Christian Dior designer of dreams Victoria & Albert museum exhibitionIt turns out Christian Dior liked English food. Clearly a charmer and a man who knows his audience, Dior had a strong relationship with London and the British royal family. Many of you probably saw snippets of this exhibition on people's Instagrams when it was in Paris last year. This is the same, but with an added room explaining his relationship with London. The Victoria & Albert museum did the same with Alexander McQueen's Savage Beauty.

Christian Dior designer of dreams Victoria & Albert museum exhibitionThis giant Dior exhibition, the largest ever in the UK, charts the miraculous growth and influence of Christian Dior up to the present day.

The staging and room sets are stunning. The lighting and displays make everything look sumptuous. The only negative is, the space will quickly become congested, as there isn't much room to move, so I would recommend visiting this early or later in the day.

This is pure fashion escapism and is a visual feast, illustrating womenswear from the second half of the 20th century.

From the "New Look" of 1947 to Maria Grazia Chiuri's present incarnation of Dior, every Creative Director is covered.

Christian Dior designer of dreams Victoria & Albert museum exhibitionJohn Galliano steals the show and illustrates how he took Dior couture to the maximum of its creative possibilities. It leaves you wanting a solo Galliano exhibition.

Christian Dior designer of dreams Victoria & Albert museum exhibitionEverything in the exhibition is couture and handmade and there's a beautiful rainbow display showing all the accessories and costume jewellery.

Dior is one of the biggest brands in the world, today, and while this is a fantastic display, I didn't leave knowing anymore about the man himself. The exhibition is fairly light on information, but I guess the idea is for crowds to flow and for the museum to really pack in the numbers.

Dior sent the benchmark for mid-20th century femininity and it's fascinating how the brand continued to grow even though he died just over a decade after the company was established. Dior is one of the most coveted of French fashion houses and, while the last two creative directors haven't been particularly inspiring, it's interesting to see how that shape of 1947 continues to resonate.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams - Until 14th July 2019 - £20 

Christian Dior designer of dreams Victoria & Albert museum exhibition

Christian Dior designer of dreams Victoria & Albert museum exhibition

Christian Dior designer of dreams Victoria & Albert museum exhibition

Read - WILL KARL LAGERFELD BECOME THE MARC BOHAN OF CHANEL?

Simon Carter Liberty Print Shirt hippie 1960s Prospect Road menswearWhenever I see film of the Beatles, it’s the latter years and their last performance on the top of their offices on Savile Row that really inspires me sartorially.

Ringo in his red PVC coat, drumming away, is a sight for sore eyes. This colourful, playful and experimental period of menswear is back for those of us brave enough. I still dream after this Tom Ford psychedelic shirt - here

Simon Carter Liberty Print Shirt hippie 1960s Prospect Road menswear

Available now, this “Prospect Road” print from Liberty of London dates from 1968, just one year before that final Beatles rooftop gig. It’s bold, but shows a confidence and a Lucy-In-The-Sky dreamlike quality.

TheChicGeek says, “I would wear with a dark suit and plain knitted tie.”

Left & Right - Simon Carter - Liberty “Prospect Road” Tana Lawn Shirt - £140

 

Monday, 28 January 2019 12:04

ChicGeek Comment - The Age of Bonkers

Age of bonkers retail koibirdThe biggest retail opening of 2018 was Coal Drops Yard in Kings Cross. This former Victorian railway sidings for coal coming into London from the north has been transformed, thanks to Thomas Heatherwick, into a contemporary retail destination.

Left - Koibird in Marylebone

While the kissing roofs are elegant and memorable, the rest of the development is less inspiring. The brand list is the type concocted by an architect who is shopping like a design magazine rather than the realities of retail in 2019. It feels a bit 10 years ago and doesn’t acknowledge the recent Guccification of the world. We really doesn’t need anymore boring “designer” shops. 

A case in point is the Paul Smith store. Housed in the former Bagley’s nightclub, you’d expect some sort of crazy ecstasy interior: testament to the many clubbers who wore Paul Smith on the dance floor. But, no. There’s even a white wall.

It’s 2019 and we’re in the “Age of Bonkers” when it comes to retail and if a shop doesn’t have you reaching for your phone to take a picture straight away then they’re clearly doing something wrong. Retail needs to wow, it needs to shock, it needs to entertain, otherwise you can get everything else online. 

You need people to mouth “that’s cool” when they walk in or see something, especially when you’re trying to create a destination, as is the case here. This isn’t need: this is visitor attraction with the hope of souvenirs purchased. It’s that excitement and rush of shoppers' adrenaline that makes people glad they left the house. It’s not just about being conceptual, it’s about fun, wit and being relatable and current.

We often forget how experimental retail once was. From the Victorian pioneers of the department store to the independent boutiques of the 60s to the cool minimalism of the 90s and this was all pre-internet. Now, it’s more important than ever to give physical retail a fighting chance and bonkers it should be.

Age of bonkers retail Gentle Monster

Examples include Koibird in Marylebone and Gentle Monster, the Korean eyewear brand, who opened their first UK store on Soho’s Argyll Street last year, both creating and refreshing interiors that stimulate and keep people coming back.

The Koibird store recently closed for two months while the interior was changed from their beach concept to their ski store. Founder, Belma Gaudio, established Koibird out of her frustrations of not being able to find clothes to match her holiday destinations. The new ski concept is another instagrammable interior featuring the colourfully rounded Koibird “K”. “Koibird is on a mission to inject some much needed playfulness into skiwear.” Gaudio told British Vogue when she recently unveiled it.

Right - Gentle Monster Argyll Street, Soho

Gentle Monster, a Korean sunglasses and optical glasses brand founded by Hankook Kim, was established in Seoul in 2011. “I  wanted the products to look as if they were being exhibited.” said Kim in 2016. Today, they have over 40 stores worldwide and employ 6 people to design its eyewear compared to 60 people to design the store visuals. This shows the priority of their interiors within the company and the Seoul flagship is transformed every 25 days. 

While these types of continual makeovers can be expensive, it can also be minimised with enough imagination. This is the traditional idea of changing windows becoming a fully immersive and experiential retail experience.

Fragrance is something physical and as such, Ostens, a new perfume brand by Laurent Delafon and Christopher Yu, has created a pop-up store in Marylebone, to showcase its debut. Open until the end of February, it is an abstract showcase of their new brand.

“We love Gentle Monster, we love spaces that drag you in , that speak to your curiosity. And this is the main idea behind Ostens: olfactive curiosity and discovery through the exploration of the ingredients.” says Delafon.

“So, we set up the space in 3 distinct areas, part of ‘journey’ taking you from the ingredient to the perfume: the Rose oil from Isparta, in the neon lit front room, magnified and presented like an objet d’art.” he says.

Age of bonkers retail Ostens perfume fragrance"All the rooms are appealing, they are fun, they are instagramable, and they are attracting people that wouldn’t necessarily been attracted by a ‘normal’ perfume shop.” says Delafon. “If you create spaces that are enjoyable, exciting and surprising places for your consumers to interact with the brand, you enhance their experience, and you make the whole purchasing act much more than simply about the product.” he says. 

“The idea is to change the whole set-up of the store every two months. Like an art gallery would change its exhibitions. We intend to move Ostens to a central location, where the store will be more of a white box in which we will be able to rotate sculptures, videos installations, theatre sets, interactive displays..To parody Magritte…’this is not a perfume shop’!” says Delafon.

Left - New fragrance brand, Ostens, launching with a bonkers pop-up shop in Marylebone

Retailers are fighting for people’s time. You need something to grab people’s attention, make them stop and have a desire to enter and explore. Half the battle is getting your product in front of people, then at least you have a chance of a sale.

The home page on Koibird’s website reads “Never Boring…” and this is exactly how physical retail needs to think.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 13:27

Paris Menswear Trade Shows AW19 Report

PARIS TRANOI trade shows trends AW19 menswearAll fashion roads lead to Paris. While the Paris landscape is fractured with many smaller trade shows and showrooms competing for people’s time, it’s also the place where orders are written and retailers and people finally commit to the season. Word on the street was brands were deciding to forgo Florence’s Pitti Uomo for showrooms in Paris to justify the time and expense of doing the men’s fashion week circuit.

Left - Outside one of the Paris trade shows, Tranoi

Here are the trends and brands to know from Paris for AW19:

TRENDS

PARIS TRANOI trade shows trends AW19 menswear

PARIS TRANOI trade shows trends AW19 menswearReworked History

British fabrics are having a huge renaissance, none more so than for the AW19 season. E. Tautz has reworked the traditional black and white tweed into a vortex design that is both contemporary and respects the qualities and attraction of this type of fabric. Charles Jeffrey Loverboy turned up the dial on tartan with bold blue and red. This is a designer making the transition from the conceptual to beautifully cut and made pieces.

Right - E.Tautz tweed

Left - Charles Jeffrey Loverboy tartan

 

PARIS BIANCA SAUNDERS trade shows trends AW19 menswear

New Day-Evening

People are beginning to yearn for dressing up again. Tired of sportswear and the grunge aesthetic, this is a new idea of wearing something more dressed at anytime of the day. British designer, Bianca Saunders, captured this perfectly with extra ruched shirts a dark palette.

Left - Bianca Saunders AW19

 

 

 

 

PARIS TRANOI trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Cuddly Chubby

Following on from Mary Katrantzou’s chesterfield sofa coats and Anya Hindmarch’s chubby hearts, it’s the men’s turn for something to take the cushion in a world full of sharp edges. This is from Virgil Abloh’s second collection for Louis Vuitton which was inspired by Michael Jackson. Overinflated much?!

Left - Louis Vuitton AW19

PARIS TRANOI trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Tech Futures

Heat bonded pockets and steel poppers are some of the details on menswear to make it perform and look high-tech. Mammunt Delta X is a new label, it debuts this SS19, from Swiss heritage mountaineering company Mammut. Using their 150 years of outdoor expertise, it is offering something younger and more urban to satisfy the insatiable thirst for element protecting products.

Left - Mammunt Delta X AW19

 

 

 

BRANDS

PARIS JBJ JUPE BY JACKIE trade shows trends AW19 menswear

J-B-J

Jupe by Jackie has become come something of a cult label known for its hand embroidery. Established in 2010 by Dutch fashion designer Jackie Villevoye, Jupe by Jackie uses master embroiderers from the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh to work her designs onto items of clothing. J-B-J is a new, younger brand, from Jackie’s son, offering the signature embroidery on T-shirts and more casual pieces.

Left - J-B-J yeti, all hand embroidered

 

 

 

 

 

PARIS TRANOI trade shows trends AW19 menswear

PARIS TRANOI trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Norden

Made from plastic waste, Norden is a new outer label made entirely of single use plastic. Their “U-Trust” verification program provides customers with comprehensive certification designed for a high level of transparency. The Fiber Print technology validates the authenticity of the products, with complete analysis of all fabrications to support the certifications. All of the garments are free of fur, feathers, leather and all other animal by-products. There’s even an internal water bottle!

www.nordenproject.com

From Left - Norden - All made from plastic waste and include a water bottle

 

PARIS TRANOI trade shows ROBYN LYNCH DESIGNER FASHION EAST trends AW19 menswear

PARIS TRANOI trade shows ROBYN LYNCH DESIGNER FASHION EAST trends AW19 menswear

Robyn Lynch

Part of London’s Fashion East show during LFWM, Dublin designer and recent MA Westminster graduate, Robyn Lynch, referenced old football supporter footage from the Irish television channel RTE in her first collection. This tone-on-tone, normcore collection took the best of Ireland and injected sports and technical details. This sleeveless Aran sweater with side adjusters is a perfect example of this.

From Left - Fashion East debut collection from Irish designer, Robyn Lynch

 

 

PARIS TRANOI trade shows trends AW19 menswear

PARIS TRANOI trade shows trends AW19 KNICKERBOCKER menswear

Knickerbocker

Finding stylish American basics is much harder than you think. Those grey army sweats which make any man look like Steve McQueen are very subtle to get right. Knickerbocker says it is a “factory born brand” and is transparent about its manufacturers which are mostly in Portugal, but do include the USA.

The standout item is the sailor-like hooded grey sweatshirt to wear On The Town a la Frank Sinatra!

www.knickerbocker.nyc

Monday, 21 January 2019 17:06

Berlin Menswear Trade Shows AW19 Report

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 menswearThe two main Berlin men’s trade shows, relevant to the UK market, SEEK and Premium, had a switch up for the AW19 season. SEEK, the younger, more streetwear and sportswear focused show pushed its separate area for skate fashion, Bright, into the main show space. What this did was make the show feel more outerwear heavy and technical and showed a definite turning away from branded sportswear for AW19. 

Premium on the other hand made the correct decision to reorder their show spaces: mixing the brands and giving the feeling of discovery rather than uniform looking halls. Premium is, just that, more premium, targeting an older demographic with the deeper pockets to buy more expensive clothes and finishes.

Left - Inside the main hall at Premium, Berlin

Here are the big AW19 trends coming out from Berlin and the labels worth making a note of:

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 LACOSTE menswear

Post Sportswear Preppy

The sportswear juggernaut was bound to slow at some point and we’re seeing the beginnings of it for AW19. The overall feeling was of less branding and colour and the idea that sportswear to segue-waying itself into new areas. Retro sportswear is going out the door and morphing into either more technical or preppy product. A perfect example of this is Champion doing branded rugby shirts. It’s still sportswear, but it’s moving back into the preppy area of menswear. This will be how preppy returns to fashion.

Left - Lacoste 80s college jacket

Right - Champion showing the segue way from sports into preppy with rugby shirts

 

 

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 menswear

The Recycled Renaissance of Denim

Always eco-conscious and sustainably minded, the German shows have always been home to brands trying to change the system and limit fashion’s impact. Denim, one of the world’s most destructive fabrics in terms of pesticides, water and dyeing, needs a way back into fashion.

Two Dutch brands, Butcher of Blue and Mud Jeans are pioneering reusing and recycling denim. Butcher of Blue reworks vintage and Mud Jeans asks for its old jeans to be returned to be completely taken back to the raw fibre and remade. They also offer a leasing service - €7.50 a month, €29 sign up - for those who don’t want to own. Around 40% of the new jeans are from old jean fibres.

HNST, a new German jeans brand, claims to include 56% of reused denim fibres in its new jeans with the rest being Tencel. People donate their old jeans and electrolytes are used to fix the indigo to the fabric and make the dye soluble. Expect more of this from the bigger denim brands.

Left - HNST denim recycling old jeans into new

 

 

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 CORDUROY SUPERGA menswear

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Corduroy

Corduroy has been making inroads back into menswear over the last few winters. Biscuit and forest green are the main colours, here, as it spreads from coats and trousers into accessories and footwear. Related to the remerging preppy trend, corduroy offers a fresh collegiate take in warm team colours.

Clockwise from left - Superga, Kangol, Far Afield, Averse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 SCHNEIDERS TARTAN menswear

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Tartan

For those men wanting colour and pattern, tartan is the fabric of the AW19 season. First seen on the catwalks of London, tartan is a masculine way of putting interest safely into a any man’s wardrobe. Portuguese brand, Averse, had classic Black Watch, and Schneiders offered something more appropriate for those Rupert The Bear wannabes.

From Left - Schneiders, Averse

 

 

 

 

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Long-Line Arctic Parkas

This is a trend that needs another winter to build, but get in early. Expect many more of these for AW20. In a saturated coat market and the oversized trend blowing up - pardon the pun - the arctic parka is getting longer and more cocoon like.

The American, but Italian run and owned, Refridgwear, has done a collection with a German designer, (they wouldn’t name just yet), where the bottom foot of the jacket can be simply added and taken away. All for around €500. There were a few more brands, such as Woolrich, doing similar long-line styles at Pitti Uomo.

Left - Refridgwear collab with a yet unnamed German designer, the bottom section is detachable

BRANDS

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 TOM ADAM UNDERWEAR menswear

Tom Àdam

A father a son team, Tom & Adam, from Riga in Latvia, feature wearing their own product on the website and in imagery. Made in Latvia, designed in Paris, this new underwear and swimwear brand is trying to get us off our cheap addiction and slipping into something with more quality.

Trunks - €35, Swimshorts - €150

www.tomadam.fr

 

 

 

Berlin Seek trade shows trends A DESIGN COLLECTIVE TRAINER AW19 menswear

A Design Collective

A new British casual shoe brand offering value in the luxury, minimal cup-sole market. Made from Italian leather in Portugal, the people behind A Design Collective currently do private label and are now launching with the Common Projects customer in mind with this £130 sports shoe. Launches July.

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 BRAVA FABRICS menswear

Brava Fabrics

Barcelona based, Brava Fabrics, manages to tread that fine line between fun and immature. Their Spanish made fabrics feature yellow submarines, llamas - the new unicorn? - and the ever nostalgic cassette tapes. The fun side of hipster.

www.bravafabrics.com

 

 

 

 

 

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Coma Toes

This type of padded outdoor slipper could be the new slider. New British brand, Coma Toes, certainly hopes that’s true with their collection of padded sports slip-ons. I’ve seen something similar from The North Face before, but there’s always room for a new, well-priced and casual footwear trend. Watch this space...

Berlin Seek trade shows trends WAX LONDON AW19 menswear

Wax London

Offering great value and made in London outerwear, Wax London is a husband and wife design team. They aim to bring the manufacturing of traditional British outerwear back to the UK. These are complimented with staple essentials of jerseys, knits and shirts crafted in Portugal and Italy.

www.waxlondon.com

 

 

 

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 menswear

 

Schneiders

Salzburg based, Schneiders, is a quality outerwear producer with traditional alpine shaped and loden type fabrics. In the upper price points, the product is made in Romania, but from premium fabric and fur finishes. For the modern Cecil Beatons.

www.schneiders.com

Thie-Sprint

Berlin Seek trade shows trends AW19 THEI SPRINT CYCLING GERMANY menswear

Thei-Sprint began in 1935 with Heinz Theisen, a man who dedicated his life to professional cycling. Born in the textile district of Moenchengladbach, after World War II he began making his own equipment, jerseys and gear. 

In 1965 he returned to his roots and began designing cycling equipment again. With his own knitting machines, he made jerseys and beanies for local teams together with his wife in their basement. The “Thei-Sprint“ brand was born.

By 1985 Theisen had joined the renowned Telekom and Coast cycling teams as a mechanic. His final triumph came in the 1988 Seoul Olympics where Theisen won gold as a chief mechanic with the West German track cycling team. He is famous for his red beanie which they continue to make proudly in Germany.

www.thei-sprint.com

Review 
Gillette skinguard sensitive skin razor grooming expertShaving giant, Gillette, introduces “Gillette SkinGuard Sensitive” designed to stop the irritation many men with sensitive skin experience when shaving. The “innovative” razor places a breakthrough “SkinGuard” bar positioned between two of Gillette’s blades to gently smooth and flatten the skin away, taking the pressure off the blades during the shave. 

Due to the blades’ position, hair is only pulled and cut up to 2x in each stroke, which reduces tug and pull. Many multi-blade razors use each blade to gently tug the hair outside the follicle, trimming each hair in rapid succession while they remain extended. Once the blades pass and the hair retracts, it has been trimmed below the surface of the skin. This kind of close shave is optimal for many men, but for others can contribute to skin irritation or a propensity for ingrown hairs.

This gives guys with sensitive skin a comfortable shave without the irritation. With research certified by the British Skin Foundation (BSF), Gillette SkinGuard Sensitive is clinically proven to stop shaving irritation.

TheChicGeek says, “Gillette is the dominant force in men’s shaving by a country mile. But, over the past few years, many up-starts, mostly notably subscription services like Harry’s, have been eating into their market share.  Read more ChicGeek reviews about the competition here

Their new woke advert, getting away from the hyper-masculine “The Best A Man Can Get” moniker, is trying to show a more cuddly and modern side of Gillette.

Owned by the giant Procter & Gamble corporation, Gillette is probably the most innovative of the razor brands, having the deep pockets needed to research and fine tune this type of technology. They need to continually pull away from the competition, offer newness and improvements if they want continue their dominance.

Sensitive skin is a problem for many guys - (44%) of men have tried shaving less often to try and reduce the irritation they suffer due to their sensitive skin according to Gillette’s research.

Gillette obviously want us to shave more, but this type of sensitive skin razor can be used by all guys, obviously. I previously liked their “FlexBall” razor, but I don’t think that is in here, as it’s not mentioned.

I also used their complementary SkinGuard Sensitive shaving foam, and I can report that this is one of the BEST shaves I’d had for a very long time - THIS IS NOT SPONSORED!!!!

There was no pull and I had to check it had actually cut the hairs as there was no sensation with the movement of the razor. It was smooth and close and felt effortless.

One thing I feel Gillette doesn’t compete with its rivals on is the perception of value. Though, to be fair, at £8.99, this does feel cheaper than their usual prices, especially for a new product. 

I just don’t understand why they can’t be more generous with the blades. You buy the razor with one blade and then, almost straight away, you need to purchase a box of expensive blades before you’ve even tried or grown to love this one. It feels expensive, short-sighted and, also, tight on the side of Gillette. 

I would charge £10-£12 for this and put in 3 extra blades. It feels generous, creates more brand loyalty and leaves guys feeling that they’ve got something good for a good price and they don’t have think about buying anything razor related for a few months. Skin isn’t the only sensitive thing when it comes to shaving. Price is too.”

Above Left & Below - Gillette SkinGuard - £8.99 www.gillette.co.uk

Review 
Gillette skinguard sensitive skin razor grooming expert

Y Project Pitti Uomo Glenn Martens AW19 menswearIt was most likely those wrinkly Ugg boots, looking like an oversized Shar-Pei, that garnered Y/Project its recent and biggest amount of attention. The Paris based label, headed by Belgian designer, Glenn Martens, has been lumped in with that Off-White/Balenciaga cool wave of recent years. Martens, 35, has been at Y/Project for the past 5 years, taking over from founder, Yohan Serfaty, when he died in 2013. His first assistant, Martens, was an Interior Architecture graduate and an alumni from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. 

Left - Y/Project's signature waders

This season’s guest designer at Florence’s Pitti Uomo, this was the label’s AW19 show of men’s and womenswear, bringing forward their usual date from Paris.

Forget the museum, it was a night at Florence’s famous Santa Maria Novella monastery, next to the central station and known for its smellies. Guests were given torches as they entered the huge, darkened church and we followed the hundreds of mini flashlights into the cloistered quadrant where the catwalk ran around the four sides with the models ending up like chess pieces in the middle. 

Divine despite the cold, the columns and erect cypresses were silhouetted onto the shaded honey walls as the models took a turn on what has to be one of the longest catwalks ever. One model was hobbling in her lemon yellow stilettos before she’d reached the fourth side and on into the soil centre.

Y Project Pitti Uomo Glenn Martens AW19 menswearWhat we saw was a delight of design. Yes, a designer actually trying to design something and, the majority of times, pulling it off. There’s such a difference between a designer, here, and an editor, the majority of brands, who just reconfigure and fine tune things. The word here was reconstruction. Your eye followed seams and there was an itching want to open it all up and look inside: seeing where things were going to and how they worked. This is the kind of stuff that interests us fashion geeks and isn’t something Zara can easily replicate, and, as such, makes you crave the original.

Right - Y/Project AW19 - First men's bag and shoe collection

This was the debut of the brand’s men’s footwear and bag line, both hand-crafted in Italy.

The signature waders were there, but in rigid, shiny plastic, almost like creased trousers with the shoes attached. There was plenty for the tailoring revivalists. A new tuxedo jacket appeared where the satin label was pulled out to create a 3D effect with the button. This is difficult stuff to get looking right. Fringed scarves resembling Turkish carpets added to accessorises, plus pinstripes and this season’s pattern du jour, tartan.

This was contemporary cool, bit not aching or gimmicky. You could see different age groups in these clothes and wearers enjoying the newness and the details. It felt like the direction we’re headed in. From the deconstructed and harsh reality of recent years, back to a glamour of construction and playing with new ideas while still keeping it real.

This feels like the last of this type of designer we’ll see at Pitti Uomo, as I predict a return to more tailoring and Italian industry brands, but, Martens, lead us into temptation and away from the sportswear grunge to a higher sophistication. Could Martens become the Y/Prophet?

Tuesday, 08 January 2019 19:38

ChicGeek Comment LFWM: Less is More?

LFWM Menswear comment AW19 Alex MullinsLondon Fashion Week Men’s - LFWM - was stripped back in more ways than one, this season. While the bones of the skeleton schedule were showing through, it was the lack of themes on the catwalks that really raised questions. What we were given was a genderless, season-less and sex less display of menswear: a casstratrated men’s fashion week. The rumour mill was flying that LFWM will soon be merged with the women’s London Fashion Week. It’s worth noting, there were as many female models as men, so, if gender is becoming less of a differentiation, then London Fashion Week will become just that, and the two separate halves could make a whole. 

Left - Alex Mullins AW19 - Girls for Boys?

If the men do return to the women, it needs to be as equals and not just a day tagged on at the end. Menswear is outgrowing womenswear, and is always seen as the less established and important sibling from brands who see ii as an add-on and not a priority. It’ll be interesting to see which brands are brave enough to give menswear equal billing.

Men’s fashion needs stereotypes to challenge, it needs boundaries to push and lines to blur, if all the lines have been erased, aren’t you just floating into nothingness? And that’s what it felt like a bit here. Menswear collections entirely shown on females models - Alex Mullins produced an entire men's show featuring only female models - more non-binary club kids dressing up in dated womenswear or six pack revealing T-shirts for the coldest months of the year: it was the male minimised.

As for gender, the whole big reveal of a chick-with-a-dick is no longer shocking, nor interesting, nor original. Art School showed a collection that didn’t look good on either gender and, Charles Jeffrey, the Uri Geller of the London scene, continued with more theatrics, but, in his defence, when the feathers stopped flying and the smoke and mirrors were turned off, the collection looked more accomplished and could hold its own alongside any other designer in-store.

This lack of focus made for a schizoid season, and it was brands like E. Tautz, which didn’t do anything particularly new, that created a pull and yearning for collections featuring something beautiful again. Bored with sports, bored with fugly, the next men’s movement will be a return to something you want to enjoy and cherish rather than Instagram and discard.

That most British thing of all, the weather, was totally missing during LFWM. It’s all about “drops”,  and “Autumn/Winter” is delivered in the middle of the summer, but, before, many brands and designers would start with this idea of “Winter” or, rain, which made Burberry. That probably had something to do with bigger budgets and fancier staging. Larger and more established brands used to like to ram home the cold weather feel, already visualising the windows, and while this idea is dated, at this LFWM, many of the clothes could have been for any month, anywhere, at anytime. So, what makes it 2019?

LFWM Menswear comment AW19 Art School

Sex was missing too. Even the hyper masculine muscle boys at Astrid Andersen were covered up for a luxury pyjama party. It was as though men were getting ready to go into hibernation until all this woke madness blows over. Though, Per Götesson, showed T-shirts pulled up to reveal the stomach, perfect for those social media body fascists. “It’s about equal parts vanity and fragility.” he says. “Each piece is designed three dimensionally around the body. We are applying techniques perhaps more common in womenswear and couture where lines and proportions in movement are taken into consideration. The jersey pieces are developed using this process, it is about finding a balance between strength and fragility.” And, there was me just thinking it was about likes on Instagram. Back to creating a male pecking order, As soon as one thing disappears, a new line or goal is revealed to differentiate the masses: that unattainable 8-pack separating the men from the boys.

Right - Art School AW19 

Fashion is about selling change and, as a designer or brand, you need to create desire for that change into what you are presenting at that moment in time. Genderless, season-less, sexless, can equal nothingness. Just please don’t make men redundant.

Tuesday, 01 January 2019 12:58

2018 The Year of the “ReBland”

reblanding Burberry logoAt the end of a tumultuous year for traditional retail, and at the start of another, which doesn’t appear to offer much respite, there’s been a distinct trend in rebranding for both luxury and high-street brands. While you’d expect them to want to stand out, it seems as though they all want to blend into one another. This homogenisation is a case of an expensive “reblanding” exercise. Rebranding means creating a different identity for a brand, from its competitors, in the market, which, in fashion, is even more important especially when you're trying to flog luxury goods and the idea of difference and individuality. This feels like the opposite.

The recent rebland list is long: Belstaff, Celine, Calvin Klein, John Lewis, Burberry, Berluti and Balmain have all gone for simple and bolded logos without any of the details and distinct serifs. Playing it safe, what these new logos and fonts say is a lack of confidence and often change for change’s sake.

Left - The recent logo "reblands"

In August, Burberry unveiled its new logo. Replacing the Burberry Equestrian Knight logo with its bespoke Bodoni font, which had been used by the clothing company since 1901, the new logo is the work of celebrated British graphic designer, Peter Saville. It’s also worth noting he rebranded Calvin Klein with a similar font when Raf Simons took over and wanted to refresh.

reblanding Burberry logo

"The new logotype is a complete step-change, an identity that taps into the heritage of the company in a way that suggests the twenty-first-century cultural coordinates of what Burberry could be," Saville exclusively told Dezeen. Somewhat cryptic and full of marketing speak, he describes what he and Riccardo Tisci, the new Burberry Creative Director, settled on as “modern utility,” adding, “It looks like it’s been there forever, but it’s still contemporary.”

Right - Hedi's masterstroke?!

Tisci said on Instagram ‘Peter is one of our generation’s greatest design geniuses. I’m so happy to have collaborated together to reimagine the new visual language for the house.’

Burberry are in the throes of changing everything way before the new Creative Director’s impact has been proven. As his first collection hits stores to a rather muted response by the fashion press, it’ll be interesting to see how it sells, especially the items with this new logo on.

Seb Law, Fashion Copywriter & Journalist, says, “I really hate that they’ve added’ ENGLAND’ to the Burberry logo after London. As if it’s London, Texas or something.”

It “Seems like an attempt to look ‘international’ and more premium, but also it’s now becoming an established way of a new designer starting at a different house to mark the start of their chapter. Does the general consumer care about this, or is it dive behaviour? Also rebrands cause plenty of chatter in fashion circles and build publicity – see Hedi’s previous rebrand of SLP. All press is good press, apparently.” says Law.

Hedi Slimane is a designer who likes to put his mark onto a brand and in September it was announced that the French house, Celine would be, controversially, losing its accent. Law and others have been defacing the brand’s posters by returning the accent to the first e.

“For me, it’s a matter of good use of language. As a copywriter and journalist (with a degree in French), diacritics aren’t just a pretty typographic tool to be played around with at the will of a designer, they’re an integral part of the word.” says Law. “‘Celine’ and ‘Céline’ are different words, pronounced differently (‘sell-een’ and ‘say-lean’, respectively).  he says.

reblanding Burberry logo Celine Hedi Slimane

“It’s a continuation of the cult of personality over brand, in both cases. Causing a splash, in whatever way possible, seems to be the aim of the game. With Burberry, I’m disappointed that the logo doesn’t have a more uniquely British feeling, which the old one did IMO – I do love the interlocking TB print though.” says Law. “With Céline, it’s a classic case of Hedi doing whatever he wants. Brands should be aiming to exercise their unique personalities; this uniqueness is what attracts customers and maintains a brand’s personality. Homogenisation might attract sales, at least initially, and while change is obviously necessary, and often good, these two rebrand exercises feel like they’re a bit half-arsed. They’ve succeeded at building publicity, but is that what a logo redesign should do?” he says.

Left - The new logos are all very similar

On the high-street, John Lewis, in September, rebranded as John Lewis & Partners at a reported cost of £10m. Its first rebrand in 18 years and inspired by the company's 1960s "diamond pattern" motif, John Lewis managed to not only complicate its name but also lose its trademark dark green. Opting for safe black, it was yet another example of this reblanding trend.

In an age when these brands should really be trying to expressive confidence in themselves, these boring logos show a striving for safety and an anti-criticism blandness. It’s hard to be critical and negative about something so simple, yet they aren’t memorable or standing out. These aren't utility companies. Fashion’s current love of the sans-serif is definitely missing something.

Sunday, 23 December 2018 19:44

Tried & Tested Huntsman Shaving Subscription

Review 
Huntsman shaving box razor subscription grooming expertI spoke to Stephane Helene, co-founder of the new Huntsman shaving subscription brand, and he said, “I used to use a couple of other shaving subscription brands, but the quality just wasn’t there, whether it was the cream or handle or the blades. I then shared this with my barber and suggested we should start something.Mr Jackson, who is a Master Barber of nearly 30 years, and I spent over 2 years testing and finding the perfect package. I would not have entered the shaving or grooming market without having someone with vast experience and knowledge as a partner.”

Left - Huntsman, the "Quintessential Shaving Club"

Stephane’s background is in advertising and this Huntsman has nothing to do with the Savile Row tailor of the same name. His partner, Mr Jackson, opened his first barbershop in 1990. Twenty eight years later he now owns a chain of high-end male grooming centres.

TheChicGeek says, “This is more a curated box than a standard branded razor subscription with everything being produced by the one brand. It contains 4 products: Huntsman luxury razor handle, 4 X Gillette Mach III Turbo Blades, Edwin Jagger ‘Hydrating Pre Shave Lotion’ and Edwin Jagger ‘Premium Shaving Cream’.

You get a choice of 3 shaving creams: (A) Sandalwood For Normal Skin - Exotic peppery wood and spice aroma, (B) Aloe Vera For Sensitive Skin - Soothing with a natural delicate fragrance, and (C) Cooling Menthol For Normal Skin - Calming and soothing with subtle fragrance.

I would steer clear of the cooling menthol as the ‘Hydrating Pre Shave Lotion’ is mega cooling already and I wouldn’t want you to OD on the menthol! The only branded Huntsman product in the box is the handle and my feedback would be that it looks a bit old fashioned and ‘traditional’.

What shaving really needs is a good injection of the contemporary. Shaving needs to become cool again and all this traditional, Victorian type product just doesn’t feel like the right direction. It’s tired. Somebody needs to make shaving feel contemporary. Something we want to do and get back involved with. MAKE SHAVING GREAT AGAIN! Now, that’s a challenge for somebody.

The blades and 2 products, full price, add up to around £37, so you’re saving £2, while getting the handle and postage free. 

Review 
Huntsman shaving box razor subscription grooming expert

If they’re not using their own branded products, I would offer more variety and allow guys more options to mix and match the box. For example, 2 products with the razors, but one month could be pre-shave and another maybe a post-shave or moisturiser. Just an idea.”

Right - Huntsman - ‘Daily Shaver’ - 1 Box Sent Every 6 weeks - £35, ‘Occasional Shaver’  1 Box Sent Every 12 weeks - £35

www.thehuntsmanclub.com

Looking for a shaving/razor subscription? Read more ChicGeek Tried & Tested review on Boldking, Bic & Grüum here