Amelia’s Magazine | Alexandra Groover A/W 09

The day started off with London transport, buy visit this site as usual, doctor ruining my life. The district line was delayed/suspended/just took bloody ages, meaning that I missed the first show I intended on seeing. This was due to over-crowding at South Kensington, as Fashion Week started during half term week, cue 6 million children/parents/tourists trying to get to the Natural History Museum, along with the fashionistas….not a good mix.

By the time I got to the BFC tent, the fashion pack were filing in for the Esthetica launch. Esthetica is the only show of its kind in the world, dedicated to celebrating ethical designers. Noir kicked things off to the not-so-subtle sounds of Hole’s Celebrity Skin, with a polished but edgy collection of, perhaps obviously, black clothes. There was then a drastic music change, a choir singing Creep by Radiohead, a strangely haunting rendition to accompany the more delicate shape of the second half of the collection. With the much quieter musical accompaniment, the unfamiliar sound of hundreds of camera shutters going off can be heard and fittingly adds to the ethereal quality.

Best discovery of the day? The Fashion Bus! When I was told about it, it conjured up images of a magical, playdays-style bus of couture. In reality it’s a coach with London Fashion Week written down the side but still, it served its purpose of getting us from the main South Kensington location to the Hippodrome in Leicester Square, without having to cross the path of my arch-enemy, London transport.

The reason we trekked across town was for Ashish. And it was completely worth it, as what unfolded was far more than just a fashion show. There was live music provided by VV Brown (wearing a dress from the collection), acrobats, a big circus setting and clowns….well, not actual clowns but the pom-poms on some of the looks combined with the hyper colour clash styling surely owed a debt to Coco somewhere along the line.



And here are some snaps of what we’ll all be wearing come Autumn:





Perhaps not that last one so much…
Particular note should be taken of the amazing wedged, animal print shoe boots that all the models – and VV Brown were sporting:


This show was brilliant escapism, with some very wearable individual pieces once you separate them out from the styling. It felt like an afternoon at the circus, rather than just a fashion show, and in such a competitive week, Ashish has ensured that his show will be one everyone remembers this season.
It’s funny seeing the different crowds the different shows draw. The morning started off at the Margaret Howell studio, sick where the British establishment of fashion journalists turned out to see her A/W 09 collection. It was very, stomach well Margaret Howell, order country cosy, duffel coats, blues/greys, some cute over the knees socks and silks mixed with wools. A well put together, safe collection.



I was, excitingly, sitting opposite Alexandra Shulman though, which did take up most of my attention. British Vogue has been wiping the floor with American Vogue in recent times, and it was thrilling to be in such close proximity to her, lets face it, what fashion journalist doesn’t secretly want to be editor of Vogue?

Now onto the different crowd part. Across town, in a swanky church in Marylebone, a full scale production was taking place in aid of the Qasimi A/W 09 show. Not so much journalism elite, more, well Simon Le Bon. But his presence was so to be explained as the show began…

Melinda Neunie was also there and here’s her review of the show:

I must say the Qasimi team managed to pull in quite an impressive crowd. Their pre-show champagne reception outside the beautiful St Mary’s Church was ablaze with bold prints and bright colours, with attendees clearly taking advantage of the nicer weather.


The catwalk show was equally remarkable. Set against an exotic woodland backdrop, Qasimi propelled us into a world of fantasy, romance and passion with their A/W 09 collection. The all black luxury range exuded wealth, elegance and sophistication through sumptuous cashmere and Italian silks complete with gleaming outsized diamond accessories.


An opera sound track opened the show alongside a fantastically poised Erin O’Connor clad in a sculptured corset gown and extravagant feathered headdress. The model was closely followed by Lily Cole, Yasmin Le Bon and Jade Parfitt.

Draping gowns, corset tops and intricate stitching dominated the show, which was closed by the spectacular Carmen Dell’Orifice who couldn’t help but give us a cheeky bum shake on her way out.”



We didn’t recognise final model Carmen Dell’Orifice but everyone else did as she got whoops and cheers as she sashayed down the catwalk. The show was not at all what I was expecting, but it was epic! Seeing those famed models in the flesh, the dramatic music and, as Music Editor Prudence put it, the general Zoolander quality of it made it entertaining in the extreme.

We were penned into the lobby at the Vauxhall Fashion Scout like (well-dressed) sheep for an hour, viagra dosage but it was worth it to experience Horace’s A/W ’09 collection. The label’s founders, web Adam Entwisle and Emma Hales, website like this have made a welcome return to their androgynous roots.

Classic Horace is synonymous with distressed hand washed leather and oversized separates, and there was plenty of that to be seen. Baggy trousers contrasted with beautifully cut jackets, all accessorised with leather totes and large knitted scarves.




Entwisle and Hales continue to play with the idea of gender in their designs. Pale-faced men in tunic dresses followed women in combat boots down the catwalk to pulsing rock beats. The collection is said to embody the spirit of 18th century monks, and the modesty of a monk’s attire was reflected in the voluminous hoods and clean monochromatic palette.

Such an abundance of black layers and boots could have become repetitive, but thankfully vibrant plaid prints provided bursts of colour, evocative of London’s punk heritage. It’s small wonder Horace has built up such a cult following.

Lebanese born designer Hass Idriss showed his first collection at London Fashion Week yesterday to a very odd crowd at Belgravia’s Il Bottaccio. I say odd because the majority of the black-clad crowd sported face-lifts, symptoms and I was amongst a very small percentage of the audience who weren’t wearing any make-up (yep, the boys did too – some even applying YSL lip gloss as a pre-show fixer).

They were, however, resplendent and I’d like to thank the fabulous woman who sat three seats down from me on the front line wearing the largest, roundest hat possible. Differing from the usual up and down runway, Idriss presented his collection in an L-shaped room, with myself and the mad hatter on the second, final arm of the catwalk. I am nursing a bad case of RSI in my neck this morning as I type: straining around that hat was quite a feat.

Visual obstacles aside, Idriss’ collection was a brave and opulent one. Credit crunch? What credit crunch?

Inspiration for this first collection had been drawn from Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid. The show kicked off with a booming soundtrack and two airbrushed-gold Adonises slowly glided along the runway, followed by the first model who hopped in a skin-tight fish tail dress, aided by the Adonises and a pair of gold embelished crutches (mermaid overkill, I’d say – and a little bit silly. I mean, honestly!)


Gradually the collection grew in maturity whilst retaining the theme of the sea – luxurious weightless fabrics such as organza and tulle were enriched with sea water pearls and Swarovski crystals, reminiscent of early John Galliano for Dior Couture.



The palette was mixed, ranging from organic pastel colours, golds and creams, through to shocking reds with black to contrast. A brave craftsman, Idriss pushed his capabilities to their limits across a range of techniques, heavily reliant on embroidery to the highest standard. Cuts were quite disparate – some gowns were a-line or floated gently to the floor whilst others were sculpted around the body with severe hems. The black satin and velvet mini dress with a charcoal chapel train, titled ‘The Mermaid’, was a particular highlight.


Throughout, most of the ensembles were hits, especially with the whooping audience. A couple of misses, though – and the award for unwearability goes to this little number – a plastic transparent poncho with beaded corals (and blood, sweat and tears according to the press handout). Hans Christian Andersen will be turning in his grave. Bonkers. Overall, a daring and immodest first outing for Hass Idriss. Keep a look out in the future – you saw him here first.
At 9.15 on a Sunday morning, stomach it seemed only the most diligent (and probably least hungover) of the fashion clan that made an appearance at the Betty Jackson show. It was worth the early rise, case to say the least.
We were bombarded with a visual palette of textures, soft colours and hemlines; resembling a painting whose medium changed by the paint stroke, from smooth watercolours to thick, rougher oils to scratchy pencils. Betty Jackson kept her collection airy, light and colourful- perhaps in an effort to float past or ward off next winter’s approaching cold and heavy credit crunch scenario.

Main colour themes drifted from cupcake and candy pastels to darker, richer shades;conjuring up autumnal images- like those in Monet’s more wintry landscapes. Fur, frills and subdued shades were combined in adorable, snappy pencil skirt and blouse/knitwear combos, very Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.


Jewellery was designed exclusively for Betty Jackson by Alexis Bittar, this included hand carved, hand painted lucite earrings and necklaces, whose sheer extravagance reminded us of Edie Sedgwick’s outrageous choice in accessories.

Purple tights and red belts are two of the most notable components of the collection, while some of the models wore versatile backpacks- probably Jackson’s effort to incorporate utility in what is becoming a very non-frivolous time.
Statement coats and fur boleros were thrown in for the warmth factor. Best model of the show was hands down, Jourdan Dunn.

Betty Jackson believes that “every new collection presents a new challenge, but most people feel more confident and sexy if they are comfortable” and we can see a huge representation of this in her latest designs, the bright and often outrageous colour schemes are juxtaposed in a variety of simple styles- which maintains the conservative nature of her clothes. These are garments that not only appear comfortable, but also versatile- they are not only adaptable to real, working life but also pieces you could and will wear for seasons to come.

Named after a pickpocketing school, ambulance School of Seven Bells is made up of twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, sick who used to be in On! Air! Library! and Ben Curtis, medications ex-guitarist with Secret Machines. Their first album, the mesmerisingly good Alpinisms hovers between ambient electronica and dreamy pop. If you don’t have time to climb an Alp and lie in the snow at the top, having the album in your ears while you float along the pavement is the next best thing. From her neighbourhood in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Alejandra tells us more:


You’ve toured in the past with bands like Interpol and Prefuse 73. Does this tour feel different, as the first solo tour for School of Seven Bells?
Alejandra Deheza:
Not really. I was kinda shocked by the reaction to the album. Going to London for those two shows in October [at the Old Blue Last and The Social] the reaction was pretty crazy. The album wasn’t even out then. They were small shows, and the response was really great.

What’s a good gig for you?
I love to see the crowd respond, honestly. That’s how you can see if you’re making a connection or not. Otherwise there’s no other reason to be there. As long as the crowd – or at least one person- [laughs] is going crazy, then that’s a good gig.

Where do you get the ideas for lyrics?
I’m always writing anyways. I’ve got lots of notebooks. If I like a certain beat in my head, it helps shape the lyrics a little more. The single Half Asleep started off as Claudia’s lyrics. Her lyrics are the more direct version of my lyrics. For Kalaji Mari was a really important song, it was written for a really close friend of mine that passed away, it was basically like a letter for her.

How did you get involved with Ben?
We met on tour where both of our bands opened up for Interpol. I’d never really heard his band before. I thought the way he played was extremely creative. It’s very different from a lot of people. He was a very visual kind player.

Is there any rivalry between you and your sister?
No, we get along really well. I know that’s not very exciting! We’d never be able to perform together if we didn’t. It’s more about making the song really good, we all want it to be good, so there’s no drama. We really just kinda mesh together, we both just do our own thing.


Did your sister and you grow up singing together?
We sang a lot in church, because my parents were religious. We were always in choir and music classes, we’ve been singing together since we were like 2 years old. We liked to perform for our relatives and stuff like that. I think the first tape Claudia bought was Paula Abdul, Forever Your Girl. She was really young. At that point Claudia really wanted to be on this show called Star Search. She would practise all day with her Walkman on. I was more into Simon and Garfunkel, and I really loved the Beatles.

Who do you like listening to now?
I really love Sleep Archive. Ricardo Villalobos is incredible. I really like Gas, it’s more ambient I guess, with slight little pulses. I like stuff like that.

How did you come up with the band name?
From a TV documentary I was watching about shoplifters robbing all the stores up and down the east coast. There were two of them, and they had these special coats. They’d go into Old Navy and rob thousands of dollars of stuff. They were being investigated by the FBI, who thought they were part of this other group, formed in South America in the 80s, called School of Seven Bells.

Did that school really exist?
No-one has a straight answer. I’ve looked on the internet, but no one really knows. I thought it was a cool story. It would be really awesome if it exists! The final exam was there were seven items in seven pockets. Each person who lifted the item without ringing the bells became a graduate of the school.

I bet you get asked that a lot. What other questions do you get asked most?
What’s it like being in a band with a sister? [laughs] I understand, people are curious, but for me I don’t know any different, I’ve never known anything else.

Tomorrow you’ve got a photo shoot with NME. Any idea what that will involve?
I dunno. I’m curious, they might make us all jump into a pool with our clothes on. It’s gonna be pretty low key. We’re gonna find somewhere cool to go to In Brooklyn. I like being filmed, that’s fun.

You’re back touring with Bat For Lashes in April. How did that come about?
I saw the video of her with all the bikes. I was like, woah that’s so cool. And her voice, it was so beautiful. So spooky and beautiful.

How important is the art side of what you do?
Bryan Collins is a really good friend of ours. [Bryan does the album artwork] We discussed dreams, and that’s where the art came from. We’re currently working with this other artist who we really love, named Tim Saccenti. He’s doing us some video projections for our show. Hopefully it’ll be ready for the UK part of the show.

Anything else you’d like to do while you’re over in the UK?
I like to eat Indian food. I also love pub food – steak and ale pie, oh my god. Maybe that’s so normal over there, but we don’t get it over here, it’s so delicious. Oh, and I love Guinness.

Monday February 23rd

THIS IS LAGOS is the second part of a two-way cultural exchange between Nigeria and the United Kingdom which began when Michael Bucknell visited Lagos to exhibit at the Nimbus Arts Centre. This current multi-media exhibition, help starting today, viagra 100mg harnesses music, dosage painting, sculpture, photography and installation to express the challenges that this city presents to the senses. Battered and rusting Molue buses are set against the vibrant colours and movements of street markets.


Wednesday February 25th

Here’s something nice to do on a Wednesday evening. It says it all in the poster, a showcase of up and coming illustrators and the wonders of their pencil to paper creations.


Thursday February 26th

Five Storey Projects is a young 5-person strong collective consisting of artists, curators and writers who all have a background in working in the gallery sector. After their first exhibition in a Victorian warehouse in Hackney, they are now embarking on a second project guest-curating a 5 day long pop up exhibition called ‘It’s A Mess and Probably Irreversible’ as part of Craft Fair.


Friday February 27th

Cathy Lomax and Michael Bartlett have been working in isolation on a series of collaborative portraits in an exhibition that begins today at Contemporary Art Projects. The Image Duplicator develops and continues interests that both artists have regarding ideas around the public and private gaze and working in series. Alongside the collaborative paintings Bartlett is showing paintings from his WW2 Spain (Lost) series of non-identical twins, sourced from found photographs from pre war Spain and Lomax is showing some new work from her series, The Twins. Sadly this will be the last project at Contemporary Art Projects.


Saturday February 28th

Last week we featured one Gayle Chong Kwan, one of the Vauxhall Collective embarking on the project entitled “The Great British Road Trip”. This Saturday we see another of the collective kicking off their own project with their first performance installation, At Home with the Skinner. Gideon Reeling is orchestrating a series of interactive performance pieces which will culminate in a grand finale performance-come-party, the Reeling Family Wedding. This Saturday, the Skinners cordially invite you to tea and cake in the East End. If you’d like to partake then register here, and enjoy a day of bespoke interactive gaming.


Another show, treatment another cloth bag, page this one containing, among other things, yet another bottle of Vitamin Water – yuck yuck yuck – and a black felt pouch with a square cut out of the front, a total mystery in terms of purpose and function – a photo-frame perhaps? Despite this aberration, the show got off to a promising start, with projections of models spinning round in black dresses slashed to look like Chinese paper lanterns and moving like ribbons around their bodies. The clothes then appeared in the flesh on the runway looking much more urban, contemporary and wearable without the vintage sweetener of the flickering screens.


This is real young indie starlet premiere wear, with a black palette especially appropriate for sombre times, miraculously lightened with a playful, airy approach to cut and texture. There were several swingy, swishy dancing dresses, proving that a collection doesn’t need acid bright colours to counteract the doom and gloom. Plus a perverse cheeriness was felt on my part when I realised that every single outfit was styled with a pair of black opaques, wardrobe essentials from September to May for every sensible Londoner.

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