Mary Katrantzou Debuts Bags At LFW

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Everyone’s favorite British transplant by way of Greece has moved beyond her signature architectural, futuristic prints, and launched her first bags this season.

The collection’s signature is called the MVK, a tribute to Katrantzou’s parents. It’s a boxy bag reminiscent of the currently chic vintage camera cases thrift store junkies like to hoard. Of course, even though the camera bag is somewhat foundational (perfect for everyday urban adventures), many of the bags fully, and more dramatically retain Katrantzou’s signature wit and whimsy.

“I wanted to turn my interest in photographic prints on its head and look at the apparatus used to take those photographs instead,” Katrantzou says. “I hope that the MVK bag will become a staple Mary Katrantzou accessory.” It goes from over-the-shoulder to clutch, as Katrantzou wanted to keep it functional. Every element of the bag’s design thoughtfully echoes the signs and symbols (graphic circles, squares, and triangles) used in the larger collection, as well as the shoes, made by Gianvito Rossi.

One MVK coming my way, pretty please!?

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UPDATE: #LFW Breakfast Cereal Handbags, Warrior Princesses, and Grannies on Acid

The last day in the schedule at LFW is a funny one. After the craziness that is generally days three and four the pace notably slows, and it starts to feel like everything’s winding down. A lot of the big names have already been ticked off To Do lists and the fashion circus is getting ready to hop over to Milan. But before you desert London entirely, don’t forget that great British tradition of saving the best for last. Because, in my humble opinion, that’s what Day 5 is all about.

We’ll start with a trip to the grocery store courtesy of Anya Hindmarch. Sound bizarre? Stick with me and you’ll see. Super-chic models/shoppers swung paintbox-bright totes boldly emblazoned with familiar symbols down the runway and back up again by way of check-out style moving carpets (Genius!) There they were, those familiar faces (Tony the Tiger! The Kellog’s Rooster!) and logos looking right at home at London Fashion Week. It was a much needed dose of fun for the label which could, on occasion, be accused of being a little too twee and is sure to guarantee them a little street cred by way of the bloggers who’ll no doubt be clamoring to get their hands on such photo-friendly arm candy.

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Next up, the bedroom — or rather, the beautifully executed ode to pyjama dressing as seen at Marques’ Almeida (above). Slouchy, silk trousers in rich jewel tones were worn slung low on the hips and felt both glamorous (a word I rarely use) and cool all at once. Styled with matching shirts, sheer shell tops and a good dollop of brightly coloured fur this is a truly modern update on the cocktail dress. A crushed velvet trouser and shell-top in the same slouchy style enhanced the ‘90s vibe, going so far as to be warn with a retro sneaker. Seriously cool.

Then there is the designer whose star has risen so fast you’re left wondering how much higher it can go. And in the case of one of London’s brightest things Simone Rocha, the answer is clearly to infinity and beyond. Her army of gilded princess warriors stormed the runway looking strong and rebellious, yet decidedly pretty– which seems to be the charm of Rocha. There was a frilled sleeved dark, dark navy coat that is pretty much everything you could want in your winter staple wrapped up in one package– interesting enough to make a statement while still having the making of a classic that will go with everything. I need this, like, now. The yellow snakeskin skirt and frill sleeved jacket were strong and cool, but still girly (when’s the last time you thought that about python printed leather?!), while the tartan cut-out detail dress added a bit of punk power to the proceedings. The powder pink of that much-loved AW 13 coat made an appearance in the shape of a pink brushed wool tulle sheer dress which will probably be topping red carpet best dressed lists sometime in the not too distant future.

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And then suddenly it was the end. There was no other way for London to go out than with a typically bonkers bang– and that’s exactly what Meadham Kirchhoff supplied. Slightly sullen faced models resembled what I can only describe as part Granny on acid, part ‘80s magician’s assistant. Frills, pastels, chiffons and chintzy printed two-pieces on one side, and multi-coloured, metallic high-shine jackets and boots would have made David Copperfield proud on the other. Yes it was mental, yes it was a typical Meadham Kirchhoff mish-mash, but it was brilliantly, BRILLIANTLY bonkers. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what’s London Fashion Week has always been about?

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We may now be home to some of the industry’s biggest players with serious commercial clout, but back in the day our identity was founded in our showing of unique, eclectic, young, start-up designers who dared to be different. So for London Fashion Week AW14 to finish off with something that says we haven’t abandoned our history is, for me, is no short of perfection.

The Epic LFW Update, Part II (Tom Ford, Peter Pilotto, and Giles, Baby)

Part I was pretty epic, but are you ready for the finale of Day 4? Let’s go.

I’ve talked a lot about little black dresses, but (perhaps controversially) I don’t think anyone did it better than David Koma. This is the LBD reimagined for a woman who likes to kick some ass– think of her as an urban warrior. There was pleated, pencil and skater skirt styles all in black, with the unifying factor being the structured caging details and paneling. Texture was the name of the game, with Koma using ponyskin, leather and flocked chiffon all to great effect. So as not to be left out of the blue crew, this primarily black collection did also include an incredible cobalt ponyskin dress complete with black leather caging and a sheer, high neck. Va va vooom.

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Next up Mother of Pearl made their entry to LFW with a collection centred around William Morris print’s in a mainly blue (of course!) colour palette. The boxy jacket and A-line skirt ensemble was a particular favourite as was the printed sweater styled over a mustard-yellow polo and slouchy navy trousers. The exception to blue was a delicious red tartan that featured a subtle floral print underneath. Found on an oversized slope shouldered coat and a slit front below the knee skirt and sporty sweatshirt it was interesting yet wearable and a total triumph. It’s shows like Mother of Pearl that give you a real glimpse of how the big trends of the season will translate to the streets.  And I don’t mean that as a slight, I mean it as the highest compliment.

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Moving swiftly on to Peter Pilotto who got the print party started BIG time. Mountain vistas were the name of the game here, and wow was it a nice view. Emblazoned across the chest in a rainbow of colours, dresses were both full skirted and thigh-high slit pencil in form. Incredible eye-popping knits were reminiscent of retro Alpine ski-wear and, somehow, made knitwear look sexy. But then there were the crystal adorned dresses. OH the dresses. Reimagining those vistas with 3D embellishment on the front of pretty long-sleeved mini dresses this is how young, fashion forward Hollywood will approach the red carpet next winter. I’m absolutely sure of it.

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Then to the scene of the much tweeted about Cara video selfie. Giles put out a younger and much more spirited collection than we’re used to seeing from him, and it went down a storm. Cobalt blue and sherbet orange were used to great effect on quilted leather motorcycle pants and a kingfisher printed shell top while Queen Delevingne sported a quirky eye beanie with a grey wool A-line skirt and boyish monk-strap flat shoes. In fact it was the use of flats — chunky black and white bother boots, boyish brogues and monk-straps — that gave this collection the cool factor. See what I mean about spirited?

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Into the evening and it was all about Tom Ford who, let’s be honest, only knows how to do sexy. Like, seriously sexy. In fact it’s like a fashion formula of hotness: red leather + black fishnets + animal print + sequins= sexy. But, you know what? For him it totally works. There was also a big texture story at Ford with everything from animal print pony-skin and red velvet to leather and lace. Adding a sports vibe with oversized, sequined basketball jerseys-cum-dresses offered something for the slightly younger, edgier market and will most likely spawn a thousand copy-cat high street versions. Tom Ford is where you go for unashamedly sexy, seriously luxurious ready-to-wear and this collection did not disappoint.

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I told you it was a big day, right? More from London tomorrow.
Over and out.

The Big Guns: LFW’s Biggest Hitters Come Out To Play – Ready for the Monster Roundup?

Apologies for bringing you your LFW update a day late. The only excuse I can possibly make is it that yesterday was big. Seriously big. There was Berardi, Burberry, Pilotto, Ford, Kane, Erdem and Giles to name but a few. There was also Harry Styles causing a 1D fan scrum outside Burberry (seriously?), Kendall Jenner making small talk with Anna Wintour on the FROW (wouldn’t you love to have been a fly on the wall for that one?) and Cara videoing herself on her iPhone while walking for Giles.  Eventful doesn’t even begin to cover it.  So the only way I can possibly do justice to this most epic of days is to take you through it step-by-step, in two parts. Think of it as your cheat’s guide to LFW day 4. Are you ready for Part I? Let’s go.

First stop: Antonio Berardi. My God the man does sexy so well. Next season’s Berardi girl is the ever so slightly vampy but still stylish girl I always wish I was. You know, all kick-ass thigh high lace up leg-wear with structured long sleeved mini dresses without (somehow) looking remotely trashy. With a mostly monochrome colour palette the key print was an abstract black and white that was found on everything from an androgynous (but still sexy) coat to the paneled mini-dresses bordered with accents of emerald green. This emerald green was also used to great effect on strictly tailored trousers paired with a majestic purple cropped sleeve jacket, and of course the slightly S&M lace up heels. This is how to do sexy the grown up way.

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Next up, Christopher Kane who’d abandoned the pretty pastels and ‘florabotanica’ theme of his SS collection for something altogether more dark and stormy with just a dash of sugar. The bedrock of this spirited collection was tough as nails black in high-shine plasticized-looking leather. Whether smooth and shiny on a cute A-line skirt, used to create futuristic ruffles on the hem of a dress or as the backdrop for a marabou trimmed coat these are the pieces that will show you’re a Kane girl next season. The dose of sweetness came from a peppermint green polo-neck adorned with bows, a powder pink sweater and a semi-sheer pink and black crochet effect dress– what’s key is they were all worn with the tougher black pieces. This is where naughty meets nice in the fashion world, and I bloody love it.

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After all the vague S&M referencing of the morning came respite in the way of Roksanda Illincic. Traditional autumnal hues in red wine and camel mixed with clean lines and simple yet beautiful silhouettes where longer hemlines are key were typical of her bold but still somehow understated aesthetic. But it was the bold blues (yep, here they were again) found on an oversized coat, in a pretty floral print dress and a sports-luxe sweatshirt that really stood out for me. This cobalt was also joined by the babiest of blues, in a twisted and draped front skirt with exposed striped lining that felt truly original. Another one for the wish list then.

Then it was back to the darker side courtesy of Erdem as best described by two words: gothic romance.  High ruffled necks, more body conscious than usual (though not tight) silhouettes, black lace dresses trimmed with black velvet and a black mock-croc mac all showcased the darker and slightly sexier mood of the label for next season. But die-hard Erdem-ites needn’t worry. The brand’s signature more boxy floral dresses were still to be found, this season in a burnished gold and blue and a burgundy and ice blue print.

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So far, so good. But next up was Burberry which was about to knock it right outta’ the park. Aside from that boyband member, that model, and that Kardashian (I mean Jenner) as well as the other star-studded elements of the show, here was a collection that warrants attention in it’s own right. Forget the prim pencil skirts and pastels of season’s past. This was a move in a newer, fresher direction– folkloric in feel thanks to brush-stroke adorned sheepskin coats and a more floaty, fluid silhouette. This is how to do seventies-inspired without looking like you’re at a costume party. Beautiful Bloomsbury printed dresses falling to mid-calf gave a nod to the British art movement scene and formed the main thread of conversation through the collection. Beautiful yet unfussy, these are clothes than women the world over will be clamoring to wear. As is the Burberry way, it’s seasonal signature styling tweak (usually to do with a belt) was to use printed scarves held in place at the waist underneath belts. Simple, yet effective – and also incredibly smart offering up the no doubt (slightly) more affordable piece as a key entry-level buy for younger fashion fans the world over.

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Phewwww. And that’s only half the day. I told you it was big. See you tomorrow same time, same place for the Part II.

LFW DAY 3: London’s Got The Blues, But You’re Gonna Want These Bad Boys

Before you start to panic that it’s all gotten a bit much for us over here, let me just clarify: I’m talking about the overwhelming presence of blue on the catwalks today, not our general mood. The mood, in case you’re interested, has definitely taken a turn for the better thanks to the sunshine and blue sky that graced us with its presence finally. So you see, we do indeed have the blues.

Anyway, by the end of day one it was becoming clear that royal, cerulean, and azure could well be the colours of the season. But by the time Richard Nicoll sent his army of beautiful blue clad models down the runway Sunday morning, there was no doubt left in my mind.

Sticking not just to a single shade, Nicoll’s collection, seen above, included everything from the babiest of blues to a kick-ass cobalt. But we’re not talking a pop of colour here or a subtle detail there. Oh no, we’re talking head-to-toe, single shade dressing which proved not only visually arresting, but also surprisingly versatile. A powder blue slouchy, tailored suit offered a new take on tailoring; a cobalt blue bow-detail dress and knitted cape is a playful option for event dressing; while a Superman-blue, fur collared bomber and pleated mini is fun and sporty whilst still being super-chic.  Nicoll’s trademark sporty aesthetic was very much at play both in silhouette and styling (models wore sneakers or sporty loafers) but combined with sharper lines and crisp shirting details (another emerging trend) felt fresh and exciting.

Preen by Thornton Bregazzi also championed head-to-toe tonal dressing with ankle-length, tomato red oversized coats worn over dresses of the same colour. And though these eye-catching coats will no doubt spawn a plethora of copycat versions on the high-street next Autumn, it’s Preen’s unlikely Darth Vader motif that will likely start a frenzy among the fash-pack. Yes, you heard me right. Darth Vader’s head featured on a selection of digi-print dresses and tops to dramatic effect. One more Star Wars reference and three’s a trend (just see Rodarte for iteration one.) Slightly strange, but also a bizarrely successful marriage of floaty silhouette and sci-fi figurehead. Go figure? In fact, I predict a cult Darth Vader printed sweatshirt will start appearing on street-style blogs sometime in the not too distant feature. You heard it here first.

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Moving swiftly on from sci-fi to the Tate Modern brings us to the scene of the much anticipated Topshop Unique show.  It’s come to be one of London Fashion Week’s hottest tickets for one simple reason: These are designer clothes we can actually buy. I’ll let you in on something. It’s probably the worlds worst kept secret that fashion editors and stylists are not the most, ahem, handsomely paid bunch. Relying on discounts and gifts is often the only reason you’ll see such sporting displays of $1300 sweatshirts and the like parading round the fashion weeks of the world. But give us authentic, original, exciting design in luxe fabrics and high quality that we can actually afford? Well, you’ve cracked it. Because if we can afford it, so can everyone else. Long gone are the days of Topshop taking inspiration from the design elite. Hell, they are the design elite of today. Fingers firmly on the pulse, trail blazing and initiating Unique has consistently come up with credible collections that we really want to wear. And AW/14 certainly did not disappoint. After all my banging on about the colour blue, it’s pretty apt that the first look out of the gates was, yep you guessed it, head to toe blue. The oversized just-so slouchy blue belted coat is already firmly on my wish list, but quite frankly, so is almost the entire collection. A fur-lined hood Mac-meets-parka is everything you could want in a stylish but practical winter coat (can I have it right now please?) With an overriding disheveled schoolgirl kind of vibe (think white shirts layered under sweaters and grey ribbed socks) the styling is almost as noteworthy as the pieces themselves. Layering was key– think polo necks (more evidence of neck-mania as I wrote about yesterday) layered under shirts, layered under sweaters layered under teddy bear fronted gilets. And anything that keeps you a) warm, b) stylish and c) um, warm in winter is a winner in my books.

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Apart from the blue, the collection was mainly based around buttery yellows, ‘70s-inspired camels and muted greys. Warning: you will want all of this, so start saving now. Another day nearly down and I can’t wait to see what this evening and tomorrow will bring. See you on the flip side for your daily update from LFW.

And We’re Off! London Fashion Week, Day 1

We’ve been waiting quietly in the wings while New York took centre stage, but finally it’s time for the fashion circus to hit London in all it’s glory. And I say it’s definitely our time to shine. Yes, a high percentage of the country is under water thanks to flooding. Yes, the sky is grey and the rain is constant. And ok, the wind is making it difficult to walk in a straight line thanks to being blown sideways, but does it get in the way of our enthusiasm and excitement for the spectacle that is London Fashion Week? Of course not, we’re bloody British. And if we have to look on the bright side, at least the dismal weather outside is making the beautiful Autumn Winter collections inside look all the more appealing. Like, we want to wear it all RIGHT. NOW.

In fact, wearability seems to be the overriding theme of Day 1 so far. But not in a boring way, no not at all. Think beautifully crafted pieces that you can really see yourself wearing, but with just enough oomph about them to still feel fresh and exciting. The perfect example? Take J J.S Lee who kicked things off with a collection so understated, chic and clean of line that it’s had me contemplating a whole new way of dressing. Tailored ‘borrowed from the boys’ trousers in cobalt blue with just the right amount of slouch, an ankle length, oversized white coat, and a (again) cobalt blue houndstooth pattern lader cut maxi skirt were standout pieces that are guaranteed to find their way onto every glossy magazine in the country come September. The bottom line? This is wearable luxury and it looks ridiculously good to us.

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In fact in addition to wearability, a unifying theme of masculine meets feminine is already appearing. Unsurprisingly  (given his background in menswear), Eudon Choi’s show was a triumph in boy-meets-girl, but almost in two separate stories. Taking inspiration from shirting, Choi used what looked like the up-turned collar and bib of a classic white shirt, backwards (you follow that?) as an interesting and surprisingly successful design feature on a series of looks. Again, the just-so slouchy trousers were a triumph and firmly on my (and probably every other Fashion Editor’s) wish list, as is a drape fronted sleeveless white tunic worn over white trousers– seriously chic.

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Head to toe white for winter is definitely one to watch. But then the flirty flip side: ladylike, ruffle detail dresses and a look that can only be described as artfully disheveled naughty school-girl thanks to the untucked shirt/ detail short skirt combo. So far so good, but I’m feeling a slight lack of fun. Enter Daks with their 120 year anniversary show which though in a distinctly autumnal, and dare I say slightly sludge-y colour palette introduced a sense of humour in the shape of their beefeater inspired hats (see the main photo for proof).

Back tomorrow with more…

Vivienne Westwood, Topshop Unique: Highlights from London Fashion Weekend

While others promptly peeled off their sky-high stilettos post-New York Fashion Week, my crazy ass jetted off to London to see what kind of stylish mischief I could get into across the pond. Similar to my stateside jaunt, the last few days have been filled with a healthy blend of sartorial satisfaction and naughty nightlife, complemented by the setting of a visually stunning city. From brilliantly avant-garde pieces at the Phoebe English show to a quintessential British sighting (Dame Vivenne Westwood, pictured), peep the highlights.

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Saturday featured Henry Holland‘s punchy collection of rave-meets-brocade party wear (above). ’90s inspiration was in full-force here, thanks to tie-dye and checker prints, bedazzled beanies, overalls (they’re baaaack!) and aluminum foil-chic moto jackets. The Misshapes killed it on the decks with a show soundtrack that featured everything, from the B-52’s to this eurodance anthem by 2 Unlimited.

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On Sunday, Marios Schwab presented a range of luxe tribal looks that included suede and fringe detailing, pristine pleats, honeycomb prints and unexpected embellishments. The intricately detailed Swarovski-beaded harnesses and show-stopping sheer evening gowns were major highlights. Phoebe English (above) was another favorite, who paired refreshingly minimalist looks with bold armor. (If you think Givenchy’s nose rings are intense, check out these insane metal mouthpieces.)

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Topshop Unique (above) charmed front-rowers likes Elle Fanning, Daisy Lowe, Olivia Palermo and Anna Dello Russo with a ultra polished range of easy-to-wear looks. Jonathan Saunders‘ innovative aesthetic graced the legendary Tate Modern museum Sunday night, where the celebrated designer held an intimate showing of his latest futuristic range. Ever the influencer, his collection displayed the best of spring 2013’s noteworthy trends: metallic, iridescence, structure, menswear influence and sportswear.

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The weekend wrapped with a slew of wild parties, starting with a supersexy cabaret show at Crazy Horse Paris (above) to toast the launch of Marios Schwab’s exclusive lingerie collection for ASOS. I then hopped over to the This is New York party at Mahiki, which was hosted by GrandLife Hotels (NYC’s fave party purveyors) and My Beautiful City). The usual East Coast suspects (Harley Viera-Newton, The Misshapes and Mike Nouveau, to name a few) kept the crowd moving. As luck would have it, the night culminated with the sighting of all sightings: Dame Vivienne Westwood, chilling outside of her own after party. Ace.

Henry Holland and Topshop Unique photos by BJ Panda Bear

Mary Katrantzou Steals the Show at London Fashion Week

While we previously reserved the long weekend for some much-needed R&R, we ended up spending the majority of it glued to our computer screens as we watched the amazingness going on at London Fashion Week. From collective "ohs" and "ahs" at Christopher Kane to makeshift snowstorms at Burberry Prorsum to Alexa Chung levitations and supermodel table dances at Stella McCartney’s surreal dinner party, there’s no better place to be right now than across the pond, digitally or otherwise. Keeping up with LFW’s exciting season is designer Mary Katrantzou, who showed earlier today and has already received tons of praise for her out-of-this-world collection.

If Katrantzou didn’t demonstrate that she’s the queen of technicolor prints before, then this is the range that does it. Prints were bold, offbeat, and imaginative. Showstudio said it best by explaining that the designer used a block color technique that comprised of "massing millions of images of objects of similar colors – pencils, spoons, chess-pieces, hedges, typewriters, that kind of thing – and somehow manipulating those to fit the human form, to flattering effect." The result? 32 pieces of wondrous perfection. See the complete collection here.

#LFW: The Beauty of a Masculine Look

Androgyny through makeup is trending on the London runways, with designers like Tom Ford and Erdem focusing on a strong brow and a handsome face. Steering clear of femininity in the traditional sense of plucking and preening, the look still leaves the models beaming. Clean faces feel fresh, and a strong, natural brow feels young.

In New York, Alexander Wang took it all the way; his models didn’t wear a stitch of makeup. In London, the models at Giles were made to look as though they weren’t wearing any, but the cream blush added a glow to the models that was ‘90s Super reminiscent. At Erdem, the look was heavier handed. Eyeliner and a strong, masculine brow took hold, and a boyish side-part kept it from feeling too done. Next to the collection of black and white, where moto jackets paired with florals, the entire show was conversely hard and soft.

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Tom Ford did his version of androgyny as well. Contoured faces, a strong eyebrow, and windswept hair recalled the natural beauty of Margaux Hemingway.

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For spring, when there’s the impending sense of vacation and freedom, a simpler routine feels right at home. It helps to know that, as proven here and elsewhere, femininity and beauty doesn’t have to mean curled lashes and pink lips. A groomed brow does wonders for a face. That and a natural glow are all that are needed.