Article Archive: October 2011

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

Coloured dreams

GG_Culture_Faile_01_BookPrintsBunnyDetail GG_Culture_Faile_02_BookPrintsCover GG_Culture_Faile_03_BookPrints_P02 GG_Culture_Faile_04_BookPrints_P03 GG_Culture_Faile_05_BookPrints_P01 GG_Culture_Faile_06_ChristmasFAile GG_Culture_Faile_07_Handbag GG_Culture_Faile_08_StreetNYC GG_Culture_Faile_09_LavenderDetail GG_Culture_Faile_10_Lavender GG_Culture_Faile_11_LoiuseGray1 GG_Culture_Faile_11_LoiuseGray2

Oh yes, Faile’s new book and a craving for a new printed bag for my laptop, but let me rewind a little first to the time I first saw Faile’s mix of colour on a Brooklyn street. An hour off the plane from JFK, June 2004 I took a cab into Brooklyn.I don’t really know how it happened, to be honest I – whoever I was – had disappeared and I – whoever I was – had been replaced by David Attenborough (Sir). I know it sounds silly, photograph Brooklyn, photograph Manhattan and photograph them like David Attenborough, but I love how he does things you know (not showey offey) and I wanted to do it like that. Like nature. Now, this is the mistake I always make – conveniently forgetting the most important thing, that I could barely hold let alone use a camera and all I can say is. Thank God I’m good with notebooks and thank God I took the chance.

Have you ever had something keep you awake like this?

Now I’m a snap-it-and-spend-a-few-days-processing-it-and-filtering-it kind of person and so it wasn’t until the following week that what I’d seen in Brooklyn really settled in my head. I spent the best part of what should have been dreamtime processing the photographs in my head thinking incessantly about how wonderful the Faile streetart on the damaged and maltreated walls in Brooklyn was. Have you ever had something keep you awake like this? People tell me it’s an Irish thing; we lie awake wondering about the love affairs between stuff, like pictures and walls and nature and yes INANIMATE printed things!

Longing with the desire to have more of their imagery in my home, I found them in a limited edition Lavender book printed by a wonderful publisher in Germany called Die Gestalten Verlag. Even the book paper was infused with the scent of lavender – when I opened the Lavender book to take these photos of it this morning it still smells of LAVENDER eight years on. A tiny bit Attenborough me thinks.

The Brooklyn based Faile (pronounced “fail”) collective are the two artists Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller who’ve been stenciling walls together since around 2000. Alternately seductive and scary, their vivid imagery built from multicultural shards has appeared in prestigious galleries worldwide. Their paintings resell at auction for hefty prices these days but their art prints and limited edition books are more attainable. Previous book print runs by Die Gestalten Verlag were tiny so they’re scarce and a little hard to get. Their latest book Faile:Prints + Originals 1999-2009 however is really easy to get and it’s their best one yet – I’ve a few little paintings of theirs and a Faile hand customized bag I found on Ebay (love the chunky interchangeable chain strap) but this new Faile book is like standing in front of their entire collection of paintings and prints up close. As you flick the pages you’ll turn a New York corner and spot their archetypal mock ads made of stencils, posters and fliers overlaid to maximal excess. There is always that wonderful sense of an accidental encounter with colour and the risks they take in their work.

Likewise, that’s why I really loved everything about the Louise Gray A/W 2011 show at London Fashion Week; it was the perfect love affair between fashion and art, (to be fair she has been the queen of coloured embellishment with her embroidered scattered printed swatches since her first collection for S/S 2008). So I’m backstage standing and staring and snapping for an awfully long time at the prints on her model line up feeling that Irish emotional thing that I was telling you about earlier (ie. feeling the right and sometimes the wrong emotion at the right and sometimes wrong time) and in that moment realising that the patterns coloured in daffodil (Attenborough) and turquoise blue and mint and lemon were all my favourite colours from years of Faile paintings and I suddenly realised that I was getting overemotional about the colours of a dress and a bag.

Seriously when this dream of a kaleidoscopic collection lined up, the colours from ALL-the-pages-of-my-favourite-Faile-books and my first Faile encounter – those two spray painted blue and pink lines on that bare Brooklyn wall – came tumbling towards my eyes; the lavenders and blue on a mohair plaid coat set on the perfect shade of dark concrete grey overlaid with gold dots and the neat shiny ponytail; so, so smooth (a huge hair trend next season and more of how to get yours that way later) only confirmed how wearable stripe, plaid and dot prints really are and to me it was as exciting as finding a new wall of Faile’s.

Oh God, I must go now! I hope your wardrobe and you walls are better coloured in than mine are at the moment and that the next few months bring many lovely coloured things your way. I’m going to hopefully have a little dreams in COLOUR tonight of me reading my Faile books and wrapping myself in up in Louise Gray and my laptop in this printed envelope bag (it really is rather lovely). (Has anyone a favourite print this season yet? Come September the trend is imminent!!!!).