Is Domestic Violence in Vogue?

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Vogue Italia has always been known as the most avant-garde and the least commercial magazine of the Vogue family; “my magazine is in Italian, the language is not spoken around the world so the images are my language”, says editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani. There have been stories about women’s obsession with rehab and plastic surgery that usually resulted in Sozzani being applauded for highlighting these social issues through fashion photography instead of just taking pretty pictures of pretty dresses, while the all black issue of 2010 enjoyed some of the highest international sales.

There did not seem to be much applause however, when Sozzani and Steven Meisel shot ‘Horror Story’ for the May 2014 issue, to raise awareness about domestic violence. A model is portrayed falling down the stairs in a sea of blood with the imminent shadow of a man in the background, his shirt drenched in his victim’s blood. Another is screaming in despair as traces of her blood cover the walls, she is then seen hiding in a wooden cupboard as she is threatened with a pair of scissors.

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The reason these images started a big online debate was the critics’ disapproval of violence being supposedly glamourized; the model lying in her own sea of blood also happened to be wearing an Moschino bow dress in a similar shade of red (credited on the side of the page) and red knee-high socks with stylish satin trimming, As you turn the pages, you’d see another fragile-looking model helplessly screaming, but she was doing so in some of the season’s most fashion forward clothing: a white broderie anglaise mini dress matched to a white ruffled trench. “Violence is not pretty” argued some of the most disapproving critics.

There definitely is nothing pretty about a violent scene of domestic abuse, but in accusing Sozzani of adding glamour and high fashion to such a horrific setting, we might be missing a point. We tend to associate monstrosities like domestic violence with backward, third-world countries where women’s rights are almost inexistent, but unfortunately the issue is just as prominent in those societies deemed modern and open-minded. Facts speak for themselves. Thirty three per cent of women in the European Union are victims of some kind of domestic violence yearly, many of whom die. Every three days in France, one woman is severely wounded or killed by the hands of a family member. Women worldwide, aged 15-44, are more likely to die as a result of domestic violence than from war, cancer, malaria and traffic accidents combined.

So maybe, what Franca Sozzani was trying to achieve by publishing such ‘controversial’ images in her magazine, was to break the stereotype that domestic violence is so far away from us, to make us realise that ‘it can happen to the best of us’. It can indeed happen to a woman who lives as far away as Afghanistan, but it can just as well happen to a woman who wears fancy Moschino dresses in her Upper East Side apartment or to a girl in the flat next door. If you ask me, not only is the editorial raising awareness but it could also potentially reassure women who have found themselves in such situations but are afraid to act even if they have the resources to do so, that they are not alone and encourage them to stop hiding behind their designer clothes to create the illusion of a happy life.

In that respect, the juxtaposition of an intricate, beaded trench coat and a scene of abuse does not make for a controversial image but a powerful one and Franca Sozzani deserves applause for having the guts to make such a statement. She most certainly made a wiser decision than her American colleagues who are taking advantage of the fame derived from a sex tape to sell copies of their magazine, under the illusion that they are embracing pop culture.

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Natalie xo

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Chanel Fall 2014/15: From the Little Black Dress to Choco Chanel and Lait de Coco

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Last week I woke up and just like every other victim of 21st century technology, I reached out for my phone and checked my Instagram. I discovered a feed that was inundated with pictures from the Chanel show where the Grand Palais was transformed into a supermarket with Chanel-themed everything; whether it was chocolate bars (choco chanel), beverages or bottles of milk, Karl cleverly incorporated the iconic double Cs everywhere.

Naturally, this was the most ideal opportunity for taking pictures rolling the Chanel supermarket carts just like Rihanna and Cara Delevigne did, for selfies pretending to drink out of the Lait de Coco leather milk bottle or Insta-videos showing every prominent fashion editor transform into an animal hunting for its prey, in order to make sure they manage to snatch something from the product shelves at the end of the show. These are the kind of pictures that usually produce serious envy for not being able to be in Paris at this important moment in fashion history (the digital world even came up with its own definition for that, #FOMO or fear of missing out), but for the first time I felt puzzled rather than envious.

Why am I seeing pictures of Rihanna, fruits and cereal cartons instead of clothes? Chanel is always known for their elaborate runway sets, from the globe, to the giant icebergs and the carousel, however those sets are usually there to compliment the clothes and not overshadow them. Is staging an Instagram-friendly spectacle more important than design these days?

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In an effort to find answers to all these questions that came racing through my mind, a look at the clothes themselves was obviously necessary, yet instead of answers, more questions started cropping up. Cara Delevigne opened the show in bright pink and very torn crop top and leggings that were accessorised with trainers and chains wrapped around the stomach, the kind that were considered as bad as tramp stamps up until one week ago.

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The sportswear influence continued throughout the collection, as more leggings made an appearance, this time in a shiny, lurex and dare I say cheap-looking fabric, as well as oversized onesies and sporty shorts layered over tweed and metallic trousers. Even a classic, baby-pink suit was matched to what was a hybrid of trainers and knee-high boots, just like knee-pads and headphones accessorized a feminine, tweed and ruffled dress.

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It’s widely known that Coco Chanel said that luxury has to be comfortable, so from that point of view the trainers, the oversized silhouettes and the stretchy, easy-to-remove corsetry make complete sense. I’m sure it was even more unacceptable in the 20s for a couturier to put women into trousers and flat shoes, than it was for Karl Lagerfeld to suggest luxurious athletic wear today. Then again this whole sportswear aesthetic has been trending ever since Isabel Marant introduced the Bekett sneakers, so the collection does not seem fresh or innovative in any way. In fact, it’s simply a perfect exercise in good marketing by feeding off an already established trend and ensuring easy cash, by giving fashion victims the on-trend, show off pieces they are always on the look out for.

Is Lagerfeld doing this purposefully as a way of demonstrating that consumerism and the obsession with luxury goods has transformed fashion boutiques into grocery stores? Maybe he is and he definitely managed to put the point across, it just still seems incongruent that the design house that usually sets trends, that sends you on the most magical journey with its perfectly crafted garments is now using their resources to create Instagram-friendly products, albeit in an ironic way

Natalie xo

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So What Should We Make of Milan Fashion Week?

There has always been an insiders’ joke in the fashion industry during Fashion Week; any editor or buyer who was considered to be anyone would be seen front-row at all the New York, Milan and Paris shows but they would simply ignore the existence of London. With the return of Burberry and the influx of Central St Martin’s-trained creatives in the British capital, things have clearly changed and for one reason or another it is Milan that is now scorned. In fact, Anna Wintour was spotted at Somerset House enjoying the Isabella Blow exhibition in the middle of Milan Fashion Week and if the industry’s prime mover and shaker isn’t there, you know it really means trouble.

The reason for all this negative criticism is probably that at a time where we are championing digital print, British eccentricity and minimalism as defined by Phoebe Philo at Céline and also at a time where man repelling became a cult and dressing to impress a man is no longer the main purpose of fashion, animal print and the sexy look that Milan does so well no longer seem relevant or appealing.

Then again there’s a profound difference between the fashion editors who find Milan boring and are willing to wake up in the morning and put on a Meadham Kirchoff feathered dress and the consumer who wants to look slick as she goes to her office job in the morning and sexy and feminine when she goes out at night, in which case the offerings from the likes of Cavalli, Pucci and Versace are just perfect. What’s wrong with catching men’s attention with your mini Pucci dress after all?

So even though Milan’s fashion might not be championing creativity (with the clear exception of Miuccia Prada), the kind that makes us crazy fashion people have heart palpitations, it offers beauty and glamour and femininity. These are qualities that will never get old, just like good old leopard print and mini skirts.

Backstage at his show Stefano Gabbana said that he enjoys fairytales because he knows the ending. That’s the perfect analogy for Milan Fashion Week: we might be able to predict the end result but that does not mean we can’t simultaneously enjoy the ride. And on that note, here’s a look at some of the highlights from the Italian fashion capital.

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Roberto Cavalli did what he does best, meaning skin-tight trousers matched to snakeskin blouses, lavish fur and body-sculpting dresses in bold colours, the kind that will make a man drool. He also set the runway on fire (there was literally a ring on fire around the catwalk) to reinforce the message of how fiercely sexy his woman is. The newly added touches of oversized knits and bohemian, fringed bags mean that there’s also some space for winter coziness this season, for the sultry Cavalli ladies.

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Marni: Coloured fur shawls, culottes, ankle-length skirts and oversized pleats. Marni certainly offers a change of scene from the over-the-top sexiness and glamour so characteristic to Italian brands, because it targets a more intellectual, in-the-know woman. Not that this woman is not sexy, she just wants to communicate it in a more discreet way. The bold colours and psychedelic patterns on the fur exude a seductive sense of confidence and the little details of a cinched waist or a bustier layered over a knit add that touch of femininity that’s always welcome.

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Gucci: was a personal favourite this season for the simple reason that Frida Giannini showed clothes that any woman can see herself wearing on a daily basis and she did so using a toned down colour palette of pastels, that gave the collection a romantic, serene feel. A baby blue fuzzy coat was paired with jeans, a classic suit was done in dusty pink and as for the boots, they come in lush leather, a sensible heel and there’s coloured snakeskin involved. I’m already starting to save up and I insist you do too.

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Prada: What surprised me about the Prada show this season was that there were no standout, hero pieces that will go on to set the tone of the season, like her face-painted dresses from Summer ’14 or the Samurai sandals from the summer before. Instead, Miuccia Prada showed us more straight-forward pieces like graphic printed dresses and shearling coats in bold colours. The ironic juxtaposition in the styling however, whether this meant pairing a collegiate sweater and a yellow shearling coat with a sophisticated tea dress or adding trimming to a sensual transparency, ensured that the Prada woman remained just as interesting and enigmatic as before.

Natalie xo

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Playing Favourites: The London Edition

London has been coined as the young, rebellious and probably the most creative of the fashion capitals, so instead of being the one ignored (that’s Milan’s job now to be honest), international editors and buyers flood the city, curious to see what kooky fashion these Londoners will come up with next. I’m pretty sure we fed that curiosity; from the arty Burberry prints, to Christopher Kane’s book-resembling dresses and Tom Ford’s sequin jerseys there was something for everyone…

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Given the widely discussed LVMH investment in the young, British brand, all eyes were on Christopher Kane this season. He proved that he has no problem whatsoever with this increased pressure, with a show that was inundated with fresh, creative ideas. It all started with androgynous suiting- the perfectly tailored jacket and wide-leg pants- but it was only a matter of a few minutes before the Kane girl ditched her chic albeit serious-looking suit, for fetishistic PVC coats lined with pink fur, delicate dresses made up of myriads of organza layers designed to look like the pages of a book and nylon, garbage bag-resembling anoraks and dresses matched with feminine lace.

The contrasts were plenty and in your face, as we saw workwear, statement sweaters, romantic organza and fetishistic PVC come together. In the midst of all this beautiful cacophony however there were also some common denominators, like a conviction to a forward-thinking, experimental aesthetic and to the idea that women are wonderfully complicated creatures, with multi-faceted needs and personalities just like the mille-feuille organza layers in those finalé dresses.

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We’ve all sang praise of Christopher Bailey’s work at Burberry, from his willingness to openly embrace technology, to the brilliant performances he stages every single Fashion Week, to the myriads of ways he has re-invented the trench coat and made it relevant once again. Speaking of the trench coat, the past few seasons there were also many a doubt as to how many variations one can possibly come up with, especially during a not so great season of leopard and heart-printed trenches.

Mr. Bailey removed all doubts however, with last week’s Fall 2014/15 show. Inspired by the Bloomsbury Group, a set of English intellectuals from writers to artists and philosophers, Bailey went on to create hand-painted accessories and dreamy, abstract prints that mirror both the subdued colour palette and the romantic sensibility of the works of the Bloomsbury Group’s artists. As for the discreet sensuality of the clothes, with dresses being longer in length yet with leg-revealing see-through lace and high slits, they also seem to embody the self-assured, independent attitude of the women of the Bloomsbury Group, which included legends like Virginia Woolf. And what’s better than fashion that not only looks good, but simultaneously has an intellectual dimension?

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A real lady! That’s usually the first thought that comes to mind when you think of Roksanda Illincic and her clothes. But this is also a very modern lady, that’s why for Fall 2014/15 midi skirts were made asymmetric or done in bold shades of cobalt blue, with embellishment added in the form of gemstones, instead of your classic lady-like pump you got brogues matched to thick, wooly socks, cocktail dresses were covered in what looked like confetti and fur coats went from monochrome to a multicoloured, patchwork extravaganza. It just goes to show that in London even the most proper of ladies can have a lot of fun when getting dressed…

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I don’t pop Molly, I rock Tom Ford. That’s what every hashtag and Instagram caption read seconds after the sequin jersey dress made its debut on the Tom Ford Fall 2014/15 runway, inspired both by designer Geoffrey Beene’s strong sportswear aesthetic in the 60s  and undoubtedly by Jay Z’s song, dedicated to the designer. It definitely takes no genius that this will be one coveted piece of clothing and why wouldn’t it? It’s sexy, humorous, completely in tune with pop culture and as shiny as it can get- we all know that every girl secretly loves a little bit of bling.

As for the rest of the collection, the 60s references continued, especially when Karen Elson made an appearance in a red-hot fur coat that brought back memories of the glamour and lavish excess of the good, old Studio 54 days, as did the needle-heeled boots, fishnet tights and red velvet maxi dresses. As for me, it left me day-dreaming of living in a Tom Ford world as excessive and shiny as that jersey dress, where coloured fur and leopard print are as essential as your morning coffee…

Natalie xo

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New York Fashion Week: Playing Favourites

Fashion Week has been well in motion for the past three weeks and after quietly observing the array of fuzzy knits, coloured fur and statement coats that have been making their debut in the runways of every fashion capital, I thought it might be a good time to start playing favourites, starting with New York Fashion Week.

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You can’t really think of the American fashion capital without simultaneously thinking of Alexander Wang, whose utilitarian, sportswear-inspired aesthetic is synonymous to the dynamism that defines both the city and its fashion. For Fall 2014, utility and busy city life must have been in Wang’s mind even more than before, as he mismatched short tailored suits with bright-coloured anoraks (it usually rains in the city when you’re on your way to work and this way you can stay dry and chic) and created thigh high boots with lighter holders and jackets with multiple pockets that bare close resemblance to builders’ uniforms, but instead of tools they are meant to carry lipsticks, smartphones and notebooks.

As for the looks that closed the show – leather, printed pieces that were heat-activated and changed colour in the dark – not only did they look incredible, but they were a small indication of the direction fashion will be taking in the next few years, as it starts to blend with technology. I’ll take a wild guess and say that Alexander Wang will be leading the pack…

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Up until today the only Vera Wang piece of clothing you were coveting was probably a wedding dress (I’m also pretty sure it’s one of the good old classic numbers; strapless, with a puffy, tulle skirt and a tail that’s larger-than-life) but her latest show ensured that this season we will also start considering adding some Vera Wang in less fairytale-like scenarios, like work or dinner. In fact, her argyle sweaters mismatched with a plaid midi skirt make for a very chic workwear option, just like her plaid suits do. She also jumped on the sweater bandwagon following the likes of Kenzo, Givenchy and Brian Lichtenberg, the only difference being that her “You Bug Me” navy sweaters were matched with costume jewellery, long leather gloves and leather midi skirts. A good reminder that even if you want to look modern and wear hoodies, you can still look and act like a lady…

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New York is the kind of city whose fashion is always criticised for being commercial and brands like Tibi might be the reason for such criticism. It’s partly true that no New York show will take your breath away as much as seeing Christopher Kane’s explosion of ideas in London (whether it’s biology diagrams translated on a skirt or chiffon made to look like the pages of a book) or Rei Kawakubo’s captivating eccentricity at Comme des Garcons in Paris. But at the end of the day, as much as you might adore forward-thinking fashion, when you wake up at 7am in the morning and it’s cold outside, you just want to put on a pair of jeans, a great coat and walk out the door as fast as possible. Tibi’s oversized coats in a classic camel colour and a more daring baby blue, the wool jumpsuits, structured tweed blazers and bright-coloured sweater dresses tailored to that exact need. What’s even better is that these pieces also ensure that you look impossibly chic (brigh red wool dress? yes please!) even if you had an early wake up call and no time to get ready, which is why they are probably some of the most investment-worthy ones of the whole season. Maybe commercial is not such a dirty word after all…

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Oh Prabal, how I adore you! Whether he is doing Marilyn Monroe, 50s inspired dresses, psychedelic prints or feather cocktail dresses there’s always an aura of power and confidence when it comes to the Prabal Gurung woman that always remains intact. This season was no exception. As fuzzy sweaters and blanket-like scarfs were juxtaposed with silk, asymmetric skirts and sultry cocktail dresses were slashed at the hips creating deep cutouts, all you could think about was how badly you wanted to be that fearless, sexy woman.

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Bold colours and prints, even bolder shoulders and some pretty daring cutouts. There really was nothing understated about the Proenza Schouler show. But apart from the youthful shapes and colours, there was also a strong element of craftsmanship in the collection, from the patchwork, to the sculptural jackets cinched at the waist and the multi-layered skirts. It’s this duality of carefully orchestrated fun that makes the designer duo so relevant and coveted.

Natalie xo

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A Lucky Charm for 2014

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We all start a New Year with hopes and resolutions of improving things about ourselves and our lives. It might not be the first time you made a new year’s resolution of going to the gym regularly or getting more organised with work and then it all fizzled out as you got back to your routine in the second week of January, yet there’s something about the idea of opening a new calendar, starting a new year with a completely clean slate that encourages us to continue to hold on to the hope that this will be the year that we will make things better.

With 2014 being a few hours away, you are probably in the middle of re-assessing your year and making goals and dreams for the new one. You might find that a special piece of jewellery, a lucky charm that you never take off, will help along the way, adding a bit of sparkle to your everyday reality and serving as a constant reminder of those dreams that encouraged you to put it on, in the first place.

Annie Haak’s jewellery collection is ideal for the purpose; understated yet elegant bracelets with guardian angel charms, beautifully coloured beads in warm oranges and light blues inspired by the designer’s Balinese adventures that will brighten up your every day and rows and rows of gold-filled beads held together by a beautiful binding ring, creating the signature ‘yard of gold’ piece. Having met Annie Haak herself, over a delicious bloggers breakfast she organised, it was refreshing to see how down-to-earth and genuine she was, sharing her dreams of expanding her line and having her own London boutique one day or opening up about personal turmoils which led her towards creativity and encouraged her to start her line with the guardian angel charms. Inevitably, Annie’s energy, full of positivity and love, is reflected in every piece she creates and transferred to whoever is wearing it. So whether you decide to make a gift from and to yourself as you start to pursuit a personal ambition in the new year or buying a charm for a loved one who is going through their own journey, there seems to be no better or more chic way of keeping in sight of your new year’s resolutions.

Shop Annie Haak here

Happy 2014,

Natalie xo

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4 Labels to Watch in 2014

As the New Year approaches so does the time of self-assessment and New Year’s resolutions. But apart from going to the gym, you might also want to make a resolution to experiment with new designer labels, simply because there are way too many exciting names popping up, bound to get glorified by fashion fanatics for their eclectic offerings, in the upcoming year. So before these designers soar in popularity you might want to start investing in them, because there really is nothing more rewarding than being the one ahead of the trend.

From bright-coloured furs, to rooster prints and effortless minimalist creations, here’s a list of the new designers you should watch out for in 2014:

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A.W.A.K.E by Natalia Alaverdian:

Natalia Alaverdian is the stylish woman whose playful style has charmed street-style photographers at Fashion Week and the successful stylist behind the beautiful fashion images that grace the pages of Harper’s Bazaar Russia every month. It seems that those titles were not ambitious enough to encompass Natalia’s creative vision however, that’s why she also went on to give herself the title of one of the most promising new designers as she established her womenswear label A.W.A.K.E this year.

A.W.A.K.E stands for All Wonderful Adventures and Kindle Enthusiasm and it revolves around Alaverdian’s fascination with fairytales, every collection being linked to a specific animal and a different adventure. For Spring/Summer 2014, the designer chose roosters, inspired by Takeshi Kitano movies and while roosters are not your usual idea of chic there was something about the mini-rooster print on elegant pencil skirts, capes and fashion-forward oversized coats, especially as they were paired down with perfect minimalist creations, from the perfect pleated skirts to culottes and bell-sleeved blouses.

Natalia says she wanted to change the concept of statement-making clothing, from being equated with pretension to becoming synonymous to intellect, flawless cuts and fabrics and a hint of self-irony. A mere look at her unusual combination of humorous prints and minimalist structures shows that she is well on her way there.

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SHRIMPS:

Fun and fashion-forward are the two words which recur when the newly-launched, London-based label comes to mind. Founded by 23-year-old Hannah Weiland whose background in art history inspires the witty, pop art feel of the brand, while her textile design degree from the London College of Fashion ensures that the young designer sources the best fabrics, emphasising colour and craft and targeting a real gap in the market, that of luxurious faux fur. Her inaugural collection was inspired by Breton stripes yet Hannah gave them a very youthful, humorous makeover, resulting in fuzzy coats with contrast stripes around the hips; bright orange or royal blue with bold white stripes or a neutral beige brightened up with pink stripes. As for the fur clutches, not only are the ideal accessory to add character and fun to your most basic looks, they also double as travel pillows and they’ll probably also serve as the perfect conversation starter, as people are usually unable to resist the desire of stroking the bag.

Shop Shrimps on avenue32.com

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ISA ARFEN:

Isa Arfen is the label launched by Serafina Sama, a Central Saint Martin’s graduate who previously worked in world-class design studios from Chloé, to Marni and Marc Jacobs. When she returned to London to start a family, Serafina also started working on producing her own clothes, sold exclusively to family and friends in her apartment. The incredible response the collection received however, had encouraged her to launch her label Isa Arfen (an anagram of the designer’s name) and unsurprisingly it was received just as well by women all over the world.

“To me fashion is… about a real woman dressing for her real life and enjoying it” says the designer, who thus goes on to create pieces that are modern and fashion-forward yet at the same time focus on comfort and wearability so that women of many different ages can incorporate them into their everyday lives. You’ll find wardrobe classics like white blouses, midi skirts, parkas and wide leg pants made a lot more interesting with feminine frills, pastel colours and subtle yet sensual cuts; in other words clothes that will speak to modern women who are busy both professionally and socially and do not want to scarifies fashion along the way.

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HUISHAN ZHANG:

Another Central Saint Martins graduate and winner of the Dorchester Fashion Award, Huishen Zhang blends a youthful, feminine sensibility of frilly crop tops, mini dresses and plenty of transparencies with a commitment to craftsmanship, that he probably picked up during the year he spent in the Dior haute couture atelier. Zhang is also the kind of designer who remains attached to his roots, which is why there is always an undercurrent of Eastern influence in his work, even on his recent, more Westernized collections, like the interlocking “8” pattern in his SS14 dresses, 8 being a lucky number in the Chinese culture. This attitude of authenticity, of staying true to one’s own aesthetics mixed with the couture standards of his work, ensure that this is a label that a lot of us will be coveting in the new year.

Natalie xo

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THE MATCHES SALES EDIT

MATCHES SALES EDIT

MATCHES is treating us  to an early sale of some of the most coveted Fall ’13 pieces, from Helmut Lang leather skirts and Wang boots that you can live in for the rest of the winter, to fun, statement accessories from the likes of Sophia Webster and Shourouk and adorable, candy-coloured pieces from Carven, one of the most successful collections of the year. Given that Christmas is only a few days away, timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Shop My Picks:

1. Carven Iridescent Pink Skirt (€196 from €280) click here to buy
2. Carven Baby Blue Lantern Skirt (€224 from €320) click here to buy
3. Carven Collage-Print Silk Skirt (€273 from €390) click here to buy
4. Mary Katrantzou Printed Shirt Dress (€771 from €1100) click here to buy
5. Christopher Kane Gathered Dress (€754 from €1074) click here to buy
6. Christopher Kane Sheer-Panel Dress (€924 from €1320) click here to buy
7. Tabitha Simmons Hologram Heels (€667 from €954) click here to buy
8. Sophia Webster Open-Toe Sandals (€441 from €630) click here to buy
9. Shourouk Necklace (€200 from €286) click here to buy
10. Pierre Hardy Shoulder Bag (€436 from €624) click here to buy
11. Helmut Lang Black Silk blouse (€151 from €216) click here to buy
12. Helmut Lang Leather Skirt (€474 from €678) click here to buy
13. Alexander Wang Suede Boots (€539 from €770) click here to buy
14. Roksanda Ilincic Dusty Pink Coat (€998 from €1426) click here to buy
15. MSGM Cocoon Coat (€406 from €576) click here to buy

Happy Shopping

Natalie xo

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A-Z of 2013, The Year in Fashion

2013 was surely a year of many noteworthy developments in the world of fashion; some where good, some were a little more controversial and sparked off many a heated fashion debate.  It was the year when punk was re-awakened and the distant memory of rebellious youths in the 70s King’s Road was turned into a Saint Laurent catwalk show. It was also the year that “selfies” gained a dictionary entry and “twerking” is well on its way there, as Miley Cyrus’ sexy moves at the VMAs this year caught everyone’s attention to say the least.

So here’s an A-Z of all the fashion happenings of the year that are worth looking back to.

A is for Azzedine Alaia:

The newly renovated Palais Galliera opened its doors in September with a retrospective of Azzedine Alaia’s work. The display of Alaia’s masterpieces from the early 50s until today, showing the architectural precision with which he drapes fabric around the body, the engineering that goes behind creating his signature stretchable jersey fabric and the wide spectrum of references he makes, from Africa to sportswear, makes it clear why Mr. Alaia fully deserves the title of the last living couturier.

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B is for Blue is the Warmest Colour:

Following the Palme d’Or the movie received at the Cannes Film Festival last summer, the fashion press just could not get enough of talking about the movie Blue is the Warmest Colour, a story about the love that unfolds between a blue haired lesbian and a girl who is trying to discover herself and her sexuality. But apart from talking about the movie, the young actresses that play the lesbian lovers have also seduced fashion editors around the world. Not only did Lea Seydoux score a cover of the Gentlewoman and an editorial in British Vogue, but along with her co-star Adele Echarchopoulos they star in Miu Miu’s Resort 2014 campaign. The not-so-innocent, seductive presence of the two actresses in combination with the playful and unquestionably girly Miu Miu collection of bejewelled heels and candy-coloured crop tops made for one of the most compelling campaigns of the year.

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C is for the Circus of Fashion:

Suzy Menkes’ infamous article The Circus of Fashion that was released during the February 2013 show season out of the journalist’s sheer frustration, I would assume, of the explosion of the street-style scene that even went as far as to overshadow the collections themselves, has got to be the most talked-about fashion article of the year.  Menkes poetically compares the myriads of street-style photographers to a scene of the paparazzi in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, the difference today being that “subjects are ready and willing to be objects, not so much hunted down by the paparazzi as gagging for their attention”. Naturally, bloggers answered back (the responses by Susie Bubble and the Man Repeller being some of the most interesting ones) and the conversation has been ongoing ever since last February, the latest news being of an effort to limit the presence of bloggers at future Fashion Weeks.

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D is for Dolce & Gabbana:

Our favourite designer duo, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were all over the press last summer, this time for a massive tax evasion scandal though and not for their beautiful Sicilian lace corsets. Thankfully, for all lovers of lace and bling, the designers did not face imprisonment as it was initially said and they were present for the latest Spring 2014 show season, with a collection inspired by their beloved Sicily and its links to Greece which translated into a golden parade, inspired by Greek medallions.

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E is for Edie Campbell:

At this year’s British Fashion Awards I was thrilled to see Edie Campbell walk out with the Model of the Year Award, against the powerful competitor that is Cara Delevigne. From long, blond hair and an innocent, sweet-girl look, Edie surprised us all by chopping her hair off in a messy, boyish bob, dying it black and becoming the face of Hedi Slimane’s neo-grunge collection for Saint Laurent, making us all want to pull off lace-up boots, fishnet tights and little, floral dresses as well as she does. Needless to say the award was well deserved.

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F is for  Fendi Bugs:

They come in all colours of fur from neon yellow to orange red and their fierce, cartoon-like eyes have won the heart of every fashionable lady around the world. Fendi’s furry monster bag charms and key rings, a collaboration between Karl Lagerfeld and Delfina Delettrez have become one of the most popular accessories this year, simply because they allow you to add a child-like touch of humour to your every day life; it’s just impossible not to smile every time you glance at your hand bag if there’s a Fendi bug hanging on it. The collection only keeps growing, so prepare to see a lot more of it in the year to come.

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G is for Grunge:

2013 will also be known as the year of the resurgence of punk. Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent was the leader of the trend and while the critics might have been initially so shocked, they drew comparisons between Primark and Slimane’s clothes, the collection sold out and we all found ourselves lusting for everything tartan and leather and hunting down the high-street equivalents. Let’s hope that apart from Dr. Martens, the rebellious, free-spirit of punk will also stay with us in the new year.

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H is for Harry Styles:

As if stealing every teenage girl’s heart was not enough for the One Direction singer, Harry Styles also stole every fashionista’s heart from Cara Delevigne, to Sienna Miller and every blogger who went to the shows and made sure to post a selfie with the charming celebrity. Harry claims to love fashion and as a true supporter of British designers, he made regular front-row appearances during the September ’13 London Fashion Week, while at the British Fashion Awards this month, he was officially rewarded for his great looks with a Style Award.

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I is for Isabella  Blow:

Isabella Blow is the ultimate British Fashion Editor who created extravagant, escapist fashion images full of historical references and the most beautiful fashion of the time, that both enlightened and challenged the readers of the publications she worked for, ranging from the Sunday Times Style, to Tatler. She was also the first to see and nurture the talents of Alexander McQueen, Phillip Treacy and Julien McDonald. This year the fashion world pays tribute to Isabella Blow and her service to the industry with a moving exhibition in Somerset House, while SHOWstudio interviews some of her closest friends and collaborators shedding light into this mysterious personality, for all of us who were not lucky enough to have met her when she was still around.

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J is for J.Crew:

J. Crew is the shop that can dress everyone from your grandmother (they do great tweed jackets) to Lady Gaga, while Jenna Lyons, the creative brains behind the American brand, is one of the most successful women in the world whose style everyone wants to copy. In November 2013 J.Crew opened its first UK flagship in Regent Street and the lust for tailored shirts, jewelled cashmere jumpers and printed trousers was transported across the Atlantic.

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K is for Karl (and his quotes):

Apart from the designer that keeps our favourite Parisian design house alive, Karl Lagerfeld also happens to be a real character with extremely interesting views on the world; so interesting that his quotes about everything from wearing sweatpants, to life attitudes and Pippa Middleton have been recently published in a book titled “The World According to Karl”. Definitely one of the most humorous reads of the year.

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L is for Label Lust:

Apart from a return to the 90s with dungarees, crop tops and athletic, oversized trousers, there’s also a return to our soft point for logos, as a way of showing off what label we are wearing. In the 90s it might have been all about Dior and Gucci monograms but this year it was all about the Kenzo tiger sweater, Brian Lichtenberg’s HOMIES t-shirts (a humorous take on the Hermès logo) and leather gloves and skirts with Alexander Wang’s name labelled all over them.

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M is for the Man Repeller:

As the discussion on bloggers has reached a peak this year (Are they offering anything of substance or is it just a bunch of wealthy girls taking pictures of their designer outfits? Should they be banned from Fashion Week?), I always look back to The Man Repeller for reassurance. Her site is funny, personable, it includes your usual outfit post from time to time yet behind every image, every joke, every sentence she writes there’s always an interesting point to be made on the evolution of the fashion industry. The book she published (read my review here) earlier this year is yet another indication that some  bloggers have a lot more to offer to the world than #OOTDS (outfit of the day).

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N is for Nick Knight:

Nick Knight is the fashion photographer that has really been revolutionising the multi-million dollar industry that revolves around fashion imagery. In fact, in a talk at the London College of Fashion he claimed that he is no longer a photographer but an image-maker and there is no point in using anything other than your i-Phone camera to shoot. He used his iPhone to shoot the latest Diesel campaign with Nicola Fornacchetti and the catalogue for the Isabella Blow exhibition, but the most controversial work he delivered this year would have to be Kanye West’s latest music video, where he rides a motorcycle with Kim Kardashian against a background of not-so-realistic graphics that were created by Knight.

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O is for Opening Ceremony:

Opening Ceremony staged its first runway show this year, which involved Lamborghinis on the runway and celebrities like Rihanna and Justin Bieber on the front row.

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P is for Pink:

Pink is no longer reserved for your childhood’s Barbie and Reese Whitherspoon of Legally Blonde. Thanks to the likes of Carven, Simon Rocha and Celine who showed us candy-coloured, sweet-enough-to-eat pieces on the runway, the pink coat was elevated into the most fashion-forwarad, coveted piece of the season allowing us to embrace our feminine, romantic sides. In fact the trend was so popular that you’ll be seeing a lot more pastel pinks in the year to come.

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Q is for Quintessentially British:

Attention on London Fashion Week and British designer has been ongoing for a while but this year, when LVMH and Kering, the luxury groups that monopolise the industry looked to London for new investment. Christopher Kane joined Kering group, while Nicholas Kirkwood and J.W Anderson joined LVMH, with J.W. Anderson also being appointed creative director at Loewe, which only serves as yet another sign of London getting bigger and better.

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R is for Rick Owens and his spectacular shows:

With most shows being live-streamed, many are starting to wonder whether there is even a point left for fashion shows and fashion weeks, when we can now watch the collections front-row from the comfort of our couch. Rick Owens Spring Summer ’14 show last September, that was presented by curvaceous step dancers who delivered a powerful performance that made for a very unusual way of presenting a collection, proved all the cynics wrong; no matter how much technology evolves some experiences can only be fully appreciated in real time.

S is for Selfie:

Selfies (photographs taken of oneself) are no longer mere pictures bloggers update on their Instagram accounts but a global phenomenon. President Obama was seen taking one at Nelson Mandela’s funeral to many people’s shock, the term gained a dictionary entry and it’s quite unlikely to walk into a female bathroom anymore without seeing girls pouting their lips and taking selfies to show off their perfectly-done make-up and designer clothes. Whether we like it or not, it looks like #selfie is here to stay.

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T is for Twerking:

You’ve probably already heard of Miley Cyrus’ epic VMA performance, where she ditched the image of sweet and innocent Hana Montana for nude PVC underwear and overly sexualised dance moves. It was the debate that was sparked off by the performance that was the interesting part however: mothers were horrified as their teenage daughters who previously idolised Hana Montana were now starting to twerk like their favourite pop idol and this led to arguments about the lack of suitable female role models. Of course those who are team Miley argued back, claiming that this judgment is a sign of sexism, as male performers can easily get away with these things. One thing is for sure, the debate is going to continue heating up in the new year.

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U is for Ugly Shoes:

2013 was the year that most women defied their devotion to abnormally high, double-platform heels for the one type of shoe that would have normally produced nothing but a feeling of disgust in them, were it not for Phoebe Philo and Miuccia Prada. But when the ‘Birkenstock’ label was removed from the infamous orthopaedic shoes and it was replaced with neon yellow fur at Celine, giant gemstones at Miu Miu and floral patterns and silver hardware at Givenchy, those same ‘ugly’ shoes became cool and fashion-forward. Can you say blinded by the label?

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V is for Video:

As the digital world evolves, video seems to be the way forward and more publications and brands seem to be investing in it. Chanel for instance might still be shying away from online sales yet they have recently introduced a story-telling video series about the history of the brand, to allow customers to engage with the brand. “The video revolution reminds me of the photography revolution in the late 1990s and 2000s” says Jefferson Hack, founder and editorial director of Dazed Group whose newly launched “in-house video arm” is one of the most influential of the market.

W is for Wang X Balenciaga:

You might have thought that a young, New York-based designer with a sportswear aesthetic has nothing to do with a Parisian Couture House but Alexander Wang’s appointment as creative director this year proved all of us wrong. There were sleek, marble printed tops, peplum-shaped trousers and a sophisticated new handbag design that’s growing in popularity by the minute. A promising start that left editors and buyers alike excited for the future of this unexpected creative collaboration.

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X is for X-Rated:

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Given the buzz that the sadomasochistic novel Fifty Shades of Gray created last summer, it was a matter of time until its influences became evident on the catwalk. BCBG was the first brand to pair leather harnesses over ethereal summer dresses, which resonated so well with fashion fans that a few months later you’d see girls pairing harnesses over their usual jeans and t-shirt outfits. And just like that a sex toy was transformed into an innocent, fashion accessory.

Y is Yasmin Sewell:

Yasmin Sewell is the fashion consultant behind some of London’s new, influential brands, as well as the creative force who introduced brands like Acne to Browns and completely renovated Liberty London. Apart from having an impeccable eye for spotting talent and an unmistakable business savvy, she also seduced photographers and fashion fanatics alike with her personal style. During the September show season, we saw her in everything from Marc Jacobs maxi, beaded dresses during the day, to dusty pink Simone Rocha ensembles and oversized culottes. There’s something very endearing (and perhaps reassuring as well) in watching a mother and successful entrepreneur look so impeccably fashion-forward.

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Z is for Zara:

Our favourite Spanish retailer has really outdone themselves this year. While we might initially try to argue that copying is a horrible thing, their offering of grunge, lace slip dresses, tartan shirts and leather jackets that bared a dangerous resemblance to the Saint Laurent runway, for a fraction of the price, was simply impossible to resist.

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To a great year in fashion and to a more exciting one to come,

Natalie xo

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British Fashion Awards 2013

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Apart from Christmas shopping, trips to Winter Wonderland and mulled wine, for fashion people in London the beginning of December also gives the opportunity of dressing up for the British Fashion Awards; a big celebration of all the wonderfully creative minds that have been leading our fashion industry to international stardom. Dress up was exactly what me and my girlfriends did last week (my mum’s vintage 80’s jumpsuit came in handy in my case) before we made our way to London’s Colisseum for the awards. Naturally, this being a fashion event, there was a champagne reception before the awards began which also proved to be the perfect opportunity for people watching: I gave envious stares to a blue-haired lady who happened to be in the velvet Christopher Kane dress of my dreams and was a little bit star-struck when I came face to face with model-of-the-moment (who happens to look hotter in real life fyi) Chloe Noorgard.

As for the ceremony itself, here’s an inside look into who won, what was said and what everyone wore:

To begin with, it was not surprising to see that the three designers who have recently received investment from LVMH and Kering groups were also the ones to win the awards for the categories each one was nominated for. Nicholas Kirkwood won the Accessories Designer of the Year Award, J.W. Anderson the New Establishment Award, while Christopher Kane was awarded Designer of the Year by Donatella Versace, “I want to give this award to a great friend of mine and to someone who truly deserves it” she said in her typical Italian accent. London has been the fashion capital everyone ignored for many years and this new breed of designers has made our city so relevant and exciting again that the groups that practically monopolise the industry looked to London for investment opportunities and that’s definitely something that deserves an award.

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As for the emerging designers, Sophia Webster won the accessories category, while Simone Rocha got the emerging womenswear designer award. Given the frenzy Rocha’s candy-coloured pieces created or the fact that Sophia Webster’s fun-loving, humorous shoes have become the next must-have in every shoe-hoarder’s wardrobe, it was once again no surprise to see these talented ladies being awarded for their work. Investing in their brands before they grow even bigger and prices get even higher, would probably be a good idea.

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Then there were the people who received awards because they happen to look great. Harry Styles, the One Direction member who did not only steal every fifteen year old’s heart but every fashionista’s too as he sat front-row at every important London Fashion Week show, was officially awarded for his stylish, ever-so-charming look with the Style Award. Edie Campbell won Model of the Year and dedicated the award to her pony. This was against all expectations of Cara Delevigne winning yet again, given that she was everywhere this year (maybe the critics got Cara overload just like many of us?). What was perhaps the biggest highlight of the night, would have to be Marc Jacobs giving the Special Recognition Award to his friend and longtime collaborator Kate Moss, who was rewarded for her rise to international icon status. “England might have two Kates, but there’s only one Kate in my heart, the one and only Kate Moss” said Marc Jacobs.

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Apart from celebrities, models and designers who have risen to stardom themselves, members of the publishing industry were also recognised for their services in the industry. Terry and Tricia Jones, founders of i-D magazine, were given the Outstanding Achievement Award to celebrate 25 years of their magazine’s authentic, rebellious spirit that speaks to fashion lovers all over the world. GQ editor, Dylan Jones, who presented the award reminded us how i-D started from Tricia and Terry’s desire to capture the street style scene of the 70s that saw King’s Road flooded with punks, “when the Sartorialist was still in nappies”. 

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As for Suzy Menkes, one of the most respected and read voices in the fashion industry, she was given the second Special Recognition Award of the night and very rightly so. Unlike most of the other winners who politely accepted their award with the usual thank you’s to their family and team, she referred to Charles Wintour, Anna Wintour’s father who gave her her first job in the Evening Standard and taught her that freebies have no place in a journalist’s career, subtly inviting us to question what being a journalist really means and how the press has changed today…

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Natalie xo

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