It's OK for intellectual feminists to like fashion

Blog title from Hadley Freeman's book The Meaning of Sunglasses : "Prada styles itself as the label it's OK for intellectual feminists to like".

The author is a bilingual fashion editor, writer and translator with a serious blog, cinema and magazine habit.

Subscribe to the Fashion Abecedaire newsletter

Twitter @FashionAbecedai

Email: fashionmemex(at)gmail.com

1 - McQ and Stella McCartney coming back to London Fashion Week

Since Burberry made the move back and under Harold Tilman stewardship, London Fashion Week (LFW) has been gathering momentum. All major fashion editors now attend LFW, rather than hoping from New York to Milan, even though recent scheduling problems might have something to say to that. Showing in London will be a comeback to their roots for both the Alexander McQueen diffusion brand McQ and Olympic team tailor Stella McCartney. Both brands have a strong British identity and Britishness has become a marketing USP. With even Kanye West rumoured to join the capital, cool Britannia is regaining its pedigree. Will Alexander McQueen be next to join?


2 - A new designer at Dior and John Galliano’s future

The 2011 fashion year started with a bang with Galliano’s dismissal and ensuing conspiracy theories. Rumours after rumours have given everyone from Marc Jacobs to Raf Simons at Dior, to the extent not being named as a potential designer was a bad sign of your credential in the business. Is the job cursed? Is the house enjoying seeing its name pop up on social platforms too much to make a decision? Can Dior release another collection without proper artistic direction? Could Franca Sozzani get her wish of seeing Galliano reinstated? Is Sidney Toledano making a conscious decision to mark the end of the designer superstar?

As for Galliano, the moment backers decide he is once again a sound investment, I have little doubt he’ll find a new designer position. The industry is already being nice to him, his Internet ranking is on the rise and memory fades at the prospect of money.


3 - The Arab spring going into its second year

I spent some of the best days of my life in Cairo three summers ago. The city was nothing I’d experienced before. I’d been warned about the smell and the noise and that I would hate it but I ended up loving it because of its smell and noise and because it had an identity of its own, so different from all the European cities I was used to. Back at the LSE, I took a course on Nasser and Arab Nationalism which turned out to be the best of my third year. Watching a country fight for its future is very different if you’ve been there and if you know its history than if TV is your only link with it.

On a fashion-related note - the textile industry represents a significant part of the Egyptian GDP, not just as Egyptian cotton but also as clothing factories. The ongoing unrest, the lack of democratic resolution despite the elections and the role of the military and Muslim Brotherhood could mean rising prices on the long term, especially in the UK, the main European Union market for Egyptian apparel and home textiles.


4 - Presidential elections in France and the USA

April and November will be key electoral months in France and the United-States with Presidents Sarkozy and Obama running for reelection. Will France go against the European trend and elect François Hollande, the left candidate everyone dismissed as a joke two years ago? Will Obama’s West Wing-reminiscent administration loose the White House to the Tea Party? Even though the Carla/Michelle effect doesn’t translate in sales as well as the Kate effect, I hope any first lady taking over would have as much fashion taste. As for the fashion repercussions of new elections, they are more likely to be found on price tags following tax choices than in terms of policies. Despite fashion’s importance in the economy, the current economic situation puts us years away from making the craft a priority.


5 - The Artist released in UK cinemas

If you grew up in France in the 1990s, you might take the buzz surrounding The Artist and Jean Dujardin’s mute performance with a pinch of disbelief. Jean Dujardin will forever be Loulou, of 1 gars 1 fille, a long-lived, short-format sitcom about the triviality of a couple’s daily life. Seeing a full page dedicated to Dujardin in US Vogue is somewhat surprising, the possibility of his Oscar nomination difficult to fathom. Not that his acting doesn’t deserve it but because no one would have predicted him this kind of career. Jean Dujardin is the French George Clooney, from ER to The Ides of March.


6 - Another royal year

An exhibition dedicated to the Queen’s portraits at the Victoria & Albert Museum! New Diana, Princess of Wales dresses on display at Kensington Palace! The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations! Many new Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge outfits! The Royals on display for a month of Olympic joy! Another four day bank holiday weekend!

Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton, A Diamond Jubilee Celebration; at the Victoria & Albert Museum 8 February - 22 April


7 - Aaron Sorkin back on TV with The Newsroom

I loved him in The West Wing, loved him in The Social Network, loved him in A Few Good Men. A year after his Oscar win, Aaron Sorkin is back on TV with The Newsroom, scheduled for broadcast on HBO. Although the topic might be closer to Studio 60 than The West Wing for comfort, I expect dialogues between Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer delivered “while walking rapidly through a work place”* and Dev Patel as the “lone, down-to-Earth black man who brings calming wisdom to neurotic white people”*. Alison Pill could make a great “cute conservative blond woman who exists in a mostly liberal world but everyone ends up loving anyway”* while Daniels will likely keep the role of the “emotionally stunted male lead who is bad with relationships”* for himself.

*All quotes from “4 Things Aaron Sorkin Puts In Every Show”. And yes, I do know Dev Patel isn’t black.

8 - Sherlock and Mad Men back on TV

Contract negotiations meant we were deprived of Mad Men in 2011, while Sherlock's broadcast was pushed back to 1 January 2012. Will AMC and the BBC see a drop or a surge in ratings as a result? Can Don and Betty marriages last? Will Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat go the pop culture way and turn Irene Adler into Sherlock’s only love? Should we expect Holmesian influences and 1960s revival in the autumn/winter menswear and womenswear shows this winter?

9 - Marc Jacobs - Louis Vuitton and Van Cleef & Arpels at Les Arts Décoratifs

Marc Jacobs will open the fashion season at Les Arts Déco in March, followed in September by jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels. Described as “an analysis rather than a retrospective”, the Jacobs/Vuitton exhibition will show how both men influenced fashion and accessories at the end of the 19th and in the early 21st century. Drawing a parallel between the two designers is a new curation angle which should add to the fashion house’s myth and to the ongoing heritage trend. The Van Cleef exhibition should be more traditional with over 400 of the jeweller’s best work on display.

Marcs Jacobs - Louis Vuitton, 9 March - 16 September; Van Cleef & Arpels, 20 September - 10 February 2013, Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris


10 - Carine Roitfeld

Having christened her 2011 liberty by styling the Chanel campaign, posing on the cover of i-D magazine, featuring with her children in the Barneys window displays and releasing instant best-seller Irreverent, Roitfeld should know an exciting second year post Vogue Paris editorship. We know little of her projects for the year, except she will become a grandmother and launch a magazine, and it’s just as well since part of her 2011 appeal was her capacity to rebound and surprise us.

11 - Google’s iPad killer

Fashion brands and magazines have just started embracing Apple’s iPad tablet with platform-specific sites, dedicated apps and targeted subscriptions. Will they be able to carry their strategy and technology over to the Google iPad killer, announced by the company’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt? Google + was slow to release brand-specific pages but fashion brands were amongst the first to publish pages. Will the company follow a similar process, brand-wise, for the new tablet? Will the public be quick at buying the new gadget or shy away from yet another Google item in their life?

12 - Another year of Ryan Gosling

With Crazy, Stupid Love, Drive and The Ides of March, Ryan Gosling managed to be in three of the best films of 2011, in three very different categories. Will 2012 be the year of his first Oscar win? If his two Golden Globes nominations for best actor, drama and best actor, comedy are anything to go by, a nomination should at least be locked. This should be enough to keep everyone waiting for 2013 and his three new film Lawless, The Gangster Squad and The Place Beyond the Pines. Yes, I’m a fan and yes, I struggled to find a 12th reason to look forward to 2012. Not sure I’ll do Thirteen reasons to look forward to 2013 next year.

Pictures: London Fashion Week Begins At Somerset House, Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images Europe; Dior petites mains, Jamesbort.com; The pyramids in Giza, © Fashion Abecedaire; French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Senator Barack Obama, Jae C. Hong/Associated Press on the New York Times website; The Artist, publicity shot; The Newsroom, HBO Watch trailer screenshot; Princess Elizabeth, Cecil Beaton, Gelatin silver print, Buckingham Palace, March 1945, Museum no. E.1361-2010; Sherlock Series 2, BBC publicity shot; Spring/Summer 2008 womenswear show bags from the Toile Monogram Jokes line created by Richard Prince, © Louis Vuitton / Chris Moore; The 9 Lives of Carine Roitfeld, New York Times website; Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone on the set of Gangster Squad

Posted at 5:56pm and tagged with: Classy film, TV series, The West Wing, Vogue Paris, carine roitfeld, politics, technology, Sherlock, Mad Men, dior, john galliano, Alexander McQueen, London Fashion Week, Royal Family, cambridge, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, 2012 Olympics, Egypt, france,.

The Middleton sisters have gathered their fair share of unwarranted press releases. Buy our hair products to get Kate’s mane! Go to my gym to get Pippa’s derrière! Buy our knock-off of Kate’s dress!

Last week, Austrian hosiery and womenswear brand Wolford sent an email encouraging its customers to "Get the Look of the Duchess of Cambridge", explaining that all you need to get “the Royal look” is a “fitted dress just above the knee, high heels and indispensable nude hosery [sic]”, which you can of course buy off Wolford. Not only was it bad taste, it had two spelling mistakes too many.

The Royal Family isn’t keen on brands actively pushing their connection for sales, unless they have a royal warrant. Wolford’s email, advertising hosiery the Duchess might or might not be wearing (she could be buying Falke for all we know) is unworthy of the quality of the brand’s tights.

Exploiting the “Kate effect" did work though: I can complain all I want, but this is the first Wolford email I’ve opened since signing up to the newletter. Opening rates likely shot up thanks to the Duchess-themed subject but I’d like to see how it translated in terms of conversion rate.

Posted at 8:44am and tagged with: Brand communication, Royal Family, hosiery, cambridge, email marketing,.

As a Palace, Buckingham is probably up there with Chambord and Chenonceau, with that little difference of being the residence of a working Queen. If nothing else, the British monarchy has one advantage: it keeps the place in perfect condition. Although not yet 200 years old in its current form, Buckingham Palace displays collections of Sèvre china and paintings to compete with many a Loire castle I’ve visited (and I’ve visited them all). The Van Dyck were as elegant as I hoped, and I didn’t feel as underwhelmed by Winterhalter’s The Royal Family in 1846 as I had when seeing David’s Le Sacre de Napoléon in Le Louvre.

The two temporary exhibitions on Royal Fabergé and the wedding dress were however quite disappointing. The dress could have done with context in addition to Sarah Burton explaining its inspiration, design and craftsmanship. It would have been nice to see it alongside Catherine’s evening dress, the bridesmaids attire, Pippa and children included. Instead, we’re left with the dress under a grey mosquito net, the shoes, bouquet reproduction and earrings in a case so small its hard to see what’s inside, and the cake. I don’t know whether the exhibition had been planned ahead of the wedding or whether it was a quick, cash-in decision but it felt like a lot more time could have been spent on its curation and on gathering related items. Unless the Cambridges’ popularity wanes all of a sudden (which at this point seems unlikely), waiting one more year wouldn’t have hurt.

As for the dress itself, it’s even more beautiful and tiny in real life than it was on TV. Sarah Burton explains how it is appliquéd with floral motives from six different laces representing the United Kingdom and how the train was reinforced with a canvas-like fabric to make sure it always kept its shape. Seeing the work it required up close partially makes up for the limited number of pieces on display.

Summer opening of the State Romms, Buckingham Palace, until 3 October. Tickets from £17.50 for adults

Posted at 10:00am and tagged with: Royal Family, Cambridge, exhibition review,.