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Fashion With Purpose

Rachel Roy at The Bay

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By Laura Connell · March 27, 2010 · 0 Comments ·

Rachel Roy appeared at The Bay Queen Street Thursday to celebrate her eponymous line landing at The Room. The New York-based designer, who in this month's American Vogue talks about balancing work and motherhood, signed autographs, talked to TV folks, and met with me and accessories designer Sophia Noronha (left).

Sophia's embellished sunglasses pumped up the looks later that evening at Salem Moussallam's subway showcase for his brand Hibebe. A fashion first, subway trains acted as runways for Hibebe's showcase at Bay Station. A DJ spun on the platform to a parade of 80s inspired looks like neon yellow tights paired with black bodysuits and slashed white-washed denim to one-shoulder prom dresses. Proceeds from the show went to aid Haiti.


London Fashion Week Day 3

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By Laura Connell · February 22, 2010 · 0 Comments ·

Just inside the BFC Show Space is an homage to Alexander McQueen consisting of notes handwritten by London Fashion Week attendees paying tribute to their fallen icon. From college classmates to Vogue editors, hundreds stopped to pay their respects and add them to the ever-growing wall of love.


Betty Jackson, the first to showcase here at London Fashion Week on Day 3, brought her relaxed brand of dressing to the runway. The designer has described herself as anti-pretty and says she abhors the idea of dressing up. Her collections bring roomy, comfortable, yet luxurious clothing to the modern woman who chooses to avoid fussiness. From baggy wide-ribbed corduroy trousers, to chunky wool knits, to middle eastern (or was it Amish?) inspired head coverings accessorizing plain black dresses, the no-nonsense collection reflected the ethos of a designer who eschews trends and sticks to her own philosophy.


Further exploration of Estethica--emphasis on ethics—revealed strong forward movement in the sustainable style trade. Several designers with eco-friendly and sustainable sensibilities showcased their impressive work at the event. Sponsored by Monsoon and featuring locally-produced clothing by designers from LCF’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion (mentioned in Day 2's wrap-up); By Stamo who refashions womens clothing out of recycled fabric (a  peplum jacket was once menswear); and Makepiece (left), whose luxe knits are the end result of wool “from British farms and our own sheep because we know how the land is farmed.” It’s nice to see that London, like New York, has a special place for sustainable style at Fashion Week. The hope is that one day eco-chic will need no spotlight because it will be the norm.


Off-site, the Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair housed dozens of private collectors and boutique owners selected to sell their wares to discerning vintage shoppers. A Nicole Farhi suit and Moschino dress appeared at one stall, and Flash Trash featured some timeless suede and leather boots with day dresses to complement the fancy footwear. Janet Maudie’s booth was a standout with an array of handbags and gorgeous silver comb and brush sets which would make you feel pretty just to run them through your hair. The gorgeous girls from The Powder Room represented their salon well: it specializes in retro hair styles as well as make-up, manicures, and looks for any occasion.



London Fashion Week Day 1

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By Laura Connell · February 20, 2010 · 0 Comments ·

After missing Paul Costelloe due to a delayed flight into Gatwick, the first show caught here at London Fashion Week was Body AMR which Vogue has called “one of the best kept secrets in fashion”. Held at Freemason’s Hall in Covent Garden, one of many exquisite historic sites chosen to house the official catwalk shows, it was clear one of the benefits of Fashion Week in London is its history. Having come fresh off the heels of New York Fashion Week, the esthetic advantage of these architectural masterpieces as a backdrop to the art on the runway was evident.


That’s not a slight against New York which of course has its share of beautifully-designed buildings. It’s just that everything here in London is so, well, old and there’s just no replacement for that kind of history. Another interesting contrast with New York is that I have no idea who the celebrities are here. The paparazzi went nuts over several young blondes in the front row, whose identity escaped me. Josephine, a retail buyer for A La Mode, a boutique in Sloane Square, was kind enough to enlighten me: the strawberry blonde was a singer with local band Girls Aloud.


The haunting opening strains for the Body AMR show “A Vanguard” matched the eerie atmosphere of the Freemason’s House, which carries its own tale of intrigue. Aggressive string music accompanied the models militaristic strut down the unmarked runway…fitting since the tag in the press kit read: “The forward element of an advancing military tactical formation.” Lots of drape and halter styles with Grecian elements like rolled/twisted necklines dominated. Trend-watching contrasted with classic elements in the form of gauzy thigh-highs accented with gold embellishments which emulated the omnipresent boot style except these ended at the ankle, sometimes covering the top of the footwear. Three-quarter sleeves with gold epaulets adorned a mini-shift dress, and details such as tied knots silk-screened on rather than done with fabrication gave the impression of the jokey t-shirt with the tuxedo image painted on. Was the designer after the same kind of irony here? Was it a comment on the economy and lean times, eschewing the use of fabric and painting it on instead?


Skirts were short, short, short, and cut close to the body and breasts were barely covered by gauzy halters, making the show unabashedly and aggressively sexy. Ruffles were prominent whether in black tiered jersey or floaty chiffon and a black cropped feather jacket was a show stopper. A collarless three-quarter-length jacket was also on trend.


The militaristic music morphed into something more romantic to indicate the transition to evening looks: silk satin in winter white cinched at the smallest part of the waist with a narrow belt and complemented by a gradient train from light to dark grey. Floor-length gowns, feminine and flowing, kept their modern sex appeal with cut-out shoulders, not to mention the layer of grease on the models’ bodies. A long-sleeved ruffled gauzy mini-dress with diamante-encrusted bib shone.


Over at Somerset House, Fashion Week headquarters, designer Craig Lawrence showcased his collection on-screen at the Digital Space with a 5-minute looped film. Heavy on metallics, the showstopper was a look which appeared in Women’s Wear Daily’s preview of LFW: a silver metallic confection whose short skirt resembles tin foil put through a paper shredder with a captivating result.


The Estethica Exhibition at Somerset House featured an installation by emerging designers from the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion. Each of the four designers has benefitted from the CSF’s business support programme which gives support to local entrepreneurs. Michelle Lowe-Holder is “inspired by the idea of creating treasures from trash”; Nyonyo & Yayra uses end of line fabrics to create “a quirky but beautiful aesthetic”; Partimi has collaborated with Greenpeace on an awareness-raising t-shirt line; and White Tent produces its edgy, laser-cut and eco-friendly womenswear in a family-run factory in Portugal.

The First Fashion Photographer

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By Laura Connell · November 3, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

In 1911, Edward Steichen took the first fashion photographs (images were formerly illustrated) for Art et Decoration magazine, shooting a collection of dresses by French designer, Paul Poiret. From 1923-37 Steichen was the chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair and the AGO exhibit Edward Steichen: In High Fashion focuses on that high point in his career.

He photographed designs by Chanel, Lanvin, and Schiarapelli, among others. A 1925 image of a draped crepe Chanel evening gown with pearl choker looks positively contemporary, as does a low-backed lace shimmer gown with drop waist fastened by black ribbon. The designer's vision is unparallelled, every piece still relevant today.

Steichen's subjects included popular actresses and models of the time including his muse Marion Morehouse whom he photographed for the first time for Vogue's November 1929 issue. Morehouse later became a photographer herself and embodied the "flapper" spirit that represented a bold new femininity: an integral element in Steichen's photographs of women for Vogue and Vanity Fair.

"It didn't matter whether the sitter was a statesman, a writer, a poet, an actor, a prizefighter, or a musician--they were all interesting." -Edward Steichen

Runway's Rachel Carson

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By Laura Connell · May 8, 2009 · 0 Comments ·
This month American Vogue released its model issue. Of course, we are familiar with the model as muse, but how about the model as activist? Summer Rayne Oakes shows how its done with Style, Naturally, her definitive global guide to eco-friendly fashion. Funny and accessible, the book examines the history of green style, profiles eco-friendly designers, and offers common sense consumer tips.
An environmental scientist and working model, Oakes is a pioneer in her field, participating exclusively in projects she deems environmentally responsible. Her hope is for sustainable fashion to become the norm: "One day we'll wake up and green will not be the new black. It will be the new invisible." And, yes, that is her real name.