Thursday, 21 February 2013

Black Allure

Dunn in Spanish Vogue
In the circle of high-fashion flames, there is consistently a rare presence of ebony skinned prodigies strutting down the runway, promoting the latest fashion fascination or even scantily clad in a Victoria's Secret feature. It's absurd to say that the industry simply eschews the use of black models and significants but it's evident that their use and promotion is uncommon. Is there just generally a coincidental preference of Caucasian models compared to Black, are there genuinely just less Black models, does it really matter or is this just a chauvinistic blind outrage? Some may say there's discrimination, I say that's ridiculous. Regardless of this minor controversy, the simple grace and presence of a black model is never unnoticed and deservingly celebrated. In a clique of fair skinned females it's inevitable that the silky haired dark vixen will have a phenomenal presence. 

The fash-pack adore black models. Always august and spectacular; the walking epitomes of black beauty all have some distinguishable hierarchy in the world of modelling. Often, some of the most popular and celebrated models happen to be black.  The fashion world has always been a celebrated figure of independence and freedom, with it's influences helping to bring about the equality of gays, races and supporting the voices of change and expression. These themes are outdated. All that is left to do is to praise the successes of these Black models in particular. The late 20th Century and early 21st Century has been a grand era for the rise of Black models. Joan Smalls was placed Number 1 on list of "Top 50 female models" and she herself has campaigned for over 20 designers including Ralph Lauren, Giambattista Valli, Chanel and even Mercedes-Benz. Chanel Iman has walked for Yves Saint Laurent, Versace and Stella McCartney and has countless appearances in British Elle, Italian Vanity Fair and International Vogue features, she is also probably most notable for her work as a Victoria's Secret Angel. Liya Kebede has appeared on the cover of US Vogue three times, while Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn and Sessilee Lopez joined her in covering Vogues 'All Black' editions. Even recently, Beyonc√© featured as the cover girl for American Vogue and singer Robyn Fenty has started her own collection at River Island. Model veteran Tyra Banks found fame in even being named one of the most influential people by Time Magazine, while also creating and hosting America's Next Top Model after her career of catwalking for Valentino, Fendi and Chanel. And, simple enough to say, Naomi Campbell is just exquisite Fashion Gold and Fashion Legend.

Joan, Jourdan and Naomi
Recently the most quintessential example of Black brilliance in modelling is the glorious Jourdan Dunn. At just 22 years old she serves as a precious influence to young Black girls and is a social media phenomenon. Loved by all. She kick-started her career being spotted in a Hammersmith Primark and, although she debuted in the Autumn Shows of 2007 in New York, she rose to fame when in 2008 she became the first Black model to walk on a runway for Prada in over a decade. This led to complete attention in the model and her role in promoting and symbolising Black women in fashion. Her presence has highlighted the lack of black models for the simple fact that she's an impeccable attraction and the world wants more models that are just like her. Named 'Model of The Year' in November 2008, Dunn has modelled for the likes of Victoria's Secret, Topshop, Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent and endless others. A desirable female, she has crowned the covers of Vogue Italia, British Vogue and Teen Vogue while appearing in editorials for Vogue magazines internationally, as well as Elle, i-D magazine and many others. Noted for those luscious legs and that signature walk (practiced to perfection), Miss Dunn is simply electric. Mother of son Riley who was born in December 2008, she is an easily recognisable figure in fashion haven risen to being part of the highest echelons of style. This was honored when in the 2012 London Olympics Closing Ceremony, she was one of the few models chosen to represent the fashion industry that Britain has pride in. Enrobed in a bespoke white and gold garment by Jonathan Saunders accompanied with a stunning gold feather headdress by Stephen Jones, Dunn was present among the likes of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, David Gandy and Stella Tennant. Let's not call her the next Naomi Campbell because of her race, let's call her Britain's sweetheart because of her forte in fashion and enthrallment. 
Vogue Italia: Black Allure Feature
So what role do Black models have in fashion? Exactly the same as white women do. To model. Although British Vogue hasn't seen a black woman enrich it's cover since 2008, and although there is often an uneven ratio of black to white models in features, I can't stress my insouciance at the matter. It is arguable that racial problems are still arresting in society but in terms of a young woman wishing to present herself clothed in an embellished Prada Gown or Stella McCartney Satin Kimono, there is simply no need to bring up these racial accusations. Should a lack of oriental models be highlighted in frustration simply because Sun Fei Fei (who recently made Fashion History being the first Asian model on the cover of Vogue Italia), Du Juan (the first ever international Chinese supermodel) or Li Xiao Xing just aren't enough? The supermodel status shouldn't be bestowed upon a fixed amount of each race, that isn't how the world works. The supermodel status is bestowed among those that are the best. Realistically, society should have progressed to the point where we don't need to recognise 'Black' models specifically as they don't need to have this classed separation. Some would even call it "reverse racism" to constantly feel the need to climax the significance of Black models themselves and every so often use the patronising method of 'tokenism' in order to 'keep racial groups happy'. Personally I feel that none need to be celebrated because of their race, but celebrated for the model and the woman that they are.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Modern Androgyny

Andrej Pejic
Gone are the days of long flowing leather skirts and loud spectrums of make-up being strictly female. These generalisations have been warped even since the times of David Bowie's bodysuits and body glitter. Through a style revolution where men look like women and women look like men an incredible movement has abstractly progressed. It's quite funny that mini-pencil skirts were once seen as an empowering feminist symbol for freedom of promiscuity and birth control - now your latest givenchy collection will have males donning them with pride. The limitations in femininity and masculinity within separate genders is non-existent and the fortune of this means fashion has more va-va-voom. Throughout history the challenge of gender stereotypes and conformities has been present. 'Flappers' in the 1920's cut their hair short and adopted tom-boyish etiquettes to prove that they are equal to men where as Men have protested for freedom of sexuality through thumb rings and cross-dressing. With messages of equality, peace, sex and love through the bizarre era of the 20th century these themes have carried on in the contemporary world and gender mixing and liberation is always in vogue.

Through fashion these themes are incredibly salient and through history we can learn more of it's origin. An early influence is the 'Le Smoking' movement by Yves Saint Laurent and it's renown and revolutionary tuxedo for females. What could be more exciting and sexy than a dame in a white shirt, cummerbunds and black tie ensemble? It's present today too. You can see echo's of this former glory even through the Yves Saint Laurent Autumn/Winter 12/13 collection which provides a cascade of epicene yet arousing women in leather power suits, black hoods and a feisty vigorous persona that every man wishes to tame. The result? A society accustomed to seeing women in trousers and soon to be accustomed to seeing men in skirts and heels. However, there are some controversial extents of quite how 'homoerotic' and risque this trend can go. Looking at Versace Spring/Summer 13 collection; the runway seemed to be confusingly piled with an abstract scale of virile connotations to 'flower power'. In short a man in a suave 3-piece suit would casually be followed by a man in pink pants, pink sandals and holding a pink man clutch. 

YSL SS/13 & Marlene Dietrich (Le Smoking)
Same-sex tolerance as a whole however is generally a lot better. We've seen the legalisation of gay marriage in England this month and Karl Lagerfield's 'same-sex' statement for Chanel: Haute Couture SS13 in Paris to show support for gay marriage in France and a restoration of change. These themes are used as a protest for the prospect of equality in the future, and what better do young generations do than protest? The non-conformity towards stereotypical gender roles leads to the classic 'butch bitch' and 'femme boy' among us. Through fashion these statements provide a catalyst for the promotion of a tolerance for varied sexualities and the persistent messages of free love and sex. There's no question that the influences of fashion has made these trends all the more effective. With eye-catching and shocking concoctions of style, statements are sure to be raised and impossible to ignore. Let's not however reference to the disastrous 'heroin-chic' movement which promoted androgyny but also promoted lines of cocaine and unhealthy demeanour. However, the benefits of movements such as this were a forbearance and apprehension of the need for individual rights and personal expressions.
Versace & Givenchy SS13
& Stella Tennant at The Olympics
The contentious 'Mrs Man' model Andrej Pejic is the famed face for androgyny. From day one on the fashion scene Pejic was instantly mistaken for a female and met a rush of demands to see his male genitalia or his birth certificate. Pejic represents the threat against the 'unstoppable' egomaniacal male stereotype and it's presumed demise. In years to come there could be a totally dissolved separation between males and females not only in fashion but in every day life. While walking through your local clothing emporium you may find there are no longer separate clothing or even changing rooms for males and females as gender integration takes full force. Is this sexual ambiguity and nonchalance dangerous to the partition of M&F or will it never ever go to this extent? I just hope not to tap a 'girl' on the shoulder in a bar with a cheeky 'hey good looking' expression to find 'James' with hair extensions and studded heels and promptly run out in shock.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

They All Love Cara

Cara on British Vogue: March
The lady's grace is tantalising and her coquettish disposal makes her all the more exquisite. While neither naughty nor nice she often ingeniously shifts from a cheeky, girly disposition to a devil may care eroticism. Well of course it's Cara. With the fash-pack wrapped around her forefinger and the paparazzo constantly craving for a greater shot of those envious eyebrows, it's no wonder she's already established the title of Model of the Year. The British favourite. She's everywhere. Delevingne fired intensity to the fashion scene when she exploded onto the catwalk and captured the engrossment of the fashion world which will be hard to relinquish. With a seamless journey to the top, Delevingne casually mixed in with the highest echelons of style - working among the likes of Jourdan Dunn, Karlie Kloss and Mario Testino. This has resulted in a world wide obsession with the fresh faced phenomenon and her ineluctable ascension to victory. A sensation. And just to add a touch of history & legend to her portfolio; her God Mother is the illustrious Joan Collins.

At just 20 years old, Cara features as the Cover Girl for March's Vogue and I couldn't be more delighted. Parading among the promotions of Victoria's Secret, DKNY, Chanel & being the face of the Burberry Beauty Campaign, success and exposure have been plentiful for Cara's current reign. Always delicately dressed and providing a unique and sensational approach to modelling, many are simply charmed by the breathtaking young woman. Previously featuring in Vogue Korea, Italia & Russia it was inevitable that Cara would soon grace the cover of British Vogue. With parted pink lips and sporting an embroidered satin maxi dress by Giorgio Armani and a youthful cap by Canvas and PVC; Cara's dynamo disposition is so divinely expressed. That one bent finger placed underneath her chin and the legendary power brows bushy and out to play. So divine. I can confidently say that this is the most impeccable Vogue Cover i've ever seen. I'm confident that in 50 years this very cover will indefinitely be a rare and beautiful glimpse at the finest lady's of fashion the early 21st century had to offer. If you have the honour of owning a copy just know that you own a piece that will be a desirable collectors item one day - might sell for just a grand or two. Inside is a wonderful witty article, written by (my favourite vogue editor) Emily Sheffield and an exhibition of Cara donning checked turtlenecks and glorious green biker two-pieces. Her flawless form in front of the camera is deservingly meritorious.

Tarantulas and Tiger onesies.

In a world full of vainglorious and bitchy females, Cara definitely stands out as the sweetheart of fashion. The girl shows a vivacious and humorous side which is heavily expressed through Twitter and Instagram which have attracted 400,000+ and 550,000+ followers respectively. A social media icon she is often the topic of discussion. Her loveable cheeky attitude is a refreshing feature and she never fails to please and thank her fans and admirers. Always a thrilling presence many find themselves constantly discussing her love life, her latest magazine feature and of course placing bets on how thick those robust eyebrows really are - £5 says 0.9 inches. Whether posting pictures pulling a silly face in a cap resembling pepperoni pizza or cyber smooching with her rapper accomplice Azealia Banks, her every move is always followed. Known for being one of the most outgoing and inspirational models of this current era, there's no question that her friendly arrangement has captured the heart of thousands.
The new Kate Moss and Britain's new darling?
Currently Cara is enjoying fame and the fashion empire is ever anxious to give her praise. Without fail she is constantly heralded as a sensation and plastered over every catwalk show you can name. The new Kate Moss? Well it's rather clich√© that every new young model is instantly assumed the title of 'The new Kate Moss' and then never seen again, but could it be a reality this time? She's already featured in LOVE magazine alongside Kate Moss and it's believed that they are close acquaintances. It's prominent that the British Model is currently writing parts of fashion history through her numerous appearances and features but to what extent will this hysteria go. Buzzes like this have been placed on models in the past but this is definitely something different. I'm rather hopeful that Delevingne is a salent figure in many years to come. Whether or not she manages to live up to the kudos of Kate Moss is one thing, but I don't believe it's relevant. Cara doesn't need to follow the footsteps of the 'heroin-chic' Kate, she's already in a class of her own. Either way she will prevail as a paramount significant in British and International style - She already has. 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Menswear Catwalk A/W 2013/14: Best Bits

My favourite piece: Fendi
Milan, Paris, London. The hottest destinations for one to bask in the presence of vogue galore. Through the months of December & January the insatiable fashion world has been fed the most intricate and phenomenal designs the likes of the funky Katie Eary or the zany Karl Lagerfeld have to offer. Of course fashion being the vain, unscrupulous industry it is - it still isn't full up. Nonetheless, shows held in these venues have recently boasted glorious fur shawls, jumpers that sweep the floor as you walk, males donning gold lipstick and males with painted moustaches (courtesy of Vivienne Westwood). I like it. Let's focus on the menswear. From minimalistic monochrome designs, ineffable print textures to the down right baffling - the common metrosexual was not denied a divine taste of the finer aspects of male fashion and stunning new designs to show unique approaches to the autumn/winter season. A dandy's paradise - how sublime.

For me the lines that have stolen the limelight from the Autumn/Winter buzz are Fendi, Valentino and Topman Design. Fendi in Milan, Valentino in Paris & of course Topman Design in London. The highlight of Fendi's attack on the catwalk had to be the sporting of fur shawls and fur lined bags, rivalled by plain mustard jackets and turtlenecks so spectacular I feel to order the government to cancel Summer as part of the recession. Simply ambrosial. The illustrious Valentino strikes with pthalo green leather stripes on plaid suits, blue-ribbon 3-piece suits & the most glorious beige coats you've ever seen. Now Topman Design. Tomato Orange cardigans on hawaiian shirts? Sounds quite ugly. But the genius of Topman pulled it off. Now obviously this sounds rather pretentious but the British brand was sure to establish itself as a high fashion emporium, not just the local store where all the lads get their hoodies. Cosmic Latte turtlenecks matched with cream Parka's sent an intense feeling of excitement through my blood as I examined the sensational pieces displayed. Even the signature Topman backpack managed to stun and assert class into the London fashion show. Could this result in the likes of Clement Chabernaud bidding to be the next face of the brand? I certainly hope so.

Overall I was definitely pleased with what A/W 2013/14 has shown me so far. Although I am haunted by this garish mess of a pair of trousers I saw (not naming any names), I am certain that a prodigious amount of high fashion socialites are lusting over the great designs and awaiting what the next season of style has to offer. I certainly look forward to it.

Here is a selection of some of my favourite pieces for A/W-13/14:

Astrid Anderesen MAN




Katie Eary

Louis Vuitton

MCQ Alexander McQueen

Neil Barrett

Phillip Lim

Richard James

Topman Design