Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Spending the Summer in Vogue

Summer in the UK seems to have flitted by in a blink-and-you-miss-it sort of way. Apparently the BBQ-worthy weather we had in June was all we’ve been allotted this year. With Vitamin D levels down and perennial rain aplenty, I’ve been drowning in the delights of vintage Vogue summer shoots and issues.

May 1955
June 1937

May 1941
If I had space on my bookshelf, I would be buying vintage Vogue issues almost daily! Even though the summer shoots I have been perusing are just as engineered as those that are done in magazines today, the lower resolution nature of the photos and the general gaiety of the models adds an authenticity which many summer shoots today lack.

Old shoots feel like a peek into someone’s summer holiday, as if you’re wandering along the beach and happened to have seen a sight of beauty, sunshine and good ol’ fun. It was less about what they were wearing, and more about what they were doing. 

Vogue, 1950

They entice you to throw your bikini aside and indulge in the purchases of a waist-defining swimming costume, a parasol, and most importantly a beach ball. Find my picks below!

July 1954

Pink/Purple Dress - P.A.R.O.S.H @ Farfetch, Swimsuit - Topshop, Red/Aqua Dress - Red Valentino,
Parasol - Etsy

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Gearing Up For Glorious Goodwood

The Qatar Goodwood Festival - where fashion, high society and world class horseracing come together for five enthralling days.
28th July – 1st August

Glorious Goodwood is almost upon us! If you didn’t make it to the Coronation Cup Polo today, Goodwood provides another chance to delve into the world of sumptuous summer dressing. The main principle is the same as for Polo (neutral base with vivid accessories – see previous post), but with the tricky addition of a hat.

A full hat looks elegant from all angles, unlike a fascinator.

I say tricky because this is where many women fall down. You can start looking at a woman’s classically clad LK Bennett feet, slowly work your way up to her chic two piece suit, mentally nodding with approval as you go (aren’t they lovely pearls?), and then you lift your eyes to her head. And then you stop. Why does she have a nest on her head? Why is it a completely different colour to the rest of her outfit? Why is it on a headband? Does she know a headband isn’t a hat?

Jerry Hall and Marie Helvin, Royal Ascot 1982
Dame Helen Mirren at Ladies' Day, Royal Ascot 2008

Fascinators have their place in the world, but that is not at Goodwood. Their commonplace nature is not a reflection of their stylishness and any woman worth her fashion salt will stay far away from these hare-brained creations.

Black and white is perfect for a seamless look at the races.
A real hat adds an air of coquettishness, it whispers ‘come hither, see what is below my brim!’. In an age where everything is on display, a full hat not only completes an outfit, but from a distance it makes you a mystery. If you are going to Goodwood to find a husband (feminism has not eradicated the intents of high society Mothers), a true hat holds greater providence for your heart.

Hat Guidelines for Goodwood Glory
  •    Should be a hat, not a fascinator.
  •    Not too wide or too tall so as to obstruct another person’s view of the racing.
  •    Should be related colour-wise to the rest of your outfit. A hat shouldn’t be a lone pop of colour, it should bring an outfit together.
  •    Straw hats may be worn to Goodwood (acceptable at all society events after Easter until the end of summer).
  •    Be securely fastened. A flyaway hat is sure to land you in the Daily Mail’s coverage - something to be avoided at all costs.
  •    Try the hat with various hairstyles in order to find the most flattering arrangement for you.


 Have a glorious day at Goodwood!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Polo: Getting into the Spectator Style Saddle

The Royal Salute Coronation Cup 2015 takes place this Saturday and with a fresh new title sponsor, Ode 2 Vogue has high hopes for a revitalised ambiance. International Day is the most prestigious polo event in the social calendar and hordes of royalty, celebrities, and social butterflies are expected to make their usual pilgrimage to watch England vs. South America.

Camilla Belle, 2010
Dame Helen Mirren, 2014

The difficulty in dressing for International Day lies firstly in the temperamental nature of British weather, and secondly in avoiding the trap of looking like a wedding guest. Over the years, Tatler has captured a selection of Polo spectators who sit effortlessly atop a sartorial saddle of style. 

The key, in my opinion, is to wear a light base and accessorise with a pop of colour. Camilla Belle and Dame Helen exemplify the effectiveness of this tenet: you have a summery but vivacious elegance. The Polo isn't a time to be a shrinking violet, but this outfit mantra prevents the gaudy mistakes which a peep of sunshine can persuade even the most fashionable Briton to commit. 

Coat - Zara, Heels - Topshop, Clutch - Pinko @ Forzieri, Bracelet - McQ Alexander McQueen @ Forzieri,
 Dress - French Connection

Trouser/Bralet Co-ord - ASOS, Clutch - Olympia Le-Tan @ The Outnet, Necklace - Swarovski,
 Heels - Jimmy Choo @ The Outnet

To the polo we go! 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Ralph Lauren: Status or Style?

The recent disruption to Ode 2 Vogue has been due to a week consisting solely of me working an event for Ralph Lauren. Whilst surrounded by luminous, highlighter inspired polos, I began wondering about Ralph Lauren’s place in the fashion world.

Certainly the Polo Ralph Lauren and RLX collections are nothing but a status symbol. They scream ‘I can spend £90 on a shirt’, ‘I want other people to know I have a healthy bank balance’ and ‘I’m insecure about my social status’. The clothing in these collections is neither stylish nor chic, it is merely a means by which a person can affirm their own wealth in the eyes of others. Personal style is about being confident in what you wear, and whilst a lurid Ralph Lauren Polo can provide a moment of self-assurance, it only serves to create a dependency on brand exhibiting.

Turning our attention to Ralph’s other labels creates a different image, however. Collection, Black Label, RRL and Lauren are aimed at a different audience to its Polo range. They range from easy daytime style, to polished tailoring, to evening glamour – all connected by the absence of a certain stark pony logo. The exact reason why some people buy a Ralph Lauren polo induces others to pay far more for the logo’s exclusion.

These collections do have style. They carry a minimalist, sleek elegance which exudes quality and that ‘investment piece’ air which we are so often reminded to think of in this high consumption age. When Ralph Lauren advertisements are featured in Vogue, Bazaar, or Elle, it is pieces from its higher end collections which we see. There are leather boots and handbags to last you for years, evening dresses which a mother could share with her delighted daughter, and cashmere aplenty. They are items which whisper that you’re successful and stylish, they don’t scream for attention like that incandescent lime green tennis skirt does.

I’ve been caught in the Ralph Lauren trap too and even own a couple of polos myself, but having spent the last week in Polo Ralph Lauren Land, I came to realise that this part of the luxury lifestyle brand was not luxury at all: it was social insecurity in material form. Sure, a navy blue polo probably is my style and I’ll probably buy one again in the future, but next time I stand, considering a top so brightly coloured that it looks like it belongs on a six year old, I’ll think again.

Ralph Lauren is clearly a brand of two sides: Status and Style, and I now know which team I’d like to be on. 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Serena: Smashing to Victory in Style

Serena Williams has sailed yet again to Wimbledon glory, but it wasn’t only her spectacular sporting prowess which was on show. The spectators of Centre Court are renowned for their seamless and sophisticated style, but at the Champions’ Dinner on Sunday 12th July, Serena outmatched them all.

Substantiating JK Rowling’s recent defence of Serena’s body shape, the Ladies’ Singles Champion looked elegant and statuesque in a peach full-length, jewel-topped dress whilst still displaying her match-winning muscles. A merging of strength and style, Serena is a suffrage success. Having the body of an athlete (or any body shape not deemed to be ‘womanly’) does not mean that you cannot embrace fashion, and the same strong mentality which enables her to win tournaments has empowered Serena to volley away the narrow-minded cyber bullies of the world.

Stepping out in bold colours, skyscraper heels, and exquisite evening gowns has amassed Serena recognition. Her comment in 2014 after a rainy day at Wimbledon served to highlight her love of fashion: ‘I just love coats. I'm always buying Burberry coats. I don't know why, because I live in Florida’. It was a little reassuring to know that even a tennis superstar makes irrational shopping purchases.

Over the years Serena has made intrepid fashions choices (not without some expected mistakes) and at high-profile events such as Vanity Fair parties and tennis photocalls, she has wowed in some awe-inspiring outfits.

American Vogue has twice been graced by Serena on its cover: first in June 2012 along with athletes Ryan Lochte and Hope Solo, and again in April of this year as a solo cover. Vogue recognised Serena as a woman, with a front-on photograph, wild hair, and fierce beauty that cannot be denied.


 This cover showed a woman that plays tennis, not a tennis player who plays at being a woman. 

Friday, 10 July 2015

Vogue: Like a Painting

I’ve just touched down in Madrid, and whilst unashamedly flicking through flyers at a tourist information booth, I came across an advertisement for an exhibition entitled ‘Vogue: like a painting’. Needing no further persuasion other than those four words, I wandered over to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza without hesitation. I’d been here once before in 2014 to see a vivid, enthralling Pop Art exhibition and so I had high hopes for their Vogue display.

"With everything I do, it's as if I'm trying to manipulate it, to coerce it so it has that painterly feel."
The Dress Lamp Tree, Tim Walker

The premise for the exhibition lay in the inspiration taken by some of the greatest Vogue photographers from classical paintings. Examples of Spanish paintings from the Golden Age, Constable, and Vermeer are intertwined with photographs from the Vogue archives by Annie Leibovitz, Irving Penn, and Cecil Beaton to name but a few.

Erwin Blumenfeld mimics Vermeer's Girls with the Pearl Earring

In total, 61 Vogue pieces are exhibited. The curator of the exhibition, Debra Smith, selected which Vogue images would be included based on their pictorial quality and their link to historic art. All the selections “in one way or another, reflect devices commonly used by painters: theatrical settings, dramatic chiaroscuro, carefully devised compositional schemes and special emphasis on the beauty of the figures, their poses and the d├ęcor”. The connections between the Vogue photographers’ work and their inspirations have not been some long-held secret, but this clear array of artistic pairings demonstrates the interweaving nature of art, across different mediums and times.  

Peter Lindbergh is inspired by
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's expressionism



A wonderful insight into the careful deliberation and artistic influences behind Vogue's creations, I would wholeheartedly recommend this mesmerising and revelationary exhibiton. If you can't quite make it to Madrid, the exhibition catalogue is equally una obra de arte. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Chanel: Cashing In at the Casino

 I didn’t want to rush this post. Waking up yesterday to an Instagram feed overflowing with Chanel’s dazzling haute couture show in Paris was like looking at the sun for too long: I needed time to recover.

A defiant display of Chanel’s creative superiority in terms of both the staging and the couture itself, Chanel continues to outshine its usurpers to the fashion throne. So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

The Staging

We were transported to the glamorous, hedonistic world of gambling when the Grand Palais underwent a metamorphic change to become a casino/arena. Central casino tables housed celebrities and models, with the haute couture models circulating through the space between the tables and the surrounding audience.

Kristen Stewart, Julianne Moore and Lara Stone partake in the show.

The exquisite clothes are paraded 

The Casino Tables

Let me start by saying that I have no idea how Kristen Stewart continues to embed herself into the fashion world, but she looked incredible in that black velvet trouser suit. Stewart and Julianne Moore (wearing a teal velvet dress) waltzed arm-in-arm, complimenting one another perfectly. 

Other celebrities including Lily Collins, Lily-Rose Depp, and Rita Ora convened at the tables, engaging in mock-play and adding to the theatre of the show. The A-listers taking part in the performance all wore pieces from the latest collection, and my personal favourite was Lily-Rose Depp’s. Simple, chic and envy-inducing, it was Chanel to a tee (or should I say dress?).

The Couture

Now to the focal point: the couture. It was overwhelmingly stunning. An array of glitzy, luxurious Chanel suits kicked the show off, followed by an interlude of cream and satin, an influx of metallics and sequins, then flowing dresses, and a suit-clothed bride to finish. It was a beautiful onslaught of opulence.


There is something about Chanel, particularly apparent in this show, which seems to empower the woman who wears it. A Chanel garment emphasises the strength and success of its wearer (and not just because you need quite a few casino chips to buy it!) without causing a reduction of their femininity.

Who will win the accolade of best haute couture show? Somebody throw some chips my way, I need to place a bet on Chanel.