Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Thoughts on Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga

Since Demna Gvasalia took the helm of storied Spanish brand Balenciaga, the style set has been in a bit of a tizz. Also Creative Director of provocative Parisian brand Vetements, Gvasalia is responsible for those DHL tshirts and those £1,000 vintage jeans. At Balenciaga, he has created some equally divisive pieces which stray very, very far from Balenciaga’s beginnings in San Sebastian, Spain.

Cristobal Balenciaga started his couture house in 1918 and he became known for his dramatic, sculptural silhouettes. Respected among his contemporaries, he was referred to as “the master of us all” by Christian Dior. His signatures included bubble skirts and ultra-modern, directional yet feminine pieces. During WWII, he was noted for his “square coat”, with sleeves cut in a single piece with the yoke as well as using black lace over hot pink fabric. He went onto design the spherical balloon jacket, the cocoon coat and the balloon skirt among many other design innovations.

The likes of Oscar de la Renta, Emanuel Ungaro and Hubert de Givenchy learned their craft while working for Balenciaga before going on to open their own houses, but sadly the house lay dormant for nearly 30 years before being resurrected in a very different world. Nicolas Ghesquiere took the helm in 1997, producing ready-to-wear in the minimalism-obsessed 90s, a stark contrast to Balenciaga’s couture beginnings. During his 15-year tenure, Ghesquiere breathed new life into Balenciaga, making it one of the most sought after Parisian brands.

I was obsessed with Balenciaga, as was the rest of the fashion industry. Ghesquiere’s science fiction-inspired collections influenced every strata of the industry from his contemporaries through to fast-fashion retailers, keen to offer their own iteration of his robot leggings, ikat prints and sci-fi inspired silhouettes. Everyone from Kylie to Anna Wintour wore Balenciaga. It came as a shock when Balenciaga announced they were parting ways with Nicolas Ghesquiere, who was being succeeded by Alexander Wang. Just a couple of years later, Demna Gvasalia was announced as Creative Director.

Gvasalia’s appointment at the storied house in 2015 was met with mixed reactions. On the surface, his irreverent take on fashion is at odds with Balenciaga’s couture heritage. But both designers are unconventional mavericks who are making waves. Gvasalia is disrupting the fashion system by showing two in-season collections off-schedule, resulting in a leaner, more concise collection shown in a timely manner cutting down on the need for pre-collections and to minimise overproduction. In 1957, Balenciaga resigned from the Chambre Syndicate de la Haute Couture and refused to show his collection to press for nearly a month after it was unveiled to manufacturers, clients and buyers. Not to mention casting “unconvential” models – the models in Balenciaga’s day were referred to as “monsters” while Gvaslia casts friends over models. A widely publicised and notable absence to Gvasalia's model line up is any model of colour. His shows are completely whitewashed, which in this day and age is unbelievable.

I get Gvaslia’s appointment at Balenciaga but I also can’t help but feel like he’s having a massive LOL as he trolls us with tongue-in-cheek pieces which would be right at home on a Vetements runway but don’t quite sit well with the Balenciaga brand. His first collection saw the birth of the Bazar bag, aka the $2 Thai market bag, which has a hefty £975+ price tag. It seems like it’s selling though, with buyers at both Net-a-Porter and Matches surprised at how quickly certain sizes have sold out.

For his second trick, Gvasalia created a luxury Ikea tote and this season sees his interpretation of the blanket bag – traditionally a hideous cheap floral blanket carried in a clear plastic bag, a familiar sight for most people of colour. Gsavalia’s version has the familiar floral pattern and shape, but it comes in leather with a £2,325 price tag. LOL.

Despite the irreverent pieces making the headlines, they are certainly selling and the RTW collections themselves are extremely covetable. Gvasalia takes elements of Balenciaga sculptural signatures and translates them into extreme shouldered blazers reinforced with whalebone rods or bold spandex pointy-toe-to-hip boots, already seen on the likes of Rihanna and Kylie Jenner.

In an age where Gucci is harnessing memes for their campaigns, Gvasalia’s appointment at Balenciaga seems very right. The role of the Creative Director is evolving; they no longer sit in an ivory tower sketching dresses, they’re on the street and fully immersed with what is current. And no one is more current or adept at creating buzz and demand than Gvasalia, much like Cristobal Balenciaga. Personally, I can see the appeal and forgive the tongue-in-cheek, heading grabbing accessories but I cannot forgive the ignorant show casting. 


Sunday, 16 April 2017

Outfit Post: Spring Fling

After spending last week in sunny Hamburg and even sunnier Porto, I am well and truly in the mood for spring. Proper spring, not just swapping a heavy coat for a lighter one. I want to shrug off the knits, push the opaque tights to the back of my wardrobe and just lighten up a little. Spring always feels like a such a happy, positive season when nature and life in general is in bloom. And there’s nothing more perfect for capturing the mood of the season than Millennial Pink.

Millennial Pink has been a phenomenon in the making for quite some time. I remember seeing Paul Smith’s LA boutique years ago, painted a very pretty if unapologetic shade of pink. And of course Acne’s pink bags have become a signature. Since then, everyone from Emily Weiss of Glossier and ubiquitous London restaurant Sketch to Drake have been harnessing the power of pink. No one has been a bigger supporter of the shade, which sits somewhere between baby pink and blush, than Rihanna. Whether it’s a strapless, oversized Giambattista Valli gown or a head-to-toe trouser suit rom Pascal Millet, Rihanna owns this shade, so much so there are calls to rename it Rihanna Pink.

The way Rihanna wears pink completely captures its new mood. Previously confined by gender stereotypes – pink is for girls – Millennial Pink breaks free of those shackles. Pink is for everyone and pink has attitude. Whether it’s a huge oversize pink puffer shrugged over a statement tshirt or a head-to-toe pink Dior look accessories with tattoos and attitude, pink is packing a punch.

I first spied this ASOS skirt on Instagram, which seems to be the only place I get my inspiration these days! It immediately made me think of Rihanna – can we please rename the shade Rihanna Pink already?! Much like Riri, I wanted to toughen up the overall look and avoid looking saccharine sweet.

This cropped tee from one of my favourite lingerie brands was the perfect antidote to balance the pretty pink skirt. I wrote about Reckless Wolf back in 2014, after meeting Creative Director Jade Little. The brand’s vibe is very fierce and unapologetic, you get an inkling for this attitude with the extreme crop and bold typography of this tshirt. I accessorised it with these gorgeous silver block heeled courts from River Island and my Chloe Elsie bag, which I’ve recently fallen back in love with. The pretty pink shades are offset with flashes of metallic, midriff and one of my tattoos. What do you think of my take on Millennial Pink?

Tshirt – Reckless Wolf
Skirt – ASOS
Heels – River Island
Bag – Chloe

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Travel: My Weekend Guide to Hamburg

Last week was a bit of a whirlwind to say the least. I ping ponged across Europe, from London to Porto to London to Hamburg. It’s so easy to flit from country to country while Britain is in the EU, so I figured I might as well make the most of it. In reality, my week wasn’t as glamorous as it seemed, I worked from the Porto office and had a brief 12-hour pit stop in London to unpack and pack before heading to Germany to catch up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in nearly 3 years. When a friend from the States is in Europe, it’d be rude not to hop over and say hi, after all Europe is our backyard. For now.

So that’s how I found myself in Hamburg, which admittedly isn’t top of my list of places to visit. But… I actually had a ball! It feels like a city which is on the up, there’s tons of investment and building work going on to transform the city and lots of places to explore. I only stayed a couple of days so this is the briefest guide to Germany’s second biggest city.

What to do

There is a surprising mix of things to do in Hamburg, from checking out a handful of tourist sites to shopping like a local.

If you happen to be in Hamburg on a Saturday, you simply must visit the city’s flea market in the old Meatpacking District. Located across the street from Feldstrasse metro station between 8am – 4pm, it’s a veritable treasure trove of vintage finds from clothing to candelabras. There were so many beautiful, old homeware pieces I wanted to bring back but sadly I didn’t have space in my suitcase so make sure you pack light!

Hamburg DOM
I was lucky enough to be in Hamburg to check out Hamburg DOM, an annual 30 day funfair between Feldstrasse and St Pauli metro stations. It’s the biggest funfair in northern Germany and features horse carousels, roller coasters, food and traditional funfair games. On Friday night there are fireworks at 10.30pm!

You cannot visit Hamburg and not use the Elbtunnel, which runs from St Pauli to Steinwerder. It was originally opened in September 1911 as ferries couldn’t cope with the number of workers needing to cross the river Elbe. It was used as an air raid shelter during the Second World War and has been thoughtfully restored over the years but still retains it’s charm.

The port area and Hafencity are lovely places to spend an afternoon exploring, especially if the weather is as lovely as it was last weekend. The old port area is very pretty and perfect for watching ships and ferries go by, while the developing Hafencity is a fascinating regeneration project. A combination of homes, offices and cultural, leisure, tourism and retail facilities, it’s a city being built within a city.

St Michael's Church
Like the Elbtunnel, you cannot come to Hamburg and not visit St Michael’s church, or ‘Michel’ as it’s affectionately known to locals. A symbol of the city, its mint green roof can be seen from pretty much everywhere in Hamburg. The baroque church is beautiful inside but make sure you take the lift to the bell tower for the most incredible panoramic view of the city.

Where to eat

My list of eateries is uncharacteristically short and I blame Mutterland. I made a beeline for this cute café and loved it so much I ate there for most of my meals!

Mutterland is a super cute little café and deli a short stroll from my hotel and I ended up there for 3 of my 6 meals in Hamburg. It’s just that good. It’s got a cute vintage feel, the staff are lovely and the food is delicious, so who can blame me? I tried the French toast with cane sugar and cinnamon which was so yummy, the couple at the table ordered one each after seeing me scoff mine in record time. I also popped in for breakfast and for a fluffy apple and cinnamon pancake.

Bande Pizza
After exploring Reeperbahn (more on that later...) I needed somewhere to refuel. Just off the main drag, I discovered Bande Pizza. It’s a pretty well known pizza joint and for good reason. You order a margharita and customise it with whatever you want from a dizzying array of pizza toppings. Each pizza is made fresh to order from the open kitchen and it’s delicious, high praise considering I’m a pizza snob.

Burgerlich is a cool concept restaurant which doesn’t scrimp on taste. Each seat is equipped with an ipad to place your order, which is delivered super speedily. I opted for a quinoa burger with extra fried onions and a fried egg with a side of Burgerlich fries, which were delicious.

Where to drink

The nightlife scene in Hamburg is pretty wild, those Germans really know how to party. You’ll inevitably end up in Reeperbahn as most people do, which doesn’t ever seem to stop partying. Just as well the metro runs 24 hours!

My night started at Sausalitos, a sort-of Mexican dive bar a short walk from Burgerlich. It’s got a cute, friendly vibe and the waiters are super nice, our waiter gave us a round of tequila on him as we were leaving. The cocktails are super sugary so pick carefully. There’s a photobooth by the door so bring some change and make some memories before the tequila kicks in!

Reeperbahn is the “old redlight district” which is very much alive and kicking. Every other door is a strip club or a sex shop and the area is a little rough around the edges if you head off the main strip. I wondered off the main area in daytime and ended up in an estate which literally had a drug dealer on every corner. The main street is a bit wild during the day but the entire area is pandemonium come night time. Bars and clubs come alive and the streets are heaving with people at all hours of the night. I can’t remember the name of the club we ended up at but you’re guaranteed to have a good time wherever you end up.

Where to stay

Park Hyatt Hamburg
After checking out quite a few hotels in Hamburg, I decided to stay in the Park Hyatt. The location was incredible, just a stone’s throw from the central station and just off the main shopping street. Sometimes it’s nice to stay in a big chain hotel; you know exactly the level of service and comfort to expect. The rooms were lovely and spacious, the bed was comfy, I had a walk-in shower as well as a bath and the staff were incredibly helpful and friendly. 

And there you have it, my whistle stop guide to Hamburg. Do you have any hidden gems you  can recommend? 

Monday, 10 April 2017

Best Dressed at the Olivier Awards 2017

This is the first time I've covered the Olivier Awards and surprisingly there were some great looks! The British red carpet is often a little underwhelming, save for the BAFTAs so I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of punchy colours on the red carpet. Yellow was by far the favourite choice and I've picked two lemon hued looks in my best dressed list.

Noma Dumezweni
Noma wore the hue of the evening, yellow. The high neckline, cold shoulder sleeves and ruffles may be too much for some people's tastes but I loved the drama and the syrupy buttercup yellow colour. Dumsweni bought some much needed fun and frivolity to the Olivier Awards Red Carpet. 

Amanda Holden in Celia Kritharoti
I never in a million years thought I'd feature Amanda Holden on my blog but hey ho, here we are. Another gorgeous yellow gown, this is part Jennifer Lopez Oscar gown and part THAT yellow dress from How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. I like the subtle flower detailing, which wasn't as overpowering as the one J.Lo opted for and Amanda's make up and hair perfectly complement the dress. 

Amber Riley
This is Amber Riley's princess moment and she is a vision in cobalt blue. Her gown bought some drama to the red carpet and Amber looks absolutely stunning. The beading, the colour and the cut are exquisite. 

Sophie McShera in Ong Oaj Pairam 
I yelped with excitement to see an Ong Oaj Pairam dress on the red carpet! Kudos to McShera's stylist for picking an exciting emerging London Designer. The emerald green shade is perfect against her skintone and the dress has pockets! 

Rose Leslie in Dior
J'adore! I'm really into the sleek-meets-street vibe of wearing a beautiful Dior gown with a branded underwear band on show. It's a little rebellious and carefree, whilst being polished. This gown is stunning but I just wish it was a slightly darker or lighter shade as it just blends into the red carpet. 


Sunday, 9 April 2017

Outfit Post: Lace Up

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m head over heels for London. London is the love of my life. It was just meant to be, even as a teenager growing up just a short train ride away I knew London is where I needed to be. In my late teens, I found the pace of learning in my school painfully slow so I was under-stimulated and demotivated. I would find myself on a train excitedly hurtling towards my city instead of whiling away my day staring out of a classroom window.

I spent my days exploring and taking everything in, walking miles around Oxford Street, Soho, Leicester Square, Covent Garden. They feel like my backyard now. Seventeen years into our love story and I’ve seen all sides of London. Nowhere else will be my home but the rose-tinted specs are off and I can see the downsides to living in London too. The rent and cost of living are astronomical, for this reason I’ve seen many people “do the London thing” then settle outside of the city, with space and fresh air and that quality of life thing that seems so elusive.

For me, it’s essential to live in London for my career not to mention the incredible food and arts scene. It also helps that London is incredibly well connected, it couldn’t be easier to hop on a plane from half a dozen airports. That doesn’t make it any easier on a bad day or week though. You learn very quickly in London to toughen up…but also to rely on your friends for support. Friends are the lifeboat on the often turbulent London seas.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by some really incredible people and I’m a strong believer in supporting your tribe. The way I see it, we have a responsibility to look out for each other and lift each other up. Words of encouragement and support are great; actions are even better. That’s why, when my dear friend Tinuke said she wanted to take on some photography projects on the side, I was first in line to book her.

Truth be told, I’ve been looking for a proper photographer to work with for ages. I know the direction I want to take my blog in, photography is such a key part of that and who better to collaborate on that with than someone I’ve known for a decade?! This is the first shoot of many with Tinuke and I couldn’t be more pleased with how the images turned out. I’m equally excited to share my outfits on my blog and support one of my best friends in her endeavours too!

In my previous post, I talked about how I’m being increasingly inspired by Instagram. I love discovering new brands and micro-trends as well as double tapping everything as I scroll down my feed. I spotted a few girls looking dope in lace-up jeans and gingerly ordered a pair from Lasula, with an equal chance of loving and hating how they looked on. The cut is SUPER skinny and after doing the wriggle and jump to get into them, I fell in love. They fit perfectly and have such an effortlessly rebellious edge. I threw on a studded tshirt by Finders Keepers and my favourite navy Jimmy Choos to complete the neutral palette. I added some sass and an injection of colour with my super fun faux fur clutch by Shrimps, which I don’t carry nearly as much as I should.

And there you have it, a very long and winding introduction to my new weekly Sunday style posts. Thanks so much for reading this far, you definitely need to put your feet up with a cuppa now!

To contact Tinuke about shooting, pop her an email.

Choker - Miss Selfridge
Tshirt - Finders Keepers
Jeans - Lasula
Bag - Shrimps
Heels - Jimmy Choo
Watch - Timex 
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