Autumn/Winter 2015-16 Alexander McQueen

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That moment when a rose is on the verge of decay, when the petals turn floppy, soft and crinkled, is, says Sarah Burton a beautiful thing.

This show, staged at the Conciergerie in Paris, the vaulted chambers where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned before being beheaded, and, for those who can remember, the venue for Lee McQueen’s first show in Paris thirteen years ago, where models walked with wolves on leashes, examined the beauty of those roses.
A wilting bouquet was the image featured on the shows invitation, photographed by David Sims in 2003. But the way Burton captured a fading rose, in its last days of existence was best executed in a three-dimensional skirt made from layered petals of whisper-weight organza, they formed pillow-y blooms that seemed to wilt even more in motion.

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Piled up, 18th Century hair, powdered faces and Miss Havisham tiered lace fishtail gowns that buttoned all the way up to Victorian collars added to the dark romance. This was McQueen at its most feminine, and in many ways, at its very best. Since Burton took the helm, the house has benefitted from a gentler hand, yes, it was still provocative, but without a hint of aggression.There were no hard edges, everything looked frayed, as though it had lived a life – which brings us back to that dying rose again.

Any leanings towards bondage – a regular occurrence here – were replaced with lingerie in the shape of lacy leather bras that extended up to chokers. Her tonal leather looks in head to toe putty pink were devastatingly pretty and informed by the idea of a rose’s layers; how each petal peels away.

It was a triumph.

 If you haven’t yet visited Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty Exhibition at the V&A I suggest you make a date in your diary. It isn’t a show you are going to want to miss.

Click here to read my review of the exhibition.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Roland Mouret

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“To be desirable,” said Roland Mouret backstage before his show – that was the point of the collection. “The meaning of desire. I want women to feel like they want to steal the clothes from the hanger straight away.”

To this end – and with an imminent New York store opening – Mouret was going back to looking at what defined him. And joy and desire was what he concluded – his sculpted silhouettes here softened in colour-blocked pastels to make this a young and fresh collection that in plenty of white, primrose yellow, pink and lilac was the embodiment of spring/summer.

Bold floral appliqués blossomed on tote bags and skirts, dresses too – at the front and as little caped backs; elsewhere came hibiscus prints laser-cut into cotton mesh for jackets and splaying A-line skirts; asymmetric hems were accompanied by injections of grass green; shorts were out in strong force and cemented that youthful sensibility. It was refreshing.

It had all started in the fittings, explained Mouret. His women chiming in with the covetable buzzword and so leading him to develop the Mouret DNA which, while still obviously underpinning the collection today, took on a lighter and relaxed new note this time round. It was refreshing.

“I’m a practical person, a Virgo, so I’m always thinking about what women will live in, trying to anticipate their feelings – people will buy because they desire,” he summed up.

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Power Of Pink

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How you feel about pink probably depends on your date of birth, gender and how much your mother rammed it down your throat.

Somone born post 1992 – such as myself – would be the type of child who was dressed in ‘Daddy’s Little Princess’ T-shirts, force-fed My Little Pony and whose bedroom was painted various bilious shades of fuchsia until they finally rebelled and turned goth…almost. If you are that woman, you probably hate, despise and secretly fear pink.

There seems to be rather a lot of haters. No other colour provokes such violent reaction as pink. Many women are moved not towards grateful, tree-huging serenity at the sight of pink, but to fury. According to analysis published in The Harvard Business Review 2011, women loath pink. The thing is, do they genuinely hate it, feel they ought to hate it, or not so much hate it as find themselves insulted, outraged and royally hacked off by the gender-loaded assumptions that trail in its daily wake?

Personally, I love pink. Not the Barbie World pink but that soft girly pink that matches almost anything in my wardrobe.

Miuccia Prada, savvy contrarian that she is, is fully cognisant of the political and sociological contradictions of pink. That’s why her autumn/winter 2015 collection is saturated in the sugariest incarnations of the colour. Miuccia’s collection also garnered a swathe of headlines, but hers were positive. “I hope it looked ironic,” she said after her show, while also acknowledging that pastel pink, for all its anti-feminist credentials, happens to be a very pretty colour. And its all over the next winter’s collection. “Oooh I love pink. Its such an evocative colour,” Erdem Moralioglu expressed as their latest showroom is feminised with cherry-blossom-pink silk dresses, “Pink is particularly chameleon-like, if you put it next to emerald green its bizarre and wrong in all the right ways. Mix it with crimson and raw primary shades and it starts to look interesting and quite pervy.”

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The Queen is Supreme Defender of pink, especially the pastel version. She looks magnificent in it, both feminine and majestic. The majestic queenliness could be more about her than the colour.. but thats not the point. We must stop allowing pink to define us, and instead set about owning our personal favourite shade. Talking of other pink-wearing models – how about Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel…not one wuss among them. Sometimes it takes strength to show your softer side.

For me the funny thing is that around 95% of men, purchasing for their wives and girl would go for something pink. Most of male shopping occurs (in an absolute colour blind panic) around Christmas, Mothers Day and Valentines Day, which is know now known as peak pink period. When in doubt marketeers grope for pink and therefore the males fall into every little trap that they have set and pink products are brought.

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In the end, it is the sheet gorgeous, luminous, orgasmic, sring-like loveliness of pink that keeps us buying, despite our protestations. The bestselling colour for prom dresses the year Gweneth Paltrow was lampooned for her weepy Oscar speech over her pale rose Ralph Lauren was…pink.

Incidentally the following year she went back to black – but too much pink can have that effect.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Alberta Ferretti

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ALBERTA FERRETTI’S show  was like opening the gates to the garden of Eden and seeing what lies behind. Well, a tribe of bohemian nymphs in sheer barely-pink coloured gowns with petal appliqué, of course. One, even had the latticing of a pagoda, its pink flowers seemingly weaving in and out of those lines. Other shorter, just as romantic styles boasted blooms of crochet florals and raggedy, leafy hemlines.

Pocahontas was also skipping around in there, in tan-coloured ankle-grazing suede waistcoats with whip stitching and decorative punch-outs, and elsewhere in all that fringing and criss-cross lace-up gladiator sandal-boots.

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The thing about Alberta Ferretti is this: these looks are never going to be cutting edge – that isn’t what she has built her brand upon. And I’m sure she doesn’t mind a bit about that, because her successes are in making women look and feel pretty. It’s as simple as that and she did that again with this collection. Any one of these dresses would work at any summer function, day or night. A garden party? Why, of course. A guest at a wedding? Look no further. A gown for a trio of bridesmaids? yes, she had those by the dozen. A bohemian bride? Yes, a couple of those were in the offing too. Doing pretty – that sells.

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