Silver Salvage

Silver salvage. A colour and a word.

It could have been Polychrome Chaos. Maybe you remember when it would have been, but she’s gone now, leaving behind only a ghost of recall, as elusive as the Internet before social media, when all we had were usenet and chat clients.

I wonder where that woman went. I seem to have forgotten more than she ever knew. Whatever is left of her is kicking over the traces, all pajamas and unruly hair, laughing at jokes I wrote months ago. Was anything real back then? Are we getting better now? Is it safe to leave the house today? How can we be sure?

Does anybody remember what normal means?

Is it a colour or a feeling, this silver I have in mind? I know it when I see it. A metallic, reflective surface. A camouflage between the seen and the unseen, a place where individual and anonymous meet halfway. A suit of shining armor, or a cloak of invisibility. A shimmer.

Silver is currency in the palm of a fortune teller. Salvage my desire to move on, taking what I need with me.


How I got into Vogue Italia

What time is it? It's time I looked in to say Hi! and share another of my shaggy dog stories! Also, I want you all to share in a tiny moment of glory but I have no idea how much longer the links will work.

As you might recall, I didn’t get very far with my own business, but in the process of trying I did get quite a lot better at pattern cutting. So, after a season of health issues and career uncertainty, and needing to get into a more positive routine, I persuaded my friend over at ByBrown to take me on part time. I started there at the beginning of the year and so far it’s all been good.

Surprisingly for a small brand, (but less so for the quality of the product - I am a long time fan) ByBrown was scouted by Vogue Italia to feature as one of their Next Green Talents. I always appreciated Melanie's approach to quality and sustainability, which you can read about in her own words if you can scroll past the eye candy. 

Anyway. This last month I’ve been helping out with the featured collection, which was built around a series of hand-printed fabrics developed by Marnix Postma (that’s him with the tattoos). I’ve been working mainly on pattern development and other technical details, but I also had some input on the final styling, which went something like this.

Among the collection were some digital prints derived from an original artwork, in stretch knit and cotton velvet. The lightweight knit was made up into some gorgeous body wear and it came out beautifully. On the other hand, the velvet proved harder to tame. With time was running out and no wearable garments it looked like it was heading for the reject pile. I saw its potential and was pretty sure it could be rescued.

And so, on Friday afternoon, less than 48 hours before the shoot, I draped a pair of culottes. If you make clothes yourself and you’ve worked with large scale prints, you can probably see what I was up against. Everything depends on placement and proportion - a wrong tuck and the whole design collapses. Too long and you’re wearing curtain material. But with a bit of luck you might find a sweet spot where it all falls into place.

See, this is the kind of “fast fashion” I can get behind. It’s nothing like the brand’s technical sportswear, where products can be months in development, it’s just a very simple design to showcase a striking fabric. But I wasn’t expecting these culottes, made more or less for the fun of it, to make it past the house stylist, let alone onto the Vogue Italia website.

And yes, those are my YLF-endorsed Ann D’s. I loaned them for the shoot.


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Sacrilege? ETA better pictures!

I've just found these amazing vintage men's dress pants in a thrift store for the price of a sandwich. No tailor's mark but definitely bespoke, possibly Weimar era German. Gorgeous fabric, unbelievable finish and fabulous condition for their age. These are pants for a very big man, in every sense of the word.

I could probably sell them on for ten times what I paid for them but I'm contemplating remodelling them. These are the sort of pants I want to wear all the time but can never find (huh?! what about the three pairs of black slouchy tailored pants already in my closet?!)  *ahem* Well, almost never.

I've pinned them up in the picture to show what I have in mind. It involves moving a few buttons to fit the waist, reshaping the legs slightly and sewing a seam at knee level, although I'd probably go shorter than this. It's not intrusive, it preserves the tailoring detail, but actually, it feels like butchery.

Alternatively, I could keep them around as an inspiration piece. Or I could make my friendly neighbourhood vintage dealer very happy. 

What do you think? Alter? Conserve? Pass on?

ETA: a few additional pictures of these awesome pants. Still not sure I've done them justice. 


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Japanese trend watch: normcore, sweet girls and style icons

I spent a lot of time on our recent holiday in Japan observing the local style. I'm a huge fan of Japanese fashion, and it was fascinating to see how it translates to people's everyday wear. 

It took me a while to process what I saw, which was not at all what I expected, and to understand it I had to read it the British fashion press: the Japanese have embraced normcore. Urban Japan is informal, modest, well turned out, rarely flashy but often very cool.

  • High contrast neutrals are very popular - black or navy worn with camel, ecru, ivory and cream colours. Black and white/cream stripes. 
  • Long, loose, relaxed silhouettes. Not much tailoring among younger women. 
  • Outerwear tends to be oversized, with giant denim or bomber jackets being particularly popular. Longer coats tend to be macintoshes, loose fitting crombie and duster styles.
  • Full and pleated midi skirts, often worn with slouchy socks and chunky shoes or platforms. Chiffon and plissé styles are very trendy. 
  • Harem pants. Cropped pants with dropped crotches are very popular with young men and young urban women with attitude. 
  • Culottes and cropped wide legged pants are almost ubiquitous. These seem to be not just fashionable, but almost part of the classic style vocabulary. Stylish older ladies wear them with aplomb. 
  • Denim is not at all unusual, but perhaps not as common as in Europe or the US. Jeans are (unsurprisingly) raw dark wash selvedge, worn boyfriend style and cuffed just above the ankle. 
  • Lots of beanies and wide-brimmed hats. 
  • Body art is unusual, but small decorative tattoos are catching on among younger women. Butterflies or dragon flies are popular designs. 
Sadly I'm not much of a street-style photographer, but I did score a few magazines which seemed representative of trends in womenswear, and photographed a few pages for your perusal:
  • Onkul shows a grown-up, ladylike interpretation of normcore as it  trickles down into the mainstream. Subtle and understated, this is lifestyle-oriented fashion.
  • Larme is a self-identified sweet girly art book. Demonstrates the impact of gyaru and Lolita style on mainstream fashion consciousness. If you can see past the bewildering layout there's some exemplary teen fashion in here.
  • FRUiTS is legendary. I had to hunt this one down but I managed to find two editions.  Ground Zero of contemporary Japanese street style, it showcases the cream of authentic Harajuku fashion.  I'm delighted to tell you that two young ladies featured in here sold me a pair of sneakers in Tokyo Bopper. 
The whole experience was an endless source of inspiration. I'll most likely have more to say on how this has impacted my style this winter, but for now I'll just leave the pictures here. Over to you!


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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

After the epic shopping trip so well documented by other fabbers, I spent the next day with my Mum at the V&A, where we were lucky enough to see the spectacular Alexander McQueen retrospective. 

The sheer scope of this incredible body of work makes very clear that McQueen was much more than just a fashion designer. In fact, his visionary haute couture went so far beyond costume that sometimes it's hard to describe it as clothing. There's an artistry to his work that I've never seen anywhere else in fashion, and it deals with nature, politics, love and death. But he was also a master craftsman, famously apprenticed in his teens at Saville Row, and it informs his art in the virtuoso tailoring and meticulous detail of all his creations. 

Perhaps most impressive is the breadth of influences he brought to the medium, which were always interpreted with a very consistent vision and purpose. Everything in there was very different from everything else, but all of it was unmistakably his. He achieved more in his relatively short career than lesser artists manage in a lifetime. 

The whole thing left me with a huge sense of sadness that he took his life at a moment when he was so clearly at the top of his game. 

Unfortunately, photography in the exhibition was prohibited, but the Met Museum blog has a huge feature on the exhibition from the original display in New York. I've pulled a few pictures from their page of selected objects.


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