A Blush of Rose
London Fashion Week
The AW 2015 season of Ready to Wear in London was fantastic. There's massive diversity out there in our field of talented designers and autumn doesn't necessarily mean dark colours and muted shades by any stretch of the imagination. All shots on these pages are taken by me unless otherwise credited. Please enjoy and let me know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org
My first backstage encounter of the season was at Bora Aksu where I had the most fun shooting lots of gorgeous girls and seeing Bora and his team hard at it putting the final touches to the collection. Below to the left is one of my favourite backstage shots of Laura Whitmore giggling away with the hair and make-up crew ahead of her walk in the show. She's a delight to photograph as you can see.
Above is a pretty Pug sculpture dressed in a myriad of scarves. He's enjoying watching the party without making himself the centre of attention. Scarves are a key accessory at any time of the year and a great way to add an extra dimension to an outfit.
Wolf and Badger are a great young thriving retail company with great insight for picking brands I hope that I gradually roll out more stores in the next few years and I hope there are more great parties.
Wolf & Badger 5th Birthday Party
Amongst my many fashion adventures was a surprise invitation to Wolf & Badger's exclusive London Fashion Week party to celebrate 5th years of the wonderful fashion emporium. It seems like only yesterday that they opened their first store on Dover Street and as a former Mayfair Lady (well I worked there for much of my time so far in London) I often popped by the store to see the collections that they had in.
Now also camped in Notting Hill they are still a unique one-stop for cutting edge design talent in fashion and accessories. There really is always something good in store at Wolf and Badger.
The party was packed and there was a fantastic live DJ blasting out tunes late into the night. As always Wolf & Badger where great hosts and between sipping drinks and mingling it was a great opportunity to meet with some of the team and talk about the current collections that they where hosting.
LFW AW 15-16 Day 1 Street Style
One of the most fun things for a photographer between shows to do is to capture Street Style in and around the fashion venues during London Fashion Week.
I think it's a seriously fun bonus of being involved in fashion week and I love looking around at style outside the shows. It's also a time where you can get some extra shots of models that you may not have caught up with back-stage.
Here to the right is a great shot I got a girl who was doing her first season of shows. She was thoroughly enjoying the London Fashion Week experience and I really loved her coat and scarf. When you're working at the shows as a model you need to be a calm organised type and having your own simple sophisticated sense of style and composition is actually a huge help.
Below are a couple of shots from Day 1. The first look is a great example of the fun - in head to toe pink this guest accessorised her outfit with a stunning clutch that featured beautiful embroidery.
Next in the centre a checked trouser suit and petrol blue light coat sat under a sports jacket. Matched with a Chanel bag, white trainers and aviator jacket this look was both sporty and casual and suited the inbetweeny season climate. Lastly to the right I really loved this look worn by a girl from Russia. The white pencil skirt matched perfectly with the bold knitted sweater and large wrap. It's a look that I would wear myself.
I love the energy backstage at Fashion Week each season, there's nothing like it. Everyone is busy but it always feels very organised and well thought through.
I love to see a show all the way through with the preparation, the beginning, middle and the end of the process. I'm also fascinated by the design process and have a long-term love of illustrations and gouachesthat designers produce. If you follow Bora on social media @bora_aksu on Instagram from time to time he will show you images from his mood boards.
As an avid fan of beauty (grace&style) and fashion it's always a joy to be backstage and have the privilege of watching the artists work their magic on an already stunning group of girls and sometimes boys too. Hair then make-up then clothes. Occasionally make-up then hair if things are busy but the machine of back-stage prep works well if you stick to order.
I really enjoyed seeing the work on the hair. Long tresses where the key for this collection with a faint hint of the whimsical and the medieval with perhaps some loose 70's bounce in the curls. I love seeing how hands-on stylists are when they're working with hair. Also it's fascinating to see how many permutations there are around a different design theme or stylistic idea and to see how that is worked into the make-up compositions for the models for the collection. Here I've grouped together a series of faces that are at different stages of the make-up process.
As Bora and his team where dancing through the final touches to the collection there was a Beehive like atmosphere backstage ahead of the catwalk show. Assistants where whizzing round giving the final finishing touches to some pieces and I was absorbed by the insights into last minute final fittings and adjustments. It was a great time to get some fantastic rail-shots of the collection before it went out in front of the eyes of the world and I also relished getting a closer look at some of the outfit detail.
Below to the right you can see one of my favourite looks as a rail-shot with the model's card ahead of it. The beautifully embroidered jacket matches with the skirt on the rail behind it and coordinates with the light pink blouse to the back of the shot. You can see a look from the catwalk below.
Above to the left is a beautiful jacket with golden thread embroidery detail. This look blends different fabrics and textures into one harmonious piece. There is a coordinating skirt but you could also pair this jacket with jeans or trousers who a look with more juxtaposition. I love the multi-fabric design as it shows the great versatility of the fabrics and the craftsmanship at work.
To the right above, close up detail of one of the skirts from the Autumn-Winter 2015-16 collection. Here you can see fine embroidery detail and layering of fabric. It's very special and the Damask-Rose of the fabric brings a soft natural elegance to the design. Lilac and purple flutter into focus in the look above to the left. This is a shot of a skirt with fine applique detail that cascades across the body of the fabric. You can see that it's sewn on lightly with possible room for fluttering in the breeze or as the garment moves with the wearer.
No backstage exploration feels complete without looking at the moodboards and a show of the preparations of the line-up. I love talking to models (when they have a spare second) and truly their role is a job, it is a part to play like a form of acting and they are charged with interpreting the clothes and the designers vision. A fun shot above to the right of a skirt getting a last few final strokes of the gentle vacuum to complete it's preparation before it was worn on the model. Garment care is a fascinating part of the collection presentation process.
I loved seeing the different moods of this collection and my eyes where transfixed by the bold blues of the early series of looks. Working from the shot above to the left, this look comprised a must have jacket with a dress that was both figure hugging but also a comfortable fit around the figure. Hair was swept to one side with long tresses spiraling down over the shoulders in a Rapunzel-esque moment. For me however these where not fairy-tale romance girls but real-life city girls of the 21st century making their way in world with extra dashes of colour and showing bold fabric play.
The next look to the right showed a cloak-style jacket that sat gently on the shoulders. The crochet-style lattice detail gives the designs a unique signature stamp of Bora Aksu. Again this look blends different fabrics together in harmony and creates a synthesis of blue that captures the eye. In the centre the coat-dress is a great look for an evening occasion and I would personally enjoy wearing this across the Autumn and Winter season. Using darker tones and heading almost towards lilac and purple in places this outfit is slightly more conservative and would look suit a wide variety of occasions.
To the left above two shots of the same outfit from different angles. A slate-grey pencil skirt with classic Bora Aksu lattice embroidery trim is matched perfectly with a floating light blouse, wrap clutch and statement necklace. This look is a very sophisticated look for business meeting, dinner or private lunch. This is grown-up fashion for the confident woman-about town.
The blouse and pencil skirt theme continued at various points in the collection and here above to the left is another great skirt and blouse combination. The accented detail around the shoulders highlights another trend for this coming autumn in a gentle echo of the 1980's. Lose fitting and demure across the figure the blouses light colour flatters the complexion of the wearer.
To the right are a series of outfits that interpret and re-interpret one of Bora's design themes of this season. The intricate embroidery-style lattice work was a key feature in many of the looks of this collection and I loved this bold exploration of crochet and applique in the Autumn-Winter collection.
Above are two looks in this style in my favourite colours of the collection. It's a dusky Damask-type Rose pink that for me evokes beautiful sun-rises and sunsets. To the right of it a look at the out-fit I shot backstage on it's rail (above). You can see here the natural harmony of fabrics and just peeping out from the blouse you can see the beautiful intricate necklace that provides a point of colour contrast. This is definitely an outfit that I would select for myself.
To the right another great outfit from the collection shot from two different angles. The first forward-facing shot shows the skirt and blouse in detail and also a view of the side-swept hair. Next to it another shot shows the back detail of the jacket with perforated, almost mesh-like detail cascading down across the shoulders.
The last shot of a look from the collection that I would like to share is a beautiful flowing black gown with the crochet form descending into long trailing skirts. The structure and composition of the dress is light weight which shows in the graceful movement of the dress by the wearer as they walk. It's one of the truly great pieces of the collection for me. To close my look at the collection here is a shot of part of the final presentation. The lovely Laura Whitmore leads the pack of models down the catwalk for the final passage of the collection. I really love this shot as it shows so many different moods of the Autumn-Winter 2015-16 from Bora. I strongly recommend that you take time to discover them.
Jean-Pierre Braganza's shows are high energy, high style and he often blasts out some of my favourite tunes of all LFW. This show was no exception but my senses where fully engaged even before take-off happened when I arrived back-stage to take in the last minute preparations ahead of the catwalk show of the AW 2015-16 collection.
I also managed to have a proper chat with JPB a bit later in the week after his show and as ever he is kind and genial and always very interested in talking to people.
I love this shot I got of him back-stag with one of his models. Here he's making final alterations with his team around him. It's all part of the process of putting the finishing touches to the show and seeing the designs come fully to life on the model. I think it's fascinating and I'm always completely absorbed by what I see backstage at London Fashion Week.
For a brief time the world of the studio is brought out into sharp focus. It's also a time when you get a close-up vision of the creative process, you can see the complete love of the craft in the eyes of JPB and his fellow designers and it's a joy to watch and learn from.
Backstage beauty is a fascinating thing and I never tire of seeing the make-up artists at work creating beautiful looks in hair and make-up to allow the models to play their part in the telling of the collections story. Above to the right one of JPB's models I snapped just after the show actually when I had gone back around to backstage. A lot of models keep their hair and make-up in place as they run to the next show. Centre above one of the girls I really enjoyed photographing. She was making 'growley faces' at me and I settled for this shot where she does look at little bit of a Tiger.
To the right a beautiful image of a model having her hair worked upon combining the soft stands into a playful shape before working in the style of the up-do that most of the models wore during the show. I really like her make-up look as well and I think that you can draw so much inspiration from backstage beauty at the shows. We live in an age of immediacy and I think many of the looks are translated very quickly from the catwalks into people's day by day beauty routines.
Above to the left is a great shot from another 'fitting and walking' session back-stage before the show. The print on the top of this outfit is highly styalised and captivating. Set against the Emerald Green of the outfit the fighter plane for me is a great symbol of strength. Centre above eyeliner is applied by a make-up artist to give the bold, yet simple look, that defined the make-up palette of the collection. The Egyptian style elongation of the eye shape gave a dignified definition to the features of the model. To the right a happy moment between model and make-up artist. The model sits patiently being made-up by the artist who talks her through the process of what she's doing and the look that the collection is aiming to convey.
Some more lovely shots from the backstage beauty prep that took place. It's fantastic to see so many artisans of the industry working together at the same time. I really liked the make-up look for this show and using pink - almost a rouge pink - around the eyes as an eye shadow or a highlighter is something that I have played with in the past. Set against a pale flawless complexion with rouge-less cheeks it make a beautifully striking composition. To the right two more of the models have a session in the hair aisles and undergo their transformation before the show.
Above is a great shot of lots of beauty in action. A working bench filled with kit bags and artists wraps bursting with brushes and the tools of the trade. It's a dream bench to work from. I love seeing the array of cosmetics goods that are used behind the scenes and as a fashion and beauty writer I'm naturally fascinated by the wide variety of colours and different implements that are used.
I adore palettes of all varieties and this concealer palette to the right above is a gem. Definitely for a professional as it contains so many different shades it instantly draws you into the mind of the artist and their process of colour selection. Concealer and foundation are the key building blocks to any look and it's great to see that palettes are available in such a broad range of skin tone shades. When you have the right base in place the skin is prepared for you to paint and design just like any artist would.
Jean-Pierre Braganza always puts on a great show and after seeing all the hard work and preparations finally come to head backstage it's wonderful to watch the looks walk out down the catwalk in front of a spellbound audience and hungry-eyed press.
Seeing the clothes move on the catwalk and seeing a collection literally come to life before your very eyes is always a great experience. The movement in the clothes is a key part of the dynamism of the experience of the fashion show. This is how we, the press and buyers can get the best insight into how the clothes will look on you.
JPB is a designer, like many on the main show - schedule that will bring out a collection where you will feel in your gut that you would like to make a number of orders. His clothes are not conceptualised to the degree that they wouldn't be able to make it into a working woman's wardrobe. On the contrary they are very relevant, bold and on point. There are day-wear and evening wear pieces that will suit many people and a lot of captivating looks.
The name of this collection for Autumn and Winter was Excelsiora and it was another triumphal masterpiece in showing the strength of femininity in the design. This collection featured a lot of long lines that emphasised the elongated silhouette in a really fantastic way. There was a subtle tasteful use of fur at various stages through the collection for me this was a nod to the cooler climbs of northern Europe and maybe also Canada.
Celebrated over many seasons the JPB classic prints lived on in this collection with new verve and vigour in the designs. For the most part Excelsiora celebrated women with a harmony of muted autumn tones. Berry colours and colours of earth melded together in a synthesis of passion. One by one honed works of art passed by in front of us and I could see this collection translating very readily to the wardrobe.
The collection opened with a strong statement. A Black reptilian jacket with studded cuffs was teamed with fascinating trousers with semi-sheer stripe detail (echoing prints from earlier in the collection) and accessorised cleverly with finger-cap only gloves.
The next two looks are classic favourites that I would love to give a home to. Blending a rich Burgundy-Claret red with Charcoal-Grey fringe details these are both enchanting takes on modern contemporary styles for women. I love both of these looks and would happily wear them for either day or evening. They, like much of the collection also have strong multi-generational appeal.
Next to the right is one of my very favourite coats from the collection. The design may appear simple initially to the eye but it gently sits on the figure at just the right length and the broad lapel style offers flexibility to be worn on autumn days or in mid winter with thick scarves knotted underneath. It's a great classic from the JPB repertoire. Note also the handy layering that you can see with this. Underneath the coat a JPB print is peeping out at you. Neat ankle boots, tights and a skirt add layers of warmth and lets talk about THOSE gloves. Oh yes, long luxuriant Burgundy-Claret red appears again in a fetching, beautiful accessory to cover the hands during winter.
Above to the left are a series of beautiful clutch purses in the funky envelope style stocked by Wolf & Badger. Above them sit the larger tote sized bags with really cute envalope styled detail external pockets. It's a really fun label and I loved the blending of fabrics.
To the right is a wonderful shot of a perfect rail of pieces by designer Judy Wu. This was a collection that drew a lot of attention in the store that night as people where dancing around and sipping their drinks. I loved the combination of baby/rose pink and light mint green. Also check out the prints that she's designed. They are really interesting.
In the centre is a shot of some great separates. The scarfs are gorgeous and below is a rail of must-have shirts and jackets that you could work into a myriad of combinations.
Below catwalk images with permission of Jean-Pierre Braganza
JPB knows how to inject a sexy sophisticated tone into his collections and the next look above to the right works both the vamp theme but also has strong leanings to the demure. The beautiful black dress above would make a great addition to an evening outfit and the fur midi length jacket would keep out the chill on winter nights. The broad collar necklace adds to the hints of punk design that are suggested by the dresses fabric and the confident walk of the model with a straight forward gaze exudes confidence if not rebellion.
The next two looks to the left in purple are cult classic JPB. I love the tailoring both the looks very much, in particular I like what he's done in playing with the theme's of peplum's by creating drapes and folds on the bias and also showing black in cut-away relief. These are two really strong looks for Autumn and Winter 2015-16.
The first look to the left is a great funky wrap up piece for Autumn-Winter. This is a must-have combination of large purple knit dress, nee high boots and leather jacket lined with, I believe, faux fur. It's an awesome combo and you note with the split in the thigh at the side of the look there's still plenty of sexiness injected into the design. If you want to be a little more restrained you could also team it with tights or stockings, sheer or opaque to suit your mood.
Next moving to the centre of this trio a very interesting combination outfit in dark teal showing a skirt with stripes in a different fabric to the skirt body, beautiful knee length coat and a bold statement collar. The last dress that I've picked out is a fantastic black dress that I feel should make it onto many, many wishlists. It's a great fitting around the figure and I personally love the folds at the front of the skirt emphasising swirling detail. It breaks up the line of the dress (not that it's over whelming) in light fun way and has a playful - not quite gothic - feel about it.