Tag Archives: 2011

Jungle Book

It’s not about Marilyn Monroe moving to India and having an acid trip,” Alber Elbaz wisecracked at the presentation of his pre-fall collection for Lanvin.

Instead, his observation that more women are wearing evening for day – “Why save the best dishes for guests?” mused the aspiring philosopher backstage – gave Elbaz inspiration for a collection marrying the finest of both.

A floor-grazing skirt – made liquid in champagne silk – had the masculine nonchalance of palazzo pants when paired with an oversized rib-knit sweater.  Bourgeois tweed came shot through with gold and patchwork fur. Ruffled day dresses – cut simply in black and navy scuba – were stacked with a Mille-feuille of pearl necklaces.

Each came finished with charcoal grey tights to remind, and remind again, that the collection offers a luxe reinterpretation of dressing for day.

|The Fashion Spot, Quotes: Style.com|

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Beginning

So, that’s out the way for another year… 

Christmas, I mean.

Although the season brings cheer to many, Napoleon mutates – on first sniff of a mince pie – into the Grinch and is not restored to his affable self until the clock chimes on the twelfth night of Christmas.

It can make for a climate more implosive than the Middle East and calls for diplomacy much beyond my ‘I’m hungover/ The turkey is still raw after nine hours of cooking/ If my family were sold in a shop, I wouldn’t pick them off the shelf’ emotional state.

Thankfully, with my return to the office tomorrow – and the comforting normalcy of a ‘Work, Eat, Sleep’ routine – this period of enforced coexistence with Dr. Seuss’ (non) fictional character will draw to a close.

In the wake of a less than Hallmark-perfect Christmas, it would be madness beyond fathom to compound my disappointment with a list of impossible to keep – soon to be broken – New Year’s resolutions…

Wouldn’t it?

1. When Napoleon asks whether I might pass an editorial gaze over his PhD drafts, I will do so with the grace and good humour shown towards one of my authors.  I will no longer (a) Sneer, (b) Snort, (c) Roll my eyes with teenage melodrama, or (d) Scrawl ‘This is Crap’ in the margins.

2. I will take up drinking.  I’ve never been one to follow the flock and, with everyone else quitting firewater at this time of the year, there’ll be more to go around for me.

3. Having promised to do so many times, I will finally save my pennies for a Burberry trench and skip around smugly come the rain showers of April.  April 2015, that is.  Burberry coats are bloody expensive.

4. I will no longer compare myself to others.  My low self-esteem is taking a holiday.

In the spirit of hope and turning over a new leaf, I had also thought to add one final resolution promising to update my blog more frequently…

But let’s keep things realistic, kids.

|Retrofuturs|

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Aphrodite


|The Fashion Spot|

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A Milestone

If each post written were to represent each year lived, this would be my centenary.

100.

Whilst I await a congratulatory telegram from the Queen, we should perhaps get on with the show and make it suitably marvellous.

And what, perchance, could be better than Chanel Haute Couture?

Beneath the ornate cupola of the Grand Palais and the gaze of a behemothic lion statue – a towering homage to the house’s late founder, Coco Chanel, a Leo – models emerged onto the runway from an oversized ‘pearl’ globe. Another Chanel signature, it augured a collection of equally grandiose theatricality.

Transporting and folkloric, the clothes summoned all the opulence and romantic nostalgia of Romanov Russia. An Old Order charm, if you will. 

Cropped tweed jackets wearing bracelets of nutria fur and artisanal bronze buttons, velvet and wool tailoring, overdone rounded shoulders, and a saturated colour card of autumnal navy, wine red, toffee, and brown – without so much a whisper of traditional Chanel black – have me think of literary characters such as Anna Karenina and long sweeping journeys on the Trans-Siberian railway. 

Where dark colour and heavy fabric conspired to make the clothes seem matronly and oppressively aristocratic, youthful modernity was imparted with brambled hair and skin bare but for the kiss of slut-red raspberry lips.

Neither my taste nor Lagerfeld at his best – the less said about the wrinkled ‘Nora Batty’ stocking boots, the better – it is perhaps telling that I have only chosen to picture accents of handwork and ornamentation rather than full ensembles. 

A cream dress gave the illusion of being constructed entirely from pearl beadwork. Cuffs were gilded with a cacophony of chains and precious stones. More befitting a Fabergé egg, baroque tapestries came embellished with delicate vines of imperial gold embroidery. It was this craftmanship – this extraordinary regalia of human art and endeavour –  that salvaged the collection.

With each passing season, it has increasingly seemed that the spirit and aesthetic of ‘Coco’ Chanel wanes.

In 1926, her friend and contemporary, Jean Cocteau, produced a cartoon to exemplify contemporary fashion. Focus went to a sylphlike and insouciant garconne – attired in a plain jersey dress, a scribble of ink jewellery her only adornment – whilst, in the background, an elderly matron retreated from the page in a burdensome fur coat. The drawing was accompanied by one laconic annotation, ‘Poiret s’eloigne – Chanel arrive’: Poiret – the most celebrated designer of the Twenties – departs as Chanel arrives.

Were Cocteau to draw today, it would be Chanel departing with her neat, iconic tweed suit and coterie of little black dresses.*

I question whether this change of design ‘sea air’ results simply from Lagerfeld asserting his own artistic legacy more aggressively or from the need, in an uncertain economic world, to be expedient and make decisions that pander to prevalent commercial markets.

Whatever the cause, with this particular haute couture collection, Chanel was not so much the house that roared as the one that quietly purred.

A milestone, indeed.

* Is it not ironic, then, that the lion and pearl – both powerful symbols of Coco – stole the show?

|The Fashion Spot|

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