Tuesday, 24 September 2013

New York Fashion Week SS14 – runway highlights

I have to admit, despite being a sun-worshiper who would ideally like 11 months of summer and only one of winter, it is always the autumn/winter fashion shows that get my heart racing. It is very rare that a spring/summer show seduces me in its entirety, probably due to designers' propensity to celebrate the season with pastels, florals and acres of pristine white.

This was indeed the case with the recent New York Fashion Week shows, where there weren't any shows I fell for completely, but there were plenty of standout designers and looks that I'm lusting after. So as we head into winter – I can barely see out my window thanks to the curtain of grey drizzle – let's look ahead to next spring and see what some of New York's finest have to offer.

Betsey Johnson SS14
Oh how I love Betsey Johnson! There weren't any surprises here, it was a collection of her typical 80s silhouettes and ghetto-fabulous accessories. It's all probably a step too far for the more understated New York fashionista, and it certainly doesn't cover any new fashion ground, but seriously – peach hair, fabulous accessories and a liberal scattering of leopard print? I'm starting to think Betsey Johnson collections are designed purely to make me smile!

Christian Siriano SS14

Ok, I know I implied I have an aversion to florals and pastels, but sometimes they are right on the money. At Christian Siriano it was the formal looking collar and those bright lips and matching sandals that prevented the look from becoming too cute – this is the kind of spring fashion I can get on board with. Plus it was shown as part of a collection that included graphic monochrome (want that striped skirt now please), so there was no danger of falling into that overtly-girly-spring-pastels trap!

Hervé Léger by Maz Azria

Since 2007, the Hervé Léger label has been steered under the design direction of Max Azria, a man with the tricky juggling act of staying true to the Hervé Léger aesthetic whilst moving the brand forwards. This season he mixed things up a little, still showing the infamous body-con dresses that we know and love, but adding a variety of zips that allow the wearer to alter the garment's silhouette ever so slightly. The resultant collection didn't abandon the classic bandage dress, but the slight deviations in shape and fabric – such as the flared skirts and crochet dresses – were a welcome addition.

Alexander Wang

The current trend for logos and ironic statements is perhaps due to the fact that a generation of designers – Alexander Wang included – were teens in the nineties and are having a moment of nostalgia. There's no denying that the parental advisory sweater was one of the most memorable pieces in his SS14 collection; I think perhaps he enjoys indulging in a bit of humour when he's not busy in his other role, heading up Balenciaga. Another standout look was the cheekily unbuttoned button-down shirts and those rather comfy looking boxers – not entirely sure how to interpret that one for the office yet but I'm sure there's a way!

Kate Spade New York

I'm the first to admit that my wardrobe can be a little devoid of colour but there are two shades I can always be tempted by – the first is emerald green and the second is the rather in-your-face coral seen at the Kate Spade New York presentation. As usual there was a distinctly 1960s vibe to many of the looks, and a European influence referenced glamorous destinations from Paris to Monaco. Well chosen accessories toned down the more overtly feminine looks: a black leather box bag proving the perfect foil for a coral prom dress, and trainers and a collared shirt successfully taming the florals. It is a very accessible collection that screams summer fun – an image I will be keeping in mind to get me through another grey British winter.

Well that's all for now but I will be posting my London and Milan Fashion Week highlights soon!

All images © Style.com

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Miles Aldridge: I Only Want You To Love Me at Somerset House

Once again I’ve been at Somerset House checking out another highly recommended exhibition: Miles Aldridge: I Only Want You To Love Me. This major retrospective is the largest exhibition to date of the renowned fashion photographer’s work, and will be at the Embankment East Galleries until 29 September.

A Drop Of Red  #2 © Miles Aldridge 2001

Son of graphic designer Alan Aldridge, Miles travelled to New York in the mid-nineties and was soon shooting for publications such as W, Teen Vogue, GQ and The Face. He has established an enduring relationship with Vogue Italia and shot advertising campaigns for many of fashion’s biggest names, including Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani and Yves Saint Laurent.

Miles’ images appeal to me for very similar reasons to Tim Walker’s  – he has an incredibly distinctive style, and he treats his shoots in a highly cinematic way, often story-boarding them beforehand and never compromising his creativity for commercial gain.

I Only Want You To Love Me  #1 © Miles Aldridge 2011

Miles’ work is immediately identifiable through his use of colour and depiction of women. His images are bold and bright, filled with high octane glamour and incredible beauty, but the often blank looks on the models’ faces or the slightly uneasy situations they find themselves in, suggest something a little darker beneath the surface. For example a beautiful woman’s face resting on a pillow would be serene if it weren’t for the mysterious hand that holds it there.

This slightly uncomfortable, darker aesthetic is unsurprising considering Miles cites filmmakers such as David Lynch and Federico Fellini as influences. His ability to produce something so detailed and theatrical may also be testament to his background in illustration, which he studied at Central St Martins, and a brief stint directing music videos.

Actress  #6 © Miles Aldridge 2012

His photographs are glamorous, captivating and in glorious technicolour, from the woman on a kitchen floor poised emotionless behind a dropped dinner tray and smashed plates, to the ‘actress’ in bed, apparently having a diva tantrum over a grapefruit. In both instances the uneasy subject matter is depicted with extraordinary skill and an incredible use of colour. This is the reason I was particularly excited about the exhibition, because although Miles’ work looks phenomenal on the pages of Vogue Italia (copies of which are included in the exhibition), to see large-scale prints displayed in Somerset House’s typically understated yet effective way is a real treat.

There is something mesmerising about Miles’ photographs – that dreamlike quality and cinematic aesthetic – you just want to reach out and touch them. They draw you into an enviable world of glamour that seems distinctly unattainable, before throwing you sideways when you realise that behind the smoke and mirrors, as in every walk of life, beauty is very rarely what it seems.
The Pure Wonder  © Miles Aldridge 2005

Miles Aldridge: I Only Want You to Love Me is at the Embankment East Galleries, Somerset House until 29 September. Admission is £6. The exhibition is accompanied by a book of the same name, published by Rizzoli and available at the exhibition.

A simultaneous exhibition at Brancolini Grimaldi, features Miles Aldridge's first exhibition, Short Breaths, alongside recent work and a new limited edition portfolio. For more information visit www.brancolinigrimaldi.com

Friday, 6 September 2013

Today's Soundtrack: Jetplane Landing – My Radio Heart

Today's soundtrack is My Radio Heart by Jetplane Landing. You might remember my passionate love for a band called Fighting With Wire and the frustration I still feel about the fact they never truly got the recognition they deserved. Sadly they split earlier this year, but I'm consoling myself with a bit of Jetplane Landing, featuring FWW front man, the always fantastic Cahir O'Doherty.

Fighting With Wire and Jetplane Landing may have very different sounds, but I'm pretty sure if you like the former you'll enjoy My Radio Heart. It's from Don't Try, their fourth studio album which is available now.... on pink vinyl. Yep, that is one sexy looking album.

© Rock & Runway

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