Monday, 18 January 2010

Animal instincts

This last year hasn't been by any standards light, with economic downfall, terrorists popping up just about everywhere and the end of Gavin and Stacey on TV, us Brits have taken a few knocks. It is therefore understandable that we might look to fashion for light relief, Elsa Schiaparelli is quoted as saying "In difficult times fashion is always outrageous" and in acknowledgement of the trend of dressing as animals she has certainly hit the psychological nail on the Freudian head.

When I say dressing as animals I'm not referring to the perfectly acceptable if a little tired trend of animal prints. Everyone has some subtle animal printed item in their wardrobe and if they like to unleash their wilder side a la Bet Gilroy, the legendary leopard spotted busty barmaid of Coronation Street, then a whole ensemble from bag to shoes and ideally a mac in a loud jungle print can be found amongst their coat hangers.

Many designers have in recent years had a flirtation with animal dressing, Jean Charles De Catslebajac is someone who never seems to be able to leave it alone. For his A/W 09 collection among muppet dresses he had an equestrian sweater, complete with mane style arm fringing. For this years S/S 10 collection he had a pirate themed look and even had a model dressed as a parrot. Shifting away from exotic animals Marc Jacobs brought our attention back to the humble rabbit with his A/W 09 collection for Luis Vuitton in which models hopped (sorry) down the catwalk, their heads adorned with a pair of silky ears.
From catwalk to celebrity to the public goes the trickle down effect, however mad the original collection is, and never one to stay behind Madonna got papped first and slated by the style press instantly for her bunny bonce 'do.

Animal dressing is undoubtedly one of the side effects of a country which has lost its courage and has been subjected to freakishly cold weather. People are literally reverting into toddlers actively choosing to wear animal themed adult romper suits and cutesy animal hats and ears. In public. No longer a symbol of two extreme industries; the playboy bunnies and the baby clothing retail outlets, the fashion pack have taken animal fancy dressing on as their own.

Fashion influences have also infiltrated from over the pond with the Japanese obsession for animal romper suits infecting perfectly sane style setters.

Well nearly sane anyway. These suits are made by Japanese company Kigu and are apparently the latest craze in Japan worn for street cred or pyjamas and the brand name is short for 'kigurumi' meaning to dress up as an animal costumed character.

For those of you who think maybe dressing head to toe as a frog, badger or some other character from Farthing Wood might be frowned upon at the office perhaps opt for a slightly more toned down look. Animal head caps have been snatched from the heads of babes and rammed onto fashion conscious adults keen to keep cute during the cold. This look has been particularly well done by the ever unconventional Katy Perry.

Sunglasses, a celebrity style staple help to add a certain nonchalance and indifference to her childish head gear, 'I've got a panda on my head, so what?'
If this trend of animal dressing trend is something you want to have a go at, then head to River Island where you can pick up Katy's very own panda beanie for a reasonable £12.
Animal dressing is cute, childish, and comfortable. It's tempting.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Noughtie but nice; looking back at a decade of fashion.

Rather like a re-discovered old diary you had devotedly kept for a while at the tender age of 12 about your classroom crushes, BFFs and love of matching sportswear, the end of the noughties also demands critical and cringe worthy reflection.

Although no one should feel too ashamed of their past indulgence in velor tracksuits, platform trainers or their collection of ever expanding khaki combats, after all everyone was doing it on mass. Just keep a mental image of Cristina Aguliera in her dirrty days, chaps and little else, and your palpitations should subside. So cast your eye over these looks which sum up the decade and forge ahead into 2010 with Balmain-esque jutting shoulders and a clear conscience to commit fashion crimes/art a-fresh!

It's all flairs, voluminous parachute pants with hazardous tassles and zippers and crop tops and no one does it better then All Saints. Around this time Grime music and a little known artist Dizzee Rascal was making waves from winning the Mercury Music prize. This year also saw the internet become properly embedded in noughties culture with Google surging in popularity and online retailer launching, you could literally shop around the clock and fashion was speeding up.
Move a year onwards and we are still obsessed with the baggy trouser look, though the fabric has gone velvety. Madonna dons a velor juicy couture tracksuit bottom and a trucker cap and consequently Paris Hilton devotedly adopts the look and cannot be seperated from her staple items. She even walks a runway for tracksuit brand 2B Free. This is also the year that terrorism defined the decade with the strikes of 9/11.


The rise of the queen of Boho, Sienna Miller. She was in love with Jude, was starring in cult films, and was bringing cowboy boots (and the irrepressable Ugg boot) in fashion. Happy and hippy...until Jude cheated. Shh don't spoil it. Some saw this return to pastoral, idyllic dressing as a reaction to 9/11.


Kate Moss is slated in the press with cocaine allegaitions in 2005 and was dropped as the face of Chanel and loses many of her modelling campaigns. However by 2006 Kate is more popular then ever with more contracts, being praised as the most fashionable womanin Britain and collaborating with Topshop to launch her own collection and to begin our obsession with skinny jeans. It was also the year that the size zero debate flared up with Italy's fashion body the Camera Della Moda Italiana stating that any model with a BMI under 18.5 or any model under the age of 16 was to banned from walking any shows.


In 2004 E4 begain airing Sex and the City and we had it non-stop on our screens until 2008. Four women, one city, a lot of shoes and a lot of sex epitomised fast life and love in the early noughties. Everyone suddenly wanted to imitate the kooky dress sense of Carrie Bradshaw and stylist Patricia Field went on to collaborate with M&S on her designs. The show also helped to put luxury designer label Jimmy Choo on the map and it the company is valued at $185 million. In a not so glamorous turn of events on this side of the pond the smoking ban had been implemented and although our hair no longer smelled of stale ash trays after a night out, other murkier smells did come to the surface in pubs, bars and clubs.


Amy Winehouse hits iconic status scooping a load of grammy awards for her 'back to black' album, her unique pin-up style of tattoos, bouffont hair and high waisted skirts was also widely copied. Luella Bartley wins designer of the year award for her quintessentially British colections but it is the issue of racism in fashion that dominates the year. During the US presidential campaigns with Obama-mania sweeping the world, Italian Vogue takes against the lack of black models by having Steven meisel photograph some of the most successful black models. In four seperate covers, including Naomi Campbell and Jourdun Dunn who wins model of the year, Vogue Italia produces the all black issue which sells out fast.


The recession kicks in and fast fashion and its exploitative ways are shunned in favour of sustainable style. Joanna Lumley heads the Gurka campaign fighting for Gurka refugees to have residence in Britain and wins the heart of the nation with her chic style and worthy cause. In response to the failing pound and the highest records of unemployment fashion aggressively fights back with 80s power dressing. Lady GaGa and Rihanna lead the way in futuristic, fashion forward designs. Balmain also reintrouces their classic shoulder padded military jacket which was the signature look of the suddenly deceased Mischael Jackson.