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.
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“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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Saturday, 4 February 2012

Inbar Spector SS12

Israeli-born designer, Inbar Spector's vision of destruction and devastation is an unique explosive take on the dimensions between 'Nightmares' and 'hell'. In her dystopia, we are exposed to the truths behind growing up in conflict.  Violent images of terror swept through the collection, ever exposing us to the war torn images we are so used to witnessing in Israel, formed foundation to her eponymous showcase of intricate skill and craftmanship for SS12.

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A graduate of Isaraeli's Shenkar College in 2004, Spector's journey has been a euphoric trip to international acclaim from France to Japan to capturing the imagination of London's cutting edge as a finalist of Vauxhall Fashion Scouts  'One to Watch'.
Spector's jaw-dropping visual art sets off with metallic oversized brocade jackets coupled with carefully constructed crinoline skirts and beautiful corsetry, and amazing concertina detailing creates a dream-like world of ruffles, in total contrast to that of hell. Cleverly finding a fine line between the realms of heaven and hell, in actual fact, the collection is somewhat an angelic tale as oppose to the demonic references, one usually associates.

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Renown for her monochramatic look, Inbar Spector's SS12 delivers a heavenly palette of soft pinks and pastel mints, gold metallics notwithstanding her trademark black and white; staying forever true to her signature style of transparent sheer mesh fabrics taking us further to the depths of a gothic inspired collection. 

The operatic sounds adds a dramatic atmosphere as we draw closer to the end of an enchanting tale where the crowd gasps and the cameras chattering in the background as two poignant pieces grace the catwalk: a model engulfed in waves of white ruffles with a sparkle of gold corsetry and a gold straight jacket with a lantern-like base takes to the catwalk leaving the crowd applauding with great intensity.

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Saturday, 14 January 2012

Georgia Hardinge S/S 12

True to form Georgia Hardinge's S/S 12 collection 'Cubed' exudes excitement and movement. Winner of the A/W 11 Merit Award, her S/S 12 takes inspiration from the dark nature of cubo-futurism, this sophistaced look of the modern woman is a triumphant exploration of free movement and control of severe lines and smooth silhouettes.

Sculpted to form, geometric prints use a grey and tan colour palette with the key colour for season - burnt orange. Diamond panelling are dominate and placed in the most important area - the optical illusion creates constriction to mimic the silhouette of the model wearing it.

Image Courtesy of Meet the Designer 

The fluidity of silks and chiffons reveal the soft and clean modern lines of the feminine form. The free flowing fabrics of capes coupled with mini playsuits emulate curls of waves and maxi dresses laced with sheer fabrics present the fresh and light air of the collection.
In contrast, with cube skirts that accentuate and flatter the female aesthetic and two-piece cropped tops topped with flared trousers, breaking up the proportion of the aesthetic in bold colour blocking, nipped in at the waist to emphasise the young designer's fathom with architectural shapes and scultpture transforming avante garde vision of art into a wearable collection for the masses.

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