New York Fashion Week

Having just arrived back from a week’s holiday in Spain, I am woefully late to the New York Fashion Week buzz. But like many regular tweeters, my interest is always piqued by the well-crafted show build up of the Victoria Beckham brand. Full marks for her democratic and enthusiastic social media conversation, and also it seems, full marks for another great collection.

From the few new collections I’ve looked at today, the focus seems to be on the relaxed, and the undone. Not undone in the sense of messy, but in the sense of shape, of a ‘yes I know I look good’ confidence, without the contrived over-formality. Victoria Beckham’s collections have been a surprise over the seasons – each time they deliver a new angle to her style ethos, and this has journeyed from the structured body-con of the first collection, via sporty and Sixties influences and landing, for SS14, in a Celine-like aesthetic that is both tailored and effortlessly relaxed.

The same vibe was felt at Altuzarra. The collection’s crux seemed to be a series of separates, and again, the word ‘effortless’ would spring to mind. Beautiful fluid fabrics and the stark boldness of stripes and split skirts made for a cool and confident collection. Earlier in the day everyone’s eyes were on Alexander Wang, who since being announced as the new creative lead at Balenciaga has managed not to lose his own label’s vision. Influenced by the nineties logo mania, and quoted as saying he drew inspiration from a time when fashion was more ‘fun’, Wang’s SS14 girl had attitude, but in a softer and yes there’s that word again, effortless sense, not the tough rock girl of last season’s Givenchy and Saint Laurent chick. God I better carry a thesaurus for the rest of the week…

NYFW

I Used To Be A Fashion Writer

I used to speak fluent fashion. I could whip up 500 words on the Oscar red carpet, the latest designer choice by Michelle Obama, or Alexander McQueen’s death. Fashion by observation was my thing – a contribution to the conversation on a much-derided topic: why we wear what we do, why we care, why it affects us. The main criticism levied at my choice of word-fodder was that it was shallow, unintellectual, unchallenging. I vehemently disagreed and still do – the world of fashion is ever-changing, ever-challenging, and part of a wider social dynamic that plays it part in our evolution. Writing about fashion could encourage people to wonder, to dream, and to fall in love.

But aside from that, it was fun. I could tell you the red carpet dress heroes of the last five years, joyfully dissected in the early hours of the morning after an awards ceremony – a side effect of the LA time difference. I could give you the colour palette for AW13 and advise which designers do it best. I could advise on a street style blogger to follow, a new Scandinavian high street store, an up-and-coming eco-friendly leather brand.

Except that I couldn’t. Not anymore. For the last three years I have been working on the Other Side for a single brand. I have therefore become single-minded. Challenging and fantastic in its own ways, I realised that no longer do I ponder the Paris shows, hitting refresh on style.com until new looks are added. Nor do I ever offer a professional opinion on Michelle Obama’s evolving style, or which shoe designer is the next Big Thing.

Every brand is an island. And as a protector of that island and it’s communications, I speak and breathe a language particular to its parameters. I navigate the unchartered waters of social media conversations, but from a propaganda and police role, instead of a challenging or commenting voice. I am good at it, and I cherish the experiences I have. But the realisation I had lost my ‘fashion’ voice has been sneaking up in the back of my mind – and I want it back. My brand voice and my own voice are not mutually incompatible.

Writing under the alias of Wardrobe Wisdom I had a place. I no longer have the alias, but I have me – my own opinions and my own interests. And you’ll be seeing more of those as I coax my inner fashion girl out of her hiding place. And let’s face it, I have until next awards season to brush off the cobwebs and get stuck in.

Louis Vuitton

You always know you’ll get a good show with Louis Vuitton. There is usually a central installation to complement the collection’s theme or inspiration (most memorably a full vintage steam train from which the models disembarked) and for Autumn Winter 2013 a plush hotel corridor lined with doors became the show’s home.

For me the collection felt like a more Parisienne version of the Marc Jacobs show of a few weeks ago, a beautiful concoction of nightwear, intricate detailing like beading and lace, vintage pyjama and masculine outerwear influences and luxurious fur. As the models left and entered the doors they evoked thoughts of secret trysts at hotels, of late night drinks in the bar at Claridge’s circa 1925 and Hitchcock heroines playing with the luxury of ‘staying in’.

The set proved to be a fantastic visual, watching on the live stream lost none of the mystique and grandeur that the show required, although who knows how many rehearsals it took to perfect the models many simultaneous entrances and exits from the Orwellian row of doors.

The Autumn Winter 2013 collections felt, on a whole, much more decadent and sumptuous than the general light-heartedness of Spring Summer 2013. There is something about winter that embraces passion, luxury and decadence perfectly. And I would certainly spend my Autumn Winter in Marc Jacob’s late night vintage world.

Louis Vuitton

See the full collection on style.com

Oh Phoebe…

Phoebe Philo. The woman in whose head we want to live. Or more accurately, the woman we want to be, purely to have our hands on such an exquisitely Parisienne yet utterly wearable style. Celine is now synonymous with beautifully cut fabrics, effortless outfits and elegant simplicity, but for AW13 Phoebe Philo stepped it up again, and as I whizzed through the images from the show my heart leapt at every look. And then sank a little when it realised the closest I’m going to get to the new pieces anytime soon is by printing them out from style.com and sticking them to myself.

Below are two looks I fell in love with, but really you could say that about the whole collection. I need to cut this review short as otherwise the gushing will get too much to bear, needless to say the skirts, tops, draped dresses, check, texture and mohair that made up the collection were exquisite, desirable and one of the reasons that the fashion world tours four cities twice a year searching for the, well, the je ne sais quois the industry craves so much. Because as is so tantalisingly infrequent, sometimes really good fashion gets even better. Thank god for Phoebe Philo.

Celine

See the full collection on style.com

London Fashion Week

Working for a brand that shows as part of London Fashion Week means my time is well and truly taken. I barely have a chance to glance at any other brands on schedule, and even then it’s mostly to review their digital efforts and see what their live stream is like. The idea of a fashion ‘week’ is now an anomaly to me – it now revolves around one day of the show I work on, and then fades into a couple of days of sleepiness and debriefs. Recently however I have tried to make more of an effort to see what ‘Carli’ thinks of other collections, for the sheer joy of fashion I used to have and not for competitor analysis or critique. It’s hard: I start trying to work out which models different designers use the most or how they use their Instagram account rather than appreciating good embroidery or a covetable bag.

I chose two of my old favourites to just sit and gaze at, and see which looks I liked. Erdem and Peter Pilotto, both of whom are in my ‘when I’m a grown up I will wear’ brain folder. And what good shows just to like for the joy of good clothes! I’ve always been a fan of Erdem florals, and his newest collection, although (deliberately) darker than before, in palette and in styling, it was an exquisite sight to behold. I’ve long been trying to break out of my wardrobe of black, and the idea of a full printed Erdem floral look is enough to give my wardrobe pleasant shivers.

Meanwhile Peter Pilotto felt familiar but developed, with signature bold graphic prints and innovative shapes and cuts. A got a touch of the Mary Katrantzou about the collection, but that’s no bad thing.

Hopefully I’ll never be too fed up with fashion week to appreciate true talent and the beauty of clothes. Because among the technology, the live streams and the all-singing all-dancing budget-stretching LFW initatives, that’s really what it’s all about.

London Fashion Week

See all the collections from London Fashion Week on style.com

Marc Jacobs

My name is Carli and I am a pyjama-lover. Yes you read that right. Not a lover of frilly negligee puffs that I’m sure I should like, or tiny underwear-esque silk knicker-style ones. And definitely not ‘ironic’ pyjamas that have slogans, cute teddy bears or Mr Men on. No, I like real pyjamas, ones that star in the 1950s, Mad Men and suave men reading the paper on a Sunday morning in a mahogany library. Ok so they were originally the preserve of men, but proper long sleeve button-up pyjamas with traditional piping are now coveting by many women, including me. And it doesn’t stop there. You can get the same two piece style in beautiful silks, trimmed with understated cuffs and collars, or in check, stripes or diamond patterned. Oh the choices! My dream is to have a pair from Olivia von Halle – the different options are as varied as choosing a t-shirt from H&M, but all luxuriously, frivolously, fantastic.

So what a delight, dear readers, to see Mr Marc Jacobs embracing my vice as well! Never mind the stunning show set-up, the Jessica Stam hair, the parade of of-the-moment models, look at the pyjama influence! There were button down tops but in sequins and silk and topped with fur jackets, there were long lazy silk dresses, fulfilling my second desire for the entire wardrobe from The Great Gatsby, and to top it off, Marc Jacobs himself WAS WEARING PYJAMAS. It was almost too much to bare. Hashtag-in-love, as my inner fashion girl would say.

Marc Jacobs

See the full collection on style.com

More from Olivia Von Halle.

BAFTA Red Carpet

The most popular types of post on my old fashion blog were red carpet run downs. Mainly because I like to dissect good and bad sartorial decisions but also because, frankly, I’m sometimes a bitch and sometimes it’s funny.

There wasn’t much to be bitchy about on tonight’s red carpet, but nothing that made my jaw drop. Although to be honest, after years of outfit judging, it takes a lot to make my jaw even tentatively lower. I don’t think I’ve truly loved a red carpet look since Gwyneth Paltrow found her legs, eye liner and Balmain.

So February is here already, and so are the BAFTAs. Our well-dressed fodder had to brave a London deluge, a soggy red carpet and and a bit more than a chill in the air. The men, already in tuxedos, were smug in overcoats, but the women had to grin and bare shoulders, arms and d├ęcolletage, in an age where still, sleeves are apparently the failing of a Pretty Girl.

There was a lot of black. SJP wore a too-safe jumpsuit, Amy Adams wore a too cruise-liner sparkle-and-laced topped number and oh I’ve already forgotten the rest. I’m more a fan of the Little Black Look than most, but people, it doesn’t have to be dull.

There were a few moments: Helen Mirren arrived with pink hair, Jennifer Garner looked radiant and chic, the norm for her since the start of this awards season, and Marion Cotillard was a hero of colour in canary yellow, but although I love her, and love the colour, I wasn’t blown away for some reason – it felt like I’d seen it all before?

The stand-out for me was the lovely Miss Anne Hathaway. The haircut was one of the best things she’s done, offsetting a bloody beautiful face, and I liked that she chose a Brit brand with her studded Burberry. She seems more confident in her choices this year, there are less accessories and shine, more understated knowledge that she looks good in neat long skirted dresses and has the arms and shoulders of a ballerina ergo can ‘do’ strapless when suitable. The shape of the Burberry dress was effortless, I liked the slightly casual t-shirt style top and the stud detailing worked well with her hair. J’adore.

Anne Hathaway

See more images from BAFTA 2013 on Vogue.co.uk

Victoria Beckham

A huge part of my job as a fashion writer used to be trawling through pictures from the catwalks ad nauseum, reviewing solidly for four weeks. In the same way that I can’t bring myself to read another Ian McEwan because of over-analysis during A Levels, I no longer take the same pleasure in scouring every show review and catwalk gallery.

These days I allow myself a meander around style.com and pick out the designers that I know I might be interested in. The beginning of New York Fashion Week didn’t start out in any groundbreaking fashion, but, along with every other Brit in the fashion industry, I was anticipating a great show from Victoria Beckham, who, although having already proved she is no one-hit wonder, still attracts the intrigue of lesser-minded people who are ‘waiting for her to fail’.

I like Victoria Beckham, I won’t prattle on about her being ‘misunderstood’ but I think she’s much wittier and honest than people give her press image credit for. I loved her Marc Jacobs ‘in a carrier bag’ adverts, I love her outfits, her pout and, importantly for this discussion, her obvious talent for design and style.

Since starting her eponymous line and showing at fashion week, Victoria Beckham is so far removed from the WAG days of Baden Baden that the latter image seems more of a cheap parody than something she’d actually do. But back to the clothes…

A/W seasons are always stronger (in my opinion) if your speciality is structure, tailoring, outwear and block colour. Victoria has done all of these in one form or another, and has many design strengths, but for her AW13 show the standout was the outerwear, it seemed to allude to her new life back in Blighty, with classic textures and oversized coats that looked like that would actually be warm to wear and not just for show. Although not of the same category, a particular favourite of mine was a tuxedo-inspired look with a ‘shoulder-drape’ cape effect, teamed with skinny trousers and shoes by my favourite shoe god Mr Manolo Blahnik.

The reviews are coming in thick and fast now, and it seems Mrs Beckham has done it again, but then again, there was no doubt of that this time around, was there?

Victoria Beckham

See the full Victoria Beckham collection on style.com