& Other Stories

Digital marketing campaigns and short fashion films are now a default medium of communication and promotion for both high-end and high-street brands. If the Polaroid-style, documentary-like teaser film named 'Shoes & Other Stories' is anything to go by, the new upmarket womenswear line to be launched by H&M for spring 2013 is set to be highly covetable. Watch the story below... 

Acknowledging that shoes, bags, jewellery, lingerie and beauty products are key elements of styling, the '& Other Stories' collection will focus on details; creating a whole look and inspiring a fashion story. I am immersed in the effortless Parisian feel of the campaign film; unexpected, ambiguous and beautiful.    

From design studios in Paris and Stockholm, the lines will range from masculine tailoring to feminine chic, providing endless styling choices for the discerning, modern woman. Similarly to H&M's successful sister brand COS, the collection is expected to promote ‘lasting wardrobe treasures’ endorsing sustainability, attention to detail and quality at affordable price points.

Little about the collection has been revealed as yet, however the mood board above conveys a minimal, nostalgic feel and inspirational images on the Tumblr page heighten the sense of mystery; piecing together delicate fragments of a captivating story.

What is Beauty? Photographic Exhibition at NTU

The end of term is always an incredibly busy time, and the last few weeks have been very busy but also very exciting, as I have recently assisted in organising a photographic exhibition to showcase the recent work of fashion communication and promotion students at Nottingham Trent University.

Working to a brief of 'What is Beauty?' our main body of work this term has focussed on initiating behaviour change within fashion communication and promotion across different areas of the industry. Considering beauty from different perspectives and celebrating how uniqueness and diversity can enhance creativity, our thought-provoking exhibition challenges conventional notions of beauty in modern society.  

Starting with a historical reference point, and with the help of talented photographers Miguel Torena and Adrian Ashmore, we created photographs which convey strong messages that beauty is not one-dimensional but that it is open to individual interpretation. The collection of images we produced are extremely thought-provoking as they explore a variety of topics such as disability, race, age and body shape in order to promote greater self-esteem and acceptance.

Living in a media age where we are constantly bombarded with artificial media images portraying unrealistic, digitally constructed ideals of perfection, it is refreshing to view images which do not conform to conventional ideals of beauty but instead transgress aesthetics to portray the eclecticism of beauty in its most genuine and personal form. The variety of images in the exhibition are indicative of the multi-faceted reality of beauty and suggest that 'so-called' unconventional and imperfect beauty should be embraced and not discriminated against.

The exhibition opening event was a perfect opportunity for students to meet together before the Christmas break to see their work displayed in the gallery whilst indulging in a glass of wine and a mince pie (or two, or three...) The exhibition itself provides a chance to reflect on perceptions of beauty from different perspectives, presenting a poignant collection of work which embodies the elusive, controversial yet captivating nature of beauty.    

The exhibition is open until 5pm Friday 14th December in the Waverley Gallery at NTU.

All amateur snapshots above are my own and show a small selection of work exhibited in the gallery by NTU FCP2 students.

Thank you to everyone who contributed!

LN-CC London

Visiting London at the beginning of this week, I was keen to explore the diversity of the fashion retail environment. Having written a short piece about the LN-CC concept store whilst working for a magazine over summer, I was intrigued to visit the store in Dalston for myself, to browse the distinguished designer menswear and womenswear collections and peruse the extensive library of books and music.     

It is increasingly important to connect consumers with engaging in-store services and environments, and LN-CC offers a fascinating retail experience. On arrival, the exterior of the building is very unassuming; a plain white door at the end of a small alleyway. Mysterious. Once through the door, the dark stairs down to the store roused anticipation and suspense. Where am I going?! It's the unknown that makes it all the more intriguing.

Image www.ln-cc.com

Once in the store, however, the atmosphere is inviting. Greeted by a friendly assistant there is nothing pretentious about an appointment-only visit. With three rooms of clothing and one room of books and music, the store encompasses an eclectic selection of brands carefully selected from all areas of the product world, and the staff are more than happy to allow visitors to wander around the store in their own time. There is a lot to take in.

Image www.ln-cc.com

Image www.ln-cc.com

My favourite brands included Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Haider Ackermann, Jill Sander, MMM and Yang Li. Housed within an art based installation, the visual merchandising throughout the store is particularly interesting, with each room encapsulating a different mood and evoking different feelings with each space and collection.

Image www.ln-cc.com

LN-CC is a forward thinking retail concept combining the traditional roots of bricks and mortar retailing with a progressive online store. As a non-compromising, unprejudiced and non-exclusive project, the platform prides itself on attention to detail and an evolving point of view. The quality products speak for themselves, and for anyone looking for a unique yet welcoming retail experience, a visit to the store is highly recommended. You'll even get a friendship bracelet if you make a purchase. A nice touch I thought!

All images www.ln-cc.com

TO BE OR NOT TO BE ON FIFTH. Menswear Editorial from Acne Paper #14

'Manhatten- that mythical metropolis, that slim island with the magnificent skyline that rises from the water like a machinery of concrete and steel, glass and glittering lights.'
Thomas Persson/Editor-in-chief and creative director of Acne Paper

There are few other publications I await to purchase so eagerly as the bi-annual Acne Paper magazine. Acne Paper is unique in that each issue offers an in-depth exploration of one key theme from various, often unexpected perspectives. Merging the past and the present, the insightful, though-provoking editorial content exudes a timeless quality; nostalgic yet refreshingly modern.

Issue 14 is a portrait of Manhatten, featuring an eclectic selection of the inspiring people, creative work and diverse cultures which make the city one of the most fascinating, sophisticated places in the world. Having visited Manhatten at the beginning of this year, the issue's dedication to Manhatten is of personal significance to me; my experience of New York gave me a glimpse of the future; of possibilities and opportunities, of inspiration and of success.

New York has been the focus of much news this week due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy; rarely is the powerful city so vulnerable, and my thoughts are with the residents that have been affected by the destruction.

I have chosen to share an exquisite menswear editorial from Acne Paper #14, styled by Mattias Karlsson and photographed by David Armstrong. Named 'TO BE OR NOT TO BE ON FIFTH' the beautiful editorial features model Mathias Lauridsen and captures the essence of a privilaged New York gentleman, exploring the mystery.of the famous Fifth Avenue. Striking, nonchalant and elegant, I am captivated by the story.

All images credited as below:
Editorial- TO BE OR NOT TO BE ON FIFTH, Acne Paper #14
Photographer- David Armstrong
Styling- Mattias karlsson
Model- Mathias Lauridsen

LS:N Global Autumn/Winter Trend Briefing 2012. Faction Marketing

We are constantly evolving, and consequently, our world is changing; technology is advancing, tastes are developing and quality of life is improving. With so much innovation and creativity happening around us, this is an exciting time to be alive.
Studying fashion communication and promotion, I am fascinated by the diverse ways that brands launch marketing campaigns to address their consumers. I am not an expert on marketing or trend forecasting, but attending the insightful LS:N Global autumn/winter 2012 trend briefing presentation yesterday has given me a sense of how and why aspects of the commercial world are changing and how brand innovators are currently adapting their marketing strategies to find increasingly inventive ways of engaging customers.
I found each of the areas that the editor of LS:N covered in the briefing of great interest, but it was an introduction to the concept of faction marketing which really captured my imagination. An amalgamation of fact and fiction, I learnt that faction marketing is emerging as a powerful way of relating fictional stories to real-life products in order to connect brands with consumers on a more emotional level. I’m talking about the creation of storylines which blur the boundary between fantasy and reality to tap into the imagination of the consumer to establish a positive association with a brand or product.
Who thinks up these factional storylines? Marvelists; the name given to the combined role of a marketer and a novelist.  
Of course, the notion of storytelling itself isn’t original; stories have been told since the start of human civilization, stories are how we learn. But this is the point. People are storytellers and consumers respond to fiction and stories. People want to connect with stories, find out what happens at the end, and even be a part of it themselves. What’s notable is the way that fictional storylines are starting to be used as marketing tools, as narrative hooks to reel in consumers. It’s about striking a factual-fictional balance; the brand or product is real, therefore fact must be at the centre of the campaign. But as fact can be made more exciting with fiction, fiction can become more meaningful with fact. 
Fashion brands such as Calvin Klein and Nike have taken a factional marketing approach in recent campaigns and demonstrated that the involving nature of a fictional storyline can be much more emotive and more memorable than other types of marketing. Take Calvin Klein’s interactive digital campaign for its new men’s fragrance and the short film to promote Lady Gaga’s  womenswear Eau de Parfum ‘Fame’. We are accustomed to generic fragrance adverts, yet both of these factional marketing campaigns stand out by portraying dark, mysterious stories which entice the consumer, temporarily immersing them in the fictional fantasy of the story whilst connecting to them to the factual product.

Calvin Klein 'Encounter' Advertising Image

Still from Lady Gaga 'Fame' Promotional Film

Fashion magazines are renowned for creating narratives within their editorial photo shoot sequences, and films and novels remain a major source of consumer entertainment, so it makes sense that brands are using the well-established appeal of fictional storylines and blurring this with fact to produce influential marketing campaigns. Perhaps it’s a comfort thing; a reminder of childhood, or a form of escapism from current austerity, but by constructing fictional stories around genuine products and brands, companies are cleverly tending to our inherent human need for stories whilst fuelling our aspirations and desire for consumption. Manipulative? Yes. But highly effective.
Despite revolutionary changes in the way that we shop, work and live,  basic human instincts remain fundamentally unchanged. What is changing significantly is the way we interact with the world; our expectations of the brands we buy into and the products and services they provide. As consumer expectations continue to increase, brands continue to seek more innovative ways to engage them. In the words of Robert McKee, ‘Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.’ Acknowledging the emergence of faction marketing as an example of this, I’m inclined to agree.

A Glimpse of Maison Martin Margiela with H&M

“We will bring together the contrasting universes of the two houses in ways that will surprise all.” MMM

Producing a mainstream collection for a commercial retail powerhouse like H&M seems quite contradictory for a brand of such niche, fashion cult status as MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA. However, the MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA with H&M collection offers a new interpretation of MMM’s vision of pushing its democratic instinct forward. And opposites attract, don’t they?

Working with one of the most influential fashion houses of the past three decades, it’s no wonder the creative advisor at H&M is excited about this recent collaboration. The launch has been eagerly anticipated by the whole of the fashion world since the partnership was officially announced in June. Fusing concept and creativity with wearability, the essence of the collection reinvents volumes and modifies shapes in line with MMMs signature exploration of deconstruction and transformation, yet with structure and control.

A statement cut-out leather jacket and red draped dress with billowing asymmetrical hem are stand-out pieces of the womeswear collection. The menswear collection is more conservative, offering a range of unique wardrobe staples for Autumn/Winter, as well as a few extra special pieces and statement coats (note the inside-out jacket, belt jacket and fake fur coat par example). The pared-down nonchalance of denim and relaxed winter sweaters juxtaposes crisp white shirts and elegant smoking jackets with a sharp tailored edge. It’s not so much radical, as undeniably covetable.

The collection is due to launch on November 15th 2012 and will be available in 230 stores worldwide and online. It’s sure to be a sell-out!

Written for beige magazine http://www.beigeuk.com/2012/10/a-glimpse-of-maison-martin-margiela-with-hm-collection/

Dolce and Gabbana Alta Moda Couture by Anna Dello Russo for Vogue Japan

As sombre as it is beautiful, 'Once Upon A Time in Sicily' is a mournful yet captivating story which portrays the elegant drama of Dolce & Gabbana in dark, foreboding style.

Art directed by fashion photographer Giampaolo Sgura, and shot by Franceso Parrella, the photo shoot and short film for Vogue Japan are set in stunning Sicilian locations and highlight the exquisite Alta Moda couture collection by Dolce and Gabbana. 

First presented in Taormina, Sicily, in July, the spectacular debut Alta Moda collection is still a talking point months later. Styled by Anna Dello Russo, the delicate black lace, black veils and black organza  worn by flawless, grieving models perfectly capture the spirit of the Sicilian window and create a deeply nostalgic, ancient Italian feel to the shoot. 

Black is the undertone of the story; the melancholy funeral cortege, the emotive black and white imagery and sorrowful music soundtrack are indicative of mourning and loss. However, there is also a sense of serenity in which the timeless beauty and intricate craftsmanship of the clothes enhance the affecting poignancy of the story. 

All photographs from Vogue Japan. Copy and paste the link below to watch the stunning film:


Enjoy and reflect.

Jonathan Saunders Menswear A/W 2012

Having spent the last few days working in London with the amazing, multitalented stylist, creative director and fashion editor of beige magazine Kristine Kilty (told you she was multitalented!) I have developed a new passion for menswear. Menswear collections attracted my attention in June when the first ever London Fashion Week for men took place, and contributing to the menswear fashion section at beige has rejuvenated my interest in menswear collections once again.

Paris Fashion Week has just commenced, but the Jonathan Saunders collection for A/W 2012 is just so good I had to write about it NOW. For beige and for my blog. Enjoy the brief review and selection of look book images below!

Menswear designers have seen the light. Gone are the dark days of autumn/winter menswear synonymous with black and grey; when navy might have be worn at a push and red was considered ‘brave’. Thankfully, colour is now an influential source of inspiration for many menswear designers, with many eye-catching colourful collections emerging for A/W 2012.

Jonathan Saunders first standalone A/W menswear collection presented in Milan exemplifies how vibrant prints and vivid colour can combine to capture the essence of bold yet understated masculinity. Inspired by colours in the 1985 issue of French Vogue guest-edited by David Hockney, Saunders’ modish palette juxtaposes rich autumnal hues and pale pastel shades. Mixing deep claret and ochre with sky blue, chamomile lotion pink and vibrant hints of acid green and yellow may seem audacious; it is. But as Saunders has proved, it’s genius.


Looking to men that wore colour yet appear masculine, the likes of Mick Jagger and George Harrison inspired the retro feel of the collection, and the nostalgic, slim-line silhouettes are largely inspired by the furniture designs of Le Corbusier associate Charlotte Perriand. Although colour and print are the focal point of the collection, cut, shape and tailoring should not be overlooked. From thick woven jumpers and graphic print shirts to quilted bomber jackets and slim pleat trousers, every piece is effortlessly structured and beautifully finished.
Stand out pieces of the collection include a statement coat made from intricate 3D concertina effect fabric and a mélange suit tailored in a mottled style weave pattern that your eyes can’t help but to be attracted to. Experimental but ultimately wearable, this is a collection that every man will want to wear.