Sunday, 27 November 2011

Scarlett Johansen for Moet Champagne- festive cheer is here!

I really like this advertising campaign shot of Scarlett Johansen for Moet Champagne. 
She is dressed simply in a gown that has presence and fills the space well. Framing her with Champagne flutes balanced precariously whilst she poses on the ladder in a provocative position gives the shot energy and an edginess that is attention arresting and reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe in the film Gentle Men Prefer Blonds or Grace Kelly in the film classic High Society. The difference being that we are not interested in seeing people dripping in diamonds in 2011 in a world recession, the reference is that she will indeed be adorned in them later - the glamour comes from the fact that she looks fabulous without them and her tousled hair and simple red lipstick is enough .....

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Basso & Brooke interview exclusive for revista b- London Fashion Week SS 2012

Back Stage Before the show

Basso & Brooke show invitation
The accessories table for the all important finishing touch....

Last minute preparations take place with good old fashioned needle and thread...

The other worldly hair and make up emerges

The sumptuous collection of vibrant prints on hangers ready to be launched on the runway.
Bruno Basso discussing the styling with the model dressers before the show...

The Show

Above is the article that is about to be published in Sao Paulo Brazil in revista B magazine.
Below is the edited english version. It was an amazing show and brilliant to meet and chat with Bruno Basso. 

The Brazilian Anglo design duo Basso & Brooke have been part of the established London fashion label club since 2004 when they were given the prestigious Fashion Fringe award. Awareness of their ground breaking and pioneering use of digitally printed patterns were confirmed when Vogue championed them as ‘ones to watch’ in their annual ‘Vogue list’, and they won best new designer at the Elle Style Awards. Christopher Brookes completed his fashion studies at the famous Central St Martins. Bruno Basso has a marketing and advertising background and found his creative penchant for print was given life with Christopher Brooke’s simply crafted pattern cutting and tailoring skills. In 2009 Michelle Obama made headlines wearing one of the label’s pieces, making Basso & Brooke one of the very first UK designers to be worn by the First Lady. The duo think of their label as a lifestyle brand and have a highly successful interiors collection as well as seasonal fashion collections.
I met Bruno at London Fashion Week in September after their show. He is a small, good looking unassuming man. The most striking aspect being his large brown eyes framed by thick almost joining in the middle eye brows.
I asked him what was the inspiration for this seasons collection. An amazing journey by car was described from London to Beijing, driving for weeks in relentless Siberian twilight. I scribbled down lots of notes as he verbally painted for me images of the amazing sunsets on the Siberian plains, how his Brazilian roots form a foundation in his concepts, tropical colours, organic lush plant like shapes seem to always creep in to create the almost other worldly realism and constructivism of his Art. For me this recent collection 'is' the stuff of art installation, the body and flesh it is adorns the gallery.....
Christopher Brooke the gallery curator frames the art in perfect balanced simple silhouettes and drapery. The effect is elegant and sassy and recognizable as the Basso and Brooke brand. Bruno told me he designs for intelligent women. I take this to mean cultured, knowledgeable and aware that fashion of his and Christopher's creation is a timeless investment... 
Their collections are stocked worldwide. 

Interview with Bruno Basso back stage after the show....

1) Bruno Basso – You were born in Santos Brazil. Tell us about your time there.

All my childhood remembrances are amazing, I was born and lived almost all my Brazil life by the seaside,  looking at the sea everyday gave me a sense of amplitude, curiosity and somehow freedom.  I studied Advertising and Journalism and started to work, very young, as a junior art-director.   And at the age of 15 in an advertising agency, I loved it!  I used to go work everyday very happy because I was doing what I had chosen to do and I knew I would be working in the creative field forever.  Also most of my true long-life friends are still living there and always i can escape from work and go to visit them.

2) What made you move to the UK?

I came initially to study Synesthesia, but then met  Chris after two weeks of arriving and engaged in a conversation of different creative interests instead. 

3) Brazil has become an increasingly important centre for fashion. Where can we find your label in Sao Paulo?

We will be selling exclusively to a newly opening store soon,  it will be a very private luxury boutique in Vila Nova Conceição /SP 

4) What do you miss about living in Brazil?

After living in London for so many years I still have Brazil in mind almost everyday, and I'm not missing anything  in a nostalgic sense, but i have joy in remembering how our people are naturally happy and blissful.  Our regional food is so exotic and delicious, our folklore and popular culture is enchanting, our lifestyle is 'easy' in the sense that people don't plan things  too much ahead it just happens ...  and so many other things.  Trying to translate all these feelings into words when you're immersed in a totally different culture but equally amazing as the British one, is difficult.

5) Do you both come from artistic families?

No. my parents come from trading/commerce & restaurants and Chris's are from a managerial and secretarial background.

6) How do you keep your ideas fresh each season?

Constant conversation and reflection.  Fashion is a unique example within the design industry where it must be constantly reconsidered every 6 months, and its success is often very dependant on the mood of that particular season.  It is persistently challenging and it is this which drives us to always keep our eyes open to new developments in technology, art movements, design movements, social & political developments, economic situations - these all influence how you see the world and how we ultimately respond to them which informs the change and shift of how people are feeling and how they would like to dress - the zeitgeist; the mood of the time.  It is not about over-intellectualizing the concept of dressing, but to create something which suits its time.  Another great aspect to our partnership is that we are from different design disciplines - Bruno, Graphic Design; Chris, Fashion Design.  We have our own points of reference which often crossover, but sometimes do not - and this again gives us a unique point of view within fashion design.

7) What have been your main influences for your latest S/S 2012 collection ?

For Bruno, the journey to freedom was a literal one – an expedition by car, from London to Beijing. Driving for weeks in the relentless Siberian twilight, amidst its bleak and brutal landscape, the formal foundations for this collection’s prints were laid: hard, angular lines, sharp contrasts, strong structures – the constructivist essence. And for relief from this daily monochrome reality, he found himself imagining ever-more impossible and colourful alien interjections - a ‘tropical constructivism’, if you will, where hard-edged foliage clashes with distorted seascapes, and man-made textures explode over fading sunlight. Going further still, a second idea emerged, one that questions the idea of what defines ‘a collection’ – rather than produce a politely related set of prints, why not have them evolve from garment to garment? So here we see each print carrying within it the seeds of the next one, on and on, a journey through clothes.  In contrast, for Chris, the garment architect, the newfound freedom was an internal one, an excursion into drapery, an exploration de l’atelier. Furnished with the printed fabrics, he has in places transformed flat graphic prints into deft drapes, whilst in others accentuated the printed trompe l’oeil effects to create further spatial play. A range of complex construction techniques are deployed, and jacket and lapel lengths juxtapose extended with cropped, yet at all times the finished feel is one of effortless simplicity and elegance, creating a loosely structured, flowing silhouette.

8) What would you and Chris Brooke put your success down to.

Of course talent is essential, but pure determination, curiosity, pragmatism, constant hard work and ALWAYS outputting ideas are key.   And we have pioneered the digital print process within the fashion industry.

9) What are your ambitions for your label?

As we are print-driven the possibilities are endless - whatever has a surface can be printed.  We are extremely excited particularly to work on a hotel or restaurant commission, where the consumer can experience the whole Basso & Brooke digital experience - this would be a dream.  

10)Would you consider working for a big French fashion giant such as LVMH if asked ?

Of course, we have worked with another major fashion conglomorate, Aeffe, for several years,

11)What is the best and worst part of starting up a fashion business in the UK.

There is fantastic support for new talent in the UK, and London is specifically looked upon in the fashion industry for new ideas.  We won the very first Fashion Fringe prize in 2004, an initiative setup by respected Fashion Historian and journalist Colin MacDowell.  This gave us the platform to start our label initially and gave us the International exposure to launch our label.  

12)Where are your garments produced?

Depending on each piece, we work with the best manufacturers but mainly Italy, they are the still the best for tailoring.

13)Have you noticed the economic downturn affecting your industry?

It has affected everyone, of course, but from a negative comes a positive and consequently makes you become more resourceful, creative and to look for new possibilities.  It is important to evolve and seek new markets & territories.  Fashion is an industry constantly searching for the new, and is a challenge regardless of economic difficulties.  We must endeavour as a fashion design label to evolve and to output new ideas at twice a year whilst always considering your brand aesthetic.  The challenge is always to offer your customer the product they require,  but still offering something new, desirable, trendy, and press-worthy - one depends on the other.  

14)Do you take on interns to help with your label?

We do, but at the later stages of the collection in the run-up to the catwalk show.  

15)Who or what has been your main influence in your successful career?

Bruno:Ettore Sottsass
Chris:  My Mum

Words and Photography Schelay McCarter pls credit

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Berlin Winter Street Fashion - Germany explored

Seen on Unter den Linden in the centre of Berlin this couple look very chic and coordinated styled purposefully or by accident in their matching whiter shades of pale
Seen on Friedrichstrasse a baroque pattern of matt and gloss textured fabric on this Desiguel coat .

Love it or hate it this epitomises the look seen almost everywhere at the moment - the puffer/duvet coat, a huge amount on the high street for sale. Top end brands such as Hugo Boss also have a commitment to this popular look.
A woollen poncho - like the way she has styled herself here.

Jeans almost everywhere in Berlin, note this security strap over her shoulder - a stylish addition, means you can rest your arm without worrying the bag with valuables will fall off your shoulder

This young mother looks very cool in her fingerless gloves and simple canvas bag, I like the above knee length camel brown coat and the grey scalf works really well here, note the cool wedge trainers.
Jeans with white coat - this has real fur cuffs and collar - shame I wasn't quick enough to get her from the front

Near Potsdamer Platz, a cool trend led hat, again jeans in boots - a short red jacket and purple bag....stood out in the sea of black and neutrals around - 
Cool young Koople! - matching well
Seen on Unter den Linden a well heeled German couple, real fur fringed hood here on her cosy woollen jacket and uber shiny leather boots and matching bag, very chic!

A chic cyclist dashing across Bebel Platz near the Opera house in Berlin, her Longchamp bag is squashed into her front basket - I liked her wedge heeled brown boots and burnt orange wool coat.
Berlin was flattened by the allies in the 2nd world war - the old buildings are mostly pastiche and rebuilt, this image sums up Berlin today -  looking to the future with humility. 
Here is the bleak and very moving Jewish Memorial, the flats behind it were the accommodation of prominent Eastern Berlin politicians when the wall was up, on the left with the green roof is Hotel Adlon the most expensive hotel in Berlin ( restored recently) it is near the Brandenburg Gate. It was on one of it's balconies that Michael Jackson held his child much to the horror of the world press. The hotel has bullet proof glass and bomb proof walls.  

After huge pressure on the Political regime in East Germany the dividing wall came down between West and East Berlin in 1989. Like a 'tamed' Phoenix rising from the ashes Berlin has been on a massive rebuilding programme ever since. This has been done in a considered and prudent manner, rebuilding the best from the past, certifying permanent foundations of remembrance and circumspection for crimes committed by their fathers and projecting a humble optimism in their future with new amazing and original municipal and commercial buildings, Potsdamer Platz and the Hauptbahnhof station stand out as two of the best we saw.
The old East Berlin contained all the historical and heraldic building, all with out exception were neglected until the wall came down. It is a different story today as slowly they have been rebuilt. Just off Unter den Linden the Opera house is being restored at the moment.  
I got a real sense that the creative heart of the city is beginning to beat again. I found out Hugo Boss has the ignominiuos history of having been the official designer of the 3rd Reich uniform  and still thrives today - as does Chanel in Paris who also has a regrettable history of collaboration with the then occupying German army. John Galliano's unguarded comments in a Paris bar broke too many taboos recently to be forgiven easily, visit Berlin and you will see why. The large memorial to all those who lost their lives is in the centre of Berlin where the new generation authority has made sure it is not hidden away, on one of the busiest most prominent roads a short walk from the Brandenburg Gate and opposite the Grober Tiergarten park it is a moving site.
Berliners are used to the cold with the temperature going down to - 26 in Winter sometimes. I suspect that is when many wear real fur lined coats and hats emerge from moth balls and covers in wardrobes! It is after all no accident that eskimos wear real fur as it will keep one perhaps they could be forgiven.
Bicycles are used by everyone in Berlin, with a population of only 3 million there is room to cycle in relative safety.
I found Berlin a friendly city with a tangible ambition to thrive and make up for the past.

Copy and Photos schelay - pls credit.  

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Belle Epoque Party Halloween Special - The Grand Hall, Euston, London

Glamourous sisters Grace and Katherine Armitage who went along to Belle Epoque Halloween Special by Bourne and Hollingsworth for fashiontent on Saturday night. 

In the recent film Midnight In Paris Owen Wilson, and a charming French lady he found in the 1920s, are transported back to the 1890s in Paris: La Belle Époque. Across the petticoat filled dance floor of the Moulin Rouge sits Toulouse-Lautrec, a glass of absinthe perched inches from his hand. The consumption, the syphilis, the poverty and addiction are all off stage. This is the fantasist’s Belle Epoque, a seductive yet safe version of a period of history that was as infamous for its art, fashion, philosophy and decadence as its squalor, illness and suffering. It is this idealist’s re-imagining which welcomes the dark young things that slip from the bus-busy streets of Euston into the shadowy underworld of the green fairy.

The exterior of the Grand Hall does not promise great things. The queue looks like that of any other nightclub, the costumes of the partygoers hardly out of place among the creativity Hallowe’en inevitably excites. Once inside, a discrete black mask stamped onto your wrist, the atmosphere is quite different. The organisers have hit upon a trick by opening the event to just the right capacity. The hall is suitably crowded, intense and a little bit mad, but there is still room to dance properly and space enough to walk around meeting people and taking everything in. Exquisite (though pricey) cocktails are served by skilled and friendly bar staff. The drinks are gifted with sumptuous names such as Le Vie Rose and Crushed Midnight and served in the – fast becoming fashionable once again – saucer glasses of the time.

Brilliant bar staff worked hard creating delicious drinks...
The focus of the room is two separate stages. One in the middle hosts an endless carousel of aerial and acrobatic talent whilst the proscenium arch opens its curtains to reveal burlesque dancers and a somewhat less burlesque band. The combination of these two performance spaces gave a fantastic feeling of giddiness to the evening, one moment you would be slack-jawed in awe at the swoops of an acrobat, the next drawn inexorably to the stage to swing to the band. A personal highlight was the aerial artist who leapt up to a trapeze on elasticised bands (a set up that rather resembled a giant catapult), turning in the air before swooping down, swallow like, seemingly to brush the floor and dare death.
I was also impressed by the Burlesque dancer who brought a heavy dose of 
co-ordination and style to the art of removing clothes. Though she did have the unfortunate effect of sending most of the audience into a reverent trance. She also managed an excellent piece of multi-role-play. Appearing from a shell as a mermaid, disappearing as a slightly less shell heavy mermaid, and then re-appearing as a time traveller straight from the red mill itself. The band were heavily focused on letting people dance, something I was all for, and consequently indulged the theme less in favour of creating a bit of swing. A wonderful finale of a four-woman can-can was a riotous and superbly executed end to the entertainment. What was most impressive was the easy way these performances were dealt with by performers and audience alike. People were drawn in but under no pressure to quiet down and pay attention, the terrible British trait of stolidly watching and then guiltily whispering was utterly overthrown.

         And then there were the outfits. Words are feeble in comparison to the visual effect which I hope is conveyed somewhat by the pictures. The imagination of the guests was wonderful. As we meandered our way through the throng we encountered Edward Scissorhands, perched on the stage and quite at home in the nineteenth century, courtesans decked with feathers and ribbons, gentlemen made from blokes by top hats and well turned bow ties. The outside world of Hallowe’en snuck in through a few gaps in time (nothing to worry about I’m assured) so that some necks were reddened with blood rather than ribbon. I was pleased, however, with the general resistance to Clinton Card’s finest and the total surrender instead to decadence. I took it upon myself to upbraid a jean wearing member of the party who was suitably abashed, less by my reprimand and more by the celebration of history and fashion that surrounded him.

Edward Scissors hands working the bar!

        Of course the true Montmatre, which inspired so much and ruined so many, is very far from Saturday night Euston, however grandly disguised. The absinthe in this Belle Epoque is served from a spritzer that grants a spray to each drink and the cloakroom is filled, not with fur, but sensible coats and spare flat shoes. Yes the corsets are from Camden and the music blares from speakers and the hedonism doesn’t even nearly approach that epitomised by the freedom, beauty, truth and love-seeking addicts of the time. Yes we probably only know about La Belle Epoche because of Moulin Rouge (and now Woody Allen) but what this night was utterly true to was the spirit of enjoyment of the self and celebration of the senses that is the best part of that mad Parisian whirl.

Words by Katharine Armitage
Photography by Grace Armitage
please credit.