Friday Fierceness!

When It Becomes Dark- Vogue Japan July 2014

Gown: Louis Vuittion, Shoes: Gianvito Rossi, Undergarments: Carine Gibson, Gloves: Cornelia James, Accessories: Au fil d’Elise

Model: Anna Jagodzinska
Photographer: Andreas Sjodin
Stylist: Sabino Pantone
Hair: Lok Lau
Makeup: Ignacio Alonso

Fashion’s Finest at Cannes 2014

The official poster of the 67th Cannes Film festival, featuring a picture of actor Marcello Mastroianni from Federico Fellini’s 1963 film 8½ (Otto e mezzo) Image CANNES FILM FESTIVAL/GETTY IMAGES

For the past twelve days the stars of the world have flocked in droves to Cannes for the annual Cannes Film Festival, the most prestigious and publicized film festival in the world. While they gathered to celebrate the very best in film, we turned our attention to the fabulous style worn on the red carpet.

Here are our 15 favourite looks worn by the starlets at Cannes!

Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanhett’s fabulous Cannes looks: (from left) in Valentino at the Trophée Chopard event, in Armani Privé at a Chopard After party, in Giorgio Armani at a Vanity Fair party and in Givenchy at the premiere of How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Cate Blanchett deserves an award just for showing up to every event looking great! I couldn’t pick a favourite look because everything she wore was just fabulous! Here she is with all the stunning details and quirky accessories: from rainbow dragon scales and pheasant feathers to bejeweled shrimp earrings by Chopard!

Eva Green

Actress Eva Green in Elie Saab Couture at the premiere of The Salvation.

France’s Queen of Gothic Glamour turns up the drama in this stunning wine-red Elie Saab number! I love it!

Rosie Huntington-Whitely

Model Rosie Huntington-Whitely in Emilio Pucci at the amfAR Gala.

Mustard yellow has never been an easy colour to pull off. Normally I hate anything in this shade, but it just seems to work on Rosie-Huntington-Whitely. She looks great!

Zhang Ziyi

Actress Zhang Ziyi in Stephanie Rolland Couture at the Grace of Monaco premiere.

I love this futuristic Stephanie Rolland gown!

Blake Lively

Actress Blake Lively in Gucci at the premiere of The Captive.

Blake Lively’s Red Carpet looks have been getting better and better! This two-toned Gucci gown is perfection!

Nicole Kidman

Actress Nicole Kidman in Armani Privé at the Grace of Monaco premiere.

We all know that Grace of Monaco is anticipated to be as big a disaster as last year’s Diana, but that does not mean that Nicole Kidman must show up to the premiere looking like a masquerade! This fabulous ocean blue Armani Privé gown looks like heaven on her!

Sonam Kapoor

Actress Sonam Kapoor in Elie Saab Couture at the premiere of The Homesman.

This gown is huge, but Sonam Kapoor pulls it off! I love her classically curled chignon.

Jane Fonda

Actress Jane Fonda in Elie Saab Couture at the Grace of Monaco premiere.

Wow. Those Jane Fonda tapes just keep working!

Lea Seydoux

Actress Lea Seydoux in Prada Couture at the Saint Laurent premiere.

For some reason emerald green is not a popular colour on the red carpet, I don’t understand why. It looks fantastic on Lea Seydoux!

Sofia Loren

Actress Sophia Loren in Giorgio Armani at the premiere of Voce Umana.

Sophia Loren is 79 years old! Enough said-she’s too fierce!

Aishwarya Rai

Actress Aishwarya Rai in Robert Cavalli at the premiere of The Search.

It’s a universal law that whenever Aishwarya Rai walks into a room, all other ladies present must take a seat. Here she is throwing some serious shade in this ivory V-necked Cavalli gown. Perfection!

Alessandra Ambrosio

Model Alessandra Ambrosio in Elie Saab Couture at the Trophée Chopard event.

Elie Saab was basically the designer to be seen in at Cannes, and Alessandra looks great in this lime gown. Then again, when doesn’t Alessandra Ambrosio look great?

Irina Shayk

Model Irina Shayk in Atelier Versace at the premiere of The Search.

Donatella’s new Spring collection is chock-full of 80s glam-our. While I’m not the biggest fan of all the hoods, I am digging Irina Shayk in this citrusy number!

Jessica Chastian

Actress Jessica Chastian in Elie Saab Couture at the premiere of The Foxcatcher.

This colour is everything! The high winds that blew through the Red Carpet premiere of The Foxcatcher showed this Elie Saab stunner off to the best degree. Jessica looked fabulous!

Zoe Saldana

Actress Zoe Saldana in Victoria Beckham at the Grace of Monaco premiere.

Zoe Saldana has made some weird choices when it comes to her Red Carpet looks, thankfully she kept it sweet and simple in this ruffly white Victoria Beckham gown.

Image credits: GETTY IMAGES

Charles James: A life of Angels and Demons

Designer Charles James (left) fits socialite Austine Hearst into a gown for Harper’s Bazaar in 1947. Image HARPER’S BAZAAR/GETTY

Ever since the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Centre opened it’s spring 2014 fashion exhibit, Charles James: Beyond Fashion, it seems that the name on everyone’s tongue is that of legendary British-American couturier, Charles James.

Two of James’ designs captured by Eliot Elisofon in the October 1950 issue of LIFE magazine. Seen here are examples of James’ Lampshade Gown (worn by model at left) and an evening ensemble complete with with a voluminous coat. Image ELIOT ELISOFON/LIFE MAGAZINE

Until this opening, he was a largely forgotten figure in today’s fashion world; a relic of the past from the time when today’s biggest fashion houses (Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, etc.) were just starting out. How could this have happened? Put simply, to have forgotten Charles James was a travesty. He was a creative genius and self-taught master-cutter, possessing the ability to transform plain fabrics into elaborate and stunning gowns of almost architectural construction. His ability to transform the contours of a woman’s body into something almost mythological in proportion is akin to the genius we still celebrate in creations of Madame Grès and Cristóbal Balenciaga.

Style icon and socialite Babe Paley poses in a Charles James gown in this 1950 John Rawlings photograph (left), different views of the gown on display in the MET exhibition. Image GETTY/JOHN RAWLINGS/METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

He was praised and admired by his peers, being lauded icons like Paul Poiret, Cristóbal Balenciaga and Coco Chanel, and was one of the most sought-after designers of his generation. Christian Dior credited James with inspiring 1947’s iconic “New Look,” referring to him as, “the greatest talent of my generation,” while Balenciaga praised James with raising the craft of dressmaking to a “pure art form.” He was considered a master of his day and accordingly, his client list included legendary names like Millicent Rogers, Lily Pons, Austine Hearst, Gypsy Rose Lee, Jennifer Jones, Babe Paley and Marietta Tree; women who only had time for the best!

It is no wonder that he believed himself to be “properly regarded as the greatest couturier in the world,” since at that time, he quite likely was.

Le Groux Souers Hat, created by Charles James in 1952 and shot by Norman Parkinson. Image GETTY

Again I have to ask, HOW could such an inherently talented and famous figure in the world of fashion have slipped so easily into the realm of anonymity?

Sadly, the answer seems to be that James did this to himself. Brilliant designer and couturier that he was, Charles James suffered from several demons that made him a miserable person to be around. Erratic, wildly arrogant, extravagant and scathingly articulate, James rubbed everybody the wrong way. Karl Lagerfeld once remarked that James was, “a tiny little midget with dyed hair – the most unpleasant man I ever met. I think he was his own worst enemy.” These inconsistencies are today thought to be manifestations of bipolar mania, but these were ultimately the some of the tools of his downfall.

Two views of a rare 1941 evening dress, on display at the MET exhibition. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Like his personality, James’ business practices were similarly discordant. Being born and raised in great wealth, Charles James operated on this level of affluence at all times- no matter how dismal the reality of his financial situation was. His extravagant business practices left him constantly fleeing debt and his perpetual habit of moving and starting over left him unable to ever fully establish his design house. He moved all over London, Paris and the eastern United States, never able to achieve the financial stability required to build a successful brand; much less that required to allow his brand to grow.

Different views of Charles James’ Butterfly Dress circa 1952-53, including a peek at the underpinnings of the skirt. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

James was driven by one desire: to be completely original. He looked upon his creations as works of art (as did many of his customers) and wanted to produce things that no one had ever seen or even thought of before. Throughout his career, he worked continually to realize this vision. He ignored the venerated schedule of the fashion seasons, perpetually reworking original designs and ideas to create something new. It is perhaps right to look upon to his constant moving as a sort of self-inflicted exercise to keep him creatively “open” by constantly exposing himself to new situations.

A silk dressing gown, constructed of ribbons of silk, was created by James in 1944. Seen here in an undated photograph (left) and on display in the MET exhibition. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Since the components of his designs were interchangeable, James always had access to a never-ending fund of ideas on which to draw upon. He therefore spent his time refining patterns, documenting his dresses, writing and theorizing. This pursuit of originality trumped James’ commitments to his clients, manufactures, stores and basically everyone and everything, resulting in his ultimate downfall and- for us today, a relatively small number of finished pieces. Years of this behavior eventually led the Internal Revenue Service to shut down his business in the late 1950s, whereupon he retired from fashion.

James’ Tulip Gown, photographed in an issue of Vogue in 1950 (left), and on display at the MET exhibition. Image VOGUE/GETTY/METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

In the fall of 1978 Charles James was living in a three room apartment in New York’s Chelsea Hotel when he fell ill with bronchial pneumonia. His cavalier attitude was still intact however, as Vogue records that he reportedly kept the ambulance meant to take him to the hospital waiting while he primped his face and clothes, telling them, “it may not mean anything to you…I am what is popularly regarded as the greatest couturier in the Western world.” He died later that night.

James’ Swan gown, circa 1954, is made of silk taffeta and tulle and boast a skirt that is 6 feet in diameter! Nancy James in a 1955 photograph by Cecil Beaton (left), a view of the gown’s bustle, which was constructed to resemble the folded wings of a swan and the gown on display in the MET exhibition. Image GETTY/CECIL BEATON/METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

With the MET’s exhibition, some of his former acclaim has been restored and hopefully will continue to grow. The display has received almost universal recognition and is quickly becoming a spring blockbuster. Perfectly curated, the exhibit returns the spotlight to James, focusing on and highlighting his incredible talent and workmanship, while staying away from his tumultuous personal life (thankfully).

Different views of two silk wedding dresses that James created. The top gown was created in 1948, and is on display at the MET exhibit, the bottom gown dates to 1932, and was created by James in London during an early part of his career. It is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART/VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM

The exhibition comes in two parts. The first floor displays a collection of 15 James gowns mounted on special exhibition platforms. Each platform is equipped with a video monitor that dissects the garment into it’s individual pattern pieces, then puts it all back together. Thus we begin to understand the kind of architectural experiments that James must have taken to construct these wondrous gowns.

Three versions of James’ La Sirène evening dress on display in the MET exhibit. This was one of James’ most popular designs and he created them on order throughout his career, the purple version (centre) is the oldest in the collection and dates back to 1939, the white (left) is from 1951 and the black (right) is from the 1940s. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Downstairs in the former costume space (now Anna Wintour Costume Centre), two whole galleries are filled with an account of over 35 years of James’ work. Items from James’ archives document the development of his work during his twenty-year career, spanning from the 1930s to the 1950s. Judging from the dense display of materials it is clear that the MET is dedicated to portraying James’ talent fully. On show are over 20 recent acquisitions of his work, as well as over 40 garments from the Brooklyn Museum’s Costume Collection, which the MET procured in 2009.

Different views of James’ iconic Tree Gown, circa 1955, including a view of the voluminous underskirt. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Here the museum seeks to track James’ design process and the progress of it’s sensibility, from the fluid silk sheaths and sparse lines of the 1930s, to the increasingly structured work produced in the 1940s and ’50s. James’ genius is conveyed in his hats, jackets, coats, and most famously, his gowns. The MET presents these pieces in four themes that were predominant in his designs, “Spirals and Wraps,” “Drapes and Folds,” “Platonic Form” and “Anatomical Cut.”

One of James Clover Leaf gowns, this version is patterned with a flowing print of fern leaves. Seen here in a 1954 photograph (left), on display in the MET exhibition, and in the original sketch by James (right). Image GETTY/METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

The MET has displayed James as an artist rather than a designer, with Harold Koda, the co-curator of the show describing him as a, “sculptor in cloth.” How accurate as it conveys the image of an artist interested in visual spectacle and a true craftsman of design- hallmarks of Charles James’ work. He literally built his gowns, constructing them using techniques he learned while working as a milliner, and this exhibit reveals an artist capable of producing work in line with the extremes of Alexander McQueen, but with a more subtle sense of ostentation, classically set in architectural expression. Not bad for a man who was practically self-taught in the art of dressmaking!

Two views of James’ Diamond evening dress, circa 1957, on display at the MET exhibition. Due to the extensive boning techniques employed by James in constructing this gown, it was a fully self-supporting garment. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

When a woman wore one of his gowns, she was instantly noticed. Nothing he produced was meant to be worn by the faint of heart. A good example of this took place in 1961 when artist Lee Krasner was preparing for her first solo exhibition in London. Krasner contacted James, saying she wanted an outfit that would not draw too much attention to herself, instead allowing it to focus on her work. James replied, “That, Mrs. Pollock, is the one thing I cannot do for you.” She immediately commissioned three outfits.

Two views of the coming-out gown that James created for socialite Cynthia Cunningham’s debutante ball in 1951. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

James constantly used asymmetry to capture the eye and did much the same with his logic-defying seams. He used these seams to bring attention to the details of his design. Sometimes his touch was subtle- a single seam spiraling up the body, while at times they are elaborate, sectioning off pieces of the garment to achieve a tighter fit, while creating points of interest that direct the eye towards specific features- the waist, the knees, pelvis or across the shoulders. His handling of these techniques often transcended the ostentatious aspects of his design to convey the female body in all it’s glory, many times in startlingly erotic terms.

Socialite Millicent Rogers is captured in a Charles James evening gown in this 1948 Gene Fenn photograph for Town and Country Magazine. For this gown, James drew inspiration from the work of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, and one can see the stylized eroticism in the sweeping curves of the over skirt and in the tight pleating at the front of the underskirt right below the peaked bodice. Image GENE FENN/TOWN AND COUNTRY MAGAZINE/METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

His innovative shapes can easily be seen as highly stylized eroticism. James described fashion as an art form that, “is rare, correctly proportioned and, though utterly discrete, libidinous,” and often referred to his design as, “a high form of eroticism.” His driving passion was to convey, “form related to movement and, above all, to erotic grace,” and with this in mind, one can see how he used his talent to exhibit his ideals.

Two James innovations: the Figure Eight skirt (left and centre) and the pyjama-styled Lounge trousers (right). The skirt, seen here in separate editorials in 1948 and 1941 editions of Harper’s Bazaar, was called the Figure Eight because it was cut to swirl between the legs in two circles and gave the skirt a full shape without using a lot of fabric. The Lounge trousers boasted what is called a Pavlovian waistline- a comfortable feature designed to expand the garment’s waist to accommodate the stomach after a meal. Image HARPER’S BAZAAR/ CONDE NAST PUBLISHING/GETTY

A Charles James gown transforms a woman by altering the contours of her body. His distinctive and complex draping defines a sinuous line sweeping down the length of the torso, while his elaborate and masterful layering creates skirts that bloom into a voluminous cloud that spreads out in shapes resembling forms only seen in nature. Butterfly wings, tulips, swan’s wings, fish tails, four-leaf clovers and peacock plumes can all be seen in James’ later creations.

James’ Puffer Jacket was created in 1937 for Mrs. Oliver Burr Jennings, seen here in an undated photograph (left) and on display at the MET exhibition. The jacket is made out of eiderdown-stuffed silk satin and was constructed in the same manner as a quilted blanket. Image GETTY/METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

James’ mastery is also seen in the details of his pieces, granting every aspect of his garments- from the seams, to fabric, the embellishment and the colour, a certain autonomy; you can appreciate each feature for themselves and as part of the whole. It is details such as these that confirm that James design struck a perfect balance between passionate artistry and technical innovation.

Charles James’ most regarded gown, and one of his most technically complex creations: the Clover Leaf Gown, which he created for heiress Austine Hearst in 1953. Worn by Mrs. Hearst in 1953 (left), a look at the boning techniques needed to construct the gown, and the gown on display in the MET exhibit. Images METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART/GETTY

He presented the design world with genuine originality. His extensive use of the millinery techniques of blocking and boning made the majority of his garments fully self-supporting- a lady only had to add stockings and shoes to complete her look. A true revolutionary, he is credited with having promoted strapless designs during the rationing of the 1930s, inventing the puffer jacket, the figure-eight skirt, the expandable Pavlovian waistband, the spiral zipper, the spiral layering cut and the “Taxi Dress”- a garment so easy to wear that it could be slipped on in the backseat of a taxi. Basically, many designs and techniques that saturate today’s fashion market (like puffer jackets and the wrap dress) can be traced back to the genius of Charles James.

Three of James’ revolutionary designs: (from left) a silk taffeta evening dress circa 1952, the Taxidress circa 1932 and the Spiral evening dress circa 1950. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Charles James has given the fashion world so much, yet to all our shame, his work has been mainly forgotten in the 36 years since his passing. Thankfully, with this exhibition, James’ raw talent and vision have again been allowed to shine, to be admired, to be celebrated. I hope that his legacy and name will again be acknowledged and that he is so justly recognized as a founding titan of today’s fashion world.

Two views of a silk satin evening dress and matching cape, produced by James in 1937. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Captivating Monaco: Louis Vuittion Cruise Collection 2015

A look from the 2015 Louis Vuitton Cruise Collection Show. Image GETTY

Nicolas Ghesquiere has done it again. No exclamation point needed, because this collection already has ALL the excitement.

In his second collection for Louis Vuitton, Mr. Ghesquiere again pushes to differentiate himself from the overwhelming shadow of outgoing creative director, Marc Jacobs. This isn’t an easy task- especially when your predecessor is a vanguard in the world of fashion, but Mr. Ghesquiere is quickly proving himself to be the perfect replacement.

Creative director of Louis Vuitton Nicolas Ghesquiere, at the Louis Vuitton 2015 Cruise Show in Monaco. Image GETTY

This is a seminal moment for both the label and its head designer- this is Vuitton’s first ever Cruise Collection Runway show, as well as the first Cruise Collection designed by the brand’s head designer. Marc Jacob never designed the Resort Collections- Julie de Libran, the former head of Vuitton womenswear and new creative director of the house of Sonia Rykel was responsible for all that Cruise glamour.

A look from the 2015 Louis Vuitton Cruise Show, featuring a subtle version of the coveted “porthole” blouse. Image GETTY

This Collection’s Show sought to re-energize the consumers’ interest in the brand and marks a huge shift in strategy and position for Louis Vuitton. Cruise collections are arguably the most commercially successful productions released by fashion houses worldwide. Micheal Burke, CEO of Louis Vuitton has confirmed this, saying, “Cruise is our most important collection…It’s everybody’s biggest collection.”

Bold accessories from the Louis Vuitton 2015 Cruise Collection print campaign. Image LOUIS VUITTON

Cruise collections are also known as “Resort” or “Pre-” Collections (the latter being the most accurate description), and are presented between the traditional spring/summer and fall/winter productions. Originally, Cruise collections were used by designers to provide wealthy clients with simple attire for holiday wear during the winter months, and were an effective way to showcase previews (or ‘prequels’) of the upcoming spring/summer wares. Therefore, holiday staples like kaftans, light dresses, pants, shorts and sexy summer shoes are mainstays of the Resort runways… which themselves tend to be flirty and luxurious.

A look from the 2015 Louis Vuitton Cruise Show, featuring two of the collection’s staples- sleek trousers and boldly patterned, banded blouses. Image GETTY

In recent years, Cruise Collections have become the industry’s biggest best-sellers; hence Louis Vuitton’s decision to fly a huge number of press and celebrities to attend the show in Monaco. Online streams also accommodated digital guests, allowing for the perfect opportunity for the brand to present itself outside of the hectic setups of the industry’s traditional Fashion Weeks.

This sleek leather dress resembles a vintage diving-suit, and is one of the standout looks from the 2015 Louis Vuitton Cruise Collection Show. Image GETTY

By allowing the house of Louis Vuitton to expand it’s horizons beyond conventional margins, the directors are effectively spreading the significance of the brand beyond it’s already huge influence. This Cruise Collection Show was not only an event to push Vuitton’s ready-to-wear line, it was an opportunity to promote the magic and might behind the world’s largest luxury brand, while showcasing the talent of arguably one of the most discussed head designers in the world. Overall, Louis Vuitton pulled off a genius marketing move and did it with perfect flair.

A close up of one of my favourite accessories in Louis Vuitton’s 2015 Cruise Collection, a spindly sea-urchin belt. Image LOUIS VUITTON

Recently, Cruise Collection Shows have taken place in locations away from fashion’s conventional capitals: New York, Paris and Milan. Instead, locations such as Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, the United Arab Emirates have hosted presentations from top houses, and this Louis Vuitton Show in Monaco was no exception to the trend of avant-garde locales. As I said, genius marketing move!

A look from the Louis Vuitton 2015 Cruise Collection lookbook featuring a banded blouse, a lacy cinch-waist skirt and a fringed version of the Petite Malle clutch. Image LOUIS VUITTON

Monaco. The name exudes luxury, power and glam-our (read that in Catherine Deneuve’s voice) like almost no other. A place of celebrity and a holiday lifestyle that few enjoy, but so many strive for. Monaco is also very much in the limelight at this moment as the Cannes film festival is taking place a little way down the coast, and Formula One’s Grand Prix of Monaco is set to take place in a few days in the city-state itself. The world is watching, and Nicolas Ghesquiere with Vuitton, took full advantage of this opportunity.

A look from the 2015 Louis Vuitton Cruise Collection Show. Notice the playful mix of textures and patterns! Image GETTY

The Show took place in a custom-designed venue within the Palais Princier, and was attended by a star-studded guest list, including none other than the Crown Prince and Princess of Monaco: His Highness Prince Albert and Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene.

Royalty and celebrities were in attendance at the 2015 Louis Vuitton Cruise show: (from left) actress Zhang Ziyi, Princess Charlene of Monaco, Prince Albert of Monaco, actress Jennifer Connelly, LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault and Helene Arnault. Image PALAIS PRINCIER PRESS RELEASE

The guests were seated in an enormous class cube, specially made for the event and set up in the Palace Square. When the show began, huge motorized curtains unfurled around the venue, blocking out all view of the outside, while models took to the lighted glass catwalk. Drama!!

Inside the cube: a view of the crowd and the runway at the 2015 Louis Vuitton Cruise Collection show. Image GETTY

Water and the subterranean world were definitely major themes in this collection, beginning with the setup of the aforementioned-glass catwalk, below which a film by French video artist Ange Leccia, showing water flowing over pebbles and rocks was shown. The clothes themselves resembled the movement of water: many were constructed of flowing material, streamlined at the waist while seeming to undulate around the limbs, very much like the ebb and flow of sea waves.

A delicately-patterned dress from the Louis Vuitton 2015 Cruise Collection Show. I love this colour! Image GETTY

From there the theme evolved to include details such as fabrics patterned to resemble seaweed and sea urchins, while frothy lace trimming and beaded patterns brought to mind coral branches and crustaceans. Shirts and jackets were banded in sturdy leather to resemble wetsuits and nautical details such as heavy industrial zippers, large snaps and embroidery-lined “portholes” opening onto bare skin were seen throughout the collection.

One of my favourite looks from the Louis Vuitton Cruise Collection 2015 Show, featuring pink a sea-urchin studded-lace blouse! Image GETTY

Mr. Ghesquiere’s use of varying textures is something to be seen! Sheer fabrics, delicate lacework, intricate knitwear and exquisite embroidery and beadwork were layered with smooth leather, heavily inlaid silks and quilted fabrics.

A look from the Louis Vuitton Cruise Show 2015. Image LA MODA ARABIA

Then there were the prints! Bold, bright and vintage inspired, they are meant to resemble underwater life, mimicking the forms of seaweed, coral, sea blossoms and sea urchins. To me, they recall the fabulous prints used by Emilio Pucci throughout the 1960s and 70s, and of Valentino’s more recent F/w 2014 mod-inspired prints.

Vintage-inspired prints were a big part of Louis Vuitton’s 2015 Cruise Collection, as seen in this graphic trouser suit from the Show. Image GETTY

Combined and executed in his subtle manner, Mr. Ghesquiere sent a diverse collection down the runway. Notable pieces included sleek trouser suits, fussy skirts, embellished blouses, lacy camisoles, deconstructed jackets and long trench coats.

A fabulous trouser suit from the Louis Vuitton 2015 Cruise Show. Image GETTY

Continuing with the flow of the collection, Mr. Ghesquiere showed new trends in the house’s accessories collection, including strappy Wellington-inspired gladiator sandles, patterned espadrilles, ‘Mary-Jane’ heels with oversized button snaps, goggle-inspired sunglasses, pointy flats, sea-urchin belts, a re-worked version of the Petite Malle box clutch and a new version of the bucket bag!

One of the print ads for Louis Vuitton’s 2015 Cruise Collection, featuring a close-up view of the new “bucket” bag. Image LOUIS VUITTON

My favourite items are the banded blouses, the patterned gladiator sandals and bright leather trench coats- oh and the black and white version of the Petite Malle! I also like the “porthole” blouses, especially the sea-weed patterned one! I’m actually thinking its a perfect addition to my wardrobe for a Saint Barth’s weekend regatta!

My favourite things from the 2015 Louis Vuitton Cruise Collection, including patterned gladiator sandles, the new Petite Malle clutch, goggle-inspired sunglasses and a fitted crocodile trench. Images GETTY

Nicolas Ghesquiere drew upon the same 1970’s silhouettes that dominated his Fall/winter collection and incorporated new elements (such as inlaid textiles, fabulous prints and embellishments) and fresh styling to make this a truly noteworthy Cruise Collection. In less skilled hands, this collection could have been overly kitschy or gimmicky, but Mr. Ghesquiere’s commanding talent and deft control elevated this simple inspiration into something dazzlingly sublime.

A colourful look from the 2015 Louis Vuitton Cruise Collection Show. Image GETTY

With this show, Louis Vuitton has elevated the whole “Cruise 2014” season entirely. Nicolas Ghesquiere didn’t just show resort wear, he showed fashion resort wear: clothes that incorporate all the elements of traditional prêt-à-porter, combined with the luxurious details of haute couture, and yet are still relaxed enough to be worn whilst on holiday. In short, resort fashion with all the painstaking hallmarks of the very best of the fashion industry.

A look from the 2015 Louis Vuitton Cruise Collection Show. Image GETTY

Nicolas Ghesquiere has shown us how Cruise should and hopefully will be done in future years. No wonder he has been a leading talent in the industry for almost twenty years!

Fiercely done!

Runway Shift’s Designer Collections

Behind the scenes at Runway Shift’s final rehearsal. Here designer Lisa See Tai (far right) and her models go through their final run-through before the show. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK

A few days ago I wrote about Runway Shift, the event that premiered designer collections in a runway competition, with the aim of the designers winning three months of rent-free space in premiere local boutique, Simply Runway Accents. After publishing the article, I was lucky enough to source some feedback that Candice Baccus (a director of Simply Runway Accents Boutique and a main coordinator of Runway Shift) had received on the public reception and overall impact of the show… I said I HAD to write a follow-up post!

Just some of the media coverage that Runway Shift received: this article is from The Trinidad Guardian’s Metro Magazine. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/METRO MAGAZINE/GUARDIAN MEDIA

This information is based on data collected from a total of 144 persons who were grouped to represent the typical customer base. Each participant was provided with brochures showing photographs of every complete look showed by the five competing designers in Runway Shift, the price of every complete look and had an area designated for client reviews. All the information was collected via these client reviews. The Simply Runway team relied heavily on these reviews since such feedback assessed the demand for the products, and determined where attention needed to be focused- especially with respect to the production and supply of an up and coming brand to a retail store. I think this is a fantastic idea! Hopefully it catches on throughout Trinidad and Tobago fashion.

A view of the front row crowd at Runway Shift. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/GARETH LEIGH PHOTOGRAPHY

This data is specific to the crowd type, with influential factors affecting these results being age, gender and response time given. The final figures were determined by manually assessing the raw information. Human error was minimized by having four individuals collect the data separately and compare the results, with averages being used to calculate the final figures.

Another view of the crowd at Runway Shift. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/GARETH LEIGH PHOTOGRAPHY

Reviews on each collection were averaged to a maximum average of 1000 points for positive reviews and 800 points for negative reviews, with each collection being assessed on the overall appraisal of every look in the individual collections.

The three finalists: (from left) designers Adrian Foster, Lisa See Tai and Megan Charles. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/LIZZARD BLIZZARD

The designers assessed were the five Runway Shift finalists- Lisa See Tai, Megan Charles, Mary April Coutou, Adrian Foster and Anicia Brooks. The Simply Runway team hopes that the information they evaluated can be used as a learning reference by the competing designers. Now, on to the numbers! The first three are the winners of Runway Shift 2014.

Adrian Foster’s collection shown at Runway Shift. Image SIMPLY RUNWAY/LEE TUNG AND THOMAS STUDIOS

Adrian Foster’s collection was the most positively received, with a 71% positive rating. His strongest looks were numbers 6, 7, 9 and 10, with each receiving positive reviews of over 80%. Adrian’s weakest looks were numbers 2, 3 and 5, which received over 40% negative reviews. It was difficult to rate Adrian’s collection because the final order of the runway show was not kept, and a few looks were changed. Reviewers noted that some of his paired garments were not cohesive, and that some presented at the show had been previously introduced in earlier collections. However, his collection received excellent reviews, and he was the designer who received the most orders from customers. Great work Adrian!

Lisa See Tai’s Runway Shift collection. Image SIMPLY RUNWAY/LEE TUNG AND THOMAS STUDIOS

Lisa See Tai’s collection was the runner-up in positive reviews, receiving a 60% approval rating. In this respect, she tied with Megan Charles, whose collection also received a 60% approval rating, but Lisa received more customer orders and came very close to tying with Adrian in this regard. Her collection was praised for her use of colour and print, and for its “Ready to Wear” ability. Lisa’s strongest looks were numbers 3, 4 and 7, each receiving positive reviews of more than 80%, her weakest looks were judged to be numbers 1 and 5, which rated negative reviews of over 60% and 70% respectively. Good work Lisa! I’m in love with that orange maxi skirt btw!

Megan Charles’ collection shown at Runway Shift. Image SIMPLY RUNWAY/LEE TUNG AND THOMAS STUDIOS

Like I said above, Megan Charles’ collection received a 60% approval rating. Her collection was praised for its ‘impeccable tailoring’ and its ‘amazing art work’ in regard to her use of prints; however her collection was generally thought to be overpriced. Megan’s strongest looks were 3 and 9, which received approval ratings of 78% and 83% respectively, while look number 5 was judged to be her weakest, with a negative rating of 58%. She also received the third-highest amount of customer orders. Great work Megan!

Designers Mary April Coutou (left) and Anicia Brooks at Runway Shift. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/GARETH LEIGH PHOTOGRAPHY

Mary April Coutou and Anicia Brook were the designers who presented the weakest collections. Anicia’s collection received a 51% approval rating, with Mary’s receiving a 48% approval rating.

A look from Anicia Brooks’ Runway Shift Collection, as seen on the catwalk. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/EUSTACE DYER PHOTOGRAPHY

Anicia’s strongest looks were numbers 2 and 7, which received approval ratings of 74% and 72% respectively. Looks 4, 5 and 10 were judged to be the weakest in her collection, obtaining negative reviews of 82%, 78% and 60% respectively. Her collection was credited for her use of prints and she tied with Megan Charles in the number of customer orders that her collection received.

One of Mary April Coutou’s looks from the Runway Shift catwalk. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/EUSTACE DYER PHOTOGRAPHY

Mary’s strongest looks were judged to be numbers 1 and 4, which got positive ratings of 60% and 78%. Looks 2 and 6 were her weakest, each look receiving negative reviews of 72%. Her collection was credited with her approaches to ease of wear for a garment, and was the most affordably priced. However her collection was judged to be lacking in aesthetic and customer appeal (granted that appeal is subjective to the viewing audience), while her garment quality and construction were considered the most sub- par. Not surprisingly, Mary’s collection received the fewest customer orders.

Adrian Foster’s most popular look from his Runway Shift collection. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/LEE TUNG AND THOMAS STUDIOS

Now, I know that this post may be a little heavy for some, but for designers hoping to establish their brands and develop successful retail buisnesses, this information is vital. Never forget that fashion, while being a glamorous world unto itself, is first and foremost a BUSINESS. It’s data like this that helps designers better establish a competitive pricing structure and range, know what customers are intrested in buying, the quality they expect their garments to be and so much more. Basically, this feedback allows designers to get to know their target consumers while allowing them to better streamline their brand into a successful business- hopefully with a constantly growing following of reliable and faithful customers.

Lisa See Tai’s most popular look from her Runway Shift collection. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/LEE TUNG AND THOMAS STUDIOS

The directors of Simply Runway hope that this information is useful not only to the designers who competed in Runway Shift, but to all young designers hoping to establish themselves in the fashion buisness. Take this information to heart you all! Its not so often or easily found.

Megan Charles’ most popular look, as seen on the runway at Runway Shift. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/GARETH LEIGH PHOTOGRAPHY

I think that it was extremely considerate of Candice to share all that she has in this post. From me, Estevan, Jacqueline and all of the readers of this blog, Thank You!

The Runway Shift brochure, featuring all the sponsors and the host boutique, Simply Runway Accents. Image SIMPLY RUNWAY

To the sponsers of Runway Shift- UTT (University of Trinidad and Tobago), Lee Tung and Thomas Studios, Meiling, Café le Bistro, Marketing and Distribution, Stephanie Ramlogan, NLCB (National Lotteries Control Board), Petad Trading and all who helped make the event such a success, Candice, Isaac and all of us here say a big Thank You!

You’re all helping change the face of Trinidad and Tobago Fashion!

Part of the final walk-out at runway shift, this photograph features a close-up of an Adrian Foster look. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/GARETH LEIGH PHOTOGRAPHY

I hope that this post is helpful to my readers. Its been pretty fun to write!


Chanel Cruise Show 2015

My king, Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of Chanel, poses for this promotional picture, ahead of Chanel’s Cruise Collection 2015 runway show. Image CHANEL

“Storyteller: You must learn how to leave your audience in suspense.”
-Arabian Nights

It seems like Karl Lagerfeld took on the role of One Thousand and One Nights’ legendary raconteur, Queen Scheherazade, in telling the story of Chanel’s 2015 Cruise Collection, which showed in Dubai on May 13th.

Gorgeous looks from the Chanel 2015 Cruise Collection Show. Image GETTY

The collection was inspired by One Thousand and One Nights (more commonly known as the Arabian Nights), the ancient collection of West and South Asian stories and folk tales that was compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age.

A look from Chanel’s 2015 Cruise Collection Show. Image GETTY

The event took place at the Jumeirah Beach Park; the white-sand beach that stretches along the south coast of Dubai’s historic Jumeirah district to the junction of the world-famous resort area, a reclaimed-land settlement known as the Palm Jumeriah.

This breath-taking patterned outfit was one of the looks shown at Chanel’s 2015 Cruise Collection Show. Image GETTY

It was a truly beautiful, exotic show, with every part of the event- from the lush set design to the 1001 guests, all taking ques from Dubai’s exotic setting. Instead of the regular chairs lining the runway, guests sat on plush pillows and low sofas while supermodels strutted past on a lushly carpeted runway. The whole event was imbued with the romance and mystery of the Arabic world, and Kaiser Karl most definitely delivered a mesmerizing runway show.

A look from Chanel’s 2015 Cruise Collection show. Image GETTY

The clothes are beautiful- they are everything that you’ve come to expect from Chanel and more! It is an extremely well-executed collection: apart from every single piece being gorgeously detailed and constructed, the whole collection epitomizes the intrigue and opulence associated with the show’s exotic setting.

This covetable tunic-and-trousers outfit seen at the Chanel Cruise show is vintage-inspired and is similar to a traditional shalwar kameez. Image GETTY

There is an abundance of luxurious flowing fabric, intricate Moorish-inspired patterns, bold and oftentimes surprising accessories (check out the gasoline-tank-shaped handbag in the picture below) and eye-catching jewelry (including hair ornaments).

Two looks from the ad campaign for Chanel’s 2015 Cruise collection, notice the large handbag at left is shaped like a petrol tank? Image CHANEL

This is a resort collection, so the clothing is constructed to be relaxed and easy to wear. Apart from the usual kaftans and tunics that have become resort staples, Mr. Lagerfeld incorporated peasant dresses, layered skirts, loose trousers, light jackets and sweaters into the collection. Its all easy- breezy while exuding opulence- a look that’s not easy to pull off, but is bread and butter for both the House of Chanel and the genius of Karl Lagerfeld.

Gorgeously patterned dresses and jackets on display at Chanel’s 2015 Cruise Collection show. Image GETTY

I love the variety different fabrics used in this collection. Apart from the wild patterns and gauzy tulle, there were also lots of shimmery metallics, beaded silks, chunky tweed, light knitwear and creamy silks. The heavier materials like tweeds, heavy silks and knitwear, were used to make chic jackets and heavier trousers.

Looks from Chanel’s Cruise Collection 2015, including shimmery trousers, heavy tweed jackets, flowing overcoats and gauzy tunics. Image LA MODA ARABIA

This collection is perfect for lovers of vintage, especially those who adore the bohemian style. The whole collection seems to be an ode to the luxurious hippies of the 1960s and 70s, with it’s loose, body-skimming shapes, sumptuous layers, ruffles and fabrics patterned in bold floral and bright geometric designs.

Looks from the print campaign for Chanel’s 2015 Cruise Collection, illustrating the gorgeously varied textures shown throughout the collection. Image CHANEL

As bohemian chic as this collection is, this IS Chanel- so, of course, there were deconstructed versions of the House’s iconic tweed jackets and slinky shift dresses that harkened back to classic pieces from the 1930’s.

The majority of the looks seen at the Chanel 2015 Cruise Collection Show are vintage inspired and have a heavy bohemian influence. Image ELLE

I like that there were traditional Arab inspired pieces incorporated into the collection, but modernized and revamped to accentuate the wardrobe of today’s international woman. There are examples of this throughout the collection with pieces resembling the thawab (long men’s tunic), the bisht (a traditional piece of menswear that was re-imagined into ladies’ clothing, giving inspiration for the long, heavy tunics and button-down mullet hemmed blouses that that are shown above), the shalwar kameez (two-piece outfit with a flowing tunic and precisely tailored trousers) and the sirwal (harem pants).

The long tunic this little boy wears is reminiscent of the traditional bisht, a classical piece of Arabic menswear. Image GETTY

The jewelry shown was big, bold and Byzantine-inspired. I love it ALL!

There were layered necklaces of precious beads and pearls, elaborate knotted chokers of heavy silver beads and chunky chains, long, dangling earrings, jewel-encrusted bracelets and Byzantine crosses. Headbands, hairpins and bejeweled hairpieces were worn by all the models, with almost every headpiece carrying the symbolic crescent moon- even the quintessential Chanel ‘double C ‘ monogram was reworked into this Moorish inspired interpretation.

Elaborate jewelry was one of the key features of the Chanel 2015 Cruise Collection show, with many pieces displaying a heavy Byzantine influence. The models all wore headpieces featuring a stylized crescent moon. Here Chanel’s ‘double C’ icon was reinvented to fit into this design. Image GETTY

All in all (including those everything 60’s inspired beehive hairdos), I think that Chanel’s 2015 Cruise Collection runway presentation was justifiably, a big hit. Simply stunning, it is like a thoughtfully romantic representation of an ancient tale.

A range of looks from the final walk-out at Chanel’s 2015 Cruise Collection show. Image VOGUE PARIS

My highness Karl, what a spectacular job!

Runway Shift: A Shift in the Right Direction

A view of the catwalk at Runway Shift, an event hosted by the Simply Runway Boutique. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK

A few weeks ago, the flu kept me home for an entire weekend, keeping me away from not one, but two MAJOR fashion events: the opening of the CLD Port-of-Spain boutique, and Runway Shift.

Runway Shift is a project aimed to bolster the Trinidadian Fashion Industry by encouraging the population to buy products from up-and-coming local fashion designers. The event was hosted by Simply Runway Accents, a boutique located in the Grand Bazaar Mall- and is the creative brainchild of boutique directors Candice Baccus and Isaac Ali.

Candice Baccus (left) and Isaac Ali, directors of Simply Runway and creators of Runway Shift. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/GARETH LEIGH PHOTOGRAPHY

The project spanned a course of nine months, during which selected designers worked to produce complete capsule collections to show at the culminating event- a runway show on April 13, 2014, held at NAPA (National Academy of the Performing Arts) in Port-of-Spain. Five finalists (Adrian Foster, Anicia Brooks, Mary April, Lisa See Tai and Meghan Charles) showed their collections and three were finally chosen to occupy a 3 month rent-free space in Simply Runway Accents. The winning designers can also expect great exposure to many exciting local and international opportunities which they can use to promote their brands.

A look from Adrian Foster’s Runway Shift Capsule Collection. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/EUSTICE DYER PHOTOGRAPHY

Runway Shift was conceived in 2013, when Candice first experienced the local talent being shown at Tobago Fashion Weekend 2013. Inspired, she went on to view footage from Trinidad Lookbook’s 2013 Style Spirit Fashion Weekend and was thoroughly impressed by the work of the emerging designers that were featured in the event. From there she began meeting with a few of her favorite designers to discuss their ability to supply her boutique with items in a wholesale capacity.

A look from Mary April Coutou’s Runway Shift Collection. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/EUSTACE DYER PHOTOGRAPHY

Candice Baccus is a fighter- and thank goodness because making Runway Shift a reality was not an easy task. She was surprised to discover that many of the designers faced similar challenges in terms of being able to supply the demand for their products, particularly due to difficulties arising out of a lack of funding and technical support. From these concerns Runway Shift was created as a means to give these designers an opportunity to establish their brands and to provide them with the much-needed experience that is required to create a successful retail business.

A look from Megan Charles’ Runway Shift Collection. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/EUSTACE DYER PHOTOGRAPHY

Then, during the selection process, another problem arose. Runway Shift began with over 50 designers being involved in the initiative, but during the nine months of preparation, the majority exited the competition for various reasons (none were dismissed). Because of their exits, the featured finalists were the ones who were truly invested in the process and trusted the project to deliver exactly what was promised. However, based on the positive response of this year’s event, the directors are positive that this will change for Runway Shift 2015.

A look from Anicia Brooks’ Runway Shift Collection. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/EUSTACE DYER PHOTOGRAPHY

The three designers chosen to occupy the rent-free space in Simply Runway Accents are Adrian Foster, Megan Charles and Lisa See Tai. Adding to their collections, the directors also plan to carry other local designer collections at the boutique. They have been approached by several local jewelers and craftsmen and are working on a way to include them in future plans.

The three finalists selected to occupy rent-free spaces in the Simply Runway Boutique, (from left) Adrian Foster, Lisa See Tai and Megan Charles. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/LIZZARD BLIZZARD

Currently, Candice and Isaac are focusing on the feedback they received from completing Runway Shift, and are concentrating on identifying any areas needing improvement.

A look from Lisa See Tai’s Runway Shift Capsule Collection. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/EUSTACE DYER PHOTOGRAPHY

This event is in its inaugural year, but the directors are hoping to make this an annual event that will not only strengthen and improve the T and T fashion industry, but will help to highlight emerging talents in fashion design. Based on the extensive coverage and praise that this event has received, I think that Runway Shift is well on its way to becoming a force in driving Trinidadian fashion to the forefront of the Caribbean market (maybe even the world? Fingers crossed).

Model Keriesse Sammy and Simply Runway director Candice Baccus at the Runway Shift press line. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/GARETH LEIGH PHOTOGRAPHY

I wrote this post with the help of a few questions I (a little bold facedly) sent to Candice. She most generously replied, and I’ve posted my whole mini- interview below. The Trinidad and Tobago Fashion Industry needs more people like Candice Baccus and Isaac Ali. Store owners need to realize the importance of supporting our talent and the fact that the local market is hungry for Trinbagonian designed luxury apparel.

(From left) Designer Darcel de Vlugt, stylist and event-coordinator Stephanie Ramlogan, Simply Runway director Candice Baccus and local socialites Nalini Mahraj and Tobye Gill at the Runway Shift press line. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/GARETH LEIGH PHOTOGRAPHY

I think opinions are changing, and this initiative has certainly helped things along. Runway Shift has opened many eyes to the financial possibilities of supporting local design, and shone a bright light on the amazing talent to be found on our own soil. Keep up the fantastic work Candice and Isaac!

You all are everything fab!

Simply Runway director Candice Bacchus (left) and designer Meiling at the Runway Shift press line. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/GARETH LEIGH PHOTOGRAPHY

For more information on Runway Shift, you can check out their Facebook page, visit the Simply Runway website, or visit Simply Runway and the Simply Runway Accents Boutique in Grand Bazaar Mall.

A look from Megan Charles’ lookbook, available at Simply Runway Accents Boutique from mid-2014. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/LEE TUNG AND THOMAS STUDIOS

• What inspired you to host Runway Shift?
Candice Baccus: I attended Tobago Fashion Weekend 2013 as part of Simply Runway’s staff vacation plans for our managers and my eyes were opened to our local talent. I also got some footage from Style Spirit hosted by Trinidad Lookbook which featured upcoming designers and was totally inspired. I began meeting with a few of my favorites accompanied by Stephanie Ramlogan, personal and media fashion stylist, just to discuss their ability to supply in a wholesale capacity and to my surprise all of them faced the same challenges; funding and technical support. With that in mind I framed Runway Shift to give these upcoming designers a chance to follow their dreams and truly understand the hard work needed to establish a retail business.

A look from Adrian Foster’s lookbook, available at Simply Runway Accents Boutique from mid-July. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/LEE TUNG AND THOMAS STUDIOS

• There are so many emerging talents in the T and T fashion industry, how did you choose the five finalists that showed in the event?
CB: To be quite frank, even though we had set criteria, for different phases in the project, selection sort of happened automatically because the featured designers were the only ones who didn’t drop out! They trusted the process which is super difficult to get people to do especially the first time around with a new company. We started off with a long list of over 50 designers and through the 9 months of preparation the majority dropped out for various reasons. We sacked no one. So for this first time around we were able to feature all who remained interested. I’m positive this will all change for Runway Shift 2015 having seen the response we got this year.

A look from Lisa See Tai’s lookbook, available at Simply Runway Accents Boutique from mid-July. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/LEE TUNG AND THOMAS STUDIOS

• Can you share a few of your plans with regard to local designers in your store?
CB: Further plans include being able to carry local collections at my clothing store, Simply Runway. That is the number one goal. At this point we’re focusing on the feedback we received on the execution of Runway Shift to identify which areas need improving. Several Local Jewelers and craftsmen have approached us as well so we’re taking that into consideration to figure out how we can include them.

A part of the final walk-out from Runway Shift, featuring looks from Adrian Foster’s collection. Image RUNWAY SHIFT/FACEBOOK/GARETH LEIGH PHOTOGRAPHY

MET Gala 2014

Dita Von Teese (in Zac Posen) and designer Zac Posen dance on the red carpet in front of the MET steps. Image GETTY IMAGES

In the fashion world, it seems like an almost magical time when the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Centre (formerly the Costume Institute), hosts it’s annual fundraiser- the Costume Institute Gala (commonly called the MET Ball or the MET Gala). This event is one of the most exclusive and highly regarded social outings in New York, and one of the biggest fundraising nights of the city (2013’s event raised a reported 9 million dollars). Since it’s inception in 1971, the MET Ball is considered to be the fashion industry’s premier red carpet event.

Selfie on the MET steps: model Rosie Huntington-Whitely (in Balmain) and Olivier Rousteing, head designer of Balmain. Image EAGLEPRESS/FACEBOOK

The event is overseen by fashion powerhouse Anna Wintour, who manages both the benefit committee and guest list, which always includes illustrious leaders from the worlds of fashion, art, business and entertainment. Each year the event has a theme, corresponding and celebrating the opening of the Institute’s annual fashion exhibit. This year’s theme being Charles James: Beyond Fashion, a retrospective on legendary British-American couturier Charles James.

Sarah Jessica Parker wore this Oscar de la Renta gown, bearing the designer’s signature on the train. Image LARRY BUSACCA/GETTY IMAGES

Now, in case you’re wondering why I referred to the Met Gala’s opening as “magical”, its because the excitement and anticipation surrounding the event seems like an early Christmas to me! I love it. The city is teeming with designers, models, artists, photographers- literally the who’s- who of the fashion crowd. Beautiful photo spreads themed around the event start appearing online and in print, along with articles galore about the upcoming exhibition and party.


I’m so excited! ‘A Day Before MET Gala’ by photographer Cass Bird, features models Xiao Wen Ju, Tilda Lindstam, Grace Mahary, Alana Zimmer and Hanne Gaby Odiele. The gowns are courtesy Zac Posen, Oscar de la Renta, Jason Wu, Reem Acra, Giles, Monique Lhuillier and Prabal Gurung. Image HAUTE COUTURE WEEK/CASS BIRD/FACEBOOK

Then comes the red-carpet event itself! This year, with the theme focusing on the highly-structured aesthetic of Charles James- the man credited by Chrisitan Dior for inspiring 1947’s iconic “New Look”- the attendees came out in their elaborate best (some of them).

Karolina Kurkova in a sculptured floral gown by Marchesa. Image W MAGAZINE/FACEBOOK

‘Drama’ is the word that best describes the style worn on the red carpet. Sculptured silhouettes, elaborate construction, wild florals (it IS Spring!), bold colour combinations and unexpected details (re:Sarah Jessica Parker’s look, Joan Small’s makeup) were all seen on the MET steps. Since this is an costume Instutute Gala, the attendees usually go all- out with their looks, and I love seeing them pull out the stops for the occasion.

Vera Wang and model Joan Smalls (in Vera Wang) on the red carpet. Image GETTY

However, it should be noted that there is a very fine line between ‘costume’ and ‘crazy,’ and with couture basically being the dress code, attendees have to remember to toe that line very carefully. Overall, this year was a good one. True, although a few people got it wrong (why Lupita?! WHYYY), most people brought out their very best for this event. Hell, even Kim Kardashian looked passable!

Like my fashion king- Kaiser Karl, I like to look forward, so I’m already anticipating the looks at the 2015 MET Ball. With what I’ve seen from this year’s looks, I’ll have a lot to look forward to!

Actress Emmy Rossum wore this floral Carolina Herriera gown to the MET Gala. Image GETTY

The 2014 MET Gala was everything fierce.

Writing this post was like watching fashion porn for me. I loved it!

Models Arizona Dunn (in Ralph Lauren) and Liu Wen (in Zac Posen) pose in front of a giant floral sculpture at the entrance to the MET museum. Image VOGUE

P.S. I’ll be writing a post about the Metropolitan Museum’s 2014 fashion exhibit Charles James: Beyond Fashion very soon, so stay tuned!

xx Ana