Bright Spark!

Stepping backstage into this fantasy world, Charlotte Tomaszewska’s hair alone conjures up a world sprinkled with Louise Gray’s unique brand of fashion fairy dust. Since featuring Louise in my second book The Goddess Experience here’s a secret I feel you should know about: just say the words “Louise Gray”, “colour” and “that hair” in succession to me and I’ll suddenly explode into excited conversation about her brilliance. Lucky for all concerned then that I’m actually going to let my camera give you this wonderful colour account so you can look at the shots and decide to have minimal interference from me.

First look at the hair…. the idea was created well before the show by Louise Gray and Luke Hersheson. Louise felt a spark coming when she pictured this “a girl who’s been out all night, had a great time and has the mused up hair to prove it!” Standing close to Louise right here as she assesses her creation on Charlotte Tomaszewska I realise that her brain is constantly sparking, surging creative bright ideas.

She whips across to her Mac to continue to refine what she’s created. Many of the prints have come purely from her own imagination.

Oh and I had to show you this. Look at her keyboard my friends. Aren’t the colours unbelievable? Lemme tell you, she’s TOO cool. Yeah, yeah. I know. You want pictures, pix, photos, photographs, digital image, jpeg…of THE FASHION so here you are….

Can you see how her mind works? Like some colour alchemist’s print laboratory, her clever use of colour is woven and printed onto everything from cotton, silk and wool to delicate chiffon. And even the backs of some dresses are strewn with a money print Louise created herself.

By the way, do you think this fluttery panelled dress is going to be a hit in fashion editorials and celebrity shots in Grazia next spring? Because I do. I think Louise has hit on a very cool idea for making a playful idea wearable. A dress that if taken apart carefully could visually be a top and a skirt. It’s the way in which she crams one piece with so much print and playful illusion that makes one piece so sophisticated and covetable.

Her playfulness continues with colourful accessories.

This ring is fun but it was the trench, covered in PVC panels worn with it which drove me nuts with wantyness.

Here’s a closer look. And yes the Chan “Gray-nel” handbags created in Louise’s studio, with panels of graphic printed leather, pimped with chiffon wound delicately around the edges, and strung through long trailing chains are covetable too.

The fist glimpse of these bright flats made me want to plunge right into the heart of next summer. In my humble opinion bright flats will be everywhere; Converse, low sneakers or half espadrille, half platform like these flatforms, a collaboration with Nicholas Kirkwood for Pollini which continues to work well for Louise Gray are already tipped to trend. The name of Gray’s collection was “Trust me” and I do… EVERYONE will be wearing these next summer.

I love the purple in this pair particularly. Looking at shoes through a camera truly fascinates me. Each pair of these has it’s own SLIGHT colour nuance. I want to do my next fashion week in these on A BIKE. I think of these things while backstage. It’s long and there’s so much to see and think about = I love it.

Maybe I’ll add socks. I’ve been slipping colored socks into my high heels since a Céline show last year.

Or maybe not. These flatforms are particularly beautiful worn just with Louise Gray shorts. (Hurry up Summer please.)

The dresses in the collection are intricately printed and embellishment with chiffon woven from scratch blurring the seams. (Notice also the clever use of a printed cotton shirt under this dress to counter-balance transparency).

Louise had something new and exciting to say with her carefully arranged layering of sequins, weaving and hand-stitching – aspects borrowed and further developed from her MA collection.

“I think this work is right for now”, Louise says when asked for an explanation as to why she has created these very wearable yet extremely intricate dresses. Maybe for Spring/Summer2012 she’s referencing a time when the dress – always the dress- becomes queen.

She’s clearly taken the dress in this collection and though about it, for example an above the knee hemline and some transparency are so carefully balanced with a high neckline and a little sleeve.

Up close, whole sections of this dress are constructed from bands of chiffon complexly interwoven by hand and hand-stitched in tiny sections which hints at the technical capability of her work overall. The effect is beautiful.

“To create my own collections”, has always been my dream”, Louise says.

“Having free rein to experiment, push a collection to the limit and try and offer different techniques.”

“A lot of people have been supportive of me and I appreciate it”, she says. She’s cool and calm. “This is how I think/work” she says in her soft Scottish lilt. Throughout the year you’d be forgiven for thinking that fashion operates inside tiny bubbles in studios dotted around East London.

By showtime however backstage these bubbles expand to include some friends and several different highly skilled teams of professionals. (Oh and in this pictorial account there’s that Louise Gray’s money print again in the shot above on the back of a dress. It’s her very own currency).

Despite the high number of bodies tending to Louise Gray’s collection, she remains grounded focusing on the collection as she applies the finishing bits.

She confides that she likes the little shirts. (Just like me then). Except for unlike me, who usually ends up searching for ages for a great fit, she’s had the wonderful idea of cutting them really small and layering them under a dress.

The heavy texture of the shirt balances out the lightness of the chiffon while also playing with a new silhouette. And those rolled up shirt sleeves. What do you think I did the moment I got home?

She also dipped back into her MA collection work to develop intricate patterns by layering sequins.

And the nails here make me extra-happy (I feel like I’ve been standing watching nails for a whole month now. At least I’ve got a hefty post simmering on the back burner for you).

Oh and I mustn’t forget milliner Nasir Mazhar’s hats which looked like crunched-up handworked paper.

Here’s a closer look. Built on headbands they can be easily perched on a head.

Some headpieces were also quite substantial and worked perfectly to balance out light chiffon.

Have I told you how much I love the work in this blue top? And did I mention the candy stripe silk pajama trousers?

This season Louise Gray was awarded a place on the London fashion Week schedule as part of the New Generation, an initiative sponsored by Topshop, which offers support to young designers. Arguably one of the most anticipated shows of the New Gen designers her Spring/Summer 2012, her show was held at the disused Eurostar tunnel. Out front the hall was high, airy and echoey, it made me feel like a hobbit so with the show ready to start I scampered back to more familiar territory backstage.

A wool jacket and shorts. So beautiful, especially with these Nicholas Kirkwood for Pollini shoes!

A trenchcoat draped in a layer of PVC. WOW! Good idea too for British weather.

Easily my favorite piece of knitwear for next season. Look at the gold sequins. Does this say the words “twin-set” to you??? Nuh uh! Right?

There were also clever little ideas like cut-outs in tops to reveal different layers peeping from underneath.

Or a top heavy with embroidery and beading which could easily be slung over a shirt.

Model Charlotte Free knows how to have fun and her mood seems to fit perfectly with her dress here!

I made a mental note of wanting Charlotte Tomaszewska’s hair every time it flashed past me.

And I love this bit backstage just after the show where people rush in to congratulate the designer. It’s one of the most beautiful, most exciting and craziest moments of the show. Everyone has an idea in their head about their favorite pieces, everyone’s getting their mental list ready to share with the designer, everyone that is… but me.

I’d outlined my list earlier (see above) because I instantly forget everything at this stage backstage midst this excitement.

Et voilà, besides being fantastic for next summer, Louise Gray is also doing a really great range with ASOS Oh and her mainline is sold at Harvey Nichols here. Co-incidentally while I was writing this I noticed the cover of Elle UK; these polka dot boots shot by Rankin are a collaboration with Nicholas Kirkwood for Pollini for Louise Gray’s Autumn/Winter 2011 show. YAY!

Here they are on the inside again. (My humblest apologies to both Rankin and @LorraineElle for my quick shot, November Elle wouldn’t behave for me because it’s just TOO BIG!). Right I’m looking forward to a coffee and read now. The scent of a new magazine and the anticipation. It’s one of life’s great little pleasures. Meanwhile you’ll find everything Louise Gray here and on twitter @LOUISEGRAYLONDO

Have a super day! x

It’s cool to be Free

I can’t believe it, Paris already, I can’t believe it…
You hardly notice how the days spill into each other and I’ve been literally zombie-ing about backstage for the past couple of weeks working away with a huge flu. Believe me I would love to just lie down right now, right here as I type this, but I’m in too much of a good mood because this Charlotte Free picture above makes me so happy. It was backstage at Louise Gray’s Spring/Summer 2012 show in London and Charlotte wearing Louise’s colours and textures was even more beautiful than I could’ve imagined. It was a beautiful show, we had fun and then….

Charlotte laughed at how we’d met a year earlier. It all started with her card, propped on top of her rail backstage at Vivienne Westwood’s Red Label show for Autumn/Winter 2011, I shot it because there was a lot of dip dyed pink hair running about backstage among the hair crew last season but none on any of the models. I’ll be honest here, it’s rare to find a model with hair like this – anything special or different makes it more complicated for shoots and shows – but Vivienne Westwood and her model casting agent took a chance and cast Charlotte Free, (unusual hair like this can cost a model jobs).

In Charlotte’s case her pastel pink hair with a shocking pink underlayer got her this job and I was thinking to myself ‘how easy would it be to get Charlotte’s pink hair?’ and so I asked and she explained in her Los Angelean draaawl that it was ‘really pretty simple (if not a little time consuming)’. So how did she get it to work for castings? ‘Photographer David Mushegian sent shots of her to the agency IMG and they signed her. It was her own unique look and designers like it.’ Aaaaaaa I LOVE IT!

And it made me extra happy because as we spoke she was mega fun! Can’t you tell? So BAM! foe me instant girl crush. PLUS she opened the Vivienne Westwood Red Label show for Autumn/Winter 2011 with this hair AND she’s only 5’7″. (Good news for girls who aren’t the standard 5’11”).

This season she was back again to walk Vivienne Westwood’s Red Label Spring/Summer 2012 show, and Malcolm Edwards from the L’Oréal Professionnel team worked her hair again (still her distinctive pink).

With a streak of purple.

Malcolm covered her head this time with clingfilm and denim after smoothing it and clipping it tight to her head.

I rarely sit out front, but I popped out for a bit here to grab a shot of how cute Charlotte looked with her hair scraped right back in Vivienne Westwood Red Label Spring/Summer 2012. The show was one of my favourites this season. It was in Smithfield Market and the venue? Total camera crush.

So yeah, we kind of kept bumping into each other backstage. And I like that she’s a bit punk, loose trousers, boots, and that t-shirt the one that became cult because of these reviews on Amazon. She wears this kind of thing most days. I love taking her picture.

It was super cool that she got cast by Vogue’s fashion bookings editor, Rosie Vogel for the Louise Gray Spring/Summer show because….

Luke Hersheson and his team spent hours wrapping and pinning her hair to get that “I’ve-just-come-home-from -the-best-party look” for the Louise Gray spring/summer 2012 show. It was this style which brought Charlotte’s pink hair to another level.

It took ages for Luke Hersheson and his team to achieve this look conjured up with Louise Gray (I know because I stood mesmerised watching).

And then spent another millenium watching the MAC pro team administer that pink eyeliner swoosh (I’ll post their tricks here shortly).

The results overall were very, very beautiful and unique (rather like Louise Gray’s collection and Charlotte Free). I’ve also just realised looking through some old shots that London designer Louise Gray had dip dyed hair before ANYONE oh and just to add that her Louise Gray’s Spring/Simmer 2012 collection is like a dream. You want to see the whole story from backstage? I’ll post it. In the meantime some peeps have set up a Tumblr account dedicated to her pinkness Charlotte Free here

Well that’s it for now, oh no wait one last thing : there were/are a million parties and things to be going to during fashion month but to be honest I don’t go to (m)any. I have a choice to either stand about sniffling and blanket bomb everything with my camera or just make my own little zombieG way and poke out the unique and cool (like Charlotte) for the blog. So I’ve chosen the unique. More tomorrow! Big kisses no more sneezes!!! G