Month: May 2016

Designer Intro: Stuart Weitzman

Recently I purchased my first pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes, I’ve always steered away in the past feeling his designs were a little too conservative for my tastes. Furthermore all his shoes are Made in Spain, as opposed to Italy and at the price they retail at I expected a little gnomish Italian man nailing together pieces of leather in the traditional manner.



I love a chunky boot, but…

You love those chunky boots don’t you? The ones which have served you so well through the past few winters. Do you wish that you could have the same comfort without suffocating your feet through the summer? While pretty shoes are hot now, you can still be pretty in a chunky heel.

While sample sales are often older designs being sold, Rupert Sanderson does keep classic lines going as well as refreshing seasonal designs with new finishes. Earlier this year I picked up these from the sample sales, the Ravenna is quite a retro look, with the velvet it reminds me of the glamour of the inter-war years. Best is they’re amazing under this season’s wide legged trousers! They’re currently available in a burgundy velvet at the Rupert Sanderson Bicester Outlet.

The Velvet Ravennas are just feel so luxuriant, they’re super cute with a little platform they’re a very wearable shoe that can be dressed up and down.

For 2016-17 floral patterns are also still going strong, a little switch from before is that they are inspired by interior styling. The key is a slighly kitschy look, think bohemian embroidered fabrics, or slightly hippy prints rather than the neater prints. Its a twist on the classic, but nonetheless florals are going strong, and I think they look even better with a chunkier heel. These looks are very now and should see good service through AW16/17.

This is so typically Erdem, still a smaller designer right now but he’s going to be very hot this season. Even better a lot of his shoes part of a collaboration with the great Nicholas Kirkwood

The classic option, ever present is the classic stacked heel sandal, with or without platform, they will always make a good strong choice especially for a more casual wedding, a garden party or a BBQ. There are few things less elegant than that sinking feeling as your heels dig in, not a problem with these chunky heels. Personally I prefer the single sole look, it’s defininitely more elegant for a summer evening and won’t compete with lighter fabrics.

These lavender python skin sandals are by Coach, perhaps a little bright if but you can always find a similar shoe in nude.

Summer doesn’t mean you have to abandon the chunky boot for flop flops, you can carry on in comfort with a chunky summer shoe. The trick with chunky heels is to avoid swathes of cow’s leather. Fabrics such as velvet or satin print are great, or get sandals which have that au naturelle look.

Hope you get the point

So with the weather warming up and more importantly drying out, it’s finally time to dust off your courts, pull out those leather soles, and show off your feet. Big surprise here, I’m a massive fan of pointy shoes, it never goes out of Vogue, and I think is a very flattering style, so I’m going through a selection of similarly cut shoes in a few different styles.

We have six shoes for you today, from high street to luxe by YSL, Rupert Sanderson, Dune, Charlotte Olympia and Chinese Laundry, can you tell which is which? Hint: followers of my blog will have seen all of these shoes featured here and there


Pop culture and popular influence

Without the help of google what do the names Marion Morehouse, Vera Ashby (Sumurun) and Lisa Fonssagrives mean to you? Most likely they’re just going to be names, forgotten by time, someones ancestors but nothing more. However all three of these women models who have an entry in The Fashion Book (2nd Ed. published 2013 by Phaidon), they were the pioneers of the term supermodel with careers spanning from the 1920s through to the 1950s. So why is it we remember the names of Jean Shrimpton (the Shrimp) and Twiggy fondly yet Morehouse, Fonssagrives and Sumurun have been consigned to the history books?

The great Lisa Fonssagrives as published in Harpers Bazaar in 1951
Public Domain image from US Library of Congress
Free Time Revolution and Youth Subculture

Prior to the 1950s leisure time was rare, as such clothing was primarily driven by function, with the exception of the wealthy and aristrocratic who had the time and money to enjoy high fashion. Models and icons such as Marylin Monroe and Twiggy captured the imagination of the growing and aspirational middle classes in Europe and America, and it would soon become the most lucrative market to exploit. The 1950s was a period when people of the world were looking forward to peace and prosperity, in the West capitalism was bringing bigger and better things for less cost, meanwhile Communist countries were looking for inward stablilty with Khrushchev denouncing Stalin and Mao having just untified China under the Communist Party. It meant that in America and Europe we didn’t need to invest heavily in defence, and could enjoy the technology gained during the Second World War to allow machines to replace manpower, thus was born the concept of free-time, and disposable income. And what better way to get us to buy more than to turn models and screen sirens into icons, someone that we can aspire to?

As less time was taken up by household chores the first to become freed from drugery were the youth, without the resposibility of children of their own the youth were spending money on themselves, and finding their own contemporary role models. Breaking from the still aristocratic establisment, and they found in Marylin Monroe and Elvis to inspiring yet ordinary people, who were not born into high society but carved out a name for themselves based on talent. Naturally seeing the popularity of these people, the establishment knew that change had to happen for them to cash in, and for the next two decades this would remain the case.

Two peoples heroes of the time, normal people living the dream. Just like the Duchess of Cambridge today.
Public Domain Images

Swinging London and the Brit Invasion

Similar changes to society were happening in the UK too, the Mods and Swinging London on once side, and the Beatles, and the Rockers on the other. Just as Elvis inspired a generation of Americans, it too was through music that youth in Britain expressed their rebelliousness, and naturally people wanted to express themselves by dressing as their heroes did. In the same way that the music was designed to shock, so were the clothes, out went drab, dowdy, heavy tailored pieces and in it’s place came simple more androgynous shapes, dominated by colour and showing ever more skin.

A classic Carnaby Street scene which defined the vibrancy of Swinging London
Public Domain image from The National Archives

Mary Quant Dress in 1969, hemlines progressed rapidly up the leg, and the shape has become considrably less constructed.
Used under Creative Commons License from Dutch National Archives

Just as Anna Wintour is the most powerful person in fashion today, her predecessor, Diana Vreeland was the one the pick up on the revolution happening in London and the UK. Who could be better to represent this shift society than the people at the eye of the storm, thus Mary Quant became the designer of the period, an Twiggy and the Shrimp the faces to represent it, all of which was imported alongside the Beatles, and the Stones to the States during the Brit Invasion. I was a cutting edge move in the 1960s, but nowadays it is normal to blur the borders between models, movies and music.

Modern icons have captured the imagination of today’s generation, just like Twiggy did in the 1960s.
Images used under Creative Commons License courtesey from left: Andrea and Tim Wilson, LGEPR, Eva Rinaldi

Today it seems the Kardashian family has an exceptional ability to connect with the most lucrative market in the fashion industry. So like it or not for the time being the Kardashians are here to stay because as talentless as they are, you must admit they have this magical ability to capture the attention of a certain demographic, and will remain at the top of the A-list until the next icon, I just feel sorry for them because they like many other celebs are actually being exploited.

Knickers in a twist (again)

There is a reason I don’t read the tabloids, every day they seem to churn out the same diatribe. It seems the one thing that sells better than sex seems to be anger. Its fine to be riled up about something but is there a risk that we become so desensitized by the endless mountains that started as molehills? The current trendy rant is of course Nicola Thorp’s spat with PwC and their contractor Portico. As much as it can feel as such, just because something is right doesn’t necessarily make it the most important issue in the world.

To me this seems to be a really convenient tactic to distract from the bigger issues going at the same time, what about yesterday’s corruption summit? The one that just happened have it’s agenda severly watered down? Or what about the fallout after Snowden leaked those NSA documents? Or the way The Sun and The Times tried to whitewash the Hillsborough inquest verdict? We don’t need to look much further than who actually owns the newspapers, these people (and they are mostly individuals) do it to line their own pockets.

Anyhow, regarding this whole shoegate affair I do wonder where this takes us? Well heels are clearly an aesthetic item of clothing, but so are ties, hosiery, suits and other items considered de riguer in a corporate environment. If you take the issue of comfort and practicality all the way, perhaps we should just all turn up in our pyjamas or onsies.

So this could be the future of business wear? Actually maybe not such a bad idea.
Image by Vicki Burton used under Creative Commons License

There are really two schools of thought to this, being comfortable is important because you don’t want those clothes to be distracting you from work, it allows you to be at ease and focus, I do tend to write these blogs in my underwear, or in bed even (come on who hasn’t, laptops were made for this). On the other hand though being dressy can instill a degree of pride in what one is doing, so could increase the quality of the work that way. Interestingly, as much as I love my fashion, I honestly feel that I would be quite at ease if the way we dressed didn’t matter.

The Real Deal

Following on from my post about Faking It a guide to how to get the luxe look without the price tag, I began to wonder how to quickly identify genuine luxury pieces. Have you ever found amazing bargain accessory in a charity shop only to end up walking away because of the uncertain provenance of the piece? Spotting the real deal is doesn’t have to be hard, there are already plenty of brand specific guides on the internet, especially on eBay. They offer some great advice, and I want to build on that and give you done tips which can always be relied upon regardless of the brand.

From a Distance
Before even looking into more detail, luxury shoes and bags have a certain presence to it. Shoes have a certain elegance and sleekness to them, bags tend to have good structure even after years of service. Leathers and fabrics will have a depth to their colour.

The Riviera Bag (left) was Made in England during the 1960s, 50 years down the line it’s structurally solid, zips and clasps all still work. Here pictured with Paris 105 by Yves Saint Laurent. The unbranded Snakeskin piece (right hand image) is likely to have been made in Germany in the 60s or 70s, and likewise still in exceptionally good condition.


Global Factors and a Bloxperiment

Many of my fellow bloggers may know that WordPress also offers stats and insights for viewership, and to me it’s quite interesting to see where my main audience is based. Currently it does seem that most of my views are coming from the United Kingdom where I am based, this might seem obvious however I wonder if there are other factors at work here. Bloggers now exist as part of a global community capable of reaching audiences beyond many borders, when we post in primetime in our own country what does that impact on audiences elsewhere in the world?

This is a typical breakdown of viewership, lead by the UK followed by a mix of English-speaking countries.


Sell out or survival?

Do you like supporting your local independents, small designers, etc? You may find yourself surprised how corporate they actually are. In the world of fashion this is happens more often than you realise, designers will sell their name and subsequently step back from playing a key role. I wonder are they selling out or perhaps they do it out of necessity to survive and expand?

To understand better, it would be useful to have a look at who owns who? Between two luxury power players, Kering, and LVMH, they own over 20 of the worlds biggest luxury fashion brands. During the late 1980s up to the mid 1990s intelligent mergers, aggressive investments combined with ageing founder-designers such as Cristobal Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent opened the door to easy pickings. By the turn of the millenium this put Kering and LVMH in prime position to dominate the luxury sector.

Like most people, Yves Saint Laurent called time in the early 2000s, today completely absorbed into Kering it’s one of it’s key brands and as allowed the name and classic designs like the Paris shoe pictured here to live on