J.Crew Previews New Collection ahead of its Upcoming UK Opening

I am a great fan of J.Crew, so as soon as I heard that they were having a flash pop-up store event in London on the 24 and 25 May, I immediately put it in my diary. J.Crew’s highly anticipated opening in the UK in autumn 2013 was made even more exciting by the subtle but nonetheless definite hype of this event, which took place at the Western Transit Shed, an eclectically dressed urban warehouse conversion just a stone’s throw from King’s Cross Station,  to sample J.Crew’s new range, take a few snaps and generally be a bit nosey.JCrew 003JCrew 006JCrew 012JCrew 011

On display were a dozen or so key looks from the upcoming Fall/Winter collection. The most prominent new trends were woolly print-on-prints, beautifully intricate gem-filled jewellery, Aztec prints, embroidery on clean-cut heavy-weight blazers, and brocade and geometric patterns. The exquisite wool and cashmere pieces modelled clean and simple lines, and were well complemented by the busy Central American prints. For men, there were work boots, puff coats and furry hoodies.JCrew 010JCrew 001JCrew 002JCrew 009

The only pieces actually available for sale were their classic cashmeres – in a small selection of colours.  They also provided personalised monogramming, which won’t be available on the UK website, and customised, handmade collars to be worn on t-shirts. Sadly, they had run out of my size in the navy cashmere, but I’ll make sure to buy it online and perhaps try my luck and have it monogrammed at the Regent Street shop once it opens in the autumn.JCrew 007JCrew 004JCrew 005JCrew 008

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How Costume Designer Jenn Rogien Kept “Girls” Realistic

Still riding that New York wave, I want to write about the New York fashion aesthetic of the HBO series Girls, which I watched just before it crossed the pond to the UK and reached the elitist channel of Sky Atlantic this October. Although I am not going to spoil any of the plot’s twists, I feel like there is something to be said about the realistic wardrobe of the four main characters – Hannah, Jessa, Marnie and Shoshanna. I recently read an interview with Girls’ costume designer Jenn Rogien by Fashion etc., in which she talked about why she decided to adopt a more realistic approach, rather than feed us with the umpteenth series of broke/average-salary people living it improbably large, only using taxis, and stacking Manolos in their cupboards as if they were cans of baked beans. Where the likes of Sex and the CityFriendsSeinfeld and How I Met Your Mother peddle a revisionist and, frankly, untrue image of the average New Yorker, Jenn Rogien rightly decided to focus mostly on more plausible Williamsburg vintage and thrift hotspots when putting together the wardrobe. Not only does Girls reflect the lives of a demographic that was virtually unexplored before – post-grad women in their mid-twenties still trying to figure out their lives, careers and relationships – it also echoes this realism within the mise-en-scène, for example showing Hannah on a subway train and on her bed with the same IKEA cushion I have at home, and I think the result is just right.

Marnie, Jessa, Hannah and Shoshanna. Source: HBO.

Rogien explained: “The show wasn’t about clothes. It’s about the girls, and they really wanted someone who could get on board with that and really get that they were trying to do these kind of crazy girls who aren’t necessarily all that put together. They wanted someone who would be able to translate that in a way that would aesthetically make sense and that would really support the comedy of the show… It’s a little offbeat, that’s probably the best word”.

Hannah. Source: HBO.

Jenn Rogien’s impressive resume includes TV series such as The Good Wife and Lipstick Jungle, where “everyone is incredibly dressed, and the accessories are perfect, and the shoes are expensive, and [they are] really high-end shows, but [Girls] is different from Lipstick Jungle: you don’t want everything perfectly curated. It’s actually just as hard to do messy as it is to do perfect”.

Jessa. Source: HBO.

Interestingly, despite Hannah, Jessa, Marnie and Shoshanna all sharing a very strong “Brooklyn-ness” about them, they all have very different tastes and styles. While Marnie is the only one with a well-paid job, and likes wearing more formal, grown-up outfits, Shoshanna opts for more colourful, modern pieces. Hannah’s style is definitely more ‘60s, including girly blouses, flippy skirts, cute dresses and flat brogues, and Jessa’s style (which is my favourite), is a combination of ‘70s, palazzo trousers and gorgeous kimonos paired with blood-red lipstick and soft chignons.

Marnie. Source: HBO.

Here’s how Rogien found most of the outfits used: “We actually talked a lot about that specifically with Marnie (Allison Williams) because she’s the one who sort of has this fancy job. We wanted her to look appropriate for the job, but we didn’t want to go to Bergdorf’s and buy her a Dior suit because it didn’t make sense for the character. That’s where we really relied on character and the actors to sort of feel it out as we were doing our fittings and see ‘You know this is a great piece but it’s way outside of what Marnie would be able to afford. Can we find it Loehmann’s? Can we find something similar from Lord & Taylor?’ We sort of skewed our shopping in that direction. ‘Is this realistic for the job that Marnie has? Is this realistic for Hannah, given that she doesn’t have a job?’ There were a lot of times when we would come to the conclusion that ‘Well, maybe her parents were helping her out when she was first trying to get a job.’ Marnie’s mum probably took her shopping when Marnie moved to the city and got this job because a lot of girls’ mums do. So we really tried to be as true to the spirit of characters as we could be in our shopping. If it seems right to go to Saks Fifth Avenue for some of the more special pieces, then that’s where we would go. If it seems more right to go to Atlantis Attic out in Williamsburg, we absolutely went out there. We were probably at Atlantic Attic and Beacon’s Closet for every episode because it’s the right stuff, that’s where those girls would go”.

Shoshanna. Source: HBO.

Girls is definitely a ground-breaking show and I cannot wait to watch the second series, which will launch in the US in January.

Marni at H&M Sale – Sometimes They Come Back

Firstly, I would like to apologise and say that I know I’ve been terrible for not writing in an age, but I do have a couple of good excuses. Some of my absence can be put down to me being a little poorly. Nothing serious, not kicking the bucket just yet, only nagging little pains that stole all my time as I took partial residency in my doctor’s waiting room. The rest of my time has been absorbed by the editorial internship I’ve been doing at the great Kings Chelsea Magazine, which is launching in June. Yay!

Admittedly, I discovered that adjusting to a full-time shift job and a part-time internship is harder than anticipated, particularly when those two workplaces and my house are based respectively in the south, west and east of London, but it’s definitely worth it. This internship will go on until mid-August, so I am afraid that until then I’ll probably be a little out of sight. But bear with me and after that I shall be even better (or I’ll try, at least). I wish I were doing something a little more senior with my few years of experience as an editor, but sadly, fashion publishing regards itself as a different kettle of fish, and unless you have relevant fashion experience you need to start from the bottom again. So, full to my eyes with humble pie, I ping-pong across London for the best part of my days.

With that out of the way, in the UK, H&M have collected all the neglected leftover Marni stock from the back of their warehouses and placed it on sale. This reminded me how I actually did go on a mission on the line’s launch day and took pictures to write about the collection, but ended up doing nothing with them.

I remember getting to the flagship store on Regent Street at 9 am on the dot, its opening time, and asking what the queuing system was. It soon transpired that I was way too late for their manically organised schedule, and that all the wristbands (colour-coded depending on the time you were supposed to get in) had all already been given to people queuing outside since 7 am.

Anyone with an entry bracelet was placed in a group of a dozen people and had 15 minutes to enter, explore and ransack the designated Marni area, which was a cluttered, crowded, poky little affair of about 2 m2 with naturally very little room to roam around. A man with a headset microphone would aggressively shout “Ten minutes left!” “Five minutes left!” (why the shouting, crazyman Michael? You’re wearing a microphone). Two bouncers were at the edges of the cordoned-off area trying to keep us as far away as possible. Despite sounding like the opposite of offering customers what they want, this schizo approach seemed to work, and by 9:32 another batch of collars was called up as the previous bunch had sold out. For us, bracelet-less civilians, there was little to do but wait until 2 pm, when all the chosen ones had already munched their way through the collection like mice through Edam and we were left with the red wax.

As you can see from the picture, at 2:30 pm the queue outside the Oxford Street shop was still remarkable, despite the poor selection left by hurricane People. I managed to take a few pictures of the whole process but can tell you this is probably the last H&M designer collaboration I am planning to attend.

Sadly, the quality of the pictures is not up to scratch as I also forgot that picnik.com was going to be shut in April. Has anyone got another similar, free website to suggest, please?