Fashion doesn’t happen in isolation. Large corporations can influence fashion and push their aesthetic through with the help of wads of cash. This, sometimes, makes the companies bigger and more money and so the cycle continues. But, a shift can often beach the whale and sportswear has thrown the preppy baby out with the bath water. Apologises.
I’ve written about the troubles with preppy before, Read more here, usually focussing on Ralph Lauren as the flag bearer, quite literally, of the look and its reluctance to change or evolve to suit the current taste in comfort and dress down.
Left - Brooks Brothers' 200th Anniversary Show at Pitti Uomo 93
That was a while ago, and with people soon to get bored of looking like a charity shop reject or a retro sportsperson, it’s inevitable that it will return.
So, we move to Florence for the 93rd edition of Pitti Uomo. Brooks Brothers is one of the chosen brands to show and they are celebrating their 200th year. Which, for any retailer, let alone an American one, is something to be very proud of.
Under the painted ceiling of the Palazzo Vecchio, a deep presidential blue curtain pulled back to reveal an orchestra playing ‘Empire State Of Mind’. So far, so good. Out came the models in various guises of preppy, yet it had been styled to mute their greatest hits. Cable knits over jackets and suit jackets tucked into trousers, it looked like a collection embarrassed to brushed with the preppy magic.
Brooks Brothers can lay claim to dressing presidents and charting the evolution of American style over the last 200 years. This should have been preppy so good that you’d bounce out of the show and be googling ‘John F Kennedy Jnr’ before you hit the cobbles of Florence’s Piazza della Signoria.
Unfortunately, this wasn't the case. This should have been a celebration of America’s 20th century power and the handsome, dashing evolution of that dressed style into preppy and the history of American fashion.
Brands like Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren need to push in order to return to fashion favour. There’s no point in sitting back and waiting for the tide to come back in on your style. Push preppy, push suiting, push people looking like they give a shit. There was was no fight here.
Preppy isn’t fully dead, it just needs to be really good. There are new American brands like Rowing Blazers, and British brand, Drake’s, is a perfect example. They manage to make preppy feel artistic, creative and beautiful. It’s the colours, the prints and the detail that makes you want to explore the fun and exaggerated side of preppy and, shock horror, put a tie on! Maybe.
Whether religious or not, Lent is that perfect time of year, and a decent length of time, to challenge yourself to give something up or try something different. I’ve been thinking of trying vegetarianism for a while now and while I could have easily done it, after Christmas, as a New Year’s resolution, it could've felt a bit like jumping off a cliff edge, after the indulgence of Christmas, and I wanted to give it a proper go.
Lent is perfect, being in the middle of February, you feel mentally prepared and can block off the next 6 weeks as you countdown to Easter.
Christians traditionally abstain from animal foods in remembrance of Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the wilderness and with Vegetarianism and Veganism growing in popularity, it felt like the right time to give it a go.
A few of my friends are vegetarians, so I’m going to tap them up for recipes and advice. I’m going to put some Quorn in the fridge for those days I may need something meat-like. My main worries are getting bored and also feeling hungry quickly after meals. I also don’t want to pig out on carbs or turn to sweet things to fill me up. I think I’m going to have to be more organised with my meals and less lazy with the snacking.
If I lose loads of weight and feel like a bag of bones, I’ll think about stopping. But, the main driving force is, it’ll be healthier for me and for the environment, and I want to take more vegetarian options into my everyday and maybe find a few things that I will enjoy and carry on eating. I’ll keep you updated.
See Part Two - here
French beauty company, L’Occitane, opened their huge - the largest in the world - new flagship store on London’s Regent Street last night. This isn’t just another standard branch, it’s spacious, has a luxurious yet homely finish and even has a Pierre Hermé macaroon counter to boot. It feels like a cross between an airport lounge and a store. It’s definitely somewhere you could happily spend time in.
Left - Upstairs at L'Occitane Regent Street February 2018
Anyway, chatting away, somebody mentioned their boyfriend had come into the store previously and was looking for hand cream. The sales assistant said it was upstairs. As he went upstairs another sales assistant came over and said, “You’re looking for hand cream?”.
Mind reading is a skill that modern retail needs. Clearly, the sales assistant, downstairs, had radioed ahead. Not only is this great service, it’s also a form of human cookies - the chain of information your internet journey/history leaves behind allowing brands to track your movements and also recommend appropriate stuff.
It’s not magic, it’s just clever data, and I, for one, don’t mind having things recommended for me or being reminded I looked at something previously. You can clear your history every now and again if it becomes annoying.
What this shows is a linked up journey in a physical store. The customer is looking for something and rather being lost somewhere on the journey or not finding what they want, the sales links became strong and would obviously have more conversion in sales with the added bonus of wowing the customer and making them feel they had received great service.
Right - The flower filled ceiling installation from above inside the new L'Occitane Regent Street store
This is what physical stores need in order to compete with online: sales assistants quickly talking to each other, directing the consumer and having that want to please and fulfil expectation.
I understand many stores are too busy, some of the time, for this type of individual attention, but many luxury brands can offer this type of service if the sale assistants are motivated. It’s about a personal, human touch, which in the future we will miss from online shopping and something that can become a physical store USP.
‘Human Cookies’, as a concept, would definitely put new meaning into a physical store’s customer journey.
There’s something wildly indulgent, no, scrap that, ridiculously indulgent about a white Mackintosh. This option is part of a limited-edition collaboration with Maison Margiela and the Scottish rainwear specialists, Mackintosh.
Trust the house of Margiela to offer something impractical yet extremely desirable. One part lab coat, one part asylum, this will mark like crazy, but you’ll wear those marks with pride and it’s all part of the 'process'.
They are limited to only 250, with each one featuring Margiela’s signature stitches at the back and individually numbered.
Left & Below - Mackintosh X Maison Margiela - £1865
The Met Gala - you may have seen the film, The First Monday in May - is the opening night of the annual fashion exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This year’s exhibition is a retrospective of Japanese designer Res Kawakubo, the brains behind Comme des Garcons. As per, the opening party is the most fashion night of the year with celebrities and designers making a statement, both good and bad.
Here are the 12 menswear things TheChicGeek learnt from last night:
Left - Bow ties - the floppier the better. Future in custom H&M & Matt Smith in Burberry
If the Met Gala can make Mr Safe, Roger Federer, try something different then that’s inspiration enough. A Gucci cobra on your back, anyone? Asp-leisure?!
Go conceptual. If your hair looks like wheat-sheafs then take them with you. Jaden Smith in Louis Vuitton
The Met Gala red carpet is not an audition for Star Wars. Puff Daddy in Rick Owens
When your parents don’t want to buy you a suit you’ll grow out of. Frank Ocean in Balmain
Below - Dress for the city, not the designer. Nick Jonas in Ralph Lauren
Bad taste Claire’s Accessories. Let the whole jewellery shop fall out. Migos
Below - Red was the colour of the night. When a suit fits this well it works. Rami Malek in Dior Homme.
Leave the Thom Browne to Thom Browne. Wiz Khalifa & Diplo in Thom Browne.
When you’re tall and thin, a la Alexander Skarsgard, in Ermenegildo Zegna, you can wear anything.
When you try and do that cute-couple-colour thing and it doesn’t work. Ryan Reynolds
At Comme, anything goes, so dress down is the new dress-up. Teletubbie optional! Pharrell Williams in Comme des Garcons
Finaest.com Founder, Luca Catalano
"Cordone shirts are really well known for the superior, high-quality fabrics and vestability. This shirt is a style staple yet offers a peculiar sleeve stitching that sets it apart. Shirtmakers Cordone construct their shirts by stitching the first two parts of the body, front and back, and then re-attaching the sleeves to guarantee the best fit possible. I love mixing up different styles to mirror my personality and this versatile Cordone shirt in jeans paired with a jacket is real must have for me this season".
"I always add a silk pochette to my look because it gives a punch of colour to winter greys, browns, blues and blacks, rendering the look instantly chic. Serà fine silk pocket handkerchiefs originate from the Italian Como Silk Textiles region, known for its artisan handcrafted pieces for those true style aficionados".
Left - Serà - Fine Silk Pocket Handkerchief - £38.34
"I can’t forget my favourite A/W wardrobe staple, a Maglia umbrella. Handcrafted through 100 different phases, I chose this umbrella in particular because its bamboo handle that adds a sophisticated, playful air. A man has to distinguish himself through details like this umbrella".
Left - Maglia - Lord Blue & Red Pinstripe With Bamboo Handle - £205.62
"Miserocchi is one of my preferred shoe brands because they are so comfortable, entirely made by hand, and created in the finest supple leathers on the market. My A/W wardrobe cannot be without a pair of Miserocchi ankle boots because not only do they keep my feet warm, but I don’t have to renounce comfort and style.
Interesting side-note: Each pair requires at least two and a half hours of artisan craftsmanship, using only the finest Tuscan leather. The true artisan value lies in the fact that the shoemaker ‘feels’ and ‘regulates’ each stitch of every boot to ensure the most tailored elegant fit".
Above - Miserocchi - Brown Camel Leather Ankle Boots - £132.43
"Because each item that makes up my look has to quintessentially hold both a special story and be made out of the best materials on the market. This hat from Cappelificio Biellese does not disappoint…. and not only! I am really into this blue print. I think a blue hat is a must have in everyman’s winter wardrobe".
Left - Cappellificio Beillese - Gingham Jockey Cap - £62.03