I’m not sure whether I’m early or late writing this. One of the highlights of Pitti Uomo 93 in January, and the entire menswear season, was the AW18 Undercover show. I wanted to write something about it at the time, but I’ve been playing catch-up ever since.
Far Left - A still from the film, Left - Undercover AW18
The Leopolda Station in Florence was transformed into an homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a timeless inspiration for pretty much everybody, but I’d never seen it done this literally before.
The scene in which the astronauts wear their coloured suits was the finale of the collection and looked as though they had just stepped out of the film.
The 1968 science fiction film, produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, is now 50 years old and is still a masterpiece of sci-fi cinema.
I hadn’t seen an Undercover show before and I didn’t know that much about the label. Founded in 1993 by Jun Takahashi, it began showing in Paris in 2002. For this season, it was a guest of Pitti Uomo in Florence.
Left - Both Undercover AW18
That naughty computer HAL 9000 was up to his tricks and played a prominent part in the collection in the form of bags and accessorises. There were full fleece suits, a simple idea, but not seen before, and something I will mention again later in the season. Stills from the film covered outerwear, but it is the final group of figures, in full, colour-coordinating outfits, that you should emulate.
So, when shopping for you next cold weather outfit, buy everything in the same primary colour. From parka to padded trousers to matching hat and gloves.
Z Zegna, the sporty side of Zegna, did something similar and it’s easy to find Space Odyssey inspiration in interiors and architecture. Happy birthday, Space Odyssey.
Left - Z Zegna AW18
Below - Achille Salvagni - Spider White Chandelier
Shopping centres are morphing to survive. Opening cinemas, restaurants and other attractions to get people out of the house and their tenants happy with more footfall, they are trying to move away from being a one trick shopping pony. This is old news.
But, it’s all so chainy and sanitised; the antithesis of what is cool today. It’s basic.
Left - St George’s Market - Belfast
What’s cool today is start-ups, seasonal produce, artisans, craftspeople, farmer’s markets, Boxparks, ethnic food and passionate and motivated people seeing the whites of their customer’s eyes.
Shopping centres need to harness this energy and support it.
I’ve often been jealous of the historical, covered markets they have in many Northern towns. This isn’t poncey, Daylesford Organic type markets, but real markets for everybody, offering quality and affordability. Lots of fresh produce and home made products. I know, if I had one closer, I would use it.
I visited Belfast 18 months ago and fell upon St George’s Market. It was a mid-week wednesday in October and the whole place was buzzing. Built between 1890 and 1896, and supported by The National Lottery, the restoration preserved its Victorian heritage, from the authentic stone bricks to its Bangor Blue roof slates and replicas of original Victorian shops.
As well as restoring an important historical building, the project created a modern market place providing a space to trade and grow for over 170 small local businesses, and supports around 400 jobs each week.
Since its renovation in 1999, St George’s Market has gone from strength to strength, trebling the number of days it trades from one day a week to three. The huge variety and quality of products on offer helps to attract over 600,000 visitors each year. St George’s Market was named the UK's Best Large Indoor Market 2014 by the National Association of British Market Authorities.
There were signs on the doors saying there was a wait-list for stalls. It was a mix of food, arts and crafts, vintage artefacts and unique gifts. Of course, not everything was to the highest taste, but that’s the point of a market, it’s an excitement of discovery and unpredictablity. The opposite of a modern and bland shopping centre. It was thriving and it had an energy that I wanted to spend time in.
I recently visited Centre:MK in Milton Keynes. It’s a busy, 1970s listed shopping centre at the heart of the city. I had a walk around and noticed, huddled under a flyover type structure, was an outside market: little stalls selling vegetables and other types of street market products.
Shopping centres need to bring this inside, polish it up a bit and expand it. But not sanitise it. These types of markets were often looked down upon, much like Primark was - Read more here - but things change and we need a return to a type of frequent shopping that we’ve been doing for thousands of years.
Right - Kirkgate Market - Leeds
This is the modern version of an ancient market. Somewhere I can get great bread, home-made chocolates for presents and authentic products from all the nationalities who have made their home in the UK.
I live in Croydon. They opened a Boxpark over a year ago. It’s fantastic. It’s a large food court which feels like you’re trying something new and getting passion in every mouthful. It’s just food and you congregate on large communal tables in the centre after visiting what feels like an unlimited choice of cuisines.
People are just as tired of chain restaurants as they are of chain stores. It’s time for independents. These shopping centres could support whole armies of people itching to start their own enterprise. There are so many people wanting to follow their dreams and try something new without the prohibitive cost of opening a shop or starting a website. These brands are very active on social media and offer newness and a point of difference.
Large towns and highly populated areas could easily sustain a thriving market type concept. The shopping centre needs to be an umbrella rather than a controller. The other shops would benefit from more frequent visitors and the buzz of the shopping centre. This is also how future brands will start.
Remember Marks & Spencer started on a market stall in Leeds after all.
There’s something very millennial, and also sexy, about pink pants. We’ve not had a pair of desirable hipster Y-fronts since American Apparel closed its doors.
Left & Below Left - Boy Smells Men’s Blush Brief - $25
Boy Smells from LA, known for their candles, has expanded with intimate apparel called ‘Unmentionables’. All styles are made in Peru out of premium Pima cotton. For colour, Boy Smells has chosen to further expand the brand’s signature pink with other neo-naturalistic tones: bone, buff, bare, and blush.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Ron Dorff, the Franco/Swedish basics brand, has a pair of pink Y-fronts that will make everybody wink. Think pink for that underwear drawer refresh.
Below Right & Bottom - Ron Dorff - Y-Front Briefs - £28
I’m kinda enjoying it. Meat free for Lent has made me think about what I put in my mouth. There was one slip-up, at a fashion party, when a prawn canapé managed to find its way into my mouth without me thinking. Oops. But, apart from that, it’s not been as difficult as I thought. Which probably shows I don’t eat huge amounts of meat anyway.
I’ve made a couple of recipes - veg curry, jackfruit wraps (as recommended by Twitter) - but not as many as I wanted to. It’s quite nice to make my vegetarianism somebody else’s problem, which means eating out or getting other people to cook for you. (Sorry, Mum!).
Left - The Vegetabull - A 1950s poster from a recent exhibition at the Jewish Museum
Here are a few things I’ve learnt from my time as a #MeatFreeGeek
- You use more bowls than plates.
- Less sauces - tomato sauce and mayonnaise, but more salt and pepper.
- Cheese becomes your meat.
- I’m less hungry.
- You save money.
- You avoid cheap, processed foods.
- Bad things go with bad things. So it’s a double win when you stay away from them.
- I’m eating more carbs - bread, pasta. This has actually made me put a little bit of weight on, just slightly.
- Sugar is a problem. I feel like I’m eating more sweets and chocolate. It feels like a pleasure.
- Some vegetables seem to last forever no matter how much you think you’re eating. I’m looking at you greens.
- Cauliflower steaks for the win.
- Soya is like brown chicken meat.
- Chips don't go with anything.
- Sandwiches aren't as exciting.
A mysterious style icon has suddenly appeared. Inhabiting the hallowed halls of Tate Britain, this new character looks like a badger from a Shakespearean fantasy. Called ‘The Squash’, it is an immersive installation combining performance and sculpture by 2016 Turner Prize nominee Anthea Hamilton.
The Squash has been created for the annual Tate Britain Commission, supported by Sotheby’s, which invites contemporary British artists to create new artwork in response to the grand space of the Duveen Galleries.
Left - All about the stripey Squash
Right - Loewe - Striped Asymmetric Cotton-Canvas Shirt - £795 from matchesfashion.com
Anthea Hamilton has transformed the heart of Tate Britain into an elaborate stage for a continuous 6-month performance of a single character, dressed in a colourful squash-like costume. Over 7,000 white floor tiles have been laid to span the length of the galleries encasing a series of large structures that serve as podiums for a number of works of art from Tate’s collection, chosen by Hamilton.
Right - The Squash has seven costumes designed in collaboration with Creative Director Jonathan Anderson at the fashion house Loewe
The artist is influenced by the early 20th century French writer and dramatist Antonin Artaud and his call for the ‘physical knowledge of images’, it is this bodily response to an idea or an image that she wishes to examine in The Squash.
Hamilton has designed seven costumes in collaboration with Creative Director Jonathan Anderson at the fashion house Loewe, that incorporate the colours and shapes of varieties of squash or pumpkin. The performers get to select a costume each day, informing and reflecting their individual presentation of the character as they inhabit the space.
On trend, The Squash is rocking vertical stripes and ruffled shirts in his clinically tiled play area. Get the look with a striped shirt or go for white ruffles; the bigger, the better.
Right - Burberry - Herringbone Cotton Tie-Neck Riding Shirt - £495
Left & Below - The Squash gets to play in Tate Britain's Duveen Galleries
Like Stripes? See The Beetlejuice Striped Suit
Sliders are here to stay and while the design stays pretty much the same, for many, it’s all about the branding. The majority of brands make it all about them, but these, from Isabel Marant’s first men’s collection, are the footwear equivalent of a conversation pit. Think Joe Colombo furniture and Space Odyssey.
While pricey, they are made from leather and I love the homage to some of the footwear greats of the 20th century. Here's also a mini footwear history lesson too.
Left & Right - Isabel Marant - Hellea Quilted Tri-Colour Leather Slides - £305 from matchesfashion.com
Left - 1938 Cork-layered sole and heel covered in multi-colored suede. This style was designed for the London department store Fortnum & Mason and was a variation of the model that Ferragamo created for Judy Garland.
Left - Mid 1970s Terry De Havilland Sima 1 is pure glam rock. The tiered cork wedge is an outlandish and timeless classic.
See a top inspired by Memphis
Milan gave us handbags, more shiny coats and reasons to look like a tourist. Here goes AW18:
Ooooo, look at you! Bags have been getting smaller, so we may as well call a spade a spade.
From Left - Fendi, Palm Angels, Prada
The future is wipe clean and the quicker you get your head around this, the better.
From Left - Gucci, Fendi, Prada, Versace
Below - Both Moschino
Like a walking 70s airline logo.
Below - Both Fendi
This could be one of my favourite trends of the season. Not blurred lines, but distorted ones.
Above From Left - Fendi, Ermanno Scervino, Marni, Moschino
The new caping.
Left - Gucci
Nothing wrong with looking like a tourist in AW18. The worst the better. Just don't look up!
Below - Fendi, Prada, Prada
Any blanket looking design cut into a coat or simply just thrown over your shoulders.
From Left - Fendi, Gucci, No.21, Marni
Below - Marni
What did Oscar say about resisting temptation? Dress like you haven't.
Below From Left - Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Dolce & Gabbana
This is part normcore, part 80s, part 90s, part...
Fear & Loathing lenses. I wore these all last Summer and they ain't going anywhere.
Below Both - Dolce & Gabbana