The perfect little tartan dress…

I have been on the look out for the perfect little tartan dress (LTD) for a while now, and this A/W I have searched for one more than ever. Not only has tartan been big this season, featuring on the runways of Ashish and Paul Costelloe, but the McQ Alexander McQueen puffball tartan dress has been seen on celebrity after celebrity over the last few months. From Rihanna’s smash hit X Factor performance, to Katherine Jenkins, Chloe Moretz, Emma Watson and Cheryl Cole, the LTD isn’t leaving the spotlight anytime soon. Now, I cannot afford McQueen (one can dream), but finding a high street bargain and adding a personal spin to it is something I can do.

Rihanna on the X Factor, Katherine Jenkins and Chloe Moretz in the McQ Alexander McQueen puffball tartan dress.

Finally just as I was just beginning to give up hope, I tuned into my guilty pleasure The Only Way is Essex on Wednesday and spotted Lucy Mecklenburgh sporting a tartan high street alternative. I bought mine immediately direct from the brand Apricot for £25, but you can buy the same dress worn in the show from her online store LoveLucyx too. Boohoo also stock a similar dress for just £20, which is available in four different colours – coral, cream, pink and red.

Lucy Meck in her tartan dress.

Apricot’s RIRI tartan dress £25

Boohoo’s Monica tartan skater dress £20

I plan to wear my tartan dress with a chunky knit cardy, opaque tights and shoeboots or loafers for a casual look, and my leather jacket, black court heels and favourite red lipstick for an evening out.

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Ice cream sundae…

Finally the Christmas rush and winter sales are at an end, and despite the horrible cold spell of weather, I am beginning to get very excited about the S/S12 collections hitting the shops. Pastels in particular have really taken my fancy this season, from floral notes of rose, daffodil and daisy, zesty infused hues of apple, peach and lemon, to the sugared coated goodness of candy, marshmallow and almond. So if you have a sweet tooth, this really is the season to indulge in sugar and spice and all things nice.

For the little girl inside of all of us, these colours bring back memories of picnics in the sun, cream tea with Grandma and jelly and ice cream parties. Inspiration should be taken from the catwalks of Louis Vuitton, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Richard Nicoll and Chanel, who all showcased the most wanted shades of powder pink, sky blue, peppermint, lemon, peach, lilac and vanilla. You should also look out for fabrics such as lace, broderie anglaise, tulle and feather appliqué to embrace the ultra feminine nature of the trend.

Louis Vuitton

3.1 Phillip Lim

Richard Nicoll

Chanel

Here are a few of my favourite picks from the high street:

ZARA

Embroidered silk top £59.99

Coloured denim light yellow £35.99

Skinny jeans mid pink £35.99

TOPSHOP

Lilac lace strappy sundress £36.00

OASIS

Multi natural colourblock lantern dress £65.00

Mid blue lexi lace skater dress £65.00

ASOS

Sleeveless skater dress in green £45.00 (also available in pink)

Just add some bouncy curls, a sweep of pink lippy and a box clutch to complete these looks!

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Ooh La La…

Following the Galliano saga, Dior had a bit of moment last year. Had the alleged anti-semitic comments from the fashion extremist scarred the labels reputation? And would it still be able to hold its position as a classic fashion favourite?

Luckily damage was minimal after the label instantaneously cut ties with the designer, though there is still a question mark over the head of Galliano’s successor that looms in the house of Dior. However despite these troubled waters I still feel the label are as strong as ever, especially after recently announcing Mila Kunis as the latest leading lady for their Miss Dior handbag Spring/ Summer 12 collection.

Mila Kunis for Miss Dior Handbag S/S12

The 28-year-old actress is the second Black Swan beauty to be cast for Dior, stepping in the golden footsteps of award winning Natalie Portman. Miss Kunis’ pictures hold an air of grace and sophistication that I feel captures a true essence of the brand, but this isn’t the first time I have fallen in love with a Dior campaign. In the past, Dior’s campaigns haven’t really stood out or at least grabbed me, but Portman’s campaign over the last year has really caught my attention too.

Natalie Portman for Dior

The official commercial was directed by Sofia Coppola, and set against Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin’s “Je t’aime…moi non plus.” It is full of innocent girlish charm, encapsulated in the romance and sexiness of the city of Paris, as well as slightly mirroring the imagery of Audrey’s Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s (although set in a different city).

Here are some stills from the commercial for inspiration:

Please also have a look at these links for the making of, and the final commercial!

Enjoy!

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GHOST THE MUSICAL…

Closet Charms rating: * * * * * 5/5

Last week my brother and I took my mum to see Ghost the Musical in London, as a belated birthday treat – yes we have had to wait three months after booking tickets to actually see the show to get good seats – it is that popular, but rightly so. In fact, I was so moved by it I was disappointed when it had finished, and I am desperate to see it again. It simply is the best production I have ever seen, and in my 22 years I have seen a few (bit of a song and dance junkie at heart – I wish I lived in a musical actually).

Not only was I dazzled by the high-tech special effects, the set design was beautiful, and the soundtrack has played over and over in my head ever since. There was also stunning performances from all the cast, particularly Fleeshman and Levy (Sam and Molly), making the story extremely believable – I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house, and in some aspects I think this makes it better than the film (even if it is a classic).

For more information, or to book tickets please visit: http://www.ghostthemusical.com/

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The memory in a scent…

If you were asked which of the six senses you couldn’t live without, I doubt on first thought your sense of smell would top hearing and sight. Off course you would miss the sweet scent of summer – flowers blooming, freshly cut grass, the salt of the sea and the smoke of the bbq, your Grandma’s baking on a Sunday, or even the tree, mince pies and melted wax at Christmas, but I am sure there are some pretty nasty smells you could easily live without too.

However I was recently clearing out my bedroom and treating it to a well deserved dust and polish, and my dressing table above my wardrobe surprisingly proved to be the biggest enigma. Not because it was the most overcrowded – my wardrobe will always win that battle, not because it had acquired a random mix of jewellery and make-up that I don’t even use – I am a girlie girl, but because of my empty collection of perfume bottles. I thought to myself while I maybe hoarding too many jewells, make-up or hair products, at least there might be a day that they could come in handy. As for the empty perfume bottles? I just couldn’t understand why I hadn’t thrown them out years ago. That is until I lifted off each of their lids and inhaled the nectar one by one, and was transported back to yesteryear.

It seemed that not only had I kept the bottles because of their beautiful design (I tend to keep anything beautiful whether I will use it or not), but mainly because of the strong link between their scents and my memories. According to Bioedonline.org there is an intimate link between our sense of smell and memories: “Odour memory seems to be the most resistant to forgetting,” said Jay Gottfried of the University College London, in an article by Michael Hopkin in 2004.

Our sense of smell is also a major aphrodisiac, while looks and personality may spark an initial attraction, a scent can actually play a bigger influence in a relationship. In Siski Green’s (Men’s Health magazine sexpert) book How to blow his mind in bed, she says: “A man whose aroma gives you the irresistible urge to dive nose-first into his neck is more likely to find you physically attractive too. And that’s because we use scent to ascertain whether someone has the kind of genetic make-up that would make them a good mate.”

Think about it, a smell can evoke feelings of happiness or melancholy, many of us can often shiver when we catch a passing breeze of an exes cologne, and are sometimes attracted to a partner who is not our usual aesthetic type. So maybe smell is more powerful than we first thought?

Here are the five stand out perfumes in my life so far, and the memories they hold…

1. Anais Anais

This was the first perfume I was ever given, and it is also the same perfume my Grandma and Mum have used at different stages in their life. It reminds me of my innocent yet confusing teenage days, before I had been kissed but still in the midst of becoming a young woman.

2. CK IN2U

This was my first grown up fragrance – I was seduced into trying it after seeing the supporting ad campaign. Glossy perfume adverts have always attracted me to the fashion world, and they still inspire me today.

3. Gucci Envy Me

My friend introduced me to this perfume in my first year of University, it makes me reminis of all the fun and happy times we shared, and of the first time I broke from my shell after moving away from home to study.

4. Armani Code

I instantly fell in love with this fragrance, and despite the price tag bought it after I Graduated last year to celebrate my new start. It probably conjures up the strongest memories (good and bad) because it reminds me of my six month gap between University courses, which was filled with happy times of making new friends, my first fashion internship in London, and an ex who was a big turning point in my life.

5. Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy

My current fragrance, which reminds me of my most recent boyfriend and fills me with feelings of freedom, hope and excitement for the next stage in my life. I was also introduced to Juicy Couture on my Christmas trip to New York last year, and therefore it takes me back to the city every time I catch a drop in the air.

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Partimi on Phoenix…

A shortened version of my interview with Eleanor Dorrien-Smith of Partimi has been featured in the showcase section of phoenixmag.com this month, please visit www.phoenixmag.co.uk/archives/2664

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SUITED AND BOOTED…

Dolce & Gabbana AW11.

From sharp tailored suits to loose fitting jumpers and trousers, this would be the season to add some masculine attitude to your wardrobe…

Sartorial elegance, and the swagger of the male bravado transformed the autumn/ winter catwalks. Trousers looser, jackets barely grazing the shoulder and flats replacing toe-biting heels, the feminine silhouette has most definitely been redefined. Add in some barely-there make-up, and Grease is the word hair, and you are left with one handsome looking female.

Dolce & Gabbana set the standard by embracing calf length shorts, buttoned up shirts and oversized tux jackets, topped off with a gentlemanly tie and trilby or waxed up quiff. There was also a hint of yesteryear drawing inspiration from the 1930s zoot suit, long coats of Italian gangsters – don’t forget the cigar, and all over sequin numbers that rang true to the days of David Bowie. The fabrics of choice were pin stripe, herringbone and poplin, which added a classic luxury to the pieces and overall look.

Dolce & Gabbana AW11.

Proportions were exaggerated at Stella McCartney, and Chanel too. Stella added a feminine touch to minimalist dressing in a palette of rose pink, camel and navy, while Chanel cast a dark shadow with heavy-handed fabrics, boiler suits and work boots, bringing a tough rough attitude to the runway. Both opted for greased back buns for their hairstyle of choice.

Stella AW11.

Chanel AW11.

Katherine Ormerod, fashion and beauty editor at trend forecasting company Stylus says: “Androgyny has been huge over the last few seasons, mainly because of the growing appeal and improvement in menswear design. It is a trend that is culturally inspired by everyday life such as women wearing their boyfriend’s clothes as well.”

Menswear designer Tim Soar has just launched his first womenswear collection for autumn/ winter 11, aptly named HIM/SHE. The pieces are heavily influenced by his work in masculine tailoring, and include a grey wool overcoat, piped trousers, loose fitted blouses and a black silk and jersey dress. Every design has been effortlessly adapted for women to recreate the same luxurious appeal of tailoring found on Bond Street or Savile Row.

Soar says: “It was very clear that there was something in the air about womenswear referencing menswear. Many of the looks in the collection are completely mirrored in the men and women’s pieces. Woman’s tailoring is cut close to the hourglass figure and can feel old fashioned. It’s fresher and feels modern to have them off the body.”

J.W Anderson, another menswear designer also moved into womenswear for the first time last year. Similarly to Soar his recent autumn/ winter 11 line is made up of blazers and cigarette pants, and leather bomber and varsity jackets. Again all pieces that are characteristic of designs for men, but are made suitable for women.

J.W Anderson AW11.

This sort of masculine tailoring could easily be considered as the updated version of the eighties power dressing trend, with over-sized Dynasty shoulder pads reinvented and given a modern twist. Still drawing inspiration from men’s suits, but bringing a relaxed, laid-back and comfortable feel to the look. Just as glamorous up-dos, smokey eyes and devil red lips have been put to the back of the makeup palette in favour of a simple foundation, mascara and gloss.

Lindsey Anderson, fashion news editor from fashion blog myfashionlife.com says: “The cleaner, simpler cuts of today make the androgynous trend far more effective and discreet.”

These paired back pieces have been growing in popularity over the years, triggering a new wave of super cool labels. American menswear label Band of Outsiders was launched in 2004, and took inspiration from the preppy styles of the 70s and 80s. It wasn’t long before women were craving the Oxford worthy blazers and shirts for themselves, leading designer Scott Sternberg to launch a women’s line called Boy. in 2008.

Boy. by Band of Outsiders SS11.

Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst are also fans of the label. Williams modelled for Boy. in 2008, and Dunst has recently fronted the spring line, which tells us a lot about the sort of girl that invests in these tailored pieces – a tomboy. Both actresses are extremely low maintenance and laid-back in their personal style, with natural wavy locks and simple make-up.

Leighton Meester wears the tailoring trend well too, turning up at the Gotham Independent Film Awards in November last year in a Thom Browne suit. True to the trend Meester went for the customary relaxed hairstyling and make-up to complete the look.

Leighton Meester in Thom Browne at the Gotham Independent Film Awards.

Another label that champions tailoring for both sexes is Parisian brand The Kooples. Brothers Alexandre, Raphael and Laurent worked with Norton & Sons back in 2007, and admired both the pattern cutting and construction of the tailored pieces. When they started up the label in 2008, they returned to Patrick Grant the owner, and his team to help with the pattern design and materials for their pieces. From shirts, and jackets to shorts every women’s piece is on par with the men’s. In fact, even The Kooples couples in the advertising campaign look the same, highlighting its gender interchangeable style.

Sally Archwright, journalist and tailoring enthusiast says: “Mannish pieces are great for the workplace, they are very smart but also comfortable. Luxurious tailoring has been available to men for a long time, its great that women can now invest in it as well.”

Tilly Macalister-Smith, fashion coordinator at Vogue adds: “It is a very easy trend to adopt. I love wearing my Stella oversized blazer with a mid calf length boxy dress, it’s a trend I have a real affinity with.”

However, despite the trend drawing on influences from men’s design, there are two ways you could style it. You could go all out masculine like Dolce & Gabbana and Chanel, in head to toe male separates. Or if you wanted to add a more elegant touch like Stella, you could just as easily opt for pieces in pastel colours and mix ‘n’ match your regular wardrobe with mannish classics.

Ormerod says: “Thick eyebrows, slicked backed or unkempt hair will instantly give you that boyish look, but a broad shouldered jacket with a dress is a little more feminine and just as on trend.”

Anderson adds: “Androgyny can still be girly, as long as you keep it simple and don’t go overboard – after all, women have always looked sexy in men’s clothes.”

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A quick word with Tim Soar…

A grey wool overcoat from HIM/SHE AW11.

Iconic menswear designer Tim Soar has just launched his debut womenswear collection. Closet Charms catches up with him to discuss why AW11 was the right season to move into womenswear…

Why was AW11 the right time to launch your first womenswear collection? 

It was very clear that there was something in the air about womenswear referencing menswear. Plus I had a number of senior fashion insiders encouraging me to do it.

How do you want the woman, who purchases this collection to feel in your clothes?

Although the pieces within the collection have strong menswear references, that does not mean I necessarily see the pieces being worn in a masculine way. They are beautiful individual pieces, so I would hope that any woman wearing them would feel great. Of course, if she wishes to go down the full Helmut Newton androgynous route, then she can certainly do so with the HIM/SHE collection. No doubt that would feel great in a slightly different way.

Why is the collection called HIM/SHE? And how did you come up with the name?

Many of the looks in the collection are completely mirrored in the men’s and the women’s pieces. So, naming the collection HIM/SHE was a good way of signalling this.

What was the inspiration behind these masculine/ androgynous inspired designs for women?

The idea was simply to make some great clothes.

What are you hoping to achieve from the collection?

To produce a collection of interesting, desirable clothes.

Do you think there is a space for masculine inspired tailoring for women, and could it be growing trend?

I certainly think it will be around for a few seasons, and I am sure, to some degree, it will spread to the high street. To a greater or lesser extent, masculine inspired tailoring has always been present in women’s fashion – Yves Saint Laurent, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Margiela for example. However, one really important thing for me was to keep an element of the men’s fit to the garments. Woman’s tailoring is cut close to the hourglass figure and can feel old fashioned. It’s fresher and feels modern to have them off the body.

A silk blouse and some tailored trousers from the HIM/SHE collection.

Do you think masculine tailoring for women could be a new form of power dressing?

That is an interesting question. I think that the sexual politics of the higher echelons of industry mean that business women might now be a little cautious of appearing as if they are trying copy the dress of their male colleagues. But then again, perhaps we are past that stage, and a woman can ‘play’ with her working dress; to look like the boys one day and then look like a womanly woman the next. I certainly did not design the collection thinking that my womenswear was some sort of new orthodoxy. It is intended to be merely one of many possibilities in a woman’s wardrobe.

Why might masculine inspired tailoring appeal to women?

Good menswear has an amazing structure and density – that was a really important thing for me to bring to womenswear. To put on a really well made jacket or coat feels great, and if that garment, on a woman, also has in interesting subtext, then so much the better.

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Does what I wear make me a victim?

AS THE FIRST SLUTWALK MOVES ACROSS THE OCEAN AND HITS THE UK FOR THE FIRST TIME, COULD WE BE ON THE VERGE OF RAPE LAW REFORM, ASKS CLOSET CHARMS

Last month I was meeting my friend at Knightsbridge for lunch. It was midday sharp. I was waiting inside the busy tube station for her to arrive, as I don’t like standing on my own. I was wearing jeans, a check shirt and pumps, nothing glamorous, nothing revealing. Three guys approached me, ‘hey honey’, ‘hey baby’ said one. The second whistling looked at me up and down. The third, shaking his keys asked if I needed a lift anywhere, or if I wanted to join the ‘party’. It was a busy station, it was lunchtime and I wasn’t dressed like a ‘slut.’ I was even surrounded with elderly couples and families, and yet I felt unsafe, uneasy and no one in the station even noticed I was being harassed. Luckily when I ignored them they left me alone, but this isn’t the case for every woman, incidents like this happen all too often.

On Saturday June 11th, the first slutwalk protest hit London. Men and women, from teenagers to the middle aged turned up in their hundreds to protest against the misuse of the word slut, and to challenge victim-blaming in rape. Some dressed in casual jeans and t-shirts, others in corsets, tutus or lingerie. Some guys joined in too going topless, or opting for fishnets and hot pants. They marched from the Hard Rock Café in Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square, chanting ‘hey ho yes means yes, no means no’ and ‘guns don’t hurt people, rapists do’. Placards read ‘my little black dress is not a yes’, ‘a kiss is not a contract’ and ‘we are all chamber maids’, in reference presumably to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case.

Anastasia Richardson, slutwalk organiser says: “Slut- shaming, fear mongering and disrespect are an experience that is unfortunately common to all women.”

London is not the first city to hold a slutwalk. It started in Toronto, after a Canadian police officer made a flippant comment in a personal security lecture. He said women should not dress like ‘sluts’, to avoid being raped or victimised. The backlash began and then spread all over America, before hitting the UK. In fact, London is just one of many slutwalks planned for the coming year, Leeds, Brighton and Birmingham aim to host their own protests as well as the rest of America, Europe and even Australia.

Harri Sutherland-Kay, co-editor of women’s news and current affairs service http://www.womensviewsonnews. org says: “It would be fair to say that the police officer’s comment in Canada, although explicit was not surprising. It shouldn’t have been said out loud, but I think it is implicit in a lot of police and popular culture.”

Cath Elliott, a trustee at Suffolk Rape Crisis adds: “The slutwalks are trying to reframe the language of rape and sexual assault, to protest against the narrative that says women are to blame for the abuses perpetrated against them because they drink too much, or wear the wrong clothes, or put themselves into vulnerable positions.”

These marches could easily be considered as part of a wider problem surrounding rape laws, and the stereotyping of women in the 21st century. Recent issues in rape law include a government green paper that proposes to give a 50% discount on sentences for those who plead guilty at an early stage. This would involve all crimes; however there has been a heavy backlash in attaching it to rape. MP Ken Clarke has also remarked: “Date rape can be as serious as the worst rapes, but date rapes, in my very old experience of being in trials, vary extraordinarily one to the other and in the end the judge has to decide on the circumstances.”

You might have heard of the case involving Alicia Gali too, the 29 year old who was working at a luxury hotel in Dubai and was drugged, raped and then jailed in June 2008, as a result of archaic laws stating that sex outside marriage is illegal – even in rape cases. While the men were caught and jailed, they were shockingly accused of adultery – not rape.

Lisa Longstaff, spokesperson for Women Against Rape says: “We have been campaigning for all rape to be taken seriously since 1976. Rape law and prosecution policies have improved, but implementation is still appalling.”

These attitudes towards rape are perpetuated in popular culture, creating a conflicting idea of sexuality. Think about the lyrics of this Enrique Iglesias song called Dirty Dancer, “She don’t want love, she just wanna touch, she’s a dirty dirty dancer, it’s a game that she plays, she can turn you into an animal, she got all the moves for you to give it up.” I doubt Enrique was thinking anything past recording a hit club tune when writing it, but no question the lyrics suggest a rather over sexualised image of a woman, a maneater, so provocative that she can cause a man to turn into an ‘animal’. Although popular culture is flooded with these sorts of lyrics and images, it is not an isolated event. Whether it is the music channel with barely dressed dancers shaking their booty along with the latest rap, the page three models on lad magazines or the representation of sex in the porn industry. It is no wonder society believes women are asking for attention, and trying to attract men.

Sutherland-Kay says: “The pornification of society shows us how to be sexy and what sexiness is. It’s all about how to make yourself as attractive as possible, how to lose weight, how to please your man. These images tell you what you have to do in order to be accepted by society, accepted in a relationship and accepted by your man.”

And yet there is a huge juxtaposition adds Aimee Claire, slutwalk organiser: “In the UK women already have the right to wear what they want, these rights were won years ago. It’s the fact that women are sold as sex objects, but shamed for displaying their sexuality in real life.”

The 2007 TV film Consent sums up the attitudes and opinions of our society in regards to rape. The scenario – work colleagues Becky and Steve get drunk at a work party and end up in a hotel room having sex, however Becky claims she was raped, but Steve claims it was consensual. A mock trial ensues, although using real ordinary people for jury duty to hear the resulting case – these people honestly believed they were doing jury duty – they were not actors. The jury’s deliberations were filmed, with comments of ‘look what she was wearing, she was asking for it’ as the motive. At the end of the film they deliver their verdict, Steve is acquitted but it turns out that he did indeed rape Becky.

These sorts of perceptions have a damaging affect on the real victims, because it leads to a fear of reporting the assault. Victims don’t believe they will be taken seriously, and think they are going to be judged or accused of lying. What society seems to forget though is that women get raped when they are wearing jeans and t-shirts, burqas, or within their family. Plus men can also be victims. It has nothing to do with what each victim wears, who the victim in question is, or whether a victim is being promiscuous or flirtatious.

Elliott says: “Rapists choose women based on their vulnerability not on their physical appearance, hence women of all ages are raped, from the ages of three to ninety three. Women are not magically protected from rape and sexual violence if they ‘cover up’ or if they make themselves less attractive to men.”

Sutherland-Kay adds: “There is a lack of understanding when it comes to rape, and who rapes. For example the law doesn’t deal with women who are being raped by family members and being incarcerated into guilt their family members put on them in those situations.”

Slutwalks are a good start to protesting against these attitudes, but do they give out the right message?

Julia Long, organiser of the Reclaim the Night marches says: “I am committed to raising awareness about rape myths, but I cannot give my support to an event that promotes the use of the word ‘slut’. It is an extremely offensive, misogynist word. The march has had the counter-productive effect of focusing attention on women’s sexuality and women’s sexual behavior.”

We do not live in an ideal world, and these marches glorify promiscuity. This isn’t a safe image to promote when the streets are only becoming a more dangerous place.

Fifi Belle, editor of modest fashion blog www. fashionbelle.com adds: “Men are generally sexually stimulated by the sight of women in revealing clothing, so precautionary measures should be taken. For instance, by not walking alone in deserted city streets at night or not going near the house of a strange man who invites her inside.”

Although a woman can take all these precautions and still fall victim to assault.

These slutwalks definitely seem to have garnered enough support to bring about new reforms in rape law, but only if the cracks in opinion do not widen. At the end of the day though yes still means yes, and no still means no – victims need support not scrutiny, and this is something that will never change.

Images by myself, AFP/ Getty and Jonathan Warren.

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IS THE PLAYGROUND THE NEW CATWALK?

AS A STRING OF DESIGNER LABELS BRING OUT KIDSWEAR COLLECTIONS, CLOSET CHARMS LOOKS INTO THE RISE OF THE MINI FASHIONISTA

Style icons seem to getting younger and younger year after year, eight-year-old Romeo Beckham made it to number 26 on GQs best dressed list in January 2011, beating off stiff competition from Prince William and heartthrob Rob Pattinson. More recently five-year-old Suri Cruise came in at number 21 for Glamour UK’s best dressed list of 2011, ahead of fashion favourites Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Ritchie and Lady Gaga. No question top designer labels have begun to reach out to the kidswear market, to feed the appetite of fashion enthusiasts under the age of ten.

Lanvin has decided that SS12 is the season to return to its kidswear roots, after moving into womenswear in recent years. Alber Elbaz’s first sketches include dresses, jumpers, coats and t-shirts, for girls aged four to ten. The 25 piece collection will be made in the finest fabrics, to be in keeping with the tradition and style of the brand – perfect for little fashion princesses everywhere.

Lanvin Petite SS12.

Last year Gucci also launched its debut kidswear line, with an array of clothing, shoes, accessories and gifts for tiny trendsetters, boys and girls from 0-24 months, and 2-8 years. Pieces are adorned in gold Teddy bears, and the double G, including baby grows, tux jackets, and dresses – all cutesy versions of Gucci classics. The debut collection marks the sixth anniversary of the labels partnership with UNICEF too, and was created to celebrate their million pound donation to the charities ‘Schools for Africa’ initiative. Plus new mum Jennifer Lopez fronted the advertising campaign with her baby twins.

The Gucci Kids ad campaign featuring Jennifer Lopez and her coconuts.

In fact, D & G, Burberry, Armani, Fendi and Stella McCartney are amongst this new list of labels that are breaking into the market to extend their brands’ identity to the mini-mes. All inspiration has been taken directly from the latest adult lines, including pattern, print and cut, right down to the same luxurious fabrics, making the pieces up to date and super stylish.

Armani Junior SS11.

Lapo Cianchi, director of press and special events at Pitti Immagine, who organises the Pitti Bimbo kidswear trade and fashion show in Florence, says: “Kids fashion is growing, and therefore many brands are giving more and more importance to fashion for kids.”

Marianne Schneuwly, who works in the marketing and communications department of kidswear specialist Groupe Zannier, which works under licence for Paul Smith Junior, Little Marc Jacobs, Junior Gaultier and Kenzo Kids adds: “The fact that all these big brands are launching kidswear ranges, really shows that there is a place in the market for it. The fashion industry used to mainly cover women in the past, then it moved into men, and now it’s moving into kids, it’s a natural expansion.”

But what has sparked this wave of designer fashion for kids?

The media is a good starting point, not only with an increased access to the world of fashion – fashion blogs, online magazines and shopping, but also with the coverage of celebrity seeping down to the offspring of the rich and famous. Children of all ages can now read, buy and soak up fashion on the internet, or even start up their own fashion blogs. Think about Tavi Gevinson, the ultra successful US fashion blogger who started up Style Rookie at the tender age of 11, taking the fashion blogosphere by storm. Then there is the likes of Romeo Beckham and Suri Cruise being snapped in designer clothes, and the kids want to copy their outfits. No question this raised awareness and interaction with fashion has brought a younger interest in the industry, with designers lining up and willing to please.

Schneuwly says: “Kids follow celebrity as well, and they want to have the same items, and look the same. The media now turn celebrity kids into style icons, and therefore kids want to look fashionable at a younger age. The playground is getting extremely fashionable, in terms of which brand of shoes you are wearing, and which back pack you have.”

Kenzo Kids SS11.

The difference in customer and class demographics has also had a big impact, given the economic crisis and recession in recent years – expression of wealth has become increasingly important. We all know clothes are representative of personality, so why wouldn’t you want your kids to dress well too?

According to Schneuwly there are two different types of customer: “Obviously there are people with a lot of money, so buying luxury kidswear is natural. Jean Paul Gaultier has couture dresses that retail up to £200, which would appeal to those interested in fashion and who can afford to spend. Another category includes cheaper branded items like t-shirts from Gucci or D & G, a customer purchasing these might just want to buy into the name.”

Michele Harriman-Smith, CEO and marketing director of luxury kids retailer Children’s Salon, adds: “There are families who are not very wealthy but still send their children off to expensive private schools, make cut backs and put all their money into something special. It is the same with clothes, you have mothers who want to put all their money into certain pieces because they love the quality.”

Lynda Collett, a medical receptionist, who likes to buy designer clothes for her children agrees: “I don’t have a huge income but like investing in luxury clothes for my children. It makes them look good, and when they look good, they feel good and are happy. You can’t put a price on luxury.”

Paul Smith Junior SS11.

However, despite these designer labels moving into the market, luxury kidswear really isn’t that new. Lanvin for example is simply just returning to its roots with the SS12 range, kidswear was actually its first department back in 1908.

Creator Jeanne Lanvin would sew pieces for her daughter Marguerite that enchanted mothers in the same social circle. These other mothers soon demanded pieces for their own children, and later similar pieces for themselves, which led to the birth of the fashion house.

Although time has passed with Lanvin growing famous for its remarkable womenswear, kidswear really lies at the heart of the label. Louise de Vilmorin sums up the work of Jeanne Lanvin in this statement: “She sewed to dazzle her daughter, and in doing so she dazzled the world.”

Luxury retailer Children’s Salon has had a successful history dating back to the fifties, and kids trade and fashion show Pitti Bimbo is now in its 73rd edition as well.

Harriman-Smith says: “If you go back 20 years, there were still luxury items for children. The pure cotton, the hand smocking, it was luxury whether it was called designer or not. Children have always loved to dress pretty, twirling around in a pink puff ball dress or pair of jeans in the mirror, this hasn’t changed.”

In this sense the luxury kids market maybe experiencing a growth, but it certainly isn’t as new as it appears. The rise of the mini fashionista on the other hand is definitely a new breed of style icon that designers are snapping up to cater for. I do wonder though, if Suri Cruise even knows the stir she causes on the fashion scene when she leaves the house in the morning.

Fx

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