Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! exhibition at Somerset House

isabella blow exhibition - photo from somersethouse.org

Going straight to it: I was blown away by Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore exhibition at Somerset House in London.

If you can, get yourself there now and feast yourself on Isabella’s fabulous life. Well, at least the part that is shown, which I find only fair, as it is a celebration of all things Issie. Despite all the unhappiness and tragedy throughout her life, as Philip Treacy said, “Nothing about her was tragic. She was triumphant”.

isabella blow exhibition - photo from design_scene

Isabella Blow, fashion editor, consultant, muse and nurturer of young fashion talent was born English aristocracy and started her career as Anna Wintour’s assistant at Vogue US, only to come home and head fashion for Vogue, Tatler and The Sunday Times.

isabella blow exhibition - photo from vogue

Her quirkiness, creativity and wonderfully outrageous fashion sense was more than evident in her wonderful fashion edits. Sadly, her personal life was plagued by depression, infertility, cancer and multiple suicide bids, which eventually materialised, taking her away in 2007.

Blow is credited to discovering Philip Treacy, Alexander McQueen and Julien MacDonald, amongst other designers, and also models.

It was no surprise I would love the exhibition, being the huge millinery fan I am. Treacy’s amazing head pieces are an integral part of the exhibition, dotted around all over the place, as well as McQueen pieces – and I really like that the their stories appear entwined as they were in real life. It proves it takes one talent to know one. The what I now call “Blow triad” is very palpable: head in Treacy, body in McQueen and feet in Manolo Blahnik.

isabella blow exhibition - photo from design_scene

From all the wonder of feasting my eyes with glorious garments, a few caught my eye, including the fabulous Deborah Milner, A/W 1997 red velvet coat with fur collar. Sigh…

Another interesting aspect is the state of her personal garments. They show wear. And tear. This is something really important to me, as although I don’t share her careless attitude to these expensive items (she famously left shoes at the back of cabs – God forbid I will EVER do that; just the thought makes me shiver!), I believe every item should be worn and enjoyed to the maximum. Yes, a scuff, a stain might look ugly, but it gives the item life and tells a small story itself. And I think that is why they didn’t restore items.

In the various areas of the exhibition, we are taken through her life, her style, her influences and the celebration of British.

***SPOILER ALERT***

isabella blow exhibition - photo from design_scene

And the finale almost brought a tear to my eye – McQueen’s S/S 08 fashion show, a collection in collaboration with Philip Treacy and dedicated to Isabella after her death. The pieces are breathtaking, as well as the closing with the legacy of the unique legend that was Isabella Blow.

I had great fun and learnt a fair bit. I left with a sense of sadness for the losses fashion, and creativity, suffered.  But I am also grateful for the legacy, nicely condensed and exposed here, for all to see.

The Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore exhibition is on at Somerset House until March 2014 and you can book tickets via their website.

Image credits: Somerset House, Vogue UK and Design Scene. 

Read Vogue’s biography of Isabella Blow.

Vogue Fashion’s Night Out 2012 – London

Yesterday I went to a few places taking part in Vogue’s Fashion Night Out and I had an amazing time.

Last year, I was a bit disappointed, a couple places I wanted to go were invitation only (and didn’t mention it on the guide – cheeky!) so I was a bit disheartened. I sent Christian Louboutin’s boutique an email but it was too late – they said they will add me for next year (I think it is fair I get invited, after all, my Louboutins were purchased at that boutique!)

So, I tackled it a bit differently this year – I checked the guide a few days ago and chose places which were offering things that might interest me. Cocktails, of course was one of them.

I made a list and tackled it by proximity to the office. River Island started at 5, earlier than most places, so I headed over for a glass of pink fizz, had eyelashes applied and bought a skirt, which earnt me a goody back with a pair of lashes, a sample size St. Tropez Every Day moisturiser (which I love), a set of three cute stud earrings, popcorn and a drink. Nice, eh?

I then moved on to House of Fraser, which had lots on offer. I entered their new beauty hall and was offered a back massage by Decléor. I then waltzed towards their Mahiki bar and got myself a cocktail in coconut. I hoped on their photo booth and had 4 nice shots to take away (twice!). Then I had my eyes and lipstick applied at the Dior stand, with bubbles on offer…. Downstairs, at their shoe lounge, there was plenty of bubbly on offer and also martinis and other cocktails made to order, and a “Shoe Box” photo booth, which I also took advantage of, amongst other activities!

I swiftly moved to Liberty, but before reaching it, I walked past H&M and they had live models on their windows. The bigger window was a photo set; I was given a number, props and posed for three shots, which will be on their Facebook page and four winners of £250 voucher will be chosen. Nice!

At Liberty, I went straight to Manolo Blahnik’s Victorian photo booth, with the cutest props ever – and got picture with a lovely pair of silver stilettos! By uploading that to Facebook or tweeting it could get you a signed book.

I then managed to run to Burlington Arcade, which had a Victorian fun fair theme… think popcorn and candy floss, performers, burlesque girls…all very pretty; but I went straight for Lulu Guinness shop, to take part on their promotion by being picture with one of their bags a tweeting it. I chose the red lips, of course!!!

Overall, I had a lot of fun. So a few things for my next year’s FNO: plan ahead, list the places I want to see but be sure and not disappointed I will not to actually make it to half of them; don’t just look for goody bags, as they usually only come your way when you make a purchase and remember to email Louboutin earlier!!!!

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Have you been to FNO this year? How was it for you?

Aldo Rise shoe collection

A JW Anderson, my favourite so far

The designer/high street collaboration is something that excites me in concept: designer goods at affordable prices, blah blah blah. However, from all the amazing H&M collaborations, I only managed to get hold of a pair of Jimmy Choos (and from eBay). It’s so maniac that no matter how much I love an item, I just don’t have the disposition to queue the whole night to get my hands on it.

Yesterday I came across the Aldo Rise line with its motto “Fashion is no longer a commandment, it’s a collaboration”, and was very impressed by the designers taking part. Of course this would grab my attention immediately, as they are shoes, but seeing names like JW Anderson, Preen, Mark Fast, Christian Cota, Cushnie et Ochs and Libertine really excites me, not only for the designs themselves but also for the prices of around £135. You can see some at this Vogue picture gallery.

Now, I absolutely loved Cushnie et Ochs Spring/Summer 2012 collection, it was among my picks at NY Fashion week, and I am very much looking forward to seeing the shoes they will come up with for Aldo!

New shoes – Zara black peep toes!

Zara shoes, Dani Dutra

Following my constant drooling at Vogue’s 100 best shoes gallery, and also the mention of pairs for every budget, I ended up succumbing to a lovely pair that was one of my favourites amongst their selection: super pretty black peep toes from Zara, with a killer spikey heel and lovely golden rimmed flower petals in the back.

I found this shoes to be a real bargain at £49.99,  as they are 100% goat skin. They are super high at a towering 13 cm (and a concealed platform of almost 3cm), and a bit hard, but I think that they will be easy to break into and reasonably comfortable when I do, as the leather is super soft.

Cannot wait to wear them!

Still thinking about the glittery KG shoes, but trying to resist… I am a little less obsessed, but it has been hard. I hope I am strong enough, I don’t think I really need those shoes (in the sensible way – I was never one for the glitter shoes, really). I have been *very* good so far, maybe will wait until the sales and buy then!

Shoe porn!

Unmissable: 100 best shoes for Autumn/Winter 2011-12, courtesy of Vogue UK, and with options for all pockets – nice one!

Very hard to choose your favourite, but mine has to be the super fierce Louboutin crystal and studs covered Pigalili (pictured), followed by a lovely spikey heel Zara number, a killer Camilla Skovgaard skyscraper and a metallic textured Nicholas Kirkwood pair…  I so could go on!

Check the full gallery here

*Drool*

Why do women wear painful heels?

Shoe God

According to Christian Louboutin, it is because wearing heels makes you (feel) more desirable – it is all about seduction in various levels – and the price paid (discomfort) is small when put against the benefits.

Well, quite. I certainly feel that way, and have for years, actually mentioning it many times, obviously never worth of publishing as I am not famous OR an spectacular shoe designer – but I have feet, and wear high heels – it is good to see my point validated!

Historically, think about corsets that squeezed the life out of you or Elizabethan era hair dye that had side effects including nose bleeds, to name just a couple – which were common practice, all done in the name of being perceived and feeling more desirable.

Less to do with being more seductive (but not excluding the possibility), my decision on wearing a pair of shoes has a lot to do with the way it makes me feel – could be sexy, but also serious, powerful, playful or dare I say, tarty – not only portraying  the person I am, exposing my personality, but also the person I want to be, in general or on that particular occasion. Needless to say, this applies to other aspects of my life, but it is more pronounced on my shoe choices.

However extreme it may sound, I am not afraid of painful feet (especially when you have bunions like mine!) if I feel fabulous. Having said all that, I do consider myself to be very good with heels, I usually have no problems dancing for many hours on 4in+ shoes.

Admittedly, I have drastically reduced the frequency with which I wear high heels in the past 18 months, as my knee is not great (and even though I don’t see a direct correlation between my knee pain and wearing heels, I decided to lay off them a bit as a preventative measure), and I avoid walking too much on them (if I get public transport, and walk to/from stations, I do so in flats, carrying my heels).

Some of Mr Louboutin’s very interesting statements on the subject, including my favourite about the shoe playing with women’s inner characters, can be found on Vogue. Obvioulsy, when he mentions “this little act of discomfort”, I take that Mr Louboutin  never wore his own Rolandos for the very first time to try to break into them. Ouch!

London Fashion Week – my picks

A gown by Julien Macdonald

A gown by Julien Macdonald

London is where my heart is, and it was  so exciting to see the British S/S 12 lines,  set in the beautiful Somerset House and other amazing venues around the capital.

I really like what I saw in London, and under the absolutely stunning category I am going to put Julien Macdonald‘s collection. The short dresses were so fierce and wearable – I would happily don most of the designs presented. The long, flowing gowns were dreamy: the embroidery married with transparency was delicate and sexy at the same time.  The metallics are muted, elegant and in details, which gives all the pieces a very noble, glamorous feel.

Vivienne Westwood‘s Red Label collection dresses at the end of the show really  appealed to me, but what really caught my attention was the metallic hair, exquisite MAC make up with amazing eyes and multicoloured nails in shades of greens and blues.  Love it.

I very much like Henry Holland, and when looking at his collection, fresh was the word that sprung to mind, with the pastels and playful pieces.  And then, all of a sudden, it got fierce, with leathers, animal print and netting.

Meadham Kirchhoff

Meadham Kirchhoff

The textures on Holly Fulton‘s collection was superb – the embroidery mixed with zebra(!!!) print, patterns with feathers and jewelled collars , the sea theme – I like it all, quite a few pieces I would wear.

Jaeger comes very ladylike – the hats were fabulous (even though I don’t really wear hats, I don’t think they suit me!) and I really enjoyed seeing Sass & Bide‘s vibrant colours and sheen details at the Royal Opera House, the venue I consider to be the most stunning.

A feast for the eyes was Meadham Kirchhoff‘s collection. Dazzling the senses with an explosion of colours, the designs and the styling were pure fun – think circus meets pantomime in a fantasy world. Mary Kantrazou also showcased a colourful and exquisite collection, a delightful prints galore.

I also like the fringed, flapper-ish and the feathered dresses from Issa, the vinyl and structured, almost futuristic pieces from Richard Nicoll (some of them reminded me of The Jetsons), the colours and textures in Matthew Williamson‘s collection and the metallics and feathers on Giles‘ “Black Swan inspired” line.

I can bet on metallics for next summer, as well as prints and patterns (I love ALL animal prints – last season’s leopard was king, now giving way to snake for A/W11-12, maybe it is zebra time for s/s12?) and  pastel colours.

Overall, in my opinion,  New York faded in comparison to the flamboyance of London. Even though I fell in love with quite a few stunning collections showcased in NY, everything seemed more edgy, daring and innovative in the British version, and perhaps easier and more fun to translate from the catwalk to the streets.

NY Fashion Week – my picks

Zac Posen evening gown

Zac Posen evening gown

Fashion Week season is on, and New York offers us the first glimpse of the Spring/Summer 12 collections on its catwalks.

For me,  so far, sharing the  “absolutely stunning” category is Zac Posen‘s collection, with some edgy yet feminine pieces, a great colour palette and fabulous evening gowns and Marchesa displaying fairytale dresses that sparkled and flowed across the Plaza Hotel. Absolutely beautiful.

Also amongst my favourites are Vera Wang‘s colourful Wonderland inspired pieces, Cushnie Et Ochs‘ white and black dresses and Monique Lhuillier‘ curve gripping ensembles. In common, these three have dramatic, geometric neck lines, sharp edges,  and structured pieces oozing with femininity  – all presented in a way I could actually see myself wearing. L’Wren Scott‘s line also had some fabulous dresses.

Some of Victoria Beckham‘s pieces also caught my eyes – the shades of blue in the collection were amazing, and I love the fact the models were styled wearing Louboutins.

Cushnie Et Ochs dress

Cushnie Et Ochs

Some of her pieces for this collection were less body skimming – apparently inspired by her recent pregnancy: loser pieces, to go with a fuller figure. I really like seeing designs on the catwalk that embrace  more realistic body shapes. I also heard she was looking fabulous back stage, wearing towering Louboutins and one of her handbags in tow.

I also enjoying looking at some tribal printed Donna Karan and some of Betsey Johnson exquisite pieces – I love the flowery prints and that goth vibe.

Zooming on the nails, I noticed a light beige shade, quite recurrent across different designers. It is for Spring/Summer 12, after all, so I have some time to tackle my lighter- shades-on- nails phobia!

New season campaigns

Sigrid Agren, Joan Smalls, Emily Baker and Abbey Lee, with boys Lenz Von Johnston, Anthon Wellsjo, Duco Ferwerda, photographed by Mert & Marcus. Just checked out this Vogue picture gallery on the best shots from this season’s advertising campaign.  Luxury brands, big names and great photographers – I really loved this selection.

The Gucci shot, by Mert & Marcus, is by far my favourite, I adore the colours – this is the kind of new season image I have in my head  – the outfits are luscious, there is fur, there is drama, (there is a guy!!!), the composition is great, the light, the make up… all so wonderful!  Yet, what I really love about this picture is that it oozes decadence.

I was also keen on the pictures from Armani (image 5) , Tom Ford (image 11) and this amazing dress from Donna Karan (image16), wow!

Must be noted though, as much as I like Helena Bonham-Carter/think she is a good choice for Marc Jacobs/the shot is indeed imaginative (image 22), to me, it looks a bit odd, as if she is a cut up mermaid and even though I think this was the intention, it just makes me feel a bit funny. Having said that,  the more I look at it, the more I like it,  in a very weird way – Bonham Carter is definitely the right choice for such a quirky snap!

Which one is your favourite?

A/W 11-12 trend alert: jewel tones

Gemstones

Sparkle! Sparkle!

Really excited to read that jewel tones will be quite trendy for Autumn/Winter 2011-12. As a colour lover, this is great news; I can see a (yet another) new obsession coming.

I love the fact that emerald, amethyst, sapphire, topaz and ruby colour pallettes will be gracing our wardrobes – the fact most people dress in greys, browns and blacks in the colder months just makes it more miserable. A colour splash will certainly help to brighten up the day!

I had already spotted the trend, which started shy at the end of the summer collections,  at the back of the bright colour blocking bandwagon, and is growing as the new season collections come around – I have already purchased some items in line with it (mustard dress/tops and emerald green shoes) , and have my eyes on some sapphire-coloured pieces.

This is also a great excuse to buy statement rings with a massive stone!

Check Vogue’s picture gallery with the sparkling hues.

Rich!