Film: Dior & I Review

Dior & I Raf Simons

As a ridiculous Raf Simons fan-girl, I’ve been waiting to see Dior & I since it’s initial release in 2012. How appropriate then that I should go and see it the same day as I happened to stroll around an exhibition on the power of film at ACMI in Melbourne. That’s the most wonderful thing about a great movie, it can completely transport you; have you fixated until the final credits. From Simons excited and nervous arrival 8 weeks before the Fall 2012 Couture show to the final moments of scrambling to finish these incredible looks, the audience was taken on a journey of nerves, excitement, frustration and an irresistibly French sense of humour and stoicism. “It’s never over until the last girl is on the runway.”

In a world of countless designers, artists, writers and culture makers, it takes something extra special to be an icon. Coming from Jil Sander, not many people saw Raf Simons, with his famed minimal aesthetic, taking over from the flamboyant Galliano at Dior. “But I’m not a minimalist. I simply worked for a minimal brand.” Simons says exasperatedly in the documentary. Looking back at Dior’s celebrated mid-century aesthetic, Simons says it’s the excitement of the future that captivates him. Christian Dior wanted to take women out of their war-years uniforms and into a new femininity with his New Look, and there’s nothing retro about that. It’s pure optimism. Similarly, Simons was determined to take the best of the past and push it towards something completely modern.

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The only small thing standing in his way (but really of course helping him) was the eye watering amount of time and man power it takes to make a couture piece. “How soon until we can have this jacket in black?” he asks of an iconic bar jacket at the first fitting. “Possibly Saturday,” is the answer. “But can we spray paint it now?” he asks. His premiere thinks for a second, “but of course, it’s toile.” And out into the garden with a can of spray paint it goes. It’s this kind of thinking, an outsider’s thinking, that is able to take the beautiful and treasured art of couture and breathe fresh new life into it. And there’s something so inspiring about a leader who doesn’t need to yell, who does’t get overtaken by his own insecurities, but who trusts and values his team.

I loved this collection since the first time I saw it, but getting an insight into the thought and work behind it just makes it all the more sublime (Simons’ favourite word). And photographs can’t do justice to the way the fabric moves on film. I just hope these looks end up in a museum one say soon so I can see them in person. If this movie doesn’t make you want to move to Paris and go and work for a couture house, then nothing will. You’ll have to excuse me, I’ll just be over here practicing my French.

Natalie x

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Style: The Weekly Beautiful

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There’s nothing like good friends, food and fresh, sea air to bring you out of a slump. I had a bit of a bad start to the weekend after having a mini crisis of confidence in my new writing class (putting myself out there + public speaking= no fun). Luckily things ended on a much better note with wine and sunset gazing at the beautiful pier in Albert Park. It’s nights like these that make me realise how much I love living in Australia. Even when you’re at your lowest, you’ll come across something so heart-stoppingly stunning that you realise how small your problems really are.

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I also got to check out Carsten Höller and Jean Paul Gaultier at The National Gallery of Victoria. Getting stuck into a bottle of bubbles in the tea room meant we were super late for the exhibition and were the last ones in. Being a stickler for schedule, I was anxious for everyone to get a move on but as it turned out, this meant we got the place to ourselves and even spotted model Andreja Pejić having a low-key moment with her family. Sometimes a plan falling apart is the most wonderful stroke of luck!

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Style: Fashion stories and the modern spectacle

It’s pretty clear to the pop culture fans that fashion exhibitions are enjoying a boom in popularity right now. From Charles James: Beyond Fashion to Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty and the upcoming Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the NGV in Melbourne, the idea of fashion as art has increasingly moved into the mainstream.

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A few weeks ago I attended a talk by the journalist Mitchell Oakley Smith for the launch of Fashion detective at the NGV. There was one point that struck me particularly; as fashion shows become more of a performance and as brands turn their advertising and visual merchandising into an exhibition, what does that mean for the modern museum? If exhibitions are entertainment and each collection becomes an exhibition, the line between them must surely blur.

The rise of digital culture and the changing face of fashion media mean that brands have more power than ever before to control their own stories. There are now countless ways to communicate with your customer; whether it’s through the myriad of fashion bloggers, traditional advertising or through new digital platforms. Conversely this makes it harder for brands to cut through the noise, with designers making ever grander statements. This may explain the trend for fashion shows as performance. From Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel Supermarket to Marc Jacobs’ nostalgic farewell at Louis Vuitton, so much depends on the spectacle.

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It’s not just traditional forms of showcasing each collection that are evolving. Fashion brands are increasingly traversing the boundaries between commerce and art. Take Prada’s ‘A Therapy’ film directed by Roman Polanski , which was released last year. It showed there’s no longer such a need to rely on the costume department of a big budget movie to showcase your new collection. You can create your own mediums.

So where does this leave the museum? I personally think there’s an important role to play in impartially telling fashion stories. In the same ways magazines have had to adapt to a new digital landscape, there’s still room for careful and authoritative curation of content. That’s why I’m looking forward to the new Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition and the ways the museum will find to tell that story. Also, I need to find a way to get to London next year to catch Savage Beauty at The V&A. Is it too early to start a petition to bring it to Australia?

Style: Reasons to be excited about Nicolas Ghesquière

All is well in the fashion industry once more as the chasm at Louis Vuitton was filled by the announcement of Nicolas Ghesquière as new Creative Director last week. The post has been empty since Marc Jacobs departed to spend more time on his eponymous label in New York. For me though, a more important question has been settled. What will happen to one of the industry’s most forward-thinking and rule-bending creative visionaries Ghesquière?

While he may not yet enjoy the household status of the Lagerfelds and Jacobs of his contemporaries, Ghesquière is fashion’s dark horse. Taking the somewhat stale (at the time) Balenciaga and injecting his signature starry-eyed cool, he took the brand to stratospheric levels of influence. Although the average fashion consumer may not be able to recall his light bulb, trend-starting moments off the cuff, they certainly wore them for many seasons to come: think that moment in The Devil Wears Prada where Meryl Streep tells Anne Hathaway off for scoffing at the importance of a belt.

Suzy Menkes once called him, “the most intriguing and original designer of his generation” and having taken on the daunting task of reimagining Balenciaga at only 25, his achievements are difficult to exaggerate. Now still only in his 40s, he’s being given the incredible funds and huge responsibility of taking Louis Vuitton in a new direction and for me, that’s very exciting.

Although Louis Vuitton may be best known for monogrammed leather goods, they certainly put on a show at Paris Fashion Week and with Ghesquière we’re sure to see a fresh take on the signature look. If Ghesquière has proved he can do anything, it’s taking an iconic label and twisting and blurring the lines to create something exciting, beautiful and brand new.

To help you wait things out until his first show, here are my predictions on what the future holds for this power collaboration.

The new IT Bag

Balenciaga Lariat Bag

The Balenciaga Lariat bag was one of the original IT bags and spawned a thousand high street imitations. Are we about to see Ghesquière’s highly wearable brand of luxury be reinvented for a new handbag generation?

The Statement Shoe

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For A/W 2006, Balenciaga introduced impossibly high platforms that came out of nowhere. For years to come fashionistas have tottered around miles from the ground, are we about to see the next statement shoe?

The Must-Have Print

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Does it seem like floral prints are everywhere right now? Guess who started this trend in S/S08?

The New Minimalism

Balenciaga SS13

Street style icons everywhere are rocking black midi-waists with white tops, inspired in a huge way by classic Balenciaga, in particular S/S13 when the designer gave us sleek minimal lines with bold, new shapes like the unravelling skirt that was the highlight of this collection.

The Return of K-Stew

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What with a cheating scandal and the end of Twilight, she’s not everyone’s favourite actor right now, but I have a serious soft spot for this girl and as Ghesquière’s best mate, I’m hoping to see her front row once more.

 

Style: V&A Club to Catwalk | London Fa-fa-fashion in the 80s – why aren’t we that free?

Guest post by Caner Daywood

Bowie beating his face

Bowie beating his face

As I write this post I am proudly blaring out some vintage 80s classics from Bowie (above), George Michael and even some Spandau Ballet because I felt so inspired and transported into this era after I attended the fantastic Club To Catwalk exhibition of 80s London fashion at the V & A. I had always wanted to be a teen in the 80s as a kid (I’m an 88 baby) and seeing the fashion, hearing the music, feeling the care-free rebelliousness, boundary breaking attitudes with the nuts drag queens and fetishistic fashions I was sure I would fit in with these gender f*cked up guys.

Ironically when we think of 80s fashion I think we sometimes mistake the silly garish thoughts of cheesy 80s-themed parties with lots of neon and Madonna (eekkk) as reality for this era, but it was never intended to be tacky or cheesy back then, quite the contrary, fashion was far more evolutionary in the 80s with edgy takes on evening wear and flamboyant prints and designs that sought to test genders and turn conventional ideas upside down.

Evening wear with some edge

Evening wear with some edge

Eccentric much?

Eccentric much?

Men wore tonnes of make-up and lots of colour and people weren’t afraid to stick out – in fact that was the name of the game. Some of the fashion pioneers of the 80s rebellious movement that exploded around London were Betty Jackson with her slogan print tops and dresses, Vivienne Westwood fronting the punk movement with her whalebone structured skirts done in contemporary fabrics such as denim, and John Galliano coining his iconic mad, theatrical structured suits and crazy head pieces as featured below.

Galliano pre-antisemitic phase

Galliano pre-antisemitic phase

Icons of the 80s were obviously totally unforgettable like Bowie, Boy George and Leigh Bowery and were stars everywhere in the exhibition in video content and images, including a wonderful catwalk of the leggy bombshell blond Jerry Hall walking for Anthony Price and the androgyny queen Grace Jones.

Jerry Hall and Grace Kelly - before Rita and Cara

Jerry Hall and Grace Kelly – before Rita and Cara

The funniest thing was that after I settled down a little from my euphoria of walking around this timewarp of fashion and culture, I started realise that so much of this fashion is inspiring current trends right now. Extremes in fashion are totally re-emerging with structured power suits and oversized designs featuring heavily next season for Celine and Dior and even crop tops/ fetishistic fashions are massively en vogue which were all showcased in the exhibition.

Come on rude BOY LONDON - pre-Rihanna hype

Come on rude BOY LONDON – pre-Rihanna hype

Get strapped in

Get strapped in

Is this not like a Saint Laurent moment right now

Is this not like a Saint Laurent moment right now

I think even if I haven’t inspired you to visit this exhibition through these images and content the most inspirational element I took from the show was the state of mind that came across through everything – a state of abandon, of rebellion, of true expression and fashion freedom, which felt so lacking when I left the exhibition and had a look around me in Chelsea. BUT things aren’t this bleak and as the rise of RuPaul’s Drag Race TV Series shows fashion and true boundary-breaking expression is still around with great new gender-f*ck icons like Sharon Needles (below) paving the way for revolutionary fashion for men and women everywhere.

Sharon Needles

Sharon Needles (yes he is a boy)

Ultimately fashion back then wasn’t JUST about aesthetics and/ or even comfort (probably rarely so), it was rather the truest form of expression for people and conveyed their freedom in the 80s be that for gays, straights, trannies and everything/anyone in between, and this sense of purity and confidence to be so outspoken has become somewhat swallowed down in today’s PC society. SO what I suggest is that you *right now* go book your ticket to this show and express and enjoy the 80s fashion moment at the V & A and then take some of that freedom back home with you and apply it to your daily life….(thank me in fabulousness… and bags).

Style: Big Fashion Week Adventure

Guest post by Nadia Ramoul 

Maddeningly coinciding with the half term holidays, Fashion Week hits London like a luminous bomb. It mushrooms over the city as the streets fill with the colourful, fierce and ludicrously heeled. They land like glamourous aliens, supping on espressos and peering over neon shades, mixing jarringly with bemused families on day trips. Narrowly, they miss stumbling into the roads with ill-timed catwalk turns and exuberant selfies (did I just use that word? Puke). The city heaves and sighs through Vogue smoke, the families take cover and sharp-eyed photographers stalk lines of waiting fashionistas to pick out a lucky few to pose in the manner of their idols.

Fashion Scout at Holborn’s Freemason Hall provides cutting edge designers with a platform to showcase their work in front of London’s hip young things (and yours truly). Shows range from the demure to the bizarre and music is used as a powerful, juddering force to accentuate and underline. It’s loud, really loud, causing slight changes in tone to be transformed into whooshing crescendos of noise, forcing you to pay attention.

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Being pretty much half the height of the glossy giants and fashion bloggers that surrounded me (don’t wear Vans to catwalk shows, kids!) I could only pay a limited amount of attention, vision obscured by elaborate headpieces and slender shoulders vying to see and be seen. My iPhone was held constantly aloft over my head in the manner of a Biblical weapon that would at some point come crashing down on the head of my only son. Naturally, the pictures from every show were a streaky mess but praise be to Instagram for transforming them into something passable.

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Timur Kim’s collection stood out for me as something uncanny and intriguing, giving a sleek twist on Americana from a Dallas-esque past, with luxurious fabrics in patchwork and lose Little House on the Prarie gingham-ish dresses. “American Pie” blared through the speakers elevating the loose trouser suits and tousled hair of the models from a stylish look to a sad statement evoking a lost past. (Or did it? I don’t know.) Despite my compromised view I found the collection inspired and thought provoking, and Kim himself a cheerful fellow as he ran exuberantly down the catwalk to thank the crowd.

Belle Sauvage

Belle Sauvage

The other show I found particularly impressive was Belle Sauvage, which was what I envisioned fashion shows being as a child. Brash, crazy and loud with silly hats. This is what I want from fashion. There was a true drama about it, making it an event, a true spectacle with electro-doom music, fringe-visors and beautiful rave baroque prints. The models were transformed into doom fashion warriors from the future, oozing stern camp and genuine menace, as a performance, I absolutely loved it.

 

Belle Sauvage

Belle Sauvage

Highlights included the rich reds and purples of the fur collars, the sharp angles in the tunics and the kaleidoscope acid prints that adorned most of the collection. It was fun an of the moment, not too serious, an 80’s vision of the future maybe, in which sun-god headdresses and flowing robes become the norm. I kind of wish it was.

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There is something heartening about fashion week. While there may be themes occurring on the catwalks, the people waiting to see them are an extravagant and innovative bunch, throwing together the sublime and ridiculous to amazing effect. Last fashion week I felt a cloying seriousness over everything, this time around it was drenched in good humour and fun. For that I am eternally grateful.

If you’d like to see more of my attempts at fashion photography my Pinterest board is at http://pinterest.com/nadiaramoul/lfw/

Style: Haizhen Wang at London Fashion Week – Fifth element gets some AW13 urban realness

Haizen Wang - Look 1

Guest post by Caner Daywood

 

Walking around Somerset House during London Fashion Week can make even the most humble fashionista feel like they possess Rihanna-esque stardom with the constant throngs of picture-taking paps, street-style bloggers and journalists crowding the place. So walking to the last show at the BFC Show Space for Haizhen Wang’s AW13 collection was like approaching a hornet’s nest with swarms of paps going wild at the sight of the glam-squad fashionista crew in their last endeavour for ultra-vogue-dom. The reason for this pandemonium-chic becomes instantly understandable if you take a look at Haizhen Wang’s work and ever since he won the Fashion Fringe award last year his name is huge . And with Vitamin Water on tap, masses of people vying for seats, bright lights ready, paps prepped, the industrial tones of factory work (remixed by Andy Turner) started to crash out across the runway and the last catwalk show finally began (only fractionally – or should that be fashionably- late).

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Haizhen’s collection was amazing and smart in the  way that each part of the music, visors and dark futuristic fashion seemed to fit his vision for AW13 which I  too could visualize and felt included in. Haizhen had  such a unique Gothic , edgy interpretation for his AW13 collection which highlighted some of the other key trends across LFW AW13 shows, such as dynamic layering,  visor headpieces and bold structural outerwear. The whole collection had a certain end of the world, new wave  futuristic feel with the  visor-mesh headpieces from our wonderful chum Maria Piana (whose wonderful warrior jewellery I have gushed about previously) set against the industrial clangs of the textile machines used in the music and the unusual  architectural structure to Haizhen’s layering.

Haizen Wang - super layering

Admittedly the sleeping bag coats will never be for everyone’s taste, however their impression of volume and weight juxtaposed against the puffy, airy nature of the duffle material lusciously layered upon each other showed a great eye for architect and  had a strong visual impact  on the runway.  I likened many of his looks like this to the iconic fashions of Jean-Paul Gaultier in the futuristic 90s film, Fifth Element. If you haven’t seen it a) what is wrong with you? and b) go and watch it now for the brilliant way Jean Paul Gaultier both layers garments inventively on Bruce Willis and exposes flesh seductively at the same time with Milla Jovovich.

Even the leather biker jacket  was updated by Haizhen as he added some depth to his collections’ muted tones with a dusty red bustress shape for his leather jacket.  Although black is huge for AW13 – which is a bit strange to say as black is one of those timeless colours that is always ‘in’ however it is even more ‘in’ next season – Haizhen sliced through reds, greens and cobalt blues to give some attitude and industrial accents to his outerwear, as shown below.

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The statement finale piece for the collection consisted of a metal bodice worn under ribbed  sleeveless jacket with a silky leg-slit skirt . This last look was truly fantastic because it symbolised the essence of Wang’s entire collection in as much as clothes can match the evolving nature of the city’s architecture and for that reason we must always be  ready for what the future holds and must mould our clothes to the city’s urban nature.

Haizen Wang - metalic finish

 AW13 gets us all ready for the future to come which can sometimes be a scary thing, especially if you just caught Chanel 4’s Utopia which I was hooked on.  But for the present London sashays the fashion baton elegantly to our glamorous Milanese partners to see what Italy has to offer. Suffice to say Haizen Wang’s  AW13 urban soldiers seem to be ready for anything . Are you?