Saturday, March 28, 2009

RAFW ditches the Big Top

sass & bide SS0809 @ the studio/getty via daylife

Well we did say it was going to be the Recessionista edition. In a nod to the economic downturn, and a reluctance on the part of designers to book the largest, and most expensive, Rosemount Australian Fashion Week show venue - The Studio - frockwriter can reveal that organiser IMG will most likely can The Studio altogether this season. As it emerges, designers have been fighting over time slots in the two most cost-effective show venues - the Cargo Theatre and the OPT room - and leaving The Studio with no takers. The Studio is RAFW's largest show venue, a purpose-built marquee that is traditionally erected on the Circular Quay foreshore. At a cost of A$15,000 + GST The Studio (capacity 650) doesn't seem that much more expensive than the OPT (A$13,000/450) and Cargo Theatre (A$11,000/300). This fee includes all show production aspects, minus models, hair and makeup, PR and ticketing. But the bigger the venue, the greater the costs all around, including ticket printing, postage etc.. And in this environment, it seems hardly surprising.

Sydney is not the only fashion city to feel the pinch of the economic downturn.

The just-wrapped Fall/Winter 0910 show season was marked by numerous show cancellations and cheaper static presentations or video alternatives (eg Halston, Temperley and Gareth Pugh). This was particularly true of the American event, where of course the retail market has been very adversely affected.

But even Milan Fashion Week cut one full day of shows off its schedule.

IMG tells frockwriter that the upcoming SS0910 showcase is definitely not being cut back to four days, from five. Apart from the traditional student and New Generation group shows that usually take place on the Friday, at least one brand reports that it already has a confirmed Friday time slot: Anna & Boy.

Just a reminder that this blog has been tracking the RAFW schedule as it comes together - and before its official release, which at this stage is slated for April 15.

The information comes directly from the designers or their spokespeople.

Four weeks out, the schedule already boasts 31 names that say they have confirmed they will do solo presentations. Those confirmed include some very big local names, from sass & bide – which is definitely now doing a presentation and not a runway show – to Willow, Kate Sylvester, Aurelio Costarella, Lisa Ho, Zimmermann and Ginger & Smart.

There will still be a tented venue on the ground level at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, primarily for registration and sponsorship purposes.

The biggest challenge, says IMG, will be engineering dual preparation areas behind both the Cargo Theatre and OPT show spaces, as shows will be bumping in and out much more quickly than if there was a third show venue to take some of the pressure. Additional tents may have to be constructed to accommodate this.

Graeme Lewsey, IMG FASHION Asia Pacific director of communications, told frockwriter:

“It’s a bit of a challenge, but it's not going to be a problem - if that's what we need to do because that’s what the industry is looking for, then that’s what we'll do. It's becoming really obvious that people want to be more comfortable with the slightly smaller venues. Nothing else changes apart from the fact that we have to build these double backstage areas. We’re not troubled by it and it's not affecting the number of designers that are going to be showing. The industry is defiant that it's got a lot to sing about and we’ve got a strong industry and we’re already seeing some really great labels that are coming back. There is a subsantial domestic focus this year. It's going to be important for designers to show at RAFW to strengthen what is a really important part of their business – their domestic business".

Traditionally the venue for all of IMG's group shows, The Studio has in the past also showcased the event's biggest solo show names.

In 2008, these included sass & bide, Easton Pearson, Michelle Jank, Alex Perry and Camilla.

In an interview this week, sass & bide’s Heidi Middleton told this journalist that her company spends A$200,000 a season showing at New York Fashion Week.

Considering that exports account for a mere 20percent of sass & bide's A$25+million sales turnover, that is some investment. But it does not of course take into account the international publicity generated by showing at a major international fashion event.

With the US retail market flatlining at the moment, and therefore a slim possibility of an immediate ROI - at least in the US market - it is not difficult to understand why sass & bide and several other Australian brands have skipped NYFW for the past two seasons.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Guns n poses

vee speers via lens culture

Was interested to spot a 2007 series of shots by Australian photographer Vee Speers, currently on show in several international exhibitions – including Atlanta’s Jackson Fine Art Gallery until tomorrow. In spite of the facts that a/the shots were apparently originally shown in Sydney at the Byron McMahon Gallery in 1997, and b/Speers happens to be an Australian photographer, who nevertheless lives in Paris, her name was unfamiliar to frockwriter up until this point. Called The Birthday Party, the series depicts a series of children playing dressups. I saw the initial images on the Cyana Trendland blog overnight – and was struck by the beauty of the shot (below) of the little girl in the black angel outfit and some of the other fashion-y shots. I did however find some other shots unsettling - notably the image of the little girl tarted up to look like a child prostitute in black lace bicycle shorts, with her bare chest obscured by an armful of dolls. Not to mention several images of little boys with naked chests. But that was before I found the rest of the series elsewhere online. It includes one bare-chested kid holding a semi-automatic rifle, with three pistols stuffed in his pants - all real weapons, not toys - and another half-naked boy with a mace, who looks like he’s off to a Belgian S&M paedo party.

vee speers via lens culture

vee speers via penn house productions

vee speers via cyana trendland

Of course had Bill Henson not arrogantly insisted on rubbing a full frontal naked shot of one young female subject in the face of the press - and it followed, the public - via his Roslyn Oxley show invitation last year, the exhibition would most likely have gone ahead without a peep. As indeed Speers' 2007 Byron McMahon exhibition appears to have done.

Even Roxley Oxley herself harboured concerns about the appropriateness of the shot on Henson's invitation, frockwriter hears.

Speers' earlier photographic series was called Bordello. Inspired by the Paris red light district of the 1920s and 1920s and shot inside former bordellos, it was commemorated in a 2005 book which featured a forward by Karl Lagerfeld.

Speers reportedly hails from Newcastle, but has been based in Paris since 1990 and lives near the Rue St Denis red light district.

In the unlikely scenario that Speers was ever tempted to take more childrens portraits back in her home state, it would be interesting to see if, as an artist, she would fall in between the cracks of new NSW legislation which mandates that anyone wishing to employ children under the age of 16 for modelling purposes must first seek permission from the NSW Childrens Guardian.

The bureau has also implemented a new Code of Practice that is designed to protect children from being cast in roles inappropriate to their age and experience.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Aurelio Costarella and Willow ditch NYFW for RAFW

aurelio costarella SS09/daylife

In yet more developments to the rapidly-unfolding RAFW schedule, frockwriter can reveal that Perth's Aurelio Costarella will be doing a presentation on Wednesday 29th April at 11.00am in the Cargo Theatre. A more intimate showcase than a runway show, the presentation of Costarella's heavily-embellished SS0910 collection will nevertheless involve 12 models. This will be Costarella's first AFW show in three years. In the interim, of course, he has become a regular at New York Fashion Week, where he last showed in September for SS09 - skipping the most recent FW0910 shows there, undoubtedly due to the very flat US retail market. In other news, IMG confirmed via Twitter that Kit Willow Podgornik will also be joining the RAFW schedule. Like Costarella, Podgornik has also become a NYFW regular, but skipped the most recent season. Apart from a static lingerie presentation in 2007, Willow has not shown a fashion collection in Sydney since 2005, choosing to focus her attention on the once promising US retail market. Although the scale of both presentations remains to be seen, fact is both fashion expats have chosen to spend some of their marketing dollars back downunder. New York's loss is very much Sydney's gain.

The Sartorialist heading to RAFW

christopher peterson/wikimedia

Rosemount Australian Fashion Week is shaping up to be a very interesting event, in more ways than one. Given how many media players are piling onto Twitter, Twitter promises to revolutionise RAFW, as it did the just-wrapped FW0910 northern hemisphere season. Had an interesting chat yesterday with RAFW communications director Graeme Lewsey, who mentioned that bloggers may have a much greater prominence at this year's event. This is interesting, given the coverage generated by bloggers at last year's event - notably Bryanboy. Lewsey hinted that an even more highprofile blogger may be en route out. Coincidentally, in last week's London Times profile, the world's best-known street style photographer Scott Schuman, of The Sartorialist, mentioned he is en route downunder. Frockwriter has just heard that plans are afoot, via Tourism Australia, to bring Schuman down for RAFW (now confirmed by IMG). With The Sartorialist the only fashion blog on Technorati's Top 100 blogs - out of 130 millions blogs tracked - and Schuman's claim of three million monthly visitors, it promises to give RAFW one of the biggest publicity boosts it has had in some time. One that would be further magnified, should Schuman bring his girlfriend, high profile French street style blogger, Garance Doré (30/03: IMG reports that he plans to do just that).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

sass & bide returns to RAFW, opens five new stores

deborah pauwwe

On Monday, frockwriter mentioned that sass & bide has been mooting a return to RAFW to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Well now it’s official. Today, just as sass & bide announced that former Mimco CEO and sass & bide consultant, David Briskin, has been appointed sass & bide CEO, and that Briskin and Daniel Besen have taken a strategic stake in the company, sass & bide confirmed to frockwriter that it will definitely take part in RAFW’s SS0910 schedule – in a format that is yet to be determined. It could be a runway presentation, with the SS09 collection the most likely to showcase, given that it was not shown at New York Fashion Week in September. Alternatively, a party. “But it’s definitely on the schedule” noted spokeswoman Nicci Hunter.

Regarding rumours floated elsewhere today that sass & bide was desperately in need of a cash injection to stay afloat, sass & bide is one Australian fashion company about which frockwriter has not heard a negative financial peep of late.

In fact in talking with retail architect Kelvin Ho last week, it emerged that the company is preparing to roll out new stores.

Frockwriter could not mention it then but we can now also reveal that sass & bide will open three new stores within the next month: in Adelaide, Bondi Junction and Melbourne’s GPO, with an additional two to open by September/October, in Chadstone and Chatswood Chase. That brings sass & bide’s store tally to ten - doubling its local store count.

Founders Heidi Middleton and Sarah-Jane Clarke, who insist that they retain a controlling stake, are also currently mooting their return to the northern hemisphere runways for September’s SS10 shows – at either New York Fashion Week, or perhaps London Fashion Week.

Given that a London flagship is also on their retail wishlist, frockwriter would put money on it being the latter sooner rather than later.

Monday, March 23, 2009

RAFW SS0910: The Recessionista edition

sonny vandevelde via TFS

Well Rosemount Australian Fashion Week is five weeks away. With a jam-packed, star-studded 2008 event that was widely-touted as the "best-ever", combined with the current dire economic climate, could the Spring/Summer 0910 edition possibly live up to last year? Frankly, it's far too early to call. Those who followed my Fully Chic blog at this time last year will recall that Fully Chic blogged the SS0809 schedule as it was coming together. Frockwriter plans to do the same again. Judging by early bird calls out, a schedule is starting to take shape. Below you will find its bare bones, which consist of those who say their show dates and times are locked in, including several high profile names.

There is also a "TBC" list of brands whose reps say they will definitely show, but who do not yet have confirmed slots.

This draft schedule will be updated as we move forward.

In addition to news updates which will appear as solo posts, and as this post moves further down the page in the coming days/weeks, look for the RAFW UPDATED SCHEDULE button on the top right-hand side of this page. It will link straight through to the draft schedule.

The word on the street is that this will be a very different event - and one that may even be cut to four days. In the current environment, which has seen similar cuts to international show schedules, does anyone find that surprising?

That said, it's worth remembering that last year the Friday schedule came together at the last minute, with no less than Akira popping up as the RAFW closer. Frockwriter hears that one very cool Australian label may have already locked in a Friday timeslot. UPDATE 26/3: Anna & Boy say they are confirmed for Friday at 10.00am.

Difficult times call for different strategies and not only are several big names not showing, several publicists told frockwriter that they are deliberately concentrating on smaller show lists - out of concern that they might not be paid.

"It's going to be the battle of the publicists - with several big brands not showing, it's going to be interesting to see who steps up to the plate" noted one publicist.

Alex Perry is not showing at RAFW for the first time in the 14-year history of the event. According to Perry's office, the recent Queen Mary show was it for Perry for SS09.

Both Easton Pearson and Akira Isogawa are definitely out of the event, Isogawa making his decision as late as last week.

Leona Edmiston is showing off-schedule in the leadup to the event.

Josh Goot also looks to be a definite no-show.

Goot has just returned from London Fashion Week and, as we reported in October, is heading to Barcelona for the el Botón-MANGO Fashion Awards on April 29th. Goot is one of ten finalists competing for the rather spectacular prize purse of 300,000 euros.

As for TBCs, in spite of the financial predicament of her husband, Phillip Smouha, it may surprise some to hear that Lisa Ho is “absolutely” showing, according to her publicist Adam Worling, who is currently locking in dates.

Kate Sylvester, who made headlines at the event last year over her styling use of war medals, initially planned to do an off-schedule show in the RAFW leadup. These plans have now been shelved and Sylvester is currently mooting an on-schedule show, possibly on Wednesday 29th April, according to her spokeswoman Marie-Claude Mallat (now confirmed).

Sass & bide, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is currently mooting some kind of presentation (now confirmed). Ditto Tina Kalivas, Alice McCall, in addition to another big brand.

So check back in for more updates - also on the model front.

Myf Shepherd (pictured above), who turns 18 on April 8, may be back in town which would be great news for the event.

After being scouted by Chic Management early last year, and walking in the David Jones AW08 show, the Australia's Next Top Model reject made her main runway debut at RAFW 2008.

Shepherd went on to become a major new face at the Resort 2009 shows in New York, followed by the four-city, SS09 ready-to-wear season, the SS09 haute couture shows in Paris and most recently, the FW0910 season, in which, as we reported two weeks ago, Shepherd walked in an impressive 62 shows.

Last week Shepherd also enjoyed a cameo in New York Magazine's The Cut blog, which revealed that Shepherd would appear in a 12-page editorial spread shot by Matthias Vriens in the April edition of Numéro (and here are some of the shots). Now comes word that Shepherd may have also just bagged the Benetton FW0910 campaign.

Click here to see Shepherd's hilarious $60 shopping challenge on Modelinia, whose embed code doesn't appear to be working (tks Hot Caviar for the headsup).

So which other Oz model hatchlings could be route out of the nest for a first airing at this RAFW?

Watch this space.


15.00 Leona Edmiston, The Rose Garden, Botanical Gardens

18.30 Cheap Monday Customised Denim Tour/S/S Preview Event, Boutwell Draper Gallery

NAC Collective, Luxe Studios (all day)
Showings of SS09190 collections from: Tommy Hilfiger, Nina Maya, Adidas by Stella McCartney, Camper, RM Williams, OPSM, Sunglass Hut, Mezi Jewellery.

19.00 Toni Maticevski 2008-2009 Limited Editions, The Ivy Ballroom
TBC Maise

18.30 Vodka event

19.00 Friedrich Gray, UTS Atrium


10.00 camilla and marc, the OPT
11.00 Bec & Bridge, Cargo Theatre
12.30 Ginger & Smart, the OPT
15.30 Arnsdorf, Cargo Theatre
17.00 Wayne Cooper, the OPT
18.00 Therese Rawsthorne, Cargo Theatre
19.00 Nicola Finetti, the OPT

09.00 Dion Lee, off-site
10.00 Zimmermann, the OPT
11.00 Manning Cartell
12.30 Zambesi, the OPT
17.00 Ant!podium, the OPT
20.00 Diet Coke show, Cargo Theatre
21.00 Ellery, off-site

09.00 Konstantina Mittas, Cargo Theatre
10.00 Kate Sylvester, the OPT
11.00 Aurelio Costarella, Cargo Theatre
15.30 Marnie Skillings, Cargo Theatre
17.00 TV, the OPT
18.00 Jayson Brundson, Cargo Theatre
20.00 Kirrily Johnston, the OPT
20.30 Willow, Carthona House

09.00 Romance Was Born, Sydney Theatre Company
10.00 Lisa Ho, the OPT
11.00 Beat Poet, Cargo Theatre
12.30 The Innovators (Fashion Design Studio), the OPT
15.30 Sara Phillips, Cargo Theatre
17.00 Gary Bigeni, the OPT
19.30 Karla Spetic, the OPT
20.30 sass & bide, off-site

09.00 Christopher Esber, off-site
10.00 Anna & Boy, Rosemount Bar
12.30 Michael Lo Sordo, the OPT
17.00 Fernando Frisoni (closing)

TBC SOLO PRESENTATIONS (confirmed - but unsure of date/time)
The Cassette Society
Gail Sorronda + Dhini double show

Christian Lines (Fashion Design Studio)
Seema Pun (Fashion Design Studio)
Soeli Pedrozo (Fashion Design Studio)
Rachel Sherwood (Fashion Design Studio)
Saint Augustine Academy (Ready To Wear)
SU (Ready to Wear)



Thursday, March 19, 2009

Carine Roitfeld on CNN Revealed

OK, here's the much-touted CNN doco on Carine Roitfeld which aired this morning at 5.30am AEST. To frockwriter's knowledge Bryanboy was the first to provide a link to am embedded video - which did not appear to work, at least when we checked it earlier this morning, linking solely to CNN's live coverage. Hence our interest to spot that the doco has since been re-loaded to Sethivarova - the same YouTube channel which recently re-broadcast the new Calvin Klein commercial, to which WWD had a preview, but failed to provide embed codes (it was later taken down). On closer inspection, the entire documentary is in fact available on CNN. So if you missed it there, on Bryanboy or elsewhere, enjoy.

Prêt-à-Twitter: LMFF Marketing Breakfast

Australian-born Bob Isherwood, Saatchi & Saatchi worldwide creative director from 1996 until November 2008, weighing in on the shifting luxury goal posts at this morning's Melbourne Fashion Festival Marketing Breakfast, which just wrapped. This time last year, at the same event, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion about new media.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I, Fashion Robot

Here is an inspiring video currently doing the rounds - of Aimee Mullins talking at last month’s TED conference. Mullins’ name is no doubt very familiar to many. Born without fibulae in both legs, Mullins had both of her legs amputated below the knee at age one. Twenty years later, in 1996, she made world headlines by setting Paralympic records in Atlanta in the 100m dash and long jump, whilst wearing a pair of spectacular carbon-fiber prostheses, whose design had been inspired by the hind legs of a cheetah. Highly photogenic, Mullins became the focus of a 10-page feature in Sports Illustrated and was swiftly adopted by the fashion world. She appeared in a score of fashion magazines and notably, on Alexander McQueen’s runway in 1999, wearing a pair of hand-carved wooden legs.

Mullins has since made a tentative foray into the acting business and, judging by this presentation, has developed into a charismatic and highly confident motivational speaker.

As Mullins talks in this video, a stage hand delivers to the podium some of her 12 pairs of prosthetic limbs, via which she says she is able to adjust her height from 5’8” to 6’1”.

As inspiring as Mullins and her story are, frockwriter can't help get the feeling that there's something strangely unsettling here - especially following the video of the Japanese "runway" robot which swept the net yesterday (see below).

Not to mention reports of elective surgery to increase height.

Romancing the Woolmark

AWI via lumensphotography

Congrats to Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales, whose Romance Was Born label took out the 2009 L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival Woolmark Designer Award last night. The duo's Autumn/Winter 2009 'Yeti Magic' collection led an impressive competition field that included Ant!podium, Gary Bigeni, Ellery, Konstantina Mittas and Therese Rawsthorne. Plunkett and Sales walked away with A$10,000 in cash, in addition to a trip to one of two key European textile trade shows, Pitti Filati or Premiere Vision. With Australian Fashion Week just six weeks away, 2009 is shaping up to be a big year for the five year-old Sydney brand. How are they going to top their 2008 AFW extravaganza? If all goes to plan, with an even bigger extravaganza, this time staged at the Sydney Theatre Company, thanks to a new hookup with STC co-director Cate Blanchett, who has become the brand's biggest fan - and who wears one of its dresses in the 2009 STC program. Romance Was Born is also due to design costumes for an upcoming STC production.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A. K. G. Nair, fashion savant

Frockwriter knew there was a reason why we started trawling through every fashion video that is uploaded onto YouTube (well, courtesy of a handy, one-stop shop alert system). And by George, we think we found it. Ladies and gentleman, we give you A. K. G. Nair, Group Director of the Pearl Academy of Fashion – which calls itself India’s premier design, fashion, retail, production and merchandise management institute. Frockwriter was astounded to discover that not only is Nair a prolific vlogger – he is also a vastly underappreciated vlogger, whose videos had, until now, scored zero views. Considering how many insights are offered, that just won’t do.

Here is an anthology of some of Nair’s finest musings, shot against what look to be the Venetian blinds of his office and delivered in his soothing voice, whilst colleagues shuffle noisily behind the camera.

Could Nair be the next net fashion sensation? Judge for yourself, as Nair asks the probing questions, “Is fashion only for the rich, or for the masses too?” and “What is the value proposition of high-priced labels in the fashion?”, whilst waxing lyrical on everything from “The pricing of fashion as a commodity and brand” to “The impact of slowdown on the fashion industry”, “Going beyond clothing, fashion can be holistically applied” and the mildly subversive “Bureaucracy is not competent enough to manage academia”.

Not to mention frockwriter’s fave, “Fit is a matter of understanding the body, its contours, postures, and slopes”.

Girl with a gong

Congrats are due to Erica Bartle, whose two year-old Girl With A Satchel blog has won Best Australian/New Zealand Weblog at the 2009 Bloggies, the results of which were just announced at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas. Nice to see an independent recognised. Well done.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fleur Wood pulls 160 rabbits out of her hat

Times are certainly tough in fashion, but some are expanding undeterred. A case in point, Sydney designer Fleur Wood, who opened her third Sydney boutique last Wednesday in Chatswood Chase. Here is a first look at the 75sqm space, that was designed by upwardly mobile Sydney architect Kelvin Ho - who is rapidly gaining momentum as the Australian fashion retail architect du jour. This is Ho’s second Fleur Wood boutique after Wood’s space in The Strand, where Ho also designed The Corner Shop and Terry Biviano outlets. That’s not counting sass & bide’s four stores in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne and Willow’s Sydney and Melbourne boutiques.

Wood’s latest boutique, a twist on her trademark homespun white décors, features a corrugated sheeting ceiling and a seven metre-long frieze of 160 plaster rabbits – apparently an idea cooked up between Wood and Ho’s interior designer collaborator Deborah Snellgrove, from one white plaster rabbit which sits in Wood’s studio.

all images: fleur wood

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fashion from the vault

As we mull the fruits of FW0910 - and, as The New York Times’ Guy Trebay suggested yesterday, some of the industry's key players ponder their own possibly imminent demises – New York's Film Archives has, coincidentally, just started uploading a raft of old footage onto the net. Among the gems on its YouTube channel, this vignette on Paris Spring fashions from 1954, a time when of course not only were Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga still alive, they were the kings of fashion. Showing just how times change, the voiceover notes: “A Dior creation is always news the world over”.

Some of the videos are highly amusing - particularly the more recent Patrick Swayze and Jackson 5 ads and some hilarious anti-drug commercials, the LSD version (last video) looking like a cross between The Prisoner and Star Trek.

Frockwriter can't help thinking that some of the older videos might provide some much-needed ideas for designers and retailers who are grappling with the Recession and need to grab consumer attention.

Of note, some footage of a female roller derby. Following Jean Paul Gaultier's mud wrestling finale this week, presumably it's only a matter of time before we see Natasha Poly, Raquel Zimmermann and co engaged in similar roller combat.

There are also several underwater fashion shows, notably one staged by the Texan retailer Soggy Scroggins (second last video), whose underwater wedding stunt was designed to "stimulate sales".

Friday, March 13, 2009

McQueen's garbo couture

hendrik kerstens

And so another ready-to-wear season bites the dust. With the economic crisis raging, it’s been a little difficult to concentrate on the clothes. That said, there were some beautiful collections, Lanvin's and Jil Sander's being two of frockwriter's personal favourites. In the face of economic calamity, moreover, which has witnessed panic at more than one luxury and retail enterprise - as profits nosedive, budgets are slashed and staff are turfed out the door - how remarkable was Alexander McQueen’s “Horn of Plenty” show?

alexander mcqueen FW0910/

A marvellous piece of theatre which showcased some of McQueen's greatest hits, as well as nods to 20th Century couture icons such as the houndstooth check tailleurs of the maison Christian Dior, the show backdrop consisted of a giant mound of garbage that was said to have been fashioned from the props of the designer’s old shows.

As thrown-together as it may have looked to some observers, there was nothing laissez faire about this art direction, with the dark, menacing set resembling a post apocalyptic landscape from a sci-fi film. Frockwriter will take a punt the set was most likely authored by Simon Kenny, McQueen's mis-en-scène accomplice for the past nine years.

AP via daylife

The millinery was signed, as usual, Philip Treacy - with no small assistance in that department from hair stylist Guido Paulo, who Glad Wrapped spraypainted Coke cans to the models' heads.

Peter Philips was responsible for the makeup.

Philips said the look was inspired by Pierrot and Joan Collins, however, as has already been mentioned by many, the show's aesthetic seemed to pay more than a passing nod to the late Australian performance artist, and highly original costumier, Leigh Bowery. The garish, exaggerated clown lips were a Bowery trademark.

hendrik kerstens/witzen hausen gallery

alexander mcqueen FW0910/

Frockwriter would like to throw in the name Matthew Barney as well here – at least one ensemble (the white bird outfit) seemed vaguely reminiscent of a costume from Barney's Cremaster Cycle.

hendrik kerstens/witzen hausen gallery

alexander mcqueen FW0910/

And not forgetting Hendrik Kerstens, the Dutch photographer whose portrait of his daughter Paula with a plastic bag on her head, the postmodern incarnation of a 17th Century Flemish cap (and pictured at the top of this post) appeared on McQueen's show invitation.

A closer look at Hendriks’ oeuvre reveals that he may have provided a little more inspiration for the show styling than originally reported.

hendrik kerstens/witzen hausen gallery

alexander mcqueen FW0910/

McQueen is not the only fashion creative for whom the obscenity of conspicuous consumption seems front-of-mind at the moment.

Here is a link to a short film called, in fact, Consumption, that was directed by Warren du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones and which appeared on SHOWstudio last year.

And here is’s video of Tuesday's McQueen show, which placed a brilliantly creative exclamation point at the climax of a rather unsettling season.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Is Olivier Zahm the new Michael Hutchence?

purple diary

Well frockwriter has been musing this very possibility over the course of the past month, as the co-founder and editor of French art/fashion bible PURPLE FASHION magazine has chronicled his, and his high profile fashion cohorts’, FW0910 adventures on the new Purple Diary blog. (One social shot from which, FYI, features Melbourne expat and apparently Stefano Pilati intimate, Louise Neri, the New York-based art critic/Gagosian Gallery director, who interviewed Pilati for the September issue of Interview). The above shot is captioned, “Olivier Zahm forced to wear Milla Jovovich’s Roberto Cavalli dress of at the Principe di Savoia Hotel bar, Milan”. Warning: NSFW

purple diary

First up, there is Zahm's rather uncanny resemblance to the late INXS frontman.

Secondly, as has occurred to frockwriter since July really, with the airing of the first Cobrasnake shots of Oz teenager Tallulah Morton out and about on the Paris party circuit – shots in which Zahm was often seen to be lurking – Zahm does seem to share Hutchence’s playboy penchant for glamorous women. And notably models.

Furthermore, Zahm appears to have more than a passing interest in sexual experimentation.

To wit, a series of shots shared via his blog which were scanned from the 1975 book, Extases (Tchou/Vertigo, Paris), by Ron Raffaelli and Nicole Avril, apparently a gift to Zahm from designer Vincent Darré:

ron raffaelli/nicole avril via purple

Zahm does seem more than a little preoccupied with sex, in his magazine and moreover, his photo diary.

purple fashion magazine via this is the first floor

Here is a photo of Zahm grabbing a woman's ass - a shot he originally proudly displayed at the top of Purple's MySpace page. Although now removed from that page, the shot has since been immortalised elsewhere on the net:

the fashion spot

Just a quick word on one of Zahm's MySpace mates - "Gallermic T Mabuse" - who appears to have even more exotic tastes.

These include a photo of what by anyone's definition would be a naked pre-pubescent child with their legs spread before the camera, as posted to Purple’s MySpace page. Together with the caption:
“Vice may be learnt, even without a teacher”

And apparently left there since May 2008 without so much as a peep from anyone.

Ooh la la, those saucy French.

No idea if Zahm is gifted with any musical talent. But we do look forward to his next postings.

And we'll take one bet that when it comes to young, inexperienced women desperate to get their faces - or asses - in some high profile French fashion editorial, just what you have to do to swing a bit of coverage in PURPLE FASHION magazine.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In a Wordle: [frockwriter]

frockwriter screengrab/wordle

Spotted (tks Online Journalism Blog) this cool website called Wordle which translates copy, or URL feeds, into graphic word clouds which capture the essence of the content. I just keyed in frockwriter's URL and it seems to have taken a snapshot of the most recent posts. You keep hitting the "randomize" button for a fresh layout. I liked the fonts and colours of these two because they kind of reminded me of the book jacket/film poster of some 1960s crime novel that's set against a backdrop of the modelling business. Now I think of it......

frockwriter screengrab/wordle

The Fall girls

chanel FW0910/

Good grief. Frockwriter takes her eye off the FW0910 action for a mo, to attend to some work which required more than a little concentration, and the Oz model crew continues to walk up a runway storm. With Myf Shepherd (pictured above) leading the pack - by a wide margin. We did say that Shepherd's sophomore RTW season was shaping up to be bigger than her first. Well at time of writing, Shepherd had broken her own show record by walking in 56 (13/03: now 62) shows from New York to London, Milan and now Paris. With two days to go, how many more can she do? Will she crack the season's Top 5 in terms of shows walked? Here is an updated showlist of the 17 Australian women (and OK, one man) who have walked thus far on the season's runways.

The list is obviously yet to be finalised. Feel free to add in anything frockwriter may have missed. Thanks also to the TFS crew, whose model otakus keep such close tabs on their individual faves.

Congrats to all the models for making their marks on the season.

Couple of points.

Great first season for Bridget Malcolm and Georgie Wass. And who really is to say that an agent blabbing to Grazia UK about a potential Prada exclusive may have stymied Wass's chances of said exclusive? If indeed that is what occurred - we really don't know where the Prada info came from. As we pointed out, many girls are optioned for that show and never make it in. Wass did not, in the end, turn up at Prada.

Alexandra Agoston-O'Connor is really in her element at haute couture, but her season seems comparatively light - and it was disappointing not to see her at Dior, since she is usually a sure bet with any Galliano show. Tallulah Morton did make it into the Dior show.

Beyond a couple of great gets for Stephanie Carta in New York, moreover, and a few good Paris shows, Carta missed out on several high profile shows which she no doubt hoped to nab again - notably Jil Sander, Balenciaga and Givenchy. On the other hand, she did appear in a high volume of low profile commercial shows in Milan.

Work is work and of course, times are tough, but it's odd to see Carta in those lower tier shows, after achieving such great heights last season - and being hyped as a face to watch.

The Mallory Jansen info comes, perhaps amusingly, from a snippet in The Sunday Telegraph. Jansen does not appear to have her own TFS thread yet and we have been snowed under with work and had no time to check with the agencies. Yes bad timing, but hey, we have to make a living.

Unless sub-editors are at fault here, removing copy for space issues (which is always a possibility), it strikes frockwriter as strange that any paper would go anywhere near a story on Australian models in the FW0910 season and fail to mention even the names of Shepherd, McNeil and Stracke. But look, there you have it: mainstream fashion coverage. And they wonder why people are flocking to the net.

Frockwriter couldn't resist slipping in a couple of backstage shots of our fave Oz model mate hybrids.

Myf Shepherd
Brian Reyes (opened)
Jason Wu
BCBG Max Azria
United Bamboo
Adam Lippes
Diane Von Furstenberg
Erin Fetherston
Donna Karan
Marc By Marc Jacobs
Max Azria
Michael Kors
Phillip Lim
Devi Kroell
Zac Posen
Julian Louie
Academy of Art University
L'Wren Scott
Topshop Unique
Armand Basi One
Christopher Kane
Betty Jackson
Richard Nicoll
Luella (closed)
Julien Macdonald
Paul Smith Women (opened)
Louise Goldin
Ermanno Scervino
Alberta Ferretti
Emilio Pucci
Gianfranco Ferré
Les Copains
Sharon Wauchob
Bruno Pieters
Hussein Chalayan
Sonia Rykiel
Sophia Kokosolaki
Haider Ackermann
Atsuro Tayama
Kenzo (closed)
Paul & Joe
Alexander McQueen
Miu Miu


catwalking via TFS

Catherine McNeil
Ohne Titel
Alexander Wang
Diane Von Furstenberg
Carolina Hererra
Matthew Williamson
Derek Lam
Narciso Rodriguez
Diane Von Furstenberg
Isaac Mizrahi
Zac Posen
Julien Macdonald
Alberta Ferretti
Bottega Veneta
Salvatore Ferragamo
Jean Paul Gaultier
Stella McCartney
Louis Vuitton


Skye Stracke
Brian Reyes (closed)
Joseph Altuzarra
Karen Walker
Akika Ogawa
Oscar de la Renta
Basso & Brooke
Nathan Jenden
Nicole Farhi
Anne-Sofie Back
Paul Smith Women
Mary Katrantzou
House of Holland
Antonio Marras
Enrico Coveri
Jo No Fui
Moschina Cheap & Chic
Atsuro Tayama
Tsumori Chisato
Giambattista Valli
Emanuel Ungaro
Junya Watanabe


Stephanie Carta
Narciso Rodriguez
Phillip Lim
Rad Hourani
Matthew Ames
Vena Cava
L'Wren Scott
Laura Biagiotti (opened)
Love Sex Money
Antonio Marras
Gabriele Colangelo
Jo No Fui
Kristina Ti
Gaspard Yurkievich
Veronique Branquinho
Dries Van Noten

Bridget Malcolm
Lela Rose (opened)
Miss Sixty
Marc by Marc Jacobs
Andy & Debb
David Delfin
Toni Maticevski
Tory Burch
Vera Wang
Cynthia Steffe
Elise Overland
Nanette Lepore
John Rocha
Nathan Jenden
John Richmond
Antonio Marras
Carla Carini

Tallulah Morton
Graeme Black
Jasper Conran
Paul Costelloe
Mariella Burani
Jean Paul Gaultier
Marithé et François Girbaud
Ann Demeulemeester
Alviero Martini
Estrella Archs
Hiroko Koshino
Christian Dior
Vivienne Westwood
Jean Charles de Castelbajac

Alexandra Agoston-O’Connor
Kinder Aggugini
Jasper Conran
Marithé et François Girbaud
Comme des Garçons (closed)

Shanina Shaik
Yeohlee (opened)
Shipley & Halmos
Mara Hoffman
Project Runway
Richie Rich

Georgie Wass
Topshop Unique
Nicola de Main
Danielle Scutt
Jeal-Paul Knott
Marithé et François Girbaud
Jean Charles de Castelbajac

Chelsea Scanlan
Shipley & Halmos
Mara Hoffman
Vivienne Tam

Rosie Tupper
Lela Rose
Nanette Lepore
A Détacher

Christina Carey
Rad Hourani
Joseph Altuzarra
Vena Cava

Julia Ikonomou
Andy & Debb
Custo Barcelona

Zanita Whittington
Josh Goot
Alexandra Groover

Jethro Cave

Vanessa Milde
Toni Maticevski

Mallory Jansen
Fatima Lopes

Friday, March 6, 2009

Things not going better with coke in Paris - especially at Elite

satirical sisley advertisement via adsneeze *

Well it seems the fashion action isn’t isolated to the runways this week in Paris. French police have launched a strike force to crack down on drug use in the Paris fashion, nightclub and film scene. The first high profile deer caught in their headlights is none other than Bertrand Hennet, the ceo of Elite Model Management parent Elite World, who has been charged with buying, possessing and transporting cocaine. Released on bail, Hennet revealed to investigators that he snorts up to two mgs of cocaine every day. And possibly also dobbed in others, in exchange for a better deal. According to the UK Telegraph, a number of others are being questioned - including other "high-profile" figures.

Hilariously, Elite Model Management president, Gerald Marie, dismissed the arrest as an "epiphenomenon", claiming that although he is "surprised" by the incident, Hennet is not involved in the day-to-day running of the agency.

Oh yes, that's right, Hennet only heads up Elite's high profile international scouting event, the Elite Model Look contest, which involves a large number of young teenage hopefuls.

A spokesman for Elite World is quoted as saying that the Hennet debacle, “is an isolated case."

Well, isolated to this decade, is what he meant to say presumably.

In 1999, Elite Model Management - then the world's biggest model agency (a title that has since been usurped by IMG Models) - found itself at the epicentre of the modelling industry’s biggest scandal, after a current affairs team from the BBC led by Donal MacIntyre conducted an undercover investigation into the Milan modelling scene.

The exposé, which sent shockwaves through the industry, revealed that girls as young as 13 were being pressured into sex and drugs by those in trust, with one model booker from the Marilyn agency admitting that she supplied cocaine to models.

The actions of the Elite agency were particularly damaging.

Elite executives were overheard calling black models "niggers" and making racist jokes, whilst Gerald Marie, who was at the time the president of Elite Europe, propositioned an undercover female reporter who was posing as a model – and boasted on camera that he planned to seduce the Elite Model Look finalists, whose average age was 15.

Needless to say, many may well be surprised to hear that Marie even still has a job at Elite, let alone a senior position at the company - having stepped down in disgrace in the wake of the 1999 scandal.

The news follows almost a year to the day that the head of the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, slammed "coke- snorting fashionistas" such as Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss and Pete Doherty, for glamorising drug use.

All three celebrities have strong connections to the fashion industry in the various capacities of paid model, booked entertainer and/or designer muse.

Needless to say, it promises to be a fun week.

Elite Model Management was founded by John Casablancas in Paris in 1972.

Casablancas described the BBC's 1999 revelations as "some of the darkest aspects" of modelling and promised an investigation within the company, telling The Independent:

"Four members of the Elite organisation appear in this programme. The language and situations in which these individuals allowed themselves to be involved are shocking, unacceptable and highly inappropriate".

Coincidentally, Casablancas sold his interest in the agency in 2000.

In 2002, Casablancas found himself at the centre of his own underage sex scandal, when a former Elite model claimed that she had been pursued by Casablancas at the Elite Model Look competition when she was 15, that Casablancas had made her pregnant and then took her to a doctor for an abortion.

* Although the above "Sisley" ad initially swept across the net in 2007, prompting heated debate, Sisley parent Benetton has clarified that the company had nothing whatsoever to do with the images. Sisley has nevertheless been more than happy to push the taste envelope with its advertisements, as shot by Terry Richardson and including the famous shot of model Josie Moran simulating fellatio with a cow's udder. And frankly, it's hardly surprising that people found it so easy to believe that this was a real Sisley ad. In the interests of satire and free speech, frockwriter reserves the right to republish the above picture as social commentary on the fashion business. Sisley can hardly claim that its, ahem, nose, is clean.

Tallulah says NO

NO magazine/the girl with kaleidoscope eyes

Apart from a few shows at London Fashion Week, and a couple of low profile Milan shows, Tallulah Morton's FW0910 season has yet to take off. With the Paris leg just kicked off however, things may pick up (07/03: Morton appeared overnight in several Paris shows, notably Christian Dior and Vivienne Westwood). Meanwhile, here's a preview of Morton's latest cover - the 5th edition of New Zealand's NO magazine, courtesy Kiwi blog The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes. Yes that's the cover/editorial that was shot by Mark 'The Cobrasnake' Hunter, in somewhat controversial circumstances, a couple of months back. This is one of two covers of the edition - the second depicting New Zealand actress, stuntwoman and Quentin Tarantino acolyte, Zoe Bell.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Prêt-à-Twitter: First word on Balenciaga

LOVE blog

The LA Times' Booth Moore was first onto Twitter immediately following Balenciaga. Staged at the Crillon Hotel (most unusual for Balenciaga) and attended by Catherine Deneuve and Salma Hayek, the show - make that shows - featured "fresh and wearable" print dresses, draped jackets, cigarette pants, draped silk skirts and tweedy metallic knits. The New York Times' Cathy Horyn published the first images and later blogged about the draped coat dresses, the reedition of a spot print from Balenciaga's archive - and the spirit of Yves Saint Laurent. LOVE magazine later blogged more shots (above, below). Frockwriter Tweeted (and prior to the UK Telegraph story going online), that we thought it looked like something out of Joan Collins' winnebago whilst shooting Dynasty. That the venue, celebs and collection smacked of someone being given an ultimatum and that it looked like Ghesquière designed the tackiest collection he could to thumb his nose at PPR. But hell, what would we know? More FW0910 coverage to come once we have finished some other urgent work. Click here to see the complete collection on

LOVE blog

balenciaga FW0910/the new york times

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gareth Pugh FW0910 live blog

Fashion never sleeps - and nor does frockwriter. Especially not when we’re on deadline. But another live blog calls people. And who are we to ignore it? Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio is thoughtfully providing a live stream (correction, video) of Gareth Pugh’s FW0910 collection at 5pm today Paris time, which is 3am AEST tomorrow. Join frockwriter, Bryanboy and Imelda live as we slice and dice Pugh’s sure-to-be theatrical extravaganza and ponder the second biggest rumour of the season after Alessandra Facchinetti working on Tom Ford’s new womenswear label: is Pugh headed for Dior Homme? Beyond LVMH’s statement that the company is bankrolling Pugh's shows, some believe an announcement is imminent. Today? Ironically, Pugh’s FW0910 show timeslot immediately follows that of Kris Van Assche, the Dior Homme incumbent Pugh is tipped to replace. In the interim, here is Pugh, above, in some other SHOWstudio vignettes.

05/03: As becomes obvious at the kickoff of the blog, Pugh did not do a runway show yesterday, but showed a video. That's fine and it was still a first look, however we can't help expressing our disappointment in SHOWstudio's lack of transparency. The website advertised "the exclusive opportunity to watch Gareth Pugh's eagerly-awaited A/W show, live on SHOWstudio... we will be able to simultaneously show exactly what press and buyers will see". Several phone attempts last night to clarify the exact nature of the presentation were blown off, with a SHOWstudio rep refusing to confirm or deny whether it was definitely a live stream of a runway show. We received confirmation that it was a video from Sonny Vandevelde in Paris at 2.28am (Cover It Live's time code here is one hour out for some reason). We can't help feeling SHOWstudio deliberately misled readers - possibly also showgoers. Apologies to anyone who stayed up until 3am on our recommendation, expecting to see a runway collection.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dolce e Gabbana FW0910 live

Kane and able

Word first leaked on Friday that Brit enfant terrible Christopher Kane (above, pictured with Donatelle Versace) has been involved in a collab project with Versace's 20 year-old diffusion line Versus, which is being relaunched after a four year hiatus. Yesterday the spectacular, crystal-encrusted accessories collection was unveiled in Milan and here are a couple of shots, courtesy Versace.

This is not the first time Kane has worked with Versace.

Prior to the September 2006 launch of his own signature collection in London, the St Martins graduate briefly consulted to Versace's Atelier haute couture line and the accessories line.

Given how closely-guarded the Kane intel was, you have to wonder how much more of an involvement he may have in the Versus fashion collection, which will bow at the Spring 2010 shows in September.

Or indeed, whether there may be anything in the pipeline with another Versace protege, Norwegian Kristian Aadnevik.

All images: Versace.

Prada goes to war

prada FW0910/fashionologie

You've got to love the speed at which the FW0910 collections coverage is moving. And I'm not just talking about the Twitter dispatches - from which we have learned over the past 24 hours that the Recession continues to impact on showgoer numbers, including the foreign press. And that Alessandra Facchinetti may be cooking up Tom Ford's new womenswear line. Approximately two hours after the Prada show, a UK Telegraph video was up showing not only the hair & makeup preparations, but show footage. Myf Shepherd scored her second Prada show (1.00 into the video below), also Marni and Gucci, in what is emerging as an even bigger sophomore runway season for the 17 year-old Australian.

Click here to see the complete collection on

Miuccia Prada told reporters backstage that the collection was a take on the country – and there were certainly plenty of sturdy pastoral tweeds, ribbed knit cardigans and rich tapestry brocades. Not forgetting the Wellington-look boots, complete with curious leather suspenders - the most extreme version being a to-the-hip style that was a dead ringer for a rubber fisherman's wader, but which, as it turns out, is definitely leather. On the horizon for some time now, the over-the-knee boot trend has reached its apotheosis this season.

prada FW0910/fashionologie

Luxury abounded in businesslike crocodile briefcases and an abundance of fur, which picked up from Prada’s ‘sauvage’ FW0607 collection and was seen in everything from gilets to dresses, cardigans and bags.

But this Prada collection also boasted a very definite WWII austerity vibe. Two cases in point, the predominance of boxy tweed suits with strong shoulders and wide lapels and even the hair, which to frockwriter’s eye looked far less ‘roll in the hay’ as some have suggested, and more Victory Roll. Named after a fighter pilot manoeuvre which celebrated victory in battle, the Victory Roll became the iconic coiffure of the 1940s.

There was more than a little fight in this Prada collection, as evidenced in the boxing arena-style seating, the spectacular studded gladiators - which included a Mary Jane with a studded upright fringe that looked like the defensive collar of an Australian Frilled Neck Lizard in fight or flight mode. And of course, the richly embellished finale of gladiator-style studded ribbon dresses.

prada FW0910/fashionologie

But if the clothes were Bolshie, the models seemed less so. As they gathered en masse in the centre of the Prada ‘ring’ at the close of the show, at least one observer noted that they looked too thin.

Loving Marie Claire Australia's Twitter coverage, but can't help wondering if their Prada advertisers are going to love the latter comment.

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