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Long time no see…….

It’s been a while. Life has a habit of interfering with ……….well……….with life I suppose. For me it has been a summer of weddings and travel.

Back in London and probably influenced by gathering clouds and rain, I decided to visit the shopping mecca of Brent Cross.

It was teeming with the like minded…………..except most of them were pushing buggies. Has there been an unreported baby boom? And are the latest brands of baby carrier on steroids? Huge and laden with stuff……………discarded outerwear, copious carrier bags, baby essentials and dried blobs of food. None have a volume control, but most carry at least one screaming child. They have become the transport equivalent of slow-moving articulated trucks, their open rear end a motorway spill of dribble and crumbs.

I dodged the oncoming wheels and decided to take a look in Marks and Spencer. Sad is the first adjective that comes to mind. Not even the trusty underwear could thrill. Squeezed onto tightly spaced racks it drooped off the plastic hangers like all our yesterdays. The Limited Collection is a thrift shop of dull knits. One flirty red jersey dress is just not enough. Further back in the store I discovered the re-birth of elastic waist trousers! Nylon in feel, their wide static laden legs impersonated one of this winter’s trends. As for the Per Una Collection………much of it on the floor………….words fail me. Accessories are bundled amongst skirts, toiletries almost tip off their shelves into the thoroughfare of the mall, and children’s wear spills into the men’s department. It seems with a complete disregard for their customer, that returns must now be made only on the top floor. Maybe they are embarrassed by the long crocodile line which is forced to stand squashed in a tiny area hidden behind a wall. This is the busiest department and arguments abound.

But as a note of hope, I did see two elderly blonde women, slapped in make up and gold chains, both in thrall with a pair of leopard print shoes, so I am forced to admit that despite my lack of retail joy there really is a customer for everything.

Bet Lynch: The ideal elderly blonde shopper?

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The Art of Colouring

Being out of the UK for a while, minus TV, internet, newspapers and a phone connection was an interesting experience. A new season of fashion had begun and I was removed enough not to care. But old habits die hard so it wasn’t long before I was re-immersed, with my head freshly filled by the good old British media telling it the way they want it to be. I refer to the fashion media. I do endlessly question their honesty? Why are they biging up poor collections? Why do they all push the same flavour of the month fashion designer? Who is going to wear the always-was-disgusting 70’s button front denim midi skirt, and would someone please explain the abundance of ugly retro shoes with 5 inch plus killer wedges and platforms?

 

A pair of original 70’s platform shoes shown in Linda O’Keeffe’s book, A Celebration of Shoes.

 

Interested in clothes for this Spring rather than next Autumn I headed for Selfridges not London Fashion Week. Paid the increased CC Charge, now £10………….quickly reversed out of the car park off Wigmore Street, shocked at their £5 per hour attempt at robbery, and instead queued for the Selfridges car park (£13 for four hours). Already feeling poorer I meandered through their second floor which looked awful. Now Concession filled and lacking inspiration it felt a sad place, so I took a moment to mourn the old Miu Miu area, first replaced by Marc Jacobs and now COS. What next I wonder…….. Primark? Apparently someone forgot to tell Selfridges about this season’s colour blocking trend……….although according to a top retail buyer, most of the high end designers were equally ill-informed. So is the trend just a High Street myth perpetrated ( but not worn) by magazine editors? Well wash my mouth out…… those journalists have to write about something being new or we could all recycle their March 2010 edition and not even realise it!

Disappointed by Selfridges I fought my way to Uniqlo. Why was everyone else in Oxford Street walking in the opposite direction to me? Once there I found that Jill Sander has lost her unique glow, the latest range, is not long released and already discounted. Not a good sign.

Jill Sander was also unaware that this must be a season about colour, maybe that was her failure? Either that or the designs were too safe, too navy, too brown, and too expensive.

Zara had bits of colour………most of it slipped from the hangers or thrown onto the floor. The few pieces I touched were in cheap, nasty fabrics so I gave up and re-joined the Oxford Street throng still empty-handed.

Fast reaching the point where I would need an over-draught to pay for longer parking I sat in the rush hour traffic and went home. My sole purchase, a black eyeliner pencil by the latest hot brand Suqqu.

Hello, it’s been a while.

Globe trotting took precedence over blogging, but even the beauty of South America’s Galapagos Islands didn’t stop me looking for fashion quirks. I just had no means of passing them on, it’s an area dedicated to wild life and not the technology of communication. These images are courtesy of a rather eccentric Japanese lady.

And so much for the famed manners of that country, she regularly cut me up when snorkling, her baby pink flippers were lethal…………..in fact she was absolutely without mercy if a turtle or shark was in sight.

Japanese style, madly wonderful!

Meet my new friend! Fantastic colours and great texture, truly inspirational. And soooo relaxed.

Barely more than a week into 2011, and I don’t think it’s looking good.

Predictions so far seem to promote the worst of the late 1970’s, how can fashion editors gush over images of long, over-sized, shapeless sacks? My heart-felt warning for the season is DO NOT touch mid calf length skirts, or the midi as it was originally called. It was then, and it still remains, ugly , unflattering anti-fashion……….yes, even in “block colours.” In fact I’m almost looking forward to the great colour revival trend, it should be very illuminating…………………… I say, bring on the clowns.

Speaking of which………………………………………

When not pushing awful clothes the editors now oohhhh and aaaahhh over ridiculously dressed older women – yes that’s you Anna Dello Russo – and also you Madonna. Why not risk actually growing up and putting your underwear back where it belongs…………..out of sight.

Anna Della Russo, the 47 year old fashion editor of Japanese Vogue, is apparently dressed for breakfast…………I’d love to see what she wears to visit Tesco Express.

Luckily for Jill Sander this £2,170 monster is only hers by name and no longer by design…………………..note the miss-matched stripes across the side seam……..are they intended as ironic?

If you don’t fancy wearing a tent, Why not go the whole hog and become a pantomime dame just like Madge?

Yet more footwear! I am obviously fixated on feet, and who wouldn’t be in the current freezing temperatures? I don’t imagine there is a waiting list for this faux fur offering. Warm ankles and frost-bitten toes anyone?

I think it’s all over, fashion and I have finally parted, I have stepped out and fallen over the precipice! Despite knowing that it’s wrong on so many levels, I have finally succumbed. Pushed over the edge by freezing temperatures and poor circulation I have parted with plastic and bought a pair of those dreadful Ugg boots! The shame is intense, in fact I may need years of therapy, but at least my feet will be toasty. I am aware that they will also look fat and deeply unsexy. In fact when I say bought I really mean ordered, as my size was out of stock. As a result I am hibernating until they arrive on Wednesday (when it’s due to snow, even in London) which gives me time to either change my mind or come to terms with my huge fashion faux pas. I can’t wear wedges or heels of any kind, converse bring me close to frost bite, any leather soles ditto, and I have failed to perfect the art of balance. So what next I wonder? Due to very inclement weather, I’m on a slippery slope, what happens after the thaw, surely not a pair of foul looking Crocs?Ugly and even uglier.

Frilled? Not Really.

To frill or not to frill? That is the question.

Whether ’tis nobler to follow the new much pushed fashion path of grown up, pared down, sophistication, or regress and flounce into frills? I am a collaboration addict, the Lanvin/H&M launch has been in my diary for months, Valentino/Gap ditto. Which sadly proves the old adage ” be careful in life what you wish for.” Much as I love Uniqlo, this season’s Jill Sander collection was disappointing, styles no more than OK and fabrics nasty. But at least Sander remains true to her craft, she doesn’t indulge in superficial adornment that masquerades as design.

Why has Alber Elbaz churned out a 48 piece cheap pastiche, not worthy of his monumental talent? Is it his choice or H&M’s to dress women in gaudy over-worked outfits that look so yesterday?

He stated; “What intrigued me was the idea of H&M going into luxury, rather than Lanvin going public.”

Sorry Alber, nice dream but in my opinion you haven’t even come close.

Katie Grand what were you thinking?

£100 for a frilly baco-foil Christmas cracker.

Why not add the kitchen sink?

Sex in the City, or who let the dogs out?

And then there is Valentino for Gap. Really frilling! With possibly the most disastrously styled cargo pants ever.

Most distressing is the knowledge that these collections will fly to the sound of  tills ringing. Not because we love them, but because we are so in thrall to a designer label that we feel compelled to possess a “real” Lanvin or Valentino. Good or bad, we want the chance to buy into the dream at a fraction of the usual out of our reach price tag.

*All images borrowed from the Telegraph.

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