Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Dressing up at London Fashion Week

Photo: Zoe Glazebrook for Vogue UK

Photos: Craig Arend for Altamira NYC

Photo: Refinery 29

If one could capture the essence of fashion – boil it up and then sieve it – how might the result be described? I like to think of it simply as: ‘dressing up’.
Of course perhaps the phrase ‘dressing up’ evokes images of pirates’ costumes, glittery shawls and sunlit childhood afternoons, rather than structured tailoring and catwalk shows. And yet, if one looks a little longer then the similarities begin to seep through.

Entering the courtyard of Somerset House, the first impression takes in small flocks of street style photographers. Their camera lenses are like beaks, snapping for 'the' outfit, 'the' person walking past who can be swooped on and asked, “excuse me, may I take your photo?”
Accordingly, plenty of those attending (including me) take it as a great occasion to dress up. Feathers, fringing, Marie-Antoinette - style taxidermy headgear. All this and more can be found striding across the cobbles. I enjoy it. Having the chance to spend a couple of days submerging myself in a world that celebrates and revels in style, plus observing all those who make diverse careers out of it, is fascinating.
In the words of my good friend, photographer Dvora, of Fashionistable (who is currently shooting for Vogue UK here), being behind the camera at London Fashion Week is like, “being in a sweet shop” – colours, textures and ideas abound everywhere. There are some who may see this as a negative - an opportunity for narcissism – but what’s the problem with enjoying conscious dressing?
My own experience of LFW is certainly enhanced by being able to dress creatively in outfits I don’t necessarily get the chance to wear every day. I may be there to learn, to observe, to take notes and photos and to pay homage to favourite designers - but I may as well have fun too. After all, many of the outfits I put on my blog might only be appreciated by the sheep in local fields or the occasional bemused walker who wonders if I’m really going hiking in heels and chiffon.

It thus seemed apt that a theme of ‘dressing up’ ran through many of the collections I saw. My London Fashion Week started with Paul Costelloe. I had caught a tube, run along the Strand and paused to change my flat shoes for lace-up, heeled brogues, before heading towards the entrance. It was an enjoyable beginning, with a collection that referenced the sixties. While I sat in the dark, my small notebook clutched in one hand, I tried to imagine how I would write about the clothes. The thought I kept returning to was the idea of days spent in grand houses playing hide and seek. Details such as ruffled necks and puffed sleeves gave it the look of a carefree afternoon of dressing up and playing charades. For me,  Costelloe captured the innocence, cut and elegance of sixties styling – a decade that I am more than partial to.

Another element involved in dressing up is the creation of a narrative. My friend Ellen is my long-suffering model when it comes to assembling characters such as zombies or figures in paintings (see previous posts).  Armed with the contents of my dressing up box, we have a great time whipping up fictional scenarios.
It's probably not surprising then that I find myself drawn to collections and shows with a very strong sense of identity and narrative - where the models are not only being dressed up, but also inhabit the spirit and story of the collection.
Perhaps the best designer I saw at London Fashion Week to illustrate this is Corrie Nielson. She certainly knows how to put on a show. Her latest: Arbiter Elegantiarum, was inspired by ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ mixed with oriental influences. It took place in what I assume was a concrete car-park, that had been appropriated for the occasion and kitted out with a panel of large, bare light bulbs hanging over the catwalk like a modernist chandelier.
The models didn’t stride – they sauntered – as the eerie music pulsed and camera shutters clicked like moths. What of the clothes? Folds of fabric cascaded in all directions like artfully re-arranged satin curtains, with acres of ruching, layering and pleating in between. My favourite piece was a green (I assume satin) jacket that fanned out below the bust like book pages or an elaborate ruff. It summed up the collection: the dramatic clothes that called to mind decadence and sumptuousness; the cuts that mixed together elements of Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. They almost made me want to dress up as a china doll and wander around graveyards looking melancholy – but that might be going a little too far.

Watching various collections drew out threads of comparison. The design process is akin to a writer creating a story – there must be a plot (the order of clothes), an inspiration, and in current economic times, a selling/marketing point too. But sometimes there is also a muse, as with Corrie Nielson above, and also with the design duo Fyodor Golan.
Although I wasn’t lucky enough to see this ultra-talented pair win the Fashion Fringe - which they more than deserved - I did get a close look at the clothes the next day when they were being exhibited. Gobsmacked is not a word I often use in relation to anything, but it is appropriate here. The muse for the collection was Frida Kahlo, and she was most certainly present – in the flower and bird motifs, in the low backs revealing the line of the spine, in the idea of transformation and metamorphosis. As a girl who has enjoyed a closer than usual relationship with her spine, I loved it. I will definitely be returning to this collection in a future post.

While at London Fashion Week I also saw Jaeger, Masha Ma and Jean-Pierre Braganza, but to borrow a fairytale line – “that’s another story,” for another day - or at least, for a Part 2.

The photos above were among the first ones I came across of my outfits at LFW. Many thanks to the photographers credited. And if anyone happens across other images elsewhere I'd really appreciate any links.

Finally, dressing up and narrative collections aside, what really made my LFW enjoyable were the people: Style East, Stella, Dvora, David, Jill, Dina, Nadia, Frances, Peony, Vanessa, Pearl and Craig among a whole host of warm, friendly, lovely individuals. It's the people there who make a good experience into a great one.

Finally, how amazing is this painting that Dina of She Loves Mixtapes did of me? You can see more images on her blog. I was shocked  (in the best possible sense) when she emailed them to me - how wonderfully talented she is.


Gracie said...

wow, so elegant!

sacramento said...

I am so glad that you see it all with a wise eye, looking to learn and grow.
I am so glad for you.
Much love.

The Fancy Teacup said...

I adore how you dress up, such a remarkable use of color and retro chic. Glad you had such a wonderful experience at LFW!

♥, Jamie

Hazelnut said...

I LOVE the 2nd outfit so much!! It's kind of like a school-girl look. Very cute! :)

witch hare said...

Just discovered your wonderful blog!
I enjoyed reading this post, and your last, where you have been defending fashion against accusations deeming it frivolous or negative.
Personally, when I get dressed I have to construct a story behind the outfit in my head (assume a new persona, I suppose!) because, as well as being fun (what's wrong with being capricious now and then?), it gives me confidence. A lot of the time I am inspired by literature, so I doubt the naysayers can say negative about that.

Looks like you had a fun fashion week - I'd love to go, but limited funds and too many southern miles between me and London got in the way.

Arabella said...

great photos! :)

Jessica said...

Great outfits, it sounds like you had a great time!

Please take a minute to look at my trunkshow;

alexandratherese said...

Oh Rosalind I'm so glad that I've managed to stop by today and read this because it has made me feel al warm and happy inside. You obviously had a marvellous time at Fashion Week and I'm really glad that you finished by saying that it is the people who make it such an enjoyable event. Your second outfit completely sums up the word 'style' for me. Why? Because you look confident, poised, comfortable, happy, quirky and most importantly - at home in your clothes. The hat and the dress and the bag and tights and shoes - EVERYTHING! Topped off, of course, by the brooch. Good on you for wearing it. One of these years I WILL make it to fashion week!

Hope college is going wonderfully for you - school is exceedingly tiring and I've forgotten what relaxation and blogging feel like but slowly I'm getting into a routine of getting everything necessary done and finding time to write (she says whilst mentally running through the pieces of homework she needs to get cracking on as soon as she's finished this comment!).

Take care, Alexandra xx

Missbobino said...

Very charming outfit! I'm glad you enjoyed this experience!

Izzy/Bella said...

I adore your blog's combination of thoughtful intelligent writing on a subject rarely accorded such elegant focus as much as your lovely, unique outfits. I look forward to your next post!

All the best,

Izzy/Bella said...

P.S. Vogue UK finally arrived at my Soho bookshop! Your piece was wonderful-- as melancholy, graceful and sepia-toned as the fading world you evoked with your words.


Opposite lipstick said...

love !

Polka Princess said...

Love to see you "dress up" every time, my dear Roz! You seem to bring about the perfect outfit so effortlessly......glad to know you had such a great time at LFW!! :)

bollykecks said...

Your hair in the last photo is beautiful. Oh it's so fun finally being able to post comments <33

the nyanzi report said...

great round-up of LFW. I loved all your outfits and meeting your dad especially.

Sue said...

Love them all!!

I really love the new background but it's a bit difficult to read the text!!
hope you can fix it, because I love reading what you write!!!

Ireland Casswell-Clarkson said...

Out of the entire English dictionary magnificent is the word that fits this post.
I love the stunning photography and the clothes, wow just wow.
And the writing it's self, There is not enough voluptuous in the English dictionary for this thriving beautiful passion for writing.
You have so much conviction, power and love in just this one post.

I'm truly amazed.

Fashion Tales.... said...

I had fun at LFW, I wish I knew you were there, I was working mostly. Your words and ensembles are always a piece of art. So glad you enjoyed yourself dear. *Also adoring those beautiful green shoes.-xxoo
Madison :)

Fashionistable said...

Ah ha our posts coincide. I have just posted you today. It was brilliant to spend time with you and it is wonderful to read your perspective here. Xxxx

isa telaraƱa said...

I love to dress me up, but as you say there are no many ocassions to do it. If you live in a big city, it could be easer... But I think you make the costumes so real, you don´t seem to be dressed up. You seem so serious, so real.

... about photographs, Do you know Eugenio Recuenco? He creates an artificial world around the models, I would like you saw it...

Michelle Lee said...

love all outfits :)

your newest follower Michelle

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

i've never attended a fashion week, but i imagine one could very well equate it with being in a sweet shop!

i've never seen anyone "do" 40s and 60s inspired vintage as well as you. brilliant ensembles, roz.

the silver "backbone" jewelry you're wearing is a lovely touch and gentle reminder of what you've overcome.

The Foolish Aesthete said...

You all seemed to have had such an enjoyable time together! I wish I could have seen the Marie Antoinette taxidermist head dresses myself (as we speak, I am packing a multi-feathered & tulled fascinator to bring to NYC).

It was so wonderful to see you all across blogger's pages, but even more heart warming to realize how many people truly admire and adore you! That includes the list of bloggers you named, many of whom I feel are my own Blogland friends. I nearly felt I was there with all of you! xxx

are you dressing up or dressing down said...

ah no way was it you in that awesome feather skirt! You look sweet. x

valncami said...

beautiful outfits as usual Rosalind! You are so lucky to have been at LFW and wow, Vogue UK that's impressive.


Kirstin Marie said...

I love how you describe walking into fashion week. I've never attended, so it's really something to have an exact illustration drawn in my mind from your words. All of your looks are incredible, but your style is one of my favorites.

Old Cow said...

I agree with you.


for in my hed at least, it should be fun for then it is ever enjoyable and relevant and timeless.

Thank you so much for finding the time to post a comment on my odd little blog. It meant a great deal to me that you did x

Irina Lakicevic said...

you are such an inspiration.Fantastic style! Congratulations on winning:)

San said...

I know I repeat myself, but I just love your writing style. It always takes a calm hour for me to grab my Mac and then read your posts, but as soon as I start I get drawn into your world and I don't want them to stop when at first my reaction is always "oh, it's so long again". ;)
I love the pictures you create with your words.

Funny that you want to dress up and then "wander around graveyards looking melancholy". Whenever I ponder things I feel that I should wake up early and then walk with a long coat through a field to the cliffs and watch the sea in the early morning. I think I've watched "Saving Grace" one time to many. I neither have this kind of coat nor do I live by the sea in Cornwall. (Sadly.)

I really like the second outfit. This dress looks fab on you. Glad you've had such a fun time during fashion week.

Thanks for stopping by and your wellwishes, my cold is almost gone.

Enjoy your weekend.

Miki's scrapbook said...

Oh, you're so elegant, Miss Roz! ;)

Hope you're having fun at the fashion shows!


Romwe Online said...

great job!!perfect!!

vintage process said...

Great looks! I love it!

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Dina's portrait is unmistakably you - it's gorgeous! I'm so glad you took LFW with your attitude of "let's have fun and dress up". No wonder you appeared in so many pics - you looked so natural dressing in the style you felt suited your mood and the occasion. I'm falling over myself over your backbone necklace - was this a gift after your op or did you have it made? It's very touching to see you wearing it:) Thank you so much for your last comment - you're so sweet! xoxoxoxoxoxo

Evi said...

You are so lucky to attend fashion shows ..I'm jealous ... Lovely outfits btw ;)

Evi xoxo

Aliya said...

I absolutely adore your blog!! That spine necklace is the cooloset thing ever!

x Aliya

Clara Turbay said...

I like what you post here. If you have some time i´d like you check out my blog and follow me if you really want to.

motifmagazine said...

I LOVE that backbone brooch - where did you get it? And the Arand photo is stunning. Lara x

Elizabeth @rosalilium said...

Beautiful styling, as usual. I agree, it is so fun to have a reason to dress up. That's what fashion is all about!

Lx said...

Thank you so much for your lovely comments on my blog :)
another wonderful post- as always!
so stylish and evoking writing x

Saphira Thenalia said...

a perfect style for fashion your style always

Teddi said...

i like those style looks, & that painting is beyond beautiful!

Stef said...

Hi Rosalind, I met you at LFW and you looked amazing! Your on my street style blog if you want to have a look, this is the link to my blog and my street style blog is on there.
Was really nice to meet you, your styling pictures are stunning. x