Charles James: Beyond Fashion

As the latest inspiration for the Met Gala I thought it would be appropriate to take a look at the designs of Charles James, the ‘First American Couturier’. Known for his somewhat hefty dresses (his heaviest dress was 18 pounds) that emphasised a women’s figure, the designer favoured the use of silk, organza and velvet and championed many newer styles, like the strapless dress, Pavlovian Waistband and the Figure Eight skirt, as well as inspiring the New Look that is most often associated with Christian Dior. The designer reworked all of his original designs and is most known for his ball gowns, quilted jackets and fur/embroidery trimmed capes and coats.

So,with all of this said it is pretty clear what kinds of designs we can expect the fashion elite to be wearing at tonight’s Gala- I’m thinking lots of Old Hollywood Glamour, from full skirts to figure hugging dresses!

Here’s a look at some of James’ designs:

 

  

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Goodbye Hearts, Hello Polka Dots!!

After the Aw13 show from Burberry Prorsum, everybody was talking about, and lusting after, that heart print shirt. We saw numerous, more affordable, heart print blouses introduced across the high street in yummy berry shades, but as we come into Spring there is a new Burberry print in town- in the form of classic polka dots. This simple print shouldn’t be underestimated, though, as it looks great paired with another clashing print (think stripes and florals) or vibrant bold colours. The high street have already come out with some fresh, youthful versions of their own-you can always rely on trusty Topshop, who have lots of brightly coloured polka dot items to choose from!

                           

 

H&M at PFW

From soft and feminine to military chic there were many different faces to H&M’s most recent catwalk show in Paris this week. The khaki green sweater dresses, knee high black boots and black patent bombers made for an edgier look, although this was occasionally softened somewhat through fluffy fur coats, pretty lace detailing and silky slip dresses. Elsewhere in the show we were shown long, soft, cashmere coats, in both navy and khaki, that were a refreshing step away from the sugary sweet pastel versions we’ve been seeing. Navy seemed like the new black for this show, giving us a classic look, but this didn’t take away from the youthful glow-it wasn’t long before we saw clashing animal print, sequins and pretty turquoise hues (not forgetting those amazing clashing orange/khaki colour combos).

H&M have managed to find a perfect balance through the use of simple shapes, rich colours and the mixing of different textures, for a tough, but feminine, approach to dressing.

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Alberta Ferretti at MFW

We have seen many designers over fashion week change the direction of their brand’s usual aesthetic, but Ferretti has done this the best so far. The usual Ferretti collection would be romantic, light and airy, but at MFW yesterday the collection took a darker turn that led to a luxurious, almost couture, runway show. Inspired by an ‘animated forest’ the collection was full of rich textures, prints and colours to give an enchanting, ethereal feel. With simple and natural silhouettes, the collection’s many textures spoke volumes- we saw feather lined hems, fur lined collars and bark like textures that were created through the layering of felt, silk and chiffon across the whole collection, where even sandals were adorned with soft feathers. This, mixed with the luxurious hand painted prints, intricate embroidery, mossy green shades and dark metallic hues, gave us an inspirational collection that reaches to a wide audience. From fluffy green jumpers, gorgeous ethereal gowns and the clever vine like sandal straps that twisted around the ankles of models, Ferretti managed to outdo herself with this collection, thinking outside the box to create a wearable, but couture inspired, collection.

                        

Ralph Lauren at NYFW

At his most recent show Ralph Lauren lived up to expectations with a beautiful, soft and ultra feminine collection that showcased pretty, romantic hues of creams, greys, pinks and lilacs. We’ve seen a lot of masculine silhouettes during NYFW, but not at Ralph Lauren, where shapes were kept simple, soft and classic for all occasions. For evening wear the collection gave a lovely sense of old Hollywood glamour (think soft furs mixed with silk and heavily embellished dresses) whilst the more casual side of the show gave us cosy knits, slouchy silk trousers and soft capes (most of which styled head to toe in one soft hue). It is also interesting the contrasting footwear that was on the runway-we saw converse style sneakers, pointed court shoes and thigh high grey suede boots, all showing how much versatility the brand still has whilst still remaining classic and feminine!

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Alberta Ferretti SS14

The runway shows for SS14 had some standout designers for me this year, but my absolute favourite show has to be Alberta Ferretti, simply for it’s colour, femininity and playful charm. The styles weren’t too complex, but instead gave pretty and youthful looks that are easy to wear (and copy, for those of us who can only dream of buying the real thing). Maybe I was more drawn to her collection, because of the way it reflected glorious summer days through white broderie anglaise, brightly coloured embroidery (and ribbon), pretty florals and candy stripes-an absolute dream for the ultimate ‘girly girl’ like me!

So, below is a run down of the main elements of the show- a must read, because it was such a beautiful show- so, enjoy!

White and Brights

White chiffon and broderie anglaise dresses, blouses and skirts were mixed with brightly coloured embroidery, ribbons and florals in a rainbow of colours, giving a pretty, youthful glow.

Summer Brights

From fiery reds and oranges to leafy greens and cobalt blues, these chiffon dresses, bright sandals, and ruffle skirts were reminiscent of summer evenings, especially with that gorgeous floral embroidery (a lovely thought on such a drab December morning).

Pretty Patterns

Think candy stripes and pretty florals in skirts and dresses, both long and short, cropped blouses and bralets in silks and chiffons. Although this all sounds like a playful take on Spring/Summer, the patterns at this show gave polished and feminine finish, but still managed to keep it’s youthful edge!

Black is Back 

The darker side to SS14 is of course the colour black in the form of silky ruffle skirts, lace dresses and sheer materials, with Ferretti’s added twist of coloured floral embroidery. Although I try and steer clear of black during Spring/Summer usually, Ferretti has changed my opinion a little. If it’s teamed with a colour pop of embroidery or a pair of bright sandals then it can really transform a look, although that doesn’t mean to say her all black lace ensembles are any less beautiful!

Winter Whites

White may seem a bit scary for those of you who think this color is best kept for the warmer months, sure, its fresh and crisp and brightens up an outfit but what about during the AW months?  White can actually be worn in a really cozy way, but if you’re still not convinced, read on for my top five ways to wear whites this winter!

Cool Grays

White mixed with cool grey shades can be an underestimated color combo, but actually gives a very soft and feminine feel to a look! These colors are at their best when textures like soft cashmere and silks are mixed together- think a soft, white, cashmere sweater over the top of a knee length, cool grey, silk slip or even a gray vinyl skirt? Absolutely gorgeous, and great for work or play, too! You might even decide to incorporate grays into your look by adding a pair of grey ankle boots or a squashy clutch, as seen at Celine, to dress up the look even more!

Proenza Schouler

Playful Pastels

It’s no secret that pastels are one of my favorite trends this season, adding a feminine, but playful, charm to any ensemble! It may be that you go simple when adding such colors (think a pair of ice blue cocktail earrings against a soft white sweater or silk blouse) or you may choose to go a bit bolder (how about a silk, mint green blouse against a silky soft, white pencil skirt?), but whatever way you decide to incorporate pastel shades it is safe to say that a little pop of color can go a long way in bringing an outfit to life!

Celine

The Metallic Edge

Well, mainly silver, but a little gold or even metallic burgundy shades can also work wonders! Personally I do think silver looks a little better than gold as it simulates that icy feeling we get during the colder months (and look a lot classier), but then adding a pointed, platformed  gold shoe to a look can also be a great touch to a white dress! This way of wearing white is quite well suited to the more dressier of occasions, and what better way to start that by trying it out during the best party season of AW-Christmas!! One tip though, keep metallic touches to a minimum, because too much and it may begin to look a little tacky- try adding it through jewelry, clutch bags or shoes for a classier look!

Burberry Prorsum

Classic Navy

Navy and white contrast against each other brilliantly and definitely add an element of class to any look. Navy is such a strong, bold color that it offsets well against the sharp, crisp edge of white. This is great for work attire (although this doesn’t mean it is not as versatile as the other color combo’s), try teaming a fitted white dress with a navy pea coat or a pair of smart white trousers with a silky navy shirt or sweater!

Celine

Monochrome

And, of course, we all know the classic black and white combo, so if you’re not bold enough to try the other looks then at least give this one a try! And this requires the most minimal effort, because you can grab a monochrome print in dresses, sweaters, pants, anything really!

Proenza Schouler

So you have no excuses not to try white this season, in fact, you’ve probably already tried it out without even realizing, but don’t let this deter you from further experimentation!

Pretty in Pastels

For those who didn’t know, I am the biggest girly girl EVER. Anything pink, pretty, fluffy, flowery and feminine I want to have it! So it is no surprise that my favourite trend this AW is, of course, those gorgeous pastel shades as seen on the runways of Carven, Celine and Topshop Unique.

But what are the colours you need to know and how can you wear them?

Okay, so we all know what the typical pastel shades are (think mint green, lemon sorbet, baby pink, powder blue & lilacs), but let us take a minute to really appreciate the colours that matter this season (because they are SO pretty!)

 These yummy pastel shades are most prominent in wools, cashmeres, silks and furs, but although runway shows are great for inspiration they aren’t the most wearable looks for the everyday person, which is why I’ve decided to come up with some top tips of how you can look pretty in pastels this season.

  1.  Layer up!Layering these gorgeous pastel shades is really important this season, because it adds another dimension to an outfit and don’t be afraid to mix colours and textures! Think a thick woolen knit, a woolen coat and a pair of silky soft trousers in an assortment of pastel shades!
  2. Pastels, Pastels and more Pastels!How pretty is it to mix up your pastel shades.. a dusty pink coat, a sky blue blouse and a cream skirt? Or how about sticking to just the one pastel shade for a chic, feminine look?
  3. Soften it up!There are some colours I have missed off the list of ‘pastels’ that I feel add a really lovely soft touch to an outfit and these include soft greys, creams and whites. So, if you don’t love the idea of looking too sugary sweet in an all pink ensemble then add a soft grey woolen coat to break it up a bit!
  4. What to wear?Look for thick, chunky cable knit jumpers, soft woolen or silky skirts and of course big woolen or fur trimmed coats.
  5. ShapesOkay so jumpers and coats are best oversized this season with rounded shoulders and too-long sleeves, but you obviously don’t have to stick to this oversized look, as you can opt to go for soft and smooth feminine lines instead.

Anyway guys, I hope you enjoyed my little tips and ideas, because I actually really enjoyed writing them!