Thursday, May 31, 2012


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large
Fashion dynamite: Alexa and Carven's Guillaume Henry (image from
Ask any journalist and they will tell you about the stories that got away. I'm not talking about the missed scoop (there are those too); I refer to the stories that get commissioned and written, and then for whatever reason - be it bad timing, more urgent news coming up, advertiser commitments or a combination of all three - they get repeatedly put on hold until they become out of date.  In others words: spiked.

Any passionate journalist with a bee in their bonnet about a story likes to get that story written, out the door and in print asap. Time is of the essence, so I have been getting increasingly teeth-grindy about a very timely piece I wrote for Grazia in February about the resurgence of the Parisian label Carven, with personal insights on the label's rightness-for-now by its self-confessed Number One Fan, a certain Miss Alexa Chung.

Mr Carven a.k.a Guillaume Henry (image from
To my mind Carven's designer Guillaume Henry is a significant talent, and his work for the house is so on-the-button for fashion now because it is playfully cute as well as elegant and modern. The way he throws his looks together is pure fashion magic; and we can lay the trend for bejewelled collars, pinafore dresses and flatforms squarely at the door of his Parisian atelier.  It's little wonder he has been the bestselling label of the season across retailers including Net-a-Porter, and Matches.

The story has been with the magazine for three months and has been scheduled numerous times, only for a more of-the-week story to usurp it at the last minute.  I'm sanguine about it all of course, because I have my beloved blog through which to share it with you. 

Alexa in Carven SS12 (image from
Following is the story exactly as written for Grazia; you'll see the way I write on here, and the way I write for Grazia are markedly different. House style shifts dramatically from publication to publication, and Grazia's tone is very specifically upbeat, informative and fun. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did to write it.  Interspersed through the copy are Carven's best-sellers of this season. And FYI, retailers love carven right now. Harrods' Head of Womenswear, Helen David told me

'Since the arrival of Carven at Harrods earlier this year, the brand has been phenomenally popular with our customers. Several pieces from the SS12 collection sold out within hours of being received, so we have reordered almost every style a few times over.  Carven has been so successful in-store and online as the collections are versatile, intricately crafted yet without the designer price tag, thus appealing to a very wide audience.’

By Melanie Rickey

You’ve got to know a label is seriously happening when two of the world’s most influential fashion women are not only wearing it, but telling everyone how much they love it. Step forward Carven, and its designer Guillaume Henry; or as he tells us Brit girls, “just call me Guy.”

When Net-a-Porter founder and its chief fashionista Natalie Massenet first clapped eyes on the brand three years ago, it had zero stockists and the business consisted of three people in a dusty room in Paris looking for a break into fashion. This fact did not deter her from buying the collection immediately, and pronouncing that 32-year-old Henry had “the talent of a young Yves Saint Laurent.”

Cropped tweed jacket £550
For Alexa Chung, arguably the chicest 20-something on the planet, her Eureka moment came, typically, on a fashion shoot. “I was on a shoot for L'officiel magazine and the stylist had brought some detachable collars for me to use,” she told me. “The story was a 60s theme and not all the dresses were right so I ended up using the collars on everything. It was super weird because that item was exactly what I wanted at the time. I was thinking of making them myself before I saw his more perfect version, now Carven is my dream label.”

Now you’re probably thinking, “why have I never heard of Carven?” The reason is, of course, its relative newness to the 21st Century marketplace. In its present form it is three years old, still a baby, and only known by fashion insiders. A fact that is about to change this spring, as it hits its 500th stockist with a hit Spring collection chock full of pieces from zig-zag fit-and-flare dresses, cute poufy skirts, and neat little jackets creating waiting lists all over the world.
Mountain shorts £550 at Matches

Fashion buffs will know, however, that Carven has history. The diminutive 5 foot 1” tall Madame Carven inaugurated her Haute Couture house in Paris in 1945, and her elegant fashion was designed expressly with the petite chic of Paris in mind.

Over the years the label ground to a halt, until all that remained was the house perfume, Ma Griffe. When Guillaume Henry was hired to the job in 2009, he had literally nothing to take inspiration from expect the little trademark Peter Pan collars and cuffs Madame Carven and now Alexa Chung and her fashion fans love to wear.

So what is going right with Carven? Guillaume Henry is what. This young designer who trained at both high fashion house Givenchy and everyday fashion label Paule Ka has truly got the knack of understanding how to walk the line between creating clothes that look like fashion, yet you can wear them all the time for any occasion.

As worn above by Alexa... Lace dress £590 at Net-a-Porter
Just ask Alexa, who says she wears Carven “24/7”. In fact I’ve never heard her speak more passionately about a fashion label. “Carven really is my dream label. I love how they layer things, how they make ugly cropped sweaters in strange prints, how everything is new but classic. I adore their shoes, I live in their coats and I'm always very very excited to see what he does next.”

The feeling is mutual of course. “I LOVE her. She’s fantastic and super inspiring. I saw her the first time and you see her body and then you hear her husky voice. I love contrasts. I love that is chic and tough, and doesn’t do that whole “sexy girl” thing.“

“The thing with Monsieur Henry,” continues Alexa, “is he knows what modern women want. His clothes are practical but beautifully crafted and quirky enough that you feel amazing wearing them and as though you look interesting.”
Cute jacquard dress £575 at Harrods
Another thing: they are not outrageously expensive. Carven fits into the “contemporary” fashion category between high street and high fashion.

So what is Guillaume Henry’s secret? I ask him what he thinks it is. “Well, for me Carven is about freshness, spontaneity, smiling elegance. You know, some designers create and imagine a woman, a customer, and that’s great – but it’s not for me. I design for my mother, my friends; someone going to work, with children, going out at night – women I know.”

“I am always asking myself: who is the girl? Where is she living, how is she working? What’s her face? What kind of life does she have? At the end of the day, I want my products to have their own life. I love it when I hear about different people wearing the same pieces. Recently, with the same dress, we dressed Rihanna and Isabelle Huppert. They’re so different. Once I had a call from a friend and she was at the supermarket and she was wearing a cropped jacket and she told me there was a lady near her who was about 60 and she was wearing the same jacket. It’s fantastic!”
Pink contrast skirt £304 at Matches

I can’t help but agree. If you look at the Carven pieces available on net-a-porter and, you can see exactly what Guillaume Henry is trying to do. It is cute pieces – a flecky knit with a peter pan collar, a sweet peplum T-shirt, a shrunken yellow blazer - that have the touch of high fashion and a touch of the everyday; and they’re just a bit geeky too which means they can go in the direction the wearer takes them.
We can’t help agree just a little bit she Alexa says of our new best friend Guy Henry, “I hate him....because he's perfect.” We dare you not to fall in love with his clothes.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

When you hear about BRIC countries there are one of two things that cross the mind: 1) what is a BRIC country? 2) Lucky b'stards.  If question one flashed through your mind, here is the full explanation. To precis, BRIC stands for Brazil, Russia, India and China, and by 2027 these four developing and emerging economies are predicted to have overtaken British, American and our fellow developed G7 nations.

If you want to experience a boom economy - remember what that feels like? - then brush up your Portuguese/Russian/Cantonese/Mandarin or Hindi and get the hell out of here to the happy land of a BRIC.  In BRIC countries fashion is a high priority. As developing nations accelerate into the global fast-lane so their inhabitants appetite for and output of luxury goods and fashion shoots right up. This is what makes them so interesting (and fabulous) to me.

In fact, from my vantage point in London I've become increasingly intrigued to discover what fashionistas in the BRIC economies are up to.  So it showed great smarts for one of my favourite fashion shopping websites,, to organise Ola Brazil, which puts together nine leading fashion designers from its fashion capital Sao Paulo and brings them to our attention. Ola Brazil launches on the site tomorrow.

With many of the high fashion websites starting to feel a bit homogenous at times, I like how FarFetch continues to take risks in its quest to innovate on sourcing hard-to-access product and give it a global platform.  Much as I would like to be flitting around the boutiques of Sao Paulo making local discoveries, it will not be happening in the near future, so this is the next best thing.

In the press release FarFetch talk about their highlighted designers being "emerging"; this is not strictly true. The majority are fairly well established locally in Brazil, but there is an experimental edge to their clothes that feels refreshing and young. Where they are emerging is here in Britain and across Europe and the USA, and to me that is something worth talking about.   One of the designers Reinaldo Lourenco has been going since the 1980s and it is his prodigy son Pedro Lourenco who can officially be monikered as "emerging".  Pedro has been showing in Paris since the tender age of 19 and is still only 22. Still, that's just me being picky.

The exuberance, colour, texture or should I just say just pure Brazilian-ness of the pieces FarFetch have chosen fits exactly with the summery mood ushered in by the glorious heatwave we have been experiencing this last week. It makes me think dressing in bikini bottoms and a cropped red lace top is perfectly acceptable. It also reinforces my belief (well, that and all the swimwear shows going on this week at Rio Fashion Week) that Brazil harbours the best swimwear designers in all the world.

So, may I introduce you to Lino Villaventura, Reinaldo Lourenco, Juliana Jabour, Copa Club and Brigitte. I hope this is a success so that FarFetch may be inspired to dig a little deeper next time; and hopefully they will have some emerging designers from India, China and Russia coming soon.

Brown and green dress by Lino Villaventura £554
Red lace top by Lino Villaventura: £242
Printed blouse by Reinaldo Lourenco: £761
Jumpsuit by Juliana Jabour £364

"Maya"swimsuit by Brigitte £135
Snakeskin swimsuit by Copa Club: £167

OLA BRAZIL! Launch date: 31st May 2012 at

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

The Queen at her coronation by Cecil Beaton (image from the V&A)
If by any chance you hadn't noticed, this weekend Britain will be in party mood to celebrate the Queen's sixty years on the throne. The streets are already bedecked with union jack flags and shops crammed with cupcake cases and celebratory tablecloths. We're loving the ways our fashion friends are getting in on the action with limited edition t-shirts and special exhibitions. So today we thought we'd bring you news of our three favourite royal related projects to get you even more excited about the weekend's festivities...


Feeling a bit jealous about the major lack of precious jewels and tiaras in your possession?  ASOS are coming to the rescue with some very fun crowns designed by House of Holland, Preen, Julie Verhoeven and Danielle Scutt. The perfect headgear for street parties, fetes or river pageant watching over the Jubilee weekend. And ASOS want us all to get involved. You can download your preferred style here and then email the most imaginative portrait of yourself possible to or tweet it with the hashtag #irule. ASOS will show the world the best pictures they get. Eat your heart out, your Majesty...

Me (looking a little sun drowsy) in my Preen crown

If anyone was going to go Jubilee mad, it had to be Harrods didn't it?  There's hardly a department left untouched by the occasion. True to form, everything has been done in a very tasteful yet properly patriotic way. The store kicked off their festivities by gathering the entire staff- thousands of them- to sing the national anthem and wave flags as they were showered in confetti as the store opened one morning back in the middle of May.

As well as the constant national anthem playing which will dominate this weekend, Harrods have a very special ball gowns display which is running in conjunction with the V&A's Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950 exhibition. A huge window is taken up with the gowns by designers including Erdem, Alessandra Rich and Valentino- all very stunning. Looking into the display conjures visions of debutante balls and state banquets.

In similarly regal fashion, Harrods have also commissioned a collection of 32 crowns from a huge variety of brands such as Jo Malone, Prada and Faberge- definitely one for every taste. The crowns and ball gowns are available to buy in very limited quantities I hear. Should you be interested, Harrods' personal shopping people are the ones to contact.

Lanvin's jubilee crown

And Valentino's... This is almost nicer than the Imperial crown itself, dare I say it. 
The fashion projects have linked up with the patisserie where William Curley has made special 'couture cakes' to complement gowns from the V&A's exhibition. They look far too good to eat, don't they?

And if you were wondering about the party bit of the occasion, then Harrods asked their Pinterest followers to make pin boards depicting the perfect Jubilee tea party. The winner, Fay Martin, now has her own window bringing the pin board she compiled to life... I think what I'm trying to say is that if you're not feeling the Jubilee happy vibes then you need to get yourself to Harrods pronto.


The Sovereign's sceptre and the Imperial Stae Crown which have the largest cuts from the Cullinan diamond (image from
If you thought it couldn't get much grander than ball gowns and designers crowns then you obviously haven't heard about the mega diamond display which Buckingham Palace is putting on this Summer. I love that any jubilee comedowns can be cured come 30th June when a lots of the Queen's personal collection of jewels will go on show. One of the highlights is set to be seven pieces all cut from the same diamond- the Cullinan. It's the biggest ever found and was so huge that at first it was cast aside as nobody believed it could possibly be a real gem- we're talking major rock age here people. There are 9 pieces in the world made from the the Cullinan and the 7 on show will mean the biggest reunion to date. I still can't get Elizabeth Taylor's collection out of my mind but I have a funny feeling the palace's diamond exhibition could become my next obsession.

The Queen wearing the Imperial State crown early in her reign (image from

Monday, May 28, 2012


Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

After some highly scientific research i.e looking around, the FashEd and I have decided that British girls fall into two camps when it comes to dressing for a heatwave: there's the denim cut-off and vest camp and there's the summer dress camp. The denim short is predictable and a complete fall back option, akin to having the same sandwich for lunch every day. That's why my heart lies with the cotton summer dress- I spent my weekend wearing various versions of something light and airy, pretty and below the knee. Those are my own rules of buying a summer dress- I'm sure you'll all have your own. If it makes me look like I might be in the French countryside circa 1955 then I want it. The ultimate version is Prada's Le Voyager. Prada describe this year's collection as "folk-geometric fantasies partnered with a selection of post-card prints inspired by cities such as Milan, Venice, Paris and London". If you have £505 burning a whole in your pocket, then get thineself to a Prada boutique right now...

If not, then here are our five picks of ones to get now, plus one special extra:

Vanessa Bruno at My-Wardrobe

£270 from My Wardrobe

Peekaboo Vintage at ASOS Marketplace

If you're after a bargain, then vintage, charity shops and car boots are your friend.

£55 from Peekaboo on ASOS Marketplace
We Are Hairy People at ASOS Marketplace

My Favourite!

£65 at ASOS Marketplace


Pretty florals... £40 


Funnily enough, Topshop also have some very similar to this brand-new, limited edition one in their vintage section at Oxford Circus. It's packed full of summer frocks- admittedly they're more expensive than scouring vintage stores yourself but if you're willing to pay the premium to have the searching done for you, this is where to head.

£95 from Topshop

Finally, if you can't find your perfect summer dress then why not get one made up exactly to your specifications? The Depanneur Royale girls I found on Etsy will put together a dress made to fit your measurements. You can choose the fabric and tweak the style, all for just over £50. I love this idea, the only downside being it takes three weeks to come, the current heat wave may be over by then but you'll be well prepped for the next...

Here's one they made earlier...

Made to measure tea dresses from Depanneur Royale


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

OK, its hot and its payday week. What better reason do you need than to go buy some amazing summer fashion? I've got a reason: sample sales. The five best possible sample sales EVER in my humble opinion are on this week in London.

UPDATE:... TODAY 10am-7pm....Zadig and Voltaire at 182 Westbourne Grove, W11 2RH

Here they are:
ALEXANDER MCQUEEN: Tues 29th May (12-9pm), 30th May (10am- 9pm), 31st May (10am-9pm) and 1st June (10am-8pm) at TheWestminster Rooms, The Old Sessions House, 22 Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0NA


CHRISTOPHER KANE: 31st May at The Mercer Street Studios, WC2E 9QE with prices starting at £5. 

ERDEM: Tues 29 May (9am-8pm) & Wed 30th May (9am-6pm) at Future Gallery, Covent Garden. AW11 & previous seasons + accessories

J.W ANDERSON: June 1, 5-9pm, 73-75 Shacklewell Lane, Studio A007, E8. Cash only.

Oh and one for luck: 
Tues 29th May (10am-9pm) and Weds 30th May (10am-8pm) at The Music Rooms 29, South Molton Lane- Alaia, Lanvin, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Celine and more at 80% off!!!! 

Friday, May 25, 2012


Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

The sun has got his hat on AND it's Friday, hurray! Before we all decamp to the park/ pub here's your lowdown of everything that happened in fashion this week...

We'd have loved to give Prada's new video it's very own blog post, but alas there are only so many hours in the day so it takes pride of place at the top of the week's stories. In fashion terms, Cannes is liable to become a bit of a red carpet overdose. So Roman Polanski's short film for Prada, released as part of the festival celebrations, is a refreshing take on how fashion and film can produce properly exciting projects. We love Helena Bonham Carter's self-obsessed character and the power which her luxurious clothes the pearls, the silk blouse, THE FUR- have on Ben Kingsley as her therapist. Here's an extract from Stefano Francia di Celle's reading of the film...

"The fur represents the agreement that supports the relationship between the director and the fashion designer. Polanski is able to display a world which seems more authentic than the real one, thus interpreting and criticizing contemporary society. Prada creates original and non predefined roles for her work and produces a new language that filters into the recesses of traditional culture and leverages the potential of the new media. She is not afraid to produce what could be interpreted as a parody of the celebration of luxury, stigmatizing the world’s elite, the main target of her products"

Watch the video below to see intelligent fashion at its best...

We're not going to reproduce a million images of Diane Kruger and the like at Cannes- you can easily find that elsewhere. Instead I've picked out three girls who are rocking an off kilter look which definitely gets them noticed among the sea of perfect hairdos and flouncy gowns. 

Cassie is pretty convention until you see her half shaven head and mermaid waves. 

Lace isn't hard to spot in pics from Cannes, such blatant underwear showing off  IS Fiona Scarry

Olga Sorkina works a scary face painting (all images from
Back in Blighty, the country's creative community gathered on Wednesday night for the
Royal Academy's contribution to the Jubilee festivities with their party to celebrate Her Majesty's 60 years on the throne. The event was so star studded that the 24 Dames in attendance had their very own check-in desk. Some of our biggest fashion names including Giles Deacon, Vivienne Westwood, Erdem and Christopher Kane brought along their muses to show off their designs to the Queen. Hockney, who recently had a hit exhibition at the RA produced a drawing for the programme which each guest received. And finally, is it just me, or does Nancy Shevell, wife of Sir Paul McCartney, look like she may be wearing that Issa dress Duchess Kate wore to announce her engagement?

Hockney's drawing which was given to all the guests (from
Ozwald Boateng and John Hurt looking mega dapper (from

Giles with Jessica Gough (image from

Her Majesty, in very on trend silver, chats to Sir Paul, in trainers, and Nancy, in her very K-Mid dress.

BREAKING: Super fabulous fashion blogger Bryanboy is to become a judge on America's Next Top Model. A match made in fashion heaven- Congratulations Bryanboy!
If there's ANYONE who can strike a pose, it has to be Bryanboy (image from

Thought there wasn't any particular reason that you should visit the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts? Ever heard of it even? Well, there is now an extremely good reason to visit after Iris Apfel, couture collector and official 'rare bird of fashion', donated 900 pieces from her fashion archives to their collection. Among the items Apfel explained why she chose the Peasbody to receive her gift, "I think they’re quite cutting edge. This museum is much more cross-cultural than others I’ve worked with and mixes it up a bit". Among the items now added to that mix are 19th century couture pieces and McQueen creations. Oh, to be the lucky curator who'll get to work amongst it all!
Iris Apfel with Alexis Bittar (image from
Topshop is just keep exciting collabs coming... We've already been spoilt with Mary Katrantzou, Maarten van der Horst and Richard Nicholl this year and it was announced yesterday that Louise Gray is next up. She will create some simple shaped pieces which reflect her fun, creative and colourful aesthetic as well as make-up- a no brainer really as bold beauty looks are always a key aspect of a Louise Gray show. Louise Gray for Topshop will be available at the end of August- just in time to give us something to smile about in the run up to Winter. Oh, and if there's any room to get in some of Louise's amazing boots then that would be appreciated please, thank you very much Topshop!

Louise Gray AW12 (from

Recommended read: The first students to take Parson's M.F.A qualification are reaching the end of their course. This article from the NY Times looks at the graduates and examines what's in store for them all. There'll be a show at New York Fashion Week where the designers will be able to showcase their work to international press and buyers. It's a great insight into finding the balance between commericality and creativity, as well as  how the school positions itself next to Central Saint Martins. 
Work by Elisa Van Joolen, Talia Shuvalov and Carly Ellis- some of the designers who showed their graduate collections  at an exhibition last week (image from
Agyness Deyn, who is looking particularly amazing of late in my opinion, has added another string to her modelling/ acting bow with a line of clothing for Dr Martens. The pieces are inspired by 90s couples and the grungy look she's famous for. "I love the style of some of the Nineties' most famous couples, like Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder and Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis. I love that grungy look, that freeness and real vintage vibe" she told Vogue. While some may say that Agyness must have had help from her good friend Henry Holland, she claims that she actually "forgot to tell him". 
Agyness Deyn models her collection for Dr Martens (image from
We're used to editorials pushing the boundaries and this week's big nudge came from Steven Klein and Patti Wilson for Candy magazine who depicted a (we think fake) pregnant male model in bondage gear and holding a gun. Just too much to compute all at once? Genius? A bit of both? What do you think?

Chris Fawcett tied up and up the duff for Candy (image from

Getting the gun out (image from
It's sample sale time... Two of the biggies are Erdem and J.W Anderson. Both happening next week...

J.W ANDERSON: June 1, 5-9pm, 73-75 Shacklewell Lane, Studio A007, E8. Cash only.

ERDEM: Tues 29 May (9am-8pm) & Wed 30th May (9am-6pm) at Future Gallery, Covent Garden. AW11 & previous seasons + accessories

And find deets for Jospeh, McQueen, Christopher Kane and more here from Elle

And video of the week goes to Hot Chip for two reasons. 1- Lara Stone's in it (that's the fashion bit) 2- it's directed by Peter Serafinowicz, the genius behind some of my favourite comedy sketches ever, including the Butterfield Diet

Now go forth and enjoy the sun in the knowledge you're well and truly clued up on what's happening in fashion.