Sunday, 20 October 2013

Fashion Fiend: An Open Thought

Never really understood why the 'scavengers' come out to prey over the weekend until you realised: when there is no work, no school and no more Guylian chocolates to nibble on - you are one of them. It is interesting to see how fashion can become an overbearing addiction that feeds off the vulnerable or the fact that it is so intgriuing it would even fascinate the imagination of any non-conformist. So, ask yourself the ultimate question any fashionista would ask themself: what is it about fashion that captures so much of our time? 

For someone like myself, the sheer creativity and the fact that there is no rule book. This thing called 'fashion' swallows you up, but instead of spitting you out, every muscle known-to-man consumes you, spriralling into a labryinth leaving you breathless and delirious because there is so much of everything for you to consider, yet you can't help but ask yourself the penultimate question: if this is what it does to you, why do you love it so much? And this is where real confusion and soul searching sets in, often uprooting some hidden insecurities you thought were dead and buried, but has a sneaky way of rearing its ugly head. A question we never really answer, but for the presentation of a bemused look and heavy sigh of a non-existent burden and frustration of never coming up with any valid reason other than 'versatility'; fashion is fun' and 'limitations are not an option'; we prefer to leave a blank space supported with that blank stare one so often uses when they know the answer but feels playing the fool as the perfect get-out clause.

From century to century and generation to generation, and nowadays, season to season; our style is like a revolving door, when the trend for the season is bound to come back around again, but with a slight difference. Even those who adore a particular era will always add a twist to their style because they can. It is fair to say in recent years, even I have become more and more fashion conscious than ever before.

So many women, especially as they get older, their bodies start to change in size and shape, and like so many women, I find myself in those brackets. I remember when people would say, "but your only in your twenties" even though I was fast approaching my thirties at the time, and now, I can say I am firmly in my thirties. My body was changing and continues to do so whether I like it or not. Clearly, plastic surgery is not an option, or should I say I couldn't afford it, it meant one thing only - fashion is the solution. Taking an in-depth look into what fashion is about has left me restless and anxious, as my new found quest of personal style without feeling guilty for making necessary spends continues to consume my sub-conscience for wanting and needing that all important high, before I am let down with a heavy blow because my pockets are slightly lighter than usual, again. 


I have always loved fashion, and used it as therapy to escape from the world and its problems, but never realised it could be used as a tool to set you apart from the rest: to show character, personality and express your personal, social and poilitical statement as so many designers do nowadays. Like many of us, I have always been aware of the impact fashion can have on others but not truly aware of the impact it has had on me until now. Maybe it is something that springs with age or maybe that is just the way it is. Nonetheless, the older we get, the more conscious of our bodies we become and that makes a huge difference on how we see fashion and how fashion perceives us to be able to draws us in at times when we are most vulnerable. 

Of course, anyone who does not fit into society's perception of what is the norm (whatever that is) is bound to draw attention to themselves, especially if they live in the demographics of Birmingham - 'Big City, Small Town' thing - and that is not to say that we are less outrageous with our style but it is worth pointing out that fashion breeds confidence and confidence is what makes fashion a lot of the time. Having the confidence to not do what is branded as the norm is one of our many weaknesses. Too afraid to set ourselves apart from the rest.

Once upon a time, living in Birmingham used to be a struggle for inspiration because everyone tried so hard to be like each other. Now, we have come full circle, yet there is still the odd raised eyebrow to the person wearing illuminous knee-high socks and mahogany loafers, but since the arrival of the Bull Ring, The Mail Box and our infamous high streets jam-packed with the latest trends straight off the catwalk in a store near you has made all the difference in the world. Not to mention, Style Birmingham, which has well-known celebrities doing the mileage along the M1 to be apart of an amazing event contributing to the new found fame here. And more recently, the Midlands Fashion Awards is steadily rising through the ranks making headlines for providing a platform for talented individuals with exceptional creative vision based right here in the Midlands.

It is common knowledge when we think or talk about fashion, we think womenswear more than menswear. Although it is rapidly changing, and there are more fashion conscious men than ever before, who like to look good just as much as women do, but since the idea of womenswear is, generally, at the forefront of our minds; let us continue. Fact: women shop more than men. We have more options. Our clothes tend to be cheaper. We are more likely to find that all-important bargain. The most pleasurable activity you can find that may break the bank, allow us to get so excited and work up a sweat just by simply taking off our clothes in the changing room to try a garment on or musing through numerous online sites is the ultimate high. But, does it open the floodgates for us to transform into blood sucking creatures succumb to the watchful eye of the fast rotation of the industry? At times it is nothing more than an outlet for so many of us a chance to unwind and remove ourselves from the realities of the world. A dear friend of mine was very open with her thoughts when I told her I was writing this article and she hit the nail on the head and summarised it beautifully: "It gives us the opportunity to express our personality. There are no boundaries in fashion; no class or status issues. Regardless of whether you shop in Primark or not, it is about self-personification. It epitomises your own sense of style and reinforces the fact that you don't need excessive amounts of money to be fashionable nowadays nor do you need to be in fashion to be fashionable. Just be creative. More importantly, just be you. It's like a voice that speaks to you."
One thing for sure, fashion has nothing to do with age, it maybe a contributing factor to the changes we make in our wardrobes because of how are bodies change and as we continue to evolve as individuals, however it is not the sole reason for it. What we choose to wear in our twenties, when we are on the road of discovering who we are, for some of us, is naturally not what we would wear ten or twenty years from now, and this is how and why we are slaves to it.


Monday, 7 October 2013

Ania Marie Rozanowska


Taking the initials from her first, middle and last name; the label ‘AMR’ is born.    Created in awe of  ‘Timeless Exploration and Craftmanship’ in female aesthetics, Ania Marie Rozanowska offers the finest intricacies of craftsmanship, using movement and structural shape, combined with feminine transparency as a formula for her signature style. The Polish born native is an exceptional talent, and should welcome a  long and prosperous career for expressing the freedom of innovation.

 The graduate with honors’, from the University of Glamorgan, collection entitled ‘Dimension of Infinity’ has rocket her name and work with admiration in a single breath of unbounded space, time and quantity and 3D structure succinct in the principle of symmetry. The fashion fantastical uses the finest silks and bespoke platinum skins dosed in hues of black and white – timeless and forever classic – taking the purity of white to evoke the essence of innocence and invite the mind into a world of make-believe.

Accompanied with a set of bangles and neck pieces, Rozanowska produced an accessories collection,  which takes an intimate relationship between the material and the movement channeled by light producing an iridescent effect -showing  luminous colours that seem to change when seen from different angles and movement that cannot be repeated. 

No stranger to working with fashion royalty, having interned for luxury furniture brand designer Jimmie Martin, innovative footwear Chau Har Lee and the infamous Gareth Hugh; the recipient of the Cardiff School of Creative Industries ‘CCI Collection of the Year’ award and ‘The Best of the Welsh Design Graduate Award’, Rozanowska is talent worth watching.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The History of the Paper Dress
The 60s represented an era of radicalism, flamboyance and disposability. Already adopting a ‘throw-away’ attitude with the invention of disposable cutlery, plates and nappies - an age becoming obsessed with convenience - it was only logical for fashion to become disposable too. Breaking free of the social constraints of the 50s, fashion was taken to new heights and we bore witness to an overnight sensation that was all the rage in the mid-60s; the paper dress.
In the spring of 1966, as part of a marketing stunt, the Scott Paper Company were the driving force behind the phenomenon when they created two dresses made of out paper to promote a new colour line for paper product. For a dollar, you could buy a dress and receive coupons for Scott Paper products, and be relieved of the chore of washing, drying and ironing. It was an instant success.
Made up of 93% cellulose and 7% nylon or Dura-weve reinforced with rayon, the papers were more fragile, which meant there was much more flexibility and made it easier to create soft lines and draping making it more appealing. Within its first week of production; an estimated 500,000 dresses were produced and women across the United States bought into the gimmick of a carefree lifestyle, which saw company sales soar through the roof. Even though styles were simple and only available in a black and white, pop art-inspired style and an orangey red and yellow paisley print, the classic A-line dress was a massive hit.
During a time when it felt like we were living in the space age - with man traveling to space and landing on the moon - Scott had taken clothing to an age beyond its capabilities and paved the way for the future of fashion as convenient, cheap and fashionable. It was a time when anything seemed possible.
The birth of convenience and the age of consumerism had taken centre stage and mass produced paper clothing sparked a fashion craze not just for the average woman, but for women from affluent backgrounds trading in their pieces of Dior for more elaborate paper gowns. One of the most recognisable pieces was Andy Warhol’s, “Souper dress”, inspired by his rendition of the Campbell’s soup image, combining art and fashion at a time when women were eager to exercise their own freedoms and values.
The Souper dress. Image: AFP/Getty Images 
Fast becoming a trend, the paper movement swept through the American Fashion industry and it wasn’t long before paper dresses were sold in major department stores and a string of paper clothing boutiques were set up, capitalising on the craze. Not intent on breaking into the fashion industry Scott Paper stopped making paper dresses and major companies like Mars Hosiery filled the gap by producing 80,000 to 100,000 dresses a week.

Unfortunately, it was to be no more than a fashion fad that would become obsolete once the physical limitations became apparent following the rise of the eco-friendly culture which drew attention to a wasteful natured society, and the rising issues of flammability, when one too many fashionistas went up in flames!

Although the novelty wore off, it has inspired young contemporary fashion designers such as Morana Kranjec and Sandra Backlund, whose origami-inspired designs have brought new meaning to the paper dress in modern times.
Croatian designer, Morana Kranjec, showcased her geometric installation at this year’s Vauxhall Fashion Scout in London. Her “Origami-Armour” was an artistic take on the female form by using paper to explore traditional Japanese techniques and the modernity of design construction. Intricately folded by the designer herself, this display of immovability with the decadence and clear influence of Iris Van Herpen’s quest to transform fashion design, combines fashion with architecture.
Paper dress by Morana Kranjec
Not afraid to play with paper, Swedish designer Sandra Backlund’s approach to design is like a sculptor. She tests the boundaries of her craft by creating abstract pieces experimenting with materials like paper and incorporating origami techniques to produce conceptual art.
Paper dress by Sandra Backlund. Image: Peter Gehrke
Paper was not practical enough to stand the test of time, but influential enough to inspire sculptural wearable art. 

Shopping Destination 2012: Vienna

Magnificent views of lush green pastures and glaciated mountains, scents of alpenrose, gentian and rare edelweiss and the unforgettable scene of Julie Andrews famously swirling on the hill top of the Austrian alps from the phenomenon ‘The Sound of Music’. Austria’s skyline is a picture of beauty and its mainland represents a wealth of culture unscathed by an eventful history making the capital, Vienna, the root of its beginnings and an exciting and refreshing summer break for 2012.
Foothills of Schneeberg. Image:
Vienna is the largest city in Austria, which lies close to neighbouring countries Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary. Broken into 23 districts, it is the heart of Austria’s history and home to contemporary art, galleries and architectural structures such as beautiful imperial palaces of Hofburg and Schronbrunn, homes to past rulers and emperors of the many dynasty’s that ruled the country, attracting visitors from all over the globe. Now, it is a city transformed as a modern destination for the new generation of the funky and stylish, it is making way for the future without forgetting the heritage of its past.
Why not indulge into the whirlwind of originality and take a stroll down the narrow graffiti streets, just beyond the Museums Quartier, to 7th District. Considered the ‘Mecca’ for modern Austrian fashion. Here, you will find anything from elegant designs to outlandishly quirky creations, exposing shoppers to a variety of styles of clothes, handbags and accessories.
In search of something original, other than what the popular retail chains have to offer, located near the centre of Vienna, Neubaugasse is a hip secret to be kept close to your heart. Countless stores are a gateway to home-grown designer studios and fashionable stores, and the area has become a pilgrimage for shoppers looking for chic fashion from the likes of edenBERG to Park. On the corner of Mondscheingasses you’ll find international designers Ann Demeulemeister and Martin Margiela. While taking the time to scour the hidden back streets is a fabulous alternative to shopping the boulevards and malls to grab that one-off piece and explore Vienna’s trendiest district.
Park Boutique. Image: WeinTourism/Karl Thomas
If you fancy an intimate and truly unique shopping experience, 7tm shopping tours, is a two to three hour excursion, for a maximum of eight people, offering a personalised touch, where an experienced stylist gives you a guided tour in which you may be given the opportunity to meet and converse with designers themselves.
7th Shopping Tour.
Fashionistas’ interested in the current fashion scene, in an area fast becoming a fashion forward hotspot for young Viennese’s, are in for a treat. The twelfth ‘Festival of Fashion and Photography’ begins on 29 May through to 5 June. This annual event is a glorified testament to Austrian creatives and is jam packed with seminars, lectures, exhibitions and fashion shows.
Festival for Fashion & Photogrpahy. Image: Elke Krystufek/ Maria Ziegelbock
Elicit plush bars, clubs and restaurants scale the city and the ‘in’ crowds are just as complementary to the surroundings they choose to wine and dine in before heading off for a night of partying until the early hours of the morning. The club everyone is talking about at the moment is the Babenberger Passage. With a futuristic ambience created by the clean-cut design and state-of-the-art lighting, it is the place to be if you want to dance the night away. Streaming sounds from electronic, house and mainstream tunes, there is something for everyone.
But if you’re not up for the late hectic nightlife, blessed with hot and humid days during the summer months, with temperatures reaching a soaring 35°C, you may choose to visit one of the many public parks like Stadtpark, a link between the city centre and the third district.  Drift and dream through the hilly meadows from Ringstrasse or stand impressed by the Viennese art nouveau near the “Stadtbahn” railway pavilions; this is the perfect way to end the perfect holiday.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Yasamin Zafar's "Rites of Passage"

Trudging deep into the steamy jungle, near the rivers of Borneo, is where a young Dane designer, Yasamin Zafar, fell intrigued by the indigenous native tribe, the Ibans. What would become the inspiration for her latest collection, “Rites of Passage”; their way with the world – the spiritual world- would become the source of creativity for the creation of a Ready-to-Wear collection for AW12.
Image Courtesy pof
“Rites of Passage” symbolises a young Iban’s journey between childhoods to adulthood. Reputed for their traditional practice of headhunting - now a thing of the past - their engagement with the spiritual world is still at the forefront of their ancestry and is very much at the heart of their existence. The collection is a visual interpretation of their customs and rituals and a reflection of her moods and feelings of her journey through the jungle, as she watches and studies their communication with the spiritual world, to protect them from evil spirits and prepare them for a world outside the one they live.
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Inspired by working with different materials, the textile design graduate of The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design, has juxtaposed simple silhouettes dominated by a monochromatic printed catsuits, a laddered knitted gown and a bodice bearing a soft shade of sand teamed with a white sheer layered fabric to create a soft and simple aesthetic, all of which possesed intricate details illustrating their strong connection to the land of mysterious Gods, legends of the forest as well as posing Borneo tribal tatoos.
The designers interpretaion of tribal tatoos are prevalent throughout the collection. Images of mythical creatures, in abstract and reality, are ubiquitously the main attraction. Used for cultural identity, standing within the community and protection from the evil spirits in the forest; common designs take form in the dog, scorpions, tigers and  other images depicting nature.
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Each piece tells their own story of being born into a tribe of warriors showing strength and resilience when protecting their territory; the mysterious might of the wilderness; the rituals of death in which the model wilts, exemplifying an emotional and crushing pain one feels when one goes beyond this world but to the spirit world and the three stages of life - birth, child to adult and death.
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The strength of a woman is a flowing theme throughout this collection.  A woman with a daring personality, who isn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd, is what a Yasamin Zafar woman is.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Stephane Rolland's SS12 Couture

Nominated for the prestigious Melier awards, Stephane Rolland can truly bear the label as an Haute Couture designer.
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The Frenchman studied at the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicate de la Haute Coutre before taking his position at Balenciaga at the tender age of 20 as Creative Director of menswear until he joined the Haute Couture fashion house of Jean-Louis Scherrer as Artistic Manager where he remained for a further ten years.

However, now, he has created pieces of art of his own for his own Haute Couture fashion house of Stephane Rolland. In the illustrious surrounding of the Cite de l’architecture et du Patrimoine at Tracadero Place, it seemed befitting for the French designer to present a show of floor-sweeping gowns encapsulating the sophistication and elegance of Paris and its history for high fashion, during the Haute Couture Paris Fashion week.
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Inspired by the kinetic art of the late French artist, Michel Deverne, whose fascination to reinvent public space with art whilst working with a variety of materials to create shapes that play with light were a clear explanation for Rolland’s  visual interpretation and attention to detail of architectural space. Taking defined shapes of spiral creations and fragmented scales on broad shoulders and sleeves - often created when playing with cellular characteristics; these shapes were signs of the Deverne’s creations but Rolland’s exquisite craftsmanship.
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The strong colour palette of pearly whites, fiery reds and lustrous blacks with hints of pistachio greens represented a colour palette to be adorned by the beauty and strength of a powerful woman. Beautiful gowns skimmed the models silhouettes, elongating the body in every way, wore a series of plunging necklines, accentuated shoulders and cinched waists. The French designer’s deliverance of elegant fabrics of silks; gazar, chiffons, organza and a cascade of ostrich feathers, daring cut-outs with gold accents, leather gloves, only covering their fingers, took precedent throughout the collection as a display of chic sophistication.
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But, it was Rolland’s show stopping finale that had the audience is total awe of his amazing exhibition of skilful craftsmanship. Wearing a fierce some red dress, weighing more than a 100 pounds, former supermodel Yasmin Le Bon, escorted with two smartly dressed assistants, is a stature of grandeur in this skilfully crafted open-back gown embellished with a sequin of blood red detailing streaming the front and expansive trail trailing behind her, artfully displayed as a work of art, brought the show to a satisfying end of radiant glamour.
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Saturday, 18 February 2012

'Back to Black' by Shinsuke Mitsouka

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A dark invention of free will, ‘Liberum Arbitrium’ is the spring-summer collection 2012 from couture designer Shinsuke Mitsouka. Based in Paris, the graduate from Nottingham Trent University presents individuality and creative flair of London to the couture influences of the city of Paris to a futuristic look to a gothic inspired collection. The entire collection is dark and mysterious; models are motionless with only their piercing eyes to absorb and create an edgy dramatic atmosphere.
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‘Back to black’ is a term that should be used loosely throughout this collection of sheer fabrics and leather - heavily laced with exposed zip lined trims on structural tailoring -  the use of soft fabrics made to look harsh and menacing upon the eyes. Clear influences of Japanese culture, the flight of a ninja takes to the catwalk in a long draped jacket with high collared neckline covering the face but rests just above the tip of the nostrils, of the assassin, with no more than a glare sharp enough to cut through the deepest and darkest of steel covered in vertical zip detailing to add a fashion-edge.  Clearly this is a woman to be feared and not loved.
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Sheer fabrics carefully laddered uncovered exposing bosoms left untouched or dressed with draped jackets, and the freedom of soft fabrics were accessorised with laddered arm braces. A structured shouldered dress took the catwalk embellished with exposed zips pannelling the silhouette of the model like armoury as the protective measure from instruments of death. 

But it was the handkerchief dress that stole the show. The transparency of the sheer sleeved laddered top unveils the face and unveils the suppression of all human emotion. 

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