Friday, 29 March 2013

Press Preview Picture Premiere

So I like alliteration, what's new? Let's move on. Fashion week has happened and that was marvellous. Those working in the industry will have either attended/seen online literally hundreds of shows. Some will have excited them while others will go forgotten. And so Press day season begins to allow those working for in the fashion media, editors, stylists etc. to remind themselves of what they loved and to examine the pieces in detail preliminarily selecting the pieces that they will want to use and promote to the world in the upcoming season.

The media side of the fashion industry runs on average 6 months ahead of time (with the design side more 9months - a year) so the Autumn/Winter 2013 press days occur late March/early April to then be available to be used by press who prepare and compile their winter issues over the summer.  

Having the pleasure of working for TWENTY6 Magazine, I have been able to attend the first wave of press days before Easter and have managed a few snaps of what most caught my interest. Which is your favourite?

Leopard print - Lulu Guinness
Interlinking rings - Jenny Packham

New menswear line - Alexis Mabille
A lone shoe at the entrance - Manolo Blahnik

Python boots - Rupert Sanderson

Stacked sequins used to replicate cable knit - Jenny Packham

Varied collection - Alberta Ferretti 

Chain fringe on delicate lace - Julien MacDonald

Petrol effect Water-snake folded clutch - Jenny Peckham

Bejewelled sweatshitrts - TN Tees, the diffusion line of Tata Naka

Selection of pale pink - Roksanda Ilincic
Intricate embellishment - Philosophy Alberta Ferretti
Metallic Hi-tops with chain details - Rupert Sanderson
Pony skin accessories - Whistles
Clean cut pony skin clutches - Jenny Packham
Python and crocodile bomber jackets - Billionaire Couture

Just a wee selection to get you excited for Autumn/Winter, not that we have had a Spring/Summer yet! 
Just as well fur is THE trend of the winter to come.  

Wow! Complaining about the weather, how terribly British of me. 

Hope that is all Cristo Clear?


Sunday, 3 March 2013

One for the lads/Girls who want a stylish man: Jenny Schwarz Menswear

I have often written about coveting certain items and fashion being aspirational. And nothing makes a piece of clothing or an accessory more desirable than limited availability. It certainly works for the likes of Louis Vuitton and Hermes, and whilst in its relative infancy (only in comparison to our dear Louis) I am craving to get my hands on my latest obsession: Jenny Schwarz Menswear.

In this blog I strive to go beyond explaining fashion in a "because its pretty" kind of way and don't get me wrong there is certainly plenty to discuss about Jenny Schwarz. However, with certain pieces/designs there is that indescribable element that taps into the non-objective part of your mind. The "screw the stitching, just give it to me!" factor. Much akin to the extra je ne sais quoi a dancer or actor may express that renders a performance truly moving such as Meryl Streep in practically any movie. It is this essence in combination with impeccable construction that Jenny Schwarz designs envelop.

After discovering Jenny Schwarz on Facebook, I got in contact and arranged an appointment at Felicities PR in London to see if the garments in the photos were as effortlessly cool and well cut in reality. And hallelujah I wasn't disappointed. Menswear is often bland and Jenny manages to create unique an visually attractive garments using subtle detailing like mother of pearl buttons and texturised or ribbed fabrics as can be seen above. My mind was teaming with questions over the fabric choices, the inspirations, the details. So I did what seemed best to do in that situation and asked Jenny said questions: 


1) What inspires you when designing a collection?
I am usually inspired by history. I love wondering around National Trust properties or an antiques market for my personal pleasure and more often than not I will find something that inspires my work whether it be a great oil painting of a naval battle or a simple piece of antique lace. I am very lucky that the creativity of my personal life and job work together so well.

2) What fabrics do you most enjoy working with?
So far I have kept most of the collections muted. Blacks and greys hold most of the collection together with occasional hints of rust or green. I don’t like to restrict myself though so I won’t say its always going to be like this. The next collection may be very different. I am also interested in the textural difference in a garment and that often works well when the colour is similar.

3) How many people are in the Jenny Schwarz team?
There are two of us full time running the business but there is so much more than this behind the scenes. We have freelancers who we outsource certain elements of our collections to and we have to draw on the support of our closest allies. Any young brand in this industry needs to have a strong supporting base. We find it very useful to work with other young companies who offer something we don’t have while we offer them something they don’t have.

4) Your pieces are very wearable but have wonderfully innovative/unique detailing, is that an intention to stand out from the crowd?
I definitely am drawn towards menswear because of the fact that the pieces have usually got to be more wearable. I do want to run a successful menswear line and for me that means not messing with the tradition of menswear too much, certainly in terms of its silhouette. I prefer for the innovation to be in the textures, the fabric and the detail. That is where I stand apart from other brands; in the way I juggle those elements.

5) What are your plans for Jenny Schwarz in the near future?
In the future I would simply enjoy the notion that I was brave enough to take a chance on my own business and it allowed me to earn a modest living and enjoy going to work every day. If anything more than this happens then they will all be bonuses. Oh, and a private plane would be nice. And a ship.

6) What do you love most about fashion/the fashion industry?
I love the designing, the construction and the creating. The part that transforms something from an idea into a wearable piece. I love seeing a garment take shape or a textural difference contrasting in exactly the way I intended. This is why I do what I do.

7) What annoys you/ do you dislike about fashion/ the fashion industry?
I would love to see more young brands coming together to help each other out. In this age of social media it could be so easy to share simple and helpful tips on where to source fabric to where to produce quality without it costing the earth. I think people are scared to let out their secrets but truthfully I think there is more to gained by everyone if people were more open with how they are going about things.

8) You’re look books and shows are styled beautifully, do you do this yourself?
I work very closely with a number of extremely talented young people. It is my concept and I bring the design, the garments and the inspiration but I do bounce ideas of people I trust and people who work with the same aesthetic. It is very important to do this so that everyone who works on the look book is coming at it from if not the same angle.

9) Who is your ideal customer, who is the Jenny Schwarz man?
I never design with a particular person in mind and rather bizarrely we have seen our pieces worn by a huge range of people. Whether it be the country school Maths teacher or the young fashion conscious graphic designer. Although together the pieces may take on an avant garde look, they can be separated nicely so that when worn with other styles they lose some of the extreme.

10) What is the one thing you want to make Cristo Clear about Jenny Schwarz?
There is no ‘t’ or ‘d’ in my last name. It is not ‘Jenny Shorts’ or ‘Jenny Skorts’ If you’re unsure just copy and paste…J This will get more confusing when we launch our beachwear range, Bermuda Schwarz and our cheap line Penny Schwarz.


So that's the deal! The vibrant Jenny is selling her archive pieces through her Facebook page at a ridiculous, and by that I mean brilliant, discount! I purchased three pieces myself. A dark grey shirt with mother of pearl buttons, grey tailored jersey shorts and a light blue mohair jumper which is soft to the level where feels like I am being cuddles by a team of happy kittens! 
Wearing Jenny Schwarz shirt at Day 1 of London Fashion Week 
Jealous? Good! That means you want it, so make it happen!

Is that Cristo Clear?


Friday, 1 March 2013

LFW Round Up

Don't you hate the term "round up" not only does it imply we have attended some hideous rodeo but it also means something has come to an end. The latter is true with London Fashion Week done and dusted two weeks ago. Milan has also rocketed by and we are just left with Paris as is the status quo every 6 months. So before my mind is frosted with the delights of the French fashion houses I'll bring you my views from the catwalk side seats, they were great seats to which I am indebted to my wonderful Fashion Director Tilly Hardy at TWENTY6 Magazine.

Fashion Week is a spectacle in itself without even considering the actual shows. The wonderfully dressed buyers, editors and their assistants parade through the majestic setting of Somerset House with resplendence. Bloggers, photographers and fanatics, snap photos of their favourite and most bizarre street style muses, conduct interviews or just gawp in sheer fascination. The action taking place outside the show spaces is as eagerly anticipated as the creations London's premier womenswear designers send down the runway on the backs of the world's most beautiful walking coat hangars. 

The sun shining on Somerset House

I was wearing some rather exciting pieces from the graduate collection of Hong Kong designer Jean Chan which drew significant attention. There are many critics of fashion show attendees dressing for peacock-purposes, making a spectacle to claw scraps of publicity for themselves. And whilst there are those who undoubtedly fit this profile, it is actually rather splendid to see the creativity and expression of some people. Additionally, being so highly publicised the event provides an excellent platform to endorse new talent. I was wearing Jean's clothes to promote him, the side effect of having my photo taken a lot did incur a small dose of childish glee at being centre of attention (I'm only human) but that was not my intention when I got dressed in the morning. Jean's brand image was spread directly as a result and I would do it again in an instant. 

A Jean Chan Look

The shows run back to back and it is impossible to see every designer but those that have been missed can generally be seen online later. I spent my days jumping between venues, the majority of shows being split between Somerset House and Freemason's Hall, which involved a speedy run up Drury Lane to the amusement of theatre goers. Queuing for the shows takes as long as it takes. Fashion shows notoriously start late, in fact it is surprising to start on time and once the show begins it is all over within 10 minutes.

A disembodied voice hushes the crowd, the music begins and the lights flare to the point of retinal pain and judgement begins. Phones and iPads aloft the show is instantly scrutinised, ultimately the clothes yes, but also the models, the music, the make-up, the hair. Does it fit? Does it all come together? Why is she walking funny? What fabric is that? Is that blue or purple? That's crap! That's nice but unwearable, good for a shoot though! 

All the above and more runs through my mind as the show goes on. The final walk through of all the models is concluded with the designers bow and boom, the show is over and cue stamped for the exits. If there is time I race to the nearest wifi spot and type up my review. From the media's perspective whoever can get their review up the fastest wins.  

Naturally the shows varied in quality, some I adored such as knitwear specialist Mark Fast (see below) whose garments involved thousands of knitted ostrich feathers dyed fuchsia and black. Set on the roof of the ME Hotel, the panoramic views and natural beaming sunshine (the weather that day was a real godsend) came together in the intimate location making the small collection of 10 highly intricate garments radiate from the runway. 

Some shows did not live up to expectation and understandably there is bound to be the odd model trip and not everyone can afford top calibre models, but seeing labels on the bottoms of shoes or seeing an unfinished hemline is inexcusable when you are presenting yourself as the height of luxury fashion. Plus top model or not it aggrieves me to see a model walking like Bambi. Walking in heels is a big part of your job, you get paid to do it, so learn! I'll teach you if necessary! 
Learn to walk in these or go home! Amazing platform pumps at Runway Collective


ps. for all my individual show reviews please see the TWENTY6 Magazine blog, they are all linked by #CristoJohns