1. by Alexander Fury .

    Something for the girls

    For those who think Pitti is all about the subtle charms of peaked and notched lapels and ever-raging debate of single-versus-double breasted (not to mention button numbers), the 'Pitti W' womenswear showcase offers an alternative. In it's sixth season and third year of giving designers old and new a valuable stage to present their pre-collection offerings (this season Haider Ackermann, and back in January Ungaro's new man Giles Deacon), there were a few gems amongst the selection on display in the W space adjacent to the main Pitti showground. Given the pre-eminence of vintage over the past decade or so, it was interesting that W devoted a whole room and six coveted booths to displaying a variety of vintage wares. The eighties-redux selection from A.N.G.E.L.O. - which bills itself as a 3-storey 'Vintage Palace' in the centre of Lugo, run by Caroli and Mario Gulmanelli - was pricey but impressive. My favourite pieces were a Mugler-esque goat-hair coat in pine-green and black - it resembled something Anita Pallenberg may have worn in Barbarella - and a maletot top with a satin-bowed single sleeve that could have been plucked straight from a Chloe catwalk, likewise the hefty crocodile doctor's bags (vintage Fendi - unfortunately with a pricetag to match). Even these riches paled in comparison, however, with the veritable Arc de Triomphe of Vuitton trunks at Collezionando, a leading Rome vintage specialist with a line, it seems, in luxury luggage: I spotted Goyard, Hermès and of course that unmistakable intertwined LV all over the place. Pitching up a luxury trunk showroom next to a covetable vintage shop? Smart thinking.

  2. by Alexander Fury .

    Swindled at Pitti

    One of the contemporary exhibitors that caught my eye at Pitti W was Carta e Costura - perhaps because it tapped into the same ode world spirit as the aforementioned vintage showcase. Designed in collaboration by veteran costume designers Alessandra Carta and Stefano Fornari, there was a mood of thirties silver-screen elegance to her handful of liquid black and silver frocks in silk satin, intricately pinched and darted, and occasionally cascading into ruffles or a flounced single sleeve. My favourite bias-draped and bustled number recalled none less than Charles James, and indeed there was a mood of pre-war haute couture to the whole collection - they cite none less than Jeanne Lanvin, Madeleine Vionnet, Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli and Madame Gres as inspirations (but what designer in their right mind wouldn't?). This duo however, twisted the idea - scrawled in lipstick across a mirror at the back of their space was the slogan 'The Great Couture Swindle', and there was something slightly off about all these immediately elegant gowns. The ruffles on one, for example, seemed crinkly and stiff to the touch - a result of the labels experiments with techno-fabrics shunned by haute couture's upper echelons - while delicate stitching sat inches away from hemlines left raw and unravelling, backs spiked with industrial zips. It wasn't entirely new or exciting, but it was elegant and appealing. If vintage has taught us anything, it's that women value that over novelty anyway.

  3. by Alexander Fury .

    Bella Firenze

    A rather fetching view of Florence's Ponte Vecchio as we make our way out of town and into the Tuscan countryside for the Jil Sander show. As I've stated many a time, this show will once again happen in the open air - and after today's downpours it now seems we're enjoying a balmy spell of evening sunshine. Fingers crossed it stays that way all evening!

  4. by Alexander Fury .

    Raf Simons' blue-sky thinking

    I'm just about to head off to the Jil Sander show, but wanted to snap the invite as it gives us the first clue as to Raf Simons' S/S 2011 vision for this esteemed house. Raf is evidently thinking colour. Lots of colour. The outside of the invite is cobalt-blue, the inside is tangerine, the envelope it came in was burgundy while the lining of said envelope is a fetching shade of fuchsia. Simons is showing in a villa a good forty-five minutes outside of Florence, with drinks planned before, the show slated for 21:00 CET and the afterparty set to continue into the wee small hours. More from the scene soon.

  5. by Alexander Fury .

    PRE-COLLECTION S/S 11: Roksanda Ilincic

    Pre-collections have become all-important in fashion. Indeed, it seems like two additional but no less essential seasons have cropped up to punctuate the fashion calendar with fresh designs and new product. Deviating from fashion's age-old rota, we're still not quite sure to call them - but if we do settle on Cruise, Resort, or any variation on the theme for the current pre-summer season, then Roksanda Ilincic's latest offering is bang on the money, being the perfect embodiment of casual continental chic. Then again, she was one of the first to get in on the pre-collection game in London three years ago, so it's fitting that she should be a dab hand by now. This (pre)season, Ilincic was inspired by a trip to Sicily earlier this summer, thus the unbleached Mediteranean hues of powdery-blue, sand and an almost fluorescently vibrant yellow taken, Ilincic said, by fields of yellow flowers smothering the Italian countryside. That was translated into firm dresses in silk-gazar, loosely-woven to give them a sculptural fluidity. Gazar was Balenciaga's favourite fabric, and Ilincic crafted a few experiments in form reminiscent of the master's celebrated single-seam frocks from the mid-sixties - a swooping single-shoulder shift for example, with asymmetric hem dipping from mid-thigh to ankle, or a puffy bubble dress cinched with a collection of ribbons and flower corsages. Those same decorations popped up on the necks of simple monochrome dresses, and on what Ilincic calls her 'Couture T-Shirt', in cobweb-fine silk/cotton jersey intricately inlaid with ribbons of tulle along the seams (no money-spinning print-job cobbled together in China for this girl!). There was a t-shirt like simplicity to many of the pieces, such as fluttery bias-cut frocks with a feel of Vionnet to their spare, seamless and hem-less style, alongside shell-tops and trousers in fluoro-flecked boucle, backed in silk crepe and drawn in at the waist with a fine chain belt like a necklace. As if to prove that multi-functional point, Ilincic herself wore swathes of these looped around her neck. And very fine they looked too.

  6. by Alexander Fury .

    Susie chics herself at Haider Ackermann

    After traversing Pitti in a rather marvellous pair of tinsel hot-pants for the best part of the day, the fabulous Susannah Lau opted to go 'sophisticated' (her word, not mine!) for Haider. In my view, she succeeds admirably: she almost looks like one of Val's Gals in this number! Very Alta Moda.

  7. by Alexander Fury .

    Haider Ackermann's haute hippies

    Our first show of Pitti, and indeed of the Spring/Summer 2011 season, was Haider Ackermann's aptly-titled 'Opium', shown in the courtyard of an artfully distressed waterfront palazzo at dusk. Sounds fabulously poetic and romantic? It was - with Ackermann enlisting the help of Jamie Bochart to not only open the show but accompany it throughout on a grand piano, below tinkling chandeliers hoisted into mid-air. Really, this is what all fashion shows should be like!

  8. by Alexander Fury .

    A bit potty at Pitti

    I was only able to take the most cursory of spins around Pitti Immagine before preparing myself for the Haider Ackermann presentation this evening, but even in that short circuit, these ceramic bow ties from Italian label Cor Sine Labe Doli caught my eye - and indeed those of veritable Fashion Bloggerati power-couple Steve Salter (of Style Salvage Steve) and Susannah Lau (of Style Bubble), who I had the good fortune to bump into on my first trip around. Maybe it's my reticence to wear the kind of elastic-attached ready-made dickies that festoon so many stereotypical prom dates in abysmal 1980s teen rom-coms, combined with my inability/unwillingness to learn how to tie the real thing that makes these porcelain numbers quite so appealing. Hand-crafted by artisans in the Italian town of Marostica, the ceramic bow-ties manage to fuse fashion, art, jewellery, and good-old fashioned pottery design - think of cameos clasped to the throat, Limoges porcelain necklaces, or maybe the famous anecdote of Comte Robert de Montesquiou replacing his cravat with a bunch of violets. At the same time, to me they're unmistakably reminiscent of Farfalle pasta, and hence quintessentially Italian. Basta! I'll have one in every colour and a plate to match each, please.

  9. by Alexander Fury .

    Grey is the new blue at Pitti Immagine

    Can it be S/S 2011 already? Well, maybe not - as an uncharacteristically grey sky greeted me over the Piazza dell'Unita Italia as I arrived in Florence for the first leg of our Collections coverage. Pitti Immagine Uomo #78 is our inaugural stop for a glimpse of next summer - this season, this menswear trade fair-cum-fashion event boasts none less than the talents of Haider Ackermann and Raf Simons for Jil Sander amongst the 1500 or so exhibitors in it's hallowed (and cavernous) halls. Those leaden skies, however, have set many a journo a-fluster, as both Sander and Ackermann are set to stage their shows in the great outdoors. Whether they'll pull a Chanel and trump Mother Nature (quick and costly erection of tented enclaves allowed Karl Lagerfeld to thumb his nose at the elements and continue to show his A/W 2007 haute couture au naturale), or make a hasty retreat indoors, we've yet to see. Sander is slated for tomorrow evening, but Haider Ackermann's show - his inaugural offering for men, but with womenswear set to make an appearance too - begins in just over two hours. I'm packing an umbrella just in case...

  10. by Alexander Fury .

    SNOW WHITE - Preparations

    A montage of Edward Enninful's selection of shoes for today - spinal tap heels courtesy of DSquared2, and these cutwork cream leather Alaia numbers. A little-known fashion fact is that, in 1986, Alaia insisted no-one but Campbell could model a chiffon gown with inlaid tattoo pattern inspired by the singer Josephine Baker, resulting in numerous editorial features with the then-16 year old soon-to-be-supermodel. Similarly, when Azzedine discovered these samples were destined for Naomi, he insisted on selecting these fretwork platforms himself.

  11. by Alexander Fury .

    SNOW WHITE - Naomi Campbell for i-D magazine

    It may be the height of summer (or as close as dear old blighty gets) but we're in a decidedly wintry mood on set with Nick Knight, Edward Enninful and Naomi Campbell shooting a story for this autumn's issue of i-D magazine. 'Snow White' is our theme - we've rails of arctic-white garments from pretty much every fashion house under the sun, and Sam McKnight has concocted a wig fit for a snow queen. Lest this all sounds too saccharine, Edward is twisting the shoot in a slightly more provocative direction, as testified by a table piled high with lacy basques, latex knickers and the kind of strict corsetry much favoured by Allen Jones. Lest we think fetish has the upper hand over fashion, the stand-out stays (quite literally, in those jutting breasts and hips) belong to none less than couture corsetry maestro Thierry Mugler.

    Stay tuned throughout the day as we convey a constant flow of images and text live from the studio floor.

  12. by Alexander Fury .

    Oh, Vienna!

    Maybe our Object Fetish items have given you a slight indication of my taste for a bit of ornate embellishment - so the Palais Schönburg here in Vienna is pretty much my ideal wedding-cake of a European summer home. Fret not! I haven't won the lottery and upped sticks to this baroque bon-bon of a villa in the centre of Vienna, but am here as part of the 10 festival for fashion and photography to discuss the shift from still to moving image with Imran Ahmed of The Business of Fashion and Alastair Allan of Dazed Digital. A number of interesting points have been raised - the idea of narrative versus editorial-based moving image, exactly where, and if, fashion film intersects with the more readily recognised medium of perfume advertising, and the still-tricky subject of crediting these films to make them editorially viable (why loan the clothes, after all, if your work isn't going to be credited?) Today talks continue, with a symposium on the future of European manufacturing where panellists include designer Kostas Murkudis and Anne Chapelle, CEO of Ann Demeulemeester and Haider Ackermann.

  13. by Alexander Fury .

    John Galliano's Fashion Fringe Finalists!

    As precursor to the announcement of the three Fashion Fringe finalists, last night a rather stellar fashion foursome of John Galliano, Lady Amanda Harlech, Colin McDowell and our own Nick Knight sat down to discuss all matters sartorial. The broad basis for this in conversation was 'Commerce and Creativity: can they co-exist?' The conclusion seemed to be mixed - after all, this has been an ongoing discussion in fashion since it began to be truly industrialised with the founding of haute couture back in the 1850s (and, more likely than not, will remain eternally unresolved). The discussion was quickly thrown open to audience members including Hilary Alexander, Gareth Pugh and Daphne Guinness - none of whom were shy in coming forwards with their own opinions. At the end of the day, however, the night belonged to Galliano: the first designer approached by Fashion Fringe to single-handedly judge the competition, his choice of three finalists was announced alongside cocktails at the Ivy to a gathering of fashion's great and good. The three names to watch out for? Alice Palmer, Jade Kang and Corrie Nelson. We'll be seeing more of them in the months to come - not only at Fashion Fringe in September, but also exclusively on

  14. by Alexander Fury .

    Ed Griffiths in the house!

    Ed Griffiths is now well and truly ensconced in our LiveStudio - as the sanding, slamming and chopping going on above our heads amply testifies! Over the course of the next four days Ed will be creating a unique series of leather items to add to our Shop exhibition - and as ever our question-and-answer form is open for you to submit your comments and queries during the course of his working week.

    Click here to view the LiveStudio session

  15. by Alexander Fury .

    Open house chez Louis Vuitton

    When is a shop not a shop? When it's the Louis Vuitton UK flagship - or, as they term it, 'Maison' - first opened on New Bond Street in 1900 and recently overhauled by celebrated architect Peter Marino. The title 'Maison' feels appropriate as the Vuitton store is envisaged as the home of a collector, albeit a collector whose twin obsessions are jaw-dropping contemporary art and equally staggering volumes of Vuitton. As we all know, these days the two go hand-in-hand under the creative direction of Marc Jacobs - thus, chez Vuitton, art from the likes of Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince is reinvented as covetable handbags, while LV product itself is elevated to the status of art. Nowhere is this more evident than in a retrospective selection of Vuitton garments plucked from the archive and curated into outfits by super-stylist Katie Grand (tantalisingly labelled collection privèe, to deter those anxious archive geeks). Think Vanessa Beecroft installation meets the V&A's Costume Court and you get the picture, and juxtapose that with several million pounds in modern art (the three-floored Maison racks up a Basquiat, a Hirst, two works by Gilbert and George and three Prince's for good measure). The fashion-as-art debate, and indeed that old art-as-commerce chestnut, suddenly has an interesting new slant. But intellectualism aside, it's impossible not to be oh-so-slightly flabbergasted by the Vuitton space, which is doubtless as much a tourist attraction as a retail centre. Marino himself has stated 'Some shops are just lethally serious but we want people to smile.' Bearing his adage out, it's impossible not to crack a grin at the Disney-esque attractions of automated dancing shoes in the window, and shelves of handbags that magically reconfigure before your very eyes. It's worth a trip to indulge your eyes - even if you only leave with a keyring.

    The Louis Vuitton New Bond Street Maison opens to the public today.

  16. by Alexander Fury .

    Giles Deacon heads to Emanuel Ungaro!

    Iconoclastic and universally-feted British designer swoops in to rescue ailing continental couture house with an injection of fresh creative talent? The nineties revival, it seems, really is in full swing, as Giles Deacon has been scooped up by the head honchos at Emanuel Ungaro to give them a creative kick up the derrière starting with the S/S 2011 collection due to be shown in Paris this autumn.

    As so very many know, the house of Emanuel Ungaro has been under something of a cloud recently - stumbling in the wilderness for a few seasons, the nadir came with the S/S 2010 debut of little-known designer Estrella Arch and her somewhat better known creative consultant Lindsay Lohan. The collection itself was chiefly known for sequinned nipple-pasties, heart-shaped cut-outs and micro-mini hems, clangers understandably accompanied by plummeting stockists, shuttered stores and gleefully poisonous reviews worldwide.

    Does Deacon's appointment signify a beacon of hope for the beleaguered house? It's difficult not to get your hopes up - the frothy, feminine and wilfully excessive styles of Ungaro's eighties heyday, the firm brightly-coloured tailoring of his sixties debut, and the masterful mixes of print that defined his forty-year career all find a contemporary parallel in Deacon's humorous haute couture. Unlike some of Ungaro's more lumpen excursions, however, Giles' tongue is always firmly in cheek, without losing the chic - and his last show proved he can cut in on a Paris stage with the best of them. A match made in heaven, it would seem. Certainly the press - not just in Britain, but across the world - are waiting with bated breath for Deacon's opening Ungaro exit, slated for this October.


    1. someonegreat
      12:07 26 May 2010
      Not a giant fan of Deacon's most recent collections, but he does feel like a match made in Technicolor heaven for Ungaro. Imagine him getting his hands of the feathered frocks in those archives!
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