Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Chanel, Scotland and Tilda Swinton: A Story of Craftsmanship

          Tilda Swinton has today been named the face of Chanel’s Metiers d’Art Paris-Edinburgh collection, which debuted spectacularly in the misty ruins of a Scottish castle last December. 

          Set in the secluded Linlithgow Palace, with a guest list so exclusive that many bloggers and minor editors were left out in the cold, the collection was a celebration of Scottish heritage, craftsmanship and the longstanding intimate relationship between Scotland and Chanel. Described as a ‘truly exceptional show’ by British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, the collection was a classic Karl interpretation of traditional Scottish dress:  well-structured and precisely edited, the collection highlighted both the talent of the head designer, and the exceptional skill of the legion of craftsmen which support him.

          In this collection, fabric was not in short supply: tweed was layered, draped and folded against the Scottish chill, showcased in a variety of bright plaids and chunky Fair Isle knits. The classic Chanel bouclé jacket was lined, unusually (Chanel originally celebrated unlined garments to give an ease of movement) with traditional Scottish plaid. The Chanel chains were transformed from bag handles to embellish hats and sporrans, and the strings of pearl semiotic of the house were developed into the chunky collars and drop earrings reminiscent of the jewellery that would have, once upon a time, been worn in Linlithgow Palace.  Nods to Mary Queen of Scots can be found in the sumptuous shirts, ruffs, Tudor-style jackets and layered bell skirts all embellished with heavy lines of pearls and gemstones. 

     So why the sudden focus on tweed, plaid, leather and everything else that Scotland has got to offer through its long manufacturing history? The Metiers d’Art (pre-A/W ’13, in other words) was designed as an annual celebration of the craftsmen, ateliers and specialists who are both the driving force of Chanel and provide the many, many hours that go into crafting both the Prêt-a-Porter and Couture collections.

       The collaboration between Chanel and Swinton is perhaps unsurprising choice; Tilda has for years been the face of Scottish knitwear label Pringle and has been described as ‘a modern woman, a timeless icon of elegance’ by Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld.In my simple opinion, her ethereal, unusual beauty conjures up the mysticism of Scotland. 

      Chanel as a label and as a person has had a long standing history with Scottish tweed. Chanel, who used to visit Scotland regularly in the 1920s to stay in the Duke of Westminster’s rugged pile, sourced her original bouclé tweeds from Scotland, introducing it as one of the house’s defining fabrics in 1927. In 2012 the fashion house acquired the specialist factory Barrie Knitwear, which has made luxury tweeds for them for the past 25 years. 

Images and quotes from:

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

London In A Nutshell: Louise Gray Autumn/ Winter 2013


          A cacophony of abstracted prints, with just a hint of the uptight secretary; Louise Gray’s Autumn/ Winter 2013 collection ‘Hey Crazy’ was East meets West: London in a decorative nutshell. Drawn together by the repeating motif ‘Tube Map,’ the collection was a celebration of print, vibrant colour and a certain idiosyncratic ‘joie de vivre’ that only comes from living in London. Prim and proper librarian met East End cool with a large dash of humour, irreverence and impeccable tailoring; the very best of London, you could say.

      East was found in the dynamic, vaguely African-esque prints, mohair jumpers and eclectic recycled accessories and embellishments, which were strongly reminiscent of the 80s punk designers Vivienne Westwood and Pam Hogg, who Louise Gray undoubtedly owes a lot to.

        West in the buttoned up blouses, princess coats and strong tailoring that underpins the collection; jacquard fabrics pinned and cut just so to create mini peplums and decisive trouser and skirt suits. “I’ve found a confidence in tailoring, and it’s exactly what I want to wear right now,” said Gray in her show notes.

       However, despite this newfound confidence, there was no getting away from the ‘Hey Crazy’ theme of the collection, summed up with the recycled plastic bag head pieces, toilet roll accessories (maybe those can be left at home) and silver Bakewell Tart tins as oversized brooches. For fashion, London has long been the capital of ‘crazy’ (we prefer ‘creativity’), and Louise Gray is currently the undoubted queen of offbeat London style.

     ‘Hey Crazy’: summing up the vibrant, collective urban existence that can only be found only in London. 

All images from:


Monday, 25 February 2013

A New (kinda) Beginning

Once again, I can only apologise for being miserably lacking in my blog posting recently. University, various other writing activities and life in general have, this term, supplanted Lanvin My Man in my top three main interests. However, the boredom and frustration generated by revision, exams, essays and, paradoxically, less and less free time, will almost certainly mean that LMM will be getting some TLC in the coming weeks.

For the mean time, here's a picture of me standing on a roof with weirdly small hands. You're welcome. 

Coat and hat: Various charity shops
Top: Next
Jeans: H&M
Shoes and faux fur collar: New Look

Friday, 8 February 2013

From Austen to Beard: Women Writers Fight Back!

         Trawling the online papers recently in that ritual daily effort of supreme procrastination, I stumbled upon the news that this week is, in fact, the two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

        Yes, the author that brought you a wet-shirted Colin Firth, an thumb-bitingly irritating Keira Knightley and the ever-lovable Bridget Jones published her seminal work two hundred years ago. That one of the best-known and well-loved authors and her book is still as popular after two hundred years is something very admirable, I thought to myself. But then I thought again.

           Wading through the endless paragraphs of newsprint on the subject of Pride & Prejudice, I was suddenly drawn back to my first tentative steps towards entering the bipolar journalistic world. Picture if you will a crowded conference room of a middle of the road, middle class university, packed with sweaty, nervous Freshers about to embark on their first plunge into the cut throat universe of student journalism.

       A clear voice cuts the air. ‘I want,’ it says, ‘to do a feature on women writers as, you know, Jane Austen is pretty much the only one anyone’s ever heard of.’ Cue vehement outburst from my side of the table. ‘What the hell, what rock are you living under?!’ I yelled, (that bit might have only been in my head…) ‘What about Virginia Woolf? Margaret Atwood? Silvia Plath?! There are like, sooo many awesome female writers!’ Silence. I sensed my burgeoning journalistic career starting to free- fall in a spectacular burst of flames.

         ‘Anyway,’ says overly self-important editor. ‘Sounds great! Four hundred words maybe?’ And with that I slinked away, comforted only by the knowledge that my much-maligned female authors would be supporting me all the way. Maybe.

        So where does all this hilarious reminiscing lead me? Ah yes, to more wonderings: that is, why is it that the agglomeration of all female writing in the past 200 years is summed up by what is essentially a beautifully written, intellectual chick flick? (Don’t hate me Austen-philes, I am one too!)

        These days, the writing world is a hard one for women: with young, female journalists such as Laurie Penny and Cath Elliott, as well as older commentators like Mary Beard, attracting vitriol and horrific online abuse for their writing, it is seemingly harder for a woman to state her opinion these days than it was for Miss Austen, with her proto-feminist, pugnacious female leads.

       Does sharing your political, personal, whatever thoughts as a writer make receiving horrific threats an occupational hazard? Of course not.  So how do we combat the online misogynistic anonymous who practice vehement censorship of female writing whilst crying ‘freedom of speech’? Are cries of ‘do not feed the troll’ adequate or even effective?

        My advice to women writers everywhere would be: write, and keep writing, and don’t stop until the ranks of Woolf, Plath, Atwood and yes, Austen are swelled and prominent enough to keep the trolls at bay. After all, Lizzie Bennett would never have put with it two hundred years ago.