Thursday, 7 February 2013


 Topshop SS13 graces the rails of its high street stores and just in time for fashion week. Katie Phelan creates an exciting mix of adult allure and modern minimalism. With a flash of skin and pops of sunshine yellow it proves a summer success. But the best thing about Topshop Unique is that, unlike the Celine's and Proenza Schouler's of the fashion world, it is affordable! Now, who can argue with that?

Sunday, 3 February 2013


Expressed through a journey of colour Swedish brand COS’ Oxford Street store articulates a warm sunset fading into a summer’s night. The brand’s traditional design style reflects not only through the clothing but the minimal and modern interior; this squared segmented display enhances the feel of the SS13 collection.

COS SS13 interprets the catwalk trends through its classic and clean cut style:  neon reforms in a feminine shift dress, pink striped jersey top and sheer fuchsia lingerie. The power suit takes the lead in a modern short-sleeved abstract print ensemble. Volume presents itself through the A-line silhouette of trousers, dresses, shirts and coats.

The language of spring speaks through the entire collection. Key pieces consist of a mulberry, high-neck pleated dress that drapes elegantly around the knees – perfect for a sunny luncheon or an evening drinking cocktails.

COS’ spring/summer coat is painted in summer’s most romantic colours with an A-line silhouette and abstract print. Made of 100% polyester the coat is sturdy yet light meaning it lasts all year round as well as being the perfect final layer to any spring look. 

With a curved ankle in 100% dove grey leather and a matte texture COS proves that summer boots can be done. Lightweight and stylish they are idyllic for day or night. 

Ranging from £75 to £150, these pieces are definitely investments; but that’s the thing about COS, it’s timeless. Even though this is SS13, COS’ promise of providing perennial pieces means this collection will still look as striking in AW15. 

Thursday, 19 July 2012

LCF graduate show.

Waiting for the live streaming of London College of Fashion's BA catwalk show, the sound of Jamaican drumming echoed around the mirrored room; at one point a similar melody to the 'Bear's Necessities' (as featured in The Jungle Book) sounded through the space. Held at Hackney House which is going to be one of the media centres for the Olympics later this year - as announced by Frances Corner, Head of LCF, at the end of the show. There was an electric atmosphere as guests continued to be seated; the models were glacially walking in and out of floor length mirrors whilst lights remained low, creating a mystic sense of anxiety.

The show starts: flashing lights bounce off the mirrors, rock-electrica riffs fill the air and the first model emerges...

Menswear: Rory Parnell Mooney
Womenswear: Loko Yu 
Jewellery: Claire Pugh

Both collections by Mooney and Yu took on a Gothic front with oversize black nose rings and metallic black body paint used to create the illusion of clothing: t-shirt in menswear and high socks in womenswear. Rucksacks, draped jackets and layering reigned supreme in Rory Parnell Mooney's men's collection with black puff jackets, oversized knit scarves and fur panels also making an appearance.

Whilst Loko Yu lead her womenswear collection with exaggerated shoulders, barely-there shorts and heavy jackets. She juxtaposed contrasting shapes by teaming together strong shouldered black jackets with protrusions on the sleeves and simple shorts which exposed the lean legs of the street cast models; along with the heavy boots and black lipstick a hint of gothic androgyny is embodied within this striking collection that in many ways subverts the expectations of a women's collection.

Androgyny could be found within Mooney's collection in almost an opposing way to that of Yu: he experimented with layering using different textures and softer shapes whereas womenswear was tougher and more aggressive. By layering soft draped skirts and wide leg trousers with tougher leathers, inviting furs and warming knitted accessories, Rooney created an innovative menswear collection for the modern man who isn't afraid to show off his dark side. 

Womenswear: Isabell Yalda Hellysaz

With a touch of masculinity, mixed with the feminine softness of a white palette and an experimental use of textures and shapes, Hellysaz created a womenswear collection that challenged the conformity of women's tailoring by concentrating on fabrics, techniques and detailing.

Heavy knitwear, crafted shirts and the layering of fabrics took a leading role in the collection: tasseled skirts covered tailored cigarette trousers, whilst pointed shouldered sleeveless jackets were layered over cropped knits and shirts. Accessories were kept minimal with the addition of thick white wrapped belts and clear plastic visors with white edging - giving each look a marine like feel. Draped fabric covered each of the models head along with the masking of the face allowed the femininity of the collection to continue to be distorted; allowing Hellysaz to be creative with her tailoring. White patent panels, bobbled knits and slit trousers expressed the graduates craftsmanship, whilst the tasseled arms and legs  added a hint of feminine elegance to the collection.

The collection appeared to be a contradiction in itself: simple yet busy, masculine yet with feminine touches, tailored yet in shapes that subvert expectations. The looks that the were donned in the mirrored space of Hackney House may not be as ensembles day-to-today wearable, but the separates pieces make created the collection are staples which could add a touch of edgy tailoring to any wardrobe.

Menswear: John Alexander Skelton 

Skelton stated that he wanted to evaluate the social problems that are embodied within the 'chav' caricature by "embody[ing] the scally/chav style in a more refined and revered for my AW/12 collection". The burglar style beanie hats and oversize backpacks connoted the 'chav' stimulus whilst the tailored 80s inspired ankle grazer trousers, and crafted coats with sharp silhouettes reflected the fashion context of his aim. Hues of royal blue, tangerine and navy excited a simple palette of black and white creating a colour block effect which adhered to the conventions of a 'chav's' tracksuit uniform.

Overall the collection was tailored, structured and- with the layering of different fabrics, garments and colours-playful. The 80s 'skinhead' connotations of the collection reflected the modern 'chav' of today whilst revealing its fashion context and history; with this mature and almost political approach to fashion-along with his clean lines and strong distinct silhouettes-it proves that Skelton is one to watch 
in the future.

Surface Textiles: Stephanie Ghoussain

Ghoussain boasts impressive skills in digital printed textiles and CAD/CAM embroidery techniques; also with internships at Alexander McQueen and Christopher Kane under her belt this young designer's future aspects look promising. Ghoussain's collection focuses on womenswear; by using distinct patterns and prints her cocoon shaped tunics took on a playful form that reflected her stimulus of stereotypical middle eastern identities in the western media.

The collection possessed a free aesthetic with fluid lines and curved oversize silhouettes, which were excited with shades of turquoise, duck egg and sky blue, tangerine and summer yellow. Accessories were minimal with a squared or rounded hat-of matching print to the look-fitted on top of the models unruly hair. The surface designs took on a 3D effect with Ghoussain's drawing and redrawing from photographic manipulations being integral to her design process. The collection definitely boasted an artistic flair through the collage of geometric prints; whilst the middle eastern inspiration conveyed the context behind the designs. 

images from each student's showtime LCF profile.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Harriet Jones...

A mixture of sugar and spice, sun and showers, “gravel and honey”: Harriet Jones, the singer/songwriter whose sound is a fusion of soulful woes, honest lyrics and hypnotising passion.

    Dom Moore photography.

Harriet may be young, but there is no underestimating the talent and ingenuity of this endearing musician’s ability – and no doubt promising future. The music of Jones is a pure delight; with infectious vocals and dreamy riffs that transport listeners to a world full of weeping willow trees, beckoning sandy shores and soft whistling winds. There is a haunting sense about Jones’ sound: it stays with you, making this up and coming musician impossible to forget. It takes one listen to realise that her music is candid and distinct, whilst being compelling in a ‘hair standing up on the back of your neck’ kind of way; albeit Harriet perceives her sound as not being definitively categorised. “An old man who saw me play once said I have a voice of ‘gravel and honey’ and it kind of stuck. It could be folk, it could be blues, but everybody knows I’m not a pop singer”.

This year has already proved to be a year full of anticipation for Harriet Jones after playing a multitude of live gigs in London and her hometown, Plymouth. What does the rest of the 2012 hold? “Even more gigs I think! This summer I’m playing a few places: Volksfest [in Plymouth] with Hard Fi, Knee Deep Festival [in Cornwall] with Willy Mason and The Road To Nowhere Festival [in Somerset], which looks cool”. As well as Hard Fi and Willy Mason, powerful vocalist Lianne La Havas – an artist whose success has spiralled over the past few months, and not to mention she has hung out with Prince! - has also noticed the talent of Harriet Jones. “She hung out with Prince? Jesus man, I’ve never hung out with anybody. She is wonderful though, isn’t she?” (Well, who could disagree?) “I went to a gig that she was playing at and a friend managed to get a demo cd of mine to her in the – let’s say – most unorthodox of ways and she sent me a little message telling me I had a beautiful voice, which is very cool”. With Lianne La Havas already having written a song with Willy Mason and Harriet playing with him this summer, the future certainly appears to be promising for this rising singer/songwriter.

Song writing is an integral part to any musician’s creations, and Harriet is no exception. As an artist who has not yet performed a cover song it would seem that it is not just the riffs and melody that express her music’s spirit, but the writing of the song itself. “People say as if I’m anti covers. I never said playing cover songs was bad; I just thought playing your own songs was better. You can feel like you took some kind of good out of a situation if you get a song from it. You may not have had control of the situation but you have control of how you saw things. Most of the time it is pretty much storytelling, rather than, you know, a message or whatever.”

When you listen closely to the words behind any harmony, you gain a deeper acknowledgment and understanding of the journey and process behind the song. Harriet Jones exposes a narrative within the verses of her enchanting melodies: “‘Wounds’, it’s sort of embarrassingly honest”. For all of the non-singer/songwriters out there the process of writing words to fit a melody, to fit a meaning and to perhaps tell a story all within a few short verses seems baffling. So for all of those who are wondering, what does it take to write a piece of lyrical genius: is it in a dedicated notebook, in a tranquil space or scribbled down on the corner of a napkin on a quick coffee break? Harriet Jones shares her secrets. “I don’t have a notebook, I’ve just accepted how unorganised I am with that stuff. I write wherever. Usually two or more a day; not even as a conscious routine, just as something that sort of happened. Some songs have been too long really, a few pages maybe five and I’ve cut them down. The better ones only ever take five minutes. The good ones – the recorded ones – they make it through the typewriter: ‘Final Drafts’”. 

Harriet Jones- In The Basement.

For those reading who now wish to treat their ears to the melodious stories of Harriet Jones her music can be sourced on Soundcloud and youtube by typing in ‘harrietjonesmusic’ or “loiter around North Hill [Plymouth] or my gigs, you will probably hear it”. Soon, though, you may be able to pick up an echo of Jones’ sound on a street in Camden as the talented singer/songwriter shares that she is planning to move to London – “the big city!” - later on this year. The capital is known as a creative hub, generating new and refreshing talent daily; people from all over the world admire London for its varied eclectic mix of inspiring individuals with genuine talent. So, it makes sense for a musically gifted Harriet to live in The Big Smoke; but she hasn’t always been blessed with the contacts and opportunities that appear to be a given in the capital. From the distant city of Plymouth, Harriet has battled with the limitations that come with living in a place which many consider to be a tranquil weekend escape. “I was adamant that if you knew enough, played well enough, it didn’t matter who you didn’t know, as they’d find you. But, the clichéd saying has turned out to be truer than I thought. I didn’t really know anyone, but I wrote to a lot of people, I still do. I get kind of nervous but at the end of the day they say no, you can walk away and never see them again”.

As a young artist starting out the in the challenging and competitive world of music Harriet has reached that stepping stone that many amateur musicians aspire to. It hasn’t been easy: she has been knocked back but has managed to brush it off, battle the limitations in order to reach her goals and continue to push forward on her journey. “It’s probably like driving a car; keep focusing on your rusted wing mirror or some driver behind you and you’ll probably crash or take the wrong road. I always tend to take things personally, but it probably makes you play better in the end”. The road is the most important element of any journey, as long you keep focused and moving forward your destination will be reached – Harriet Jones is proof of this.

Harriet says she has not yet had a defining moment in her musical career so far, although I am sure that it will be found one day. Her musical gift is undeniable and with influences such as “Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Elvis, Crosby Stills, Nash & Young, the usual” it is obvious her ambitions are high. Who knows what the future holds, but for Harriet it is definitely going to be bright. When asked where she sees herself in 2020 she replies confidently, “Settled, finally content with the way things have gone; still writing songs, but different songs. Maybe I’d have finally written a song where I have found the ‘right’ words; simple and they say all I have been trying to say since 2011”.

As someone who wasn’t sure she could choose the path of music, Harriet Jones has certainly come very far, and things are about to get a lot bigger for this talented musician. So whether it is in London, Plymouth or at various festivals listen out for her husky harmonies and wearyourself promises, you will not be disappointed…

Just to be nosy.

What's you favourite place on earth - your sanctuary?
Harriet: My garden, the beach or when I'm sleeping. That's pretty nice. Or stone circle.

If you could pick one song to sum up your life or you as a person, what would it be and why?
Harriet: I was gonna say 'Like A Rolling Stone' [Bob Dylan], but I'm sure few others would agree. You'd have to ask one of my friends this question; or one of my 'enemies'...

If you were to duet with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why?
H: I am gonna sound real obsessed with Bob Dylan by the end of this interview, aren't I?

Of all the songs you have written so far, which holds the most sentimental significance/is closest to your heart and why?
H: I'm not sure. It's hard after you release them because you get a feeling for what people enjoy more, then kid yourself that's your favourite too. Maybe 'Wounds', it's sort of embarrassingly honest. It's gonna sound real stupid but the chorus, it's written exactly how I sort of say things - you know? 'In The Basement' is kind of nice too though. It's the first song I ever went up and played in front of anybody.

What song can you not stop listening to at the moment?
H: Gorillaz - Melancholy Hill.

What is your festival highlight, to date?
H: Maybe seeing Gorillaz at Glastonbury in 2010 with Lou Reed - that was cosmic. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Pulp at Reading 2011 were pretty good though. I always like some of the people you meet too; you don't have a bloody clue who they are or of their place in the world but they are the happiest people alive. I think that's beautiful. 

You're going to Outer Space, what five things do you take with you?
H: Outer Space?! An oxygen tank, five of them.

Talented...and pragmatic! 


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