Je suis Charlie

Last week in Paris was definitely something that I will never forget.

Living only one stop from the initial Charlie Hebdo attack I think it is safe to say that I stayed hidden in my apartment for a good three days, not knowing really what on earth was going on and if it would ever be safe for me to leave. If it wasn’t for the only English Channel on my TV – BBC world news, I probably would still be cooped up. However that wasn’t the case, I soon ventured out and found Paris amazingly calm, quiet and under control. It amazed me how safe I felt walking around, getting to class, taking the metro etc….that was until the next shootings happened.

Luckily I had my friend coming to visit me at the weekend to completely take my mind off everything. Lucky for me (maybe not for her) but it meant that we really just had to get on and forget what was going on. I met Hattie at the station Friday night and we enjoyed the evening catching up and chatting about everything and anything all evening. We also attempted to munch chocolate mousse that I had prepared but unfortunately it was more chocolate then mousse and tasted yuck.

I am and have always been a terrible cook.

Over the weekend we did all of the main tourist sights – of course. We ate snails like true Parisians at the cutest little cafe de L’industrie. Went for afternoon tea and macaroons at Laduree and, just to be truly spoilt, had brunch at my favourite – Angelinas.

On Sunday we accidentally got caught in the ‘Je suis Charlie’ march as it was practically impossible to avoid the 1.5 million people walking. I am actually now very glad that this happened, it was surprisingly nice to walk with people so passionate about their country and fighting for peace and unity.

Spring/Summer 2015 Mulberry

MULBERRY might still be without an official captain at the helm following the departure of Emma Hill last year but that doesn’t seem to be causing it any problem. In fact, the luxury fashion label is very much embracing this as time to redefine and work out what it’s all about, go back to its rich heritage, rekindle that British charm and make it modern and youthful – and all with Fran Stringer, head of ready-to-wear design, leading the way.

And while last season we had the distraction of Cara Delevingne’s new bag line over any clothes, that was set right – something that started with the pre-collection earlier this year. Kew Gardens continued to be inspiration, only this time – as Stringer noted – with the addition of some “hero flowers”. Mulberry is back in bloom and an English country garden very much its motivation.

So what do you need to know? Well delphiniums are the flower of choice – featuring as blown up illustration prints on elegant any-occasion dresses or as lacework on blouses; gardening clogs are no longer only for the home, rendered here in colourful jacquard; trellis is cool – worked into perforated leather jackets and dresses; parkas are de rigueur; grandad cardigans can bring sparkle to any outfit, because here with glitter they do; and one bag can actually be six. Yep, you read right.

The Delphie is the bag to note – a clutch, a handbag, a satchel, or all and any of the above, the idea here is catering for multiple occasions by lengthening magic straps and unbuttoning the front fold to reveal a new colour or fabrication and thus a new bag. Impressive stuff – and ideally catering for today’s time-poor but style-seeking folk.

And that, in fact, is the overall crux of this collection: parkas over pretty dresses; outfits for the British summer social calendar (think the arts, the Serpentine), utilitarian but romantic with it – how to straddle today’s dress codes. But make them appropriately “Mulberry” too.

A final note for those wondering if it was the day for the grand creative director reveal – no.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Gucci

When a house like Gucci taps into the Seventies it does it with a sense of conviction that’s unparalleled. The decade was a Gucci heyday and Frida Giannini, a Seventies girl at heart, must have delighted in the making of this spring collection.

It was convincing from the get-go: from the opening look – a narrow-shouldered button-through A-line skirt suit rendered in white leather – to the toffee-coloured suede coat dresses with stonking gold marine buttons; this collection zinged with confidence.

Blue denim – a Giannini favourite – was worked into swingy cropped culottes with exaggerated turn-ups and natty shirt dresses with maxi white shoelaces criss-crossing up the sleeves and across plunging necklines. Blousy boho dresses in subdued retro prints were topped with gilets bursting in deluxe patchworks, crafted from snakeskin, Mongolian and glossy goat hair.

The palette – and those furs and suedes leaned more towards autumn than summer – something that seems to be less of a trend and more of the norm in many of the collections to date. It’s now the job of the resort collections in which to flaunt summer colours and fabrics. These clothes will land in store in February, at a time when most of us aren’t thinking about shedding our coat – let alone much else.

Shorter hemlines did all point to one thing: the floor-skimming gown is officially over – suddenly, even the very idea of it seems outdated. Instead, Giannini proposed Oriental-style dresses with Mandarin collars and embroideries as precious as an antique piano shawl.

This collection had sass, glamour and commerciality in spades – and that’s not even counting the stacked heel suede boots and leather saddle bags in polished antique tan – everything in fact that women want from Gucci. Kate Moss and Charlotte Casiraghi (who is the new face of Gucci cosmetics – a new category debuting today with Pat McGrath as artistic director) applauded from the front row. Either one of them would look terrific in any and all of it.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Elie Saab

The sound of running water flowing through the vast white tent of the Espace Ephemere Tuileries in the heart of Paris  had a soothing effect on harried reporters as the Paris show season entered its final stretch.

But the real reason Elie Saab selected the sounds of waves splashing was to reflect this season’s theme of a plunge into the ocean in search of sunken treasures. He found dresses with a hidden beauty buried in the depths and hauled them up to the sartorial shore intact.

The intense colors, like oranges and blues, glistening sequined surfaces, and what the house called the “hidden beauty” of the underworld, was found reflected in the label’s typically flowing elegant dresses and sequined garments, some of which looked as opulent as wedding dresses but designed in other colors or made bold with strong shades used in degrade work creating a sublime slide of colors in one look.

The technique was used on floor length dresses with long slits that began with bold colors that diminished as the gowns reached the floor. The idea was that of dresses being dipped in water.

This season,  the designer broke with tradition and began the show with print dresses that looked like patterned scarves flying around the model in the ocean breeze, and cut to reveal bronzed legs and bordered with graphic black and white lines which gave a modern edge.

A mini dress with long sleeves and graphic black and white bordering was decorated in dreamy greens and oranges, like a coral spotted deep in the ocean, and a black sheer trouser suit decorated with patterns worked into the lace could have been the tattoo like surface or the skin of a translucent underwater creature.

Saab, like many designers this season, referenced the 1970s. But his 1970s was a glamorous and sophisticated affair. Think well dressed Dallas babes in long pants and shirts or glamorous evening wear.

Some of the details included lace that looked like sea foam or sequined dresses with a ripple effect, like the sun shimmering off the water.

It was a beautiful rich collection of princess mermaid gowns that employed sequins and draping to create sparkling objects of beauty, carried off by beautiful leggy women. A few had day jobs and lives and flirty paint suits to wear for those occasions.

Some of the dresses were so opulent in their underwater swirls of blues and oranges that they brought to mind the most beautiful fish in the ocean on show in a fine aquarium.

Where Saab comes into his own is with the lace and sequins that other designs sometimes miss the mark on. Here they looked as rich as fine jewels.


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