Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Agent Provocateur's Film Noir inspired jewelry

I get regular, so regular they're getting a trifle annoying, email updates from Agent Provocateur whenever they release something new. I used to adore Agent Provocateur and I can't actually put my finger on why I have gone off them. There was just something that seemed wrong about the direction they were moving in over the past few years. It was almost like they were trying to shed their 40' does 50's does 60's burlesque skin and come out as some neon-clad (albeit scantily) Crazy Horse dancer from the 80s.
But now they appear to have moved away from that - the new ranges are happily far less Dynasty and far more Betty Page - and are trying to spread their wings and do something a bit more than underwear.
Agent Provocateur fans will, no doubt, want to stop me and huskily point out that AP has long done more than just outrageously desirable and expensive underwear that can't actually be worn outside of the bedroom (unless you are quite adventurous).
They started doing shoes quite a few years ago. But that made sense because knickers, suspenders, stockings and heels is definitely a good look. They also did some nightwear of the satin dressing gown variety and very tight and tiny t-shirts that could conceivably have been worn in daily life if you were desperate for the kind of attention that most expensive underwear lovers aren't really interested in. If you're wearing Agent Provocateur underwear, you probably don't need to advertise quite so loudly with your outerwear. Because really great sex underwear, as opposed to really great functional underwear, usually makes you exude an air of sexual confidence even if you are literally wearing a hemp sack or have the sex drive of a slug. I know this from experience. The swimwear also made sense - slightly less revealing styles of underwear suitable for playing in the water like a latter day Brigitte Bardot or going the Mrs Robinson route and seducing pool boys with a very strong cocktail in hand.
And there was always jewelery of a sort. The sort that included studs and spikes, nipple clamps, jewel encrusted riding crops and nipple tassles. Because, let's be honest here, you are not going to AP to look for anything subtle that could give your boring old LBD a new lease of life with a bit of tasteful sparkle, now, are you?
And yet, may I introduce you to AP's new 'film noir' inspired jewelery range. Still quite naughty - the designs appear to be going for a hareem girl chic although I have no idea what that's got to do with film noir - these are actually also quite wearable outside of the bedroom even if you don't have enough confidence to wear what is, essentially, boob reins disguised as a necklace.

Hareem Body Necklace - £260

Hareem whip ring - £125
Hareem earrings - £100
 In fact I think the whole 'film noir' thing is nonsense. This is all more Liz Taylor as Cleopatra or Salome or something late 50s, epic and possibly a bit sexed-up biblical isn't it. They even have schackle inspired necklaces and bracelets. Actually these might be a really good way of getting nice jewelery and something to use to tastefully re-enact that infamous Princess Leia as a slave girl thing in one go.

However, at the more wearable end of the range, I particularly like the triumvurate of latin inscribed rings and bracelets. In gold, brown and black, each colour has a corresponding insrciption. I like the brown one, even if it is very cheesy - "Love conquers all things: let us surrender to love." Black is "Make me chaste and pure, but not yet!" and gold is "Kiss me with a thousand kisses". They're also fairly reasonably priced - £50 for a ring and £80 for a bracelet.

Latin Tri Ring - £50
Latin Tri Bracelet - £80
View the full range at the Agent Provocateur website.

Monday, 23 August 2010

The end of the affair - Selfridges and Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce & Gabbana fall 2010 via style.com
It was a beautiful relationship. But apparantly one of the UK's highest profile luxury goods department stores and the sex bomb's label of choice have had a "giant falling out".
It's hard to work out exactly what happened, neither side is being particularly forthcoming, but it seems that Selfridges wanted to move the D&G and Dolce & Gabbana lines to new areas of the store and the label was less than happy about the suggested arrangement.
Forgive me for a being a little bit of a sceptic here but this sounds quite unlikely to me. There must have been a bit more to it, no? I'm hedging my bets on a major personality clash that has turned something quite small and easily resolvable into a battle of the egos.
I know where a label is placed in a shop as big as Selfridges is mightily important, but not important enough to scupper and extremely beneficial arrangement. Dolce & Gabbana are, after all, both the kings of leopard print and satin (also polka dots and lace and the jackets and knickers look this season) AND one of Selfridges biggest sellers, especially in Manchester if Twitter is to be believed. They're an extremely valuable label for Selfridges to have in its mix, which veers toward the more commercial side of high fashion than, say, Liberty which is all about slightly more challenging and niche designers. And Dolce & Gabbana need Selfridges even more than it needs them. They fit in there perfectly and reach hundreds of thousands of consumers as a result.
Can we glean anything from the newspaper coverage of this fracas to help us make this odd situation a little less opaque?
The Evening Standard has quoted industry sources saying that Dolce & Gabbana were "furious" about the department stores decision to move the lines. Hmmm, were they suggesting moving them to the food hall? It still seems a little far fetched.
They've also quoted a 'leading fashion executive' (don't you love this vagueness? I do, it's very useful for my job to be able to quote people anonymously like this because you can beef up a slightly watery story quite easily this way by making someone sound more important than they perhaps are or get someone quite important to say something juicy that they wouldn't usually say if their name was attached to the quote). But the same quote is attributed to a 'co-owner of a premium brand' in the Telegraph and a line from it is also attributed to 'industry sources' in the Times. This is where the "giant falling-out" phrase appears to have come from.
Selfridges has batted all this off quite bruskly with some very non-commital quotes about "seeking to improve the diversity and presentation of our brand portfolio" and being "unable to accomodate Dolce & Gabbana and D&G in our mix going forward".
I like this quote. It's very snooty, very 'we think we're on the higher ground here and we're going to taunt you from it'.
The Times turned to Liberty's managing director, Ed Burstell, for another point of view. "There are certain stores in every country that set the tone for a global commercial brand," he said. "And it is vital that in those certain sotres the brand looks prmoinent and is placed in the best possible location. I think it's a little bit foolish on their [Dolce & Gabbana] part."
This, to me, is a rather honest and also wonderful quote. He's admitting that Selfridges, a major competitior in extracting money from fashion lovers, are quite important. And he's also basically saying that Dolce & Gabbana have thrown all their toys out of the pram and will probably have to go back and come to some sort of compromise.
Only time will tell, but I can't be the only one fascinated to see what happens next. Could Dolce & Gabbana be the ones to prove that they don't need traditional retail to be a commercial player in the UK? Or will they be back in Selfridges in time for the Christmas gifting season? Place your bets now...

The Yard Sale

So on Saturday I stayed up until four in the morning eating cake batter, drinking Sainsbury's own house red which had a rather unusual hint of the white spirit about it, and watching zombie movies to stay awake.
This, it turns out, is a pretty good recipe for a hangover.
Luckily, it was all for a good cause - the very lovely Susie Bubble's Yard Sale. I turned up more than a little late - around midday - and feeling a bit fragile but with a wicker picnick basket full of cake and biscuits which seemed to go down well. Unfortunately I missed msot of the best clothes, but the presence of Ferry the Ferrett, some amazing chicken satay and meeting some of the UK's most interesting fashion bloggers was compensation enough. And it managed not to rain the entire time I was there, whcih was relief.
As ever, where there are fashion bloggers there are amazing outfits and also rather a lot of cameras so I'm sure this is just one of many picture posts, but never mind...
Susie's done a proper write up, which helps as I don't know who anyone was and she does.