Plus Sized – Models 1 and Excel – more walks beyond the catwalk

Excel Model Agency

Amy Griffiths

Amy Griffiths

I have posted previously about All Walks Beyond the Catwalk who are set up to promote different models to the standard catwalk tall and thin template – aiming to include bigger curvier models, older models and a wider ethnicity.

Another such venture focussing on the bigger curvier model has just been set up by Models 1 (set up in 1968 and now the largest model agency in Europe) who have teamed up with plus-sized model agency Excel to form a division Models1. Like All Walks Beyond The Catwalk they are aiming to prove and establish that there is a demand for models in high fashion that are neither tall or slim.

One of the challenges they face will be getting Haute Couture designers on board – they have had some initial success with Jean Paul Gaultier and Mark Fast employing plus-sized models over the last few seasons. This year was also the first time a plus-sized model graced the front cover of Vogue – in their Mexico edition in the shape of Crystal Renn. Still a long way to go but a start at least.

It does seem strange to me this need for the tall and skinny model shape upon the catwalk – the fashion designers will say their shapes better show off their outfits leaving aside that most of their customers will not have these body-shapes and sizes. It is as much expedience as easier and cheaper to design for a narrower size range but it does seem a wider size range could be catered for simply by having a range of models and body sizes along the catwalk.

I welcome this project between Models 1 and Excel and hope it proves a successful and influential initiative.Amy Griffiths

Creatures of the Wind – CDFA/Vogue Fashion Fund 2011 Hopeful

Creatures of the Wind

Creatures of the Wind Fall Winter 2011

Fall Winter 2011

Shane Gabier and Chris Peters of Creatures of the Wind are among those shortlisted for the CDFA /Vogue Fashion Fund 2011 hopefuls, the winner of which to be announced November 14 in New  York.

CDFA is the acronym for The Council of Fashion Designers of America – their event is annual having commenced in 2003.

Others on the shortlist include Ohne Titel, Cushnie et Ochs, Suno and Finn Jewellery.  There are ten on the shortlist all told – full details on the CDFA website.

Previous winners Proenza Schouler and their designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez are on this years judging panel along with US Vogue’s Anna Wintour, Steven Kolb and chaired by Diane von Furstenberg.

The award is based on the finalists most recent collections. They also have to produce a design project for L’Oreal Paris. The fashion challenge gets ever more daunting.

The awards for the winner last totalled $100,000K so a different order of magnitude to the award noted in my last post for the Dorchester Collection.

I would not like to venture what Creatures of the Wind might produce. Their Spring Summer 2011 collection was a two-tone pallette in the main with occasional forays into browns and yellows. Their Fall Winter 2011 collectoin in contrast was a vivid collection of reds and oranges if black not abandoned entirely.

The company is US based but they do have stockists in several other fashion capitals such as London, Milan and Tokyo.

Time will tell if Creatures of the Wind and their creative use of fabrics and colour will take away an award.Creatures of the Wind Spring Summer 2011

Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize Shortlist Announced

Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize

Giulietta Collection Fall 11

Giulietta Collection Fall 11

The shortlist for the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize 2011 in New York was recently announced.

The panel passing judgement included Francisco Costa of Calvin Klein, and Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig of Marchesa.

As noted in Vogue UK the prize will be announced in the Autumn and will include £40,000 and the opportunity to display their collection during Paris Fashion Week in 2012 at Hôtel Plaza Athénée (which is owned by the Dorchester hotel group).

Julian Louie Fall Winter 2010

Julian Louie Fall Winter 2010

Last year’s winner was Canadian born and London based Thomas Tait. They should also get the prize for most pointless website – there are three tabs – one Biography prompts you to download a PDF document, a second Information to send an Email to them (!) and the third Lookbook takes you to a page which states ‘Lookbook is available upon request’! You are spoiling us Thomas Tait – Not!

The London Fashion Week Designer Gallery provides you with a better visual record of his works – his most recent collection a Two Tone one.

This years shortlist were:

Anndra Neen – who are two sisters Phoebe and Annette Stephens – they are New York based but born in Mexico City – they specialise in jewellery and accessories. Their jewellery is of antique ornate flavour.

Giulietta– who produces a mix of casual and prim outfits with understated elegance. I think Audrey Hepburn is one of a number in the Giulietta’s minds-eye.

Julian Louie – who produces an unlikely mix of couture-casual with exotic prints. Stylish.

Setareh Mohtarez – produces bright punchy art-like installation cocktail type dresses with striking modern digital prints.

Siki Im – their collections don’t go by back to back season convention but are titled Silent Thunderbird Prayer and Black Beat White Wonder which alone prepares you for what is to follow. They are devoted solely to menswear. Smart yet casual generally with a monotone palette.

All of their works can be seen on their websites though Anndra Neen’s site is little more than a place-holder and Email contact address. Mohtarez’s site presents their outfits the most imaginatively. The Siki Im website allows you to see the works as collection stills, as video and provides full textual artistic impressions.

Setareh Mohtarez gets my pick – how about you?

Setareh Mohtarez Brightness Dawn Collection

Setareh Mohtarez Brightness Dawn Collection

Desperate Housewives – Death on Wisteria Lane

Gabrielle Solis Desperate Housewives Come on Over for Dinner

Gabrielle Solis – Spotted Ghost from her Past

The final episode of Series 7 of Desperate Housewives Come On Over for Dinner aired in the UK on Channel 4 and E4 this July – and inevitably for at least one cast member it was a fatal ending.

You might expect the highest body counts on TV to be in urbanscapes of high crime and low hopes like Shield or The Wire, or even a hospital city-based drama like ER. But no the highest proportion of murders per capita is Wisteria Lane – no coincidence perhaps that its narrator is herself a ghost of that place.

In the UK we have Midsommer Murders set in a seeming rural idyll in a Mid-England Shire and where again the per capita murder count is far higher than London based crime dramas such as the now deceased The Bill and the very much living Luther. Should you live in Midsommer then death will be sure to visit you soon and if not you then your loved ones or neighbours.

Desperate Housewives Series 7Desperate Housewives is the USA equivalent of these Suburban Murder stories.

I imagine the house-prices in Wisteria Lane are much lower than similar sized homes in nearby neighbourhoods.

In the penultimate episode And Lots of Security we see the appearance of Gaby’s step-father who she believed to have been dead and whom also raped her when a girl. Gaby’s step father Alejandro is played by Tony Plana – you may know him as another much more benign and cuddly father Ignacio Suarez to Ugly Betty. And the second Ugly Betty cast member to have shown up in Wisteria Lane following Wilhelmina Slater still resident as Renee Perry. Perhaps America Ferreira herself will yet find herself in Wisteria Lane.

Desperate Housewives - And Lots of Security

Gabrielle confronts Step Father

In the final episode Come On Over for Dinner Gaby’s past has caught up to haunt her where she lures her step-father to a clearing and confronts him at the point of a gun. This appears to us to have done the trick but he re-appears in her home when she is all alone bar her two young daughters. This time she is unarmed and he sets upon her again to repeat his terrible act – but fortuitously her husband Carlos returns home to nip this act in the bud by grabbing a lead-based candlestick-holder – always much more than a near-redundant household ornament! – and hits him hard on the head with it. It turns out that Carlos has done more than knock out Alejandro, he has killed him.

Desperate Housewives Come On Over For Dinner Gabrielle Step Father

Step Father confronts Gabrielle

During this episode a dinner has been thrown for Susan and Mike Delfino, in honour of their returning to their Wisteria Lane home, but with a difference in that each course takes place at the home of one of the guests. Desert is to take place at the home of Gabrielle and Carlos Solis yet it is child-abuser Alejandro who has got his just desert. The remaining residents though are on their way. Bree Van De Kamp is one of the first to arrive and on discovering the dead body and following their explanation suggests that she herself will be the fall-gal or at least help cover-up this murder for them. And why this seeming selfless gesture? Because her son Andrew was responsible for the death of Carlos’ mother Gloria several years earlier in a drunken road accident which she herself had covered up to prevent her son being sent to prison. This led to Carlos and Bree being estranged and this neat-story outcome allows them to become unestranged again.

Desperate Housewives Paul Young

Paul Young

In the previous episode Then I Really Got Scared Felicia Tilman behind the wheel of her car, on the run from her past crimes catching up with her, sees an urn containing her daughter Beth’s ashes fall off the passenger seat to the footwell and on moving to recover them loses sight of the road and veers into the path of an oncoming articulated lorry which totals the car and the end of the line for Felicia.

And the ashes of her daughter were they from natural causes? As if! – she had committed suicide in the Everything’s Different Nothing’s Changed episode by shooting herself in the head so as to provide a kidney for Susan Delfino feeling her life was worthless and this giving of her life to save another her one last chance at salvation.

And from what crime was she fleeing – from her near murder by lethal injection of Paul Young – who was only saved by the good fortune of neighbour Susan Delfino interupting her in the act. And why was Felicia Tilman attempting to murder Paul Young? Because as regular viewers will know he had murdered her sister. And why had he murdered her sister?! Because Felicia’s sister had murdered his wife Mary Ellis Young, the Ouija voice-over of every Desperate Housewife episode.

Also remember Larry Hagman’s brief appearance as Frank earlier this series when Lynette Scavo’s mother Stella re-marries Frank, himself a serial betrother, only to later expire while visiting Lynette’s family to have a family photograph taken and where ‘Cheese’ were the last words ever to be uttered from Frank’s lips! – at least death by natural causes!

Desperate Housewives Felicia Tilman

Felicia Tilman – be very afraid

And lest you have forgotten in Series 6 there was Eddie the Fairview Strangler and his serial killer trail of death and destruction – not strictly on Wisteria Lane but on an adjoining suburban street. In this sixth series were also the Witness Protection couple Angie and Nick Bolen and her ex-boyfriend and eco-terrorist (as too she was) Patrick Logan (played by Torchwood‘s very own John Barrowman). In another episode in this series a pilot has a heart-attack and the plane descends towards a built-up neighbourhood – naturally it should be Wisteria Lane!

And then in Season 5 Serial Killer Dave Williams.

I shall not list and catalogue all the other death and destruction in Wisteria Lane – save to remind you of the Tornado which laid waste to the whole of Wisteria Lane in Season 4.

I look forward Season 8 (commencing in the USA on ABC in September 2011) just be sure to note that if there is a new character on the Lane there is a more than even chance they have a murderous past to conceal or a murderous future before them.

David Downton – Fashion Illustrator – Artist or Artisan?

David Downton FIG Prints

David Downton Dior Couture A/W 2009

Dior Couture Autumn/Winter 2009

You can purchase original David Downton artworks – or high craft (Haute Artisanales?!) – at FIG PRINTS.

Fashion Illustration Gallery was set up in 2007 to promote and hopefully sell works of fashion illustrators. The Fig Prints site extended this to the world wide audience of the web. The site also has an interest in rare print magazines and books that feature fashion illustration.

The site does not just feature works of current illustrators but historical names too such as Cecil Beaton and Andy Warhol.

David Downton though has just made three new original prints available to buy on the FIG site. These are not the mass-produced prints you might have bought from Athena when it was still on the high-street or that you may now purchase online from All Posters but originals selling at £350 per piece as part of limited edition print runs of between fifty and one-hundred. They are all signed, dated and numbered by him too.

At this price range we are in iPad territory but on the other hand if you cannot afford Dior Couture pieces this might be the next best affordable thing?

These three are ink on paper using the Giclee technique – fine art digital prints created on ink-jet printers.

David Downton Dior Couture Spring Summer 2011

Dior Couture Spring Summer 2011

All three are taken from Dior Couture collections but not rush releases from the recent Dior Fall show of Monday July 4 but from older collections between 2009 and 2011 when Galliano had not yet plunged from saint to sinner. Downton is a regular attendee of Paris Haute Couture shows.

Two of the three are black and white and previously I have preferred his colour ones which I find more vivid and impactful.

I find them all very expressive though – more so perhaps than a high-resolution digital photograph – perhaps there is something about the warm analogue fuzziness of it all.

Masters of Fashion Illustration David Downton Woman Red DressIn addition to being able to buy these and his older work on this site he also has his own website where you can view his work in greater detail including a wide range of portraits including Catherine Deneuve, Lily Cole and Cate Blanchett.

If you like his work but cannot afford them which even were we not living in austerity-biting times are not a casual purchase for most of us and want to see more of his work in non-digital form then you may find his book ‘Masters of Fashion Illustration‘ which surveys this genre including his own work a more accessible introduction to his works.

I think his works are art – how about you?

Hussein Chalayan – Fashion Narratives

Decorative Arts Museum Paris

Hussein Chalayan Heliopolis 2006 Collection

Heliopolis Collection 2006

The Decorative Arts Museum in Paris is currently showing through November 13 the works of British-Turkish Cypriot Fashion Designer Hussein Chalayan in an exhibition titled ‘Récits de Mode’.

Hussein Chalayan After Words Collection 2000

After Words 2000 Collection

A similar exhibition some may have seen and recall at the London Design Museum in 2009.

The Decorative Arts Museum provides a lot of text and visuals on the exhibition on their website. The site is in French, there is an English version of it, though it does not provide as many details on the show.

Chalayan is another graduate from Central Saint Martins College (1993) and like Alexander McQueen has always stressed his work is as much about the design and the architectural as the fashion. His website includes as many art projects and videos as it does fashion pieces.

The exhibition is not simply fashion behind glass but is interactive and explorative allowing you to see the processes involved at all stages of the work via various media.

The exhibition commences from a decomposing dress of his opening 1993 graduate show and then follows along his varied and creative fashion career including the synthetic paper airmail-dresses and fibre-glass ‘airplane’ dresses.

A book detailing the exhibition and overseen by its curator Pamela Golbin is available on the website to purchase.

The exhibition provides you with lots of supporting narrative but we can also of course put aside the contexts and let the visual impact of his works speak to us directly.