Friday, March 16

PHOTOGRAPHED BY MICHAEL STEPHENS

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I AM VERY FORTUNATE TO BE ABLE TO CALL MICHAEL A GREAT FRIEND OF MINE. NOT ONLY DOES HE HAVE THE MOST INCREDIBLE NATURAL EYE, BUT HE HAS THE UNCANNY ABILITY TO MAKE SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING. WHEN I WAS FEELING ROTTEN IN FEBRUARY, HE WAS THE ONLY ONE I WOULD ALLOW TO TAKE PICTURES OF ME AT FASHION WEEK. IF HE HAD HAD HIS WAY, I MIGHT HAVE GONE OFF TO LE BARON IN JUST THE LEOTARD...BUT WE'LL SAVE THAT LOOK FOR ANOTHER DAY. WHEN MICHAEL ISN'T BEHIND HIS PENTAX ANALOGUE CAMERA, YOU'LL FIND HIME SCRIBBLING PIECES FOR i-D MAGAZINE
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EDIE SEDGWICK PRINT DRESS BY LISA PERRY. ROBE VINTAGE. FUR CUFFS FROM ASOS. BOOTS TOPSHOP.
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Thursday, March 15

THE JITROIS 'ROY' DRESSES

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It was, and is still, a huge honour that I had my name dedicated to not one but FIVE of the pieces from the Jitrois Spring/Summer 2012 collection. The four ROY dresses and the IMOGEN green suede skirt have done pretty well in the press too, suggesting that a little of the attention-seeking nature of their namesake rubbed off on them. The 'Imogen' skirt was hastily conceived when I walked into the final fitting with Jean Claude Jitrois and the Creative Director the day before our presentation. I was wearing my €1 yellow pleated skirt from Freep'star and it was literally grabbed off me and taken to the atelier to be 'Jitrois'd' up. The green suede looks absolutely sensational. If I say how much it costs your eyes will pop out of your head and into your Earl Grey, so I'll keep mum. 
Above: Jitrois ROY V dress in black in Vogue Germany's March issue; Below model Sarah Marshall wears the dress at the Prix Mont Blanc awards in Berlin, pictured with Teri Hatcher; The dress in the SS12 lookbook.
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Above: ROY BRODERIE dress in LOVE magazine's March issue. Below: On Arizona Muse in January's Vogue Paris; and in the SS12 lookbook
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Above: Imogen suede skirt in L'Officiel March, below in the SS11 lookbook. Below right: The shortsleeved ROY crochet dress in the SS12 lookbook, also available in black.
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Below: Jean Claude Jitrois poses with a model wearing the Imogen skirt for Jewel magazine.
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Monday, March 12

A MAXIMALIST AT HOME

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James Long womenswear 12-13 at the London Showrooms in Paris 
Call it what you will : the Downton effect, Diamond Jubilee influences or simply a post-recession neo romance explosion, but the current fashion mood leaves no hiding place for minimalists. When I went to visit the London Showrooms in Paris last weekend to 'meet' the James Long and Mary Katrantzou A/W 12-13 collections, I went around blessing each handcrafted piece as if at an altar. 'My time has come' I almost whispered aloud, 'this is my time'. A self-diagnosed maximalist, the more extravagant the dress, the better. The opulence in the beadwork, embroideries and textures cast in these rich colours really hark back to a time when clothing was called 'costume', and for good reason.
I'm trying very hard to think of a season in my living fashion memory when things came close to being even nearly as opulent, and I'm failing. We're all familiar with the royal portraits of duchesses, French, English, Spanish... simply dripping in finery. If you were fortunate enough to be born the right side of the palace gates form the 15th-19th centuries, when you got dressed, you got dressed. You had to outshine your own furnishings for a start. Coasting through the Katrantzou, Long, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Miu Miu collections from this new season is almost like revisiting those royal portraits again,-complete with the velvets, brooches and gold buttons- just with shorter skirts and free of the persecuted corset.
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Clockwise from left: Miu Miu, Prada and Louis Vuitton. Photos by Morgan O'Donovan for Dazed Digital.
When I visited the Chateau of Fontainbleau this weekend, I immediately caught snatches of A/W Prada in the furnishings. The Chateau is about 40 minutes Southwest from Paris, and was the inspiration for the Chateau of Versailles. I liked the mélange of architectural styles, which you don't see at Versailles because it was all built in one go. The Kings of Fontainebleau however, commissioned their own extensions in the style of the day from the middle ages to the 19th Century. Napoleon was the last resident here : his bed is the tiny green and gold one at the very bottom of this page.
Mary Katrantzou drew her inspirations this season from gardens and stationary, but she is of course most famous for her inaugral trompe l'oeil 'inside-out-interiors' motifs, featuring  sashed window and chandeliers. Even Louise Gray's silver studded  breastplate wouldn't look out of place on a suit of armour. The point is, it's a great time to be dressing up like Marie Antoinette's furniture.
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Detail shots from James Long, Mary Katrantznou and Louise Gray's collections.

Monday, March 5

WOMAN WORSHIP - AND WHY THE HELL NOT?

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I was aware of Giovanna as early as a few years ago. I recognised her distinctive bold sartorial style around shows in Paris and on the streetstyle blogs: strong colours, big shapes, lots of jewellry, and not dissimilar from my own. But it was only really in the last few months that I made the connection between the editorial pictures I had on my walls at university and the image-maker behind them. It seems Giovanna has been helping me make decisions about how I dress for a lot longer than I realise.




Around the same time that I became hooked on her Gio's Journal column in W magazine, for whom she is contributing fashion editor, that same magazine published an article on girl crushes. Commonly a romaticised phenomenon occurring in single-sex boarding schools, girl crushes are often first formed for glamorous older girls in house common rooms. Although I never had one myself, I read about them in the novels of Enid Blyton and Karen WallaceIn the article, Thessaly la Force (what a name...!) describes the nervous 'first date' shakes she experienced on having the opportunity to meet one of her female icons. And she was far from boarding school age: she had a rather glamourous job of her own at The New Yorker. The writer jokes about her silly attachment, but she makes a very valid point. 
 "The “girl crush” may sound ­silly, but sometimes it takes something ­unserious to get us talking about a serious subject: the ambitions of young creative women and the need for ­worthy role models [...] Each of them has accomplished something the rest of us dream of doing. And because they’ve done it, we feel we can too."
My 'girl crush' on Giovanna - now that I can call it that - goes far beyond her sense of style. It's a crush on her career, her aesthetic, her playful and self-deprecating attitude to herself, her professional outlook, her lifestyle, her wacky habits and her relationship with her colleagues. She has my dream job - fashion stylist at a number of top International Conde Nast publications, and additionally, Giovanna is ten years older than me, and therefore allows me to imagine what my life when I am her age now. 
After catching up over dinner last night at Chez Jeanette, I brought the topic of Girl crushes up with Shini, Jen and Dvora as we walked through the streets of Paris.  Jen mentioned Carol Issa of Tank magazine, while we all swooned over Candice Lake, with wistful 'Oh-s!' and 'Oh-she's-so-amazing!'s' Both Candice and Carol are exteriorly and interiorly beautiful women. Humble, kind, ambitious, brilliant. Women I could add to this girl crush list off the top of my head : Diane Arbus, Olivia Wilde, Tavi Gevinson, Zadie Smith, Patti Smith, Christa d'Souza, Laurie Penny, Camilla Batmangheli...
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La Force also brings much needed attention to an ideology which takes a fair bit of bashing from time to time, as trends rise and fall, namely that of the cult of woman worship. What could be healthier than the admiration, respect and appreciation of an individual of our fellow womankind, who has earned attention for doing something outstanding? Sadly, the girl crush is not universal. You only have to leaf through the tabloids or any noxious gossip weekly to see that in some parts of society, woman-on-woman hating is positively encouraged. The endless sharp-tongued criticism of Victoria Beckham is the perfect example. On paper - as a woman who formed part of one of the biggest pop empires the world as ever seen, then went on to individually start a luxury business from the ground up, is the mother to three children and balances a steady marriage, constantly under public scrutiny and yet manages to remain scandal-free - she's a legend. Yet many female journalist prefer to focus attention on the fact that she wore high heels while pregnant, as if it were on the same scale as smoking 20 a day for the 9 months.
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La Force observes that professional girl crushes are also a reassuring confirmation that the professional realm once dominated by men is evening out. True, my girl crush works in the female dominated world of fashion, but you only have to look at the video above or on W's website to see that Giovanna is a 24/7 powerhouse, loving her work, loving life, and running her own shop entirely. And cordially, too. I haven't met Giovanna yet, but I know that my 'first date shakes' will surely rival those of La Force's when it does happen.
And of course, we can't ignore her style. I'd like to call it 'Me, but luxe'. Perhaps in ten years I might have as enviable a wardrobe. 
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Above: One of Giovanna's editorials for Vogue Japan. Below: Whilst picture researching for this post, I made two fascinating discoveries about Gio and I. First - Our shared taste in Bollywood style crop tops for parties. Second - we have the same party Game Face.
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