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.

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Email: fashionmemex(at)gmail.com

This needlepoint and lace white Dolce & Gabbana dress is one of my favourite of Autumn/Winter 2012.

First spotted on Emma Stone at the Amazing Spider-Man Spain première, the dress, in its longer runway form, has been doing the fashion editorials round, often styled according to a first degree baroque vibe dictated by the tapestry motive (not to mention the brand collection notes). Australian Vogue went a bit different, going instead for a cow boy background.

Posted at 8:50am and tagged with: which, Emma Stone, celebrity dressing, dream shopping,.

I bought a t-shirt last summer for a lot more money than it was worth. I’ve worn it twice, and it has since been gathering dust, though hopefully not moths, at the bottom of my white t-shirt pile. The official reason is that I ordered it at the end of the summer, and by the time I received it, it was too cold for t-shirts. You could wear it under a jacket, you say? I hear ya.

Truth is, I can’t face wearing this t-shirt, a reminder of a less than sound financial decision. I went through a similar phase when I bought my Yves Saint Laurent Muse, leaving it in its dust bag for weeks. To this day, it spends more time in than out, although I do carry it from time to time for weeks on end.

Of course, logic dictates that having bought an expensive accessory or item of clothing, I should use it as much as possible, to get my money’s worth. I am however concerned by the quality of the t-shirt, having had a few appalling experiences of button losses with the brand I bought it from. I am not sure how many washes it will withstand before the motif starts fading. As I said, not my most sound purchase.

When I bought this t-shirt, I full-well intended to wear it. I had even started assembling outfits in my minds. As such, it should be differentiated from another category littering my wardrobe but hardly ever worn: the concept clothes.

Concept clothes are bought, generally in the sales, because I either think I look hot in them, have been lusting after them all season long or think they would be perfect for a cocktail party or a date, never mind I never go to either.

Maje is the biggest culprit. There’s the life ambition dress (which I bought, eventually, after annoying the whole family over it), a blue draped dress, which I’ve worn once in over a year of owning, mostly to justify buying it and never giving it to the charity shop, a raspberry pink dress with shoulders as big as its V-neck is low, a skirt made of so many layers of fabric I don’t even know how to get into it and my personal favourite, a corseted white lace dress I can’t get in or out of because the process is just too darn complicated.

The concept dress is beautiful but unpractical. Think silk, significant décolletage, easily creased cloth, dry clean a minimum, specialist clean preferred. It’s only useful if your life is all about sitting pretty and being chauffeured from one fabulous party to another. Think Daphne Guinness.

The concept dress isn’t for me. It isn’t even the promise of a life, or the feeling of how much better my life would be if I had places to wear this type of garment to. The concept dress is bought purely for theoretical value. It is about my obsession with building the perfect wardrobe. If you asked me what I am most proud of, my wardrobe would feature in the top five. I have something for every occasion. Except really waterproof rainwear. Which is just fine, since I’m not living in a country where it rains too often.

Posted at 5:20am and tagged with: first person, dream shopping, yves saint laurent,.

My Favourite Capes from the Burberry S/S13 Show.

All Pictures from the Burberry Facebook page

Posted at 6:24pm and tagged with: London Fashion Week, Burberry, dream shopping,.

Temptation: This fits you perfectly, it’s so snug

Reason: A bit too snug maybe? You could probably go one size up, you’ll never fit a jumper underneath.

Temptation: Cashmere and wool with rabbit fur, you’d never need to wear anything underneath anyway

Reason: But you’re cold, all the time, cold for you isn’t a temperature, it’s a state of mind, practiced 24/7.

Temptation: You can just throw it on over an evening dress, it will be perfect to go out.

Reason: When was the last time you went out?

The Voice: Point taken. It would be perfect for a date.

Reason: Don’t you think it’s a bit intimidating?

Temptation: Maybe so but you’ve wanted it since you saw it on that amazing PR lady at the show last September.

Reason: True but she’s much taller and thinner than you. You’re not thinking of buying it to be more like her, are you? In any case, it makes you look corpse-like. I can really see the dark circles under your eyes right now.

Temptation: That’s because this coat is making you feel elated, feverish and a little bit sick.

Reason: That’s a sign you can’t justify it. This would be your fourth coat this week, and you already have so many you’ll soon need to annex the balcony. You know the guilt you’ll feel will equal your current desire for it. Not that I’m remotely feeling sorry for you.

Temptation: It’s a good price though, or at least not cheap enough to make the decision easier.

The Sales Assistant: Actually it’s £Twice-the-price-on-the-label

Reason: That decides it then

Temptations: You never know, it might still be there tomorrow.

Reason: Let’s sleep on it.

Posted at 8:48pm and tagged with: retail, shopping, dream shopping, first person,.

Yesterday, some time between skinny jeans and Tunisian t-shirts at Berenice and a bright pink jacket from Des Petits Hauts, I fell in love with a dress. It was midnight blue, straight cut, above the knees with an integrated cape. Fashion Carrousel immediately dubbed it the Batman dress, comparing it to a mixture of Jackie O (good) and our paternal grandmother (bad). I thought it was the perfect balance of Jil Sander clean minimalism and Phoebe Philo Celine fashion intellectualisation.

I had started styling it, with a large black studded belt, the second I took it off the rack. Yet when it came to buying it (once in the brand’s own store and once at its corner in Galleries Lafayette), I just couldn’t bring myself to doing it. It wasn’t the price of the dress, nor the fact I couldn’t see myself getting enough wears out of it in my current life.

The dress was about my future and about what I could see myself as in 20 years. I could see myself wearing it in a boardroom and I imagined the dress commanding authority and self-confidence. I freaked out at the till point, twice, because I was too scared it would stay in my closet, month after month, year after year, not being worn, staring back at me accusingly every time I opened my wardrobe, reminding me I just wasn’t getting there. In the space of on afternoon, this cape dress went from beautiful item of clothing to life ambition challenge and buying it became part of a wider self-questioning over what I want my life to be.

Photo: Richard Nicoll cape dress by Carolina Engman at Fashion Squad



Posted at 9:46am and tagged with: first person, womenswear, dream shopping,.

I have twelve striped tee-shirts in my wardrobe, six striped dresses, four
striped jumpers, one striped jacket. That’s a total of twenty-three striped garments, enough to open a Petit Bateau shop on my own, and that’s before I’ve even started counting striped knickers and striped socks. I have a long-standing, and not too original, addiction to stripes. As a non-trend trend, guaranteed to pop up season in, season out on the runway and in editorials, stripes have become my answer to morning outfit panics. Stripes make an otherwise boring outfit unboring, jazz up a black bottom. Stripes have the neutrality of block colours, but none of their plainness. If it was a plain white or a plain navy top, the striped tee-shirt would be boring. Stripes give it a French accent, with the obligatory classy, romantic, sexy, Parisian (never mind stripes were more Brittany fisherman than Parisian élégante) subtext which resonates in British minds. Stripes are not just about the fashion magazine cliché, they’re about the way they talk to people’s subconscient. As I’ve started losing my French accent for an undefined, neither completely French, nor entirely English one, I’ve found myself doning more and more stripes, going into personal challenges of wearing different stripes every day of the week. As I struggle with feelings of national belonging, stripes have become something attaching me back to France, even if it’s little more than the France foreigners fantasize. In my wardrobe back in France, the clothes I wore age 12 to 17, there’s hardly a stripe in sight. Just like I had to wait for my first year of uni in London to buy a beret, I waited to feel like a foreigners both in France and England to buy my first striped Petit Bateau. More than mere elegance or fashion, stripes have become an outside display and a strong part of my identity.

The lovely Fashion Carrousel did a great post last year with the best marinières in fashion shoots.

Here is a selection of my favourite stripes at the moment:

Sonia by Sonia Rykiel, Striped knitted cotton top, on sale £92.25 from The Outnet

Sonia by Sonia Rykiel, Striped cotton dress on sale £101.25 from The Outnet

Sonia by Sonia Rykiel, Cotton sailor dress on sale £74.25 from The Outnet

Rochas, Striped cotton dress £505 from Net-a-Porter

Posted at 6:11pm and tagged with: first person, dream shopping, stripe, net-a-porter,.