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 | Kinder Aggugini: London Fashion Week S/S 2012 Catwalk Review

Kinder Aggugini S/S 2013 by Emma Reynolds

After salivating and sweating at the Sister by Sibling salon show, I headed to the main tent to catch Kinder Aggugini‘s S/S 2013 offering. I was only given a standing ticket, but I don’t mind at this venue. It’s much better than being on the 24th row, stuck behind some berk fashioning ridiculous millinery, so I patiently waited in the standing queue with the rest of the commoners. It suddenly became ridiculous. The overbearing security ‘guard’ on the door operated in a way more suited to a Tiger Tiger in Croydon – shouting at anybody that dare ask him if they were in the right queue. When one girl who had clearly had enough of his bullish manner told him to ‘go and have a w*nk‘ it took all my strength to stifle giggles.

Kinder Aggugini S/S 2013 by Maya Beus

Inside, I was utterly gobsmacked. The venue was, at most, a quarter full. Why on Earth had we been subjected to such a palaver outside? It was like Olympics seatinggate all over again. I perched on the end of the second row only to be moved to the front as the show was about to start. It’s pretty depressing when this happens, considering the physical and financial strain put on new designers only to half fill a venue. And, I was about to discover, it was to be an unmissable show.

All photography by Matt Bramford

Anyway, I quickly got over my blues as the show started, featuring perhaps the best soundtrack I’ve ever heard at fashion week. It began with that song by Gwen Stefani that samples the Sound of Music, launching the first model out, only to be followed by the likes of Destiny’s Child, Rihanna and the Pussycat Dolls. If I’d had a drink I would have been unable to stop myself from leaping on to the catwalk.

Kinder Aggugini S/S 2013 by Emma Reynolds

The first model appeared in a blue gingham shirt, worn underneath a playful Liberty-print-esque pair of dungarees. It was this twee narrative that would continue for most of the show, and I loved it.

A mix of sexier dresses cut above the knee and floral pinafores followed. Gingham merged with a striking map print, while a one-colour Rococo-inspired print featured on sweaters, loose dresses and an oversized cropped-sleeved overcoat.

Oversized paper-bag waists then made an appearance on skirts and trousers with more and more entertaining prints creating a strong and coherent theme throughout. A cropped-sleeve red blazer with large white buttons, feminine dresses and floral playsuits ensure this S/S 2013 outing will appeal to women with very different styles.

Kinder Aggugini S/S 2013 by Maya Beus

The finale featured a rather eccentric octopus dress – a black velvet and peach sheer mix – which I very much enjoyed but it didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. But, who cares? Certainly not me.

All photography by Matt Bramford

Categories ,BFC, ,Destiny’s Child, ,Emma Reynolds, ,florals, ,Gingham, ,Gwen Stefani, ,kinder aggugini, ,liberty, ,London Fashion Week, ,Matt Bramford, ,Maya Beus, ,Octopus, ,print, ,Pussycat Dolls, ,Rihanna, ,Rococco, ,S/S 2013, ,Somerset House, ,SS13, ,Womenswear

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Amelia’s Magazine | Gyunel: London Fashion Week A/W 2013 Catwalk Review

Gyunel AW 2013 by May van Millingen
Gyunel LFW A/W 2013 by May van Millingen

I am distracted by a wedding dress photoshoot on my way to Gyunel‘s show at The Savoy and veer in via the wrong entrance, barely making it in time for the show. When I do finally enter, out of breath, it’s to the sound of crackling flames. The Savoy is a fancy venue with a fresco feel (Sistine Chapel as opposed to al) and Gyunel‘s Demi-Couture show is at home in this opulent location, where the clothes are complimented by chandeliers and a luxurious egg-shell blue decor. Supermodel Jodie Kidd is one of the well-known faces in the front row and the circular catwalk makes for a refreshing change to the usual straight up, straight down.

Gyunel AW 2013 by May van Millingen
Gyunel LFW A/W 2013 by May van Millingen

The collection is kicked off with a feather-covered gown in dark blue modeled by Erin O’ Connor. There are some futuristic haircuts and revealing leather, which feel a little Fifth Element, although none of the models sport the giveaway tangerine mop. A Pantone style selection of blues, a dash of white, a dab of purple and some striking cream hoods make up some of the glorious colours in this show. I can’t help but think the dresses have the feel of another era, and the leather-bound models with their billowing train dresses gives me an aftertaste of steam-punk.

Gyunel AW 2013 by Hannah Smith
Gyunel A/W 2013 by Hannah Smith

My street-side wedding-dress encounter must have been an omen as there’s a traditional, white, flowing matrimony dress in the collection too. This virginal piece is a strong contrast to the sexuality exuded by some of the other frocks, and some of the models are, what my boyfriend would (with a mischievous grin) call, ‘smuggling peanuts’.

Gyunel LFW AW 2013
Gyunel LFW AW 2013

The series of white hoods are unexpected and add an aura of mystique to the show. The make-up, provided by AOFM graduates gives the models dramatic, white, metallic eyes; right up to the brow, making them seem simultaneously as though they could be from Narnia and outer space.

Gyunel‘s collection is a well-used deployment of contrasts; leather mixed with chiffon makes for an interesting look, as does the presence of ready-to-wear garments alongside couture. With the strong underlying blue tones and a generous show of skin, the models remind me of Jason’s sirens effortlessly luring men to sea. Perhaps this influence is something I’ve imagined though, as sea salt hairspray is one of the goodie-bag freebies I managed to nab from an earlier show.

Gyunel LFW AW 2013

Gyunel LFW AW 2013

Gyunel LFW AW 2013

You can tell almost everything you need to know about someone from their walk. There is a world of difference between a prance and a skip, a mooch and a stride. I prefer those who amble, and I do a good mosey myself. Models tend to strut, but these catwalk beauties have a stride of their own; they glide. Combined with the make-up and the clothes, the effect is otherworldly. The braids that hold the hair back from their faces adds to the effect and has a trace of Princess Leia making the whole effect, not just of the clothes, but of the entire experience, pretty impressive. Whether it’s the surroundings or the dresses, I feel like I’m in a different universe for the duration of Gyunel’s fresh, varied and fantabulous show at The Savoy.

Gyunel A/W LFW 2013 By Maya Beus
Gyunel A/W 2013 by Maya Beus

Categories ,A/W 2013, ,AOFM, ,chandeliers, ,couture, ,Demi-Couture, ,Dress, ,Erin O’ Connor, ,Feathers, ,Futuristic, ,Gyunel, ,Hannah Smith, ,Jessica Cook, ,Jodie Kidd, ,lfw, ,London Fashion Week, ,Luxury, ,May van Millingen, ,Maya Beus, ,The Savoy, ,Wedding

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Amelia’s Magazine | Hellen Van Rees: London Fashion Week A/W 2013 Catwalk Preview Interview

Hellen Van Rees
Helen Van Rees A/W 2013 by Claire Kearns

Up-and-coming Dutch fashion and textile designer Hellen van Rees is presenting her independent collection SQUARE3 ANGLE: THE TRANSFORMATION at London Fashion Week A/W 2013 this weekend. Hellen graduated from the MA in Fashion at Central Saint Martins’ back in February 2012 and then packed her suitcase and moved to the Netherlands to start her own fashion label. Her first collection at LFW was pegged as a ‘One to Watch’ by Fashion Scout and Lady Gaga has since been spotted donning her clobber. She’s known for her hand-made tweed fabrics which are created using factory remnants and recycled threads, and her work has 3-dimensional, sculpture-like elements, as well as a futuristic feel. Complete with a brand-spanking new video to promote her new Chanel-inspired collection, it’s likely that her pieces will receive a lot of interest in the coming weeks.

London Fashion Week
Helen Van Rees A/W 2013 by RoshniBA

Hellen Van Rees is still exploring the ideas from her graduate collection which she developed on in her last show Square2: Exploring Excitement. Although you might expect a sprinkling of déjà vu, this collection puts a tangy new twist on her hallmark tweeds. I spoke to Hellen about her shiny new collection and her plans for the future in advance of her (second) London Fashion Week show.

Video collaboration between Hellen van Rees and Evelien Gerrits of EveMedia

What can we expect from your upcoming collection at LFW A/W’13?
Lots of tweed and colours, contrasting black & white rubber and beautiful quality wool and silk; all arty but wearable.

You released a promo video for your show, how did this project come about?
I was trying to think of a way, other than a catwalk show, to present the new collection; to show the collection moving and in a nice atmosphere so the complete image comes across, as well as the details. This seemed like an exciting way to achieve that.

London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week

Hellen Van Rees

London Fashion Week

Photography by Kim Buckard

You started your own label in February 2012, what are your greatest achievements of the last year?
The fact that I was able to show my very first independent collection during London and Paris fashion week; and that I am able to do so again.

Do you have a favourite piece in this show?
I like the pieces with the new multi-coloured tweed a lot: the long dress with shiny black sleeves especially. It’s got strange contrasts but is also very elegant and wearable as well.

Do you wear your own pieces?
Not when I work (because it can get messy!) but for presentations, interviews and special occasions, yes.

Hellen Van Rees
Helen Van Rees A/W 2013 by Victoria Haynes

You’re also exhibiting at Paris Fashion Week; do you think the reactions to your show will differ between London and Paris?
I think it will because it attracts a different crowd. London has lots of bloggers and people who are generally interested in fashion that want to absorb new things, so it’s a very excitable crowd. Paris is more serious business, people there are generally looking for something more specific.

You studied the MA in Fashion at Central Saint Martins; did this prepare you for setting up your own label?
CSM was very good for me, to bring out my strong points and help me develop a clear direction within my designs. It doesn’t really prepare you for the whole business side of how it works, for example, how to sell your clothes, but I’m finding out along the way, which is fine.

Hellen Van Reees

London Fashion Week

Hellen Van Rees

Photography by Kim Buckard

You were chosen to be part of Ones to Watch as part of Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s prestigious platform for new design talent; do you think this has helped you?
Yes it has! It has made it possible for me to show my work in a professional way to large number of professionals and I’ve been supported with advice as well. They’ve done all this again for this season, which is great!

Hellen van Rees LFW
Helen Van Rees A/W 2013 by Maya Beus

You’re known for your use of tweed and sustainable materials: is this something you’ve always been interested in?
Sustainability is very important to me because I think it makes sense. I make high-end handmade garments; it makes sense that not only the outside is nice looking, but also that the story behind it is strong. The tweed and the weaving method is something I developed about a year and a half ago, but I keep getting new ideas for it so I’ll keep going with it for a while.

3D shapes are a big part of your work, where do you get your inspiration?
Contemporary art installations mostly, like the cube installations by Rachel Whiteread.

London Fashion Week
Helen Van Rees A/W 2013 by BlackEyed Jack

What is the process behind each of your collections?
I continue with the previous collection, reinterpret it, change colours, look at art and pictures, make fabrics and then make garments. I don’t really sketch; I just start making one thing and from it comes another new idea. Halfway through I do a fitting see what I have and what’s missing. I make more, and in the end there’s suddenly a collection

LFW aside, is there anything else in the year ahead that you’re really looking forward to?
Yes! I’m doing a TED talk in March at TEDx Zwolle.

London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week

Hellen Van Rees

Hellen Van Rees’ collection can be seen in the Fashion Scout London & Paris Showroom. London 15.02 -19.02 & Freemasons Hall, 60 Great Queen Street. Paris 28.02 – 05.03, 23 Rue du Roi de Sicile, Paris. You can buy her pieces at her store here

Categories ,3D, ,A/W’13, ,BlackEyed Jack, ,Central Saint Martins, ,Claire Kearns, ,collection, ,CSM, ,designer, ,Eve Media, ,Futuristic, ,Hellen van Rees, ,interview, ,Jessica Cook, ,Kim Buckard, ,lfw, ,London Fashion Week, ,Maya Beus, ,Ones To Watch, ,OwlandAccordion, ,Paris Fashion Week, ,recycled, ,RoshniBA, ,sculpture, ,Square2: Exploring Excitement, ,SQUARE3 ANGLE: THE TRANSFORMATION, ,sustainable, ,TED, ,Tweed, ,University of Arts London, ,vauxhall, ,Victoria Haynes

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Amelia’s Magazine | Fashion Film: Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel

Diana Vreeland by Maya Beus

‘When we think about an iconic person, an editor; we always say Diana Vreeland’. A pretty bold opening statement launches this fashion film, but by the end it’s impossible not to agree.

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel is the latest in a series of fashumentaries that I’m obsessed with (I’m pretty sure I haven’t coined fashumentaries myself, but it’s the best I could come up with at 11pm last night) . Halston’s Ultrasuede, Valentino’s The Last Emperor; a rare glimpse into the fantasy world of fashion through the stories of those who lived it.

This particular film documents the life and times of Diana Vreeland, from her first glimpses of fashion growing up during La Belle Epoque to her revolutionary efforts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. The movie is fused together with transcripts of conversations between Vreeland and George Plimpton, her biographer, retold by actors who’ve captured Vreeland’s dulcet vocals perfectly.

Diana Vreeland

Vreeland states that her greatest asset was ‘arranging to be born in Paris’. Legendaries like Diaghilev popped in for tea and Vreeland spent summers in the Rocky Mountains with Buffalo Bill. At times you wonder if she’s making it up. Peppered amongst archive footage of various world-changing events are Vreeland’s rare on-tape interviews with a number of American interviewers. Her wide-eyed responses are captivating, as is her innate and often wicked sense of humour in a language that isn’t her first. ‘Diana, where you always pleased with the way you looked?’ asks one. ‘Good God, NO!’ she recalls in horror, ‘You can’t go around like a smug mademoiselle from about seven years up, mmm mmm’. Vreeland explicitly states that she was never comfortable with her looks until she met Reed Vreeland, a New York banker. It was ‘love at first sight’, she tells us, whilst later admitting that even afer 46 years, she still felt shy around him. ‘Don’t all women feel shy around men?’ she asks, coyly.

Harper’s Bazaar 1965 by Shy Illustrations

A difficult childhood provided the impetus to climb the fashion ladder. The ‘ugly duckling’ of the family, she describes her mother as a ‘wild woman’ and her father as ‘an Englishman – there was little visible emotion.’ Her first passion was, in fact, dancing, but it was to be her ‘roaring twenties’ and an acute, unashamed desire for popularity that would build the character we’re familiar with.

‘The best thing about London is… Paris!’ Diana declares as we’re thrusted into her teenage years. Here we enjoy archive clips of classic Chanel collections and clips of those notorious stairs. But it was a lingerie shop in London that would decide her fate. After a fitting with Wallace Simpson, she later discovered that the homewreckin’ harlot was off for a dirty weekend with the current King Edward VIII at the beginning of their love affair. In essence, it was Vreeland’s lingerie shop that ‘brought down the monarchy’.

These dramatic events provide a basis for the film’s synopsis. From Lindbergh flying over her and her son on his maiden voyage across the Atlantic, to Vreeland’s shocking publication a bikini fashion story, the first to do so; to discovering Lauren Bacall, putting her on the cover and introducing her to Hollywood and the world.

1970s Harper’s Bazaar by Amyisla McCombie

One evening Vreeland met Carmel Snow, then editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, at a dance. Snow approached Vreeland to compliment her on her dress – ‘Chanel, of COURSE’. The two struck up a friendship and Snow demanded she joined the Harper’s team. A simple invitation – ‘Why don’t you work for Harper’s?’ turned into the infamous ‘Why Don’t You‘ column. So here’s Vreeland, in an age of austerity not dissimilar to the slump we’re currently in, advocating that you wash your daughter’s hair in Champagne to keep it golden, or ‘Why Don’t You… wear violet velvet mittens, with EVERYTHING?’ It was an absurd, frivolous column but one that captivated readers and provided fantasy and escapism – key commitments that would be the themes Diana stuck to for the rest of her illustrious career.

Twiggy by Simon Myers

The film is flooded with the key events that punctuated Vreeland’s career at Harper’s, particuarly her obsession with British street culture and the Swinging Sixties. Speaking about Twiggy, she exclaims, ‘such a face, such a girl, such a WOW!’ The Beatles fueled Diana’s love for contemporary music, and when British Vogue dismissed a photograph offered by David Bailey of Mick Jagger for being a ‘nobody’, it was Diana who published it in Harper’s. ‘Those LIPS!’ she squeals. Vreeland had a reputation for highlighting unusual features and celebrating beauty in an alternative way – she shot Barbra Streisand in profile; focussed on long legs and necks; made the gaps in models’ teeth into a feature rather than something to be hidden away.

Vox pops come from the great and good of fashion – designers such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Oscar de la Renta, Hubert de Givenchy and Calvin Klein; photographers Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Lillian Bassman, magazine publishing mogul John Fairchild; models China Machado, Penelope Tree and Lauren Hutton and one of my favourite actresses, Anjelica Huston. They all talk of the innate skill and awareness that nobody, in fashion at that time, rivalled. A fashion story might be shot six times, and even when Vreeland declared she adored a set of pictures, she might still reshoot for some frustrating reason – ‘no languor in the lips’. ‘I wanted to strangle her,’ declares Penelope Tree.

Towards the end, the film explores the sadness of Vreeland’s dismissal from Vogue before bouncing back with her work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s Costume Institute. Vreeland ‘got the people through the door’ with blockbuster fashion showcases of Balenciaga, Russian costume and Yves Saint Laurent, paving the way for fashion exhibitions as we know them.

Diana Vreeland by Maya Beus

This is a beautifully made film with archive clips that will have fashion fans squealing, alongside humour, wit and poignancy. It’s a fitting tribute to a fashion legend.

To celebrate the launch of Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travelon DVD, we’ve got 5 posters signed by Diana’s director granddaughter, Lisa Immordino Vreeland to give away – head over to our Facebook page for more details!

Categories ,chanel, ,David Bailey, ,Diana Vreeland, ,DVD, ,fashion, ,film, ,Harper’s Bazaar, ,Matt Bramford, ,Maya Beus, ,new york, ,paris, ,review, ,Shy Illustrations, ,Simon Myers, ,The Eye Has to Travel

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