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25/02/2016

British fashion belongs to the eurozone

From left: Mulberry; Alexander McQueen; JW Anderson; Marques’Almeida; Erdem; Burberry
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London Fashion Week was only a murmur amid the political noise of the Brexit debate, which clamoured away as David Cameron negotiated a renewed special status within the EU and announced an upcoming referendum, while the pound plummeted to a seven- year low. But what are the implications of Brexit for the British fashion industry?

“We’d have to get much better tax advice,” quipped Georgia Fendley, of the British accessories label Hill & Friends, which she co-founded with former Mulberry colleague Emma Hill last September. Like many British labels, the company uses manufacturers in the UK, Italy and Spain, and is carried by eight international stockists. “But it wouldn’t change our approach,” she added. “Our sourcing isn’t driven by cost.”

Stuart Rose, the former chairman of the British Fashion Council (BFC) and Conservative peer, believes Brexit would be a disaster for British fashion. “I’ve no doubt the costs of doing business would go up,” he said. “Worldwide tariffs would go up as well as the costs of goods, service and manufacturing. This would mean a higher cost to the consumer.”

While the percentage of exports going to the EU has fallen since Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973, fashion exports have grown in recent years. “UK apparel and textile exports have risen 30 per cent in the past five years, from £4.5bn to £5.8bn,” said Caroline Rush, chief executive of the BFC, quoting figures from the Department of Trade and Industry. “Apparel sales in 2014 were worth £4bn, up 45 per cent on 2010 figures.”

The commercial implications may be costly, said Rose. But more important for him would be the creative fallout: potential employment restrictions and political isolation would be a huge step backwards, especially given the efforts made by the fashion council to establish London as a style capital since 1983. “Even 15 to 20 years ago, London was the poor cousin of Europe,” he said of London Fashion Week’s early commercial reputation. “It struggled to find any space, squeezed between New York and Milan. Today, London has become one of the great fashion centres of the world,” he continued. “No one would question that. And being part of the European Union has encouraged a creative freedom of movement and diversity that has only further established this reputation. Look at the wealth of young design talent, much of it international, that has flowed out of institutions like Central Saint Martins [CSM] or the Royal College of Art, and look where it has ended up. Creativity is driven by young people who can develop their talent and are able to move around without border controls or hindrance. This creative freedom is the glue that binds us together.”

The 51 labels that showed in London were testimony to the wellspring of international talent on which British fashion has built its reputation for cutting edge, innovative design: Mary Katrantzou, who picked up the New Establishment Design Award at the British Fashion Awards in November, was born in Athens and studied at CSM before launching her eponymous label in London in 2009; Erdem Moralioglu was born in Canada to Turkish and British parents and studied at the Royal College; his brand of romantic Victorian melancholia is as English as Earl Grey tea. The Serbia-born Roksanda Ilincic founded Roksanda in 2005 after graduating from CSM; 2015 LVMH prize-winners Paulo Almeida and Marta Marques of the London label Marques’Almeida are Portuguese. Even Mulberry, one of the few British luxury labels with any claim to heritage, is now overseen by the 40-year-old designer Johnny Coca, who was born in Seville and studied in Paris.

The very fabric of British fashion is a patchwork of international talent, all working collaboratively within an industry that has nurtured creative freedom both figuratively and physically. It’s what makes it so crucial and relevant. Fashion Week without its international flavour would be god-awful, just as surely as Milan and Paris would be rubbish without the design talent we have in turn exported. Which is not to say that designers wouldn’t still come and work here, but parochial little islands patrolled by borders and British disdain don’t make for such a good fit.

As for the schedule, AW16 was mixed, with individual shows being standout rather than the whole. Christopher Kane’s homage to a hoarder, “Lost and Found”, was an elegant display of technical skill and objectivity; Marques’ Almeida proved they were doing young and relevant well before Vetements hit the scene; and JW Anderson dazzled with his take on cocktail wear. Anderson’s sculptural silhouettes, quilted leathers and scalloped suedes had a bold architectural beauty. After so much focus on commodity and the “see-now-buy-now” commercial model launched by Burberry, it was a joy to see someone indulging a purely creative whim (though, for the record, his e-commerce site and store delivery times are excellently efficient).

Set design inspired at Erdem, too, where the 38-year-old called on the archives of Oliver Messel to put on an audacious show of old Hollywood glamour and sublimely wearable gowns. Kudos also to the many labels — Mary Katrantzou, Topshop, Mulberry among them — who cited Shakespeare plays in their show notes: the Bard’s 400th anniversary hasn’t gone unnoticed, even among us illiterates in the fashion pack.

The heart-stopping moment of the week, however, belonged to a foreign interloper — or should we say refugee? The British house Alexander McQueen usually shows in Paris but, owing to designer Sarah Burton’s imminent due date (she’s expecting her second child in two weeks), the label relocated to London’s Lawrence Hall. It was a beautiful homecoming, all the more so perhaps because it was the very venue in which Burton first showed with McQueen at the start of her career 20 years ago.

Burton’s AW16 collection explored surrealism and sensuality, and her muse “sleepwalked” around in a sea of silver talismans, embroidered totems and sequinned symbols. The closing looks saw a model swaddled in a great pillowy pastel eiderdown embroidered with butterflies and trimmed in pinky fur. It was literally dreamy — and the best expression of why fashion should never be subject to border control.Read more at:green prom dresses uk

07:16 Publié dans Fashion | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

23/02/2016

Fashion's Phoenix: Johnny Coca Does Mulberry Proud

Fashion's Phoenix: Johnny Coca Does Mulberry Proud
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When the brilliant Emma Hill left as Mulberry’s Creative Director in 2013, it ushered in a nightmare period for the company: profit warnings, executive changes, backlash over pricing -- and all the while the in-house design team were trying to stay the ship. Johnny Coca, formerly of Celine, and the man behind the Trapeze “it” bag, was brought in to be Mulberry’s savior. Happily, his debut outing yesterday at London’s elegant Guildhall brought some relief to both the company and its fans.

All the weight of the world was on the diminutive Spaniard to create the next it-bag (the “Bayswater” and “Alexa” have always been Mulberry’s cash cows), and Coca’s starting point was to pour through the company archives and update the 1970’s logo. Gone is the Mulberry iconic tree logo, and instead came the revamped oval gold shape, simple and smart. That appeared on the new “Clifton” chain purse bag, a sleek and very grown up affair that came in a variety of skins and colors, and definitely a departure from the often girly bags that have been a Mulberry signature.

Coca is a pro, and the leather quality and the craftsmanship was unparalleled, while the swank design and interesting skins bought a new sophistication to the house. The bag starts at the sensible £450 range, which should silence all the price critics that have haunted Mulberry for years.

Ramping up the elegance was the new “Chester” bag – a top-handle bag with multiple compartments for all the detritus that hits a woman's purse. Yet it was brilliantly constructed without it looking too complicated.

The shoes were directional - a flat-form that finally looked desirable; ornate sling-backs; and strappy Mary Janes with a rebellious edge. They also contrasted nicely against the safe and sophisticated bags.

Press-stud details on the bags carried over to RTW, which started off with a statement coat. This is Coca’s inaugural run at RTW, so that was a concern. But Coca studied London street style to deliver something he described backstage as “honestly British.” The result was a lot of capes and felted military coats that referenced the 1980’s Kings Cross punk scene, and oversized floral prints that evoked Portobello Road.

But the clothes seemed hesitant, a supporting role to the bags and shoes. And rightly so. To be cautious and feel his way around his first womenswear collection without making any bold statements that challenge the house codes (which according to former CEO Godfrey Davis is “bonkers, youthful and fun”) is no doubt the smart way to rehabilitation. This slowly, slowly strategy for Coca may just pay off in dividends.Read more at:prom dresses london

08:08 Publié dans Fashion | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

19/02/2016

Why This Supermodel Felt "Empty" At The Height Of Her Career

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At the age of 36, Jaime King has already lived two lifetimes. Nowadays, she's best-known as an actress, having appeared in Pearl Harbor,White Chicks, and most recently, Hart of Dixie. But years before she hit the silver screen, she was making a living as a successful supermodel during the golden era of fashion, when models still danced on tables and you could still smoke inside. She went by "James" (because there was already a Jaime at her agency) and was living in Paris by the time she was 16. But when she reached top-model status, she decided to give it all up. We caught up with King at Target's event celebrating its WhoWhatWear collaboration where she gave us a big hug and told us why.

"When I was 18 years old and at the height of my career as a supermodel — this is when there were true supermodels — I felt empty. I had just done [my] first Victoria's Secret fashion show [in 1999]. I was making obscene amounts of money because it was pre-recession. I mean, I had everything you could ask for and more. And yet, I felt so empty.

"And what I realized was that I wasn't learning anything anymore. I was so blessed to be able to start young and I worked with all of the masters. I wanted to be in fashion because my mother was a seamstress. And I wanted to be in fashion because it moved me, because I'm an artist. But when it stopped moving me, I remember just weeping. I was like, Why is it that I have all of this success, but I'm so sad?

"Then, I realized it was time for me to move on to something else. And at that time, no one had moved from modeling to acting. That was unheard of. And when I said that's what I was going to do and that I was going to quit, they were like, 'Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. What are you doing?' There was a revolt. I was at the top of my game, but they just didn't get it.

"For me, if I'm not learning something, I can't live with a lie. I think my blessing and my curse is my authenticity. And my authenticity is my ability to see that which is unjust in the world, that which is not right or true. And I cannot deny that within myself or to others. And I try to relay that in the most loving way possible. I can't stand seeing people not being able to live their lives in a very full way. And I wasn't feeling like I was living my life in the fullest way. But I believed in myself. I knew people hadn't done it before, but I knew that I was going to go in there with enough studying and preparation and it was going to happen. So I went to some auditions and boom — I started booking TV and movies immediately. And it was amazing. And one thing that I can say is, no matter what, if you follow the truth of your heart, you'll never be wrong."Read more at:cocktail dresses

07:36 Publié dans Fashion | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)