Monday, 24 June 2013

London Collections: Men SS14

June 16 saw the start of the SS14 London Collections: Men and what better place to start our review than with Mr Start himself:


Mr Start brings sartorial elegance to casual wear with his SS14 capsule collection.  A twist to the bomber jacket included starched double cuff shirt detailing and crisp white cotton pique fabric. Other fabrics used were luxurious silks, linen and subtly striped seersucker.
All teamed with Mr Hare colourful footwear ranging from pearly pastel trainers to the brightly coloured espadrilles that so conjured up a life of luxury in the Riviera.


Mainly a colour palette of tonal neutrals ranging from soft greys to pure white with accents of cornflower blue, the collection had a calming and soothing feel. Due to the neutral colours, intarsia patterns on sweaters, giant mesh pique and tweed patterns on slouchy crombie coats and suits were subtle, concentrating on adding texture and depth to the collection.


Sharp suits were teamed with long flowing opaque kaftan shirts, trilby hats and neck scarves tied with woggles bringing a relaxed laid back twist to the tailored look.  Letting the layering and tailoring do the talking, the main colour palette was black and white with a few suits in cool blues and caramel browns.

Portraying the Spencer Hart man was American actor Clark Peters, looking chilled and being king of all he surveyed as he leisurely walked the catwalk.



This time the King was more of a fairytale prince with models wearing leather cut outs of crowns and with Abley’s own signature design of the Teddy Bear silhouette incorporated on tops in between the regal Fleur de Lys. Disney Snow White’s blue bird fluttered around as tattoos on the models faces and arms as well as shirts and tees. Like the fairy tales the colour palette was sugar sweet with candy pinks, baby blues and basket weave prints of golden toffee.


Taylor goes for a muted colour palette of greys and berry in fabrics of grainy tweeds with elbow length sleeved jackets and side slit shorts giving a kind of sartorial street urchin look. Smoother fabrics included black transparent organza jackets with less opaque lapels, seams and patch pockets over white shirts.  Skinny cropped trousers created a slim silhouette, whilst deconstructed jackets, shirts and jumpers attached to tops hung down like aprons adding volume.


From the fairytale prince we go to the nuclear zone warrior carrying large plywood sculptured shields whilst multi coloured bandage like scarves obscured most of the models’ face and vision. Multi layered as though the warrior needs the protection, included short sleeved tops over long sleeved, tunics under jackets and wide cropped trousers over jogging style trousers. Raw edges and seams were frayed and black chunky woollens worn inside out. Colour palette was either the ninja black or a literal explosion of tie dye multi colours splashed like paint over the pieces.


Real life heroes of WWII Long Range Desert Group were the inspiration for Raeburn’s Sandstorm collection.  Colour palette was of the soft neutral sand and khaki with accents of dusty pink and shades of blues.   The desert lizard was the animal of the season with garments in a subtle lizard skin print whilst the lizard also cleverly disguised itself in a geometric pattern. Fabrics were in keeping with the theme with 50s rubberised cotton, army mesh and parachute silk.

Go West Young Man

Two collections stood out for the Wild Wild West theme but both having a different take.


Going for the drifter/road trip cowboy look you could image him hanging out in a bar in the middle of the desert somewhere near the Mexican border.  Titled We Meet by Accident, this collection is definitely no accident and this drifter has a sense of style with a capsule wardrobe ranging from shorts, tees and blazers to suits and ties.  He’s brave with his prints of Ikat, city sketches, bold stripes as well as the obligatory check shirt and he isn’t afraid to wear colour from hot mustard, burgundy to the dusty pastel shades of pink and peach. This drifter can fit in where ever he lays his cowboy hat.

TOPMAN went for the rodeo showmanship style with silk embroidered shirts over black skinny polo necks worn with oversized pleated loose trousers and metallic belts. Absent were the  flashy and garish colours, fringes and rhinestones, this was a more refined cowboy in a winter colour palette of the  classic monochrome black and white with accents of deep burgundies and just a splash of gold. But watch out, some of those embroidered flowers have whopping big spiders stitched amongst them!

Bright and Bold

Truly making travelling on public transport cool, prints from this collection were inspired by the upholstery on bus and train seats from the small placement prints on white tees to the colourful loud jazzy lines on the suiting.  Not all patterns and prints; the plain fabrics were colour block panels of bright orange and shades of blue on oversized jackets and coats with rubberised taped seams.


Inspired by the Super Club Scene, this collection was a mix of the wearable and the impractical with a common denominator of all being fabulous.  The impractical included the hard shiny PVC shorts bound to chafe and the sweat inducing opaque rubber shirts in neon brights. But hey they say you have to suffer for fashion. The more wearable were the softer ‘normal’ fabrics in retro Liberty floral prints and techno zebra pattern. Bomber jackets with detachable zip sleeves and buttoned up shirts worn with saggy shorts with dipped hem at the back.  And for that finishing club scene touch, the models’ hair were styled with brightly coloured glitter by Fudge.


Last but not least was Xander Zhou’ s collection showing his  perception of  the world with deconstructed tailoring,  elongated shirt sleeves, pvc singlets, mini tailored shorts  and long coats in a collage of  website imagery prints.  This was the designer’s ‘Sum of Likes’ and it didn’t matter that the viewer saw or understands what he sees. For me, it wasn’t the rubber thigh garters, the constricting steel chokers or the exceptionally ape length sleeves that puzzled me but the wide waist sash with what looked to be a waiter’s side apron. But as Zhou says, it didn’t matter.

Christopher Raeburn images by Carl Burgess
Christopher Shannon & Xander Zhou images by Christopher Dadey

By Karen Grace
Personal Shopper & Image Consultant for Frumpy to Funky  

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Graduate Fashion Week 2013

Following a patriotic Graduate Fashion Week (GFW) 2012 with a runway backdrop of the Union Jack, GFW 2013 went for the classic monochrome look with a super shiny black reflective runway and a chorus line of black and white tailors mannequins on stage.  In the centre of the runway, hazy beams of light shone down forming a circle.

These rays of light were the perfect setting for the winning collection of the International Show Award as they shone on to Angus Chiang’s (Shish Chien University Taiwan) futuristic collection of space suits ready to beam them up. The space suits ranged from the practical and wearable black aviation style jumpsuits to the outrageous and show stopping astronaut suit covered in colourful fabric carnations – maybe saying it with flowers is the universal language for that alien encounter.

Keeping with the bright colour theme was the winner of the Zandra Rhodes Textile Award – Kirandeep Bassan from Northampton University.  The main colour palette was of just three bright colours (orange, blue and yellow) but variations of shades gave depth and the illusion of many more.  Prints were everywhere right down to the high wedge clogs.  Texture was key as though the prints were exposing numerous layers of paint and brush strokes under a peeling surface.  Larger and smoother colour blocks became the canvas for contrasting shapes of circles and panels.

Texture was also key with the winner of the Stuart Peters Knitwear Award – Thea Saunders of Nottingham Trent University.  Patterns clashed wonderfully together ranging from period, classic and contemporary. Yellow woollen shag pile adorned chunky cable short jackets like swirling gold baroque embroidery, whilst multi coloured shag piles created an unfinished tapestry effect on a slimmer digital patterned jumper. Straight skirts and dresses knitted in an abstract and coloured take on the classic houndstooth were worn with jumpers in futuristic computer grid patterns.

Womenswear winner Hannah Williams of UCA Epsom went for minimalism in pale pastels and neutrals.  Latex fabrics, frayed hems and simple loose cuts gave the collection a simplistic first impression. But on closer inspection these shapes were like rubber casts ready to create another style as tactile trompe l’oeil brought a subtle 3D dimensional outline of lady like jackets with strings of pearls and an oversized zip fronted dress.  

Menswear Award went to Shauni Douglas with accessories by Olivia Creber, both from Edinburgh College of Art. Olivia’s false beards - surely the next must have sartorial accessory - certainly caught the eye as held in place by a mouthpiece, they bounced and swished as the model moved. The collection itself was a mix of Western tailoring and Middle Eastern layering of long tailored shirts to the knees and longer worn with shorter tops and coats. Prints were of oversized digital tartans and smaller checks alongside the richer tartans and geometric diamond patterns

The prestigious George Gold award plus £20,000 prize money went to Lauren Smith of Edinburgh College of Art. Air bubble designs, appliqué doodles, oversized coloured paper clips on exaggerated A line tunics with patch pockets, coloured metal eyelets and coloured thread trimmings and wide bell sleeves gave a feeling of childlike innocence and dreams.  Tulle mid calf skirts in neon yellow and pale blue added a light hearted flirty touch to this feminine collection.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Hilary Alexander went to Suzy Menkes fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune.
By Karen Grace
Personal Shopper & Image Consultant for Frumpy to Funky  

Monday, 3 June 2013

American Intercontinental University 2013 Graduate Fashion Show

For their 2013 Graduate Fashion Show and marketing exhibition venue, American Intercontinental University (AIU) chose the spectacular One Mayfair on North Audley Street.  Formerly St Mark’s Church, this Grade I building is one of the finest examples in London of neo-classical designs.  In the centre of the impressive Grand Hall, the pure white minimalist runway juxtaposed with the surrounding Gothic decor of ornately carved dark wood and row of high stone arches creating a stunning and atmospheric setting.
The catwalk show included the collections of six final year fashion design students:

Hazim Bangwar

Designs were a science fiction take on the legend of King Arthur with the shapes and contours based on the Icelandic Volcano Eyjafjallajokull.  A colour palette of white and fabric including wide leather strips, the garments were reminiscent of the medieval knights armour plate and layered in an armadillo design. Sparkling silver nets used on sleeves and in between the strips represented the chainmail, whilst chunky cotton ribbons knitted together like wool created a heavy and stiff tunic. Knights in Shining Armour never looked so good.

Michelle Kasujja

In contrast to the cool Knights, Michelle Kasujja’s collection was a hot blaze of spicy red shades and turquoise. A fusion of Ugandan and Scandinavian traditional costume, hems of mid calf skirts were trimmed with decorative ribbons and some of the sleeves took on the distinctive Ugandan style of elbow length and broad puffed shoulders. Garments were adorned with rows of stiff thread necklaces painted red to match the pieces. Jump suits and baggy trousers gave the traditional dress an additional element of street wear.

Sarashka Bekhbat

Sarashka also chose a colour palette of rich red. This time with accents of gold and black, and inspiration from Tibetan culture focusing on eastern traditions with a dash of contemporary style. Using traditional hand craft techniques, the collection emulated the ceremonial styles of Tibet. Textures play a leading role with stiff cowhide and printed sheepskin jackets and collars worn with soft merino felted wool and crumpled silk gowns. The punch holes in the leather skirt were painstakingly all handmade by Sarashka.

Flaminia Mechoulam

Award winning design of the evening went to Flaminia Mechoulam’s collection.  All white for purity, the inspirations were of Tracing Light, ballet and water droplets creating a blurred femininity. Light fabrics of sheer cotton and georgette were layered for the blurred matt transparent effect created by Tracing Light.  Flaminia used approximately 100 metres of fabric for the collection. The cut of the garments were of round shapes and circles to create curves around the body and represent ballet movements.  She imagined a girl in a white gown dancing on the water and swimming underwater. The delicate hand painted pattern represents water droplets and a dusty layer of chalk as though the garment is drying in patches. The pattern was created by using a brush made from paper for the dusty marks and a pencil to splash on the water droplets. Finishing details included a picot edge stitch creating a curl to the hems and sleeves for volume and femininity.

And the boys were not forgotten:

Zaira Xitlalitl Aguilar Santoyo blends nomadic heritage with city life creating a flamboyant sartorial collection reminiscent of the Harlem Jazz scene Zoot suit of baggy trousers and long sack jackets. Here in toned down blocks of earthy brown and neutral shades with accents of red on trousers and the wide cravat tie.

Taylor Scopes-Upton

Award winner of last year’s December Fashion Show, Taylor creates an urban male lost in a concrete jungle with no awareness of heritage. This well dressed wanderer wears warm voluminous coats and jackets, striped knitted and waxed denim leggings, and chunky knits with a chunky knit shopping bag on wheels for all his possessions.

Images provided by AIU London

By Karen Grace
Personal Shopper & Image Consultant for Frumpy to Funky