Deborah Bowness
New Ribbon
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Fur. The mere mention of the word makes many cringe. In western urban culture, it's a contentious topic that divides us into two groups: those who deem fur fashion READ MORE...
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Earlier this week, I was in the comments section of a blog I frequent, and someone had posted a photo of a shirtless, young guy with red hair sticking his tongue out cheekily READ MORE...
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The Sculptured House, also known as the Sleeper House since 1973 when it featured in Woody Allen's sci-fi comedy, Sleeper, is so cool it's painful. An elliptical curiosity in concrete and glass perched on Colorado's READ MORE...
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The BAFTA qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) has teamed up with London College of Fashion to establish a new fashion film strand at this year’s event, showcasing READ MORE...
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Knitwear designers studying in Italy are invited to enter the Knitting for Juliet competition launched by Fashion Ground Academy of Italian Design READ MORE...
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It was not possible to walk past Nicholas Rose's luminous, contoured lamp shades at 100% Design the other week, I felt like a moth drawn to a flame. READ MORE...
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The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll READ MORE...
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October 23, 2014

Chanel Revue Film a Stunning Mini-Epic Retrospective

(Email subscribers: click the post title to view the film)

Trevor Undi has outdone himself in the fashion film genre. Sure, Chanel offers the most dazzling and copious fashion subjects, but what to do with so much history, so much detail (the details!), so much artistry? Well, you pack in as much amazingness (normally I hate that word but here it actually fits) as you can in each second of a four-and-a-half-minute film. And you set it against an orchestral score composed by Gabriel Yared. This exuberant retrospective showcases intimate behind-the-scenes footage, detailed artistry, revisits memorable campaigns, international events and spectacular archival footage from the House of Chanel.

Chanel is a brand I will probably never be able to afford (fate is nodding its head in agreement somewhere). Normally I begrudge a brand a little bit for that and reserve my gushing for something more accessible as I don't like to go all nuts over something I can never have. But Chanel is the exception; what their artisans create in their ateliers is magical, it keeps the tradition of couture craftsmanship alive and thriving, and therefore I see the house's shows and imagery as records of this exquisite legacy. (Sure beats seeing it as a giant tease?)

This rapid and rich film is bursting with so much beauty and fascinating closeups that beg for further investigation, so I went a little mental and looked at each frame of the film and captured the stills. There are so many that are worthy of a longer look that I had to create a second page. You can view the rest here












Chanel_15 Chanel_17













And here's the rest 

January 27, 2014

Spring Couture 2014: Industrial Design Inspires Vionnet


Hussein Chalayan wanted to forget the DNA of Vionnet in creating his first demi-couture collection for the heritage brand, and so in true Chalayan style, he chose to look forward. Using industrial design as a starting point in shaping the dresses, he took cues from spiral staircases, furniture, and electric wires, according to Nicole Phelps. That's probably why this collection stood out to me amongst most of the others; the designer's interpretations of these elements gave his dresses a kind of loose and flowing 'cool couture' appeal which is rather rare on the couture runways. My favourite is the grey and yellow belted dress (top left) which would be perfect for the red carpet at the Grammy's, on Rihanna maybe? I'm not one to eye up the celeb looks too much, but this one seems made for the event where there are far more misses than hits. 

January 21, 2014

Spring Couture 2014: Cutwork at Christian Dior


According to the review at WWD, Raf Simons described this show as "honoring the connection between the women artisans of the Dior atelier who make the clothes, and the women for whom they work, the clients, seeing that connection as one of intimacy, expressed in a mood of graceful calm." Head over to and Tim Blanks elaborates on the theme, citing Simon's cutwork techniques, overlays, veils, the delicate chain bows on the neck and fingers, and  the sexual element of "concealment infused with peekaboos"as ways of "communicating the charged intimacy of couture."

An abundance of exquisite textural details have been seen at Christian Dior since Raf Simons took the helm, and whether or not the ultra-sweet forms of this couture strikes your fancy, you'd have to have a hard heart if you can't fall in love with everything that's happening on these clothes:








Raf Simons helped out the audience who couldn't make out his illustration: "It's a woman on top of the world":




November 20, 2013

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!


Starting today, Somerset House, in partnership with the Isabella Blow Foundation and Central Saint Martins, presents Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!, a major fashion exhibition celebrating the extraordinary life and wardrobe of the late British patron of fashion and art. Tickets can be purchased from the Somerset House website.

For more about the exhibiton and Isabella Blow's fascinating life in fashion, visit Not Just a Label and Daphne Guiness' Guide to the exhibition on (Daphne owns her late friend Isabella Blow's entire fashion collection, purchased after her death to stop it from being sold at auction and dispersed.)



April 16, 2013

Chanel Film: Bicolor, The Making of the Cardigan

Click the image to watch the Chanel film Bicolor, The Making of the Cardigan at Chanel News

Leave it to Chanel to turn the making of a cardigan into something magical. From choosing the colour of the finest cashmere threads to the finishing of the piece with those intertwined C buttons - measured for exactness with a wooden ruler - we get a glimpse into the highest level of craftsmanship that goes into making the French fashion house's two-tone cardigans.

Chanel's cashmere is produced in Hawick, Scotland. In fall 2012, Chanel purchased the Barrie Knitwear cashmere mill after its owner company collapsed, saving 176 local jobs and keeping yet another artisan manufacturer from going the way of the Dodo. To date, Chanel has ensured the quality and that unique exquisiteness of their garments by acquiring the struggling couture ateliers Lemarie, the last remaining Paris plumassier, Michel for millinery, Desrues for costume jewellery, Massaro for shoemaking, and Lesage for embroidery. Most of us may never be able to afford a Chanel garment (lottery tickets), but it's nice knowing they're still out there in the world. 






March 28, 2013

Festival des Métiers: A Rendezvous with Hermès


If you've ever wondered why an Hermès handbag, or any of their other goods, come with such a lofty price tag, Festival des Métiers will illustrate the reasons. The exhibition will showcase 10 different Hermès crafts at London’s Saatchi Gallery, 22 May – 28 May 2013. Working just as they would in the Hermès workshops in France, the craftspeople will be in situ at the exhibition for seven days making a wide selection of Hermès objects by hand.
This engaging public exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the traditions and values of Hermès in the crafting of fine objects; a presentation that encourages interaction by giving visitors the opportunity to meet and exchange with the Hermès’ artisans and experience first-hand their unique savoir-faire.
Festival des Métiers unlocks the poetic and unique crafts that are the essence of the house of Hermès, as their craftspeople reveal the mastery of their métiers. Visitors will see the famous Hermès silk scarf printed before their eyes and to rhythmic sounds of the artisans’ tools, handbags, saddles, fine-jewellery and other iconic objects from Hermès will be brought to life during the course of the exhibition. 

Festival des Métiers arrives in London from China where it has been exhibited in Beijing and Shenyang, and after London it will travel to Dusseldorf. The exhibition is presented in a contemporary setting designed by acclaimed designer Paola Navone. 
Admission is free and open to the public from 22 May – 28 May 2013 at the Saatchi Gallery: Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, Chelsea, London SW3 4RY. Hermès is an Education Patron of the Saatchi Gallery. 

A bit of history: Hermès was founded by Thierry Hermès in Paris in 1837, as a house of master harness-making and later saddle-making. Six generations of enterprising artisans have explored new markets and new skills. Now international in scope Hermès has continued to grow while remaining a family company, with a uniquely creative spirit that blends precision manufacturing with traditional craftsmanship. At the end of 2012 Hermès had 10 118 employees’ worldwide and 346 exclusive stores, and is active in 16 métiers.

February 08, 2013

Floral Friday: The Flowers of Spring Haute Couture

Florals_diorRaf Simons takes Dior back to the garden for Haute Couture SS 2013

With Haute Couture, we get to see florals rise up from the 2-D of print and pattern and 'pop' as embroidered and appliquéd blossoms so delicate you need to whisper, or so lush you want to run around in them. Flowers figured heavily at Dior (my favourite collection of the 22 houses, I think, who showed) and Chanel (of course they did, you don't waste the hands of Lemarié) while they texturised a selection of looks at Giambattista Valli and Valentino. The haute couture flower is so exquisite in its craftsmanship that it transcends trend and exists as simply a thing of beauty to admire, forever. 


Giambattista Valli appliquéd swelled-bellied and cinched-waist dresses, and accessorised with bronzed bouquets

Valentino Haute Couture SS 2013

Since we're talking about the specialness of haute couture, I can't not mention Valentino without also drawing attention to the dresses detailed in piping. This kind of handwork has featured in many Valentino collections when the man himself was at the helm, and now Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have taken the technique to extraordinary lengths. According to Tim Blanks as per the notes received at the show, the tulle cage-like cape below - over a dress of layers of organza embroidered with birds and butterflies - is scrolled with crepe piping that took 500 hours of hand-rolling to produce. And that was just one of several piped creations that took the catwalk. Blanks added that one roller apparently developed carpel-tunnel syndrome during the production of the collection. That's not suprising, but what is, is the fact that it was only one person! I'd say it was well worth it, but then it's not my gnarled hand we're talking about, is it? 


You can faintly see the embroidered birds and butterflies peaking out from the 500-hours-of-handpiping 'cage' cape


 The hand-piping in Valentino red. It's like fancy iron work but in crepe.

Florals_chanelChanel Haute Couture SS13

Chanel is generous with giving us glimpses into how their haute couture is made. Below we see the skilled hands at work at Lemarié, Lesage and Atelier Haute Couture Chanel as they create the collection 'Le Savoir Faire' for the spring-summer season. It's a three-minute video, but I think I could easily watch three hours of tulle ribbon being pulled through metallic threads:


February 07, 2012

Haute Couture: Alexis Mabille's Monochrome (Probably Not Mannerist) Models


My first thought when I saw Alexis Mabille's monochromed models for Spring 2012 haute couture week was "The acid coloured faces - they're just like those in the Mannerist paintings!" Now I may not remember what I had for lunch yesterday (or today), but I vividly recall certain things I learned in high school art history, it was the only thing that truly interested me. As a fine art major in university I don't recall coming across this again and therefore re-confirming the information, but I do believe I was shown some paintings from the Mannerist period as an example of something you wouldn't expect to see from the time because they used vivid colours, on the faces as well. However, I should admit it's entirely possibly that I was half asleep and I got confused, because after searching for hours and hours over several days since the collection was shown, I cannot find any evidence of this. I couldn't drop the reference though and start over, because at the very least they remind me of Jacopo Pontormo's acid-hued masterpiece Descent from the Cross (1525-1528).


But it's small consolation, it's not a close resemblance. I might be clutching at paint brushes here. Now I am (almost) convinced I imagined the whole thing. It wouldn't be the first time!

I still wanted to show the collection, for two reasons. I love the colours Mabille chose and the way the faces harmoniously carried through the hue (not at first but it really grew on me) and focussed attention on the head which was adorned with a giant paper rose.  According to Tim Blanks, his inspiration was (guess what, not a Mannerist painting!) a photo of Lisa Fonssagrives on a beach "her face suffused with pink from the sunlight coming through her umbrella." Sounds gorgeous, doesn't it? I couldn't find that one either!

And the dresses themselves aren't bad either! Beautiful, actually. Modern classics.

These are my favourite colours from the collection, as shot by


Desktop4-3Right: I love this shade of gold, very pure and clean, completely devoid of yellow.

The other reason I carried on despite my failed concept is I found some absolutely stunning photos of the collection on Violeta Purple, a gorgeous blog with lots of original photography by Yavidan Violeta, a Mexican-Turkish woman living in Paris. She's utterly charming, signing her posts with a photograph of shoes, her other muse. 

Her Mabille photos are so gorgeous and convey the romance of the collection beautifully - the feel is so engaging it makes the standard runway shot seem pointless. Does anyone else wish we could ditch the singular view from the wall of cameras at the end of the runway in favour of something magical, like this?







 For more of Yavidan's Alexis Mabille photos including backstage, see Violeta Purple. Enjoy!

July 06, 2011

Dior Fall Haute Couture...Things Have Changed


On Monday, the house of Christian Dior presented its first haute couture collection without John Galliano. We all know why. At this point, even dogs know it, so I won't go into it.

Names for an illustrious replacement have been tossed around. But for now, the house is dealing with the situation as Alexander McQueen did with Sarah Burton and have promoted the second in command to the lead designer role. Bill Gaytten got to do what he wanted for Dior this time out. I suspect he was behind the previous few collections as well, under Galliano's direction or creating in the style of to make it appear so. Who knows. Fashion is a glorious illusion in all kinds of ways.

At first glance of the opening looks, there's no doubt which brand this collection represents. The sharply feminine Dior silhouette that celebrates the tiny waist with those full flirty skirts is alive and well, but that seems to be a ploy to ease us in before things take an unfamilar turn. It's clear someone is trying out a new vision.'s Tim Blanks identifies three architectural influences, two of which I can plainly see as they're quite literal:

The Memphis movement of the 80s

A Frank Gehry skirt with the Memphis movement accenting the look in Stephen Jones' pastel pink sphere hat which is total fun

And I'm guessing as to where Jean-Michel Frank figures in, is it within the texture as opposed to structure?


And here's where things boomeranged in a new direction before returning to quintessential Dior style in a finale of those voluminous ball gowns (above). I think an entire collection like this (below) would have resulted in even sourer faces in the seats.


Then things went pear-shaped. Tim Blanks described the most awkward conclusion to the show:

"Then came Karlie Kloss, dressed as a Pierrot, sad clown all alone in the spotlight as the soundtrack failed and glitter showered down. But the stardust missed her by this much. And that felt like some kind of crazy cosmic metaphor."



Was this spectacle meant to be a replacement for, or distraction from, Galliano's famous end of show bow? Surely. And it may have worked, if it worked!

Seems a certain ghost is having a play at Dior.

Photos from

January 31, 2011

Chanel goes to the ballet; Givenchy to Japan


Riccardo Tisci followed up last season with a kind of 2.O of Givenchy's winter anatomy references with his new obsession: Japan. The pieces in the photos below aren't the most laboriously detailed ones but they're my favourites, and the backs of all of them are even more impressive than the front. However, it's worth mentioning that according to Tim Blanks, one really out there outfit required 2,000 hours of cutting and 4,000 of sewing, and a single pair of trousers had 90 meters of plissé. Now that's haute couture! You know my feeling that your eyeballs should desperately plead 'May I have a rest, please?' upon viewing an haute couture show and your brain should fizzle from over-stimulation and amazement.



Karl Lagerfeld delivered what we always want from Chanel. Pretty, delicate, youthful beauty, this time inspired by light and the ballet. There were skirts and dresses over skinny pants and leggings, lots of floaty chiffon - I don't need to mention boucles and tweeds do I? and - flats! At first I wondered why the models looked so 'normal', and that was because they weren't Amazons in their little ballet shoes. I have to say I prefer the freakishly elevated walk down the runway but hey, at least there were no clips for the blooper reel.

Chanel HC

Kristen McMenamy closed the show:

Chanel HC







PORTER Magazine issue 5 now available at NET-A-PORTER.COM

Cupcake Monday!

Interiors & Exteriors

Floral Friday

London Fashion Week

Fashion Illustrator Series

Artist Series

Paris & Cities

Painted Houses Project

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