Sunday, 3 November 2013

The World According to Carol McNicoll, Interview in Klei Magazine

Klei Magazine 'Great British Special Edition' cover, featuring Clare Twomey's 'Monument' 2009

Recently I was asked to interview Carol McNicoll, the incredible British potter extraordinaire (a noun I don't use lightly) for Klei Magazine on their 'Great British Special Edition' (Nov/Dec 2013), which also features Clare Twomey, British studio pottery and the recent happenings in Stoke-on-Trent.

I caught up with arguably the most industrious creative in Camden, nearly two years on after our Breaking the Mould interview during her 'Ideal Home' Marsden Woo exhibition back in late 2011.

For those of you who don't speak Dutch (myself included), our opinion-filled conversation consisted of French vs. British taste, the craft revival and whether she think it's still realistic to be an artist in the digital age.

Watch out for an upcoming Klei interview with the very talented Spanish ceramicist and RCA rising star Enrique Perezalba Red in early 2014.
'The World According to Carol McNicoll' interview

'The World According to Carol McNicoll' interview

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

7 Things You Never Knew about Canada till You Read 'Fashion'

 Canadian Fashion gets Serious
Daria Werbowy on Fashion's October 2013 issue

According to my long-suffering cousins, the Canadians are a misunderstood bunch. Popular myths beyond the border involve igloo housing, lesser technology and the assumption that everyone speaks French (when the French-speaking population is mostly found in Quebec).  

Let's just say the last thing I expected from my recent visit was intelligent, intriguing fashion and beauty journalism from a Canadian perspective. 

Here's a few eye-brow raising facts I learned about Canada from its best-selling women's' magazine Fashion (October 2013), starring none other than Ukrainian-Canadian super Daria Werbowy.

7 Curiously Canadian Fashion Facts 

1. The shopping pages are divided by province (that's how big the country is) 

At nearly 10 square kilometres (the second largest country in the world), the existence of only 5 Louis Vuitton boutiques feels a bit mean. Besides high-end department stores like Holt Renfrew, Gravity Pope (the go-to for footwear), the rest are independent boutiques scattered across trendy districts in Montreal, Toronoto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, stocked with top international and local designers.

2. They're obsessed with all things British

"Maybe it's the class system, the stiff upper lip or the Queen, but something about the Brits makes them born to rebel."

While I don't completely agree with all of the above, there's little doubt of 'The British Invasion' in Canada. It was surprising to see the extent of it - from short hair ("British girls are more adventurous"), mod (Agyness Deyn's Dr Martens collab), punk, handbags (the Mulberry Bayswater finally arrives!), British models (Stella Tennant to Edie Campbell) and promising talents like Jean-Pierre Braganza.

3. But they put a Canadian twist on it obviously 


For example, London-based designers Jean-Pierre Braganza and Erdem were both born in Canada (in Toronto and Montreal respectively). 


Jean-Pierre Braganza A/W13

4. Canada's Got Talent 

Discovering Melissa Araujo (see dress below) was a weak-in-the-knees moment for me. Minimalist, interchangeable and affordable, her pieces offer serious wardrobe ROI. A selection of her designs are available to purchase on her website, which also showcases her brilliant fashion illustrations

Look#37 from Melissa Araju's 'Linear' collection

The magazine's 'Top Coats' Canadian outerwear special is also noteworthy, not least since freezing winters can drop below -40°. Serbian born, Toronto-based designer Bojana Sentaler Nikolic (of Sentaler) and her luxuriously tailored 40s wartime-inspired coats win my vote. 

5. Kick-ass Ads (starring fashion bloggers)

Christina Caradona's ad for Tampax Radiant

How refreshing to see New York model/Trop Rouge blogger Christina Caradona front a Tampax ad campaign with pride. It's a step in reducing the awkwardness of traditional faceless western ads. In southeast Asia (countries which are supposedly more 'conservative') celebrities as feminine hygiene product spokespeople are nothing new. Seriously, it's time to grow up. 

This also exemplifies the growing trend of bloggers becoming public print and TV faces of major brands.

6. Vichy is Canada's no. 1 skincare brand

Who knew? Known for its French thermal spring water formulations (sourced from the town Vichy) and diverse targeted skincare lines, mid-priced Vichy comes up on top. Available in the UK from Boots.

7. Danier Leather

Danier Bucket Tote
A vertically-integrated retailer whose leather collections are sold exclusively in Canada, Danier is probably the country's best kept-fashion secret. Classic styles, functional, high-quality leather clothing and accessories (for men and women) at purse-friendly prices that look every bit the designer. Visiting Canada soon? I highly recommend Danier's outlets for tempting bargains.

Image credits from top:,,,,

Monday, 30 September 2013

The Great Time Out Takeover − The I.T crowd

It's not every day you get to write for one of London's best loved and unbelievably free magazines. So sounding like an unapologetic cliché, when Time Out announced its reader takeover issue, I jumped at the chance.

I was in Canada last Tuesday when my father emailed me a scan of my Hong Kong fashion feature on the I.T pop-up at Selfridges in the latest printed mag. 

A number of expletives followed, conveying my excitement to my befuddled cousins.

I hope you'll like it. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

7 Reasons Why You Should Read Chinese Fashion Magazines

Why now's a fashionable time to start learning Chinese 

Shu Pei is the stunning cover model for Elle HK September 2012 issue

Two nights ago, 2.30am, ridiculously bored on Twitter and desperate for self-amusement before bed, I was rummaging the mountains of plastic bags that are a permanent fixture in my room – where I found something that didn’t belong.

An unopened, sealed September 2012 issue of Elle HK. I’d picked it up for a measly HK$10 (about £1.50 for two inches, plus you get Elle Health & Beauty for free) at Chep Lap Kok airport on my way back to the UK last August. Turns out I’d taken it back home and completely forgotten about it.

It’s interesting because I’m not one for conscious delayed-gratification. Patience is not my forte and I’ve never withheld the urge to rip off crisp polythene bags off anything for more than five seconds. In a strange way, it was like opening a time capsule of my own culture (I was studiously raised on a bilingual diet of local and foreign magazines). Yes, I know it’s a year old, but had the content, tone and reader in fashion magazines changed since I left Kowloon for Kent?

1. The ads

Image source:

Advertising in fashion magazines fascinates me – both the model and brand reflect capitalist aspirations of readers. I have never met a Chinese woman in my life who would think twice on splurging on the latest It-bag or skincare, even if it meant living off stale bread crusts for the next month to pay rent. Chinese women are far more likely to be working high-flying workers than pram-pushing housewives, so owning the right brands is essential in portraying an ever competitive social image of success.

Timeless French and Italian houses like Dior, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Versace and Armani are popular, as is the chic elegant European aristocrat look – Nicole Kidman, Sophie Marceau considered classic beauties in luxury ads.

I’ve picked my two favourite ads from the issue. The postcard perfect scene of Bally’s FW12 ad depicts Verbier’s famous Chalet d’Adrie in Switzerland, starring Hilary Rhoda and Caroline Trentini. I love the irony of selling winter ski coats to a subtropical region that will never snow. It taps into the customer’s wishful fantasy and I think it’s brilliant.

The second ad I loved was for Paul Smith featuring subsequent portraits of Suzie Bird, her eyes open in one and closed in the other. I’ve seen Kate Moss in similar versions of the ad but I think this one encapsulates British quirkiness and wit more – with a whiff of Magritte.

2. We’re starting to talk about SEX(and other taboos)

The liberal conversations and serious debates the western world take for granted, like sex, exploitation and body image are a relatively young phenomenon in conservative Asian cultures. I particularly enjoyed the frankness of Marky Lo’s discussion on the ethics of sexual images in fashion advertising. To quote, “I remember being shocked the first time I saw an American Apparel ad on Portobello Rd during a London visit.  I went in, left with a new windbreaker and realised that’s how some companies make money these days”.

3. Our real-life office dramas

No, this isn’t a piece on the newest anti-stress boxing trend, but it’s office tensions caused by the increasing generation gap. It’s common for baby boomers, generation X and Y (which it fondly labels ‘The Evil Generation’) to misunderstand and be at each other’s necks – they’ve been raised in very different eras. Cue stories of horrified line managers fed up of insubordinate, spoilt ‘little children’ with ‘no manners’.  It all sounds quite familiar but highlights the importance of keeping lines of communication open in the workplace rather than resort to bathroom bitching. Especially when we all use the same ladies’ room.

4. Chinese models working it

image source: 

With names like Shu Pei, Fei-Fei Sun having walked for every major designer in the last six years (Supermodel Liu Wen made history just daysago as the first Asian Victoria’s Secret angel), the rising prominence of Chinese models is hardly news.

Yet I’m pleased that after a good 20 years of idolising a specific Western look (especially in fashion, less so in beauty)- big eyes, fluttery lashes, delicate noses and impossible cheekbones, fashion brands are finally using women that look remotely like the customers unzipping their Miu Miu wallets. Fashion is embracing diversity more than ever and the world’s a better place because of it. 

Check out 21 yr old Xiao Wen Ju in this striking neon club-inspired Kenzo ad and winter coat shoot. Known for her wide-spaced, tiny seed eyes on her porcelain doll face - Xiao is the epitome of the unconventional beauty that is new even to the Chinese.

5. We’ve finally embraced high fashion

This Maison Martin Margiela jewelled mask and jacket ensemble is an acquired taste (Read my comments on Leigh Browery’s dance costumes for MichaelClark & Company’s ‘Because We Must’). It’s unlikely to catch on anytime soon, but the mere publication of the image is mini breakthrough in its own right. The Chinese are finally acknowledging the avant-garde creativity of high-fashion, even though we still prefer to wear the rocks on our fingers.

6. We bloody love the Brits

16 years after the 1997 handover, the emotional remnants of Hong Kong’s British colonial heritage linger; there is still great fondness (perhaps 'fetish' is a more accurate term)for all things British – whether it’s their fashion, education or culture. I’d argue the word in itself represents quality, freedom and taste there (of course they haven’t watched an episode of ‘Shameless’). 

This issue was published just after the London 2012 Olympics and features a lot of interviews with British designers like Vivienne Westwood. Like the Brits, the Chinese love a Dame - her orb logo as ubiquitous and has enjoyed a cult-like status for what feels like eternity. The article also previews her then newly launched Queen’s jubilee-inspired Red Capsule Collection, which still leaves a certain type of girl (and boy) dewy eyed. 

Viv should watch her back though, as new talents like Christopher Kane and Gareth Pugh are gaining momentum with the younger market who don’t want to dress in head-to-toe Moschino like their mums.

7. We really, really bloody love the Brits (especially the ones we lost too soon)

Shu Pei Image source:

Extract from interview with 23 year old Beijing cover model Shu Pei:

Elle: You mentioned being moved by something Alexander McQueen said?

Shu Pei: It was the last show before his death. We were wearing these extremely high and painful heels and models kept falling over during rehearsal.  Moments before the show, McQueen looked at every single girl and told us to walk very slowly. “You must take care and not rush. If the girl in front of you falls, don’t walk over her, stop and help her up.” I was so touched; he was a really kind man.

All translation and scans have been done by myself unless specified otherwise.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Hot Off the Press - Phoenix Fashion and Design Features

Like our Great British weather, PHOENIX Magazine's new summer issue 'Sunshine & Showers' is out now. Starring the sexy siren/tv kitchen goddess which is Gizzi Erskine (the only woman who can pose tattooing a piece of pork belly and still look smokin' hot), designer Tom Dixon and actress Vanessa Kirby, this issue's a scorcher not to be missed.

Gizzi Erskine PHOENIX cover

Here's a snippet from the magazine's 'The Showpiece' page I edited, a breathtaking smashed porcelain print dress by Latvian/Israeli London duo Fyodor Golan, from their 'Holy Mountain' collection. 

Known for their attention to detail that dramatically accentuates the figure, I for one can't wait to see what their September LFW SS14 catwalk has in store.

Fyodor Golan Holy Mountain Dress
Photo by Charlie Bettinson

From 18k plated-gold teapots, up-cycled Cold War lighting to the flamboyant designer of 'Happy Chic', here's a few more PHOENIX pieces I've authored.

Click on the links below the images to read the whole story.

Surreal Teapots & Jonathan Adler


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Cream of New Designers' Ceramic Crop

It is a truth universally acknowledged that New Designers showcases great ceramics. An exaggeration perhaps, but the past five consecutive years of surprise-filled visits have suggested otherwise. Here's 5 exciting emerging designers that prove why the infinite possibilities mean clay is still one of the the most seductive materials they can't keep their hands off.

David Marques (Central Saint Martins)

David Marques
Central Saint Martins is one of the best ceramics BA courses in the country right now, judging from the calibre of its students' work. Marques is a Portuguese designer who has worked previously in the Geneva watch business. Remarkable attention to detail is evident in this stunning, functional clock with hand-painted gold transfers. It was custom made as part of an installation of seven cuckoo clocks for prestigious Portuguese porcelain company Vista Alegre's flagship stores in Lisbon and Porto.

Annie Jones (University of Sunderland),

Annie Jones
Is it a miniature garden? A new form of cigarettes-in-plaster contemporary art? Just some of the wild (and obviously wrong) possibilities that crossed my mind when I first saw Jones' intriguing vitrines. Jones' living laboratories are an ongoing body of research exploring the contained reactions of raw chemicals in clay bodies, over time and exposed to varying conditions.  The effects fluctuate massively and result in striking patterns and vivid colours, like the container above showing purple crystallised chalks drawing up green copper oxide (a potent glaze colourant) from the white porcelain, a process known as chromatography.

Ant Pipe (De Montfort University)

Ant Pipe
Repurposing moulds and debris collected from the derelict Spode factory site in Stoke-on-Trent, Pipe pays homage to the 18th century innovators who made English fine bone china world famous. The make-up-like hues and textures of the miniature pots range from the smoothest white to the blackest, rock-like of clays – a delight to the senses.

Charlotte Mary Pack (Central Saint Martins)

Charlotte Mary Pack
Having raised in a farm, Pack's love for animals is unquestionable, exemplified by an astonishing installation of tiny hand-modelled and sculpted porcelain mammals on the endangered species list (I lost count, but over 200 would be my guess). All creatures big and small are included – from a tree rat that measures approximately 10mm by 5mm (slightly bigger than a tic-tac), scaling up to the lifelike, fist-sized mountain gorilla. The designer has plans to make a similar work raising awareness on reptiles facing extinction due to man-made destruction. Surely a commission from Stella McCartney is on the horizon?

Carys Joan Evans (Falmouth University)

Carys Joan Evans
Perfectly proportioned at around a foot, Evans' elf-like human and flora hybrids encapsulate the imagination of the young Welsh maker who counts landscapes as a huge source of inspiration. The mellow brown, green and yellow glazes as well as the unusual organic materials she incorporates (boar hair for instance) brings her charming 'walking forests' to life.

New Designers Part 2 (focusing on visual communication, industrial and spatial design), opens July 3 - 6. 

Image credits from top: (David Marques), (Annie Jones) Photography by Jo Howell on, (Carys Joan Evans) All other images taken by me with permission of artist

Sunday, 30 June 2013

We Found Love in New Designers

It's no secret that I am a big fan of New Designers. I'm admittedly a bit biased, but in my opinion it is the biggest, most eclectic, exhilarating and frankly underrated design degree show in the UK - and as it's summer, there's no shortage of them to explore right now.

The best thing about New Designers is that there really is something for everyone and no two sights are ever exactly alike. For me textiles this year was particularly memorable - we're seeing boundaries pushed with experimental, unconventional materials, cutting-edge techniques and diverse outcomes, from fashion, interiors and furnishing fabrics to sculptural and conceptual surfaces. Interestingly the line between mediums seems to be increasingly dissolved; for example, clay as a form of textile, either as repeated compositions or inserted components.  Who knows? Maybe literally putting on your best china (check out Li Xiao Feng's ceramic couture here) isn't too impractical after all.

The 5 New Textile Talents to Know

Aisling Duffy (Edinburgh College of Art)

Aisling Duffy
Creating crazy coloured digitally-printed fabrics, 3D-embroidered and charmingly childish ceramic accessories, Duffy works in mysterious layers that reveal the private/public aspects of our lives. Her work has that infectious, slightly psychedelic 'happy effect' much like Meadham Kirchoff (which she counts as inspiration), Ashley Williams and Sophia Webster which is trendy and highly marketable right now.

Emily Plumbly (Norwich University of Arts)

Emily Plumbly
Plumbly is a mixed-media print artist who constructs intricate, fabric-like sculptures using a heated 3D textile medium that feel as intriguing to the touch as it does to the eye. A simple yet painstaking technique that creates unsuspecting, unique and experimental effects - her white spiderweb-like pieces have an ethereal allure and organic growth about them which distinguishes her work from the crowd.

Ellys Beale (Loughborough University)

Ellys Beale
Ellys Beale's fierce wolf and graphic Aztec fashion prints caught my eye in an instant. With a discerning eye for detail (her pieces would make stunning editorials) and high-profile placements with Mary Katrantzou, Matthew Williamson and Diane Von Furstenberg under her belt, expect to find her pieces at a high-end designer boutique near you soon. 

'Amble'  by Harry Owen (Camberwell College of Arts)

Harry Owen's exquisitely North-London made 'Amble' leather collection epitomises what contemporary English craftsmanship is about - lovingly handmade, ethically sourced, one-of-a-kind pieces that only get better with age. Crated using rare English Oak Tanned leather from Devon (which feels and smells lovely in case you're wondering), leather accessories such as this gorgeous backpack are timelessly elegant and practical.

Si Chen (Nottingham Trent University)

Si Chen
Chinese MA Textile Design Innovation graduate Si Chen shows us why minimalism is the design trend of 2013- subtle prints and simple shapes can be as powerful as loud colours, frills and patterns. Her inter-disciplined practice encompasses coordinated woven print garments, jewellery and prints as shown here. Titled 'Reflection of Shadows' the pale pink and monochrome geometric prints are based on fabric swatches created by the artist.

On the whole New Designers Part 1. was noticeably less chaotic and stripped back compared to previous years - welcome news to returning visitors (which you probably will be after your first). Gone are the unnecessary and eco-unfriendly printed maps, plus the layout was easier to navigate with more immersive multimedia displays rather than stands where you have to complete a 360 circle (If you're a student and think they're the best way to showcase the fruits of your three-year labour, they're not. They just leave visitors disorientated and make your work impossible to differentiate from the textile stands beside you, especially if you work in print). 

If you enjoyed this post, look out for the upcoming feature on New Designers' ceramicists.

New Designers Part 2 (focusing on visual communication, industrial and spatial design), opens July 3 - 6. 

(All images taken with permission of artist by me unless specified otherwise)

Friday, 14 June 2013

The Art of Hong Kong Eye, Saatchi Gallery

Amy Cheung, 'Toy Tank' at 'Hong Kong Eye'
Inside Amy Cheung's 'Toy Tank' at 'Hong Kong Eye'

Saatchi’s 'Hong Kong Eye' is an 18-course amuse-bouche of the region's brewing contemporary art scene. If there was any doubt, just look at renowned Swiss fair Art Basel's debut in Hong Kong last month – which attracted plenty of customers  (including Kate Moss and Roman Abramovich apparently) eager for a slice of the massively lucrative market.  

Sponsored by Prudential, Asia's leading corporate UK owned insurance company (the hint is in it's name), I was keen to discover how the show would, as its official introduction claims, “draw on (artists) specific cultural backgrounds to expose the city’s nuances” convincingly to new audiences.

Known as " The Pearl of the Orient", it’s easy to be seduced by the city's glossy patina: a teeming hyper-networked metropolis, breathtaking skyline boasting most Rolls-Royces per capita. But at what social/psychological price? This is unadulterated HK in the eyes of its own artists; where unspoken anxiety simmers headily throughout the exhibition. 

Amy Cheung's life-sized wooden 'Toy Tank' 

Standing in the first room is Amy Cheung's full-size wooden ‘Toy Tank’, a loaded choice of material for a symbol so potent. Visitors are invited play combat; crawling inside the vehicle, submerged in darkness. Video screens and joysticks let one navigate and unleash gunfire within a simulated Saatchi Gallery. Complete with realistic sound effects, the haunting atmosphere and unmistakable echoes of Tiananmen are inescapable. Curiously lying in its path is Adrian Wong's five-foot animatronic peanut soft toy, convulsing like dying road-kill. Novel child's play aside, these examples show how local artists are incorporating the cutting-edge technology in their work. Compared to the west, its apparent lack of established arts infrastructure and rules appears to work in its favour. 

Justin Wong’s 'Difficult Life Decision' encompasses two works. The first is a giant periodic table of stickered symbols across an entire wall. Parodying a typical gruelling cycle of work, stress and digitally-prompted demands, the day starts with "Email” and ends in “Blank”, contrasting with signs of human woes like “Why Me”, “Mortgage” and “Day Off”. It’s the blueprint of the kind of living mode Londoners are frighteningly catching up with.

Justin Wong 's 'Difficult Life Decision''

The second part is a kiosk that asks rhetorically “How Are U Today?” Conceived, explains the helpful touch screen, to “help overworked white-collar employees contemplate life or even create a new one”, by anonymously sharing their secrets, worries and pent-up frustrations. If Wong’s works visually encapsulate HK’s insanely-paced work ethic, the definitive soundtrack belongs to Joao Vasco Paiva's installation of MTR (HK’s underground) turnstiles. A clanging-metal racket so ingrained as a Hong Konger; I barely noticed how irritatingly loud it was it until now. 

On more contentious ground, questions about China’s cultural identity are painted in Chow Chun Fai's iconic movie scenes of Chinese capitalist dreams. Everyone wants a piece of China now, but there is less concern for its own people, let alone those who speak openly about it. Issues like corruption seem to be subtly implied in subtitled actors' quotes − “China is not ruled by Chinese anyway”. Unlike the 'Korean Eye' or 'Indonesian Eye', unsurprisingly this is as controversial as it gets. 

Chow Chun Fai, 'Legend of the Fist: China is not Ruled by Chinese Anyway'

That being said, I don’t think 'Hong Kong Eye' was ever intended to expose its dark side. Intensity has always been the way of life; China didn't prosper by luck. 

The most unique aspect shown is HK’s mongrel culture, owed to its rich history as a former British colony and international trading port. An incongruous collage of old meets new, east meets west under constant urban renewal. Ho Sin Tung’s 'LOVE HOTEL: Please pretend we’ve been to a lot of places' includes a collage of cards from locally-endangered seedy motels named after glamorous holiday destinations. “Venice Inn”, “Hawaii Guest House” and the delightfully misspelt “Romb Hotel” are kitschy delights you'd never find in a tourist map. 

This is an show where somewhat frustratingly, no message or agenda is explicit. Contemplative effort, imagination and open-mindedness are needed to appreciate HK’s cultural fabric – which is complex, idiosyncratic and contradictory. However its mystic allure is a promising sign of big things yet to come.

Images from top:,,,

Monday, 3 June 2013

London's Top 5 Treasure Hunts

Treasures old, treasures new, treasures worth the pilgrimage to...Inspired by Channel 4’s ‘Four Rooms’* and my Blom & Blom recycled lighting piece for Phoenix Magazine, trawling for treasure has never been more fashionable. Here are 5 fantastic events where you just might get lucky

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Saturday, 2 March 2013

3 Things I Didn't Expect at LFW

Apologies if you're tired of LFW related stories on my blog lately. The last thing I want is readers willing to put up with my wordy entries leaving, so I promise this will be my last!

LFW's New Design Darlings

Call me fickle but here's 5 LFW designers I fell in love with...from the far east to Fashion East to Topshop's NEWGEN

Friday, 1 March 2013

LFW A/W13 Catwalk Edit

One of the most underrated pleasures about keeping a blog is that you don't have to be selective in terms of images and you're free to pretty much say anything. Perfect for indecisive and gobby types like me. 

You never forget your first LFW; anticipating what madness, 'meh'-ness or magnifucent creation will step on the catwalk and within weeks hit the shopfloor whether you like it or not.

Why should only fashion editors have all the fun? So here is my very first report on what I saw, loved  and most importantly would potentially buy, whether it's the designer version or high street interpretation. After all, as fashion journalist Caryn Franklin wrote too-rightly on LFW Daily "The foundation of a successful collection is in appealing to those who will buy, as opposed to those who will photograph".

Of course you're welcome to disagree.

1. Hot shoulder

Shoulders are having a hot moment - none more experimental than at Osman. My favourites? Just a bit of shoulder revealed on a demure draped top, David and Goliath (mismatch sized) sleeves and an Icarus-style shoulder piece by Topshop Unique- clearly it's not just Red Bull that gives you wings.



Topshop Unique

2. Scissorhand skirts

Emilio de la Morena's innovative skirt slits made me want to grab my nearest shears and slash up my mum's old pencil skirts. (Thankfully that never materialised). His brilliant tailoring skills created a dynamic altercation  between skin (sexy) and fabric (sophisticated). Unusual but utterly wearable.

Emilio de la Morena

Emilio de la Morena

3.'70s geometric wallpapers 

Eye-boggling prints are back again, interpreted by designers from Holly Fulton to Matthew Williamson. Like the unmistakable appearance of camouflage and quilting, I had my doubts this flattered anything other than pasty bedroom walls. With the exception of House of Holland's punchy take, pairing huge prints with muted tertiary hues like the lime green below, rather than black which can be a bit too severe. A clever fitted silhouette and bust pattern detail saves it from the retro costume category. 

House of Holland

House of Holland

4. A detail less ordinary
Off-centre, double-notch collars, asymmetrical tailored jackets and dresses, anything goes as long as it's wrong for all the right reasons.


Kinder Aggugini

Preen by Thornton Bregazzi


5. '40s tailoring
With a self-admittedly limited knowledge of fashion history even I spotted references from 1930s through to the 1950s, hence settling with a happy in-between. High-waisted peg leg trousers  with tucked-in, short sleeve turtle necks, mannish suits à la Katharine Hepburn. Breasts optional.

Emilia Wickstead

Margaret Howell

Emilia Wickstead

Vivienne Westwood Red Label

6. Long layering

Unkempt, baggy layers that eliminate curves, grungy contrast texture knits, Dr Zhivago-esque furry hats.  James Long's non-chalant boyish street urchins are totally me.

James Long

James Long

James Long

7. One-offs to watch

 Self-indulgent slogans

A shiny, shiny red skirt
Topshop Unique

 Matching wallpaper knits 
Topshop Unique

Longer-than-billed baseball hats


(All images


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