Thursday, December 04, 2008

I've been enjoying the sketches supplied by designers for Michelle Obama's inauguration outfit. There are 32 images to browse on and they're all quite different. I really enjoyed the LaCroix suit and the Marc Jacobs dress, which surprised me a little. I suspect the Oscar de la Renta dress is high in the running as it really connects with her style in a way that some of the other outfits don't seem to.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I've been looking at Fashion Cultures edited by Stella Bruzzi and Pamela Church Gibson which is a fashion theory reader published in 2000. It contains a few different essays that I fully intend to read. There's a piece on patriarchy by Pamela Church Gibson and Fiona Anderson's Museums as Fashion Media that are definitely on my reading list and in the back of my mind there's a voice telling me to read the whole book. I am desperately trying to listen to that voice but some of the pieces sound like I'm going to encounter some internal anguish. Can I manage a chapter on Fitzwilliam Darcy or Gwyneth Paltrow in a fashion reader that takes a cultural stance? Darcy perhaps but I suspect I'm going to abandon poor Gwyneth Paltrow. The interesting thing about the reader is that it feels dated enough that a lot of the subject matter and discourse has been very present over the last 8 years but not so much that it's interesting from the perspective of history. A case in point is an Angela McRobbie essay that opens with a discussion about the No.10 Cool Britannia party. If I were a little younger then that might be compelling because I would feel that more time had passed but there has been so much analysis of that episode of British history in the last 8 years and specifically what it meant culturally that I'm tempted not to read the work. Perhaps I'll just skip the first page and see where she's gone with it!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Images from a Chinese fashion spread. I think this is really interesting from the point of view of photography but it also has a cultural value because we see so many fashion spreads everyday that only contain caucasian models.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Notes on excerpt from Backstage Antwerp, 2002.

Statement III from Thimo te Duits provides the biggest challenge for me in the sentence "fashion is not art because it has no pretensions to autonomy". Does this equate with the notion that fashion is always within some cultural context as a living craft or at the very least in the context of the human body. Enjoy Judith Clark's "Historical reference in dress has never been about evolution, continuity," these two quotes well read together because Thimo te Duits' point can be taken as something other if Judith's position is not kept in mind.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I haven't really liked Gareth Pugh's collections over the last three seasons. The combination of very dark shades and cut that I've found intrusively aggressive has not made me a fan but I like the work he's just shown a lot more.

There are images like the one below at

I'm reading Lou Taylor's Study of Dress History, I've only read the introduction and the beginning of the first chapter so unsurprisingly it's all been a bit obvious so far but pleasantly, intelligently obvious and that usually means compelling reading.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Naeem Khan is a designer whose work I almost like but seems to fall short in some way that I can't quite grasp. The dress below if from the current season A/W 2008 and it has all the hallmarks of a good piece of clothing. The textures play well against each other, the materials aren't flat and drab and it looks like a dress that would be exciting to wear but it's not quite right. Personally I think that the neckline lets it down, it makes it too vertically symmetrical because the neck and hem are the same shape. If a designer doesn't see that or if he thinks that it's appropriate then he's not the designer for me.

Shall I tell you a little secret? The first collection that Stella McCartney has ever produced that I have liked is this winter 2008 line. I can't help but feel that this is because a lot of the silhouettes remind me of Nicolas Ghesquire's Balenciaga dresses from S/S 2008 which were undoubtedly my favourite pieces from that season. What bothers me about Stella McCartney's clothes is that they seem as if they've been made for the more emaciated among us but they aren't costume, they're definitely outfits to be worn on the street. They're the kind of loose that only the slender can wear because they look like a tent on anyone who carries weight, even if it's around their collarbone and that bothers me. Look at this S/S 2007 outfit, it makes the body straight and imagine if the model was a UK size 14...
Incidentally there are videos of Thom Browne's catwalk shows online and they are interesting events. His site has a show on it here but doesn't seem to be working particularly well. There are some images and a brief review of the S/S 09 catwalk show here and here. I think that it's important to regard this kind of work through the lens of decades of haute couture and catwalk theatre. The line between clothing and costume is always up for discussion and is hardly a new subject, just look at the work of Poiret.
Last year I set up google alerts to relay any links that featured the phrase "fashion week". This resulted in a huge swathe of unmitigated nonsense hitting my inbox and eventually I cancelled the alerts because I wasn't reading the summaries, never mind following the links. People are very interested in fashion week and write about it all year round but their words are often related to a celebrity sighting or some aspect of fashion that ignores clothes.

Considering my interest in fashion it seemed ridiculous to ignore the benefits that I could reap from the alerts system so I decided to try again and this year I began to receive links that featured the phrase "fashion theory" instead. This proved a to be a better term and the majority of the information is actually useful or amusing so this is what I've got recently.

28th September- How to calculate your clothing budget from the bmw blog.

27th September- Zetoc alert for a Malcolm Barnard piece.

26th September- A newspaper article on Valerie Steele's Dark Glamour exhibition
A bookseller article on Bloomsbury's purchase of Berg, the company that publishes the journal Fashion Theory.
A link to this blog that linked to a blog post about Thom Browne.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Duro Olowu's collection for Spring/Summer 2009 was shown at London as usual. Generally I prefer the Autumn collections but Olowu creates beautiful summer designs.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Last night a friend who takes a lot of quite interesting and sometimes beautiful photographs told me about foto_decadent which is a livejournal community that collects fashion spreads. I really use livejournal as a very vague place to socialise online so I've never considered looking for these kinds of communities and that's a shame because if I had I might have found foto_decadent a little sooner.

Fashion photography is a subtle art, sometimes fashion spreads in magazines are so overcomplicated with props that they lose the clothes. It's one of the reasons that I'm not that interested in a lot of the independent fashion magazines because art and clothes overlap but the ability to miss the notion that the clothes are the art happens all too often. A lot of photographers that are observed as focusing on fashion, Tim Walker, Annie Leibovitz are dramatic photographers who focus more on scene than fashion and that's fine but they aren't the people who should be creating shoots for fashion magazines. Fashion photography can be an unhappy marriage of two conflicting art forms. (Divorce can be painful but sometimes it's the right thing to do)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I went to Borders on Charing Cross Road today to look at the fashion magazines. I really wanted to look at something Russian but my only option was Vogue and it had most of the same adverts as the October edition of British Vogue. This made me sad because I feel like there's an international homogenisation of fashion going on, like the cultural influence that should be evident in clothing from different places is dissipating and flowing away. I really would like to get a tangible sense of Russian design. In my head there's a small but clear working knowledge of Asian design and Middle Eastern design but I don't have that type of compass for Russian design that came before modernism and Soviet imagery. I suppose that's what is striking about political dominance from the perspective of cultural image, when I think Middle Eastern that essentially means Byzantine Empire. There are obvious differences between designed silhouettes in Italy and Sweden and Japanese designers all have something in common even if it's just that they're surprising to my english eyes but could I make the same statement about Russia? Not right now but hopefully that reference will make itself apparent later.
Items I quite fancy wearing this season:


Camilla Staerk

Ermanno Scervino

Yohji Yamamoto

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Onagono is an ethical fashion company operating out of East London. There are loads of these companies around but this one has a particular geographical lucidity to it, the clothes fit the area that the designer operates out of. Nice T-shirts too.

And why isn't Georgina Goodman making these shoes for the all grown up among us. Jesus, what's a girl got to do to get a decent pair of flats around here?
This month's British Vogue looks a little more interesting than the last couple of issues. The prize quote has to be from Nicolas Ghesquiere on page 103 describing Balenciaga's collection, specifically a pair of trousers: "I made a sandwich". I knew there was a beautiful mind behind those clothes.

Incidentally anyone with £2,527 should consider buying a dress from Ermanno Scervino this season. I wish I was planning a wedding.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Although I popped into the Fashion V Sport exhibition at the V&A yesterday I didn't take a notebook with me and that means I'm going to have to revisit it at a later date. It lacked a few details, it could have done with a more comprehensive explanation of the advances in textiles that have taken place, the problem wasn't the complete absence but the tantalising hint of that kind of information provided in the exhibition literature. There wasn't a real sense of the brilliance of this area, I wanted more on the speedo suit, a bit on Gore Tex. Why was the modular jacket placed so far from the viewer that you couldn't see how the modules attached to each other and why wasn't there any explanation of it if they had to place it that far away? I don't want to simply go and look at some pretty clothes, I want to learn about the individual items, what they're made of and why it's interesting that those materials were used. This exhibition focused a little too much on the aesthetic side of things and not enough on the broader picture. It needed to be bigger and more informative than it was.

It worked better from a fashion perspective because so many of the actual items were conceived of by designers. They featured a piece from Yamamoto's 2001 Three Stripes collection that just never gets old. I can't find a picture of this because the Internet seems to hate this collection and Japanese designers don't have the following that you would expect online. What looked like this piece by Sonia Rykiel was exhibited and I really appreciated it because I loved this collection when it appeared on the catwalk. A Prada Linea Rossa outfit from 1999 was also on show and I will talk about it properly if I revisit the exhibition as it requires a little more detail and again I can't find any images of clothes from that line never mind the individual garment I'm thinking of.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

It occurred to me the other day that I might want to start keeping the exhibition guides that I pick up in galleries. I have always done this for a short period of time but they tend to get lost in the other, more serious records that I keep. Anyway I went shopping and bought an A4 portfolio folder, nothing fancy just a little plastic file from Muji and I've just put the catalogues I had lying around into it. I've opened most of them up so that you can see both covers and some of the content, this works well sometimes but not quite as well for the smaller, less standardised guides. At the end of the year I'll put up a list of the exhibition guides that I thought it was worth keeping.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

These are the books on fashion (or related to the subject) that I own:

The Art of Lee Miller by Mark Haworth-Booth. This is a very informative coffee table book with 5 colour plates and 175 duotone illustrations.

Big Book of Fashion Illustration by Martin Dawber. You can take a look at some of the pages inside this book on Amazon. It is very comprehensive and was a present. I wanted to grasp more about external parts of the industry and one of the ways of doing this is checking out the different types of illustration available.

Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail by Lucy Johnston. Reading this and examining the pictures was a good way of grasping how clothes were made pre-industrialisation. It's also a good book for nineteenth century trends.

Historic Costuming by Nevil Truman has description of dress through different historical periods including the Romans (509BC to 324 AD) and George II (1727-60). If I have a sudden urge to understand Tudor daywear in court I look it up here.

Couture Culture by Nancy Troy.
This book is basically about modernity and the beginning of the commodity culture. It's very interesting and begins with a section on Poiret who is a designer that everyone has an extreme stance on.

Adorned in Dreams by Elizabeth Wilson is probably the staple. If you're interested in fashion history and theory and haven't read it then you probably need to go and get hold of a copy.

The Empire of Fashion by Gilles Lipovetsky. A book about the industry and culture rather than clothes. Ready to Wear as democratic revolution, advertising on the offensive, this book is about clothing as a cultural weapon and it gave me a good understanding of the complications of clothes.

London - after a fashion by Alistair O'Neill. This book examines the relationship between nineteenth and twentieth century London and fashion. It's incredible for fine detail, full of surprising little facts.

Fashion Dictionary by Guido Vergani. This literally is a current fashion dictionary.

The Fashioned Body by Joanna Entwistle. This is a lovely book that was incredibly helpful to me when I first started reading about this subject and it's summed up very well in the first chapter, the social world is a world of dressed bodies.

The History of Underclothes by C. Willet and Phillis Cunnington is a good education if you're interested in everything that people wear.

The Fashion Book. I forgot that I even had this but it sits alongside the Fashion Dictionary very well as a reference guide.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

KM Stitchery is based in Brooklyn and she hand cuts stencils of feminists that are then printed onto recycled clothing.

The image above comes from KM Stitchery's blog and the clothes can be ordered from her etsy store. This strikes me as a good way to sport idealism and cottage industry craft simultaneously.

If you like a smattering of '50s style and prefer to buy organic clothes then Small Axe Clothing has been touted on Tree Hugger recently. There first fashion show is on their site but they're American so not exactly carbon friendly for the UK consumer.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Skin and Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture

Todd Eberle's photographs of the Prada Aoyama Epicentre should have been the first images I saw as I entered the Skin and Bones exhibition at Somerset House. A marriage of architecture and fashion is immediately clear in the two images of the building, demonstrating that two parallel practices can be attuned to the extent that they perfectly compliment each other. Instead chronology was given precedence and the exhibition was introduced by 1980's media images. Consequently I wandered through the ground floor in some confusion, the description of the symbiotic relationship between these two forms of design did not seem to express the same sentiment of creative practice as the initial images. The media is ever changing, 20 years has produced a startling visual difference in magazine photography and the work in the exhibition seemed to be at odds with this. Only when I climbed the stairs and discovered Yeohlee Teng's 1982 'Cape' was I parted from this vague feeling of unease. The black hooded bowing garment brought me back to the aesthetic delights that characterised this show. My particular favourites were Teng's Infanta Two-Circle Dress, Junya Watanabe's garments made of cotton and metal wire from Autumn/Winter 1998-99 and a number of pieces from Maison Martin Margiela. Split into 17 sections with titles like geometry, weaving and suspension the exhibition gained clarity through the main body of design presented and ultimately achieved its original purpose to examine parallel practices in fashion and architecture.
I love American Apparel, although I wouldn't buy a lot of the clothes they sell I have two Cotton Spandex Jersey Bandeau dresses that see me through the seven days of English summer that our climate achieves each year. I am not sure that we can forgive them for this, oh sure they may call it the Unisex Thermochromatic Sheer Jersey T-Shirt on the website but I remember when Marks and Spencer sold hypercolour T-Shirts in my youth. Even in Junior school I thought they were fashion crimes and even if you think a good half of American Apparel's stock is weird, they don't generally reach the hyper-horrifying heights of hypercolour. It's unsexy.

In other painful news the smock top still hasn't died out. It's a trend that keeps going leaving us with a reduced ability to shop. My nightmare catwalk vision is probably a hypercolour smock top worn with six inch heels and three quarter length leggings. I thought fashion was meant to change with the seasons but apparently that notion is beyond the High Street's buyers?

Monday, August 11, 2008

How do you express a response to a visual science that is transformed into a visual art? I'm finding it difficult. I went to see From Atoms to Patterns this weekend, an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection that had reached its last weekend and finished yesterday. Mutable Matter gives an overview of the exhibition so I won't try to do the same.

The modern era feels like magic to me, there were instances of unity between science and art that created motifs that are unforgettable, the geometric patterns of the Russian avant garde movement, the crystallographers haemoglobin and insulin and the textiles industry was at the centre, the bridge between ancient craft and industrial production. We wear science on our bodies everyday but clothes pre-date our understanding of science, they are a craft that is ancient and there's an exciting juxtaposition there. The ability to wear scientific motif makes me feel enthusiastic because it feels like a recognition of advancing humanity at the beginning and in the present day so perhaps this is something I would love to have, a dress showing insulin or haemoglobin to the world.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I've been reading an article today by Heather Marie Akou that discusses the terminology we use to describe fashion, the problems with the word western when it applies to areas that are simply not in the west but fit into the description as it relates to specific types of society. Akou proposes that we adopt a specific sociological semantic system to describe the way that fashion fits together so it looks as if I am going to branch into reading sociology at some point in the near future.

On another note I finally gave up on the vast majority of the high street and bought shoes from Clarks the other day. I am sick to the back teeth with the trend for heels dominating every shoe shop, no one wears the fucking things on a daily basis and haven't those flat ballet pumps worn themselves thin after a decade dominating our shops?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

It's International Blog Against Racism Week and while the google links I have found seem to focus heavily on fandom icons I'm not going to go there. Racism is so apparent in the fashion industry, not only are there far more white models, a view that is widely recognised but it's apparent that the entire business of fashion rests on the disparity between the wealthy white, western countries and other generally non-white nations where the body of the manufacturing of clothing takes place.

There should be more black and Asian models in our magazines and on our catwalks but the fashion industry is weird about physical appearance. It's biases run far beyond the ethnicity of models, it's a thoughtless industry and this is demonstrated in all kinds of ways. Here is a link to a blog post from Threadbared about racist language online and the way it ties into height.

I don't really know what else to say about this, I want to nod my head to IBARW and the importance of the message, particularly when we're talking about international industry, particularly where clothing is concerned because it functions on a foundation of racism, of presenting people in incredibly negative ways and treating them badly. This isn't a surprise, it's bad that it just keeps happening, it's bad that it can't be stopped and it's bad that it's propped up by the various media that cover fashion. Why continue in this vein? Sort it out fashion industry.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I read a fashion magazine in two stages. I go through the entire magazine when I first open it without reading a word. I take in every picture, including the adverts and I decide whether I like each piece of clothing. Usually this takes about 15 to 20 minutes, most pieces are easy to judge but sometimes I need to think about a garment for a while or go back to it and there are a lot of photographs in fashion magazines. Once I've done this I allow myself to read the articles but this takes second place to the feeling I get from the clothes. This process tells me that there are shapes and textures that I like and others that I dislike and even more that I like in some contexts and dislike in others. Jil Sander's Autumn/Winter R-T-W collection is a good spread of clothes that I have this response to.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Eco-fashion round up:

Topshop wants your rubbish, the past week has been Topshop's 'rubbish' week.

via Treehugger Horny Toad buys the Nau brand.

In other news Karl Lagerfeld promotes cycling safety.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Viktor and Rolf exhibition at the Barbican is the best exhibition I have ever seen. The quality of their work was wonderful, the individual pieces that were shown offered elements of their unique and original style. They were complimented by the catwalk videos that served as a backdrop but also as a demonstration of the movement of the garments. It was a remarkable show and the doll's house at the very centre of it with little dolls wearing miniature versions of their work made the exhibition for me. I took some photos though I suspect I wasn't meant to:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A quick eco-fashion round up:

The US company Sears is selling a clothing line called EcoGir manufactured by Bagir who have produced a suit made entirely of recycled materials such as PET plastic bottles.

Did you know that the clothing company Patagonia has a footprint section on its site? This section explains why specific products are greener than their alternatives and how detrimental it has been to create them. The level of carbon dioxide emissions, waste generated and the distance the product travelled are recorded.

Finisterre won the fashion prize at the 2008 Observer Ethical Awards. If you want outdoor clothing that is environmentally sustainable this is a good place to start in the UK. Hopefully they will expand their range of styles and the variety of product lines they turn out in the future. This is definitely a positive beginning.

Cultivate Kids produce environmentally okay children's clothes. They're lovely outfits and T-shirts but they are made in the US so if you're not there then they're not quite as sustainable as something manufactured closer to home like Polarn o.pyret's eco line.

Perhaps you'll be interested in Pamoyo who use organic cotton, manufacture in Berlin and are releasing patterns for some of the pieces on their site.

If you're looking for accessories you can find bags at Terra pax who have a practice of industrial ecology or Osprey Packs who have a line of bags made from recycled materials.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Birds Dress Agency is a vintage clothing shop on Malpas Road in Brockley. It opens from Wednesday to Saturday and looking through the windows the other day I caught sight of McQueen and Prada shoes sitting elegantly near the door.

While I was looking at the shop yesterday Paul the hairdressers whose shop is next door came out and had a chat with me. Apparently Birds has been open steadily since 1965, you can see from the shot of the window that a range of hats are also available. The name of the shop speaks to me, there's something very between-the-wars about the word agency when applied to a shop, it's quite exciting. It's clear that I'm going to have to go inside at some point but I think I'll need to take a more experienced vintage shopper with me in case I don't want to buy anything.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I have just finished watching Imagine Annie Leibovitz: Life through a lens on BBC1. The programme covered a lot of the personal moments in her life and the photos that she took, photos of her partner Susan Sontag and her father after they had died. She had taken photos before of corpses in Sarajevo and while it didn't really scratch the surface of her response or the way that she experiences the world, it was interesting and really showed off the body of her work and her skill at creating a narrative with her photos. It was also interesting to watch her claim that she does not capture personality through photographs, if anything Annie Leibovitz constructs a more melodramatic existence for her subjects through her work and I got the impression that she really understands that in a way that her audience doesn't grasp. That more than anything gives us an impression of her brilliance as a photographer because few people can construct a whole story from a single image and moment.

The Sartorialist has some beautiful photographs of a jazz age lawn party on his site at the moment. This is my favourite, as it really speaks about the link between female independence and the cut of those dresses that really broke a barrier between male and female attire.

Fashion Hire allows people to hire designer handbags. Primarily this site seems to have been built for people with very specific lifestyles, primarily women who attend events and want to match their accessories to a dress or outfit. It is also a site for people who want to try handbags out before they purchase them and in that sense it's a useful service because these items are incredibly expensive. I'm sure that there is a market for it but I'm unclear as to how large that market is, I have always assumed that a need for handbags, shoes and other accessories was a need that existed mainly for people who like to hoard and keep consumer goods close to them. While handbags of different shapes and sizes are appealing they are not something I've allowed myself to indulge in too thoroughly but part of the reason for that is obvious to me from the website: most designer handbags strike me as ugly and overcomplicated.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A short picture essay on Victoria Beckham and Roland Mouret is currently available on the Guardian website accompanied by Germaine Greer's text. It's worth taking a look at, even if Germaine was a bit slow to realise that Victoria Beckham is more than a woman that the papparazzi photograph. Fashion is a cultural discourse for those who can read images and Beckham writes an essay with her outfits. One thing is clear, if you're going to have a fashion icon and you want to understand dresses then images of Victoria Beckham are a very good place to start.

An interview with Julie Walters on her experience playing Mary Whitehouse leaves us with an impression of the reasons for the change in female body shape since the 1960s.

Did you have to bulk up for the role because she seemed quite a matronly woman?

I wish I did! Mind you, we wear the proper 'foundation garments' - these surgical truss things all in one with suspenders and girdles. Actually I have a waist when I'm her.

Since this is 2008 I'll just link you to some information on the girdle.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Yves Saint Laurent died last night, here are some links to obituaries which say it better than I could:

Women's Wear Daily with some quotes on his influence from Marc Jacobs and Vera Wang among others and a quote from Yves Saint Laurent from 2002, “I always served women and I did it without compromise until the end, with respect and love.”

The BBC points out that "he changed forever what women wear, introducing trouser suits, safari jackets and sweaters".

The Guardian reflects on his role in the industry. "He was the last of the Paris couturiers in the tradition beginning with Charles Worth in the 19th century and the first designer to invest his talent in what became the 21st century global market for mass luxury."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

If you know anything about talismanic shirts and could recommend some literature on them please leave a comment.
Scandinavian fashion usually has a loose, relaxed feeling to it that contrasts directly with the tight silhouette of Italian style. It is interesting to compare women's fashion from the two regions because they really impress upon you a difference in culture between Northern and Southern Europe.

I want to draw a direct comparison between Massimo Dutti, which is owned by a larger Spanish company and Pudel which is Swedish. Ignoring the practicalities of the websites (sorry, Dutti has a flash website) there's a clear difference in the clothing. Pudel creates looser, less buttoned up garments while Massimo Dutti provides very tight, quite tailored clothes and it's characteristic of what can be broadly expected from the two regions. Why is there such a gap? It's so unexpected in fashion, which is essentially a global industry. You expect differences between designers but not necessarily ranges in accordance with their location. However there are definitely tiny details that continue to characterise regional clothing and they are are only obvious when you really look at clothing coming out of companies that provide slightly higher price high street fashion. Is it weather, politics? This would be my PhD subject if I chose to do one.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

There are websites built to sell products, sites that express personal opinion about the industry, critical and positive sites, basically online fashion spans a huge distance in intention. Although I've spent time criticising individual websites I don't attempt to critique the broader approach to fashion as it exists online because it's difficult to get the right initial perspective to even start to do that. The industry has thousands of commentators that come at it from different angles. Take the Sartorialist, his views are expressed mainly through image, his personal taste is definite and the photographs are a compilation of the quirks of style he favours. Many other sites take the same tack, on my RSS feed I have Hel Looks which also has a selection of fashion photos taken on city streets. I favour the site because the style preference translates so well to the medium of photography, Just Glitter Lust is another street snaps website though I don't view it as often.

There is also a big online trend towards taking photos of yourself in clothes that you've bought. Style Bubble features its author regularly as does Kingdom of Style. I don't like the politics of Kingdom of Style very much. Michelle can lean towards a type of criticism of people's bodies that honestly I don't like, mostly because I don't think anyone needs to be an arse about people's imperfections and size. That attitude reeks a bit of living in Photoshop fantasy land. In reality it's impossible to eliminate every poor feature of an organic body but she does point out good design regularly so I keep her on my feed. Fashion and humour, particularly fashion that focuses mainly on pictures and not words doesn't really do humour that isn't cruel and I'd rather just read about outfits. I've cut a lot of bad journalism out of my RSS in the last couple of months, fashion isn't about fame and I don't want to read about a dress just because it's worn by a celebrity. I avoid the Glamour blogs in the US and UK for that reason (and because the writing kind of sucks). If I want to read a gossip column that occasionally comments on frocks I'll go for something so outrageous that it is funny, Perez Hilton basically.

There are the few unique websites that do something completely different, my favourite is Fashion Incubator, it's a good read, enlightening, interesting, actually teaches me something about the fashion industry and the importance of basic skills like pattern cutting. I haven't found anything as relaxed and honest about fashion on the Internet. I also read Kuwait Style because fashion is as interesting globally as it is here, spotting the similarities and differences is fascinating. I intend to write about Ovatus Fashion in the near future.

I would like to read more about fashion theory online but there's a lack of it about I think. Perhaps those just aren't popular sites though so they're more difficult to find.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Finally we witness the fashionable commodification of cycling helmets with the work of Natalia Brilli (this picture brutally lifted from Susie Bubble) and Sawako Furuno.

Cycling has always had its own unique fashion, understandably based on functionality, there has been a kind of space age, lycra, streamlined chic that has suited men but looked a little stranger on their female counterparts. The Natalia Brilli helmet above manages to combine that sleek elegance with a powerful, feminine edge. The Sawako Furuno helmet sits at the other end of the spectrum, light, sweet with flower motifs, it does something completely different to the merchandise that is usually available to cyclists.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

“The term Tipping point describes the point at which a slow gradual change becomes irreversible.” Leggings. The trend has peaked and we have reached the moment that the fashion media has been dreading. The nation has been wearing leggings for months to the extent that those with the confidence of shapely legs have abandoned them and we are now left with an irreversible trend that is sported, mainly by people who look rather foolish in this second skin.

I love leggings but they are unforgiving, they reveal every ounce of fat, every peculiar turn of the lower leg. If you’re dressing up and your legs aren’t naturally athletic or your feet turn out at odd angles or your legs are kind of scrawny then you should probably opt for a different trend, one that looks a little more glamorous and conceals your flaws. It’s not that anyone cares, it’s simply that a lot of people could look better than they do in leggings. All people have flaws and clothes ideally balance them out to make us more beautiful. Skinny jeans are just as tight, quite similar to leggings but a better material for women who carry bulk on their legs, tights are thinner and pair better with skirts for the majority of the population. Women and men should not wear clothes simply because they are in fashion and they like the trend, style equates with clothes that suit you as an individual.

At some point leggings are going to disappear into the sportswear department again but at the moment they have reached a height of fashion that means swathes of young women, regardless of their shape have put them on their legs. Like all garments they are not suitable for everyone and it isn’t related to weight, some women have short, round legs and look excellent in leggings, some have long, slender legs and look absurdly like fawns. How do trends get to the point where people who can pick exciting patterns and well cut dresses make their legs look less than they could? I suspect it’s a combination of laziness and delight. Essentially no media group, no stylist and no retailer has ever been able to take away the one, absolute truth, leggings are fun.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'm quite interested in Butcher Couture an ethical fashion company that was founded by Babou Olengha in October 2007. It specialises in organic bovine leather but it's incredibly difficult to get a sense of the clothing online. There are a number of reasons for this, the first is that the website has been written in flash, that means that when you use the label as a search term in google it only picks up the front page and a breast awareness PDF press release. Oddly the site is titled launcher rather than Bucher Couture on google so it's not obvious that you're going to the correct page unless you look at the URL.

The use of flash means that you get an immediate sense of the brand, the marketing aims of the company but not of the products that Butcher Couture is producing. The introduction, as with all flash sites, is long and boring, it takes an age to load up and tells you very little if you are there to look at fashion items. You then have to navigate through more windows until finally you can look at the Autumn/Winter 2007 collection. Whether there is a Spring/Summer 2008 collection cannot be discerned online so it's possible that Butcher Couture no longer exists and is simply a name floating around the Internet. The site isn't finished, the Archive and Track and Trace features do not work, you cannot exit from the equation feature, news is somewhat out of date specifically because the site is a season behind.

This is an honourable idea, it's been branded well and obviously got some attention in the latter half of 2007. Even now the pink wedding dress that Jemma Sykes created for the label is getting some attention online but I can't discover anything about the clothes in a broader sense and that strikes me as odd. The brand, the name, the ethic is interesting but what about the garments, shouldn't they take precedence?
This decade has seen an entire sector of the fashion industry built up around eco-fashion. Perhaps the best example of this is People Tree which, despite having no retail outlets on the high street has achieved an enviable level of brand recognition, and yet in spite of the popularity of well known ethical clothing companies such as People Tree, Howies and Terra Plana it is still difficult to predict whether the sector is stable enough to survive the next 10 years. Ecological fashion is expensive. The production of clothing can cost a lot: paying workers a living wage, using materials that are good for the environment and dyes that don’t cause harm pushes the cost of clothes up. After all of that hard work, the method of delivering clothes is still going to be slower and the turnover less quick than high street retailers because it is destructive and unethical to fly clothing from one country to another. An ecologically minded fashion company that uses planes should surely have its credentials questioned? The media is discussing the rising cost of food, the sense that we’re in an economic downturn is prevalent and the question of whether an expensive, ethical trade can be sustained, whether the market focuses on the right demographic for this to be possible, must be at the forefront of people’s minds. In the last few weeks Nau has shut up shop, a thoughtful clothing company that couldn’t achieve a viable level of funding. The question is as always whether people who are not wealthy can be expected to consistently spend more on clothing, particularly if they are already spending more on food, cleaning products, cosmetics and other items that they perceive as ethical because there are no cheap, ethical products. The association of price and luxury exists because spending more on any item equates to buying luxury goods. When we buy a more expensive version of the same basic product, whether it is food or clothing, we are buying a luxury item regardless of any external gain for wider society or our own bodies. Then there’s the argument that cheaper clothes fall apart and out of shape more quickly but I don’t see a foundation for it, particularly not in my own experience. My People Tree skirt is not in better shape than the skirt I bought from H&M a few years earlier so the choice to buy more expensive clothing is an ethical and intellectual choice, not a practical choice.

British supermarkets have tried to adopt eco-fashion with mixed results. Lucy Siegle’s blog post on the relationship between Katharine Hamnett and Tesco reveals the expected tension between ecological ideals and big business. If you’re interested in the status of larger retail chains with regards to worker’s rights the Clean Up Fashion report from War on Want is an interesting, informative place to begin with a section in the PDF summary dedicated to How Companies Fared.

Friday, May 09, 2008

This week I found a flyer for Fashicon in a cafe local to my workplace. Fashicon is a site that sells branded menswear. Its identity is extremely masculine, defined images in quite muted colours with silver buttons that convey the menu visually. Rather than simply relying on the buttons the descriptions (T-shirts/Polo etc.) still sit next to them, making it clear that the buttons are links. That menu structure sits to the right of the page even when you're browsing items. The front page is simple and easy to read, a portal to draw the audience in and make the purpose of the website clear, it doesn't try to sell too much to the customer which is a relief when you're used to flash sites that are poor, time wasting and difficult to navigate. I am never going to buy clothes from Fashicon because I don't buy clothes for men but the experience of the site and discovering the items that it supplies was fulfilling.

The closest women's site that I can think of, off the top of my head, belongs to the high street retailer Oasis. When comparing the two sites it struck me that while Fashicon's homepage was built to allow your vision to be drawn to the menu on the right hand side immediately, the menu was obscured by the fashion illustration on the Oasis site. The last thing that I see is the menu structure and I want to shop using that system. Clearly it is a good site and built along the same, consumer-orientated lines as Fashicon. It's also better than many other fashion sites, one example being the Topshop site which pushes all kinds of nonsense on to you and then mixes up the categories on the left hand side so that even the myriad types of clothing and accessories aren't grouped together.

When I browse clothing online I am not browsing a concept, I want to see what a shop has and where I can go to try it on. Even though I am not an online purchaser I am a scout for clothes that I could potentially buy if they are available. If a site takes too long to navigate and leaves me bored and tapping my fingers while page after page loads I lose respect for the company. Only real concept brands, labels that sell to the very rich, should have flash sites even if they don't sell through their websites. You need to allow people to see the clothes that they could own. Generally fashion as an industry is starting to get the hang of this but even the best sites don't get it quite right, the Oasis website carries your eye from the illustration to the right when you should see the menu structure as an immediate second object. The narrative is wrong but I can't see why.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

In 1926 an economist called George Taylor put forward the view that hemlines fall with the markets. I was reminded of this by an FT article written by Vanessa Friedman in March. The idea was also referenced and a brief history given by Claire Brayford in the Express in February. It's certainly a common theme for columnists who want to throw something cultural into financial articles or surprise people with an unusual idea that holds some authority. Catherine Valenti also had an article on this subject published on the ABC News money site in January. In this particular article Taylor's theory is debunked by Valerie Steele, the Chief Curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, who is quoted as saying "it's a kind of functionalist theory of fashion that doesn't work... hemlines were starting to come down in '27 and that was two years before the market crash." Her choice of words is significant, when asked to define functionalist google tells me that theories in particular rely heavily on the notion of realization to explicate the relation between consciousness and the physical. This probably isn't the definition that Steele is referring to, she is more likely thinking of the idea that all elements of a culture are functional and so people attempt to assign a correlation between two separate parts of our culture to make them function together. I think that the definition of functionalist works well in this context, the idea that people's economic fear, their consciousness is written in what they wear is very present in Taylor's hemline index.

The idea in the press seems to be that there are too many conflicting products to derive any specific ideas about the economy. Many skirts equates with many hemlines so how can you make a cultural judgment? Trends allow for differing hemlines, the point is in the majority of popular skirts. Nevertheless the argument promotes the idea that the hemline index was ever viable and that's very spurious. Clothes do not necessarily follow a pattern that relates to the rest of society unless your conclusion is that after a decade of bland, beige clothing people might want to wear bright, acid colours. Fashion and the economy are linked but the specific part that is linked is not the creative process, it's the business side of the market, the selling of clothes to customers. In order to gauge the effect of business on design and creativity you have to go through a chain of influence that differs depending on the organisation that makes the clothes, in some parts of the industry buyers have more influence than in other parts of the industry. Some retailers, Topshop immediately springs to mind, are orientated heavily on cost, the same pattern will have details added to it many times and the economy directly influences the clothes sold in the stores. This is not as obviously true of fashion houses. Essentially then the question becomes whether fashion today has a life as a whole or only as a series of separate entities, that is always the question, whether you're looking at various catwalks around the world or at independent shops in Camden.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It felt a bit fortuitous to find, on the kitchen table this morning, a book open on a page about silk. I am unclear as to whether it was deliberately left there or if sheer chance worked its magic but I've been thinking about silk and the silkworm recently. The book, which I haven't read all the way through is called The Rise of a Hungry Nation: China Shakes the World by James Kynge. Silk is an animal by-product. It isn't particularly glamorous to define expensive materials as by-products, food is more likely to be classified in this way and at first glance there's very little similarity in the status of milk and silk but this post isn't about workers, pay and labour, it's about the history of that by-product.

The silkworm does not appear to exist in the wild, it is an animal that is domestically farmed. Silk is made from the cocoon that worms build in order to become moths and the only definite historical fact that is known about the domestic silkworm is that it comes from inland China. The cocoon is made of a single continuous thread of raw silk and a minimum of 2000 cocoons are required to make a pound of silk. Presumably the price of silk has dropped in the last hundred years because of intensive farming methods. Generally silkworm cocoons are boiled while they contain the creature and this allows easy unravelling of the cocoon to farm the thread. There are questions about the work, silk farming is common in India and China, as the book I found in the kitchen explains the industry in Como, Italy has been declining for two decades.

The discovery of silk is attributed by the Chinese to Leizu, the wife of the Emperor Huang Di, who found a cocoon in her tea and on picking it out unravelled the cocoon so that she held raw silk in her hands. The Zhou Dynasty (11th century-256BC) created an administration to oversee the breeding of silkworms and the production of the material. During this dynasty the Silk Road was also set up to carry the material to the Middle East and Europe. Breeding and production techniques were taught to other countries and silk became more popular.

There are all kinds of questions about silk and the ethics of wearing the material that I have never really encountered in the way that I have fur and leather. Essentially a vegan or vegetarian should not wear this material unless it comes from a source like the one in this treehugger article.
PETA do reference silkworms but don't appear to have much publicity surrounding the information, which interests me quite a lot as this is clearly an animal rights issue that is often overlooked. Stella McCartney may not use fur and she may support a host of animal charities but she does use silk...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The last few years have felt like a shoe wasteland. I have searched high and low for a pair of flats that are formal, elegant and can handle my poor, useless feet (falling arches). There have been many pairs of pretty flats, unfortunately they have been made of soft leather or canvas, rather than holding my broken, size 8's they have creased and bowed within seconds of placing them upon my feet. It's been tragic and ridiculous and extremely disappointing. So listen, I want to express my anxiety properly, I want to talk about high heels. Gwyneth Paltrow has started a small storm on the Guardian site this week by sporting 7" heels at some premiere or other and a conversation about shoes made me think that I should discuss my dislike of heels.

Heels. They look nice, they lengthen the body, the leg, stretch the ankle, compress the heel, place pressure on the ball of the foot. Heels burn. I admit that the occasional pain is worth experiencing to look a little bit glamorous but 7 days a week? Why go to such lengths? Why not wear flat shoes, you pop them on and you can walk for miles, there's no tottering, maybe a little plodding, the potential for a lengthy stride, if you want to run you can do it without flailing your arms about. Oh, you want to wear nice shoes? You want to buy something that looks interesting that you can wear in an office? That's a bit unusual isn't it, sorry the shops can't do that sort of thing.

I am resigned to trying Camper again although they never, ever have my size in stock. Women with flat feet don't buy shoes online because they just end up sending them back.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Where did our waists go? asked Mimi Spencer in 2005. It's an old guardian article but interesting to read and a demonstration of a prevailing view of women's bodies over the last few years.

My problem with this article is quite simple, it is the same problem that I have with the prevailing view of women's bodies, there appears to be a general assumption that women once had naturally occurring waists that naturally nipped in. People really believe that the hourglass figure was an average, natural phenomenon. Well, I don't mean to offend but I honestly doubt that this was ever the case. I will now select some of my favourite quotes from this piece and address them:

In 1951, the average British woman had a 27.5-inch waist. Now, she boasts a 34-incher. That's a growth of more than an inch a decade.

This was not because we are excessive now, this is because food was rationed. This is not something we should extol the virtues of, I'm certain that rationing sucked. Additionally corsets, commonly used as waist training devices fell out of practice in the 1910s, only 40 years earlier so many older women may have worn them from adolescence up until the first world war. If this was a true average than it would have been hugely effected by both of these factors. I don't doubt that the points raised in this article are true to an extent but the notion that expanding waistlines are a cultural problem for women specifically is a little absurd. If they're a problem then they're not an aesthetic problem, men are still going to want to reproduce with women, there's no need to preserve a crazy and hungry waist in order to get laid/married/kissed. If an expanding waistline is a problem then it's a health problem for men and women and god, I wish people would stop trying to make women conform to absurd physical ideals by comparing people (who should be happy and feel normal) from London and Leeds and Aberystwyth to a painting from another century.

When Emma Stiles says The waist-hip ratio has changed over the past 100 years because of a change in the macronutrients in our diet our response is simple, it's happened to all of us so the playing field remains level. Apparently Kylie can't even achieve a tiny waist and she's probably got a personal trainer and nutritionist.

And as to sitting in Starbucks all day with a laptop and a cappuccino was a joy unavailable to our grandparents' generation... I work 8 hour days in an office, is this meant to make a job that I find lacks anything profound sound like a leisure pursuit? Mimi Spencer has not simply put a gloss on the past but has also polished up our dull, working lives by suggesting that we have time to sit in Starbucks all day, drinking coffee and typing. After that she finally starts piling the pressure of healthy eating on but it's too late because she's already shown me that like the rest of the fashion industry, she has a weird attitude towards women's bodies. She isn't thinking about reality, she's thinking about popular culture. It's too late to say Empowering? Or demeaning? Like it or loathe it, "restraint" is a hot word in fashion right now. The author already believes that women should restrain themselves and sadly that seems to be common.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

There is a piece about Hillary Clinton's dress sense on The Guardian site at the moment. Hadley is very fair to Hillary Clinton but I think she underestimates the bile felt by the press and a significant proportion of the US electorate towards Clinton. For instance an article in the Washington Post refers to Clinton as if she were a person lacking confidence rather than a politician attempting to be President: With Clinton, there was the sense that you were catching a surreptitious glimpse at something private.

I really enjoyed this comment on Media Matters that Clinton often wears bright colours. This article on Reclaim the media is definitely relevant.

Most importantly looking at pictures of Hillary Clinton online you get the impression that she does like clothes, she has a sense of style. She likes quite fussy, feminine clothes and they're not the type of power outfits that she is necessarily expected to wear.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

An awareness that I've been absolutely useless and failed to update this space for over a month has spurred me into some semblance of action. Here are some links: the London Fashion Week website holds catwalk reports for each of the designers, among them are Allegra Hicks, Ben de Lisi and my favourite Duro Olowu.

The Times currently has images from Japan fashion week on its fashion front page and they also have an article on fashion and the economy that I intend to write about in further depth later today.

Monday, February 04, 2008

I am definitely going to this on the 9th March. A collection of fashion films for Birds Eye View, a creative platform for women filmmakers. I'm hoping to see something genuinely interesting.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Having glanced over the Paris couture shows, not with the depth that I would like to because I've moved house and attended an open day this week, I have come to the conclusion that my favourite of the Spring 2008 haute couture was from Givenchy. Rather than trying to express this in words I am going to opt for visual language:

This is the kind of clothing that I am always drawn to, it reminds me of the best Ann Demeulemeester, a focus on cut and silhouette that makes you want to run in a mad dash to the designer and weep into their hem begging them to make you a nice coat. Sadly the black wall behind the catwalk made the photos difficult to decipher.

Unexpectedly I also really enjoyed the Valentino hats, especially the one below:

Yesterday I went to the London College of Fashion for an open day and by the time I exited the building I was sold on Fashion Curation as an MA. I expect that I will get the usual run of questions from people, questions like "what are you going to do with it?" The answer will be, work hard and use it or simply enjoy the process of allowing my brain to take in something new and interesting. The prospect of creating in this way after sitting behind a desk and being involved with politics and journalism for two years is utterly joyous, being in that environment made me feel very cheerful very quickly but also quite committed to working hard. I would like to feel passionate about work, passion always makes difficulty feel less permanent. When I got home and looked up the course I realised that I had just met Amy de la Haye who edited Defining Dress, one of the first fashion theory collections I ever read. I would say that it was a factor in my decision but I had already emailed my undergraduate course tutor asking for a reference so the decision had been made. At first glance it might seem odd that I didn't know the name of the tutor but I wasn't considering Fashion Curation before I walked into the room at 5pm, I had been sure that I wanted to do the history course. The problem is that dry academia has never been my thing, I love organising, the practical aspects of life appeal to me, I am good at administration and filing, tidying things up and moving furniture around, creating intuitive spaces for other people. There is an interview with Judith Clark about curating a fashion exhibition here that will perhaps bring that sense of ideal and organistation across. I haven't yet watched it in full but the first half is very interesting, the narrative of her work is particularly intriguing and you get a shape of the process of the way she has approached the idea of the exhibition which is helpful to understanding this type of job.

My first fashion exhibition was Addressing the Century at the Hayward in 1998. I was 17 and sold on clothes as an artform as soon as I walked through the door. I had no idea that I could find garments so exciting and it really woke me up to a world I hadn't been aware of. It was curated by Peter Wollen who as it turns out has written an article entitled The Concept of Fashion in The Arcades Project. I would very much like to read this because Benjamin's work regarding fashion interests me but is sometimes difficult to take from its context, especially with The Arcades Project which is so large. Since then I've been a bit of a staple at the V&A exhibitions. I think I'm going to be kicking myself for missing The Golden Age of Couture for decades.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What do I know about clothes? I know that clothes start from the vulnerability of being a woman or man without any clothes on. That clothes are our cultural skin. I know that we build ourselves and our confidence and our approachability and protective shell through our outfits. Imagine for a moment the difference between clothed and nude, the line and the difference in where it exists for different people and then, importantly the cloak of fashion in opposition to other types of nudity. The extension of fashion photography as a form of clothing emphasises the idea of clothing as cultural construct.

Gok Wan on How to Look Good Naked teaches women, not to look good naked but to put on clothing even when they're wearing very, very little. I'm currently reading It's So You, a collection of essays by women that focuses on their personal experience of fashion and clothing. I think I have failed to do this a little, in a sense this site is more a critical examination of the very periphery of fashion, of the popular conception of it in magazines and newpapers and the misiniterpretation and lack of clarity on the subject. It makes sense because I want to clarify what fashion theory is and should be but perhaps more motivation to write about my clothes and experiences would be positive.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A week ago I had seen very few images of Michelle Obama and most of them hadn't presented her particularly well. I had assumed that her interest in her appearance was focused on her role as a politician's wife because she seemed to be a very conservative dresser, prone to pearls and roll necked tops. Then I found out that she was listed as one of the best dressed women of 2007 by Vanity Fair magazine and I thought it was worthy of investigation. I couldn't believe that the photos I had seen could represent the wardrobe of someone on such a list.

Michelle Obama has style and her designer of choice is Maria Pinto who is based in Chicago. Her clothes are beautiful but sadly her website isn't up to date. Pinto's marketing spiel says that she is known for matching the finest European fabrics with modern American design, I'm unclear as to what modern American design actually means, probably clothes designed by an American citizen in America but Obama seems to have made a good choice and it's pleasant to see a democrat dressing so well and providing some competition for the Bush family.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I recently had a brief conversation about a Russian interior design magazine that has led me to think about the advantages and disadvantages of international fashion. Someone had brought the magazine into the workplace of an acquaintance and she was struck by the colourful, foreign opulence of the photographs she encountered. The style was entirely unexpected in western kitchens but aspirational for those of a different culture. The sudden culture shock of an aspiration that is at odds with an underlying expectation is rarely discovered in fashion. Although clothes shock they usually do so in the moral sense rather than in a structural or aesthetic way, it is expected that contemporary clothing will push boundaries. Reference to culture is appropriated with such regularity that often features created in one society cannot be traced to an individual nation with any ease. We are used to photographs of men in large hats wandering through Red Square and that is our vision of Russian clothing in the west.

It is initially surprising that clothes created by Russian designers can be read with such easy familiarity. The designs are similar to those we see in ready to wear fashion and the more expensive high street shops. At present the most readily available and most heavily publicised brand is Kova&T, stocked by Harvey Nichols and gaining a lot of press attention at the moment. The clothes are co-designed by Dasha Zhukova who is of Russian ethnicity but went to school in Los Angeles and her work has clearly been influenced by international fashion rather than her home culture. In a sense that is what makes Sunday's Observer article so odd. Nationality in 2007's fashion industry is an extremely ineffective way to group and explore the designs that are being produced. Designers are generally influenced by their own industry, the trends of a specific season, the success of a fashion house, the designer or house they have worked for, only in rare cases do specific cultural norms come into the frame, that is why Olowu is so exciting. In that sense it is to be expected that there is very little to link the clothes of Kira Plastinina with those of Dasha Zhukova. That their fathers made a lot of money is their common ground and as The Observer points out Plastinina - dubbed the leading light of the new 'spoilt bratski' generation - opened a chain of shops last year with a gift of £50 million from her father.

Kira Plastinina's website is written in Russian rather than English. Her clothes are reminiscent of Harajuku or Topshop rather than the muted tones and stylings of Kova&T, this makes them no better or worse but it does suggest that even in simply looking at the clothes the suggestion of national background is useless.

Viv Groskop’s article basically tells us that people in a geographical area are emulating and aspiring to be designers and the fashion industries darlings. Igor Chapurin is apparently Moscow’s Tom Ford and his clothes are built by people in the media, lawyers, bankers, the same type of people who buy this price range in the UK, so shoppers in Moscow spend money in the same way as people in London. Alla Verber was a buyer and now she’s apparently bringing luxury to Moscow but I’m not sure how because it’s never clearly stated. Groskop has penned three articles and slapped them together, one about designers of Russian ethnicity, one about consumerism in Moscow and one about fashion culture and the way it’s changing in Russia’s cities. I would like to know what Verber does, more about the clothes that Zhukova and Plastinina design, anything concrete about Chapurin but this is an article that doesn’t work because it is about the Russian fashion industry. There is no Russian fashion industry, at this kind of level there is only an international fashion industry with Russian designers, buyers and journalists and the way that this is effecting the consumerism in some parts of the country.

Incidentally a cleaner article, lacking a lot of the assumption inherent in the Observer's and bringing across similar points was published in The Times and apparently written by Donatella Versace today.