The Communiqué

Grace Coddington, Designer Departures, Excessive Clear Outs

Departure seems to be a common theme in life at the moment: we have left one year behind and are now into the next (the best year yet, I have prophesied); I am turning 18 and therefore finally leaving behind the label of being a child (still a young person but no longer a child); and best of all, I am leaving one country behind and moving onto the next – America, New York specifically. (Yes, I know America is not the official name of the USA but it is much easier to type and pretty much everybody refers to it as that.) This year may be rather tumultuous but I am prepared because it is everything that I have wanted for a very long time finally coming to a head. I don’t want to get overly excited and start imagining scenarios that will never come to fruition but it is nice to dream. I am moving to New York to go to college in approximately 7 months. I cannot think of anything more exciting. That is one departure that I will not be sad about.

Someone else who has left their position in life (work, life, it all rolls into one) and is moving onto the next is Raf Simons. This news is very 2015 but since the Pre-Fall images for Dior have been released, it has been back on my mind. (I really like the new in-house designed collection by the way.) I started to really appreciate Raf’s work for Dior only after I watched Dior and I, the documentary profiling the lead-up to his first couture collection, made in only 6 weeks. His departure has been reduced to the overkill of the fashion schedule in the press – 4 ready to wear and 2 couture collections a year is insane. The fact that fashion is going at a rate that was before unimaginable is indisputable. Technology is marvellous yet dangerous. In the time after Raf announced his departure, Alber Elbaz was fired from Lanvin (to much shock and dismay) and rumours have flown around regarding Hedi Slimane leaving Saint Laurent. I cannot imagine the latter to be true, given that sales are soaring and the brand is perhaps in the best place it has been in a decade (at least, but I don’t know official numbers). For the most part, public perception is positive. Yes, many members of the fashion press are not fans of Hedi for Saint Laurent – Alexander Fury has been vocal about his disdain many a times before – but I think he has done well to create such a strong brand in a short time period. Hedi leaving seems like a bizarre move and I think it would be a decision made by Hedi himself rather than the folks at Saint Laurent – he is a cash cow. I do hope the rumours are proven to be false although I have heard speculation that the next show, which will be held in Los Angeles, is his swan song. Quite frankly, it is a departure that I would be sad about.

Another exit which I think has been overstated by people is Grace Coddington leaving her position as Creative Director of Vogue to become Creative Director at Large. People are reading the headlines saying she is leaving and thinking it means the worst – retirement, no more Grace, no more fantasy – but if you actually read into the articles it is clear to see that Grace will still be very much a part of Vogue, and so she should be. She will retain an office and contribute 4 editorials per year (that means her work is in a third of the issues a year, still a fairly high proportion). On top of this, she is free to explore other projects. That means we could see even more of her work. She could style fashion advertising, she could work with designers, she can do whatever she damn pleases. To summarise, Grace is going but she won’t be gone, so don’t be too upset about it.

Something that I am upset about is my hastiness with clear-outs, also known as great pieces of clothing departing from my wardrobe. As I am moving in the summer, as I said before a gazillion times, I am trying to downsize everything I own. I go through every single item in my wardrobe at least once a month so that by the summer I will hopefully be able to fit all of my possessions worth taking with me in 2 rather large suitcases. It sounds unachievable but it has to be done. If I want to cheat, I could probably leave some stuff behind and take it back with me when I go home after Christmas. Anyway, not the point. In my ruthlessness I have disposed of items which I now regret. Lying in bed last night, mentally planning my outfit for work the next day, I decided on black skinny pants, my black boots (devilishly soft leather ankle boots with a chunky heel that I can walk for miles in from Hobbs, in the sale!), a black top of sorts (that can be figured out in the morning easily as almost every top I own is black), and this fantastic Prince of Wales check blazer from Ralph Lauren. It was an eBay steal. Perfectly fitting with slight padding at the shoulders and a fantastic double breasted shape – so eighties, I know. I got up and began looking through my wardrobe to lay out my outfit for the following morning to then discover that the blazer was gone. As ridiculous as it sounds, I was devastated. I then remembered that I had given it to the local charity shop only a few months earlier, deeming it too Working Girl and deciding that I would never, ever wear it again. Yet now I want it. I intend to go to said charity shop this weekend and buy it back if I can, however I fully expect to be told it is long gone. Even if it didn’t sell in my shop it will be in a random distribution centre somewhere and then sent to a store in a random little town where some lucky sod will buy it and love it and probably not be stupid enough to chuck it out in a mad-clearing frenzy. As if one thing wasn’t enough, I then thought about another one of my clear-out casulaties. A wonderful blouse that I got in the Zara sale a couple of years ago. The print was very Chloe, yet at the time I was at school and almost exclusively wore crop-tops and high waisted jeans (it’s much easier just to fit in, ok) and didn’t have enough forward-thinking skills to realise that it would be a damn good top to have for work. Oh well. It is also gone, a loooooong time ago. Some surburban mother is probably wearing it right now thinking it was such a bargain – “Only £2.89 for this Zara top in Barnardo’s, what a steal!” she will say, “It looks so much more expensive than that” her friend will reply. Goddammit. In the future, I plan to NOT throw things out that I could possibly ever wear again. I also made the mistake of throwing out my sheepskin aviator jacket only for them to make a killing on fashion blogs this winter. FORWARD PLANNING, my new motto.

So far, 2016 has been a year of changes, especially in fashion. But departures always mean leaving one thing behind and going onto the next, hopefully bigger and better. Many designers who have left their roles are proceeding to focus on different projects – Alex Wang left Balenciaga to focus on growing his own brand (god, I really can’t call him Alex like we are friends) and Raf is reportedly focusing on his line – so often leaving things behind is a positive. I can’t help but think of the negatives in situations but often things work out just as they are supposed to. That’s what I hope happens this year, everything turns out just as it was meant to. So far, so good.

Fashionista Article: Should Fashion Week Become A Consumer-Facing Event?

The CFDA are considering a radical new show schedule for New York Fashion Week with lots of ideas being thrown around. The general idea is, given how interested consumers now are in this digital age, that the wait time between garments being shown on the runway to them actually hitting the stores is too long. The most hyped items are often forgotten about by the time the next fashion week comes around because the famous bloggers and celebrities somehow managed to get their hands on them already and by the time they hit the stores it is too late. A wholly revised schedule has been proposed, one that should benefit the consumers mainly but also the retailers. It would mean that fast fashion stores would have less time to turn out a copy, meaning people would either have to wait until it trickled down or just buy full-price. I think it would have huge repercussions on the fashion industry as we know it.

A Spring 2016 Alexander Wang look, one of New York's most prominent designers
A Spring 2016 Alexander Wang look, one of New York’s most prominent designers

I actually think the reforms being discussed sound very good. The idea of showing clothes for the upcoming season when the season is about to start makes a lot of sense. This Fashionista article does a good job of weighing up the pros and the cons of the proposal. I firmly believe it is a positive idea for the actual fashion industry in general; what do you think?

 

Los Angeles Store Kitson Shuts Down

Kitson is closing and I’ve still never visited. A company press release detailed the closure, resulting in the complete shuttering of operations (even the e-commerce). Even though I’ve never shopped there I feel like it is a loss, a true pop culture loss. Anyone who was anyone in the mid-2000s was photographed there. In the pre-Kardashian era mega stars like Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, and Lindsay Lohan were snapped shopping in-store. The girls on The Hills visited there, I’m assuming after a particularly wild night out at Les Deux the evening before. Ever since, it was my dream to visit because back in the day I was obsessed with young Hollywood.

When my friend and I were 10 we decided we were going to go to Los Angeles on holiday when we turned 18. Needless to say, that didn’t happen but my piggy bank filled with pound coins still existed (now spent, of course). I still want to visit Los Angeles because it seems like such a dream, a city that is entirely unlike real life. However, Kitson will now have to be off of my to-do list (I had mentioned that I wanted to visit in my department stores post).

With the ever-evolving climate of retail and e-commerce being increasingly important, the physical store shutting down isn’t too much of a surprise. What I do find odd is that they’re closing operations online. Perhaps competition is too fierce.

Kitson closing reminded me of one of my favourite tumblr blogs, popculturediedin2009. It is run by a mid-2000s pop culture enthusiast who helps me relive my childhood by reminding me of tales of the rich and famous from days gone by. This was the pre-Kardashian era, when Kim was still Paris Hilton’s assistant rather than her peer. It was when Britney Spears had her very public breakdown, Nicole Richie was super skinny, Ashlee and Jessica Simpson were constantly in the tabloids (Ashlee was always my favourite), and the cast of the Hills were the most famous reality tv stars. Now the entire climate of celebrity has changed. A sidekick is a relic of the past rather than the device that everyone covets. The Internet changed everything. Maybe, in the new insta-generation, Kitson doesn’t have the same appeal as it used to. I haven’t heard much about the store in recent years so it does make sense.

Now with the closure of Kitson, my era of pop culture is well and truly dead.

PS – Merry Christmas when it comes!!

Raf Simons by Cathy Horyn

Like the rest of you, I was rather devastated when I heard that Raf was leaving Dior. I had only recently come around to him at the brand and ever since I was enjoying looking back at his past work and loving the present. The announcement came a few weeks ago now, he cited “personal reasons”, and speculation about the relentless pace of the industry has been flying around ever since.

Fall 2012 Couture
Fall 2012 Couture

I was upset to find out that Raf had left. My jaw literally dropped when I got the email blast from every newsletter I’m signed up to because I just wasn’t expecting it. How could you leave Dior? The same thing happened when I realised that Alber Elbaz had been dismissed from Lanvin. It was too much drama in one week. However, in retrospect, Raf’s departure is actually less surprising. If you’ve seen the documentary Dior and I, you will see him struggling with the 8-week time frame which he is given to produce his debut couture collection. Since then, it has only gotten quicker. 6 shows a year. You’d think that would be 2 months on each collection, but he said it has been even less. In the interview, he said the time scale was three to five weeks. How is that even possible? How would one continue to come up with fresh ideas and develop them so quickly? I just don’t understand how it would work. What if you get creative block? Won’t you just get burned out? Maybe that’s what Raf realised – it is not sustainable. Preserve your creativity and work at a slower pace. What is next for Raf, we don’t know. However, I can only hope he is back in womenswear soon. Maybe this time he can do it on his own terms.

Spring 2016. Full circle?
Spring 2016. Full circle?

Finally, a thorough interview on the subject with Cathy Horyn has been released. Read it on Business of Fashion – here. However, this is not the full piece. To read this you need to buy the AW15 edition of System magazine which usually retails for around £10. I’d like to get my hands on it but I can never find it in newsagents around me. Sometimes they have it at the airport or in a bookshop though.

Balmain X H&M

I know I’m a little bit late writing about this – the announcement was made a week or two ago – but I thought I’d add my two cents. First of all, I’m excited. I love Balmain and I love Olivier, and I predict this collection will be a sell out in hours. You see, Olivier makes smart use of social media to bring people into the Balmain brand. Those who want to be a part of his Balmain army, his gang of hot models and celebrities, but can’t afford the usual Balmain price tag can feel included if they buy the collection. It’s fun. The last collection for H&M that I was this confident about was Versace, because you knew that it would be pure Versace in it’s essence. I remember lusting after the palm-tree printed leggings (printed leggings were so cool at the time and I had a brilliant collection…), and I actually still have a tiny photo of them cut out of a magazine. I never did get them, however. I think I will try and buy something from the Balmain collection.

 

A lot of people are opposed to these high-street/designer collaborations but I think they’re a great idea. It allows people who can’t normally afford these brands or their authentic styles to purchase them for a fraction of the price. Yes, the quality is regular high street, not high end, and the label still says H&M, albeit in a smaller size, but it’s a little slice of the brand in your wardrobe and that’s the most that many of us will ever get. It’s sheer snobbery when people say these collaborations shouldn’t be allowed, that they cheapen the brand, because the collaborations are just a way of bringing designer brands to the masses. If it makes you feel better, the Balmain X H&M is still H&M and everyone who buys it will know it. I do agree that some things don’t go hand in hand (say a Groupon deal for afternoon tea at the Plaza), but this collaboration is no less than someone buying a Michael Kors bag but not his clothes. It’s accessible to people. I do think it’s wild when things sell out and are then sold at grossly inflated prices on eBay. I’d never buy a high-street/designer collaboration on eBay for the same price where you could get the legit brand clothes.

I feel like, unless there’s a lot of effort put into the quality during the manufacturing process, this collection could be a bit of a hot mess, and that’s a worry. You see, Balmain uses lots of embellishments and heaps of silk and satin. If the materials, probably some polyester and whatnot, aren’t right this could look cheap. Moreover, if the seams aren’t sewn correctly or the beading isn’t secure enough, everything could unravel before your eyes. It could really go so wrong, but I’m hoping it goes right.

I don’t want to get too hyped up about the collection like I was for Alexander Wang X H&M because I was so disappointed by it, but if the previews (worn by Kendall and Kylie Jenner) are anything to go by, this will be better. I love the top that Jourdan Dunn is wearing on the red carpet and if that’s a part of the collection, I’ll definitely be buying it (if I can get there/log on early enough).

I think choosing Balmain to collaborate with was a smart business move by H&M. Balmain is a brand that is so hyped up these days, although it often produces some awful clothes (as all brands do I suppose) it also makes clothes that so many girls want to wear. Just look at the social media following or the amount of times a photo of Kim Kardashian, Adriana Lima, or the rest of Olivier’s girls wearing Balmain is liked, shared, and reposted. Social media is a good indicator of something’s success nowadays, especially Instagram, and people are increasingly vocal. Although the majority of teenagers who love Balmain can’t afford the real deal, they can probably afford the H&M collaboration, and with the Jenner sisters endorsing it, it will reach an even bigger audience. You know there’s hundreds of girls clamouring to get their hands on anything they’re wearing, or at least something similar.

So here’s to a probable sell-out collection, on sale from the 5th November! Here’s my runway picks that I’d love to be translated into a cheaper option:

 

The Artist is Absent – Martin Margiela

YOOX Group have produced a short film about Martin Margiela, the elusive fashion designer. Now I love fashion documentaries. I watch them even if I don’t care about the designer or the brand, and I usually end up loving both by the end. The film is under 12 minutes long so really doesn’t take up much of your time to watch, but it is very to the point and that is perhaps the best part.

Martin Margiela stepped down from his namesake brand (now just called Maison Margiela and headed by John Galliano) once he felt he had designed everything he needed to design. I love that idea. I feel like sometimes fashion designers create for so long that they run out of fresh ideas and their shows are just slightly tweaked versions of what they were before. Margiela has avoided this problem by bowing out when he felt he was done, but he would be welcomed back into the industry with open arms should he choose to return.

Part of his allure is the mystery that surrounds him. Nobody sees him, and he is not featured in the documentary. Margiela clothes have very basic labels that don’t even bear the brand’s name. He is best known for his deconstructionist designs of the late 90s, but it is perhaps his basics which are most worn. In the documentary you see models wearing nude bodysuits that are now ever so popular, perhaps thanks to Kim Kardashian. You can see that they were worn as a blank canvas, to ensure all of the focus was on the other pieces. Perhaps that’s what Kanye was doing with the weird bodystockings? Maybe we were meant to just look at the pieces of actual clothes, say the jackets? He’s a lot smarter than he gets credit for, I have to admit.

Anyway, check out the documentary. It’s good. Also, here’s a Margiela nude bodysuit, they’re almost always sold out (£190 Nude, and £150 Black) and a Missguided version (£12 Nude, £12 Black) for those of us who don’t want to shell out too much money. If you’re looking for something a bit better quality than Missguided (read: thicker), have a look at American Apparel whose bodysuits are great and still reasonably priced (£25-30ish for basic ones). However, they usually don’t have have poppers in the crotch (forgive my awful wording) so you have to take all your clothes off if you need the bathroom, keep that in mind!

Grace: A Memoir… On Screen?

As a part of that whole Sony hack fiasco that happened last year, a whole bunch of confidential emails were leaked. Now I haven’t been paying that much attention to the leaks because I don’t really care for snarky emails between colleagues or financial emails (I just like to see the films, not worry about budgets). This email, however, piqued my interest. I read about it on Fashionista.com, where they reported the details of the email and linked to wikileaks where it can be read in full. I’ve also added a screenshot if you don’t want to go on the website. Basically, Grace Coddington’s brilliant memoir, released back in 2012, could potentially be adapted into a film, a biopic per se.

grace

I got the memoir for my Christmas in 2012 and I read it from start to finish on Christmas day. I could not put it down. Grace’s story is so exciting and just sounds like a fantasy, but it is real. She lived the life that a lot of people could only dream of, and that many of us dream of right now. To put it very simply, she grew up in a small town completely detached from fashion apart from managing to buy Vogue every so often, she entered a modelling competition, moved to London, became successful in her modelling career, got in a car accident, married and divorced, moved to Paris, moved to New York, worked at British Vogue, Calvin Klein, and then American Vogue where she has remained ever since. Her and Anna Wintour started on the same day. Her life has been filled with ups and downs. It would be silly to pretend that she has had the greatest life ever, but it sounds pretty damn good.

In the email, Adam North (a creative executive who seems to be pitching the idea) talks about how there are great characters, and that’s because it is based on real people with real personalities. Grace’s life is not a movie, but it sure as hell could be made into a great one. Imagine the costumes, the sets, the photoshoots! Grace lived a life of great glamour when she was younger (she is much more pared back now), and I’d love to see that on screen. To me, films are pure escapism and I love to enter a fantasy world of great wealth and sunshine. Think of the apartments, the locations for photoshoots, the stunning models (hey, maybe real models could be hired, or just some really beautiful actresses – I love beauty).

Sony, if you ever do decide to make this movie, please hire me as the costume designer (or even just an intern in the costume department, I’d die of happiness). Also, cast Julianne Moore or Emily Blunt as Grace – I haven’t made my mind up as to who I’d prefer.

The End of an Era: Style.com

Things in fashion are shaking up. And I don’t like it. Come the fall, and Style.com will be no more. Well, it will still exist but as an e-commerce site, not quite the website that it is today. I don’t know about you, but when it is fashion month I visit the site religiously and check the app every few hours to see the latest shows. As of recently, I’ve enjoyed reading their articles as well. For example, the lengthy Kanye West interview that they did after his Adidas collaboration was good reading, full of substance and meaningful questions instead of fluff that you often see elsewhere.

Style.com initially launched back in the year 2000, a whole 15 years ago. It was intended to be the online presence of Vogue and W, Conde Nast’s biggest fashion magazines. Since then it developed into an entire brand of its own.  You see, when the site was created not very many brands had a big online presence. We all still had that darn dial-up internet that cut off when someone went on the phone. The internet and its usership has blown up in the past 15 years, probably more so than ever predicted. Vogue and W now have their own websites (and Vogue has that wonderful YouTube channel), and now Style.com seems kind of redundant – except it’s not. Style.com is a haven for anyone interested in fashion. They have archives that go back over a decade. You can read runway reviews from shows that happened 10 years ago.

Style.com homepage as of 30/4/15
Style.com homepage as of 30/4/15

The move will mean that Style.com will become an e-commerce site (similar to how Harpers Bazaar has a shop section, or Lucky) and the runway reviews and whatnot will move to a new site called Voguerunway.com. It will be like a scaled down version of Style.com which kind of sucks. It was only last September that the site relaunched, and a few months later (December, I think?) that its print magazine ceased publishing. Being back under the Conde Nast umbrella should have been a sign that changes were to come, as Vogue really is the main fashion focus. It’s just sad to see staff losing their jobs and things coming to an end. It really is the end of an era. I just wonder how things are going to work out on the online store front. I hate to be a naysayer, but I can’t see it being successful. I don’t know why you wouldn’t just go to the Barneys website (or wherever the item is from) and buy it from there, unless there’s dramatic price discounts on Style.com. I don’t know. Someone with higher qualifications than me has made this decision and they’re probably better informed than I!

It has also been announced that Lucky (a former Conde Nast magazine) is going to cease to print, moving to be fully digital. Just this week, WWD printed its final daily issue also moving fully to print. Things are a-changing in the world of fashion publishing. I often think I’d like to work in that industry, but really things are too volatile. No such thing as job security in magazines! Now, let me go find a new website for runway photos. Nowfashion.com? Any other suggestions?

Blake Lively – Allure Magazine

Let me start off by saying, I used to idolise Serena van der Woodsen, or more so I wanted her life. Blake Lively, of course, played that character. With her flowing blonde tresses and her effortlessly stunning looks, she captured my attention and I have loved her ever since. After Gossip Girl ended, S (or should I say B?) got married and had a baby. Now she’s on the cover of Allure, and she looks insane – in the best way possible.

I really do think she’s incredibly beautiful and the hair and make-up in the cover shot just emphasise it. Everything is pared back, with her wearing just a crisp white shirt and no fussy jewellery. The make-up was done by Charlotte Tilbury, the woman who I’d love to hire as my personal make-up artist because she has the ability to make anybody look like a supermodel, and it makes it difficult to believe that Blake gave birth a matter of months ago. Seriously, if I looked even half as good as she does when/if I’m a mother, I will be thanking heavens above.

PS – There’s such a pretty black & white shot inside the magazine too. I’ll include it below.

Lilly Pulitzer for Target

Until recently, I hadn’t heard of Lilly Pulitzer. You see, the brand’s founder and namesake has been called the “queen of prep” and I am far from it. Then a couple of months ago on Tumblr, I started seeing a few girls that I follow being asked their thoughts on the Lilly for Target line and I was intrigued.

Lilly Pulitzer herself went to school with Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and the former First Lady actually wore her designs on many occasions. The brand was established in 1959 and was popular for around two decades, specifically with socialites. The line was relaunched in the 90s and has been going strong since. Just search Lilly Pulitzer on Pinterest and you’ll fall in love, honestly. There are few things I love more than 60s, Palm Beach style. A lot of the images reminded me of Megan Draper’s outfits in Mad Men (specifically the Tommorowland episode, one of my ultimate favourites).

Vintage Lilly ad

 

The line, which is released this weekend, April 19th, is another one of those high-low collaborations, like Alexander Wang X H&M. I decided to have a look, and surprisingly I actually liked it. It is surprising because when you see the clothes I wear, I am perhaps the opposite of preppy. I don’t own a single button-down (I threw them all out when I left school in a protest, which I now regret…), I refuse to wear chinos, and the only time you’d see me in a pair of Hunter welly boots is if I was at Glastonbury (unlikely) or caught in a freak snow storm (but I’d rather stay inside). You get the idea.

Jackie Kennedy and her family

The line actually has a lot of nice swimwear, with beautiful prints and vibrant colours. I have a post on swimwear coming up soon actually (with none of these bikinis included, oops!) because I’m getting super hyped for summer, even though I haven’t worn a bikini for about two years. There are also a few classic shift dresses, sandals, flowy trousers and tops, and lots of cute accessories. Now I’m not someone to describe clothes as cute, but I feel like that’s the most apt word.

While I won’t be purchasing anything from the line myself (I vowed to never order from America again unless I really had to, damn custom fees), I can see it being very popular and perhaps even a sell-out. The collaboration doesn’t have the same hype surrounding it as H&M’s usually do, perhaps because H&M is worldwide whereas Target is U.S. based, but I think the market that they’re selling it in will respond well to it. I think Americans tend to dress a little bit differently than British people. I didn’t notice this until I started following some preppy girls on Tumblr and I discovered that there is a whole community who dress like that. In the UK, the only people who dress moderately preppy are those who go to private schools, but in the States, it seems to be more widespread, with specific concentrations on university campuses, particularly Ivy League schools.

Browse through the pieces on the Target website and let me know your favourites! My picks are the Fan Dance bikini and Boom Boom scarf, worn as a sarong, and the Boom Boom jumpsuit. I think the two aforementioned prints are definitely my favourites. Dare I say it, but the prices are actually pretty reasonable, better than a lot of designer-high street collaborations.