Saturday 27 February 2010

LFW: Morgan Allen-Oliver AW10

Throughout the menswear day schedule, the eclectic bunch of designers came together beautifully to showcase how diverse menswear can really be. For me, nothing represents the diversity of menswear more than Fashion East's Menswear installations and the latest crop did not disappoint. One of the real highlights of the day was walking around the East Wing of Somerset House uncovering the beautiful alongside the weird and wonderful made me feel just like that chubby little kid I used to be in a sweet shop once again. I excitedly dashed from room to room, leaving a trail of saliva as I went. From Lou Dalton's Jacobite rebellion inspired collection to Mr. Hare's heels to Sibling's hammer horror laboratory to Matthew Miller's smile inducing tailoring, I loved it all! We will continue to look back on some of our favourites but for now, I'd like to mention Morgan Allen-Oliver's wonderfully stylish yet cosy knits...

Morgan Allen-Oliver is a men’s knitwear designer who graduated with an MA from Central Saint Martins in 2009. Since then he has continually produced knitwear for Christopher Shannon, Michael van der Ham, Natascha Stolle and Hannah Taylor. However, if it were not for Fashion156 I could have easily have missed out on seeing his AW10 collection and what a crying shame that would have been. One of Morgan's knits was featured in Fashion156's LFW Preview editorial and I was desperate to see it in person ever since.

The preview look from Fashion156.

Morgan's AW10 collection sees a continuation of the graphic style that defined his MA but sees him experiment with new knit patterns, shapes and silhouettes. The primary aim is one that the recent graduate holds close to his heart and something we all can relate to; the pursuit of stylish cosiness. The collection is equally irresistible to both the eye and touch. It is a feast for the senses made entirely from felted lambs wools and I have to confess that I found it extremely difficult to prise my hands from the soft allure of his creations. I could certainly be both stylish and cosy in this sweater, just look at the below close up...

A close up on my favourite knit.

Alongside blog favourite Sibling and newcomers AMS, the options for graphic knits made here in Britain has never been so good.

Aitor's coming come

One of the most exciting additions to menswear day saw the return of Aitor Throup to the already bulging schedule. Despite an already impressive line up, it was difficult not to get excited by the return of this RCA MA graduate. Having spent the last couple of years working on projects for Stone Island, C.P Company and most recently Umbro, fans eager to see Throup's own line have had to wait. The reason we were all excited is because Throup's work is distinct. It communicates a conceptual approach to design while still creating accessible yet interesting garments.

The return of Aitor Throup. His presentation 'Legs' at LFW.

Last month I mentioned that he had presented his work on the lower body, the seemingly simple trouser to be precise, during Paris Fashion Week. Thirty eight pairs of trousers from Throup's design past (from 2004-2009) were sculpted on Gormley-esque, meticulously crafted forms and suspended from the ceiling. On Wednesday, Throup allowed the opportunity to marvel at his designs on home soil once again and of course I jumped at the chance! The presentation demonstrated the designer's distinct ability to unite form with function whilst explicitly demonstrating the designers fascination with structure and process.

Throup’s sculptures cast in fabric

His design work is primarily focused on exploring new structural solutions to clothe the human body. Here, Throup progressed chronologically through his archives, lifting a selection of designs before reinterpreting them with materials and design details appropriate to the season – and in doing so, has created an arena welcoming the expression of pure creativity and functionality. I was fortunate enough to take my seat at a talk at the V&A in August 2008 which saw the designer talk through his design process with Sarah Mower. One sentence uttered by Throup still rings in my ears, ""Artists create problems, designers solve them." You can really see how he is both an artist and designer, solving the problems his mind creates with focus and attention to detail and thirst for processes - his comic book scrawlings transform into reality. The presentation format in the Dairy was ideal the ideal format. It is a series of single items of clothing which have been afforded absolute consideration to form and function, ultimately transcending their origins to become sculptures cast in fabric. Throup does not "like the mentality of showing something for a very limited amount of time to a static audience" because he is obsessed with objects and "there is a narrative built in them and here I can allow the viewer to be the active component rather than the passive component." This presentation and these items of clothing are the truest representation of Throup’s work and are a welcome reminder of why he has such an important future in menswear.

Soon to be released trousers but be warned, these will be extremely limited and demand will be high.

After walking through this presentation and after speaking to the designer himself, it is clear that Throup’s designs exist beyond the standard parameters of fashion. They are meticulously constructed garments existing both within their narrative and without, made with respect for the human body and an astounding understanding of its formation. Throup is admirably creating his own path to follow, one which will not see him create two separate collections according to the demands of the fashion cycle but rather one that will see him tweak and release his constructions as and when he wants to. June 2010 will see the release of the first pieces bearing his name for many years, a trio of extremely limited edition trousers (shown above). I will never tire of analysing this collection or any other of Throup’s, I just need to start saving so I can purchase a pair.

Friday 26 February 2010

Nicomede Talavera AW10

Back in October we featured a debut capsule collection by a current Central Saint Martin’s BA Menswear Fashion Design student, Nicomede Talavera. We were as impressed with his business nous as we were were by his obvious design talent and could not resist learning more about this exciting prospect. He might be on his placement year (initially in London and next to New York) but we have kept in close contact with him and are pleased to reveal his sophomore collection. For Aw10, Talavera has toyed with the idea of a symbiotic relationship between the Gentleman and the Neanderthal....

For the past six months Talavera has been interning at BLAAK but we caught up with the CSM student as he packed his bags for New York for further interning opportunities. We asked him to talk us through the collection in his own words. "The collection came from my initial thoughts on fusing elements of the neanderthal and the gentleman. I was really inspired by the make do and mend attitude of the neanderthal; the incredible textures, layers, animal prints, bones, twigs and experimentation with materials in addition to their overal primitive charm. This combined with my interest in the sportswear aesthetic and the slickness and austerity of the gentleman and richness of fabrics; velvet, wools and silk jersey. I also looked to Ian Carr-Harris’installation 137 Tecumseth to provide the overall mood and tone of the collection."

Throughout the collection these two examples of man interplay and form a relationship wherein each is dependent upon and receives reinforcement from the other. The Neanderthal brought a reactionary and primitive charm resulting in craftsmanship and a wealth of textures, layers and materials as well as an emphasis on animal prints. Whereas the Gentleman’s traditional influence ensures the silhouette maintains classic shapes, such as re-takes on long johns in PVC and longer length shirts and cardigans. A loose and relaxed silhouette runs throughout the collection; extended shirts, tops and cardigans hang just above the knee layered over dropped crotch and cropped trousers. Ian Carr-Harris’ installation 137 Tecumseth provides the colour palette and sets the mood of the collection; especially the metallic, reflective and tonal features.

Contrasting textures are paramount with PVC, crushed velvet, leather, wools, tyvek, hair and nylon alongside each other in shorts, trousers and shirts. Finished with ceremonial skull and ethnic beading on several pieces. Knitwear takes on a harder edge with leather, neoprene, denim and mohair yarns in a black chunky cardigan, jade top with sleeve details, a recycled denim striped scarf, grey leather shopper bag and oversized black and white mohair jumper. As with his debut collection, accessories play an important role in combining the two influences. The Neanderthal’s sense of rituals and lifestyle influences eerie animal bones, shells, twigs and knitted leather then combined with velvet and silver hoops on necklaces, bangles, bags and bag charms.

Nicomede Talavera returns for his final year at CSM in September 2010 so we can all expect to see his exciting graduate collection in 2011. I for one, cannot wait to see what this young talent creates next.

LFW: E. Tautz AW10

As well as showcasing the AW10 collections of established designers and providing a platform for emerging talent, Menswear Day reacquainted us with a few sleeping giants of Savile Row. Hardy Amies and Gieves and Hawkes emerged from their slumber and joined the brand that is bridging the past and present greatness of London's most famous street, E. Tautz, in an exhibition of exquisitely tailored solidarity.

Ever since I first learned about the resurrection of E. Tautz I have been a strong supporter of Patrick Grant's vision for the historic sporting and military tailors. I need only the smallest excuse to marvel over the quality of the designs and the luxury of the cloths and wools used. E. Tautz is a label which champions the notion of dressing properly and of men taking pride in what they wear. For AW10 Churchill's favourite tailor does not disappoint as it keeps one foot in the arena of British sportswear and one well polished toe in the military camp.

The collection references the heavy knits and precisely cut double breasted coats of Lean’s Naval masterpiece In Which We Serve (1942). I'm not sure whether or not you've seen the film but I recall watching it one Sunday afternoon on BBc2 feeling a little sorry for myself the morning after the night before. The film is more than a story told for propaganda effect about naval heroism based on Mountbatten's wartime experiences. As Barry Norman once put it: "Aboard Coward's fictional HMS Torrin there existed forties British society in microcosm. Here everybody knew his place... The one thing they all had in common was the knowledge that each of them, high or low, was expected to show unswerving loyalty and devotion to duty". The collections standout is that beautifully long naval coat.

At the heart of the E. Tautz collection is Savile Row cutting; elegant shoulders, suppressed waist, well proportioned, well balanced and unfussy in keeping with the sporting and military traditions. The collection borrows heavily from the Hebridean Islands. A Lewis fisherman’s jumper re-made in the heaviest eight ply cashmere. A giant glen check is hand woven in northerly Ness but in a softer Shetland yarn. Exploded herringbones made wonderfully tactile by the softest yarn. Harris Tweeds in a design unearthed in the back of a Stornoway cupboard and brought to life with a pop of colour. Bold glen checks and unusual tweeds lend a sporting slant and remind us that E. Tautz showcases cloths unavailable anywhere else on the ready to wear market. For this collection they've worked with some great weavers in the Scottish Isles, to create some outstanding new cloths.

During the show itself, with more than a touching nod to the past, Grant gave a commentary as the models appeared, explaining what they were wearing and where the clothes were made. After speaking to Patrick back in March I was taken by his belief that provenance is key. On the relaunch of the label for AW09 he had built up a strong network of local supplies. Aside from the sweaters which were knitted in Shetland, everything else could be picked up by bicycle. The British facet of the brand is certainly not a gimmick because Patrick and his team are striving for the best. It is refreshing to hear that brands do not need to scour the earth for the best, sometimes it can be found or even nurtured on ones doorstep. Savile Row is at the heart of everything that E. Tautz does. The timeless, simple elegance of the cut, and the relentless pursuit of the highest standards of make. With the seemingly constant emergence of new design talent and the continued evolution of the giants on Savile Row, the future of London Menswear is an exciting prospect indeed.

LFW: Omar Kashoura AW10

Kashoura's modern gentlemen paraded their twenty four hour city living around Bedford & Strand.

Apologies for the delay in posting about our exploits at Menswear Day we were sidetracked by window shopping, curry and beer yesterday. The Day itself was a huge success and the amount of design talent on show both on and off schedule just goes to show how far menswear has come over the last few years. It was great to take our seat and watch the momentum and excitement grow, the future of menswear design in London appears to be blindingly bright. Over the next few days we aim to take you through some of our favourite collections, taking a sneaky closer look where possible. First up, Omar Kashoura...

Show images by Alex Klesta

Over the last few seasons I have felt that he belonged on the schedule and after he was given the nod for AW10, he certainly did not disappoint. I was fortunate enough to preview the collection two weeks ago but it was amazing to see it come to life at Bedford and Strand. Both of us were left wide eyed and open jawed as the bearded models casually and confidently paraded themselves around the bar area in their Kashoura created adaptable city finery. As mentioned in the previous post Omar Kashoura drew inspiration from his own city lifestyle to create a collection designed for every day survival in a tough urban environment. Kashoura revisits the idea of outfitting the modern gentleman and has created a collection that adapts with the demanding lifestyle of the wearer. Items have a multi functional purpose. Trousers come with expertly hidden ankle cinch detailing for the morning cycle to work. Reversible, transferable items enable outerwear to become inner wear. A midnight blue metallic zip up sports jacket evolves in to a tailored blazer taking it from day wear to evening depending on the needs of the wearer. The bags, again a collaboration with the talented Jarah Stoop, continue this theme, designed to go from bike to office, day to night, with practical messenger bags becoming smart satchels.

Show images by Alex Klesta

collections never fail to showcase his tailoring talent, his ability at sourcing the very best technology rich fabrics and his attention to detail. The desire to protect ourselves from the edgy, foreboding nature of the urban landscape is also key, as emphasised by the padded detailing used on shirt bibs, collars and elbow patches. The padding creates a stark contrast to the sleek nature that eloquently flows throughout many of the pieces in this technically complex jackets. Jackets and tailored pieces are cut flat avoiding the extra volume of collars and pocket flaps maintaining a clean and polished look, something which is quickly becoming part of the designer's signature style.

Show images by Alex Klesta

In addition to the need for adaptable and functional pieces, Kashoura looked to the city for his palette inspiration. Midnight tones, moody greys and icy blue sit alongside woolen jersey flecked with bronze and dark glossy metallic jackets. An Antarctic inspired print is used to soften the collection and sees a fusion of pastel pinks, mauves and greys which combine and introduce a curious, dreamy feel to this extremely modern and urban landscape inspired collection.

Show images by Alex Klesta

I have to confess that as we watched Kashoura's modern gentleman paraded themselves around the bar area both myself and EJ were salivating over a number of pieces that we'd love to see in our own wardrobes. As well as invoking a desire to purchase his collection, Kashoura ended our Menswear Day exploits in true style and reminded us of the plethora of menswear design talent bubbling away in the capital.

Monday 22 February 2010

Style Salvage Speaks to... Hannah Martin

With a prestigious Central St Martins design education and a handful of awards behind her, it comes as no surprise that Hannah Martin is shaking up the world of luxury jewellery as we know it. We have heard so much about her since we've been blogging but our visit to The Modern Gentry back in December provided the first opportunity to inspect her designs in person. It is difficult not to be blown away. Her luxurious and decadent collections are described as ‘jewellery for men, that girlfriends will steal’ and if Steve had a piece in his possession he would certainly sleep with one eye open from fear of Susie pilfering it. The look is elegant, sexy and decidedly rock n’ roll. Soon after this visit we set out to learn more about her and the craft of jewellery design and what better way than to visit Hannah Martin at her studio for a cup of tea and a chat. Here we talk to the designer about her work placement at Cartier, Russian gangsters, the influence of Count Saint Germain on her next collection and seeing her at LFW through her collaborations with Carolyn Massey and Hannah Marshall...

A look at Hannah Martin's work bench...

Style Salvage: What were your inspirations, your dreams and the driving catalyst behind launching your own line?
Hannah Martin: I really started the idea for my brand in my final year at Central Saint Martins. I'm not sure what started me off on the idea of designing men's jewellery specifically but I was extremely interested in ideas of gender and wrote my thesis on it. I was super interested in the idea of swapping, I focused on masculinity and how it has always had this arc and it is the bits at either end which sees a mix with femininity and this for me is the really exciting part.

SS: And it is always evolving as well…
Hannah Martin: Absolutely. When I was doing this five years ago, it really opened my eyes and I guess it was then that I began to want to dress men and explore the boundaries of where I could go. I had a thing at college whee I wanted to make pearls that men would wear and I think I managed it with the black pearls. The other thing that really influenced me was I had this amazing work placement at Cartier for a couple of months before my final year and that totally swung me as well. I was working on such amazing pieces and I learnt so much, everything was incredible and glamorous. I soon realised that I had to work in luxury but at the same time it wasn't really me. At the time I was hanging out in these dirty rock bars that the French do so well with Hedi Slimane types in Breton tops but then going to work in a formal setting making beautiful these which had no real relevance to that. I went back to college with the idea of mingling these two worlds. All the while asking why can't men have beautiful things like I had been designing for women, why can't you make it more accessible? I looked at the options for men's jewellery and there was nothing unless you want to wear a skull or something resembling a car part. However now I like the fact that I don't really see it as menswear menswear, of course it begins with a male muse but I love the thought of women wearing it too.

 It is fun blurring the boundaries.

Martin's desk: A hive of activity.

SS: Which menswear designers do you love and which designers could you see the Hannah Martin man wearing?
Hannah Martin: I really love quite a few of the obvious ones, I love Raf and I've always loved Margiela, I think it has to be someone a bit edgier. I used to like Rick Owens but I'm not so sure anymore. Obviously, I love Carolyn's designs. The majority of my pieces are styled in quite a punk way so I love working with Carolyn because she isn't obviously that but her designs do have an element to them, there is a twist to her work. I've always loved the idea of working with Lanvin, making something a bit more classic. I want to make classic pieces as well as fashion pieces.

SS: Having been at the centre of London's jewellery craft and trade since medieval times, Hatton Gardens undoubtedly has a great deal of history and experienced craft. However, I have to confess that before I interviewed you for the Modern Gentry piece I knew nothing about it. What make the area so special to you? In the sense of craftsmanship at the very least, Hatton Gardens and Savile Row can be linked...
Hannah Martin: Certainly but in many ways it is not like Savile Row. It is actually just down the road from here and if you walk down it as a member of the public there is a lot of toot, it is the one jewellery street so you will see quite a few 'cheap diamond rings here' signs and I think that is wrong. Savile Row has kept some of its integrity. They've both definitely experienced a demise but Savile Row is coming on a lot stronger and quicker with people are doing more interesting things out in the public sphere. The way I link them together and why it feels like there is such great synergy between them is the production. There aren't that many places left in England where there is this level of traditional craftsmanship in such a centred way

Rings in the making.

SS: There are only a handful that spring to mind, shoes in Northampton for example..
Hannah Martin: Exactly and it is very sad. I'm not going to completely sing the praises of Hatton Gardens because it is not all of amazing quality but there are some real craftsmen there who have been there for many years, using the same workbenches in these almost, hidden world workshops. It is a shame because I do feel that is a dying trade and I wish that they would do something a bit cleverer in the same way as Savile Row has done with the likes of Patrick (Grant) who have brought fresh life to it all.

SS: You could so be the Patrick Grant of jewellery!
Hannah Martin: Hahaha...maybe. I don't think I could handle a store right now but maybe a showroom...There are some really interesting things going on around here and it is a shame that they are doing it behind closed doors. It is a really interesting place and it is a shame that people don't know more about it.

SS: How do you source the craftsmen you use?
Hannah Martin: All through word of mouth. It can be a little hit and miss. Every job is so specific. There is somebody who will do the stone setting, another for the polishing, someone else will do the finishing so a lot of the time we are running in and out of various different workshops in the area. it is great having everyone so local though!

Tools of the trade...

SS: Talk us through the first and last items you remember designing for Hannah Martin...

Hannah Martin: Oooh the first thing I did were a pair of cufflinks. That shape came from a pair of spurs that I designed at college. I've still got them somewhere. I made them out of silver and they had horns at the back, rubies set inside and Stingray skin straps. They were amazing but are an example of the type of thing that you could only do at college because I'm not sure there is a market for them. However, I managed to take the angular shape from them and apply it to the cufflinks. I wanted them to be appear like something had been stabbed through a shirt, a thorn rather than something typically ornate and classic. As for the last piece, well I've just finished off designing a new collection but it will mean nothing as yet because I've not made anything yet. The last actual piece that I've made was for Carolyn (Massey) actually but in terms of my own brand, the big sovereign rings from the Vincent collection which were some of my favourites. Actually I've expanded on this idea for the new collection, I love playing with something so chavvy and creating something new.

SS: We recently read that the new collection will be released in parts as opposed to fully to mark one season.
Hannah Martin: Yes, I'm going to drop the collection throughout the year. It is such a massive thing to create a collection twice a year so we want to drip feed the pieces so that people can actually have time to look at all of the pieces as opposed to scanning an entire collection and missing things. We want to be able to tell the complete story. The first release should be towards the end of March or mid April and then we will do something every couple of months.

A pair of hinged cufflinks.

SS: As for the collection itself, does it have a strong character like you had with Vincent?
Hannah Martin: I always have a story because it is so important to my design process. There is this character called Count Saint Germain. You don't know if he's fictional or historical, I don't think anyone has been too sure but he's popped up over a three hundred year period, coming up in Russian history during the Tsarist time to French history and the Revolution. I first heard about him when I was researching in to my whole Russian thing and he is always described as extremely well dressed but not extravagantly so...aside from the jewels on his hands. He is supposed to be an alchemist, someone who can obviously live forever because he has been noted throughout time and always described in the same way. When we began researching him on the Internet there are some people who think he is still around somewhere. With this in mind I wanted the collection to be both ancient and super modern. By bringing in lots of colour in to it, almost neon stones against a black background. I've been looking at lots of geometry and alchemy. I have this vision of an empty landscape with this man walking across it. A spooky world where you don't know which era it is. It is less specific than Vincent maybe but certainly more mystical.

SS: Your creative process and strong sense of character and narrative really lend your collections to film presentations and you worked with Ian Rodney Wooldridge in the past to help bring some of the characters to life. Is this something you will continue?
Hannah Martin: We've actually made the first film for the new collection already and it was show during the launch of Modern Gentry and it was show on Showstudio (it can be viewed here). We are going to do a few though and will hopefully release one with every section of the collection. We want this one in particular to be more like a story.

Two of my favourite pieces from the Vincent collection. The signet facet cufflinks and and the empty medallion.

SS: In recent seasons you have worked with Carolyn Massey and Hannah Marshall. How important is collaboration to the label?
Hannah Martin: It is really important. As a brand I have backed away from fashion week because it is so difficult to place ourselves in this world because our product is not as seasonal. So we decided to make our own schedule. So, the collaborations are a great way for us to still have a presence which is the more business way of looking at them but also, I just really love doing them. Creatively they are a great challenge. It is so fun to crate something for the catwalk and it is so different from what I do. Also, working with another designer is great and I have good relationships with both of them. Carolyn and I have really similar tastes and we are excited by the same things and it is fun swapping thoughts and ideas. So creatively it is so inspiring.

SS: Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?

Hannah Martin: Oh my...there are just so many! You get so used to working small scale, for myself and small designers that you forget about the possibilities of working with a huge house. Lanvin is my absolute dream. Also, I'd quite like to do something with Thom Browne actually.

SS: How do you see the Hannah Martin brand developing over the next few years?
Hannah Martin: I'd love for it to expand. At the minute we have some amazing key stockists and our business plan has always been to build up slowly, making trips to Japan and New York. We've really found that actually going to the city really helps and makes everything much more accessible that fitting it around during fashion week. We are London centric at the moment but we'll be working with a new store in Manchester soon which will stock a great mix of designers including Comme. We are looking to find another one or two stockists in the UK, New York etc to continue to build the brand slowly. We will definitely continue to work on the film collaborations and the collaborations with amazing designers like Carolyn and Hannah.

Vincent facet signet and the empty sovereign.

SS: What item of clothing (if any) do you wish that more men wore?

Hannah Martin: Jewellery in general but rings in particular. I love men in rings. I always start with rings when I design a collection. Men tend to struggle with them because it might be easier to wear a pendant, they are used to wearing a watch so things around the wrist are far easier. Using my boyfriend as an example, I made him a ring and he was completely overwhelmed by it. He had a real fear of rings but thankfully I got him over it, so the story has a happy ending. He used to have a real fear of anything on his fingers but now he can't leave the house without it. I love signet rings and anything on the little finger for men works extremely well. Rings are still something of a sticking point. That sovereign ring is quite a piece to wear but looks amazing.

SS: If you could go back in time and experience any fashion moment, what would it be?

Hannah Martin: I love everything about the 30s. Any architecture, furniture and clothing wise because it isn't as flash as the 20s and everything is toned down.

Finally, would you be able to share a few address book recommendations to our readers (hairdressers, tailors, cafes…anything you like really) which we will duly add to our map?
Hannah Martin: I'll give you some great local places. The Eagle pub is just behind the studio and it is really amazing. Also, Medcalf is a restaurant just off Exmouth Market and it is always great.

The Gentleman Line Link bracelet from Vincent.

LFW: Showroom Next Door: Bruno Chaussignand

The missed but not forgotten tortoiseshell specs by Bruno Chaussignand Lunettes

Continuing my excited ramblings on the wonders inside the Showroom Next Door, I would like to introduce you to Bruno Chaussignand Lunettes. Actually scrap that. It really should be a case of re-introducing you. Do the wonderfully crafted tortoise shell glasses shown above appear familiar to you? Well, they should because an identical pair used to sit proudly on my nose. For a few months happy we were inseparable...(oh what amazing days they were)...but then, on one drunken night they fell off, never to be seen again...that is until now...

Although the story might be hard for me to is one I surely must tell because lessons need to be learned. I had searched the streets and stalked the Internet for months on end on the quest to uncover the perfect pair of tortoiseshell spectacles. I tried on a great number of frames but none of them felt right, that was until a good friend recommended Spex In The City to me. Of course I chuckled at the name but as soon as I was inside this independent opticians located just off Seven Dials in Covent Garden, I knew that I would discover the right ones. It was then, that the lovely proprietor, Gillian Caplan first introduced me to Bruno Chaussignand Lunettes and my ideal frames. It was instantly apparent that Bruno Chaussignand Lunettes take great pride in the exceptionally high quality of materials and workmanship that goes into producing each individual frame. The moment I first put them on back in August last year I fell head over heels and invested in a pair. Over the course of the next few months I rarely took them off because I felt somewhat naked without them sitting astride my nose. Like all good frames, they became an extension of my face. However, on one particular night, New Years Eve to be precise, I really should have left them at home. Instead I wore them to a duuuurty warehouse party in Dalston where I drank far too much bring your own booze and danced a little too hard. During a particularly raucous, audacious but ultimately disappointing move they flew off my nose and in to the black hole that was the dance floor. From that moment on I have squinted and strained rather than wear any of the frames lying in the graveyard of specs located in my bottom desk drawer.

I loved the Showroom Next Door because in addition to the opportunity to inspect new collection up close it allowed the chance to learn more about the labels involved by speaking to the people involved. The story of Bruno Chaussignand Lunettes is really the story of lifelong friends, Bruno Chaussignand, and Sandie Ortola. Their common passion for design and travel forged during a ten year friendship, which thankfully for us, inspired them to channel their creativity and excellence into eye wear. Rebuking current mass market production techniques, Bruno Chaussignand Lunettes hand-make each frame in France. These are then polished over three days to ensure a smooth and seamless finish, free from all superfluities. Lacquer is not applied at any time in production of the frames; all-natural materials are used to safeguard against potential allergy risks. Now that I have been reminded of the quality and craftsmanship, not to mention the obvious aesthetic appeal of the Bruno Chaussignand Lunettes selection it is time to invest in a new pair of glasses and while I'm at it, I might just pick up a pair of sunglasses... and I promise treat them with the respect that they deserve because I dont want to lose another pair!

I love the reflective lenses in these beautiful frames.

Sunday 21 February 2010

LFW: b Store AW10

A jaded aristocrat and his family explore their country estate for b Store Aw10.

Although I have been waxing lyrical about the Showroom Next Door (more to follow later) my London Fashion Week actually began on the first floor of Elms Lesters Painting Room where a Tom Finch designed wooden landscape set the scene for b Store's Weekend at Wyndham collection. Taking inspiration from the great outdoors, this collection explored the idea of a jaded aristocrat exploring his country estate. The narrative of the collection follows him and his family dressing up for every daily event, from rambling attire to full on evening dandy with a two piece plaid suit. Over a cup of whiskey and ginger beer Matthew Murphy revealed "we've always had something quite traditional in what we do, be it in fabrics or inspirations of cuts and there is nothing more traditional than a country estate. Our main inspiration was the idea of a jaded aristocrat who would change for lunch and dinner." The collection reminded me of that famous Edward VIII remark "be always well and suitably dressed for every conceivable occassion."

Two backstage shots by Alex Sainsbury for Dazed Digital

The b store boys are known for their boxy shrunken silhouette but here, together with Natascha Stolle who designed the labels first womenswear collection, the looks demonstrated a play with volumes as everything had a more relaxed and comfortable fit. Murphy revealed "our collections tend to be more trend led than any other that we have in store but we always want to keep one step ahead. The way to do this is change the silhouettes and shapes. We have begun to introduce that for this collection and we wanted to make everything more comfortable."

Left, a backstage shot by Alex Sainsbury for Dazed Digital. Right, a candid presentation shot taken by me.

The b Store brand is one that always strives to offer a modern and accessible concept, cohesive throughout the store and in its eponymous clothing and shoe collections. This concept was extended to and excelled within the creative freedom of the presentation space. It was obvious to me that the presentation format is one which suits the b store chaps much more than the standard show format. Murphy confessed that "it can be difficult to fully tell the narrative in the looks and soundtrack alone (in a catwalk show). We worked with some amazing people for example Tom Finch who built the set, Ricardo who made the films and realistically we were inspired by their work and thought it would be great to incorporate some of their work in to what we do." The creative freedom of the presentation certainly echoes the ideas contained within the store. The Tom Finch wooden landscape combined beautifully with the jaded aristocrats wardrobe and made this city loving boy want to dress up and explore the great outdoors...

Two backstage shots by Alex Sainsbury for Dazed Digital

Saturday 20 February 2010

LFW: Showroom Next Door: Casely-Hayford AW10

Before I can go out and explore the outside world I just have to share the first glimpses of CaselyHayford's Aw10 collection with you. Fresh after showing you Mr Hare, I could not think about beginning my weekend before sharing yet another Style Salvage favourite with you. I could not stop thinking about this collection last night. In fact I dreamed that I woke up inside of the Showroom Next Door and everything was mine, the space had become the ultimate wardrobe. Unfortunately I woke up and was met with a view of my messy room but at least I have the following images to savour and daydream over...

A wool biker jacket takes pride of place in the presentation. It can either be worn long or short depending on the fancy of the wearer.

A number of labels attempt to combine a street and sport aesthetic with formal tailoring but very few truly pull it off. Casely-Hayford are leading the few who have done just that. The father and son design duo have undoubtedly built on the successes demonstrated in their first three offerings with a fully drool inducing fourth collection. I bumped in to Charlie last month and he hinted that this was the collection they wanted to make when they launched the label. Having spent a good half hour marveling at the collection in the showroom, it is easy to see why...

A beautiful leather and wool biker jacket.

The collection builds on the sportswear and tailoring mix by adding military influences both in terms of the battle friendly palette and the armour like finishing detailing. As much as I love taking my seat at catwalk shows, it is these opportunities which I love the most. So much of menswear depends on the quality of finish. To be able to inspect, touch and feel the collection creates a much greater understanding than watching any number of shows. The beauty in this collection is in the finishing details, just look at the below close up shot of the leather and wool biker jacket...

A close up. Plaited leather sits on top of padded leather to create a biker jacket bursting in protection.

Casely-Hayford's clothes start from a traditional stand point, but rather than being nostalgic and whimsical, they choose to reflect the spirit of 21st century gentleman, a a character conscious of many reference points yet someone who chooses to distill his style into a concise statement.

Men's tailoring has certainly moved on since the days of the Duke of Windsor, and although he is a great inspiration and a foundation for the brand, the modern sartorialist has a different appetite. The modern sartorialist's requirements, desires, and practical needs have been drawn towards this synergy between the formal and athletic. For this collection, the duo include the requirement and need of protection. This sartorial cocktail is extended within the accessories...

A cardigan lays by the side of eye popping pocket squares and leather wrist protectors.

A close up of the leather wrist protectors.

I am now chomping at the bit to see the AW10 look book and as soon as I have it in my inbox I will share it with you all. This is the collection that Casely-Hayford have wanted to make since launching the label and this is the collection we all wanted. Now I can enjoy my weekend but no doubt I'll be day dreaming about that biker jacket...

LFW: Showroom Next Door: Mr. Hare AW10

As mentioned yesterday, I had an amazing time discovering the AW10 collections from a few of my old favourites and acquainting myself with new labels inside Showroom Next Door. After introducing you to wonderful knitwear of The Inoue Brothers in my previous post, the time has come to unveil the first glimpses of Mr. Hare's AW10 collection. My feet and heart have been twitching to share these images and the wait is over...

Mr Hare aims to give us all a boost.

Regular readers would have noticed that I have been pretty much been endlessly salivating over my keyboard ever since I first encountered Mr. Hare's leather masterpieces. We were both excited and intrigued when our favourite shoeist announced he was taking his obsession one step further and rolling up his sleeves to create his own line for AW09 and we have not been disappointed by the results ever since. For AW10 Mr Hare looks beyond the English Channel for inspiration and focuses his attention on Paris and the French New Wave Film movement in particular...

We asked Mr Hare to provide a couple of images from his inspiration scrap book.

Paris in 1950's and 60's was an exciting an unpredictable time and Mr Hare's has mirrored this in his new line. The New Wave filmmakers were linked by their self-conscious rejection of classical cinematic form and their spirit of youthful iconoclasm. Many also engaged in their work with the social and political upheavals of the era, making their radical experiments with editing, visual style and narrative part of a general break with the conservative paradigm. The names of a few of its prominent pioneers, Francois Truffault, Jean Luc Godard and Andre Bazim are given to the most radical shoes, the man heels.

Mr. Hare’s man is sartorially, a swan amongst geese, worldly in the modern way and as rural as urban. Equipped with charm and good humour in spite of the times. He is comfortable in himself and displays attitude not on his sleeve, but in the engagement of the audience he has since departed. It takes a particular type of man to be able to wear the selection of shoes above. I stand at five foot and ten inches and have often dreamed of a late growth burst to take elevate me to my ideal height of six foot one. As genetics have left me wanting, perhaps I could turn to Mr. Hare's leather creations? I am reminded of an almost forgotten article I read by Jean Paul Goude who discussed the idea of body modification. Goude was a firm believer that minor body enhancements, like heels or shoulder pads could greatly transform and ultimately enhance the male silhouette. I appreciate that these won't be for everyone but why should they be?

The collection does have something for everyone though and I am particularly taken wit the reworkings of a couple of Mr. Hare classics. If there is one shoe in Mr Hare's arsenal which can do everything, the Miller is it and it has been wonderfully reworked for AW10. Like its literary namesake, the Miller can mix it up in both high and low society, it can be dressed up and down according to the whims and fancies of the wearer.

My feet are crying out for these revised Millers. Mr hare has swapped the leather and suede so that these will age beautifully.

Lastly, I am pleased to announce that the much loved Genet loafer will finally be going in to production for AW10. Mr. Genet was Mr. Hare’s first ever loafer. It is something of a cad of a loafer holding six tassels of soft velvet, trailing at a rakish angle. There are few men with the romantic heart and cold blooded confidence to rock these, but for those who do, Mr. Hare and myself salute you.

A close up of the Genet. The wait is over.

Tune in later this week when we catch up with our favourite shoe aficionado at the Fashion East Menswear Installations...

The shoes proudly sitting on the shelves inside Showroom Next Door.


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