Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trend : Fieldtrip

 Spring is finally here, if not in your country, at least, it is in the shops. Flowers are invading all the departments, and not only in the garden center. Flower prints everywhere, the worst nightmare of persons who hate them, persons like me. I like flowers, but in their natural environment, nature. And very a propos, what makes me smile the most is the main theme of Spring/Summer 2011. The beach is out, exotic countries too. No, from upscale magazines to the most posh brands, the trendy place to be seems to be ... countryside. No cows, no haystack, but it is nearly here. The Chanel's campaign picnics in an orchard, in those of John Lewis, it's teatime in a gazebo and many others choosed a vegetal background. This Spring, we will all move from cities to the pastures ...
Dress Rodarte Fall 2011 ( - shoes Alexander McQueen Spring 2011 ( ) - cuff Aurélie Biedermann 375 euros - earrings Honorine Jewels 780 euros
Other brands and designers went further in the "Back to the Garden"'s theme. The D&G woman looks like a real countrygirl and even the very elegant Valentino launched a limited collection called "Garden Party". The clothes of that line have got a very romantic print which reminds watercolours. For the accessories, straw is the key material ( real or imitation ) : bags and especially hats, such as Stetson's. The fields are an unlimited source of inspiration, as wheat is honoured by many designers : Alexander McQueen by Sarah Burton of course, but also in jewellery and in the Fall collection of Rodarte, the brand which turns up.
T-shirt Lila Hudson at Pixie Market $137 - eye shadow Shu Uemura £16 - bag Valentino 980 euros - necklace Marion Godart 45 euros - headband Topshop £4
Why this sudden attraction for the countryside ? Is it a reference to the Original Garden, the garden of Eden ? Is it a wish of fertility after crisis times ? Or, modeled after those celebrities, actresses, designers and models such as Natalie Portman, Cameron Diaz, Gisele Bundchen and Stella McCartney, who proclaim their "green attitude" ? At all events, green is the new black. In many catwalks, models were wearing grass-green eye shadow ( Dior, Loewe, Alberta Ferretti ). Flowers are the It accessories, as headbands or necklaces, but also fruits and various plants such as clover.
Red dress Carolina Herrera Spring 2011 ( - dress Simeon Farrar £210 - ring Topshop £12,50
Last year, Miu Miu was the first to use the swallow as a print. Now, the iconic bird of Spring is everywhere, even in my garden ( those 5 cute little fellows in the picture above were photographed by me )and soon, all the animals of the contryside would be well reprensented too. But I will raise objections against cows. I HATE cows, so please, don't put them everywhere.
All those clothes, accessories and pictures are tempting us, and at Vogue ParisEmmanuelle Alt and her team have realized our dreams of liberty and nature with their photoshot with Gisele, in pure white on a country road ... So, like Joni Mitchell, let's go down to Yasgur's Farm, join a rock'n'roll band, camp out on the land and set our soul free ...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spotlight : Jan Welters and the Pop Motion

Stiletto Magazine
 It's been a while since I've last posted about fashion photography. The reason was simple : I didn't find something catchy enough to be noticed here. The pictures I saw of the Spring season were all the same, with odd postures, tousled models and a remarkable lack of originality, even of beauty. I was quite deceived until I saw the cover of French magazine Stiletto. At least something vivid, something simple yet effective with a great work on the trendy colours of the season and an elegant posture. The serie of pictures inside is of the same quality. The model is emphasized, the clothes too, which is clearly the main goal of fashion photography, but also, the result is beautiful. The artist behind this is Dutch photographer Jan Welters.
 Jan Welters is not very famous yet, but he already worked with many great names, including Vogue, Elle, Jil Sander, Eres, Mango and many trendy French brands, such as IKKS and Zadig&Voltaire. His recipe is quite simple : a fusion between delicate contrasting colours and a mastered rotation of the chest and limbs. Nothing agressive, nor fiendish, but the magic works.
 Now based in Paris, the photographer seems to favour colour, something I appreciate, even if I like his black and white pictures too. These remind me of the work of photographer Marc Philbert and director Ruth Hogben.
Cheryl Cole - Marion Cotillard
Already impressive, the portfolio of Jan prides itself on the presence of many international celebrities, from singer Cheryl Cole to actresses Marion Cotillard ( when she was still decent ), Tilda Swinton and many models, such as Natalia Vodianova.
Admittedly, this is not as exciting as the provocations of a David Lachapelle or the power of a Nick Knight, but we need to encourage this type of photography, first to see what these young talents have in their guts, and secondly because fashion needs quality, and not just fair or even dirty illustrations. Yes, I like boldness, punk and wildness. But I also think that cleanliness and simplicity are still the best tools to promote clothes.
all images copyright Jan Welters, all rights reserved.

A quick article, because I'm working for mags. You have to be a bit patient, but I am still on the fashion front for you, faithful readers ! :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fashion : Haider Ackermann, the Man with the Gift

Fall 2011 (©
When the magazines started to talk about Haider Ackermann, I was quite divided. At the same time, I was touched by his Arthur Rimbaud's attitude, the traveller who collected silhouettes and who refused to be captured in a box, but as I am perfectly stubborn, I refused to be mainstream and like what I was told to. So, I carried on observing Haider's work without making up my mind. One day, while I was leafing through an issue of magazine Numero, I saw a picture with various objects put on a box. Among them were small reproductions of one of my favourite painting, Noblemen with his Hand on his Chest, by painter El Greco. The box was Haider's. And there, the penny dropped. 

 All those fluid drapes, those vivid colours, all the soft clothes with their exquisite motion on the catwalk, during his Spring Summer 2011 collection ... I saw the likeness with the long white silhouettes of El Greco, dressed with free tunics of colours. It touches me more than the notes of the magazines, talking of women witnessed during his childhood in Africa. I mean, every designer can tell a story to the Press. Now, I was really appreciating Haider Ackermann as the poet he really was. Yes, he was one of the first to jump on the wagon of bright colours, I even quoted him in my article "Vitamin Your Style". But there is something more delicate in the way he treated it : his blue, for example, used with black, is shrewd. He is the only one, with Gareth Pugh ( in his Fall collection ), to have celebrate my favourite colour that well.
 Now, I understand perfectly the fusional relationship, even couple relationship, he keeps going with the Queen of Elves, the Sorceress of Fashion, Tilda Swinton. She perfectly embodies his style, much more than Janet Jackson who is clearly only swearing by his designs because he is now trendy. I am not saying that you need to be thin and androgynous to wear his clothes, but I feel they are more spiritual than most of the clothes selling nowadays. Perhaps because Ackermann's collections remind us of Asia, this mysterious ancient Japan with samurais and geishas and this magic India with old gurus.
 The Industry and Press also seem to be careful with this rising star, but not for the same reason as I was. They acclaim him; Karl Lagerfeld for example give him his special blessing and you know how the German designer is calling the shots. But when Haider's name is murmured for covering John Galliano at Dior, they say that he is too "young", too "inexperienced". Really ? Did they see his Fall 2011 collection ? If it's not mastering, I don't know what it is. It is even too "Diorian" for a Ackermann's show, as if he was sending the French House of Couture a visual résumé ... The silhouettes of the Ackermann's woman, indeed, assert themselves, perhaps gentrified a little too much. But just a little. There is still wildness here.
Fall 2011 (©
 Only time will allow us to appreciate the numerous facets of this intriguing designer, but what is certain is that he is in control. No faux-pas until now, but a solid personality. Could he take on the responsability of Dior or any other famous line, besides his ? Is he too independant, or able to play with the messages ? These are now the questions concerning Haider Ackermann. The question of his legitimacy is already forgotten : it is now obvious that the Colombian designer, based in Belgium, is part of the Grands, and a name which is intimately bind with the future.
(©Scott Schuman)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

IFB's Links a la Mode

It's a bloggy-blog world....
Edited by Jessie Thorpe of Denimology
Hi all! I'm Jessie from Denimology and I am happy to be one of IFB's new Links à la Mode editors! In the last couple of years, bloggers are being heard far and wide and across the globe. I am happy to be sharing the locations around the interwebs that interest little ol' me with all of you. Included in this weeks links: how to fake that you've gotten enough sleep to Gilt's Disaster Relief Fund and a first hand account of Target's Go International dress collection launch. Get to clicking and show your fellow blogger's some lovin'.

Links à la Mode: March 17th

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fashion : Occult Audacity

Vogue Paris (
Obviously, this year is very spiritual. I introduced it with an humorous article on Astrology, End of the World and Christopher Kane, and went on with a guide of trendy protections ( Shopping : Paranormal Activity ). But things reached a higher level with the launch of Marios Schwab Spring Summer collection : the London-based young designer adorned his clothes and accessories with occult symbols. Pentacles, Horus eyes, triangles, Freemasons compass, etc. The whole collection plays with the vintage esoteric drawings with a very surprising result. Bold or too risqué ?   
Marios Schwab S/S 2011 (
Indeed, those symbols are not senseless ones. Some of them are sharing very strong meanings, which still scare some people. Things related to Freemasonry are not always well-perceived and each times the order's symbols are used, or thought to have been used, it causes an avalanche of reactions on internet. Artists using the triangle symbol for example, such as Rihanna, Jay-Z and Lady Gaga, have been accused of being freemasons. I won't launch into a decoding of this, because it would certainly cause a fierce debate and I'm not interested on doing this because conspiracies and such things bore me.
Francisco Goya - Flying witches
I'm not into black magic or occultism, but I have to admit that mysterious imagery entertains and attracts me. I am found of those old engraving of Baldung Grien showing witches, by the paintings of Goya illustrating witching hours, all the illustrations of those old books of ancient medecine and modern fantasy art. For example, I am really found of Emily the Strange's sibylline world. So, Schwab's clothes seduce me, but at the same time, I think it is perhaps too provocative. I would not go out with them, except discreet accessories such as the purse and shoes. It is not that I'm scared by their meaning; not at all. But I don't want to run in my aunt's path, you know the one who thinks that aliens exist and who talks with spirits. I don't believe in those things, so it would be inapropriate to show off with those symbols.
Marios Schwab shoes (
What I would definitely wear are prints inspired by those symbols. Not mocking them : just paying tribute to the aesthetics. I picked two examples for you. First is a very cute dress of the Emily the Strange's clothing line, which reminds this interesting top from Marios Schwab's collection. Then, there are those crazy-fun-amazing thighs by Rodarte for Opening Ceremony which creates the effect of tatoos, without the pain and permanency, and have enigmatic vintage symbols on them. Great ways to be edgy without being too much provocative. And I guess, also less expensive ...
Emily the Strange 37,99 euros - Marios Schwab (
Rodarte for Opening Ceremony $110,00
Special message : I won't advice you to buy Lady Gaga's prayer bracelets, but if you could have a strong and empathic thought for the people of Japan who are enduring something really close to the end of the world right now, and who don't find it funny at all, that would be a great thing. I hope things will be alright for them and I wish them good luck.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spotlight : (Not so desperate) Business Wives

These days, the 7th art is really disappointing : I didn't see Black Swan because I don't like those kind of movies which are so stressful you exit the auditorium with an uncontrollable need of chocolate, sweets and teddy bears to comfort you after this dreadful experience. I don't want sordid plots where the woman is led to madness and angst, I want to watch something to make me feel good, to entertain me with a strong heroine who has got the sense of humour, and who win over her difficulties. And in movies and literature, these days, it is quite impossible to find that ( at least in the examples I've seen lately ). So, I've turned myself toward what seems to become a shoot of the Cinema's tree : TV series. No more telenovelas, now series are treated like real movies, with renowned directors and actors, and brilliant plots. Everyone talked a lot about Boardwalk Empire, a bit less about a serie I consider one of the best I've ever seen so far : The Good Wife. The plot itself isn't very exciting : the wife of a politician, charged with corruption and sexual affairs with prostitutes, is forced to come back into the cruel world of work, in a lawyers office. But the writers are clever and the directing staff efficient, as the episodes are all dynamic with interesting subjects, with excellent wits, intense acting and crafty humour. For the persons who hated the judicial series ( it was the case for me ), you will forget your a priori.
Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife ( not the best examples but internet is a bit poor in series pictures )
If the character of Alicia ( played by Julianna Margulies, former E.R. star ) is a bit fragile and dominated by her husband and her situation in the beginning on the season one, she finally wins her independance thanks to the company of women who already have to show their guts in this world of men. Talking of fashion, Alicia is suscribed to high collars and strict suits, but the wardrobe assistant emphasizes her character with a lot of stretch dark red and blue. The red means at the same times that she is looking for her independance, at the same time in her career, her family life and sexuality, but also that she is still stained by the sin of her husband.
A character in a subdued style who fight her habit to give in toward men, played with nuances by Julianna Margulies, but who, more than anything, is a foil for secondary feminine characters.
Left : Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart
Alicia is a little thing compared to the female associate of the office, flamboyant Diane Lockhart, a woman with claws and mischievous eyes and lines. If we can regret the Botox, Christine Baranski offers us a show of elegant outfits and sexy dresses which proves that women over 40 can look great without playing the lolitas. It is also good to see the discreet complicity of the two women, very welcome after the creepy relationship between Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) and Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) in the anxiogenic Damages. I was in love with the wardrobe of Ellen, and Patty looked stunning, but the serie was really too disturbing. The outfits of Damages should be injected in The Good Wife, for the pleasure of our eyes and for this poor Alicia.
Rose Byrne and Glenn Close in Damages
But the most interesting female character is definitely those of Kalinda ( played by Brit Archie Penjabi ) an admirable young private who knows how to manipulate men with a lot of cunning, style and humour. If her make-up is a bit too outré and her hairdo too strict, her outfits are always great, with a lot of leather, mini skirts and nice colours, such as her purple coat ( not pictured ). It is great to see an actress, from what Holywood calls a "minority", being offered such an enhancive role. Archie is definitely the revelation of The Good Wife and I hope that Hollywood would learn the lesson.
Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma in The Good Wife
I was not excited that much by the wardrobes of heroines of trendy series such as Sex and the City or Ugly Betty. The outfits used in the world of Fashion are sometimes very excessive and are not in phase with the real lives of real women ( with normal morphologies ! ). So, I am much more touched by the series which show working girls. We can put ourselves in their skins, and more importantly, in their clothes. Because few are the women who can wear Alexander McQueen or Dior in real life. You have to be a bit wiser and to admit that we, normal women, have to wear clothes suited to our lives. But of course, we want to be elegant and beautiful in each aspect of them. I suggest that we stop dreaming about the fashionistas of Gossip Girl, with their unlimited budget, and that we start admiring true role models with true wardrobes. You can dress soberly, even with some gorgeous pieces, as Kelli Williams, who plays the psychologist Dr Gillian Foster in Lie to Me, proves it perfectly ...
Kelli Williams in Lie to Me
Yes, the magazines show us great styles, and we can dream to own extravagant luxury goods, but a superheroine usually wears something that fit the work she has to do. A leotard to save the world, a Marchesa dress to walk the carpet at the Oscars, and office dresses to go to work and take the public transportation ... Frustrated, unsatisfied, rebellious ? If you want to change your wardrobe, then change your life. Too hard ? Then, there is only one option : being magnificent in a suit ... I'm sure you can ! And after an hard day at work, if you are tired of trying to be perfect, just collapse in your sofa and watch The Good Wife ...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Decoding : "Talonted" !

All Saints (£155 and £175)

In the past, we used to do the curtsey : this exercise was first a social sign for respect, but also a good way to show your grace and excellent deportment. Now, it is obsolete, and quite regrettable and not only for the daily gymnastics it forced you to do, but because it would be a quite convenient way to admire our peers' shoes. Indeed, shoes are now a powerful part of an outfit, and customers are getting more and more daring with what they choose. But, face it, it is a pity to wear extravagant shoes because you're incuring the risk of them being ignored. Except if we reintroduce curstey ... And then, your fruity Charlotte Olympia would never been missed again ! But when it comes to the heel, this smart idea is finding its limits.
Jeffrey Campbell (I Don't Like Mondays, out of stock) - Alexander McQueen (price on demand)
In French, le talon. Hence the title, a pun with "talented". The heel is designers' new whim for some seasons. The most famous examples are of course the creations of Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, but slowly, the heel is starting to become one of the most important part of an outfit. Is it a new "Follow me, young man" ? Or just a fantasy that doesn't really survive the transfer from the catwalks to the streets ? Why spending so much work and attention in a part which is not clearly visible ? That sounds like an excessive luxury. But heels have been a strong symbol of feminity for ages. Stilettos are a weapon of sensuality. It is very simple : a sexy curve and a sense of power, due to the threat of the point. So, sculpted, finely-worked heels have got a meaning too. They are all extremely solid, even monolithic. If stilettos were associated with knives, those remind of guns grips ! But they are pacific, and their message seems to be "Art not War" ! 
Rodarte ( - Meadham Kirchhof (Stylerookie)

The heel is a new way to express the talent of a designer. They can do what they want with it, treating it like a real medium for their artistic sense. Scuplted in wood or metal, it can be minimalistic, such as a contemporary sculpture. Some prefers it more baroque, and imitates the stucco of the architecture Grand Siècle. With gold, it turns luxuous, with sequins, it gets pop. Ralph Lauren prefered silver, Christian Dior worked it in the way of a Art Déco glass-blower. Everything is possible. But is Art the only meaning of those complicated heels ? It is also a statement, a way to show your uniqueness in a world of mainstream culture and production at grand-scale. Yes, women still want to be sexy. But they also want to be remarkable.
As for me, you know I'm not a great defender of heels, but I appreciate the effort, as a strong supporter of art. But I still can't picture myself perched on those things.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Trend : Vitamin your Style

Gucci S/S 2011 ad
My active readers would think that I am wittering on because I've already made articles on that subject ( see Rainbow Warriors and another one, "I am a Giant Bubble Gum"). But Saturday evening, while I was at Somerset House for Vodafone London Fashion Weekend, I was particularly stricken by the violent revival of colours, and how people had the audace of wearing outfits mixing them. Of course, it was specially visible on the collections of the present designers ( here, allow me to heart Mark Fast ) but it was really remarkable on the women around me. The days before, I was in France, and here, everyone is clad in black. A street in Paris looks like the painting of Emile Friant "All Saints'Day" and photographers are forced to change their adjustements if they want to add contrast to their work. Depressing. Parisians, and French people in general, need an urgent extreme make-over, because their neighbours of Great Britain are already in Springtime.
Kurt Geiger S/S 2011 ad
 In Kensington, the cherry trees are in bloom, as well as the store windows. Those of Bond Street are as vitamined as the stalls of a greengrocers, and let me tell you IT FEELS GOOD ! I love black, grey and white, but it's time to show we are alive, not bereaved. The summer campaign of Dolce & Gabbana, for example, with its Italian mammas makes me feel black, I mean, blue ... Throw your black lace, it is time for a come-back of joy, that excitement they had in the 20s, 30s, 60s and 70s. Listen to the music back then : that was joyful ! I feel this spirit when I see the clothes of Gucci's S/S collection. Their colours are amazing and wake up the pages of every magazine ( except Katy Perry in the cover of Elle, I don't know why but she succeeded in fading the clothes she's wearing ... ).
 And the Italian brand is not the only one to rock the accumulation of colours. The catwalks were full of them. I won't repeat my previous articles, but for the new readers, let's quote Jil Sander. The advertisements are also more funky, and not only because the smiles are back ( Sportmax, Kurt Geiger, Versace ) and on the catwalks, the actresses have launched a real battle between colour blocks and nude. For the Oscars, my votes go to Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Lawrence. And it's the easiest trend to follow : you can easily buy great pieces at low prices, as a very simple tee with a catchy colour will make the best effect on every outfit. Brands such as Topshop, Jaeger and Wallis are offering a wide choice of bright-coloured basics.
Hairstyling at Meadham Kirchoff S/S 2011 show ( copyright unknown )
 And on the side of beauty, colours are also omnipresent : be bold with your make-up, but also with your hair. You can dare the splash of colour a la Altuzarra or the total glam rock hairdo inspired by Meadham Kirchoff.
A special mention for the trend of the fruits prints : a more direct way to claim your dose of vitamins ! I who generally avoid prints, I am seduced by the oranges, the bananas and the citrus of Stella McCartney, Prada and Moschino Cheap and Chic. Fashion is, this season, the only place where you can choose both natural and chemical products, without risks for your health ! I don't know you, but I, I will not deprive myself and pick both up again !
Haider Ackermann S/S 2011 ( )

bag Karen Millen

Stella McCartney dress worn by Freja Beha Erichsen in Vogue Paris