Friday, October 16, 2009

The Apfel of My Eye

Granny chic is constantly being reworked by the younger generation and with the wide accessible vintage pieces on offer in every city in the world, it seems old clothes are becoming the new garments that don many a fashionista back. Not many people can pull the look of successfully, but one that certainly can is ‘Geriatric starlet’ Iris Apfel. At 82 years of age, this style icon has a collection of clothes that would fill hundreds of these everywhere vintage stores and markets. However, she did not buy to collect, she bought to wear, and this is the attitude that has catapulted her into the limelight.

At 12 years old, she was forced to do her own clothes shopping as her chic mother was too busy running a small chain of boutiques to help her. Working as an intern at Women’s Weekly Magazine did not suit her bubbly personality and wanted to make her (unusual) name known in the fashion industry. Along with her husband Harold, the started a textile company out of a suitcase, which counted Dorothy Draper as their first big break, and from then on their fantastic silks and antique fabrics became must-haves in the interior design industry.

With closets that house 70 years of clothes and accessories, it’s no wonder the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York asked Apfel if they could borrow some accessories to use in an exhibition. The few accessories they needed turned into outfits, 10 mannequins they wanted her to style multiplied to 82, and the it soon became her show, entitled ‘Rara Aris’ meaning rare bird, and a rare bird she is as her anthology of feather loaded pieces turns her wardrobe into somewhat of a nest. From a floor length beaded Ralph Lauren overcoat to a faux fur balero from H&M, the show that spans her long fashionable life champions every fashion trend and famous designer of almost a century.

What she brings to the fashion industry is a mind set many people cannot grasp, that clothes are to be worn and enjoyed, not put on display in a vacuum packed bag so nothing could ever penetrate it. She is an avid fan of comfort also, and mostly wears men’s Levi’s. Her iconic black rimmed circular specs can be spotted at the odd fashion week show, but with this new status coming so late in her blossoming life, she’ll be sure to get invited to many more. If you have Ralph Lauren wondering if you’re looking for a job or Lindsay Lohan demanding you to be her stylist, you’re a shoe-in!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Touch of Sparkle

As the nights start to get longer, it’s always nice to have something bright and shiny to cheer us up. This season follow red carpet fashions by adding some sparkle to your outfit with sequins and glitzy embellishments. The great thing about this look is that there’s two ways to wear it.

The first is go all out, like Lily Allen’s outfit performing at the Chanel Spring Summer 2010 show in Paris. Wearing a fantastic gold and black sequin dress accompanied by matching shimmering shoes, Allen stood out from the usual pastel and monochrome garments that decorated the Chanel models. Another celeb who has this glittering trend right is Emma Watson earning her wages as the face of Burberry in a beautiful golden Burberry Prorsum.

The second way to wear this look is the more casual and toned down approach, by simply accessorising with something sparkly or wearing one shimmering item in your ensemble. For this style, look no further than the ever trendy Fearne Cotton wearing a plain black dress and a pair of glittering tights to effortlessly brighten up this grunge inspired outfit. Make sure you keep the sparkle in your wardrobe this winter.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Forty Years of Festival Fashion to Mark the End of the Festival Season

1969 marked the start of the festival revolution with the founding of Woodstock. Forty years on and the vibrations of the momentous music event are still being felt today, not only in the thriving music industry but the fashion world also. On its anniversary, it’s time to draw inspiration from the magic mud that covered the White Lake hills of Bethel, New York, and pay homage to the festival and it’s style icons that inspired music lovers for the past forty years, and will undoubtedly inspire the next generation of festival goers.

The hippie aesthetic was motivated by the freedom music possessed, thus creating a freedom of fashion allowing people to wear what they wished in order to express themselves. There were no labels, just style, and that mantra is still witnessed today. Hippie chic infected fashion so much that it still permeates the catwalks today, and come festival season people imitate their favourite style icons; from Joplin to Hendrix, Karen O to Pete Doherty and everyone in between.

The come-as-you-are ethos of the Woodstock era was witnessed throughout the 70’s and continued on into the working class industrialised era that controlled the early 80's when people went straight from work to gigs, and couldn’t afford to purchase new get-up for the summer festivals. Ecological fashion was the main idea behind such festivals, to be able to recycle your old clothes into something durable and looking extremely fashionable without trying at the same time. The 80’s also paved way for the shoulder-pad which has been sewn into every garment on the High Street this season. By choosing either harsh or faint silhouettes, swinging your shoulders at the gigs might get tiring with this new addition, but it is definitely worth it.

The 90’s saw the neon trend reach its climax with trance and dance followers swarming to huge open fields to consume whatever it was that made their body to move in a hypnotic bounce, and let’s hope the multicoloured furry boots will never, ever, grace us with their shuddering inducing presence again. Artists such as M.I.A revived this neon trend in recent years and the explosion of House Of Holland saw everyone, including its labels model, Agyness Deyn, don its sight blinding colours mixed with stone washed denims. There is guaranteed to be some of that haze of colour illuminating from Simian Mobile Disco’s and Orbital’s crowds.

Not all outfits at festivals were made from textiles as mud and body paint seems to have been a hit back in the day. And with the unpredictable weather of our fair country, one would guess that by Sunday of Electric Picnic, everyone will either be strutting in mud encrusted clothes or whacking on the face paint on to cover their unwashed faces.

The trick is to partake in the festival spirit by being comfortable and not too fashion conscious, but still keep an element of your regular style as not to feel completely out of your own skin come day two. By mixing 501’s and blouses, the Woodstock crowd effortlessly, and unconsciously, paved way for the festival uniform of today. Denim shorts are a must, as made famous by Sienna Miller, but for us everyday women, pairing them with tights will look just a chic. Janis Joplin was lucky to have had Vivienne Westwood design for her when she mounted the stage at Woodstock, and many artists such as Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who has her good friend Christian Joy design her outrageous and colourful get-ups, and Blondie don designer gear on stage. This however can all be easily mimicked as the High Street stores have had designers such as Mathew Williamson and, well, model-turned-designer apparently, Kate Moss, doing clothing lines which are sure to be seen on the fashionistas of EP. If, like me, those lines are far too expensive to afford for a festival that already has you in the red, vintage stores contain key ethnic pieces to sparkle up your haversack. And who knows, you might find a dress that was once worn to a music festival back in the sixties or stumble across a pair of boots Patti Smith would be jealous of.

Men seem to have the luxury of not caring what they are wearing after a few pints, whereas we ladies seem to become more aware or thother peoples' clothing, including our own. Flares have almost been completely abolished in favour of skinny jeans, and there might be the odd paisley shirt floating around on a long haired bearded musician, but there is no denying that bands such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Who, and Jimi Hendrix made every man who attends festivals wanting to look like them. Folk five-piece Fleet Foxes channel the hippie hay-day eloquently, both with their harmonies and their flannel check-shirts. Natasha Kahn, a.k.a Bat For Lashes, is sure to have an impressive stage get-up at this year’s festival as she models her look on that of Nico and Cleopatra.

One thing that has consistently been at the forefront of festival fashion over the past forty years is accessories. Anything goes at festivals and be either as subtle or as outrageous as you like. Headbands and hats hide the greasy hair, necklaces and scarves conceal the curry-stained dress, clothes the un-manicured nails, and coloured leggings or tights can distract anyone from your hangover state. The key is to derive inspiration from past icons, and indeed the icons of today such as Chloe Sevigny who always looks effortlessly cool at festivals, and experiment with clothes; that’s what they’re there for. Sunglasses are a pivotal accessory at any festival, even if it doesn't stop raining all weekend, the should be at the pinnacle of anyone’s check list. Not only do they block the rays but they are brilliant for hiding bloodshot eyes the next morning.

Clearly the Woodstock fashion beat goes on. Fashion has the habit of repeating itself, but with this season’s extreme shapes and body-con style dresses, mixing and matching previous festival styles with these new pieces will be sure to get you a few compliments, and stay comfortable at the same time.


Published on the Meath Event Guide website.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Irish Designers causing an Up-Rising

Meeting House Square was all dolled up last week as it hosted this seasons Fashion Breakthrough event for up and coming Irish designers. Each year it showcases home-grown designers who are in the transition from leaving college to having their own label, and the designers vary from each end if this fashionable spectrum. I had the pleasure of assisting stylist Angela Scanlon once again, and helped her style each of the 13 designers' collections. The Spring Summer 2010 Press show in the afternoon showcased some amazing pieces that had Xposé and Style Nation on the edge of their seats, with designers such as Lisa Shawgi and Sinéad Doyle stepping out of their A/W comfort zones and flourishing the catwalk with some bright and crisp designs that were fit for any Fashion Week.

The theme of the main catwalk show in the evening, presented by actress and journalist, Holly White, was Uprising and the models in big boots donning back-combed afro's and dramatic eye make-up set the scene effectively. Other designers for the evening show included Beibhinn Flood showcasing her dramatic florals, Sophie Rieu and her delicate Unicorn label and Heidi Higgins undoubtedly wowed the audience with her iconic sky blue dresses that contrasted against her stark black designs.

These designers are sure to make headway in the Fashion industry over the coming years, and Zoe Boomer already counts Natasha Beddingfield as a dedicated follower of her fashion. Fashion BreakThrough "aims to create an accessible, unique platform for fresh design expertise via a vibrant fringe event that accentuates all that is exceptional in the art of Irish Fashion" according to the Dublin Enterprise Board's reporter, and I feel it has accomplished just that. Photographs from the catwalk show are soon to follow this post, hopefully they'll be worth the wait if last years' ones are anything to go by.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Channel Your Inner Chanel

I don't know if anyone other than Miss Mary-Kate could pull of the latest extravagant Chanel sunglasses, but I would sure love to try. The two-tone detailing might cause some sight confusion whilst modelling them but we're used to impractical fashion at this stage! These would complete my festival look fabulously. Sadly, the price of my pending Electric Picnic ticket denies my urge to don these beauties, and anything else new for that matter. One can dream...


Monday, August 10, 2009

Quack, not Duck.

I have previously blogged about this particular little store but after a recent visit I felt it needed another mention. Quack & Dirk houses a mixture of vintage gems, handmade pieces and imported garments under its cute orange roof. Located just off the bustling traffic polluted Fairview Road in a renovated garage, Q&D is a breath of fresh air. Once inside, the drones of buses and horns of cars are immediately muffled by the swinging tunes coming from a laptop tucked away in the corner. The vintage line named Auntie Maureen caught my eye instantly. The owner, Deirdre Cantwell, pays homage to her Aunt’s Narnia-like wardrobe she used to raid as a child housing wonderful vintage finds and at a great price too. On location, Deirdre also tailors and makes her trademark duck-egg blue pieces in one of the cutest offices/till areas I have ever seen! The prices are undoubtedly reasonable giving the extravagant boutiques in the City Centre some stiff competition. Open Wednesday to Saturday, this hidden gem is definitely worth a visit on the way home from a High Street filled day of shopping. You’re guaranteed to find something new and unique each time you venture down the concrete grey lane and step into the bright orange and white interior of Q&D.


(Image taken at Q&D Fashion Show, this was my favourite piece by far!)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Prepare the Pearls

This year we will witness the release of two major cinematic and fashion combination experiences. The first of which, Coco Avant Chanel (Coco before Chanel), will be released nationwide this Friday.
Already somewhat on trend, this film should provide us with inspiration for the rest of our summer wardrobe with styles of English tweeds, simple loose jersey dresses, twin set jacket cardigans, sailor stripes, monochromatic accessories and men’s tailoring. And let's not forget those iconic draped pearls.
Starring the effortlessly beautiful Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel, I think this film should act as a reminder to put down that fake tan, steer clear of the nasty neon fad, and inspire a more simple, yet glamorous trend that Coco herself epitomized.

The second film is, of course, the much anticipated “The September Issue”, a documentary following Editor of world renown Vogue Magazine, Anna Wintour. Humorous, scary or envy inspiring, Anna Wintour is in a league of her own when it comes to the fashion industry. Favourite line in the trailer is definitely “September is the January in fashion”. Release date is in early September.