LFW

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LFW: CIMONE SS17

Carli Pearson, Founder and Creative Director of new womenswear label, CIMONE was trained at Central Saint Martins and prior to launching her own brand, she honed her craft in a variety of senior positions at some of the world’s top houses. She spent her first seven years at Stella McCartney, later moving on to become Design Director at Alexander Wang, Head of Show Collection at Pucci, and Head of Womenswear at McQ, Alexander McQueen.

Her second collection for spring/summer 2017, and first runway collection was shown as part of London Fashion Week’s SS17 season and received to rapturous applause.

A web of contradictions, the collection saw control versus chaos and high-end production values paired with repurposed textures; focusing on the interplay between naivety and self-assuredness.

statement pieces featured unique, interactive embellishment, moving with models bodies and reacting in unique ways, never appearing the same way twice.  A subtle and muted whitewash was brought to life with a vibrant injection of juxtaposed bold colour, appearing as splashes and stripes.

Very obviously influenced by the late Lee Mcqueen, Pearson has focused on confidence as the recurrent theme throughout the SS17 collection - with a little fun thrown in for good measure.

Pixie xo

 

 

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Fun Affair: Girls Grow Up at LFW

If you’re familiar with the London Fashion Scene then you’ll already be aware of Fun Affair.  Known for it’s gamine aesthetic and off-beat presentations, the brand oozes 90’s cool like no other.  From the in your face logos to the vinyl baseball caps, Fun Affair is one brand that should be on your radar.

 

Integrating abstraction exotica, minimalism and subversion, designer Xi Zhu strives to create an avant-garde and elegant sphere of design.   Zhu merges her oriental heritage with European romanticism and modernism to define her signature: ‘rebellion meets optimism’.  Seemingly on a mission absolute to manifest extreme beauty, marrying oriental beauty with mystery, stillness and power, Zhu is a designer for the modern day feminist crusader.

Hosted by LFW’s younger, funkier sister, Fashion Scout, the Fun Affair show begins in a perfectly white space allowing the garments to speak volumes.

The Fun Affair SS17 collection is all of that and more and the runway show is a journey from start to finish.  Inspired by the New Romantics, 80’s power dressing and postmodernism.  The SS17 Fun Affair-girl is edgy, feminine and sophisticated with just the right amount of attitude.  A girl gang for a new generation, and one I find myself wanting to be part of.

This season is all about playing with proportion and form. I caught up with Zhu after the show, noticeably nervous, she told me “It’s about women’s strength and rebelliousness, did you see the last look?  That’s my favourite thing I’ve ever created”

Highlights of the show and top of my shopping list were oversized bow knot shirts, high gloss 90’s style slipdresses, high-waisted jeans & baseball caps, and yes, the last look was my absolute favourite, in fact I’m working on recreating it right now….

Pixie xo

 

 

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London Fashion Week SS17

If there’s one Fashion Week that’s associated with new talent and a passion for supporting the underdog, it’s London Fashion Week; and with the likes of Prophetik, Gareth Pugh and Mulberry all showing strong collections, it looks like the bar is set to keep on rising.

I’m headed to London SUPER early in the morning for three jam packed days of shows and events and a special something from one of my all time favourite designers (more on that later).

Stay tuned Voyeurs, after a very mediocre NYFW, I’m predicting big things from London.  BIG things….

Pixie xo

 

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Prophetik presents Nevermore: SS17

London Fashion Week.  The most urban and exciting of all Fashion Weeks and definitely the one most likely to show and breed hot new talent in the fashion industry.  A hotbed for creativity, London is home to some of the best designers in the world, some of whom manage to fly under the radar of most non-fashion folk - Fuggles if you will…

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Step forward Prophetik.  An uber cool brand founded by award-winning designer, Jeff Garner in Tennessee, USA, Prophetik is the sartorial result of Garner’s take on visual art, blended with his  pioneering stance on sustainability. Garner was designated as one of 40 top artists in America, resulting in his work being exhibited in one of the world’s most famous museums, The Smithsonian.

With sustainability at the core of the brand, Prophetik is the fashion label you never knew you knew.  Garner has dressed Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Gisele Bundchen, Miley Cyrus, Cameron Diaz, Livia Firth, Julia Stiles, Joe Jonas, Nick Jonas and Kings of Leon; and he has reached into the technological sphere, partnering with Apple and Griffin to create sustainable iPhone cases, which were revealed on the catwalk at London Fashion Week, where Cara Delevingne both opened and closed the show.

Spring forward to today, day 2 of LFW and Garner is back in a big way with his SS17 offering: Nevermore, which took place at the Tower of London.  If the venue conjures up images of gothic romance then you’re definitely on the right track.

Jeff Garner’s spring/summer show, under his label Prophetik, nods to love lost and the notion that in the depths of a shadowy, dark void, light is exposed and wisdom can be found.

Heritage set the foundation of Nevermore. An American archetype – descended from Yorkshire settlers and the Native American Cherokee – Garner and his family have been residing in the state of Tennessee for seven generations, dating back to the land grant from Lord Fairfax. Mary Crane, daughter of chief Whooping Crane of the Cherokee Nation in Tennessee was Garner’s great, great, great grandmother and looking back to this Native American ancestry and its traditional folklore, Garner examined the raven, which featured on this season’s invitation. The raven is a symbol of a light-bringer – one which gifts humanity with understanding and discernment holding the ideal of balance. On the contrary, pulling from the English side of his ancestry, in Celtic lore, the raven was the goddess of war and strife.

“The raven shows us how to go into the dark of our inner self and bring the light of our true self to healing and creation, cultivating renewal, recycling, and reflection.”  - Jeff Garner

Tradition and artisan craftsmanship collide, underwritten in Garner’s signature use of romantic shapes. Working with black and dark navy silhouettes, which he has steered away from in previous spring/summer collections, Nevermore borders on sombre with hints of whimsy and the ethereal. Black, naturally shed duck feathers symbolise raven feathers, while salmon sustainable leather, hemp silk, Tussah (peace silk), and hand-woven Dupioni appear, all of which are hand dyed with plant based hues at the Prophetik studio in Tennessee.

The show opened with Prophetik’s recently launched intimates collection followed by Prêt-à-Porter  and ending with Garner’s statement making ballgowns, designed around the theme of a gothic wedding.

With a live soundtrack provided by Suzy Amis Cameron and Dorado, the show was firmly rooted in Tennessee

“Nevermore is a remembrance and in honour to all of those who have loved and lost.”  - Jeff garner

A collection steeped in tradition, that sticks firmly to its own ethos of ethics and sustainable production while edging towards the dramatic, Prophetik might just be one to watch Voyeurs…

Pixie xo

 

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“See Now, Buy Now” at NYFW

NYFW SS17 has come to a close and I’ve got to be honest Voyeurs, was a little underwhelming *sadface*.  There was a time that NYFW was regaled as the mother of all Fashion Weeks and the barometer for those that follow, but now?  Not so much, and I’m not the only Fashion Influencer to feel this way.

 

I was however, intrigued to hear that Tom Ford would be showing during NYFW this season after a last minute cancellation in February, albeit shunning the traditional and expected format and showing a “See Now, Buy Now” collection during the FW16 season (including cosmetics and skincare).  Let me explain -  The fashion industry is set up to make you feel that there are two seasons: Spring / Summer (SS) February to September,  and Fall / Winter (FW) October to March.  We all know that fashion is cyclical but the idea of funding these multi million dollar campaign is that after one season (6 months) a person will shun the current “trend” and move on to the next season, buying items from the next collection to tap into the next “trend”.  Since the first NYFW in 1943, this has always been the case and designers have shown a season ahead in order to allow time for manufacturing and creating garments to sell “on season.”  Hence, you see the FW collections in February / March and the SS collections in September / October.

With me so far?  Ok, now I’m going to scramble your brain a little more -  I am of course, assuming you don’t already know this, I’ve had a lot of emails over the last two weeks from Voyeurs asking what the difference between “on season” and “off season” shows is, and although I’ve replied to all of them, this might help a little and give you something to refer back to, or even share with your friends and future Voyeurs.

Ok, now you have a very basic concept of Fashion Week as a ‘thing’, let’s fast forward to 2014 - Blogging was becoming serious business for the fashion industry, with Conde Nast representing some of the biggest names at the time including Bryan Boy and Susie Lau and Bloggers were taking their place on the Frows of huge shows.  This is when came the shift; the difference between Blogs and traditional print media is that magazines are also cyclical, printing once per week or once per month meaning you have to wait for your fix, but Bloggers make it instant, with content produced immediately and shared immediately, readers, fans and followers get a glimpse of the collections in real time.  Sure, Fashion Editors of your favourite magazines have been doing this for years, but not everyone follows or even knows who these Fashion Editor are, Bloggers have become known, recognisable and now, marketable.

People often ask me about the difference between blogging and fashion journalism, as you know I do both and there’s one clear difference to me and that’s The Voice.  Let me break it down; when you buy a magazine, you buy a piece of journalism, a feature that someone has written about a topic they’ve been asked to write about, the account is factual, and delivers a point.  Sometimes, in the case of a column, there will be added elements of humour and sometimes not but when you’ve read it, you’ve left with more information than when you started.  Blogging however, is conversational.  Sure we’re sometimes paid to write features but ultimately a blogger writes about whatever they want, they have full creative control over their content and frequency of publication.  When I’m writing for you guys, I’m writing as I would talk, it’s light, it’s fun and it’s sometimes not politically correct but the only person accountable is me.  Remember, it’s immediate and when I’m showing you those covetable items from Fashion Week, they’re not available to view or buy for another six long months.  Got it?

Ok, where were we?  Ah yes, the shift in the fashion industry….

Sooooooo, in February 2015 Burberry announced that it would shift to a “See Now, Buy Now” format which sent ripples across the industry.  The naysayers gasped, saying it would never work and was a crazy idea, and anybody in fashion manufacturing quaked in their leather rider boots at the thought of prepping an entire saleable collection pre-runway show.

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Basically the concept of “See Now, Buy Now” is simple: In September / October when an SS show would normally be shown, Burberry will show a season appropriate collection for FW, the season we’re actually in and the collection will be shoppable immediately.  Simples.  When Tom Ford announced plans to follow suit, people sat up and took notice.  Ford has the ability to pack out a show space like no other, the Grand Master of fashion with a legion of celebrity disciples so this idea must have legs, right?  Sure enough, this season alone Rebecca Minkoff and Vetements  have announced their intention to follow this model along with smaller labels.

Never one to sit quiet on a subject so prickly, Karl Lagerfeld proclaimed “Its a mess, the reality is that you have to give people the time to make their choice, to order the clothes or handbags, and to produce them beautifully so that editors can photograph them. If not, that’s the end of everything.”  Not a supporter of the See Now, Buy Now movement then eh Karl?

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With huge slumps in sales, mega discounts offered in outlet malls and the rise of fast fashion and runway reproduction on the high street, it’s no secret or surprise that the luxury fashion houses have been hit hard.  With ‘micro trends’ (think glitter roots, perspex heels, fur slides) on the rise due to online influencers, we’re seeing a new mini trend every fortnight and as a result, the designers have become the outsiders.  Now that NYFW SS17 is over, it’s time for those fashion houses to take stock; Tom ford showed an awesome See Now Buy Now collection with a whole marketing campaign designed around the very concept.  Although Calvin Klein, didn’t show this season the brand plans to emerge in February under the creative leadership of ex-Dior front man Raf Simons, and Michael Kors has unveiled his plans to show See Now Buy Now in February.

It’s clear that there are huge and exciting changes afoot for the fashion industry and although NYFW SS17 has been mediocre as best, the most memorable shows of the season are the ones which adopted a See Now, Buy Now format (I’m looking at you Tom Ford).

Over to you London….

Pixie xo

 

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A Lesson in Fashion Pronunciation

With New York Fashion Week and the unveiling of next season’s collections a mere three weeks away, I’ve compiled a handy guide to get you though those Fashion Week chats, namely, how to pronounce those tricky designers names.

We’ve all got that one friend who gushes about “Moschino” pronouncing it “Machine-o” and we all turn a blind eye whilst secretly shuddering inside.  Well no more!  Here’s Fashion Voyeur’s guide to nailing Fashion Week chat:

1. Moschino Let’s just dive in and get this one over and done with.  it’s ‘Mos-key-no’ end of.  Move on.

2. Hermes Often pronounced as ‘Her-mez’ Stop it.  It’s ‘Er-mez’ knowing this will score you points at Fashion Week.

3. Givenchy Given that you’re reading this, I’m assuming you have an interest in fashion and therefore know that the G here is not pronounced, if you don’t already know this then shame on you.  Usually pronounced ‘Ji-von-sheee’ Nope.  it’s ‘zji-von-shey’ often followed with ‘bitches’ in fashion circles.

4. Ralph Lauren Should come with a slap warning.  If you’re in the ‘Ralph Lau-REN’camp of pronunciation then unfortunately you’re just not fashion darling. ‘Ralph Lauren’ like it’s spelled, like the girls name. yes Lauren.  Ralph Lauren.  Simple.  like the people in the latter camp.

5. Rodarte why is this so hard? It’s ‘Ro-dar-tay’ easy.

6. Balmain Total. Minefield.  It’s not ‘Bal-main’ or ‘Bal-mine’ or even ‘Bal-man’  it’s resolutely ‘Bahl-mahhn’ and it seems even H&M employees weren’t educated on this, cue eye-roll emoji.

7. Lanvin I kind of get it with this one but let’s iron this out once and for all.  Stop saying ‘Lan-vin’ it’s longer than that ‘Laan-vahn’ then pause for effect and admiration.

8. Loewe One of my bugbears is hearing supposed Fash Folk refer to Loewe as ‘Lo-wey’  Desist immediately.  It’s ‘Lo-wave-ey’ and it’s an essential in the Fashionista’s bible, do not expect praise for getting this right.

9. Sonia Rykiel Totally underrated designer but that’s not why we’re here, often mispronounced as either ‘Sonia Ry-keel’ or ‘Sonia Ry-kel’  Correct pronunciation is ‘Sonia Ry-key-el’ if you learn one thing today, let this be it, it’s somebody’s name goddamn it.

10. Saint Laurent If you’re not au fait with this one then shame on you, its Francais and pronounced ‘San Lau-ront’

11. Balenciaga I’m only including this because of horrific pronunciation overheard by staff in Cruise recently, it’s ‘Bal-en-see-agar’ you know, as it looks.

12. Christian Louboutin If you’re pronouncing this ‘Le-BOOT-in’ then leave this page immediately, we can no longer be friends and there is literally no hope for you.  It’s ‘LOU-buh-ton’ say it, learn it, remember it.

13. Proenza Schouler Hip brand, hipper name, if pronounced correctly. ‘Pro-enza Skool-a’ there’s no ‘sh’ in there, don’t be one of THOSE people.

14. Marchesa Absolutely not ‘March -essa’ or even ‘Mar-kessa’ why would it be?? it’s ‘Mar-kay-za’

15. Hervé Léger I won’t even go into the various mispronunciations of this, people be cray with some of their interpretations of what these two short words say.  If you own a signature Léger bandage dress and have been pronouncing this incorrectly, then promptly but it, you are not fit to wear it.  The correct pronunciation is ‘Air-vay Lay-jah’

And so concludes our lesson today, if you’ve learned something please share this article and your new found knowledge!

See you on the Frow….

Pixie x

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Fashion Futures Hosts Henry Holland & Laura Weir in Conversation

This week saw the launch of Fashion Futures in Newcastle, an event set up in place of Newcastle Fashion Week this year to celebrate the emerging design talent from Northumbria University, who have been delivering outstanding Fashion Design courses for sixty years.

The two day programme had a jam-packed schedule full of great events for both industry insiders and the public with the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art playing host to the whole event providing a hub and backdrop to this awesome celebration of homegrown talent.  Think of it as the North East’s Somerset House / Brewer Street carpark.

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über cool designer British Vogue.  The auditorium was packed out for this event with Editors, Bloggers, Fashion students and people with a genuine passion for fashion and it didn’t disappoint.  The pair took to the all white stage, Laura Weir looking slick in a House of Holland midi dress and biker jacket and Henry Holland looking every inch the off-duty designer in black skinnies, Dr Marten boots and a denim jacket from his own collection with neon highlights.

I threw on a pair of Zara pants, an off Duty tee and some Prada shoes to take my seat on the front row and bring you the skinny.

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This particular segment of Fashion Talks was billed as Henry Holland and Laura Weir in Conversation and that’s exactly what it was.  The Pair have been firm friends for a long time and it showed, the conversation was fun and upbeat with Weir asking probing and considered questions giving thought to what the audience would want to learn about Holland.  We learned how he began his career - he was actually rejected from a Fashion Design course and studied Journalism at University but hated it!  We got to hear that his mum told him when he was younger that “We get eight careers” in our lifetime and he proceeds to talk about his early careers at now defunct Smash Hits and Bliss magazines.  It raises a giggle from the audience when Holland talks about his iconic breakout tee collection and how they were borne out of a drunken conversation one night with friends.  Hearing this makes the designer seem more real, more accessible and more human.

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The pair laugh as they reminisce about those now infamous slogan tees, (FYI I’m the proud owner of Do Me Daily Christopher Bailey and Flick Your Bean for Agyness Deyn) and how a whole career was started on four rhyming couplets.

Holland talks passionately about that time in his life, saying that those tees were just the start of things, they “were like a football shirt or band T-shirt for the fashion industry” and gave people who “maybe couldn’t afford a Christopher Kane dress a way of supporting the industry” by wearing a playful Cum Again Christopher Kane tee, almost like making a statement that you belonged.  Holland went on to talk about how these tees allowed him to create a “strong visual DNA” for the brand.

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He tells the audience about his first time showing at London Fashion Week as part of Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East in 2006 and how he only realised it was an Autumn / Winter show moments before go time and his House of Holland collection was all short-sleeved T-shirts.  He goes on to say that following this, he took constructive criticism wherever he could and went on to build a small team of staff and completed a full collection including eyewear, accessories and footwear.

It’s easy to feel like you’ve known the pair for years, watching them talk and joke with each other on stage is comforting, there’s no snobbery and when asked by an audience member if he feels that a University education is essential in order to break into the fashion industry Holland says absolutely not.  He admits that it takes willpower and that he still encounters snobbery because he had no formal design training, but says that he wouldn’t change anything throughout his career so far and that he’s “happy to share his mistakes” if it helps others in their quest to enter the famously guarded fashion industry.

Holland has wise words for budding designers too, he advises ” Stay true to your brand, its DNA and what you are trying to say through your clothes.”  the designer muses that he loves that people can personify with his brand and its message.  He goes on to say that he admires what Paul Smith has created, “a quintessentially British brand that has absolutely retained its Paul Smith vibe”.

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When asked whether he finds his role glamorous, Holland is quick to say “no”, he elaborates by saying that the celebrities he’s so often photographed with are his original group of friends since childhood and that celebrity is just a “side effect of their jobs”.

So what’s next for Henry Holland?  Well the designer has recently moved into menswear and would love to open his own physical store in London in order to create a “curated environment” for the customer.  He’s asked a great question by the editor of Darkus magazine: If he could give this part of his life a chapter name, what would it be?  After a short pause, Holland smiles and says ” I think it would have to be, What the Fuck Just Happened?!”  He goes on to tell us that there is actually a book on the horizon charting his life so far, if this talk is an introduction then this book is sure to make for an interesting read and is certainly something I’d read.

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His last question is from a young designer in the audience who asks whether it’s important to base yourself in London as a designer.  Both Holland and Weir are resolute in saying “no”.  Although both admit that it makes things easier, Weir claims that being outside of London could actually work to a designers advantage “you already know your audience and market and don’t have the competition” that there is in London.  Both firmly agree that the most important thing for young designers to have is passion and drive and a will to succeed.

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The pair thank the audience for their involvement and with that they’re off all smiles and waves.  Hats off to the organisers NE1, this was funny, interesting and engaging and the time flew by.  The format absolutely worked and the duo left the audience wanting more, in fact some of the younger Fashion students were discussing those sage words of advice afterwards.

If Henry Holland hasn’t been on your radar, firstly, where have you been?! And secondly, check him out.  At the end of the day as we discovered, he’s just a normal, down to earth guy with an insane amount of talent and some cool friends who happen to be celebrities.  He’s got a really awesome story to tell and pretty soon it could be on a bookshelf near you.

Pixie x

Laura Weir and Henry Holland are both on Twitter, go check them out:

Laura Weir  & Henry Holland

Installation view of 'Romantic Gothic' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty

I want to be a purveyor of a certain silhouette, or a way of cutting, so that when I’m dead and gone people will know that the 21st century was started by Alexander McQueen.”

Unless you’ve been living under a seriously well hidden rock you’ll know that the V&A is currently hosting a retrospective of the career of designer Alexander McQueen and as far as exhibitions go, this one is pretty damn magnificent.  The Savage Beauty exhibition began its life at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and has since been expanded and tweaked for its hotly anticipated arrival in London, McQueen’s home, and the city where he honed his craft.

Savage Beauty is as raw as it gets, and walking around the exhibition so close to this body of work, it feels almost voyeuristic, like you’re viewing something sacred and holy which was meant to be kept secret…..

The exhibition is presented over ten rooms which aim to showcase the most prolific of themes that Alexander McQueen himself showed during his runway shows.  Savage Beauty takes you on a journey through McQueen’s entire career from his previously unseen 1992 MA graduate collection through to his final, incomplete FW10 collection.

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As you enter Savage Beauty, the atmosphere is palpable, dark, eerie and bordering on uncomfortable, the air peppered with a recording of McQueen’s voice played over jutting soundbytes, an image of the late designer’s face is projected onto a black wall which slowly morphs into the Skull Lenticular.  The first section of the exhibition, London, concentrates on ten of  McQueen’s more famous early pieces spanning three collections: The Birds (S/S 1995), Highland Rape (A/W 1995) and The Hunger (S/S 1996) and runway footage is played behind the installation.  This is your first glimpse at the world and the mind of Lee Alexander McQueen and it’s beautifully poetic.

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The next room, Savage Mind, displays some of McQueen’s very early signature tailoring and his inventive cutting techniques, McQueen always designed from the side, saying that this was the best way to see all of the lumps and bumps and to decide how to skim these.  His Kickback Trousers for example, form a perfect semi-circle when laid out flat, but on the body they drape at the back of the knee and create a flattering elongated kickback shape at the back of the ankle.  In this room the famous “Bumster” trousers are displayed, although rather surprisingly from the front rather than the rear.  A sharp shouldered jacket featuring an image of Robert Campin’s The Thief to the Left Of Christ by the Master of Flemalle c.1430 from the FW97 It’s a jungle Out There collection gives an early glimpse into McQueen’s fascination with gothic symbolism.

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The Romantic Gothic room is breathtakingly beautiful, set in an eerily dark and atmospheric room, the display is almost too much to take in.  There are strong references to the Victorian Gothic aesthetic that McQueen excelled in, garments featuring hair as a centrepiece and the famous Black Swan takes centre stage, emanating a certain sadness that you can’t fail to feel when you look at this awesome display of craftsmanship.  It’s this particular room which holds pieces from McQueen’s final unfinished collection and it’s here that you feel part of an important moment in fashion history, McQueen was working on these pieces when he died and they’re dark and twisted and beautifully intricate.

“I don’t think like the average person in the street - I think quite perversely sometimes.”

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Romantic Primitivism takes us deeper into the mind of McQueen, in a room where the walls are adorned with skulls and bones reminiscent of a catacomb and in the ceiling a hanging bubble plays the short film Irere directed by McQueen and John Maybury to accompany the SS03 collection.  The smell of leather and skin hits you immediately and it’s the first time you appreciate just how close you actually are to these masterpieces.  This section of the exhibition explores McQueen’s interest in the animal world and in particular the survival of exotic creatures in the wild, his FW97 collection: It’s a Jungle Out There was inspired by the Thomson’s Gazelle with McQueen saying his interest was borne out of the fact that “the life of this particular creature is over before it has even begun”.

“Animals fascinate me because you can find a force of energy, a fear that also exists in sex……”

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The adjoining room houses the Romantic Nationalism section of the exhibit and it’s perhaps the most emotionally evoking room in the whole exhibition, and certainly the most dramatic.  Darkly romantic and rebellious, the pieces in this display make a clear statement about patriotism.

“As a place for inspiration Britain is the best in the world, you’re inspired by the anarchy in the country….”

Presented in a room of red walls, on the left plinth the MacQueen tartan takes pride of place and music specially composed by John Gosling is played, creating a sense of spine prickling drama, the dress worn by Sarah Jessica Parker to the 2006 Met Gala is displayed and up close, McQueen’s genius in cutting is evident, matching diamonds and creating lined patterns rather than matching the tartan repeat.  Pieces from the FW08 collection entitled The Girl Who Lived in the Tree are displayed on the right, a collection which was inspired by an Elm tree in the garden of McQueen’s country home near Fairlight cove in East Sussex and a story he created about it in his younger years.  The collection was tinged with irony and pastiche and very romantically nationalistic with swathes of red and white and a million feathers.

His patriotic loyalty is never more evident than in this room, McQueen was once asked about his heritage and what his Scottish roots mean to him, his reply? “Everything.

images-1 fa3fabf3-7e10-49bf-8ca0-036fb0146603-620x395 5. Installation view of 'Romantic Nationalism' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London

From here you make your way into the most breathtakingly heart wrenching room in the exhibition: The Cabinet of Curiosities.  This forms the beating heart of the exhibition and the room is double height featuring various screens showing runway footage and iconic pieces displayed in gallery format.  There are over 120 pieces on display in this one room and it’s understandably a lot to take in, it’s overwhelming, like a feast for the senses and when you first enter the room, you literally don’t know where to look.  In the centre of the room is the now iconic spray painted dress from No.13 SS99.  Just laying eyes on this dress pulls on my heart and I feel a real sense of privilege.  The installation is set up to mimic the positioning of Shalom Harlow as she stood centre stage on that spinning disc, minus the Fiat plant robots, and it’s such a powerful display that it actually moved me to tears and I wasn’t the only one who felt it.  There’s a real sense of awe in this room, just being amongst so many amazing pieces reminds you of what a talented and courageous designer McQueen was.  Throughout his entire career, No.13 was the only show that ever made the designer himself cry and when you’re there, right in front of it, you can understand why.

The Yashmak from McQueen’s SS00 Eye collection was painstakingly rebuilt for The Cabinet of Curiosities and is displayed in show on a screen nearby, other pieces on display in this room are the Armadillo boot, first introduced in the SS10 Plato’s Atlantis collection and worn by Lady Gaga in her promo for Bad Romance, the Butterfly headdress made by Philip Treacy for McQueen to accompany his SS08 La Dame Bleue collection and the mask and Crown of Thorns from the FW96 Dante collection.  This is a room that has been designed for viewing, there are bench seats in the centre and you could seriously spend all day looking at these objets de curiosite which have been staged so beautifully.

6. Installation view of  'Cabinet of Curiosities' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London images-17 3. Spray painted dress, No. 13, SS 1999, Model - Shalom Harlow represented by dna model management New York, Image - Catwalking.

2. Butterfly headdress of hand-painted turkey feathers, Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen, La Dame Bleu, Spring Summer 2008, copyright Anthea Sims images-7 IMG_1465

as you move through The Cabinet of Curiosities, you find yourself in a viewing area with a pyramid set up to display the haunting Pepper’s Ghost created for the finale to the FW06 The Widows of Colloden finale, using a technique pioneered by Harry Swan in the 19th century, the spectral image of Kate Moss is conjured and it is completely mesmerising.  For the short period of time that the spectre appears, the room is silent and the surrounding people are as transfixed as I am, the whole spectacle utterly draws you in and is tinged with an almost palpable sadness.  I spot more than one person wiping away tears as they exit this section of the exhibition and it’s hard not to be moved.  Not one to shy away from a spectacle, McQueen was fascinated by death and the macabre and insisted that “death is part of life, I‘ve always been fascinated with Victorian views of death…. when they used to take pictures of the dead.  It’s not about brushing it under the carpet like we do today, it’s about …celebrating someone’s life.  and I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  I think it’s a very sad thing but it’s [also] a very romantic thing because it means the end of a cycle and everything has an end… it gives room for new things to come behind you“.

There’s a real shift as you enter Romantic Exoticism, this section of the exhibition explores McQueen’s interest in eastern culture and influence.  On display are the designers take on traditional Japanese kimonos and silk trousers all with that dark twist synonymous with McQueen.

“Fashion can be really racist, looking at the clothes of other cultures as costumes.  It’s mundane and it’s old hat.  lets break down some barriers…”

7. Installation view of 'Romantic Exoticism' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London 11. It's Only a Game, SS 2005. Image firstVIEW

At the end of this room is another sinister installation, one you are almost forced to take in.  Part of the SS01 Voss (AKA “Asylum”) runway show, McQueen put on a completely unexpected live finale based entirely on a 1983 Joel-Peter Wilkin photograph entitled “Sanitarium” which depicted a glass box housing a voluptuous, masked woman connected to a stuffed monkey via a breathing tube, McQueen selected fetish writer Michelle Olley to play the part in the finale and the image has become synonymous with the Voss collection.  McQueen later said of Voss: “It was about trying to trap something that wasn’t conventionally beautiful to show that beauty comes from within.  It’s to do with the politics of the world - the way life is - and what beauty is

8. Installation view of 'Voss', Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London images-10 images-6

I find beauty in the grotesque like most artists.  I have to force people to look at things…

As you move away from the Earthy Voss display, you enter the Romantic Naturalism section and it’s exactly that.  There are flowers and beautiful delicate lace in the pieces in this room and it’s almost too pretty for words, each piece is displayed in its own glass case and each piece flows seamlessly into the next like a passionate and romantic story, the lace dress pierced by resin antlers from the FW06 The Widows of Culloden is centre left and up close appears almost fluid.  On the opposite side is the razor clam shells dress from the SS01 Voss collection as worn (and originally trashed) by Erin O’Connor and it’s a sight to behold.  Seeing this piece in print is one thing but being right up in front of it is another thing altogether, you simply can’t describe the craftsmanship and the beauty of this piece, it’s almost other-worldly.  McQueen wasn’t a designer to conform or be limited by materials and fabrics and took pleasure in using unexpected items to create his masterpieces.

“It was time to come out of the dark and into the light.”

9. Installation view of 'Romantic Naturalism' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London  5. Tulle and lace dress with veil and antlers, Widows of Culloden, AW 2006-07. Model Raquel Zimmermann, Viva London. Image firstVIEW c381590c-bba2-498d-9e0b-bcf229f4c8b7-320x480 111111111

The finale of the exhibition is Plato’s Atlantis.  McQueen’s last fully realised collection shown for SS10 and based on a predicted future in which the polar ice cap would melt and life on earth would have to evolve in order to live beneath the ocean once more or perish; humanity would return to the place from where it came.  Displayed in front of a giant screen showing the same short film used in the runway show featuring Raquel Zimmerman writhing and twisting as she morphs into a semi-aquatic creature, Plato’s Atlantis is futuristic, fresh and delightfully strange.  This is the collection which unveiled the Armadillo boot silhouette for the first time, the Bell Jar dress and the JellyFish print which spawned so many high street tributes.  Hailed as McQueen’s greatest achievement, Plato’s Atlantis is so far removed from anything we’ve previously seen from the designer, and perhaps alluded to a new direction for him, sadly we’ll never know what McQueen had planned for us for beyond FW10 but we do know that it would have been spectacular, and awe-inspiring and beautiful.

10. Installation view of  'Platos Atlantis' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London  Fashion Week e68204d0-8656-417f-892d-99e17a37b184-803x1020

If you’re a lover of fashion, and even if you’re not, the Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A is an absolute must see, there is no doubt that you will be transfixed and it’s unlikely that such an incredible body of work from such an iconic designer will ever be on display like this again.  Curator Claire Wilcox was given unrestricted access to the McQueen archives in order to create this exhibition and has done an amazing job in creating the ambience to match each of the definitive themes featured here.  There are footnotes to each piece and in some cases these are hard to find and even harder to read given the sheer volume of people making their way through the exhibition at any time.  I would have loved to see more biographical information about McQueen, his heritage and his rise to become fashion’s enfant terrible, there are many subtle references to Isabella Blow, long time muse of Alexander McQueen but any reference to their tempestuous relationship is notably absent.  However, the exhibition was always going to be about the clothes.

I’ve talked you through what I took from the exhibition but at the risk of sounding like a cliché, this is something you need to experience for yourself, it’s so much more than just looking at beautiful clothes, it’s a feeling, an ambience, a collective experience for the senses.  So give yourself up to fashion and soak up the dark gothic atmosphere of Savage Beauty, and then go and do it all again because you’ll never get another opportunity to be a part of something of this magnitude and you’ll definitely leave there with more questions than you entered with but you’ll absolutely feel inspired.  And if you really do want to know more about Lee Alexander McQueen, splash out and buy the book that accompanies the exhibition, it’s a gorgeous book that you’ll pick up repeatedly in the days following your visit(s) to the exhibition.

“There is no way back for me now, I’m going to take you on journeys you’ve never dreamed were possible…”

Pixie x

The exhibition runs until August 2nd 2015 at the V&A Museum and tickets and further information can be found here: http:/www.vam.ac.uk/savagebeauty

All quotes used in this article are by Lee Alexander McQueen.

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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, in partnership with Swarovski, supported by American Express, with thanks to M∙A∙C Cosmetics, technology partner Samsung and made possible with the co-operation of Alexander McQueen, runs from 14 March – 2 August 2015. http://www.vam.ac.uk/savagebeauty

“Living The Dream” Unisex Screen Printed Sweatshirt £120

Kelly Shaw London 20% Discount Offer - Last Chance!

It’s the final day of the amazing discount offer I’m running with Brit designer Kelly shaw London.  Until midnight today you can grab 20% off any item across the FW15 collection (shown in full below).  the collection, in production now, will be available from August 2015 and every piece is a head turner, you’ll be hard pushed to choose just one item!

Recently shown as part of the Capsule Collective at Paris Fashion Week, Kanye West was spotted browsing the rails and anything with the Yeezy seal of approval turns to gold, case in point: Kim Kardashian.   With silent protest and challenging lines as inspiration, the collection is daubed with digital interpretations of gorgeous paintings by artist Jem Doulton, each piece created in the UK, using materials sourced in the UK.  Kelly Shaw really is a designer who is proud to be British.

To take advantage of this fantastic offer all you have to do is:

  1. Browse the full collection in the gallery or post below
  2. Select your favourite piece(s) (Trust me it’ll be hard to choose just one)
  3. Email kelly@kellyshaw.co.uk detailing the piece(s) you’ve chosen and quoting “Fashion Voyeur”
  4. Sit back and gloat that you’re totally ahead of the curve and amongst the first to pre-order the FW15 collection

Please note that you are ordering from the FW15 collection and as each piece is made individually to order, orders will be fulfilled in August 2015 but you can rest assured that you’ll be amongst the super stylish set come Fall 2015, and of course you’ll be backing a British designer with some super cool fashion credentials!

Of course, you can also shop the equally delicious Kelly Shaw London SS15 collection at http://www.youngbritishdesigners.com/designers/arising/kelly-shaw/

I’ve already ordered the Grey Wool dress at the bargainous price of £308 and it should see me right through Fashion Week with the freedom to run the cobbles in Paris!  I’ve also snapped up the “Living the Dream” oversized sweater, is there any occasion this isn’t suitable for?!  And the Liminal Print Skirt and matching Tee which ooze urban cool.

Let me know what you choose…..

Pixie x

 

“Living The Dream” Unisex Screen Printed Sweatshirt £120

Kelly Shaw London Exclusive Discount Offer - Last Call!

Listen up Voyeurs; It’s your last chance to grab a hefty 20% discount on the amazing FW15 collection from Kelly Shaw London.  March 2015 saw Brit designer Kelly Shaw take her collection to Paris as part of the Capsule Collective during Paris Fashion Week and the collection, dubbed The Liminal Journey, will be available from August 2015.

Kanye West was spotted browsing the rails during Paris Fashion week so you know you’re on to a winner with this collection, all about silent protest and challenging lines, the collection is daubed with digital interpretations of gorgeous paintings by artist Jem Doulton, each piece created in the UK, using materials sourced in the UK.  Kelly Shaw really is a designer who is proud to be British.

The full FW15 collection is displayed below with price information and you can grab a slice of this iconic British designer before anyone else, with a fantastic 20% off but you have to be quick as this offer ends at midnight on April 10th……

To take advantage of this fantastic offer all you have to do is:

  1. Browse the full collection in the gallery or post below
  2. Select your favourite piece(s) (Trust me it’ll be hard to choose just one)
  3. Email kelly@kellyshaw.co.uk detailing the piece(s) you’ve chosen and quoting “Fashion Voyeur”
  4. Sit back and gloat that you’re totally ahead of the curve and amongst the first to pre-order the FW15 collection

Please note this is the FW15 collection and so orders will be fulfilled in August 2015 but you can rest assured that you’ll be amongst the first to own a piece of this iconic British collection.

Of course, you can also shop the equally delicious Kelly Shaw London SS15 collection at http://www.youngbritishdesigners.com/designers/arising/kelly-shaw/

My personal recommendation is the grey wool dress (featured above), with Victoria Beckham vibes and a cool British fashion edge it’s a snip at the discounted price of £308.  Now, all you have to do is choose……..

Pixie x