NYFW Nuggets

London Fashion Week starts today - and it's my last day with my lovely team at The Debrief before I join The Sunday Times Style mag as Fashion Features Editor tomorrow - so it's a BZ time. Just wanted to share with you a few of my favourite looks from NYFW. See yaaaaa.

Victoria Beckham // Rosie Assoulin

Always love a maroon suit - VB gets stronger and stronger each season - this mandarin collar? Makes me want to wear pink for the first time in a very long time.

Vaccarello x Versus// Chloe Sevigny for Opening Ceremony

Who doesn't want to be Anya? Versus with an inimitable and great Vaccarello touch - I'd kill to own one of his plunging LBDs - and love these boxy dungarees by Chloe.

Ostwald Helgason// Ulla Johnson

Sad that Ostwald has moved to NYC as they are a great new fixture in London, but this silky contrasted pocket shirt is ace and really into a skirt split at the moment. As for Ulla, nailing reduxed 70s perfectly.

Altuzarra// The Row

Gingham making a firm return, at Altuzarra and DVF. As ever, love Altuzarra - easy breezy sexiness and 'middle split' (last season was about the side split for him) a plenty. Can't wait to get my hands on his new collection for Target, sold at Net-a-Porter from Sunday. As for The Row, who knew the Olsens' finest work would be on the catwalk rather than the screen? I love blouson sleeves and the 'bandage' detail on this dress is oddly sexy.

Ph. all from Style.com


Shiny Happy Fraggle

Two things to note about this: one, that this is the H&M coat of excellence from their incredible AW14 show in Paris that I was lucky enough to get more than slightly drunk on the sidelines of, last season - and two, that for the entire duration of shooting this blog post (five minutes, always and only ever five minutes allowed) I was having the world's most boring to-and-fro with my boyfriend, about whether he would take the car to the car wash. It was stickier than a child's fist post-playtime (tree sap or something) so the fact that it needed a wash was irrefutable. But I was too busy and he was too tired. He won. * Ends world's dullest story *

I'm wearing an H&M Studio coat, ASOS shirt, Monki skirt and ASOS Flat Out sandals


Can Fashion Save The World?

A version of this appeared on i-D - and you can read it here.

Forget what Netflix says; green might just be the new black. With a growing number of young individuals and brands in the fashion industry behind the sustainable cause, could the end of fast fashion really be on the horizon? Or is it just a load of hot air....

After the devastating Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh last April the issue of sustainable fashion has risen again. Human lives were literally crushed under the weight of fast fashion, but a new frontier of global awareness about the provenance of our clothing has emerged in the 17 months since. Quite simply, we can no longer justify ignorance about disposable fashion – an ignorance which made us obliquely complicit in Rana Plaza’s 1129 deaths. But can caring become cool?

Whilst it would be wrong to suggest that Inditex’s sales have been dented by the disaster (it is less known that the Bangladeshi factory produced clothes for the slick and respected Zara as much as it did the bargain basement Primark), people were looking for better choices. And the choice, the consumer is discovering, is bountiful. As Saatchi & Saatchi’s Henry Simonds, who works with companies to help make sustainability a core part of their strategy, summarises: “it is no longer about the hairy hemp-wearing tree hugger! The gap is closing.”

One brand closing that gap is The Reformation, a five-year-old brand that counts Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Karlie Kloss and Alexa Chung amongst its roster of ‘Ref babes’. All their clothes are made from deadstock material and vintage dresses. “The mindset is that rather than buying twelve dresses for one season you would buy five that are made in a way you feel comfortable in,” Ref’s Head Designer, Brianna Lance, says. You only need to do a quick search to see how well the brand’s ethos is working for them. The prices are genuinely competitive, with the most expensive dress ringing in at £250, making it noticeably cheaper than the higher end of the British high street. Unsurprisingly it is young contemporary brands, started by millennials for millennials, which are establishing a sustainable agenda from the get-go. “Millennials don’t have the same amount of expendable income as older generations, but we are the consumers of tomorrow, with 70 years of buying ahead of us” says Violet’s anti-fast fashion Junior Editor, Rosalind Jana. That said, one of the tenets of sustainable fashion is that products should cost more, that we should be encouraged to spend more money but on less items – making it correlative in terms of expenditure.

Knowledge and circulation of sustainable labels can be niche, but when you know where to look there is much to be found in the UK. The hugely successful platform Not Just Another Label showcases and sells young designers work (16,000 at last count) with an emphasis on locally produced, sustainable fashion. London-based ethical online retailer rêve en vert launched earlier this year and stocks around twenty emerging labels like Blake LDN and Thu Thu (crucially known as much for their innovative design than their sustainability element.) “The market will always respond to demand”, explain founders Cora Hilts and Natasha Tucker. “The more people that ask for sustainably produced fashion, the faster it will happen. We hope that we are the start of a growing trend of conscious consumers.”

Vintage-loving Creative Director and founder of Voyage d’Etudes Paula Goldstein di Principe name checks Colenmino, a timeless and traditional label that produces all of its stock in the UK, Maiyet who show at Paris Fashion Week and Honest By, a young brand founded by former Hugo Boss Art Director, Bruno Pieters, which has a motto of 100% transparency throughout their entire supply chain. Importantly Pieters’ acidic brights and contemporary patterns totally defy any clichés about eco clothing. The power of celebrity can also be no greater stressed that in the field of sustainable fashion. Emma Watson’s collaborations with People Tree have proved to be invaluable, while ex-supermodel Lily Cole has an ethically sourced knitwear venture called North Circular.

A surprising bolster to sustainability has been normcore. “The trend is about highly crafted, durable (boring) pieces so brands like Patagonia are increasing in popularity” explains business intelligence service Stylus’s Lisa Payne. Patagonia’s ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket’ campaign in November of last year ironically led to massive sales. Regardless, the brand implores people to buy less – and to buy better. They even have a service where you can send your clothes back for repairs, rather than buy new ones. It’s also worth looking to traditional shoemakers on this front, where premium prices are justified in terms of product longevity. Russell & Bromley have a little known service where they will repair a pair of shoes for free – no matter how long you have had them.

For all the damage it’s done, there are pockets of brilliance on the high street. H&M’s Conscious range is an example of a hugely successful endeavor - not least because Scandinavia is a leading light in sustainability; Copenhagen's Fashion Summit hosted every other year is the largest gathering of sustainable fashion in the world - but the fact that there is a designated conscious section rather than a sustainable agenda woven into the fabric of the entire brand suggest that this is still a niche, rather than mainstream, approach. But there’s no doubt that where one high street retailer makes well-received steps, others will follow. One of the most notable is ASOS Africa, which is produced in collaboration with SOKO Kenya, to establish local craftsmanship in underprivileged communities in Africa.

Simonds argues that the call to action is still weak, though. “There’s a huge disconnect between what people say and what they do. There’s this perception that everyone is being super sustainable, but the big three things that people look for when making a purchasing decision are price, design and quality. What we’re seeing the most is an inadvertent post-rationalisation. Post purchase, they’ll weave the sustainable element into the story. But it’s not actually why they bought it.” That said, he is hugely positive about the future – from both a brand and consumer perspective. “Awareness is most significant in millennials. They are very much looking for companies which align with their beliefs.” The thorniest issue, of course, is how much sustainability threatens the very cycle of the fashion. For RIKA’s Fashion Director Alex Carl, the solution is simple. “I’ve almost completely stopped following trends”, she admits. It’s largely because of this relentless cycle “that we throw away 35,000 tons of clothing globally a year.”

Where brands produce, consumers will follow. It’s all about eliminating, or at least reducing, the bad choices for the consumer. If the fashion industry can offer a wide range of ethically produced clothing at competitive prices, then there’s no doubt that the consumer will invest in it. Time will tell whether fast fashion truly has the potential to slow down – and the optimistic words of us millennials can be harnessed into genuine purchasing power.

Ph. The Reformation x Camille Rowe


Giddy Up

This look is one of several sartorial discoveries: that a leather harness doesn't have to be all BDSM when worn over a Brokeback sawn-off tartan shirt; that I was wrong when I thought I would never wear XL floor-sweepers again - this time with added fray detail that nods to Marques'Almeida, rather than Britney - and that I seriously wonder how I survived without Free People in my life. The US mega-brand is still fairly niche in the UK (available only online, thus far) and this isn't a sponsored blog post; but the harness, the jeans and the fanfuckingtastic leopard print boots (which I've worn every day since they arrived despite the 4 inch heel) are all amazingly unique and all from FP. Which for someone that's ever looking for everyday things with an added quirk, is ideal. NB: harness may attract attention. Do not wear somewhere ultra conservative, for your own sense of sanity.


To What Do We Owe An Ex? And Other Ex-istential Questions

[Warning: rant impending.]
Last week, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie got married. And the world carried on turning. But what was Jennifer Aniston doing when they got married? How was she feeling? AND WHY WASN'T SHE TWEETING ABOUT HOW GODDAMN HAPPY SHE WAS FOR THEM?

I know, right. Why the Tom, Dick and Brad would she? But having read William Langley's piece in The Telegraph last week, it would seem I am alone. "Instead of cancelling interviews, a smarter strategy might be to begin the next [interview] by saying how happy she is for her ex and his new wife, and that she holds no grudges and doesn't want her fans to either. Then we'll know that she's truly as decent as they say she is" he writes. Now, I don't normally criticise other journalists - call it karmic professionalism - but aside from the fact that I have no clue who this sanctimonious 'they' is that Langley speaks of, this is the biggest load of patronising poppycock I have ever read.

The assumption that a woman is still lovelorn, ten years later and engaged to another man, is frankly fucking insulting. That said -- who in their right mind would not feel a little out of sorts if their ex shacked up a futuristically beautiful woman and had 78 children with her within about 78 minutes? Who, in their right mind, would feel obliged to congratulate them publicly on their marriage? Privately, maybe. But publicly? Extraordinary. And who, most importantly, decreed that a woman was only 'decent' if she forgave her ex and told everyone around her that they too must drop their grudges? Dang, I forgot that we live in rainbow land and no-one may feel betrayed, particularly on behalf of others who may have been hurt.

The fact that the comments section under the piece is a flurry of conversation about who is nicer and better and gooder (sp) - Angelina or Jennifer - and not, say, a discussion on what makes a woman decent and what, in truth, we ever owe an ex whose life we have nothing to do with anymore, makes me slightly despair. Hollywood may be a bizarre, fake and often soul-destroying industry, that much is true, but is it also a parallel universe where you are expected to fist bump your ex and pat all their kids on the head? I parted with all my ex-boyfriends on formerly painful and latterly absolutely-fine-and-friendly terms,  but I would not feel obliged to publicly congratulate any of them on their matrimony. If I did, it would be my choice and it would have absolutely nothing to do with how decent or honourable a human being I was. 

The fact that the public are still 'brooding' and full of 'recrimination' has nothing to do with Jennifer's feelings towards her ex and everything to do with the way in which we invade a celebrity's life as if they are a performance piece in human morality. You only need to look at the many tragic deaths in Hollywood over the last decade - Robin Williams, Heath Ledger, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Brittany Murphy - to see the pressures incumbent on a celebrity in modern times. Evaluating Jennifer Aniston's decency and melodramatically describing her relationship to Brangelina as "a slow-burning love triangle... obliging the rest of us to take sides" merely fans the fire. No-one is being forced to take sides of a marriage that ended a long time ago - about people we have never met. As journalists, we should not be pandering and sustaining a fabricated two-bit side-show that is as crass as it is out of date. And finally? Most importantly? If Jennifer Aniston wants to hate her ex-husband for leaving her, or not leaving her (maybe she left him! Take that!) then fucking let her. It is none of our business whether she showers Brad and Angelina Jolie-Pitt with bespoke artisinal gifts, or posts parcels of flaming hot turd through their letterbox. Good, glad I got that off my chest, then.


In The Words Of Justin Timberlake, Knit Me A Tracksuit

Thanks to this season's penchant for the rib knit co-ord, I've finally found a tracksuit I can make my peace with. I'm actually most excited about wearing these trousers underneath dresses - I'm mildly obsessed with the kick flare once again, having just taken delivery of some outrageously flared indigo jeans from Free People and these are rather subtler, with their double slit detail - but together, they're also an interesting concept. It's too early in the morning for me to suss what I look like in a matching pair of knitwear, but I definitely look like something. Maybe a furry condom (it's ribbed ok?) The YSL bag you see here incidentally is my best vintage eBay score of recent times. It fits hardly anything but I've worn it for 2 weeks straight. And as for the shoe swap: it was Saturday and chores had to be done. So here you have the 'blog' take and the IRL take on how I'd wear this curious ensemble. Never say I don't give you the 360 vision.

I'm wearing Ribbed Sweater With Side Slits, Ribbed Flared Trousers and slides all from Zara, Balenciaga Mesh and Suede Pumps, vintage YSL bag from eBay and Sunglasses from an Italian market. 


Kim Kardashian Sits Next To Stephen Sotloff: There's Something Distressing About The Way We Digitally Digest Our News

Where once you saw your intelligence (and knowledge of, say, 'real' news and politics) compromised by an admission that you might also enjoy reality TV, never has pop culture been more accepted. And not just pop culture, at that. The lowest eddies of pop culture - Georgie Shore, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, MIC, TOWIE, Catfish - are discussed in newspaper columns as well as blog posts; a social media MTV infamy that we cannot ignore. I'm personally thrilled about this. I love low-brow 'trash' (the nastiest name) - TV, teen movies, books, cultural figures like Doug Hutchison and Courtney Stodden's blatant attempts to score a Hello! cover - and the fact that I do no longer need to defend my interests (except to my mother) is superlative. But I was caught by something that the mononymous singer Anastacia said this week about Kimye: "I feel like their need for attention is just so ill placed today. They don't realise the wars and things going on that they become a llittle obsessive."

There's no defending their self obsession. There's diddly squad chance that if Kim -GQ Woman of the Year hollerrrr! But really, ouch to all humanitarians out there who *might* have been more deserving of that accolade - hadn't done things like take 200 selfies on holiday, or if Kanye hadn't let a team of retouchers fiddle with their 'just married' Instagram shot for over 2 days, that they would be the Kimye that they are. A hybrid monolith of all that is wrong with celebrity culture to some people and the new frontier of fame, to the more forward-thinking. For me, it's an amalgamation of them both. But what I'm finding particularly troubling at the moment is that they are quite literally sharing the same amount of column inches as the vile and profilic celebrity 'nude pic leaker' 4chan (who, according to my colleague, is understood to be a rogue Chinese man, because of the 'Chan' bit. OH MY GOD, PEOPLE) and Stephen Sotloff. 

Yesterday, I was browsing one of my typical news outlets and there was a picture of Stephen, before he was beheaded (I can scarcely believe that I am typing those words - the fact that I have to is enough to floor me for most of a day) and above him, there was an equal sized picture of Kim, with some story or another. Below him was a slightly different, equal-sized picture of Kim. And below her, was another picture of Stephen with another headline update. My screen was a checkerboard of Stephen and Kim and whilst my brain processes news - irrelevant or life threatening - in exactly the same digestive process, it was hugely disarming, visually, to see it displayed in one critical mass.

It's been a curious week for me, because I am incurably nosy (meet a journalist who isn't) but for the first time I find myself without any desire to dig. I did not search for the ISIS videos of James Foley and Stephen Sotloff; I have not seen a single naked picture of J Law, Cara, or Kate Upton. These are indubitably of wildly differing importance - whilst a 'digital rapist', as coined by Richard Godwin this week, is disgusting, it is not life threatening - but it's significant for me because I've actively let me news come to me. I haven't ferreted around into the bits that I am more or less interested in, because I've been suffering from some sort of tentative fear this week. I don't think I'm alone in this. I think our relationship with news outlets, can be difficult. 

I also find this mish mash of hi/lo culture a difficult - but necessary - topic to write about, because in some ways I am thrilled that all echelons of culture are, in 2014, taken seriously. This hasn't always happened. There's no doubt that however odious people may find Kimye - and this blog is not and will never pay homage to the fact that Kanye thinks he's a C21st Jesus - they are re-shaping not just the definition of a celebrity and the landscape of of fame and media value as a whole, but a whole new generation. All that said, it is the way that the news is digitally compounded together, right now, that I find so troublesome. Sure, you can make lists on Twitter and curate your news sources on Feedly, but even with Google's tailored algorithms, if you like to read your news online then you're going to find the homepage medley such as this. With a newspaper, you flick from page to page with some semblance of discernment - world news up front, culottes and Kim out back - but the internet isn't like this. In some ways, that is its strength. But in others, it's as dangerous as it is distressing.


It's Not Over, Not Over Yet [Repeat Klaxons To Fade]

Summer, that is. Suuuure it rained like 14 cats and 87 dogs yesterday, but it was still muggy guys. Just ask my hair. (It's like Amanda Seyfriend's weather-gauging tits in Mean Girls.) Therfore it's still OK to wear bare legs. Actually scrap that, there's pretty much only one month a year that I don't 'wear' bare legs (and I'm even not entirely sure which one that is), so what's more relevant is the lace-up linen shirt. Who wears linen out of the summer? WHO? Exactly, so it must be summer still. That's proof right there.

I'm wearing an Equipment Knox Shirt, ASOS Choker, H&M Trench Coat, Vintage Skirt, Topshop Socks, Vintage Sunglasses and River Island Mules.


The Politics Of Wearing A Band Tee

"Why are you wearing a Michael Jackson t-shirt?" asked my boyfriend, recently, with as much disdain as if I'd been wearing a Cliff Richard one. "Huh?" I replied, proud of my thrifted find. I don't really wear t-shirts - I am yet to figure out why I find them more complicated to pull off than a pussy bow blouse - but this one makes me feel good. The vibe is definitely a homage to his 'Earth Song' phase. "I like Michael Jackson, I know his songs, it's about the only 'music' t-shirt I CAN wear" I replied. "But you don't LOVE him. You don't talk about him."

And there you have it: the politics of wearing a band tee and the arguable authenticity of the the wearer's relationship with the worn. I don't agree with my boyfriend that you can only wear a t-shirt featuring a band that you speak of on a regular basis. I find band bores unbelievably dull. There are obviously ideals when it comes to wearing a band tee. Inheriting it from a parent (good), knowing all the songs, all the word (good good), having the lyrics tattooed on your ass (triple good). That's the holy grail but of course most purchases are not made with this authentic trinity in mind. My Michael Jackson t-shirt only abides by the second of those ideals. 

But I've thought about this and there are, of course, some rules that should ALWAYS be obeyed. For starters, a band tee cannot come from the high street. A Led Zeppelin tee from ASOS (currently selling) feels faker than a relationship on Made In Chelsea. If you love Led Zeppelin, you owe it to yourself to find a second-hand t-shirt, that isn't also being worn by every 13-year-old in Romford. Secondly, never wear the t-shirt of a band you hate. I can very comfortably wear a Spice Girls t-shirt because I loved them and still love them and wish, oh wish, that I still had my SPICE crop top that I wore to my 10th birthday. Equally, I'd be OK in a TLC one. But The Clash? I am not allowed to wear a Clash t-shirt. I do not know, nor love, their work. To wear a Clash tee would be the sign of a dick. And frankly I like to be a little more opaque about that than giving it away with a t-shirt.

I think the reason why I love this t-shirt is because it's pretty ugly. I saw someone complaining on Pinterest the other day about how there aren't many pretty band tees. Well, Pinterest not everything has to be purdy 'n pinnable! I think you're missing the point if you're looking for a super cute band t-shirt. My Spice Girls crop top was gopping. This MJ one is pretty foul: orange and black isn't the most winning of colour combos. But it makes me happy. And it least it isn't fucking Justin Bieber. 


Print Clash

I styled the beautiful Zlata in clashing prints for The Debrief. Art direction by Anna Jay and pictures by the awesome Francesca Allen. Scroll to the bottom for clothing credits. 

Zlata is wearing an Again dress, Urban Outfitters hoodie, Adidas trainers and Janvier bag // Goldie shirt, Christopher Kane joggers, Topshop heels and her own necklace // Sandro Spice jumper, Free People shirt and trousers and her own trainers