Tuesday, 29 September 2015

JW Anderson - An Upgrade from Androgyny: LFW S/S16


JW Anderson’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection was presented as ‘odyssey oscillating between intergalactic Olympics and empowered femininity’ – an ambitiously broad scope to cover a sixteen minute show. Andy Warhol (the man who correctly predicted that ‘in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’) droned over a tannoy from Martin Scorcese’s Public Speaking soundtrack. But how far has society come since Campbell Soup Cans? Acid brights had found us again, unquestionably, and oversized shoulders also recalled the eighties. Waist-clinchers with raised tracksuit-like trousers chanced vivaciously sharp prints; the explicitness residing in the vivacious squiggle prints that we recall from the era, paired with knitted jackets, taperering, and slim silhouettes. Though, the finer elements were in the details that bookended this sense of exuberance well, like layered frills and cufflink turned up sleeves. Anderson wanted to create a ‘tension between the pop cultural with the sinister’, and he did exactly that. Most evidently so was the mismatch of lace with plastic, an ominous collaboration of textures indeed. Anderson showed to control volume and structure, but emphasised the sleek and willowy too, layering bras and bralets over frills, and cross-harnessing bags over other pieces, alluding to the sensuality of the spaghetti strap much more adorned in the nineties. Colour was fragmented and under command of the consistent doodle prints, which took centre stage. Anderson, who also stands as creative director at Loewe demonstrated the kitsch co-operating with the ethereal here: his collection was not modest, nor was it meant to be. Femininity was presented as resilient and perky, a pleasant change to his search for the meaning of the androgynous. Whereas Burberry brought the charisma and glamour, and Mary Katrantou showed off a space age, JW Anderson sought to demonstrate the power of the sixties through allusion to sportswear and underwear, and did so wittily, and the label exemplifies itself once again as one of the most elite fashion houses since its birth five years ago.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Nicholas K: NYFW S/S16

For their S/S16 collection at the opening of New York fashion week ready-to-wear collection, the brother and sister duo Nicholas K reiterate their self-proclaimed ‘nomad’ style to present a utilitarian style. Today, texture was shown to be a strong focus, whilst structure was not. His models were draped in layered shapes with largely neutral, flat shades of warm beiges and tans swathed with rope accessories – a nautical feel. The earlier part of his collection used super lightweight textiles like nylon to complement his super lightweight parachute inspirations, buckled down by rope that was effected consistently throughout.  Later on, shawls oozed into trench coats; hoods into ponchos. Lavish silk met suede bronze. The notion of elegance was worked into floor length leather-look dresses; distressed denim gathered flatteringly at the waist for other looks. Later on, the dip-dye hair hysteria of the naughties had been redrafted to mesh with this gathered layer style: draped fabrics synthesized with appearance of layers, as inky blacks washed suddenly into cool whites. 

Nicholas K used thick black outlines to make his pieces as if two-dimensional, juxtaposing this flatness with sweeping silhouettes. The collection was complemented by Casio G-Shock accessories: silver, copper and cobalt blue in robust metalwear, echoing the nautical theme. Wide police style sunglasses, deliberately over-framing faces, heightened that maritime flavour – and boy, did it quench the fashion-thirsty audience. Their (womens only) collection demonstrated the ever-evolving woman through masculine sub-genres associated with hardness and labour – hence the ropes and maritime, but without losing her femininity, as she blazed down the catwalk.

Givenchy: NYFW S/S16

Givenchy’s presentation was one to remember in lieu of Ricardo Tisci’s impressive ten years with the label as creative director.  When questioned about his choice to show in New York as opposed to Paris this season, he simply responds: ‘America was the first country to really believe in me. The big step for Givenchy in the ‘50s was America’. (We remember Tisci making Disney’s Bambi haute couture for A/W13). This time round, Tisci, along with his close friend Marina Abramović, commemorated the sombre anniversary of 9/11, which coincided that day, demonstrating this kind of tenderness for America. His show is aptly named “A Celebration of Love”. Seating and catwalk structures were manipulated from debris whilst a rhythmical gong persisted in the background. Monochromatic staples were the backbone for Givenchy’s show. Wedding-wear was clearly thematic in the opening; and luxury textures were paired with subtle creams and sensual inky blacks. Androgyny was back: the womenswear collection presented the tuxedo reformed in cut-out and long, sweeping sillhoutes. Victorian lace, akin to undergarments, was employed asymmetrically in a robe-like way for some. The groomsman as a woman; wedding night lingerie outward and catwalk convenient. Layers of netting was translucent and sensual. Two falls from Candice Swanepoel and Malaika Firth deterred little, besides. Towards the middle part of Tisci's show, an adornment of fused jewels appeared on outerwear in the most regal manner, as well as the models’ faces – make-up was courtesy of maestro Pat McGrath. This was paired with the most extravagant of eveningwear, with remarkable structure, including the traditional fishtail. Tailoring was strong, a bridge between marital charm and as sense of masculinity. Menswear dared to reveal ankles today in the face of Victorian women, bearing silk tunics and cut off tuxedos. It had the richness of early twentieth century glamour, indubitably, and reminded Tisci’s audience of the charisma of such an era.

Bourjois Couture: A Lash Tale

Fanned out, luscious lashes have been adorned in the beauty world since Twiggy exploded onto the scene in the sixties. “A doll lash, but not a dolly look” says Mary Katrantzou for her bold makeup approach at F/W15 – a trickling trend resurrected. Pursuing the perfect mascara is undoubtedley the holy grail of make-up. Until recently, Yves Saint Laurent Faux Cils Volume Effet Mascara was my handbag’s soulmate. There was something about that sweet-honey Yves smell of expensive formula that I somehow couldn’t stay away from (oh, the lure of designer product…)  

But if you can pry yourself away from the enticement of couture mascara, head down to your local drugstore and pick up Bourjois Volumizer Mascara, £10.99.

The results:

The product promises you a two-wand action, the first for everyday lash definition with up to two times more volume, and the second wand for dramatic lashes with up to eleven times more volume for ultimate show-stopping lashes. In reality, it is only one wand that filters through to either give you less mascara on the wand or more with a different kind of filter. The thinner wand lifts your lashes as well as creating volume. Wait a few seconds before layering a build-up with the second wand! To build up lush lashes, it’s great to choose either/both.

This product is a bargain and really promises what it says on the tin – plumps up your eyelashes, making them appear thicker and fuller, and yes, longer.
A definite 10/10 recommend.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

New Designers: The Body in Motion

The Business Design Centre in London Islington began showcasing the UK’s pioneering designers in the Eighties. Year after year, New Designers has been a hit with peers and creative industry insiders who come and examine the latest designs. The anticipation of New Designers 30th anniversary in 2015 raised the stakes even higher. Across the impressive open space of the Business Design Centre, New Designers exhibits creative students’ final work. Of course everyone can see everyone’s work; it produces a combination of anxiety, fascination, but also excitement and relief that all the hard work has paid off and graduation is a done thing.

Some students presented on the back of Graduate Fashion Week, which was only a few weeks prior. Some visitors, like me, were lucky enough to get a second taste. In the penultimate week of June, New Designers Part 1 presents the fashion, textiles, costume, ceramics and jewelry design forerunners for tomorrow. The most talented design students presented could be seen to join the world’s most prestigious labels – Prada and Paco Robane were a few that came to mind today.

Oliver Thomas Lipp is a strong Textiles BA graduate from UAL’s Central Saint Martin’s; a man in a crowd of mostly female graduates. For his final project he investigated the structure of skin and hair, reinstating ‘couture’ through a simple yet powerful idea. Originally focusing on concept, he leaves behind issues such as colour and trend. Allowing this approach to reach its outcome resulted in aesthetically rich textiles. Flattening hamma beads with an iron, he threads them through by hand using different yarns, ranging from lurex to eyelash yarn on the swatches he demonstrated here. The result? A re-creation of the flexibility an elasticity of human skin and the regularity of hair. Lipp explains: ‘I have been inspired by folds in the skin, hair follicles and cells, investigating the way in which these textures move and interact alongside the body’. He also mentions how much he enjoyed in his work a tactile treatment of textiles, creating in essence a physical connection between textile designer and wearer. Who would not like to feel those plastic beads and soft yarn on their skin? Visually, the designs look graceful and lightweight. They also feel luxurious to the touch; couture finishes of true elegance.

In January 2014, Viktor & Rolf presented a modelcovered solely by body paint for their surprise fragrance launch. Viktor Horsting commented: “we liked that her skin was becoming clothing in a way. She’s nude but she’s not. She’s dressed in paint. Her skin becomes like a garment. It was a [conceptual] way of saying that perfume could be worn like a garment.” Lipp’s approach presents an extension of this idea for the luxury market; he channels the skin as a form of attire.

Alternative use of yarns was popular this year. Becky Jones, a graduate from Falmouth University, has also examined yarn with relation to the body. She explored transgender connections and the relationship between femininity and masculinity; the essence of what makes us who we are. She used hand woven textiles experimenting with yarns unusual for menswear, fusing mixed media detailing to emphasise a complex texture. Jones’ work lies akin to high-end fashion due to the lightness of her pieces. Her collection is elaborate and detailed, but not overly so.  What we remember from her work are the two opposing techniques, juxtaposed to highlight the overlapping relationship between man and woman. The use of subtle metallic textures in combination with her fancy yarns should prove popular.

Sam Gilbert, a 3-D Design and Craft student from Brighton, examines structure within the body by examining the functionality of human skin. Rigid metal structures or “diagrammatic body implements” replicate in simplified form, bodily structures and movements. Rubber connects metal pieces to one another. A lot of rubber in fact! Its function is to act as an allusion to our ligaments, tendons, muscles and bones that work closely with one another; a wrath of structure intertwined. Sam Gilbert’s admiration for the human body is clear. He explains: “we have so many kinetic motions within our bodies that we cannot see. I have translated a collection of muscle movements from around the body in a simplified diagrammatic structure and turned them into exterior wearable objects”. We are drawn to the closeness between Gilbert’s work and leather artisan Una Burke, who creates armour-like clothing and accessories to emphasise the human body and its wondrous structure.

The part of the show dedicated to jewellery and ceramics showcased the work of Alexandra Von Trapp, a jewellery designer from Edinburgh College of Art. She presented a complete deconstruction of the human body. Looking to human bones for inspiration, Von Trapp produces intricate, wearable metal pieces. She draws from memory, not from stills; her sketches are a bridge between mind and yield. Her work must be examined from the designer’s own perspective on the human form, since these sketches emerge with her imagination and memory, rather than a tangible source.  Her work is therefore organic and subjective: we examine Von Trapp’s perception of human bones, rather than the thing itself. Her metal necklaces look like water frozen mid-air; an organic feature that harmonises the elements of the earth with the body. She further uses natural products like horse hair, to arch the space between earrings. This replicates the shape of the jawline in an understated manner, creating a connection between man and animal. Von Trapp reminds us that we are all part of the same world.

Bath Spa University boasted a wealth of graduates who demonstrate immense creativity. The most striking was Textile Design for Fashion & Interiors BA graduate Tanya Fryer. Fryer looks to her physical surroundings to produce wall hangings, such as turning an outdoor view into an indoor one.  Tanya Fryer has travelled around Europe, searching for inspiration in architecture, only to return to the UK and settle on a landscape of London for her final pieces. Her strong, block colours recreate in negative the open spaces of the skyline. Through layering with mixed media print, she demonstrates the distances between people and the buildings that surround them. In her sketchbook, she incorporates graphics onto sketches for further inspiration; Tanya’s urban surroundings inspire her.

Many of the New Designers 2015 graduates found inspiration in the human experience. They look to the human form for inspiration, pulling apart and deconstructing the essence of who we are. Some took this more literally than others, examining skin, bones, muscles and hair, whilst questioning humanity through design. Others looked to our surroundings and culture with a similar aim and equally powerful results. The waiting game begins as we wait to discover what the next cohort of New Designers can bring.

This review was published on Modeconnect.