Saturday, 13 December 2014

Gucci: Too Big for Their Own Boots?

Winter corner of Gucci by Accornero scarf 

All change, all change, Frida Giannini, Creative Director of Gucci will leave next February, a month after her partner, Patrizio Di Marco. The news was announced just after the Gucci pre-fall campaign and in time for Christmas. It's sad and unjust that the 8 years of Giannini's steady creative and wearable output is seen as the reason for Gucci's poor bottom line performance of late, whilst the Kering parent company ignores their own plans of world domination through over-expansion and unrealistic shareholder dreams.   

The change initiated a whole garble of identikit news comment on the supposed changing demographics of the average luxury consumer. There is an unhealthy obsession with courting the Chinese, the Arabs, the Russians, the Brazilians or wherever the next untapped average billionaire comes from in the supposed new world order.  No one likes a fawning toady. Where ever people come from they like to be treated as intelligent and sophisticated. Connoisseurs of beautiful and discernibly quality objects are not easily swayed by teen actors swinging the latest whatever gets thrown at her/him, never mind the logo.   Talking abut youth, young consumers have always chosen to shop differently than their parents, do Kering really think teenagers will part with thousands of dollars (or comparable currency) because a new creative director will put on a crazy show six times a year, maybe they will, but it seems positively adolescent to chase a mythical marketing dragon.  The bottom line, changing the creative talent at an established brand is not going improve the dividend if Gucci continue to provide seasonal discount sales and knock-em-out outlet fodder.  

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Return of the Poncho

       Newman and Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969

Having been wearing capes, thick shawls (my favourite is one made out of Tibetan yak's hair) and ponchos for a while to cries of "where did you park your horse?" I was slightly amazed by this year's crop of non-stop complements and enquiries of "OMG, that's fabulous" and "Where did you get it"?

Sometimes a trend seems to come out of nowhere. Several designers, in that supposed fashion synchronicity, march it along their respective catwalks et voila! An unmistakable fashion directional piece. Well actually, the truth is much closer to using fashion forecasters who patrol the major cities and advise design teams what's going on, on the street but let us gloss-over the intimate mechanical workings of the fashion industry and believe in the miracle of Zeitgeist.  

One thing is for sure we are not calling the new happening poncho a 'poncho' this time around. In this incarnation it's a blanket, blanket-wrap, a shawl, a cape. Although they've been bubbling up for a while and been on catwalks for a few years, this AW14 Burberry sent a 'blanket-wrap' down the runway on every model (that's what one calls a statement) and no celebrity's outfit seems complete without a blanket (over the head handy for those bad-hair/face days).  

Whether you want to splash out on a Burberry's blanket-wrap or Hermes' fabulous 'riding' poncho, get the real thing in a cosmopolitain market or charity shop, play safe with a Marks and Spencer's Per Una striped blanket-coat or follow the trend with a Top Shop seasonal special, the choice is amazing and at any price point. 

These 'blankets' do need to be thought about before wearing, because unlike a scarf or thin shawl, one can't just stash it away in a bag when the piped heating takes hold, and unlike a coat it doesn't always just stay put. They are excellent for travelling with (extra blanket or head rest no problem) but when wearing they often need an extra hand, so if you can get one with ties or a fastening so much the better. On the positive side they will fit over whatever you're wearing (so think about a universal colour for your own wardrobe) even over a jacket or coat and they one size literally firs all (but check on the length. Attention to footwear though, the silhouette with stillies/courts/mid-heels will look top heavy and flatforms/trainers maybe look clumpy. I will leave clogs and Uggs to your conscience. Boots are the natural choice, flat to high sky-scrapers but chunky brogues or any sturdy shoes, including wedges should work too. Careful with accessorising and the rest of the silhouette, as although in Bolivia it is customary for women to pair poncho with Bowler hat and flared skirt (and make it look fabulous) it may be more fashion-forward and advanced volume for most of us to pull off. 

How ever you intend to wear yours, if you aver wanted one of the poncho family now is the time to grab one. And possibly one of the only seasons (since 1974) in which people will tell you, with a straight face, how fabulous you look and not ask if it's Rag Week at uni. 

Friday, 6 June 2014

The Power of Clothes: The Accessory Over Clothes Debate

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times, invest in jewellery, a few careful accessories and forget about clothes. Well, I don't think so, clothes can be a very good investment.

It depends on your personality, lifestyle and where you live as to what to spend your hard earned money on. Let's not kid ourselves, there is no one thing that has magic properties that will complete our lives or make us look like our favourite film star. Thinking that because we spent the equivalent of an entire average outfit on one bag or bangle that some celeb has had chucked at them by a designer's PR company will not make you look better or be happier. It's a snack, not a full meal, tempting though it is, you cannot skip the basics.

1. Unless you are going to walk around naked, you should invest in some decent clothes that will make a good impression at work and on future friends and practically speaking, make your shape work for you. Clothes can make you the centre of attention or they can bond you with a team. Either way, it's not the clothes or the jewellery you should notice first, it's the person. People start to express themselves at a young age through what they wear, how boring it would be if they all wore the pre-selected, brand-only pieces, people should know how to enhance themselves and they should know how to speak the language of clothes with their own voice, some people naturally need to shout to make themselves heard whilst others reassure with a whisper. 

2 Alas, there are plenty of places in the World where anything shiny is going to get someone into trouble and that includes storing and worrying about it at home. I had my eighteenth birthday present taken by some 'friend' of the family creep. He would have never have half-inched (pinched) my favourite coat. 

3. I don't know what some of you do to your clothes, but I have as-new clothing from ten years ago and more that I couldn't even afford now (I mean have you seen the prices of McQueen now? *Mops brow of sweat just thinking of it*). I am still the same shape and size and I still like the same things because I am still the same person. I'm so pleased I invested in clothes in my 20s. Yes, I'll buy perfect tees from Peacocks too, but I love my 'pieces', with their amazing material, attention to detail and such workmanship, the dazzling craftsmanship as much as any gem on my finger.

4. Having a good wardrobe already means you can be more choosy about which clothes you really do need, if any. Hence, you can then spend more on whatever later. Another reason why people should acquire stylish clothes that speak for them and not just fashionable wannabe 'stuff'.

5. Re-sale value and investment is overstated and overrated. People often want fashionable designer jewellery, those are always not the investment pieces that do best when it comes to resale. The real 'investment' pieces are the top-end, rare pieces that most of us couldn't afford new or pre-loved. New jewellery doesn't have a good resale return, yes it always sells, but as history has shown, if people are truly desperate you'll swap your piece of Cartier or VCA metal for a slice of bread if need be.

6. Never mind all these 'things', the most important thing is someone's health. Investing in shoes that don't deform one's feet and encourage someone to walk around are very important. Shoes and feet are very important for self-expression too, often denoting (or suggesting) the sexual politics of the wearer of the shoe. I'm 'every woman' unless one wants to live in Imperial China of course and then ouch, just shower me with diamonds and silk scarves and let me keep my big feet.

7. Fine jewellery or a eye-catching accessory dresses-up a basic outfit it's true, but crap clothes make fine jewellery look cheap and/or fake. If your clothes need to be cheap make sure they are not crap.

8. With all the discount shops, charity/goodwill stores and outlet sites you do not have to go around in a tracksuit when saving up for a decent whatever. Tracksuits, unless worn for sport, will make you fat and look fatter on the way.

9. There's no guarantee you will have daughters, your children will like your taste or love you when you're old so stop with the excuse your buying family heirlooms. If you want to stuff a VCA/Cartier bauble onto every digit and collect a rainbow of seasonal handbags stop using you future off-spring as an excuse for your class-A shopping habit.

10. Everything goes in and out of fashion. Find a style that likes you back as much as you like it, wear and enjoy forever (and don't forget to dry clean occasionally)

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

First look: Gucci Resort / Cruise 2015

Stealth Wealth Plus Extras

Another ultra wearable collection from Frida Giannini for Gucci. Clean lines, hot colours, sunshine bleached and faded, worn with dense black, white, camel or orange, all accented with gleaming silver or the blackest navy. The well worn nautical theme came through very strongly, either in lovelorn favourite casual pieces or smart and Modern. Either way, precious embellishments or classically tailored, these are pieces that suggest you've had them for a while and promise you will be keeping forever.  

The once-staple of every woman's wardrobe the safari-style shirt-dress, gets a reworking with generous slashes to show a tanned leg, block heeled 'loafer' boots or cut in shoulders to show off beautiful toned arms (mental note to self, lots of press-ups and push-ups for a body money can't buy). Style note, shirts and shirt dresses were done up to the chin, made even higher with a silk neckerchief.

The print by Kris Knight is a modern Flora, unusual, edgy blooms that possess a beauty outside the usual pretty classic garden flowers.

As so often with Gucci, standard classics also come in leather and precious skins, the season will be no exception with sailors strides in the softest leather, touches of python in the palest shades to showcase the skin's natural markings. Similarly the ubiquitous Gucci loafer will be available bejewelled.

As so often it's the details will separate the Gucci originals from the many copies that will sure to be around, whether a leather collar or heavyweight gob-stopper buttons on a perfectly cut coat. As in previous seasons, the accessories were relatively low key for Gucci, preferring to foreground the exceptional leather and iconic features. 

The evening promises ergo-dynamic and sophisticated late-1960s sheath dresses with shimmering detail highlighting the cut-outs, and unlike for the day, shown with no extra jewellery and the hair simply worn down

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Developments of Themes and Trends for Silk Square Scarves Part 1

The silk 90cm square was at its height of powerful allure in the 1950s, what was intended to be worn to shield a costly hair-do (either in time or money, or both) from the elements whilst outdoors, in an open-top car, whilst shooting, fishing or riding or in town out and about became the 'must-have' accessory of the era, whatever else a 'lady' wore. The large silk square, folded into a triangle and knotted under the chin was considered very grown-up and literally lady-like, aspiring to the traditional lifestyle of power, landowning and old money, an echo of what only very few had enjoyed pre-World War II. In reality very few women rode in open-top sports cars or astride horses for their morning exercise and were more likely to wear their precious scaves on annual trips to the seaside or waiting for the bus in-town.

Hermes' La Femme au Carre (Bali Barret) 2005 

The traditional brace of pheasants and compass and other similar spoils of hunting scenes on scarves were common, as were every conceivable variation of horses and their tack and paraphernalia, historical costume and vintage automobiles. Mostly on a white background these icons of a bygone age were, perhaps in vain a nostalgic attempt to see pre-war days as settled and peaceful, a reassurance that things would go back to 'the way they were'. Counter to this, was the young youthful rebellion of rock 'n' rollers and beatniks who had no intention of settling down or doffing their caps respectfully (at least not for while). Though they didn't throw away the idea of the silk square completely but often wore it pocket sized around their necks like the cotton gavroche or neckerchief of the old fashioned working class (man). Their scarves were equally traditional in their way or very quirky and modern. In bright polka dots or festooned with cute cartoon dogs, they were tied them around their necks with casual irreverence. Either way the United States took inspiration from Europe, and in turn Hollywood popularised the look worldwide with its parade of beautiful young stars on set and off. Below, the young star Audrey Hepburn typifies the more 'grown-up' look while Natalie Wood, eleven years her junior, wears a chiffon version of the neckerchief. Elizabeth Taylor in a very similar scarf to Wood's, but tied around the head a la style Gypsy, adopting the hour-glass exotic siren look, another popular theme of the 1950s

Hermes had put its first in-house silk square into production 1937 with Hugo Gryghar's Jeu des Omnibus et Dames Blanches, setting the standard by which other silk scarves were measured by, then and since. The thick silk twill 90cm is not the only format made now, nor the only material, yet the original endures to this day as the most collectable and wearable. The established French leather goods house had introduced one of the centuries most enduring fashion accessory. Because of changing social patterns and what and who was deemed desirable, it did not necessarily translate through the decades, but someone somewhere was wearing a silk square, albeit in different ways. Some seemed to have been almost immune to fashion's whims and extremes. Here Princess Margret wears her scarf in the traditional manner on a country walk with her mother, father and sister in 1942, below her elder sister, Queen Elizabeth wears hers with her own family looking very coordinated as was the fashion during most of the 1960s and '70s, and lastly in the mid-1980s when classic-traditional dress again became king (or should that be queen?). The British Royal Family demonstrating their own determined faith and in continuum and tradition. The British monarch now more iconic wearing a silk square on her head than a crown.  

Friday, 7 March 2014

Wearing Your Heart On Your Sleeve: Stacking

Obviously taking inspiration from other cultures, and usually to display status and wealth, stacking can be a great way to accessorise with impact and express you personality, if only with humble wooden bracelets or simple leather straps

Not a new or passing trend, it can look elegant and chic, especially if themed and on long slender limbs.

For inspiration check out the founding queen of stacking, Nancy Cunard, and another fabulous looking exponent of the art, Lee Miller

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Lose Pounds While You Save Pounds

Here's either a money saving tip that will also make you thinner or a diet that will help save you money!

Instead of buying that new DVD, diet book, app etc do your annual diet the Dr. No News way. Arithmetic goes like this, most of us eat approx. 2000 calories a day, the following diets will cut 1000 calories without the complications of eating the foods that make you want to gag, food prep that takes forever or turns you into a crank.

If you are a person that cannot do without your usual, and you feel that the proportions of food groups are correct anyhow, follow diet A. If you are a person who needs a ritualistic 'new broom' to make you feel like you are off to a great start, try diet B.

Diet A. Buy your usual things and cut everything in half

Diet B Eat breakfast as usual, eat lunch as usual. STOP except to drink water

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Don't Suffer Unnecessarily from Sales Fever this January

Have you the dreaded fever brought on by the retail industry's need to de-clutter their space at your expense so they can fill it wholesale with more impulse and speculative buys for the Summer we never have?

Take this test to find out if you are suffering from this contagious seasonal illness:

1. Have you been thinking about that gorgeous jumper for the last 4 months, that you would have bought in a heart-beat had you had the full retail asking price?


2. Have you checked whether it's still available in your size, 12 times a day for the last month, just in case they're all sold out?


3. Did you put away every spare penny/cent instead of going out or buying anything over basic food stuffs turning the heat on in the morning?


4. Do you mind that hundreds of people have tried on that jumper leaving make-up marks, pulled threads, deodorant stains on it or that someone bought it wore it for  night out and returned it because of the stores 'great' return policy (or their mother owns the boutique)?


Answers below


1. You are obsessed so you probably already own it, in which case you have had the pleasure and comfort of wearing your jumper for months

2. You are obsessed so you probably already own it, in which case you have had the pleasure and comfort of wearing your jumper for months

3 You are obsessed so you probably already own it, in which case you have had the pleasure and comfort of wearing your jumper for months

4. You are obsessed so you probably already own it, in which case you have had the pleasure and comfort of wearing your jumper for months

Your behaviour may look mad to most but you are fever free and you always look fabulous


1. Then you never really wanted/needed it

2. You won't diet into it or prefer the baggy look, your average size will be gone to all the VIP customers who have first dibs on sale stock

3. If you do buy it now it will be in a consignment/charity shop by March, value is what we put on something we'd go to the ends of the Earth for

4. Try shopping in consignment/charity shops in March, people are always buying too much in the sales

Step away from the word 'sale' it will only re-infect you