Fall In Love With The 40s

Thursday, 29 January 2015

During our reading week, we were required to pick a fashion era and create a mood board based on this. There are so many eras in fashion which I absolutely adore but I decided to go with the 1940s, primarily because of my love for 40s Hollywood actress Veronica Lake. I have always known about Lake, particularly from a young age as my great grandmother would call me 'Veronica' because I had long golden hair and a fringe that would always fall over my eye on one side of my face, resembling Lake's famous peek-a-book hairstyle. I also paid homage to Lake with my prom hairstyle and recreated her classic waves. 

American cinema had a huge impact on fashion during the 1940s, with Hollywood actresses like Lake and Lauren Bacall becoming style icons in their own right, promoting a glamours and femme-fatale look synonymous with the period. 

The 40s are very much divided between the Hollywood glamour, which most of us associate with the era, and the austerity bought about by World War II so I also made reference to this and the impact it made on fashion. Due to rationing, women were encouraged to make their own clothes and, during this time, the majority of women's clothes were modelled after men's military uniform; squared shoulders, double-breasted tailored suits in dark colours, which became staple garments for women during the period. 

By the end of the war, in 1947, Dior created his revolutionary 'New Look', referenced in my mood board, which began to replace the wartime utility fashions in favour of a much more feminine look; billowing calf-length skirts, nipped in waists and rounded shoulders. The bikini also made its debut a year earlier, revolutionising and liberating women's fashion. 

Women's beauty looks remained fairly consistent throughout the 40's; a classic red lip, accompanied by Hollywood waves or victory rolls, also referenced within my mood board. 

There Are No Rules

For our reading week, we were required to read a book by advertising legend Sir John Hegarty, entitled "Hegarty on Creativity: There are No Rules". This witty and tongue-in-cheek pocket-sized manual contains  Hegarty's insights into creativity and the creative industry. Although small in size, this book provides major food for thought and is incredibly inspiring and a must-read for any creative individual.

Hegarty continually stresses throughout the book that there really are "no rules" to being creative and succeeding in the industry. In each chapter he simply provides guidelines and invaluable pieces of advice for success and the ones that particularly resonated with me were: 

- There is no such thing as originality: No idea is original and, as Hegarty comments, "Ideas borrow, blend, subvert, develop and bounce of other ideas". This is not a condemnation of plagiarism, but I think what most of us forgot is that truly good and creative ideas don't just come to us in a lightbulb moment. With that in mind, I think we can all take a simultaneous sigh of relief as often the most daunting element of being creative is trying to think of an 'original idea', when frankly this just doesn't exist. Hegarty stresses that the real value of an idea is in how it takes inspiration from anything and everything and how it reinterprets this into something fresh and never seen before. 

- Recognise your talent: This was a chapter I found particularly amusing. Hegarty says, "We are all artists, but some of us shouldn't exhibit" - a harsh reality for some. What we should be doing is recognising our own talents and respect and nurture these, instead of trying to be good at everything. 

- When the world zigs, zag: Yes, the strap line to the infamous 1982 Levi's ad created by BBH when trying to persuade consumers to purchase Levi's black denim jeans. This is perhaps one of the most important pieces of advice within the book and a quote every creative individual should live by. It reinforces the importance of being distinctive and not following the crowd, who wants to produce a piece of work like everyone else? Don't be afraid to look in a different direction and look to different sources for inspiration and ideas as, "By looking in the opposite direction, you might just find something new." 

- Good is the enemy of great: As Hegarty states within this chapter, "Coming up with a great idea is a rollercoaster ride of thoughts with no logical progression." With these irrational thoughts and ideas flying all over the place, it can be easy to settle on one that feels right - however what we should be doing is asking ourselves, "But is it great?" If the answer to this is no then we should keep going and develop and refine that idea until it is great. 

Stop, Start, Continue

Having completed my first module of FCP (and it being the start of a new year), I thought it more than appropriate to reflect over my experiences during the last semester. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed FCP so far and love learning about the ins and outs of the industry, as well improving upon my visual communication skills. I very much enjoy blogging as I love writing and always have done and I have also enjoyed documenting pages in my workbook as it allows me to combine my writing and presentational skills. 

On the other hand, what I have disliked is group work. Now don't get me wrong, I know that ultimately any job within the fashion industry will require group work at some point or another, but having had a bad experience with group work within the first module, I have my preconceptions to say the least. Perhaps it may be the control freak perfectionist in me speaking, but I always try to put 100% into everything I do, be it a small or large task, and my mindset has always been, "If you don't do something to the best of your ability then why bother?" So having already experienced being in a group where everyone isn't fully committed, the idea of group work does worry me a little. 

So, in summary, here's what I want to stop, start and continue doing throughout the rest of the course;

- Being so hard on myself: As I have already said, I am a perfectionist and put an immense amount of pressure on myself to achieve the perfect outcome. I need to tell myself that it is okay to fail; often the most valuable lessons are learnt from failure. 

- Reading more: I loved reading as a child and would read nearly every single day. I have an extensive reading list for my course, full of interesting books related to fashion, art and the creative industry which I am desperate to read. Therefore I need to make time for reading before bed like I used to (and get off Pinterest).

- Taking risks: Staying in your comfort zone is incredibly easy and safe, but this semester I would really like to push myself and try to experiment more, particularly in the more creative aspects of the course and try out different techniques, layouts, processes, etc.

- Looking for work experience: Work experience within the fashion industry is fundamental when eventually applying for a full-time job, as it is often the first thing employees will look for; to see that you've had some first-hand experience. This one will be a bit of a toughie for me, what with being at university most days (as well as the commuting there and back) and having a weekend job, free time to sit down and actually look for work experience is a rarity! So I need to find the time before the summer comes around to nab myself some work experience and book the time off work! 

- Blogging: As previously mentioned, I love blogging and have truly embraced it over the last few months. So this year I would like to continue to blog and reflect on my learning during my course, whilst trying to find a direction for TRS, having more of a specific fashion/beauty focus. 


Friday, 23 January 2015

Having completed my first module, it's time to start work for the next one, "Creative Networks", which will eventually require us to create and market our own perfume. So, in preparation for this, we were asked to watch the BBC Four documentary series entitled 'Perfume'. The 3 part-series looked into marketing perfumes, the association between scent and memory and where the future of perfumery lies. 

In this day and age, all perfume houses are faced with the same dilemma, "How do we market a new perfume in the already crowded market and win over the new generation of consumers?" The documentary looks at two very different companies, Guerlain and Tommy Hilfiger,  and how they attempt to do this. It was particularly interesting to see the different approaches both brands take. For Guerlian, claimed to be "Frenchness in liquid form", it is all about the scent, as the company prefer to stick to the same archaic formulas passed down from generation to generation. 

This juxtaposes with Estee Lauder and their approach for Tommy Hilfiger, eager to create a 'new' fragrance in time for the Christmas period. For Tommy Hilger, the packaging and campaign are just as important as the scent - if not more. Hilfiger's new scent "Loud" claimed to be "liquid rock 'n' roll", exemplified in record like appearance and musical 'brand ambassadors' The Ting Tings, but not in its scent. "Loud" was essentially just a repackaged version of the masses of rose and patchouli scented perfumes already out there in the market. Nevertheless, the perfume was still extremely successful, contrasting to Guerlian and the ancient perfume houses who are losing their market share altogether within the industry.

Scent has the ability to transport you to certain periods, or even people, in your life - a notion which has always fascinated me. A spray of Vera Wang Princess and I instantly think of being thirteen again, a whiff of Chanel No. 5 and I immediately think of my grandmother. Within the series we were introduced to I Hate Perfume founder, Christopher Brosius, who found a niche in the market for people who, not only hate perfume, but want to be transported and reminded of familiarity - all through scent. Brosius can create everything from bacon scented to perfume to old books and even whisky. 

His service is undoubtedly self-indulgent, evident when he is commissioned to create a 'British-smelling' fragrance for his Anglo-obsessed client, wishing to bottle the scent of damp tweed and cigars. However, Brosius shows just how powerful scent is and how we associate them with memories, as well as highlighting how advanced the perfume industry is today - we can bottle any scent which we desire.  

In the final episode, the documentary focuses on the future of perfume and the growing markets outside of the West. Anne Gottlieb, leading scent trend predictor, stated that Brazil is the fastest growing fragrance market and is now the most valuable in the world, a notion I found extremely interesting. In Brazil, both the poor and rich are obsessed with fragrance; consumers in the poorest 50% of households consume almost as many fragrances as those in the richest 50% of households, meaning there is potential for both mass and premium fragrances to succeed in the market there. 

Overall, the documentary was an extremely interesting and intriguing watch and extremely helpful for my next project! 

Portfolio, Check!

Today marks the end of my first module of FCP! The past few weeks and months have consisted of finishing of all of my work and putting in together in my first portfolio, eek. Whilst it has been stressful at times, I have thoroughly enjoyed the module and have learnt so much already. I am extremely pleased with the outcome of my portfolio and all the work within it, however I have no doubt that my skills will improve throughout the duration of my course. 

So here is a little bit of shameless self-promotion and a link to my Issue profile where you can find my portfolio

Valentino Spring/Summer 2015 Campaign

Monday, 19 January 2015

As soon as I saw the Valentino Spring/Summer 2015 collection I fell in love. Valentino never disappoints - the aquatic references, romantic chiffon dresses, the Neapolitan colour palette, broderie anglaise details - heaven. 

Little did I know that the campaign for the collection would be just as beautiful. The images from the campaign were released a few days ago and they absolutely stunning. The campaign was shot by relatively unknown Slovakian photographer, Michal Pudelka, featuring a cast of bright new faces such as Australian model Grace Simmons. This coincides with creative director's, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, motive of keeping the campaign fresh and youth focused. I found this particularly refreshing and extremely apt for the new season, feeling very much like a breath of fresh air - not just in terms of new trends, but also new talent. 

The campaign itself was shot in Tuscany within the beaches and woods of Punta Ala. This gives the campaign a romantic and ethereal feel but also creates a certain eeriness. The clothes certainly speak for themselves but have been reinforced through the choice of setting, which beautifully compliment the aquatic and dreamy qualities of the new collection. The campaign also uses clever juxtaposition as to not appear too typically 'fairytale-like' but more modern by having the models pose rigidly in a uniform manner, positioned within trees and even submerged in water and sand - making the campaign far more interesting. 

I'm now off to source myself a starfish hair clip! 

Bite Beauty - The Next Big Thing

Within our course, we were set a brief entitled 'Next Big Thing' which required us to identify an up and coming brand which could be the 'next big thing' and create a visual report for them. This would be a brand that offers a powerful and engaging proposition, an outstanding product or service, is ahead of the grand and deserves to be recognised. 

After some initial research, I decided to focus on lesser-known and fairly new beauty brands with a unique selling point. This is where I came Bite Beauty. I had previously heard about the brand through Anna and Amelia's blogs but knew little about the brand or its products - other than they specialise in lip products. I looked into the brand further and decided it would be perfect to use for this particular brief. 

Bite Beauty is a Canadian-based cosmetics company, stared by Susanne Langmuir, which offers a range of all-natural, high performance lip products. Every lipstick, lipgloss and lip treatment contains only food-grade ingredients which are essentially "good enough to eat". This concept seems quite bizarre at first, but when considering the fact that the average woman will eat between four and seven pounds of lipstick in her lifetime, it would seem almost necessary to use only natural, edible ingredients- why put something on your lips which isn't good for you?
As well as their extensive and healthy range of products, Bite also has their own Lip Lab located in Soho, New York. Here, customers can create their very own custom lip shade and choose from a range of finishes and flavours. Finding the perfect lipstick is an exasperating task, which I'm sure many other women will agree with - we've all spent many an hour staring at the MAC lipstick stand with a rather bewildered look on our faces, feeling overwhelmed with the choice of shades wondering "will that suit my complexion/hair colour/eye colour/match my nail colour?" The Bite Lip Lab helps customers create just the right shade for them - and there's something rather special about having a totally unique lipstick colour which no one else will have, don't you think?
Therefore, I felt that Bite was a truly unique brand, particularly within the already crowded cosmetics market, deserving recognition for its company ethos and on-trend products. Currently, Bite products are only available in America and Canada, sold exclusively at Sephora but hopefully we will see the brand make an appearance within the UK now it has been acquired by cosmetics giant Kendo.

So Good They Named It Twice

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Last week I was given the fantastic opportunity to travel to New York with my university course. This was my second time visiting the city - I had been to New York two years ago with my family but unfortunately during Hurricane Sandy, which was an experience in itself but not quite the New York experience I had hoped for! This time I was excited to see the city as it should be.

We stayed in The Hotel Wolcott located in Midtown Manhattan - a beautiful, historic (and apparently haunted) hotel with lots of character and in the perfect central location. My friends and I packed in as much as we could during our stay, wanting to make the most of the city and explore both New York's famous tourist attractions of some of its lesser known, quirky areas outside of Manhattan.
We of course visited the Empire State building, Times Square, Bloomingdales and Central Park which, because of the freezing weather, was transformed into a snowy winter wonderland. Being fashion students, 5th Avenue was also a must and we admired the extensive stretch of designer stores; Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Prada, just to name a few! We were in awe of the impressive exteriors and interiors of the stores and their outlandish window displays. Speaking of which, we could not forget about the famous Bergdorfs windows, which did not disappoint! 

Of course I had to make a trip to Kate Spade and was greeted by the most lovely sales assistant (and may have treated myself to a new purse). I found that to be the main difference between British and American retail experiences - with Americans, service is everything and staff in all stores are consistently polite, friendly, helpful and approachable. And, being in New York, a visit *or two* to the mothership (Sephora) was of primary importance and I came away with some cult American beauty products such as the Beauty Blender, Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, Oscar Blandi dry shampoo as well as the Tarte Sculptor and Living Proof Style Extender - all of which I cannot wait to try.

On the Wednesday we caught the subway to Lower Manhattan and visited the 9/11 Memorial and museum, something I have always wanted to do. Both were incredibly moving and I could have spent hours in the museum, it was extremely interesting as there was just so much to look at. My favourite piece was an installation by Spencer Finch, composed of thousands of watercolour drawings - each an attempt to remember the colour of the sky on the morning of the attacks. This was accompanied by a quote from Roman poet, Virgil. The words were created by Tom Joyce using remnant steel from the World Trade Centre. 

On Thursday we were invited to the Fashion Institute of Technology and were given a lecture, in the on-campus Perfume Lab, by Assistant Professor of the Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing course, Virginia Bonofiglio. She spoke about the history of perfumery, as well as the structures and science behind perfumes. I found this incredibly interesting and helpful especially considering our next project requires us to create and market our own perfume. After, we took a trip to Chelsea, one of my new favourite parts of the city. Chelsea is incredibly scenic, with lots of character. We visited Chelsea Market and the Artists and Fleas market which contained lots of vintage and craft stalls, including the Pamela Barsky stall which was introduced to me by my lovely friend Stephanie, who kindly bought one of her famous pouches for me during her visit to New York last year. We also walked along the High Line which provides incredible views of the city, as well as revealing some of the city's notorious street art. 

During our second to last day in New York, we took a trip to Brooklyn as I was on a mission to find a store I had seen on Liv's Instagram called Catbird. This tiny store hidden in Brooklyn offers an extensive collection of delicate pieces of jewellery and other sparkly trinkets and I was so glad we managed to find it! We also explored some of Brooklyn's vintage stores and markets. 

I came away feeling incredibly inspired (and perhaps a little bloated after all the pizza and french toast I had consumed)! New York is undoubtedly one of my favourite cities, it feels like a whole other world full of possibility and excitement, as cliché as it sounds. Perhaps that may be the tourist in me speaking as I found, after speaking to a man in Starbucks who lives in the city, it seems that most New Yorkers cannot comprehend why anyone would love the city so much! 

I think travelling is incredibly important, and fundamental in the industry I would eventually like to enter. I want to see everything there is to see and I would travel all over the world if I had the funds to. Experiences are priceless and I hope 2015 brings about more opportunities to travel and explore the world.