1. by Alexander Fury .

    Fashion in motion at SHOWstudio shop

    There's an argument that fashion is only truly alive when its on a human body. Its an idea that has plagued museum curators for many a year - the Victoria and Albert museum's wildly successful Fashion In Motion series was an attempt to address the balance.

    Given SHOWstudio's dedication to fashion film and showcasing fashion in movement, the idea of animating some of the exhibits in the latest SHOWstudio Shop exhibition In Your Face (open from today until 5 February 2012) was a fundamental concept. So alongside static presentations of fashion pieces from Nasir Mazhar, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Void of Course and Delfina Delettrez, three of the exhibition's key In Your Face items were sported by live models for our private view last night.

    Shaun Leane's iconic silver mouthpiece, created for Alexander McQueen's Autumn/Winter 2000 collection 'Eshu' and designed to pin open the model's lips in a permanent, aggressive snarl, was worn with pieces from Sarah Burton's Autumn/Winter 2011 collection for McQueen. A Giles leather suit and Nicholas Kirkwood platforms were the foil for Debra Baxter's crystal brass knuckles, while model Alexia Wight sported the most outlandish piece of the night, Gareth Pugh's 'Stealth Bomber' ensemble from his Spring/Summer 2007 collection, alongside a headpiece custom-made for the 2010 Mercedes-Benz campaign photographed by Nick Knight, and the obligatory Gareth Pugh accessory of choice - a gimp suit. The live presentation of this model, however, will continue - see the SHOWstudio job listings for your chance to sport archive Pugh to a captive audience!

    A special thanks to models Alexia Wight, and Nur Hellmann and Akuol de Mabior at Viva, to Stephen Beaver at Premier for hair, Tenielle Sorgiovanni at Premier for make-up and Jessica Hoffman at Caren for manicure.


    1. Russell Higton
      16:45 5 Dec 2011
      Love the makeup, amazing.
  2. by Alexander Fury .

    Adieu to François Lesage
    Haute couture legend dies aged 82

    François Lesage, head of the decades-old embroidery house famed for its expert couture craftsmanship, has died today at the age of 82. The man behind creations including Yves Saint Laurent's six-figure 1988 'Van Gogh' jackets, John Galliano's thousand-hour embroidered dresses (yes, plural, such as the Spring/Summer 2011 number above) for Christian Dior, and Christian Lacroix's most lavish couture fantasies, the house of Lesage is a fixture of the Paris fashion firmament, known for working not only with contemporary couture giants but true fashion legends including Elsa Schiaparelli, Cristobal Balenciaga and Christian Dior himself. For all his decades of dedication to his craft, Monsieur Lesage was not without humour - when he read that Alexander McQueen had called his work 'constipated', he directed the bad boy of haute couture to sit on the toilet for ten minutes before showing him samples for his inaugural Givenchy collection. The elaborate, embroidery-encrusted coats and ball gowns that characterised the drama of McQueen's Givenchy tenure bear witness to the friendship that quickly blossomed. With Monsieur Lesage's death, fashion has lost a true legend.

    Recent comments

    1. ericesquire
      21:21 1 Dec 2011
      my respect for M. Lesage - a craftsman of high dimensions has passed away - may he R.I.P.

      eric esquire
    2. J
      22:17 1 Dec 2011
      a magnificent man of highest contribution to haute couture. thank you for your life's devotion.
  3. by Alexander Fury .

    The British Fashion Awards 2011 - and the winners are...
    Honouring the greats of Great British fashion

    We Brits love any excuse for a bit of flag-waving and a rousing chorus of God Save The Queen. Both were firmly - if metaphorically - in place last night at the 2011 British Fashion Awards (metaphorical until the post-show party, that is). Held at the swish and savvy Savoy, the awards honoured the great and greater of Great British fashion. Everyone's a winner, as Hot Chocolate once said, and the strength of British fashion right now means we all benefit from the talent roster of names drawing attention to London. That's the truth.

    Enough of the guff - everyone by now knows who won what, but here's a quick run-down of a few of the winners, from the innovative Christopher Raeburn receiving the inaugural Emerging Menswear category to Victoria Beckham's recognition as a truly great British brand, to Stella McCartney's Red Carpet salute from none less than Kate Hudson. Kate Moss was on-hand to announce Sam Gainsbury of Gainsbury & Whiting as recipient of the coveted Isabella Blow award for Fashion Creator: as the production powerhouse behind Lee Alexander McQueen's fashion spectacles, it was well-deserved. Lady Amanda Harlech presented Alexa Chung with Style Icon, while Chung's choice of frock came from Christopher Kane, who won the New Establishment award. Designer of the year went to Sarah Burton - after a stellar Alexander McQueen collection for Spring 2012 and, of course, masterminding that dress (not Hurley's, the other one), it was a given, but no less of an accolade. My biggest hurrah was for the incredibly hard-working, infuriatingly understated and quite frankly insanely talented Mary Katrantzou, who scooped the prize for Emerging Talent in Ready-to-Wear. Her timely award opened the night's proceedings on a high note, with a rousing cheer from a crowd rooting for her every step of the way.

    Many thanks to the fantastic Melanie Rickey of Grazia and fashioneditoratlarge for the candid shot of the multiple award-winning Mary and I at the Topshop table while the night was still young!

  4. by Alexander Fury .

    Love your Glove - Chanel A/W 2011 Object Fetish now online!

    Karl Lagerfeld has described his approach to design as 'vampiristic' - and few designs suck quite as much as his creations for Chanel (meant in the best possible fashion, of course). For Autumn/Winter 2011, Lagerfeld glanced back to a founding principle of Mademoiselle Gabrielle's house: that of luxe pauvre. The luxurious poverty of Chanel's jersey dresses (previously a fabric only used for men's undergarment) was reflected in Lagerfeld's deluxe reinterpretations of working wear. Chantilly lace overalls, anyone? Or how about fingerless mittens adorned with Goossens bijouterie, coincidentally the latest fashion pieces to fixate on in our Object Fetish 2011 series of fashion films, created by Nick Knight and starring Raquel Zimmermann.

    Recent comments

    1. 06:42 27 Nov 2011
    2. Dragon
      02:25 13 Jan 2012
      At last some rtaionlaity in our little debate.
  5. by Alexander Fury .

    Mother of Pearl Dinner at Senkai

    Art meeting fashion is no new idea - Charles Frederick Worth compared himself to Delacroix back in the 1860s, while Elsa 'Schiap' Schiaparelli pulled in the Surrealists to inspire and occasionally collaborate on her witty interwar couture creations - the finest of which will grace the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute come next year (albeit probably excluding the lobster-embroidered frock splattered with very real mayonnaise by Salvador Dali). But Maia Norman's Mother Of Pearl tackles it in a very different way, collaborating with a different contemporary artist each season to reinterpret their work as prints, intarsia knits embroideries and the like across simple, straightforward and refreshingly unpretentious garments. There are no hand-painted, one-off ball-gowns in the Mother Of Pearl collection, and the prints created from the work of Mat Colinshaw, Carsten Holler and Jim Lambie are as likely to grace hi-top leather trainers or cotton t-shirts as they are a silk-crepe evening gown. 

    Many of those hi-tops and t-shirts were in evidence on Thursday at London's Senkai - as were the artists themselves, as Norman held an intimate dinner for a selection of art and fashion figures in the newly-opened sustainable Japanese restaurant on Regent Street. The Senkai dinner itself was well-timed to coincide with Japan's Culture Day as attendees ran the cultural gamut from artists Mat Collishaw and Paul Fryer, to The Clash's Paul Simenon and wife Serena Rees, to The Telegraph's Fashion Editor Lisa Armstrong and Fashion East Founder Lulu Kennedy (in covetable hibiscus-print Maarten Van Der Ham). Caledonian Queen of Cling Pam Hogg made up the designer numbers dressed in her own designs (a pair of her patchworked leggings also grace the cover of December's British Vogue for December on the seemingly limitless limbs of Gisele).

    Norman herself was wrapped in petrol-blue leather and fur alongside Pierre Hardy accessories - the shoe mogul has designed Mother Of Pearl's footwear for the past two seasons. Those collections, for Autumn/Winter 2011 and Spring/Summer 2012 respectively, were collabs with Keith Tyson and Fiona Banner respectively, while for next winter Norman works alongside Fred Tomaselli - whose psychedelic, hyper-decorated wood-panel pieces seem perfect for print. And, as the wife of artists Damien Hirst, if there's one woman artists feel comfortable to entrust their work to, it's Norman. 'We do have to tread lightly and be sensitive about using artists' work… you have to be respectful.' Well said. We'll have to wait until 2012 to see the results of this latest art-fashion fusion...

    A selection of garments from Mother Of Pearl's Autumn/Winter 2011 collection is retailed through SHOWstudio Shop


    1. P
      11:34 8 Nov 2011
      Gorgeous picture. And I am seriously coveting Lulu's outfit ! !
  6. by Alexander Fury .

    London Press Days

    The point of a press day is simple - to see people, to press flesh, and of course to flick through the frocks you saw mere weeks ago on the catwalk. The Milanese are quite canny: they've transformed the press day into a 're-see', meaning you flick through those garments hours rather than weeks after the shows. Here in London, we're a little slower - but the trickle of spring/summer 2012 press days has now become a flood. Topshop was a highlight of homegrown talent, as befits a major supporter of emerging designers for nigh-on a decade. For next season, alongside the label's own high-end Unique range (all Liz Taylor-tribute sweatshirts and gold-printed Cleopatra-inspired sportswear), they gave a sneak preview of Mary Katrantzou's stellar offering by way of a super-structured, mega-print mini-dress, one of Katrantzou's greatest hits reinterpreted at a Topshop price-point. Those trademark graphics will be splashed across a full range of garms come February, just in time for London Fashion Week.

    London fashion is all about devotion to new names - there were plenty in play at Ella Dror PR, itself a new operation set up to champion the freshest labels London has to offer. Dror is carving a niche as a champion of London's avant garde, with the Gaga-worthy antics of Studio XO (dresses literally made of smoke and mirrors) rubbing shoulders with head-to-toe moulded leather by Void Of Course. When I say head to toe, I mean it - there was a white nappa death-mask that looked like a cross between Tutankhamun and Leatherface. Fred Butler's gravity-defying multicoloured headpieces were slightly less sinister, as were Craig Lawrence's sandy-shaded seaside knits.

    Louis Vuitton can't be seen as anything but a flipside to these new names - after all, LV defines the term megabrand. Marc Jacobs celebrated the ever-turning carousel of the fashion system in a merry-go-round of product to close the Paris show season - here we got a chance to see the pastel crocodile and intricately worked surfaces of sugary-sweet little organza dresses at closer quarters. Of course, the bags demanded more than a second glance, with the LV insignia worked in chenille, bead embroidery, or a tracery of stitches on transparent voile.

  7. by Alexander Fury .

    Orient Express

    There has been an Asiatic undercurrent to much of fashion recently - Marc Jacobs' camp (his words, not mine) spring 2011 collection for Louis Vuitton was something of a starting point, despite the criticism it reputedly garnered. Since then we had Mary Katrantzou's Ming vase skirts, Prabal Gurung's Araki-inspired orchid prints, and Armani Privé's take on Madame Butterfly (cue attenuated hair-dos with half-a-million tremblante chopsticks emerging like a wayward game of Kerplunk!). 

    Hence the time is entirely appropriate for a new Japanese restaurant to open - at least in fashion terms. Especially with waitress-slash-models in rather nice draped black dresses serving rather small (but good) portions to the fashion crowd, as is the case at Senkai in London. The interior picks up on the Japanese theme: created by Christopher Prain with furniture and lighting design supplied by Conran Contracts, the restaurant combines bronze and sycamore with oriental flowers and a subtle, soft palette of lacquer red, black and gold. A centrepiece is a panel covered with hand-painted De Gournay wallpaper - a burnished-gilt backed Japanese scene which could have come straight from a Coromandel screen, or indeed from that Mary Katrantzou 'Vive l'Art de Vivre' celebration of interior excess.

    The food follows the same lines, simple but with exquisite ingredients (everything is sustainably-sourced, a first for London). I had seafood nigiri followed by black kingfish and cobia with Japanese plums and samphire as part of the  Senkai set lunch - fast, fresh and perfectly proportioned, like the best of fashion. Call it orient express.


    1. Rachel Hewitt
      12:42 26 Oct 2011
      Alex, I just wanted to say I love what you are doing on show studio! i just watched object fetish prada and givenchy so interesting! thank you for your insight and inspiration. xx
  8. by Alexander Fury .

    Paris Collections Spring/Summer 2012: An Unbearable Lightness

    Paris is in meltdown. Well, at least I am - I'm British after all. But there's nothing the British love more than complaining about the weather, or so a few American editors have told me with a roll of their eyes (it was broiling in New York, so they've packed accordingly). The meltdown, of course, comes from the pace of the shows as much as the brick-cracking chaleur outside.

    Heat be damned, we've seen some magnificent things. For me, Paris has reasserted its dominance this season, designers creating idiosyncratic, entirely individual collections. It's nice that they all seem to be pulling from a similar bag of ideas this season, but the interpretations are so disparate and unique it never feels old. Even when it's referencing the past boldly and consistently - Rochas' late-fifties schlock chic, for example, managed to be old and new at the same time. The whole idea was that you knew everything but nothing was entirely right. Imagine an alien trying to do fifties chic and getting it almost right. That off touch was the seduction in this soft show. It didn't shout for attention. It whispered, you listened. 

    Yohji Yamamoto is another clothes whisperer. His show earlier this week was brilliant, full of pomp and circumstance, swaggering tailcoats and grand ball-dresses, but all still deft and light. Lightness is something every designer should strive for in their spring collections. Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel collection today was obsessed with lightness, gowns as fragile and ephemeral as sea foam, hair scattered with pearls like water droplets or air-bubbles. Lady Amanda Harlech pointed out to me that she was under the water, not outside of it - so she wouldn't actually look wet. Nothing here seemed damp, but crisp and clean and refreshing. That was the feeling too at Phoebe Philo's Celine show, where peplums (she called them basques but they're all the same, and all over Paris) danced around waists and hips in a play on proportion and femininity. It managed to be decorative and Minimal at the same time, a fraught struggle.

    Femininity is an overarching theme of the spring season. It is womenswear we're seeing after all, so I'm quite glad designers figured out that women quite like looking like women. But it's more than that. 'Sometimes women want to look fragile,' was something else Lady Harlech said to me that has stuck in my mind whilst seeing all these terribly feminine clothes careen down the catwalks. I was looking for a riposte to the stereotypical sweetness of women, but maybe postfeminist women sometimes like to embrace that fragility, confident in their equality.

    Rei Kawakubo's fashion is rarely fragile, but for spring she showed Comme des Garcon's softer side. Well, sort of. This was about the slavery in beauty, about the strength behind fragility, expressed through ruffled upon ruffle, pile-ups of bouquets and untouchable mountains of pristine white fabric. That description doesn't make clear that it was also, oddly, about clothes that could easily be stripped down into something lots of people would want to wear a piece of. That's an extremely difficult mix to pull off. It was interesting to see someone handling it with such aplomb.

  9. by Alexander Fury .

    Gareth Pugh S/S 2012 fashion film now launched

    View exclusive Gareth Pugh fashion film and the process behind the shoot

    Coinciding with the unveiling of Gareth Pugh's Spring/Summer 2012 collection in Paris, SHOWstudio offers an exclusive online showcase of Gareth Pugh's latest collaboration with filmmaker Ruth Hogben.

    Fusing fashion film with live catwalk presentation to create a unique viewer experience, this film -  starring Crystal Renn and featuring key pieces from the collection - forms a cinematic backdrop to Pugh's Spring/Summer 2012 presentation in Paris this evening. More than merely showing the clothes, the film evokes the mood and inspirations behind Pugh's line in an evolution of the designers ground-breaking experimentations in blurring the boundaries of modern representation and presentation of fashion.

    The fashion film, created in collaboration between Gareth Pugh and Ruth Hogben, is unveiled exclusively on SHOWstudio at the same moment as Pugh's collection hits the Paris catwalk. A process film, recorded live on set during the film shoot earlier this year, is also presented, unravelling the intricate work of the hair and make-up teams, Pugh's stylist Katie Shillingford, and Pugh and Hogben, providing an unprecedented insight to the creative process behind this unique fashion film.


    Recent comments

    1. Nick
      18:06 28 Sep 2011
      the best.
    2. matthew.williams
      19:13 28 Sep 2011
    3. Sabin
      21:23 28 Sep 2011
      Great, I love it
  10. by Alexander Fury .

    Gareth Pugh: live at five

    Paris fashion week has only just begun, but it's already a whirlwind - we have no less than seven shows today, off-schedule and on. A highlight not only of the day but of the week is Gareth Pugh's presentation, set to be something pretty spectacular. We can't give too much away, but his humbug-striped invite gives something of a clue to the clothes in store (but we're definitely not thinking matelot). Pugh's catwalk show kicks off at 18:00 CET / 17:00 BST or thereabouts, and we'll be providing some truly exclusive coverage of the show - and the process behind it - on SHOWstudio. More this evening.

  11. by Alexander Fury .

    London to Milan - Planes, Trains and Automobiles
    An overview of London's S/S 2012 collections


    It says a great deal about the hectic pace of the London fashion week schedule that the first day I've been able to sit down, take stock and put pen to paper - metaphorically - about my overview of the British collections is the third day of Milan fashion week. And I skipped the capital without even finishing - there were a dozen Spring/Summer 2012 menswear shows overlapping with Milan's first day, none of which I got chance to see. More's the pity - some of our best talents are in the menswear scene right now. I was excited to see almost-old hand J. W. Anderson (a veteran of the London scene - at 27?!) and the new boys Shaun Samson and Matthew Miller. But pictures will have to suffice.

    The great thing about London is ideas. The execution may not always be perfect but it always throws off more forward-thinking fashion than any other week. Maybe I have high expectations of designers there - it didn't strike me as an especially vintage round of shows, although we saw some great collections. I hated about a quarter of what Richard Nicoll showed for spring. That said, I absolutely love the other 75%, segueing from graphic sixties shifts into ethereal floating chiffons and georgettes in the best pastel palette in all London town. The pictures couldn't do them justice, the way they moved on the body was sublime. Jonathan Saunders' scrollwork slips were also beautiful, tapping into an old-school vein of feminine frippery where its enough to look simply lovely without a moody, broody subtext. Palm Beach housewives on acid? Yadda, yadda, yadda. These were great, simple, saleable clothes in bright colours and interesting cuts that women will want to wear. No shame in that Mr Saunders. We saw more great clothing in that ilk from Marios Schwab - clever curvy dresses darted about the body in subtly veiled pastels - and from Erdem, who upped the sweet factor until our back-teeth ached for a collection that was utterly wearable and yet subtly subversive in its' relentless pushing of the pretty pretty. That's a difficult mix.

    Those are all top performers in London, but Simone Rocha's collection this season ranked up high with them. More's the pity that her show was a tiny, off-schedule affair tucked into a sweet, slightly decrepit salon space off Regent Street. If there was justice in the world, half-a-dozen of London's lingering losers would be bumped off the schedule and Rocha would have had them fighting in the aisles to see her lace-injected tulle tailoring, transparent plastic and sickly-sweet mix. Lulu Kennedy - fashion's fairy godmother who supported Rocha via her Fashion East initiative for the past two seasons - was sat front row, a 'told you so' smile playing across her lips. Ms Kennedy, I hang my head in shame for not listening earlier: now I'm a true believer in Rocha's burgeoning talent. Rocha's show also shared a sensibility with Palmer/Harding, the label of Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding who set up shop and NewGen exhibition stand with little more than a clutch of white shirts. But what shirts. There was nothing more refreshing in London than their intricate (but not too intricate) pleated poplins, set at a believable price-point and appealing to both men and women. I'll be unpicking them some more over in Paris, and trying to get images to do them justice.

    For me, the most interesting moments came from the wild wolves of London fashion: Mary Katrantzou and Meadham Kirchhoff. Very different views of femininity, but both of which have found an echo in Milan - at Prada, of all places. Katrantzou's nature versus nurture theme was synchronised to Miuccia Prada's fusion of (wo)man and machine. They both even referenced Chryslers: Katranzou crushed hers into an amorphous blob of printed steel, or chopped it into tin cans clattering around a spiral-cut frock. Prada printed the flame-licked decals and go-faster fins of dragsters onto her chiffon dresses. They both achieved the same aim, crashing together traditional femininity with something sleeker, harder. They also both had a focus on wearable separates and fluttery, pretty bits of chiffon to undermine the strict machine-age and make this a wearable proposition. 

    Meadham Kirchhoff's offering was more troublesome - but causing trouble is what fashion should be all about (Vivienne Westwood taught us that forty years ago, albeit sans her 'Dame' prefix). Meadham Kirchhoff were obsessed with 'the girl on top of the cake', the fluttery, pretty ballerina, the enduring archetype of femininity. Miuccia Prada dissected her stereotype too, in the prissy pleats of her chiffon dirndls and her Miami Nice pastel shades of powdery banana, strawberry and milkshake pistachio. Marching out atop reclaimed pieces of dragster racers, that sweet little girl suddenly looked brutal and menacing - just the same effect as the eye-socking, disconcerting Meadham Kirchhoff show, all glitter platforms, Kawaii cashmeres and creepy-cute powderpuff frocks.

    Milan Fashion Week continue today, with Trussardi's first womenswear collection by creative director Umit Benan (his first womenswear collection ever, in fact) and a hotly-anticipated Versace show.


  12. by Alexander Fury .

    Walter Van Beirendonck Dreams The World Awake


    Today sees the opening of Dream The World Awake, the first retrospective exhibition profiling the career of avant-garde Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck at the Antwerp Fashion Museum - and our self-same titled project showcasing Van Beirendonck's fashion film and photographic collaboration with Nick Knight and Simon Foxton.

    A maverick presence on the international fashion scene and one of the original Antwerp Six, Van Beirendonck first sprang to prominence in the early nineties with a series of spectacular and outrageous catwalk shows in Paris, under the terribly apt label W. & L. T. (Wild & Lethal Trash). However, Van Beirendonck's radical nature has always been more than just shock-frock fashion tactics - he views his clothes as sartorial palimpsest, a means of communicating beliefs and messages to the world at large.

    Van Beirendonck's collections tackled not only the ideas of technology, pop culture and ethnology that became mainstays of fashion in the late eighties, but also explored socio-economic themes such as ecology, mass-consumerism and AIDS prevention. The latter is something of a trademark, Van Beirendonck exploding myths of sex and sexuality, investigating new ideas of gender and questioning contemporary conventions of masculinity. Witness collections that dressed men in giant romper suits (Bad Baby Boys, A/W 1986), trussed them up in leather gimp-masks (Revolution, A/W 2001) or transformed them into giant hooded phalluses or dildo-nosed dragonflies (Sex Clown, S/S 2008).

    Dream The World Awake showcases all this and more, offering an overview of three decades of Van Beirendonck's innovation and invention. This is not only limited to the catwalk but also includes diverse projects spearheaded by Van Beirendonck - the kitschy, cartoonish costumes created for the U2 PopMart tour in 1997 receiving special focus. A centrepiece of the exhibition is Nick Knight and Simon Foxton's collaborative project, a forty-one model photographic frieze and fashion film created by Knight showcasing Foxton's visual mash-up of Van Beirendonck's enviable archives. Mixing garments from different collections - and even decades - together to create new looks in collaboration with Van Beirendonck himself, Knight and Foxton inject fresh life into these museum-worthy pieces, highlighting their continuing revolutionary relevance to contemporary menswear.

    A selection of images from this shoot are also showcased in GQ Style, with the video and photographic frieze shown both online as part of our Dream The World Awake project, and also in the MOMU space itself, blown-up larger than life. That, it seems, is a fitting summary of Van Beirendonck's entire fashion career.

    Dream The World Awake runs from 14 September 2011 - 19 February 2012 at the Antwerp Fashion Museum.


  13. by Alexander Fury .

    Compare and Contrast: Altuzarra versus Gucci

    A bit of documentary evidence of that Gucci redux thing in action. Compare and contrast this campaign image of Miss (now Mrs) Kate Moss in Tom Ford's finest, shot by Inez and Vinoodh for Spring/Summer 2001 with a runway picture of one of Joseph Altuzarra's latest. I'm talking about the below-the-ankle action. Eerie, right?


    1. 17:54 11 Sep 2011
      Wow. Someones had their reference-Vogues out...
  14. by Alexander Fury .

    New York Fashion Week: Glancing Back While Looking Forwards


    Of all the fashion capitals, New York is the most openly 'trend-lead'. That isn't necessarily a bad thing: there's something seductive about a bevy of designers speaking with a singular voice, especially when they're not really saying anything to rock the boat. This season, that insistent murmuring is 'sports couture' - did someone say déjà vu? Or are we reviving 2010? Maybe a little of both. Certainly, the idea of slimming down couture shapes with stretchy, techie little bits and pieces, pumping in a bit of bri-nylon and injecting the whole thing with go-faster colour has plenty of mileage. It also feels like it relates to today - taking something chic and giving it a forward-thinking spin. That's what fashion should be about. And, as I said, we've tackled it many, many a time before, so no scaring the horses.

    This time, the sport-couture cliché is mixed up with something clean and mean from the late-nineties. I can't help but flash back to a few of those great old Tom Ford For Gucci moments when facing a platform-free closed-toe white court shoe, maybe with a thick ankle-strap, or even slicked-back disco hair and glossy skin (very 1997). It'll be interesting to see what Messrs Kors and Rodriguez come up with, with so many young 'uns mining their back-catalogues.

    That's one of the reasons I suspect the collections of Joseph Altuzarra (above) appeal to me: we share the same field of references. He's speaking to his generation. Last season was a bias-wrapped aughties Galliano redux, this time we delved back into the Good Ford Almighty-worshipping nineties. It was streamlined, sleek, with lots of black leather jarring against tropical print. Watching from London, after about half-a-dozen blurry twitpics snapped mid-show, I got the message. I didn't need three pages of show notes and a line-sheet. That's why what Altuzarra does is good.

    Prabal Gurung's message was far less simple. That's putting it politely. It was messy. Maybe those at the show got it, but whatever he was hankering after didn't communicate through the catwalk image, and as that's how your collection will be consumed for the first six months of its increasingly short life, it's a pretty big issue. I heard pretentious rumblings of Araki as an influence, but the clothes had none of his wit, energy or edge.

    If there's a trend to ride, Alexander Wang is the man who'll do it in greatest style. Sports are something he's felt before - remember his American Footballer-chic thing in 2010? In fact, maybe you don't - Wang is one of those designers who is so single-minded and focussed each season he manages to entirely obliterate that which has gone before. It's a scary phenomenon. But I suppose it tricks people into buying more boxy bags and strappy sandals, so Wang's onto a winner. This time we had bunchy peplums, drawstrings and a surfeit of accessories. It was difficult to extract a single must-have from the pile-up of product. But that's the retailers' job.

    I also wanted to briefly mention Jason Wu, who seemed to knock some of the stuffing out of his sometimes-stuffy, often-fussy taste for ladylike and offer something cleaner. I'm not sure duchesse satin evening dresses with sweeping trains can slot into sports-couture, but there was an ease about them that has be lacking before. Teamed with simple white v-necks, they put me in mind of a (relatively) young Isaac Mizrahi circa Unzipped. High praise indeed.


  15. by Alexander Fury .

    Collections: New York Fashion Week S/S 2012
    Real-time coverage from all the key shows

    New York may have been buffeted by hurricanes, but fashion bravely soldiers into spring. It remains to be seen if the ever-fashionable ethos of 'Qu'ils mangent de la brioche' extends to sending models down the catwalk in bikinis and fluttery chiffon undernothings in horizontal rain and gale-force wind, but I wouldn't rule anything out.

    New York, as always, kicks off the new season - a cool two hundred shows sardine-rammed into eight days: fashion boot-camp to begin spring/summer before the action moves to Europe. What to expect? that's a dangerous question to ask of fashion, even in New York where the big guns generally perform as expected.

    Oscar de la Renta has been in business since 1965: staggering given that his shows are still hot tickets, his clothes heavily shot and, it appears, even more heavily shopped by Manhattan Matriarchs. A survey recently revealed that the average spend (my italics) in de la Renta's Madison Avenue flagship cleared $3,000. Pay-my-Rent-a seems to be more than just a handy pun. 

    The reason de la Renta's customers are willing to spend quite so freely is perhaps the measure of success for the vast majority of American designers: consistency. Ladies - and lets make no bones about it, its ladies when you're shopping at ODLR - buy de la Renta because he's never going to do sexpot, or sluttish, or God forbid fetish. He's equally never going to do costume, heavy themes or conceptual fashion. You may get an oversized hat, or a grass-green silk-faille frock splodged with life-size cerise chrysanthemums (two seasons on and I'm still not over that), but that's about as gimmicky as it goes. 

    It's the same with most New York designers. That's why they stay in business - and in so much business - for so long. New York labels are built for the long-haul. Even Marc Jacobs, master of the seasonal twist, is consistent. I'd argue he's consistent in his inconsistency, but a former member of Marc's staff once walked me through her thoughts on his season-by-season staples: slightly shrunken knits, peg-legged trousers and narrow-shouldered suiting. She'd worked on the shop-floor in his boutiques, so she knew her stuff.

    All the same, I wouldn't like to second-guess what New York will be offering - which is something of a cop-out, I suppose, but designers can always shock and astound. Off the bat, this season the designers I'm most excited to see are new New York favourite Joseph Altuzarra, Marc Jacobs (of course) and Proenza Schouler, still seen as something of young upstarts but established a clean decade ago. Then again, next to the deified legacy of de la Renta, Jacobs, Karan et all, ten years really isn't a very long time in fashion. At least, in New York fashion.

    SHOWstudio contributing fashion journalists Indigo Clark and Stephanie LaCava will file reports live and the team of will upload galleries of catwalk images real-time.

  16. by Alexander Fury .

    In Fashion, Suzy Menkes
    Live Interview Over, See More From The Series

    Our live In Fashion interview broadcast with the International Herald Tribune's esteemed and enormously influential Fashion Editor Suzy Menkes is now complete. Our In Fashion film edit, taken from this hour-long interview discussing the fashion career of this ever-influential journalist and doyenne of the catwalk, will be on-site very soon - and just in time for the kick-off of the four week whirlwind of the international collections!

    Click here to see more interviews from the In Fashion series


    1. jon.emmony
      00:52 3 Sep 2011
      Fantastic image of Suzy.
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