Fashion, Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 13/10/11: Gucci Gucci

Last week I talked about the Mod look and how much we love looks from the past. But what happens when we love a look from the past that is already recreating a look from the past? It gets complicated. More complicated than we need shopping for clothes to be.

This is the kind of generation-jumping, time-leaping fashion situation where Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap would really come in handy. Let me explain.

Last February, at Milan Fashion week, Frida Gianinni debuted an Autumn/Winter Gucci collection that would cause photographers and editors to go into raptures of unmitigated worship. It was beautiful, all of it.

The collection was basically an amped-up harkening back to the days of Studio 54. Each model looked as if she had been styled by Angelica Huston on her way to a hot date with Jack Nicholson, seen through the lens of Helmut Newton.

The women looked statuesque, powerful, immovable. The clothes were typical 70’s – wide-legged trousers, knee length boots meeting skirt hems, huge sunglasses. Leather, fur and chiffon were everywhere.

The collection had been given a modern twist. The furs were dyed from their natural state to bright, just on the right side of jarring colours; lavender, aquamarine, violet, Pernod green and a particular shade of yellow that can only be described as a tad Big Bird-y. The python was dyed similar colours. Because of the nature of fur and snakeskin (real or artificial) those colours took on the kind of multi-hued texture and dimension that is easily compared to precious jewels.

The original sombre colour palettes broken up with one or two bright colours to an outfit were not represented. Instead, an effusion of bright contrasting colours. A purple fur collar and muff was matched with a baby blue wool jacket, blue and purple sweater vest, red bow blouse, red trousers and accessorised with a black belt, midnight blue shoes and a burgundy velvet fedora trimmed with violet satin ribbon. Wear that in 1979 and people would assume you were colourblind. Today, it’s high fashion. It wobbled towards bad taste, but in a very good way.

What we conveniently forget is, at the time, the Studio 54 look was a twist on a previous decade – the 1930’s. The fur, the fedoras, the burgundy lips, the lowered hemlines, the sweeping gowns and the pussy bow blouses were all leftovers from another fashion decade.

Perhaps the trend was the echo of excess in a decade that was an economic disaster. Protected inside their bubble, the revellers in Studio 54 were temporarily exempt from the chaos going on outside. In the 1930s the rich left unscathed by the Great Depression continued to live excessively, oblivious to the mass migration and joblessness that stretched around the world. And this decade, with NAMA, bankrupt countries and an ever-shrinking population of young, skilled people… You can see a pattern forming, surely. It’s fashionomics.

Fashion, Inspiration, Photography

Backstage: Meadham Kirchoff

I’ve never been a big fan of Meadham Kirchoff.  There.  I said it.

That is, until I read the relavatory and surprising interview given by Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchoff in the most recent LOVE magazine.  Their work consumes them, a sliver of self-referential sadness, obsession and neurosis runs through their work, often projected through a decidedly Nineties lens.  Their solitary lives mean that their collections are often genre-defying flights of pure self-expression.  Oh, and they’re hardcore feminists. Read the interview if you can.  It’s well worth the twenty minutes or so to pore over it.

Now I look at their shows and think, ‘Oh. Now I understand.’ It’s probably not the best reflection on me, to be honest.

These backstage photographs of their S/S ’12 show were taken by Rachel Hardwick, a CSM student and freelance photographer who was ironically (and depressingly for those of us who can remember the Berlin wall, however fleetingly) born in the decade the Meadham Kirchoff designers draw their inspiration from. A Nineties baby taking photos of Nineties women – I like the parallel.

I think my favourite is the row of Courtneys.

Art, Fashion

Related #10: But is it art?

Haute couture is a higly protected term.  It’s not haute couture unless

  • Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.
  • Have an atelier in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
  • Each season present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.

Ah Wikipedia.  You always have the answers…

Everyone’s been gushing about Riccardo Tisci’s outing with Givenchy (and rightly so) but Alaia was another highlight of the season.

People love Azzedine Alaia because he’s a fashion maverick. He speaks his mind, often to his detriment. He hates the fashion grind, which causes designers to take on too hefty a workload. He’s not a slave to trends or to money or to retailers.

I love this collection. Alaia really knows his way around a woman’s body.  The silhouettes, the details and the pure love that is poured into all of his designs are evident.

But is it art?  What do you think?

P.S.  Whenever I hear the word ‘Alaia’, I think about that scene in Clueless.

CHER:  Oh, no, you don’t understand. This is an Alaia.

MUGGER:  An Awhatta?

CHER:  It’s like a totally important designer.

MUGGER:  And I will totally shoot you in the head. Get down!


Dior couture: Whose dress is this anyway?

So… what did we think of the Dior couture offerings?  All eyes are on the French fashion house after Galliano’s famous ejection from the fashion house a few months ago.



The good people at Dior are deliberately making a statement by pointedly referencing the work of Marc Bohan, who helmed the brand from 1961 – 1989, sandwiched neatly in between Yves Saint Laurent and Gianfranco Ferré.


In terms of intent, I think that this collection falls a little bit flat.  Even though the collection is based on the work of Bohan (and the silhouettes really do echo his Sixties/Seventies work) it smacks of Galliano.  It’s like coming home to your boyfriend to find the bitch next door’s perfume still evaporating on his shirt.  The way that Bohan’s work is cheekily referenced, the quirky details, the vintage aesthetic, even the cat eye/red lip make-up combinations.  It’s so Galliano, and specifically Galliano, not just Galliano at Dior.


You can’t fault the work done at Dior – the craftsmanship is routinely perfect as ever.


The designs… perhaps not so much.  The waters are muddied slightly by all the tumult that Dior has gone through.


What do you think?


Photos by Fashion Gone Rogue


P.S  I’ve done another post for RTE’s Red Radar blog and I’d really appreciate it if you gave it a click!  It’s all about my fashion memories as a young ‘un so if you’d like to see a pre-adolescent passport picture of me, well, you know where to go…


Distilled: Paris Fashion Week A/W ’11

This is the last in the series.  Paris, following on from New York, London and Milan, is probably the most-hyped fashion week, with a record number of high-profile designers showing collections (and a lot of monotonous flicking through photographs on for me).

Here are some Parisian picks, arranged by trend – I use the word ‘trend’ in the loosest possible terms, because I’ve just made most of them up.

all photos


Row 1 – Anne Demeulemeester, Cacharel, Haider Ackerman
Row 2 – Chanel, Maison Martin Margiela, Alexander McQueen
Row 3 – Jean Paul Gaultier, Miu Miu, Tsumori Chisato
Row 4 – Loewe, Louis Vuitton, Valentino
Row 5 – Carven, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Sonia Rykiel
Row 6 – Chloe, Christian Dior, Lanvin
  • Row 1 – Absolutes – Make outfit statements in one colour (or two) – emphasis is on texture and silhouette.
  • Row 2 – Come together, fall apart – Deconstructed, zipped and ripped apart outfits.  I shouldn’t love this because these are oriented towards the willowy of body, but I do anyway.
  • Rpw 3 – Little old ladies – Pour talcum powder in your ‘do, amp up the boxy silhouette and invest in a furry shopping trolley, as seen at Gaultier.
  • Row 4 – Night porter – Leather trenches with very little little on underneath for the dominatrix vibe.  Christian Dior jokes optional.
  • Row 5 – Plaid – pensive plaid at Carven, Playful plaid at Castelbajac and Sonia Rykiel – it’s all good.
  • Row 6 – Textures with pattern – wooly snakeskin at Chloe and flower print gazar fabric at Lanvin.
  • None – though when it comes to Paris, I have rose-tinted specs.  Perhaps there was an overabundance of fur, but that seems to have been an overarching trend covering all four weeks.
What are your PFW picks?