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…



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!

A Bit of Fry and Laurie

On countless occasions and at various junctures; those pregnant pauses during polite life’s social interactions when people grasp for something to say, the question of the fantasy dinner party is often resurrected, like some old and dependable friend.

I vacillate shamelessly on the subject.  My answers depend entirely on my mood, my outfit, number of alcoholic units imbibed, and my present audience and how I’d like them to appraise me.  There are, indubitably, a few non-movers; certain characters I feel to be lurking most constantly in the shadows of my subconscious.  Their exploits, secret selves and very essences have fascinated me so fully that their placemats at that fantasy dinner party are etched in inerasable ink.  The Queen, Lewis Carroll, and Tintin fall into this category. 

And then there are my obsessions du jour, the personalities and personas that have absorbed my attention most often that week.  And so, if you asked me now, or perhaps tonight, at some dinner, I’d only need to swirl my drink twice, and barely look pensive, before answering with uncharacteristic expediency: ‘Fry and Laurie.  No other guests allowed.’

Fry and Laurie: double act of dreams.  Separately and together, they’ve long been the focus of a certain furtive idolatry.  Stephen Fry came first.  Simply, cannily, he was in right place at the right time.

At the height of my Oscar Wilde fixation, he nailed the aphorisms of the great man himself, and flirted onscreen rather impishly with Jude Law.  Fry recorded bewitching podcasts of the most magical of Wilde’s children’s stories, lending his perfectly-pitched intonation, and just the right amount of grave poignancy, to The Selfish Giant

When I was dead-eyed and sick-hearted with revision and the accompanying terrors and doubts of university finals, I could slink downstairs on Friday evenings, pale from lack of sunlight and speaking in Shakespearian tongues, and gain a half-hour’s happy respite, transported briefly by QI, and bolstered and refreshed anew by Stephen’s wit, wisdom, and the fact that an early failed education didn’t do him the least bit of harm. 

An Alice in Wonderland fanatic, the only redeeming quality I could find in Tim Burton’s Hollywood hack-job was the cheering fact that Fry had played the Cheshire Cat (with creepy aplomb).  Stephen has endeared himself in variegated and astonishing ways: by donning false breasts in Blackadder; embarking on a road trip of Odyssean valour and stamina through America in a British black cab; finding time even to narrate the audio version of Harry Potter…

Like many millions of the global populace, my affection for Fry has been crucially and dramatically accelerated through his prolific Twittering.  His Tweets, revealing him to be exceptionally big-hearted, down-to-earth and hilariously fond of naughty words, have only strengthened my fast-glowing approbation.

And now to Laurie.  Though magnificent in Blackadder, Sense and Sensibility, and, er, 101 Dalmatians (this the previous full sum of my familiarity), he wasn’t even on my radar – and I suspect those of thousands of others – until the multi-accoladed House.  It is a gob-smackingly brilliant show, and Laurie as Dr Gregory House is its undoubted star and charismatic lodestone: part-aloof-masterminded Sherlock Holmes, part-brooding-Byronic-hero.  House’s acerbic, ego-puncturing one-liners are comedy-manna, his eccentricities legitimate cause for frame-by-frame analysis, and the enduring bromance with fellow doctor James Wilson the stuff of pop-culture legend.

My sister and I follow it obsessively, to the point of buying each other ‘It’s not lupus’ bookmarks and gobbling up box sets in near-single sittings.  We howl, we weep, we run the risk of bedsores, and most importantly, we engage in Laurie-mania, which mostly entails YouTubing his interviews, band performances, and fan collages, in the early hours of the morning.  There have been fierce debates over the precise shade of blue of his eyes: cerulean or cornflower?

Together, the charisma and charm of Fry and Laurie is ineluctable. This iconic duo rivals the hallowed pairings of Holmes and Watson, Jules and Jim, Barney and Fred, Dee and Dum.  Their placemats are carved in flowing script on the dining table of my dreams, and linger there, riding the cruel merry-go-round that is the hypothetical dinner-party.  At the mercy of a tossing tempest, a war of whims, the ebb and flow of desire.  So until next week, surely?


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…


Not So Unique At Uniqlo


After the merry-go-round of the past month’s fashion shows, with all their colour and noise, brilliance and bravado, it is customary to retreat with some relief to the relative normalcy of the high street, and to crave simplicity in quiet tailoring and seasonal staples.  Uniqlo is one such haven: a calm, ordered arena of basics and fail-safes, well-made and affordable.

The latest Jil Sander for Uniqlo collection, Uniqlo+J, which launches today, is the sort of high street/designer collaboration that sets the pulses of fashion editors, style journalists and general clothes-horses everywhere racing emphatically upwards.  Megastores such as Topshop, H & M and Gap are famed for their partnerships with elite fashion houses, and these limited edition collections are the subject of feverish countdowns, wild internet rumour, and tend to sell out in just a few short hours.

 The most recent installment of Uniqlo+J is bound up in the same sort of fanfare, but does it deliver?  Collectively, the clothes comprise a mood-board of the moment; a lesson in minimalism, they are understated in shape, in muted tones, referencing the season’s love affair with colour-blocking, utility wear and, um, beige.

Sander presents us with utilitarian workwear, in honest, no-nonsense colours and fabrics.  However, far from suggesting itself as a modern and clever uniform for daytime, as seen recently at Chloe and Celine, Uniqlo’s latest offering is surely too drab, sparse and insipid to constitute anyone’s wardrobe of choice?

These are pared-down basics; stern, unremittingly stripped-back, and eye-wateringly dull.  Super-sensible tweed and wool skirts are paired with an uninspiring parade of plainness; cable knits, coats and cardigans.  Woollen accessories are functional rather than directional, and generally come in a blurry ‘whatever’ shade of dire monochrome.  The colour palette of nudes, navy and grey is muddy, lacking the clarity and warmth of autumnal ochre, caramel and toffee, seen elsewhere all over the high street.

 There are so many boatnecks and funnel necks one would almost think there were some sort of steamship theme going on.  Alas, there is nothing ‘full steam ahead’ about this collection.  It resembles instead a shapeless mass slowly drifting into a drab horizon, blending indifferently with a slate-grey sea.  That, or a sinking ship…

This navy blazer, fluid and expressive in shape, is one of the few saving graces in an otherwise graceless tide of overwhelming mediocrity.

Sartorially, Uniqlo+J is a far cry from another collection that launched this week, Burberry’s ‘Winter Storm’ for A/W 10.  Lean, mean and much more magnetic, it hinges upon pieces of complex texture and craftsmanship, from plush quilted biker jackets to a thoroughly modern update of the classic and quintessential trench, in a shimmering oil-slick of patent black.

It is with a giddier impatience than ever that I look forward to November, for the grand unveiling of the stratospherically exciting Lanvin collection for H & M.  Here’s hoping for drama and theatrics, velvet and luxe satins, exquisite, deep-throated jewel tones and gorgeous embellishment courtesy of the great Alber Elbaz.  Just keep it as far removed as possible from the current Uniqlo collection, and I’ll be over the moon…


Leopard Lust

Alexander McQueen Leopard Print Goat Jacket

 Despite the fact that my love for Alexander McQueen waxes sempiternal, I have yet to own anything from the legendary label.  This spectacularly glorious coat would redress the balance nicely.  An investment piece to treasure, I adore the luxe draping which manages (and I never thought this could be achieved) to bring a fresh, artisan perspective to the ubiquitous leopard-print.

A sumptous slice of old school glamour: yours to the tune of £6,195.  I think this one temptation that will have to remain just that…


Joy To The World! Calling all underdogs…

I really really want Joy to win this year’s Britain’s Next Top Model.  It’s been the first series I’ve followed in a long time, largely due to the new judges (Lisa Snowdon infuriated me in a million ineffable ways).  Elle McPherson is alien perfection on a long bronzed stick, and I love Grace Woodward.  I love her work, her wardrobe, and her deep, throaty big-sister-meets-bespectacled-fairy-godmother-voice, and the bizarre and brilliant catchphrases it issues forth.

Julien McDonald is cunningly cast as the villain; shinily grotesque,  lisping  in satin shades of magenta and puce, and nobody can really bear to look at him.

The competition is traditionally a farce; none of the girls selected are really model models, just pretty girls with bitchy put-downs riding the hamster-wheel of reality television.  The prizes leave something to be desired.  Yes, Company is a magazine, and yes it is printed on glossy pages, but it’s not exactly Vogue Nippon or i-D.  It’s fashion for the mumsy masses.

Anyway, I’ve cast down my cards and displayed my colours:  Joy to win!  She’s the blatant underdog of the competition: the shock transformation, chrysalis-like, from ugly duckling to gamine swan.  The judges well up with pride every time they look at her lately, as if she’s some sort of geeky fashion offspring that has newly discovered net-a-porter (which she kind of is). 

We are supposed to warm to her; the shy gawky outsider with the hunched shoulders, spiky teeth and a gravelly voice that belongs to someone’s emphysemic Yorkshire grandma.  Indeed, I love her for all these reasons.  I think she’s hilarious, adorable and ethereally stunning.  But something’s wrong, because everyone else I’ve spoken to HATES her.  With vim and vitriol and Miltonesque avenging fury.

The Amazonian Alisha, with her impossible body and brash, garrulous camera-manner, is the out-and-out favourite.  No one really bothers to pass comment on Tiff, because they can’t understand her when she talks, and her roots need doing and no one’s had the decency to tell her.

The favourite, Alisha

But Joy!  Never has someone so beautiful been so hated, presumably not since Helen of Troy, or the spawn-of-succubi Angelina.  I like her so much I almost don’t want her to win, so she can pass up on the commercial contracts and get stuck into something more high-end and edgy.  But I’ll be rooting for her, and her weird Gollum-gremlin brand of beauty, to triumph all the same.