Which is why I am, to put this politely, gobsmacked on getting a look at the pictures of Manish Arora’s show at London Fashion Week. I wasn’t such a fan of last season’s look or of his work in general, it was a little too calculated and gimmicky to really seem fun, but by George, if this is what a few seasons in London leads homegrown designers (ours) to produce, I can only say: Mr. Arora, STAY THERE! I looked at it expecting more trash, but it’s great to the level of being stupendous- at least on the runway, since I am not looking at the clothes up close and (insert sniff and sigh) won’t have the chance to do so. It isn’t embroidery-piled-on crap, the stuff actually looks potentially flattering not to mention massive loads of fun to wear (grey, nasty winter days can’t possibly seem so nasty if one of those mad prints is on you). He actually seems to be looking at what's going on around him (latex leggings- I swear I saw those somewhere else too) instead of going off on some bizarro aimed-at-Bollywood trip, and the 60s-ish shapes and subdued-but-shiny (subdued compared to last time, anyway) prints are gorgeous. And I covet those gold shoes, though not as much as I do Queen Michelle’s gold Oxfords on Kingdom of Style.
Maybe they should just import the entire Indian design lot to London and keep them there. If they can’t make actual wearables, I’m sure there are enough and more NRIs in the market for a Bollywoody wedding lehnga to keep them all afloat.
The latest House of Holland show followed more or less the same track, only this time the slogans are ruder than ever and they're about the models. And am I the only one who finds it hilarious that three of the models named on the t-shirts were part of the show? (top left: rude t-shirt about Behati Prinsloo. Top right: Behati Prinsloo) Plus, I rather fancy those shoes of theirs, and the pattern of the lettering across Behati's t-shirt is rather cool-looking. Henry Holland may be, as his t-shirt declared at the end of the show, a one-trick pony, but it's still a funny trick. For now, anyway.
Margaret Howell: again, Brit designer of the old(ish) school. She specialises in (as far as I can tell) shirts. Especially variations of white shirts. Her clothes are never crazy, loud or unwearable, and neither are they revolutionary, but I still love them.
Central St Martin’s School of Art and Design: Pulp's Common People name-checked this place (specifically, the sculpture programme and possibly because Jarvis Cocker went here) College located in London from which most Brit designers I know of seem to have spent their student years, including the above-mentioned Paul Smith, and a fair few of the names mentioned below (John Galliano, Christopher Kane, Stella McCartney, Hussein Chalayan, Gareth Pugh and Alexander McQueen). Their student shows are usually worth watching (for me, that's via Vogue or YouTube when I can get that) for general student craziness, shock value, and (their alumni list is ample proof), talent too.
Gareth Pugh: last year's boy ingenue from Central St Martin's. Bases his outfits on 80s performance artist Leigh Bowery, as seen below. Looks highly impractical and flat-out unwearable, but I do like the fact that this man has fun with the clothes he makes. And I think he does make the occasional bit of conventional clothing (very well, too, from what I hear)
Christopher Kane: Central St Martin's latest boy ingenue. Has showed only one collection at (London) Fashion Week so far (Spring/Summer 2007, which happened in September/October of last year), which wasn't bad though I wouldn't dare to put it on anyone without the legs of a baby giraffe. More interesting than the tightness and shortness was the fact of his mixing neons with neutrals (see picture in the last post), I thought. I could possibly translate that to screaming yellow shoelaces on my beaten and abused old blue-turned-grey Converses since that's all the courage and experimentalism I have, but I'd still want to try it.
Vivienne Westwood: That's Dame Vivienne Westwood, the lady in the incredibly short cape and red hair above. Was married to Malcolm McLaren (and here comes the music angle), manager of the Sex Pistols, in the 1970s, and ran a boutique with him in London. I think the band actually wore stuff from her boutique, too. Also (and this is why I admire her) one of the few people working in fashion who is openly political, and puts that into her (very beautiful, if somewhat crazy at times) clothes. I actually can't think of anyone else who would launch a line of t-shirts with the slogan I Am Not A Terrorist, Please Don't Arrest Me on them, and make the lot cool. I mean, I hate slogan t-shirts as signs of intellectual retardedness, but I would wear one of hers. And not because it's one of hers.
Stella McCartney: daughter of the Beatle. Somehow I think it wouldn't have made too much of a difference even if she wasn't. Took over one ailing French fashion house fresh out of St Martin's, turned it around,then quit to start her own label before she was 30- made a roaring success out of that too, and I can see very well why. Her clothes are almost consistently lovely, though she does go a little overboard with the layering and deconstruction at times. Not often, though.
John Galliano: Head of design at Christian Dior. Equal parts genius and madcap, and really likes dressing up. Really, google him. The great interpipe can explain him easier than I can.
Alexander McQueen: Former head of design at Givenchy, former enfant terrible too (the younger Brit art and design lot seem to be a succession of those)- caused a bit of a stir with his student collection, I won't go into the details but he did quite a job (from what I've seen in pictures) with the shock value angle of things (the trousers he made for some early-on collection of his were called bumsters). He doesn't do the shock value so much any more, though- and his clothes are among the most exquisite things I have ever seen up close (one jacket. Don't ask how)
Biba: 60s London superstore that ended up defining the style of the city back then. Possibly the first store anywhere in the Anglophone world to make sure that the words cheap and cool didn't contradict each other. Opened in 1965, people went nuts about it for ten years and then it shut down in 1975- bankruptcy from selling the clothes so cheap, perhaps? Has now been revived (as of the last set of Fashion Weeks) as a premium-price label whose main function seems to be to feed off the old (and cheap) Biba's retro-cool image and people's nostalgia for it.
Barbara Hulanicki: the woman who, with her husband, set up the aforementioned superstore, working on the funda that you didn't need to be rich to look good.
I just figured out while typing, why I like the idea of the place so much. London Fashion Week is the fashion week of angle. Hardcore fashion angle, no less, and unlike India Fashion Week, where people know jack shit about cutting or fitting clothes and think the best way to get around that is by piling embroidery on the garments and saying it's a homage to the country's textile crafts, the faff is a lot more fun and I'd willingly wear even the crazier clothes, leg shape and hip width be damned. I have a feeling college would have liked them. And I'm watching for the pictures, A/W 07-08 is only a day and a bit in after all and even the trusty old Vogue UK site doesn't have any yet. And that cleaning job? Make it scrubbing the runways.
Personally, I'm not that fond of the outfit apart from the hands, I'd have liked it if the top was looser or if the hands came attached to something drapey and not so fitted. Or, if you wanted to be Morticia Addams (with Thing on your shoulder), perching the hands on a long flowy black dress would be perfectly in order.
1) a Powerpuff Girls t-shirt with Buttercup on the front (the pissed-off looking green-eyed one, remember?), over
2) My black, mildly tulip-shaped knee-length skirt which always ends up turning back to front when I spend an hour sitting down in it
3) My beatup black boots
4) A parka. Like a whopping big, fuzzy-inside-the-hood parka whose hood when put up won't make me look like Kenny from South Park.
5) And, since I'm not out of it yet......fishnets. In pink this time, though. Bright, really bright pink.
6) My mum's nude pinkish lipstick. I've worn lip gloss since the age of eleven, and owned it in every conceivable flavour, but lipstick is just something I can't take because it just looks so like, well, makeup. Except for this particular shade of Clinique (or was it Bourjois??) lipstick, which matched the colour of my unmadeup mouth so perfectly, my friends couldn't tell I had it on. Which is, as far as I'm concerned, an excellent quality for any cosmetic to possess.
7) Sparkly blue polish on my fingernails (also toenails. So what if they can't be seen?), and
8) A parasol. One of the ridiculous decorative affairs in the picture below, if possible- I particularly fancy the blue ones and am feeling a wee bit like Mary Poppins today. Or something frilly and pretty would do just as nicely, I want to twirl it.