As another couturier passes away - Hubert de Givenchy - I wanted to write a piece I’ve been thinking about for a while. With only Lagerfeld and Valentino left, men who have touched or worked with the great couturiers of the 20th century, is it time to leave couture behind?
It feels like couture is out of touch with today. This isn’t about the vast sums of money it costs, even though that is a good point, it’s more about the creative rut that many couture houses have found themselves in.
Left - Hubert & Audrey
It used to be an area for experimentation and fantasy - remember Galliano’s Diorient Express at Dior and all the models dressed like Henry VIII or a Native American chiefs arriving by steam train? - rather than pretty clothes for people with more money than they know what to do with.
You only have to look at ‘Red Carpet’ dressing to see the state of couture. It’s dull. It’s boring. It’s safe. Of course, it’s beautifully made, but what exactly is couture adding to ‘fashion’?
The Oscars used to have a few fashion ‘moments’ worth staying up for, but it became a battlefield of money and sponsorship, but also, with a few rare exceptions, people more interested in their own vanity and safety off the worst dressed lists. Many of these people aren’t sophisticated enough to wear something challenging or directional.
Couture needs a starting point of anything goes. It should be about experimentation and wowing people with technical skills and craft. I know it needs a commercial element, but it’s never going to be a big seller. In its nature it needs to keep the numbers low, otherwise, what else are you paying for?
There are enough ‘dress-makers’ or newer brands like Ralph & Russo for the pretty dress crowd. Brands need to think what it brings to their image and whether it’s relevant going into the 21st century.
When Hedi Slimane was announced as the new Creative Director of Céline, it was also announced he would be doing couture. Really? A house that has never done couture before, does the world need anymore? This is more a case of massaging an ego than bringing anything new. It’ll just be a higher price point of the same things, like what he did at YSL.
Gucci is a brand which would be worth doing as couture because many of the ideas can’t be manufactured to the quality you’d expect of the design. Couture would take the pressure and lid off this and allow the designs to be as good as they should be.
I agree with keeping skills alive and I, wholeheartedly, believe in craft, but couture just doesn’t have the energy it once had. Couture should be a showplace of experimentation rather than a branding exercise to continually pump out the same thing.
I think couture is currently a reflection of the current lack of great designers. Sadly, without more McQueens coming along it will just be more variations of the same beautifully made things.
‘CliniqueFit’ is a ‘carefully curated line of athletic-inspired, high performance skin care that’s long-wearing and designed to fit seamlessly into your on-the-go lifestyle’.
TheChicGeek says, “Gym bunnies are active consumers, so, not only is this timely, but commercially focussed. This is a brand thinking about where their consumers live their lives, today, and how they want to look during and after working out.
The majority of products in the range are make-up so I was only sent the 'Workout Face + Body Hydrating Spray' to try. There are seven products in the full range. I put it in my gym coat pocket and used it after every class.
It is a water-based, non-stick and oil-free formula spray designed to instantly refresh and hydrate parched skin. It’s said to absorb quickly and leave skin feeling soft and comfortable with a healthy glow.
It’s definitely light and absorbs quickly, but I didn’t notice any after glow and it’s not a refreshing as you want it to be. This is probably one of the rare times I want something fragrant and uplifting, and not fragrance-free from Clinique. I’m thinking something cleansing, spa or Aveda like, which works well in these wet sprays, making you want to use them more while putting a post-workout spring into your step.”
Left - CliniqueFit Workout Face + Body Hydrating Spray - 30ml - £13
Available exclusively to Selfridges, Brown Thomas Dublin and Clinique.co.uk.
“Marigold is a fairly unusual ingredient. Its fruity and aromatic facets contrast harmoniously with the fresh and natural tones of jasmine sambac. Together they capture the vibrancy of an Indian flower market,” says Mathilde Bijaoui, Jo Malone Master Perfumer.
Left - Jo Malone Cologne Intense Jasmine Sambac & Marigold - 100ml - £115
TheChicGeek says, “The green, hypnotic fragrance of the Arabian jasmine is the star here. It’s the kind of fragrance you want to inhale as deeply as possible to make it last longer. The top is marigold, which I didn’t think had much a scent(?), and the base is benzoin, a balsamic resin from the bark of the Styrax tree.
Add in ylang, ylang, vanilla and amber and you not only have an Indian flower market, but one of those rare, warm British summer nights when the climbing jasmine is pumping out as much scent as possible into the night. While this is instinctively feminine, the lines are blurring so much in fashion, beauty and gender, that anything goes.”
Launching nationwide April 2018
Like Jo Malone? Read English Fields review - here
There’s something pointless about a Summer scarf and that’s exactly the point. It shows a sense of style in a really easy way. Choosing a cotton scarf makes it less precious and, obviously, more warm-weather appropriate. Just sling it around your neck and off you go.
This light blue scarf from Paul Smith caught my eye. Not only is it a really good price, it’s covered in calming embroidered koi carp, no doubt from Paul’s love of Japan, with beaded eyes and it is a nice length which will sit easily around your neck.
Wear with other pastels or make it a soft highlight with darker colours.
Left & Below - Paul Smith - Steel Blue Embroidered Cotton Scarf - £105 from Harvey Nichols
L’Oréal Men Expert Research has identified a powerful active ingredient in French vineyards, known for its antioxidant properties, which helps to defend against external aggressions and fight against signs of ageing.
Containing this extract, the L’Oréal Men Expert Vita Lift range introduces 3 new high-performance products - moisturiser, gel and eye-cream - which moisturise the skin, enhance its radiance, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and help the skin to feel firmer.
Left - L’Oréal Men Expert Vita Lift Anti-Ageing Gel 50ml - £15.99
TheChicGeek says, “The information is a bit vague about what exactly they found in these French vineyards. I’m guessing it’s grapes and it’s the same antioxidants that make experts recommend we drink one glass of red wine a day.
I thought I’d try the gel because it’s a bright red colour and looks a bit different, and also the eye cream.
I usually find Men Expert to be a wall of products, with many overlapping and not labelled clearly enough to know what to do with them. Being red, this has more distinction and identity.
There is a slight hint of morning-after-stale-red-wine, which I kinda wanted, but it’s masked by a generic men’s fragrance. The gel is light and the striking red colour quickly absorbs into the skin and disappears without any colour residue. Gels suit guys who don’t want anything heavy on their skin and also I think it absorbs and disappears faster.
The eye cream isn't red and is completely unmemorable.
I think we all know the benefits of red wine, in moderation, and this is a new source of antioxidants for the skin. I don't think this is Chateaux Margaux for the skin, more house red. Santé!”
Right - L’Oréal Men Expert Vita Lift Anti-Ageing Eye Cream 15ml - £11.99
This is an exclusive behind the scenes peek of the new SS18 Base London campaign starring TheChicGeek. Move over Linda, Naomi and Kate, TheChicGeek is here and he’s blowing it out of the water.
Left - In the studio - A preview of TheChicGeek's Base London campaign
Giving pure ‘Ginger-Steel’, TheChicGeek wanted to showcase every facet of his character while ticking all the boxes for the latest menswear trends. Pairing Base London’s latest collection of footwear with the biggest looks of the season, it’s a geek-fest of characters to see you through the entire Summer. See how the magic happened!
Below Left - TheChicGeek's selection of the all the hottest menswear SS18 trends to pair with the Base London collection. Which geek are you?
Below - You can feel the sunshine. TheChicGeek in a couple of the final images for the Base London SS18 campaign
See TheChicGeek’s full looks of the season - here
Ryan Haynes, Menswear Luxury Buyer, Coggles
“‘All about a clean and simple aesthetic with a slight element of layering. Stick to fresh, primary colours and you can’t go wrong. A wardrobe staple in a classic denim wash which is very versatile.”
Left - Acne Studios - North Slim Jeans Mid Blue - £210
“Really current and cool brand. Sweatshirts are great for layering at this time of year and colour blocking is key.”
Left - Ami - Sweatshirt - £175
“Everyone needs a floral shirt in their wardrobe. Bold, but can be worn both smartly with a blazer or casually for a festival.’
Below -McQ Alexander McQueen - Billy Foral Shirt – £250
“A tan, suede jacket is essential in every man’s wardrobe. Fitting in with the western influence, it is on trend but also timeless in itself.”
Left - Officine Générale - Suede Liam Jacket - £870
“Classics, but the marble sole adds an contemporary and unique twist.”
Below - Axel Arigato - Clean 90 Sneaker - £160
All the pieces are SS18 and exclusive to the newly launched flagship store; Coggles, 52 London Road, Alderley Edge, Cheshire, SK9 7EF
Just as I was writing the Oscars off as boring and a sea of black tuxedos out comes along a group of guys having fun on the red carpet. While the womenswear has gone safe and dull, there’s not much ‘fashion’ to see anymore, the menswear has seen the opportunity to express the wearer’s personality. The trick is to have fun yet also look cool and stylish; a hard task, let me tell you.
Here are my thoughts on the night’s highlights:
What a peach of a picture! A king is born. Timothée Chalamet is giving me young Sun King here in virginal white. We all know what happens in the film! It feels like a costume, yet it's cool, and the black boots keep it grounded in youth. Hammer has gone fairly safe in a standard red velvet number, but it's the contrast between the two which makes the cool factor high.
Left - Timothée Chalamet in Berluti, Armie Hammer in Giorgio Armani See the Call Me By Your Name Get The Look here
What a homage to the above by James Ivory. Wearing a shirt with the face of Hollywood’s new golden prince on. The shirt was painted by artist Andrew Mania.
Left - James Ivory in Andrew Mania
It’s difficult for any man to look anything other than elegant in a Tom Ford tuxedo jacket. It's the long jacket and turn-back cuffs that make it. A red one made it onto TheChicGeek Christmas Wish List 2017 - here
Left - Ansel Elgort in Tom Ford
Straight off the AW18 catwalk, this S&M take on a black tuxedo works because it still looks put together and polished.
Left - Adam Rippon in Moschino
These suits always say 'Prada' to me. The high shape makes it feel vintage especially with the less structured black bow tie.
Below - Tom Holland in Hermès
More ChicGeek Oscar fashion here
These vintage postcard intarsia knits just don’t get old. JW Anderson did them ages ago in tank top form and Hermès has done a few similar styles for AW18 see here
This is TheChicGeek on one of his Famous Five adventures. All I need is a steam train and a canvas rucksack. Somebody pass the ginger beer!
Left & Below - Not sure where they got the model! But I like the jumper - Pringle of Scotland - Postcard Landscape Jumper in Black/Vintage Cream - £550
News on the grapevine New Look is close to going under. I don’t think this will mean that New Look will disappear, it’ll probably be pre-packed into a slimmer and more nimble retailer while shaking off its debt. It has 600 stores, which seems rather top heavy in this current retail environment.
Ironically, when it’s not cold enough many retailers blame the weather for not shifting clothes, and this week, the whole week, or even two, will be a write off, for the majority of retailers, particularly fashion, because people aren’t leaving the house or simply can’t get to the shops due to the snow and many items there won’t be suitable anyway. Two disruptive weeks could push a few more retailers over that administration edge.
Left - Expect to see more of these and for longer
I think we’re at a tipping point for physical retail, particularly larger shops with big overheads. These gaps are big and aren’t being filled. 102 of the 164 BHS stores that went out of business are still un-let nearly 2 years after its closure. Add in Toy R Us and the announced store closures from many retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Debenhams and you have a very gappy and unattractive grimace to the majority of shopping areas or high-streets.
This downward spiral simply speeds up the death of these areas: fewer shops, means fewer visitors and therefore fewer shops.
Any retailers who sell the same items as Amazon seem to be in trouble and fashion has to acknowledge that the ASOSs and Boohoos of this world have taken a massive chunk of spend and continue to do so.
Fashion retailers are damned if they do and damned if they don’t when it comes to the internet. Even the best website in the world will still eat into physical stores. The bigger and better you make your online offering will only encourage people not to visit your stores. It’s a feeling of struggling to stand still, and, with many cases, going backwards.
I live in Croydon and there’s been talk of a big, new Westfield for a long time. The town centre is very dated and run down and needs the investment and also the ‘Westfield’ name to put it back on the map. But, Westfield has gone very quiet. They’ve kicked the development back to start in 2019, not really sure why, and having just been taken over by a French company it wouldn’t surprise me if they wanted to relook at any new developments.
Croydon is a risk. It isn’t White City. While it has good transport links, it also has many shopping centres close by. I’ve said to people buying into ‘up and coming’ Croydon, not to buy thinking a Westfield is definitely coming. John Lewis was always muted as an anchor tenant and they’ve said they don’t want to open anymore stores ATM. If it does happen, it will affect the Bromley, Kingston, Bluewater and even Brighton shopping centres. The pain will be felt somewhere.
So, what to do? These units are too big. Shops and shopping centres will have to contract. These spaces need redesigning and dividing. What we need is housing and leisure facilities. The future of physical retail will be ‘want’ and not ‘need’. It’ll will be about service and human interaction - Read TheChicGeek's Human Cookies. Online is unbeatable with need, and its dominance will speed up even more with automation and driverless delivery. But, we’ll still want to get out of the house, see what’s new, try and touch things. It’s just unfortunate that some of these larger retailers and their footprints are unsustainable.