Fashion in a Frenzy

Collaborative collections between high street stores and high end fashion Designers are big business, giving consumers a chance to own designer styles at a fraction of the price. But with collections selling out in seconds and items reselling online for often triple the original price, who are the real winners in what seems like a sartorial game of sport?

The Vampire’s Wife, H&M, 2020

Global fashion chain H&M first kicked off its now legendary annual tie ups with big shot fashion designers back in 2004. The debut was a collection with the late Karl Lagerfeld. These partnerships result in big bucks and enormous exposure for the brands. It was game on from that point, having a hot hook up every year since with names including Comme Des Garcons, Lanvin, and Isabel Marant. Other high street stores were fast to join the game. Gap got Valentino into their gang, Uniqlo teamed up with J W Anderson, and Topshop joined forces with Mary Kantrantzou, Christopher Kane, and their most powerful pairing; Kate Moss. The structure of these sell out collections is a winning formula. Whispers gather speed, sneak peeks appear, and excitement swells alongside massive marketing. A slow paced anticipation, is followed by a sprint to the launch date. Alarms set, queues form outside the stores, fingers hover over keyboards, like waiting for a starting gun to release the race. Shoppers hoping to get their own piece of the collection which -at least for that week- everyone is talking about. This huge hype creates hysteria at the high street stores. They no doubt know that every item will be a sLaM DuNk seller.

Kate Moss, Topshop, 2010

The collaborative collections all tend to be small, with star player pieces which by the time they go on sale, I’m a little sick of the sight of. The ad campaigns relentlessly run on TV, billboards and magazines. On launch day social media is flooded with successful shoppers flaunting their wares, like winners of a competition. Show offs. Do they really love that Giambatista Valli H&M dress we’ve seen five thousaaaand times on Kendall Jenner in the campaign? Or are they more chuffed with the fact that they managed to actually get one? Like a gold medal for the most dedicated fashion fan.

Lanvin, H&M, 2010

I really do love some of the collections. The multiple ones Moss has done with Topshop all have some pieces which make my heart skip a beat. The latest H&M collaboration with -lust worthy dress maker of the moment- The Vampire’s Wife, has some absolute darling dresses, and a stand out cape like many of Moss’ collections. But I can’t help feeling that the beauty of them, and that of wearing them, is a little overshadowed by just how damn overexposed they all are in the media. If I see someone wearing an item from one of these collections, rather than admire their style and think they look lovely, I’m more likely to think that they heeded the hype and fought to get their fashion fix. Or that they paid a fiercely inflated price to buy it from a reseller. The power of promotion.

Karl Lagerfeld, H&M, 2004

As with much new fashion, inspiration is drawn from original vintage looks. The pieces I adore most from both Moss and The Vampire’s Wife’s collections have strong similarities to items I have sold over and over in their original form through my vintage shop. Does the limited edition nature of these high street collaborations make the dresses collectible? Possibly, in many years to come, they are very identifiable and made in restricted amounts. I will always value an original vintage dress more though. These high street collections are still after all, mass produced to some degree, not one of a kind. The resale market for these collections is a secondary business in itself. Within hours of the items being on sale in the stores, online selling sites such as eBay and Depop are full of them, often at triple the high street price tag. The demand is so high that the value increases the moment it leaves the shop. But how long does it hold its value? Once the frenzy fades, are people still willing to pay so much? Prices get hiked so high that the Valli H&M dresses were reselling online for more than a dress from Valli’s own ready to wear label! Wowzie.

Valentino, Gap, 2010

Are pieces from these collaborations iconic, or just over popularised? The more we see something, and get told that everyone wants it, the more we feel an urgency to get it, and fast. People buy any size they can grab, regardless of whether it fits, just to be involved. This feels like fast fashion played out in a literal sense. Create a craving, build up to the release, keep it limited, and it’s guaranteed to be a very fast money maker. It’s a game, but who is the player here? These collaborations are a whole heap of fun and create some really beautiful fashion. But if they made more runs of each item so they weren’t limited stock, would we all still so eagerly hand over our money just to score a goal?

Adoring Azzedine Alaia at the Design Museum

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Wrapped forms, sensual silhouettes, and sculptural structure were all right in front of my very eyes at the beautiful Azzedine Alaia The Couturier exhibition at London’s Design Museum. Layers of volume clashed cohesively next to dresses so tight they become a second skin, and my goodness, was each piece a wonderful work of art. I have long adored the designs of this Tunisian born couturier and made a promise to myself to hot-foot in to the big smoke to see this very special exhibition, one which Alaia helped curate just before his death last year. With work spanning from the 1970’s through to his final 2017 show, here was a lifetimes staging of his skills. The exhibition was a somewhat sombre but stunning display. A large low lit space, silent and calm, with minimal information so we could focus purely on the fashion. Sometimes when I go to exhibitions there is so much to read, so much mixed media, so many things battling for my eyeballs attention that I can feel panicky and overwhelmed as though I’ll never absorb it all in enough time. Here it was simple, and simply perfect. What better legacy for this talent to leave us with than his sheer brilliance of design.

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Azzedine Alaia The Couturier is on at The Design Museum until October 7th 2018

7 Ways To Rock Flats

A pair of heels can make you feel taller, sassier and more confident, I love wearing a heel, but we all know that wearing them too much isn’t good for our joints in the long run, bunions like Victoria Beckham anyone? Nope. Nope, thank you. It’s great to take a break from heels and summer is an especially great time to embrace the flat! They are way comfier, can make you feel ready for any adventure, and, can look super cute too, here’s some styles to choose from, which ones will you be rockin’?

Sneakers – Almost everyone has a pair of sneakers in their wardrobe even if its only for your active days when you pop to yoga or go for a run. Whilst they’re mainly a casual style of shoe, many people break the rules wearing these shoes on a night out with dresses, I adore the cutesy dress with tomboy trainers look. Paired with skinny jeans, a blazer and a fresh tee, they can even be worn to work as smart-casual. Try showing some ankle to accentuate your shoes and keep you sneakers looking sharp!

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Plimsolls – Plimsolls are a little more versatile than chunky sneakers, and I’m TOTALLY a Converse girl. You can match these with everything from dresses to suits for an ace laid-back look. You may draw the line at wearing them to a very formal events, but, I’ve teamed mine with a floor length 1930’s evening dress in the past, it’s elegant with a hint of playfulness. You can also customise laces and add DIY decoration like studs and sparkle.

Sandals – When it comes to summer footwear, sandals are up there at the top of the list. Whilst there’s plenty of heeled options, there are also amazing flat options like sliders and mules – this guide at https://www.harpersbazaar.com can show you some of the best on the market. Treat yourself to a pedicure before sandal season to keep them tootsies pretty, unless you’re thinking of wearing socks with those sandals!!

Espadrilles – Espadrilles offer more support than sandals whilst still keeping your feet cool and comfy in summer. There’s lots of designs incorporating canvas and wicker which are pretty much essential holiday footwear. Check out Chloe and Zara for some of the most stylish choices, and of course, there are plenty of imitations for those wanting to buy shoes on a shoestring budget.

Slippers – For casual lounging around, nothing beats a pair of slippers. You can even wear slippers out of the house thanks to weatherproof and felt designs as found at sites like https://www.glerups.com/. Fun slipper designs are also cool, like unicorns and geeky movie designs, the slipper game is STRONG right now.

Ballet flats – Ballet flats are suitable for any occasion and are just timeless, bringing a French chicness to your outfit. They make smart workwear and are great going-out shoes too. Sites like http://www.frenchsole.com/balletflats specialise in ballet flats and have a great range for getting inspiration on styles. 

Platforms – Platform flats, or ‘flatforms’ can help to give you the added height without putting a strain on your body. You’ll find platform variations on sandals, espadrilles and even plimsolls. Chunky wedge sneakers are also in, there’s so many to choose from.

Flats really rule the summer, go find your perfect pair!

 

 

 

Ya Gotta Love a Leiber Bag!


Last month, legendary maker of lovely bags, Judith Leiber, passed away at the grand age of 97. I absolutely adored her designs. She died in New York, at her home, just hours after her husband of 72 years also died; which is a strangely sweet situation. Budapest born Leiber began making bags after the second world war for the secretaries of the American Legation. and just over a decade after that she relocated to America and her company was born in 1963. Loved by the famous and the fashionable, Leiber’s quirky and covetable designs bring a big ole smile to ya face. ‘You have to have a sense of humour’ she once said, and her delightful delicacies – which include ice cream sundaes, over-sized bows and animals in outfits – proved that playfulness was paramount in her work. Over her career she made leather bags, shoulder bags, snakeskin bags and evening bags, with her iconic signature style being the miniature metal cocktail bags which were completely covered in rhinestones. These sparkling sturdy bags were developed by accident when Leiber once had a metal based bag which had a stain on it, so she covered the stain with crystals, and, ta-daaah, her biggest hit was born! These luxurious bags are all hiiighly collectible and are pretty darned pricey but, so, so delightful. Seen in the hands and on the arms of Bjork, Emily Blunt, Barbara Bush and our very own Queenie, its no wonder that examples of her designs are on display in museums around the world. A swan shaped encrusted bag was featured in an episode of Sex & The City – when Big gave it to Carrie in lieu of saying ‘I love you’ – and this pretty much cemented Leiber’s place in pop culture history. She leaves behind her a real legacy of loveliness.
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If you ever find yourself with the desire to spend some big bucks on a brilliant bag, you can see the selection here, or, browse vintage stores for her older designs, they will always be an ace investment.

Mon Dieu, Dior! An Impulsive Pop to Paris

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So, Paris is always a good idea, so the saying goes, and I kinda think it’s true, as I discovered when I impulsively popped to the very pretty city. Paris played host to what I can now confirm to have been a dreeeeam exhibition of Dior, and since it opened in July 2017 I had been properly pining to go. I wrote it off as too indulgent and costly, but, when I realised I had no plans for New Years Eve, and that the exhibition ended in early January of 2018, well, the pangs for Dior proved to pull me towards booking a solo trip. A treat for myself after a very tough year. ‘Couturier De Reve’ (dressmaker of dreams) was an exhibition I just couldn’t miss. I imagined being an old lady and saying ‘I nearly went to Paris to see that amazing Dior exhibition, but didn’t go in the end’, and that thought made me sad, so I booked a seat on Eurostar, and went.

Pop! Paris was calling.

It did cost me money, and it did feel feel indulgent, but it did make me very happy and I’m so bloody glad I went. Dior did not disappoint, not one teeny bit. Paris itself was wonderful, an exciting and elegant city, and travelling alone was just what I needed, (more on the city and travelling solo in my next posts) but Dior, damn, it was divine. Celebrating 70 years since The House of Dior was created, it was an exhibition of epic proportions. I’d arrived late one afternoon so wandered down to The Musee Des Arts Decoratifs so that I knew where I’d have to get to the next morning, and what the queuing set up was like. Getting there from my hotel was straightforward as the Metro was real easy to navigate, and even though the museum was due to close in an hour the queue was still wiggling a long way down the street. Gah, I’d have to pitch up real early in the morning to ensure I got in on my only full day in Paris. So I got there bright and breezy with a croissant in my tummy on the morning of New Years eve, and the queue was pretty short. Phewf! I stood and chatted in line with a lady from Stockholm and we got in as soon as the doors opened. I kinda knew I’d be flabbergasted by it all, my tummy was all of a fizz with excitement. It totally blew me away. Like a combination of all the best bits of any fashion exhibitions I’ve seen in my life, this was simply spectacular. I’m a girl in love with dresses, and this Dior show was dress paradise. It was insightful, educational, expertly curated and so, so beautiful. There were loads of rooms, each completely different to the next, and it covered Dior himself and his design beginnings and went on to showcase the work of all the designers at the helm of this house up until now. It was an absolute heck load of lovely. And, as a vintage dealer who has often referenced his iconic New Look outfit -which defined a decade of dressing- to see that in up close was pretty fluppin’ brilliant. It was busy, but calm, all of us in awe of what our eyeballs were seeing. The final room of course had been instagrammed to the heavens and I was most excited to get in there for real. It was like a fashion finale with everyone in there like, literally gasping at the utterly magical feeling it created. Sparkling lights like stars moving around the high painted ceilings of this grand space, music kissing our ears, and dresses, showstopping dresses which I’ve only ever seen in fashion history books, right there in front of my own face. I don’t think I’ve ever been this immersed or amazed by an exhibition before, absolute perfection. Dior sure made my dreams come true in Paris that day.

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