ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLET – GISELLE – VISUAL AND COSTUME DESIGN

ENB rendition of the classical ballet, Giselle, choreographed by Akram Khan was a sight to behold. This simply stunning performance had me on the edge of my seat. I was lucky enough to attend the world premiere and opening night of this powerful piece with my auntie, who’s review accurately captures the magic of the performance and can be found at https://opening-night.org/2016/09/28/english-national-ballet-giselle/. However, I myself am no reviewer just a fashionista who was in awe of the majestic dancers and their beautiful costumes which further added to the themes of love, betrayal, division and the afterlife. Tim Yip, Academy-Award Winning artist, who has previously worked on the likes of the hit martial arts film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, was responsible for the breathtaking visual and costume design. Each costume perfectly enacptured the character it possessed and below I will be discussing some of my favourite pieces from the night.

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In Khan’s rendition of the romantic two-Act ballet we saw the Outcasts, a community of peasant factory workers, living in disarray after being discarded by their employers and forced to live trapped behind a solid concrete wall at the mercy of their wealthy landlords. Giselle finds life and love in this dark world, in a wealthy suitor who disguises himself as a humble peasant. Yip provided modest, light, simple but elegant dresses which enhanced the female dancers every graceful movement and for the male dancers Yip provided smart yet moderate shirts with bland grey trousers, again made out of light material so as to highlight each majestic movement. To ensure the two star-crossed lovers stood out Yip intentionally placed Giselle in a blue to contrast with the yellow dresses worn by the rest of the female ensemble and ensured Albrecht was identifiable by simply tucking his shirts into his trousers whilst the rest of the male cast’s shirts hung loose. The simplicity ensured the audience did not loose track of the protagonist when en masse and also added to their characters. The blue of Giselle’s dress was a sign of her impending doom and the decision to tuck in Albrecht’s shirt was a apparent sign of his wealth making him stick out like a sore thumb among the scruffy peasant folk.

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Yip further fuelled the social and economic division between the peasants and their landlords through their costumes. The dazzling and glittering costumes worn by the landlords were worlds away from the meek, ordinary dress of the peasants. Full of intricate glittering sequin embroidery, lavish satin and velvet the landlords were the epitome of wealth and greed. The eccentricity of the landlords costumes likened itself to the people of the Capitol in The Hunger Games series. Amongst the plain, dull peasants its safe to say I was drawn to the sparking and lavish landlords.

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The costumes of the Wills, the ghostly inhabitants of the factory-esq afterlife, perfectly portrayed their haunting nature. Like the female peasants they wore simple light dresses but theirs were jagged at the ends with an ombre of lilac to black, further enhancing their ghostly nature.

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It wasn’t only the costumes that were utilised to further demonstrate the themes it was the visual design and staging also. The simple yet powerful staging that consisted solely of a thick concrete wall that divided the two worlds ensured the focus never strayed from the performance but furthered it. It represented the bleak world that the peasants live in and ensured the landlords stood out further on their arrival.

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The emotive, moving and unforgettable performance left attendees hungry for more. The visual and costume design perfectly depicted the dark tale and accurately captured its motifs and themes. Khan’s Giselle is at the Palace Theatre until the 1st October and it will be moving on to Bristol. I would highly recommend this spellbinding performance to anyone and I would recommending getting your hands on tickets now as I am sure they are going to go fast!

Book now at http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/giselle/palace-theatre-manchester/

 

 

FAVOURITE COLLECTIONS FROM MFW SS17

Ciao bella!

NYFW and LFW seemed to be a mere aperitif in comparison to the high end fashion houses that lined the runway and streets of Milan –quite literally with D&G taking over half of Via Monte Napoleone for its post-show dinner. MFW offered a lively celebration of Italian culture, heritage and of course, fashion. Italians are known for their dramatisation, they rarely conceal their true feelings and each and every emotion can be found in every  movement, gesture and facial expression. And this week was no exception, as designers wore their hearts on their sleeves with each intricate detail representing a thought, a feeling, a memory. Each show was unique and contrary to the last, from the minimalistic Fendi runway as bare as a blank piece of paper in which every pastel piece was given the full opportunity to pop to the frivolities of the colourful fiesta staged by D&G. This week offered a diverse array of fashion and festivities in true Italian style.

Gucci SS17 Ready-To-Wear – Wednesday 21st September 2016

On a gloomy drizzly day in Milan, Gucci’s rose tinted glittering ‘70s haven was the perfect escape. The plush interior perfectly complimented the exquisite pieces, enhancing every sparkling sequin, delicate floral embroidery, shiny metallic tassel, candy-coloured ‘80s puffed sleeve and ‘70s flowing flare. Delicate dresses were accompanied by huge ‘80s geek-chic specs – maybe I won’t limit my retro oversized specs to the library and lectures anymore –  and Michele’s signature chunky loafers made a welcome return to the catwalk, both contrasts highlighting every intricate detail. Michele’s inspiration can be drawn from numerous cultures including his Italian homeland to exotic Asia, Victorian England and preppy America, merging these unique styles to create a mesmerising hybrid. There appeared to be a hint of old Hollywood glamour, more so than ever before, in Michele’s SS17 collection with elegant gowns gleaming with fine sequin embroidery, luxuriously glamourous fur coats and embroidered references to parties thrown for Johnny Ramone at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I suppose such cultural references are bound to show when you’re rubbing shoulders with Hollywood’s finest and have an Academy-Award Winning bestie! As they say art imitates life. Although Michele has an identifiable style no two shows are completely the same, each offering a unique sensual experience. Michele’s one of a kind style has not only made waves within the high end fashion world but across the whole industry, with retailers going through guccification I’m intrigued to see which styles they will take on board from this beautiful vintage inspired collection. There wasn’t a piece in this collection that I didn’t want hanging in my own wardrobe, I was placed under a hazy pink Gucci spell and I was in awe of the collection which offered a true insight into the eccentric and unique mind of the Wizard of Gucci-Oz himself, the visionary and genius, Alessandro Michele.

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 “The clothes tell a story steeped in wonder, phantasmagoria and unorthodoxy. Such stories don’t mimetically represent reality. They rather act as magic lanterns, as distorting mirrors, altering languages, signs and consolidated codes.” – Alessandro Michele

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Dolce & Gabbana SS17 Ready-To-Wear- Sunday 25th September 2016

Come to the party, Fiesta! The Italian Fashion House put on a lively, vibrant, fast-paced street party that was a true celebration of Italian culture and heritage. The catwalk was flooded with an array of Italian imaginary from religious icons and symbols to prints of Italy’s most well-known cuisine, all paying homage to the brands homeland. Amongst the fun and frivolity was intricate and delicate embroidery and beadwork which could be found on high-waisted hot pants and matador jackets. The finale left show goers hungry for more gaiety as breakdancers and musicians escorted the mesmerizing models down the runway. This energetic shindig clearly appealed to the modern millennial and the brands youthful clientele was well on display, with the likes of Sofia Richie and Rafferty Law gracing the front row. D&G offered a true celebration of Italian culture and customs which made me want to dance all night in the cobbled streets of a Mediterranean village whilst wearing a flamenco dress and sipping Sambuca.

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Fendi SS17 Ready-To-Wear – Thursday 22nd September 2016

Whilst the runways décor may have been minimalistic, especially compared to the grand locations Karl usually chooses to house his elaborate shows, the collection itself was worlds away from its modest surroundings. If anything the humble surroundings merely enhanced every detail of this fun youthful collection. This collection saw a hybrid of Sporty and Baby Spice with candy-coloured casual wear and girly dresses accompanied by playful Harley Quin-esque pigtails and glittering gooey lip-gloss. The partnering of subtle coloured heels with bright neon socks offered a hint of S and B’s school attire in the early days of Gossip Girl. The use of colour blocking and the merge of varying styles sustained the girlish energetic theme and came as a breath of fresh air for the brand. It is clear that despite it being the Italian fashion house’s 90th year its here to stay.

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 Prada SS17 Ready-To-Wear – Thursday 22nd September 2016

Gucci wasn’t the only collection with an oriental vibe this week, Prada’s SS17 collection also took some inspiration from the Far East with lean models draped in Mandarin-collared, feather trimmed, silk pyjama’s strutting down the shiny aluminium runway -does this mean its acceptable to go to my 9am lectures in silky pj’s? I hope so! And Fendi wasn’t the only show to merge casual wear with a contrasting style, as Prada partnered athletic wear with smart, sophisticated, business blouses. This combination seemed to pay homage to the hectic lifestyle of the modern working woman in which one may have to juggle business with leisure.

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Au Jour Le Jour SS17 Ready-To-Wear – Saturday 24th September 2016

This preppy, youthful collection seemed to pay tribute to the educational system of our friends across the pond with embroidered Greek letters of fraternities and sororities making an appearance on the catwalk. Gingham shirts and skirts and sparkling sequinned jumpers also fuelled the educational/school girl vibe. This fun, contemporary collection added a bit of American culture into what has been a very Italian week.

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Luisa Beccaria SS17 Ready-To-Wear – Thursday 22nd September 2016

It seems to be becoming a habit that I single out a collection from each fashion week that I would like to see grace the red carpet at the coming award season and Milan was no exception. This delicate pastel fairy-esque collection with breathtakingly delicate floral embroidery would be well received on any red carpet. Like Temperley London and Monique Lhullier, this collection is bound to make anyone draped in any of these exquisite pieces feel like a winner.

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Arrivederci Milan and Bonjour Paris – the grand finale to what has been a truly fabulous fashion season so far!

 

VOGUE 100: A CENTURY OF STYLE AT MANCHESTER ART GALLERY

Vogue 100: A Century of Style is an exhibition not to be missed! The exhibition previously housed in The National Portrait Gallery, London, has ventured up North and can now be found in the beautiful and dainty Manchester Art Gallery. The exhibition is a remarkable and diverse showcase of a wide array of photography commissioned by the fashion bible itself to celebrate its one hundredth year with pieces dating back to when the magazine first hit our shelves in 1916. Homage was paid to each defining decade with monutmental pieces featuring influential people from each era on display. This exhibition allows you to truly immerse yourself in the past and present of the century old magazine. Each shot was unique, intriguing and beautiful. The exhibition housed the work of some of the worlds most acclaimed photographers, including Tim Walker, Mario Testino and David Bailey. There were shots of fashions favourites including Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne and the late Alexander McQueen, and many other famous faces including Kiera Knightley, Winona Ryder and the Duchess of Cambridge, who graced the 100th issue of this timeless magazine.

My personal favourites included the display of covers from every decade since the publication began in 1916. It allowed you to accurately asses how the magazine has evolved since its first print a century ago. The 1962 edition particularly stood out to me as this issue saw one of the last editorial shoots of one of my icons before her untimely death, the stunning Marilyn Monroe. The black and white shots encaptured Marilyn’s inner turmoil but also her grace and beauty. I was surprised by the simplicity of the shots in which she seemed so vulnerable and pensive, a side we rarely see of the troubled star.

Another favourite was a black and white shot from 1991 by Herb Ritts featuring another of my icons, Winona Ryder. Winona is wearing a delicate and dainty tutu whilst stood on a picnic bench outside of the home she shared with Jonny Depp at the time. The contrast of the white ballet wear with the dark natural surroundings particularly intrigued me, as did Winona’s awkward stance not like that of a graceful ballerina.

I would recommend this stunning collection containing some of the world’s finest photography to any fashion lover or photography enthusiast. I can assure you it will not disappoint. Vogue 100: A Century of Style is at Manchester Art Gallery until the 30th of October 2016.

As there was no photography permitted I was not able to get the best shots but I did manage to get some stealth ones with the help of my Mother who managed to snap the Ritts piece of Winona.

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I couldn’t resit purchasing some merch!

The Vogue exhibition wasn’t all Manchester Art Gallery had to offer…

There were pieces on display from up and coming student designers who may well be the next Westwood, McCartney or McQeen and already established Fashion Houses including Commes des Garcons.

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Artwork by African artist Boris Nzebo, portraying the unique and complex relationship between urban spaces and its human inhabitants, was also on display.

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I couldn’t help feeling nostalgic when I happened upon a piece by one of the Norths finest artists, L.S.Lowry. I was reminded of my childhood wondering the gleaming white halls of the Theatre and Gallery named after the acclaimed artist, to which we would often venture to visit my auntie who worked there. Because of this Lowry’s pieces will always hold a special place in my heart.

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And a trip to Manchester wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of the cities tastiest cuisine!

All the culture had us working up an appetite! So we decided to recharge and refuel at Reds True Barbecue. As you enter into the smoky haze of the pit house you are immeidiately hit by the smell of succulent meat sizzling on the grill, which does not lure you into a false sense of security because the food tastes just as good as it smells, if not better, which is a rarity. With a quirky interior and hearty food, a trip to Reds True Barbecue is an overload on the senses, one which I would highly recommend to anyone.

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FAVOURITE COLLECTIONS FROM LFW SS17

Mind the gap!

Its Saturday 17th September, day two of LFW, whilst I’m sat on the tiled floor of Euston station there’s a chill in the air, the temperature has plummeted to below mid-teens and the wind is starting to feel icier, you can feel the cold creeping into your bones – pathetic fallacy perhaps because I’m leaving my favourite city, during fashion week nonetheless. But it wasn’t just the weather that embodied a sense of change, it was the fashion too.

This week in our nations capital there was a theme of regeneration on the runway, with smaller fashion houses making waves within the industry, fresh talent being revealed at the Kingston University Ma show and Burberry unveiling its highly anticipated ‘see-now, buy-now’ collection. In a city that was in utter dismay at the heart of a divided country following the vote in June, LFW offered a sense of unity and patriotism that seemed to have disappeared following the Brexit vote. It was out with the woe with a celebration of British talent, enabling us to have a more positive future outlook. Like NYFW, LFW was full of surprises with bejazzled crocs creeping onto the runway in the Christopher Kane show housed in the former Bankside Power Station, now Britain’s finest and most acclaimed Modern Art Gallery… wait does that mean bejazzled crocs are art?! Hmm it’s a no from me, but I can’t deny they were one hell of a fashion statement! Again, I could ramble on about all London had to offer this season, but I won’t! Placing myself under strict instructions to be as concise as I can, I am only going to share my thoughts on my favourite collections from this absolutely fabulous and marvellously British week.

Burberry SS17 ‘See-Now, Buy-Now’ – Tuesday 19th September 2016

Its safe to say that every LFW the Burberry show always acquires the most hype and this weeks was no exception. If anything this Virginia Woolf inspired show was probably the most highly anticipated in Burberry’s history as it was the debut of the brand’s ‘see-now, buy-now’ collection. All eyes were on Christopher Bailey’s landmark collection set to change the seasonal fashion calendar and it did not fail to disappoint. Despite its Elizabethan style, this gender fluid collection was sure to appeal to the modern millennial. The collection based on Woolf’s classic Orlando: A Biography which follows the journey of a poet as he transitions from a man to a woman embodied and embraced modern values and societal acceptance of gender fluidity. This collection also saw the merge of furnishing and fashion with curtain tassels, carpet patterns and luxurious silks and satins making an appearance. The disused book shop which housed the show was like a scene from a British stately home, floored with elegant olive green carpet, accompanied by a live orchestra and choir perfectly conveying the theme. This was a truly British send off to a truly British week.

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Mary Katrantzou SS17 Ready-To-Wear – Sunday 18th September 2016

*sings* Who put the glad in Gladiator? Mary Katrantzou’s SS17 collection certainly did! This vibrant Grecian collection immediately caught my eye, evoking memories of the good old days sat in front of the TV watching Disney’s Hercules on repeat. I could see the muses in the Grecian vase prints, Megara embroidered in iridescent sequins and on closer observation (Look 1) an embroidered Hercules himself accompanied by his trusty companion Pegasus in the Temple of Zeus. There was a juxtaposition of old and new with ancient Greek prints on pop-art geometric prints. This groovy Grecian collection was a treat for the eyes and I enjoyed the nostalgia it brought with it.

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Ashley Williams SS17 Ready-To-Wear – Friday 16th September 2016

This ‘80s inspired collection completely disproves the phrase “Acceptable in the ‘80s”, which implies that the unique style of the era should remain, well, in that era. This collection brought back the very best fashion trends the ‘80s had to offer with puffed selves, varsity jackets, blinging diamond earrings and tributes to ‘80s heartthrob River Phoenix, Malibu Barbie and the hit show Saved by the Bell. This fun, vibrant collection is sure to evoke a sense of nostalgia in any ‘80s teen. The super cute stuffed animal accessories, sparkling chokers and clips keeping in the ‘80s dos were also not to be missed. Looking through this fun, energetic, youthful collection had me subconsciously humming Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Want to Have Fun and made me want to pop round to my grandparents to find some ‘80s treasures they’ve been hoarding away.

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Ashish S17 Ready-To-Wear – Monday 19th September 2016

The Brexit vote this summer not only divided the country but further alienated members of the community. The rise of racial attacks and hatred following the vote made many valued members of society who had migrated to Britain feel unwelcome in their own home, this is something which no one should ever be made to feel. However, the rise in hate crimes did not stop Indian-born designer, Ashish Gupta, who migrated from Delhi in 1996, from paying homage to his roots and demonstrating how Britain thrives from a rich, diverse, multi-cultural society. This collection saw the fusion of Eastern and Western cultures with delicately embroidered churidars partnered with preppy slogan t-shirts. This collection truly was a celebration of the migrant community in Britain, who I hope know are very much valued by many.

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Temperley London SS17 Ready-To-Wear -Sunday 18th September 2016

Temperley London’s flirty candy coloured collection contextualised the conventional idea of beauty. Filled with intricate floral embroidery and sparkling sequins, I hope this collection, like Monique Lhuillier, graces its way onto the red carpet this coming award season. These dazzling pieces would make any girl feel like a winner, whether or not accessorised with a golden statue in hand.

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Kingston University Ma SS17 Ready-To-Wear – Friday 16th September 2016

The Kingston University Ma show offered a breath of fresh air and positivity which ousted the doom and gloom that has lingered following the vote to leave the EU in June. This celebration of British talent offered an insight into the creative and unique minds of those who may just be the next McQueen, Westwood or Bailey. From asymmetric floral embroidered coats to vibrant and one-of-a-kind prints and patterns, the future of the British Fashion Industry is looking very promising and offers a sense of hope in these dark and uncertain times.

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LFW was full of fresh new talent and like NYFW was littered with diverse and unique talent. This week has truly been a celebration of British talent and has provided a positive insight into what the future holds.

Next stop – Milan, which can only mean one thing… GUCCI!!

FAVOURITE COLLECTIONS FROM NYFW SS17

And so it begins…

There’s a slight chill in the air which can only mean one thing… Spring/Summer ’17 fashion week season is upon us! My phone becomes (even more so than normal) a further extension of my arm, my battery life severely suffers and my Instagram following count rapidly increases. It all starts in the city that never sleeps, America’s capital of culture and arguably the world’s fashion capital, New York. With over 100 shows, events and presentations in such a short, snappy period I can only imagine the week is a blur of glitz, and glamour for those lucky enough to attend. NYFW wouldn’t be the same without some drama and controversy and this season was no exception. We were reminded that even models make mistakes like us mere morals when Bella Hadid took a tumble during the Michael Kors show, and tension was high following the use of dreadlocks in Marc Jacob’s show with no recognition of the culture who provided the iconic look. I could ramble on endlessly about all NYFW had to offer, but do not fear, I have resisted the urge to do so and I have disciplined myself. I am only going to share my thoughts on six of my favourite collections from NYFW.

Marc Jacobs SS17 Ready-To-Wear – Thursday 15th September 2016

First and foremost, is the electro-pop inspired Marc Jacobs SS17 ready-to-wear collection. Marc Jacob’s is in hot water after the use of pastel coloured dreadlocks from Etsy during Thursday’s show and has been accused of cultural appropriation. The designer’s response to such backlash has caused further outcry by failing to credit the black culture for the iconic look. Whilst I don’t agree with those in privileged and influential positions not using their status to address pressing issues; I can’t help but admire this fun, vibrant collection made up of sequins, suede, satin and more. Jacob’s inspiration from the party goers of the late ‘80s and ‘90s and their dedication to the cause wasn’t only evident in the killer ‘spice up your life’ platforms but also in the staging. The contrast of the pastel pallet with the dark and grungy runway, peppered with neon lights and accompanied by Underground’s Born Slippy in the background ensured homage was paid to the gritty urban rave scene of the ‘90s. This collection made me want to plaster myself in glitter, wear the brightest eye shadow I could find, grab my platforms and head to the club whilst bopping along to Insomnia by Faithless.

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Thom Browne SS17 Ready-To-Wear – Monday 12th September 2016

 Thom Browne threw a pool party that would rival that of Gatsby himself. This elaborate show, set in an underground space turned into a 1950s bath-house, filled with energetic colour-blocking which seemed to reflect the pop-art movement of the era, was sure to mesmerise its spectators. The trompe l’oeil effect merging the masculinity and femininity of the pieces in a single smooth seamless transition is both aesthetically pleasing and intriguing. The show stopper has to be the dog mirror embroidered headpiece, a homage to Browne’s dog – Hector, which reflects a love and commitment to man’s best friend that only fellow dog owners will truly understand. Needless to say Browne’s collection further solidified the relationship between fashion and art.

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Libertine SS17 Ready-To-Wear – Monday 12th September 2016

God save the Queen! Libertine’s SS17 collection consisted of a tribute to the anarcho-punk days that took our nation by storm in the mid-1970s, Bob Marley and other key culturally influential figures in society. It was the former that particularly caught my attention as it evoked nostalgic memories of my days at secondary school when I carried out a project on the British punk movement in textiles (I still have my final piece). The show was littered with prints of Liz herself, Union Jacks, neon rhinestones, hot pink fur and jackets embezzled with non-conformist slogans, all calling into question the conventional idea of beauty. Libertine is known for its creativity and this collection was no exception, reigniting the fire in the heart of any former punk.

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Coach SS17 Ready-To-Wear – Tuesday 13th September 2016

Stuart Vever’s Spring collection was the polar opposite to his preppy fall 2016 collection. This grungy, archaic look was unlike anything presented by the brand before and I have never really given the brands previous collections much recognition. It was a bold move but nonetheless a successful one, demonstrating the fluidity and diversity of the brand. Non-conformity to traditional values of beauty is a reoccurring theme of this season and this gritty, edgy collection complete with a runway peppered with automobile relics and destruction clearly received the memo. With multitudes of leather, silk, mesh there appeared a tribute to the 90s, along with a tributes to the collections muse Elvis Presley after the brand successfully acquired the rights from the singer’s estate. This collection also saw the return of the creepers, these iconic shoes made a re-appearance in 2010/11 and much to the dismay of my mother I jumped on the bandwagon and strutted round town in a pair of black suede creepers. I doubt I will dig them back out now they have graced the runway once again, I’m just grateful that this proves I wasn’t completely delusional since they have been given recognition on the runway. Whilst, I love admiring the art of fashion, I love it even more when a I come across a collection that is artistic but also extremely wearable and its safe to say the Vever’s spring collection has achieved such a balance. My favourite pieces from the collection being the silk embroidered bomber and the soft pink fur coat (as you will learn I love jackets and coats and I believe you can never have enough).

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Altuzarra SS17 Ready-To-Wear – Sunday 11th September 2016

Coach was not the only brand distancing itself from the norm in regards to its previous collections, Altuzarra followed suit. The SS17 collection was worlds away from its normal sharp business-like attire with this fun, youthful collection, full of bright, vibrant colours, flamingo style dresses and skirts and snakeskin blazers embroidered with varying mediterrian fruits. The retro ‘80s style hoops dangling besides the models perfectly symmetrical faces further fuelled the fun and playful theme. This collection reminded me of holidays in Spain and made me want to jet off to some exotic destination for a bit of fun in the sun.

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Monique Lhuillier SS17 Ready-To-Wear -Tuesday 13th September 2016

This collection is bound to make any girl lucky enough to own a piece feel like a princess with the candy pink colour scheme, the bellowing ball gowns sprinkled with silver heart embroidery here and there and the sequins, one must never forget the sequins! I hope this elegant collection will incorporate its way into the next award season, these dresses would be a perfect accompaniment to any red carpet and golden statute. They epitomise Hollywood glamour and I will be gravely disappointed if they are a no show at the coming award season.

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It is clear that NYFW had a lot to offer from gothic, grungy get-ups to fiesta attire to elegant ball gowns, and I can only hope London, Milan and Paris will match NY by offering an equal amount of diversity.