Licentiate Column 29/11/12: Vouchers for All, and to All a Good Night

Vouchers don’t always provoke this response, you know.

It is now the last week of November, so we have reached the third stage in the hellish Advent calendar titled ‘The Run-up to Christmas’. This is the part where you start to feel guilty about not having bought any presents yet – surprisingly, this is a good place to be. We still have another three stages to go, the final one culminating in fighting with panicked Secret Santa-ers over the last Ted Baker sock set in TK Maxx.

I am duty-bound to tell you what kind of party clothes to wear (sparkly over sheer) and what kind of lingerie to buy for your significant other (sheer over sparkly) but, in truth, the best Christmas present to buy pretty much anyone is a voucher (my preference is Amazon, being mercifully bereft of sheer or sparkly stuff).

It is hard to wrap a voucher – or surprisingly easy, depending on your outlook. On asking my sister for an Amazon voucher, she instead asked for a list of books that I wanted so she could wrap them herself. It seemed like an awful lot of effort to me when I could have just bought them myself with my voucher. Then again, I probably just need a Christmas special to warm my cold, dead heart.

They may seem like a bit of a cop-out, but I love getting vouchers as gifts. I am such a persnickety, contrary person that it’s often hard for loved ones to choose something for me. I also suffer from a condition known as ‘Weird Boob and Leg-itis’ which means that I’m such a strange shape that clothes rarely fit the way they should. If you need help with which vouchers to buy for who, I’m here for you.

The Cover All Bases Person – The Secret Santa person, the person who has eclectic but decidedly mainstream tastes, the vaguely trendy male cousins, the friend who is so worryingly preoccupied with her dress size that you are now scared to ask what it is – get an ASOS voucher. For those not in the know, ASOS is a global shopping platform with its own mainline range as well as a glut of other retailers. You can also support vintage sellers and just-got-started designers in their Marketplace section.

The Person Who’s Always Banging on About Needing Thermal Underwear – Marks and Spencer. People who think about thermals also think quite frequently about comfort food (I am one of these people) and Marks has an admirable selection of both.

The College Student – Topshop. Is an explanation necessary?

The Person Who has Recently Decided to Dress Like a Grown-Up – There is a crossroads in a woman’s life at the intersection of ‘Good Quality’ and ‘But I don’t Have Any Money’ and Cos is the recently-constructed bypass. The Swedish label sells its wares in Brown Thomas, so buy a BT voucher and point her in the right direction come January sales time.

For everyone else – a book token. Fashion can’t be the solution to every problem (but God knows at least I’m trying).

Diet Coke Fashion Friday: Five Reasons To Love J.W. Anderson

1.  He’s really, really ridiculously good looking,  Like, Zoolander good looking.  In real life?  Even better looking.  Handsome and talented and hardworking?  Life is just not fair sometimes.

Photo by Sebastian Kim for Interview Magazine

2.  He knows all the cool people.  Anderson used to date Rufus Wainwright and was discovered working in Brown Thomas Dublin by none other than Manuela Pavesi, Miuccia Prada’s right hand woman and an all-around enigmatic, creative force herself.  Anderson isn’t afraid to draw inspiration from his co-workers either – Pavesi collects maid’s outfits and Anderson has included a surprisingly classic but on-trend very maid’s uniform in his new collection for Topshop, which launches online and in shops tomorrow.  I’m thinking about pairing mine with one of those white doily headdresses.  Maybe not.

From the J.W Anderson x Topshop lookbook

3.  He blogs.  Over at the J.W Anderson Tumblr, you can find the usual products shots, magazine tear-outs and catwalk photos, but amongst those are photos and gifs that inspire him.  It’s a great thing to see a designer who is so secure in his talent and ideas that he’s willing to share it with everyone by plastering it all over the internet.  And on the flip side, who doesn’t love finding the Tumblr of a person they admire?

From J.W Anderson’s Tumblr

4.  His designs are for everyone.  It might have something to do with his training in menswear, but Anderson doesn’t specialize in bodycon or intimidating, boob-baring cutouts (although if that’s your thing, more power to you) – he’s more into super-flattering, slick, expensive-looking tailoring.  With his new Topshop collaboration, which drops tomorrow, he’s borrowed heavily from his mainline collections.  The hundred-strong array of clothes, sweets, stationary and art prints are made up of classic staples like the trench coat and tailored trousers, to the arguably bizarre quilted paisley skirt suits combos.  The collection is built for layering, which makes the pieces ideal for integration into an already hardworking wardrobe.

Layer it up for an ‘insane homicidal clown’ vibe or tone it down for a more mainstream look. Rollerskates optional (but highly recommended).

5.  The best bit?  The J.W Anderson x Topshop collaboration is coming to Ireland tomorrow – and if you’re in Cork City, you can check out the collection, try on a paisley concoction or just greedily paw the clothes in real life in Brown Thomas on Patrick Street. Prices for the pieces will range from €45.99 to €197.99. If you’re not in Cork, you can see the collection in BT2 Grafton Street and Dundrum. And if you’re not in either of those places, it can be obsessed over on the Topshop website.

Diet Coke x Benefit: Outfit Post

The very last Diet Coke x Benefit Get Glam event took place at Mahon Point last Saturday and I was there with the lovely Thinkhouse team to document the impossible, oh the impossible glamour of it all.

I’ll post the video (I’m praying that there won’t be a blooper reel including my incredibly feeble jokes about Special K being the Breakfast of Champions or the bit where I said ‘I’m Sarah Waldron from The Licentiate and I’m here to… completely forget what I’m talking about’) during the week, so this is just a quick outfit post.

Dress: Sister Jane, Boots: Topshop, Pendant: Penneys, Watch: Casio, Fred Perry barrel bag: filched from a friend.

Photos are courtesy of the beautiful Margaret from

Recent Acquisitions: Katrantzou x Topshop and YSL Mondrian

Yet another thing I don’t normally do is haul posts, but I think that these two purchases are too special not to share.

A Mary Katrantxou x Topshop blouse that I snagged because I happened to be up at 4am when the sale went live on the website.  It looks lovely on and, true to form, I have already dripped pizza sauce all over it.

This isn’t a real 1960’s YSL Mondrian. If it was, if probably wouldn’t have been the incredibly reasonable price of forty bucks on Etsy. It is however, a 1960’s dressmaker’s copy of a YSL (it still has the dressmaker’s tags) and it’s strangely flattering, or it will be when it gets a dry cleaning blitz.

Good haul?

All About Mary

It really is all about Mary Katrantzou at the moment isn’t it?  From the supreme statement of print at London Fashion Week, to her lightning-fast sellout collaboration with Topshop.  I managed to snag her Topshop sleeveless blouse when I noticed that the collection had gone live at 4am instead of later that morning.  Insomnia has it’s perks.

This photos are old-ish news, but are still the most beautiful evocation of Katrantzou’s way with print that I have seen so far.

Images by Eric Madigan Heck.  What a great name.  And such photos!  I think that if Man Ray had shot in colour his fashion work might have looked a little but like this.


Licentiate Column 06/10/11: We Are The Mods

It’s all about the sixties this season. Sharp lines, unisex tailoring, retro-futuristic metallics and insouciant glares. Summer of love this isn’t. A discordant chant of ‘We are the Mods’ subliminally floats over the rails of every high-street shop, which is manifested in the slim suit trousers, car coats, peter pan collars and penny loafers within.

Fashion hasn’t always been so self-referential. We look to the past for inspiration, reworking old looks for new. Nostalgia has become a byword in fashion that has only really come to the fore in the past decade. Miu Miu goes forties, Gucci is seventies and Christopher Kane has revamped nineties clubwear tack. When did it all get so bloody postmodern?

Old Mod (via Modculture)

It’s something we can trace back to the original Mod movement which, in 2011, must be going through it’s fourth fashion revival. The slim fitting suits worn by the token rebellious youth were reminiscent of the original trouser-toting style setter: Beau Brummell.

Beau Brummell, the original dandy, set the Regency fashion world on fire by wearing tight-fitting trousers which were considered an indecent departure from the knee breeches that were the norm in the time of George IV. Soon though, everyone was wearing trousers.

Eventually, Brummel’s uniform mutated into what we now know as the suit. Brummel, however, had run up massive bills on pants (amongst other things) and died penniless in 1840 after a severe mental breakdown, probably unaware of just how big an impact he had on the fashion world.

The Mods harken back to that – well-groomed at all costs, tight tailoring to make grannies faint in the street, flying in the face on convention only to be absorbed into the mainstream.

It’s not just the rebellion we co-opt when we draw inspiration from the Mods, it’s also how damn cool they looked.

That’s why the Mod look has been recycled for this autumn/winter, but with an invincibly modern twist. The suits are still slim, but this time the girls that are wearing them too. French brand The Kooples, which recently found an Irish home in Brown Thomas, has enlisted Saville Row tailors to give their clothes a look of Quadrophenia on the Canal Saint-Martin – slim, leather accented and very cool.

New Mod (via Topshop)

Chelsea boots, brogues and loafers, designer and high street, have been updated with high-tech materials and loud finishes; platform soles, neon trim, leopard print, metallic leather.

Topshop have debuted their New Mod look – an orgiastic mish-mash of sixties Mod with a measure of fifties Teddy Boy and seventies punk – think Mod tailoring and foundation with animal prints, cat’s eye glasses, Elvis coifs, grandad knits, black lipstick, Dalmatian print and brothel creepers. It’s a trend that, admittedly, looks much better in real life than it does on paper. It’s also great fun to wear.

All decades have their own individual, recognisable stamp. When we look back on 2011-2020, what will be its symbol? It’s looking ever more likely that this is the revival generation, who reworks history for our own sartorial satisfaction. It sounds slightly sinister, but it’s clothing, not revisionism.

So, don those skinny grey flannel trousers happily. Oh, and hold on to them. I predict another revival in about ten years.

Needed: Jumpers

I’ve never got why people called jumpers ‘sweaters’.  I much prefer jumper, to be honest.  Even though the word can be confused with ‘jumpsuits’, it’s still better than something that reminds you of excess perspiration.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I can’t wait to start investing in some winter knits, especially in blacks, greys and reds.  I get the feeling that 2011 will be the year of the jumper.  Here’s some of my wishlist items.

Topshop Knitted Guernsey Block Jumper

Topshop Knitted Oxblood Stripe Jumper

Sandro Savane Leopard Print Jumper

Joseph Colour Block Jumper

Junya Watanabe Striped Jumper

3.1 Phillip Lim Cashmere Jumper