Fresh start

Bonjour Grace has a new home and I will no longer be posting here. You can find the new me here.




Moving

Blogger is so easy, and I will be sad to lose my existing Google followers, but I'm so picky about things looking perfect (in my eyes) that I'm willing to put in the extra time and money to achieve a cleaner, more stylish layout. So, to get everything up to my extremely high aesthetic standards, I'm moving Bonjour Grace over to Squarespace. It may take some time but ultimately I want the blog to look exactly how I want it to, and Blogger doesn't allow for this unfortunately, even with the lovely Blog Milk theme I was lucky enough to get my hands on. 

I will post the link to the new blog once it's complete.

Grace X

On magazines/Leith Clark etc


Girls and fashion magazines go hand in hand, right? So there's probably nothing too unusual, then, about the hundreds of glossies that I have diligently stacked, in chronological order, on my bookshelves and all over my bedroom floor. The first issue of Vogue I bought was the February 2007 issue; I vividly remember devouring it on a long car journey home from a dental appointment. Fendi pieces in fluro-pink mesh and Jil Sander's sunshine yellow shirts and sequinned skirts served a welcome distraction after the pain of having my first-ever filling — it was a day of firsts, I suppose — and I was transported to a world a million miles away from my nondescript life in the Yorkshire Dales, from which the only fashion knowledge I'd gained was brand awareness, i.e. I knew about Hunter, Barbour, Burberry, Aquascutum and Mulberry, and, well, that's about it.

OK, I'm lying slightly - I'd developed an interest in fashion prior to picking up Vogue, thanks to having a glamorous grandmother who would give me old copies of of Tatler to cut up for my scrapbook; to me the ladies in Tatler were so elegant, and their pretty outfits looked even better once accessorised with glitter-glue and stuck next to pictures of puppies and cupcakes. Eventually I clocked on to the whole fashion thing, started 'borrowing' Nanna's Vivienne Westwood scarves and bought my first copy of Vogue. Seven years later, I'm an underweight, chain-smoking, Diet Coke-drinking, flatform-wearing girl with body image issues, constant blisters and a pair of oversized glasses constantly weighing my nose down. Take from that what you will – all I'll say is that although there are as many pros as there are cons with women's magazines, when your brain hasn't formed properly, the cons often outweigh the pros.

I'm not necessarily saying that reading fashion magazines makes you hate yourself – for me, depression and anxiety issues already have those bases covered – but they definitely don't do any favours for your self esteem. Or to your bank balance, for that matter; who hasn't flicked through Elle's pages and suddenly needed a pair of shoes that, 5 minutes previously, they didn't know existed? By 'needed' I mean 'wanted', as in the classic fickle fashion-lover's quandary of having overdrawn your overdraft but yet feeling that you must buy the new 'must have' (read: fad) item lest you lose your cool factor overnight and spend the rest of your life wearing sweatpants and Uggs.

Most fashion magazines are like a bad boyfriend; they make you feel insecure, but at the same time you love them and, even if you do have to shut yourself away from them for a while, you always come crawling back in the end, wanting more. But then you meet a nice guy who doesn't treat you half as badly, and you question why you ever stuck around with that selfish prick for so long. And it's like that with magazines: once you find something smart, funny and aesthetically pleasing amongst a sea of shit, you don't look back. Et voici, Violet: my latest magazine obsession.

Violet is the new brainchild of the incredible Leith Clark (my love for whom has no bounds so, yes, what I am writing is totally biased, but whatevs). It is a magazine for girls, made by girls, celebrating girls. And it is everything a fashion magazine should be, with minimal advertisements, intelligent writing by intelligent women, thought-provoking features and, of course, dreamy editorials.

Although I love the clothes and the styling in Violet, it was really all the writing that captured my attention. Until reading the magazine, I had no idea who Meghan Kelly was, but now I can safely say that she is brilliant; she contributed a few short stories to the magazine which I found really touching, as well as relatable, with their often painful realness. The best of these stories is the longest, How Far to Go, a story of a fading romance and the confused sort of love that most of us are probably familiar with. Clark seems to have a knack for scoring the most bizarrely brilliant artists, tastemakers and creative legends to feature in her magazines; because they weren't with 'the usual suspects' found in other fashion magazines, the interviews in Lula (Clark's last magazine baby, which she left to give birth to Violet) were always something I loved and, thankfully, Violet also provides an abundance of lengthy question-and-answer sessions with the sort of people who make you want to live your life more riskily and freely: Brit Marling, So Yong Kim and Molly Parkin are just some of the subjects interrogated within this debut issue's pages. Another reason to buy the magazine would be the extract from Hadley Freeman's latest work, Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies – this made me howl and I loved it so much that I downloaded the book on my Kindle as soon as I'd finished reading.

I could write a million more words about how A+++ beaut this magazines is, but I don't want to spoil it for you, so, yeah, go and buy it basically. I got mine from Magazine Shack. Kind of missing the days when R D Franks (R.I.P) was still alive and well, but I guess it's good that I can order obscure titles online now as I hardly go down to London any more.

On another note I am making an effort to write on this blog again as it has proved very useful in getting into university, getting jobs etc etc. Thank you to everyone who reads these things; I am always amazed by how many page views I get on my little blog considering how awful I am at updating it! Merci X

Accessory dreams

A Monday pick-me-up in the form of dreamy accessories, jewellery and lingerie. Thank you, & Other Stories, you've done it again; although I need to find the funds to pay for my car to be repaired, I'm going to go to buy that snakeskin shoulder bag... well, it's so friggin' fancy, what's a girl to do?






Favourite collections: Christopher Kane

I haven't had much chance to write anything detailed on this blog for a while, so as my writing comeback of sorts I thought that it would make sense to write about Christopher Kane, as his designs (and Raf Simons’) were what sparked my interest in fashion in the first place. If I had more time, I’d write an article on all 23 of Kane’s womenswear collections (maybe just 22, actually, because SS08 didn’t do anything for me), but instead I’ve had to go through the painful process of creating a really tight edit. The collections below are those which speak to me the most, evoking happy memories as well as general awe. It’s no great coincidence that I’ve warmed to the spring collections more; while for my own wardrobe I favour monochromatic safeness, I love looking at beautiful clothes in the kind of colours I’d never be able to get away with wearing. 

SPRING/SUMMER 2012

I wrote heaps about this collection ages ago, but it deserves another mention. SS12 had triumphs aplenty, but Kane’s offerings were definitely the greatest. Artists in any field shouldn’t ever have to rein in their creativity, but, these days, fashion designers (particularly those heading up smaller, less financially-stable brands) are under pressure to create clothes with mass-market appeal. If you’re a fresh-faced designer whose income barely covers the rent of your dingy London studio, let alone the materials for your craft, you need your clothes to sell if you want your brand to expand. It’s not rocket science; producing clothes for esoteric interests doesn’t cut it unless you are Hedi Slimane, i.e. rolling in it (in which case you’re absolutely fine — continue to make clothes for your friends in bands that everyone else got over years ago — if it makes you happy then that’s all that matters). So, what made this collection stand out to me was Kane’s ability to pull off what very few designers can: the perfect balance of the commercial and the conceptual. The white shirts, cricket jumpers, boxy schoolgirl skirts and denim pieces are all accessible pieces — women all over can emulate Kane SS12 looks with ease simply by reaching to the back of their wardrobes — and yet there are some elements that just scream ‘expensive’ and ‘creative’ in the way that only runway looks can. The killer cuts, the aluminum-infused organza, the exquisitely detailed embellishment and sequin-lined appliqué… you can’t buy this sort of design complexity in Topshop (not even in the Boutique section, no, even though the brains behind it strive to emulate this sort of class). 
                   
SPRING/SUMMER 2007
I like this collection for sentimental reasons. SS07 was the season when I first became infatuated with fashion, particularly the young British fashion scene, so please don't think I have an affinity for highlighter-coloured frocks. When you see some perma-tanned party girl spewing up over her fluro pink bandage dress on the Diamond Strip, sticky-soled Office platforms in hand, do you ever wonder if her bold sartorial choices are some sort of working class homage to Kane’s debut collection? Me neither — when she picked up said dress in Quiz that morning, the thought probably never crossed her mind — but it does make you consider this collection’s influence on evening dressing. I loved the Swarvoski detailing on the pieces — a burst of crystals on plain fabric is something of a favourite of mine, having seen it implemented perfectly on a Marios Schwab dress that took centre stage on the cover of Dazed and Confused a few years back. Oh, and that Kane and Versus collaboration? Just look to this collection to see why Donatella picked him to bring new life to her diffusion line.

SPRING/SUMMER 2010

Like most British girls, my first encounter with gingham was the classic John Lewis easy-iron dress that was a welcome alternative, in the warmer months at primary school, to a black skirt or trousers. In my early teens I would make my own simple 60s-style shift dresses, cutting up gingham cloth in red and blue; it was fine to wear gingham even at that awkward age as, with bundles of innocence coupled with stick-thin limbs and doe eyes, I was deemed 'cute' and 'adorable'. If I wear gingham now, even though my chest is still as flat as the school desks I associate with the fabric, it can feel a bit Lolita-esque. Kane's tackling of  girlie checks was perfect, as he managed to brush away any smutty connotations, instead leaving us with the perfect balance of the pretty and the peverse – a 'good girl gone bad' look, if you like (or bad girl gone good?).

AUTUMN/WINTER 2010


Another fusion of sweet and seedy – seemingly a combination the designer thrives on playing about with – Kane's AW10 offering was a triumph. Admittedly the formula was pretty simple: take some black leather, some black lace, some vampy patent leather lace-up heels and you get, er, something that Rihanna might wear. Throw in some floral embroidery, though, and suddenly 'good' girls like Emma Watson want in too. Not to say that this was any sort of slapdash appliqué job; Kane gave the dying art form of hand-embroidery a new lease of life and, with his daisies, roses, poppies and wildflowers trickling just-so over otherwise sexually-charged PVC, lace and leather, it just looked so right. However, my favourite bits in this collection were the closing pieces, which were embroidered, equally as delicately, with crystals.

SPRING/SUMMER 2014

As I said, I could happily wax lyrical about all of Kane's collections, and you can find my thoughts on his other shows elsewhere on this blog. I was meaning to write about the SS14 collection as soon as I saw it, as it made me swoon in a big way, but I was so busy with work and other real world stuff and never found the time. 
Not that I really need to draw your attention to this collection, anyway, as it went down a storm with the fashion press and certain pieces (read: the logo sweats and flower motifs) have been rehashed to death by the high street. Fair play, I say, it is so dreamy after all. I hate to quote The Devil Wears Prada but, "Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking" – though one does imagine Miranda Priestley would eat her words if she saw Kane's take on this ever-enduring spring theme. Elsewhere in London, Mary Katrantzou made her florals embellished and Eudon Choi's were wallpaper-esque, smattered over biker jackets. Christopher Kane, meanwhile, went back to school, taking his botanical imagery straight out of biology textbooks (well, at least someone found them useful...). This resulted in beautiful floral embellishments, complete with blackboard-style pointers and annotations. There was something subtly sexual about the whole affair, too, thanks to the obvious parallels between the dissected flowers and a woman's anatomy. Besides the standout pieces, there were some fluffed-up, spray-painted dresses with holographic tinsel trims, which I really liked. Further evidence of PPR's investment in Kane's brand shined through subtly, too; the now ubiquitous statement sweaters were highly commercial, lower-priced items that were snapped up straight away by young fashion bloggers everywhere, and the slinky evening gowns in silk satin showed a new, more polished side to the London-based designer – dresses like that would look more at home at the shows in Paris and Milan. But, then again, Kane is now no longer 'one to watch' and is up there amongst the big-name designers, so it's not uncomfortable to see him produce such exquisite, sophisticated clothes. 

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