Dear Shaded Viewers,
I had not been to London Fashion Week for several seasons and I must admit that it did feel good to be back. At the moment London is experiencing a bit of a crisis with so many designers opting to show elsewhere and there is an obvious lack of foreign press and buyers. The biggest loss this season was Boudicca who chose to show in New York. America is their strongest market and in fact the move makes a lot of sense.
The first person that I saw when I entered the Basso and Brooke show was Collin McDowell the man behind the Fashion Fringe. The idea of the yearly contest is to figure out a way to keep London fashion talent at home. In order to seduce the designers to stay in London they finance their collection for five years. I've spoken to quite a few people about the Fashion Fringe and it seems that there are various opinions on the subject. Some feel that it takes too much attention away from the designers that have paid their dues by being off calendar for years and then places too much attention on just one new designer a season. Basso and Brooke was the first ever winner of the Fashion Fringe and the first show that I attended this season. Their collection was based on the medieval myth of the succubus, the she-devil and other playful sexual inspirations. These themes appeared as the subjects for the prints. My friend Robb was sitting next to me and Hilary Alexander who was recently made Fashion Director of the Daily Telegraph.Both of them really liked it. I enjoyed the spectacle of it and found the clothes to be pretty okay. I must admit that the hair and make up reminded me of Thierry Mugler and the clothes looked like they were appealing to two countries, Russia and Brazil.
Collin McDowell from the Sunday TImes
Basso and Brooke first FF winners
Basso & Brooke with hair looking very Mugler
I ran into Michel Gaubert outside the B & B show.
Hamish Bowles and Collin McDowell, Collin is trying to convince Hamish who does not appear to be convinced.
Hilary Alexander Fashion Director of the Daily Telegraphe
Robb and friend
Then it was on to the fashion bus to Battersea to see Bora Aksu. My friends Robin Schulie and Robb Young decided to pass on that show. I was not particularly enchanted by the collection. The tents have moved to the unfortunate location of Battersea which seems so far away from everything. They are trying to compensate for that by having a shuttle bus that takes you back and forth to Sloan Square does but even that does not make it anymore practical or appealing.
on the bus
Next stop, the Royal Academy for the Emma Cook show. I quite liked the collection. It did remind me a bit of Sofia Kokosolaki but none the less it had lots of good ideas and interesting details. Abstract prints on jersey dresses using cut work techniques and layering. I ran into my friends Robin Schulie, buyer from Marie Luisa in Paris, Lilianna Sanguino, the commercial for Eley Kishimoto and Robb Young, journalist and distributor for Diptrics in Japan. This crazy Italian journalist came running up to me telling me how great I looked the last time she saw me when I was wearing a pink dress. Last time I was in London she ran up to me with her camera crew and said how she had followed me around for days. She was mixing me up with Isabella Blow. What is the story with these people, I don't look anything like Isabella.
The Italian Journalist that thinks I am Isabella Blow
Lilianna Sanguino in her Eley Kishimoto coat with Robin and Robb
I noticed that High Fashion's Midori Kobayashi opted for curly hair this season.
Everyone in fashion knows Midori Kobayashi
I also ran into Aldric from Surface to Air with my favorite London PR Mandi Lennard. Mandi brought fashion icon Zandra Rhodes over to meet me and the two of us had a great conversation. It felt like the meeting of kindred spirits. She asked me if I would like a private view of her museum and her retrospective. Normally the museum is closed on Monday's but she would be happy to receive me for a private viewing of her retrospective. I was thrilled. I also ran into Yorgo Tloupas the editor from Intersection magazine. He told me that he had his amazing bike parked out front but I missed it.
Mandi Lennard and Aldric from S2A
Fashion Icon, Zandra Rhodes
Yorgo Tloupas, the dude and editor of Intersection
Next came the Karen Walker show with a bit of a layered vintage look and a touch of Minnie Mouse in the bows. Heathermary Jackson, Fashion Director of America magazine styled the show. The buyers loved it. There I saw stylist friends Karen Binns, working a Joan Crawford look and ~Tamara who nicknamed me the Gothic Marie Antoinette years ago and I must admit I quite like the name.
Karen Walker's finale
Karen Binns and Tamara Cincik
Karen gave Tory Amos her look for the past decade and Tamara assisted Debbie Mason in her heyday
Karen Binns working her Joan Crawford
After the shows I went to dinner with my friends. The waiter hated us, well, maybe it was just me that he had a problem with.
It's Valentine's day and on the way to the B-store for a presentation of the accessory designer Florian Ladstaetter's work I ran into the designer twins Spikers and Spikers. They are showing now with Eastern Block. Never made it over there, sorry to say, but will do when the showroom moves to Paris next week.
I met Florian in Vienna when he was presenting his work in one of the containers in the Museum Quarter during Austrian Fashion week. I like what he does and asked Mandi's assistant, Nova Dando to play model for us. Nova is multi disciplinary, dj's, designs sets and is very helpful as a pr.
Spikers & Spikers
Florian Ladstaetter's beads
Off to the tents again for the Ashish collection. Very colorful. I Thought that it was a bit on the heavy side but I know that Hilary Alexander really liked it.
Outside the tent I ran into Lara Bohinc and my friend Robb.
Robb Young with Lara Bohinc the jewelry and sunglass designer
Next stop was the Eley Kishimoto/Ellesse collection. This show was a real highlight. Last season there were only 12 looks this time it more than doubled. I liked the ski looks with white graphic inserts and the cropped trousers. Wakako and Mark decided to work the penquin logo into the prints. They had a human penquin as a guardian to the ski chalet. I was expecting the head to come off of the penquin at the end and to discover Mark Eley as our performer.
Eley Kishimoto for Ellesse
Wakako (1/2 of Eley Kishimoto team) and their two beautiful children
Now we had to run to our private showing at the Zandra Rhodes Fashion and Textile museum. It was a real treat to have a private guided tour. When we finished with the tour Zandra invited us up stairs for a tea and chat. I could have stayed forever, in fact we were so under her spell that we missed the the Jonthan Saunders show .I heard only good reports about the show. I will visit his showroom in Paris. Zandra autographed a copy of her book titled 'A Life long love affair with textiles'. The title says it all. My autograph, "To the divine Diane, love and admiration. Zandra Rhodes Keep being you." To say that I was quite touched is an understatement.
Original Zandra Rhodes
Her collaboration with Topshop which is bringing her looks to a whole new generation
At home with Zandra Rhodes
Next was the Fashion East group show that happened to be in the same neighborhood. My friends Steven, Sebastien and Chrystl decided to kill a little time at the local pub. I had a Virgin Mary . Tracey Emmin was sitting in the front row with a journalist for the Independent. That woman was a bit weird. She came up to me after the Ellesse show and asked me who I was. I turned the question around to her and she got suddenly uncomfortable and said that she wrote for the Independent but not about fashion. It reminded me of another woman playing at being a journalist who was very annoying. At any rate she was sitting with Tracey Emmin.
Gareth Pugh was the finale designer for the show and we lived a bit of a very black and quite 80's moment with a girl's dress ballooning out as she teetered on a step blinded by her dress.
Tracey Emmin at Fashion East show showing a bit of cleavage and the journalist from hell with the red scarf.
Gareth Pugh, ex- Fashion House reality show contender
after the show, my friends Robb Young and Steven Hamon
Robb took me back to my hotel.
Chilling out with Robb in my dodgy hotel in Kings Cross
Day 3 started with Swash, one of the winners at Hyeres festival last year. You did not need a motorcyle to wear the clothes this season. Looked like their 1 2 3 collaboration came in handy. After that there was a collection called Gardem. The buyers loved it, personally it felt it looked too much like Rick Owens and Ann Demeulmeester and I'd rather stick with the originals. Robin and I went to the Jessica Ogden show. It was a good evolution for Jessica feels like she is becomming a London version of Sonia Rykiel.
Jessica Ogden looking very Sonia Rykiel
Jessica is famous for her comfy quilt looks
While I was in the entry waiting for Robin these two beautiful little girls came running up to me and asked me if I was a model. That made me laugh.
Then Robin Schulie and I took a taxi to the Preen show. It was a big improvement from the past few seasons. Very clean, elegant and well staged.
I got a hold of my friend Paola Piglia, the artist, who happened to be walking her dog in Battersea park. I thought that we could meet before Jens show. Just as we sat down for tea and cakes the loudspeaker announced that ticket holders should make their way to Jens show.
Then it was back on the bus for the Eley Kishimoto show. I enjoyed the Dark Wood Wander with flame prints, floral prints, no prints and the romantic trip through an enchanted forrest.
Paola Piglia and Primo just in front of the BFW tent
on route to the Eley Kishimoto show
Flames by Eley Kishimoto
Eley Kishimoto goes animal
While we were waiting for the fashion bus to take us over to the Aquascutum show, Hilary Alexander asked me if I would like to join her for the Elle fashion awards and dinner. I had planned to meet Robb Young at Aquascutum so asked her if it was okay for her to take my collaborator, Chrystl Fischer instead. Aquascutum is trying to have a Burberry moment. I probably should have gone to the Elle Fashion awards . Afterwards Sebastien Boey, Robb and I went off to dinner before the Eley Kishimoto after party at JoJo's.
Hilary waiting for her driver to the Elle style awards
Eley Kishimoto party, Mark as dj on the left and Max Carie on the right, he owns SHOP in Soho
Robb and Robin at the Eley Kishimoto after party
Day 4 started out with the Anne Sofie Back show who like her name likes to start her show from the back, finale first. My favorite looks were the chains and sewing bits. I finally was able to get on a computer in the press room and ended up missing the Peter Jensen show. Next was a spin around the trade show where I had a chat with hat designers Thelma Speirs and Paul Bernstock. I ran into Sarah from Colette there. She had just arrived today. I enjoyed a chat and a look at the accessories of Tatty Devine. THey always make me smile with their fairy tale collections. THen it was back to the tent for the Jens Laugesen show. My favorite piece was a bomber jacket with a bit of shirt attached.
Bernstock Speirs, hat designers-Thelma Speirs and Paul Bernstock
I think she is a client of Bernstock Speirs
Bernstock Speirs hats
Accessory designers Tatty Devine
Tatty Divine's accessories
My friend Steven Hamon and one of his classmates after the Jens show
Robb and I met to go to our friend Mei Hui's show Victim that was held in a really cool loungy type space across the street from Browns.
Her collection was 100% Mei Hui, very romantic, girly, dusty Victorian looks. . After the show the buyer from Curves, a boutique in Los Angeles, was busy packing away pieces from the collection to take back to her shop.
The last show for me was Giles. Katie Grand did the styling and it was obviously an audition for the vacant post at Givenchy. It reminded me of the Olivier Theyskens collection a few years ago when he was up for the same design position. Lots of volume, luxury, beautiful girls and a great space.
location for the Giles show
Anna Piaggi at the Giles show
Afterwards I went off to the Hoxton Boutique cocktail where I ran into Rachael Matthews of Knitting Supremo. I met Rachael through Mei Hui a few years ago, she is trying to bring knitting to a new and younger generation. Last season she had one of her knitting parties at the Palais du TOkyo. I enjoy her a lot.
I got to see Mandi for one last time and then it was off to join Mei Hui and William for a quiet dinner after show dinner in Soho. I thought that I'd take the tube to Soho but after one stop the train stopped and everyone had to find another way to get where ever they were going. I took a taxi and ended up arriving about one hour late. We came upstairs to the tea room after a wonderful Chinese dinner and I showed Mei Hui her show video on my camera. Yannick, from Gwand, had done the production of Mei Hui's show and her two best friends were also at the table. Later Robb Young came by and my friend Paola Piglia. Paola is a painter and used to be a client when I was a designer years ago.
Rachel Matthews-Knitting Supremo who is about to have an expo of her work at The Crafts Council and the co-designer of Hoxton Boutique label, Louise Harries on the right.
Nova Dando as DJ at the Hoxton Boutique
Chrystl Fischer and Sebastien Boey at the Hoxton Boutique party
Mei Hui, Victim, and William looking at the video from her show
Robb Young, Yannick Aellen and Paola Piglia after our dinner
Paola dropped me off at my hotel
Last day in London, no shows just interviews. My first was with the Editor-in-Chief of my favorite website, Showstudio. I've been a Showstudio addict since it began so it was a real treat to actually step inside that very special world. Penny has to be one of the most articulate people that I've ever met. We spoke about Showstudio's upcoming blog, the live interviews in the little black room, the studio visits, download patterns, and her thoughts on London fashion. I was really laughing when she told us about the time Bjork did a live feed and one of the questions came in from Micheal Jackson. Bjork was beyond excited about that. The webcams are on 24 hours in the studio and knowing that my collaboratrice, Chrystl Fischer, called her friend in Brussels and told her to connect to Showstudio if she wanted to see her. She was beyond thrilled. The site is in a constant state of expansion into all and every possibility on how to make modern technology give us all the maximum of benefit. Makes me want to at least get to the level of doing some audio feedbacks on my humble little blog.
This is the public bath on the street of Showstudio
the Showstudio doorbell
Penny Martin the Editor-in-Chief of Showstudio at the very Yayoi Kusama entry
Just inside the door, I'm loving every inch of Showstudio
The live feed room, picture Bjork the look on her face when Micheal Jackson calls in his question. Penny says that music comes out of her while she is thinking.
Penny points out our route to Brixton and our next stop, Eley Kishimoto
This is our last day and after that inspired and inspiring visit with Penny we are off to Brixton to see one of my fave design couples, Eley Kishimoto. We decided to take a taxi from the station to their studio and in the backseat was this little boy. Like a left package. He did not move or speak. I think it is the worst time to see a designer right after their show. You know it is like you've just had a baby and you are exhausted. Also Mark had been out winning the Drag in a Box contest the night before and probably letting off a little steam. The design duo now have two shows per season and that must be a bit of a stress. Mark and Wakako took the time to walk and talk us through their studio. We had a glimpse at a few of Wakako's magical drawings and a visit to the print studio where it all comes together and then Mark drove us back to Brixton tube and off to Lancaster Gate and a visit with Usha Pohl of Very and the Very style and fashion guides.
Entrance to the Eley Kishimoto studio
that is Chrystl on the phone and the lone passenger.
as we were leaving Mark pointed out what looked like a white gun on the roof across the way, he had no idea what it was doing there.
Mark and Wakako in their print studio
Our last stop was Usha Pohl. She is one powerful force and is trying to do her best to support London fashion but is not getting much help from LFW. It makes no sense. What Usha is about is exchange and mutual support trying to help creative talents to survive. How she does what she does and still sleeps at night is a mystery to me. On the one hand she has her Very City Guides and then she has her Very Fashion guides. Both are meant to be tools for the creative individual to be able to work independently internationally without having to have the vast resources of an international office. They are like your personal key to the city, I use them all the time. She is also planning a designers federation with Boudicca...Creativity vs Corporate activity. It is just in the planning stages. In addition the Very magazine will be coming out in April which merges art with fashion and gives carte blanche to its creative contributors. We could have stayed for hours but as it was I had to run to Waterloo to catch my train back to Paris.
Uscha Pohl in her Very nice apartment