Exploring eight decades of Dior and the man himself at this stylish exhibition.
Without a doubt, Christian Dior is one of the most important designers in women’s fashion. Launching his label in 1947, he transformed ladieswear with the ‘New Look’, among many more stunning designs. I’ve visited several fashion exhibitions in the past, but my ultimate design house to see was Christian Dior. As you may have read, the tickets were a huge hit and sold out immediately, prompting the V&A to extend opening hours. A friend and I managed to get tickets recently to a late Sunday evening opening and ending up spending about three and a half hours in fashion heaven.
The exhibition not only explores the story of the man himself and his path to establishing the worldwide brand, but also follows his successors, including Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and the current creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri. While there is something very ‘Dior’ throughout the company’s fashions, each designer has their own signature look they bring to their label.
Designer of Dreams starts with the French designer’s early life, growing up in a wealthy family and residing in Paris and Normandy. A display shows artefacts from the young Dior’s youth and creative beginnings, from running an art gallery to becoming an apprentice to fashion designer Robert Piguet. With Europe recovering from World War II, women were tired and weary of wartime fashion so were ripe for Dior’s ‘New Look’. Establishing his eponoymous fashion label in 1946, he stood out for giving women shape and silhouettes – a contrast to the boxy, plain designs which were synonymous at the time. One of the first designs you see in the exhibition is the iconic ‘New Look’: the Bar Suit and Hat, a silk, wool and taffeta ensemble of a structured jacket and full skirt. Being a fan of Netflix’s The Crown and its fashions, it was great to see the silk, couture gown designed for Princess Margaret’s 21st birthday portrait in 1951.
The initial rooms of Designer of Dreams were focused on Dior’s realm at his label, with gorgeous dress upon gorgeous dress. The lighting and layout was very effective at highlighting the detail and complementing the aesthetic of the fashions. Following the designer’s death at just 52 in 1957, his young protégée Yves Saint Laurent was appointed artistic director at the tender age of 21. While trying to keep that signature Dior look, YSL embraced a more softer and wearable style. However, YSL didn’t stay long at Dior and moved on in 1960 after just six collections. As a result, there is an understandably small amount of YSL creations in the exhibition. Read the rest of this entry
It’s time to kick off the new festival season and you don’t even have to worry about leaving London. This May, Carnaby are hosting a free, four-day festival celebrating fashion, lifestyle, food, drink and grooming. The Carnaby Style Weekender takes place on 10 – 13 May 2018, featuring a host of workshops, panel discussions and special events. There will be the chance to enjoy exclusive discounts and promotions in over 50 boutiques, bars and restaurants across the district’s 14 streets.
Model Jack McGuinness kicks off the Weekender on Thursday 10 May (6pm-8pm) with an exclusive fashion panel, featuring sartorial tips and where to find the best buys. Aspiring fashionistas can find how to get started in the industry in a talk hosted by independent Carnaby business owners James Scroggs of M.C. Overalls and Dane Butler of FINLAY London on Friday 11 May (6pm-7pm).
There will plenty of opportunities to update your look, including complimentary men’s haircuts from Pankhurst London. Ben Sherman and New Era hats will be offering complimentary monogramming and embroidery. You can also personalise a pair of the new Onitsuka Tiger trainers. Meanwhile, Nixon have created two limited-edition custom watches with only 20 available for sale. During the event, there will be exclusive discounts across the Carnaby brands, including Jack Wills, Pretty Green, Dr. Martens, OFFICE, Shinola, TOMS, Lazy Oaf and Skinnydip.
Ladies can head for a pamper with Urban Decay and Pixi offering free consultations and makeovers. Those who book in for a Detox Pedi at Cowshed can receive a complimentary Neville Travel Set, while Johnny’s Chop Shop will be marking their second birthday with live music and drinks on 10 May.
Throughout the Weekender, head to the Carnaby hub daily to try the free afternoon and evening workshops. Watch a carving demonstration in a Jamon Iberico masterclass at Charcuterie and tapas bar Dehesa. Make a collage with London’s unique souvenir store We Built This City and Collage Club London. Meanwhile, tequila lovers can learn how to make the perfect Margarita in a cocktail masterclass at Breddos Tacos’ bar. Pastaio are offering free Prosecco slushies with food orders after 9pm, while Senor Ceviche will be offering Peruvian Old Fashioneds for just £5. Wright Brothers Soho will be selling oysters for £1 each from 12pm-6pm.
- The Carnaby Style Weekender takes place from 10 – 13 May 2018. In the Carnaby Quarter on and surrounding Carnaby Street, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. To find out more about the weekender, visit the Carnaby London website or to book a spot on the workshops or talks, click here.
For a guide to what’s on in London in May, click here.
Soho is known for being the home to London’s creative, fashionable and flamboyant. So the area is the perfect location for a new pop-up concept. Setting up camp for four days this April will be Mrs And Mr Bateman, an art, fashion and interiors installation. Taking over the Victorian-fronted premises of 15 Bateman Street, The Batemans will transform the space into their ‘home’ for inspiration, discussions and shopping.
Mrs and Mr Bateman (note the Mrs appears first!) is a new project from three talented women – artist Selena Beaudry, vintage fashion dealer Clemmie Myers, and interior designer Natalie Tredgett. They have created the home of the fictitious Mrs and Mr Bateman, which is open to the public.
Throughout the four-day long house-warming, there will be plenty of creative opportunities for learning and inspiration. Events such as a panel discussion on creatives and their different processes, how social media and technology can be a good or bad thing for creativity, and how other art informs their work. There will also be an immersive creative writing evening (27 April, 6.30pm-8.30pm). Parents will be able to watch their children learn new skills (28 April, 11am-2pm), including hat-making classes with milliner Jess Collett, while Clemmie will be creating a fancy dress box for fantastical fun.
Art fans will have plenty to gaze upon, with Selena creating a wall installation specially for the show. Meanwhile, artists and makers from Europe and the US will be featured, including Barrie Benson, Jess Collett, Frederike von Cranach, Phil Goss, Iva Gueorguieva, Daniel Hernandez, Marie Jacotey, John-Paul Pietrus, James Shaw, Margit Wittig, Ian Vail and Bari Ziperstein.
Fashionistas will be able to check out Clemmie’s curation of vintage clothing throughout the home. She has also customised several pieces for the installation, as well as setting up a boudoir for guests to try on the Bateman wardrobe. Throughout the home will be the striking decoration by Natalie, featuring vignettes that celebrate objects as art. She will demonstrate her signature use of colour, pattern play and an amalgamation of old and new to fit the vibe of the Batemans.
The installation will kick of with an opening party on 25 April 2018 (6.30pm-8.30pm), with a multi-sensory experience from DJ Henri.
- Mrs and Mr Bateman is open from 25 – 28 April 2018. Open to the general public: 10am-6pm. Mrs and Mr Bateman, 15 Bateman Street, Soho, W1D 3AQ. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road. Check out the Mrs and Mr Bateman website.
- 2019 UPDATE: Mrs and Mr Bateman is at 2 Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill, W11 1NN, nearest station: Ladbroke Grove. 26 April – 11 May 2019.
London Fashion Week isn’t just for the high movers and shakers of the fashion industry. This month, you can get your piece of the stylish action at Carnaby London. Just a short walk from the Brewer Street hub of LFW, the shops, bars and restaurants will be taking part with a host of on-trend activities and offers.
Grazia magazine’s fashion and beauty team are relocating to Carnaby Street to produce their ‘Live from London’ issue. Visitors can enjoy free industry talks, fashion charts, lifestyle workshops. Stylish shoppers can strike a pose for the Grazia Style Hunters’ cameras and will have the chance to win a £200 goodie bag.
A giant screen on Carnaby Street will give you the chance to sit on the FROW with live streaming of the hottest LFW shows. Among the catwalk coverage will be brands including Burberry, Peter Pilotto, JW Anderson and Roksanda. Carnaby Flash Sales will also appear on the big screen so you can get on-trend.
The Carnaby Pamper-Van will set up camp on Ganton Street in the Newburgh Quarter with complimentary fashion and beauty services, including;
- Friday 16 September
12-4pm: The Braid Bar. London’s hottest braiders will instantly re-fresh your look.
5-7pm: Illamasqua. Carnaby’s make up brand will offer their Express Yourself service. Take a polaroid snap before you leave and visit their store throughout the week for live beauty demos for their new A/W collection.
- Saturday 17 September
12-4pm: The Kaleidoscope Girls. Glitter up with this sparkling collective fresh from summer’s festival scene.
- Sunday 18 September
12-4pm: Colour Riot Nails. These creative artists will complete your new season look with pop art nail designs.
5–7pm: Benefit. Carnaby’s beauty brand will host a brow masterclass and touch up service.
- Monday 19 September
12-4pm: Hand & Lock. Get personal and monogram your Carnaby tote bag.
5-7pm: Pixi. Give your skin some TLC mini treatments and make-up tips.
- Tuesday 20 September
Have a bespoke fashion sketch drawn of yourself from the creative illustrators.
Meanwhile, other offers and experiences include customise your jeans at Pepe Jeans, personalised a pair of painted Superga trainers, customise your cap at New Era and emboss your Shinola journal. Office, Evisu and Sweaty Betty will be offering 20% off, while Havaianas will be knocking 30% off the price. Cowshed will be offering complimentary body lotion with purchases over £18, while Triyoga are offering 1 weeks of unlimited yoga for £30.
Party at Paul Smith with a live DJ and drinks between 12-3pm on 17 September, while Diesel will host a pop-up bar on 16 and 17 September between 5-7pm. Wrights Brothers Soho have curated an exclusive Fashion Week menu of Dressed Oysters and Champagne, while Señor Ceviche have created a stylish new champagne cocktail.
- London Fashion Week at Carnaby London takes place from 16 – 20 September 2016. Events take place in the Carnaby London area, including Kingly Court and the Newburgh Quarter. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in September, click here.
Hard Rock Cafe are internationally renowned for their all-American cuisine… and their stunning collection of pop and rock memorabilia. With the original Hard Rock Cafe in London celebrating their 45th birthday this year, what better way to mark it than to bring some of the chain’s best rock couture to the city where it all began.
Starting this winter, Hard Rock Cafe are bringing their unique fashion collection to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! for a special exhibition. ‘Hard Rock Couture’ will feature striking items worn by pop legends from past and present, including Elvis Presley, Madonna, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney and more. Among the items on show includes a feathered Dior jacket worn by The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers, a yellow coat worn by Madonna in Dick Tracy and McCartney’s suit made by The Beatles’ tailor.
Narissa O’Moore, Hard Rock’s European Marketing Manager said: ‘This is the first of many exciting activities we have planned to celebrate 45 years of Hard Rock. We scoured our 78,000 piece collection to pull together a collection that will truly wow our guests. The collection showcases a unique part of music and indeed fashion history and gives fans an opportunity to see that history first-hand.’
- Hard Rock Couture will be on display at the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not from 3 February – 15 June 2016. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, 1 Piccadilly Circus, Soho, W1J 0DA. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus. Free entry to exhibition with all Ripley’s tickets. To book tickets in advance and save up to 25%, visit Ripleys London website.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
There’s no shortage of shops selling London paraphernalia, but how much of it is actually any good? There must be 100s of thousands, if not millions of tourists who have brought home a tacky product saying ‘Made In China’… so not very British at all! In the run up to Christmas, a new pop-up shop is set to change all that by selling London souvenirs made by homegrown talent.
Located on Soho’s iconic Carnaby Street, We Built This City is a new pop-up selling a unique collection of London gifts, accessories, ceramics and art prints from British artists and designers ranging from £3 to £200. The store will appeal to Londoners and international visitors alike, with products such as London Postcards from Sir Peter Blake, skyline ceramics by Cecily Vessey, exotic London globes by Kristjana S Williams, Gherkin cushions by Charlene Mullen, London Willow pattern teacups from We Love Kaoru and Literary London prints by Run For The Hills.
As well as selling souvenirs and gifts people will actually want, We Built This City will also host events and workshops in their ‘art grotto’ basement. Events will include London Gin Masterclasses from Shake Rattle and Stir, an Arty Party with Made in Arts London, Christmas wreath-making and ceramic up-cycling with The Indytute and an evening of new London-inspired Christmas hits from St Etienne.
- We Built This City is open from now until 10 January 2015. Located at 11-12 Carnaby Street, Soho, W1F 9PQ. Opening hours: Mon-Weds: 10am–7pm, Thurs–Sat: 10am–8pm and Sun: 11am–6pm. Nearest tube: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the We Built This City website.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
To read about another Soho pop-up shop, Gods Own Junkyard, click here.
For a guide to Christmas markets and fairs in London, click here.
The real story behind the CC logo on Westminster’s street lights.
Anyone observant who has walked around the City of Westminster may have noticed the gold CC initials embossed on some of the lampposts. With the two Cs back-to-back, the first association that would spring to mind would be Coco Chanel’s iconic logo. Decades after the French designer was the talk of the town, her brand is still a big name internationally, synonymous with classic style and quality.
For years, there has been a myth that the initials actually are in homage to Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel (1883-1971) as a declaration of affection from her lover, the Duke of Westminster, Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor (1879-1953). The pair were said to have met at a party in Monaco sometime between 1923 and 1925 and embarked on a love affair until the early ’30s. Although French and known for her long association with Paris, Gabrielle spent a lot of time in London during the ’20s and opened her Mayfair boutique in 1927.
To prove his love for her, the myth claims the Duke had his French lover’s initials CC embossed in gold on black lampposts alongside his own ornate W crest (for Westminster). Decades after their romance, Coco herself denied reports she had refused the Duke’s proposal with the reply: ‘There have been many Duchesses of Westminster, but only one Coco Chanel.’ She said such a response would have been ‘vulgar’, adding: ‘He would have laughed in my face.’ However, he did buy her some land at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the French Riviera, where she built her villa La Pausa.
What does the CC on Westminster lampposts mean?
While the lampposts appearing to combine French fashion and traditional British design remain on many Westminster streets, it appears the CCs may not have such a romantic origin after all. Westminster Council told the Telegraph in 2011 that the CC stands for something far less glamorous. Martin Low, City Commissioner of Transportation for Westminster City Council, told the paper: ‘Periodically, we get calls from the fashion press asking if the double Cs on our lampposts stand for Coco Chanel. It’s a nice idea, but no. The fancy W stands for Westminster and the two Cs stand for City Council. The lampposts didn’t actually get installed until the 1950s.’
Check out more of Metro Girl’s history posts.
Like most women, I love shoes and have a range of heels, many impractical, which sadly spend more time in their shoe boxs than on my feet.
French designer Christian Louboutin has been creating shoes for 20 years, but it is really in the past few years, that his brand has really come to the fore and has been attracting more column inches and A-list feet than rivals Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo.
With his current collection retailing between £375 and £3,795 on Net-A-Porter, I admit I’m not a regular customer of Louboutin’s gems, but have come to be a fan of his sleek curved footwear and that famous red sole.
So when Louboutin decided to do an exhibition of his designs at London’s Design Museum (1 May – 9 July 2012), I knew I had to go. Turns out I wasn’t the only one. Unsurprisingly, the exhibition has proved a huge draw for the Museum, located a stone’s throw from Tower Bridge on Shad Thames. The two-month exhibition actually broke records for the compact museum’s attendance, attracting on average 910 visitors a day.
The display rooms for the exhibition have been transformed into a dark, neon-lit pleasure palace of footwear with lots of lights and colours to stimulate the mind. The glamorous setting perfectly complemented some of the more theatrical heels on show. Dotted around the rooms were 200 shoes – predominantly heels, but also boots, trainers and loafers – with the year and season of their debut. Any fashionistas or celeb-watchers will indeed recognise many of the shoes from red carpet photos of the stars.
One of my favourite shoes on show were the ballet point heels, which Louboutin has described as ‘the ultimate heel’. The simple nude ballerina pump was transformed with a red sole and eight-inch heel – only the most experienced ballerinas would dare wear these! He said: ‘The heel which makes dancers closer than any other women to the sky, closer to heaven.’
As well as being a retrospective of Louboutin’s two decades of shoe-making, the exhibition also gives us a look at Louboutin the man, where he came from and what inspired him. Having started out his career at the Folies Bergère nightclub in Paris in the early ’80s, he used to draw shoes for the dancers, before starting an apprenticeship with Parisien footwear brand Charles Jourdan, before going on to work for Roger Vivier, his mentor.
Interestingly, Louboutin always designs his Autumn/Winter collection in a cold climate – often retiring to his château in rural France – but then jetting south to hot Egypt to create his Spring/Summer collection. He says one of the most important things to him when designing shoes is that the lines and curves are correct. Louboutin has said of the exhibition: ‘It’s been a real pleasure to see a lot of my “babies” featured all together for the first time. It’s not only an entire collection of shoes that I saw there but for me a huge collection of souvenirs, precious moments, and very rarely sorrows.’
Although he admits his shoes aren’t always comfortable, many requiring a taxi or limousine ride directly to the door of wherever the wearer is going, his Fetish collection goes to extremes. It is more art than anything else. A separate dark room features Louboutin’s most eccentric creations yet – a small collection of heels which would require the wearer to be in a lot of discomfort to wear them or unable to stand. The shoes, protected under bell jars, are accompanied by striking photography of nude models wearing them, taken by acclaimed auteur David Lynch.
The centrepiece of the exhibition is the 3D hologram performance by burlesque artiste Dita Von Teese, in a pair of Louboutins of course. Visitors to the museum come to a standstill as ‘Dita’ showcases her moves in front of a centrepiece of the most glamorous showgirl heels from Louboutin’s archives.
Overall, the vivid and colourful exhibition is a feast for the eyes for any woman – or man- with a shoe fetish… or just a simple appreciation for beauty. Now I’m off to start up a Louboutin savings account so I can expand my footwear collection…
- Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames, Bermondsey, SE1 2YD. Nearest stations: London Bridge, Tower Hill or Bermondsey.
N.B.: As photography wasn’t allowed in the actual exhibition (the photos in this blog were taken in the stairwell leading up to it), here’s a video of the exhibition by the Design Museum…