Monday, March 28, 2005

No Need for Cyber-geishas on Runways

Some things just sell themselves. They don't need stick insect models on podiums, to show off the beauty of the collections. Classic bags for example sell themselves. In particular, we're certain the world has much more yet to offer, in terms of classic bags. We're big lovers - and purchasers - of bags, but only when it comes to real gems that will last a long time. In recent days we've seen Balenciaga's mater piece the "Motor cycle saddle" and the "Giselle" bag from Luella. These bags are already classics, and they will most certainly outlive most of us. Pretty much like their predecessors have done from another era: Gucci's "Jackie", Hermes' "Birkin", Louis Vuitton's "Noe", and now Mulberry's "Roxanne" have become covetable fashion classics.

Found recently, and arguably up there with the rest is Belen Echandia’s collection. Her selection of soft Italian leather bags and accessories are absolutely wonderful. As passionate lovers of sizeable bags, we always end up walking out the shop doors with new big, generous bags. Big bags to keep tons of important things in – that’s the name of the game. And Belen Echandia offers this in an amazing colour range from cool ice cream to vibrant fuchsia. Pictured below is Aqua green leather from this collection.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Super Markets

One of many wonderful shopping spots for fashionistas are markets. But just like anything else, you need to know which one to go to as most markets are - let’s be honest - filled with debris. London has its Portobello, Kensington and Camden Lock. These are fabulous spots to go to. And perfect for those of us who want to increase some of that boho collection we’ve ended up with. You can with no difficulty spend whole days in these places. In Madrid you get brilliant El Rastro and in Bangkok there’s Chatuchak market. Hong Kong has its Kowloon night market.

Over in our part of the world, we get tons of markets. And trust us, most of them are not worth the visit. This time, completely out of sheer luck, we ended up in Milsons Point market on Easter Saturday. The weather was glorious; people were in such good Easter spirit, happily chatting away to anybody that would walk past. Food was great. We spotted the usual market debris of course, but a lot of more valuable things. Our favourite stall was selling Sarah-Jane clothing. Sarah-Jane is a Sydney based designer, describing her own collection as “Bohemian chic, up-market hippy”. There was a huge sale of her designs. Most things <Ed: most likely off the back of a truck> had reductions of up to 90%. Our pick of the day was a stunning pure silk, ankle length dress. It was black and had beads and sequins hand embroidered into the neckline. With the price, 35 AUD and a reduction from 239 AUD (the price tag was still on), we couldn’t let this one go (view some of the dresses similar to this one here). “Him indoors” ended up with a few pairs of good quality socks from Ralph Lauren. In all a very lovely way to spend an Easter Saturday, resulting in more fantastic investments to compliment the rest of our collection.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Ho Down

It's easy to fall in love with a lot of fashion designers work. Lisa Ho's collections are no exception. We simply loved her work from the first moment we saw it. The divine, floaty summer dresses from her spring/summer 2005 collection are absolutely stunning; the dresses are perfect for a posh evening out.

Growing up in a one horse town in Australia, Lisa Ho began sewing at the age of 4, inspired by her grand mother. Today, Lisa has been in the business for the past 22 years and employs 70 staff, not including outworkers, who man 11 signature stores and head office. Her label is also stocked in more than 250 boutiques world¬wide and one soon to be opened in Los Angeles. Lisa is a mother of three, and one would think this would take up all her time, but her work evidently shows that she is a much focused career woman. Her driving force is 'being able to work on beautiful things and make people feel good in the clothing'. And, this is obvious from our favourites below.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

P O U R - The Launch Party

Hurdie-Gurdie-Burdie-Gurdie...Yes, these were the words that could be recognised on Tuesday evening at Swedish label P O U R's launch party at Spacejunk, right in the centre of funky fashion district Darlinghurst, Sydney. It was a great evening with delicious fruit cocktails, and a perfect, flashy showroom for the event. The cosy boutique was filled with a mass of international designers & clientele. And here is our exclusive interview with the Executive distributor of the label, Mattias Friberg at Feber Distribution.

coolchiq: What has your fashion label achieved since it's beginning?
P O U R: Including this most recent one, P O U R has launched 8 collections.

coolchiq: The company logo is an X, does this symbol have a particular significance?
P O U R: The designer Robert Berggren, has a special passion for crucifixes, hence the well known logo on most garments. It's a clear brand recognition that makes it easy to find the design and the label.

coolchiq: What are the potential clients for P O U R in Australia?
P O U R:
The age group is of no significance. The label is most likely to appeal to romantic outsiders, who are looking for basic clothing with a bit of an edge. Key indicators are the mix of a bohemian look with a sophisticated attitude. Jackets with jeans and chinos are components of the most important garments. The mix of silver and leather accessories, in combination with the garments gives the collection its real attitude. The big inspiration for P O U R, the Beatnik Generation, had a strong personality. P O U R's customers are likely to have the same personality.

coolchiq: What is the label's success in other countries and what is the potential future of the business in Australia?
P O U R: With the extremely well cut design and fine quality, P O U R has been recognized as a high quality mainstream label in Europe. Australia and New Zealand are countries that are in desperate need for a brand like P O U R. I'm hoping for the same response that we've received in Europe so far.

coolchiq: Finally, what could Swedish design contribute to in Australia?
P O U R:
Fine quality and well cut design, where details on the garments make the items attractive and give that little bit extra nuance.

"...P O U R was from the start set out to be a collection of our favourite clothes, stuff we would want to wear year after year. The garments seem to be simple classic, grey sweatshirts, chinos, pinstriped suits, army knits or drainpipes, but with a somewhat bolder cut and attitude. Still based in Swedish textile soil, P O U R now presents its 8th collection. In 2003, P O U R was awarded one of the fashion awards of Swedish lifestyle magazine Café and is today distributed all over Europe.

The collections are inspired by romantic outsiders, strong characters who have followed their conviction, no matter what, such as Nick Drake, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Jackson Pollock. The inspiration comes mainly from the era of the Beatnik generation. "On the road" by Jack Kerouac, is all time favourite book of the designer Robert Berggren. Books about the art tattooing is another source of inspiration for this collection. Robert collects tattoos, as well as crucifixes. And the symbol of P O U R can be seen as a concreted cross, but also resembles a "spread eagle". P O U R is not a logo driven brand. It's all about the fit, the perfection of details in the cut..."
Below is a picture from the event. View more their selection of images here.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Stylish Investers

Company uniforms are usually about blending in. In our view, they are often associated with in-expensive looking, ill fitted designs, usually with the purpose of featuring the company’s logo only; nothing else. Thankfully, the leading business people of today seem to realise the value of style, and they are now taking a step further in this direction. All of a sudden, companies with a very customer focused business - air lines in particular - are buying into the idea of the hidden investments that may come in this change of approach. The trend is to invest in cool designs for employees in order to strengthen the company image.

When fashion designers get in on this act, we see stunning results. Richard Tyler did a terrific job in the creation of Delta Air Line’s costumes not long ago. View some of the out fits and our review of this here. Australian designer Morrissey’s work for Qantas Air Line has been truly unique with aboriginal prints on shiny silk dresses. The outfits are also very well tailored and they look a billion dollars. His outfits for Qantas have been a great representation for the company, as well as for Australia. As of next year, Air New Zealand staff will be decked out in uniforms designed by the New Zealand label Zambesi. The collection for this, is in black and grey with discreet details, cropped jackets and pencil trousers. Although you can see that a lot of work has gone into the design, it is still very low key and fits in perfectly in the cabin. To finish this off, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia have assigned Lisa Ho to come up with a company outfit. This will surely be a tremendous face lift from the usual bank manager outfits, as Lisa Ho has done some absolutely stunning work in the past. More of Lisa Ho’s designs will be published here soon.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

New Pop Stars

Another Juicy Tube competitor has been released! Yes, we can't wait to test Estee Lauder's Pure Pops Brush-on Colour Gloss. The lip gloss is available in ten different candy looking colours, according to the rumours, all deliciously scented and berry flavoured. Lancome's Juicy Tube has been around for three years now, but still to this day, there are not many lip glosses that have managed to over power Lancome's miraculous gloss since the release. An interesting move from Estee Lauder, even more so if the result is really impressive.

Update 2005-03-23: The lipgloss is not as thick and much less sticky than Juicy Tube. We found that Estee Lauder's Gloss wore off almost immediately. In addition to this, the gloss transformed into a clear, see through surface, no matter what colour we tried; un-impressive. Lancome's Juicy Tube still keeps its "Number One position" in this category.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Well Done Milla!

Milla Jovovich is one talented chiq in many ways. We’ve reported earlier about Milla's own fashion label Jovovich-Hawk. And finally we’re one step closer to the interesting creations of Ms Jovovich’s design. The label is now opening up their first store, due to be located in Greenwich Village, New York. We can nothing but congratulate the New York ladies and wish we had some business over in that area in the near future.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Josh Goot Wins The Tiffany Award

The L’Oréal Fashion Festival in Melbourne has not just been concentrating on runways. As mentioned before, it’s a diversified event that is holding many different activities such as work shops, business forums, and art exhibitions. One interesting theme, due to commence on Sunday this week, is “In conversation with Akira” (Akira Isogawa) where we get to take part of how the work of his exhibition behind Printemps – Été came into shape. Read more about the exhibition here.

The Tiffany Award has also been part of this week’s event. This prestigious annual Designer Award - of which past recipients include Toni Maticevski and the label Mad Cortes and Claude Maus - was nominating 6 designers. The award aims to recognise and support designers who are making a profound impact on the fashion industry in Australia. The motto “good design is good business” says it all. Josh Goot was this year’s winner. He describes his creations as “My range is about tailored comfort, ease and versatility. You can wear my clothes dry cleaned, machine washed, pressed or crumpled….” The other finalists were Alice McCall, Arabella Ramsay, Rebecca Dawson, Camilla and Marc, and Material by-Product. So, if we’re not familiar with Josh Goot’s work by now, then we better start looking out for his designs in the shops!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

And More Swedes...

Yes, we know - Swedish this, Swedish that… But we’re on a roll now, so we might as well continue. Funkis, another Swedish company are introducing themselves to the Ozzies. Funkis is a label more commonly known for it’s specialism in textile and patterns. It's used more often in furniture design, rather than in the fashion industry. Should you be in the Sydney area until 28 March, our recommendation is to get down to the Stand Arcade 412-414 George Street, and enjoy the texiles and accessories. Simply be there or be square.

Swedish label POUR may not be as poor as the name suggests. Because this label is welcoming us to a launch party on 22 March at Space Junk. Hurrayyyy!

The Swedish Style in Melbourne

Runways don't necessarily have to be associated with glamorous, stiff models, swanning up and down the podium in gala evening dresses. The shows can also be presented as though you're just coming out from the gym, running for the bus, or as if you're heading down town for your weekly shopping spree. The real story behind this week's Melbourne Fashion Festival is the industry that hangs off it. The prime focus of the show is the consumers; the second is the designers. We've had a look at the "Swedish Style" selection, as it's formally called. The introduction to some of these designers and labels, was published here not long ago. Maria Westerlind and NYS (no website found) showed some colourful numbers. The style is all tongue-in-cheek, a bit retro, very 60's inspired to be precise, yet at the same time modern with new cuts, patterns and combination of colours. Pale pastels with contrasting bright accessories are something that always work, and they were also a common theme for this event. In all, very attractive for younger customers, perhaps less suitable for more mature women. The rest of the pictures from this show can be obtained here - Enjoy!

Below: The two girls to the left, Maria Westerlind. To the right, NYS.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Strappy Sandals

Flip flops - we see them every where, at any time, it's seems like the footwear, whatever the occasion may be. The backpackers live in them, the bus drivers wear them, the waitress serves our food in them, we've even seen alternative business men in dread locks wearing them.

Understandably in a hot country it's ideal, but there's so many other gorgeous flat shoes that could be slipped onto our feet. Needless to say, we're no fans of flip flops. The type of shoe we do love, however, are strappy sandals. And luckily enough, there's tons of them around. We simply cannot get enough of them at the moment, a few of our favourites are presented below.

Michael Kors showed some fantastic sandals in his spring 2005 collection. His sandals are our favourite of them all. Casadei 1195 are dream shoes - vailable in both white or gold. The Guantanamera sandals, available at Anthropologie are muy stylish and simple. We'd imagine they would turn any pair of jeans into the hottest outfit. The Guiseppe Zanotti sandals are fabulous looking too. And check out Belle sandals by Sigerson Morrison , they are not to be missed. (Thank you Moca, coolchiq of BrownSevenTwelve!)

Below: Guiseppe Zanotti, Sigerson Morrison and Guantanamera sandals.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Swedes Are Coming To Town

We get a bit sentimental sometimes. It's moments finding that there will be a particular Swedish launch section in Australia, that makes it all very special. Part of L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival is holding this theme, and it will be exciting to follow the labels success in this country.

Nudie is one of the first Swedish labels that will be represented. If you love denim, this is the make to look out for. Not only do they have a great selection of jeans in different styles and colours/washes, but there's also a guide on how to look after your jeans. And as if this wasn't enough, you'll be getting good karma as the company sends a share of every t-shirt sold to Amnesty International.

Denimbirds is a sister company to Nudie, producing ladies wear only. With denim being the main theme, the label has a funky selection of tops, dresses, and skirts. Go check out the Birds Allover skirt if you feel you want to be particularly cute! With it's 23 retailers in Australia, it's amazing to see that there is such a big market already. keep their products in stock for on line shopping.

Efva Attling is another Swedish designer, who trades under her own name. The company focuses on jewellery, but has also delivered a gorgeous selection of eye wear and stylish watches. A daring off-shoot of her niche most recently, was to produce a selection of fancy dog collars (woof).

Maria Westerlind is a fairly young fashion designer, but with an amazing designer-family history behind her. Her company has been in the business since 2003. Maria Westerlind's collection is best described as casual and unique, with tons of vibrant patterns and colours. The garments simply ooze attitude. We're no big fans of this type of style, as we tend to settle for more subtle classics. But, having said that, it's very refreshing to see a selection of clothes, where each garment has its own very unique style.

Below: Jeans from Denimbirds, Model "Birds Tight"

Friday, March 11, 2005

Diffusion Lines FYI

What are they? In an expensive world of fashion, the grim reality is that we usually can’t afford the things that we really want. But diffusion lines make our days a little bit less painful. They are sub-brands created by designers in order to capture more of the market share. They’re for those who want to wear Giorgio Armani, but can’t quite afford to splurge on the real deal. And these cheaper lines are cleverly price-pointed in a way that, designers hope won’t dilute the prestige of the brand.

Who’s doing it? Everyone from Marc Jacobs to Vivienne Westwood. In Australia we’ve come across Ho by Lisa Ho, Sylvester by Kate Sylvester, and Cooper by Trelise Cooper. There’s also Akira Isogawa, who launched his diffusion line Akira Red in 2003. Wayne Cooper is another interesting designer who has followed the lead in this direction.

What’s the future for these offshoots? By the looks of things, the market is exploding with these off-brands! Just recently, Target in America have assigned Isaac Mizrahi to create a line of affordable yet stylish clothes. Karl Lagerfeld’s work with H&M is another famous story. Isn't it a wonderful relief to know that when we’ve maxed out our credit card limit by spending it all on top notch designer gear, we can actually make huge savings when taking home any of these offshoot labels?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

If You've Not Booked It Already....

The runway shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris are all over for this season, but there's no need to get upset; there are tons more activities lined up. The most important one, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, (16th - 20th March), is held as usual for the lucky Californians in Los Angeles. And if you're an Ozzie girl (or a Swede in Oz), there's L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, as reported earlier. For the Spanish Goddesses, Gaudi Fashion Week in Barcelona should be the event to be at (19th - 22nd March). And for the Canadian chiqs, the Toronto Fashion Week is the place of interest (14th- 19th March). Until then, you can always rest your eyes on these Jimmy Choo wedges, available at Net-a-Porter...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Frida Giannini for Gucci

A few hours ago it was announced; Alessandra Facchinetti has left Gucci. [Rumours say that Alessandra Facchinetti is leaving the company after a disagreement with management.] Since she was assigned the role as Creative Director of the womenswear division 2 seasons ago, the company has not by far received the usual rave reviews as they have done in the past. Facchinetti may have had a tough job succeeding Tom Ford, but this has simply not been a good enough excuse for the company's loss in the womens line. Gucci has been relying upon the accessories revenue, covering as much as 80% of the company sales - much in the credit of Frida Giannini’s work. Giannini is the amazing brain behind the accessories line, and she has now been offered to take on the full responsibility of the women’s ready to wear collection. The 33 year old Roman girl was working for Fendi for 6 years before joining Gucci, and got excellent references from her time there. Her experience clearly shows off in her work today. And not only is Giannini a brilliant bags, shoes and belts designer, she is also a mad collector of original vinyl records and has a vast quantity of 7000 lp’s! Now, that's what a true coolchiq does in her spare time...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival

Between 14th and 20th March, L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, known here as LMFF, will be on. The fashion festival will be a glamorous venue with an introduction to 80 of Australia's fashion designers, and lots of other events too. With 2005 being the 9th year the festival is held, the program includes runway shows, business forums, performances, art exhibitions, film screenings, retail events and glamorous parties. We look forward to the venue, though we're not able to attend. But we can guarantee that some immediate reports on the shows will be published directly from our location.

The LMFF 2005 image that has been created specially for this event, has been inspired by George Stubbs' original painting from 1765, A lion attacking a horse. The painting is available at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Bye-Bye Jet Lag

Jet lag is the evil curse of modern travel, but there are ways to get round this just like anything else. You can easily adopt a few strategies, and your flight journey will be like an upgrade from budget to business class.

The first and foremost key is to ditch the free wine on the plane and drink tons of water instead. You’re body gets totally dehydrated when flying, as you’re breathing fake, recycled air. We’re suffering badly from jet lag (yes, we don’t always practise what we preach…), so we thought we’d better ease the problems prior to the flight journey. Not long ago, Anna got us inspired on her advice on Nina Ricci’s long haul flight spray. Unfortunately the product wasn’t available, so our next pick was Clinique’s “Moisture Surge Face Spray” and “Moisture Surge Extra cream”. Both products are wonderful to use, but the spray was particularly nice in the cabin. So what other products are good for this scenario? Molton Brown’s Eye Cool Eye Rescue is working miracles on puffy, stressed eyes. This cooling cream-gel contains marine extract to soothe the delicate eye area. As a bonus, this cream can be used under or over cosmetics. L’occitane have a fabulous selection of general beauty and skin care products. Their Magic Eye Balm is another option that improves on puffiness and dark circles. The eye area looks instantly rested and luminous. Moving on, we can only imagine that Elisabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream need no further presentation. This cream has become an icon in each womans hand bag, up there with Juicy Tube and the rest... Eye compressors/patches are something that is easy to bring on to the plane. And as soon as you’re finished with one, you throw it away. Guerlain’s Hydrogel Eye Contour Patches are rated the best on the market. Origin’s Sleep Perchance and Sleep Time will encourage a quick sleep, immensely valued if your on a long haul flight. Look out for products containing Lavender, Geranium and Tea Tree essential oils as these ingredients are brilliant to relax muscles and relieve stress. Finally, move your body regularly. Take a walk up and down the aisles, and do some neck and ankle rotations. You want to be running up and down the mean shopping streets on arrival ASAP, so you better take note of this...

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Vamos A La Playa

When we're not Koala stroking, kangaroo watching, or VB/Chardonnay drinking, we're over shopping, over eating and over heating. But there's pretty much just one more activity left after this; super bronzing. And what do we need to help us do this? Exactly... Some super amazing beach gear is the only answer. We've already found our favourite beachwear store in Sydney - Beach Culture at George Street. This shop has a truly excellent selection of anything that is vaguely beach related. Our first recommendation is the label Jets. This company has an extraordinary collection out at the moment. Jets do not do the usual sporty-but-jolly-good type of beach wear, which is why we particularly like their stuff. The items are clean cut and very un-cluttered by unnecessary design features. The patterns on some items are very pucci-inspired, and others very sixties style with stripes or spirals. Another label is SeaFolly, which again has released a fantastic set of beach wear - anything from bikinis, tankinis and swimming costumes, to beach kaftans, baggy beach pants and strappy beach sandals. They also do a really nice maternity collection. The New Zealand producer Moontide, also offer some very nice stuff indeed. The last brand worth mentioning is Tiger Lilly. Tiger Lilly do not seem to have an official web site strangely enough (if there is one, do let us know as the garments we've seen in the shops have been absolutely stunning). Naturally there's Billabong, QuickSilver and Rip Curl, but all of their selection is a little bit too sporty for our taste. And until we can surf standing up through a "tube", we're not going to invest in any of that nonsense.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Fashionable Mail

If you don't know much about Australian Fashion designers, then this should be worth the read... Let's say you’re a fashionista, expecting a letter to be delivered from a surf dude in Australia. What do you expect? A letter with the usual stamp featuring Koalas or Kangaroos...? Not this year, darlings... Since 1997, the Australian post office have decided to honour some Ozzie legends, and make them feature in Australian postage stamps. For this year’s theme, the award goes to 6 Australian fashion designers. The lucky 6 are: Prue Acton, Jenny Bannister, Collette Dinnigan, Akira Isogawa, Joe Saba and Carla Zampatti. We say, way to go, Ozzie Mail!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Paris Runway

It's Paris, it's Ready To Wear collections, and we love it! And, although we are many, many miles away, we cannot stay away from the activites in Paris. We particularly have a special place in our hearts for the RTW shows, as this is the only realistic way of telling a good designer from the complete opposite. Haute Couture may be all very amusing and totally whacky and spectacular - but let's be honest; unless you're Bjork, you're not going to find that pea cock feathered glam gown, with defenseless baby seal tassel your favourite pick of the day. Naturally the Ready To Wear collections are key indicators of what we might see on the streets in the next up coming year.

On a pretend ice rink, the models were showing AF Vandervorst's contribution to the autumn/winter 2005/2006 collection. The first part of the show offered very little to our excitement; plain, over sized - though comfy looking jumpers with knitted grand mother skirts and lots of pale [rabbit? silver fox? chinchilla?] fur vests and accessories. The fact that the fur accessories are getting such an accepted, common status is rather sickening. It has very little function, judging by AF Vandervorst's illustrations of how the accessories should be worn. Some of the excess fur had been created as head ornaments, to be worn as tasteful little bunny ears. Given the chance, we think the Village People might go for this option. The second part of the show introduced a much more young and stylish selection. Lots of granit, smokey shades in both matt and shiny made it quite interesting. Yes, the collection was nice, but rather simple, if anything; the conservative usage of colours, the lack of bags, accessories (apart from the odd bits of fur), the very plain hair styles, etc... The idea is risqué, as it leaves a lot of choices to the audience. And, in a fashion world of continous stunning collections, the Belgian duo AF Vandervorst don't quite make it all the way.

Right.... Forget our sudden attack on fur; Nicolas Ghesquière for Balenciaga proves to us how the fur collars should be worn. It is fascinating how the usage of material can make the difference, but Monsieur Ghesquiere does the job wonderfully well. The French costume designer has brought it one step further, to make the fur arguably justified. We've seen the interesting usage of material such as gazar and organdy before. But this, in combination with floaty, feminine skirts is totally new, creative and works very well. The first look made us think of US civil war influences, but on a more correct note, one of the coats turns out to be a reworking of the uniform Cristobal Balenciaga designed for Air France in 1968 (not shown below). The jackets, the coats are all very wearable, and once again Balenciaga has delivered a very desirable collection.

To the left, AF Vandervorst. To the right, Balenciaga -

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Posh Times

We're hot, we're jet lagged, but quite excited to tell you that we're in for a mighty shopping extravaganza in Sydney. And just look at the view from our hotel/new home in the next few weeks! There seems to be an amazing variety of shops in Sydney; anything from debris-filled shops named Silly Solly's to the most exclusive, bling bling designer boutiques. We are not going to experience one minute of boredom in this city - that, we can promise you. The only thing of concern is the lack of time of blogging...