The fashion director's diary: April 2020
A dreamy fashion interiors collaboration, a virtual pub and a few cheerful spring buys
The world is a strange and scary place right now, and we're all adapting to this 'new normal' in our own way. For some people that means roasting, baking and simmering up a storm in order to feed their loved ones and feel in control. For others, deep-cleaning and detoxing the home or occupying and educating children is a priority.
In the midst of the financial and medical uncertainty that is facing both the country as a whole and many of us on an individual level, fashion can feel like the least important thing in the world. And that's fine, there is no law saying that you need to ride out self-isolation in style.
But if getting dressed up in the morning is one of the few things that helps bring structure to your day, or scrolling through summer dresses gives you hope for the future, that's okay too. London's fashion stores are closed, but supporting retailers online means that they might be able to weather this storm.
The fashion community can achieve wonderful things, especially when it works together. London designer Phoebe English is just one of the capital's compassionate creatives leading a home-based project to create scrubs and PPE for healthcare workers. If you can volunteer the services of yourself or your staff, click here.
Fashion is a way of expressing yourself, and while that means transmitting to the world around you it also means communicating with yourself: whether that's choosing a cheerful colour to try to keep your spirits high, or adopting the retro looks of your youth as a passport to simpler times. What could be more powerful than that?
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Fashion brands are devising all manner of creative ways to distract and delight us during these tough times. Sandra Choi, creative director of Jimmy Choo, has launched a competition that takes some beating.
Inspired by her love of sketching, Choi is calling for fashion fans to sketch their own dream shoes design, five of which will be selected to go into production and released as part of a charity capsule collection. The winning artists will also receive a pair of the shoes they have designed.
The closing date for entries (to be received by email, full details here) is 15 May, from which a shortlist of 10 sketches will be chosen by Choi and put to a vote on the brand's Instagram account.
Explaining the inspiration for the competition, Choi shared her own sketch of blossom in her garden hoping that: 'it will provide a moment of escape while we are all united by the challenges we are currently facing together. To put an idea together on paper is second nature to me. Sketching is part of my creative process as I sort through multiple ideas but, more than that, it can also act as a form of escape for me. It helps to soothe, calm and focus my head.'
Pre-lockdown I sailed through Lady in Waiting, Anne Glenconner's memoir about life in the orbit of Princess Margaret and other eccentrics. But I've been struggling to put down my smartphone in order to lose myself in a new title, and the stack of 'must-reads' by my bed remains untackled. Losing the dedicated reading time of my commute hasn't helped.
I'm relying then on two titles to get me back into my usual bookish habits. The first is Fashionopolis by journalist Dana Thomas, which promises to reveal the catastrophic impacts of the clothing industry. Thankfully, it's not all doom and gloom, Thomas also shines a light on the innovators who can help us refashion the future. Timely considering how this global pause is offering a chance to reset and redress.
I can't wait to get my hands on Clothes... and other things that matter by Alexandra Shulman, published on 23 April. The former editor of British Vogue for 25 years quickly forgot her Condé Nast media training after leaving in 2017, being skewered by awkward interviews and penning unkind columns about ageing supermodels. I'm hoping that she hasn't been edited too meticulously, and the fashion industry – and people within it – aren't completely whitewashed.
I hate getting dressed when my wardrobe is a mess, I end up wearing the same things on repeat and forget about hidden treasures. Why, then, does it keep happening?
Professional tidy person Marcella Caricasole kindly gave me some advice about the practical ways I can reduce the clutter and learn to love my clothes again. I can't wait to carve out a few hours to tackle the jumble sale and fall in love with some old friends again.
Our physical world may seem smaller than ever, but thanks to Zoom I've got a diary filled with video meetings, virtual pub quizzes and digital drinks with friends that I need to dress for all of a sudden.Read more ...
Speaking of which, Mulberry has been celebrating the great British boozer with its My Local campaign and isn't going to let a little thing like social distancing ruin the fun. Instead the action is being taken online, with a series of live music and poetry performances on Instagram.
The brand has also launched Take Root, Branch Out which brings together perspectives of creatives from the global Mulberry family and activities for everyone to get involved. There's also a Mulberry Sounds Spotify channel, with playlists released each week.
All activities and performances are free, but the brand welcomes donations to its Coronavirus Appeal raising funds for the National Emergency Trust.
My Local line-up (more performances to be announced)
Thursday 9 April, 8pm: Joy Crookes
Sunday 12 April, 8pm: Arlo Parks
Tuesday 14 April, 8pm: Austin Williams (Swim Deep)
Sunday 19 April, 8pm, Whenyoung
I'm not usually a pastels or floral prints person, but there's something about how joyful the natural world – all blue skies and blossom – has seemed these past weeks that is making me yearn. Perhaps it's the fact that time spent outdoors is largely limited to my garden, or maybe it's my toddler son's sudden fascination with all things nature. But, I'm leaning into it and embracing as much colour and flora as possible, wherever I can get it. From floral blouses to the dressing gown of my dreams and a new pair of denim shorts (my off-duty summer staple) I thought I'd share a few things I've been eyeing up lately.
Buying new clothes seems a safe bet right now, but supporting vintage retailers shouldn't be overlooked either: many are struggling financially yet remaining empowering and upbeat. The amazing edit and clever styling by Retold Vintage owner Clare Lewis always makes me want to up my blouse and knitwear game (perfect for making a good impression on Zoom) and she has added small top-ups to her usual drops. Subscribe to her email to be alerted to new arrivals – you need to be fast; items can disappear in minutes.Read more ...
Never has the home been such a focus for so many people: the endless days spent within the same few walls making us more grateful for the things we love as well as filled with rage at those that frustrate. But the changes we can make without the help of plumbers, carpenters and plasterers are minimal: painting a wall here, putting up pictures there, rearranging furniture as a way to combat boredom. Instead we must become a nation of planners, saving and scrapbooking ideas now to bring to life in the future.
I'm dreaming of introducing a splash of colour to my home courtesy of fashion designer Mary Katrantzou, whose collaboration with The Rug Company brings her talent with print design to life on a large scale. From blowsy flowers to gilded sun rays, browsing through these exceptional pieces is a form of escapism for me right now.
A safe home has never been more important, yet news came this week of a 25% increase in calls to the National Domestic Abuse hotline, a free number which is supported by Refuge, a charity that relies on donations. I've committed to a monthly direct debit, and see it as a worthwhile way to spend the money saved from my usual lunch al desko. There are lots of charities that need support now more than ever, so please do give if you can.
Until next month, stay safe, stay home,
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