Versace is on of Italy’s biggest fashion houses, it has been run by Gianni Versace (the founder) and after his death Donatella Versace, it has always been a very strong family run buisness.
Versace has servral defussion lines inculding Atelier Versace their couture collection, jewellly, accessories, fragrances, cometerics and furniture. Gianna understood that not every one could afford their clothes but would still want to buy into the brand and that these defusion lines would make that possible.
Versace is famous for its sex siren red carpet dresses. Putting the Va Va Voom into fashion with curve hugging dress.

“That dress barely held together with safely pins. Lent to Hurley and worn when she accompanied her famous boyfriend to the1994 premiere of Four weddings and a funerals, has frequently been describe as Versace’s greatest coup, Liz Hurley was caplupialted into stardom overnight. The show stopping power of Versace was never more apparent.”
Versace saw the power of celebrities wearing his design, it was also very cost effect, he would balance out the £14,000 +photo shoot fess spread in vogue, with letting b-list celebrities wear his dresses on the red carpet and gaining mass media cover which would be out the next day.

Gianni and Donatella learnt dress making from an early age as their mothers was a seamstress, who made copies of the French design and sold them to the woman in their village. While Gianni was making his clothes he would use Donatella as a model. Their two designer ethics are very similar and Donatella thinks that’s Gianni would be pleased about how the lines have developed after his death. As the brand has keep it identity while being on trend each season.

 Versace also believed in the power of the supermodels, and the strong messgae that they would send out by being see in his clothes. He would pay some models £10,000 for a days work even when he couldnt afford it.


Again both of these designers met and studied at Central Saint Martins. Edward Meadham is English and Benjamin Kirchoff is French. Their designs are a feast for the eyes and it is difficult to focus on just one thing. There clothes are a feast of sumptuous colour and texture, with great skill and craftsmanship mixed with a grungey, DIY aesthetic. The clothes are a riot of different influences.

The designer's latest Collection for AW11 has cemented them as probably the most exciting designers at the moment. The show opened with a big set piece an installation made from chicken wire with flowers wrapped in foil, candles and crucifixes and ambiguous messages saying things like, 'love is revenge.' It is a shrine to Courtney Love and Riot grrrl, but it echoes those shrines you get on the side of a road when a cyclist has been struck down and killed.
Then out come the models dressed in an array of monochrome part folk costume part pinafore dresses, puff shirts and smocks, rosary beads, delicate embroidery, velvet bows, paneled jackets, layered lace petticoats...

The collection is called 'a cosmology of women.' The clothes make me think of weeping widows with the reference to death with the shrine and the black lace. There is definitely a Chanel vibe with the prim twin sets and shearling details. The embroidery is developed from 90s Riot Grrrl fanzines and apparently if you look really closely they are taken from little doodles...

 SS11 collection was a wonderful psychadelic journey of floral lace, tiny beads and acid brights...

The collection is full of childish glee, it is like a being in a bright computer game populated by Harajuka girls and my little Pony. I love the cut out details in the see through lace revealing tiny bits of flesh. The clothes are never revealing or overtly sexy they are too naive and childlike. I love the mixture op graphic prints on T shirts and jackets with added embellishment, they could reference 90s Versace or Lacroix but they lack the excess and glamour.

AW10 was a beautiful raid of a fairy princess's fancy dress box, albeit a grim fairytale in which she has been imprisoned. With dark undertones, the collection is very grungey you immediately think of Courtney love's stage outfits, they almost look a bit ripped an grubby but intentionally so, there is definitely a moth eateness about the clothes. The collection is inspired by Ballet Russes and Rajasthani traditional costume. There are heavy layers and bits flap open revealing a secret mohair top or some intricate embroidery. The style is a complete rejection of early 2000 starkness and signature pieces, it is an explosion of texture and deep colour. Edward Meadham describes the collection, saying, "It's ethnic, but with origins as far flung as Southern Spain and Southern India-t that means you will have couture level embroideries on our gowns, and some naive tinsel embroideries on our shrunken cashmere knits. We are doing lots of red, lots of fuschia and lots of glitter. We are creating beautiful Oscar gowns, long tea dresses, and 3/4 dressses, there is also an element of animal print and our signature tailoring. On the runway it will all be mashed together with veils. We want to do as many pretty, amazing things as possible. It's a total stream of consciousness." The collection has with street fashion than high fashion yet it displays such great skill. The sequins and pipe cleaners used are a nod to DIY aesthetic. The beautiful heavy, floaty veils and chiffons dresses that seem to billow down the catwalk like smoke, you have to see it to believe it...


Annalisa Dunn and Dorothee Hageman met on the MA course at Central Saint Martins. They specialise in bright, bold geometric knits. The knits play with different perspective and textures giving the clothes a lot of depth. Dun describes the design process in an interview, Dorothee has more of a womenswear background then me, she has developed a process she calls Primary pattern cutting. Pieces are designed as flat graphic angular shapes then left to drape and distort on the body. This process particularly suits knitwear, as it has such great drape and stretch properties.”The duo are heavily influenced by Bauhaus and Russian Constructivism.

Their latest collection for AW 11 had a drum and base feel, with loose see-through knits with mohair textures and orange neon piping. The designers are heavily influeneced by the nineties, the collection manages to merge hip hop and grunge. Graphic neon knits can often look cheap and nasty, but the designers avoid this by using muted greys and washed out khaki giving the collection a grubby edge accented with neon laces.

My ultimate favourite collection would have to be SS11 with the bright mismatched and clashing geometric angles, it is Art Deco 1920s  meets 1990s bubblegum pop. It was named the ‘Bollywood to Babylon’ collection, the designers were inspired by Evelyn Waugh's book Vile Bodies and the occult films of Kenneth Anger. The models when presenting the collection for the first time all drank champagne and chattered animatedly to the sounds of piano music, encapsulating the decadent, excess of the 1920s.

 AW10 had a Bauhaus meets Kwaftwek vibe, with its grids and stark linear greys. The designers layer on lots of different components with different sized stripes, playing with proportion and scale. The clothes have a myriad of different textures making them appear almost 4D.

Here David Poole capture the essense of Cooperative Designs AW10 with his drawings.

Coperative designs also teamed up with hussein Chalayan for AW08 to create some spectacular knitwear. In this dress below the designers mix elements of pattern cutting with knit, creating a lot of depth.

The designers AW 2009 collection is another favourite of mine mixing collage and building up the surfaces of the clothes. With folk art influences and dynasty shoulders with seem to defy the laws of knitwear!

The duo use traditional techniques when making the clothes, they are painstakingly made offering an antidote to mass produced fast fashion. Yet the clothes are high fashion yet they are not horrifically expensive, ordinary people can aspire to buy these clothes, with knitted bras selling for just £60!

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER- enfant terribles!

Jean Paul Gaultier is self taught and  began his career at the age of eighteen working for Pierre Cardin, after sending him some fashion sketches. This time with Cardin inspired Gaultier not to limit himself, that anything is possible. It was followed by stints working with Jacques Esterel and Patou, yet he found these houses too conservative and backwards in their thinking. They wouldn’t do anything to shock the American clientel even having black models, Gaultier could only bear to work for these companies for a short period. It was in 1976 that Gaultier first launched his clothing line.

Gaultier was heavily influenced by street fashion and London style in particular. In a recent interview he said, ‘I’ve always felt more at home in the UK than in France…in France people always have to be serious, tasteful and adhere to ‘the code’’ He loved the ripped, reworked, lost and found, do-it-yourself London aesthetic of the late seventies. There was no strict chic dress code to adhere to, anything goes. His early creations looked haphazard, and he employed models of various, shape, size, age and ethnicities. He championed the outsider, he embraced uniqueness, there is not just one way to be beautiful. Pictured below, he uses Eve Salvail, a beautiful model with a shaved and tattooed head in his campaigns, whilst other labels were reluctatnt to book her.

Gaultier loves juxtaposition. He would make workman dungarees from floaty satin fabric and an elegant evening gown made from cable knit. He will use unexpected pairings in his clothes such as heeled trainers or a sweater that was also evening wear. He makes unusual combinations with opposing textures such as metal and leather with delicate silk chiffon, like his 1994 Joan of Arc dress, that had contrasting feminine corsetry with the very androgynous image of Joan of Arc in heavy armour, the metal weighing down on the delicate fabric.

Gaultier famously likes to play around with gender, he challenges the accepted code of dress for men and women. By the eighties, after Yves Saint Laurent’s smoking jackets and woody Allen’s Annie Hall, it was perfectly acceptable for women to wear masculine clothes, however, Gaultier wanted to go the other way. Rather than simply unisex in which the sexes were blurred, Gaultier put his men in corsets, skirts and high heels. The menswear focuses on homoeroticism, emphasising the broad shoulders and slim hips of the beautiful male form. He repeatedly used the nautical theme, the sailor in tight trousers, an extremely homoerotic image. Famously, Gaultier's beautiful perfume bottles, were shaped like a ripped male torso with the sailor stripe.
2001/2002 menswear campaign.

Jean Paul Gaultier is a fan of popular culture both high and low brow. He was a regular presenter along with Antoine De Caunes on Eurotrash, a late night programme looking at the grubby underbelly of European soci, which was aired on channel 4. It would feature lots of stories about poo, fetish sex and naturists!

 Jean paul Gaultier, loves the seedy underbelly of culture. He embraces sexuality and all it's various forms, his catwalks appear like dingy sex clubs displaying sadomasochistic, voyeuristic models put out there as a celebration. More recently he teamed up with burlesque super star Dita Von Teese, who wore an extremely provocative, restricting outfit for his autumn Winter 2011 collection.

Gaultier has also designed for film, putting Helen Mirren in his iconic cage dress, for The cook, the theif, His wife and her lover, by Peter Greenaway. Another sexually depraved film of multiple partners and cannibalism.

 He also made the beautifully futuristic costume for Luc Besson's  Fifth Element.

Gaultier had a famous collaboration with Madonna in the 90s. At the time, she was the epitome of the powerful, ambitious, sexual woman. She has now become synonymous with Jean Paul Gaultier's iconic conical bra. He designed the costumes for her provocative Blond Ambition tour when she was going through her 'Sex' period and married to Sean Penn. She famously bared her breasts whilst walking for him on the catwalk. It is clear that he loves strong women and admires the female form.

Gaultier's career has gone from strength to strength and he was able to follow his dream and of opening a couture house in 1997, which has allowed him to really display his creativity, without the financial contraints of Ready-to-Wear. With the resurgent  interest of everything nineties recently, Jean paul Gaultier is still one of the most popular and successful designers in the world. And possibly my favourite designer in the whole wide world!!

couture 2008

MOSCHINO!- Fashion's activist!

Franco Moschino is not interested in creating a novel way to transform the silhouette or inventing the latest trend, his clothes are unapologetically Moschino! Moschino’s position in the fashion industry has always been tense. Moschino is highly critical of the whole fashion system, he seeks to question and challenge it. He is a paradox in which he is both for and against fashion. He is relentless in his criticism yet he is the height of fashion. He used bold and brash statements and conspicuous provocative slogans. He would use wit, irony and sarcasm to poke fun at the fashion system. He would play with double meaning, asking ‘Ready to where?’ a play on Ready-to-Wear. He had matador jackets emblazoned with ‘Bull chic’ He had a shirt making the post-modern statement, ‘Too much irony’, both meaning ironic and also ironing. These were playful puns but very revealing for the time.

Moschino managed to scandalise and cause shock wherever he went. He has been sued numerous times by the big fashion houses for flagrantly parodying them. Famously he was sued by Chanel for copying the iconic Chanel suit, defacing it  embroidering the words ‘Expensive Jacket’ in gold thread, on to the back of the jackets, an obvious critique of the ostentatious display of wealth in European fashion. In one particular outfit he mocked the expensive fur coat. He decorated a classically cut coat with a trim of teddy bears. This highlighted the ludicrousness of draping yourself in a dead animal. He was a leader in the promotion of not using real fur in fashion making a faux fur line called ‘fur for fun’ in the nineties.

 Moschino also launched the first environmentally fashion line in 1994 shortly before his death, called Ecouture. The prints were all made with environmentally sound plant dyes. Furthermore,all of the profits from the Moschino house go to aids charities, which was sadly the disease that ended his life too soon. This business model carries on today.

Franco Moschino started his career making sketches and fashion illustrations for Gianni Versace after he graduated from Accademia delle Belle Arti in Milan, studying fine Art. He then was chief designer at Cadette 1977-1982, before setting up his own label in 1983. This was followed by his Cheap and Chic collection. He was quickly embraced by the fashion industry soon because of his prodigious talent. Moschino became a massive fashion brand turning over millions of pounds. The very fashionistas that he mocked with his terse slogans suddenly flocked to buy his clothes. He was the most chic thing. Yet Moschino still managed to maintain a detached, an outsider, not taking his position too seriously.

It was fashions greatest loss when Moschino died in 1994. Although the label continued with Rosella Jardini as their head designer, the house has lost a lot of it’s prickly wit. It would be impossible to even try and recreate the magic of Franco moschino, yet Jardini strictly follows the philosophy and aesthetic set by Moschino when he was alive. Jardini recently said, ‘“Our philosophy is simple – chic is freedom. The secret of style lies in combining clothes and wearing them for pleasure.” Her clothes are fun and humerous, without so much of the darkness as Franco Moschino. Yet her designs are thoughtful and not frivolous. Now taking the lead with the designs has been Gianfranco Ferré has been. The designs remind us not to take fashion too seriously and enjoy it!It is a young and fun label, Spring Summer 11 was a good example of this with graphic spots and stripes and featuring little gold teddy bears.