The second day of the London Menswear shows is well underway! Today we've gone gangster at Katie Eary, geometric at Jonathan Saunders and scarecrow at Christopher Shannon. Head over to our Collections pages for all the imagery, courtesy of the speedy snappers at NOWFASHION. In the midst of all the action, Hywel Davies has also been filing his reports - so far reviews are in for Lou Dalton, Topman and Oliver Spencer!
London's first menswear shows kicked off with more of a whimper than a bang, thanks to a rather underwhelming first day schedule (save from a few highlights thanks to Lou Dalton, Martine Rose and a coming show from Spencer Hart). All in all the offerings so far have been a patriotic fusion of classic British tailoring and current cultural hurrahs. The Olympic-fever that's been simmering on the recent London runways has come into its stride. The athletic tone was set from the off by Dalton, who provided neon, aertex and trainers alongside her tailoring. Topman really ran (pardon the pun) with the sports day theme - even if their shownotes dubbed this an exploration of eighties America - showing numbered jerseys with reworked Prince of Wales check, nodding to the Jubilee as well as the Olympics. Patriotic!
From tailoring talent on Savile Row to rebellious youth groups offering up subversive sartorial statements, London's been the nucleus of menswear innovation for years. The mods and rockers (now classic international reference points) even coined their styles on our turf - and clashed on our beaches - so it's only fair that finally, in 2012, London men join the fashion map.
Author of 'Modern Menswear' Hywel Davies is our eyes and ears, posting candid reviews alongside live imagery from NOWFASHION. Pictures are already in for Lou Dalton and Hackett. See all the action now!
Our favourite latex expert Atsuko Kudo has fought off the competition - whip at the ready - and emerged victorious at this year's European Fetish Awards. She was honoured with a very well-deserved Special Award to honour the ways in which her brand is 'opening doors for the whole latex industry with its amazing work in high fashion'. We at SHOWstudio have had a wonderful time collaborating with AK recently as part of our Selling Sex season, including displaying Atsuko's famous Armour for Prostitutes in our Shop space. Fans of her latex masterpieces can get an immediate Atsuko-fix right now on our site by checking out the newly-released process film documenting the Dressing For Pleasure LiveStudio.
Congratulations Atsuko and Simon - we couldn't be more proud!
Last night saw the gala finale of this year's Graduate Fashion Week. It's the twenty-one year anniversary of the event, very apt given that most students are twenty-one themselves when they're spat out of the education system into the big, bright world of fashion - so why not celebrate that with a huge catwalk show at the cavernous Earls Court and a judging panel of industry stalwarts including Suzy Menkes, Caroline Burstein and John Rocha?
This year's showcase celebrated all faculties of fashion - including marketing, business, stand design (glamorous!) and media. The biggest excitement (and the best prizes) came with the fashion designers - who flaunted their wares in a series of catwalk showcases. Fittingly, given that this generation has been raised on Topshop neons, Patricia Field's more-is-more styling and teen-pop colour-popping, nearly all of the collections shunned the current 'adult' trend for minimalism - save for one rather lovely ode to Theyskens Theory by Rochester's Emma Beaumont - instead opting for bold prints, beads, buttons and embellishments. The effects of this visual festival ranged from the good - as with the work of Mancunian knitwear student Jousianne Propp, who's technicoloured fringed yarns cemented Britain's status as the mothership of talented young knitters - the bad and the ugly, but certainly made for entertaining viewing.
The overall winner, Bath Spa's Chloe Jones - who's treated to a handy little pay packet of £20,000 (who said students are poor?) - jumped on the Olympic bandwagon, showing off a grey-heavy run of floaty printed maxis topped off with over-sized hoodies, accentuated with some nifty hooping. This was sports day meets prom night, perhaps a slightly tired concept given the rush of sport-luxe fashions on the runways - Jonathan Saunders, Roksanda Ilinicic and Stella McCartney all pushed the trend - but nevertheless, in terms of craftsmanship, a beautifully turned out showcase.
The menswear at this year's showing was particularly strong. And while, as ever, it was the womenswear collections that garnered the loudest gasps and the biggest gongs, the printing and cutting prowess of talents such as Riona Horrox (who was noted with the judges' Menswear Award) shone. Particularly impressive was Emily Edge from Northumbria. Her impeccably tailored (and uber camp) space cowboys may have been overlooked for the top-prize by the judging panel but will open many a door on the burgeoning London menswear scene.
Other stars included womenswear designer Amelia Smith, whose Matryoshka-esque lampshade skirts could give judge Mary Katrantzou a run for her money, and Amsterdam import Yvonne Kwok who offered up an enjoyable platter of cartoonistic pompoms and pleats
All in all, at least for this year, the kids are alright.
Today's Fashion Fetish film comes from stylist Ellie Grace Cumming, who collaborates with filmmaker Sarah Piantadosi to explore Triciphilia; the partialism in which one becomes sexually aroused by human hair. Citing references as broad as Larry Clark, Sinead O'Connor, Nick Knight's 'Skinhead' book and even Sigmund Freud - who argued that the cutting of women's long hair by men could represent castration, giving the cutter a sense of sexual dominance - Cumming sought to explore hair fetishism from a female perspective, offering a startling vision of a woman shaving her own head. She says of the film, 'I wanted to look at the fetish of hair and what it meant for women, and what it would feel like for a girl to cut and shave her own hair off and to make a film looking at the act, but in an elegant and beautiful way, taking it away from the seedy websites where people pay to watch it. I wanted to look at it as rebellious, punk act, and explore the ways that it can be a beautiful process. If a woman cuts off her own hair, is it a rejection of her own sexuality, or a rejection of the label of how sexuality is supposed to 'look'?'
SHOWstudio's Tumblr is boasting an array of exciting new features for your viewing pleasure! Visit Tumblr now to see our newly enlarged videos and images, alongside a natty new feature that lets you view photographs at full browser size. You can also now explore posts by tag - a simple and convenient method of perusing our archive of reference imagery from contributors such as Gareth Pugh, Mary Katrantzou and Judy Blame. Our Tumblr is also your go-to stop for candid - and often unedited - shots straight from Nick Knight's camera, including his daily Instragam updates.
Don't miss out on the SHOWstudio's Tumblr, an amazing visual resource, which gives viewers unprecedented access to the images which have inspired and informed the work of many of our most acclaimed contributors. You'll have access to some of Knight's own personal archives as well as a beautiful display of our past guest Tumblr curations by creatives including Simon Foxton, Anna Trevelyan and Rei Nadal.
Offering a pleasant antidote to the the reams of red-carpet shots from Cannes, Nick Knight's been documenting the gorgeous scenery and sunshine that he encountered while sojourning in the film capital. Enjoy some envy-inducing Hockney-esque water shots...
There's something fascinating about sub-cultures. Maybe it's the romanticism of youthful rebellion and diehard loyalty, or, perhaps, just the appeal of a bunch of nattily coordinated outfits - who doesn't admire the Prada-esque embellishments of the Pearly Kings and Queens?
From Nick Knight's own Skinheads, an exploration of the aesthetics and activities of skinheads in East London in 1979-1980, to John Paul Gaultier's Clash-tastic punk couture show from Spring/Summer 2011, deviant groups and underground movements have long inspired creative work. Queen of fashionable punk has to be Vivienne Westwood, who jumped on the rebel-culture bandwagon way before the rest of the fashion-pack caught on.
Punk, in fact, is far from dead. Today, fashion is having a love affair with the movement. Prolific models such Alice Dellal and Abbey Lee are lauded for their elfin-punk beauty, and designers such as Henry Holland and Jeremy Scott push punk season upon season. Even Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, the bastion of neat tweeds and Parisian elegance, got into the London spirit by presenting a punk inspired offering for the recent pre-spring/summer 2013 cruise collection. The resultant opulence was a spectacularly obscene Marie Antoinette meets Sid Vicious vision. Maybe it can all be put down to Jubilee-fever - 'God save the queen' and all that.
Committed punk fans, tired of these mere sartorial odes, will be thrilled that the best ages of the movement are being given due respect in a new book and exhibition celebrating the work of photographer Simon Barker (aka Six). A member of the 'Bromley Contingent' from 1976 to 1977, Barker spent his youth backstage, capturing the very first punk concerts on camera. His previously unseen images - featuring cult favourites such as Jordan, Siouxsie Sioux, Poly Styrene and Adam and the Ants - document the earliest foundations of punk. You'll be treated to candid shots of punk icons partying in their pokey bedrooms and kitchens, experimenting with the styles of dress that later became famous, albeit at this stage relying on their grandmothers’ castaways. The accompanying book offers an extended selection from Barker’s unpublished archive, as well as notes from those who experienced the primitive days of punk first hand.
For an immediate fix of rebel-goodness check out SHOWstudio's own tributes to punk. Revisit PUNKATURE to see Knight and stylist Alister Mackie team up to juxtapose the beautiful fashions of Autumn/Winter 2011 against the savage grace of punk, or check out Head-Dressing from 2010 to see avant-garde hairstylist and designer Charlie Le Mindu create a headpiece live in SHOWstudio, accompanied by a performance by French experimental art-punk band La Chatte.
Punk's Dead will run from 8 June until 7 July 2012, from 12:00 to 21:00, at DIVUS Temporary, 4 Wilkes Street, London E1 6QF.
Those who follow Nick Knight's work will know that he sees photo opportunities everywhere. From glamorous pictures of latex-clad models to shots of the plug in his bathroom sink, nothing escapes the beady eye of Nick's lens. If you've glanced over our adorable Pussycat, Pussycat project you'll also see that Nick has a penchant for Instagram, the handy web tool that lets you upload pictures straight from your iPhone with an added filter.
Nick can see potential and beauty in the humblest objects, hence why his web followers are treated to an abundance of daily depictions of the many things he sees when going about his work in and around SHOWstudio. There's everything from candid portraits of some of the fabulous guests who stop by to visit us at Bruton place, to images of the little objects and ornaments dotted around our central London headquarters. Most recently, Nick's been shooting, as well as watching, the throne. Our feeds are full of images of Kanye and co, on and off the stage, during their current stay in London.
Let's talk about sex. It seems everyone is. From today's brand (spanking) new LiveStudio featuring latex-lovely Atsuko Kudo, to the mania, moralising and mummy-porn boom surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey, erotica seems to be having a moment.
Our Selling Sex and Fashion Fetish initiatives are all about looking at sex, sexuality and gender in new, all-accepting ways, so we couldn't be more thrilled with the news that philosopher - and founder of The School of Life, an 'apothecary of ideas' which targets big questions for everyday living - Alain de Botton is set to upturn existing approaches to porn. He's posing the question, ‘If we have reached porn saturation point, and porn is everywhere, what next for porn? Just what could the new pornography be?’ What indeed Alain, what indeed?
SHOWstudio's already presented some answers - from Ruth Hogben's depicting of Karlie Kloss serving as her own sexual fantasy with no need for a partner, to Marie Schuller's celebration of those who are usually neglected in sexual imagery in her Visiting Hour.
Not content with putting the porn debate to bed (pardon the pun), de Botton and his School of Life team are looking to create a gathering of leaders in porn and the arts to tackle the issue. He'll be announcing a new website under the name Better Porn in due course, which will show visual examples of his new approach. I'm sure the talented troupe behind Selling Sex and Fashion Fetish will happily volunteer to help!
Remember - our current exhibition Selling Sex is on until 1st June at 1-9 Bruton Place, London. Our Fashion Fetish series - featuring the likes of Daphne Guinness, Rei Nadal and Anna Trevelyan - is available now.
Icons are a rare thing. While it’s easy to spot today’s idols, unpicking their illusive regal quality proves tricky. Explaining that secret star-factor is a pursuit that SHOWstudio and our various contributors have taken up with gusto. From Jake Davis and Matt Williams' exploration of celebrity in #Screen Tests, a modern tribute to Andy Warhol’s famous screen tests, to Nick Knight’s Naomi Campbell: Statuesque, exploring the iconic visual impact of the supermodel’s Amazonian form.
A man who knows a lot about the power of personality is photographer Dennis Morris. From being propositioned by Marianne Faithfull, to documenting the spiralling downfall of Sid and Nancy, Morris has documented the action while being right there in the middle of it – the Louis Theroux of photography, if you will.
Picked up by Bob Marley while waiting outside the Speak Easy Club on Margaret Street during a sound-check, Morris began his spontaneous grand tour of the who’s who of music. Before even reaching his seventeenth birthday his images of Marley had appeared on the cover of Time Out – a tribute to the success of Dennis’s unique reportage meets rock and roll approach.
Attendees at Apartment 58’s new series INDUSTRY were lucky enough to hear from the charming Morris himself, discussing the highs and lows of a career on the road with some of the most volatile subjects imaginable. His talk marks the start of this new weekly roundtable hosted by different stalwarts from the creative industry - a handy dosage of stylish iconography to give you a regular fame-fix. Head to Apartment 58 for details.
SHOWstudio has always been committed to opening up the process of fashion. As a team we are not just concerned with the final product, but also all the steps, thoughts and, as we so frequently find, hiccups and glitches that go along with producing great fashion film and photography. That's why we're always live blogging, live streaming and even - as with our uber-cute Pussycat, Pussycat project - live shooting via Tumblr and Twitter. As much as these are tools of innovation in themselves they are also mediums of democratisation - a chance to give everyone a peak inside the seemingly enclosed world of fashion image-making.
In this spirit SHOWstudio launches a brand new feature on our site - Contributor Thoughts. This natty little addition allows all our great and good contributors to offer up a snappy sound-bite or condensed titbit detailing their experiences of working on our projects. These can be anything from the inspirations and references behind an individual work to general approaches to fashion film as a medium. We've got Katie Grand divulging that the showgirls and plush plumes in her Fan Club film were inspired by Marc Jacob's theatrical music taste - 'Before the Louis Vuitton show we listened to Marc's iPod which is full of show-tunes, doing something Busby Berkley inspired seemed obvious!' - and our own Nick Knight explaining that his passion for Instagram comes from memories of his most primitive work - 'It takes me back to the style of my earliest photography; no retouching and no long processes of post-production.'
We hope that these fashionable morsels will allow our users even greater access to the secrets behind fashion imagery. In this case, not just the technical endeavors behind our projects but also the creative processes and intellectual ideals behind some of SHOWstudio's best work. Just today, Daphne Guinness made use of this new feature to discuss the story behind her newly launched Fashion Fetish film, 'This film happened in real time. All I came to SHOWstudio with was my turban, sunglasses, and contact lenses. My definition of fetish is anything that you are obsessed with or use as a totem. The S and M connotations have become the perceived meaning of the word, but a fetish is much more than that. My fetish is my eyes. It is how I see the world, as I am a visual person, but I also use contact lenses in order to make the world more soft, my vision is almost too good. So I think it may be, to me, another form of defense. There is method in my madness as was said in Hamlet. As for the rest, it is in the eye of the beholder.'
You can access Contributor Thoughts on the Project Archive and Fashion Film sections of SHOWstudio, as well as on individual project and contributor pages. We'll also be tweeting - so follow us on Twitter to get timely doses straight from the minds of SHOWstudio's wonderful band of contributors!
Fans of the roaring twenties are in luck this season. The catwalks were awash with beaded gowns, neat cloche hats and jazz-worthy pumps. It's set to be Spring/Summer's greatest trend - a friend to high class fashionistas and micro flapper dress-clad night-clubbers across the globe. Everyone from Osman to Gucci got in on the act. Ralph Lauren showed sequined prom-ready looks, fit for spoiled daughters and would-be debutantes. Similarly Emporio Armani offered some natty monochrome pieces, perfect for making a sophisticated nod to historical dressing.
It's all very apt. The twenties were a time of upheaval and uncertainty - fallout from the war, financial collapse, gender unrest, social turmoil - a state of play that's comparable to the world's current trials and tribulations. This age also saw the birth of fast fashion - where mass-production methods and new disposable incomes democratised clothing for the first time. Link that to today, where fashion's snapped up just as the models stomp out onto the catwalk, and high street retailers are churning out the new season looks before you can say 'knock-off Celine' and the twenties seem eerily familiar. Perhaps that's why we're all going gaga for Gatsby-style fun and frivolous fashions. A nice bit of sartorial escapism to help these bleak financial traumas swing by in style.
Daisy Buchanan wannabees can get also their fix off the runway. A plethora of Great Gatsby re-makes, odes and tributes are in the pipeline. But forget the forthcoming Hollywood film - starring good-old Leo DiCaprio and the poster girl of retro cinema Carey Mulligan - here at SHOWstudio we're more excited about Gatz, the eight hour (yes that's right - eight hour) play which contains each and every single word of the original book in full. Coming soon to the Noel Coward Theatre, the play sells itself as 'not a retelling of the Gatsby story but an enactment of the novel itself.' We say, why not? SHOWstudio has always championed the process behind fashion, and what could be a more true to this than a committed tribute to every word of the book that has informed the way we'll all be dressing this season?
Who wants a mere mock flapper dress or an edited movie remake when you can lap up every morsel of Fitzgerald's finest word for word? Work the twenties trend the informed way! Stylish.
For Gatz tickets and more information head over to the Gatz London website.
In past ages dance had a very fashionable focus. As the prime opportunity to show off new trends and purchases, masques at the Tudor and Stuart courts gave eager movers and shakers the arena to flaunt their sartorial savvy - opulent knees-ups where only the priciest, cutting edge costumes would do. Wayne McGregor’s Carbon Life at the Royal Opera House is bringing that trend right back.
The piece - currently on show in a trilogy alongside the minimal Polyphonia and macabre Sweet Violets - has been met with resounding critical acclaim. With costumes from Gareth Pugh and music led by famed cool-kid Mark Ronson with vocals from legend Boy George, as well as The Kills’ Alison Mosshart and rapper Black Cobain, this dance masterpiece was always going to make a splash. But who could predict the outcome - a genuinely pioneering performance that appeared to break all the boundaries of ballet? From the lighting to the choreography, this was a true showstopper.
Pugh's costumes were flawless. Opening with the dancers clad in nude underwear masked by a translucent screen, they appeared to twinkle like naked fireflies by a light. Twirling Tinkerbells, the outstanding abilities of there bodies was aided, rather than overshadowed by Pugh. As with his Tudor predecessors, Pugh's version of dance was a lesson in getting dressed. As the ballet progressed so too did the costumes, becoming more elaborate with every pirouette. Starting with the simple addition of a pair of black shorts (who needs anything else when the star of your show is fifteen perfectly toned ballerinas gyrating in arrowhead formation?) and closing with the eventual addition of Pugh's signature styles - angular headpieces and sleeves, reminiscent of our very own In Your Face Stealth Bomber. Androgyny was key throughout - from the flesh-coloured bras worn by female dancers, giving the illusion that all the ballerinas were statuesque genderless beings, to the tutus and boots worn by male dancers in the later pieces - Pugh's outfits forced you to focus only on the movement and gymnastic potentialities of the human bodies on stage, unable to distinguish man from woman.
It was the closing number that really stole the show. Huge lit-up shapes appeared on the floor - reminiscent of a nightclub - illuminating the performance. The piece was meticulous, but also haphazard, dancers seemed to be moving as one would on a Soho dance-floor, dancing both alone and in pairs, wandering freely on and off the stage - a strangely apt vision given Pugh's own penchant for clubwear as well as the addition of club-favourites Boy George and Ronson bopping along in the background. The whole message seemed to be that ballet, like pumped-up club dancing, can be raw, carefree and sexy.
Club-ambiance aside, there's subtlety to the piece. Themes of love, youth, desire, lust are all served up. McGregor's play on carbon chauvinism - the title Carbon Life references the fact that carbon forms the crux of biology for most of life on earth - couldn't be more apt, this was showing that ballet, like carbon, should be everywhere. Set free to pervade all aspects of life and culture, whether fashion, rap, or pop. Deservedly met by a resounding standing ovation, Pugh, Ronson and McGregor have proved themselves the new Lords of The Dance. Get tickets here!