Tag Archives: fashion

Winter Want List 2014: Style

grana hong kongFeel that tiny drop in temperature in Hong Kong over the past few weeks? Well that, my friend, is what us shopaholics know as a trigger… a trigger to buy new things because it’s a whole new season! Right?! RIGHT. It’s called Becky Bloomwood logic, y’all.

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Summer Lust List 2014

Why isn’t there a Santa for summertime? There are simply too many things I want… and not nearly enough fairy godmothers to gift them to me!

ANIMAL MAGIC

Forget animal prints, I’d rather take “animal magic” to a more literal… and cute… level!

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Jack Wills is opening in Hong Kong… and it’s Fabulously British!

Amidst all the new international store openings in Hong Kong (Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, American Eagle, Gap, Forever 21), one store has quietly sneaked in under the radar… and may just eclipse them all. Ladies and gents, may I introduce you to Jack Wills.

And it definitely is an introduction. When I mentioned Jack Wills to most of my HK friends, the resounding response was ‘Who?!’. Having lived, attended school and gone to university in the UK, I was very familiar with Mr Wills. It was just getting big when I left around 4 years ago; Nottingham, the big university town where I spent far too many of my formative years, had just got its own store and had basically become THE uniform of choice for nearly everyone from my old school and uni.

The typical Jack Wills wearer then was:

In case you don’t know, that’s JP (played by Jack Whitehall) from  Fresh Meat (and do watch it, it’s hilarious), who basically epitomises near enough every person I went to school and uni with. JP would probably pronounce Jack Wills as “totally rape”… but enough Fresh Meat in-jokes!

Back then Jack Wills was very much a preppy British A&F, beloved by poshos and public schools (their tagline is ‘University Outfitters’, after all). Round my parts, we call these people ‘rah’s – for girls, think Ugg boots, sweat pants, all-enveloping scarves and big artfully-tousled bed-hair; for guys, think rugby shirts with collars never anything but up, lived-in jeans or board shorts determinedly worn in a country and climate that really doesn’t warrant having your hairy legs out for 8 months of the year.

Seriously, I could spot people from my school long after I’d left from the fact their hair was fluffed up to about five times the size of their body and that they were slouching about in sweats with ‘Jack Wills’ emblazoned on their arse. And as you’re probably now realising, I might just be a bit of a rah too. Like blates. But sadly, without the budget!

So I was already more than interested in Jack Wills opening in Hong Kong and the chance for me to relive my rah days. But, having attended a preview of their new store, I am now no longer interested, but EXTREMELY BLOODY EXCITED.

What became clear, especially after chatting to the fabulous Rachel Johnson, head of womenswear (and with a totes awesome first name, may I just add), is that Jack Wills has come on leaps and bounds since my time in the UK. Yes, there’s still rugby shirts, sweatpants and checked shirts galore, but now there’s so very much more too.

I was blown away by their range of dresses, all of which were immediately covetable, absolutely gorgeous and yet still had that signature Jack Wills feel about them. My heart did a little hop, skip and jump of delight when one of the models came out in the spotted black dress above – the very dress I pointed out to my friend a few moments before from the lookbook, stating ‘It must be mine.’

I was also rather enamoured with their fur capes, sparkly cardigans and fabulous tweed-y outdoors coats (with adorable metal anchor-embossed buttons – its the little details that count!) – here’s hoping HK actually gets cold enough to wear them! I’m also going through a cute print underwear and legwarmer obsession, so you can imagine what I made of the box of treasures below!

I loved the way the outfits were styled too – classic but still fashionable and in a way that felt distinctly British. I was also smitten by this Liberty-style print dress (most prints are bespoke to JW), paired with a slouchy knit cardigan, the perfect mix between dressed up and dressed down; all I have to say is, yes, yes YES! And this mannequin, showcasing sparkly sequinned shorts matched with a plain tee and statement-outfit making red blazer (I’m getting Claudia Winkleman vibes off this look) – even more YES! Even if I’d probably never be able to pull it off myself…

The great thing, especially for someone like me who buys what I like rather than paying close attention to whatever’s in fashion, is that Jack Wills doesn’t slavishly follow trends but rather forages its own distinctive path. I’d describe it as British heritage with a modern twist but with clothes classic and well-designed enough to last far more than a few seasons. However, unlike other shops that have an easily-identifiable signature look (*cough A&F cough*), Jack Wills doesn’t feel like a one-trick pony stuck in a major sartorial rut.

The other cause for major excitement – they’re doing BEAUTY. I think I totally freaked out Rachel, JW’s lovely brand coordinator Lauren and gorgeous PR extraordinaire Elle with my extreme excited squealing when they told me! It seems, in my time away, that Jack Wills have branched into nearly everything – home décor, mugs, iPhone accessories, jewellery and, obviously much to my delight, cosmetics too. The packaging, in their signature pink and navy stripes, is absolutely beyond cute and everything looks really affordable too. Obviously I can’t wait to get my grubby little mitts onto some of the product to give them a test drive – but that Union Jack tin stuffed with nail polishes?! It may as well have my name written on it!

I also NEED the following make-up bags – well, you can never have too many make-up bags, right?!

The lookbook is basically the cast of Skins having had a shower and minus the hipster posing, mini Rosie Huntington-Whiteleys and Prince Harrys. A sense of quintessential Britishness is as intrinsic to the brand as with Burberry or Mulberry, but at high street prices. (Though not that High Street – I’d say prices are on the more premium side, comparable to Ted Baker or Club Monaco here, but not unreasonable for the quality and with some more affordable basics. Rachel assured me they wouldn’t be jacking up the price tags for the HK market either, and my wallet thanks them hugely). There’s an emphasis on heritage prints, old-school Arran knits and little details, like embossed buttons and vintage-style labels sewn into each piece, that give it a sense of much-loved tradition but with a youthful twist.

I was also totally in love with the store itself. In HK, home to the mega-mall, store anonymity is the norm. The Jack Wills flagship, housed in Leighton Centre (behind G.O.D) in Causeway Bay, is anything but.

Firstly, it’s huge. Two floors, high ceilings, practically a mansion by Hong Kong standards. Yes, A&F may have got the press inches by forcing out Shanghai Tang but, unless they’re going to work wonders, this is actually the much better shop space.

Secondly, it’s amazing. No longer will wandering through M&S be my only port of call when pangs of homesickness strike – I can now go stroke some Jack Wills stuff too! There are so many idiosyncratic little touches, just the right mix between quirky and cool whilst being distinctively and delightfully British, that I can imagine people (especially Mainland tourists) will be popping into the shop just to take photos – and no doubt, grab a few Union Jack emblazoned souvenirs whilst they’re at it. So there’s a fireplace, vintage luggage cases, huge pre-loved Union Jack sofas, sweeping staircases, dazzling chandeliers, walls of haphazardly placed but perfectly-thought-out pictures, neon antlers, stuffed animals (didn’t take any pictures of these, slightly creepy)… oh and did I mention the big Jack Wills-striped Range Rover too?!

In a place where stores rarely have such a quirky sense of individuality expressed in their décor, this makes Jack Wills a very exciting… and enticing… prospect indeed. Their unique brand identity is just so cohesive (even their business cards have the pink and navy stripes!)… flick through their lookbook and everything just goes. It’s a study in easy fluidity yet without trying too hard.

Honestly, I really can’t think of anywhere that could compare to it in HK, which can only be a good thing. For me, another British chain with a similarly strong (though totally different) brand identity would be All Saints – in Notts, its store was an old bank kitted out to feel cutting-edge cool and rock-star gothic; meanwhile, another brand that has the quirky Brit thing would be Ted Baker, although I feel this has pretty much been entirely lost in HK stores (they used to give away condoms in my local one… can’t see that ever happening here!), whilst on the whole cool word-of-mouth front they’re totally doing a Superdry… but with a slightly posher accent!

A verrrry English tea… complete with too pretty to eat cupcakes!

Jack Wills is famous ‘in the industry’ for not doing billboards and conventional advertising, but going by word-of-mouth and viral marketing campaigns; they used to hire pretty young things to wear their clothes (and no doubt look stunning on them) and have Jack Wills beach and pub parties in the UK, all the time promoting the brand and handing out freebies.

I had a little chat about their marketing strategy here, as I was concerned that with all the new stores opening that would be aggressive about their marketing (seen those huge Gap adverts taking over the whole of Central MTR yet?!) and with very little brand recognition to work on, they might get somewhat lost. However, it sounds like they do have some cool tricks up their sleeves (involving HK’s iconic trams and some fab Facebook competitions) and they’ve created a bit of social media buzz already by inviting so many bloggers to check it out – and from what I’ve seen so far, response has been really positive, myself included!

I brought my friend Aurora along, a hot local twenty-something with a shopping addiction almost as bad as mine (i.e. totally JW’s demographic) and no previous knowledge of JW. She was won over within minutes. What she saw even from a half-finished store and a few racks of clothes had her almost as excited about the store as I was. (And here she is above, rocking her Jack Wills goodies far better than I ever could).

Her – and my! – final thoughts? Forget A&F! Head to Jack Wills instead!

Jack Wills will open two stores in HK – at Leighton Centre, Causeway Bay (see artist’s impression above!) and LCX (Ocean Terminal), Tsim Sha Tsui – at the beginning of December. Thanks to Elle and the whole Jack Wills team for inviting me and being so very welcoming and lovely throughout.

I’ll see you all at the launch party!

London Show Rooms HK: Spring Summer 2012

Regular readers may remember my Red Carpet Rundowns from awards ceremonies of yore, which generally consisted of me writing in the throes of passion to some stunningly beautiful designer dress. Well now, I’ve actually been and gone and seen and TOUCHED these dresses in person. And they are all SO MUCH MORE AMAZING in person!

But also, in a way, not that much more amazing too. At the end of the day, they are just body-part shaped bits of material, much the same as the body-part shaped bits of material you’d find at H&M, Primark or even the local wet market. Celebs, models and the beautiful people have a way of making you think their garments are some sort of magical mystical cloaks of wonder, elevating them to minor divinity status. But actually, having handled the very garments I’ve swooned at on a pixelated level, I can now tell you – it really is just a dress. No pixie dust, no ethereal glow, no heavens opening sound when you touch them… just a dress after all.

But still exceedingly pretty dresses after all!

Enough rambling and onto the point… I was lucky enough to be invited to the London Show Rooms, a British Council initiative to showcase the work of some of Britain’s hottest designers. Having pored over the recent pics from London Fashion Week, it was honestly like a dream come true!

I went with the lovely Hester from Sassy Hong Kong, and tried to keep my ridiculous squeeing in check in case she realised what a fashion fan-girl I am – especially for someone who generally looks such a state in person!

The event itself was a little weird – I saw someone toting a giant papiermâché hand, which just about says it all. Apart from the fact that no-one bothered to introduce themselves so I had no idea who worked there or who was just wafting around to cover the event like myself, the biggest downfall was that very few of the dresses were displayed on a body – either real or plastic. These dresses come alive shown on people, yet there were fewer than 10 models standing around the room, strutting their insolent stuff (and yes, I did totally feel like I was in an episode of Next Top Model!). A fashion show, or even a small presentation about the designers (or even just better lighting!), would have done more justice to these wonderful garments.

On the plus side, you were allowed to handle the garments to your heart’s desire. I’m far too intimated by snobby shop assistants to ever try and go into the retail shops myself (Pretty Woman syndrome!) so it was great to be able to enjoy a leisurely swoon and sigh, without feeling like my grubby mitts would be shoo-ed off at any moment!

My favourite – Mary Katrantzou. I loved these dresses in print, I loved these dresses in pixel and I LOVED these dresses in person!

Katrantzou’s calling card is colourful, mental, full-on floral prints – as you can see from her rail (banner photo), which is just a riot of rainbow! The dress on the model was just exquisite – the flow, the shape, the way it sat on her body, that gorgeous train and most importantly, the fabulous print itself. You can appreciate how precisely thought-out the colours and shapes are by the way each different print begins and ends so crisply and beautifully – the fact the model looks gift-wrapped is a Brucie bonus! – but this is a perfect example of why high street knock-offs will never quite cut it. There is no way you could get as complex and crazy a print that still looks expensive, flattering and elegant for el cheapo prices!

I also loved this tropical-coloured coral reef asymmetric dress from The Katrantzou (held by Hester!). What you can’t really see in this photo is the gorgeous stiff full skirt, which pouffed out uber-cutely, and it’s such a shame I didn’t get to see this on a model, where it really would have come alive. Again, this isn’t the kind of tailoring you can get for high street prices – and that’s coming from someone that has been looking for that proper pouffy structured full skirt for ages! (Or alternatively, tell me where and I’m there!)

My next favourite, somewhat surprisingly, was Marios Schwab. His pieces were SO much more beautiful in person; on the catwalk, they can look a little plain – especially compared with all the other crazy colours and vibrant prints that come out to play for Spring/Summer. What I’ve always loved about his designs is how they always perfectly combine the tough with the sensual, the sexy with the soft. Despite the corsetry and cut-out elements to many of his dresses, they’re the very antithesis of the tired old trollope standby, the bandage dress.

It’s an overtly sexy, tight-fitting silhouette, but muted with netting, overlays and veiling. It’s lattice-work that actually reveals very little at all. It’s tough shapes and colours, but then a sprinkling of Swarovski crystals. And what amazed me most was how soft these were to the touch. Many bandage dresses I’ve handled before felt hard, rigid and constricting – that’s how they suck you in all the right places – but these were meltingly fluid, like a buttery soft fluid leather. I really loved the pretty lilac and blush coloured ones, which often lose out on the red carpet stakes to the more obvious black, white or nude numbers.

I also adored the work of Peter Pilotto. Pilotto’s digital prints were really hot a couple of seasons ago, where everyone and their ice-cream man was seen in his colourful abstract numbers (or a high street knock off of them!) but I feel he’s since been overshadowed by the likes of Katranzou and Erdem. Well, this collection showed me that he’s definitely still alive and kicking… with a vengeance! These were ultra-colourful, but in much less whimsical way – I’m gonna call it future-tribal! These were also some of the more complex dress shapes on show with lots of intricate cutting and plenty of those full structured skirts I love. Here’s the red dress I was eyeing for my wardrobe!

I was expecting to be wow-ed by Roksanda Ilincic and Jonathan Saunders, two of my other favourites on the red carpet (especially the divine Ms Roksanda, as worn by my ultimate girl crush, Kate Middleton) yet I ended up being a little disappointed.

Ilnicic’s pieces for me have always been about stunning cutting, draping and folding and an effortlessly tactile structured but unstructured elegance that enlivens her essentially simple and classic shapes. On coat-hangers, this just wasn’t evident. The colour palette was gorgeous – vivid turquoise and fuchsia jewel tones playing off muted mustards and grey but I needed to see these on a person! I’m still lusting after her Debenhams collection though!

Saunder’s rail was pretty delicious from afar – a cool ice-cream coloured rack of spring sorbets, especially to the right of my picture where my favourite of his pieces sat. As worn by Samatha Cameron and another one with a Debenhams collaboration under his belt, I felt his outfits were a lot more mainstream than most of the other designers here, though would probably look lovely on (Thandie Newton is another fan and I always think she looks amazing), but unfortunately they didn’t do much for me on the hanger either. Some of his prints were surprisingly acid-y, Pucci-esque and Mystery Machine-worthy though – I guess we just don’t get to see those on the red carpet as much.

David Koma was another surprise – him of dressing Cheryl Cole on X Factor in dustbin lids fame. As expected, lots of chunky embellishments (see the 3D Persplex on what I believe was a miniskirt yet which was so short I wouldn’t even wear it as a scarf!) but I saw some more mature designs in there too.

I loved the model’s outfit, which was decorated with awesome iridescent panels of sequins, shimmering and gleaming like insects wings in the light, which just looked intensely flattering yet still different. Expect to see more of Koma on the red carpet – and with a Topshop collaboration on the way (as has Katranzou, by the way), his time is definitely now.

Holly Fulton is another ‘one to watch’, who apparently revels in bad taste. Not really my style but nice to see some unashamedly happy designs (she’s supposedly influenced by Versace and most of these would fit right in with their H&M partnership) – but I have to admit, the model does look amazing!

Finally, some shoe porn of the highest order from Nicholas Kirkwood. I could have spent half an hour playing with these alone. If ever there was a case for shoes as art work, here it be. I once called Kirkwood’s designs ‘pure joy on a hoof’ and after seeing them in person, I stand by that description!

Of course, they’re far too beautiful for me to ever actually want to wear, as opposed to bring out the closet to stroke lovingly in times of sadness – as if I’d ever be able to afford a pair anyway!

So there you have it… amazing designer dresses are amazing. Not that amazing. But still amazing enough.

Red Carpet Rundown: Met Gala 2011, The Best of the Rest

Oh my God, you guys! We made it! You made it! I made it! My final post on the Met Gala 2011. I thought the day would never come! All the rest of my posts were themed, but this is basically my brain throwing its arms up and saying ‘Enough!’

Emma Roberts in Michael Kors – Wow. For me, this is the best Emma Roberts has ever looked on the red carpet. Normally, her style is quite young and fresh but here she just oozes class, sophistication and maturity. I love the sneaky cut-out exposing just the tiniest ray of flesh – so sexy but still elegant. The hair is Kate Middleton perfect and the contrast vamp of the red nails is just the frosting on top of the cupcake.

Kristen Bell and Isla Fisher in Tory Burch – Two of my favourite girls in two of the most boring dresses. They don’t do anything much wrong but they don’t do anything much right either. That puff of smoke is me forgetting about them already.

Ginnifer Goodwin in Topshop – Some folk are up in arms that Ginnifer dared to wear Topshop to the Met. Did these people stop and actually look at the dress?! Honestly, if they weren’t told, I doubt they’d guess this wasn’t couture; it more than holds it own against the other gowns, if not bettering most of them. An amazing striking emerald green, a fantastic cut and all being sold with utter conviction by Ginnifer, who makes it look couture-worthy. I get a real Studio 54 vibe from this dress, the kind of thing Jerry Hall might have seduced Mick Jagger with on a yacht party. Arguably the matching necklace and eye make-up are slight overkill and I’m not sure what’s going on with the orthopaedic sandal, but the dress itself is a winner. [Meanwhile, the one no-one cares about from Gossip Girl also wore Topshop and instead looked like she took a wrong turn on her way to Gatecrasher.]

Evan Rachel Wood in Gucci Premiere – The gown is gorgeous. A wonderful, rarely-seen smoky aubergine colour, with a smattering of tasteful sparkle and a truly beautiful unusual neckline. But what’s with the Tin Tin quiff? There’s something about Wood that I just can’t get fully on board with; I find her persona quite contrived and vaguely smug, unlike say Dita Von Teese or Gwen Stefani who often do the 1950s screen siren too and feel like they’re living it rather than just playing a part. Sad to say Evan herself is the only thing stopping me from fully loving this look.

Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley in Burberry – It’s pink. It’s shiny. It’s tacky. But it’s Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley. And so it just became fabulous.

Dianna Agron in Michael Kors – On Through The Looking Glass, you’ve seen me fall in love with Dianna’s exquisite elegant Waspy style… and then rapidly fall out of love with it but a few weeks later. Well, I’m back on board with this baby! It’s a departure from her usual tea-dress and princess-hair combinations but this sort of chic simplicity suits her. A striking colour, an unusual neckline, an outfit-elevating gold cuff (less Wonder Woman, more Greek goddess) and whoever made the decision to pull that hair back into a sleek ponytail absolutely deserves an extra chocolate digestive with their cuppa tonight.

Lea Michele in Escada – Lea usually brings the drama to match her diva reputation but this gown is doing nothing for me… or her. The neckline is odd to the point of looking a little evil and stabby, the shape is too standard in a night of show-stealing gowns and even she looks rather unconvinced by it all. Fabulous clutch though.

Frieda Pinto in Chanel – I’ve not liked a single Chanel look this Met Gala (Kirsten Dunst, Blake Lively, Anna Wintour), although Frieda is just about radiant enough to make this look not as spectacularly stupid an idea as a skinny tie over a slinky gown should be. That neckline is unusual and beautiful enough to not need the tie frippery but now all I can think about when I see it is Avril Lavigne. And me thinking about Avril Lavigne is not conductive to me having any positive emotions whatsoever. Everything else about the look – the hair, the red lips, the fluidity of the fabric – is fantastic yet the tie?! Even a badly-dressed Apprentice candidate would shudder.

Michelle Williams in Miu Miu – The last time we saw Michelle Williams, she was wearing a shower curtain and not wearing a bra so just about anything would be an improvement on that. As it is, I think this is gown is actually rather wonderful. The gold swallow embroidery is done just the right amount without starting to look like a scene from The Birds and works to enhance rather than smother what is essentially an immaculately-cut black gown. Still hate the frumpy and middle-aged hair but I’ll take the dress to go, thanks!

Kristen Stewart in Proenza Schouler – I defended Kristen through the dark days where she’d scuttle down the red carpet like she was Viola from The Incredibles and now look… she’s smiling, no longer a hunchback and what’s this, maybe even a hint of red carpet posing too?! I’m so proud! I always prefer Kristen’s edgier ensembles to when she tries (and generally fails) to play it safe so this Proenza Schouler is a very good choice for her, with red and black always looking great against her colouring. Overall, I think it’s a really clean, modern, funky look (and I’ve obviously got an obsession with cuffs creeping in as I love them here too) – and for that reason, I wish it stopped somewhere nearer the knee area. But I’m more excited about seeing Kristen pull S-bends, smizing and giving fierce eyes in the near future. Too soon??

Amy Adams in L’Wren Scott – I love this dress on Amy; she looks about five thousand feet tall in this photo! I’ve not always been a fan of L’Wren Scott’s designs, as I feel the demure lengths and cuts tend to age some wearers, but this is great. The colour might be pretty delicate blush but the print is something a little more savage – it reminds me of the wild garden of thorns that Prince Philip had to hack his way through to awaken Sleeping Beauty with true love’s kiss. Connection to my (joint) favourite Disney movie of all-time? Check. Worn by a real-life Disney princess? Check again. All this, plus a disarmingly lovely milkmaid braid? How could I not love it?!

Isabel Lucas in Louis Vuitton – I like the dress, it’s a zingy watermelon colour that pops against the rest of proceedings, the pleating is pretty and those little gold bow-shaped studs are super-cute. But no-one’s looking at the dress. They’re looking at the bizarre virgin sacrifice adornment perched on top of Isabel’s head. Never has Coco Chanel’s advice about looking in the mirror and taking one piece off seemed more apt. And no, Isabel, before you start trying to put down that gorgeous gold ingot of a bag – it’s the headdress that needs to go! But practically the only thing I remember Isabel for – and it certainly ain’t her films – is always having one piece of utter insanity about her look, be it a sweatband, a strange hat, floral harem pants, odd coloured tights, eyebrows the wrong colour and, most memorably, a parasol. Charming or infuriating, it is her USP and let’s face it, a starlet needs one these days. It’s more than Kate Bosworth’s got anyhow.

The Olsens in Givenchy & Christian Dior – One day, the world will wake up and realise that the Olsen twins have been playing out a real life re-telling of the Emperor’s New Clothes. I don’t “get” Chloe Sevigny or Alexa Chung’s style, but I sort of understand why people do. But the Olsens? They generally look old – great-grandma made homeless and smelly old – with minor drug addict undertones. I also do not know which one is which and don’t wish to waste valuable seconds of my life in finding out so let’s just say that the one in the shapeless red designer potato sack looks better, basically just because she doesn’t look ill. The other one is wearing Barbara Cartland armbands as a style statement and looks like she has consumption. I’m sure they’re really nice people in real life…

Christina Hendricks in Carolina Herrera – I can’t remember the last time I saw Christina look good in anything other than a publicity shot for Mad Men. Suffice to say, adress with  a Dulux colour chart as its bodice and a really ugly oil painting that used to hang in my house as its bottom, is not going to break that chain. I’m intrigued by how they’ve managed to put sleeves on what the fashion gods surely intended to be a strapless sleeveless dress, but intrigued in a way that I want it solving on How 2 rather than in a ‘Wow, isn’t that fabulous way!’ way. Her skin looks beautiful though.

Zoe Saldana in Calvin Klein – And here’s how to do simple but stunning. This lemon yellow simple shift is like a palette cleanser to all the insanity that has gone before it and Zoe just looks like she’s skipped right out of a spring meadow smelling of daisies. I love the carefree cascading hair whilst the addition of a gold necklace peps up proceedings a little. It helps that no-one else wore this colour and that no-one else dared to play it quite this minimalist but when you’ve got a gorgeous girl in a gorgeous dress, very little can go wrong.

Kerry Washington in Escada – Did I mention that I like turquoise? Lucky Kerry therefore gets an easy pass for this relatively uncomplicated outfit, although those ultra-slimming cut-outs are a neat touch. Is the sea-foam shade plus the bubblegum pink lipstick plus the Monica humidity hair a bit too beach-ready? Oh screw it, her little Borrower clutch bag is too cute. Run by quick, before I change my mind.

Michelle Monaghan in Derek Lam – Is it me or has having a fringe completely changed Michelle Monaghan’s face? I showed some pictures of her plus bangs to my boyfriend and he swore that it wasn’t her. This gown is pulling a Zoe Saldana on me in making its minimalism work by way of a strong colour, although I like the shape less than Saldana’s. I’d even call it slightly austere-looking were it not for the fact that it is in bubblegum pink and calling anything bubblegum pink austere is just plain ridiculous. But the colour looks great against her hair and I love the contrast of the dark nails too. Am I still not convinced that this is Michelle Monaghan? Totally.

Elizabeth Banks in Tommy Hilfiger – I’ve mentioned a few times how Elizabeth Banks does absolutely nothing for me and yet every time I’ve featured her, she has duly decided to look stunning. Maybe I should send some curses Christina Hendricks’ way instead. This dress is just gorgeous. It’s that really yellow shade of gold that just looks so new and shiny and Midas-kissed that it bypasses all my vital senses and speaks straight to my inner Abu (you know, when he stuffs all the treasure down his top in the cave in Aladdin). Hair, make-up, jewellery – all flawless, all 50s screen siren worthy. So could you at least look happy about it, love?

Joy Bryant & Margherita Missoni in Missoni – Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, you are seeing knitwear at the Met Gala. Of course, colourful knitwear that looks like a Magic Eye painting is Missoni’s calling card (and yes, that is the second time I’ve name-checked Magic Eyes in these posts, high five!) so we shouldn’t really expect anything else from the designer. Joy’s still feels a little too casual, although I would definitely be interested in tasting the tropical cocktail that it was inspired by. Meanwhile, I am slightly in love with Margherita’s gown, a pretty pastel concoction that reminds me of Easter eggs. I’d change the slightly cheap-looking belt and give her a more romantic playful hair-do but otherwise, I’m picking Easter eggs over a Singapore Sling. Who’d have thunk?

Mila Jovovich & Anouck Lepere in Marni – The jury’s out on whether these dresses are a little too casual for the Met Gala but I really like both of them nonetheless. As ever, Mila is badass and WORKING hers like it’s the only LBD worth owning (and that embroidery is sooo pretty) whilst I love how Anouck has accessorised hers. It turns a dress with a print that looks like corporate artwork into something very funky and fashion and her loose waves are glorious. I actually want to wear both of these dresses, which despite my love for it, is not something I could say about Christina Ricci’s cobwebby confection.

Karlie Kloss & Angela Lindvall in Dior – Karlie Kloss is allegedly only 17 and gets to wear a stunning, gold, glittery Dior dress and look more self-assured and confident than most people in their thirties. (Angela Lindvall doesn’t look too shabby either.) Life sometimes really does seem unfair, right?!

P.S. Since I normally split my posts into favourites but haven’t here, plus you know I love lists, here’s my best-dressed from the event: 1) Gisele Bundchen 2) Diane Kruger 3) Liv Tyler 4) Chanel Iman 5) Christina Ricci, with honorable mentions going to Hilary Rhoda, Karolina Kurkova, Emma Roberts, Madonna, Zoe Saldana and SJP. And now I really am DONE!

Pictures: Just Jared, Style.com, Look.co.uk, Socialite Life, Huffington Post Style

Red Carpet Rundown: Met Gala 2011, Savage Beauty

So more people wore Stella McCartney than Alexander McQueen at the Met Gala 2011, despite the fact it was supposed to be held in McQueen’s honour. But plenty of other people fulfilled the theme of Savage Beauty instead, right? Errr… The scratching sound you hear is me desperately scraping the barrel for attendees that were doing anything just a teensy bit untamed. I think you’ll know how seriously said barrel has been scraped when I tell you that Taylor Swift has made this list…

Liv Tyler in Givenchy – Liv was another of my favourites of the night in this Givenchy gown, even if she didn’t pair it with the insane headpiece (which could have turned things literally savage if she poked some fashionista’s eye out with a rogue antler). I usually don’t understood the fuss about Liv but I have to admit, she looks properly ethereally gorgeous here. The dress is from the same collection as Florence Welch’s Grammys gown but in my opinion, this one is so much better. Why? Well, fluorescent yellow feathers of course! The feather detailing down the body is so intricate and ornate and beautiful, and the way it dovetails (hey, see what I did there?!) into the yellow ombre effect is subtle yet stunning. And I love how Liv has pulled that colour out with the pop of her neon yellow clutch. She just looks heaven-sent.

Christina Ricci in Zac PosenThis, my Stella McCartney clad friends, is how you do Savage Beauty. It’s dramatic. It’s overblown. It’s impossible not to notice. And as such, it’s a perfect tribute to McQueen. How appropriate too that it’s Wednesday Adams wearing this Gothic spectacle of a dress. It looks like it was fashioned from cobwebs, with Christina rising above them as the ultimate black widow of them all. It says something about her star presence that, given she’s about the size of an oompa-loompa in real life, she’s not overwhelmed by the huge train or the opulent theatricality of the gown. Instead, she just belongs. A deliciously dark delight.

Diane Kruger in Jason Wu – Diane Kruger was another of my favourites of the night. This might not be the style statement of Ricci but at least it’s trying to do something a little bit different, and it’s certainly enough of a departure from Wu’s typically beautiful but safe designs to merit attention. I love the old Hollywood glamour Diane is bringing to this look and there is something a little bit dangerous about that sexy thigh-high split. She looks sensational.

Jennifer Lopez in Gucci – The first time I saw this dress, I hated it. But as I watched the parade of uninspiring outfits filter by, I began to have a new-found appreciation for this one. Firstly, that striking power-punch of cerise is an amazing colour on J. Lo, and the way she’s matched it with that lipstick – well, I wouldn’t expect anything less! Secondly, the shape is interesting without being overpowering. Thirdly, the flower shrug… well, I love it. It gives the dress so much more drama whilst also being beautiful and romantic and quirky and wild. Jennifer wears it with a sense of ‘Flowers as a cardigan? Why, but I do it all the time! Marc personally plucked these from the garden before we came…’ that just makes me love it even more. With her hair scraped back, I expect her to break out into a passionate flamenco and finish off by throwing bits of her shrug to an appreciative audience. In short, I’m making up a whole story from just one dress. Either I’m mental (and exhausted by so many dresses) or this really is fine work from Mr Gucci. I’m hoping for the latter!

Crystal Renn in Zac Posen – It seems that of all the designers who custom-made gowns for this event, it was only Zac Posen who actually bothered to read the invite. He brings the drama again with this number, which has a Victorian villainess feel to it. In fact, I expect Crystal to be robbing carriages or stealing crystal lockets at balls. How exhausting it must be to be a model and keep up this level of high drama and fierce pouting all night, although I have to say, I did prefer Crystal in her curvier days. I hope she managed to master an evil cackle for the night as well.

Shalom Harlow in Marchesa – What’s this, a Marchesa dress that doesn’t look like a wedding gown?! This dress is more a feat of engineering than anything else, it’s so insanely structural and yet still soft and swirly, which makes for an interesting contrast. That black detail looks so organic, like it just flowed right onto the gown from an ink well, and reminds me of those butterflies you see made out of craft paper on homemade greetings cards; I’m stunned and charmed that Shalom managed to find the one hair grip in the city that exactly matched that effect.

Ciara in Prabal Gurung – You may remember Ciara tweeting that her dress was reminiscent of McQueen and me being annoyed that she didn’t just, you know, wear McQueen. At this rate however, anything is better than nothing and this dress follows the feather theme of the other Sarah Burton dresses we saw that evening, even it’s a little less flamboyant. Then again, how much less flamboyant can feathers be?! This dress is a fairly standard shape but the ombre effect is rather dreamy and I am absolutely obsessed with Ciara’s cuff. I want one myself so I can pretend to be She-Ra round the house again.

Karolina Kukova in Jean Paul Gaultier – Another divinely theatrical look being worked by another divinely fierce model. From some angles, this dress was like a Magic Eye picture where you had to spot the leggings; how amazingly mind-bogglingly bonkers an idea to fashion them out of the same lace as the lining of the skirt. Karolina carries this off with such an effortless poise and majestic sense of ownership, as if she walks around all the time fanning out her underskirts for all to see. It’s a startlingly clever dress but it also just looks uniquely magnificent. You can’t get much better than that.

Bar Refaeli in Reem Acra – Opulence personified. Do gowns get more spendidly exotically decadent than this? Bar is totally channelling Cleopatra in this gown and it’s so richly detailed AND GOLDEN AND SHINY that I can’t help but fall for it a little, even if it isn’t doing her figure any major favours. I love the small turquoise elements that are brought out further by her earrings and handbag – I’m a sucker for turquoise and these fashion folk seem to be great at making accent colours pop for the better. Meanwhile, all Bar has to do is be reincarnated as a mannequin in a department store and capture an 80s Brat Packer’s heart and I’ll be one very happy bunny. [This is a long-winded reference to one of my favourite films of all time and ultimate guilty pleasure, Mannequin, starring a young Kim Cattrall, a Golden Girl, a bombastic  Starship power ballad and one of the most preposterous plots of all time. I don’t get to chuck Mannequin references in very often, so please humour me.]

Beyonce in Emilio Pucci – Here’s a gown that really was savage, as Beyonce could hardly breathe/pose/move in it and eventually had to hauled up the stairs by various minions after she almost fell down them. I’m all for suffering for fashion but at least make it fashion that’s actually nice to look at?! This reminds me of another of the ugliest dresses in recent memory, coincidentally also worn by Beyonce at 2009’s Oscars. That was designed by her own line, House of Dereon, and I thought this was too… but in fact, it’s by Pucci! It’s so tacky and vulgar looking, like the kind of cheap imitation Baroque fireplace that’s the first thing people have ripped out of their new home on property shows. Her head looks like it’s ready to pop off due to how long she’s been holding her breath, whilst she actually appears to be listing like the Leaning Tower of Pisa except much more precarious, like she’s ready to keel over. And the glory hole for her boobs? Seriously? At the Met Gala?! I have to leave the final words to Fashion Critic at the Red Carpet Fashion Awards: ‘This might be a custom Pucci design, but it has Tina Knowles written all over it’. Trust me, insults in the fashion world don’t come much greater!

Leighton Meester in Louis Vuitton – Well, the theme was Savage Beauty and this outfit is positively vicious all-round! Every element seemed to have been sourced from some sort of fetish bondage shop and it all just looks a little hard and uncomfortable. Normally Leighton manages to sell her look, however ridiculous (remember that time you could see her entire bare ass in a lace jumpsuit?), but here she looks rather tame and unconvinced herself – more heavy-duty black eyeliner required, methinks! Honestly, it’s a bit of a relief as I’ve always liked Leighton and prefer to think of her without any sado-masochistic undertones.

Saoirse Ronan in Rodarte – This has clearly been cobbled together from charity shop finds. The bottom half is a vintage sequinned ballgown that you’re not quite sure about but hey, it’s so cheap and SJP always makes these things work, so why the hell not? (Said before it languishes in your wardrobe for years on end). The top half is an 80s power-suit, possibly worn by a tv anchorwoman, maybe even Ann Diamond. And the shoes? Well, no-one knows what Saoirse was thinking with the shoes. I’m really happy that Saoirse isn’t going down the typical teen ingénue route with her style choices (hello, Dakota Fanning) but this isn’t Rodarte’s finest effort. Interesting? Yes. Attractive? Hellz no. (That being said, perhaps some model in strong directional make-up and constant Crystal Renn glare might have made it work.)

Taylor Swift in J Mendel – Yes, Taylor Swift managed to make a list with the word ‘Savage’ in it. Sweet, pretty, innocent Taylor, with her long curly hair and guitar and songs about love and butterflies and John Meyer being a douche. But this is a pleasant departure from her usual spangles o’ clock setting and in fact, she looks genuinely classically beautiful whilst the stronger make-up is a sophisticated more grown-up touch than we’re used to getting from Taylor. The gown is yet another in the nude brigade but there’s darker forces at work too. I love how that black detail cascades up one shoulder and how, if you look closely, the same detail is continued in the main fabric of the dress too. The frayed edges, the aged beige colour (that you got by swishing about a used tea-bag in art), the way that black pattern feels like a vine slowly climbing over and covering the dress like a rambling old mansion or a strangely beautiful type of mould – yes, there I go creating a story again but there’s an intriguing sense of decay about this gorgeous gown that makes it so much more than stereotype pretty.

Doutzen Kroes in Giambattista Valli – Uh-oh, someone got out-Giselled! Under normal circumstance, this might have been a show-stopping dress but once you’ve got Giselle throwing shapes the other side of the room in an even more show-stopping dress, this striking red number becomes almost ordinary in comparison. What I do like is the juxtaposition between the very clean, almost harsh lines of the top half, compared with the pouffy volume of the bottom. Pretty… but just not Giselle.

Keri Hilson in Atelier Versace – More juxtaposition (yay as it’s one of my favourite words) with this gown, where there’s some overtly sexy form-fitting knitwear up-top contrasted with some princess-gown tulle clouds floating around the bottom. I love the dusty periwinkle colour but I’m not so in love with what Keri’s bringing to the gown. The tacky yellow rootsy hair? (Whose natural hair colour is that; it sure as hell isn’t hers!) The overdose of eyeshadow? The vast array of bling? The boobs clinging on to that neckline for their life? What on the model looks like an interesting neckline, Keri makes look like visible bra straps. Which just about says it all.

Blake Lively in Chanel – Well, I had to put Blake in here didn’t I? Love her or hate her, at least she’s never boring with her style choices. I’m really not sure about the new strawberry blonde hair though – I loved it on her debut redhead look but here, I think something needs to give, either the tan or the dye, as they’re just jostling around too close for comfort colour-wise. I’m not crazy about the dress either; half toga party, half raunchy figure skater. And however much Blake tries to sell it to me with her trademark attitude and orgasm-face, it’s still kinda tacky. Even if it’s Chanel. (Don’t tell Karl).

Pictures: Just Jared, Style.com, Look.co.uk, Socialite Life, Huffington Post Style

Red Carpet Rundown: Met Gala 2011, Wedding Fever

It seems even A-Listers weren’t immune from Royal Wedding fever, as several turned up at the Met Gala 2011 in gowns fit for a princess bride. And if it wasn’t fit for the bride, then it was fit for a bridesmaid (£1 wiggly worm optional), a guest (nut job headpiece included) or just a princess in general…

Chanel Iman in Dolce & Gabanna – Chanel was one of my favourites at this event, I just adore this dress. Who says white lace can’t be classy? It’s so pretty and lady-like but Chanel, despite the prim and proper chignon, is giving it so much oomph that it’s pretty damn sexy too. I can’t believe this is the same chick who rocked a gold lamé jumpsuit at last year’s Met Ball – talk about a style chameleon! This is a dress that would look fresh as a daisy all night long, whatever the decade. LOVE.

Miranda Kerr in Marchesa – Marchesa dresses always run the fine line between being amazingly beautiful red carpet gowns and amazingly beautiful bridal-wear; here’s yet another example. Admittedly, this is more funky bride working a ballerina/Tinkerbell vibe (helloooo awesome Nicholas Kirkwood shoes!) but Miranda’s got the youth, beauty and husband handsome enough to make it look cute and exuberant rather than sad and desperate. I imagine someone trod on her shoe or put out a cigarette on her skirt as there’s just too much prettiness going on here!

Jessica Alba in Ralph Lauren – Just like Kate Hudson before her, this also has the whiff of ‘pregnant lady getting married’. However, whereas Hudson’s at least seemed to have the various component parts of a whole dress, Alba’s just looks like a giant wedding veil.

Jennifer Hudson in Vera Wang – Jennifer’s devoted a significant amount of time recently to showing off her new bod, meaning lots of tight short form-fitting dresses, so it’s nice to see a more floaty princess look. And if you’re looking for floaty princess looks, you can’t really go wrong with Vera Wang! This is basically a wedding dress with a light grey overlay; alternatively, it’s basically Mila Kunis’ gown from last year’s Met Gala but with all the crazy embellishments ripped off. Either way, it’s still very pretty and Jennifer looks lovely.

Fergie in Marchesa – I chose this picture because Fergie just looks so cute and happy! However, this is just WAY too bridal. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fergie struck a deal with some paps so she could take home some snaps, as she’s gone off the ones from her real wedding. An abundance of froth and lace, a big train, a man in a suit AND a headdress?! Too much, Fergie Ferg, too much.

Lily Donaldson in Erdem – She’s here mainly because her dress is lace and yes, it’s blue lace and it has a Peter Pan collar and it’s actually kind of see-through so it would never work as a wedding dress at all, apart from for those fashion-y types who are too cool for school and would probably wear Gaga’s meat dress for their big day given the chance. I admit to a bit of a style blind spot as far as Erdem is concerned because I tend to just blindly love all his designs because ooooh… aren’t they just so pretty?! And yes, this one is see-through and a bit Grandma’s tablecloth and I can see Lily’s sports bra but ooooh… isn’t it just so pretty?!


Serena Williams in Oscar de la Renta – Here’s where things veer into bridezilla territory. Was Serena sat at home, weeping copiously whilst watching Prince William saying his vows, screaming ‘It should have been me!!!’?! This feather explosion looks as if she said ‘Screw it, I’m just gonna wear the wedding dress I secretly hid at the back of my wardrobe years ago before the moths get to it’; the hideous fascinator says ‘Where the hell was my invite? I still could have changed his mind!’ Jokes aside, this kind of twee pretty stuff just doesn’t work for Serena; she needs to bring the fierce and I’m not sure anyone can ever do that whilst wearing a fascinator. Ever.

Demi Moore in Prabal Gurung – Another disappointed would-be Royal Wedding guest – just because you dyed it black doesn’t mean we don’t know your game, Demi! Black, white, purple with green spots… I honestly doubt there’s a colour that exists yet that would make this dress look good. Not only is it moulting down below, but there’s a parasitic sea anemone sprouting from her breast; meanwhile, the fascinator was rescued from a long-defunct cabaret show. It’s like Demi has been holding in this insanity for so long with all her tasteful flattering dresses all year and has just had a complete meltdown. Which makes it sort of amazing. That’s the Met Ball for you!

Rumer Willis in Badgley Mischka – Meanwhile, Demi’s daughter did an even better job at hiding her Royal Wedding guest-list aspirations. Seeing how ridiculous Mummy and Serena looked, she hastily pinned her fascinator onto one side of her dress instead! I actually think this dress is rather awesome, the detailing all over the gown looks like pieces of stained glass or a not very well fitted together mosaic, but in a good way. On any other night, this dress would be a show-stealer but sadly, because it’s boring black and she’s only Rumer Willis, it got lost in a fug of outrageous fashion statements, huge trains and crazy people wearing fascinators.

Dakota Fanning in Valentino –I don’t know if this dress could get any prettier unless fairies floated around it at all times. Can you imagine how cute this would be shrunk to miniature for little bridesmaids or flower-girls?! Adorable! However, I’m not impressed with Dakota’s make-up, which is so barely-there that it’s not at all. I do think neutral was the right way to go but it hasn’t been executed well; she looks pale and shiny rather than dewy and glowing. Her hair also has no style to it whatsoever – how about romantic waves or a classy up-do? At least we’re reminded that Dakota is still actually in her teens, as she looked scarily adult all dolled-up in The Runaways, but I find myself swooning over the dress and regarding her face as an afterthought.

Jessica Stam in Tommy Hilfiger – This pretty blush number would also be simple enough to look sweet on a bridesmaid, although it’s stunning enough to work as the main number too. Although there were far too many beige gowns going on at this event, this is just a winsomely gorgeous dress, being sold beautifully by Stam. Note the flawless makeup and the lovely half-up half-down hair, Dakota!

Ashley Greene in Donna Karan – And so we continue our tour round Switzerland i.e. the neutral zone. This is a big pouffy princess number, designed for waltzing round in Disney castles, and there’s no doubt that Ashley looks exquisite – I love how the earrings bring out the silver detailing and how a simple up-do stops it all from being overkill. But every time I look at it, I’m reminded of Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lopez doing the same look last year and absolutely slaying it in their respective princess and diva ways. As yet, Ashley just doesn’t have the star quality to make this any more than an absolutely breath-taking dress on legs.

Renee Zellweger in Carolina Herrera – Yes, this is a picture of Renee’s back. That’s because it was a whole lot more interesting than the front, which honestly could have been mistaken for slightly cobwebby looking skin. I just love the shape here – the plunging back, the sprinkle of silver fairy dust, the trailing train. Or perhaps I’m just won over by the composition of the photo – a moment of stillness and serenity amidst a scrum of screaming paparazzi. Even so, what does this say about Renee’s face that I’d rather stare at picture’s of her back?! [Incidentally, I read some amazing guff that the plunging back was inspired by McQueen’s low-slung, butt-grazing jeans. Well, OK Carolina, if you say so…]

Maggie Q in Tadashi Shoji – I frigging love Maggie Q and her kickass ways. My enjoyment of Nikita is entirely based around her being her badass self, breaking things, beating people up and blowing stuff up, all with just one swish of that glossy mane of hair. So this dreamy romantic concoction is a change of scene from her usual slinky sexy ways. The dress is gorgeous, a tumbling cascade of roses, and bar a little heavy-handedness with the eye make-up, Maggie’s pretty gorgeous herself. (Please click for an enlargement, Maggie will shoot you if you don’t look at her pretty up-close)

Emma Stone in Lanvin – Finally we come to the wedding guest section i.e. an excuse for me to shoehorn florals into this post. Since Emma’s dress looks neither like a tablecloth, curtains nor wallpaper, we can conclude that it is a reasonable successful take on a floral dress. I absolutely love how big and bold the print is, while the monochrome palette prevents it from looking too big and bold and the cut is doing all sorts of sexy things to Emma’s figure. Yes, the hair is still blonde and seems to be getting even blonder out of spite to all us non-believers but that pop of pink lipstick is an inspired touch.

Sofia Vergara in Carolina Herrera – You all know I’ve been critical of Sofia ‘va va voom’ Vergara in the past and what do you know, she looks reassuringly lushly gorgeous once she puts the armoury away, back to the chest area where they belong as opposed to somewhere near her eyeline. This is a simple silhouette that works entirely because of the floral embroidery (even if it appears to have had pieces of sticky tape placed on it at random) and she just looks lovely. A stand-out for all the right reasons, this is probably the best she’s ever looked.

Randomer in Erdem – Yes, I know nothing of fashion. Tyra would be screeching at me and throwing me out of the model house after I gaped vacantly in one of her challenges after she asked me to pose like *insert obscure model’s name here*. But I had to put this in because this dress is soooo gorgeous. The very best illustration of how florals can look elegant and effortless, with not a hint of tablecloth, curtain or wallpaper in sight. I absolutely love how it works with Randomer’s milkmaid braid – such a pretty romantic look all-round. Good work, Randomer, whoever you are.

Kirsten Dunst in Chanel – Oh Snaggletooth, what happened? You used to be so cool and hip and now you look like a soccer mom. I dislike the dress (it looks like the kind of floral design people paint onto canal boats) but I dislike what Kiki is doing to it even more. Blowsy hair, puffy face, frumpy feel. This is Chanel?!?! Seriously?!

Pictures: Just Jared, Style.com, Look.co.uk, Socialite Life, Huffington Post Style