Tag Archives: Roksanda Ilincic

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: I ♥ Kate Middleton/Duchess of Cambridge/Princess Kate

There was a time when I didn’t even like Kate Middleton much. I even preferred Prince Harry’s spunkier beau, Chelsea Davy, because she actually seemed to be doing something with her life, as opposed to just hanging around with immaculate hair waiting for her boyfriend to pop the question.

How times have changed.

Now I can’t get enough of Princess Kate. Thankfully, the media can’t either, so I have been happily gorging on photos of her daily thanks to Wills & Kate’s Great North American Adventure. And now I don’t just want her hair… I want her wardrobe too!

Kate’s style has been criticised as ‘boring’, but I can’t remember the last time I didn’t think she looked lovely. Isn’t it refreshing to see a young woman in the public eye who isn’t slavishly following every trend going or trying to reveal as much boob as possible? Kate’s style is elegant, refined and obviously, totally her own. No stylist required.

Obviously, being a royal means there’s some element of conservatism to her look – yes, wah wah wah, she has to wear skin-coloured tights but frankly, she wears them so well that I’m considering buying some! Yet she still looks young and fresh, un-stuffy and gorgeous – and I suppose being in love with the future King of England helps too.

My favourite looks from the North American tour are numerous… so this post is as much for my personal squee-ing viewing pleasure as for yours.

I knew it was going to be a good few weeks when Kate’s first look was this navy lace shift dress from Erdem. Subconsciously, I’d been longing for Kate to wear Erdem since… well, forever. Erdem does lacy florals in a way that is so far away from grannie’s doilies and cushion covers that you’ll forget chintz even existed; instead, they’re contemporary, chic and oh-so-breathtakingly pretty dresses every time. I LOVE this dress. I want it. You’ll hear this phrase a lot this post.

The marriage made in heaven (and I’m talking Kate & Erdem, not Kate & Wills!) continued with this second Erdem dress. This time it’s a more vibrant shade of royal blue, a colour we’ve seen Kate wear a lot recently, obviously purely coincidentally setting off that engagement ring. Again, I love it. I want it less than the navy one though. The navy was just SO effortlessly classy yet still a little bit sexy. This is beautiful though. See what I mean? Modern yet conservative and still young and fresh. Delightful.

Another designer that Kate should wear more of is Jenny Packham. Packham is actually British-born, yet has so far received more attention from young American starlet types who are drawn magpie-esque to her sparkly feminine designs (see Emma Roberts, Ashley Tisdale, Miley Cyrus, Jayma Mays and Sandra Bullock). This is also an excuse for me to shoehorn in my second-favourite Princess Kate look of all time (second to THE wedding dress, obvs) courtesy of Ms Packham from the ARK Gala – delicate blush colour, shimmering silver sequins, a floating romantic princess dream topped off with ribbons on her shoes. She looked stunning in every single photo, from every single angle – the power of a totally magical dress.

But back to the dresses from the tour. They’re just such a perfect fit for Kate. Delightful, charming and pretty, simple yet with an easy sophistication. She got a bit windswept in the primrose yellow frock so I’m hoping this will get another Reiss engagement dress re-run because it’s utterly gorgeous. Easy and breezy without a Covergirl advert in sight. It’s a shame Kate tends towards nudes and neutrals as colours like this really light her up. She looks years younger. Adorable.

Similarly, she should totally wear more prints. She can carry them off – and so easily too! Ideally, she needs to amalgamate these two looks and do *quelle horreur* a bright print! Baby steps, I know… This is yet another effortlessly gorgeous outfit and the print, in an array of pale neutral hues, is just beautiful, light and chic. I love the way those butterfly-like sleeves fall too. It’s the little details!

Onto the Alexander McQueens, forever destined to be overshadowed by THE wedding dress. Part of her duty as a royal is to champion British fashion so well done Kate for finding McQueen pieces that work with her sensibilities – and not only work, but weeerk (you know, said with a Tyra hip thrust or Mr Jay finger wag). This vaguely nautical-themed cream cable-knit dress is just that little bit quirkier than Kate’s usual choices; it was worn for her visit to the place where Anne Of Green Gables was set and she just looks… delightful. What’s the word count for that adjective already? Classic but cute. Hair up looks good too, huh?!

The biggie of the tour was this full-length lavender ball-gown with a crystallised waistband worn for the Baftas Brits To Watch event. If this isn’t a princess dress, I’m not sure what is. It looks like it was designed by Disney artists for that final romantic waltz in the clouds accompanied by the Disney choir reaching crescendo. The sparkly waist reminds me of the after-wedding McQueen gown, whilst accessories are strictly from the school of sparkly princess stuff too. It’s so soft and silky and swooning. On a night when Hollywood’s A-List were out strutting their stuff (and, in celeb anecdote gold, J.Lo was apparently shoving Mary Louise Parker out the way), Princess Kate wafted down the red carpet like she’s been doing it for years. Beautiful.

So these dresses are the proof why Kate should give colour a few more spins. Look how much brighter and vibrant and youthful she looks in these bold eye-popping shades. The purple Issa and green Diane Von Furstenberg are both very simple shapes that let the colour do all the talking – but it’s one hell of a conversation! Issa’s speciality is flattering shapes in vivid colours (remember the engagement announcement dress?) and this is no exception. I just wish I could make unforgiving jersey look this easy! Meanwhile, it’s always been one of my aims in life to buy myself a DVF – the designer has a reputation for making flattering, quality clothing for women of any age in all kinds of lively prints and colours. This is just selling the brand to me even more.

One of my other favourites from the tour was rather understated and underrated. I’ve loved Roksanda Ilincic’s designs for a long time now – there’s just something about the way she drapes her fabrics that’s artful, interesting, tactile and feminine; structured but unstructured, if that makes sense. She isn’t afraid of a bright colour either and most of her pieces have an effortless grace to them, yet are still very modern. In short, Kate should be wearing this British designer much more! And also in short, I obviously want this lavender pale blue grey Peridot dress for my own. See that twist at the neckline? The way the material folds so beautifully around the figure? The way it just feels feather-light and delicate and dreamy yet could see you through practically any occasion? LOVE.

I have to mention the Reiss Nanette dress re-run too. It’s always endearing to see celebs wear outfits again – Camilla recently trotted out her entire wedding guest garb! – and it feels a very British thing too. It’s such a high-profile dress to recycle (worn for one of the official engagement photos) yet shows how much new life can be breathed into an outfit through stylish accessorising… and of course there’s the whole Canadian flag, red-and-white theme going on. The Lock & Co red maple leaf fascinator is charmingly quirky, the Lulu Guinness fan clutch is AMAZING and I want one, the maple leaf brooch borrowed from Her Majesty herself is a lovely touch and the ruby heels tie everything together. And the dress is still the very gorgeous clean crisp and modern thing it always was.

Finally, the Catherine Walkers, my least favourite of the favourites. For me, these are a little too mature for Kate yet still have some exquisite features about them. The dress-coat feels a little old-fashioned for Kate (I think it’s that heavy collar) but the shape of that full skirt is rather wonderful and I’m getting a cute Mary Poppins vibe off the whole outfit. Kate’s colouring actually suits red very well and I’d love to see her wear it more often.

The grey pencil dress is a little too formal – it feels too much like work-wear and consequently feels a little uptight. But the collar is very cute on Kate and from the back – well, it’s a whole much nicer, more interesting, more modern dress.

For those that can’t be bothered to traipse through 1500-odd words of fawning, here’s the short version: Princess Kate, I love you, can I have your clothes now please?

Awwwww…

Photos: Daily Mail, Just Jared, Go Fug Yourself, My Hollywood Life