Amelia’s Magazine | Valentino: Master of Couture at Somerset House

Valentino A/W 2005 by Krister Selin

A recent viewing of the documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel, a film dedicated to the infamous fashion editor’s pioneering feats, highlighted that going to a gallery to view exhibitions of living fashion designers is a relatively new concept. When Vreeland launched an Yves Saint Laurent retrospective in 1983 at the Costume Institute, she set a precedent for a legion of future fashion fairs.

In the modern era, fashion fans have no qualms about trading their hard-earned cash to gaze at frocks on mannequins and fashion retrospectives have dominated galleries with record-breaking visitor numbers. Presenting these exhibitions comes as a challenge to curators: no longer is it a case of whacking a few frocks on mannequins like you’re assembling a high street window display. A quick look at Viktor & Rolf at the Barbican, McQueen at the Met or Louis Vuitton/Marc Jacobs at Les Arts Decoratifs shows the dedication and commitment necessary to present fashion as art.

Valentino A/W 2002 and Natalia Vodianova by Cathleen Naundorf

What better way, then, to present Emperor of Couture Valentino Garavani‘s illustrious history than on one long catwalk? Avoid temptation to sashay past the tableaux as mannequins appear amongst elegant white chairs on either side of a runway, on which you’re the model. The Embankment Galleries at Somerset House have been transformed; no longer tiny catacombs, but brought together for dramatic effect.

Valentino A/W 2002 by Maya Beus

The lower floor showcases a number artefacts appearing in glass cabinets at the start of the exhibition. Letters from prominent designers and magazine editors celebrate Valentino‘s last milestone, his 45th anniversary as King of Couture, showering the Italian with praise for his record-breaking anniversary couture show at the Santo Spirito in Sassia in Rome. Glorious fashion sketches line other cabinets, but as was with Margiela and other exhibitions here, I found myself skimming past these in order to get to the main event upstairs.

Photographs courtesy of Somerset House/Peter MacDiarmid

And so the catwalk comes alive on the upper level, with a breathtaking 130 haute couture creations on models appearing as guests. They are arranged pretty haphazardly amongst the aforementioned white chairs, almost with abandon, without any rigid chronological order. Empty seats bear the names of the great and the good that have worn Valentino and attended countless shows: Princess Margaret, Elizabeth Taylor, Carla Bruni, Diane Kruger, Iman; Diana Vreeland herself.

Valentino S/S 1998 by Annie Rickard Straus

Valentino A/W 1992 by Sandra Contreras

La dolce vita comes alive as you make your way along the displays, featuring floor-sweeping gowns, kaftans, trouser suits and capes. I particularly enjoyed the 1990s section – creations designed with the decadent abandon of an era when the supermodel ruled fashion and Valentino, Gianni Versace and pals were bending over backwards knee-deep in gold chains to appease them. These pieces were without doubt the height of fashion, but have dated the most. Compare these to some numbers from the 1960s: they’re indistinguishable from the output of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccoli, heading Valentino, over recent seasons.

Valentino S/S 2005 by Jamie Wignall

Valentino S/S 1969 by Maya Beus

The show’s dramatic finale sees Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece‘s wedding dress come to life on a dramatic platform. This pearl-encrusted ivory silk gown features a 4.5m train and 12 kinds of lace. Sure.

Princess Marie-Chantal’s wedding dress

While I wouldn’t wear it, it’s one of the greatest examples of dressmaking in history and this presentation allows you to see the astonishing detail in the flesh.

Valentino S/S 2004 by Krister Selin

I particularly enjoyed a personal tribute to le regazze – the girls – the loyal atelier that have produced innumerable tulles, mock-ups and eventual red-carpet-ready frocks for the Grand Master’s enormous following. They’re the stars of groundbreaking documentary film Valentino: The Last Emperor, bickering as they lovingly stitch the last couture collection by the man himself. In the exhibition we’re spoiled with an education of Italian atelier terms – such beauties as ‘Incrostazioni‘ ‘Drappeggio‘ and ‘Budellini‘, a couture technique specific to Valentino where double charmeuse silk is rolled and sewn around a looped length of wool. Each term has a visual representation, occupying a glass box and highlighting the important role that these individual processes have played in Valentino‘s roaring success.

Valentino A/W 2002 by Jamie Wignall

Valentino S/S 1998 by Sandra Contreras

Unmissable. Go.

Categories ,Annie Rickard Straus, ,Budellini, ,catwalk, ,couture, ,Drappeggio, ,Embankment Galleries, ,emperor, ,exhibition, ,fashion, ,Grand Master, ,Incrostazioni, ,Italy, ,Jamie Wignall, ,Krister Selin, ,le regazze, ,london, ,Marie-Chantal, ,Matt Bramford, ,Maya Beus, ,Natalia Vodianova, ,Peter MacDiarmid, ,Rome, ,runway, ,Sandra Contreras, ,Somerset House, ,The Last Emperor, ,Valentino Garavani

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Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week S/S 2011 Exhibition Review: Headonism

Frieze showcases a collection of pastel coloured trenches at London Fashion Week off schedule at Vauxhall Fashion Scout.

Illustration of Piers Atkinson by Kellie Black

The Headonism exhibition is hidden in the Embankment Galleries on the lower ground floor of Somerset house, order behind the BFC tent. I’ve been down there twice, once on Thursday and once yesterday – and both times it seemed very under attended. Actually, all the exhibitions around the scrum of the registration area seem very quiet but they are all well worth a look, even if it is just to take a closer look at some of the collections as I did upstairs for Louise Amstrup.

Curated by milliner extraordinaire Stephen Jones, the Headonism exhibition is all about the hats and is the only section of London Fashion Week exclusively catering to the headwear market. There are only five exhibitors: J Smith, Little Shilpa, Noel Stewart, Piers Atkinson and Soren Bach, but the difference between the stands is remarkable. Disappointingly, the Soren Bach stand has no one looking after it, nor does Little Shilpa – merely a book to leave details in.

The only exhibitor to have put any real effort into their display is Piers Atkinson…but more on him later. The importance of showcasing your wares appropriately at London Fashion Week is shockingly something that many have left to the last minute. Read Katie Antoniou’s post on all the exhibitions to find out who did it well this year.

Illustration of J Smith Esquire by Kellie Black

We were lucky enough to interview two of the exhibitors prior to the show, the first was J Smith Esquire. His exhibit is immediately to your right as you enter the exhibition, displaying his most recent foray into the high street market with a Mister Smith display of flat pack hats in colourful cut out leather. He told us about the collection: ‘Mister Smith is designed to be robust, accessible, affordable millinery with high design values, so everyone can have a J Smith Esquire hat’.

Photograph from Mister Smith collection by Florence Massey

Mixing together the ready-to-wear and couture, J Smiths talent shines with his main collections, the most recent entitled ‘Illuminated’ is sure to be as highly impressive as his previous efforts. The new collection promises to be VERY eclectic, ‘(it’s) inspired by vintage Italian fashion papers to create a modern-day Edwardian couture, and yes, expect a very colourful collection!’

Illustration of Little Shilpa by Yelena Bryksenkova

Little Shilpa’s stand is on each side as you exit the exhibition space, and displays an array of great headpieces, necklaces and hats. His work is crazy, but in a good way. The designs are definitely not for the wallflowers among us, something crystalised by his naming Bjork as a dream customer!

With an Indian heritage it is unsurprising to hear that the inspiration for his Headonism show picks up on this , ‘the pieces were inspired from Bombay and London, there was an obvious juxtaposition of the 2 cities …all the pieces were specially created for Headonism as it was my first formal showing in London hence a sort of introduction to my inspirations’.

Photograph of J Shilpa by Florence Massey

Little Shilpa agrees with Piers Atkinson’s very true comment that millinery has finally become more about having fun rather than the obligatory weddings and funerals, ‘working out of India it has always been about fun and design’. Long may that continue!

Talking of Piers Atkinson and the move away from wedding/funeral hats his stand is fantastic. More of an exploded flower stall mixed with Hollywood clichés and mini people, I spent a-g-e-s peering at every single one of his creations. With lots of green felt, and miniature people Atkinson definitely taps into the fun side of millinery and his collection is so good: silly, energetic and vibrant. Spilling with colours and quirks, the Hollywood sign features heavily, as do clashing flowers and little gold spikes. If you want a break from the oh so serious fashion upstairs at BFC, pop down to Atkinson’s stand for a giggle.

Illustration of Piers Atkinson by Kellie Black

Photograph of Piers Atkinson by Florence Massey

Categories ,british fashion council, ,couture, ,Embankment Galleries, ,exhibition, ,fashion, ,hats, ,Headonism, ,headpieces, ,J Smith Esquire, ,Kellie Black, ,Little Shilpa, ,London Fashion Week, ,millinery, ,mister smith, ,piers atkinson, ,review, ,Somerset House, ,Stephen Jones, ,Yelena, ,Yelena Bryksenkova

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Amelia’s Magazine | Fyodor Golan: London Fashion Week A/W 2012 Catwalk Review

Fyodor Golan A/W 2012 by Faye West
Fyodor Golan A/W 2012 by Faye West.

Fyodor Golan were first to show in the newly created Embankment Galleries showspace, a long thin strip in Somerset House that previously housed the stands and necessitates registering at the front desk in order to get to. A year ago I was most taken by Fyodor Golan‘s first catwalk show at Fashion Scout, and last season they were deserving winners of the Fashion Fringe competition, so I was eager to see what these fine art graduates would do next.

Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan A/W 2012 by Gaarte
Fyodor Golan A/W 2012 by Gaarte.

Welcome to the Machine was inspired by Russian peasantry and aristocratic fashions… marrying tribal styles with extravagant embellishments to great effect. Stepping through a neon pink doorway models wore skater skirted dresses in beetle inspired metallic copper and green, heavy nose rings courtesy of designer Alexandra Druzhinin hanging over their mouths. Insects crawled across the waists of dresses, and the curving lines of their wings were echoed in the finely swept hair slicked to brows. At Fyodor Golan buns were tightly woven into peasant plaits.

Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan A/W 2012 by Gaarte
Fyodor Golan A/W 2012 by Gaarte.

These clothes are not for the faint hearted – there were heavy quilted metallic textures and pleated furls, followed by light as a feather lambswool or swinging tasselled skirts in wintery white. Punchy red provided dazzling relief from darker hues in the form of skater dresses, and my favourite look (in red) featured a sheer bodice with narrow strips of pleating curled over the bosom and shoulders.

Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
The finale was preceded by a model who was somewhat inexplicably covered entirely in emerald green glitter – perhaps a reference to beetles too far… This was followed by a stunning pearlised white showpiece, with a weighty golden crown shrouded in netting that also covered the face.

Fyodor Golan A/W 2012 by Gareth A Hopkins
Fyodor Golan A/W 2012 by Gareth A Hopkins.

Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
Fyodor Golan A/W 2012 by Marta Madaiva Illustrations
Fyodor Golan A/W 2012 by Marta Madaiva Illustrations.

Once again Fyodor Podgorny and Golan Frydman have proved themselves a fashionable proposition to be reckoned with, and I look forward to seeing how their artisanal creativity develops with each new season.

Fyodor Golan AW 2012 - photography by Amelia Gregory
All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Categories ,A/W 2012, ,Alexandra Druzhinin, ,Aristocracy, ,Beetles, ,Embankment Galleries, ,Fashion Fringe, ,Fashion Scout, ,Faye West, ,Fyodor Golan, ,Fyodor Podgorny, ,Gaarte, ,Gabriel Ayala, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,Golan Frydman, ,Green Glitter, ,London Fashion Week, ,Marta Madaiva Illustrations, ,Metallic, ,Nose Rings, ,peasant, ,Quilting, ,review, ,Russian, ,Somerset House, ,Trace Publicity, ,Tribal, ,Welcome to the Machine

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Amelia’s Magazine | Jean-Pierre Braganza: London Fashion Week A/W 2012 Catwalk Review

Jean-Pierre Braganza AW 2012 by Catherine Meadows

Jean-Pierre Braganza A/W 2012 by Catherine Meadows

Although Chandelierium was inspired by ‘the sensuality of being covered’ and Victorian women driven to madness by the repression of their concealing clothes, Jean-Pierre Braganza turned constrictive silhouettes into a very wearable collection. As his current S/S 2012 collection was about 1920′s silhouettes and free movement (which I reviewed last London Fashion Week and loved, read about it here) A/W 2012 is all about figures being tailored and moulded by sharp lines. Jean-Pierre Braganza never does things in an expected manner, and played with the idea of how women embraced the dark side of such strict dress to remain in control.

Jean Pierre Braganza AW 2012 by Alia Gargum

Jean Pierre Braganza AW 2012 by Alia Gargum

Jean Pierre Braganza AW 2012 by Alia Gargum

All photography by Alia Gargum

After a bit of a wait and shuffle to the Embankment Gallery Show Space and spotting fashion writer legend Colin McDowell, we were let in to get seated and into the mindset of ‘the sensuality of being covered’. It seems that Victorian dress is a big influence for next season, almost a backlash against the vampy vixen type of looks we saw this winter from fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton. Of course, Mr Jean-Pierre Braganza worked his magic and made an originally repressive silhouette just right for 2012. The models stomped down the runway powerfully and with ease, adorned with simple makeup except a metallic lip and beautifully mad hair piled high and cropped short at one temple as if done in a fit of delirium.

Jean Pierre Braganza AW 2012 by Alia Gargum

Jean-Pierre Braganza A/W 2012 by Gareth A Hopkins

Jean-Pierre Braganza A/W 2012 by Gareth A Hopkins

Jean-Pierre Braganza A/W 2012 by Alia Gargum

I particularly liked how corsets, nipped-in waists and high necklines were referenced yet brought into modern day with beautifully psychedelic prints. Chandelierium was the name of one, which was also used on the invite. Each print gave the impression of falling into an image, surrounded by swirls of purples, reds, lilac pink and green, offset by shimmering metallic fabrics. The best thing was that this collection gave the impression of multiple-layered Victorian dress but kept fresh with a mini skirt here and there, relaxed yet oversized sleeves and flowing silks. As the show continued, it was almost as if Jean-Pierre Braganza was referencing women breaking free of the constriction, mixing dropped-waist trousers with some beautifully patterned knitwear or adding a loosely gathered dress.

Jean Pierre Braganza AW 2012 by Alia Gargum

Jean-Pierre Braganza A/W 2012 by Alia Gargum

Jean-Pierre Braganza AW 2012 by Illustrated Moodboard

Jean-Pierre Braganza A/W 2012 by Illustrated Moodboard

As the girls fiercely stomped en masse at the end of the show (perhaps to emote that bit of Victorian madwoman unpredictability) I couldn’t think of anyone who would have difficulty finding a piece just right for them in this collection. Loud prints, structured black and deep purple dresses, beetle-bright metallic jacquard, or simple printed silks were all there but didn’t seem to crowd each other. Jean-Pierre Braganza doesn’t just conjure up a fantasy, he makes it wearable and desirable. As Bad Girls by M.I.A. played the girls out and Jean-Pierre Braganza in to do his final bow, I had to smile as I almost got my camera smacked out of my hands by a model’s hip. These women didn’t feel constricted at all, they were ready to knock A/W 2012 right out.

Jean Pierre Braganza by Jaymie O’Callaghan.

Categories ,Alia Gargum, ,Catherine Meadows, ,Chandelierium, ,Colin McDowell, ,Embankment Galleries, ,Embellishment, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,Illustrated Moodboard, ,Jaymie O’Callaghan, ,Jean Pierre Braganza, ,knitwear, ,London Fashion Week, ,London Fashion Week A/W 2012, ,Louis Vuitton, ,M.I.A, ,Madness, ,Metallic, ,print, ,Silk, ,tailoring, ,Victorians, ,Womenswear, ,wool

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Amelia’s Magazine | Pick Me Up Graphic Arts Festival 2013: A Review of Illustration Collectives

Pick Me Up London 2013 review- day job victoria willmott
Bird by Victoria Willmott.

In the upstairs section of the Embankment Galleries at Pick Me Up are housed a plethora of hand-picked collectives, some of which have had a presence in previous years, some of which are new for 2013. The section begins with a superb display by Day Job, a collaboration between ten recent Camberwell graduates who share a studio in Peckham, South London, some of whom I recognised.

Pick Me Up London 2013 review- Charlotte Mei
Charlotte Mei‘s idiosyncratic pottery was a stand out feature at her graduate show: for Pick Me Up she has created a whole fleet of cars, characterful naked ladies in contorted positions, a pizza with strange toppings and a host of other animals. Brilliant stuff!

Pick Me Up London 2013 review-Charlene Man
I loved all of the prints by Charlene Man, and I was also tempted by her pastel painted wooden blocks for Snarfle, but feared he might chew the patterns off.

Pick Me Up London 2013 review - human after all tshirt
Pick Me Up London 2013 review - Human After All
Human After All is the latest brainwave from Danny Miller and friends. As promotion for their newly launched creative agency they are hosting a space where you can construct your own #facestamp, to be applied to a t-shirt, with eye-catching results.

Pick Me Up London 2013 review-zombie collective maggie li
Pick Me Up London 2013 review- frann preston gannon

Zombie Collective is five illustrators: their interactive cog machine is a splendid addition to the gallery, spitting out gifts for lucky punters. Maggie Li‘s beautiful house print really caught my eye, as did this politely sleeping fox by Frann Preston-Gannon. Also for sale, some sweet acrylic treats.

Pick Me Up London 2013 review- print club london
Print Club London are hosting the main room with a chance to help create a ‘living wallpaper’ drawn by the likes of Fred Butler and Margot Bowman. It looks like the just the place to hang out with the kids: give Snarfle a few years and we’ll be there!

Pick Me Up London 2013 review- nelly duff dan hillier
Pick Me Up London 2013 review- nelly duff sweet toof
Pick Me Up London 2013 review- various and gould nellyduff
Columbia Road‘s Nelly Duff gallery have created perhaps the most spectacular room, where artworks and specially commissioned wall decals on a ‘flower show’ theme combine to stunning effect. Of particular note: Dan Hillier‘s foil blocked lady, curlicued skulls courtesy of Sweet Toof, and a skull print by Various and Gould (seen above in situ on a doorway just off Brick Lane).

Pick Me Up London 2013 review- soma gallery peskimo
Back for a second year running Soma Gallery are showcasing a wide selection of prints by long running collaborators such as Peskimo and Tom Frost, as well as newbies such as Telegramme Studio and Hazel Nicholls. I particularly loved these 3D wooden gum ball artworks by Peskimo.

Pick Me Up London 2013 review-el famoso
Unlimited Collective is a print company based in Brighton. Taking pride of place in their busy space is a huge yellow tattooed man, complete with hipster moustache. All over tattoos continue to be the badge of the uber cool, but if you’re too chicken to go the whole hog yourself then artwork by El Famoso might be just the ticket instead.

Jessie Ford black bear on bike
I was so taken by a black bear on a tiny tricycle by Jessie Ford that I bought one on a whim – it will go up in Snarfle‘s room: something more to growl at.

Pick Me Up London 2013 review- helen musselwhite
Pick Me Up London 2013 review-Emily Robertson
Pick Me Up London 2013 review-matt saunders
Pick Me Up London 2013 review- lesley barnes
Handsome Frank is an illustration agency that has done a great job of snapping up brilliant up and coming illustrators, including many that have featured in these pages (Lesley Barnes, Tim McDonagh, Sarah Maycock). Some of my favourite works on display at their interactive stand include a stunning paper gatehouse by Helen Musselwhite, a curious character by Emily Robertson, sleeping log gremlins by Matt Saunders and a wonderful knight on a horse by Lesley Barnes.

Read my review of Pick Me Up Selects here, and if you are unable to check out Pick Me Up in person make sure you check out all the talent above online. Full listing information here.

Categories ,#facestamp, ,2013, ,Camberwell College of Arts, ,Charlene Man, ,Charlotte Mei, ,Collectives, ,Columbia Road, ,Dan Hillier, ,Danny Miller, ,Day Job, ,El Famoso, ,Embankment Galleries, ,Emily Robertson, ,Frann Preston-Gannon, ,Fred Butler, ,Handsome Frank, ,Hazel Nicholls, ,Helen Musselwhite, ,Human After All, ,illustration, ,Jessie Ford, ,Lesley Barnes, ,Maggie Li, ,Margot Bowman, ,Matt Saunders, ,Nelly Duff, ,Peskimo, ,Pick Me Up, ,Pick Me Up Selects, ,Print Club London, ,Sarah Maycock, ,Snarfle, ,Soma Gallery, ,Somerset House, ,Sweet Toof, ,Telegramme, ,Telegramme Studio, ,Tim McDonagh, ,Tom Frost, ,Unlimited Collective, ,Various and Gould, ,Victoria Willmott, ,Zombie Collective

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