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Iconic Swedish photographer JH Engström is currently exhibiting 'From Back Home' in Berlin, a collection of images tracing his childhood memories back to the province of Värmland READ MORE...
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There's something so irresistible about miniature food, the treats we love made into tiny packages you can just pop into your mouth - virtually guilt-free! READ MORE...
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"Three friends taking pictures of themselves in a photo-booth as they go off to Glastonbury festival''. This was the brief John Galliano (remember him?!) gave to Nick Knight READ MORE...
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As an amateur photographer, I'm fascinated by the universe of possibilities we can explore in creating images with our digital camera - why limit ourselves? I read a debate a while ago READ MORE...
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Since 2007, Montreal photographer Nicolas Ruel has been refining an in-camera double exposure technique, where with a quick swivelling motion of his device, a second plan is overlaid on a main READ MORE...
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Lula is about to pretty up Japan even further this October with its unique mix of memoir, philosophy and fantasy, as interpreted by editor Kazuo Sazuki READ MORE...
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February 24, 2014

Favourite AW14 Coats from New York and London

LFW_CHristopher_RaeburnChristopher Raeburn's outwear uses the latest techno fabrics to resist the elements

There were so many great coats showing in New York and London (and now in Milan), so I decided to focus on favourites from the first two fashion weeks. Most of us can't afford to shop the runways, but I've always gone with coats as the one piece worthy of investment, if you're going to splurge. Something I noticed with the collections thus far is the explosion of colour, not just in the liberal use of every shade of blue, but shocking oranges and lots of vivid multis which was a real surprise, especially for New York, which tends to favour the head-to-toe black look. 

Richard Nicoll went all-out with electric blue, and I love two-tone coats with contrasting sleeves and upper lapels:


Jil Sander Navy showed sporty looks with vibrant colour blocking on seasonal darks:


I'm always surprised to like what Tommy Hilfiger is doing, but who could resist these oversized, textured knits: 


There were many collections that featured a single coat, cape, or jacket (I think I may have included a dress in there) that I particularly loved. If  had to pick one to wear every day, it would be Rachel Roy's wool biker-style coat in that gorgeous blue:


Belstaff's cozy plaids didn't conform to the continuing volume trend, but the mitts sure did! 


Photos: Style.com 

September 20, 2013

LFW: The Florals, Pastels, Textures and Shoes



London Fashion Week tends to have some sure hits when it comes to the can't-get-it-anywhere-else details and also perfectly collection-matched, fantastic shoes. So I've grouped together some of my favourite pieces from the shows for which there's a lot of overlap, as many were textured/pastel/floral. The thing I've loved about LFW when I've attended is the exhibition where collections that have already showed can be inspected up close (or until then you might see the current season in its place) so you can witness the glorious detail for what it really is. (However, I once found out the hard way that one especially exquisite designer's rep doesn't appreciate too many questions and just may be a bit paranoid that you're asking not out of gleeful curiousity but with the intention of stealing techniques! I thought that was rather paranoid, especially as the collection on display at the time was currently in stores, as next season's was showing later that day, and could be investigated at one's leisure; I don't think people attend LFW with their names on visible badges and then attempt to rip off by specifically asking about fabrics, etc! Especially when it comes to a designer who is so special no one could really come close anyway; it would be like finding out what paints and brushes Leonardo da Vinci used and then attempting to recreate the Mona Lisa. Contrastly, the next designer room I visited, which was another favourite for indulgent detail, invited me to touch the clothes and were generous and encouraging with the questions and even invited me to next season's show (which in the end is up to the PR team who handles the guest list and you never know what will happen with that, but the gesture was redeeming!) Either way, I respect the rules with each designer; I had just wished that the people of one of my most loved hadn't left me feeling dirty!) 

I wish I had some information to accompany the photos as I'm sure there are interesting collabs and other neat tidbits to note,but I've spent all of my time on the collages and have come up short on research time now that I'm on my way to the London Design Festival. But at the very least we can do some safe oggling at a distance!









Photos: Style.com

July 24, 2013

Fashion Film Festival to Launch at London Fashion Week

SMC Silent Cinema 1Derek Zoolander would make his best 'prune' at hearing this news. 

St Martin’s Courtyard will be transforming into an open air movie theatre to showcase Silent Cinema, a Fashion Film Festival. A full sized cinema screen will pop-up for three nights during London Fashion Week in September showing iconic fashion films for free, a rare opportunity for the public to enjoy a Fashion Week event.

The St Martin’s Courtyard Fashion Film Festival will open on Sunday 15 September with a salon fashion show in the courtyard followed by the first screening, and will run until Tuesday 17 September. Choose between tongue-in-cheek fashion comedy Zoolander, fashion industry favourite Grey Gardens, or catch a glimpse behind the scenes of American Vogue in The September Issue.

Silent Cinema is beautifully simple: you wear wireless headphones to watch great films on a full size cinema screen. 100 free tickets are available for each screening through a prize draw. If you’re not one of the lucky ones to win a pair of tickets, be one of the first to arrive on the night and there will be a number of tickets available for each screening on a first come first served basis.

To guarantee one of the best seats in the house, you can book in advance for dinner and a movie at one of the St Martin’s Courtyard restaurants. Contemporary Thai restaurant Suda, British café /restaurant Bill’s and Italian enoteca Dalla Terra will all have headsets for al fresco diners.

A cinema experience wouldn’t be the same without treats to nibble on whilst watching the film. Enjoy Thai snacks from the Suda usherettes, posh sweets, ice cold beer and hedgerow fizz cocktails from Bill’s bar, and free gourmet popcorn for all.

St Martin’s Courtyard is Covent Garden’s newest shopping and dining destination with a unique mix of fashion, beauty and lifestyle boutiques and flagships and six international restaurants.  Many shops will be open until 7pm for a pre-screening shopping spree and many of the restaurants will be offering late supper deals after the films finish.

For a chance to get hold of a pair of tickets, visit www.stmartinscourtyard.co.uk/fashionfilmfestival and enter your details. Winners will be contacted one week prior to the screening. There will also be tickets available on the night. For live updates and further ticket giveaways, follow St Martin’s Courtyard on twitter @smccoventgarden.

February 26, 2013

Fashion Week Favourites: London


Duro Olowu returned to London this season to show his scrumptiously chic A/W collection (he's been showing in New York for the past two years). One of my most favourite designers and a very warm-hearted man to boot, through his clothes he shows us seemingly endless ways to wear texture, colour and print at its most joyful, and those ways are becoming more and more refined and sophisticated without stifling one bit of his infectious exuberance. I can only imagine how special you would feel wearing one of his garments. (When I met Duro last autumn his lovely wife was with him and looked fantastic wearing one of his exquisite jackets.)


Look beyond the no-pants, high top trainer, face-eating-muff styling by Katie Grand and you'll see some very gorgeous knits from this sister line of the knitwear house Sibling, appropriately named Sister by Sibling. (Sometimes I feel the need to explain why catwalk presentation can be odd, for the non-fashion readers. Like my Dad. "Why isn't she wearing pants? Who goes out without pants?" "No one, dad. But you notice the sweater, right? And the hat?" "No, I'm wondering why she's not wearing pants." "Never mind, Dad.") Anyway, massive scarves in a gorgeous slubby texture are appealing in a primal way - don't we all seek that kind of assured comfort in the cold? The short sleeves of the fair isle and rosette sweaters balance their chunkiness and make for a cute shape. And they may even look good with pants. 

I love the sporty look of  Clements Riberio's striped cashmere sweater with the floral mini, and the slightly punky hair that keeps it from looking too preppy. These outfits stood out from the earthier muted tones that dominated the second half of the line up. 


Michael van der Ham's usual choppy asymmetry was only to be found in the zig zag of the models' hairstyle this season. The patchwork mashups were (mostly) gone, with the outfits more finished and refined. And if the models look to be even more miserable than usual (actually, with the exception of one, these were the least sour looking of the bunch) it's because van der Ham's inspiration was a 'tough girl - moody and dark.' Ok. But some actually looked like they were in pain. 

Pringle of Scotland has pared down their knitwear range to focus on their signature styles, the loveliest of the bunch being the pure white gilet and skirt in an ottoman rib knit that makes you want to run your fingers over and over just as much as wear.


I always look forward to the Orla Kiely presentation in what has been her fashion week home away from home for the past several seasons, the Portico Rooms at Somerset House which she would transform into her preferred fantasyland at the time, and always on the Friday. Sometimes there would be live models (which of course I loved, they pose for you), sometimes there would be cardboard cutouts, and other times it was superimposed paper girls on the walls. I've skipped the past two seasons because fashion week takes a heck of a lot of energy, and I just haven't had it for the past year. So I was surprised to find out that Orla moved out of Somerset House and instead set up office, literally, for her fashionable, anachronistic secretaries to show off their new knit dresses, embroidered cardigans and smart handbags between typing and taking phone calls. 

Photo source

Click the image to watch the video of the girls at work (at fashion156.com):


Another reason I love the presentation format:

Sophia Webster showed her new range of shoes in pastel birdhouses in a pastel forest

BoraAksuPhotos: Bora Aksu

I so look forward to inspecting the intricate details of Bora Aksu's clothes up close in the exhibition hall, post-show. The Turkish designer's signature approach involves techniques with the textiles to create all kinds of interesting textures, and mixing knitted elements with both delicate and rigid materials, like chiffons and lace, and hard leather. You can see some details from a past season here.

Photos: fredbutler.blogspot.co.uk

And undoubtedly the most joyful of presentations come from Fred Butler where you instantly feel validated for your enduring childhood attachment to colour and your desire to celebrate it now in a big way. Which Fred does every day. This season Fred took a more commercial approach and set up a pop-up shop (complete with Fred Butler-esque cupcakes by Pomp de Franc) to allow guests to interact with the goods.

Fred does a film each season and I use them for a little daydreamy escape whenever things are too gloomy in this world of ours:


Photos from Style.com unless otherwise credited

July 12, 2012

Fred Butler SS12: Our Summer Sun Has Arrived!


The reception was hosted by Susie Bubble, seen studying one of the textural sorbet outfits

Last autumn I saw some of Fred Butler's SS12 presentation at London Fashion Week. I had to be quick despite this being the collection I was looking most forward to, because my evening train back to Newcastle was leaving across town in just over an hour. To walk into the Portico Rooms at Somerset House,  see this thing of pure joy, and have to rush through it was just cruel. I took photos of the three outfits being modelled, after stopping to take in each one in - you can't not smile when doing this! - then ran off just as more models appeared in high-inducing oufits, but I was already late and I left with a whimper (and I mean literally, people looked at me). So I tried to take a shortcut to Kings Cross which wound up being a longer way, and missed my train by 20 seconds. Swearing and some self-flagellation followed. When I returned home I was so excited about the photos and posted a teaser for the presentation, then my hard drive crashed a few days later, obviously a punishment for not getting onto the main post sooner. After five days in the IT hospital and being told to write a eulogy for my laptop, our local guy saved it and the hard drive was recovered, but there was no guarantee that everything would be there. This drawn-out tale leads me to today, when I finally, and purely by chance, found my lost Fred Butler and Craig Lawrence photos which I thought were gone forever, my record of the best of what I saw for spring at  LFW.

And technically it's still summer, eh? Not that it matters, Fred's clothes and accessories aren't bound by seasonal restraints; colour is celebrated simply because it's a new day and one must get dressed in something, so why not make it happy? Her palette takes shape though unusual forms that must be the result of manipulation, playing around with soft textiles and rigid materials like perspex, and whatever she can sculpt to create things that are joyful, sunny, and different, but not simply for the sake of it. Her style is tightly honed and elegant in its own way. I took a pass on the last LFW as it wasn't a good time to be away from my family, and when I saw what I missed, a salon showing of her AW12 collection, it just stung. If you love pastel harmonies, you will melt like blue bubblegum ice cream on a summer day (that is, unless you're in England!!)

This is the video for Fred Butler SS12 followed by the photos, and it's well worth clearing an hour to watch her videos on Vimeo, they are one of my few go-tos for daydreaming and you can see why:




Fred has a knack for making things that leave you desperate to run your fingers over them. But I didn't touch the model's feet or forearms.





She must not have seen what she was wearing, otherwise she'd be smiling.








Photos © The Swelle Life

November 11, 2011

LFW: Jasper Conran SS12


Update: Jasper Conran is brilliant at documenting his behind-the-scenes processes with inspiring images, and so he thought I might like to see his album of 1930s photos of the 'leisure class' that he drew upon to create his collection (as portrayed by photographers Jacques Henri Lartigue and Georges Hoyningen-Huene), and also the backstage slideshow for his LFW show. He's right!

Click the images to see more:

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I have to admit I was really hoping for details of the more overtly feminine kind at Jasper Conran's SS12 show - huge thanks to LFW sponsor Glaceau Vitamin Water for sending me - and not so much sporty.  I fell in love with his lace doily-look laser cut flower appliques from two years ago and wanted more of the sort. See the beautiful pages from his design scrapbook for SS10:

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But I also love a surprise and was wowed that Conran's return to sporty and a bit preppy was also lithe and flowing. With lots of sexy backs, clean cuts, precision cutouts and transparency. The clear, geometric shaped and appliqued bags were especially neat and would make just as much sense carried empty  - if not more!

The show notes listed each outfit in detail and I love that by-gone approach to the fashion show, like an old salon presentation narrated by an MC. Actually, that's exactly how it was at Craig Lawrence and I'll be getting to that dream of a show as well. 

"White cotton pique long tunic dress, white cotton pique shorts"

"Black silk cotton sleeveless jacket, black silk cotton A-line skirt, translucent black  and white handbag"

"Red chiffon panelled applique shift dress, white crepe de chine slip dress"

"White crepe sleeveless t-shirt, white crepe split panelled skirt, clear shoulder bag"

"Black silk cotton top, black organza straight cut box pleat skirt, translucent red handbag. Red crepe shirt dress, translucent red box bag"

"Grey melange linen jersey sleeveless t-shirt..."

"Red crepe A-line pleat front bustier dress"

"Shocking pink crepe split front dress with square wrap back"

 Photos © The Swelle Life

October 19, 2011

LFW: Orla Kiely's Happy Clothes for SS12


Orla Kiely brought her girls back after having two-dimensional representations the past two seasons. They rotated on circular platforms to show off the waist-focussed silhouetttes and fresh prints from every angle. I love that you can expect the same thing from Orla Kiely season after season, yet it never feels like 'Oh, that again.' Her shapes are classic, ultra feminine and youthful, but she eludes monotony and overt girliness by using high quality fabrics, thinking through textural details, and creating print graphics that look refined.

There were lots of clean white cottons amongst the spring colours, my favourite being the coral which was soft and gorgeous and edged in a sheened trim:















Orla had ice cream in branded cartons served by a 'cigarette' girl. I had some, of course!




TheSwelleLife_BigBlondeSmileI love this girl, she gave me big smiles with every outfit. Happy clothes!

 Photos © The Swelle Life

October 01, 2011

Floral Weekend! The Fashion Week Edition


Florals may be a bit of a cliche now, we see them season after season including AW. But I don't care, I love it! There's always a new way to work with them so it's not just another floral dress, like these looks from fashion month which are anything but old and dusty.

Clockwise from top right: Chistopher Kane; Richard Chai Love; Peter Pilotto; Antonio Marras x 2;  Erdem; Kinder Aggugini; Gary Graham.

I cordially invite the Erdem and Kinder Aggugini coats to my wardobe, April 2012 sharp.

September 30, 2011

A Look at the New LFW Cinema

TheSwelleLife_1 Inside the BFC Show Space at Somerset House

Spring Summer 2012 is the first season at London Fashion Week for the BFC Cinema, set up in a tiny black hut-style theatre in the BFC Show Space at Somerset House (BFC is British Fashion Council). They did livestreaming as well as show their programme of fashion films on a loop which is what I caught when I popped in after the Jasper Conran show, which I saw thanks to LFW sponsor Vitamin Water (photos coming, I swear. 'Twas a good one, too). 

You can watch some of these films at LFW TV


Here are my favourites of what I caught, starting with House of Flora's film by Ryan Parry. "A playful nod to Grace Jones, Keith Haring pop art and gestures of Josephine Baker", it was an infectiously energetic performance with plenty of colour and striking shapes in the body movements, designs and backdrop.     

Now this next one was pretty cool. The subject is Sarah Angold 's lighting sculptures which I thought were accessories because this was fashion week, and I kind of wish it was actually possible to wear one of these translucent coloured pieces. However, this film by George Petrou was loooooong. It ran with several minutes of silence and then a soundscape by Danny J Lewis sprung in to remind you there had been no sound until that point. For fashion week especially, when people don't have long to sit and watch, an edited version would have been better received. People got tired of waiting for it to end and left. That's a shame. It would be best played at parties hosted by Timothy Leary, if that were possible.


Charlotte Olympia's To Die For by Jam and featuring Portia Freeman, is a gorgeous, surreal, murder mystery featuring designs from the current AW collection.





First two photos © The Swelle Life

Others shot from films, as previously credited

September 22, 2011

LFW: Fred Butler SS12 Teaser


It's going to take me a few more days to edit the rest of the shots I took at Fred Butler's mindblowing SS12 presentation at LFW on Sunday, but I couldn't wait to show one of my favourites - a head piece or hat, lilac-pink (one of the best colours ever) hexagonal sunglasses and fabric earrings that follow through on the sorbet softness of the voluminous scarf/top/jacket (in the full shot it's like a longer bolero style). The fact that I can't quite define it exactly is one of the reasons I love Fred Butler.

More to come!

Photos © The Swelle Life

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