Tag: raf simons

Personal Style, again

I was on the Village Voice website earlier today and I came across an article in their fashion section from 2015. In it the writer chronicles her trip on the train in New York where she seen a whole bunch of people wearing the same items (Herschel backpack, flannel shirts, Shrimps fur coats etc.). The article ended up being an exploration into personal style and whether we, as New Yorkers, still have it.

There used to be a perception of a big city style. New York was black, polished, and streamlined. Now it’s a mix of everything. Furthermore, the big city style has reached the suburbs. I remember watching Working Girl for the first time and being hit by the makeover that Tess had in order to work her way up the corporate ladder – and she was already a New Yorker. Nowadays that kind of thing doesn’t need to happen. You don’t need to spend a small fortune to look professional. You don’t need to go to fashion shows to know what’s cool. The internet has democratised fashion to a level never before reached. It’s for the masses now. Fast fashion helps too, knowing that a look on the Gucci runway will be replicated in Zara often before the original hits the stores. We can all be a part of it.

This then made me think of quotes from Raf Simons’ recent interview in GQ:

I was actually someone who was very often saying that fashion keeps thinking that it can serve everybody, that it can be there for everybody, high fashion. I’m sorry, but high fashion was always for a small environment. High fashion by nature used to be extreme. Right now we define a lot of things as high fashion, but they’re not high fashion. They’re clothes. They’re clothes on the runway with a nice little twist of styling and coloration. Everybody thinks it’s high fashion. Bullshit. There is very little high fashion.

He thinks that fashion isn’t elite anymore, which is definitely true. Anyone can be a designer. Anyone can make it big, whether that be as a creator or an influencer. Your clothes are merely clothes, and put them on the right people and they can become a trend and you can solidify yourself a place on the must-see fashion show list on every fashion news outlet out there. Look at Vetements and the constant stream of coverage the brand gets. Raf’s interview is actually a good read in terms of gauging his opinion on the current state of fashion and the brands that are at the top. He is unafraid to share his views because he knows he is in an almost untouchable position and that without him and his archive, many brands would struggle to produce collections. He is arguably one of the most influential designers of the century thus far.

But going back to the point of the original article, the writer was saying that in the pursuit of personal style, we all end up dressing the same. Maybe it’s because we are all exposed to similar influencers or maybe it’s an attempt to be different and just ending up the same, accidentally. Either way, there is little truly original personal style left out there. The conclusion that the writer came to, after interviewing various subjects, was that although we all wear the same items, we wear them in different ways or with different things, hence making them individual once again.

Honestly, I’d argue otherwise. Sometimes I will buy something then six months later when I encounter a lot of other people wearing it, I’m put off. I feel like something is less my style, more just mass acceptance fashion once it becomes a trendy item. Trends have the ability to ruin an item, to make it unwearable. I’m not someone who is super out-there with my dress sense or someone who cares too much about being totally individual, but sometimes it bothers me when I end up having something that turns into a trend. In a way its embarrassing as you feel a little bit like a clone, or like you can’t make decisions for yourself so you copy others. Conversely, that’s just fashion. If it doesn’t hit the masses, was it ever fashion in its true definition? Or was it just clothes?

Another aspect of personal style that actually upsets me is seeing celebrities being lauded for their style and originality and trend setting abilities when their looks have all been picked for them by stylists. Literally nothing that many of the bigger influencers wear (Kardashians, Hadids, Selena Gomez etc.) has been picked by them. They pay a stylist to curate a wardrobe for them to wear. It’s very strange to me to see these people being called style icons and entire websites and Instagram accounts dedicated to chronicling their sartorial choices. I’ve touched on this before previously but it is something that is truly baffling to me. Then on top of that, said influencers undertake collaborations with brands to “design” collections. It’s odd. But it’s fashion. As Raf said, fashion thinks it can cater to the masses and this is exactly what that phenomenon demonstrates. Fashion is pop culture. 100%.

 

Further reading

“Is Personal Style Dead?” – Village Voice, November 2015

“Raf Simons on life in New York, designing under Trump, and the New Generation of Designers who look up to him” – GQ, January 2017

“Personal Style/Celebrity Stylists” – from my website, June 2016

“What the Hell Happened to Personal Style?” – Vogue.com, April 2016

Fashion Flashback: Jil Sander Fall 2012

Who doesn’t love Raf Simons? Even if it takes you a while to come around to him and his designs, I think everyone can agree that he is one of the most talented designers out there at the moment (and of the past 10 years, at least). He can do menswear and womenswear, and his own name brand has an almost cult-like following, being featured on Highsnobiety near daily.

In celebration of his first collection for Calvin Klein, the brand that he now designs for, along with his right-hand man from Dior, Pieter Mulier, I decided to look back at his last ever collection for Jil Sander. This is what I think of when I hear the name Raf Simons and I think his time at Jil Sander was probably better than his time at Dior. Let’s hope his first season at Calvin Klein is a good one!

 

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.

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.

Paris Fashion Week Highlights – Spring 2016

Can you believe that fashion month is over? I feel like it has gone simultaneously too fast and too slow. There’s some shows which I’ve been desperate to see for weeks and now that I’ve finally seen them I feel relieved. On the other hand, everything is a blur. I remember New York, I remember a few shows in Milan, I don’t remember London at all, and now we have Paris.

I’ve learned a couple of things this fashion month:

  1. The insta-girls don’t bother me. I don’t care that they’re only being used for their social media following. If they look good in the clothes that’s all that matters. I now follow Gigi Hadid and enjoy looking at her posts, even if they do give me extreme hair envy. I like her sister too.
  2. I am open to colour. I know that sounds really ridiculous, but for the past at least two years I’ve stuck to a palette of neutrals. That sounds so boring but I just did. For a while it was literally just black and denim. Now that I’m seeing some beautiful shades of pink and orange on the runways I want to wear them myself – take this beautiful watermelon at Alexis Mabille as a perfect example. I suppose you’ve got to look more vibrant in the summertime!
  3. Ruffles are destined to stay.
  4. Alexander Wang seems like oodles of fun. His final walk (or should I say hop-skip-and-jump) at Balenciaga was so playful and funny. I love when people are genuinely excited to do what they do.
  5. And finally, Paris is always a good idea. (But we knew that already, right?)

VIONNET

Vionnet is a historic house is often forgotten about when you think of the big names – Dior, Lanvin, Jean Patou, Chanel – and the reason for this is that they haven’t had a “big name” designer at the helm. That is until now, as Hussein Chalayan has been added to the team. He already designed their demi-couture as of the beginning of 2014, but now he also works on the ready-to-wear. The house itself has been bought by different owners a few times over the years. Madame Vionnet is the designer who was famed for the bias cut, a new body-clinging shape, that changed fashion in the 1920s, and that John Galliano reintroduced in the 90s. I think this collection was perhaps prettier than any that Elie Saab has ever done. There was a good mix of floaty and form-fitting gowns, and the show was full of red carpet looks that I cannot wait to see come awards season. There were some looks where I thought “that could be Balmain” or “that could be Saab”, but all of them had a slight edge which separated them from other designers. Soft and ethereal sum it up.

CHANEL

Of course this is a predictable entry on my list, but how could you fail to include it? Just when I thought Raf had the best set of fashion month at Dior, Karl did the airport terminal. Now an airport is perhaps my least favourite place to be – I only like duty free shopping and that’s all – but Karl made the mundane interesting. I thought it was funny how this was the second to last day of fashion month and flying home was probably the first thing on everybody’s mind – Karl, you tease! As always, there were a gazillion looks, many of which were repetitive, but you know that’s what the Chanel customer wants – a version which will suit her (and you have to remember that the customers are of all ages). I felt a bit overwhelmed when I first seen the collection because there was just so much, so many patterns, so many different fabrics but when I looked at each outfit individually I found elements which I really liked (not in every look but often there was a nice top with ugly trousers and vice versa). I really look forward to the Chanel pre-fall show and the film which will accompany it.

CHRISTIAN DIOR

Watching Dior and I gave me a real appreciation for Raf Simons that I didn’t really have before. Ever since, I’ve enjoyed seeing his collections. The set of this show was similar to his original couture set (the walls of flowers), except he took it a step further and built the entire dome out of it – I seen the most incredible gif-set on Tumblr of the set getting made up. I enjoyed seeing lots of simple daywear and, of course, beautifully tailored jackets, most with a nipped in waist reminiscent of the bar jacket but softer. There were some interesting, almost bubbled shoulders on jumpers and tops and sweet scalloped hems. Nothing revolutionary, no, but does all fashion need to change the world or should it simply clothe us?

And the rest…

I loved the rings and hoops on the skirts and dresses at Anthony Vaccarello. They somehow managed to avoid looking Pretty Woman-esque. The show got progressively better as it went on. The looks with the jeans were the best, in my opinion, and Camille Hurel looked insanely stunning wearing them. As terrible as it sounds, I hope Zara copy this collection.

This season’s collection was the first Galliano for Maison Margiela that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I know there’s only been a few but I didn’t adore the rest. I liked the little touches of leopard print on the collars and there was a beautiful bodice on this navy top (it reminds me of something from medieval times, but in a wearable manner). The commercial pieces seemed to be at the start of the show with it becoming progressively less sellable, more collectors items by the end.

I find it quite sad that Kim Kardashian’s lack of attendance at Balmain was so widely commented on – she does not make the show. Once again, another collection by Olivier full of the silhouettes that he is working hard to make his own. You can tell when something is Balmain now, thanks to the huge social media presence of the brand on celebrities. I loved the cross over tops that have been prominent for the past couple of seasons, like this one or this one. The ruffled skirts were a little too flamenco for my liking. Judging by the hype around Balmain as a brand, the H&M collaboration will be a fast sell-out.

Mary Kate and Ashley certainly have a clear vision of their woman at The Row. I really do like the brand but I sometimes feel that there’s just too much fabric and the model is drowning in it. However, I loved these two looks – x, and the suit on the left, y.

The water-soluble paper dresses at Chalayan were insane. He knows how to create a memorable moment. This is one that will go down in history, just like his table dress from 2000. The moment is best enjoyed in video. A lot of the collection was rather nice too (lots of wearable pieces) but I think this just took the entire focus.

I thought this outfit at Paco Rabanne was cool. The trousers are marbled so subtly that upon first glance you might not even notice.

Alexander Fury best described Celine in his review for The Independent. He said it was “utility” in the sense that Philo was interested in making clothes that had a function in daily life. I don’t think I can say it any better because that’s exactly what it was. I adore this coat with the randomly placed buttons and also this jacket (I don’t think the full runway look would work in real life.

Martin Grant had great minimalist, clean shapes but there were some interesting twists. For example, the piping on this coat, the brushstroke/animal print pattern on this skirt, and the glittery feathers on this coat. I can imagine a lot of this collection will be in Harvey Nichols come spring.

I liked the ruffles on this one dress at Lanvin. I think they were done in a way that didn’t make them seem uber-girly, if that’s possible.

The fur stoles at Miu Miu are something I hope catch on, but maybe for the cold weather until April as opposed to in a summer collection (if they haven’t already). I hope to find an emerald green one soon.

Sarah Burton’s Alexander McQueen has never been my favourite show in Paris, but I did like quite a few looks from this collection. For one, I loved the jeans – something that you’d never expect in her show. Paired with the denim wedges and this insane top, this was my favourite look.

The scuba look of this skirt and top combo at Nina Ricci reminded me of the deceptive double-faced jersey at Prada last season, as did the colour. However, I liked the look and I think the top would be a good one to have in your wardrobe as it could be dressed up or down.

I really loved the exaggerated full skirts at Maison Rabih Kayrouz, with my favourite looks being this beautiful black dress (seriously black-tie party worthy, not that I’m invited to events like that) and this strappier but not dissimilar dress.

The Hermes collection was almost exactly how I’d like to dress. I think the review on style.com says more about it than I ever could.

Fashion Flashback: Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall 2012

I watched “Dior and I” in March and it focuses mainly on the making of this collection, so I thought I should post it. I’m guessing some other people have also watched the film and perhaps want to see more of the show. The film itself shows the entire design process from the initial research to the sketches to the toiles to the fittings to the final show, and it was really amazing to see the clothes being made from start to finish. Seeing the work of the atelier in the film made me realise just how superb haute couture really is. The craftmanship is unparalleled.

This show was Raf Simons’ debut for the house and it was quite a big event. For one, the brand had been receiving a lot of bad press following John Galliano’s well known outburst which led to his dismissal. Simons only had 8 weeks to design the collection and have it made to completion. It was hectic to say the least. I’ve really never been that fussed for Raf, mainly because I think that a lot of what he’s done at Dior after this show has been so similar, but I do adore this show. The clothes look back to the designs of Christian Dior himself and it was Simons’ attempt to go back to the house codes and redefine them.

I love the tuxedos which looked back to Dior’s bar jacket and the beautiful full skirts. Also, the set is insane. The walls full of flowers are so beautiful and I can only imagine how divine it must have smelled. I think this is one of the most beautiful collections I’ve ever seen and I definitely understand the high praise that Raf received for it. Although this film really taught me that it is not just the designer, but all the staff who bring a collection together. Unfortunately, it’s just the designer who gets the credit. Read more