Sunday, 28 November 2010

Fashion Exposed

The new issue of 160grams is out now, and it's so good I just have to talk about it!
For our 9th issue, we chose to bare all and celebrate the brilliant personalities and bright ideas behind the fashion industry. Apart from the classic magazine subjects (a cultural agenda including new books and exhibitions about Cecil Beaton, Diaghilev, Mario Testino and Billy Wilder among others), the magazine features a complete trend report on the new ladylike style.

Shot by the amazing Niko Menu (who has worked on Givenchy campaigns and Dazed fashion spreads) and styled by my lovely friend Sophie Clauzel, the spread turns the ladylike style upside down with wild, saucy accessories and jewellery.
We also were able to shoot Incubus's frontman Brandon Boyd in Los Angeles. Photographer Ben Cope did a Mapplethorpe-like work, and Brandon told us about his new projects, career plans and his shrewd views on fashion.

Love Magazine's contributing stylist Jeanie Annan-Lewin collaborated with us from London, illustrating a complete report on contemporary British menswear. The new gentleman wears Jaiden RVA James, Christopher Shannon and Prada.
For our Fall Fashion story, we joined forces with the incredible Pierre Dal Corso and Jonathan Segade, shooting some of the strongest looks of the season, mixing established designers with up and comers.
René Gloor and I met up with Erik Halley, one of the most promising young talents of the industry. He has designed haute couture jewellery and headpieces for everyone, from Alexander McQueen to Swarovski, from Givenchy and Chanel to Thierry Mugler.
René also styled our rock & roll menswear beauty shot.
Besides all this, the issue features an article on contemporary Japanese fashion, a view on the history of iconic jewellery house Tiffany and the best make-up ranges and colours of the winter.
This issue is 160's biggest and most complete thus far, but stay tuned for our upcoming work...
You'll love Fashion Exposed!

Monday, 22 November 2010

I Want Flowers, not H&M!

When I was a kid, one of the most popular things about birthday parties (apart from making questionable cocktails with Coca-Cola, Fanta, bread crumbs and crisps) was breaking the piñata. There was a whole ritual around the piñata: we all had to stand patiently and excitedly behind the line while a kid hit it with a stick, and when all the sweets finally fell down to the ground there was a sort of avalanche of little monsters who would not hesitate to kick, walk over or bite other kids in order to get a couple of "Chupa-Chups". I was invariably one of the fallen soldiers in combat. I always got back home all scratched up, bruised and humiliated, my only trophy being one icky aniseed sweet that some other charitable kid would have given me as a consolation prize.
The thing is, I'm afraid that's pretty much what's going to happen when H&M's doors open tomorrow at 9:30. I can already picture it: hordes of hysterical females of every age and shape that would terrify Attila himself charging uncontrollably towards the collection designed by a man whose name didn't mean anything to them two months ago.

I can distinctly remember mentioning this designer-mass market collaboration to a group of girls last summer, and I can also remember the looks I got when I said the word "Lanvin": the exact same looks of uncomfortable tolerance and slight disgust I would have got if I was a sticky green creature from another galaxy. Well, those girls will be part of the convulsive crowd that will step over my head tomorrow morning in the quest for an asymmetrical dress. But that's if I decide to risk my life over Lanvin for H&M, which is, by no means, the same as plain Lanvin.

I am still most confused about this collection: when the idea was first unveiled, my immediate thoughts were:
1. Another stupid collection of apallingly made designer-lookalike clothes.
2. Wait a second, if Alber Elbaz is involved in this it surely cannot be as bad as all that; it must be different! (I've been Elbaz's fan ever since his YSL period).
When Lanvin's PRs sent me the images of the whole collection, I was rather impressed; the clothes look rather lovely, I would no doubt wear all of them! Très mignon! Then everyone started discussing the collection, and later the various ways in which they could efficiently eliminate their female rivals on the day the collection would come out. I think that's what made me lose interest...

... Until the day the film came out...

(I know you've all seen this film but it's actually rather cool. I only wonder whether the scenes with the girls wearing the same dresses are a cheeky prediction of what's actually going to happen in every single party during the next few months)

... And then the show: just when I had decided Lanvin for H&M was not worth it, I get all these images of the industry's top professionals ripping off each other's hair and ingloriously fighting over... H&M dresses. Then, suddenly, all of my ever-so-cool industry friends are desperately stating they simply can't live any longer without possessing several pieces of the collection. Before I know it I find myself seriously considering the possibility of actually queuing for three or four hours at dawn in the frozen streets of Paris in order to have the privilege of getting a wristband and enjoy 15 minutes (not one more) of "shopping" (aka berserk combat).
I spent the whole weekend weighing this possiblilty. Then some of the images of the first ever designer-H&M collaboration came to my head: the designer was Karl Lagerfeld, and among other devastating landscapes, I remembered seeing two horrid women up on a table literally wrestling over a chiffon dress until they tore it apart. Then it dawned on me: what's the point in a chic dress if the person inside it is the exact opposite of chic? Elegance is not about the clothes, it's about the person, and even the most stunning dress won't hide the fact that some people are slefish little beasts. Also, I can't forget the fact that, as cute as the collection might look, Lanvin for H&M is not Lanvin, it's just a collection of H&M-quality (sic) clothes that happen to have been created by an exceptional designer. As much as I might prefer Lanvin to flowers, I definitely prefer the simple, authentic, truly elegant pleasures to the built-up, pretentious imitation of chic. I want flowers, not H&M.

Monday, 15 November 2010

African Queen

Three days ago, one of my best friends, Alicia, moved to central Africa. She's planning on staying in Benin for a year. A couple of days prior to her departure, we were brunching together and talking about this and that when she casually mentioned she had to buy clothes for the days she would spend on the jungle. Showing a Zoolanderish level of ignorance, I immediately said "just get hold of a lovely silk blouse, a beige YSL skirt, some chic boots and a vintage hat, darling. You'll be fabulous". The way she looked at me, partly amused and partly worried, told me I had just said something colossally stupid.
You see, after a lifetime of watching too many fashion magazines and Hollywood films, my idea of the perfect jungle attire is this:
That brunch got me wondering: have the fashion and the cinema industries distorted my vision of reality that much? Anyone who knows me is aware that the word "practical" simply doesn't exist in my style vocabulary; and neither, it would seem after a thorough analysis, in Hollywood's.
Ava Gardner spotted this look in Mogambo. It wasn't until today that I realized wearing heel sandals during a safari is maybe not the best idea. You probably get tarantulas walking on your feet by doing so. I also wonder about the parasol, although it's probably a good way of avoiding tarantulas falling on your head (something Alicia told me had happened to her once).
In Red Dust, an earlier version of the same story (starring Clark Gable as well), Jean Harlow honoured Kenya by walking around like this. To be honest, I can't see why one wouldn't wear ostrich feathers in Africa; after all, ostrichs are African, so it's almost like going camouflage, right? The thing that worries me in Jean's look is her hairdo. I don't see how anyone could achieve that hair in the middle of the jungle, with no electricity and no haidressers in sight.
The ultimate queen of glamour, sophistication and impracticality is, without the shade of a doubt, Marlene (Dietrich, bien sûr). In the films where she played a character living in exotic places, she showed different levels of "simplicity". A printed foulard seems perfect to give some "je ne sais quoi" to the simplest safari look (then again, I don't think lions are particularly sensitive to detail).
At night, though, and with Gary Cooper (who is much more sensitive than lions to feminine charms), Marlene wraps up in velvet and satin pumps.
Sometimes, sublimely and purposefully ignoring she's not in a Berlin cabaret anymore, she gets the works: tulle, feathers, fur and long dresses. Ok, I admit this is too much even for me; but doesn't she look divine?
Since heels, pretty hairdos and long dresses are relatively useless in the jungle, one can compensate with an item that can add a dashing touch of style to the simplest outfit: a hat. Big, small, rigid or floppy, anything goes. Kate Hepburn's in African Queen is rather cool, but since Bogie takes it away from her and throws it into the river at the end of the film we can look for other options.
Ava Gardner's hat here is a lovely masculine touch that perfectly matches her Saharienne blouse. But Grace Kelly's is an absolute classic. Everyone used to wear those hats. Unfortunately, probably no one does anymore and everyone (even the lions and the tarantulas) would laugh at me if I wore that kind of hat today, but I still would totally wear it.
If anyone knows how to dress in Africa, that's Ingrid Bergman. Alright, that hat would probably get stuck between two trees. And an immaculate white skirt is probably not the most sensible choice. And those sandals are obviously not "practical". Oh well...

And what about Hollywood's version of African atrezzo and home decoration? That has given me a distorted vision of things as well. Until Alicia showed me the pictures of her new home in Benin, I thought living in Africa was a good excuse to have a wooden bungalow with a piano, a bar furnished with all sorts of whisky, lots of carved glass and beaten-looking silver cutlery and dinner parties with moustache-bearing Englishmen dressed in ivory linen suits.
I can't believe how deluded I was. But it's never too late to learn, so I decided to find out how real people actually dress to go on a safari.
And I did.
After having this taste of reality, I think I'll stick to my daydream delusions. They might be absurd and silly, but they are more poetic and fun.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Fashion's Next It Girl

Meet Anna Trevelyan: Nicola Formichetti's assistant for over 2 years and frequent collaborator of none other than Lady GaGa, now a stylist on her own and consultant, partly responsible for the success of new and exciting designers Charlie Le Mindu and Jaiden RVA James.
Anna has worked so far with the likes of Ellen Von Unwerth, Hedi Slimane, Malcolm Pate or the up-and-coming young talents Saga Sig and Bella Howard. She regularly creates stories for my fetish magazine Dazed & Confused and is fashion director of Untitled Magazine. Her outrageously colourful, slightly cartoonish, over-the-top style is an interesting sum of recent fashion history, reinterpreted with futuristic hints. These days all I hear is "Anna Trevelyan this, Anna Trevelyan that..." That and a look at her sense of creativity are enough for me to know she is going to be the next best thing. We can already say it: we love Anna Trevelyan!