gowns of organza and tulle.

Diane von Furstenburg 'Talea' dress, £730

Diane von Furstenburg 'Yadira' dress, £545

Anna Sui silk tulle and sequin dress, £870

 Ladies, the sumptuous stage is set.  Throughout the glittering snows of winter and the beauty of swan-like spring, indulge in an elegant celebration of that dream-world-without-limit; the dazzling brilliance and bravura of the ballet…

David Koma: Single-handedly putting the fizz into fashion…

There is a certain night in November (I shan’t go into specifics) when fireworks are very much on the agenda.  With this in mind, I present a couple of the A/W offerings from David Koma – and proper firecrackers they are too…

David Koma one shoulder dress

 

David Koma zig-zag dress, £2780

Oh my!  These imaginative pieces completely re-work the common fashion motifs of stripes and monochrome; Koma has created something more akin to the land of cartoons and comic book strips.  You half expect to see a BAM! or POW! pouffing in a cloud of exclamation marks, just parallel to the shoulder. 

I am utterly enamoured by the crackle and energy these dresses give off.  There is something futuristically modern and yet fundamentally obvious about the designs, as if they have been brought to life, Penny Crayon style, by the power of a felt-tip marker.  Forget amulets, capes and thigh-high boots.   I’ve just found the perfect uniform for a modern day super-woman…

La-la-la-Lanvin!

Today is the day!  Thousands of fashion lovers all over the country have been poring, surreptitiously at work or unapologetically lolling on the sofa in a full-on fashion coma, over their computer screens, hearts-a-flutter, to admire and absorb the preview images of the forthcoming Lanvin for H & M collection.  And it is fair to say that very few of us have been disappointed.  Lanvin is a label built on craftsmanship and desire, and Elbaz specialises in imbuing killer dresses and accessories with a tantalising fairytale factor that no would-be princess could willingly pass up.

Regal, ruby-red ribbon choker

It’s a super-feminine, uber-covetable range of pretty pieces; beribboned, bejewelled and perfect for the party season, and full of Lanvin trademarks like romantic ruffles and stunning fabrics.  Think modern Marie Antoinette.  The sheer diversity of what is on offer is applaudable; everything from frocks to heels, jewellery, bags, coats and even menswear.  I highly recommend that you acquaint yourself with each and every lust-inducing item, so that come November 23rd, you can make an educated lunge for whatever takes your fancy most.  But here are my highlights, so steer clear!

Asymmetric acid-tone ruffle dress

 

Ruby gobstopper-stone earrings

 

Sheer ribbon blouse

 

Chain and flower-detail bag

 

Double-breasted satin coat

 

Pointed floral slippers edged with duck-egg bows

 

High-neck paper-chain-effect LBD

 

Ruched bow-detail skirt

 

Strappy floral tiered cocktail dress

 

Black leather ribbon-tie gloves

 

Bubblegum pink flounce dress

 

Tulle and ribbon tee

 

Lanvin faux fur jacket

 

Coral jewel-collared dress

 

Full-skirted tulle layer dress

OK, so the above wish-list isn’t so much select highlights as practically the whole collection! But I couldn’t resist showcasing all of these Lanvin lovelies: ladies, see you at the checkout!

Have a Hauntingly Beautiful Halloween…

The weekend of the 31st October is historically huge in my calendar.  I live to dress up, am a dab hand at pumpkin carving, and wear black lipstick all year round anyway, so the transition is really rather a seamless one.

Halloween 2007; bucking the trend to dress as a Christmas present

Halloween 2008, Disneyland Paris in leopard print

Halloween 2009; the Glorious Undead, complete with corpse bride side-kick

And so for Halloween 2010, I will again be resurrecting my blood-spattered finery, my cobwebs and lace.  To encourage you to do likewise, I have delved into the deepest of cauldrons in order to dredge up some outfit inspiration from the recent SS/11 shows.  It seems that fashion has finally fallen in love with Halloween…

One may be forgiven for assuming that the prevailing mood for all designers orchestrating a spring/summer collection would be breezy and bright; the colour palette light to reflect a young world emerging from the dark chrysalis of winter.  However, a sliver of darkness remains for spring, acting as a sober foil to all the acid hues and colour-pop pastels emerging for next season.  So embrace it early.  Think vamp and gothic heroine; plump for ghoulish draping and spiderweb lace.

Jean-Paul Gaultier SS/11

Halloween isn’t just about bats, you know.  Why not go left-field and channel that chilling bird of ill-omen, the raven?  Hoarse and spooky in Edgar Allen Poe’s ghost stories and Shakespeare’s macabre tale of witchcraft, Macbeth, even Karl Lagerfeld  appears to have obliquely referenced the bird in all its malign, black beddraglement.

Chanel SS/11

Pay attention to spiked hardware sharp enough to impale a vampire on, and don’t underestimate the dark machismo of leather as all-out body armour, teamed with a Wednesday Adams dark mop of hair and grim scowl…

Burberry Prorsum SS/11

Maison Martin Margiela, SS/11

Highlight your head.  Negate your sense of human self with a non-face, as seen in the otherworldly alienness of the models at Junya Watanabe, or opt for the cruellest of metal-work headpieces, à la Ann Demeulemeester.

Junya Watanabe, SS/11

Ann Demeulemeester, SS/11

There was a disturbing eerieness at work at Comme des Garcons, where the random shapelessness of bag-like draping was part Poe-raven, part gothic-scarecrow.

There is something unsettling about girl-twins, perhaps since The Shining, and Kawakubo’s conjoined pair are faintly horrifying, with their wispy black umbilica and the slight fascism of those regimentedly-stepping shoes.  A strange, almost atavistic nightmare is whispered at here, or some dark and twisted version of the tale of Tweedledee and Dum, and that monstrous crow…

Comme Des Garcons, SS/11

John Galliano sent his models out in Paris as strong sirens, with a blanched pallor, sunken cheekbones and vampish lips.  Some resembled haunted film noir heroines, and there is a gothic froideur to his billowing vision in navy and black.

John Galliano, SS/11

At the opposite end of the spectrum was a wraith shrouded in white; all colour drained, robe swirling like a banshee.  The gauzy veil, bizarrely bridal and funereal at once, recalls the flickering flames of Hades, or Dantesque fiery tongues…

Orange is huge for SS/11, with all sorts of shades from tangerine to coral to deepest cinnabar flaming down the runway.  Forget black for a moment and go trailblazingly bright, like Jil Sander or Prada, or imitate the more muted tones of pumpkin, and mingle with overlaid black lace to achieve the fantastic textural play as envisioned at Proenza Schouler.

Jil Sander SS/11

Proenza Schouler, SS/11

Off with her head!  Acephalous bodies at Hussein Chalayan were downright creepy, especially the ghostly apparition in white.  They called to mind spooks and zombies, and even the terror of the gallows…

Meadham Kirchoff played with the concepts of dressing up and delivered a witty critique of the costumes we choose for everyday, opting to steer away from certain trends (minimalism, monochrome) whilst taking others to parodic extremes (romantic, ladylike).  We were treated to gothic lolitas with Halloween hair, whilst a dramatic Victoriana gown of ash-grey semed to precisely encapsulate a ragged uniform of neglect and decay for some wraith-like Miss Havisham…

Meadham Kirchoff, SS11

Each and every model sported a crimson collar about the neck; I couldn’t help but think of the gruesome fashion for red ribbons, encircling female throats in post-Reign-of-Terror France, to mark the deep cut of the guillotine.

Of all contemporary designers, it is perhaps the house of Alexander McQueen that most delights in the symbolism of horror and the occult; the motif of the skull, for instance, has become synonymous with his legacy.  Yet this season, the debut of the label’s new creative director, Sarah Burton, marked something of a subtle sea-change.  Lee’s hallmarks endured; his immersion in fantasia and fairytale; but Burton’s focus was firmly upon our natural world, not some other realm beyond.

Alexander McQueen SS/11

This stark dress, managing to be both fluid and erectly static at once, resembled some choking Chinese creeper or poison-ivy.  Dramatic, beautiful, and the perfect inspiration for a Halloween ball.

If Hussein Chalayan has already showcased a ‘living dress’, is there, however, anything more spectacularly alive than this breathtaking creation?  The shifting, questing tendrils are like a cross between fern fronds and tentacles; the entire piece, with its various patterns and hues, reminds me of a sea-creature straight from the murky world of myth.  Alien rather than frightening, McQueen nevertheless encapsulates the true spirit of All Hallow’s Eve; transformation, otherness, and the whisper of communion with the unfamiliars that breathe and move and stalk, for one night only, on the other side of the veil…

Lanvin and lovely!

And so the countdown begins!  November, this year, will not only be the month of smoking bonfires; scorching hot designs from Alber Elbaz, fashion maestro, for high street monolith H & M, will be served up on November 23rd.  Tantalising previews are to be released on November 2nd, a mere two days after Halloween (and Lanvin seems to be channelling a spookish theme with its all-black palette, and a wraith-like model who rather resembles an aged Daphne Guinness by way of Karl Lagerfeld).

Whatever the inspiration, the collection is set to be fabulous, eclipsing even the grand and zany heights scaled by Viktor & Rolf for H & M in 2006.  The above preview promises a moody opulence, with racy hemlines, asymmetric necklines, and volume, texture and embellishment (glorious pearls!) in typical Lanvin abundance.

With one month to go, I’m seriously thinking of setting up a special savings account.  Apologies in advance to my nearest and dearest for the inevitable modesty of this year’s Christmas presents…

Autumn Jewels

 

Autumn is a season of texture and colour; myriad jewels are strewn underfoot in the form of crisp fallen leaves; burnished, veined and whorled in colours of deep cinnabar and persimmon, raw umber and a thousand other sinopian hues that crackle and smoulder on grainy pavements.  Collars are turned up and chilled hands thrust in pockets; the air becomes extraordinarily clarified; crystallised in peaty, acrid compounds of burning bonfire smoke.

It is a time of transition; change in the trees and in the skies, and yet of stillness; autumn evenings run into one another with a smooth sameness; every night sky the same velvety moleskine black, with only the mutations of the moon for diversity.

With this in mind, I present a selection of the season’s most covetable treasures.  Autumn accessories and key pieces are mirroring the hallmarks of the season; texture and colour in sumptuous variety everywhere you turn…

Alexander McQueen, £5612 at net-a-porter

Pre-empting the oriental trend seen all over the catwalks of Paris for S/S 11, this luxurious bell-flare coat, in deepest vermillion and gold, is reminiscient of the pomp and pageantry of religious tapestry.  The flowing shape is starkly dream-like, and despite the striped heraldry of the embellished tigers, you will feel like a phoenix rising from the ashes come Bonfire Night…

Chloé Aurore handbag, £1075

The buttery pecan plumpness of this Chloé bag is practically irresistible, and the boxy sturdiness, almost of a classic doctor’s bag, is irresistibly practical.  Perfect for swinging through the falling leaves.

Alaïa animal print ankle boots, £1085 at net-a-porter

Alaïa has triumphed this season with its range of delectable footwear, and these abstract ankle boots are elegant and edgy.  Amazing with well-cut black trousers and a glossy briefcase.

Kenneth Jay Lane cocktail ring

This gobstopper garnet coloured stone, clustered with satellite gems and surrounded by gunmetal grey is broody, moody and appropriately lavish.  Add a sultry swagger and vampish scarlet nails.

Jaeger silk blouse, £125

Jaeger’s silk blouse, with its delicate drapery, billowing sleeves and antique-off-white hue, is essential for a lazy, back-to-school feel.  Team with a streamlined skirt and patterned tights for a touch of girlish kitsch.

Kurt Geiger Fashionistas 'Broadway Market' wooden platform, £290

These statuesque wooden platforms with a clunky cone heel don’t exactly, to my mind, conjure up the grim, cobbled streets of Hackney.  They have rather a clever feel of Scandinavian design precision, or the cosmopolitan vibe of New York. Still, united with autumn’s corresponding caramel colours, they will work a treat.

Jaeger suede buckle bag, £250

There is something satisfyingly smart about the punchy mustard hue of this suede bag, and the smug symmetry of the double buckle is rather neat, too.

'Alexander the Great' McQueen scarf

This silk-blend scarf in patriotic colours, emblazoned poignantly with ‘Alexander the Great’, is the perfect way to celebrate the legacy of Lee McQueen.  A printed panegyric to pull on whenever you’re feeling bold.

Christian Louboutin leopard print clutch, £750

Louboutin have infused something sly and weapon-like into the concept of this globe clutch; despite the polished pattern and decorative flourish of the swaying tassels, it reminds me of a medieval flail or Olympic shotput.  Combine with a pair of Louboutin’s signature studded stilettos, with their warpaint slick of a blood-red sole, and you are dressed very much for battle.

Erdem 'Vittoria' silk dress, £1215

At first glance, this exquisite Erdem gown looks shrouded in the exoticism of far-off-lands.  But on closer inspection, it seems rather  a hymn to the romance of the more familiar flora and fauna; snatches of a curling leaf, insect’s wing or forest pool can be glimpsed through the prism of diamond patchwork panels.  An enchanted kaleiodoscopic creation of cerulean, Tyrian purple and flashes of bright peridot.  Majestic.

Alaïa calf hair platforms £1070 at net-a-porter

Eye-catching and bristling with textural cleverness, these quirky dot detail lace ups are a towering success.

Alexander Wang 'Sydney' velvet backpack, £700 at net-a-porter

I adore velvet. I’ve bought three vintage dresses in the past month, and they are all in this sumptuous fabric, perfect for late October Halloween goth and into the party season beyond.  Wang’s seductive, slouchy backpack is just the ticket to adorn a sleek and refined autumn silhouette.

Marni pyrite flower brooch, £165 at net-a-porter

Marni’s art deco inspired brooch, with its distictive tiger-moth spiralling in a warm burnt orange, will unite fabulously with a vintage hat and classic Kelly handbag.

Mary Katrantzou graphic print dress, £783

Mary Katrantzou is an absolute whizz when it comes to complex and hypnotic graphic patterns that will be wearable always.  This season’s show-stoppers are no different, and with elaborate detailing on front and back, and stunning trompe d’oeil jewels, you will feel like a walking work of art.

Chanel tote bag, £1398

The luxe finish on this light butterscotch bag by Chanel is a welcome respite from the classic black quilting.  The whispered translucence of the stitched interlocking C’s and the nonchalant toggle detail are pure Parisian class.

Alexander McQueen shearling boots, £950

The now-ubiquitous shearling trend is given a surprise boost by these coffee-coloured boots with a spiky, sculpted heel and amulet-shaped buckle detail.  But with a tidal wave of affordable high street parodies saturating the market, do these really look like a thousand pounds worth of autumn chic?

Lanvin crystal owl brooch, £950

This nocturnal nicknack in glinting pewter is a novel way to liven up both daytime uniform and instill instant evening glamour.  Charmingly crafted, the milky opalescence of its prismatic stone is just the right shade of winter moonlight.

Chloe polka-dot blouse, £595

Viktor & Rolf recently transformed a Paris catwalk into an homage to the shirt, parading a startling array of avant-garde interpretations of this most fundamental of wardrobe staples.  This, however, is classic Chloe, in speckled mushroom, with an already-attached ribbon-tie detail that would make five-second-dressing an absolute cinch.

Alexander Wang felt boots, £555

Wang posits these grey marl lace-ups with a sassy stack heel as a more feminine, formal alternative to this season’s androgynous desert boot.  Make the laces long and looping and pair with slight flares for a subtle nod to autumn’s love affair with the seventies.

Versace studded leather shoulder bag, £1380

The pearly sheen to the studded hardware on this neat shoulder bag softens an otherwise tough accessory.  Nimble and expertly proportioned, Versace’s 3D arm-candy will bridge the gap nicely between day and night.

Nina Peter patchwork gloves, £160

A deep shade of emperor purple give these gloves a regal air of utter sophistication.  Spherical studs and spidery etching strike a balance between old-school- lady-like and ultra contemporary.  Essential for all modern-day Audrey Hepburns!

Vionnet ruched silk dress, £2255

The deliquescent draping of this Vionnet dress, smokily resplendent in ivory, lead and grey, is intelligent and sensual.  The high-neck glances towards chaste Victoriana, whilst the drawn-in waist is an appreciative celebration of the female form.

Mulberry Alexa in quilted denim, £795

I was beginning to despair at the sheer volume of praise heaped upon this bag.  I still don’t get its iconic status – it’s just a rather ordinary satchel – but of all the Alexa’s incarnations, I think this one, with its flickering embers of ameythst, blackcurrant and magenta is both relevant and eye-catching for autumn.

Yves Saint Laurent 'Palais Mohawk' £640

If it’s texture you’re after, look no further than these super-fabulous (every superlative here is justified) mohawk suede stilettos.  Tight, short cocktail dress, minimal accessories, and best foot forward…

Yves Saint Laurent 'Fake Chic' bracelet, £1195

Autumn jewels indeed!  This triumph of interlocking, candy-coloured gemstones looks as if it belonged in the chicest sweet-shop on earth.  Mouth-watering colours that are perfect brighteners for these darkling nights…

Versus chiffon and velvet mini dress, £1605

This fiery seasonal show-stopper, burnishing like a bonfire’s flames, is conjured from fabrics so tactile that they should carry a warning.  Simply sumptuous.

Sportmax leather and raccoon-fur gloves, £238

Sportmax’s super-elegant aid to banishing the chill.  Very 1940’s fabulous.

Chloé over-the-knee boots, £865

Superbly slouchy and complete with nonchalant lace-up bow-detail, one would be equally at ease, in these Chloé boots, striding over chalky countryside turf and stomping along frost-glittered metropolitan sidewalks.  Genius.

Proenza Schouler paper-effect leather bag £440

Inspired by brown-paper lunch bags, no other arm-candy will quite tick the autumnal, back to school box as precisely as this Schouler satchel.  I adore the slight puckering and the perforated edge.  Just pop in a pair of gloves, a well-thumbed copy of your favourite novel and a shiny green apple, and you’re good to go!

Olivia Morris for Grenson, £275

 Grenson is a classic English shoe-makers with an illustrious heritage, and these brogues are the ideal seasonal shoe, in the glorious patent finish of glossy damson.  Pink liquorice laces add a certain jazziness to the affair.

Lanvin blouse top

There is something evangelical about this blouse.  The sheer simplicity is misleading, however; Lanvin don’t know the meaning of spartan, so expect a glorious, heavenly feel and fit courtesy of the saintly Elbaz.  The twisting sleeves give the garment a secret, shifting life of its own…

Ashish black silk maxi, £870

And for a match made in monochromatic heaven, pair the above with this shimmering silk skirt – and look ridiculously elegant whilst you’re at it.

Burberry Prorsum shearling peaked cap, £295

At the risk of all of us looking like shearling sheep, this cap offers a novel way of chipping on the now super-stellar aviator trend, from the brand that sparked all the madness in the first place…

Anglomania and Melissa, £90

Another sterling shoe collaboration, and just as quintessentially English at that.  These cheerful booties will make splashing through November puddles absolute child’s play…

Johann Earl colour block top, £35 at Urban Outfitters

How engagingly elementary is this tri-block tee?  Off-duty made super, super-easy…

Olympia Le Tan box clutch, £895

I doubt I shall come across anything as joy-inducing as this irresistible pair of clutches from now until Christmas Day.  Cute and kitsch, and crafted with flair and wit, I just want to tuck one under each arm, and run like the wind!

Lanvin honeymoon set, £415

There are weekends away, and then there are weekends away.  Lanvin is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment, and this honeymoon suitcase, brim-full of goodies, is just as good value as the H & M line, and that little bit more exclusive…

Dicha necklace, £675

A tear-drop explosion of clustering, clamouring amythest and opal-coloured beads.  Remove the scarf.  It’s what unadorned necks were made for…

Roksanda Iilinic 'Sunbird' silk-gazar dress, £1380

 No moody and muted autumnal tones here.  Not this time.  This exotic specimen has flown straight in from the shores of summer, but we’ll forgive it it’s dazzling hue, seeing as it is smashingly spectacular.  For peacocks rather than wallflowers, I think…

Dicha, £515

This stunning bauble evokes splendour and decadence , and vintage glamour, in a way that sums up ‘autumn jewels’ most fully, with ruby and pearl.

Erdem 'Angelica' dress

I couldn’t resist just one more Erdem dress, not least because this one is named after my sister.  Or so we pretend.  It’s as good an excuse as any to be included here.  That, and the stunning swallow print, that stirs in my mind the whirring fall-to-earth of swirling sycamore leaves…

So, merry folk of autumn; light your bonfires, straw your Guys, eat your fruit crumbles and read your Keats.  But don’t forget to dress for the occasion…