Milan Fashion Week highlights – AW14/15

Gucci

Images courtesy of Vogue

Frida Giannini’s achingly cool collection for Gucci epitomised the mod movement of the 1960s; all fluffy mohair pea coats draped over exquisitely tailored suits, thick rimmed glasses, turtle necks and go-go boots reworked in python print. Key pieces included ruffled bib-fronted shirts and dresses in super soft nappa leather, the wearable and understated elements of the collection marking something of a revelation for Gucci themselves, toning down the characteristic Italian razzmatazz we’re used to seeing. The colour palette was unusual for an autumn winter collection, muted pastels taking centre stage; buttery yellows, sugary pinks, duck egg blue and mossy greens, which captured a sweet, girlish spirit. This dreamy collection fused classic Italian glamour, vintage sirens and sweetshop hues to provide beautifully imitable and exciting inspiration for next season.

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Couture Week: SS14

Chanel Haute Couture image courtesy of Vogue

Chanel

Lagerfeld’s SS14 couture collection was all ethereal femininity and athletic modernism, with models strutting and skipping to the sounds of Sébastien Tellier in exclusively designed Massaro trainers, bejewelled elbow and knee guards and – naturally – matching bum bags. Slim cut suits, column dresses and oceans of sheer iridescence were shored up by an ‘adventures in pastel’ colour palette and bejewelled adornment (literally) from head to toe. An array of preppy two-pieces, cropped to emphasise fabric bound waists, demonstrated an evolution of the classic Chanel suit, a fresher, lighter take with T-shirt sleeves, moulded curves and A-Lines. The collection slowly filtered into elegant evening wear, from drop-waist floor length gowns in whites and nudes, liberally emblazoned with shimmering crystals and sheer panelling, to black netted frocks dripping in feathers and sequins. It was a confection collection, couture for those who like it sweet, with a younger and more carefree feel than we have seen from Chanel couture previously, reflected as much in the simple white set as in the sporty, flat footwear.

Chanel Haute Couture images courtesy of Vogue

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London Collections: Men – AW14.

Marking the start of AW14’s global unveiling, London Collections: Men kicked off its fourth season with some serious panache.  Fashion commentators have branded this season’s collections ‘surprisingly wearable,’ with many designers striving to rework classic pieces and scoring highly on practicality and mass appeal in the process. We’re viewing this season as an encapsulation of classic masculinity, but with plenty of pieces fit for pillaging and plundering for ourselves in the coming months.

Lou Dalton

Once again setting the bar for her fellow designers, Dalton’s working man inspired collection nailed the nerve wracking task of officially launching London Collections: Men.  Influenced by the farmhands of her youth, Dalton’s collection focused largely on wardrobe staples of Fair Isle knits, western jackets and bleached distressed denim. Her work fused utility and pragmatism with an awkward sense of formality; tough camo-printed shirts contrasted with beautifully soft cream cashmere sweaters and three-piece suits in practical khaki. Dalton continued the vein of pragmatism and wearability with oversized camel coats to bring warming solace throughout the winter months, functional cord trousers and resilient denim shirts.

Images courtesy of London Collections

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An Interview with Frances O’Leary

One of my favourite bits about blogging with The Glass Pineapple is getting the opportunity to interview exciting new design talent. This month I spoke to Frances O’Leary who is without a doubt one of the most talented, funny and genuine designers I’ve had the privilege of talking to; so, of course, I couldn’t wait to share it with you:

She’s more than just a talented young designer, Frances O’Leary is an inspiration to all artistic spirits. Forgoing a creatively stifling commercial role to independently create her very own collection, Frances has proved that dreams really can come true. She didn’t even need the help of a Fairy Godmother – just determination and passion for her work. Whilst her journey has only just begun and Frances is facing up to the challenge of competing with her contemporaries, she has proven herself a force to be reckoned with, gaining a substantial following since the launch of her first collection in 2012. A unique combination of classic femininity, ethereal beauty and striking prints creates a captivating and covetable collection, so it’s unsurprising that her pieces have already been featured in the likes of Vogue and Hunger TV.  And we are delighted to announce that Frances is also one of the first Glass Pineapple bespoke designers so from 30th November you will be able to buy her pieces from our site.

Frances O’Leary’s SS14 collection explored the media’s unhealthy obsession with perfection with a focus on clean silhouettes, flowing fabrics and a subtle colour palette, contrasted with bold graphic prints that represented aging and imperfections. A powerful message that beauty does not only exist for the young and beautiful and a brave sartorial statement to make for a fashion newcomer. We decided to have a chat with Frances to show why we think she is such an exciting design talent.

What made you choose to study fashion and what were your early influences?

It’s weird because I don’t remember ever making a conscious decision, it kind of just happened organically. Although I wasn’t stupid, I was never the most academic child in school, and holding my attention was hard.  But, where I found I could hardly concentrate on a book for more than five minutes, I could paint and draw for hours – so that’s what I did. I always planned to do something creative once I left school, I guess at the time, I very lightheartedly chose fashion because I thought it would be fun! It wasn’t until my competitive streak kicked in that I really began to take it seriously and it began to mean a lot to me to succeed.

Tell us about your journey between graduating and starting your own label – what did you do and where did you get your work experience?

When I graduated, I remember feeling unsure of what to do next. After a lot of emailing, I had a placement lined up at a big fashion house, it was really exciting, but it was unpaid and I wasn’t sure how I would afford to live. Within the same week, I was offered a paid job, but for a smaller more commercial company – I took it.  At the time, I felt I needed the money; but it was only after making this decision, that I realised, finding a truly creative role in this industry is hard, and where you start out is really important in terms of your progression. The job was really creatively stifling, and I found myself feeling really quite lost and unfulfilled.

I began to make my own work at home, just because I wanted to really, it was an outlet for me, it was a way I could do what I wanted, the way I wanted. It kept me sane and reminded me why I started out. By the summer of 2012, I had made my first collection, which I launched on my website in October of the same year. I didn’t really think anyone would look at it, but they did and the response was amazing. It was then that I decided to continue as an independent designer.

What are the key challenges you’ve faced whilst trying to stand out in an industry as competitive as fashion?

The competition is huge, there are so many other designers starting out just like me; the main challenge is the financial side, you get ahead a lot faster when you have the capital to elevate your brand.

Which contemporary designers do you most admire?

Oh there are so many! I love Raf Simons, Mary Kantranzou, Meadham Kirchhoff, Alexander Wang, the list goes on!

How would you describe your creative process?

My creative process is quite chaotic, I collect a lot of images and make quite a lot of mess! I am inspired by lines, shapes, shadows, texture…I like to collect images and take photos of these things then I cut them up and make them into new images and shapes. This is what I use as the foundation for a new print design.

We love your Tumblr – do you find this to be an effective way of collating inspiration?

Oh thank you! And yes I do, it helps me to keep some of my images in one place. I also find Pinterest very helpful.

If you could sum up your label in five words, what would they be?

Feminine, contemporary, luxury, ethereal….what could number five be? I don’t know…silky?! Ha!

Do you design for a ‘Frances O’Leary girl’? If so, who is she? Is there a celebrity you would love to see wearing your designs?

The Frances O’Leary girl is someone who likes to own something a bit different and a bit special; she’s not into ‘throw away fashion’, but into pieces you can keep for years. I find a lot of the girls who contact me, are other creatives, like jewellery designers and photographers. In terms of celebrities, I think my most recent collection would really suit someone like Florence Welch, and I’d love to see my bolder prints on someone like Grimes or Alice Glass.

Your SS14 collection ‘Time and Lines’ aims to challenge the idea of perfection and the media’s unhealthy obsession with it – what inspired you to confront this issue? 

I like to have a story behind my work and the story is often something that’s personal to me; this was a story that was very much a personal one and at the time it made sense to me to confront it.

Do you have a favourite piece from this collection?

Ummm…I think the chiffon branch dress and the Magda trapeze dress.

Within the first year of launching your label you received coverage from Vogue and Hunger TV – how did it feel to achieve this recognition, and in such a short time?

Really weird, because at the time I was just doing my own work because I felt like it, I never really expected anyone to pay much attention, it was great for me to have people who didn’t even know me say they like my work, it gave me the confidence boost that I unknowingly so badly needed.

At the Glass Pineapple we aim to connect designers directly with the public, cutting out the middle man – we are very pleased to have you on board as one of our first designers! What advantages do you think platforms like this have for new designers like yourself?

It’s great for us to be able to connect directly, for us as designers it means that we can take away a fair amount of profit from sales, and for the customer, I think its great for them to buy pieces directly from a designer.

What’s your take on the increasing popularity of bespoke design?

I think its great! It’s like the way my grandmother used to buy her clothes and she’d keep them for years and years and really cherish them you know? She’d feel like a million dollars when she’d wear one of her favourite dresses. I think we’ve really lost that true love for something special, something that you’ve worked hard to pay for and so you deserve it. Unlike ‘throw away fashion’ which for me, doesn’t really have the same effect.

Have you started working on your next collection yet? If so, what are your sources of inspiration and can you give us any clues of what to expect?

I have started researching yes, I can’t give too much away, but I think I will be revisiting a bolder print style.

And finally – where would you like your label to be in five years?

Oh! In Five years! Id love to have lots of stockists and be making me some pennies!

Huishan Zhang

(Image courtesy of Vogue.co.uk)

We’re certainly partial to the work of Huishan Zhang, who incidentally is now officially one of the hottest new designers around since winning the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize this month. Pitted against revered contemporaries such as well-established Barbara Casasola, Emilia Wickstead – a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge – and quirky duo FYODOR GOLAN, Huishan’s win is a serious accolade. His sartorial signature is a unique fusion of East-meets-West and combines his Chinese heritage with a love of Western modernism – it has had our hearts a-flutter since he debuted his first collection in 2011. It is this approach that has netted him the £25,000 prize money and one-on-one mentoring from industry elites, as well as seeing his designs stocked in Barneys (New York and Beverley Hills, no less).

Inspired in part by his own travels, Zhang left China aged 17 to live in New Zealand, Paris and London where he attended Central Saint Martins, graduating with a BA in Fashion Design and Marketing and an MA in pattern cutting. During this time, Zhang was handpicked by Delphine Arnault to spend a year at Christian Dior. It was shortly after graduating that Huishan launched his eponymous label and developed his signature style, which embodies culture, elegance and sophistication. The exquisite embellishments and detailing, Eastern floral prints and clean lines come courtesy of the Chinese heritage, whilst Western influences inspire the ladylike tailoring and classic silhouettes that we identify with his polished pieces.

(Images courtesy of Vogue.co.uk)

His SS14 collection saw a continuation of the East-meets-West theme, inspired by Madame Vionnet’s draping techniques and ancient Chinese mathematics. Even the colour palette, a fresh collection of jade green, peach, slate grey and snowy white seemed to fuse traditional Chinese hues with a modern couture twist. Crystal embellishments were the focal point of the refined looks, from the modern circular discs, to the classic emerald tear droplets and shimmering eastern floral patterns. There was, of course, Huishan’s signature delicate embroidery, predominantly Chinese style and floral, interspersed with lace detailing for a classic European twist. A more modern feel was evoked by the geometric fabrics, frilly hemmed crop tops and sheer panelling, which always erred on the side of elegant and luxe rather than risqué – despite one entirely sheer dress. His ancient mathematical inspiration took the form of embroidery; a pattern of interlocking ‘8’s, a number deeply entrenched within Chinese culture, signifying good luck. As this collection preceded his Dorchester prize triumph, perhaps Huishan is onto something…

See more at The Glass Pineapple.

AW13 TRENDS: COLOUR CRUSH

If you’re still in mourning for the departure of summer, allow us to lift your spirits. Autumn is a colourful time of year, from the golden reds of falling leaves, to the greys of wood smoke and the rich, ripe browns of a shiny conker. But, forget the dark hues and earthy tones of seasons gone by as this year the sartorial motto is ‘the brighter the better.’ What better way to perk up a chilly morning than a healthy dose of electric blue or sunny yellow? If your wardrobe is somewhat in need of a check up, then start by working in some of these inspirational colours – it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Rosy Glow

From dusky rose shades at Mulberry to the boldest bubblegum hues at Simone Rocha, the catwalks were awash with pink for this season. Feminine, delicate and bursting with girl power, AW13’s de rigeur shade is the perfect booster for any flagging ensemble. Topping our wish list is a blush toned cocoon coat, a welcome change from the customary black and navy. Of course, the “must-have” nature of the rosy coat has ensured that pink jackets are fast selling out, but this girly trend shows no signs of slowing for the spring – so if you’re looking for an investment: think pink.

Bluemarine, Topshop Unique, Jonathan Saunders and Ekaterina Kukhareva images courtesy of Vogue

Cool Cobalt  

A favourite hue of AW12, cobalt is still reigning this season. The pull of this powerful primary ensures that the rails will be overflowing with bright and bold cold-busting tones in place of the traditionally earthy autumnal palette. If you’re not brave enough to sport head-to-toe cobalt a la Diane Von Furstenberg, this electric shade goes easily with black – see Chloe and Missoni.

Chloe, Eudon Choi, Maison Rabih Kayrouz and Missoni images courtesy of Vogue

Mellow Yellow

This season we’re embracing the golden tones of autumn, from the palest of petal shades to the richest mustard. The hottest shade of yellow this autumn is a true primary colour, described as “New York taxi-cab yellow” in Victoria Beckham’s sunshine infused AW13 collection. We can’t help but imagine the spirit lifting effects of a sunny yellow dress on a dreary Monday morning. Delicate and delightful, yellow is a must-have for AW13.

Simone Rocha, Iceberg, Orla Kiely and Emilia Wickstead images courtesy of Vogue

Zesty Orange

It isn’t autumn without a splash of orange and this shade cropped up in a host of collections for AW13. Forget the usual rusty hues though, this season’s orange appears as a bright citrus infused affair, from blood orange at Yeohlee to tangy tangerine at Michael Kors. As well as lifting spirits, we’re pretty sure that adding a touch of this invigorating and lively colour to a winter wardrobe is also somehow contributing to the recommended daily dose of Vitamin C…

Jonathan Saunders, David Longshaw, Bernard Chandran and Yeohlee images courtesy of Vogue

Grey: The New Neutral

Following the dictum of E.L James, the catwalk echoed with shades of grey for AW13. It seemed that almost every collection showcased grey as a staple neutral, from steely jackets to stone accessories. If you’re feeling brave, take a leaf from APC and Heohwan Simulation’s style books with head to toe grey, or play with patterns and textures like Ashish and Emilia Wickstead. For the less adventurous, grey can be used to beautifully balance the bright and bold colours of the season a la Emilio Pucci and Eudon Choi.

Rag and Bone, Ashish and Heohwan Simulation images courtesy of Vogue

London Fashion Week – JW Anderson

jwanderson

(Images courtesy of Vogue)

It seems that JW Anderson can do no wrong. Branded Ireland’s hottest export, courting rumours of a buyout by French conglomerate LVMH and undoubtedly one of the most watched designers at London Fashion Week, Anderson is proving that he’s got a whole arsenal of sartorial surprises up his minimalist sleeve. His latest collection captivated and delighted the eagerly awaiting crowd, particularly the IT kids FROW of Alexa Chung, Daisy Lowe and Pixie Geldof.

Coining the term ‘avant-bland’ to describe his collection, Anderson’s ideas seemed to stem from mundane kitchen drudgery. His show notes cited takeaway boxes and wipe-clean tablecloths as inspiration, which were transformed into handbags and dresses respectively. But don’t be fooled – his collection was far from ordinary. Exploring the conceptual minimalism for which he’s become renowned, Anderson opened the show with ruched dresses in shimmering nylon, their asexual bin-bag aesthetic juxtaposed by the sensuality of the sheer wispy georgette fabric. For a classically androgynous collection, there was certainly a lot of flesh on show – we’re positive that fashion editors will be clamouring for his sheer square crop tops next season.

Fusing deconstructed classicalism with Oriental sensibility and restraint, Anderson artfully folded and pinched fabrics to create origami-esque shapes, whilst minimal accessories and embellishments ensured a pure focus on form.There was even an unexpected feminine twist in the collection, a peculiar prettiness in the Ancient Greece inspired pleats, whilst bow detailing exuded an obvious femininity. Offering the crowd an almost tactile experience, Anderson skilfully integrated opposing fabrics: silk with polyester, leather with pleather and cotton with nylon. Accompanying the novel items, JW’s signature pieces made an appearance: his twisted jumpers, asymmetric knotting and sculptural hemlines were welcomed additions to an alluringly eccentric collection.

Head over to The Glass Pineapple for more Fashion Week news!

NYFW: My Favourite Show

(Images courtesy of Vogue)

Inspired by the original wild child Françoise Sagan and her coming of age novel Bonjour Tristesse, a tale of romance, youth and disillusioned bourgeoisie, Ruffian staged one of the most refreshing and vibrant shows of the season so far on the Saturday of New York Fashion Week. Their collection, ‘Ingénue’, exuded a youthful naivety, with all the bad girl edginess of the hellion author herself. Wolk and Morais, the creative duo behind the label, artfully blended Fifties primness with a wild streak of Sixties raciness, the result of which was an undeniably envy inducing aristocratic party-girl aesthetic.

The Ruffian girl formula can be boiled down to a dash of sweet, a spoonful of sour, a splash of polished femininity and a pinch of carefree innocence, seasoned to taste with a liberal sprinkling of ‘good girl gone bad’. The collection’s wilder side included ultra-1960s miniskirts, classic houndstooth print, contemporary high-shrine fabrics and – for the bad girl edge – rubberised cotton biker jackets –(all the attitude of leather but at a fraction of the price…) Luxurious silk blazers, vintage floral cotton blouses and perfectly cut ankle grazing trousers in frosty hues of sea foam green and peach ensured a refined and elegant element.

Walking the line between youthful abandon and grown-up glamour, Ruffian mixed flared skirts and playfully bright prints with ladylike sophistication cinched waist dresses, monochrome bouclé shifts and boxy jackets.

As the models stepped out to Pink Floyd’s “The Happiest Days of Our Lives” in their Allagiulia leather fringed pumps, Ruffian rightly took their place as one of the freshest and most exciting names at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 2013.

Written for The Glass Pineapple.