Saturday, September 22, 2007

It frustrates me when fashion magazines and television shows start talking about typical body shapes: "this woman is a pear, this woman is an apple". People don't necessarily fall into those categories, if you're tall and have hips, small breasts but hold your fat primarily on your stomach, particularly at the front than what are you? An apple-pear-combination? It's an incredible generalisation, to emphasise that all top heavy women are top heavy in the same way and the same solutions are possible. It's a practise that isn't carried out in reality and moreover it's an easy way to make mistakes

Clothes have to be individual, there's no point going out and following rules, people need to look in the mirror, try umpteen pieces of clothing on and then observe why they do or don't work. If people don't have the eye for that, the capability to judge what clothes are doing to their bodies than there's little that can be done. The number one rule is never try on anything you can't afford, expensive clothes are far more pleasant and it's an unpleasant shock to put on cheaper outfits later. Unfortunately material is everything and I can wear a long T-shirt from Warehouse but not from Dorothy Perkins, something I sadly have knowledge of now.

Friday, September 21, 2007

There's a slightly patronising article about Duro Olowu in this month's edition of UK Vogue. Luckily I don't expect anything else from the fashion magazine, which has always been aimed at people who either don't have to budget to buy food or do have to budget but will ignore Vogue's absurdities (because they're excited about the very existence of Duro Olowu. I am excited.) Other magazines might interview Olowu but in all likelihood I would have to get past images of flourescent leggings and fashion models clutching religious icons or vinyl records* to find him. Visual pain or Vogue pain? At least the latter gives me an impression of the fashion world rather than the world of faux-cool.

Olowu has just opened a boutique on Portobello Road, he designs clothes that feature beautiful prints. Not only that but they're cut exquisitely and they make these amazing silhouettes that verge on textured, very angular with corners that jut out all over the place. The combination of the shapes and prints really draw me in, Jigsaw had some clothes recently that I was very drawn to, busy natural prints that contrasted and almost clashed with each other and Duro Olowu's autumn/winter '07 collection appealed to exactly the same part of me. Even his plainer clothes are beautiful and affecting, here's something that I think would appeal to everyone:

Now on to Paul and Joe. These clothes remind me of Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, perhaps some other programmes from my childhood as well. They look extremely English, are often voluminous in unexpected places and I wouldn't expect to like them but I really do. The purple dungarees are definitely my favourite, there's something really appealing and approachable about them, they look like a piece of clothing that would be really fun to wear and everyone needs clothes like that. Clothes to play in that don't make you look too young but inspire simple enthusiasm all the same. I think they hit on something really good because fashion is so often so terribly serious and pious, even the more extreme couture that is unusual and extravagant is rarely just good fun and there's always room for joyous garments!

*clearly to some vinyl records are religious icons

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gareth Pugh is featuring on almost every fashion blog and in a lot of literature surrounding the fashion weeks at the moment. It's quite interesting because his clothes were completely unavailable until Liberty started to stock them this year. He's really loved because he makes clothes that approach pure haute couture in style if not process. You can take a look at part of his Spring/Summer 2008 collection here.

Interestingly the Liberty website's International Collections page features two of my favourite designers, Ann Demeulemeester and Duro Olowu.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I wanted to talk about vanity. It's a word that is often incorrectly applied, as if care and attention to appearance was conceited, a negativity or character flaw rather than a response to our culture. Joanna Entwistle says very reasonably in The Fashioned Body that "dress or adornment is one of the means by which bodies are made social" and if you hold onto this idea conceited vanity becomes an abstract concept rather than an attainable reality. What appears to be vain is in fact someone who is intent in society, attempting to socialise through their bodies and to socialise their bodies as well. People who appear vain are often very socially engaged, conscious of social rules whether they are inclined to follow or rebel against them. "Dress is the way in which individuals learn to live in their bodies and feel at home in them." Slight observation of the way people dress and the way that they interact is particularly interesting, social engagement and pristine clothes generally go hand in hand. People inclined to extroverted behaviour are often more carefully adorned.

Dressing is an act of creation, it is possible to create personalities that you can use to face society through dress, women in high heels stand and in some cases behave differently depending on their shoes. Clothes create feelings within ourselves that we can then express outward again and that is because adorning yourself is to dress in social fabric as well as simple material.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Where has tailored summer fashion gone? It seems that women's clothes are polarised more heavily by the seasons every year. During the Autumn and winter months it's easy to find sharp, textured and heavy clothes, materials that hang from the body in interesting ways, creating shapes that flatter the human form. Summer arrives and suddenly all of the tops cling to the least attractive part of the body, in my case the stomach, as if the fashion industry expects everyone to drop a stone and spend all of their spare time in the gym or running around the streets like newly born lambs. With the extremely hot sun on your skin making sweat slowly appear on your face it's difficult to feel attractive anyway, unfortunately even those criteria weren't fulfilled this year, there was little sun, less heat than expected and as a result the illusion of attraction formed by moderate heat and even the swelling, clammy sweat that makes you feel ugly whatever you're wearing were absent anyway. Who wants tight, stomach hugging clothes in chilly weather? Our other options, the dreaded smock dress, tops that pretended at an empire line while failing to be made with empire friendly fabrics and belted tops that absurdly often have the belts in the wrong place to look even moderately good. Very little opportunity to wear other styles existed for anyone who couldn't spend a fortune, it doesn't matter where on the high street you looked this year, every affordable shop was doing the same thing. Summer fashion in 2007 was unsatisfactory. What is the point of capitalism and the choice that it espouses when every store is trying to catch up with every other store? A little variation would be welcome in 2008, hopefully someone will strike out to make clothes that are a little different, a bit interesting and a lot less formulaic.

Will Autumn/Winter be any better? Well the answer is yes, autumn and winter fashions invariably look better on anyone above a UK size 8. In cheaper shops you can find clothes that conceal all of the bits you want to and expose all of the other bits and you can pick and choose in a price range that the vast majority of people can afford. This year the high street seems to be continuing along lengthy lines. I've noticed a few tops around that fall to mid-thigh (based on the catwalk, McQueen, Allegra Hicks); Too shapeless to be dresses, a large, stylish belt works for people with good waists, the rest of us do best to ignore clothes that hang like curtains from our shoulders. There are some jumpers that will work for my body shape, cowl necks are a particular favourite and I've already seen a few adorning the shelves of my local Dorothy Perkins. It's difficult to complain about the skinny jeans that seem to be continuing on, they seem to suit everyone, making even the flabbiest thighs appealing because they generally use a pleasantly heavy material. Tailored trousers are reappearing as the autumn fashions start to appear, satisfying flattering on all of our legs and deep rather than acid colours are more prevalent than they have been over the past four or five months. The change in season is once again a relief to anyone who is sick of the 80s flourescent shades that have been omnipresent for the past two summers, I'm looking forward to wearing deep reds, browns and ivories again and shedding the Whamtastic horror that has haunted me.

Now if only a shop would rip off some Ann Demeulemeester (my eternal favourite) I would be really happy: